Joel Wharton (1564 – 1613) was the curate at Cocking from about 1591 to about 1597, during the time that Henry Blaxton was vicar.
Wharton was born at Ticehurst, near Tunbridge Wells in what is now East Sussex. He was baptised on 19 November 1564 at St. Mary’s Church in Ticehurst, where his father John was vicar. Wharton was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford where he graduated as Bachelor of Arts in February 1584.
On 18 January 1585, he married Ann Woodes at St. James’s Church at Stedham where their first son, also Joel, was baptised on 25 April 1588.
By January 1587, he had been appointed curate of the parish of Stedham cum Heyshott, a post he held until he moved to Cocking.
He first appears in the Church of England records as curate of Cocking in May 1595, although he had probably held the post since 1591. In March 1592, Wharton is listed as a witness in a court case between Margaret Saunders (alias Philip) and Joan Philip disputing the will of Andrew Philip. (Presumably Joan was Andrew’s lawful wife, but by the time of his death, he was living with Margaret as man and wife and the two widows were arguing about which had a valid claim against his estate.) In the deposition, Joel describes himself as curate of Cocking, having lived in the village for half a year, previously living at Woolbeding for two years and before that at Stedham for four years.
On 29 March 1592, Joel and Ann’s second son, Richard, was baptised at Cocking. Ann’s death is not recorded but on 12 July 1602, Joel married Jane Fades at St. Andrew’s Church, West Dean.
Wharton was presented as vicar of West Dean on 20 January 1601, following the resignation of Garrett Williamson note 1, and instituted as vicar on 7 February. He continued to serve the parish of West Dean until his death in the summer of 1613, aged 48.
His widow Jane re-married twice and outlived all her husbands. She married Robert Tregos (1597 – 1626) at West Dean on 19 October 1623, followed by John Phillips (1590 – 1636) at West Dean on 8 June 1628. She was buried at West Dean following her death on 24 April 1644, when she was described in the parish register as “widow, whose first husband was Mr. Joel Wharton, late vicar of West Dean”.
Note 1. Williamson later became a residentiary canon at Chichester Cathedral and was succeeded in this post on his death in 1610 by Roger Andrews who had been vicar of Cocking from 1606 to 1609.