Brett Volume 5: Chapter LIV - Hastings 1855

From Historical Hastings

Transcriber’s note[edit]

Volume 5 - Chapter LIV - Hastings 1855[edit]

Contents (See also Index) General Drainage, pages 159,165,169
Prejudice against the Surveyor, 159
Want of confidence vote, 170
Sheepwash Bridge, 161
The Foyster Legacies, 161-2
Bill posting, 163
Hastings & St. Vallery communication, 163
Railway matters, 164-5
Parade seats, 165
Election of Mayor, 168
Assessment returns, 169
Vestry Burial-Board meetings (Turbulence and personalities) 171 to 188
School items, 191
Collections, various 192
Special Relief Fund, 192
The Fishery (Marvelous and enormous catch of Herrings), 193
Four-masted ship, 196
The Annual Regatta, 196
Surveyors "extras" objected to, 100
Troup's promised generosity, 160
Borough rates, 100
Water supply 160a
Waterworks manager's defalcations and discharge, 160
Town Council's petition to the Queen to assume the functions of a Burial-Board granted, 160a, & 162 to 166
Cemetery question, 164
Distances to cemetery site, 166 – Enlarged Burial Board, 168
In search of cemetery site, 171
A site at last, 166
Cemetery plans, 171
Fencing cemetery ground, 168
Wellington Square, 163
Charities Trustees, 164
Deaths of Archdeacon Hare, Mrs. Frederick North, Rev. W. Davis, Rev. J.G. Foyster, Count de Vandes and Mr. Hoof
188 to 191
Death memorials, 191
Market tolls, 165 – Corn dealers' memorial, 167
West Hill path obstructed, 165
Removal of same ordered, 166
"Smiler” to be sold, 165
Great gale and high tide (cause and effect), 194
Shipping arrivals & landing of passengers from abroad, 195
The schooner Herbinger, 195
King of the Belgians at Hastings, 197
Prince Albert and the Queen at Hastings, 198
The Pett Clerical case (Rev. R. West suspended) 201-203
Early closing and early rising, 207 to 211
Proposed Holy Trinity Church, 211
Municipal Elections (remarkable addresses) 412
Political Partnership condemned, 214-217
Accidents, 224
Curiosities, 225
"England a naval power", 196
Church rates defeated, 204 to 206
Mechanics' Institution, 198-200
Literary Institution, 200
Rate-collector's defalcation (sureties called upon,) 206
Inquests and Burglaries, 224
The H.I.P.S. severely censured, 219-223
The Russian War, with numerous letters from Hastings, men serving thereat, together with local articles, poems, diary of events, and six illustration, making 32 with those given in chapter 52. This History of the war, as compiled from local sources (Hastings News and St. Leonards Penny Press) is altogether unique pages 226 to 279.

[ 159 ]

Town Council Meetings[edit]

Drainage Loan. At the Council meeting on the 5th of January, after passing a district rate at 6d., the “Law-Life” office having offered a loan for the drainage at 5 per cent, Ald. Clement moved that it be not entertained, remarking that he knew money could not be had just then at a less interest, but he could not agree to borrow at that rate for 30 years. Wait till the war was over, and loans would come to 3½ per cent. Ald. Scrivens in seconding, asked would they consent to borrow at 5 per cent, and be laughed at by St. Leonards who had borrowed at 4 per cent? Clements’s motion was carried.

Dividing the Contract. Coun. Putland, whose former proposition for dividing the drainage into three was negatived, now proposed that it should be divided into two, so as to give small capitalists an opportunity to compete. He argued that Mr. Braithwaite had added £3,000 to Mr. Gant’s original estimate, and his (Mr. Putland’s) plan would reduce Mr. Gant’s estimate by £2,000, thereby saving £5,000. This, he contended, would be to encourage competition, whereas Mr. Austen’s recommendation to invite tenders for the whole would limit competition and create a monopoly. [No, no!]. Coun. Bromley could not see the question as Mr. Putland did, and Ald. Scrivens objected to the division for the same reasons as those before stated, and he demurred to the bad precedent of introducing the same question in another form. The proposition was then again negatived.

Enclosure of Ground. At the meeting on Feb. 2nd, leave was granted to Mr. Goldsmith, and Mr. Roe to enclose a small portion of stone beach in front of Denmark place on a yearly lease at 10s. each, and to have no other enclosure or erection than a dwarf wall two feet high, with an open iron railing on the top. This was for the small gardens in front of the houses.

Capstans. Resolved that the capstans on Eversfield parade, the property of H. W. Tree’s executors, be purchased at 25 per cent below valuation, and moved eastward.

Feeling against the Surveyor. Coun. Putland moved the adoption of the Committee’s report which saw no reason for an increase in the Surveyor’s salary. He also moved that Mr. Braithwaite’s bill of £110 stand over, although he admitted that there was plenty of money in hand to pay it.

Gensing Street ordered to be called South Street, the latter having become its more popular name, and thus avoiding confusion of Gensing street and Gensing road.

Premises set Back. Refusal given to Mr. Boykett Breeds application for £25, if he should set his warehouse back in a line with his new premises in George street, it being contended that if he pulled down the premises he would be compelled to set back without compensation.

Criminal Prosecutions. At the meeting on March 2nd, the Clerk reported the expense of criminal prosecutions at the Midsummer Sessions of 1854 to have been £39; Michaelmas Sessions £26; and maintenance of prisoners for the half year to September £14.

Finance. At the same meeting the committee recommended among other payments, Mr. Braithwaite’s bill of £110 and stated that the £13,000 loan for[ 160 ] drainage was still a subject of negotiation.

Surveyor’s Charges. Coun. Ross said a bill sent in by the surveyor for certain extras was thought to be out of the regular course. The Surveyor explained the charges to be principally for time and labour in connection with the drainage plans in consequence of the Board having called in the services of Mr. Braithwaite to test those plans after they had been passed by the Government Board. Coun. Ross thought the items should be read, to which, Mr. Gant strongly objected, as he had never heard a bill read in public before. Ald. Clift had also never seen such a bill presented before. The Mayor thought that by Mr. Gant objecting to the reading of his bill, he practically withdrew it; but if not so, it was open to the inspection of the whole Board. Coun. Putland considered the charges to be for services included in the regular duties of the Surveyor. Something wanted to be set right between Mr. Gant and the Board. Coun. Ross moved that the bill be read. Mr. Gant still objected, stating that during his two years of office a bill had never before been read in public. Ald. Clift and Coun. Bromley had both heard bills openly read. Yes! said the Clerk “You had a brush with me once”. [Laughter]. The bill of extras was then read, amounting to £27 9s. 4d. some part of which Coun. Ross thought should have been charged to Mr. Putland. The Mayor thought that Mr. Gant’s six days in London and some other expenses of his attendance on Mr. Braithwaite should be allowed, but it was urged that his attendance at committee meetings &c. was a part of his regular duties. Bill referred to Finance Committee.

Waterworks Manager. The committee reported that in consequence of £126 9s. 7d. deficiency in the waterworks manager and collector’s accounts they had found it necessary to suspend him, and recommended Mr. Wm. Phillips to collect the remainder of the rate for that quarter. The Manager, who was present at the meeting said he had found the duties too heavy for him. He had, however, a claim against the Board which would reduce his deficiency to £61 18s. 7d. Mr. Phillips was temporarily appointed. Mr. Harvey having obtained permission to address the Board, said he had been three weeks without water, and wanted to know why he should be taxed for what he did not get. The Mayor suggested that Harvey was sharing with others the inconvenience of frozen-up pipes. Mr. Harvey was not satisfied, and thought it was due more to bad management than frost; he, however, had made his complaint, and expected it to be attended to; for, in the multitude of counsellors(sic) there should be wisdom. Coun. T. B. Williams was wise enough to tell Mr. Harvey the collector would call about the usual time. [Laughter].

Mr. Troup’s Generosity (!) At the meeting on April 5th a letter was received from Mr. Troup in which the writer stated it to be his intention after the payment of liabilities which should be cleared by the sale of the leases marked A & B, to give £5,000 to charities in Hastings and London, as a thank-offering, &c.

A Borough rate at 4d. was ordered to be paid out of the poor-rate, that being the only course that was legal – so said the Clerk.[ 160a ] The Surveyor’s Claim. Acting on Committee’s recommendation, the Local Board voted £10 0s. 4d. to be paid instead of £27 9s. 4d. to Mr. Gant for extras, but the latter declined to take it.

Water Works. The Mayor said that the Countess of Waldegrave was most assiduous in promoting the purchase by the Local Board from her trustees the piece of land required for the waterworks near the Gas works, but the Gas company having purchased an additional 1½ acres from Miss Sayer could now furnish the Board with space necessary for engine-house and water shaft.

Petition to the Queen. The chief business at the meeting of May 4th was the consideration of the cemetery question. Coun. Bromley, in moving that the Council petition the Queen in Council for the powers of a Burial Board, said the present Burial Board had done nothing but spend the public money. Couns. (name missing) would vote against the motion, for the Council had already more work than it could do. Coun. Putland would have preferred a request coming either from the vestries or the public inhabitants generally. St. Leonards and St. Mary Magdalen had agreed to the purchase of ground for themselves, and they already had the approval of the Government Inspector, but the Council would have to begin de novo. The ground they had in view would make more than a small cemetery as stated by Mr. Bromley, but would comprise 12 acres, whilst even ten acres had been sanctioned for the whole of the parishes. The two western parishes had already been entreated by the parishes of St. Michael’s and Holy Trinity as well. The Mayor (Mr. Ginner) thought it was highly desirable to have one cemetery for the whole borough. He was not wedded to one spot. As to the Magdalen land, it belonged to the two parishes of St. Clements and All Saints, and the western parishes should not be thinking of getting it for £100 an acre less than its worth. The Blacklands site would be dear at £150 an acre, it being only agricultural land, whilst the Magdalen Charity land was valuable as building land, and the trustees should get all they could for it, seeing that it belonged to the poor. He believed it possible to sell that land at a high price, and that it might be made subservient to a good and noble scheme by which education might be extended. I have italicised Mr. Ginner’s words as they were tantamount to a prediction now fully realised. Ald. Ticehurst said if the trustees of the Magdalen Charity attempted to sell that land for £200 an acre, he, as a St. Clement’s parishioner should decidedly oppose it. He had just heard a gentleman say he would give £300 an acre for it. Ald. Clement said, even £200 an acre for a cemetery was too much. There was land in the neighbourhood letting for ten or twelve shillings an acre; such land ought to be sold for £50 or £60 an acre. Bromley’s motion was negatived by a majority of one – 11 against 12.

The Water Supply. The Committee recommended not to meet the directors of the Gas Company at present, but to apply to the South-[ 161 ]Eastern Railway Company, and to take water from their land in the summer time in the same manner as last year. The Mayor strongly recommended the carrying out of Mr. Penny’s plan, and to press forward the fulfilment of the resolution passed last year. The water ought to be sufficient to supply the whole town, including the Long Fields and the Barrack Ground. Mr. Putland believed the present works would be sufficient if proper care were taken. The ultimate decision was to leave the matter in the hands of the Town Clerk.

Sheepwash Bridge. The Roads Committee having recommended the Council to take no part in the construction of a new Sheepwash Bridge on Bulverhythe Salts, but to leave it to the Commissioners of Sewers, Coun. Putland said the spot marked out for the new bridge was 150 feet eastward of the dilapidated old bridge, and was to be 18 feet wide. He would move that the Local Board undertake to construct the approaches, which would cost about £25 to £30. Ald. Clement seconded, and the motion was carried. At the next monthly meeting of the Council a petition was presented from 41 inhabitants of St. Leonards, setting forth that the widening of the Sheepwash Bridge would be a great advantage to the public; that the Commissioners of Levels did not feel justified in going to the necessary expense; and that the St Leonards Commissioners were not empowered to expend anything for the purpose. The petitioners therefore suggested that the extra expense be paid out of the borough fund. The Commissioners of Levels having expressed their willingness to give £130 towards making such a bridge and its approaches or to accept £100 if they built the bridge themselves, the Mayor thought it would be quite equitable for the expense to be charged to the borough fund. Coun. Putland said they had already decided to make the approaches, and as the road was the only level one out of the borough and the only one in the neighbourhood without a turnpike gate, it was thus one of great importance, whilst the present dilapidated bridge of 11 feet was one of the most awkward in Sussex. If the Council could not do anything he was prepared to try the getting up of a subscription. The Clerk said it would not be legal to do anything for the bridge under the Municipal Act, as the bridge belonged to the Commissioners of Levels. The Local Board could only make the approaches, unless it could be shown as a permanent improvement. The Mayor regarded it as one of those things in which they might stretch a point, as they did with the culvert for the Priory water, which he recollected was considered as not being strictly legal. It was ultimately resolved that the Local Board confine its operations to making the approaches.

Legacies by the Rev. J. G. Foyster. A special meeting of the Town Council was held on the 25th of May, when the business was opened by the Mayor reading a list of legacies left by the Rev. J. G. Foyster, whose[ 162 ]interment had taken place that day. His worship also commented on the piety and generosity of the late rector of St. Clement’s and the respectful gratitude with which his memory could not fail to be handed down to future generations. The list was as follows:-

£
Hastings & St. Leonards Infirmary 500 Relief of Clergymen’s widows and orphans
St. Pancras School Extension Fund 500 in the Archdeaconry of Lewes 200
St. Clements & All Saints’ Schools 500 Hastings Infant School 100
Hastings Fishermen’s Church 500 Hastings & St. Leonards Loan Fund 50
Christian Knowledge Society 200 Hastings & St. Leonards Literary
Gospel Propogation(sic)Society 300 and Scientific Institution 25
Clergy-Aid Society 200 3675
Enlargement of churches and chapels 200 Legacy duty thereon 367
Church Missionary Society 200 £4042
Pastoral Aid Society 200
­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

Burial Board­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­. The Mayor next read a communication from the Secretary of State and said, in consequence of that letter he had called the special meeting to reconsider the question of a Burial Board. Coun. Bromley said he was still of the same opinion and would again move that it is expedient for the Council to petition her Majesty in Council for powers of a Burial Board for the whole borough. Coun. Beck moved as an amendment that a petition should not be sent. He had hoped that the day had gone by for rescinding at one meeting what had been passed at a preceding one. Ald. Clement would wager a hundred guineas that if names had been taken down instead of a show of hands the majority would have been the other way. Coun. Putland was sorry that they were called upon to go into the question again, and with a less number present. The borough had a frontage of four miles, and if they had but one cemetery it would necessitate many persons going a great distance, at consequently greater expense than if they had two cemeteries. The vestries had not petitioned the Council to take up this matter, and it was going out of their way to do so. At the last meeting there were 22 present, and at this only 19; why then should a smaller number rescind that which a larger number had carried? The western parishes were now preparing a cemetery, and they were not acting in a spirit of opposition, but if the present motion should be carried, it would at once bring the two Wards into collision – a result which he should very much regret. The amendment was negatived by 12 to 7, and the original motion was carried. Coun. Peerless said St. Leonards and St. Mary Magdalen would claim exemption, for they had sufficient burying ground for the next ten years, and which could not be closed.

Mr. Howell’s tender of £248 was accepted for the Holloway Place drainage, the Surveyor’s estimate being £250.

[ 163 ]Bill Posting. A letter having been received by the Council from Mr. Montgomery Holland and Mr. Samuel Green, complaining of the posting of bills in front of the high pavement at 115 to 117 High street, Mr. Cox explained that the wall was public property, maintained at the public expense, and that he had posted bills there for 38 years.

Wellington Square. A memorial having been received from Mr F. Smith and other property owners, for the Council to take the said square under its jurisdiction, the same was agreed to.

Hastings and St. Vallery. At the meeting of July 6th, the Town Clerk (Mr. Shorter) read a letter which he had prepared in reply to one from the Mayor of St. Vallery to the Mayor of Hastings. The chief points in this reply were

“As regards the capabilities by sea in connection with the traffic of passengers and merchandize destined for France or vice versa, we have no pier or harbour. Ours is an open roadstead. The spring tides ride 22 feet and the neaps about 11 feet. The low spring tide ebbs out on a sandy and rocky shore to about four or five hundred feet from high-water mark. All landing and embarkation of goods must be affected by boats, which the surf would not allow at all times without danger. I do not consider that any steamer could embark and cross in one tide from Hastings to St. Vallery. We have no public warehouses for goods here nor bonding stores. The two principal termini are about one eighth of a mile from the shore. It is not likely, even if practicable that either railway company will ever desire to make a continental communication between London and Paris through Hastings. One possesses or uses Newhaven as a port of embarkation and the other, Folkestone and Dover; and the whole interest of those companies is therefore thrown into their respective ports. The kind feeling you have expressed as to the cordiality now existing between the two nations is deeply felt and reciprocated here. Permit me, sir, to convey to you the kindest expression of the Mayor of this borough.
I have the honour to be

— John G. Shorter, Town Clerk.”

Coun. Ross remarked that it was the first time there had been any public communication from St. Vallery to the town since the battle of Hastings, and he was sorry the letter could not receive a better response. [I trow this statement is hardly capable of proof; but whether so or not, I have referred in an earlier part of this History to a communication from the Mayor of Dieppe to the Mayor of Hastings, wherein the former acquainted[ 164 ]the latter (in 1815) that Bounaparte(sic)entered Paris on Monday morning at 6 o’clock, and that previous to his arrival the Napoleon colours were displayed on the ramparts. He also advised the Mayor of Hastings of the prudence of all English people to return immediately to their own land.]

The Cemetery Question. At the same meeting (July 6th) it was resolved on the motion of Couns. Ross, that a committee be formed to assist the Clerk in drawing up a reply to the petitions of All Saints’, St. Mary Magdalen and St. Leonards to be excluded from any cemetery provided by the Council.

Charities Trustees. A letter having been received from Mr. Young that an application had been made to her Majesty’s Attorney General for sanction to the Master of the Rolls for the appointment of nine additional trustees to the Hastings Charities, Coun. Ross was sorry that the trustees should have suggested to the authorities in London that magistrates should be trustees. The trustees, he contended, ought to be practical working men. He considered the Charities had been wofully(sic)neglected and infringed upon. [Had Mr. Ross forgotten that some of the magistrates had worthily risen to that position from their once lower status of working men? What was Mr. John Mannington, J.P. but a practical ironmonger before his retirement? What was Mr. Ginner, one of the best of Mayors, but a working man in earlier life, under Mr. Boykett Breeds? What was Mr. H. Winter, a Mayor and J.P. but a working printer? and What was Mr. Ross himself (although destined to be several times the chief magistrate) originally but a working painter, the son of a practically working gunner. All honour, I would have be paid to such men, but that is no good reason for objecting, in combination, to gentlemen of intelligent influence, with the necessary leisure].

Railway Matters. At the sitting of the Council on Aug. 3rd, Mr. Bromley stated that Hastings was unusually lacking visitors and he would move that the railway companies be memorialized to give alternately a cheap Saturday to Monday train. Ald. Clement remarked that if Hastings had only one railway, it would get more accommodation. At present all the proceeds of the traffic to Hastings was divided: hence, each company gave more facilities to those places where the whole income was its own. What Hastings wanted was a quick train to leave Hastings at 8 a.m., and get to London at 10, and one to leave London at 4 p.m. and arrive at Hastings at 6. Bromley’s motion was carried.

Drainage Loans. It was resolved to accept £500 from Miss Jane Sayer at 5 per cent, to be repaid in one sum at any time, with[ 165 ]six month’s notice; also to decline the offer of £5,000 at 5 per cent from an annuity office, the money to be repaid in 30 years; but to refer to committee the offer of £5,000 by a gentleman staying in Hastings, the loan to be for ten years. Further resolutions, after considerable discussion were as follows:-

A Drain to be made at the back of Bohemia terrace, to form part of the general drainage, and from the west side of Warrior square on the same condition.
The Stoppage of a path over West hill at St. Leonards to be the subject of enquiry by committee.
No Bathing to be allowed between the Priory water and the St. Leonards Archway from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. except from a machine.
Twenty-five Pounds to be paid towards the expense of the new Sheepwash bridge, built by the Commissioners of Levels, it being understood that St. Leonards would also contribute something.
The Council a Burial Board. At a special meeting on the 17th of August, Coun. Bromley said, as they were now constituted a Burial Board, he would move that seven form a committee to look for a cemetery site. The seven members chosen were Ald. Clift and Clement, and councillors Putland, Williams, Bromley, Ross and Neve.
Railway Reply. The South Coast Railway Company’s reply to the memorial of the Council was that, a few years ago, the Company ran trains at similar times and speed as now asked for, the result of which was so unprofitable that they were obliged to be given up. The South-Eastern made no reply.
“Smiler” to be sold. It was resolved that the horse “Smiler” be sold, he being 23 years old and unfit for work. [What a splendid prospect for Smiler’s new master!]
Seat on the Parade. Permission given to Mr. Parks to place a seat on the parade in front of Adelaide House, but not to put the name or number of the house on the seat, that being, according to Coun. Ross’s view, a “selfish reason for placing the seats there.”
Not to be had. The Clerk reported that the gentleman in Hastings who had offered the loan of £5,000 had died that morning, and the negotiations were therefore at an end.
Another Offer. At the September meeting, a loan of £5,000 for drainage purposes at 4¾ per cent, for 30 years, payable back by thirty annual instalments, was declined.
Market Tolls. The tender of £183 10s. for the Market tolls was accepted in preference to the one of £180 by Mr. Saunders. Mr. Smith was a Canterbury man and Mr. Saunders was of Hastings [ 166 ]
The Obstructed Footpath. In resolving to adopt the committee’s recommendation to open and repair the obstructed footpath over the West hill at St. Leonards, Coun. Putland said there was a hole 67 feet deep, and he never saw a more brutish way of stopping a footpath. This was a track that had long existed over the hill to Bopeep.

A Cemetery Site at last. A special meeting was held on the 18th of Sept. when the Burial Board committee reported that they had had several offers of land and had inspected the same in Hollington, severally belonging to Mr. Farncomb, the Rev. Mr. Hooper and Mr. Birch; also at Ore and Fairlight, severally belonging to Lady Waldegrave and Mr. Lucas Shadwell, which latter had offered to sell 21 acres of pasture land on the north side of the London road called Gateman’s Field, with immediate possession for £40 an acre. Coun. Bromley moved the reception and adoption of the report and he did so with peculiar pleasure, as he saw a probability of having the question speedily settled. Coun. Ross, although still in favour of Miss Sayer’s land, would second the motion. He thought all would agree the site to be exceedingly beautiful. Coun. Picknell did not deny the picturesqueness of the site, but thought they should have a cemetery between the two Wards. Coun. Putland entered into a long speech, in which he said there was a heavy tithe rent on Mr. Shadwell’s land whilst on Mr. Hoopers there was not any; also that the distance from the West Ward was very great, and difficult to reach, as it was nearly the highest land in the neighborhood(sic). People from the west end of St. Leonards would have to travel nearly five miles. Ald. Scrivens would rather that the ratepayers had retained the cemetery in their own hands, and that the spot selected had not been so far off, but it was much cheaper than any other land that was available. Ultimately, the motion was carried by 14 to 2, and Ald. Scrivens moved a vote of thanks to Mr. Lucas Shadwell for the prompt and liberal way he had met the wishes of the Council. Coun. Ross also moved a vote of thanks to the Countess Waldegrave for her offer, and for having done all she could to assist the borough.

Measured Distances. As measured by Mr. J. Banks, the distances to the selected site for the cemetery were;

from the Saxon Hotel 3¾ miles and 40 yards
from the Albert Memorial 2¾ miles and 57 yards
from the Swan Hotel 2¼ miles and 324 yards

When Mr. Putland stated that from the western part of St. Leonards the distance would be nearly five miles his statement was derided, but
[ 167 ]if the mile or thereabout from the Fountain to the Saxon be added to Mr. Banks’s figures, as well as the distance from the west end of the site to where the entrance now is, it becomes apparent that Mr. Putland was not inaccurate. This great distance from St. Leonards was and still is a great inconvenience, but apart from that, the site had advantages over most other sites that were offered, not the least of which was its greater area and its immensely lower price. It must now be acknowledged that the smaller quantities of 7, 10 or 15 acres would soon have become inadequate, and a new difficulty of securing land for a second cemetery might have arisen.

Corn Dealers’ Memorial. The Town Council having declined Mr. West’s tender for the hire of the Market room, and decided to manage it themselves, the following memorial was sent to them. “Gentlemen, An opportunity now offers to place the Market Room on a sound and business footing. We, the undersigned, as buyers of corn, &c. take the liberty of sugesting(sic) to you certain propositions for the future management and well-being of the Hastings Corn Market. That the Market-room be opened every Saturday at 3 o’clock and closed at 5 o’clock from the 29th of September to the 25th of March; and at 6 o’clock from the 25th of March to the 29th? of September. That stands be provided by the Council, and placed in rows, numbered regularly and marked with each person’s name, who shall pay yearly for the same any sum not exceeding £1. That the Council discourage all attempts to introduce smoking and drinking during the before-mentioned hours of business. If these suggestions meet your views, we shall be prepared each to take a stand. The millers and corn dealers who signed the memorial were William Crisford, Andrew Amoore, Wm. Adams, Michael Porter, John Wilmshurst, Boykett Breeds, Edgar Stonham, S. Godden & Son, J. Stubberfield, Hilder & Smith, Fredk Wrenn, Boorman & Green, and Robt. Kenward. It was resolved by the Council at their meeting on Nov. 2nd, on the motion of Ald. Clement, to accede to the wishes of the memorialists, and that the Market room be open all the year round on Saturdays from 2 till 6. During the discussion it was stated that since the Council had taken the management of the room into their own hands they had derived from it a little less than a sovereign and lost a quarter of a year’s rent.

Government Approval of Site. At the same November meeting[ 168 ]the Burial Board reported that Mr. Grainger, from the Secretary of State’s office had visited and approved the site; that Lady Elphinstone withheld her consent for the cemetery to be within 100 yards of her entrance lodge (which affected two acres where graves could not be made, but which could be otherwise utilized); that £770 would have to be paid to Mr. Shadwell on completion of the purchase; that for such purpose, the Council could borrow £1,000 from the Local Board; and that Messrs. Masters, landscape gardeners, of Canterbury would lay out the ground for £220. A long discussion took place on the last item, in which Coun. Putland advised caution. He urged that the Council has, or ought to have, men on their regular staff capable of such work. He did not want to see money fooled away in running hither and thither to do their work. He moved as an amendment that that part of the report be omitted. This was carried by ten votes to six.

Election of Mayor. At the meeting on Nov. 9th, Alderman Rock proposed Ald. Ticehurst as Mayor and as a gentleman who had filled the chair before to their great satisfaction. Ald. Clift seconded with great pleasure and expressed his admiration of the conduct of Mr. Ginner the retiring Mayor. The new Mayor in returning thanks, said he accepted office in deference to their wishes, and promised that although his time apart from other duties was limited, whatever opportunities he had should be at their service. The ex-Mayor, in retiring from the chair, hoped that he had redeemed his promise of not allowing the office to suffer in dignity or usefulness in his hands. Eulogistic sentiments were then expressed by Coun. Bromley, and Ald. Scrivens of the admirable manner in which Mr. Ginner had performed the Mayoral duties.

Enlarged Burial Board. At the same meeting the same seven names on the Burial Board were retained and the following were added:- Alderman Rock, and Councillors Picknell, Beck, Gutsell, Vidler, Austin and T. B. Williams, making with the ex-Mayor a total number of fifteen. Fencing the Ground. The Committee recommended a stone wall to be erected along the road side of the cemetery similar in masonry to the Coghurst wall, and that a stone wall of a lesser size be carried round the other part of the ground, diversified by piers or iron railing. A long discussion ensued, in which Coun. Putland thought now that they had an enlarged Burial Board the report should be referred back to the same. They ought to have an estimate of the cost of such a wall. Coun. Ginner said when the report was drawn up there were only himself (as Mayor) and Messrs. Bromley and Neve present, and Mr. Neve hastily and roughly estimated the cost at £570. The Clerk said if it were referred back to the committee there would be a delay of two months. Coun. Bromley believed[ 169 ]it was the object of some members to throw every object in the way. Coun. Putland replied that the committee could meet as soon as the Mayor liked to call them together. They ought to have an estimate before them, and he did not think the whole of the frontage required a wall like that of Mr. Brisco’s. They might have a nice piece of wall on each side of the gateway, and the rest of the frontage to be a common wall. He moved that the report be received, leaving the adoption to be afterwards settled.

Assessment Returns. At the same quarterly meeting, Coun. H. N. Williams said they would remember it being stated a few months ago that St. Mary Magdalen parish was very much underrated. He found that if the rateable value then stated was correct, the difference threw nearly a penny in the pound on the other parishes. The parish was stated to contain property to the rateable value of £24,000, whilst the borough rate returns showed it to be only £18,000. He would move that fresh returns be made for all the parishes. Coun. Putland seconded it with pleasure. When he mentioned the value of St. Mary’s in the Council, the truth of his statement was doubted, but he took the figures from a paper which Mr. John Phillips laid before the Burial Board in 1854. It seemed to him at the time that aspersions were rather unnecessarily thrown upon him, as he knew he was correct. Coun. Williams did not at the time doubt the accuracy of Mr. Putland’s statement, but he certainly did think that if anyone connected with the Council knew that one parish was rated at £6,000 less than it ought to be he ought to have mentioned it.

Hour of Meeting. Ald. Scrivens remarked that their meetings formerly commenced at 11 o’clock, but now they commenced at two, which was an hour so inconvenient for him that he could attend but seldom. The Mayor explained that it very much facilitated business to have their Clerk present, but his present state of health prevented his attending at eleven. Under those circumstances, Ald. Scrivens was satisfied. Coun. H. N. Williams then moved and Coun. Putland seconded that in future all their meetings except those of the Watch Committee, commenced at three o’clock. Carried.

The Drainage. A lengthy discussion ensued on the production of the Roads Committee report which recommended the omission of several sewers in the proposed drainage of division A, the existing drains in certain districts being deemed efficiently applicable to the general plan. These omissions, the clerk said did not require Government sanction. Coun. Bromley remarked that the report was a lengthy one, and required much consideration; he therefore moved that it be received and referred back to the Committee. Ald. Scrivens thought that after the Committee had taken so much trouble in deliberating and drawing up the report, and since the Board - who could not know so much about it as the Committee - had no real objection to the report, they ought not to hesitate about its[ 170 ]adoption. Coun. Williams would have agreed with Ald. Scrivens in any other case, but now after obtaining Government sanction to the plans and going to an expense of £250 for an engineer to inspect these plans, the Committee said in effect don’t carry them out. Coun. Reeves did not see how they could adopt the report, as Mr. Putland had said before the work was begun he was going to propose an alteration. Coun. Putland explained that the object of his motion would be to raise the level of the George-street drain to prevent the cellars being flooded by the sea. Coun. Ginner said certain houses with low basements would be flooded by a high sea whether the drainage was on a high level or a low one. It was a mistake to suppose otherwise and a mere assertion to say they would not. [Mr. Ginner had probably seen the surface of the street itself several times flooded by a high sea, although he might not have known that in earlier times the road and (on the south side) the footpaths were raised for the purpose of preventing such condition; hence the entrance to a few old houses which still remain, being below the level of the road.] Ald. Clement proposed that the report be adopted, and this was carried by 9 to 6. The question was again discussed at the next meeting, some members advocating a further delay, and others immediate action. One of the latter was Coun. Beck, of St. Leonards, who remarked that they had been five years considering it and had practically done nothing. They talked of having no confidence in their Surveyor, but would the town have any confidence in them?

Want of Confidence. At the same meeting an item on the agenda was to consider the necessity of reducing the Surveyor’s salary [an oblique way of getting him to resign]. Coun. Vidler, a new member, in introducing the motion, said he had no confidence in their Surveyor, and he knew it to be the same with many tradesmen outside the Council, and who would not take contracts under him. He therefore moved that his salary be reduced from £150 to £50. A long letter was read from the Surveyor in defence of his conduct. Coun. Ross said after Mr. Vidler’s statement, the Surveyor ought to have the opportunity to reply. Coun. Ginner did not doubt the Surveyor’s efficiency, but they did not get on well together. He, however, wished that Mr. Vidler’s motion had been such as to give the Surveyor a hint to resign, They knew that Vidler’s motion was one thing whilst he himself meant another. Ald. Scrivens also wished that Vidler’s motion had been a direct want of confidence. It was a want of confidence that led the Board to employ Mr. Braithwaite to test the plans [who approved of those plans in every particular, and declared that he had never seen anything so well performed]. Personally he had great respect for Mr. Gant, and they were not bringing any charge against him,[ 171 ]but the question now was whether if they retained his services to carry out the drainage, the public would feel that the money was properly spent. The Surveyor said his taking of levels was correct. He contended that Mr. Vidler owed his seat in the Council to the promises he made to some of his (the Surveyor’s) greatest enemies. Coun. Williams thought it would be very awkward to change now that they had got the borrowed money for the work. Coun. Duke moved as an amendment “That the Surveyor does not enjoy the confidence either of the Council or of the town at large, and that he be requested to resign.” The amendment was carried by 10 to 2.

The Market room was agreed to be let to the Victoria Lodge of Oddfellows on a certain number of days for £15, and for an hour on Sundays to the Rev. J. Stent gratuitously for a short religious service.

Cemetery Plans, three in number, having been received, Coun. Bromley proposed that the one marked “Spes” be adopted, & Coun. Putland proposed that the one marked “Golgotha” be adopted. The first was carried by a large majority, and on opening the envelope, the name was found to be that of Henry Carpenter, architect, Robertson street. It was then resolved to give ten guineas for the accepted design, and to thank the other designers.

The Burial Board in search of a Site[edit]

As will have been seen, as soon as the Local Board of Health obtained Government sanction to become also the Burial Board, they at once possessed a power uncontrolled by either the previously appointed united or disunited Boards. The views of the western parishes as manifested at the vestry meetings were shewn in Chapter LIII; and how far those of the eastern parishes were in agreement or otherwise will now appear in the proceedings of the eastern vestries.

The Magdalen Site. At a meeting of the Burial Board on Jan. 12th, it was resolved to accept the offer of the Magdalen Charity Trustees of 15 acres of the northern part of the Great Field at £200 per acre, the Board paying all expenses connected with the conveyance of the land and the investment of the money, also that the Secretary of State be applied to for his approval, and that trial shafts be sunk preparatory of Mr. Grainger’s visit. This gentleman having afterwards viewed the said Charity land, saw no sanitary objection to it, but as certain inhabitants had petitioned against it, if they persisted, the chosen ground could not be used for a cemetery.

St. Clement’s Vestry Meeting. At a meeting held in the parish church, the Clerk (Mr. J. Phillips) read the report of the Burial Board, which after enumerating the many difficulties they had had in the selection of a suitable piece of[ 172 ]ground, said as a last resource the Board determined to apply to the Trustees of the Hastings Charities for a part of the field at Bohemia, situated behind the houses of Spittleman’s Down and have had the offer of 15 acres of the northern part of the field for £200 an acre. The Board calculate that the total expense of the purchase and attendant charges of fencing, laying out the ground, building two chapels and sexton’s house planting round a part of it, &c. will not exceed £5,500, and that the annual sum to be raised by rate for interest and sinking fund to liquidate the debt - presuming the fees on interments will nearly cover the other current expenses - will be equal to a rate of 1d in the pound upon each parish. Mr. W. Ginner (who had advised the Trustees to demand £300 an acre for the ground) rose and stated several objections to the site. First, he thought that although the price was considered too high, it was not really high enough, as some land in the neighborhood(sic) had been sold for a much higher price. The property would be eligible for building purposes and a good class of villas might be built upon it. As that land belonged to the parishes of St. Clement’s and all Saints, they ought to represent to the trustees not to take such an amount. He knew the difficulty the Board had had, and he knew the question was becoming more difficult, but they should consider that there was another piece of land quite as eligible as the one at present proposed; and though it might be more distant from some of the parishes, that distance, he considered, was not so great as the difference in price. Miss Sayer had offered them ten acres at £150 an acre, and her ten acres would go as far as the proposed fifteen acres, because about four acres of the latter piece could not at present be used as a cemetery. They might certainly let the four acres as garden ground, but £200 an acre ought not to be given for garden ground. There was another objection. They would have to re-invest the money at their own expense whenever it should be required. They would also have to get the consent of the Court of Chancery, and though that Court might be very willing to give their consent, it would cause expense. Mr. G. B. Poole remarked that if the present site were refused, the subject would fall into the hands of the Town Council, who would have the same difficulty in getting suitable land. He thought that, altogether, they would have to incur as much expense in buying Miss Sayer’s land as the present piece. He could not quite understand Mr. Ginner’s remarks about the greatly increasing value of the Magdalen land. At any rate, it would be a long time before it was eligible for the erection of villas. The objection he had expected to meet was that the price was too much. In his opinion it was much more eligible for a cemetery than Miss Sayer’s land, for though that would cost less in the first instance, there would be more walls to build, and a great deal of money would have to be spent in improving the approaches. It had been refused by the western parishes. Some of the other sites which had been thought of were further away and were subject to toll. Mr. Hy. Dunk preferred the Magdalen land, and believed that Miss[ 173 ]Sayer’s land would require a very large outlay. As to giving £200 an acre for garden ground, he thought more was sometimes given. He would move the following resolution:- “That this vestry approve of the site on the Magdalen Charity land selected by the Burial Board and on the terms mentioned in their report and authorise the Board to spend on the account of this and the other parishes, a sum not exceeding in the whole a sum not exceeding £5,500” &c. Mr. J. Brown seconded and the resolution was carried by 10 to 2.

St. Mary-in-the-Castle. At a vestry meeting for this parish, there were 40 or more parishioners present, Mr. Alfred Vidler having exerted himself to the utmost to pack a meeting for the purpose of opposing the purchase of the Magdalen site. The meeting was an animated one and sometimes noisy. Mr. Vidler said the Magdalen land would cost £200 an acre, and Miss Sayer’s £150, of which they could buy ten acres, whilst of the Charity land they must buy fifteen. It was on behalf of his fellow-parishioners that he opposed the Magdalen site. He would propose that the Burial Board’s report be not received. Mr. Ross said that though he was a member of the Burial Board, he was opposed to the present selected site. Miss Sayer’s was a beautiful place, whilst the Magdalen land was close behind a row of cottages where there were pig-styes, and it was altogether a filthy place [eligible, so said Mr. Ginner - Mr. Ross’s co-objector - for the erection of villas]. Ten acres would be sufficient, but of the Magdalen land they would have to buy four acres more than they wanted. [What would the Burial Board in 1898 say about ten acres being sufficient?] Again the Magdalen land was too far west [Yes, that was Messrs. Ross, Ginner and Vidler’s real objection, as will be seen further on in their treatment of other matters]. He had much pleasure in seconding Mr. Vidler’s motion. Mr. Womersley remarked that Miss Sayer’s land was not before the meeting, and they therefore could not discuss it. As to the dissolution of the Burial Board, that could only take place by every member resigning, and then the subject would fall into the hands of the Town Council. The Clerk explained that every parish must give its approval, and if even the smallest parish refused, they could not buy the ground. If the matter got into the hands of the Council, the majority then would be able to carry any point; but he did not think the Council would purchase Miss Sayer’s land in opposition to the West Ward; and he did not see where they could get another site if they refused the Magdalen site. Mr. Vidler said they wanted to get rid of the present Board and put the subject into the hands of the Council [Unquestionably that was the object of himself and a few others, because they knew that the twelve East-Ward Councillors could at any time and upon any matter out-vote the six West-Ward members. Mr. Womersley said it was evident that the meeting was on the qui vive regarding the proposed outlay, and that they had met thus strongly after having considered the subject for the first time. All ratepayers were, of course, interested in preventing[ 174 ]any unnecessary expense. He disagreed with Mr. Vidler’s motion, who seemed to think that because ten acres of Miss Sayer’s land had been talked of, while 15 acres of the other had been proposed, the additional five acres would be of no use, but why only ten acres was thought of was because the Board thought the western parishes had left them, and they would not want so much. Thus the discrepancy was only apparent then as to the price, the difference was £50 an acre, and allowing for the 15 acres a difference of £750, he would ask was it possible to make a good road to Miss Sayer’s land? He thought it impossible. There was no room in the banks for widening the road, and if they did widen it they would have to buy the banks. [And if Mr. Womersley had been in any other than a serious mood, he might have asked, where, afterwards, would young Brett get such luscious blackberries as he did from those hedges, and where, notwithstanding that snakes and adders abounded, would his father, as a blacksmith, be able to cut such excellent “chisel-rods” as was his wont in the contiguous shaw? As to the then existing road - a part of the now Elphinstone road - it was a steep and narrow thoroughfare, known as the Ore Lane, in some parts of which two vehicles could not pass each other]. They never could make the road (continued Mr. Womersley) so good as the Bohemia road. Then, as to distances that point was settled by the comparative measurements. The trustees of the Magdalen Charity did not compel the Burial Board to take fifteen acres; it was the latter who asked for that quantity. At present some of the tenants of adjoining property objected, which would cause four acres to be left out till they consented, but let him put them up by auction, and see what they would fetch [A voice “I know who will give the price for them!”]. He did not think anything would be lost in buying those four acres. But the most important thing was that the burial grounds must be closed on the 1st of May, and that time would soon come. The Burial Board, though they made no pretence to be more sagacious than their fellows, knew more of the particulars than those who composed that meeting. He would ask them them? to go into the matter more quietly and get more intimately acquainted with the difficulties of the subject. He and the rest of the Burial Board had done what they could, and had come to the conclusion that the present was the last stage; and that if they failed in this, the Council must take the matter up. He had hitherto been speaking as a parishioner, but he would now say a few words as an undertaker. The first consideration should be as to the burials of the poor. With regard to the easiness of the approach, there was no comparison between the two places. To the Magdalen Ground a walking funeral was practicable, with a change of bearers, but it was not so to Miss Sayer’s land. Another consideration was the attractiveness of the spot, so that it might be also a fit place for the burials of the rich. They looked to them for the chief source of income. He thought the Magdalen land would be far the most sightly. Mr. Vidler said he had been very much interested in the subject, and the largeness of that meeting was a proof of his industry. He did not care whether he kept off £1 or only 1s. from the[ 175 ]rates, but he meant to keep them as low as possible for the benefit of his fellow townsmen {Hear, hear!]. His motion that the Burial Board’s report be not received was carried by 27 to 4, many of the parishioners present abstaining from voting.

Holy Trinity. At the vestry meeting of this parish, the Clerk (Mr. T. P. Langham) having read the report of the Burial Board, Mr. Ross said that as he had been one of the Burial Board to give his reasons for differing from the other members of the Board. Miss Sayer’s land could be had for £50 an acre less than the Magdalen land, of which latter they must buy four acres more than they wanted, and would have to pay the expense of investment and reinvestment of money. He did not think the Magdalen land so eligible in appearance as Miss Sayer’s land; as it was at the back of houses which had a beggarly appearance. He would move that the Report should not be received. As no one seconded the motion, Mr. Womersley said he should have preferred some parishioner, not a member of the Board, to have moved; but as a member of the Board had taken the initiative on the other side he might follow his example. He did not think Miss Sayer’s land could be brought before the meeting as though they had to decide between two sites. They had to decide between having the Magdalen land or none at all. He would ask the previous speaker if he really meant that the Magdalen land would involve them in the unnecessary expense of £1.300. It had been said that four acres of the ground would not be wanted, but it had not been said that they might be again sold for their full value. Then the only excess in the purchase of the Magdalen ground was the £50 per acre; but the cost of improving Miss Sayer’s land would be very great. Of course the vestry was not bound to support the recommendation of the Burial Board; but he thought that as seventeen out of eighteen on the Board had agreed to purchase the present site and that as the subject had been brought before the Board in a way which could not be brought before the vestry, their opinion should have some weight with the present meeting. A cemetery must be made, and the real question was, would they let the Burial Board have the management, and thus have it very much under their own control, or would they give it up to the Town Council, who would have full power to do what they pleased, without consulting any parish. Mr. Womersley then moved the same resolution as was passed at the St. Clement’s vestry. This was seconded by Mr. Paul Hugh, and carried by 7 votes to 4.

St. Michael’s. At a vestry meeting for this parish, the Clerk (Mr. J. Phillips) explained the report of the Burial Board and after a short conversation, Mr. Hugh proposed the same resolution in favour of the report as had been passed at four of the other vestries, which being seconded by Mr. Tree, was carried unanimously, even Mr. John Smith, Mr. Ross’s neighbour and personal friend, voting with the majority.

“Our Parish”. Under this title a well written and impartial article appeared in the Hastings and St. Leonards News, of March 30th, 1855, which, for the better elucidation of the deadlock of the cemetery movement and of the vestry meeting next to follow is here reproduced. It said “When we[ 176 ]addressed our readers last week, on the subject of the Burial Board, the whole of the six parishes had deliberated on the final recommendation of that Board as to the site for the general cemetery. Five of the parishes had fully approved of the selected site on the Magdalen land, but the parish of St. Mary-in-the-Castle ‘in vestry assembled’, had refused even to ‘receive’ the report presented by the Burial Board. We hinted, last Friday, that the said vestry might not really represent the feelings of the parish, and it would appear that the Burial Board itself took the same view of the matter, for at the meeting of that Board on Friday last, a resolution was passed requesting the overseers of the Castle parish to call a second vestry for the purpose of considering the decision arrived at on the question of the Magdalen site. To this request the parish officers have very courteously consented, and a vestry meeting is to be held in the large room of the Royal Oak Hotel this evening at seven o’clock. The Burial Board have also caused a notice of the meeting to be left at every house in the parish, as it is evident that the ordinary means for making a vestry meeting public are very inadequate, more particularly in the parish of St. Mary-in-the-Castle. As to the propriety of calling a second meeting, we may remark that when the former one was held, the parishes of Holy Trinity, St. Mary Magdalen, St. Leonards and St. Michaels had not met, and their opinion upon the question was accordingly unknown. It might, therefore, have been expected by some parties that those parishes would withhold their assent from the selected site. But as those parishes have now met and consented to the report of the Burial Board, the case rests on a very different footing to what it did before, and is fairly open to re-consideration. The fact that if the Castle parish stands out with a negative the whole affair will be overthrown against the wishes of the other parishes may induce some persons to take a view of the question somewhat different to that to which they before entertained, and, at the least, entitles the matter to a serious and calm reconsideration on their part.
Being desirous of giving honour where honour is due, we cannot but commend Mr. Alfred Vidler for the readiness with which he yielded his approval to the holding of the second vestry. He evidently conceives himself to be acting in the discharge of his duty, and to be upheld by the general voice of his fellow-parishioners. Still, it is true that even conscience unenlightened is apt to mislead. Mr. Vidler seems to be consciously convinced that his first point of duty is to attend to the pecuniary prosperity of the parish which he represents. The prosperity of St. Mary-in-the-Castle is the summum bonum of his policy. By this standard he guages
(sic)the report of the Burial Board, and by this rule he seems resolved to act in all questions that may arise in the deliberations of that body. Last week we traced Mr. Vidler’s policy through three stages: how, in the first place, he wanted to get rid of the Burial Board – how in the second place, he wanted to see the Town Council in its room – and how in the third place he wanted to get Miss[ 177 ]Sayer’s land for a general cemetery. Thus the report was rejected in order to extinguish the Burial Board; the Burial Board was to be extinguished in order to introduce the Town Council, and the Town Council was to be introduced in order to get the land belonging to Miss Sayer. We have now another link in the chain, and the Town Council is to get Miss Sayer’s land in order to advance the pecuniary interest of St. Mary-in-the-Castle. The Castle parish is the golden thread which runs through all.
According to the far-seeing Mr. Vidler and the facetious Mr. Nicholas, each parish is justified in looking out for itself. [With more intimate acquaintance of the latter authority and his self assured importance, I should have felt myself compelled, even without a breach of charity, to call him the arrogant Mr. Nicholas]. Thus, Mr. Nicholas is to work the Burial Board with all his might as a lever to elevate the parish of St. Mary Magdalen, and Mr. Vidler is to do the same for St. Mary-in-the-Castle. And in like manner we suppose the various trios who represent the various parishes, should try – each triumvirate by itself – to elevate its own particular parish according to

“The good old rule, the simple plan
That they should take who have the power,
And they should keep who can!

Now, although the News has the honour of being printed and published in Mr. Vidler’s favourite parish, yet it is our duty, as journalists, carefully to avoid any attempt at elevating this parish to the injury or interests of the borough generally. It has always been our aim to benefit the borough in its entirety. The News is not a parochial organ, nor an organ of the East Ward or the West Ward. We regretted the conduct of the western parishes in rejecting Miss Sayer’s land, and we are as much in earnest in regretting the conduct of the Castle vestry in rejecting the Magdalen land. The Burial Board has been established for the benefit of the whole borough. We rejoiced when it was formed, for we then hoped that although the Public Health Act had not found its way within the walls of St. Leonards, the Burial Board would be able to cement the borough in one beneficent undertaking, and that if the two wards would not live under one regime for sanitary purposes, they might at least deposit their bones under the protection of a united Board. But as the ruling passion is often strong in death, so it turns out that the force of petty interests and local jealousies will not allow the inhabitants of a borough like Hastings to enjoy the benefit of a general cemetery. ‘Far as the East is from the West’ means a good deal in this neighbourhood. We can only wonder that the legislature should so ignore the principle of parochial patriotism – common throughout England – as to place a united Board at its mercy.
[ 178 ]“The Vidlers and the Nicholases might disturb, but they could not prevent, were it not for the absurd provision that not only should the Board agree to a site, but that all the vestries should come to a common consent. This enactment makes the Board a mere committee to the parishes, and is as ridiculous as if the Town Council should be obliged to report to the East and West Wards respectively on the propriety of repairing the Eversfield parade or improving the Tackleway; the East Ward would care very little about the Esplanade, and the West Ward would denounce the Tackleway. It is well for sub-divisions to be represented, but it is folly to let one sub-division have the power of ruling the rest. As the Burial Board now exists, a parish is not only represented, but has the power of speaking for itself, as if a party in a suit should not only plead by his counsel, but also advocate a cause in propria persona.

But though the law be thus faulty, it might have been hoped that the members of the Burial Board would have shewn themselves worthy of legislatorial confidence, and capable of acting together for the common good. And until the recent elections, the Burial Board certainly showed a pretty good animus on the whole, though there were some partial signs of a troublous spirit. But now that we have Mr. Vidler and Mr. Nicholas in its ranks, each looking out for his own parish, the case is less hopeful, and we fear that Mr. Poole is only too correct when he says the Board has got to cross-purposes and is in fact cross-grained.

There is one hope, however – the hope of tonight. Should the Castle vestry rescind the decision now standing on its books, we may heal the memory of the past by the application of that consoling proverb ‘All’s well that ends well’. And we think there are good reasons why the Castle parish should rescind the resolution passed at the recent meeting at the Pelham Arms – a meeting which Mr. Vidler tells us was mainly the result of his own industry. Among the reasons why the Castle parish should rescind the resolution which rejects the report of the Burial Board, we would reiterate for argument – that the Magdalen land is the only site certainly available for the purpose of the general cemetery. If it be rejected in the hope of getting Miss Sayer’s land, the Castle parish must run the gauntlet of several contingencies. As Mr. Womersley has remarked, the Town Council is not compelled to supply the vacancy which the dissolution of the Burial Board would create. But if Mr. Vidler’s second object were gained, and the Town Council were to take up the task of finding a general cemetery, it is still probable that circumstances may induce or compel them to go to the Charity[ 180 ]land; and if ever they are found driving a bargain for that site, they will probably be asked a higher price than was submitted to the Burial Board. But supposing the Town Council should choose Miss Sayer’s land, and could come to terms with the proprietors, there would still be the formidable difficulty mentioned by Mr. Poole, namely that Mr. Grainger, the Government Inspector, would object to the Blacklands site as likely to damage the water from whence a portion of the town’s supply may, erelong be derived. Let the Town Council obtain what site they may, there is this fact, that St. Mary-in-the-Castle will have very little influence – as a parish – in directing the operations of the Council. Another contingency is this – that instead of one or two cemeteries, we may have three or four. As we remarked last week, each parish may rejoice in a fancied independence under such circumstances; but the borough at large may suffer in an accumulation of expenses. And while alluding to this part of the subject, we may remark that we have the authority of Mr. W. B. Young for saying that the law expenses attending the purchase of the Magdalen site will not be more than half the sum mentioned last week as £300.

It is, then, to be hoped that the parishioners of St. Mary-in-the-Castle will attend as much en masse as possible the vestry to be held this evening, and that they will take care to carry thither not the arguments of a partizan, nor even the sentiments of a leading article, but their own unbiased judgements, and an honest intention to discharge the duties of citizenship without reference to personal pique or petty interests – taking, in fact, that comprehensive and intelligent view of an important public question which becomes the inhabitants of a borough that ought to be united whenever the public good is to be advanced. Should the vote of tonight be against the course which we have advocated, we must hope that the consequences will be less injurious than we have anticipated. Be the decision what it may, we hope to be able to give the parishioners of St. Mary-in-the-Castle parish credit for a sincere expression of their individual opinions, formed upon a calm and patient review of the facts which have come before them.”

The Second Meeting was disgracefully different to what was temperately and intelligently advised by the News, and was evidently got together for the most part by Mr. Vidler’s boasted “industry”. It was held in[ 181 ]the large room of the Royal Oak Hotel, with Mr. C. F. Mott in the chair. It was not only a crowded meeting, but also at time a noisy and turbulent one. Mr. Vidler said as his name had been banded about pretty freely by the press, he hoped the press would be merciful to him. He had been accused of packing the previous meeting. and if had so packed the cards, he would play them out. He then indulged in personalities which had no bearing on the question, and was frequently interrupted by cries of question. But he considered himself to be quite in order. There was, he said, that little planet called the Hastings Rag which had found a cock’s nest in a shaw of three acres on Miss Sayer’s land, but if they allowed the wood to come to maturity it would pay for turning it into an ornamental pond. Much also had been said about the road, but he would undertake to widen it for £100. There was a quarry of stone, and he would risk the taking it without purchase. When Mr. Putland once set his head upon anything, there was no turning him from it. [Many persons thought that such description applied to Mr. Vidler, himself; for whether his views were right or wrong he clutched them with a persistency so great that to dissuade him from them was judged to be impossible. He would stick to them at all hazards, and it may be that it was this feature in his character that obtained for him the sobriquet of “Sticky” Vidler.] Perhaps Mr. Putland was looking out for a job of building a mile and a half of wall round the Magdalen site. At this insinuation Mr. Burchell, a stonemason, cried “Shame”, whereupon Mr. Vidler said Oh, perhaps Mr. Burchell wanted to do it. He (Vidler) had been in Hastings 40 years, and in business 32, except one year when he was out of health, but he was now strong. [“Yes, headstrong”, someone suggested]. Referring to the speaker’s irrelevant remarks about Mr. Putland, Mr. Burchell said he had heard Mr. Vidler say that his house in St. Andrew’s terrace [now Queen’s road ] would be worth £50 more if Miss Sayer’s land was selected. Mr. Vidler would admit it, for he was not afraid of a hearse going by his house. Mr. Womersley, in a lengthy and temperate speech, explained the great difficulty the Burial Board had experienced in selecting a suitable site, and the necessity for compliance of the Government to construct a cemetery within a stipulated time. It was now, he observed, not a question between Miss Sayer’s land and the Magdalen land, but between the latter or none at all. One objection, he found, was the old question of East and West, though he hoped the present meeting did not entertain that feeling. If there was a parish that could afford to bunk that idea, it was the Castle parish, seeing that it was in the very centre of the two extremes. This speaker had been several times interrupted by a Mr. Nash, and had good naturedly borne with him, promising him a hearing later on. The Chairman also called him to order several times. At last, amidst much confusion, Nash said he couldn’t sit still, and then went towards Mr. Womersley in a menacing manner with clenched fists. This was too much even for his[ 182 ]for his quondom(sic)friend Vidler, who, in an endeavour to force Nash back from his threatening attitude, fell, with him, over a form. The violent disturber was then expelled, and this brought Mr. Ball, (formerly a wheelwright) into the room, who indignantly remonstrated with the meeting for ejecting the disturber. Mr. Womersley concluded by moving the approval of the Burial Board’s report, and authorising the necessary outlay on the Magdalen estate. Mr. Yates approved of all Mr. Womersley had said, and seconded the resolution. After Mr. Ross’s expression of entire dissent, Mr. G. Scrivens said he came to the meeting to support the Burial Board, who had worked hard and done their best in the public service. He did not consider that they had a choice of two sites, and on that meeting depended whether they should have a cemetery at once, or the matter be abruptly stopped. He should be sorry for the work to be thrown on the Town Council, seeing that it had already too much to do, and did not do its present work so, well as could be wished, for that he was willing to take his own share of blame. It was not merely a parish question, but one which affected the whole town. As for things going west-ward, it was a remarkable fact that they generally did so, as in London, in Brighton, and America. There was not a quarter of a mile difference in the two sites, and the roads afforded a much better access to the Magdalen than to the other. On the whole, he thought, it was quite the best site, and he hoped that parties would not be governed by personal and narrow minded views, but vote for that which would be best for the whole borough. Mr. Womersley rose to reply and was desired by Mr. Clement to cut it short. He said there was really very little to reply to, but he could not allow certain fallacies to go forth uncontradicted. The Castle parish had no right to cause the Burial Board an expenditure of £200 and a waste of twelve months’ time unless a very good reason for the opposition could be shown. The votes were then taken by a show of hands, when about 34 appeared for the motion over 50 against. A poll was demanded to take place on the following Monday, when out of 635 voters on the parish books, only 241 went to the poll, and of which there was a majority of 59 against the Burial Board.

A Meeting of the Board was held on the following day, when it was shown by the Clerk (Mr. J. Phillips) that in addition to the £119 previously spent by the Board, there was a sum of £51 10s. to be raised for the payment of bills. The proportions would be about £10 from St. Clement’s, £15 from St. Mary’s, £4 from Holy Trinity, £1 from St. Michaels £16 12s. from Magdalen’s, and £4 9s. from St. Leonards. Mr. Vidler referred to the previous meeting and reprobated what he called the influence of a banker (Mr. Scrivens) and a clergyman (Mr. Vores) being brought to bear on the subsequent polling. The parish, he said, never had a clergyman more looked up to than Mr. Vores, but when he brought ladies to vote at a public house, he placed himself in a position he ought not to occupy. Mr. Poole charged Mr. Vidler with attacking a gentleman for doing[ 183 ]what he himself had done. Mr. Putland was sorry Mr. Vidler should be so personal, and Mr. Womersley could not avoid entering his strongest protest against Mr. Vidler’s personal attacks on one who, as a Christian minister, stood perhaps the highest in the town. Mr. Poole said it appeared to him that the Board had got into such a state that it was impossible for it to act any longer. He did not mean to say that jealousy had prompted Mr. Peerless and Mr. Putland to object to the Blacklands site. He admitted that the western parishes had much more reason to object to Miss Sayer’s land than the Castle parish had to object to the Magdalen land. Mr. Vidler had entered into a very rambling statement, but in a month’s time, when the parish would be without a burying-ground, the parish would see whether Mr Vidler was right. That gentleman might have their applause now, but the time would come when he would have their reproaches. He (Mr. Poole) would move that the Town Council be requested to take the matter into their own hands. Much discussion ensued as to whether the Burial Board could legally dissolve, and whether any of the parishes could withdraw, in the course of which it was stated that the two western parishes were not compelled to close their burial ground as were the others, and that after that meeting, they intended to take counsel’s opinion. Mr. Womersley then moved as an amendment to Mr. Poole’s motion that the Board adjourn for a week, which was carried.

The Adjourned Meeting being held , it was there shown that the parishes had contributed their quota of the expenses, and that all bills had been paid. Mr. Putland said he would have liked for all the parishes to act unitedly, but as that appeared to be impossible, he thought the most sensible course would be for the western parishes to separate. He then handed in the promised counsel’s opinion, together with the case on which it was founded; also a letter from a firm of London solicitors to Messrs. Beecham & Son, solicitors, at St. Leonards, testifying to the high standing of the consulted counsel. This opinion was to the effect that the western parishes could withdraw from the Burial Board, and provide a cemetery of their own. On the other hand, a counsel’s opinion had been obtained by the eastern members of the Board, which differed entirely from the first named opinion. Mr. Nicholas referred to the St. Leonards Church Act, which gave the right of burial in the St. Leonards ground for both the western parishes, and which no government authority could close. He calculated that there was yet space enough for the next five years. Mr. Putland remarked that the two western parishes intended acting upon the opinion they had obtained by withdrawing from the Board, and then they would be free to act with any other parishes that were willing to work with them. Mr. Womersley moved that a representation be made to the Town Council that the Burial Board found it impossible to act, although, for himself, he had no confidence in that body. [ 184 ]Mr. G. Curling Hope would vote against that, as he knew that his parish (Holy Trinity) did not want to go under the Council. A motion was then made, and carried by the vote of the chairman, that a representation be sent to the Home Office. The troubles and condition of the all but defunct Burial Board were well defined in a leading article of the Hastings and St. Leonards News of April 13th, as follows:- “The Burial Board, after a troubled existence of 13 months, is fairly lost in a fog. Some of its quandam friends declare it to be dissolved, while others argue that it still exists. Mr. Putland thinks he has succeeded in analyzing the Board into a sextuple existence, each division having the principle of vitality still powerful within. Some consider it defunct, others asleep, while some cite Acts of Parliament to prove that the Burial Board is a kind of Sextarchy. As in most important cases, doctors differ, and as there are two doctors there are two different opinions. ‘Doctor’ Serjeant Byles considers the Board to be not only alive and kicking, but to be absolutely indivisible and immortal – something far too spiritual to be knocked on the head by Mr. Vidler’s shovel, and far too refined to be cut up into sections by the dissecting knife of the West Ward gentlemen ‘Doctor’ Pashley, who is a sort of Queen’s physician, and in the opinion of Messrs. Beecham & Son, a man who ought to know, has strong faith in the endurance of the unfortunate patient, but has no notion of indivisibility. With the skilled practitioner of the Temple the Burial Board is like a zo-ophite which may be severed ad libitum each limb or parish still retaining its vitality, so that the West may say to the East, ‘I have no need of thee’. The Clerk to the Board, who is said to be no Clerk, and to possess only a shadowy existence, pro tem, fleeting, and soon to pass away, cites the statute book, to show that the Board is indivisible, and that the legislature intended to bestow upon it an eternal juvenility, a perpetual succession, a corporate existence, which no parochial perversity should ever destroy. According to law, it would seem that the Board was destined to a kind of immortality; but according to fact, the Board seems collapsed – inert – defunct – departed. Truly, if we may consider it dead, it died hard, for it was made a strange matter of doubt whether it could die at all – whether, in fact, the law allowed anything so indecorous. There are, indeed, some metaphysical beings who doubt whether the Board ever lived, inasmuch as it never did any good, but Mr. Womersley (who not being a doctor, must not be considered as speaking ex cathedra), has suggested that the Board[ 185 ]must have lived at some time, because it has incurred pecuniary responsibilities. If we are to suppose that the Board ever did live, and that it ever did die, we must admit that it was a very honest Board, for all its bills are paid. We must also allow that the Board was very hardly treated, by the parties with whom it came into contact, for it has somehow expended £170 and obtained nothing in return. Not only was this ill-treated Board forbidden to find time and place to die, but when the catastrophe seemed unavoidable, there were those who refused their sanction of the transmission of the melancholy intelligence to those who were likely to attend to the dying wishes of the chained Prometheus. It was not to be whispered in the ears of the Town Council, nor was it to be wafted to the doors of the Home Office. Happily, the latter request was granted, and with that the attendants departed from the scene, the clerk telling them he should never ask them to come again, and some few wishing, perhaps, that they had never been asked to come at all. However, they departed from many a tough struggle, and proceeded on their way – Mr. Putland and his colleague to stir up another phoenix from the ashes, to illuminate the western horizon; Mr. Smith (St. Michaels-on-the-Rock) to implore that his patron saint might be taken into the favourable keeping of St. Leonards and St. Mary Magdalen; Mr. Vidler to exult in getting rid of the unfortunate deceased, and to calculate how many hop-poles and bavins were growing on the Blacklands farm; Mr. Ross to investigate the rocky strata of the Magdalen ground and to ponder on the advisability of going west; and last, but not least, the despairing clerk, pro tem, to send a black edged note to Sir George Grey, informing the Secretary of State that after a protracted and painful illness, the Hastings Burial Board had given up the ghost, its untimely end being mainly due to defective legislation and the obstructive character of local peculiarities. Sic transit gloria mundi.

Apologies[edit]

Mr. Alfred Vidler, in a letter to the News, wrote “As I had the misfortune to bring down upon my luckless self the whole weight of your terrible indignation for incontinency of tongue, I shall be careful not to provoke another such a visitation by incontinency of pen. The condition of many of my poorer parishioners are reduced to by the present stagnation of business and employment, created in my mind a strong desire to avoid laying on them one[ 186 ]farthing more than is necessary. I own I am not able to affect moderation and gravity in the midst of that distress I see around me which is seen in my more philosophical neighbours, and if I have not observed the usual blandishments of good breeding, my plea is I have never been practised in shams.” [Mr. Vidler’s excuse for exerting himself against the purchase of the Magdalen land, which would have enriched the Charity of that name, and consequently have benefitted two parishes that were at least three times poorer than his own, was that owing to the stagnation of business made him anxious to avoid laying on his fellow parishioners one farthing more than was necessary. But how does this sentiment square with his admitted statement at the vestry meeting that his house would be worth £100 more if Miss Sayer’s land were purchased for the cemetery; or where was his consistency, when, as a poor-law guardian, he voted for a rate-collector’s sureties paying only £300 instead of their bond of £500, the defalcations of the collector being £600, and the amount of which his own parish was defrauded being £231? Verily the public actions of some men and their explanations of the same if not contradictory, are at least curious.]

Mr. T. Ross, also in a letter to the News, wrote as follows:-

“It was with fear and trembling that I read your challenge to me in last week’s paper concerning the rockiness of the soil on Blackland’s farm and the Magdalen land. I am extremely sorry to have been one of the means whereby your wrath was kindled, but I humbly submit that it was unintentional on my part. Having looked into every hole except one that was dug on the Magdalen, that one being full of water, and believing what I saw, I stated at the meeting that which I still believe – namely, that Blacklands is not more rocky than the Magdalen. I know I do wrong to differ in opinion from the leading article of the leading paper in the town, but like Topsy, ‘I ‘spects I am very wicked! P.S. Please excuse my not answering the words which, I presume, are Latin, a language which I do not profess to understand.”

The New Burial Board. On Wednesday morning, Aug. 15th, an order from the Queen in Council was received, giving full power to the Town Council to act as a Burial Board, and to include every parish or part of a parish in the borough.

The Magdalen Charity – the land of which was so much in question during the year – afforded from its revenues in January £64 to the poor of All Saints and £96 to those of St. Clement’s, and much it was needed during the snow and severe frosts of that and following month. [ 187 ]

More Vestry Meetings[edit]

At an All Saints’ vestry on the 27th of March, a poor rate, including the borough rate was levied at 1/5, and at a St. Clement’s vestry the combined rate was one shilling in the pound.
At a Castle Parish Vestry on May 10th, an official notice was received from the Poor Law Board for the removal of Mr. Everest from the office of collector, whose deficiency to that parish was over £217 of the poor-rate and £14 of the borough rate. A fortnight had been given to the sureties for paying the money. After much discussion it was resolved to have, instead of a collector, an assistant overseer, his remuneration to be 6¼d. in the pound and his bond to be £300.
An All Saints’ Vestry meeting was held on the 8th of June, when the Clerk (Mr. G. Meadows) read a communication from the Town Council to the effect that that the petition to her Majesty in Council for Burial Board powers was for the whole borough. Mr. Harvey said the Town Council were not reasonable men and could not be trusted. He therefore moved “That as this parish is amply provided with burial ground and had been granted an extension of time till 1860, it is inexpedient to be included in the other parishes”. This was seconded and carried. At a later meeting (Aug. 16th) the extension of time having been confirmed, it was resolved that common graves for children of the parish be 7/6 instead of 10s. and steined graves be £4 10s. instead of £3 10s. Other graves as theretofore. It was further resolved that the fees for burial of non-parishioners which before had gone to the aid of church-rates, be invested in the Savings Bank to help pay the parish’s share of the general cemetery expenses. Thus, although the new cemetery when ready was available for all the parishes, interments continued in the new part of All Saints’ burial ground until 1860. The St. Leonards ground was also open for the same extended period for the burial of the St. Leonards and St. Mary Magdalen inhabitants, as well as visitors.
The Trinity Parish at a vestry meeting on the 18th of August, levied a poor-rate of 4d. in the pound. The Castle parish (in November) passed a poor-rate of 5d. and the All Saints’ parish elected Mr. Sampson as assistant-overseer.
Parish Overseers. At the Town Hall on the 7th of April, Edward Hunter and James Rollason were appointed overseers for Guestling; Hy. Noakes and Abraham Thorpe for Pett; John Cook and Jas. Field, for Fairlight; John Stace and Edw. Gladwish, for Ore; Arthur Sawyer Brook and Wm. Peppercorn for Bexhill; Wm. Payne and Rich. Lamb, for St. Leonards; Chas. Amoore & C. W. Chandler for St. Mary-in-the-Castle. A poor-rate at 2/- for Bexhill was allowed by the magistrates. [ 188 ]

New Burial Ground for Ore Parish.[edit]

In the spring of 1855, the authorities at Ore, with the object of providing additional ground for the interment of the dead, were in treaty with the Countess Waldegrave for 1½ acres of land in the triangle formed between the road leading to Rye and a bye road to Coghurst, on Fairlight Down. The purchase of the ground, the necessary wall and a small chapel were extimated(sic) to cost £500, one half of which it was said, the Rev. W. T. Turner had promised. All matters were agreeably arranged, the ground was prepared, the wall built, &c. during the year, and on the 16th of December, the Bishop of Chichester consecrated as a burial ground for the parish of Ore.

Particular Deaths[edit]

The death of Archdeacon Hare occurred at the Rectory, Herstmonceux, on the 23rd of January, at the age of 59 years. This venerable Archdeacon of Lewes was almost as well known at Hastings, and in any other part of East Sussex. His relative, Major Robert Hare was married to Miss Charlotte Fuller (a nonagenarian at death) the youngest daughter of the Rev. Thomas Fuller, many years rector of Hastings. Mrs. Major Hare was also a sister of Miss Fuller and Mrs. Schaedler, of Hastings. Besides being vicar of Herstmonceux and a prebendary of Chichester Cathedral, Archdeacon Hare was one of Her Majesty’s chaplains. As an author his name was familiar to most readers throughout England and some other parts of Europe, it being generally admitted that he was a profound thinker. He had the credit of being the leader of the broad church party, but those who him best declared that he would be the first to deny it. It was his wish, they said to belong to no party, but to join all parties in the Church of England where good work was to be done. Among his labours was a willing co-operation in reviving Convocation, where he was frequently on the committees, and as frequently a speaker in the lower House. The tolerant tenour(sic) of his words and advice were said to be most valuable in appeasing the strife of opposing spirits. Agreeably to his own request, his mortal remains were interred in a steined grave in the churchyard at Herstmonceux instead of in the family vault. The body was borne to the grave by 12 labourers in craped white frocks. Upwards of 30 clergymen attended the funeral, six of them bearing the pall. About 400 persons followed on foot, including Mrs Hare and several other ladies, and during the service all kinds of trade in the neighbourhood were suspended.

The death of Janet, the wife of F. North Esq. M.P. occurred at Hastings Lodge at about 2 p.m. on Wednesday, January 17th. Great sympathy was shewn towards the esteemed Member under his painful bereavement. She was the daughter of Sir John Marjoribank, and her remains were interred at Halton. [ 189 ]The Rev. William Davis, the estimable minister of the Croft Chapel, died at his residence, Gloucester place, on Friday, Jan. 19th, in his 67th year. He was born in London on June 15th, 1788. He came to Hastings in 1818, and was finally settled in the pastorate of the Croft (Independent) Chapel on the 6th of December. For 35 years he sustained the duties alone, but on the 31st of December, 1853, the Rev. George Stewart became his co-pastor. In 1836 he founded the British School for girls, under the patronage of the Duchess of Kent. A Sunday School existed at the Croft Chapel when Mr. Davis came and it was claimed for it to have been the first of its kind established in Hastings, but, such was denied by Mrs. Milward and others, the latter contending that a Sunday School in connection with the St. Clement’s and All Saints churches had priority. (See reasons for and against in Brett’s Rhymed Reminiscences). Mr. Davis also established the local Auxiliary of the British and Foreign Bible Society, in connection with which he was an active secretary until shortly before his death. In 1831 Mr. Davis was one of the Committee for establishing and framing the rules of the Literary and Scientific Institution. He also took an active part in establishing and upholding the Mechanics’ Institution. Many excellent lectures were delivered in connection therewith by this amiable and hard working gentleman. He was greatly esteemed by his congregation, whilst in addition to his ordinary ministrations, he pursued a course of deeply thought-out literature, among which published productions were “The True Dignity of Human Nature,” “The Salvation and Faith of the Christian,” “The Narrow Way”, and a number of pamphlets. He was one of the several lectures against Popery (See Memoirs of Rev. W. W. Hume in Historico-Biographies) Mr. Davis was of small stature and never a strong looking man; and, at about six years before his death, he exerted himself greatly in connection with the Congregational Union of the County, from which he returned much exhausted. He was soon overtaken by a fit of illness which left its mark upon him, although he temporarily recovered. His vitality continued to decline, and on the evening of the 14th of January, 1855, he became confined to his bed, and died as before stated on the 19th, with a calm and happy assurance of a blissful immortality. Never was more greatly loved by all who had the pleasure of his acquaintance – Dissenters and Churchmen alike. A widow and six children survived to mourn his loss.
The Rev. John Goodge Foyster died at the St. Clement’s Rectory, 106 High street, on the 17th of May, 1855, at the age of 73. He entered the rectorship of St. Clement’s and All Saints soon after the decease of[ 190 ]the Rev. Webster Whistler, in 1832, he having it was said, purchased the living of the Rev. G. S. G. Stonestreet, of Halton House. The two living had been for many years conjoined, owing to the smallness of income, but at Mr. Foyster’s request, they were separated, he retaining for himself the one of St. Clement’s. The deceased gentleman was several times out of health, and for some months before his death had been seriously ill. He was attended by Messrs. Ranking and Gabb, who, of course, did all that was possible for the recovery of their patient, whose piety, moral virtues and generosity were well known to the inhabitants. His death was felt as a great loss to the town. He left legacies of more than £4,000 to local and other associations, a list of which is given on page 162. The funeral took place on the 25th of May, at the All Saints burial ground by request of the deceased. It was a walking procession, the Mayor, Aldermen and Councilmen taking the lead, followed by some of the principal inhabitants, who were succeeded by the Rev. J. Wells, (curate of St. Clement’s) and the Rev. H. J. C. Smith (curate of All Saints). Then followed Dr. Wilmott and surgeons Ranking and Gabb. The next in procession was the Rev. H. S. Langton, who knew the deceased in early life, and was a favourite curate of the two parishes during the rectorship of the Rev. W. Whistler, 30 years before. The bearers of a rich pall were the Revs G. D. St. Quintin, W. W. Hume, J. Parkin and H. W. Simpson. The chief mourners were the Rev. H. S. Foyster and Mrs Cole, J. Grenside and Ms. H. S. Foyster, A. B. Foyster and Miss Grenside, G. A. Foyster, with Miss Foyster and Miss S. Foyster (his two sisters). Following these were the churchwardens, sidesmen, clerk, pew-openers and domestics. During the burial service in church, the Dead March and other musical solemnities were played on the organ by Mr. Giles in a manner as afterwards to elicit complimentary remarks by connoiseurs(sic). Prior to the commencement of the funeral arrangements, the Rev. H. S. Foyster (brother of the deceased) placed in the hands of the Mayor the list of legacies shewn on page 162.

Count Alexander de Vandes, a French gentleman and husband of an English lady, died at his residence, 14 Marine Parade, on the 23rd of July 1855, at the advanced age of 89 years. The funeral of this well-known gentleman took place in the All Saints burial ground on the 30th of the same month, and was witnessed by a great number of townspeople who were present at the church and on the ground. While living, this estimable man was always ready to respond to the call of the needy, and had been known to express regret when the promotors of any charitable object had accidently neglected to call on him. The house in which he resided so many years was specially built for him on the site[ 191 ]of a neatly fronted but small house known as Marine Cottage.

Mr. Hoof – who was known at Hastings as the contractor of a portion of the Ashford and Hastings railway, and whose son died at Hastings during the operations on the said railway – died of heart’s disease in London, and on the 18th of August, an inquest was held on his body and that of his wife, who, had died from the same sort of ailment. The deceased contractor left property exceeding half a million of pounds in value, and by his death, Sir Henry Muggridge, a London sheriff, became possessed in right of his wife, an addition to his fortune of about a quarter of a million.

Nomination of Sheriffs. The mention of a London Sheriff is a reminder that for Sussex Sheriffs, the Privy Council nominated William Crake, Esq., of Hastings, R. H. Nevill, Esq., of Midhurst, and William Lucas-Shadwell, Esq., of Fairlight.

Death Memorials. A memorial to the late Viscount Chewton having been suggested, just £50 was subscribed for the purpose, up to the date of Oct. 26th. A memorial to the late Rev. J. G. Foyster was also proposed by the townspeople, to consist of a suitable window in St. Clement’s church and the restoration of the chancel. For this, also, up to November, £144 had been subscribed. The contributors of ten guineas each were Earl Waldegrave, Countess Waldegrave, Rev T. Nightingale, Miss Sayer, Miss M. J. Sayer, Mr. W. Crake, and “a Friend”. Those who had contributed five guineas each were W. D. Lucas Shadwell. Mr. Staines, Mr. J. Phillips, Mr. W. B. Young, Rev. J. A. Hatchard, Miss North, Rev. H. J. Carter Smith, and Mr. J. Bishop. The subscribers for smaller sums were naturally more numerous.

School Matters[edit]

For a Girls new School, the Countess Waldegrave at the commencement of the year offered to give £100.

For the National Schools, sermons were preached on April 8th, which realised £22 at St. Clement’s, and £17 4s. 8d. at All Saints.

An Annual Treat to the boys and girls of the same parish schools, about 600 in number, was given on July 6th, consisting of tea in the schoolroom and games on the East Hill. Among the ladies who assisted or who were present were Countess Waldegrave, Lady Elizabeth Waldegrave, Miss North, Miss Sayer, Ms. H. S. Foyster and the Misses Foyster. Countess Waldegrave had assisted at such treats about 40 years.

The St. Mary’s National Schools, of 160 boys and 200 girls had their annual treat on the 28th of July in the usual way of an indoor meal and outdoor games.

The Halton Schools, consisting of about 200 children, were given their annual treat on the 24th of August, which included a tea in the schoolroom and amusements in the Rev. J. Parkin’s own grounds.

A “Sunday-School Jubilee Tea-meeting” so called, was held in the Baptist-Chapel[ 192 ]Lecture-room on Oct. 9th. It was there stated that the Croft Chapel Sunday School was the first of its kind established in Hastings. There exists no documentary proof of this, and whether it or the Church Sunday School was first has been debated; but that the Croft School had not reached its Jubilee year in 1855 has been shewn by “The Postman” in Brett’s Reminiscences. The Croft Chapel was built in 1805, but it had no school till several years later.

For the Croft-Chapel Sunday School sermons were preached on Sunday, Oct. 7, by the Rev. George Stewart, and £8 collected. On the following Wednesday, the children had their annual treat.

For the Halton Schools, the Rev. J. Parkin preached a sermon on Sunday, Nov. 11th, and the sum collected was £13 15s. 2½d.

Other Collections.[edit]

As an instance of what may be done by voluntary effort, there was a sum of £37 12s. collected on the 24th of October at the anniversary services at the Tabernacle, on which occasion about 80 persons sat down to dinner and 100 to tea. During his 3½ years of labour as pastor in Hastings, the Rev C. Pavey had collected £1200 for building and other purposes connected with that place of worship. Last year’s collections amounted to £176 12s., in addition to £20 apportioned to the poor and four guineas for Bibles and the school.

The Gospel Propagation Society was benefitted by a collection of £16 17s. at a meeting on the 16th of October, notwithstanding that the attendance was small.

For the City Missions a meeting was held in the same Swan Assembly Room on the following day (Oct. 17th) and the sum realised was £7 14s. 3d. On this occasion also there was but a small attendance.

The Croft Chapel Debt. Strenuous efforts were being made at this time to discharge the £260 debt due to the representatives of the late Rev. William Davis, but with what result remains yet to be revealed.

The Christian Knowledge Society had a sermon preached on its behalf by the Rev. W. B. Churton on the 28th of July, which was on a Friday, and the sum collected was about £16.

A Special Relief Fund, so much needed to meet the distress which so greatly prevailed during the inclement weather in February, in the course of a few days reached a sum of over £100, and by the middle of the month had accumulated to about £220. The Rev. J. Wallis, in a sermon preached at St. Clements, stated that many of the poor in the borough were literally starving. The Relief Committee laboured assiduously to carry out their benevolent mission, and on the 14th of February they distributed at the Town Hall 200 gallons of bread. Two days later, a similar quantity of bread and 160 gallons of soup were distributed. Owing to the continued hard frost, the distress was still great, and the next distribution of relief consisted of 200 gallons of bread and 150 gallons of soup. On the 21st there were given out 350 gallons of bread and 150 gallons of soup; on the 23rd 300 gallons of the former and 150 gallons of the latter. On Feb. 26th, 28th and March 3rd, the total[ 193 ]quantity distributed was 900 gallons of bread and 480 gallons of soup. 300 gallons of the former and 160 gallons of the latter were given out on March 6th. Two days later found the poor people in possession of 200 and 160 gallons respectively of the said provender, and on March 10th the same quantities. Two hundred gallons of bread were also delivered both on the 14th and 20th. This means of relief, together with the £160 from the Charity Fund to the two old parishes as previously described, saved the indigent population from starvation until more open weather gave employment to the labouring people.

The Fishery[edit]

During the week ending January 27th, a few of the Hastings boats in the western waters were successful in mackerel catching. Robert Foord, in the Charlotte, caught about 9,000 and sold them at Portsmouth for £94; Thos. Page, in the John Wightman, realized about £40; and James Sargent, in The Fame; sold his fish for £33. It was hoped that this partial success would have become more general, but the intense frost that followed completely thwarted the fishermen hopes and efforts. It also checked the taking of trawl fish at home. The fishery, indeed, was at a low ebb, and of course added considerably to the general distress. To this it may be added that the whole of the Hastings colliers were detained a considerable time at Harwich on their way to the North by adverse winds. The Burfield Brothers and the Harbinger with coals for foreign ports were detained eight weeks in the North even when they got there. The return of fine weather, however, brought a large quantity of fish to the Hastings fishing ground, which was very acceptable to the trawlers, although the mackerel season was a failure. The recent glut of conger eels which the intense cold enabled to be caught, realised money, howsoever small in proportion to the quantity of fish. Upward of fifty tons of these fish were sent off by rail.

A Singular Haul. Up to the month of July there was not much improvement in the fishery business upon the want of success during the previous winter season. One boat, however, belonging to William “Arch” Gallop was exceptionally fortunate. From a show of herrings off Hastings before the regular season, Gallop imagined that a trip to the North might be worth attempting. He went accordingly, and such was his success that carried into Lowestoff(sic) sufficient quantities of that species of fish to realise between three and four hundred pounds.

An Enormous Catch of Herrings, said to have been greater than ever before known for 50 years, commenced on the morning of Sunday, November 11th. The boats then brought in from three to four last each, the whole amounting to about 50 lasts (500,000 at the rate of 132 to the hundred). This of itself was a sight but rarely witnessed on the Hastings beach. The average price was £12 a last, and total amount realised was about £600. On Monday the quantities netted were from one to two lasts in each boat, and the price was about £10 per last. On Tuesday, the catches were still rather less in quantity and the average price £8. On Wednesday the quantities were greater than ever, with a selling price about £7 per last. On the[ 194 ]next two days, in consequence of light winds, the catches were comparitively(sic) few, and the price rose to £10. This continued till the following Monday, Nov. 19th, when after a freshening breeze, great quantities were again brought in, and the bustle of the preceding week was again observed. The sale was on an average of £7 per last. On the 20th and 21st the catches were simply enormous, some of the larger luggers having 5 or 6 lasts each, whilst the smaller boats had from 2 to 4 lasts each. Six last would be 88,000 fish, and to see that quantity only on the beach in one lump, would naturally surprise a stranger to learn that such a quantity could be carried by one boat, in addition to its nets and other tackle. The price now fell to £5 10s. Besides the quantity purchased for home consumption and that which was conveyed into the villages as well as to Brighton and other towns, the L.B.& S.C. railway carried to London 47 tons on the 11th, 34 tons on the 12th, 30 tons on the 13th, 55 tons on the 14th, 56 tons on the 19th, and 70 tons each on the 20th and 21st. The veering of the wind to the west on the 22nd of November caused very few fish to be caught, but a week later, it having blown freshly from the east, the herrings got into the nets almost as numerously as at first. When brought ashore they realised from £14 to £8 per last. A stranger, however, performed a base trick on the fishermen by purchasing £150 worth of herrings and getting them and himself away without paying for them.

Great Gale and High Tide.[edit]

“Gusty” weather and “High tides from 24th to 26th” of October were forecasted in Brett’s Almanack for 1855. This forecast was founded on lunar and other astronomic positions as follows:- The moon was in perigee while entering the sign Scorpio on the 23rd, the planet Mercury being stationary at the same time. The sun was at equal declination to Mars on the 24th, and the full moon was ecliped(sic) on the 25th being also in conjunction with Herschel, while Venus was at quadrature to Saturn. These positions – as similar ones usually do – raised the tidal wave in the Atlantic (probably on the 23rd when the moon’s nearest approach to the earth occurred), together with a cyclonic storm, which reached the south coast of England on the 25th and 26th, accompanied with a heavy fall of rain. On the latter day the conditions were intensified, and the sea appeared to be in a seething ferment. It flowed higher than it had before done for several years. The waves dashed over the parades, and at Hastings it ran into George street by way of the Marine East parade, Albion Hotel and West Street, and after dislodging the York slabs from the Marine parade, threw them against the houses as though they were only wood. It also damaged the sea-wall and groynes at St. Leonards. [ 195 ]A Comparatively Dry Year. Notwithstanding the copious rain of the 25th and 26th of October, and the showery conditions of over twenty days of the same month, the rainfall of the year was very much under the average. At Hastings the total depth was 21.08 and at Pevensey only 18.78 inches, in both cases the smallest quantity for at least sixteen years, and only half the rainfall of 1848 and 1852. During the first five months the rainfall was only 6.05 inches.

A Clipper Ship from Melbourne.[edit]

The splendid ship “Kent” arrived off Hastings on the 27th of February after a voyage of 83 days from Melbourne. She landed seven passenger, and a heavy mail of 48 boxes. This vessel – one of the finest out of London – left Melbourne in company of three other ships, and it was stated by one of the passengers that the scene at starting was more like an English regatta than that of four ships starting on a long and perilous voyage. The Kent was the first to reach England, though one of her competitors was the celebrated Marco Polo. The Kent brought a very valuable cargo of gold, and upwards of 200 passengers, among whom were many who had been successful at the “diggins”. One party of eight had amassed gold to the extent of £22,000, and one nugget in their possession was valued at £3,000. A considerable number of the passengers intended to return to Australia. This vessel, like the Marco Polo, brought news of the serious disturbance at Ballarat. In her voyage round Cape Horn the Kent had very fine weather, but fell in with some stupendous icebergs, sketches of which were shown by the passengers.

Other Shipping Arrivals. On the same day a merchant ship landed a passenger from the Grovelcotta, 154 days from Calcutta, and in the evening, Capt. Charleton landed at Hastings from Moulmein, by the ship Emma.

The Hastings schooner Harbinger, belonging to Messrs. Kent, after a detention of 8 weeks in the North, by adverse winds, arrived at Rouen with its cargo of coals, but Capt. Coppard, while writing home, said that although he had had many years at sea, he had never witnessed anything to equal what he experienced on the night of Friday, Feb. 16th, [when the sea froze at Hastings]. When off the French coast, the sea was very heavy, and as it broke on board it became immediately frozen. Sails and ropes were rigid with the frost, so as to make it almost impossible to work the vessel, but a stout vessel, a good crew, and a merciful Providence (which he gratefully owned) carried him safely through the sufferings and dangers of that terrible night.

More Passengers from Melbourne, seventeen in number, landed at Hastings on the 23rd of May. [ 196 ]A Four-masted Ship passed up Channel on Monday, March 12th, and appeared to be sailing with more than ordinary speed under a crowd of canvas filled by a good breeze.

A Rowing Match from the Fishmarket to Warrior Square and back took place on the 14th of May, between Mr. C. Bowman in the Alfred, and Mr. L. Yates, in the Sylph, the former being considerably the winner.

A New Galley, named The Unity was built in the same month of May by Mr. Wyld, of Lambeth, for some of the Hastings oarsmen, it was predicted that this new galley would be able to beat all the others, but the prediction was not verified, as will be seen in the next paragraph. The quidnuncs said it would have been better to have let the celebrated George Tutt, of Hastings build the boat, who was still in the van of lugger and skiff builders.

The Annual Regatta took place on Friday, Sept. 14th and was watched with much apparent interest by a large influx of strangers, albeit the weather was somewhat breezy and showery. The Committee-boat was moored opposite the west end of the Marine parade, on which latter was stationed Brett’s Hastings & St. Leonards Brass Band. There were 11 matches and an amusing tub race. In the sailing match eleven boats started, and the winners were respectively, of Eastbourne, St. Leonards and Hastings. The prizes £15, £8, and £5 for first-class 4-oars, were severally taken by Dover, Brighton and Hastings, the London built “Unity” being the last boat but one. In the second-class 4-oars the winners were Dover, Brighton and Hastings. The prizes for Amateur 4-oars, were won by Brighton, Hastings and Dover. The first-class skiff winners were Ramsgate, Ramsgate & Brighton. The 1st-class sculls were Hastings, St. Leonards & Hastings, and the Amateur ditto were Brighton, Hastings and Hastings. Thus our local men did not show to much advantage.

England a Naval Power. The New York Times of this date declared that “Those who talk about England’s decline becaus(sic) she has lost 30,000 men before Sebastopol talk twaddle. The loss of ten such armies would only serve to unveil her resources and bring out the indomitable energy of her people. She is a maritime Power. Her commerc(sic)establishes her rank among the nations, and her navy is strong enough to foster, guard and watch over that commerce in every quarter of the Globe”. That sentiment is more than ever endorsed in 1898 at the time I am writing when the expressed friendship of England and America is much warmer than it was 43 years ago.

Roger Montague North, late Captain in 2nd Light Cavalry of the H.E.I.C.S, after being presented to Her Majesty by his brother, F. North, Member for Hastings, left Hastings to take service as Captain of a Turkish regiment of Cavalry under General Vivian, being required to join his new regiment by the 20th of April. [ 197 ]Capt. Robert McClure. The celebrated Artic(sic) explorer, who regarded himself as a Hastings man in consequence of his many years residing in the town, and to whom a public dinner was given to him to commemorate his return, (as described in chapter LII) was presented to her Majesty on Nov. 21st by Sir George Grey, when he received the honour of knighthood from the Queen.

Our Gallant Townsman Major-Gen. Menzies, K.H.K.C. her Majesty’s late Aide-de-Camp, was promoted in the month of June to the rank of Lieut. General on the active list.

The Rev. R. O. Thorpe, brother of G. A. Thorpe, of Hastings, was preferred to the vicarage of St. Clement’s Cambridge.

The Rev. W. B. Otter, successor to Archdeacon Hare, performed the Archdeaconal service at St. Clement’s on the 31st of July.

Lieutenant R. Savery, son of John Savery, Esq., surgeon, of Hastings, was appointed to H.M. steamship “Alecto”.

The Rev. J. Parkin, M.A., of Hastings, was appointed by the Bishop to be a surrogate for granting marriage licenses, proving wills, and granting letters of administration in the place of the late Rev J. G. Foyster.

Gabriel V. Daniel, a well-known native, was appointed in May, as manager to a new line of steam packets plying between Harwich and Antwerp, under special arrangements of the Belgian Government.

W. D. Lucas Shadwell, Esq., on the 22nd of March, observed his annual custom of giving 320 gallons of bread to the poor of All Saints. He also repeated his Christmas gift of beef, &c. to his farm labourers and their families.

Mr. William Giles was presented with a testimonial by the subscribers to the Pelham Library in consideration of his uniform courtesy and business habits while carrying on the establishment for the executors of the late Mr. William Reid.

Mr. Edward Wingfield was elected on the 26th of May as assistant overseer for All Saints, by 155 votes, against 33 for Mr. Elias Cousens.

Messrs Rock and Son built two magnificent carriages for some of their customers in Australia. They were of the same size and style as their Diorophia Carriage for which they obtained a prize medal at the Great Exhibition of 1851.

The King of the Belgians and suite stopped at Hastings on July 23rd to change carriages , while on their way from Portsmouth to Dover.

Mr. Cooke and his equestrian company made a grand entry into the town on Monday, Aug. 6th, and performed for two days in the Priory Meadow.

Signor Gavazzi, on the 8th of August gave an oration on “The Inqui[ 198 ]sition, to a crowded audience in the Swan Assembly Room; and two days later, he gave in the same room a second oration, his subject being “Nuns and Nunneries”.

P. F. Robertson, Esq., M.P., gave a sumptuous dinner to the Mayor and Corporation at Halton House on November 8th.

Her Majesty the Queen passed through Hastings by rail on the 8th of August, on her way to Portsmouth, and on her return next day to Folkestone, the Hastings station was decorated with flags. The town guns were conveyed to the west side of the West Hill. At 11 o’clock the South-Coast Railway Band commenced playing some lively music, and after two ordinary trains had passed, a third train, with salloon(sic) carriages, containing her Majesty and suite drew up to the station. By that time the Mayor and Corporation were in readiness to meet the royal train. When the Mayor approached the carriage, Prince Albert put down the window. His Worship then addressed her Majesty in these words:- “I have much pleasure in appearing before your Majesty to convey the dutiful homage of the Corporation and inhabitants of the ancient and loyal town of Hastings. I can assure your Majesty there is not a heart in Hastings that does not beat more loudly by the knowledge that you are within our boundary. We pray that Providence may watch over your Majesty and clear away all obstacles in your path; and that you may live many years in great happiness with your noble husband and beautiful children.” Her Majesty said – “I am much obliged to you Mr. Mayor for your kind wishes and expressions.” The loyalty evinced by the people during the few minutes waiting of the train was acknowledged with smiles and bows both by the Prince Consort and the Queen. The platform was again crowded in the afternoon when the royal carriage repassed on their way back to Portsmouth.

Mechanics’ Institution.[edit]

“Ethnological Phrenology” was the title of a lecture given at the Institution by Mr. Mackintosh on January 9th.

“An Hour Among the Stars” was the subject of Mr. John Banks’s lecture on the 22nd of January.

“Chronology” was interestingly descanted upon in a lecture, on Feb. 8th, by Mr. J. C. Womersley.

At a Quarterly Meeting, the Committee’s report stated the Institution to be in a flourishing condition beyond all precedent; 98 members had been elected during the quarter, bringing up the number to 394, and with a favourable cash balance of £16. From the report of a committee appointed to look out for a better site, it appeared that with some of the members of the Literary and Scientific Institution in George street being favourable to a more popular mode of conducting that society had originated the[ 199 ]idea of handing it over to the Mechanics’ Institution, suggesting also that an offer of £1400 be made for the building, and which the Mechanics’ Building Committee acceded to. But some time after they received a communication from the secretary that the kind offer of the Mechanics’ Institution to relieve the members of the Literary Institution of their nice building, with the furniture, &c. for £1400, was rejected by a large majority. The reading of this caused a series of comments in which the reply was unfavourably criticised, and the committee was instructed to be still looking about for more convenient premises.

“The Homes of the Middle Ages” was the topic of an interesting lecture in the rooms of the Institution, on the 12th of February, by W. Caverly, Esq., of Margate.

”Crime and its Remedies” formed the text of a discourse by Mr. R. Dawson, on the 19th of the same month.

“The Life and Writings of Oliver Goldsmith” was a theme on which Mr. T. Hudson, of London expatiated for the Institution on March 5th.

“The Pendulum” as explained and dwelt upon, proved to be a very interesting lecture delivered in the Swan Room by Mr. E. Dobell, of Robertson street on March 12th for the information of the members.

Joan of Arc was the subject of the next lecture (March 19) to hear which, there was a an overfow(sic) audience at the Swan Assembly room.

A Quarterly Meeting of the Institution was held on the 2nd of May, when from the Committee’s report the prospects appeared not quite so cheery as did the “success beyond precedent” rejoiced in at the preceding quarter. Thirty-seven members had declined, and 17 fresh ones had been admitted, leaving a total of 374. Taking all things into consideration, said the report, the Institution was in a good position.

“Heat and Cold” was the title of a lecture delivered to the members and others on the 29th of October, by E. Wheeler, Esq., C.E., accompanied with experiments.

Nitrogen Gas was lectured upon by Mr. John Banks, in his usual familiar style on the 5th of November, whilst “Guy Fawkes and his companions” were exploding other gasses in the streets.

“The Literary History of the Bible” was ably treated in lecture form, on the 12th of November by Mr. J. C. Womersley, who with Mr. W. Ransom, Mr. E. Dobell, Mr. H. Winter, Mr. Joshua Huggett, Mr. G. Meadows, Mr. Elliott, and a few other lecturers or members of the now defunct Institution are still our townsmen although 44 years have passed since the date under present review.

“Jerusalem” as a lecture was descanted upon on the 11th of December, by the Rev. W. Gibson, Wesleyan Minister. (Jas. Rock in the chair)

“The Ottoman Empire” was the title of a lecture delivered on the 19th of December, at the Swan Hotel in connection with the Institution, Mr. G. Scrivens in the chair. [ 200 ]A Lecture on Music, by Mr. T Elliott, was delivered on the 17th of December to the members of the Institution, Mr. J. Banks presiding.

A Lecture on “The Alhambra, its History, its Literature and its Legends, delivered for the Institution on Dec. 3rd, evoked deeply attentive interest. The lecturer was W. Caveler, Esq.

At the quarterly meeting on the 7th of November, the Committees report showed a favourable cash balance of £27 and was otherwise encouraging.

Mr. Stidolph, of Tunbridge Wells, gave a lecture on “The connection of the Vegetable and Animal Kingdom.” The date was Dec. 3rd.

The Literary & Scientific Institution[edit]

At a general meeting of the society on 26th of January, the Treasurer’s accounts showed a balance in hand of £9 14s, out of which it was resolved to pay £9 9s. 1d. for repairs. The following recommendations of a committee were adopted:- That for the future, the Institution shall be managed by a committee of twelve members, including the President, Secretary, and Treasurer; that meetings be held at least once in every quarter; that the rules receive such alterations (for re-printing) as the Committee consider necessary, and a copy of the same presented at the next meeting.” A report on the condition of the library showed that 43 vols. were missing; that a considerable number wanted rebinding or otherwise repairing, and that 122 books had not been bound at all. Resolved that the Rev. Jos. Wallis, F. J. Hawkings, J. H. Cole, and E. Macmundo, Esq. be admitted members. The President re-elected was F. North, Esq. The vice-presidents were B. Smith, J. G. Shorter, Robt Ranking?, F. Smith, P. F. Robertson Esquires, and Major Close. The Committee were Rev. T. Vores, Dr. Greenhill, W. Scrivens, M. Collin, Esq. – Crosbie, Esq. W. J. Gant, Esq., G. Hayles, Esq., F. Bennetts, J. Rock, Esq. Rev. J. Wallis, Rev. J. Parkin, and G. Scrivens, Esq. At a meeting on the 30th of March, the revised rules were ordered to be printed. On the 9th of April, it was resolved that a list of members and subscribers be suspended in the reading room and that the names of the officers be circulated among the members. Also resolved that a Library Committee of five be appointed every year, to meet monthly, to take care that the books be not lost or damaged, to superintend the purchase of books, to provide books from a general circulating Library in London, to see that the titles of all new books are entered in the catalogue, and to report to the Managing Committee each quarter the fines incurred for members and subscribers keeping books beyond the time allowed. Resolved that a room be leased to Mr. Gant at £25 per[ 201 ]annum, the Institution paying for the lease and sugested(sic) alterations. The remaining articles of such (Museum) room to be disposed of. At a meeting on the 28th of September, the following meteorological instruments were presented to the Institution by some of its members:- a barometer, a dry and wet bulb thermometer, a maximum and a minimum thermometer, and a rain guage(sic). For a service in connection with these instruments, Mr. Glaisher, Secretary of the British Meteorological Society, was elected an honorary member. The subscribing members elected during the year were Mr. George Lundridge, Dr. Steavenson, Rev. J. H. Fisk, Rev. Edward Woodyatt, Rt. Hon. Earl Waldegrave, Dr. A. H. Marks, Rev. H. W. Simpson, (Bexhill) Rev G. D. St. Quintin, Thos. Frewer, Esq., Rev. Mark H. Vernon (Westfield) Miss Towgood, Rev. H. Raven, Mr. Jas. Rock, Mr. Wm. Smith, Mr. Seth Thomas, Miss Busk, Miss Field, Mr. J. G. O’Neil, Rev. J. Alton Hatchard, W. T. Agar, Esq (Ore), Dr. de Miere, Rev. T. Nightingale, Dr. Underwood, Rev. J. C. Young (Fairlight Vicarage), R. Hunter, Esq. (Fairlight Hall) Vernon Harcourt, Esq., C. J. Kilpin, Esq., and Miss S. A. Piper. At the last meeting of the year (Dec. 28th) it was resolved that a letter of condolence be sent to the family of the late William Ransom, sen. and that the committee desire to record their sense of the valuable services which he rendered to the Institution during the many years he was their librarian. It was further resolved that Mr. Arthur Ransom be recommended at the annual meeting in January in the room of his father at a salary of £15 per annum. Taken altogether the year 1855 appeared to be one of revival. The meetings of the committee were more numerous than in previous years, and much appears to have been done by the honorary secretary, (the Rev. J. Parkin) in getting new members; hence, probably the accession of four clergymen of Hastings, four of St. Leonards, one of Westfield, one of Fairlight and one of Bexhill.

A Pett Clerical Case.[edit]

It is gratifying to know that all the clergymen whose names appear above as members of the Literary Institution were gentlemen of worthy deportment and highly esteemed for their general virtues. Not so, however, be it said with regret, was it with him who succeeded another worthy clergyman in the neighbouring village of Pett, and caused the inhabitants to bear record of a clerical scandal. On the 21st of December, in the year now under review, letters of request in the Arches Court were brought from the Diocese of Chichester against the Rev Robert West, rector of Pett, for habitual drunkenness, and for brawling, smiting, using profane language and for other unclerical conduct. In the year 1853, the defendant had been inducted to that rectory, on the representation of Mr. Richard Thornton of London, which rectory had become vacant through the removal of the Rev. Henry Wynch, and he was charged[ 202 ]with a seies(sic) of acts of misconduct, commencing in May, 1854. After that date he frequently exhibited himself in a state of intoxication, not only in his own parish, but also at Hastings and Rye. On the 24th of June he went in his own private yacht to Folkestone and put up at the Hotel de Paris, where he and his crew got drunk. In the following September he sailed over in his yacht to Boulogne and made a stay of three days at the Hotel Bedford, during the greater part of which time he was in a state of inebriety. On the 2nd of August he gave a feast at the Rectory to the school children, and was then intoxicated. At the end of the same month he gave a party to his yachtsmen and some men of the Prentive(sic) service at the “William the Conqueror” at Rye, when he again transgressed the bounds of sobriety. On Xmas Eve he was again drunk at the Rectory, and on that occasion he put his arms around the waist of his maid-servant and endeavoured to induce her to dance with him. On the 1st of January, 1855, he invited several of his poorer parishioners to dine with him, when he was again drunk. On the 6th while returning in his carriage from a neighbouring clergyman’s, he had an altercation with a waggoner, whom he assaulted; and on the 3rd of the following month, he was fined by the Hastings magistrates for violence. On another occasion he attempted to give a tradesman an order for “infernal” coals, but was unable to do in consequence of his drunken condition; and on several occasions he was refused by the officials at the railway station to travel on the line. On the 10th of March he landed at Folkestone from a steam packet dressed as a sailor, and attended by a servant in livery. He went to the station, and being refused tickets, he said “I am Bob West, a captain in the Navy. I’ll let you know who I am; damn you, I’ll have the coat off your back.” Shortly after, he went to the harbour-master, and demanded of him “Do you consider me beastly drunk?” The reply was in the affirmative, and he was advised to go to his hotel and keep quiet. On the 19th of the same month, he presented himself in a drunken condition before the school children. In the same month he visited a female parishioner who lay dying, and even then he was intoxicated, and when he came down stairs he expressed himself in terms of levity and impropriety before the family. He offered to supply her with wine, and gave some money to one of her daughters for that purpose, but as she was going out he threw his arms around her and attempted to kiss her. Many other instances of impropriety were detailed, in answer to which the reverend gentleman merely put questions to the witnesses. The learned judge did not wish to press greatly on the consel(sic) for Mr. West, but[ 203 ]thirty witnesses had been examined, all of whom had deposed to acts of drunkenness. He appeared, however, to be a kind-hearted man, and had never been seen intoxicated in the church. The Court thought it would sufficiently discharge its duty by suspending him from the discharge of divine service for two years, at the end of which he must produce the usual certificate from three beneficed clergymen that he had conducted himself with greater propriety. He must also be condemned in the costs, and be deprived of the receipts of his benefice during the two years suspension. How this offending clergyman conducted himself after the loss of his annual income of £460 for two years I cannot say, but it appears that he was never reinstated; for at the end of his two years suspension (1857) the Rev. F. Young was inducted to the living of Pett on the recommendation of the same patron, Mr. R. Thornton; nor can I learn that Mr. West ever obtained another benefice.

Presumably the said Robert West was a relative (perhaps a son) of the Rev. J. J. West, many years rector of Winchelsea, who was at times guilty of similar behaviour, and who, as an avowed predestinarian declared from the pulpit that Hell was paved with babes. This clergyman’s eccentricities – to use a mild term – got him into disfavour with many of his parishioners, and so disgusted the Stileman family at the Friars, as to induce them to worship at the church of Icklesham.

Strange to say, that while Mr. West was in disfavour of most of the Winchelsea people, he was in high favour with some of the Hastings townspeople, whose infatuation was such that they almost regularly walked eleven miles every Sunday to Winchelsea church to hear their favourite preacher. I first knew the Rev. J. J. West when he was curate of St. Mary’s, under the Rev. W. Wallinger. Although having an impediment in his speech, he was otherwise a fluent preacher. He was presented to the living of Winchelsea, in 1831 by Sir W. Ashburnham, Bart. He died in 1872, and was buried at Guestling, where the following memorials may be found:-

“Rev. James John West, M.A., 41 years Rector of Winchelsea, Aug. 7th, 1872, aged 66 years.
“Ashburnham Wallinger, infant son of James and Charlotte Margaret West, Aug. 9th, 1835.
“Catesby Paget, 4th son of Rev. James West, died at Bloemfontein, S. Africa, July 28th, 1876, aged 31.
“Arnold West, R.N. lost by the foundering of “The Captain”, off Finisterre, Sept 7th, 1870, aged 24.
“Edward Shuto West, died at Collaroy, Australia, Sept. 13, 1877, aged 77.”

Another clergyman who indulged too freely in intoxicants was one who for some time did duty at Winchelsea church in Mr. West’s time, and to whom it happened to be the officiating minister to make man and wife of the present writer and the woman of his choice. Sad to say, the want of steadiness in the virtue of sobriety sometimes brought the said clergyman (whose name I withhold) and his family to the brink of starvation, and for whom sympathy was felt by the dwellers in Russell street, Hastings. [ 204 ]Mr. Sheen, of 81 High street, having been given a certain time for the payment of a church-rate, and not having complied with the order such order was not enforced, although several weeks had elapsed after the stipulated date. A counsel’s opinion by T. S. Pinks, Esq. was to the effect that the conduct of the magistrate was illegal, and that an appeal to the Quarter Sessions would have been successful.

Anti-Church-rate Movement.[edit]

Church Rate Defeated. On the 12th of October, a St. Clement’s adjourned vestry was held for examining the churchwardens accounts and to make a rate. It was proposed and seconded that the Mayor take the chair. In going through the accounts, Mr. H. Winter moved that the charge for the beadle and the pew-opener be struck out, as they were not sanctioned by vestry and were not necessary officers, and it being the duty of churchwardens to put people in their pews. Mr. Sheen having seconded the motion, the chairman said if he were an opponent he would not interfere with the past, but confine his opposition to the future. Mr. Sheen said if abuses had existed for centuries, let them be put an end to at once. Mr. Winter considered the Dissenters in Hastings ill-used, and they were present with a determination to take every legal step to put a stop to the present system. [The vestry at this stage became so crowded that an adjournment to the Town Hall, close by, became necessary.] Mr. Winter said he had made out a list of objections before coming to the meeting, which he then read. These he would include in his original motion. Here, some assertions and denials as to what had been said out of doors, respecting a new window caused great confusion, in the midst of which the Mayor said that unless Mr. Bromley (a churchwarden) withdrew what he said, he (the Mayor) must vacate the chair, although he would admit that it was unfortunate that gentlemen should store up words which had been dropped in casual conversation, and bring them forward at a public meeting. Mr. Winter consented to withdraw from his list of objections 10s for the Visitation dinner and the cost of insurance, because they were permanent expenses, but the cost of gas required a fresh order every year. Also, if the churchwardens would allow him and others to enter their protests in the minute book against the items he would withdraw his motion. This was agreed to and a protest was then signed by Messrs. H. Winter, J. Tucker, R. Lye, J. Notcutts, T. Sheen, and others, against the beadle, £4; pew opener, £3; holly at Christmas, 5s.; cost of new window and doorway, £135 (less £75 towards the same by the Rector); Visitation fees, £3 18s.; gas-lighting, £4 17s. 7d. ; repairs to organ £13. On the motion of Mr. Langham, the Churchwardens’ accounts were then passed. Mr. Bromley then asked for a rate at 3d. in the pound, as he knew of no other means by which to maintain the fabric, pay the salaries, gas, &c. Mr. Winter did not think the organist was a parish officer. He received £15 from the[ 205 ]Countess of Waldegrave, and what was paid to him by the vestry was only a donation towards his salary. Mr. Sheen was surprised to hear Mr. Bromley say that he knew of no other way of celebrating the rites of the church, seeing that there was the voluntary principle which could be adopted. He and the other opponents were anxious to remove those abuses which had existed so long in nearly every parish. The churchwardens might only have done what their predecessors had, but they had nevertheless done wrong. The law did not tolerate the levying of church rates, except as they were consented to in vestry. They came there to denounce a system that was anti-Christian. Such a system was not known in the first ages of Christianity, and they believed that the compulsory system made more infidels that anything else. [Hear, hear!]. In proceeding to examine the estimate for the proposed rate, Mr. Winter moved that the organist’s salary be struck out, which was carried by 45 to 24. Mr. Tucker moved that the organ blower’s salary be struck out, which was carried by 44 to 20. Mr. Winter moved that the Sexton’s salary be struck out, as there were no graves for him to dig now. This was also carried. Mr. Lye moved that the beadle’s and pew-opener’s salaries be struck out - also carried. Mr. Sheen moved the same operation for the £5 to the rate-collector, which being also carried, it was then moved that the £16 10s. for gas lighting be struck out. A further discussion ensued, after which the other items were allowed to stand – namely £25 for repairs and £20 Clerk’s salary. Then followed another long discussion for and against Mr. Bromley’s motion for a rate, during which Mr. Tucker proposed as an amendment that no church-rate should be made on that occasion but a voluntary subscription be entered into. He remarked in reply to a statement by Mr. Langham, that tithes and church-rates were not of a like character; for whereas tithes were fixed charges, church-rates were not, and need not be made unless vestries were so disposed. He referred to the decisions of Baron Parker and other judges in the late Braintree case. He expected churchmen to exhibit that love for their own church which would induce them to maintain it. Mr. Lye, in seconding, said he was willing to give the amount vontarily(sic). Mr. Bromley, in reply, said no one would rejoice more than himself at the adoption of any motion that would produce peace and harmony among the parishioners; still he felt there was a responsibility resting on him, and that he would not be doing his duty if he did not ask for a rate. But whatever might be the result, he would be perfectly satisfied, and hoped the question would be settled for ever. On being put, the amendment was carried by a large majority, and the rate was thus thrown out. The result was received with loud cheers. Mr. Amoore demanded a poll. This took place on the following Monday, when there appeared 131 ratepayers against the rate and only 70 for it, thus leaving a majority for the objectors of 61.

Subscriptions. On the 24th of October another vestry meeting was held, and[ 206 ]resolutions passed to commence a subscription fund for £125 in lieu of the rejected church rate. The attendance was small but £14 was raised in the room, and a letter was received from the Rev. F. Nightingale with a promise of ten guineas.

The Poor-law Guardians.[edit]

At the meeting of the Board of Guardians on the 25th of January, Mr. Pigott, the Poor-law Inspector was present, and was glad to find the house in such good order and that the inmates were fewer than he expected, the number being 173, as against 211 last year. On the same day, however, the St. Clement’s vestry levied a poor-rate at 1s. and All Saints at 11d. Also, a month later, the addition of twenty more inmates increased the number to 193. At the latter meeting the consideration of plans and specification of a proposed new schoolroom and an extra workroom was adjourned for a fortnight, the pressure of the relief lists leaving the Guardians no time for special business.

The New Guardians. The election of Guardians for the year resulted in Rich. Selden for Ore; Godfrey Philcox, for Guestling; Hy. Waters for Fairlight; Abraham Thorpe for Pett; George Clement for Bulverhythe; John Peerless for St. Leonards; David Tree and Stephen Putland for St. Mary Magdalen; J. A. Pace for St. Michael’s; David Murdoch for St. Andrew’s; J. R. Bromley, Wm. Wood and John Smith, for St. Clements; A. Harvey, W. Adams & H. N. Williams, for All Saints; T. Ross, H. Beck, and A. Vidler, for St. Mary-in-the-Castle; and J. Howell for Holy Trinity.

A Defaulting Collector. At the Guardians’ meeting on May 3rd, the auditor (Mr. Kell) reported that Mr. J. Everett’s defalcations were - St. Mary Magdalen, £68 8s. 10½d, All Saints, £55 11s. 3½d,; St. Clement’s £232 17s. 3d., St. Mary-in-the-Castle £217 12s. 4d. The security money (£500) was ordered to be paid in a week. The sureties were Mr. H. Beck, senr. and Mr. S. Putland, both members of the Board. On the 24th of May, the Guardians having instructed Mr. Langham to proceed against the sureties, Mr. Putland stated that the validity of the bond would be disputed.

The Sureties’ Plea. The question was in abeyance for nearly two months, when, on the 5th of July, the sureties submitted a letter which represented them less liable in consequence of sundry charges that had been made in the mode of collecting since 1834. It was resolved, however, that the letter could not be entertained and that the action against them was to proceed.

A Compromise. The Board of Guardians on July 19th, after taking legal action against Messrs. Beck and Putland for £500, the amount of their sureties (the defalcations being £600) resolved to accept £300 as a compromise, notwithstanding that the defendants had paid £500 into Court. Mr. Clement moved the acceptance of the £300, and the motion was supported by Messrs. Bromley, Putland, Vidler, Adams, Peerless, Tree and Howell. These were all Liberals, and Messrs. Harvey and Wood who opposed it were Tories. It was natural in a party sense, that Liberals should do[ 207 ]the best they could for their political friends, and it might be that Tories would do the same for their own friends under like conditions; but it was hard that the ratepayers should have to make up the deficiency, varying in different parishes from a penny to threepence in the pound for a defaulting collector, who had been helped into the situation by those who had become his sureties, and in opposition to a more worthy rival because the latter was a Conservative. It would be more pleasant to the historian if he could assure his readers that the case here recorded was a solitary one as applying to the protégé of Liberals, and that a similar but more serious case of a later date existed only in imagination. Moneys Received. At the Board meeting on August 2nd, a letter was received from Mr. John Phillips, solicitor to the Countess Waldegrave, stating that he had paid to the treasurer of the Union £100 promised for the new schoolroom, together with a loan of £150 for the same purpose. A letter was also received from Mr. Langham, stating that he had received £300 from Messrs. Beck and Putland, and that his own charges and other costs amounted to £69 7s. 6d., thus leaving a balance due to the Union of £230 2s. 6d.

Early Closing and Early Rising.[edit]

The Early Closing Association held a general meeting on the 13th of June, when the report shewed the Association to be in an unfavourable position. In 1852 the number of members was 359, in 1853 it was reduced to 214, in 1854, it was further decreased to 178, and at the time of the meeting the number was only 178. The subscriptions had also declined in a similar ratio. This aspect of the Association suggested the article which appeared in Brett’s Hastings and St. Leonards Penny Press under the heading of “Early Closing and Early Rising” as follows:- “So much has lately been said and written on the subject of Early Closing that we are told the good folk of Hastings and St. Leonards are growing weary of it. If such be the case we can hardly have the temerity to burden them with any further remarks on such a theme, were it not that Early Closing is intimately associated with Early Rising. We close our shops late, hold our meetings late, keep open to a late hour our places of amusement, stay up late round the social hearth, retire late to rest, and consequently get up late. Thus by the substitution of an artificial day for a natural one, or, in other terms, by the twining of night into day and vice versâ, society is put out of joint, Nature’s admonitions set at nought, and the lessons of experience rendered practically of no value. There are but few persons who will deny that, as a rule, the habit of early rising is conducive to health, but many are unaware of the cause of their being unable to enjoy this inestimable benefit. It is not an uncommon occurrence to hear a person say “I wish I could rise earlier; I would give much to accomplish it, but whenever I attempt it, I am sure to feel unfit for duty[ 208 ]throughout the day. Ask such an individual at what hour he retires to rest, and his answer will probably be “Oh, about eleven or twelve, and sometimes, perhaps, a little later.“ Maybe that the person to whom you put the question is some first-rate drill-sergeant of the knife and fork, a fat landlord, a comfortable annuitant, a high living bishop, or a corpulent alderman, whose system possessing an abundance of carbon, necessitates his becoming, above all men an early riser. Or it may be an aspiring youth, who, after a day’s tort at the counter, the bench, the forge, the desk, or the ship-board, seeks, at a late hour, to improve his mind, but fails to make satisfactory progress. Bent, however, on pursuing his favourite study, he is determined to be an early riser, and for that purpose has recourse to some ingenious device for its accomplishment; but alas! before the day is half spent he complains of that languor and unfitness for duty to which we have alluded. That man was made to labour there can be no reasonable doubt, and that he was also made for rest and recreation is equally certain; but when and how to perform these requirements is the grand thing to know. Too little sleep, as in all other things is equally pernicious as too much. Too little, or if taken at improper hours, causes an unfitness for the duties of the ensuing day, whilst too much predisposes the body to indolence, and leads to a waste of that most precious part of the day – the morning. The same amount of sleep does not suffice for all persons – some requiring more than others, and some requiring more at one period of life than at another; but, with few exceptions, all might do with a less amount of sleep than that which they habituate themselves, were they to seek it at the proper time. But which is the proper time? Most assuredly not the beginning of the morning, however universal the practice may be, but rather? the beginning of night, when the last crimson blush dies away in the west – when the plants fold their leafy coverlets and the light-winged birds pour forth the last sweet carol to the day – when the noisy hum of labour dies into silence and the cool zephyr, fresh from its home of clouds, bears on its wings the message of Heaven and proclaims with a spirited voice the hour of rest.

“Man goeth forth to labour with the sun,
But with the night all creatures draw to sleep.”

‘T were well for the inhabitants of our towns and cities did they emulate those of the rural districts by retiring at eight or nine o’clock in the evening and rising at four or five in the morning; for then, thousands who now from the late closing system and other powerfully operating causes are denied the advantages of the evening lecture or reading-room, would have ample and far more valuable opportunities for mental culture and rational amusement. We know by our own experience[ 209 ]that even if we can steal an hour now and then after the hours of business , the exhaustion of our physical powers frustrates all able? attempts at consecutive thoughts and attention, and we therefore cease to wonder at the great want of success attending the evening classes in connection with the numerous Mechanics’ Institution and Improvement societies with which England abounds.

Let it not be supposed, however, that our sympathy is enlisted in favour of any one particular class – the draper’s assistants, to wit. No such thing. On the contrary, we believe that the dreadful hardships complained of by that class of persons in the present day is more imaginary than real. We think, moreover, that a vast number of these young men themselves have small faith in the reality of those alleged hardships and that their apathy in reference to the Early Closing movement arises not so much from the ignorance of which they have been so ungraciously accused as from a true sense of the superiority of their position when compared with many others who labour for a living. They are not so ignorant as not to know that, however irksome may be their own duties, those of a mechanic are even more arduous. Granted that he ceases toil at six in the evening, he also commences at six in the morning, and has frequently to rise at or before five in order to walk – howsoever inclement the weather – to the scene of his labour. Perhaps he has a wife and family depending on him for support, and during a great part of the winter can obtain no employment – a situation than which none can be more unenviable, and which compels him to toil during summer many hours after the ordinary period. They are not so ignorant as not to know that the agricultural labourer, though he may return to his ill-built and meanly furnished cottage at an early period of the evening, is, nevertheless, obliged to resume his daily labour at three or four o’clock in the morning; and this, too, for a very small pittance, which never allows him to advance in life except in age. Again, we say, that the drapers’ assistants are not so ignorant as not to know that the physical endurance of humanity is often more severely tested in the feminine than in the masculine portion of the community; and when we remind them that laundresses are engaged in a most laborious and unhealthy occupation from six, a.m. till nine, p.m., and that semstresses(sic) and others are employed from “early dawn till dark midnight”, they will probably be more amused than surprised at the proposition contained in a letter inserted in another part of our paper. Whilst then, we would hail with delight any plan that would ameliorate the condition of the toiling millions in general, we would earnestly and seriously press upon the attention of those young men whose evening leisure is practically absorbed by the late hour system, to avail themselves of the far more precious hours of the morning which they waste in unnecessary sleep, bearing in mind the following aphorisms:-
[ 210 ]

“Great men sleep but little.”
“Artificial luxuries become real wants.”
“The more indulgence the greater indolence.”
“One hour at morning is worth two hours at night.”
“Drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.”
“Tis the voice of the sluggard,” &c.
“Early to bed and early to rise,
“Make a man healthy and wealthy and wise.”
“Nature wants but six hours rest,
Custom sanctions seven;
Indolence thinks nine are best,
And downright sloth, eleven.”

It is said that when the Jesuits settled the plan at Clèrmont, the physicians were consulted on the portion of time which the students should be allowed to sleep, and that they declared that five hours would suffice, six hours was an abundance, and seven hours as much as a youthful constitution could bear without injury. Our own experience in this matter – and by no means a limited one – may be cited in support of this theory. Five hours is frequently more than we require, although on some occasions six has not been too much. We believe, however, that as a rule, the period most conducive to health is seven hours, and that, with few exceptions it is abundant for all the purposes for which the Creator designed it. But it must be borne in mind that the earlier a person retires to rest, the better. In order, therefore to rise sufficiently refreshed – say at 5 o’clock in the morning, nine or not later than half-past, should be the evening hour for retiring.

We should like to see the young men of Hastings and St. Leonards form themselves into an Early Rising Society. Nothing, we are convinced, would be more conducive to their health, their intellectual improvement and their happiness. Those who have heard of it for the first time may smile at the idea, but let them not imagine it to be a mere utopian scheme. It has been tried in two or three towns with complete success. The plan is to meet at a certain place at about 5 o’clock. If the morning be fine they walk into the country and instruct each other in botany, entymology(sic) or some other branch of study that may be agreed upon. If the morning be wet they repair to a large room and assist each other in historical and other researches, or in the acquirement of languages, &c. The young men of which these societies are composed are chiefly drapers’ and grocers’ assistants, clerks, &c. whose commercial duties do not require their presence till 7 or 8 o’clock; so that whilst thousands of their fellow mortals are passing away an insensible existence in the arms of Somnus, these kindred and energetic spirits sharpen each other’s appetites, strengthen each others moral perceptions, and stimulate each other to continued good works.

[One of the exceptional cases applies to the present writer, but the exception is in the nature not of requiring more sleep, but less. When the foregoing article[ 211 ]was written in 1855, the writer’s averaged rest in 24 hours did not much exceed five hours, proof of which existed in a daily record; and since that time it has not been increased. It may be truthfully affirmed that from about ten years of age until over 82 he never has had more than the stated averaged amount of sleep; and as he has mentally exercised himself even while at meals, and he has never taken a fortnight’s holiday, he submits that he is entitled to the boast – with all its unblushing egotism – of having lived the exceptional working life of 140 years. Whether the ability to make two working weeks out of one was a gift of Nature or was acquired by force of habit, it may be adduced in support of the Jesuits’ physicians’ contention that for some men, at least, six hours is abundant. “Use” says the aphorism, “is second nature,” and if this particular cause and effect is to be practically demonstrated, it must be commenced in early life. Also, if my own experience is worth anything, the daily round of labour should be varied, the change of employment being better than actual rest. As my autobiography, though often asked for, has but a small chance of being written, it must be the excuse for occasionally interposing some personal experiences, and in this particular instance for what may be regarded as a sequal(sic) to the metrical “Invitation to Early Rising” in chapter XXXIX, Vol. 3. ]

Proposed Trinity Church.[edit]

The Woods and Forests’ Commissioners having declined to give the triangular site in Robertson street for a church mainly for the inhabitants and visitors on the Crown land, the Rev. G. D. St. Quintin, of St. Leonards, offered to purchase from the Cornwallis estate one acre of land in the Step Meadow, for a church, parsonage and schools, and was himself willing to give £500 towards the whole cost on condition that the patronage should be vested in the Bishop of the diocese, and that he himself should have the selection of the incumbent during life. The Bishop was also willing to give £500. The Countess Waldegrave, with her usual liberality, had promised £500, with the probability of another £500, at her own discretion. About £500 was expected to be obtained from other sources.

For this proposed church, the trustees of Lady Julia Cornwallis offered half an acre of ground, at a very small sum, where stood an old tree (among others) that had been stripped of its bark by lightning behind the original Priory-farm house, and in the Step Meadow, commencing at and including the wooden cottage by the roadside, and terminating a little above the steps. The offered site was where are now Cornwallis Gardens and the Central Wesleyan Chapel. This site was abandoned, as will be shewn in Chapter LVI. [ 212 ]

Municipal Elections.[edit]

Outgoing Councillor. The retiring members of the Council on the first of November were four Liberals and two Conservatives – namely, James Emary, Samuel Gutsell, T. B. Williams and Joseph Amoore, of the East Ward; and John Austin and Charles Neve, of the West Ward. As Mr. Amoore declined to stand again as a candidate, it was believed that Mr. Vidler, a new candidate, would step into his place, and that there would be no contest in either ward. Four days before the election a new Liberal candidate appeared in the East Ward as a rival to the four Liberals already in the field, and only one day before the time, two opponents appeared for the West Ward; but in each case to their discomfiture.

Remarkable Addresses. Two of the candidates addresses were singularly in contrast with each other – one of them being unusually long and the other remarkably short. The latter was as follows:- “Gentlemen my term of office having expired, I again appear before you for a renewal of your confidence. Should it be your pleasure to re-elect me, I shall cheerfully accept the honour, and I trust perform the duties to your satisfaction.” I remain, &c. James Emary, Albion Hotel, Hastings.

The new candidate’s address was worded thus:- “Gentlemen, - As the first of November is now approaching, I venture to offer myself as a candidate for the office of Town Councillor. In asking for your suffrages I can confidently say that I have no party or personal purpose to serve; but am actuated solely by a desire to serve my fellow-townsmen in doing all I can to promote the general welfare of our borough. The property on which I depend for my living is situated among you, and I am therefore concerned in all that concerns you; my interests and yours are identical. The heaviness of the local rates and the serious pressure of the times upon all classes, but especially on the poor, make it necessary that the strictest economy should be observed in all matters of public outlay. I am well aware that the sanitary state of the borough cannot be too closely looked after, and that we are bound to provide all necessary accommodation to ensure the comfort of our visitors; but it behoves us to see that our money is judiciously expended, and that no disposition to theorise without experience be permitted to lead us into blunder or to a waste of the public money. I am of the opinion that our aldermen ought to be, and are, men of respectable standing, and that the Town Council should consist of men who have minds of their own, and who would not be led away by flippant declamation. The drainage measure is being carried into effect at a very serious time; provisions are dear and money scarce; and most of us are not in a position to be indifferent how our rates are spent. I will engage for it that to the utmost of my power – if you return me – I will see that able officers are employed to carry out your work, and that all right means are taken to economise your money. I ask for your votes as an independent man, and will do my duty without fear of any party whatever. At the last election of Guardians I was returned for the Castle parish, and have not failed once in my attendance. I trust I shall be equally[ 213 ]assiduous if you elect me, as a Councillor. I am, &c. Alfred Vidler. Sen.”

This lengthy address – different in style to Mr. Vidler’s oral pronouncements – was thought by some persons to have been prepared by Alexander Payne or Henry Morley, two reporters for newspapers not printed in the borough, but even if that were the case, it could hardly have detracted from the genuineness of the address, so long as it embodied the sentiments of the candidate. Those sentiments, however, did not seem to accord with Mr. Vidler’s action and admissions respection the cemetery question and some other public matters, in which he showed himself not so free from “party and personal interest” as indicated by his addres.(sic). Also his intimacy with Messrs. Ross, Clift, Smith and other leaders of a secret and overbearing political club known as the H.I.P.S. – of which more anon – and the help derived therefrom both in the canvass and at the poll, did not bear out his profession of independence. Perhaps Mr. Winter, the later and unsuccessful candidate, was of that opinion when he issued what many Liberals considered to be a more genuine address, as follows:-

“Gentlemen, - One of the four outgoing Councillors of this Ward having declined to present himself for re-election, I beg to offer myself to your notice as a candidate for your suffrages on the 1st of November next. As a native of this town, and being bound by every tie with its interest and well-being, it will be my desire, if favoured by your choice is to devote what abilities I possess to the forwarding the general good of the entire borough. I shall watch and endeavour to control the expenditure of the public funds, so that it may prove the means of increasing the comfort and convenience of the visitors and inhabitants generally. I consider a wise expenditure better than a false system of economy – the latter burdening the present ratepayers to an undue excess, whereas the former, if spread over a series of years, lessens the rates and at the same time improves the town. On one point only will I pledge myself, viz., to oppose strenuously, constantly, and to the utmost of my power, any and all attempts to enhance the interest of one part of the borough to the detriment and at the expense of the other portion. As I do not approve of canvassing or in any way of interfering with the elective franchise, I leave myself in the hands of the burgesse’s for election or rejection; but beg to say that should you honour me with your confidence, it will be my pride and constant aim so to fulfil the duties of the office as to justify the choice you make. I have the honour to be, Gentlemen, your humble and most obedient servant, Henry Winter. 59 George Street.”

On the day of election the poll closed with 263 for Gutsell, 251 for Williams, 233 for Vidler and 64 for Winter. The rejection of the last-named candidate was, undoubtedly due to three causes – the lateness of his address, the determination not to canvass, and the boasted “industry” of Mr. Vidler in soliciting votes, assisted by members of the H.I.P.S. That Mr. Winter was a Liberal went without saying, but that he was a Liberal at that time of a more independent stamp than his rival was shewn by his address. That he was also intellectually superior to Mr. Vidler those who knew them both would have no doubt. Partizanship in local politics was never more bitter than at that time, and a few subsequent years, and Radicalism,[ 214 ]by some of its exponents was never more arrogantly dominant. This exercise of autocratic power was properly exposed in a professed independent Liberal journal and its correspondents, some of which exposition is here reproduced. The Hastings and St. Leonards News of Nov. 16th, 1855, in an editorial article said:–

Partizanship has its advantages and independence its penalties. The partizan, if he gets warmly cursed by one faction, is sure to be as devoutly blessed by another. He is certain of having friends somewhere and of getting a good word from somebody. The man of independence is not so sure of having friends or a good word; and if in relying on general report, as he sometimes must, he is unlucky enough to make one mistake, that is sufficient to shut all interested eyes against everything he utters that is correct. He speaks the truth; and men who have not lived the truth, think him personal, and vilify the speaker. He exposes shams; and men who have risen by shams, and whose pretensions to reality of conviction are consciously hollow, fancy themselves exposed, and straightway shew where the arrow was shot at a venture, has struck, and revile the hand that sent it. He finds generally that to be sure of support he must utter a party speech or rely on some party deed. Partizanship appeals to men’s passion and always finds a ready response; whilst independence and impartiality have to wait for an auditory till men’s passions cool and the subsidence of their tempers permit them to see with clearness. Had we in our remarks last week, on “Local Factions” taken a strong party view, and proclaimed the political and municipal purity of one faction to be vastly superior of the other, we should, of course, have seriously offended one class of politicians, but another class would have been just as much pleased. We should have been certain of securing decided adhesion from at least one faction; but we flattered nobody. We exposed a system in which every party has in? – when enjoying its turn of power – a system of conferring municipal and other local honours as rewards for political services – a system of employing political tests for the discovery of a man’s fitness for civic office. This exposure has given satisfaction – a placid quiet satisfaction – to many who believe we are right, but who will not bestir themselves to shew what they believe. People of this stamp fail to do what they see they ought to do, they lack moral nerve to act out their convictions. They would faintly cheer whilst others fought the battle of freedom, but would keep their own swords sheathed in the strife. It has given intense pleasure to some who form the nucleus of a class that shall, in due time deliver the local government of those towns from the ruinous influence of party domination. These are men of various political tenets – men who hold that a political struggle has a better and more honourable arena than the Council Hall or the private committee-room. Our exposure has done much more than this. It has brought upon our head the anger of some of ‘leaders’ of the party that happens now to be in the ascendancy in the municipal affairs of the borough. Not the anger of all the party, be it remembered; but of the more zealous and active among them. Many belonging to that party see with us, and lament that excessive partizanship of their friends as heartily as we do. That we have sadly offended several, however, we have good rea[ 215 ]son to know; and we ask of our readers a few moments’ patience and a little candour whilst we examine some of the grounds of this indignant anger. But before we enter upon these, we have a word of explanation to give of the remarks we have already made in this article. It may appear to some that we are complaining of a want of sympathy with our views, and are giving expression to our disappointment. Not a bit of it. A party spirit which misinterprets everything that is not congenial to itself may possibly so pervert what we have here said. The fact is that we have found a more general approval of our attack on a time-honoured custom than we had reckoned upon. We knew human nature too well what awaited us in some quarters. We knew how partizanship would start up alarmed and make personal applications where only general principles were inculcated. We were prepared for the imputation of unworthy motives by those who felt the force of our statements, and could not wriggle out of their difficulty without first raising a cloud of calumny, behind which to effect their escape. We had looked for all this – we had counted the cost and well weighed the penalties of independence and the risk of boldly speaking out. The experience of man has ever taught this truth – in all ages and in conexion with with all subjects, that he who would think freely and speak openly must expect to be vilified and hated by those whose errors he has pointed out or whose public blunders he has tried to correct. Social and municipal excision, the secret malediction of the political bigot, the frown of those who are at ease in power and don’t like to be disturbed, the shy dislike of the timed slave of faction and the fiercer malice of the bolder one:- these, we were well aware, were among the penalties which some minds would inflict on independence. But as we believed, we spoke, and will speak again. Much as we shrink from giving unnecessary pain to any man, especially to those who in private life we respect, and with whom we may sympathise in their legitimate political labours, no personal considerations shall keep us silent when we see so many public offices and emoluments systematically used as reward-gifts for faction to play with. We are fully conscious of the unthankfulness of our task and the magnitude of our work. We expect to find Whately’s dictum - of not a few – that ‘Many a one is so far gone in party as to be proof-proof, and cares no more for facts than the Leviathan does for spears.’ It is not enough to believe what you maintain, but you must also maintain what you believe, and maintain it because you believe it.

The Liberals of this town as a body, we trust are liberal, but some of them – those who in the name of the body just now rule supreme in these towns – have rather illiberally accused us of many grievous sins, for simply asserting what is almost a truism, that men ought to be put into local berths for their fitness rather than for their political creed. Not that we disputed the suit[ 216 ]ability of many of the men who have been so nominated to the offices which they fill. By no means. We asserted that the rule of election was a wrong one. The men in our service may be fit for the work; but we ask that we may have a guarantee in the shape of a right principle of choice that a proper fitness is look(sic)for in them. We want to feel secure, and not to be at the mercy of any political motives that may be influencing those in whom the power of choice may be vested. That was our argument. Let us hear what has been said about it. It was urged that we did not make this objection when the Conservatives had the municipal ascendancy. And why did we not? Because the days of that ascendancy were well nigh numbered before our journal was well alive. Let any other party than the one at present ruling do the same things as this has done. Let it secretly organise; and, forgetting its rightful and exclusive province, become a sort of civic Inquisition in the borough – and our townsmen will soon see if we spare that party more than we have spared this. But, further. On what plea was the Conservative party worked against, until it was brought into a minority? (We speak of our civic affairs, not of the state of parties in the fair field of politics) Was it not the plea of corruption – the charge of putting favourites into the good places? And is it right in those who urged that plea to commit the same offence? And because, forsooth, we could not rebuke the failings of past offenders, we must not whisper too loudly the frailties of present directors of our municipal conscience! Our doctrine is that no party ought to introduce political intrigues into our local business; and on this ground we take our stand, grumble at us who will.

‘Hail Independence! – by true reason taught,
How few have known and prized thee as they ought?
Some give thee up for riot; some, like boys,
Resign thee in their childish mood for toys;
Ambition some, some avarice misleads,
And in both cases Independence bleeds.’

It has been said that we have personal friendships to serve by adopting our present course of action. This we deny in the strongest and most unqualified manner. Nobody would have made this assertion but for a conscious paucity of better arguments to defend his cause. Some meet us by crying ‘Why all this fuss about so simple a thing?’ It always has been so, and ‘always will be’. If it always has been so, it does not follow that it ought to have been; nor is it certain that the evil is incurable. We hope otherwise. We trust that the burgesses of these towns will think for themselves, and will learn to act on really independent and noble principles. We are no believers in the incurability of either social or political wrong. At all events, if we see an evil and acknowledged it to be so , we are bound to try to cure it. It were nobler to have tried and failed than to have smiled it into stronger life. If the guilt of[ 217 ]originating this evil belongs to other men, it is clear that the crime of perpetuing(sic) it belongs to us.

We have written so much on this subject because we believe that the peace and prosperity of the borough depends on the fair and independent management of its municipal and commercial interests. We can appreciate the sturdiness of staunch partizanship at a general election. There political manoeuvres are in place, and Conservatism and Liberalism find their true battlefield. But we deplore, as one of the greatest calamities that can befal(sic) a town the systematic introduction of political tests and political feelings into business with which, properly, they have nothing whatever to do. We trust the unfairness of those who find fault with us will not compel us to recur to the subject in this way again. If they have anything to say we invite them to say it manfully - not in secret, but in daylight, to meet us as we would meet them, honestly and fairly. They shall have the free use of space enough in our columns to defend themselves if they wish it. The party having power has a great responsibility upon it for a proper use of that power. If they exert it impartially, without making politics the ground of favuritism(sic), we shall never think of coming into collision with them. They know the terms of peace. But if they persist in a factious course, or if any other party strive to imitate their policy – as these gentlemen tell us they are imitating their predessors(sic) – we shall not hesitate to oppose them, fully prepared for all the penal consequences of so rash a step. We have a greater right to complain of such policy than any party has to inflict it upon us. The day will come when it will be made manifest that the sober-minded and the strictly independent ratepayers of the borough are perfectly at one with us on this momentous question. We have public men amongst us on both political sides who have good business talents and considerable force of character, but whose ability has been with few exceptions, more devoted to the interests of their respective parties than to the general good. It would be a greater triumph over faction, and an incalculable benefit to the world at large if these spirits would dare to be free – to cease to live of the self-imposed thraldom of political serfs – to be no longer nominees, but the unshacted(sic) representatives of the local interests of the whole borough. We ask all our fellow townsmen who believe that it is only on a basis of internal concord that the structure of our future municipal well-being can be reared, to co-operate with us in our efforts to lay that basis and to raise that structure.”

I have quoted nearly the whole of the article because I knew at the time[ 218 ]  that the sentiments therein were perfectly justified and were prompted by an honest desire to curb what was becoming a “reign of terror” not only to avowed political opponents but also to many of the temperate and thoughtful Liberals. Anyone who reads between the lines – to use a modern phrase – can see that the anger of a certain faction calling themselves (erroneously) the “Hastings Independent Political Society” or in briefer form the “H.I.P.S.” not only aimed at having the sole prerogative to rule the public affairs of the town, but were positively spiteful against those who objected to their overbearing action. Apart from its manly advocacy of right principles on behalf of a community whose general interests it ably supported, the News had good reason to give a home thrust to that section of Radicals who not being able to make use of it for their own purposes, called it “The Rag” and endeavoured to belittle it by writing or dictating articles in a Brighton paper and a Lewes paper certain articles which were both untruthful and defamatory. These, however, got a Roland for their Oliver from the News itself in one or two special notices, which will be quoted if I ever write – as I have been asked to do – the History of the Local Press. Although espousing in my own person, Liberal political principles, I followed the same line of independence as did the News, and when in the month of June the Act came into operation for legalising unstamped newspapers, I became a responsible journalist by the publication of a weekly paper in addition to that which was previously published monthly. From the printed statement “Politics Liberal” it may have been thought that the Gazette would be more likely to yield to certain blandishments than did the older News, with its stereotyped profession of “Neutral in Politics”. But it was not so. True, the word “Independent” in the title of the Society had some attraction for me, and I consented , after some hesitation, to become a member, paying a small subscription for the same. My first and only attendance at a meeting was in the new room at the Royal Oak. I soon discovered that I had been hoodwinked, and that instead of being independent, I was expected to submit to the will of a faction. I objected to the putting a man “in a hole”, as it was called by agreeing to elect him as an assessor, to prevent his becoming a candidate for the Town Council. I was told that the other side sometimes did the same, and when I replied that two blacks did not make a white and two wrongs did not a right, the rejoinder was that I had “yet a good deal to learn.” I declared I should never learn what was meant, and with that I left the room. On reaching home, I wrote to the gentleman who had asked me to become a member to disenroll my name. For that honest resolve I was tabooed by the party, and as a journalist, was denied that which as a native and the publisher of a local paper, I considered myself entitled to. This incident of a personal nature is referred to by way of support to the quoted article of the News.

In another leader on what may be called Political Overbearing, the Hastings [ 219 ]News of Nov. 23rd. concluded thus:- “Now that we have awakened so many of the people to a correct appreciation of the improper influence exerted by secret political societies in municipal affairs, we can safely leave that part of the business to our able correspondents who have so energetically taken up the subject. We have little fear now of the influence of the ‘Independent Political Society’ obstructing our intended efforts for an improved state of feeling in our local elections. If that society would keep its footing at all, let it show its wisdom by taking our advice to prove itself exactly what its name implies – a political club; not a municipal inquisition.”

From among numerous letters to the News the following few are selected:-

“Municipal Factions”[edit]

“Dear Sir. Permit me to express my very cordial sympathy with you in the agitation you have commenced against the abominations of our municipal elections. It is quite time the citizen electors were admonished that the social and commercial interests of the town are quite independent of all political questions and parties. I sincerely hope that you will persist in the advocacy of the principle that municipal officers are not to be bought and sold at the price of adhesion to a polical(sic) club; but are the trusts of a people reposed in trustworthy men. Until this principle be avowed and acted upon in the election of Councillors it is utterly useless to expect the affairs of the town to be conducted in a broad and generous spirit. May I add, I have very great pleasure in knowing we have at last a local paper which holds and dares to utter an independent opinion.”
“I am, sir, yours, &c. A Resident and a Radical.”

“Secret Societies.”[edit]

“Mr. Editor, I beg to tender you my thanks for the manly and independent animadversions in the leaders of the last two numbers of the News. Like many other residents of this town it has long pained me to see politics so largely infused into local matters, and I have watched with no little apprehension, the workings of the secret society which is at the bottom of all this. A contemporary suggests the formation of another society as a counterpoise to this body. Having read something of the deeds of the ‘Jacobins’, the ‘Santa Fedisto’, the so-called ‘Reform Patriots’ and other of the Continental secret societies, (and knowing a little of the doings of the ‘Ribbon Bands’ and how easily in these secret societies power and control pass from moderate to unscrupulous hands. I would strongly urge the greatest caution before such a step is taken. As the members of all secret bodies invariably make everything subserve the interest of their association, might not the case be met by a declaration on the part of municipal and other authorities in the town that they will[ 220 ]employ no one who is connected with a secret society? An exposure in the public press of such of its misdeeds as from time to time came to light, and an occasional publication of the names of those who may be discovered to be in connection with this local inquisition might also have the effect of checking its progress. I believe your course is to deal with principles – not individuals – to expose practices rather than names. An exception, however, might surely be made in the case of a set of demagogues who are secretly carrying on a system of espionage even to our very thresholds, and threatening the foundation of all social confidence in the borough. I enclose my card and subscribe myself
Yours truly,
A Liberal.
P.S., can any of your readers acquaint me with the signification of these symbols H.I.P.S.”

What are they?[edit]

“To the Editor of the News. Sir, In your paper and in the column of a contemporary, I have read a good deal about what are called the H.I.P.S. Although a comparative stranger to the place, I like to understand what I read in the local prints; and would thank you to explain who and what these H.I.P.S. are and what they do. Perhaps others of your readers are equally ignorant. I am, Sir, A Visitor” “St. Leonards, Nov. 20.” [The Editor explains, thus:- The Hastings Independent Political Society is a body of political reformers, professing Liberal opinions, who originally banded themselves together to destroy Tory dominancy in this borough. They hold periodical meetings in various public houses to talk over men and things and to arrange their plans of action. Had these gentlemen limited their range of influence purely to political matters they might have worked till the “crack of doom”, before we had noticed them. But they assume other functions. Besides being the nucleus of a political party – which is a legitimate thing enough – they aim at saving us the trouble of being independent in the management of our municipal and other town affairs; a kindness many do not appreciate. By scheming and organising they have contrived to get almost everything in the shape of public business under their control; and it is no infrequent thing to hear some H.I.P.S. make their boast that they create our aldermen, elect our councillors and fill every other office as they like! A “pretty dish to set before the Queen!” No wonder that a reactionary feeling is springing up, now the secret influences of this inquisition are being exposed. The one half has not yet been told. We have been careful in all that we have written not to overdraw the picture. We may have more to say if the insolent threatenings of some of these H.I.P.S. continue. A pretty idea! – that these men may conspire against our municipal liberties; may lie on these towns like an incubus, hindering their healthful respiration, and that none may speak for freedom without[ 221 ]being insulted and abused! We will see. We are not fanatical enough to think that all the evils of political faction can be destroyed; but we believe they can and must be restrained – be forced back within proper limits. If only one half of those persons who say we are right in “theory” would but act as they believe, instead of sinking with hopeless indolence into the arms of a leagued despotism, the work would be done, and our theory would become practice. Ed]”

No Politics.[edit]

“To the Editor of the News.
– Sir, –
I congratulate you upon the success which has attended your efforts. The spontaneous expression of opinion which has appeared in the correspondence directed to you and what one hears without, sufficiently indicate that you have but given utterance to a large and increasing measure of public sentiment; and it is but a truism to add that, now-a-days no evil, however ancient, and however cherished by some, can long stand against an enlightened public opinion. The victory is well-nigh won; not a word has been written in defence of the system assailed. What, indeed, one does hear is principally but the usual language of defeat – being a malediction against you for the manliness with which you have attacked a system upon which, perhaps, the hopes of not a few may depend; for, I doubt not we have not only ‘Mayors in expectancy’, but other expectants of a less order also - men of the rank and file who feel that they have not yet been rewarded by their share of public honour. It may, perhaps, be well, sir, to examine one or two of the principal excuses which are resorted to justify the support of a system which is now acknowledged to be in itself wrong. In the first place we are told by the present dominant party that “the Tories always did this when they had the power and why shouldn’t we do the same now that the power is in our hands?” There is no questioning the fact here stated that the Tories did so when they were dominant; that both parties are equally guilty; and that, therefore, when one party complains of the other, it is but another illustration of the pot complaining of the kettle. But the real question is, is it right of any party so to act? and if it is admitted - as it must be – that it is right in no party, surely the effect of our neighbours having done what they ought not to do can be no justification for us to go and do likewise. I suppose, sir, we are to understand that if someone were to steal my coat it would be a justification of my following his example by picking someone else’s pocket! And will these gentlemen tell us this who, some years back, were indignant at what they called ‘Tory domination and corruption?’ Will they confess that all that noisy virtue which was hurled against the state of things which then existed was not but the expression of disappointed selfishness at it’s
[ 222 ]not having a share in the public plunder? Have all their efforts been directed to the overthrow of one despotism simply for the purpose of setting up one of their own ten times more tyrannical? It is a favourite objection with some that men will always be influenced by their prejudices and that it is a folly to make a stir about what cannot be prevented. . . . I admit there is a speciousness in this objection, inasmuch as it contains a statement that is to be deplored and cannot be defended. We may not be able to eradicate it altogether, yet we may prevent its becoming all powerful. What I complain of is that these prejudices instead of being regarded as things to be deplored are actually flattered and fostered; and are themselves professedly and designedly made the controlling motives of selection; and by these party combinations have all the power given them which unity always brings . . . A word, in conclusion on the H.I.P.S.; and let not my position be misunderstood. I am myself of the same political party, and have therefore no reason apart from what I am about to mention, why I should have any enmity against them or should refuse to combine with them for the legitimate objects which they profess to have in view. Unity gives strength to every cause, and I can see no reason why the strength of unity should not be applied to the advancement of political interests as well as to any other, provided these organizations keep to their objects. But as long as we see this H.I.P. society, instead of keeping to its proper sphere as a political society, applied to give strength to one of the lowest prejudices by which the mind can be influenced, and turned into one of the most destructive and obtrusive meddlers in the affairs of almost every public body or institution, in the borough, so long, I consider it the duty of every man who values the peace and interest of the said borough – be he Radical or Tory – to do everything in his power to destroy their pernicious influence. And I believe, sir, this is but the echo of sentiment held by members of others of their polical(sic) friends. I remain yours truly,
Anti-Strife Hastings, 21st Nov., 1855.”

“The Do Nothings.”[edit]

The H.I.P.S. – some of whom were members of the Town Council – were severely and justly criticised for doing too much, whilst the Council, as a whole, were accused of doing too little; and the same journal which called the former to account for their excess of duty, complained of the latter for their comparative immobility in matters that were urgent. Under the head of “The Do Nothings” the News of the 11th of May had a leading article, from which the following is an extract:-

“Until very recently we laboured under the happy delusion that we had a Town Council which did something for its money. We had a quarterly proof of its existence by the visits of a cheque-book, under the plea of collecting money for certain waterworks. We also had[ 223 ]a half-yearly proof of its social being by the visits of another gentleman with a cheque-book, with some formidable claim coupled with the phrases “special and general district rates”, though we never obtained any very decided comprehension as to the distinction between the special and the general. Generally the bill was a heavy one and it was a very special case if it happened to be a light one. However, as money was spent, we concluded that it was spent on something; and when we pondered on the phrase ‘Local Board of Health’, we concluded that if ever the burial of the dead came under the cognizance of the Board, the Board would be found ready and powerful to deal with a matter so seriously affecting the health of the living. However, we are almost deprived of this consolatory delusion. It appears that if this said Council ever did do anything, it means to do nothing for the future. It will neither drain the borough, supply it with water, nor bury its dead. In fact, the Town Council, Local Board and all – Mayor, Aldermen and Councillors, appear resolved to retire from business in toto! Seeing that the Burial Board has just done the same thing, perhaps we ought not to be surprised. Were it not for magisterial proceedings, the Town Hall might as well be disposed of by public auction, the borough having no further need of its accommodation. If we are to drain our houses ourselves, get our water from Mr. Charles Clark, and bury our dead by resolutions in vestry, surely we can make-shift without the Public Health Act, and its administrators altogether.”

“Who Stops the Ways?”[edit]

“Show’ry April, May the dewy,
Soon will yield to sunny June;
Fierce July, with dust and thunder,
Next will yield the burning noon,
Give us water, worthy Council,
There is plenty, people say;
But, alas! we cannot get it;
Who is it that stops the way?

“Small-pox, cholera and fever
Haunt the land by day and night;
Drain our houses, worthy Council,
Or, perhaps, we die of fright.
Rates tremendous still you levy
Rates tremendous still we pay;
But the drainage is not coming;
Who is it that stops the way?

“Lo! Her Majesty in Council
On our churchyards turns the key,
But, of course, we’re not possessing
Actual immortality.
We shall die, oh, worthy council,
You should bury us, they say,
But you do not see to do it;
Who, then, is it stops the way?

“When the water taps are rusty,
When the doctors push and drive,
When the dead can scarce be buried ,
Then you’ll have to look alive.
Then you’ll get in anxious bustle,
And in eager haste will say
‘T’wasn’t us who did the mischief
Mr. Someone stopped the way.’

“He it was who said the water
Would be plenty all the year;
And that need we not to trouble,
Seeking water, far or near,
He it was who checked the drainage,
He who bade the Council say
They would not be borough sextons;
He it was who stopped the way.”

[ 224 ]

Accidents[edit]

Drowned. On the 23rd of February, Daniel Cousens, 15 years of age, was drowned by the upsetting of a boat, containing faggots. Another lad named Joseph Mepham, saved himself by swimming to shore.

Killed by a mill. On the 9th of April, Helen Sophia Barton, 6 or 7 years of age, while playing near a mill on the West hill was struck by the sweeps of Mr. Amoore’s mill and soon after died.

Run Over. On the 4th of the same month (April) a man named Spencer Simes, was knocked down and run over by a timber-tug in Courthouse street, and though severely hurst(sic), escaped from fractured bones.

Taking it Coolly. On the 7th, also of April, as a party of ladies on horseback were riding pass Pelham place, a poor deaf old man, working on the road, suddenly made his appearance from behind a cart and was unavoidably knocked down. The lady, whose horse had collided with the man turned back to know the result, when the old man gathered himself up, and said he was all right, for having been knocked down half a dozen times before, he was got used to it. It reminds one of the facetious gentleman who declared that he had taken so many bushels of medicine that nothing of that sort hurt him now.

Broken Collar-bone. On the 4th of October, a servant of Dr. Underwoods, named Weekes, broke her collar-bone through her foot hanging up and throwing her to the ground, while alighting from a vehicle.

Various Injuries were sustained by William Stone on Sunday evening, Oct. 7th, while running for shelter from a shower and falling into an area at Carlisle parade. He suffered from a severe contusion on the head, bruises on the body and a broken knee cap. A young woman who fell with him, was not seriously hurt.

Inquests.[edit]

Suicide. An inquest was held on the 15th of June on the body of George Simmonds, a blacksmith, who hanged himself near what was called Collier’s Shaw in the hop-gardens. He was 41 years of age, and left a widow and two children.

Accidently Poisoned. On the 12th of December, an inquest was held on the body of a three-years-old child named Thomas Potrel, to whom had been given, inadvertently an overdose of poppy infusion.

Burglaries.[edit]

Fairlight Mill was broken into on the night of Feb. 9th; and, judging by the snow prints by not more than one person. Damage was done to about 40s, but all the booty carried off was sixpennyworth of halfpence. No flour was taken; and as it was the third time that the mill had been broken open with the same want of success, the miller might well put up a notice, “Burglars despair!”

Boykett Breeds’s Counting-house, in George street, was unlawfully entered on the night of May 11th, and about £7 in coppers carried off.

Mr. Webb’s Poultry Farm was deprived of a large number of fowls on Saturday night, November 10th, by some undetected thieves. [ 225 ]

Various Occurrences.[edit]

A Marriage. On the 26th of June, a cortege of handsome carriages proceeded to the Chapel of St. Mary-in-the-Castle, where was consummated the nuptials of Robert Payne, Esq. of Kensington and Miss Rock, of Hastings, at which important ceremonial, nine pretty bridesmaids assisted, and which the local Penny Press hoped that a happy future for the bride and bridegroom was betokened; there being, if Rory O’More was any authority, “luck in odd numbers”.

A Monster Horse. During the week which ended on Nov. 10th, an American bay gelding was exhibited at the Swan stables, which measured 21 hands high, and was upwards of 12 feet long. This equinine(sic) giant was certainly a wonderful piece of horseflesh, and was admitted as such by all who saw it.

A Strange Runaway. On the 22nd of August, Mr Ockenden got a cow from the station with the intention of driving it to the slaughter-house near the paygate on the old London road, but the animal took another route through Castle street and on to the East Well, where it leapt over the groyne and into the sea. After some difficulty the beast was got out, when she dashed off again back to the Priory. It continued running till it got up to Silverhill, where the butcher stopped it, and then drove all round by the Harrow and round Ore to the slaughter-house, rather than give her cowship another opportunity to bathe.

Novel Cricketing. On the 3rd of September a match was played on the West hill by 11 fishermen against an equal number of mechanics, and, contrary to the expectation of most persons who ventured on prediction, the former were the winners, by long odds . The “Jolly Fisherman” was their rendezvous for arranging and settling and a jollier team of tan-frocks could hardly be imagined. They handled the bat in good style, and the ball they sent rolling in a slashing manner. Whenever they made a hit, it was a hit to some purpose. It called forth such applause from lusty lungs and hardened hands as almost to be heard across the town to the opposite hill. This expression of jubilant feeling from the fishing fellowship was not made manifest for nothing; for, notwithstanding the greater dexterity that might have been expected from their mechanical opponents, the “Jollies” obtained in their first innings no fewer that 109 runs against 29 on the other side; and in the second innings, 118 against 65. After this majority score of 134, the parties finished up with great jollity at the aforesaid “Jolly Fisherman”.

Rock Fair, the fishermen’s holiday – and the only time, it used to be facetiously said, that the fishermen donned their best attire – was again held in a field of Mr Brisco’s on the top of White Rock, behind where now is Beau Site.

Excursion to Shoreham. On the 10th of July a party of 400 went by train to the Swiss Gardens (accompanied by Brett’s Brass Band) where they spent a happy day.

At Tivoli Tea Gardens, on the preceding day, the Old Hastings Band and their friends, held their annual gipsy party. After tea they engaged in quadrilles, polkas, &c.

The St. Clement’s Choristers had their annual tea meeting at the Swan hotel on August 30th, where, with friends, they numbered about 40. The choir sang solos, anthems and other pieces, including “Give Peace in our time, O Lord” “God save the Emperor of France” &c. [ 226 ]

Sales of Property by Public Auction.[edit]

At Guestling Rectory, on the 7th and 8th of February, by order of Sir Anchitel Ashburnham, were sold by auction, horse carriages, household furniture and two thousand books.

Near the Croft, a stable and coach-house, previously in the occupation of Mr. Nathaniel Bragge, were sold by auction , and the site afterwards used for the erection of house property, the sale took place on the 12th of February.

At the Priory Farmhouse, the household furniture was sold by auction by Mr. Womersley, and by order of Mr. Chapman, on March 20th.

The Warrior Square Estate, comprising unfurnished mansions (now the Edinburgh Hotel), and about 15 acres of freehold and leasehold land, was sold in London on the 3rd of May. The freehold was subject to a mortgage of £11,000, and the leasehold was held for 99 years, with power to purchase. The sale was held in consequence of Mr. Jas. Troup’s insolvency. Mr. Moreing purchased, or otherwise succeeded to the property and erected most of the additional mansions.

Orient Cottage and adjacent properties at Halton, erected by Mr. Oceanlion, were sold on the 18th of July, to G. Batley, Esq., of Fairlight Place for the small sum of £1000.

Count de Vand’s Mansion was sold in London on the 23rd of November, Lady Paine being the purchaser at £2,000. The late Count purchased the house known as Marine Cottage and erected his mansion on the site afterwards known as 14 Marine Parade. After Lady Paine, the house came into the possession of the Messrs. Boykett and Alexander Breeds, who considerably altered it, and at the time of writing is known as the Belgrave Boarding-house.

Ninety-six High Street, with 12 rooms, a yard and large garden, were sold by auction on the 29th of October.

Letters from Local Men at the Seat of War.[edit]

(continued from Chapter LII)

Another letter each from Whyborn and Brazier here follow. The former, writing from H.M.S. Rodney, on January 12th, 1855, says – “Dear father and mother. – Since I last wrote I got leave to go up to the English camp to see Thomas Brazier, of the 4th Regt. When I got there his tent-mates told me he was very ill and was gone down to Scutari hospital; so, poor fellow, I couldn’t see him. We are going on very slowly now; some days we fire a few shots, and some days we don’t; and nearly all the soldiers are employed in getting things up from Balaklava. We hear that we are only to act on the defensive now until after March. We feel the cold very much. It is colder here than ever I felt it in England, and everything is covered with snow. The poor fellows on shore feel it more than we do aboard ship. I am afraid we shall have still colder before the winter is over. I hope you will not think me troublesome. I want you to send me a pair of light sea boots, made like the fishermen’s, only not to come higher than two inches above the knees. Send them as soon as you can, for the boots we bought at Constantinople were no good, and now we want[ 227 ]to use them they fall to pieces. Likewise send me three pairs of light-boot stockings.... John Whyborn”

Then follows a letter by the same mail from the invalid Brazier, at Scutari, dated Jan. 15th, 1855. Writing to his father and mother, he says – “I have left Sebastopol and am now at Scutari hospital. I have been very ill; in truth it was very nearly all over with me. Lying in the trenches so long has completely knocked me up, and many thousands of stronger men than I am. I was up to my knees in water on the 28th of December, keeping a bright look-out for the enemy, as they turn out every night (although they always get driven in again) when I was seized with a sudden pain in my bowels, and lost the use of my legs all at once, and therefore could not stand. I was carried away to the hospital tent, and there I lay two days, suffering the greatest pain, with my poor comrades dying around me. The doctor came to me in the morning, and asked me if I thought I could stand the rough passage to Constantinople? I told him I thought I could not, when he plainly said if I could not I should die. So I went, and arrived here after four days aboard ship, crossing the Black Sea. To make it worse, we had a very rough passage, and sixteen poor fellows died. And here I am, where I was getting better at first, and was afterwards taken so ill again, when I thought I should die, there being so many others dying around me. But now, thank God! I am much better, although I cannot yet use my legs....I am much better off here than in camp; for I have a good bed, and the doctor behaves very well to me. I have more than I can eat, and he gives me a whole half pint of port wine a day. I must now lie down. God bless you. T. Brazier”

Brett Man Histories Vol 5 Pg. 237.png
[ 228 ]

War News and Comments.[edit]

Extract from the “St. Leonards Penny Press” Jan. 1855[edit]

There is ever something of peculiar interest which attaches to the survivors of great hardships, and innumerable “ perils by flood and field.” Among the narratives of hairbreadth escapes and adventures — of deeds of prowess and heroism, we may have revelled to satiety; but the actual men who figure in such scenes, and of whom such wonders are related, are not so often to be met with — and whether it be curiosity or some higher feeling, there is something exciting in the return home of men with whom events of this ind are connected.

The Himalaya, which arrived not long since at Portsmouth, brought a whole cargo of such freight from the seat of war in the Crimea; and Portsmouth dockyard was the scene of one of those distressing disembarkations, which we may now expect to become frequent, until the horrors of war shall have abated. Here were the men of Alma, of Balaklava, and of Inkerman, of whose deeds all Europe has heard so much. Here were some of those heroic soldiers who had mounted the heights in the face of the Russian batteries—comrades of the brave hearts who —

”in battle stood
’Gainst sixty thousand slaves,
And, in the very jaws of death,
Sought out their glory-graves.”

Here they were, it is true, but scarcely to be recognised as the men who a few months before had left the shores of England in such buoyancy and spirit. Pale, wan, and haggard—many legless, armless, footless, or eyeless—already they—

“Could vouch the sad romance of wars,
And count the dates of battles by their scars.”

The landing of these wounded soldiers was truly one of the most visible examples of the effects of war which the nation has yet beheld. The barren glory which the veterans have reaped — their shattered state — is a type of the annihilating consequences which generally follow to a country engaged in warfare; and though the present war, as a struggle against tyranny and Oppression, must naturally be popular smog us, yet it must be remarked that no state in Europe has suffered so deeply as England for her interference in the quarrels of foreign states.


War News and Comments.

Extract from the “St. Leonards Penny Press” Jan. 1855


The next extract is from a letter recived(sic) by Mrs. Harkness, of Ore, from her son Lieut. Harkness, of the 55th Regt.
“Camp before Sebastopol, 9th March, 1855.
“You will be glad to hear the weather here has completely changed. Apparently it has been much more severe in England this winter than with us. During January and February it has not been anything like what under home circumstances we should call extraordinarily severe weather; it has only the constant exposure to it by day and by night, and the want of sufficient shelter from it during our short intervals of rest, that have made it so trying to bear. If we had had, all throughout good houses, food and clothes, and less hard work, I should say that we had passed a mild winter. During February it was very changeable, with frost and snow predominating, but for the last week, we have had fine, settled weather, often oppressively warm during the day, with bright sunshine. Today, the thermometer in the tent stood some hours at 68, and it is frequently 60 by day and 50 by night. Not ten days ago it was 6 or 8 degrees below freezing. I hope we have now got rid of the winter. Everything at present is dry and clean, and the yellow crocuses are coming up all over the ground. General Pennyfather is come back to us, and I hardly know which felt most pleased to see the other, he or us. He is a brave old man, and is thoroughly loved by every officer and soldier in his Division; we are as proud of him as he is of us. He was obliged by sickness to go away at Christmas, and after passing a couple of months in Malta and Italy, by which his health is much improved, like a noble fellow, he has returned to his post. Our Regiment was inspected by him two days ago, and he complimented us very highly both on our appearance and drill. As to the first, the men have all got their new coats, and we now keep everything well pipe-clayed as if we were in England or at Gibraltar. And as to the drill, we were ourselves surprised at doing it so well, as neither officers or men have had any for six months, and half the men were young recruits lately come out. We were about 510 of all ranks on parade, a strength that very few Regiments in the Army here can number. He also inspected the 41st, 47th and 49th, whose numbers nearly equal ours..... We have had a strong report for the last three days that the Emperor Nicholas is dead. We, of course, hope it is true, as it may facilitate the negotiations for peace, so much desired. The firing on both sides still continues, however, and our labours in completing our batteries with shot, &c, is unremitting. All is ready to open on the town a much stronger fire, if possible, than that of the 17th of October. We now have many more guns and batteries than we had then.
J. Granville Harkness”

The number of deaths in the Scutari hospital from Jan 1st to 31st was 1,482. Well might Brazier in his letter say “with death around me”.
Paragraph from the Penny Press of Jan., 1855





“The Light Cavalry Charge at Balaklava”
Published in the Hastings News, Feb. 9th, 1855, and signed “Katie”

“They said they were warriors for feast and for hall,
The victors of women, the heroes in wine,
But fit for the stars of the court and the ball,
And meet for the hour in revel to shine

“To wear the gay trappings, the charger to rein,
To grace the procession they said they were made;
To lead the mock skirmish of peace o’er the plain
And glitter the first at a brilliant parade.

“Now will not the mocker be hushed in defaming?
Now will not the slander be silenced for aye?
Balaklava’s sad glories to Europe be claiming
The deeds that her champions wrought in her day?

“When the war drum was beat and the trumpet was sounded,
And on to the death which they knew they must meet,
Down the terrible valley our chivalry bounded,
Each lance set so steady, each charger so fleet.

“Through the george(sic) strewn so thickly already with dead,
Through masses that met them and cannon that pealed;
Ay! An army before that fierce squadron hath fled,
While hosts gathered fast on that thrice conquered field.

“Yet never one eye ‘mid our heroes looked back
No charger they checked, and they tightened no reins
Though half of their numbers lay cold on their track,
None thought to behold merry England again.

“Then broken and scattered, but conquerless still,
The remnant dashed back from that desperate strife;
Ay! The third of their ranks are left dead on the hill,
But the foe has paid dear for each sacrificed life.

“Hush! Wake not the discord of word o’er the grave
Where the young and the old are in honour now sleeping;
The country they died for will mourn for the brave,
And love for the rest a sad vigil is keeping.

“But oh! when the cold and the careless exclaim
That knighthood’s old glory has faded from men,
Let’s point to that record of chivalric fame,
Of heroes who dared and who died for us then. “

“Charge of the Light Brigade” Oct. 25th 1854.
The following excellent poem (with others) was submitted to the editor of Brett’s Gazette for his opinion, who had no hesitation in recommending it for publication; hence the preface to “Moments of Pleasure”, by the author, S. H. Beckles, Esq. of Grand Parade, St. Leonards.

“Charge! charge! enough! What heart shall quail?
And now a brilliant dash;
And now, far through the awful vale,
Six hundred sabres flash.

“Like that fine Hebrew youth of old,
Who crushed a giant foe,
With arms all weak, but hearts all bold,
The noble heroes go.

“What though a thousand cannon roar,
And burn with murd’rous ire;
What though the thundering cannon pour
Their streams of deadly fire?

“What storms can check the truly brave
Who smile at death and strife;
Who do not dread a hero’s grave
Who spurn a coward’s life?

“What storms can check the truly brave?
They brave each fiery shock,
Till onward, like a steady wave,
They dash the Russian rock.

“The “Light Brigade”, six hundred men,
Disdain to count the cost –
The “Light Brigade”, six hundred men,
To charge a ‘Russian host!’

“Brave fellows! so sublime a flash
Shall shine from pole to pole;
And Balaclava’s thrilling dash
Shall rapture every soul.

“Enough, indomitable band!
Your deed of valour’s done;
Enough! Is now the next command;
Whate’er your loss, you’ve won.
“Enough! your deed of valour done,
Your banners might be furled;
Enough! for Light Brigade, you’ve won
The wonder of the world.

“I will not stop to ask what’s lost,
Where prestige is not slain,
Nor stop to ask what that has cost;
That is a priceless gain.

“Where valour thus has shed its blood
Shall weakness shed a tear?
Yet gratitude might pour a flood
Beside the warrior’s bier.

“We will not claim from heartless war
A mourning for the eye;
But hope immortal glory for
The dead that never die.

“What though one half your number then,
Is gathered for the tomb –
What though you’ve lost one half your men,
You’ve never lost a plume.

“What though one half and, hapless, more,
In murd’rous conflict’s slain;
Whate’re your loss, be ever sure
That all your loss is gain.

“Come then thou chivalrous brigade!
Thou marvel of the day!
For chaplets that will never fade –
For fame that won’t decay.

“Come quickly, leave all future feud,
Admiring friend and foe;
Wait, with a country’s gratitude,
With laurels for your brow.”

Samuel Dine 23 years of age, son of William Dine, of John Street, Hastings, arrived home on the 19th of January, 1855, with the loss of a leg, while serving with the Naval Brigade in the trenches before Sebastopol. On the 21st of October he threw himself on his face to escape a shot from the enemy, when his legs became entangled in the tackling of a gun and were lifted up above his head, whereby one leg was struck by a 42lb ball, and amputation became necessary. Thus disabled, he lay on the ground till next morning, when he was taken down to Balaclava, whence he was sent to the naval hospital near Constantinople, and afterward shipped for England, arriving at Hastings after a very stormy passage. He was drafted from H.M.S. Queen to serve in the trenches on land.

Taken from the St Leonards Penny Press.




Two more letters from Lieut. Harkness to his mother serve for the following extracts:-
“Camp before Sebastopol, March 26th, 1855. – “I wrote to ----, three days ago, and told him something about the sortie the other night. The struggle at the French sap, on the right of Gordon’s battery was the most severe, this being a point very offensive to the enemy, the head of the sap being actually not more than forty yards from their rifle-pits. On Saturday there was a flag of truce from 12 till two, to allow both sides to bury their dead. Then an extraordinary sight was seen. The whole space between the lines was immediately covered with parties taking up their own dead; the Russians mingling with us and the French in a friendly manner, talking and exchanging drink, cigars and tobacco – officers as well as men. Amongst the Russians were many Albanians and Circassians, splendidly dressed. The body of an Albanian chief, dressed in flowing white kilt, blue and silver jacket, and a sash stuck full of pistols and knives, was found inside our trenches. He was the man who killed Capt. Browne, of the 7th Fusiliers, and was shot himself immediately. The Russians lost severely. It was estimated that 400 or 500 of their dead lay upon the ground. The French loss I do not know, but it was considerably more than that of the English, which was only about thirty. Immediately the time was up, the white flags were hauled down, and the rifle balls began singing about as before. There is a good restaurant established near Balaclava, where one can dine and lunch well for about a dollar. I went to see E. J ---- the other day, and he gave me a dozen eggs – a great prize, as we had not seen any for seven months. His mother brought him a box full from Sinope.....J. G. Harkness”

April 14th. The bombardment opened on Monday. This is now the end of the fifth day of incessant cannonading. I have just returned from 24 hours in the advanced trenches, having endured such a din as you cannot conceive from the roaring and crashing of shot from some hundreds of great guns, the humming of fragments of shell in all directions, and the singing of rifle balls, all going a few inches over one’s head. We take it all very unconcernedly, the officers picking out a good corner for comfort, dryness, sunshine or safety, as the case may be; sitting, reading a newspaper or book, or smoking or sleeping during the day, and the men doing much the same; some exchanging shots with the enemy’s riflemen whenever one shows so much as the hair of his head. Our trenches now are very close to theirs, and in many places scarcely more than the length of our terrace at home. I suppose you understand that the trenches intersect the ground for several hundred yards in front of our batteries, and are for the purpose of sheltering the guard of 1200 men placed there to repulse any attempt of the enemy to rush upon the batteries and spike the guns; also for the purpose of establishing fresh batteries nearer the enemy. Last night I though we were in for a regular mill. Soon after dark we saw the figures against the sky, of the Russian relief going into their rifle-pits. We gave them a volley from about twenty rifles. They threw themselves flat on the ground, but immediately returned our fire in such force that we thought at first they were advancing upon us. We immediately manned our parapet and blazed away at them. This continued on both sides for six or eight minutes, when we found that they were firing, like us, from their breast-works; so we ceased, and so did they. The night after passed quietly as far as we were concerned. The mortars continue to throw shell all night, but with daylight commences the general cannonade. The seige(sic) is so active now that something must take place before many days. This tremdous(sic) fire cannot last long. The fleet have not yet taken any part in it; but, doubtless, they will when the assault is made. We have not much faith in the Vienna negotiations.... J. Granville Harkness”

The following cutting from the St. Leonards Penny Press, of April 2nd, confirms the Lieutenant’s remarks as regards the conferences and some other matters:-





The next letter from the seat of war is from George Vickers, of the 5th Battalion, Royal Artillery, to his friend William Wenham, Winding street, Hastings. “Camp before Sebastopol, April 2nd, 1855. Dear Friend, - I take up my pen to let you know I am well, and hope when this reaches you it will find you and family all in good health. I left Woolwich on the 2nd of February, and arrived here on the 1st of March. We had a very good passage all the way and enjoyed good health during the voyage. We are encamped within a few yards of Sebastopol – so close that when we go to work in the trenches the shot and shell come flying over our heads; but we care very little for them, as we are getting so used to them now. We had an attack on the 21st of last month. The Russians attacked the French batteries, drove them back, and then came on to our advanced works. They drove us away from our guns, but two of our line regiments came down and drove them out at the point of the bayonet. We had three officers and about thirty men killed and wounded, while the Russians had eight or nine hundred killed and wounded. We have a very fine army here now – about 120,000 English and French, all being in good spirits and wanting to get into Sebastopol. The weather is very mild here at present, but it changes very often, and causes a great deal of sickness among the fresh arrived troops. We are very nearly ready for the assault, and I think we shall commence on the 5th, if peace is not proclaimed, which we hear some talk about. The Russians are getting pretty tired of the work. We are constantly firing at them, but sometimes they return us two for one. We take a good many Russian prisoners, - sometimes a hundred in a night....It is a very grand sight to see the whole of the encampment; it is called Canvas Town. Balaklava harbour is a very small one, and is crowed(sic) with vessels. I expect before you receive this it will be one way or another with us. I have no more to say at present, but remain your affectionate friend George Vickers.”
John Whyborn again writes to his parents from the ship Rodney, dating his letter April 10th, 1855. He says – “I am now enabled to write to you a few more lines before again going into action. We are now under weigh, about three miles from Sebastopol harbour. We sent up our top-gallant masks and bent sails, and got all ‘attanto’ last week, and we were towed out of the Creek on Easter Sunday, and we now expect every hour to attack the forts. Ours is the only sailing ship here, and the Furious steamer is towing us. We, the Agamemnon and the Royal Albert are to attack Fort Constantine and the Flag Battery. There are three Russian line of battleships moored across the harbour mouth. I am in hopes Sebastopol will fall this time; and if it should please the Lord to take me away you must say ‘The Lord’s Will be done’; for our lives are not in our own hands. I received a note last week from Curtis Reeves, in the trenches, who is quite well. I also received a letter from Eli ---. I am happy to tell you that I received my box, and everything was good in it. You must thank for me all of them who sent the various things. John Whyborn”

Death of a Hastings Man
A letter received on the 10th of May, by Mrs. George White, of the Dolphin Inn, mentioned a credible report that Benjamin Taylor, an able bodied seaman, of H.M.S. Queen had been killed by a shell while serv(sic) on shore in the Naval Brigade. The deceased was about 40 years of age. The letter was written by one of his comrades, named John Geering, also belonging to Hastings.
The said Benjamin Taylor, son of Jeffrey Taylor, a Cooper, and Jane, his wife, was baptized at Hastings on the 28th of April, 1816; his stated age “about 40” would therefore be correct.
Death of the Emperor of Russia.
The Russian Czar died on the 2nd of March, and the news was received with a feeling more of satisfaction than surprise or regret. Locally and generally, the event was regarded as one of such supreme importance as to throw every other topic completely into the shade. The leader writers of all newspapers – both metropolitan and provincial – appeared to subordinate all other themes to that event of European importance. Said the Daily News “Nicholas Pavlovic is dead; but the Emperor of Russia still lives. Boundless as was the ambition of the late emperor, and relentless as was his will, he was less formidable as an individual than as a part of the Muscovite system of Government. . Though he has gone to his account, the spirits of Peter the Great and Catherine ll continue to animate the Cabinet of St. Petersburg. The Muscovite party survives with undiminished strength, and the death of the Sovereign cannot but give a momentary check to the operations of the Russian Government.”
“The Czar is Dead” (From the Hastings News)
“The mighty lord of all the Russias – dead,
But yesterday his dreaded name was heard
In every tone of human passion said,
By Europe’s startled hearths, a household word.

“The orphan girl when questioned why she wept
Sobbed it for answer ‘mid her flowing tears
And the pale widow, while her baby slept,
Prayed strength to pardon him through life’s lone years.

“They spoke it in the Council of the land,
In condemnation stern and warning sage;
His every act and word were closely scanned,
Thought of each heart, and theme of every page.

“By village altars, in Cathedral domes,
Priests linked him with the pray’r ‘gainst stubborn will,
And as the blight crept over smitten houses,
His length’ning shadow cast that fearful chill.

“His power sent the countless myriads forth
On the wide steppe and frozen drifts to fall;
He armed the swarming children of the North,
 To die in thousands by the leagured(sic) wall.

“His influence could fire fanatic zeal,
To march fresh victims o’er the bloody sod;
And mid the cannon roll and clashing steel,
They shouted forth his mighty name for God.

“All this but yesterday! and now – and now,
Oh! solemn warning! Heaven’s own sermon this –
The daring wrong – vast scheme – vast scheme and despot vow –
How less than nothing human empire is.

“In reverent awe let us the lesson take
Hush the loud marvel, bow the meekened head;
Above his dust let no coarse censure wake
But earth be humbled, for her troubler’s dead!”
“Katie”
“Hastings, March 3rd, 1855”


From the St. Leonards Penny Press. April 2nd, 1855





More letters from the seat of war.
Another letter from Lieut. Harkness to his mother and dated “Camp before Sebastopol, April 27th, ran as follows:-
“Our opinion of the Russians is that they are excellent soldiers – hardy and enduring; and above all, most ably commanded. Their defence has been wonderful, and with no possible means neglected to annoy us. Their artillery is first-rate; in number and weight of metal in the field they beat us hollow, and their practice I think is equal to ours, except when under a heavy fire, and then both our gunners and seamen make the best practice. We feel admiration for their qualities as soldiers rather than any particular animosity against them. It seems rather an odd style of sporting, when one comes to think of it, but in the trenches on a fine day, when tired of reading, &c., we jump up, saying, ‘I’m going to have a little shooting”, take a rifle, and watch patiently between the sand bags or stones at the top of the breast work for a shot at a Russian. But the birds lie very close; and little else is to be seen than the puff of smoke from a rifle, and then we aim at the spot it proceeds from. All this time the rival batteries are exchanging compliments over our heads.”
Ten days later, the young lieutenant wrote “We now keep a very strong force in the trenches, being actually within a stone’s throw of those of the enemy. On the right attack alone we have always 1200 in the advance, with a reserve of 600, and a working party of 300. The two latter return to camp at daylight, so that at night we have a force of 1200 men. In Chapman’s attack the numbers are somewhat less.... Last night I went to the theatre; that may sound strange for a camp, but the 2nd Louaves have got up one, and capitally they acted. The audience, of course, are in the open air, but there is a regular stage, with curtains, footlights and scenes; also an orchestra. Parallel rows of little trenches are cut in the ground for seats, and enclosed by a stone wall. At the entrance sat a little cantiniere to receive what anyone chose to contribute, nothing being really charged; her basket appeared to be getting well filled with silver, however. At the top of the wall at intervals stood a few Louaves in full dress of green turbans, loose jackets and flowing red trousers, they leaning on their bright rifles. The pieces performed were two very good farces with 4 or 5 characters in each piece, and the conversation was lively and witty. The weather is intensely hot, and bad smells abound in spite of quick lime. There is heavy firing in the trenches to-night. I must conclude, or else I shall lose my half-night in, which is a consideration in these times. J. Granville Harkness”
Two days anterior date of the above letter, one was also received in Hastings from the camp, addressed by the writer to his friends, and from which the following is an extract:- “We are still in the same spot, with good health, warm weather and plenty of provisions. The firing is not so heavy as it was, but at times there is a rally on both sides. I was in the battery a few days ago, just coming off a working party when a shot came in through the embrasure and struck the man I was talking to and killed him on the spot. It would surprise you to see the unconcern with which such things are taken. Men are laughing and joking, every now and then dropping their heads to avoid the shot as if there was nothing extraordinary going on. On Tuesday night an attack by the French on the Flagstaff battery; they succeeded in entering it and spiked several guns and mortars. The firing was tremendous. It was the most awful night I ever witnessed. The sky was illuminated by the flashing of the guns, and the roar, which lasted two hours, was most deafening. I have no doubt that the loss was fearful, but I have not heard yet of the amount. Our works are being pushed forward close to the town. A man on sentry can throw a stone down the hill on to the Russian sentries on the Sebastopol road. While I am writing a party of the 46th are just carrying to his last home one of their officers. He and an officer of the engineers were standing together when a round shot came and killed them both. Life is truly uncertain out here. It would surprise you to see the grave yards filled with so many graves in six months... A. B.” [Alfred Bryant]
The next letter is from a sailor of the Rodney, who at the time of writing was serving in the Naval Battery ashore.
“Camp before Sebastopol, May 3rd, 1855. “My dear father and mother, - By the help of the Lord I am now able to write to you once more, it being the first opportunity I have had since landing; but my old chum, the sailmaker, has written to you to let you know where I am. The last [letter] I wrote was from off Sebastopol. The Admiral made signal for the Rodney to go back to the Creek and land 200 men for the trenches, and it fell to my lot to be one of them. The next day we landed at 12 o’clock and found our tents already pitched by our men who had been on shore all the time. The next morning we were aroused out of our tents to go to the trenches. We marched out with the old hands and relieved the other men about daylight. We shortly opened fire on the Russians, and they gave it us fiercely in return. Before 12 o’clock we had three killed belonging to the Leander, and three others wounded. The next time we went we had 24 hours out there; but all last week we did not fire a shot, but advanced our batteries. I am sorry to say the Russians on Friday last killed four and wounded two more in our battery, and among the killed was poor Ben Taylor, of the Queen. He was in the same relief as I was, and as soon as I heard it was poor Ben, I was thoroughly cut up about him. He was a magazine-man and had charge of the powder. He was in the magazine when the Russians fired a mortar shell of 13 inches in diameter, and it pitched right a-top of the magazine and drove it in. When we saw it coming we all expected to be blown up; but Providence saved us, for it broke up without igniting the powder. After the explosion, there was about a hundred men with pickaxes and shovels trying to dig poor Ben out, but when they got him he was dead, his neck being broken. He was buried the same night on the right of the battery. I have seen all the Hastings chaps on shore. George Mantel is on shore, too, and we are always together. When I was at the battery the other day, I went down to the left where we have three mortars worked by the Artillery, and as I was passing them who should I see but Charles Butchers, and we had a long yarn about Mr. Phillips, Mr. Mazlin, and Dick, and all other people at home. He is quite well and sends his best respects to you. I am happier on shore than on board ship, though it is warm work at the batteries; but there is a kind Providence to protect here as well as at home. I don’t seem to mind the Russian shot now, for if you put your trust in the Lord, He will watch over you. If it should please the Lord to take me from this world, I hope when the Rodney arrives in England you will go down and see my chum, for I have given him what few things I should like you to get. When you write to me, direct to Thomas Raymod, sailmaker, H.M.S. Rodney Black Sea fleet. John Whybourn”
“May 11th. I am now able to write a few more lines.
“We have to go to Balaklava, a distance of six miles for fuel to cook our victuals with, and this we do when we have a day off. The soldiers get theirs up by rail, but poor Jack has to bring his up himself? We don’t fire a shot from our batteries now, although the Russians annoy us very much. We have advanced a four and five gun battery 500 yards nearer Sebastopol, and got very heavy guns in it. It will be very heavy work for us the next time we open fire, as we are now so close to one another. They made a sortie on our works last Wednesday right where I and George Mantel were. Our soldiers saw the Russians coming, and as soon as they got to our parapet, our men poured a volley into them and gave three cheers. It was half an hour before they could be driven back, but when they did retreat, our men again killed them like flies. All we had wounded was seven, and not one killed, although all the time the Russians were firing shot and shell into us. Such an awful sight I never wish to see again; for, what with the howl of the Russians and the cheering of our men, even the noise was dreadful. Now I want you to send me two pairs of leather spadlashes and enough fustian to make a pair of trousers; also a pair of navvy’s strong boots, with large nails and pelts.” “John Whybourn”
Letters from Scutari
The following letters were received by the Rev. J. A. and Mrs Hatchard, on the 9th of May, 1855. “Scutari, Turkey, April 17th, 1855. “Dear Sir, Two days since your letter of the 17th of October was put into my hands by an officer who had found it in a bundle which he had opened in one of the surgeries of this hospital. This will explain why I have not replied sooner. Since the date of your letter, we have passed over a period full of incidents of terrible disease and mortality; and my only wonder is how I have been able to bear up against the trials which beset me. Under the protection of a most merciful God, I have escaped death and even sickness; for, though I have been at times ill, yet the Lord has enabled me to be up and doing daily; and no one day have I been absent from my arduous work. I am happy to say that the general health is rapidly improving and the mortality diminishing, our average now being not more than five daily. All things you sent are most acceptable; and in the name of our poor sick; and in the name of our poor sick and wounded, I beg you will accept my best thanks. Stores of every description are flowing in from all quarters. Believe me to be very faithfully yours, Charles Sillery, Major, A. A. G.” “To Rev. J. A Hatchard, St. Leonards-on-Sea”
“ To Mrs Hatchard, St. Leonards” “Scutari, Constantinople, Ap 17.
“Madam. – Your letters 17th of October, 1854, addressed to Ms. Holmes have just come to hand this very day, exactly six months after being written. No doubt you often thought it strange that your kind consideration for the wounded at Scutari did not elicit even an acknowledgement. This at once explains the reason your parcels were opened only a few days ago. The only way in which I can account for it is that by stating the outcry that was made about the scarcity of lint, &c. caused such an influx of contributions of that description, and supposing yours to have been among the first arrivals and to have been at once put into store, all subsequently received would be used before yours could be got at. In the mean time immense supplies were sent out by Government; and thus it may have come to pass that what was sent six months ago is only now brought into requisition. Whether this is the case or that there was some delay in the delivery at Scutari I cannot say; but how often does it occur that benevolent intentions are frustrated by events which cannot be controlled. The medical store keeper tells me that both your parcels were given to him together about a month ago, and that on opening them the other day, he found the letters for Ms. Holmes. I consider it my duty on the part of the sick and wounded to thank you most sincerely for your kindness and for your liberal offer to supply their wants; at the same time I can honestly assure you that there are now abundant means on the spot for supplying all their necessities. What was or was not the case six months ago will not answer any good purpose to go into, especially as the fullest information is being elicited by the parliamentary commission of enquiry now sitting. I must say that I am truly sorry that you should not have had the gratification of hearing that your parcels had arrived when they were really needed and that they contributed to the alleviation of the sufferings of our brave fellows, who so nobly upheld the honour of their country in the Crimea. I have the honour to be, Madam, your most obedient and humble servant. J. Holmes, purveyors clerk.”











The following extracts are from another of John Whyborn’s letters to his father and mother at Hastings, dated June 4th, 1855:-
“I am sorry to say that cholera begins to show itself among our ranks. Yesterday morning poor Thomas Phillips, belonging to Hastings, was taken with it, and before 4 o’clock in the afternoon he was dead. He belonged to “The Queen”. His wife’s maiden name was White. Our doctor put him out in the dead-house an hour before he was really dead. When the sailmaker went to sew him up to be buried, the poor fellow was groaning and twisting about. The sailmaker ran up directly and told the lieutenant about it. He (Lieut Urmston) came down to him immediately, and ordered the doctor to get some hot water to rub him with; but he was too far gone. We buried him in the evening – myself and three more belonging to Hastings, carrying him to the grave, where he now lies alongside of many of his brave comrades who have left their bones in the Crimea. All the rest of the Hastings chaps are quite well. Yesterday, William Britt came up from Balaklava to see us. He is in a merchant ship there. He sends his love to his friends, and expects to be home in three months time. I was at the battery yesterday, and the order came to prepare all the mortars to open fire on the town after dark. Shell and carcases were fired into the town all night, but I don’t know what damage has been done. The battery I am now in is No. 2 Sailors’ Battery, Green Hill, and it is a very good one. I have got a 68-pounder ship’s gun to fight with, and Fred. Smith is also at my gun. They have now 17 heavy guns in advance of Gordon’s battery, and about 38 in advance of Green Hill, besides heavy mortars. It will be a heavy siege this time, and who ever lives to come out of it will be a lucky man. Everybody is anxious to get it over. George Mantell is quite well and desires to be remembered to you, and to his father, mother, brothers and sisters. Good bye, and may God bless you all! I go again to the trenches tonight.” “John Whyborn”

[A subscription was got up in Hastings for the widow of Thomas Phillips, who died of cholera in the Crimea]











From a letter written by William Broom, of the Sixth Battalion, Royal Artillery are the following extracts.
“June 7th. – The cholera is very bad out here, but we have not got it so bad in our own company, having had only 20 die in a month; but several have died from sun-stroke. I have escaped all of it as yet, but of course I cannot tell if I shall not take it. We had a grand charge with the Cossacks the night before I wrote this letter. We lost six men and ten horses. My off horse was shot under me and my rode horse was wounded in the leg; so that I lost both horses, but soon had them replaced. We took an 18-pound battery and two three pound batteries, and as I never got a wound I have been lucky so far. On the 1st of June we were in the trenches, and just as we were coming out there was a shot fell down about three yards before us, but we all fell on our faces and escaped it. So you must think what is the situation. But for all that my spirits are as strong as ever. We have taken a number of hills about Balaklava, and have driven the Cossacks a good many miles away. William Broom.”
The following is another letter from Lieut. Harkness, which, like his previous letters, is fuller of details than those from other Hastings men, and therefore of greater general interest. Under date of June 8th, the gallant young officer wrote:-
“By that horrid telegraph, you will have heard of course long before this reaches you of the assault of yesterday afternoon on the great Mamelon redoubt and the Quarry rifle-pits in front of the Redan battery. Our attack was successful and we now hold the Quarry, whilst the French have got the Mamelon. Of course it was not effected without considerable loss; but, thank God! I am unhurt, with the exception of a slight cut on the head and one in the left hand from a shower of stones knocked up by a round shot which killed two of my men and wounded others. It is so slight as not to require any attention of the doctor. To begin at the beginning, I went into the trenches at 8 on Wednesday night. The bombardment, which opened at 3 p.m. was kept up heavily with the mortars all night and up to the time of the assault. There was little or no musketry during the night. At about 5 p.m. on Thursday, large reinforcements arrived in the trenches. The enemy, taken by surprise, ran back into the Mamelon, and the firing now became heavy. Presently the French scaled the Mamelon, and the Russians were completely driven out of it, and retired to the famous Round-Tower batteries. The French, in their ardour, followed them up to the very ditch of the Tower, which, unfortunately, proved an insurmountable obstacle, from its great depth and the chevaux-de-frise at the bottom. After vainly endeavouring to cross it – the Russians keeping up a terrific fire from the parapet – the French were obliged to give it up and return to the Mamelon. About this time, we English got the signal, and away we went, and drove the Russians out of the strong Quarry breastwork which covers the Redan battery; and it is so strong that the fire of our batteries has not much damaged it. Our party advanced even to the ditch of the Redan, but being in small numbers, and finding great obstacles, fell back to the Quarry, about 80 yards. We also had possession of their two most advanced lines of trenches, but finding the second one completely enfiladed, fell back to the outer one, which we still hold. One part of the trench was fiercely contested six or seven times, but we have got it. They kept up a heavy fire of shot, shell and grape upon us from their batteries, but our own batteries firing over our heads, kept theirs a good deal in check. Meanwhile, the Russians issued from the Round Tower in thousands and attacked the French in the Mamelon, who, for want of support, were driven out, disputing the ground inch by inch till very nearly driven out of the Russian trenches. At this critical moment the French reserves came up in steady columns, and the fortune of the day again turned against the enemy. The French gallantly assaulted the Mamelon a second time and were completely successful, driving the Russians back to the Round Tower. This time they did not attempt to follow, but wisely contented themselves with retaining the Mamelon, which, I believe, was all that was intended. It was now dusk, and I ought to have been relieved, having been in the trenches 24 hours, and had a battle into the bargain. During the night our mortars kept firing, and the Russians made several demonstrations of attacking us, but we were always ready, and received them with so brisk a fire that they did not come very close. At last, at three this morning, my party was relieved by Capt. Fyres, of the Rifles and 200 men. Richards and I had 160. There was also another party of the 55th under Capt. Cure and Capt. Elton, Lieuts. Scott, Stone and Williams, and 200 men. They came on with the reinforcements at 5 p.m., and were relieved about 5 a.m. I grieve very much to say that poor little Stone was shot dead by a rifle-ball, while showing the utmost gallantry in crossing the Russian trench. Poor little fellow, he only joined a month ago, and was quite a child – a handsome blue-eyed boy, apparently not more than sixteen, and was much liked and petted by us all. We bury him tomorrow. The 88th lost many officers I am told. Early this morning, some of the 62nd officers were sitting together in a trench when a round shot came in and killed Col. Shearman and Captains Forster and Ingate; also three or four men. Major Dickson was also killed by a rifle-ball – four senior officers of one corps in a single night! I do not yet know our total loss, but you will see it in the papers as soon as this letter arrives. My company lost two killed and four wounded. We have, undoubtedly gained a great advantage in taking the Mamelon and Quarry, which must be our consolation. Lord Raglan and staff visited the different regimental hospitals today (ours included) and spoke to the wounded. Trevor, of ours, who was hit in the elbow, some seven or eight weeks ago, is now able to walk out a little and is going home. His elbow is stiff for life. I will always write as often as possible, particularly after any occurrence. I pray God to protect me as He has hitherto done for your sake, as I know how very anxious you are. I see lots of our fellows who went home before Christmas have got their medals from the Queen. How much more we have earned them who have gone through the hardships of the winter and the innumerable battles of the trenches for eight months! Think how proud we shall both be when I can show you mine.”
“J. Granville Harkness”
The following is another letter of the same date from one of the Hastings men. In writing to his brother and sister, he says:- “No doubt you have heard before this how we are going on. Since my last, our troops have taken Anapa, with an immense store of provisions, guns, ammunition &c., but as I was not there, I cannot give you the particulars. The Rifles furnish thirty men every day as sharpshooters in the advanced trench, and whose duty it is to pick off any unfortunate who may come within range. I was one of the party down there on the 6th, when, at 3 in the afternoon the bombardment opened for the third time, taking the Russians completely by surprise. It was nearly three quarters of an hour before they replied, except by a few guns which they had been firing before. Every one of our shots told, and gun after gun was silenced till dusk, when their firing ceased altogether. We were between the two fires, the shots all passing over our heads from both sides, which with the smoke and noise was overpowering. While this was going on, we kept popping away at the enemy’s embrasures to annoy them while loading, our only guide being the heavy smoke which rolled away after the gun was fired. We had but a few casualties on our side, I cannot tell the exact loss, but I believe it to be about six killed and 17 or eighteen wounded. The Russians must have suffered severely. One of their batteries was silenced after firing only two shots. It was horrible to see our shells bursting inside their batteries and blowing the platforms of their great guns into the air. We continued the fire the whole night, and on the 7th our advanced battery, which was silent yesterday, opened fire on the town in addition to the others, the enemy replying but feebly. At five o’clock an attack was made by a strong party of our allies on the Mamelon. They soon drove the Russians out of it, but the slaughter was dreadful. After taking the Mamelon, they attacked the Malakoff tower but did not suceed(sic) in taking it. However, we still have the Mamelon, and the guns which were in it were turned on the Malakoff. The dead and the wounded were lying in heaps around. I had a good view of it although I was not engaged. But we were under arms in case we might be wanted. The tower is to be attacked again to-night by Sardinians, French, Turks, and English. Sebastopol cannot stand much longer, their fire is getting slack, and they appear to be getting short of ammunition. A.B” [Alfred Bryant] [see illustration on page 251]

From the Hastings and St. Leonards Penny Press.









A letter was received during the week which ended on the 7th of July by Mrs. Butchers, informing her that her son, an artilleryman in the Crimea, was killed on the 27th of May.

Another letter - and this time a desponding one – was received from “A. B.” by his brother and sister, dated “Camp before Sebastopol June 30th, in which he said, “It is now seven months since I left England. You have seen by the papers what the army has suffered since that time, and to all appearance it is not half over yet. You will have heard before this reaches you, of the disastrous affair of the 18th, and the useless sacrifice of life that took place on the day. God knows that a heavy responsibility attaches to some one for the way in which it was managed. It has disheartened our men and given the enemy fresh spirit. 100 of the 1st Battalion and the same number of another corps were told off to storm the Malakoff Tower and Redan Battery, the remainder of the army acting as reserve. We were all in position before daylight, and as soon as it was light enough to see distinctly, the word was given and the storming party rushed out of the trenches and got close up, the men of the Naval Brigade carrying the scaling ladders. The enemy opened a heavy fire of grape and musketry, mowing down our men like grass. They were not supported and were obliged to retire. At the same time an attack was made on the grave yard, where the Russians had some rifle-pits, which were a great annoyance. These were carried at once, and had there been a proper understanding of what was to have been done, many lives might have been spared; but after taking the pits they charged on to the Strand battery, which opened a heavy fire, so that they were forced to retire, leaving between two and three hundred dead and wounded. On the 19th, there was a truce of five hours for burying the dead. Such a sight I never witnessed before, nor do I wish to ever do so again. Some of the men were literally cut to pieces. General Sir John Campbell was killed, and Gen. Escourt has died of cholera. Lord Raglan also died on the 28th. Cholera and fever are both on the increase, and the months of July and August are said to be the worse months of the year. I should like to know what is going to be done, but of that everyone is ignorant. The town has been set on fire in different places several times, but the conflagrations did not extend far. It is great work getting shot and shell down to the batteries. One of our larger ten-inch guns burst a short time ago, killing and wounding several men. I have not been well for several days, and have no appetite. [Hence perhaps, his greater despondency].
The weather has been very hot, and we began to fear a want of water, but some heavy showers lately have made it
cooler. A. B.”
Another letter from “A. B.” dated July 21st, was as follows:- “We have not done anything particular since my last, except strengthening our works and erecting new batteries. Our casualties are greater than they have been on account of our being closer to the enemy. There has been no fresh attack on the Malakoff Tower, nor have we opened any great fire since the 18th of June. I believe we are waiting the completion of some new batteries which we are throwing up in advance of all our other works. The cemetery which we took on the 18th of June we still hold, nor have they made any attempt to re-take it; yet, they have annoyed us exceedingly with shell while we have been turning their work against them. It is now nearly completed, but can only be worked in at night. During the day a small party of sharp-shooters are placed there and not a man can move in sight within 900 yards of us without getting a shower of rifle balls about his ears. Several attacks have been made on the French, who hold the Mamelon, but all of them unsuccessful; and in some cases the Russians have paid dearly. Once, the French cut off their retreat and made a frightful slaughter among them. On the 17th they attacked the right of our position on Green Hill. They came up in force, but the 48th, who held the trench, got the alarm in time to receive their first charge with a deadly volley, which staggered them for a time; but they quickly renewed their charge, and an officer and two men got into the trench and were immediately shot. They were at last forced to retire; and whilst going down the hill a shell fell among them, scattering them in all directions. We only lost two killed and one wounded. One of the men who was killed had five balls through him as he was coming off sentry to give the alarm. There are reports that the enemy are getting short of ammunition; but if so, they use what they have pretty freely. We are completely tired out at this work, and I am afraid we shall have another winter of it. I hope they will clothe and feed us a little better than last winter. We have seen the account of the Hango massacre. I expect some of the garrison of Sebastopol will help to pay for it. The cholera and fever are very prevalent, and we have several severe cases. I have been very ill; but thank God, I am quite well again. The weather is very hot and dry. A. B.” (Alfred Bryant)

Lieut. Harkness, in another of his letters, dated Aug. 15th, wrote – “M...., of the Engineers, who was taken prisoner in the sortie of the 22nd of March, has been exchanged, and is now here doing duty again. During his captivity the Russians took him to see the interior of the Redan, and he says it is a tremendously strong work. The parapets are 15 feet inside and amazingly thick; and between the guns are bomb-proofs for the men, so that it is very difficult for us to inflict much damage upon them. He was sent up to Moscow, but on being exchanged, was brought down again to Sebastopol. Today is the Fête Napoleon. The fleets both French and English were all dressed in their colours and fired salutes at noon and sunset. On the night of the 12th, we received orders to turn out at 2 a.m., as a grand attack by the Russians was expected. Our whole division formed up with two batteries of artillery, and we marched to the picket house; here we lay down till it was broad daylight, when there being no appeance(sic) of an attack we marched back to Camp at 5 a.m. The following night I was in the trenches when nothing particular occurred. I think I told you that we lost poor Evans about a fortnight ago. Since that Elton has been severely contused by a piece of shell. His life was saved by a small prayer-book which he had in his right breast pocket. I have seen the book, which is about one-third cut through. He is now well enough to walk about the camp. At the time he was hit he was lying in the trench. As I write this a shot has just fallen in front of our camp, near the tents. They have for the last week taken to firing a gren at an angle of 45 deg., ranging the immense distance of 2½ miles, which drops a shot into the camp some dozens of times night and day, but I have only heard of one man being killed by it. This will be a longer letter than I thought [see page 252 for the remainder].










Battle of the Tchernaya
“Aug 16th, - This morning has added another victory to the army of the allies. Soon after daybreak heavy firing was heard in the rear, and the smoke rose from the valley of the Tchernaya. We were roused and ordered to be ready to turn out at a moment’s notice! It was evident that a heavy battle was going on. Those who galloped to the edge of the hills could see it. The positions of the French and Sardinians on the river Tchernaya were attacked by immense masses of Russians with large bodies of cavalry and artillery. They brought with them a flying bridge. Notwithstanding the French making a gallant stand at the tête du pont, they partly succeeded in getting some infantry over the river by the stone bridge and ford, covered by the fire of their heavy guns, posted on the rising ground opposite. None of the latter ever got over the river. The French field batteries were soon got in position; and aided by an English battery which galloped up from near Balaklava, mowed the enemy down by hundreds on the other side, whilst those who crossed never advanced above 200 yards from the river, they being firmly received by the French infantry and put to the rout. The Sardinian position, more to the right; was also hard pressed, and, it is said, their flank was partially turned; but they fought like men, and completely routed the Russians, retaking every point they, in the first rush had been compelled to retire from. All was over by about 8 a.m., and the Russians retired across the plain behind a hill. This, I suppose, will be called the battle of Tchernaya. We remained in camp, all dressed, as a simultaneous attack on our trenches was very much to be expected. At 4 p.m., I got leave to go out, and rode down to the scene of the action. The vicinity of the bridge on both sides was thickly strown with the dead and wounded Russians. All the wounded French had been removed, and they were taking the wounded Russians on mules by hundreds to the ambullances(sic). I saw very few dead French; many had probably been taken away. The parts of the bridge the enemy brought were in possession of the French. They had also got a Russian gun-carriage, but I did not see the gun on it. Of course, I was beset by Frenchmen with plunder to sell. There were numbers of English officers there. I bought two Russian silver medals and a firelock. Like others, I roamed about over the ground this side the river, looking for what I could find, but I only took two sets of accoutrements and ammunition, which with the firelock all slung on my shoulders, was as much as I could possibly carry. All this time the Russians from the other side of the plain, kept sending an occasional round shot among us. But we are too much use to it to care much for a single shot at long range; so, nobody paid any attention to them. As it was getting dusk, I mounted my horse which I had been leading after me over the field, and turned up the road towards camp. Before I had gone half a mile I was stopped by a French picket, who said I must give up the firelock. I refused to give it up to anyone but their officers. So they fetched him & he told me that several persons – sailors and others – had been caught carrying off French firelocks, and that the General had given orders that none were to be taken at all – that they were ‘les armes de la guerre’ and were to be collected. So I was obliged to comply with good grace, though much to my disgust, as it was a perfect musket, with bayonet, and I had given 3/- for it. If I had known that I should have been stopped I could easily have returned by the open part of the plain, as some did, and so kept my trophy. I was allowed to keep the accoutrements. If it had not been getting dark I should have gone back for another musket. R... eluded the picket and has brought home a splendid new Liege rifle, which he says he picked up himself on the other side of the river.”
17th. – We opened a heavy bombardment on the place at daybreak today, and kept it up till dark. Much damage to the Russians and some to us” J. Granville Harkness












Another Hastings man, and one who had been drafted from his ship to serve with the Naval Brigade on shore, wrote on the 24th of August, as follows:- “We opened fire last Friday morning again at daylight, but have done no good except killing and wounding a lot of more men. One of the men belonging to my gun had a leg shot off, and there were two killed and ten wounded from the Rodney on the first day. I came in all right on Friday night, and went out again at 6 on Saturday evening. At about 11 I got a bit of a crack. The Russians fired a shell right into the muzzle of my gun. I saw it strike, but didn’t know it was a shell. In the confusion I thought it was a shot that struck her and bounded off again. We were just loaded with shell at the time and were running her out. After it struck I asked if anyone was hurt. They said No! Well, then, I said, ‘Out with her lads!’ and I had hardly got the words out of my mouth when the Russian shell exploded and blew the muzzle of my gun completely off about two feet, and at the same time ignited the shell the gun was loaded with and set it off. I being in the rear of her when she recoiled, the breach struck me in the belly and for a time knocked me speechless. As soon as I returned to consciousness they asked ‘Are you hurt?’ I replied ‘Not much’. The officer sent me to the camp hospital where the doctor kept me in bed for two days, and fomented me with hot water. I am now again pretty well, thank God. I came out of the doctor’s list yesterday, and am to go again to the trenches tomorrow morning. I can hardly tell you how I escaped being killed, for all my shipmates thought I was dead when they picked me up. All the Hastings chaps are well.”














Bombardment of Sweaborg, &c.
One of our local men who had been with the fleet in the Baltic, wrote as follows:- “H. M. Mortar-boat Redbreast , Sheerness, Sept. 5th, 1855.” “My dear parents – I take the earliest opportunity of writing to you, and thank God that I am enabled to do so after the heavy bombardment of Sweaborg. We commenced on the 9th of last month and came out on the 11th. It was very hot in the mortar boats, we having discharged 263 shells on the first day. We fired the first shell, and I think the first one fired by the Russians was aimed at us; it dropped about 30 yards short of us. Afterwards we had shot and shell flying about our ears – some over us, some ahead of us, and some astern of us; but there was only one that burst over us, and that was right aft, and no one was hurt. One man broke his finger in this way:- He was in the magazine when they fired a 20lb charge, which blew off the magazine hatch, which fell on his finger and broke it clean in two. The poor fellow took it very easy, and about two hours after, he was taken on board the Magicienne. We were firing for two days and three nights, never stopping, except to get our victuals – ten minutes for meal and five minutes for grog and a smoke; then at it again as hard as ever. On the second day, at about three in the afternoon the mortar was so hot that it blew pieces half an inch thick out of its chamber, and then we had to knock off for about three hours. We signalled to the Admiral, who sent some engineers to repair it. After that we went at it again till the next morning. During the first morning three of the enemy’s magazines were blown up, the first of which was that of the main arsenal. It was awful to see the roofs of the houses going up in the air, whilst every moment shells would be seen going into houses and setting them on fire. The town was all of a lump upon a hill. There appeared to be thousands of houses on Monday, but when we left it on the following Monday, the town was still in flames. We hear we are going to Woolwich to have a thorough repair. Eli W....”
[The bombardment of Sweaborg commenced at 6 a.m. on a Thursday and continued until daylight on Saturday. The town itself was burnt to the ground, not one house being left. The dockyards were completely destroyed and all the batteries and earthworks were knocked to pieces. Six magazines blew up, and Sweaborg no longer existed. The immense conflagration lasted 45 hours, and altogether the enemy received a terrible blow, whilst the British loss was insignificant in men and nothing in material. In the sea of Azoff the allies were taken measures to deprive the enemy of the new harvest and to cripple his other resources.

Lines by R. S. Montgomery, on reading of the bombardment of Sweaborg and the victory at the Tchernaya.

“Freely our banners float again, all stainless in the breeze;
And proudly swells the joyous tone of triumph o’er the seas!
Though in the tide of fight for once our flags might flutter down,
The foeman’s blood hath washed the stain that dimm’d our fair renown.

“Then tremble ye who long have sighed to see Brittania low;
Her brand is out and still can strike a full avenging blow.
And glory to the sons of France – the peerless and the brave,
Who with us fight for Freedom’s rights beyond the Euxine wave.

“St. George for merry England! How oft that pealing cry
Hath led our island warriors to vanquish or to die!
And ever if our ancient fame still unforgotten be,
All tyrants to the Ocean Queen shall bend the suppliant knee.

“St. Dennis also on for France! Your lilies fling to sky!
Remember Moscow’s flaming walls and boldly ‘do or die’.
Your sires who perished on those plains in many a frozen mound,
Would curse ye from their graves if now ye yield one inch of ground.

“St. Andrew, up for ‘Scotland dear’. Ring out your slogan brave!
And boldly let your pibroch peal, and wide your tartans wave!
Beneath the plaid there beats no heart that e’er in fear will turn;
You proved it on the bloody field of glorious Bannockburn.

“And with the Thistle and the Rose and Lilies of fair France,
Their Shamrock green, old Erin’s sons, will boldly still advance;
They’ll give their war-cry as of old, when charging on the foe,
And ‘Faugh à Ballagh’, ring the knell of many a Russian foe.

“Peace to the slain! the crimson sod must yield their last repose,
No gentle mourner there may bend each dying eye to close!,
And yet an envied fate is there – a glorious rest they found –
For still the soldier’s sepulchre should be the battle ground.”













Lieutenant Harkness on the assault on the Redan and fall of Sebastopol.
Mrs Harkness, of the Ivy House, Ore, received another letter from her son as follows:- “Camp near Sebastopol, 10th of September, 1855.” “Sebastopol has fallen at last! Thank God, I am safe. On the afternoon of the 7th, we received the order suddenly to get breakfast at 6 the next morning, and to parade at 7, with 2 days provisions ready cooked and, and 80 rounds of ammunition. We had been rather expecting this from certain well-known indications, such as sending away all the sick to Balaclava, to clear out the hospitals, and to our own batteries keeping up a terrific bombardment for two days. This portentous order, however, did not prevent R.... and myself keeping an engagement to dine of roast goose with L.... of the 4th, that evening. On the morning of the 8th we were up at six, and after breakfasting leisurely, fell in with our Haversacks of grub on, but no great coats. We then moved off to the place of assembly at the head of one of its ravines, where the troops of the Light and Second Divisions formed up. This kept us for an hour or more enveloped in clouds of dust and a high wind. General Codrington commanded the whole. Col. Windham was to lead the storming party of our division, composed of the 41st, 62nd, 55th and 30th Regiments. Col. Warren the reserves of the 95th, 47th and 49th Regiments. I forget the leaders of the Light division party. We moved down and occupied the most advanced trenches as near to the Redan as possible. The batteries, meanwhile kept up a most destructive fire on the enemy’s works. A more terrific and crushing fire I never saw during the whole of the siege. The enemy could hardly answer a single gun. Soon after 12 the French buglers sounded the advance, and suddenly there issued from their trenches men in thousands. The distance was so short from them to the Malakoff, that they were in the ditch and swarming up the parapet in one minute, the enemy having scarcely time to fire a shot from their guns. In twenty minutes the French were well established in the Malakoff, and the tri-colour waving over it; but the contest at Ouvrage’s Blancs and Little Redan, was more protracted, and they lost heavily there. About half-past twelve a white flag hoisted on the Mamelon, gave notice to the English to attack the Great Redan. Away went the stormers of the Light Division, closely followed by those of the Second. The enemy, of course, were well prepared for us, and had been firing grape at our trench from the beginning of the French attack. My company was the third from the front; and when it came to my turn I jumped up and over the parapet, and calling to my men to follow me close, and keep together, we rushed across the open ground. The distance from our trench to the Redan ditch – as since ascertained – was over 200 paces. The heavy fire of grape and musketry from the flanking batteries swept this space from both sides in a fearful storm, and our men fell rapidly from it. It was about ten feet deep and twenty or thirty feet across. I reached the ditch unhurt and slid down into it. The men here got mixed.. all regiments together. We crowded up the scaling ladders, which was very difficult to do, as many wounded were trying to come down by them. Once on the top slope, it was possible to stand without the ladders. All this time a fierce hand-to-hand fight was going on within. The parapet was very high inside, which made it extremely difficult for the men to get down, so that no sufficient body could be formed at once for a charge. The Russians had brought up a large force which occupied the interior defences and traverses, and kept up a murderous fire, which shot down our poor fellows as fast as they could get in. Those on the parapet kept up the heaviest possible fire on the Russians, but suffered terribly from the concentrated aim directed upon them in return. General Windham was most conspicuous, giving directions everywhere in the midst of the fire. Of ours, J. Hume, Roxby, Johson(sic), and myself were on the parapet near together. We held our position for nearly two hours, unable to advance against the crushing fire of the enemy, who not only occupied an extended and flanking position, but actually outnumbered us. Still we were unwilling to give up what we had gained. At length, the order to retire was given, and now came the most dreadful part of the business; for a retreat is always worse than an advance. Everyone was in such a hurry to get down the ladders, and we were so closely packed together, that the whole mass of men on the steep parapet overbalanced, and they fell together in the ditch, head-foremost. I shall never forget that horrible moment. Several hundred men fell headlong together, all with bayonets fixed or with drawn swords. Numbers must have been run through by falling on the bayonets and have had their limbs broke by the weight falling on them. It is miraculous to me how I escaped so well. I was at the top of the ladder, when I fell with the rest, so that I was not so much underneath the others. I turned aside several bayonets with my hands which nearly ran into me, my sword was wrenched out of my hand and I lost it. It was every one for himself at that moment. As we scrambled up the counterscarp, the Russians, who had charged back into the Redan, on the signs of our retiring, mounted the parapet and threw at us in the ditch, stones, grape-shot, muskets with fixed bayonets, live shells, and actually hatches(sic) and axes. We returned to our trenches through a fire of grape and musketry, which was now, if anything heavier than before, and the ground was thickly strewn with our killed and wounded. By God’s mercy I again crossed in safety. The only hurts I received are of a trifling nature – one on the left wrist, not deep, but a large piece of skin broken off by a bayonet in the fall; slighter grazes on my legs, and considerable stiffness of the whole body. A stone thrown by a Russian hit me on the head, but did not hurt much. The French continued to hold the Malakoff works, though heavy musketry was kept up there till dark. We got our regiment together as much as possible after reaching the trenches, but could only find four officers and about half the men. Poor Col. Cuddy was killed with a musket-ball passing through his neck and dividing his spine. Major Cure had his arm broken by a bullet, also J. Hume. R. Hume was rather severely peppered on one side with stones and gravel knocked up by a round shot. Richards has a severe contusion of the ankle from grape shot, Johnson a bayonet wound in the leg and bullet graze on the head; and Roseby contused by the fall. Out of ten officers of ours only two – Elton and Burke – escaped untouched. General Warren and his aide-de-camp , Morgan (both of ours) were hurt – the first with a wound on the back of the neck, and Morgan with his arm broken by a musket dashed against it by a round shot. Our regiment lost out of 420 men in action not fewer than 180 in killed and wounded; so you see it has been a very severely contested affair. Before dusk the Highland Division arrived from Tchernaya and relieved us in the trenches, upon which we returned to camp. During the night only a few guns were heard, but some tremendous explosions which shook the very earth; and I was awoke before daylight by a staff officer calling out to the adjutant that the Russians had blown up their works, that they were evacuating the place, and that the Brigade was to turn out immediately and march down. I was unable, from my hurts, to go, much to my disgust; so the regiment went off with the only three effective officers left. The Russians were off over the floating bridge, to the north side, having fired the town at all points and blown up their magazines. They found it impossible to maintain any longer the place which they had so stoutly defended for more than a year. You may imagine how delighted we were at this. All yesterday there was a series of explosions as the fire reached the magazines of the different forts. Fort Paul, a very handsome edifice, with three tiers of guns bearing on the harbour, blew up about 3 p.m., with a tremendous crash and is now a heap of rubbish. Those who were on guard in our trenches the night before, say, it was a splendid sight to see all the explosions and the fire breaking out. I was well enough yesterday evening to go up the hill to see the burning town. They sank all the remaining ships at the same time; of the boasted Sinope fleet not one remains. But they have got two or three steamers on the north side, and if they do not sink them also. I hope we shall do it for them. Today I rode down into the far-famed stronghold of Sebastopol. The French are allowed to go in and plunder as much as they like, but not so the English. Officers are stopped if not on duty; but I managed to get in and take a look at it. In my next letter I will tell you about the inside of the town. I was very much vexed to lose the sword my grandfather gave me, but it could not be helped. Once out of my hand in such a fearful meleé, it would have been certain death to stop and look for it. I picked up someone else’s sword directly after, which fits into my scabbard, so I am all right again. It seems so odd and quiet in camp now. This is the first day for exactly 261 days, that I have not heard a cannon shot. What a delightful change! We bury poor Cuddy to-day. The other wounded officers are doing well.” “J. G. Harkness”

The Retreat of the Russians from Sebastopol

From the “Hastings and St. Leonards Penny Press”












Impromtu(sic) Lines by W. T. Weller
The following lines by W. T. Wellr(sic) were written on the Hastings cliff while the cannons were being fired to celebrate the successful assault on Sebastopol. [An apology is here offered for the liberty which has been taken to revise the same.]

“Sebastopol is taken. Cheer, boys, Cheer!
Would that the Russian Czar had lived to hear
The welcome tidings, and remained to know
His own ambitious schemes had caused the blow!
Then when his giant fortresses had crumbled
Would not that his hauty pride had humbled?
But now, as Nicholas is dead and gone,
It useless seems to speculate upon
What, after this his feelings might have been;
Enough, that his successor will have seen
That serfdom, even at its very best,
Must strike its flag to soldiers of the west.
Still linked with Inkermann’s and Alma’s name,
And Balaklava’s is Britannia’s fame;
And now those words ‘Sebastopol is taken’,
The Muscovite’s security has shaken.
Exult we then, although with chastened pride,
That victory has come to England’s side.
The ‘God of Battles’ has once more decreed
That in fair fight Britannia takes the lead.
The question is, will Russia sue for peace?
Or will defeat her recklessness increase?
If obstinate, more gallant men must die –
More widows mourn – more guileless orphans cry.
One thing, however, seemingly is certain –
The latest victory removes the curtain
Of Russia’s prestige, for she’s made to yield
To us and our allies by sea and field.
‘Twill, peradventure, cause, at any rate,
Two Continental pow’rs to hesitate –
Id est, the Austrian and Prussian States –
Before becoming Russia’s fighting mates.
In that alone a moral view is gained,
Which scarce could be while Russia’s flag remained
To still be flaunting its defiant roll
On frowning bastions of Sebastopol.
In every sense it needs must be believed
A glorious victory has been achieved –
A victory complete – the fact is clear;
Sebastopol is taken! Cheer, boys, cheer!”

“Sebastopol – What Next?”
Under this heading, the Hastings and St. Leonards News of Oct 5th, had a sensibly written article in which it said:- “Suppose the English nation had listened to Mr. Gladstone, when three months ago, he counselled peace, on the plea that Russia’s humiliation was deep enough for the purpose contemplated, and that we had got everything by the war that we had a right to look for? Suppose we had then recalled our baffled armies from the still unconquered forts of Sebastopol and had allowed the mighty fleet of Russia to rest on the Euxine instead of under it, what would the world have said? what would the ‘neutrals’ have thought and what would have been the tenor of their speech? They would have said that we had shown by our expenditure of blood and bullion that we had set our heart on the capture of a place from which we retired only because we could not take it. They would have taunted us with having made a virtue of necessity, and of giving up the war on a plea of satisfied justice when in our hearts we knew that our spirit had deserted us, and that the strongest people in the world had turned recreant to their honour and their hopes. All men but ourselves would have said that Russia had beaten us; that we had made her Crimean stronghold the focus of our concentrated energy, as she had of her diffusive power, and that her might had overmatched our own. Thank God! the counsel was not taken. We were not doomed to the bitterness of seeing those rivers of blood shed utterly without any proportionate result. It would have been madness – nay even cruelty – to have turned nervelessly aside from the agony of the struggle when that agony was well nigh exchanged for conquest, - to have relinquished the full consummation of a long effort when that effort was on the verge of complete success! If the war ought to have been begun, it ought to be prosecuted steadfastly and at all risks with a higer(sic) purpose than just to show our teeth and run away, with an enemy remaining in the field to despise us for our cowardice and to profit by our imbecility. It is sad to think of war at all, but it is sadder to think of war begun with high resolve and noble aim, suddenly and weakly closed just as the crowning moment of victory was at hand. Sebastopol has fallen, and if terms be offered now, the world will at least admit that Russia must treat as the losing party. The prestige of the West is maintained – Russian hopes of pouncing upon Constantinople are postponed for a long time to come, and one step is gained towards a safer issue than the Peace Party could have ensured three months ago.”
More Letters.
Coeval with the above editorial, came another letter from the seat of war, written by John Whyborn, adding further items to those contained in Lieut Harkness’s interesting epistle previously received, and showing the part taken by the Naval Brigade. Under date of September 13th, the writer said – “Dear father and mother, - Glorious News! By the blessing of God I am now enabled to send you a few lines to let you know that Sebastopol is in the hands of the Allies. We captured it on the 8th and 9th of the month, and there is none of the Hastings chaps hurt. I must tell you that George Mantell goes on board tomorrow with all the Leander’s men, and we shall go on Monday next, so that I live in hopes of being home at Christmas. We opened a heavy cannonade on the 6th, and no one in our battery was hurt. On the 8th it was my turn again, and we commenced at 6 o’clock. At 12 the French attacked the Malakoff tower and caught the Russians by surprise, and so got in the tower, before the Russians were aware of it. As soon as the French flag flew on the tower, we attacked the Redan, and then they were just ready for us, and our poor soldiers got terribly cut up. We saw them falling six or seven at a time. The reason that we lost so many men was because the Russians were about six to one of ours they having all left the tower and retreated to the Redan. Our men were beaten back, and the Russians mounted the parapet to fire at them, but we mowed them down with our shot and shell. The next morning we were going to make another attack when they blew up their magazines; and when we got into the town we found they had evacuated it and gone to the north side after setting it on fire at several places. They had their batteries undermined and full of powder, whilst there was loose powder all over the place. On Sunday there were no fewer than thirty explosions, and they have continued more or less ever since. The night before last, our relief men went into the town close to the water’s edge, and began to build a battery of three guns to fire over to their steamers on the north side; for, they sank all their shipping except six steamers. In the morning as soon as they could see our battery, they set fire to and blew up four of those vessels, and so they have only two small ones left.” “John Whyborn”

Of a still later date – namely Sept. 17th, another of Lieut Harkness’s interesting letters to his mother was written, and from which the following extracts are taken:- “I have been four or five times into the town. Out last furious bombardment seems to have reduced the enemy’s works to such a state as to be no longer tenable. It was with very great interest I examined the interior of the Redan and Malakoff works which have so long withstood us. We were all very much surprised at the tenacity with which they held on so long amidst such a mass of ruins. The labour it cost them must have been immense, to say nothing of their daily loss. Their bomb-proofs and magazines are splendidly constructed and of prodigious strength. The barracks are the finest I ever saw; the front towards the harbour is very handsome and all of white stone, but they are completely riddled by our shot and shell. The Russians left all their knapsacks behind them in their flight. In a fine bakery in the barracks we found heaps of fresh brown bread and dough ready mixed for baking. In the stores are soldiers clothing, helmets, oil-cake (which they eat), butter, corn, &c. The dry docks are also very fine, and a steamer is burnt in one of them. Fort Paul is blown up and is only a loose heap of rubbish in the water. The English have the Karabelnaia part of the town, where the docks and the stores are, and the French the large part of the left. The main street appears to have been fine, of which the fronts of some handsome buildings are standing. But there is not a window and scarcely a roof in the whole town, everything being burnt or otherwise destroyed. Barricades are thrown across the streets, and mounted with guns. There are hundreds of new guns in the arsenal. French bands play in the town every evening; I heard one commenced to play ‘God save the Queen’. The 3rd Buffs are as yet the only English regiment quartered in the town. We are sometimes on fatigue down there, clearing out stores, &c. Last Wednesday I had a horrible job. From ten till sunset I was engaged in burying dead Russians. They were found dead of their wounds by hundreds in the large magazines used as hospitals. Some must have been dead for weeks, and were in a most horrible state. My party of 50 men unloaded four carts, and buried in two large holes 284 bodies. Some of my men were sick and kept applying to my brandy flask. We seemed to have as bad a job as had the buriers in the Plague of London. Two sailors came to me yesterday, and announced themselves as Reeves and Philpott, Hastings men; the former a son of Reeves, the broker; they belong to the Queen and London men-of-war, and have been working the siege batteries. They were well, and came to ask me if I had anything to send home, as they were going back in their ships immediately. I was glad of the opportunity and have sent you by Reeves, two Russian muskets complete with bayonet and rammers done up in one canvas; also a Russian helmet complete. He promised to carry them to the Ivy House, himself. I hope they will meet you safely.” J. G. Harkness
Loss of Russian Seamen.
Le Nord, a Russian journal, said, out of 10,000 seamen who had undertaken the heroic defence of Sebastopol,, not more than a fourth part survived.
A Four-footed Hero
The Trieste Journal contained the following paragraph:- “Great sensation was created in the camp of the allies by the courageous conduct of a large dog belonging to Col. Metmam, of the 73rd Regt of French Infantry. On the 16th of August during the battle of the Tchernaya, the animal broke his chain and dashed into the fury of the affray, fighting in the ranks of the soldiers. He saved the life of a sergeant and a private of the regiment, and made three Russian prisoners. A ball grased(sic) his fore paw, but the smarting wound only made him more infuriated. He singled out a Russian officer and attacked him with ferocity, threw him down and dragged him as a prisoner to the French lines. A surgeon dressed his wound, and the four-footed hero is going on well. He will probably be decorated with a medal as a reward for his bravery” – [and sagacity.]
The Naval Brigade
The Naval Brigade landed on the 25th of October, 1854, and were at once set to the very onerous duty of dragging up the heavy siege guns to the batteries or to the parks of artillery in front. They carried up their own ammunition, provided themselves all through the winter with food, were their own commissariat, mounted their guns, repaired their own damaged embrasures, and were 24 hours on and 24 hours off duty, when the batteries were in play. During the siege the Naval Brigade served for 33 days of heavy bombardment and cannonade. Out of 1,400 men 31 died from sickness, 61 were killed, 21 mortally wounded, and 331 were more or less severely wounded. Total dead and wounded 447. The Hastings men were more fortunate than the average, and from the accounts received appeared to bear the strain better.

“The Soldier of Sebastopol”
By William Holloway, Rye. Published in the South-Eastern Advertiser, Oct 12th, 1855.

“I climbed the rocky Alma’s height,
And I was present at the fight;
I saw the Guardmen charge the foe,
Saw streams of courage also flow;
Heard Royal Cambridge cheer his men,
Then saw them charge the foe again;
Beheld the routed Russians fly,
And heard the shouts of victory.

Chorus
They fought like heroes, great and small,
But I have seen what crowns it all,
The taking of Sebastopol.
For I was there; yes, I was there,
At taking of Sebastopol.

“I witnessed Balaklava’s fray,
(A ne’er to be forgotten day),
Where Scotchmen nobly led the van,
And then came dashing Cardigan,
Resolved to die ere he would run,
Charged to the muzzle of the gun
While Russian foemen could but gaze,
On chivalry of ancient days.

They fought like heroes great and small,
But I have seen what crowns it all,
For I was there; yes, I was there,
At taking of Sebastopol.

“Dark hung the heavy mists at night,
Enshrouding e’en the morning light,
When hark! the Russian cannons booming!
See muskets flashing through the glooming!
This is the fight of Inkermann,
Fought hand to hand and man to man.
Though chieftains mingled in the fray,
The soldiers won the palm that day.

They fought like heroes, great and small,
But I have seen what crowns it all,
The taking of Sebastopol.
For I was there; yes, I was there,
At taking of Sebastopol.

“I saw the fight at Tracktir Bridge,
The Russians pouring down the ridge,
And also o’er Tchernaya’s plain,
Whence many ne’er got back again;
Whilst to that fight Sardinia came,
Her young sword flashed and won a name,
And France came, too, inured to war,
And slew the soldiers of the Czar.

They fought like heroes, great and small,
But I have seen what crowns it all,
The taking of Sebastopol.
For I was there; yes, I was there,
At taking of Sebastopol.

“I saw the great Pellissier –
The marshal whom the French obey –
And Bosquet, too, a mighty name,
Borne on the role of deathless fame
Before whose firm, resistless power
Fell Malakoff’s proud threatening tower
And when I saw that fortress fall,
Then fell the doom’d Sebastopol.

They fought like heroes, great and small,
But I have seen what crowns it all,
The taking of Sebastopol.
For I was there; yes, I was there,
At taking of Sebastopol.

“Now that Sebastopol is won,
This soldier’s song is well nigh done;
But still I pause to shed a tear
O’er many a lifeless warrior bier;
Nor doth my sorrow cease to flow
E’en over that of St. Arnaud;
While heaves the heart of bitter sighs
Where the devoted Raglan dies.
For they were valiant warriors all
Though seeing not the greatest fall
When taken was Sebastopol.
For I was there; yes, I was there,
At taking of Sebastopol.”












The next letter from the Crimea – that by Alfred Bryant – while it supplies additional interesting items concerning Sebastopol, verifies all that Lieut. Harkness had previously said about the ruined town and the effect of the bombardment. In his letter, which was commenced on the 2nd of October and not finished till the 13th, he says – “Dear Brother and Sister. – I have managed to snatch a few moments to write to you; for we are very busy to prevent a repetition of last winter’s misery and disaster. We are employed from morning till night, not in the heart-breaking work of the trenches, but in building huts, making roads, &c., which is easy compared with the other. I have seen the account in the papers of the fall of Sebastopol and of the rejoicing in England on the receipt of the news. I also saw Prince Gortschakoff’s account in which he states that he left 100 killed behind; but what he called 100 we should call between 2,000 and 3,000. I went down into the town the day after I sent you the last letter. It was horrifying to see the mutilated masses of what had once been men; they lay in heaps and rows all about the place – some in out of the way corners, where the poor wounded fellows had crawled to and died. Many of them were in an advanced state of decomposition, from which the stench was overpowering. Scarcely a house but had felt the effects of our shots pretty severely. The Russians, too, had destroyed almost everything they could before they left the town. The number of guns and the quantity of shot is enormous. The masts of the sunken ships are seen above the water in the harbour, where I have had a good swim. Several infernal machines have been picked up. Powder, both loose and in bags, lies scattered about everywhere, and many places are supposed to be mined; in fact the town is mined in all directions. I have made a collection of the different kinds of Russian bullets for you; also of the different sorts of coins current among us. These are Turkish, Russian, Sardinian, Greek, Austrian, and several others. I have also a Russian book and a couple of pictures, and I hope to be spared to bring them home. This sheet of paper and the order I got out of Fort Nicholas, in Sebastopol.
I received my medal on the 6th. I have got a few pounds in the Regimental Savings Bank. E... will not have it, as she says she can earn enough herself, and is sure I must want it here; but I think it will be of more use in England, and I can do well enough without it. I don’t know if I told you, but before I left England she gave me a gold ring. I always wore it till one night in the trenches, a shot pitched close to me, driving the stones in all directions, one of which hit the ring, broke it in two, and imbedded it in the flesh; and, but for the ring, my finger would have been broken. I sent one piece to her, and the other I have. It is expected that we shall have a brush shortly on the Tchernaya. Our ships are all gone with troops on board, but their destination is not known. The unfortunate Russian fleet is totally destroyed. It is very dangerous work in any part of the town. A few days ago a mine was sprung under a working party, and upwards of 40 men were killed and wounded, six of them being our own. A woman also who had gone down to see the town was wounded in the face and blown into the harbour. There is little firing and no real fighting at present. I received your newspaper on the 8th, which was a treat; many thanks for it. I forgot to tell you that I have kept a bit of a journal for you of what has been going on since I first landed. I am employing any spare time in writing it out afresh in a Russian book which I got in Sebastopol; it will be a curiosity. The rainy weather will soon come on, but there will be none of the severe trench duty to be done. Fuel I can get in abundance from the town; the ruins are also furnishing materials for the hut. Hoping I may have a letter from you ere long, I remain your affectionate brother, Alfred Bryant.”

Another Letter.
The following interesting letter is to his father, at Hastings, from G. Quaife, purser on board H.M.S. Queen of the South, and dated at sea Nov. 23rd, 1855. – “My dear Father. You no doubt will be surprised to hear that, if all is well, I shall be at Southampton a few days after you receive this letter, we having been sent home with invalids, &c. I have seen a great deal since I have been out, as I made up my mind to do from the commencement. On Monday evening, Oct. 29th we entered in Kazatch Bay. As it was nearly dark I could not distinguish what sort of a place we were in, but ascertained that we were about six miles from Sebastopol. On looking in that direction I saw the flash of a cannon on the north side, and shortly after heard the report. I experienced a strange mixture of feelings at being so near to a place which has caused so much excitement during the last year. We soon after heard a puffing noise and saw a number of lights approaching us, which turned out to be a part of the fleet returning from Kinburn. In the morning I was up early to have a look about. I found we were in a bay, with the land low, but rising in the distance to mountains of great height. The French have the harbour at Kazatch, and we have a small bay outside, near Kamesk, which nearly joins. To the left we could see the forts of Sebastopol quite plain. They fired very heavily at times, and at night the shells bursting in the air looked very grand. The day following being very fine, our chief officer made up his mind to have a sail-round to the mouth of the harbour. I having gained permission to go, took my seat with two ship’s officers and one of the army, but as the breeze died away we were not able to go so far as we wished. We saw the forts and their firing, but there was no danger, as they take no notice of small boats. There appears still to exist a great want of management at Balaklava. We were ordered at Kamesk to go into the harbour. On arriving outside they were a long tome before they answered our signal, and when they did we could not make it out, so kept ours up with hope of that they would do the same while we went in closer. But they soon hauled theirs down and would not send it up again. We remained outside for the remainder of the day, and then went back to Kamesk. On the captain reporting himself to the authorities next day, they only said “We thought you would not be able to get in”. About a week later, we managed to get to Balaklava harbour which is completely hemmed in by almost perpendicular mountains, and it surprises me how it was ever discovered, as there is nothing to mark the entrance but the remains of an old Genoese castle, and can only be seen by getting close to it. The town is in a very dilapidated state. What houses there are are straggling up the side of a mountain at any convenient spot on which a hut can be placed. A few days after we got in, I and an army surgeon who went out with us, walked over to Sebastopol, having called on our way at Head Quarters for a pass. We met General Simpson, who answered our salutation. After a fatiguing walk we found ourselves in the midst of what the Russians called the ‘Blood-stained ruins’. They are such, in every sense, for there is scarcely any house with a roof, and those which have, are riddled with shot. The French and English are pulling to pieces what are left, so as to get at the timber wherewith to make huts. I went to the Redan and several other places on the English side; and, with a little scheming, managed to get into the French side also. But there were some parts they would not let us go into, as the Russians would see us, which would draw their fire. Even as it was, their firing was unpleasantly near. I was not sorry when we were walking out of the town and up the ravine which was strewed with shot and shell on all sides. On the heights above were enormous trenches, which ran down and across the Worinsoff road, up which we were going. Anyone to have an idea of what the conflict must have been in taking the town, should see the traces of the awful work. The town must have been a very splendid one, and enough still remains to convey that idea. The immense buildings and massive structures which were of white stone, all go to prove that it was of no ordinary size and splendour. On my return to ship I found myself completely knocked up. I could not have walked less than 25 miles, and I had scarcely recovered from an attack of dysentery; but after a few days rest, I felt no further inconvenience. My next trip on shore was to a gentleman to whom I had an introduction, and whom I found in a nice wooden hut at Balaklava. He was seated in a wine-cask, cut down and padded, which made a capital easy chair. He was in front of something like an ironing-stove. On the sides were suspended numerous relics of the war – swords, helmets &c. We planned an excursion for the following Tuesday. I was up at seven to breakfast with him, and at eight the horses were brought to the door. That of my friend (as I shall now style him) was a nice little Arab colt, and mine a rough Russian, but a very good one to go. We rode through numerous camps. The Sardinians I much admired for their soldierly appearance. We crossed the country to the rise of the Belbec. The scenery surpassed anything I had ever before beheld. We rode along by the side of a mountain on a new road that the French had just made. Below us was a valley of immense depth, and in front were the well-known Mackenzie heights. Bluff rocks were towering up on all sides; and, unlike the parts we had passed, the sides of the mountain were covered with stunted oak and low brushwood. All added to the scenery, and it requires a better head and pen than mine to give you a true idea of it. We went on until we were stopped by a French picket, we having got out to the advanced post. So, retracing our path, we took the Worinsoff road, and went on to the valley of Bida and the town of that name. That is one of the towns to which the inhabitants returned. It is only a miserable village of scattered huts, inhabited by Tartars. The road was a very good one, and was made by a Prince of its name. A Jew died somewhere near, who was worth an immense sum of money, and as he had no friends the Prince took his money and made the road with some of it. The scenery was still very beautiful. The mountain that we made for was of immense height, and this road wound round on one side. Stones were put to protect travellers from falling some hundred feet into a valley. On the other side, large pieces of rock overhung as if they would fall upon you. We passed a beautiful shooting-box belonging to one of the princes, in the midst of a wood, but now converted into a commissariat depôt. We put our horses in the town; and, after a great many signs, made the people understand that we wanted the horses to have something to eat. We then walked some distance to what was only a rivulet, but which in winter was a scene of great cataracts, as the pieces of rock themselves indicated. Taking our seat on one of them, we opened our sandwiches and flasks, and after our hard ride took a welcome refreshment. We got home about 5 p.m., after a ride of about 40 miles. So you may imagine how I felt, as I had not crossed a horse for a long time. However, my friend planned a second day’s ride, when we went to a review of the Artillery on the plain where the battle of Balaklava was fought, and a grand sight it was. I saw General Codrington; also Russell, the Times correspondent. We then passed on to the Tchernaya, when my horse, which had been very fidgetty, bolted with me. There was a hill before us, so I let him have his own way, and before he got to the top he slackened speed, and I then pulled him up. I rejoined my friend, and we then went down to the Tchernaya bridge, where the battle was fought. We tried to cross it, but the French would not let us. We kept along by the side of the river a great distance. Beneath us was the valley of Inkermann, and above us were the Mackenzie heights, with numerous trenches and batteries. With a glass we could see the Russians, and whilst we were looking at them we saw them telegraphing. We got off our horses and led them up a steep hill, on the summit of which was a French battery, and further on there was another, still larger, at which the Russians were firing very fast. We passed that, and rode on to one – an old one that had been abandoned. In it was a large gun that had burst, one part of it lying some distance off. It was of such thickness that you could not thought possible to have burst. We went on to the summit, and in a few minutes I saw a shell come over and drop disagreeably close to us, and then explode, throwing up dust and earth. My friend remarked that seeing us on horseback, the Russians took us for officers. We thought it the better plan to retire as soon as possible, for shortly after, other shots came over. We next rode to one of the commissariat depôts to which my friend belonged, and in going along we passed through the French magazine. After refreshing ourselves and horses and getting mounted, we heard an awful explosion and saw a fearfully grand sight. The fire and smoke were enormous, cannon balls were being hurled in all directions, and shells were snapping and cracking in the air. Our horses were greatly frightened, and the workmen ran and put their heads in a stack of wood, just by. After the smoke had cleared a little, my friend said ‘Here’s off from the spot, and you must stick to me as close as you can!’ at the same time informing me that it was the French magazine which we had recently passed. I could not keep up with him, and soon found myself in the midst of a number of French officers, scampering along as fast as we could go. I overtook my friend, and we halted on the brow of the hill, beneath which was the spot where the explosion took place. The powder was still exploding, and a soldier advised us not to go any further, as it was not possible to tell if other explosions would not occur. There were officers from both armies all around us, and there were pieces of shell that had just burst. Then as we rode home, people were pouring out of Balaklava, and every available height was covered. Windows had been broken in the town, at a distance of about six miles, and even our ship at sea was violently shaken by the explosion. Next day, I rode over to look at the place, and found it an awful sight. Large guns were blown about, and dead bodies were being dug out of the ruins. The French had their hospital close by. The huts were blown over and the beds were all out in the open air; whilst the tents were torn into ribbons. I will not take up more time and space by detailing the horrors of the event, but am very thankful that I escaped, especially as I was so close at the time – not more than three quarters of a mile off. I suppose you have heard of it by the papers.”. Nov. 23rd. We have just arrived at Malta.” “J. Quaife.”

“On the War”
(By “Anon” and published in the Hastings News of Sept. 28, 1855)

“Tis the voice of our country, from centre to shore;
It calls on each Briton to slumber no more;
It bids us arise ere our birthrights be gone,
And rally like men round the altar and throne.

“The God of that altar, through tumult and war,
E’er beamed upon England His bright morning star;
And poured on our fathers His blessing divine;
And ne’er should His children prove false to his shrine.

“Round thrones of our monarchs for ages have stood
Saints, heroes and sages, the great and the good;
No foe from without dared the ramparts to win,
Nor must it be cankered by foes from within.

“Too long, oh, too long, has a faction held sway,
That piecemeal would dribble Old England away;
And take from the Sov’reign and people their own
And cover with insult the altar and throne.

“It shall not avail them; the voice has gone forth;
It rings through the empire – East, West, South and North;
For Britain aroused and indignant at length,
Now bears, like a giant, the arm of her strength.

“We stand for Old England – her rights and her laws;
‘Tis the cause of our country – God prosper that cause!
Unimpaired to our children, those rights shall descend,
So let us preserve them, or die to defend!”















Our Local Heroes.
The exact number of Hastings men who served their country in the protracted war against Russia has not been ascertained, and probably was never known, but from the twenty persons whose names form the following list nearly forty letters appear in these pages.
J. Quaife was purser on board H.M.S. Queen.
James T. Hart was on board of the Britannia, Admiral Dundas’s flag ship.
A young midshipman, when writing home, withheld his name from publication.
Lieut. J. G. Harkness was with the 55th Regiment.
Viscount Chewton was brutally attacked at the Alma and died of his wounds.
George Oliver, of H.M.S. Queen, was a son of John Oliver, a boatman.
Thomas Brazier, of the 4th Regt. was of a well-known Hastings family.
John Whyborn, of H.M.S. Rodney, was also of a Hastings family.
William Jas. Edwards, an artilleryman, was the son of a baker.
Edward Walter was also of H.M.S. Queen.
Barnett Huggett, shoeingsmith, who died of cholera, was son of William Huggett.
Another man serving in the Rodney was from Hastings.
George Vickers was in the 5th Battalion, Royal Artillery.
Benjamin Taylor. Magazine man of the Queen was killed on shore.
George Geering served in the on-shore batteries with the Naval Brigade.
Alfred Bryant, another Hastings man, did not state his position.
George Mantell (apparently of the Leander) served also on shore.
Charles Butchers, of the Royal Artillery, was killed in action.
Thomas Phillips, of the Queen, died of cholera.
Eli W.... was one of the Baltic fleet, and of a mortar-boat in the bombardment of Sweaborg.
Reeves and Philpott, both serving in the war, were of well known Hastings families.
Other local men there were, whose names if I knew at the time, have been forgotten, except a son of James Ives, who went with the Baltic fleet.

From the “Hastings and St. Leonards Penny Press”