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1954: Did Dick Whittington live in Cuckfield?

Updated: May 19, 2023

Newscutting from the Daily Mirror on 27 January 1954

The news cutting above is intriguing. We can confirm that records show that Elizabeth M Wadstein lived at Ridgecote, Copyhold Lane in 1954. Her phone number was Cuckfield 643.

But electoral registers also show that an Elizabeth M Whittington lived at the same address in 1945.

The conclusion is obvious - Elizabeth married, and from a family tree on we find that her father Edward Whitington died in 1932.

It's fun to imagine that Dick Whittington did once live in Cuckfield but when dealing with the fourteenth century, there is little chance that we can substantiate it. Any further information on the Whittingtons (with one 't' or two) would be appreciated.

The Dick Whittington story goes:

Dick Whittington and His Cat is the English folklore surrounding the real-life Richard Whittington (c. 1354–1423), wealthy merchant and later Lord Mayor of London. The legend describes his rise from poverty-stricken childhood with the fortune he made through the sale of his cat to a rat-infested country. However, the real Whittington did not come from a poor family of common stock, and there is no compelling evidence supporting the stories about the cat, or even whether he owned one.

Another element in the legend is that Dick attempted to flee his service as a scullion one night, heading towards home (or reached Highgate Hill in later tradition), but was dissuaded by the sound of Bow Bells, which promised he would be mayor of London one day.

Illustration: The History of Whittington and his cat, New York : John McLoughlin and Boston : GW Cottrel, between 1850 and 1860?

Contributed by Malcolm Davison.

Visit Cuckfield Museum, follow the link for details


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