top of page

William Dengate

Surveyor of Highways

William Dengate was baptised 29 May 1859 at St Mary the Virgin Church, Ticehurst, the son of Daniel (1814-1888) and Esther Dengate (nee Swift, 1820-1985). At the time of the 1861 census, William was living with his father, mother, 4 siblings and cousin Charles Wallis. His father was working as an ‘ag lab’ in the fields of Ticehurst.

William attended Ticehurst village school, and at the age of 13 he moved on to be- come a pupil teacher, something he initially seems to have struggled with, perhaps understandably given his age: ‘July 1872...William Dengate, Geography rivers of Scotland, imperfect average 54.5... William Dengate grammar learnt very imperfectly.... W. Dengate, lessons fairly done...’


On 28 February 1873 came the school inspection, which had the following to say about poor William: ‘Wm Dengate has passed an unsatisfactory examination. If he fails to the same extent next year, the payt will have to be reduced by 10 x thenceforth by 20, for every year at the 2nd of which a similar failure is repeated. Arthur Eden. Richard Covington, certified teacher, William Dengate, Pupil teacher 2nd year, Hugh Waghorn monitor.’

William is mentioned several times in the Ticehurst Parish Magazine, being a very active member of the community. He was in the church choir from 1874 until 1893 and he was also a member of the Ticehurst Cricket Club from 1874 until 1893.

Despite his initial negative comments from the headmaster, William improved at the school and in January 1877 moved on to become an Assistant Teacher, a job he held at the school for several years. On 24 March 1891 William took time away from teaching and went to Lewes to take training to become a ‘Surveyor of Highways’ - quite an accomplishment for the son of an ‘ag lab’ convicted of stealing coal!


His final entry in the Ticehurst Village School logbook reads, ‘24th March 1893, W. Dengate, assistant Master left the school to-day.

On 17 April 1893 William Dengate married Clara Elizabeth Ford, a spinster from Ticehurst. The couple were evidently well thought of in the village, as the Parish Magazine reveals: ‘This time marriage has robbed us of two useful parishioners simultaneously. Mr W. Dengate and Miss Clara Ford were married on 17th April, and left the same day for Horsham, where Mr Dengate has recently been appointed Road Surveyor. Mr Dengate had been teacher and assistant master at the Schools for the last eighteen years, and had also taken an interested and active part in most of the organizations and events of parochial and village life. In recognition of the various ways in which he had rendered himself useful in Ticehurst, a number of parishioners collected and presented him a purse of £25; the managers of the Schools giving him a handsome clock; and the school-boys a travelling bag. The bride received a large number of personal presents, and by her departure leaves a gap amongst the teachers of the Sunday School, where she was much liked by her colleagues and he children, which it will be hard to fill up. The number of presents to bride and bridegroom exceeded eighty. The marriage service was choral, the congregation was large, and the wedding bells sounded for the rest of the day.

Upon settling in Horsham, the couple moved to 58 Park Street, where they would remain for the rest of their lives. They had two children, Dorothy Clara (1896-1973) and Marjorie Ella Dengate (1902-1917).

William Dengate continued to work as a surveyor of the highways until his death on 2nd April 1919, aged 59. He was buried in Horsham Hills Cemetery in a large grave with his daughter Marjorie Ella Dengate. His wife Clara was also interred in the grave when she died in 1948. William left £2085 to his wife when he died, and she in turn left £4351 to their surviving child Dorothy Clara Dengate. 


Click here to download William Dengate's will.

Dorothy Clara died at 58 Park Street on 17 February 1973. Having no surviving siblings or children, she left her £15,464 estate to various friends and cousins on both the Dengate and Ford side of her family.

She was buried in the same large plot as her father, mother and sister. William’s spinster sister, Elizabeth Dengate (1848-1930) was also buried nearby.


58 Park Street, Horsham, Sussex, 2007


The graves of William, Clara Elizabeth, Marjorie Ella and Dorothy Clara Dengate, Horsham Hills Cemetery, 2007


Dorothy Clara Dengate (above and right)

Marjorie Ella Dengate 

bottom of page