He is possibly the same John Beard whose birth was registered at Lewes District in the December quarter of 1889. He appears on the 1891 census living at Wilderness Cottages, Wivelsfield, with his parents Thomas Beard (aged 31, born in Chailey, working as an agricultural labourer) and Martha Beard (aged 31, born in Lindfield) and his three brothers and sisters: Mercy Beard (aged six), Martha (aged four) and Gersham (aged three). All four children had been born in Wivelsfield. Ellen Upton (aged 12, also born in Wivelsfield) is noted as a (very young) nursemaid.
By the time the 1901 census was taken, the family had moved to Leigh Coppice, Chailey. John’s sisters Martha and Mercy do not appear on that census return, but Gersham does, along with another sister, Grace (aged nine, born in Wivelsfield).