The Sales family were blacksmiths in Leigh – Jesse Sales, a blacksmith, occupied Rose Cottage for much of the nineteenth century with his wife, Frances, and two of his sons, George Sales and Thomas Sales also went on to be blacksmiths. (n.b. the occupations of his other sons have not been checked at this stage) .
George Sales, who also became a blacksmith, would live in the house next to Rose Cottage, now called the White House, but then known as Park Cottage or Lower Park Cottage and was married to Ann Barden (10 years his senior), the daughter of Henry Barden, a steward of the Hall Place estate.
In the parish records, there is a document listing parishioners who are responsible for the maintenance of the churchyard fence: in 1750 a widow Sale as a tenant of a farm in Blackhoath is listed and John Sale has a liability for his tenement and lands at Hollanden. (The Sales family does not appear in an equivalent document in 1579). However, there is probably no connection to the 19th century Sales family, as the 1851 census clearly gives Jesse Sales as being born Rotherfield – and living with him is his ‘parent’ Joseph, aged 92, also born Rotherfield. He was buried at Leigh at the age of 99 years and 6 months in 1858.
The Leigh 1851 Census gives us Thomas Sales, aged 25, a journeyman blacksmith, born Leigh, who is married to Mary aged 44: they have four children, three bear the surname Humphrey, William aged 16 born at Tonbridge, Mary aged 11, born Leigh, John aged 9 born Leigh. Thomas Sales aged 1 month is born Leigh. There would be a further child, Walter Sales, shown as aged 10 in the 1861 census. However, there is a small conundrum with Thomas Sales and Mary Ann Humphrey in that there appears no Thomas Sales in the Leigh Baptismal index, although there is a Thomas Sales birth at Leigh in February 1851. Walter Sales is given as baptized in Leigh in April 1851. As Thomas Sales is given as 1 month in the 1851 and Walter was baptized in April, perhaps they are one and the same – and that the parents changed their minds as to his name. There is no death for Thomas Sales in the Leigh burial indexes. Another conundrum is the relationship between Thomas Sales and Mary Ann Humphrey: there is no marriage in the civil registration indexes of the two nor in the Leigh marriage index. Mary Ann Sales’s civil registration death entry is given as September 1877, which would correspond with the graveyard entry and she is buried in Leigh Churchyard next to her first husband, William Humphrey (1806-1843), also a blacksmith of Leigh. So perhaps Thomas and Mary did not marry.
As Thomas perhaps took over as one of Leigh’s blacksmiths after William Humphrey died, so he appears to have formed a relationship with William’s widow: she, too, would have needed help in raising her fatherless children. The relationship may have been frowned upon to begin with, but gradually became accepted. Both the Sales family and Humphrey families were well-established in Leigh. Thomas and Mary are given as married in the census but that does not necessarily have to be true. In the 1871 census, Thomas is living as a lodger with the Pankhurst family in Tonbridge, so did they split up?
Jesse Sales died in 1882 aged 89 years and his wife Fanny, died in 1880 aged 86. His son George is also buried at Leigh in 1898 aged 75; Ann, his wife, died in 1888 aged 76.
The Sales family appears in the Census for Leigh from 1841-1911, which can be viewed on the Ancestry.com and FindmyPast websites.
On a more general note, the Forge at Leigh was one of the properties at the nucleus of the village, next to the village shop facing the Green, which would later incorporate the Post Office of Leigh: this shop and post office was also run by members of the Humphrey family. Later, at some point after 1870, Forge Cottage/House was build and Forge Square and South View would later replace what was known as Forge Row. In 1740 the Forge was the copyhold property of William Humphrey, blacksmith, and some date after 1778 it became the property of the Lord of the Manor and was included in the sale from Mrs Sarah Harbroe to Farmer Baily on the sale of the Hall Place Estate in 1820.
The following are details from the Leigh indexes 1813-1916:
Elizabeth Sales bapt 18 June 1814 d. William and Mary
William Sale bapt 5.5.1816 son William and Mary
Jesse Sales bapt 9.3.17 son Jesse and Frances
Thomas Sales bapt 5.4.1818 son William and Mary
Ann Sales bapt 22.8.1819 d. of Jesses and Frances
Ann Sales bapt 11.6.1820 D. William and Mary
George Sales bapt 7.4.1822 son Jesse and Frances
Henry Sales bapt 19.2.1823 son of William and Mary
Thomas Sales bapt 26.3.1826 son of Jessse and Frances
John Sales bapt 11.7.1830 son of Jesse and Frances
Sarah Sale bapt 20.12.1835 d. of Elizabeth Sale
Alfred Sales bapt 2.4.37 son of Jesse and Frances
Mary Ann Sales bapt. 30.6.1839 d. Jesse and Elizabeth
Jesse Sales bapt 28.3.1841 son of Jesse and Elizabeth
Stephen Sales bapt 18.12. 1842 son of Jesse and Elizabeth
Frances Sales bapt. 17.3. 1844 d. of Jesse and Elizabeth
Henry Sales bapt 18.6.1848 son of George and Ann
Emily Sales bapt 20.10.1850 d. of George and Ann
Walter Sales bapt. 13.4.1851 son of Thomas and Mary Sales
Augustin Theodore bapt 13.2.1853 son John and Frances
William Sales bapt 20.9.57 son George and Ann
Leigh Parish Register indexes 1813-1916
Leigh Parish Records (Colyer Ferguson Index)
By Joyce Field (as at November 2015)