John Hawkins (1939-2020)

We are sad to report the death of John Hawkins of Bognor Regis. Although not an editor in his own right, he gave great service to this society in assisting with publications in recent years. A distinguished local historian of Bognor Regis, a founding member of its local history society in 1979 and one-time curator of its museum, John was a fount of knowledge, always happy to assist researchers. He amassed one of the best local history collections in the region, a marvellous reference library for those interested in genealogy, militaria, and his particular interest, heraldry. He was an early volunteer and contributor to the work of the ‘Clergy of the Church of England Database, 1540-1835’ – now on-line – and so became an expert on the clergy. John helped me to create a database of over 300 diocesan chancellors for the period 1540-1700, the ‘Sir Humphrey’ figures who were vital to the administration of dioceses then and now.

John’s interest in military history drew him into work for this society, for the first volume he helped with substantially was that edited by Dr Keith Grieves on Sussex in the First World War, volume 84, issued in 2004. He went on to supply all the short clergy biographies that populate so many footnotes in Sussex Clergy Inventories 1600-1750, edited by Dr Annabelle Hughes, volume 91, 2009. East Sussex Church Monuments 1530-1830, edited by Dr Nigel Llewellyn, volume 93, 2011, was another project that played to John’s strengths and one which he relished; he worked tirelessly in support of Nigel, cross-checking material meticulously. Generous with his time to a fault, John read and commented on research by so many friends, and Joan Barham and I benefited from his knowledge and wisdom when completing Church Surveys of Chichester Archdeaconry, 1602, 1610 & 1636, volume 98, 2018. In recent months he would have been found in the West Sussex Record Office working alongside Rev Graham Claydon on a collection of nineteenth century letters regarding Tangmere and Goodwood.

This society has lost a loyal friend and contributor; the Record Office has lost a benefactor who assiduously saved, collected, often catalogued, and then donated important documents, such as significant LEC (Longford Engineering Company) business archives; and Bognor Regis has lost one of its great historians.

Andrew Foster