Brett Volume 3: Chapter XXXI - St. Leonards 1844

From Historical Hastings

Transcriber’s note[edit]

Chapter XXXI - St. Leonards 1844[edit]

 Pg.272 

The Commissioners and their meetings
The Brighton and Hastings Railway to have a station at St. Leonards
Nuisances to be abated
Miscellaneous improvements
Management of fire-engine
More money difficulties
Parochial matters
Railway contention (the two towns in opposition)
Planta accepts the Chiltern Hundreds
Requisition to Mr. Brisco for M.P.
Independent conduct of a St. Leonards voter (an unpardonable sin in political economy, displeasing to partizans)
The trading vessels
The steam boat "Waterman” on the rocks
Wrecks of the "Kent and the Mary Ann"
Drowning of Capt. Granville Elliotts
A carrier fined £100
Deaths and life sketches of William Lucas-Shadwell, T.C. Bartram and Charles Deudney Golden Wedding of James Murdoch
Marriage of T.B. Brett
"General Tom Thumb" at St .Leonards
Deaths in 1844
Interpolatory obituaries (in 1883) of George Potter, Mrs. Beal (a centenarian), Mrs. Thomas (a nonagenarian), and Robert Deudney, J.P.
The St.Leonards Caves
Gilbert's tooth-drawing invention
Surgeon's patient turned doctor (a noteworthy incident).

Proposed Brighton to Hastings Railway[edit]

The St. Leonards Commissioners in 1844 were. R. Hollond, M.P., J. Harwood, M.D., Major Jeffries, Dr. H. Burton, A. Burton, John Gill, C. and R. Deudney, Jas. Rock, C. H. Southall, S. Chester, G. F. Jarman, W. Waghorne, W. D. Davis, Rev. J. C. Leslie and G. B. Greenough.

At their first meeting for the year, held in the Victoria Hotel on February 19th, a resolution was carried "That in the opinion of this meeting the proposed railway from Brighton to St. Leonards is most desirable, and likely to prove of great advantage to the town." Also "That copies of this resolution be sent to the Borough Members, with a request to use their utmost efforts in support of the proposed Bill." At a subsequent meeting (June 24th) the Commissioners’ Clerk was desired to make known to the Directors the importance to the town of having a station at the west end, and of the danger to the water-supply in the proposed formation of a tunnel in continuance of the line to Ashford; also that the Commissioners request that clauses be inserted in the Bill for securing to the town both a west-end station and compensation in case of any diminution of the water supply. This desire of the Commissioners was ultimately complied with, but not without exciting a feeling of rivalry between St. Leonards and Hastings, the latter town being anxious that a terminus should be erected in the Priory Brooks, and for that purpose strove its utmost to bring the South-Eastern line to that spot, in lieu of the Brighton line to St. Leonards, Of these matters there will be much to say further on. In the mean time let us take a glance at a few minor transactions of the St. Leonards Commissioners during the year under consideration. In consequence of the circular steps leading to the top of East Ascent from behind 23 Marina having proved less a convenience than a nuisance, Mr. Rawson’s executors were to be applied to to stop up the thoroughfare. The throwing of rubbish upon the beach and the drying of clothes upon the same were other nuisances that were to be immediately abated. Among the improvements to be effected during the rear were the following:— Messrs. Hughes and Hunter to put in drains and gullies near South Lodge and West Ascent to prevent a recurrence of floods from West and Quarry hills. Mr. Burgess to improve the channeling above Gloucester Lodge with boulder paving. Messrs Woodgate and How to construct wooden steps from the parade to the beach at a cost of £6 15s, The seats at the Library to have painted on them "For the use of visitors," and a new seat for boatmen to be placed near the slipway. Mr. Putland to be employed to alter the gradients at the foot of Maze Hill and to lay on a surface of hard stone. Mr. Carey to reinstate, at a cost of £27 10s., the raddle groyne partly destroyed by the severe storm of July 30th.

The Commissioners, with the view of securing greater efficiency in the management of the fire-engine, resolved — That notice be put up that the key of the engine-house can be obtained at Mr. Naish’s, in the Victoria Mews, and at the South Lodge; that the distance of fire-plugs be painted on the nearest walls; that a crow-bar and pole-axe be provided; that a dozen torches be kept in readiness for the use of the firemen when called out in a dark night; that a duplicate implement be provided for turning-on water in the absence of the turncock; that Mr. Chamberlain be paid £13 17s. for rens of the engine-house; that Mr. Naish be paid £4 14s, for past services, and that he receive £5 per year in future on the understanding that the engine be exercised not fewer than four times a year. — The further transactions of the Commissioners were comprised in the following summary: — The usual twice-a-year rate of 1s. on town property and 6d. on agricultural was, of course, levied on owners or occupiers, and the stereotyped order given to summons all defaulters if demands were not complied with in a reasonable time. Unfortunately for both parties, the reasonable time was never well defined, it being variously contracted and extended. The question of a sinking-fund was re-introduced by the Clerk for the ninth or tenth time, but no motion made thereon. Unsuccessful negociations(sic) with replicants to six advertisements in the Times for loans at 4 per cent. were brought to a close, and the advertisements were ordered to be repeated, it being desired to pay off the existing bondholders and reduce the cost of interest. A loan of £2,500 at 4½ per cent. and an additional loan at the same rate haying been offered by Capt. Style, the said offers were declined, and the Clerk was ordered to make further efforts, but not incur any further expense. In consequence, however, of the death of the Commissioners’ Clerk (Mr. George Fraser) this duty devolved on his successor (Mr.Wm. Markwick Burton). A draft was to be given for the Clerk’s salary as soon as funds would admit of it, and a similar process was to be observed for the payment of interest to bondholders.

Parochial Matters.[edit]

The overseers appointed for St. Leonards were John Painter and Edward Farncomb; the surveyors were Charles Deudney and Edward Farncomb; the assessors were William Noon and Newton Parks for the inbounds, and Edward Farncomb and Richard Lamb for the outbounds; the vestry-clerk was John Phillips. The parochial business of that year was strictly of a routine character, the greatest item of public importance being the levying of two poor-rates at 3d., two borough-rates at 3d., and one highway rate at 3d.; which, with the Commissioners’ two rates at 1s., brought up the total of the year’s rating for that parish to 3/3 in the £. It may be mentioned that a threepenny rate at that time realised about £52. The overseers appointed for St. Mary Magdalen were George Roberts and John Peerless; the surveyors were John Austin and Nelson Andrews; the assessors were William Noon and Newton Parks. The rates for the year were two for the poor at-6d., two for the borough at 3d., and one for the highways - at 3d.; total 1/9 for that portion of the parish eastward of the Archway, or 3/9 for the property in the western portion as far as the Victoria Hotel, where the two parishes joined, The average attendance of parishioners at the vestry meetings was about a dozen. The committee appointed for revising the assessment consisted of George Voysey, Stephen Putland, Wm. Noon, John Peerless, James Troup and Charles Neve. The report of this committee was adopted. At one of the meetings, it was resolved that the Vestry-clerk give notice to the Trustees of the Magdalen Charity Lands that it is the intention of the parishioners to enforce their claims and interest as they may be legally advised. At the next meeting, Mr. T. B. Baker was appointed Vestry-clerk, and the overseers were desired to take his opinion respecting the rating of the Magdalen turnpike gate and other property.

Having already quoted the resolutions of the St. Leonards Commissioners favouring the introduction of the Brighton and Lewes Railway to St. Leonards, it will be opportune now to glance at the proceedings of the public in the matter.

On the 20th of February, a meeting of the owners and occupiers of property in the parishes of St. Leonards and St. Mary Magdalen was held in the St. Leonards Assembly Rooms, with Major Jeffries presiding, when resolutions were passed in favour of the projected Brighton, Lewes and Hastings Railway; but in opposition to this, another meeting was held, three days later, to promote a line in a different direction, whose terminus should be at Hastings instead of St. Leonards. The ball of rivalry was thus again set rolling between the two towns, not to be stopped in this instance until both parties could claim the winnings.

The St. Leonards party were naturally jubilant at the receipt of intelligence that the Bill for thé Brighton and Hastings line had passed a second reading on the 19th of March, and were still more elated to find its third reading effected on the 23rd of May, the same to be fully established on the 29th of July. On the evening after the third passing, a band was engaged by the people of St. Leonards to parade the town, with flags and banners, and. afterwards to proceed to Hastings, there to enliven the good folk with demonstrations of the happy event.

It was said that one effect produced in the old town - an exceptional one, it may be believed — was to cause a chemist to close his shop, he stating as a reason that the Hastings people had had so strong a dose as not to require any other medicine for at least a fortnight.

Be it said, however, that, like men who could wisely accommodate themselves to accomplished facts, many of the influential residents of the old town joined those of the new in a grand dinner at the St. Leonards Assembly Rooms on the 18th of September, to celebrate the passing of the Bill. Included with these. were Dr. MacCabe (Mayor), C. Hicks, Esq., (Mayor of Rye), R, Hollond, Esq., M.P., H Elphinstone, Esq., M.P., J. Nash, Esq., (Chairman of the Railway Company), A. R. Briggs, Esq., Lieut.-Col. Williams, C.E., Capt. Mackay, James Troup, Esq., and about 100 other persons. Mr. Hutchings, of the Saxon, was the caterer, and Mr. Elford’s band performed the music.

After this, two other meetings were held before the close of the year, to receive reports of the committee appointed to watch the progress of the South Eastern Company's Bill through Parliament.

The first political event of the year was the election to aldermanic honours of the well-known Liberal surgeon, Mr. William Duke, in the place of another well-known Liberal, Mr. William Scrivens, of the banking firm of Smith, Hilder, Scrivens and Co., who, after a short but painful illness, departed life on the 15th of January, at the age of 71, Mr. Duke’s elevation caused 4 vacancies in the Council, to fill which which the Conservative Hugh Penfold (an iron-monger, of George street), and the Liberal Henry Dunk (a grocer, of High street) were put in nomination, The contest was a sturdy one, but the poll, at the close, revealed the fact that the Conservative had beaten his opponent by 280 votes to 181.

Unpardonable Political Sin - Vessels Wrecked - Obituaries[edit]

Two months later (about March 19th) it was announced that in consequence of continued impaired health, the Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Planta had accepted the Chiltern Hundreds. Thereupon, a formal requisition to Mr. Brisco was taken round for signatures - not as it was stated, becanse there would be any opposition to. Mr. Brisco as Planta’s successor, but with the object of showing that gentleman how very general the feeling was that the time had come for him to be our Representative. When the paper was taken to St. Leonardensis by Messrs. Deudney and Noon, the questions were asked "Is Mr. Brisco a moderate Liberal or a moderate Conservative; is he in favor(sic) of Free Trade or against it; and is there really to be no other candidate?" To these three questions satisfactory replies were given, and the querent’s signature to the requisition was obtained.

A few hours later, while crossing an unoccupied plot of ground next the old National School (where Mr. Carey afterwards built his workshops, and which latter at the time of writing has been supplanted by Kennard’s noble pile of shops, show-rooms and factory) St. Leonardensis observed a 1arge placard pasted on the gable end of Lavatoria, with the announcement that "Robert Ross Rowan Moore, Esq., will address the Electors of Hastings at the Royal Oak Hotel this evening at eight o’clock precisely." He attended that crowded meeting, and was so satisfied that his signature to the requisition had been obtained by misrepresentation that he immediately wrote separate letters to Messrs. Deudney and Noon to request them to erase his name from the document. The writer had no reason to believe that his request was not acceded to; and, to the credit of the two canvassers here named be it said, the one was afterwards ever courteous until he died, and the other continued a gentlemanly friendliness for forty succeeding years. Now, in strict fairness, it behoves me to state a case on the opposite side.

Within a brief period of the little event just narrated, St. Leonardensis was asked by the late Alderman Ross to become a member of a new political association then holding its meetings at the Royal Oak. He acceded to the request, and at the first meeting, he attended he found that the chief business discussed was the means to be employed in making certain Tories assessors, so that they might be prevented coming forward during the term as candidates for the Town Council. In his innocence, the new member enquired if the consent of the parties had been obtained? The question was answered with derisive laughter, and the querent was informed that both parties did the same thing and that he had yet a good deal to learn. His rejoinder was that with him two blacks did not make a white, and two wrongs did not make a right. Then, treating Mr. Ross as he had previously treated Messrs. Deudney Pg.273 and Noon, St. Leonardensis wrote to say "Please keep my subscription, but disenroll my name, as I fear that my conscientious scruples are more likely to harm than to benefit the association." But I will continue the story in the first person instead of the third, it being a more, convenient form of writing, and need not necessarily reveal the personal identity of the writer. I may say, then, that the gentleman, who solicited me to becgme a member of the association never afterwards spoke to me for a period of twenty years, whilst the etiquette of one or two of his political associates was also some degrees colder than its former wont. Thus I found it to be perfectly true that which I was told me at the first and only meeting that I attended, namely, that I had yet much to learn. I was an apt pupil, and I soon learnt the lesson that to have an opinion, of one’s own and to act upon it, was the unpardonable sin of political economy. To my own view I was the exponent of a right principle, but in the eyes of party politicians I was an unmanageable crotcheteer.

Yet I have gone on from that time till the present in a similar course of sin until I have become incorrigibly indifferent to the suspicion of being a bad Liberal and a worse Tory. This introduction of personal matter may seem to be in questionable taste, but I desire to give it the chance of a permanent-record, if only as a proof of fitness for writing history especially political history without bias.

Having already enumerated the parochial officials and given some account of their doings, also described the action taken by the inhabitants of both towns for the introduction of railways, and reviewed the political situation, I now proceed to the narration of events of a more miscellaneous character. In these, the shipping interest and maritime casualties seem to claim precedence.

Between the 21st and 23rd of March there were no fewer than eight vessels, owned by Hastings and St. Leonards ship-merchants, delivering, their cargoes on the beach; namely, the schooner Burfield Brothers, the schooner Caroline, the sloop William Pitt, the sloop Milward, the brig Victoria, the brig Pelican, the sloop Phoenix, and the brig Lamburn. And as this was no uncommon occurrence, it will give my readers an idea of how coal, timber and general merchandise were brought to the borough before the railways were constructed, the return voyages being frequently utilised by the conveyance of hops, marine stores, "empties," and even fish.

On Saturday, April 20th, there was considerable excitement in both towns in consequence of the steam-boat Waterman, No. 10, having struck upon the Castle rocks nearly in front of Beach cottages. The engines were immediately reversed, and the vessel was got off; but as it was found that the larboard bow had sustained damage, thereby letting in the water freely, an attempt was made to run the ship ashore at the Fishmarket. In this attempt, however, she encountered another obstacle by striking on the Pier rocks. She had now a second hole in her hull, but was ultimately beached at Caroline place where she remained five days for temporary repairs, and was then re-launched for London, She was 107 feet long and was propelled by two engines, each of 16 horse power. She had been on an experimental trip to Ostend, had called at Dover to deliver letters, and was making a pleasure-trip to Hastings, some of the party on board having arranged to dine at the Oak.

A much more serious disaster occurred on 2 Tuesday, July 30th, through an on-coming southerly gale at the time for getting off three vessels which had been discharging cargoes. One of them, named The Kent, the property of Messrs. Robert and Chas. Deudney, was on the beach at St, Leonards, it having brought a freight of coals to Mr. Charles Deudney’s warehouse at the West Marina. In attempting to get her off in the teeth of the gale the hawsers broke and she was driven broadside on, where, exposed to the fury of the wind and waves, she became a complete wreck. The crew were got ashore by means of a rope, but they were unable to save their clothes. The sum of £30 was afterwards collected and divided amongst them. The other two vessels were at Hastings, one of which, named The Brothers, was owned by Messrs. Burfield, and the other, named Mary Anne, was the property of Messrs. Harman and Co. The last-named sustained no very material damage, and was got to sea on the following night; but the Mary Anne, after getting out to sea, was blown ashore at the Ness Point, where she also became a wreck, the crew being fortunately saved. It was only a few days before this loss was sustained by Mr Harman that his son, a lad about ten or eleven years of age, had a narrow escape from being thrown from a horse. The animal was being led by another boy of about the same age, when it started off at a sharp gallop up High street, as far as the Roebuck inn, where it was stopped by Mr. Campbell, Inspector of Police, who, while seizing the bridle by one hand, caught the boy in his other hand and arm. This was regarded by those who witnessed it as a dexterous feat.

On the 30th of August there was a successful regatta, the details of which I am unable to give; but, as an occurrence of quite a different type in connection with the water, it may be stated, on the authority of the Longford Journal, that in the month of August the death of Captain Granville Heywood Elliott, of the 4th Dragoon Guards, was caused by drowning, He was,29 years of age, and the only son of Col. Elliott, a retired officer, of Valebrook Lodge, near Hastings. The old Colonel had a great penchant for music, and it was the privilege of the present writer on more than one occasion while having the management of a public band, to perform some of the Colonel’s favorite marches and other military airs for his delectation.

I have said nothing of smuggling lately, and for the very sufficient reason that there has been nothing to say, the traffic in contraband having almost died out. On the 27th of January, however, a carrier of Icklesham, named Barden, was fined £100 for having been detected in conveying to Hastings a quantity of smuggled brandy and tobacco. His horse and van were also declared to be forfeited to the Crown. The detectives were two Customs-house officers, Sargant and Picknell.

It now comes in my way now to chronicle the deaths of those who in the year 1844 were persons of sufficient standing and influence to claim recognition at my hands. The brief, but painful illness and subsequent death of Mr. William Scrivens (a Hastings banker, and the father of our highly-respected Mr. George Scrivens) have already been referred to, as well as the election of Mr. William Duke to succeed Mr. Scrivens on the aldermanic bench. That Mr. Scrivens took an interest in the local railway schemes of 1843-4 is but natural, although he did not live long enough to witness their accomplishment. The same may be said of his friend and fellow-townsman, Mr. William Lucas-Shadwell, whose death also occurred in the same year. This gentleman, as before stated, was the mover of a resolution in favour of the South-Eastern line, as opposed to the Brighton, Lewes and Hastings projection; and it is a singular coincidence that his death took place on the 18th of September, the very day that a public dinner at St. Leonards signalised the passing of the Bill for the Brighton line. Mr. Shadwell had nearly attained to the age of four-score years, had followed the profession of an attorney in Hastings for over fifty-six years, and was probably articled to "Lawyer Thatcher" or "Lawyer Carey." He was the last male descendant in a direct line of a very ancient family, who derived their name from their estate called Shadwell, in the parish of Buxsted, near Uckfield, where the family resided as far back as the reign of Edward III. In more recent times the principal branches of the family became residents at Ripe and Ringmer, in the same county. Thomas Shadwell, Esq., of Middleham, Ringmer, was High Sheriff in 1728, and his son William married a daughter of John Lucas, Esq., of Longford, Barcombe. Descending from these were Thomas, Mary and William, the last of whom was the subject of this notice, and who, while practising at Hastings, on the 7th of December, 1788, married a Miss Ayling, of Tillington, near Petworth. About the same time his elder brother (Thomas Lucas Shadwell, of Ringmer) was married at Hanover square, London, to a Mrs. Bristow. This brother died, without issue, in 1804. In the month of June, 1811, the name of Lucas was added to that of Shadwell by the Prince-Regent’s so-called license or grant, and in conformity with the will of Mr. Shadwell's last-surviving maternal aunt, of Longford, in Sussex. On the 25th of September, 1844, the remains of our Mr. Lucas-Shadwell were conveyed to Fairlight church, attended by his tenantry in that parish, as well as by many of the Hastings tradesmen, who partially closed their places of business on the mournful occasion. In the funereal cortége were also many gentlemen’s carriages. Mrs. Shadwell, who was somewhat the senior of her husband, had died two years before, and was buried at the same place. On the 10th of December following, the London Gazette announced that her Majesty had been pleased to authorize William Drew Stent, Esq., who had succeeded to the estates of Mr. Lucas-Shadwell, to assume the surname of Lucas-Shadwell, instead of Stent, in pursuance of a request for that purpose by his late uncle. Of this last-named gentleman, who afterwards built a stately mansion at Fairlight, raised and commanded a corps of artillery volunteers, laboured zealously in the cause of temperance, and was in many other ways an estimable man, but who died thirty years after inheriting his uncle’s name and estates, much could be said that deserves to be put on record. Also connected with the life and death of the elder Mr. Shadwell, whose career in Hastings embraced so considerable a period of the 18th and 19th centuries, are many local associations of historical interest.

Within four days of Mr. Shadwell’s demise the death was announced of T. C. Bartrum, Esq., of Lincoln’s Inn. I only knew this gentleman as a visitor at St. Leonards, but by those who enjoyed his personal acquaintance his death was deeply regretted. Another visitor who died about the same time or a little later was Samuel Tertius Galton, Esq., whose age was 61 years. Still somewhat later, namely, in the last week of November, Death overtook an esteemed resident in the person of Hugh William Brown, Esq. This gentleman, with one or two members of his family, had resided for several years at 62 Marina, as part-occupant with the Dowager Lady Lubbock, to whom -he was step-nephew. It was his daughter - Miss Brown - whose marriage with the Rev. G. J. Symson was celebrated with flaunting of flags, firing of guns, feasting of tradesmen, &c., as described among the events of 1838, On the death of this lady’s father, the tradesmen and inhabitants, to the number of fifty, again testified their respect by following his remains to a vault at St. Leonards church. This was on the 2nd of December, 1844, the deceased being in the 69th year of his age.

On the 16th of the same month the death of Mr. Charles Deudney occurred, and as suddenly as did that of his brother Arthur, seven, years previously. His residence was at 105 (now 116) Marina, and although he at times suffered greatly from tic douloureux, he retired to rest on a Sunday night in what was regarded as a fair condition of health, but in a few hours afterwards, life was extinguished. Mr. Deudney was a partner with his younger brother Robert as a coal-merchant and ship-owner, and, like his brother, had been a parish officer and a St. Leonards Commissioner for ten years or more. He was 52 years of age, and his death caused another gap in an extensive family circle, while it left a widow and five children not over-well provided for. His father was Mr. Charles Deudney, whose nativity and mortality both took place in the Gensing farmhouse, and his grandfather was Thomas Deudney, who was born at Guildford in 1718, the fifth vear of the reign of George I., and who came from Horsham to what is now St. Leonards in 1750 as a tenant-farmer and agent of Sir Charles Eversfield.

These and other particulars of a family esteemed throughout the county for nearly 150 years have been given in previous chapters of this History, and as I proceed there will, doubtless be occasions on which further reference to the family will become necessary. To return, however, to the later Charles Deudney whose death in 1844 is now under notice, it may be said that he was one of a very numerous family. But the names of those which have come under my own recognition are fourteen in number, and as follow:—Thomas (a farmer at Ditchling), Arthur (hotel-keeper), Charles (merchant, and married to Miss Fagg. of Lydd), Stephen (died at the age of 14), George (a sailor), John (a traveller), Robert (farmer, alderman and magistrate; married Miss Blackman, of Hooe), William (a miller), Sarah (married to Mr. Edward Wenham, of Hastings), Cordelia (married to Mr, Arkcoll, of Hurstmonceux, April 8th, 1814), Harriett (died, unmarried), Anne (married to Mr, Falcover or Faulkner), Jane (married to Mr. Tucker, of London, same day as her sister Cordelia), and Charlotte (married to Mr. Thomas Smith, a London merchant).

Widow Miller (Mrs. Thomas's elder sister, and consequently Mr. Thomas Deuney's eldest daughter) died also at High Street, Hastings on March 19, 1874, aged 86.

One of the employees of Mr. Charles Deudney, the elder (whose death occurred 18 months after the commencement of St. Leonards as a town) was the young man James Murdock, who, as related in an earlier chapter, sold as much as 300 quarts of milk a day to the comparatively few inhabitants and among the ten or eleven hundred workmen then engaged on the buildings. Mr. Murdock has been a milkman ever since, and at one time was the occupier of Blacklands Farm which no longer exists. He was one of a family of seven belonging to Master-gunner Archibald Murdock, whose settlement and career in Hastings have been heretofore described. James, the last surviving son, was married on the 14th of July, 1833, to Miss Mary Ann Noakes, then of Bexhill, the bridegroom being about 22 years of age; and the event is now rendered noteworthy by the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Murdock, together with a few friends, celebrated their golden wedding with a trip to Normanhurst. That Mr. Murdock should have lived for a period of 72 years in the almost immediate neighbourhood of Catsfield, that he should have known the. locality and even the haunts of the smugglers of bygone times in and around that district, and that he should have deferred a visit to Normanhurst until he and Mrs. Murdock had realised a married life of fifty years is a circumstance almost unique; and the wish of the writer is that these long-period denizens of St. Leonards may have many more opportunities of a visit to the beautiful mansion and grounds of Sir Thomas Brassey.

Among the St. Leonards marriages of 1844 was the humble one of the writer; and the event is here referred to as an introduction of a practice that in later years has been more honoured by its abrogation than it would have been by its continuance. As soon as it became known that two persons had become man and wife in lawful matrimony, it became a matter-of-money with members of the "Rough Band," who saluted the wedding party with as much harmony as could be produced with cows’ horns and tin kettles until certain exactions were complied with. In my own case, with a knowledge of the probable duration of the infliction and of its repetition for several evenings if the indicated demands were resisted, I "tipped, up" at once, and was then favoured with the more familiar strain of "He’s a jolly good fellow!" The "Band" then adjourned to some public-house for refreshment, but as a souvenir of its visit a large log of wood was thrown into the house, for which a claimant could never be heard of. The said log, or a portion of it, was kept for many years as a memento of the 25th of January, 1844.

To the several occurrences already described, may be added two others, to which I need make but a brief allusion, It was in 1844 that Mr. Robert Deudney was appointed agent to the Eversfield estate, which office he relinquished twenty years later, and it was in 1844 that "General Tom Thumb" paid a visit to St. Leonards, the visit being renewed twenty years later: and, as a further coincidence, it is the present year (1883) that Death has taken over these two persons, each in his own way a man of mark, Of Tom Thumb, it may be said that his real name was Charles Stratton; that he was born at Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S., on January 11th, 1832; that on his first visit to St. Leonards he was represented as being 26 inches in height and 15lbs in weight (the latter probably understated): that on his second visit he was 31 Pg.274 inches high and much stouter than on his frst visit; that on the latter occasion he was accompanied by his wife and child, the maiden name of the former being Lavina Warren, her age ten years younger and her stature one inch taller than her husband’s; and that with this remarkable group of five lilliputians were "Commodore Nutt" and Miss Minna Warren.

The Priory Brooks & Fields of Ice - St. Leonards Caves - Obituaries[edit]

The remaining events of 1844 are few in number, and to these I shall make but a passing allusion. The first was a stupendous fall of chalk from the cliff at Beachy Head, which, it was subsequently asserted, stopped the traveling of the beach eastward, and thus commenced the denudation of the foreshores of Pevensey, Bulverhithe, St. Leonards and Hastings. The next was the journeying of several interested persons from Hastings and St. Leonards to join the forty or fifty thousand witnesses to Capt, Warner’s successful experiment at Brighton in sinking the ship John O' Gaunt. The third was the removal ot the old Corporation pews at All Saints’ church, when a monumental brass was discovered, representing a man and a woman in an act of supplication, and on which was the following inscription:- "Here, under this stone, lyeth the bodies of Thomas Goodenough, some time burges of this town, and Margaret, his wyf, for whos soules, of your charitie, say a Paternoster and Ave." The fourth and last, was the giving of beef to nearly one-hundred poor families by Mr. James Troup, the founder of Warrior square, for their Christmas dinners.

And now, as has been my custom with previous years, I will close the life, so to speak, of 1844 with an alphabetic record of human mortality in and near the borough, adding thereto the places of sepulture, so far as personal knowledge or acquired information serves me.

Brignell, Stephen, 15 years, Feb. St. Leonards,
Bartram, T. C., Esq. of Lincoln’s Inn, at St, Leonards, Sept. 22.
Brown, Hugh Wm,, Esq., 68, Dec. 2, St. Leonards,
Barnard, Mary, wife of Thos., 68, July 23, Bexhill
Bray, Sarah, wife of James, 65, April 16, St, Mary’s-in-Castle.
Bell. Matthew Howard, 11, son of Alfred, Feb, 21, do.
Brown, Lieut, Jno. Geo., 24, April 6. do,
Baumgardt, Geo, Augustus, 14, June 5, do.
Blogg, Samuel Waites, 68, Feb. 20. All Saints.
Bevins, Jno,, churchwarden, 52, March 24, All Saints.
Crouch, Chas,, 22 mos September, St. Leonards,
Chamberlin, Edwd,, son of Wm, & Ann, 29, at St, Leonards, Nov. 3, St. Mary in-Castle,
Church, Wm., 29, Oct. 16, Fairlight.
Davies. Frances Amelia, 34, Nov. St. Leonards.
Duke. George, 42, Nov. do.
Duplock, liza, wife of Geo.; 914, April 16, Bexhill.
Deudney, Chas, 52, at Marina, St. Leonards, Dec. 16.
Duke, Elizh, 21, April 17, All Saints.

“The soul that with sincere desires
Seeks after Jesu’s love,
That Soul the Holy Ghost inspires
With breathing from above.”


Fowler, William, 29, June, St, Leonards.
French, Sarah, 71, September, Bexhill.
Farbridge, Mary, 30, d. of Capt. Geo. Nov, 10, St, Mary-in-Castle.
Farncomb, Ann Eliza, 28, d. of Hy. & Louisa, Nov. 22, Fairlight,
Gill, John, of Tiverton, 57, July 14, St. Mary in-Castle,
Galton, Tertius, H-q., 61. Oct. 29, St. Leonards.
Golding, Joseph, 53 or 63, Dec. 7, St. Clement’s
Glazier, Samael, 70, April 30, All Saints.
Harris, John, 14 weeks, February, St. Leonards,
Harmer, Henry, 66, August 6, do.
Harmer, Geo, Jas. 3, September, do,
Jefferies, Jobn, 69, August, do.
Jenner. Jesse, 11, Oct. 3, St. Mary-in-Castle,
Landell, Ann, 90, March 13, Bexhill,
Lloyd, Elizabeth Mary Ann, 33, June 24. St, Mary’s.
Lees, Eleanor CG, 21, d. of Sir G.W. April 22, do.
Lucas-Shadwell, William, 78, September 18, Fairlight,
Mawe, Emily Jane, 7 months, October, St. Leonards,
Mackay, Ch. Douglas, of Antrim, 85, June 12, St, Mary's.
Money, Emma Kemp, 35, wife of Rev. K. A, Feb. 9, All Saints,
Mills, Ellen, d. of G. & A. Sargent, Dec. 4, All saints.
Nisbett, Charlotte, 18, November, St. Leonards.
Nelsen, Wliz. Ann, d. of T. & 7,12, Dee, 3, St. Mary-in-Castle.
Offer, James, 36, February 8 or 9, St. Leonards.
Prendergast, Bridget; 43, March 1, do.
Penfold, Wm. Peter, 3, April, do.
Pariah, Eliza, 20, Oct. 17 or 18, do.
Quaife, Eliza, 1, June, do.
Roper, Hy. John, 8 mes. Sept. do.
Sparshott, Sum. Jas. 10 days, March, do.
Strickland, Sarah, 1, March 3, do.
Smith, Wm., 72, June 36, Bexhill.
Standen, Jno, Hutchings, 4, July 23, St. Mary-in-Castle,
Steward. Ann, wife of C. W.H.27, April 7, St. Clement’s
Scrivens, Wm, banker, 71, Jan, 15, All Saints.
Towner, Ann, 30, July, 5t. Lecnards.
Towner, Charles, 2 days,July, do.
Tebay. Ann. 60, April, do.
Tooth. Edwar', 28, Nov. 30, St, Mary-in-Castle.
Thwaites, Thos., grocer. 79, Oct. 25, St. Clement’s.
Vennall, Wm., 59, August 31, St. Mary-in-Castle.
Walter, Alexander, 50, March, St. Leonards.
Waterman, Kmily, 3 mos., July, do.
Waters, Ann. 14 moa., September, do.
Waden, William, 69, November, do.
Watson, George, Esq. , 65, September 6, Bexhill.
Weston, Benjamin Bossom, 20, August 10, All Saints.

Interpolatory Obituaries[edit]

In the preceding columns I entered into a description of certain marriages and deaths which occurred in the year 1844, associating therewith some genealogical details; and now, in 1883, I am suddenly called upon to notice in conformity with a plan hitherto pursued - the demise of one or two persons who have been gathered to their fathers concurrently with the time of writing. The first to claim this obitual notice is the late George Potter, whose sudden illness while out for a ride on Saturday terminated in death at half-past seven on the following Sunday morning. The deceased was 74 years of age, and although his end was so comparatively abrupt and unexpected, it had been apparent to his friends and acquaintances that notwithstanding a characteristic cheerfulness, there were traces of a gradual approach to dissolution. As a servant at the Saxon Hotel prior to the year 1836, and as principal at the Horse and Groom Inn from 1848, Mr. Potten had been an inhabitant of St. Leonards during a period of from forty to fifty years. When writing of the events of 1836, I stated that in the month of May, Mr.W. M. Eldridge, who had been proprietor and occupier of the Saxon Hotel for about four years, removed to the Swan Hotel, Hastings, which he had purchased for about £5,000, and, that he was accompanied thither by his faithful employee, Mr. Geo. Potten, A few years later the "Swan" again changed hands, and on the 3lst of July, 1843, Mr. Potten returned to St. Leonards, to take possession of the Horse-and-Groom, and here it was that for a subsequent period of forty years, his industry, orderly management, genial nature, steady habits, and regular attendance at church on Sundays, gained for him a host of friends and patrons. The deceased had been twice married, but died a widower and without family. His second wife - who had been barmaid at the Swan when Mr. Potten was also there employed - died on the second of October, 1880, after a short illness, at the age of 66. And now, after little less than three years, the husband has gone the way of all flesh, to the sorrow of a numerous circle of friends. His remains were conveyed to the Borough Cemetery on Thursday, just a day after the completion of a forty-years’ tenancy of the house which he had so well conducted. The hearse was accompanied by no fewer than two mourning coaches and seven private carriages, containing mourners and acquaintances, The deceased had acquired considerable property, which, if we are correctly informed, has been left to some eight or nine nieces and nephews.

The other person whose death, in 1883, is held to be sufficiently noteworthy to claim a notice at my hands is not, like the last, an old inhabitant of St. Leonards, but one, nevertheless, whose patriarchal age, comparatively near residence, and local associations are such as to form a not unworthy connecting link of the present and the past. On Sunday last the venerable Mrs. Beal, a native of Pevensey, passed away at the extraordinary age of one-hundred years and four months, Her maiden name was Plumley, and, as shown by the parish register, she was baptised at Pevensey in 1783, her birth having taken place on March 20th of that year. Until within three weeks of her death, the old lady had been in good health, and retained the use of her faculties, the only drawback being the necessity to use a crutch in walking, consequent upon a fractured thigh some years ago, which her great age, it was thought, would render hazardous to set. Nearly the whole of her life had been spent in and about the parish of Pevensey, and many have been the visitors to the Castle ruins who will miss her well-known features. For very many years her daughter Mary has watched over her aged mother with filial devotion, and although her charge has now been. taken from her the pleasant lineaments of the mother will still be present to the daughter in a photograph which was taken about three months before her death. It is said that Mrs. Beal at one time lived at the Pevensey-Sluice public-house, and that being sturdy of limb and muscle, she hesitated not to turn out of doors any man who misconducted himself. As already stated, her maiden name was Plumley, and it was on the 1st of May, 1814, that at St. Clement’s Church, Hastings, Sarah Plumley, when about 30 years of age, became Mrs. Beal. It was on a Sunday, and the day was made memorable by the election of Mr. Edward Milward as Mayor, Mr. J. G. Shorter as Deputy-Mayor, and Mr. John Tompsett as Town Clerk, These appointments took place on the beach, as was the custom in those days, the electors being the Jurats and Freemen of Hastings. There was the usual adjournment from the beach to St. Clement's Church, and it is more than possible that Mrs. Beal and her - newly-acquired husband witnessed the procession of Corporate dignitaries. Not only was Mr. and Mrs. Beal’s wedding-day an important one, but the year was also a memorable one both in a local and a national sense. It was a year when Hastings received with joyful demonstrations the success of the British arms in America and the splendid victories of Wellington near-Bayonne; it was a time when the Priory Brooks were a field of ice, simultaneously with the frost-fair on the Thames; it was the year when the remains of the Elizabethan Pier at Hastings were laid bare by high tides in a manner never before nor since witnessed; it was a time when conflicts with French and British privateers in view of the town were almost of daily occurrence; it was a time when Hastings and its neighbourhood were full of soldiers and other armed men; and it was a year of many strange events which would take columns of space to describe; and therefore for the present I must say no more.

Also, whilst I am writing, the remains of the youngest son of the late Mr. Alderman Putland, J.P., of St. Leonards, have been deposited in the Borough, Cemetery, where other deceased members of the family lie buried. Alfred Ernest Putland, who was 62 years of age, and greatly respected by his relatives and friends, died after a brief illness, on the 28th of February. On the same 28th of February, died, as before announced, the much loved patriarch of St. Leonards, Mr. Robert Deudney, J.P., who had attained to the age of 81 years, and whose remains were interred at Hollington (old) Church on Monday, in the grave where also rest the remains of his wife, his youngest daughter and a granddaughter. No words of ours will so much show the esteem in which our aged townsmen lived and died as the personal attendance at his funeral. Besides the hearse which conveyed the coffin, there were no fewer than twenty-one carriages, including those of Mr. C. J, Murray, M.P., and other gentlemen. The Revs. T. W. Adam and H, Powell conducted the funeral rites, and the large concourse of people who assembled in the grounds rendered the spectacle as imposing as it was solemn. Clergymen, gentlemen, tradesmen and tenants made up a mournful procession which reached from the entrance of the burial-ground to the church-porch, whilst the large number of townspeople and villagers crowded the surroundings of the church.

It is another of those many coincidental associations which have occurred while writing the St. Leonards History in 1883 that a first-cousin of the late Charles and Robert Deudney has died within the last few days at Hastings, in her 90th year. She was the widow of Mr. William Thomas and the third daughter of Thomas and Mary Deudney, the former of whom died in 1839, at the age of: 82, and the latter in 1815, at the age of 52. Her father was the elder brother of the late Alderman Deudney’s father, and consequently the son of Thos. Deudney who first settled here in 1750.


Among the accidents of 1844 was one which occurred to a man named Weller, who, while at work in the St. Leonards Caves, 40 feet below the road and 300 feet from the top of the cliff, haa the misfortune to fracture both legs and to sustain other injuries. He was assisted to the Infirmary by Mr. Gilbert, a surgeon, who resided at the time on the Marina, and who was the inventor of a tooth-drawing fulcrum-chair, afterwards shown at the Great Exhibition of 1851. The wife of the writer was the first person operated upon by means of this novel appliance, whilst the writer himself, although on familiar terms with the surgeon, was less amenable to his professional blandishments. He was unwell, probably from overwork, and Dr. Gilbert - as he was courteously, described - observing the weak condition of his friend, insisted upon sending him a bottle of medicine. The mixture was taken as prescribed, and a second quantity was similarly used, but to no visible effect. A third compound, with certain modifications, which was to be a "sure cure," was duly forwarded, and as duly placed upon a shelf in a bottle, the cork of which was purposely unremoved. In the mean time the patient, while throwing physic to the dogs, was dieting himself after his own fanciful method, giving up the use of tea thenceforward for thirty years, and for the space of eight days abstaining entirely from all kinds of fluid except a small quantity of milk which was incorporated with a morning and an evening meal of Scotch oatmeal-porridge. The improvement in the health of the patient was so rapid that, on meeting surgeon Gilbert one fine morning, It evoked a gleeful expression in these words :— "I was sure I had hit upon the right medicine at last, and now I must send you one more bottle and then you will be entirely restored." When told that the medicine was still on a shelf untouched, the surgeon’s countenance visibly changed as he exclaimed "Oh, this is the unkindest cut of all" "But go on with your oatmeal diet (he afterwards said); it is capital food as a rule, but I did not think to recommend it in your case." We continued as good friends as before, and were frequently thrown into each other’s society - he as the surgeon and I as the secretary of the Adelaide Lodge of Oddfellows.

As, however, poor Weller’s accident occasions a reference to the St. Leonards Caves, which have been some years closed, it may be explained that they were situated under the cliff in rear of West Marina, and were entered from what is now Caves road. They were almost as extensive, but not so secure, as the St. Clement’s Caves at Hastings, and were mainly formed by the exertions of a Mr. Smith, in the operation of sand-getting for building purposes. The entire length of the excavation was upwards of 400 feet, and it led to a reservoir from which St. Leonards was at one time supplied with water. It contained several neatly trimmed and furnished apartments, including kitchen, parlour, bed-rooms, &c., occupied by Mr. Smith’s family; and the whole, together with baby’s cot in the rock, used to be shown to visitors for a small fee. The founder of these caves died in the year 1850, at 56 years of age, and at a subsequent period his widow and family exchanged their residence in the rock for one of less primitive formation near the Undercliff. The interior also — has been blocked up by the debris of the cliff, which has on more than one occasion fallen as an avalanche to the consternation and danger of the inhabitants near thereto. It is perhaps known to only a very few persons now living that in the early days of the town’s existence the said Caves were more than once the secret depository of smuggled goods, and that in 1835 or thereabout, there was a private still at work in them. Information having been given to Smith that the coast-guard officers intended to search and to seize, the apparatus was got away stealthily during the succeeding night to a loft over a stable or coach-house in the Victoria or Harold Mews, and there concealed until at a subsequent date it was stolen by a party and conveyed to Catsfield or Ninfield. It was there made use of for several years in the manufacture of some execrable stuff called brandy, which was sold by an itinerant vendor at a low price in neighbouring towns and villages., but of which the solid rock was nevertheless a portion of the structure. Of late years the entrance to these Caves and probably much of the interior also — has been blocked up by the debris of the cliff, which has on more than one occasion fallen as an avalanche to the consternation and danger of the inhabitants near thereto. It is perhaps known to only a very few persons now living that in the early days of the town’s existence the said Caves were more than once the secret depository of smuggled goods, and that in 1835 or thereabout, there was a private still at work in them. Information having been given to Smith that the coast-guard officers intended to search and to seize, the apparatus was got away stealthily during the succeeding night to a loft over a stable or coach-house in the Victoria or Harold Mews, and there concealed until at a subsequent date it was stolen by a party and conveyed to Catsfield or Ninfield. It was there made use of for several years in the manufacture of some execrable stuff called brandy, which was sold by an itinerant vendor at a low price in neighbouring towns and villages.