History of Pirbright

Mary Cawthorn and Henry Curtis

First Series


Miss Mary Cawthorn was born in Lewisham Kent on March 31 1852 daughter of George Cawthorn and Eliza Grace Wheeler. She was living in Lewisham for the 1861 and 1881 Census and moved to Pirbright in Surrey in 1885.

The rest of her life was devoted to life in Pirbright; she kept a diary and researched many of the older buildings in the village. She used the Court Rolls and Census to find out the owners and tenants of most of the buildings. Many pages are devoted to the different occupations of the villagers; she used the Parish Registers and Trade Directories for this exercise. During her walks around the village she loved talking to the older members of the community and has jotted down many snippets of information gleaned in this way.

She died 18 May 1940 and was buried in Pirbright.

Luckily for Family Historians everywhere Dr. Henry Curtis had her notes published. Copies of this book are in the Society of Genealogists, The National Archives Kew and the Surrey History Centre. Only 2 copies have the photographs that are mentioned in the book, one is at National Archives Kew the other at Surrey History Centre.

There are 2550 Surnames in the book, not only Pirbright people but also land owners who never lived in the village, and trades people who visited the village. I have now indexed this book to help Family Historians, the names are included in the overall index to Pirbright documents here

A later edition of the book has now surfaced, and has an interesting preface. Dated April 1943 it states:-

Of the Sixty illustrated typescript volumes of the First Series of "Collections for a History of Pirbright" forty were distributed, chiefly locally. The balance of twenty were destroyed at the present writer's Chambers at The Temple, in the fierce raid over London on the night of 10/11 May 1941.

The resulting scarcity justified the binding up of a complete set of Advance pages, despite the lack of original illustrations; and also, at its conclusion, the valuable and very interesting address by Mr E Parsons, at Andover, in 1924, on The Duties & Customs of the Manor in former days, which were among Miss Cawthorn's possessions on her death, Saturday 18th May, 1940, aged 88, at her residence, Hatchers, facing the Village Green.