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Rev. Joseph Dixon                           1756-1824
Joseph was born on 22 November 1756, the son of an eminent London builder, Richard Dixon and Anne Gibson, in Piccadilly, London.
    As a teenager Joe trained under his father and uncle. In 1777 he was awarded a 14-guinea gratuity by St Mary's Church, Battersea, for executing, framing and glazing the 1775 plans that his uncle Joe had drawn up for the Church. Uncle Joe was the architect for that Church, and Richard Dixon (Joe's father) was the builder.
    Then came the bankruptcy. The Dixons' bankruptcy of 1778 sent shockwaves through London and the building world. Most specifically, and tragically, though, it shook the foundations of the family itself, an earthquake it took 30 years to recover from.
    Richard and Uncle Joe knew they were ruined, and that things would never be the same, ever again. The good times were over. The future loomed dark. Just before the courts officially and legally ended their life as they had known it for so long, Richard and Joe scrambled like crazy to do what they could to salvage something, anything, especially for their families.
      Uncle Joe had no kids, but Richard had two sons to think about. Young Joe was then 22 and George was 15. Both of them were still living at home at Pimlico. The day before the bankruptcy young George was apprenticed to a London surgeon. After the bomb dropped young Joe did what he could to give moral support to his rapidly declining father, and in 1779 went to work as a draftman [the old name for a draftsman] in the Tower Drawing Office (also called the Ordnance Drawing Office), in the Tower of London, which was run by the Master-General of the Ordnance, who had his own office at Woolwich. The Master-General was also head of the Royal Artillery.
    Joe's best friend at the Tower was Thomas Sandby, whose brother Paul became known as the "Father of English Watercolor Painting". On June 13, 1780 Joe, still a newcomer, and still a Draftman 5th Class (he would gradually be promoted) drew up a plan of Hugh Garrison, on St Mary's (one of the Scilly Isles), showing ships and buildings, at a scale of one inch to about 200 feet. This effort gained him much praise from the government, and was published.

    On May 9, 1783 the Marquess of Exeter (an old friend and patron of Joe's father) paid him ten pounds for drawing up plans of buildings for him.
    A good man, Joe got the call to cure souls. But to be an Anglican priest took money, and the Dixons were now in a bad way. The reason it took money was because in order to be a priest one had to do four years at a University, and there were only two universities in England - Oxford and Cambridge. Finally, after Richard Dixon died and George had become a surgeon, young Joe went to Cambridge. He was 29.
    He was admitted at St John's College (the 29th scholar that year) on May 5, 1786, as a pensioner (one who pays his own room and board). He matriculated in the Michaelmas term (October) and on October 14, 1786 took up residence. The Rev. William Pearce, then president of St John's, was his tutor. A year behind Joe at St John's was William Wordsworth, the poet. On November 7, 1786 Joe was admitted a Gregson Scholar. In 1787, Joe subscribed to the Rev. John Whitehouse's book of Poems.
    On March 18, 1790 he was awarded his BA, just qualifying for what we would now call "honors", being the last name in the 3rd class (Junior Optimes). In other words, he won the "wooden spoon". Among the Senior Optimes was Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll's grandfather).
      On May 13, 1790 Joe was deaconed (an Anglican priest typically has two ordinations - the first is as a deacon, and the second, a year or two later, as a priest) in the diocese of Lincoln by Bishop Pretyman (who, in 1803, would change his name to Tomline) at Lincoln Cathedral. He was licensed as a curate on the same day, and took up his first curacy at the Church of St Cecilia the Virgin, in Adstock, Bucks (in the diocese of Lincoln), at a stipend of 30 pounds. His rector, Luke Heslop, had been at Adstock since 1777 and would remain there until 1804. Bishop Tomline, by the way, would inherit the Suffolk estates of James Hayes in 1821. James Hayes was the brother-in-law of the very wealthy London cordwainer William Williams. William Williams it was who, in his will of 1809, left a fortune to the Rev. Joe Dixon, George Dixon, and the Watsons. William Williams' brother, John Williams, a tanner, was the uncle by marriage of David Watson, who, in turn, was married to the Dixon boys' cousin, Mary. It was a small and convoluted world.
    On January 16, 1792 the Rev. Joe applied to the Bishop of London for a marriage license. On January 19 he married Anne Partridge at Hammersmith.
Anne Partridge                                     1762-1835
Anne was born on 30 December 1762, the daughter of Henry Partridge and Henrietta Rose, at Turnham Green, London. Henrietta was the most famous and notorious publican of her time, as 19 men died one evening at her pub in Slough, the Castle Inn, in 1773, due to bad turtle soup.
I have identified the following children.
  William Born 2 Jul 1795   Storrington, Sussex Married Cecilia Pierina Gironci
George Born 22 Aug 1796   Storrington, Sussex Buried 5 Jul 1798
Henry Born 12 Jan 1798   Storrington, Sussex Married Anne Austen
Frederick Born 16 Mar 1799   Sullington, Sussex Married Maria Grant

Birth of Parents
Rev. Joseph Dixon b: 22 Nov 1756  c: 17 Dec 1756       St. James, Westminster, London
son of Richard Dixon and Anne Gibson, Piccadilly, London

Anne Partridge b: 30 Dec 1762  c: 25 Jan 1763       St. Nicholas, Chiswick
daughter of Henry Partridge and Henrietta Rose, Turnham Green, London
19 Jan 1792
Rev. Joseph Dixon
Anne Partridge
St. Paul's, Hammersmith, London

William Dixon b: 2 Jul 1795  c: 26 Jul 1795             Sullington Church, Sussex
son of Rev. Joseph Dixon and Anne Partridge, Storrington, Sussex
George Dixon b: 22 Aug 1796  c: 12 Sep 1796             Sullington Church, Sussex
son of Rev. Joseph Dixon and Anne Partridge, Storrington, Sussex       Buried 5 Jul 1798
Henry Dixon b: 12 Jan 1798  c: 1 Feb 1798             Sullington Church, Sussex
son of Rev. Joseph Dixon and Anne Partridge, Storrington, Sussex
Frederick Dixon b: 16 Mar 1799  c: 6 Apr 1799,             Sullington Church, Sussex
son of Rev. Joseph Dixon and Anne Partridge, Storrington, Sussex

    That year, 1792, on April 18, Christopher Wilson, Bishop of Bristol, died. He was replaced by Spencer Madan, an old friend and Pimlico neighbor of the Dixons. In May 1792 Madan offered Joe the vacant curacy of St Anne's, Melcombe Regis with Radipole (in what is now Weymouth), Dorset. It was then part of the diocese of Bristol. Joe accepted.
    On June 10, 1792, at St George the Martyr, Holborn, Madan licensed Joe as a priest (i.e. he was priested). Madan then went off to Bristol and Joe went to Dorset at a salary of
50 pounds a year. Thomas Groves was his new rector at Melcombe Regis. because he was now a full-fledged Anglican priest, Joe was just waiting for a rectorship to become available.
    On July 2, 1793 Joe's sister Charlotte married Anthony Bell at St George Hanover Square, London. Joe couldn't be there because on that very day he was in Cambridge being awarded his MA, along with Lewis Carroll's grandfather.
    In May 1794 the Rev. Edward Bayley, rector of the tiny village of Sullington in Sussex, died. He had succeeded
  John Copley in that post. Nathaniel Tredcroft, of Horsham, was the advowson holder in Sullington. This means he had the right of presentation to a vacant ecclesiastical benefice. Tredcroft had six months to find a new rector otherwise the advowson would pass to the Bishop (in this case William Ashburton, Bishop of Chichester). Tredcroft forced his brother, Edward William Tredcroft, to fill in until a suitable replacement could be found.
    On  October  24,  after  being  okayed by the Bishop, Joe Dixon was presented by Nathaniel Tredcroft to the rectory and parish of Sullington. He didn't move there until the last week of June 1795, with a very pregnant wife.
    There was a hitch. The church hadn't been used in decades and the rectory (where he would live) was in such a state of disrepair that it was unlivable. This would all change, but it would take time. Meanwhile Joe rented the late Mrs Copley's house, next to the church in neighboring Storrington. After the Rev. John Copley died, Sarah, his widow, continued to live in the house until 1793, when she died and left everything to Harriet Byass.

Harriet Byass it was who rented the house to the Rev. Joe Dixon.
    Joe and Anne's first child, William, was born in the late Mrs Copley's house in July 1795, and all the subsequent sons were born there too. William's baptism at Sullington Church on July 28, 1795, was the first event there in 70 years. All of Joe's sons would be taken down the road from Storrington to be baptized by their father at Sullington.
    On April 27, 1803, despite the fact that the rectory was not quite ready, Joe moved his family in, finally. The family now included his mother, who had moved down from Pimlico. The late Mrs Copley's house in Storrington got a new tenant - Joe's brother, Dr George Dixon.
    The May 1806 edition of the Gentleman's Magazine published the poem "Elogy [sic] on the Death of the Right Hon. William Pitt", by "J.D. Sussex" This was the Rev. Joe, exercising his writing talents for the first, but by no means the last, time.
    In 1810 Joe and George and the Watsons came into a fantastic inheritance from the will of the late William Williams. This restored, to some degree, the fortunes lost during the last century, and set up the family for several generations to come.
    Joe and George went into the pill-making business. George invented the antibilious pills ("Dixon's Pills" were famous, and remained so, throughout the Empire, for 100 years). Joe managed this cottage industry, as well as running his tiny parish. More on the pills under Dr George Dixon.
    In 1810 the Gentleman's Magazine published another of Joe's poems, "The Drawing Room of Flora", and the following year he had printed (at his expense), by Law & Gilbert, In London, his book, "The Figured Mantle, and the Bridal Day, Legendary Tales, with Other Poems". It was 111 pages, with 4 plates. Joe used the pseudonym "A Sussex Clergyman". The other poems referred to include the one about Pitt and the one on Flora.
    On July 27, 1811 Joe was in nearby Pulborough at the baptism of his godson (one of his godsons), George Cartwright, the grandson of the inventor of the power loom.
    During his tenure as rector Joe secretly removed the marble effigy of Sir Baldwin Covert from the north wall and
  put him in a new place - under the chancel floor. On the stone slab placed on top of it, Joe wrote a verse about Sir Baldwin, but never told anyone that there was a knight under their very feet. In 1862, long after Joe's death, the Rev. Henry Palmer discovered it, and replaced Sir Baldwin's coffin and removed it to an alcove in the north wall of the tower.
    On January 24, 1824 Joe drew up his will, and died in Pimlico on May 29. He was buried in his own church. His will was proved in London on October 14, 1824.     After Joe died his son Henry, then a curate, continued to run the church until Joe's successor, George Palmer, was named on August 24, and even beyond that, because Palmer didn't move in until 1825.
    Sullington Church is still there, a beautiful stone building set in a scene so utterly pastoral that to stand in the grounds today is more than just a step back into the 18th century. Once there, one has never left the 1700s. One immediately and effortlessly becomes a swain, with a straw between his teeth, lounging by the wooden gate, swatting a fly with the tail of the docile cow, and it is very difficult to tear oneself away and get back in the car.
    The rectory, also still there, a stunning, huge, house, has a history after Joe died in 1824. In 1859 George Palmer's son Henry became the rector and only retired in 1928. Which means there were two rectors in Sullington over a period of 104 years, and three over 136 years. That may be a record. Anyway, Henry Palmer's successor, Sydney Le Mesurier (father of John Le Mesurier, the actor), was rector from 1928 to 1938. He found it too expensive to run and moved the rectory to a house on Washington Road [the parishes of Sullington and Storrington would become one in 1952].
    Sullington Old Rectory, as it had become, was sold to a private owner, the author A.J. Cronin, who re-named it Sullington Court. It was here that Cronin wrote "The Citadel", and part of another of his novels, "The Crusader's Tomb", is set in Sullington. Cronin lived there until Lady Cynthia Asquith bought the house in 1939, and in 1946 Sir Gordon Munro bought it. John Walker acquired it in 1960, and solicitor Geoffrey Rickman (brother of John Rickman, the racing commentator) in 1986.

Rev. Joseph Dixon Died 29 May 1824,  at Chelsea
Buried 3 Jun 1824, at Sullington, Sussex
The Times, Tuesday, Jun 1, 1824   DEATHS
  DIXON - On Saturday the 29th, ult., at Chelsea, Aged 67, the Rev. Joseph Dixon, many years rector of Sullington, Sussex.

Anne (Partridge) Dixon Died 30 Jun 1835  at Worthing
Buried 7 Jul 1835, at Sullington

The Times, Thursday, Jul 2, 1835   DEATHS
  At Worthing, on the 30th, ult., in the 74th year of her age, Anne, relict of the Rev. Joseph Dixon, late rector of Sullington, Sussex.

SPECIAL THANKS  to John Stewart, a descendant of Capt. William Dixon, R.A, for the details provided above.