Origin of the Name
- Gordon M Lickfold. Dec.2002
The name originates in a locality near Petworth in West Sussex, England.
The Anglo-Saxon rendering was leac fauld. ‘Fauld’ means fold – an enclosure in the Wealden forest where people in the middle ages made a clearing either to graze animals or grow crops. The derivation of ‘leac’ is less certain. It may refer to a burial ground, but it is more likely to mean leek or garlic.
The earliest reference I have is to a Walto de Lykfold who lived at Lickfold in 1297. [See newspaper article "The Lickfolds of Lickfold"] Most people in that part of Sussex were attributed surnames in the 12th and 13th centuries, so I originally thought that Walter's ancestor was named after his enclosure where he grew garlic. However, I have since discovered that there is no evidence that garlic has ever been grown commercially in the south of England. On the other hand, oak trees predominate in the ancient woodlands that still survive today that are remnants of the Wealden forest, and it is quite common for a wild garlic called ramsons to grow around the edges of a clearing in an oak wood. And the parish clerk at Lurgashall told me recently that he has wild garlic growing in his garden, which is near the mill pond.
The derivation of the location called Lickfold is therefore (probably): "the enclosure where the wild garlic grows". Some people think that being called Walto de Lykfold must indicate that Walter was descended from a Norman knight who was given his lands by William the Conqueror. I regret this is fanciful romanticism. ‘Locative surnames’, as they are known, frequently included a French preposition to indicate the person’s location. For example, in the Lay Subsidy Roll of 1327 for the "Villat’ de Loddesworth in the Hundred of Esebourne", in which Walto de Lykfold paid 2s 0d, other men taxed included Robto ate Lydgate – ie Robert who lived at the lychgate, Rado atte Moore, and Willo de Howyk – Hoewyck farm in Lodsworth parish is still there today on the road from Lickfold to Fernhurst.
So if Walter was named Lickfold after the enclosure where he farmed, other people living nearby, say John Smith (the local blacksmith), would have been regarded as living near Walter's enclosure, and thus the village name Lickfold became established as well.
The Lickfolds of Lickfold
In fact, Lickfold today is still just a tiny hamlet with an excellent pub (called the Lickfold Inn) and no more than 40 properties.
Although Lickfold is in the parish of Lodsworth, over the centuries that family events are recorded in the parish registers (1550 – 1880), far more Lickfolds are recorded in the Lurgashall registers than at Lodsworth. Lurgashall is the next parish immediately north-east of Lickfold village, and I have records of some quite large farms owned by the Lickfolds in this area between 1780 and 1880. In the old churchyard at Lurgashall, there are a number of Lickfold gravestones, together with some tumble-down vaults, under the yew trees close to the entrance to the church.
The Yeomen of England
Up to the end of the 18th century, many of the Lickfolds were quite well to do yeomen farmers. While some owned freehold lands, most rented their farms as Copyholders to the Lord of the Manor. The ‘Copyhold’ meant that the lands remained in the family in perpetuity, provided a ‘fine’ was paid to the Lord of the Manor when the lands were passed on. The Lord was usually a wealthy landowner or titled family, the crown or the church.
Typically, lands would pass to the oldest son, sometimes to more than one son as their holdings and wealth increased over the years. Other sons might ‘inherit’ lands elsewhere by marrying a daughter of a farmer who had no male heir. Other Lickfold sons became tradesmen, such as wheelwrights and blacksmiths; even publicans on occasions.
Sometimes the yeomen farmed very small areas and were not much better off than the peasants. But most of the "Yeomen of England" were quite well-to-do farmers who lived in substantial houses and farmed reasonably large acreages. In the 18th century (before the industrial revolution and the start of mass migration to the towns) over 50% of the population were agricultural labourers who worked on the farms, so the yeomen were part of the - then small - English middle class.
The Lickfolds of Surrey
My ancestor James Lickfold was born at Lurgashall about 1540, but moved away to the parish of Seale & Tongham in Surrey, where he died in 1611. Seale is on the "Hog's Back" between Guildford and Farnham in Surrey. Seale is only about 15 miles from Lurgashall, but James started a clearly separate family line which apparently lost touch with the ‘Lickfolds of Lickfold’ within one or two generations.
In this way a completely separate family line came into being. As most of the Lickfolds alive in the world today descend from people who stayed living in the Lickfold area (the last family that never moved away died out on the male line in 1880), this means we have to go back to at least 1540 to find two brothers to prove the relationship between the ‘Lickfolds of Surrey’ and the ‘Lickfolds of Lickfold’.
My own family includes 3 generations of actors, culminating in the distinguished Hollywood actor, H.B. Warner (1876 – 1958). He was born Henry Byron Charles Stuart Lickfold in London in 1876, son of Charles Lickfold. Charles was a celebrated actor on the West End stage from circa 1871 until his death in 1909. He used the stage name Warner, so it was natural that his son should as well.
H.B. Warner made 104 films, progressing from silent movies to the "talkies". He originally went to America, following a successful start to his career in the West End, to act on Broadway. Then in 1914 he was invited to Hollywood by Cecil B. DeMille to appear in The Ghost Breaker, which was distributed by Paramount Pictures.
In 1927 came HB’s greatest role in the silent era – starring as Jesus Christ in the highly acclaimed King of Kings, directed by his old mentor, Cecil B. DeMille. He was nominated for an Oscar for his performance as Chang in Lost Horizon in 1937, this being one of the 6 films for which he was engaged by the famous director, Frank Capra.
Another was Capra’s highly acclaimed and still much loved It's a Wonderful Life (1946), starring the perennial Jimmy Stewart. In view of this film’s continuing popularity, especially at Christmas-time, this is probably HB’s best known role during this period of his career – as Mr. Gower the druggist.
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