JOHN HOARE'S FAMILY HISTORY
The Name Cheesman in Brighton, Sussex
reformatted 2011, updated 21/1/2014
The name Cheesman, and variants such as Cheeseman, Chieseman, etc., are very common in Sussex, and especially around Brighton. There is apparently no particular reason for this other than the mundane connection with making cheese! On this page I have listed briefly some of the interesting families I have found. I would be glad to exchange information with others researching this subject - please click here to help.
When I started researching my family history I found that the names on my mother's side were more interesting, and easier to research, than my own. I quickly established that my Cheesman family were from Brighton, where they had played an important part in the life of the town up to the end of the Victorian era, and I started recording the name wherever it cropped up in that area. I now have quite a database, but it is still surprising how often I come across the name with no apparent connection with any of the local families let alone mine. Of course, one day I may find the magic links that tie all these families into one large clan!
On my links page you will find useful research links, including the Cheeseman One-Name Study
Although my family had extensive shipping interests as owners, I have found nothing to connect them with the local captains of the same name. I have built a small list of local references to the name regardless whether they are my family or not, along with useful links on my Cheesman Shipowners page.
There was a Francis Cheesman, who found fame in 1821 by saving the life of the 'celebrated aeronaut' (baloonist) Mr. Charles Green, when he came down in the sea. Francis was first mate and in control of the steam packet 'Thomas', and steered the boat into the silk of the partially deflated and uncontrollable baloon, thus letting the remaining air out, and making it possible to pull the gentleman on to the ship. (Click here to read a transcript) Francis apparently became a steam packet Captain in his own right, on the Brighton-Dieppe run from the Chain Pier, and he was followed by his son James.
When he was in his seventies James was Captain of the pleasure steamer 'Brighton' for its last six years. This vessel was reported as being patronised by the Princess Royal and the Duke of Fife, and carrying 33,333 passengers in one season.
Unfortunately, references to Captains often fail to give Christian names, so it is hard to be definitive.
Here is a lesson that nothing is forever on the internet! A few years back I found an interesting site (in French, which was a bit of a challenge) - www.infos-dieppoises.fr/Dossierpassions/Texteferon.htm - about the Brighton-Dieppe Ferry, but it moved and eventually vanished. Cheesman was mentioned as captain of the 'Dart' in 1840, and its replacement 'Albion' in 1842. I have found and downloaded an archived copy from 2005 in the Wayback Machine archive here but I don't know how long it will be available. I have taken the liberty of 'rescuing' their image from 1840 of a ferry arriving in Dieppe harbour from Brighton (could be the 'Dart' and Captain Cheesman!).
The first pier master of the West Pier was William Alfred Cheesman, who was also a proprietor of bathing machines, as was his father Robert. William was awarded medals for life-saving. One of William's six children, Harry, was recorded as artist and photographer in 1881.
Follow this link for information about the Brighton Fishing Museum archive.
John Cheesman who emigrated to Australia and joined the goldrush
I have been sent the life story of a John Cheesman,born 1832 in Southwick, who had an eventful life which included an event reminiscent of 'The Sloop John B' when he emigrated to Australia. So far he isn't my relative, but his family are in the records, and one day I may establish the link. His story is worth reading regardless.
There were three generations of Cheesman who ran a china shop in North Street - the number is often 169 but changes over the years, but this could be due to renumbering. First entry is William in 1824, last is William Oliver, in 1885. There currently appear to be two intertwined lines of these china merchants, but I'm sure that further research would resolve this to one family.
A quick search of 'Cheesman Goss' on Ebay will often reveal quite a few small small 'collectable' pieces of chinaware. The mark W.H. Goss indicates that they were made at the Falcon Pottery in Stoke on Trent, run by William Henry Goss, and were sold in large numbers all around the country as (mainly seaside) souvenirs, often carrying a crest of the town in which they were sold. Usually they were branded only with the Goss logo, but those sold by the Cheesmans also carried the Cheesman name and address. I previously suggested here that they sold for substantial amounts. but it seems many are mostly quite affordable. I now have a tiny three-handled loving cup 40mm (1 3/4 inches) high, with the crests of Brighton, Hove, and Sussex on its three sides. The underside is marked 'W.H. Goss' with their 'goshawk' crest and as the name uses a sans-serif font it was made between 1887 and 1916. It also carries the mark 'Cheesman & Co 169 North St. Brighton'.
The Cheesman Family in Meeting house Lane
Several generations of Cheesmans lived in adjoining houses in Meeting House lane, starting with Peircy Cheesman, born sometime before 1759. The family may well have been related to the china dealers. Unfortunately, with each generation the ownership of the houses became more confused, and the sorry story ended with a legal action taken by Ann Rhone, (nee Cheesman) against her own offspring in 1877.
The houses later became part of Hanningtons Department Store. This closed down in 2000, but the building is still in use for shops.
Source (seen January 2014)
The Miller of Portslade
William Cheesman (not my family) owned a windmill in North Street, Portslade, just North of Brighton from 1785. On his death it passed into the hands of the Peters family until it became unsafe and was demolished in 1882. The family relationships are complicated and sometimes uncertain - unfortunately the link I posted to the 'Peters Family' site has vanished, but it can be found archived on the wonderful Wayback Machine archive HERE
Shell fishmongers and the oyster bar
There was a Jonathan who ran a tobacconists at 4, Pool Lane, in 1832. By 1846 this had become a shell fishmongers, and Pool Lane was Pool Valley. By 1862 this had been passed on to a Charles Cheesman. By 1884 Charles was running a branch at 19, East Street, while the Pool Valley address was also recorded as 'oyster rooms', run by E. Cheesman. There is a footnote to this story - there is a reference in 'Life in Brighton', by Clifford Musgrave that Cheesmans Oyster Bar was later run by Harriet, Charles' widow, who famously refused to serve King Edward VII until he put out his cigar!
A further insight into the times is provided by a photo kindly sent to me by John and Mary Ault. The small picture shows a charming image of the centre of a pot lid, showing the shop front of 'Cheesmans Old Established Oyster Store'. However, click on the image to see the whole of the pot lid!
It seems that the oyster bar lives on as 'English's', as they use the same story about King Edward VII. The street number has changed, probably when the road layout was extended.
My family owned and operated several merchant ships through the mid 1800's. They also often appear in local newspaper reports of the fishing catch, with especial reference to mackerel.
Find out more on my Cheesman Shipowners page
The Town Crier
Samuel Cheesman was town crier at least from 1838, when he succeeded George Cherriman, to 1868. He had seven children, and I would expect his family to have been involved in the life of the town, but I have found little evidence of this.
The American Connection
I have recently discovered that one of my ancestors settled in America, and there is a flourishing branch of the family there. I have a page for this line, and I also host Vicki Morrison's Family Biography.
Over to You!
If you would like to add a paragraph about an interesting Cheesman or Cheeseman family in the Brighton area, perhaps with a link to your own site, contact me!