Drowned in Chichester Canal

Napper Challen
‘Perambulator Challen’
Messenger/Carrier and Tenant Farmer
April 1782 – 18 August 1855

Napper CHALLEN (1782 – 1855)
is my 5th great grandfather

Martha CHALLIN (1806 – 1868)
daughter of Napper CHALLEN and my 4x great grandmother

Hannah HARRIS (1845 – 1925)
daughter of Martha CHALLIN and my 3x great grandmother

William Richard TAYLOR (1873 – 1948)
son of Hannah HARRIS and my 2x great grandfather

Doris Margery TAYLOR (1904 – 1999)
daughter of William Richard TAYLOR and my great grandmother

Joyce Margery PLASKETT (1934 – 2013)
daughter of Doris Margery TAYLOR and my grandmother

I first discovered Napper ‘Perambulator’ Challen in my family tree back in 2005, and immediately he caught my full attention, he has one of those family names that stand out and I was sure that he had an interesting story to share.

I am going to refer to him in this post by his nickname ‘Perambulator’so not to confuse him with his father who shares the same name.

Perambulator was born sometime around April 1782 in Sidlesham, Sussex, England he was the eldest son of eleven children born to Napper and Ann Challen.
The name Napper was the maiden name of Perambulator’s grandmother Sarah Napper (1717 – 1798), as often happened, both names were used in the naming of her child.

Perambulator was baptised on the 5th May 1782 at St Mary the Virgin, Sidlesham, Sussex, England, his father Napper Challen was a Yeoman and so owned land and employed labourers to work it, usually when you find Yeoman’s in your tree it’s worth spending quality time researching it’s branches because the amount of land and wealth often increases as you move further back in time, if your lucky and your hard work pays off you may discover branches of landed gentry which will certainly lead to a gateway ancestor.

Sir Owain Tudor, great grandfather to King Henry VIII is also 7x great grandfather to Perambulator Challen.

Marriage and Family

Perambulator married on 21st February 1804 in St Mary the Virgin, Sidlesham, Sussex, England to Martha Fogden (1781 – 1860)

They had five recorded children, including my 4x great grandmother Martha Challen (1806 – 1868) also William, James, Benjamin and John Challen who enrolled as a soldier and began his career as a Private with the 52nd Foot before being promoted to a Corporal with the Royal Canadian Regiment Of Rifles. His career went up and down but he died as a Chelsea Pensioner in 1882.

Between 1841 – 1851 the family moved to Donnington, Sussex, England, they established strong roots here and even today many of their families memorial stones have survived in St George’s Church, Donnington.

The Challen family are recorded to have held land in Sussex since before the reign of King Henry VIII, some of this land had passed down to Perambulator, one document records that he had a leasehold on land belonging to the Manor of Shotford, this he sold for £5 in 1854 to Robert Dendy Esquire of Bognor Regis, Sussex.

Napper Challen

Late in life he took a step back from tenant farming and became a messenger between the village of Donnington and the town of Chichester, Sussex. He was well known and by what is written in his obituary a quite inoffensive man who often spoke to passers by as he trudged along with his wheel barrow.

On Saturday 18th August 1855 on his return from Chichester a journey he took many times a tragic accident befell him. As he was crossing the bridge over Chichester Canal a gust of wind blew his hat into the water, as he reached over to extricate his hat he fell in himself, he was an elderly man and sadly drowned.

Napper Challen Obituary

He must have loved that hat!


7 thoughts on “Drowned in Chichester Canal

  1. What a sad ending to his life! And if my math is right, he was 51—elderly? I guess for those times!! Thanks for sharing the story. It’s remarkable how far back you can trace your family with so much detail. I envy you!

  2. I think your Math is as bad as mine Amy, he was 73. Born in 1782 and died in 1855.
    If you have discovered any British Ancestors, I would be happy to help with your research.

  3. Oh and thanks for that offer. My Cohen line has English roots so when I get to focusing on that one, I may ask for your help. Thank you!!

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