Brett Volume 6: Chapter LVIII - Hastings 1857
| This is a verbatim transcription of Brett’s work, which comprised both manuscript and typescript cuttings, and therefore reproduces Brett’s variations in style, capitalisation, punctuation and spelling. The only alterations made have been to the pagination and images whereby both page titles and images have been moved to the most appropriate paragraph as opposed to where they were pasted into the texts by the author. Where possible, personal names have been checked against census, parish records, contemporary newspaper reporting and the Central Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths. A number of footnotes have been inserted by the transcriber when this has been thought to be useful.
Generally the transcription follows the guidelines set out by the National Archives. Work is in hand to identify and annotate hand-written sections and other annotations within the transcriptions, the main difference being that hand-written sections are indicated by a Cursive font on screen. If any portions are
Town Council meetings (pg. 139)
Inquests and Particular deaths (pg. 169)
East Sussex Representation (pg. 176)
The Country & Borough Elections (pg. 182)
Hastings & Manchester Elections (pg. 187)
Defeat of the Peace-at-any-Price Party (pg. 187)
Parliamentary Prospects (pg. 188)
Election of a Speaker (pg. 188)
Speakers in Ancient Times (pg. 189)
A Trophy of the Russian Wars (pg. 164)
Meeting of a Brotherhood & Guestling (pg. 164) & (pg. 192)
Ancient Local Records (pg. 200)
Vestry Meetings (pg. 200)
Nose pulling case (pg. 201)
Failure of the Bank (pg. 202)
Holy Trinity Church (pg. 211)
Church Matters (pg. 213)
Testimonials etc. (pg. 214)
New bells for St Clements Church (pg. 214)
Public Schools (pg. 217)
Mechanics & Literary Institution (pg. 217)
The Fishery (pg. 219)
Collisions & Disasters (pg. 220)
Wrecks & Fatalities (pg. 220)
The Regatta (pg. 222)
Accidents (pg. 223)
Dinners, suppers, etc. (pg. 223)
The Mayor's dinner (pg. 224)
Press opinions (pg. 225)
Various items. (pg. 227)
[ 139 ]
Town Council Meetings
The Boundary Question At the meeting on Dec. 24th, Ald. Ross said he had put a motion on the agenda because he thought the way in which the borough was partitioned by the Postmaster had acted very injuriously towards the town of Hastings. He found that in the local paper, week after week, the families that arrived in one part of Hastings were invariably put down to the credit of St. Leonards. In that day's paper twenty-four families were put down as having arrived at St. Leonards, and out of that number, fourteen had arrived between the Arhway and Verulam Buildings, which belonged to Hastings. It was the same with the departures. He liked that every tub should stand on its own bottom. He did not approve of the Postmaster coming down to Hastings and calling Hastings, St. Leonards. He might as reasonably call Bexhill Battle. It might be replied that any alteration might act injuriously with regard to the post-office; but he did not see that it would, nor why they should not have a bag for West Hastings. He saw no necessity for calling that portion of the borough St. Leonards, and he moved "That the calling of any part of Hastings by other than its proper name was injurious to the town as a watering place, and that henceforth the part of Hastings between White-rock place and the Archway be called West Hastings, and that the name be put up on the houses accordingly." Visitors coming to that part of the town wrote home and told their friends that they were residing in the best part of the town, and would call it St. Leonards. One of the consequences was that their friends when they came took tickets to St. Leonards station, and were therefore taken to the Victoria Hotel or to lodging-houses in that immediate neighbourhood. If the visitors could write home and call their place of residence Hastings, their friends would take tickets to Hastings station and go to Hastings hotels and lodging houses. He had no feeling whatever, against St. Leonards, but he thought that Hastings ought to be called by its proper name. He would not say any more, because he thought the subject spoke for itself. Last year there were here the ambassadors of Russia, Turkey and France, and her Majesty's Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston. These were staying in Hastings, but the papers gave it out to the world that they were residing in St. Leonards, and thus told an untruth. He thought that a modern town like St. Leonards, taking away the fair name of Hastings which had been in existence a thousand years was too bad. [The mover of the resolution might have also said that in addition to the foreign ambassadors he mentioned, there were at the time he was speaking at Eversfield place Rear Admiral Sir Stephen Lushington, the Dowager Lad Clomell and the Ladies Scott, the Ladies Greville, Viscountess Frankfort de Montmorency, the Hon. Mr. and Mrs. Fenman, Gen and Mrs. Hancock, [ 140 ]Sir George and Lady Bonham, Countess and Earl Catchcart, Col. and Elizabeth Douglass, the Hon. Mrs. Willoughby, Lady Elphinstone, Sir John and Lady Key, Lieut-Col and Mrs. Wrench, Capt. and Mrs. Dowson, and Lady Franklin. Also at the same time there were residing at Grand parade, Lady Reid and family, Lord Romney and family, and Lord Robert Arthur Cecil, M.P. (afterwards Premier) and Lady. All these visitors or residents took up their abode there either by choice or recommendation, as St. Leonards; and being acquainted with the excitement caused by the attempted change of name, were among those who either personally or through the housekeeper, requested to be retained in the St. Leonards visitors' list. One gentleman, in a letter to the Gazette, said "I am not such a fool as to suppose that Eversfield place would be any less healthy or less respectable by being placed in Hastings, but as I possess a little aristocratic pride and the means to support it, I shall go to St. Leonards and not to Hastings, even if St. Leonards be at Bexhill!" For these and the other reasons before stated the Gazette as one of the papers charged with giving out to the world an untruth, repels the accusation.]
Coun. Vidler, in seconding the motion, supported the statement that the effect of calling the best part of Hastings by the name of Hastings was injurious to the town.
The Mayor thought there were two reasons why the alteration should be made. The late Mr. Shorter used to say that great inconvenience arose from the present state of things; and then all the recent expense of drainage, &c. had been in Hastings, and not in St. Leonards, yet it would appear, according to the Postmaster, that a great deal of it had been in St. Leonards.
Coun. Putland was sorry that the subject had been introduced at that time, because he had no hesitation in saying that the West Ward was not properly represented. There were important matters - more important, perhaps, than appeared at first sight, and especially in reference to trade. He, as well as Mr. Ross, would like every tub to stand on its own bottom; but he maintained that old Hastings only embraced the two upper parishes, and did not even include what was now the most important parish, that of St Mary-in-the-Castle. The old charities were for the inhabitants of old Hastings, and could be distributed, legally in the parishes of St. Clement's and All Saints. When the late estimable Mr. Burton commenced building St. Leonards, the scheme was frowned upon by the people of Hastings, and the tradesmen of St. Leonards had to grapple with great difficulties. There was now a great deal of property about Grand Parade, London road and eastward, and there was [ 141 ]not a man in the town who could define a line which divided the two towns. The line, if altered from the present arrangement would have to be drawn right through the mass of population, and one part of a street would belong to St. Leonards and the other to Hastings. The inconvenience to tradesmen would also be immense in having to alter their business addresses. Who, for instance, would go to that part of St. Leonards, where he (Mr. Putland) had so long resided if called Hastings. People would go to old Hastings, where there was also another London road. There was a mile between his house and York Buildings, the western limit of old Hastings; and for half a mile there was only one house in front to go past. That single line of houses into another mass of population. To draw a line through that mass and call it Hastings, seemed to him most unreasonable. They could not make such a division without inflicting a very serious injury on the inhabitants. All the tradesmen there must change their addresses, the St. Leonards Wesleyan Chapel would be put in Hastings or West Hastings; the St. Leonards Mechanics Institution and the St Leonards railway station would be the same; and if the proposed alteration took place, Hastings would run all round St. Leonards and beyond it. There would be no reason coming fresh into the town who would ever know such a complicated division as it would necessarily be. The South-Eastern railway station was called the St. Leonards station, and if called Hastings, people [as Mr. Ross admitted] would go to the other Hastings station. There would also be confusion in the postal arrangement which in past time had been good, and were now he believed better than ever. They had as many mails as they could expect, and the people had no cause of complaint. The representatives of the whole of the West Ward were only six in number, whilst the East Ward had twelve. He hoped they would not do anything hastily. Let the inhabitants of the district be appealed to, which would be the proper course. Hastings was largely indebted to St. Leonards, and had been from its commencement. The founder of the latter ought to be honoured instead of St. Leonrds being put in the back-ground. The subject was really a very serious one, and if the inhabitants wre appealed to, he was perfectly willing to abide by their decision. He hoped that instead of throwing the east against the west, and the west against the east, time would be given to consider the question in all its bearings. [ 142 ]Ald. Ginner [who was one of the Hastings merchants benefitted by the St. Leonards publicans and others who purchased his porter and coal] thought the motion was right in principle, and that there was great credit to the founder of St. Leonards, who had taken special pains to prevent the name of St. Leonards coming to Hastings. He not only took out an act of Parliament, but put up an archway to show the boundary of that Act. That gentleman had no idea that the name of St. Leonards woud ever be brought to Hastings. As regarded Mr. Putland's remark that in the title deeds the property eastward of the archway was defined as St. Leonards, he thought Mr. Putland had made a mistake. (Mr. Putland assured Mr. Ginner it was so in scores of instances, and indeed, in nearly all). He (Ald. Ginner) thought they could not legally call it St. Leonards, yet if any violent alteration was effected without first giving notice of the intention, they would be throwing the town into great confusion. There was certainly one great abuse, and in which Mr. Putland seemed to glory. He referred to the two post-offices within a mile and a half of each other. That was a gross abuse, as it was evident that one post-office would be better than two, and he heard Mr. Putland's remarks to the contrary with astonishment. [Mr. Ginner, had he been alive at the time of writing this History, would have been more greatly astonished at knowing that within the same distance there are at least five post-offices, two large sorting-houses, and a great many wall and pillar boxes for the deposit of letters]. He thought the proper course would be to petition both Houses of Parliament, for it was of no use to represent anything to the post-office. He contended that there ought to be only one Post-office but its position was no object to him. [Then why not let it be at St. Leonards, the result of which would be that instead of the morning mail arriving at Hastings at 4.30 am, and St. Leonards at 5am, and the night mail leaving St. Leonards at 9.30 p.m., and Hastings at 10 p.m., the conditions would be reversed?] He would, however, suggest to Mr. Ross that after having given such a public notice of the matter, he should withdraw his motion, and substitute for it at the next meeting, that they petition both Houses and the Queen in Council for only one Post-office. One postmaster would be enough for these towns. If they could get this alteration, every other alteration which they thought necessary, could easily be carried out. He was quite sure tht the tradesmen in Mr. Putland's [ 143 ]neighbourhood would not suffer from having their district correctly named. Mr. Putland was very much in error in saying that Hastings never exercised any authority in that part. He had to thank Mr. Ross for giving him through the Hastings News that day the fact that in 1624 a person of the name of Eversfield of St. Mary Magdalen parish, having refused his rate towards fortifying the town, was subjected to a distress. Mr. Putland explained that what he said was that St. Mary Magdalen parish was not a part of Hastings proper. He knew it was in the borough of Hastings, but it was not a part of Hastings town.
Coun. Bromley agreed with Mr. Ginner more than with the mover of the resolution; still, he thought they should call places by their right names. He did not at all agree with what Mr. Putland had said. They had nothing to do with Hastings as it was centuries back, but with Hastings as it was now. If Mr. Ross persisted in his motion he should vote for it, but he thought Mr. Ginner's suggestion was a better one.
Coun. Winter fully sympathised with Mr. Ginner, and thought it would be better for the mover to withdraw his motion, and make one on the postal arrangements. It was rather strange that they should have the mails from London, daily, and only one to St. Leonards. It seemed to him that a prestige attached to St. Leonards which ought not properly belong to it; and the inhabitants of the central part of the borough seemed inclined to sacrifice the interest of Hastings for the sake of that prestige. The newspapers were obliged to follow the postmaster's arrangement, for if they did not the visitors would not get their letters till another mail.
Coun. How said he could get letters three times a day, but Coun Picknell had heard of a gentleman at Verulam Place having a letter delayed a post because it was addressed Hastings; and he (the speaker) thought it was quite time the Council gave a decided opinion on the matter.
Ald. Ross, in his reply, said he quite agreed with Mr. Ginner, but at the same time every person there was well aware of the great influence of the Burton family, and the great difficulty which had been experienced in carrying measures on former occasions. He should therefore persist in his motion. His view was that the Council should do the thing themselves, and then ask the Post Office to carry out their arrangements accordingly. If the matter were left to others it would never be done [Hear Hear!]. [ 144 ]He had not a particle of feeling against St. Leonards, and hoped it would go on as flourishing as ever; but he did think the old town should not be deprived of its best portion. With regard to Mr. Putland's statement that the Magdalen parish did not belong to Hastings, it was well known that Hastings extended from Fairlight to Bulverhythe. Mr. Putland again explained that he had not stated that Hastings had no control over that parish as being in the borough, but that it was no part of Hastings proper as a town. [He might have added that only a few years before, when a Local Act was sought to be obtained for it under the name of "West Hastings." Mr. Ross was one of the strongest opponents.] He thought the best policy would be to carry his motion, and after that he would agree to Mr. Ginner's suggestion. He would leave it to them whether the name to be put up should be West Hastings or merely Hastings. On being put to the vote there were 15 for it and 5 against it, the latter being the powerless few who represented the West Ward.
Ald. Ross then moved that a copy of the resolution should be sent to the Postmaster-General, with a request that he would make the postal arrangement in accordance with the resolution.
Coun. Putland thought there had been no case made out in reference to the postal arrangement. There had been one isolated case where a letter went wrong through misdirection, but even that was remedied in a few hours. Of similar cases, he did not believe there was one in a thousand. They said they wished well to St. Leonards, but if they destroyed its character as a post-town they would ruin it, and with injury rather than benefit to Hastings. He maintained that two post-offices in the borough were better than one, or as well, at the very least. The chief ground of complaint as it appeared to him was that St. Leonards was now flourishing. At first the East Ward would not look upon them with a favourable or friendly eye, but scowled upon them [No, No!] Not by the gentlemen present, but by others before them. Yes the tradesmen of St. Leonards had been frowned upon. He objected to the changing of the name of a locality that had been so long known as St. Leonards. The two towns were now working in harmony, but the mover of the resolution would upset that harmony. They could not take away the post-office without inflicting a great injury, and they would get nothing by the present motion. They would have to petition Parliament, which in itself would be an honourable thing as compared to what they were now doing. He was aware that it was of no use for the West Ward to oppose with only five representatives, but if the East Ward succeeded in their purpose it would do them [ 145 ]no good [a voice, "Serve them right, too!].
Ald. Ginner remarked that Mr. Putland stood before them in a new
light character. He had always before been known as a reformer, and he would venture to assert that if the petition had been against two post-offices in any other town, Mr. Putland would very willingly have joined in with the measure; but as it happened to suit his views, Mr. Putland on the present occasion did not mind having a little of the "Circumlocution office." How very apt people were to get a little blinded by anything that touched themselves. Two post-offices in this borough was an anomaly, of which the Government ought to be ashamed. [It is allowable conjectural that those whose views Mr. Putland represented would have been at a lost(sic) to know where the shame had to come in; also, if one post-office was a good thing, what part of a Reformer's creed it was to declare that one good thing was better than two?] He firmly believed that their representation to the Postmaster would have no effect, but if they petitioned Parliament session after session. The Post Office would not like it, and if the Council persevered, the arrangements would ultimately be altered. He should certainly vote for the motion. [Bound to party, politically and otherwise, Ald. Ginner availed him not of his usual astuteness in not perceiving (as was afterwards proved) that petitions would also be presented, with far more numerous signatures by the persons more directly concerned, and that Parliament would simply refer the matter to the Postmaster-General, whose province it was, and though the subject might have been a little more protracted and party feeling still further embittered it would have ended as it really did, in the Postmaster's ultimation against the Council being final.]
Coun. Bromley repudiated the feeling which Mr. Putland seemed to entertain that there was a desire to injure the town of St. Leonards. His own feeling was simply that places should be called by their right name.
Ald. Ross did not wish to say anything particular in reply. The thing was plain enough. He could not see that if there was only a branch office at St. Leonards, that town would be at all injured [Strange motion of two professedly progressive aldermen - Ross and Ginner - that a branch office for a rapidly increasing population was better than a general office, and that by the effort of Mr. Putland to retain the advantages of a general office, he as a reformer was going back. On being put to the vote the motion was carried by 15 against 5. Out of 24 [ 146 ]members there were 21 present - namely, six aldermen, all residing in the old town and eleven of the 12 councillors, also of the old town or East Ward; whilst there were only four present of the six who represented the parishes of St. Leonards and St. Mary Magdalen of the West Ward. Even then with that great disparity of 13 to 5 there must have been one of the East-Ward men who voted with those of the West and four of the East-Ward who abstained from voting with their own party - the full strength if all had been present, being 18 to 6, a most unjust representation.]The Boundary Question. At a special meeting on Dec. 28th, the first topic was that of the "postal arrangements and other matters relating thereto". The Mayor said the meeting had been called from a requisition of nine members of the Council, and it now remained for some of the requisionists(sic) to bring forward their subject. Before they did so, however, he had to lay before them some communications. He had received a copy of the resolutions passed at a meeting at St. Leonards, accompanied by the following note:-
The Clerk then read the resolutions as they appear on pages 101 to 114 of this History. The Mayor said he had also received a communication from the St. Leonards Commissioners, with the following letter:-
Gentlemen, - We beg to enclose you a copy of the resolutions passed at a public meeting of the inhabitants and visitors of the postal district of St. Leonards-on-sea, holden yesterday. These resolutions, we believe, express the almost unanimous opinion of the district, and we earnestly hope that, under the circumstances, you will not endeavour to enforce a charge so entirely at variance with the wishes of the people. We are, gentlemen, your obedient servants,
Alfred Burton, G. H. M. Wagner, William Pain Beecham, jun, W. W. Hume, Stephen Putland"
- The Commissioners of St. Leonards deeming it proper and courteous towards you that you should be informed of the purport of a letter that I have, by their instructions, sent to the Secretary of the General Post-Office by this evening's post, I enclose you a duplicate copy of such letter, and am, dear sir, yours faithfully,
Wm. B. Young— To. Mr. J. Rock, jun. Mayor of Hastings
The Clerk then read the following copy:-
- The Commissioners for the Improvement of the town of St. Leonards have had under consideration certain resolutions and proceedings of the Town Council of Hastings at their monthly meeting on the 4th inst., having for their object to obtain an alteration in the existing postal arrangements for the district within the [ 147 ]St. Leonards delivery. These resolutions of the Town Council have been passed, without any notice to or communication with the inhabitants of the said district, who are unanimously opposed to them, and have signified their feelings to that effect by resolutions which were passed at a very large and influential meeting of all classes held at the Assembly Rooms, St. Leonards, on the 22nd instant, and a copy of which has been already sent to you for the information of his Grace the Postmaster General; and the Commissioners entirely concurring in these resolutions have directed me to signify such concurrence to you for the information of his Grace whenever this matter shall be brought under his consideration; and also to protest on their behalf in the name of the inhabitants of the town of St. Leonards against any such charges as the Hastings Town Council propose should be made in the postal arrangements at present existing in the delivery of St. Leonards - arrangements which have been in operation for twenty years and upwards, and which, in the opinion of the Commissioners are well and conveniently calculated to meet all present requirements.
I have the honour to be,
Sir, your obedient servant
Wm. B. Young,
To Rowland Hill, Esq.,
Secretary, General Post Office, London"
The Mayor also remarked that the committee appointed at the St. Leonards meeting sent him a note, requesting an interview. He met them that morning, and the matter was fully entered into, and the committee were not quite so beligerent(sic) as they appeared to be at the meeting. He thought that the opposition which the Council would meet with from them was chiefly on the ground of the postal arrangements. They said that the Council had caused a confusion in postal matters which did not exist before. They admitted that the district was in the borough of Hastings, and they had no objection to the words "Borough of Hastings" being written up close to the Archway at the other end of St. Leonards, and their wish seemed to be to leave other matters to the decision of the Postmaster-General.
Coun. Eldridge said that as he was not present on the former occasion, he should like to hear the resolutions read. He asked this, because it was said that the letter sent to the Postmaster-General was so differently worded from the resolutions that people out of doors said the resolutions must have been altered? The Clerk then read the resolutions, a copy of [ 148 ]of which had been forwarded to the Postmaster General
The Mayor thought that perhaps some of those who were present at the previous meeting did not quite know what they word doing in passing the resolution about putting up the name.
Ald. Ross did not think there had been any mistake in the minds of the Council. The resolutions passed were word for word as the Clerk had now read them.
Coun. Putland said that at the former meeting he had not so understood the resolution respecting the Post Office, and others had not understood it so. Some who were in favour of the resolution said there should be petitions sent to the Houses of Parliament, and he was not aware that the subject of a General Post-Office was part and parcel of the resolution. He, at the meeting, thought that it was only the previous resolution that should be sent.
Ald. Ross then rose for an onslaught, as it soon appeared. There had been, he said, a large meeting at St. Leonards, apparently composed principally of visitors. He did not complain of the various tradesmen in that district expressing their opinions in public, but he did complain of visitors dictating to the Council of Hastings, which he saw from the reports, they did. He saw that a Mr. Harwood spoke very strongly against Hastings, and very indignantly, too. In one part of his speech, Mr. Harwood said "in point of situation there was a wide distance between the health of Hastings and St. Leonards; there was a popular prejudice about Hastings." He (Mr. Ross) did not know anything about Mr. Harwood any further
any further than he was told that he was told(sic) that he was a manufacturer of diaries or something of that sort. He did not wish to speak of him disrespectfully on that account, but he believed he was originally known as "Penny Harwood." [If Mr. Ross had been more familiar with St. Leonards, or had only referred to its visitor lists, he would have learnt that Mr. Harwood Harwood, a frequent visitor at St. Leonards of whose education a legal knowledge many a man would be proud, occupied one of the largest mansions on the Marina, and was not "Penny Harwood, a manufacturer of diaries". Mr. Ross would, however have known a little more of Mr. Harwood when the latter had published his reply. See page ____[Notes 1]]. He (Ald. Ross) thought visitors should not come down and dictate to old inhabitants. They were very glad of visitors company [cheers], but did not want their dictation. The Town Council of Hastings were quite capable of managing their own affairs without the dictation of Mr. Harwood or any other gent. [ 149 ]Then a Mr. Davis seemed to have spoken rather facetiously and was a sort of Merry Andrew[Notes 2] to the meeting. He was told it was the same gentleman who wrote the letter in the News which the people at Hastings called the "family letter". He only hoped he would write another letter. Mr. Davis had found a peacock somewhere off by Folkestone and seemed very much pleased with it [Laughter]. Mr. Hume spoke next, and from that gentleman's long residence in Hastings [and untiring exertions for the benefit of Hastings, as will be shewn further on as well as in his memoirs in Historico-Biographies] he (Mr. Ross did think there would have been engendered in his breast a better feeling towards Hastings than he had expressed. But at all times and on all occasions Mr. Hume was the most determined opponent of the borough of Hastings. In 1855, when there was a long struggle about the cemetery, Mr. Hume came forward and opposed the Council in every shape and form. [By a reference to chapter LIV, Vol 5, it will be seen that Mr. Hume was not the great opponent over the cemetery affair, but Mr. Ross and Mr. Vidler, whose opposition tactics in "every shape and form" against such men as Mr. Scrivens, Mr. Mott, Mr. Womersley, Mr. Peerless, Mr. Putland, Mr. How, Mr. Poole and the other members of the original Burial Board, that caused the inevitable dissolution of that Board, and threw the cemetery affair into the hands of the Town Council, notwithstanding that all the parishes, save one, were favourable to a contra-course]. Mr. Hume, continued the speaker, gave out that Mr. Vidler was not acting for the public good, but that he was trying to get a cemetery that he might manufacture the leaden coffins. [If Mr. Hume really said so, it was but a retaliatory insinuation to that of Mr. Vidler's - namely, that Mr. Putland's advocacy of a site in the Magdalen parish was because he wanted to get the work of building a mile and a half of wall; and when Mr. Burchell cried shame! Mr. Vidler said "Oh, perhaps it was Mr. Burchell who wanted to get the job." The same Mr. Vidler also admitted that he had said that his house would be worth £50 a year more if the cemetery should be in his own parish. This would look as though Mr. Hume's remark was not very far from the truth.] Again, said Mr. Ross, Mr. Hume in his speech at St. Leonards, said that the Council had treated them as children, and as very scrubby children too, and their houses as dog-kennels, which they might daub over as they pleased. He thought the Council had never done anything of the kind to Mr. Hume or to anyone [ 150 ]else. They knew that they had a right as far as the Archway, and they thought it right that they should place up the name. The Council did not daub; the parties who daubed were the friends of Mr. Hume, and not of the Town Council. Mr. Hume was very anxious at all times to depreciate the Town Council. He said the Town Council had made a mistake; they had tumbled themselves ooer in the dirt - a very respectable way for a clergyman to speak. He (Mr. R.) merely made these remarks to show the animus which Mr. Hume had towards Hastings. He said that he (Mr. Ross) was fond of "Brotherhoods." So he was, and he only wished he knew more of Brotherhoods; but it was quite certain that Mr. Hume knew nothing about them. Mr. Hume further said "Let there be forgiveness, not compromise, if the Town Council would leave off daubing and they leave off rubbing out. Now it appeared they had got hold of the person who did rub out the name. Some said it must have been a very tall man or else a short man with a long brush; but now they had the gentleman's own confession [Cheers]. And now came the last and the worst of all. Mr. Hume said "If anyone in the room had a friend in Hastings, let him whisper to that friend that if the Hastings people had any regard for the welfare of Hastings, they had much better paint the inside of their own houses than the outside of theirs [Cheers and laughter]. He thought that was a most disgraceful insinuation on the part of Mr. Hume. He was quite sure that the people of Hastings kept the inside of their houses in as good a state as those in any other part of the borough, though Mr. Hume might have made that mistake because when he went down westward there was one house in Hastings which he left behind him dirtier than any other house in the borough [cheers]. A cry of "Question" was here raised, and the Mayor having asked the speaker if he was going to make a motion, said that the speaker was perfectly in order. Mr. Putland rose to say something, but the confusion was such that he could not be heard. Then, turning to Mr. Putland, the speaker said "I shall go on if you stand there for an hour. Mr. Putland said he thought in all cases the motion should come first. Referring again to Mr. Hume's remark, he said it was such as ought never to have been made by a clergyman, particularly as Mr. Hume had previously lived in Hastings so long. Ald. Ross then remarked that Mr. Beecham had said in his speech he had been in the district some years and he had always said he lived in St. Leonards, and had often swrn that he lived in St. Leonards, and others had done the same. He did not suppose that he had committed perjury. Everbody knew that almost [ 151 ] all every house had St. Leonards in the lease and deeds [Cheers]. He (Mr. Ross) had not heard, except from sources like that, that almost every house in the district had got St. Leonards in the deeds. If they had, it was principally among the clients of Mr. Beecham. He did not believe any other lawyer in the borough would put down St. Leonards. The whole of the voters this side of the Archway could be disenfranchised if any litigious person liked to do it, because Mr. Beecham had put them in St. Leonards instead of the borough of Hastings. [By the same parity of reasoning all the marriages at Mr. Hume's church would be null and void, because they were registered as at St. Mary Magdalen's, St. Leonards.] There had been a great deal of talk about the feelings of the inhabitants, but if they were to go along the whole length of the district in question, the Council would find, he believed, that they had got the majority of the holders of property in their favour. [What a mistake the Council must have made in not securing that majority before all but about five or six of the owners and occupiers had appealed to the proprietors of the two St. Leonards Visitors Lists not to have their names placed as the Town Council desired. There were three owners of property in Eversfield-place who were residents of the old town - namely Winter, Vidler and Bromley, and these were three members of the Council who, at their own sweet will were going to make Hastings of a long-existent St. Leonards. It is surmised that the Council would have had a difficulty in naming any other Hastings owners or holders of property in that district of the same way of thinking as themselves. Even a tenant or Mr. Winter's (Mrs. F. Gausden) was opposed to the views of her landlord]. It was decidedly right, continued Ald. Ross that Hastings should have a postal delivery as far as the Archway. If St. Leonards had a general post-office he had no objection to their keeping it, except that it was unjust to the country at large. [Surely "the country at large" ought to have been very grateful to the Hastings Alderman for his desire to see justice done to "the country at large"; but how does the "no objection" square with previous statements?] St. Leonards had been at a stand-still for the last ten years, during which time there had been hardly a house built along the front; the building had been on the east side of the Archway [Although Mr. Ross intended the last remark to apply to the part of St. Leonards over which the Commissioners had jurisdiction, even in that he was decidedly incorrect; for, during that period, there had been no fewer than 20 of the largest mansions erected westward of 81 Marina - viz. 72 to 78 in 1749; 79 to 82 in 1853; 89 to 91 in 1857; 128 and 129 in 1853; and 130 to 133 in 1855. A little latitude is allowed for exaggerated statements during the warmth [ 152 ]of debate and whilst endeavouring to make the best of a case, but History demands accuracy; hence the present interpolations and annotations by way of correction. In that same "standstill" decade were build Batstones six houses near the Archery Gardens, Lady Boothby's house at the Uplands, Dr. Harwood's houses at Upland Views, Smiths 14 houses at Stanhope place, Mann's houses at Mercatoria and a number of other houses at West Hill, The Lawn, Upper Maze-hill, &c. all northward or, and outside of the said Commissioners' boundary, but dependent on the said Commissioners for the purpose of drainage and some other matters. Dr. Harwood, when he sank a well for his houses first got the consent of Mr. Eversfield and Mr. Deudney, and then consulted the St. Leonards Commissioners, but not the Hastings Town Council. Lady Boothby, Mr. Batstone and Mr. Decimus Burton applied to the Commissioners, although outside of their jurisdiction, for permission to drain into their sewers and the request was granted; and although after the Health of Towns Act included Stanhope place, and the owner had to pay rates to the Local Board, when he applied to that Board for his houses to be drained, he was told that if he chose to build where there was no provision fr drainage he must take the consequences]. Continuing his speech, Ald. Ross said - In 1852 the Council purchased the whole of the whole of the Grand parade right up to the Archway, a length of about 3,898 feet, and paid for the esplanade alone £260, and for the sea-wall £695, besides the purchase of groynes, law expenses, &c. [This was not the way of properly putting it. In 1851 the Committee appointed to meet Mr. Deudney, as Mr. Eversfield's agent, reported that that gentleman was willing to give up all his rights and title to the parade, groynes, iron rails, lamp-posts &c. between Carlisle parade and the Archway for the value of the iron-work (Mr. Eversfield's offer having been accepted), but their valuation amounted to only £261. 11s. 9d., out of which Mr. Eversfield had to pay £25 for his share of the appraisement. All that Mr. Eversfield obtained for what must have cost many thousands of pounds was £236.11s.9d. True, there were breaches in the parade wall which the Council afterwards repaired, and there were certain improvements which the Council effected, but the inhabitants of the district contributed largely to the borough fund, which covered the expenses of the east as well as the west.] Ald. Ross [ 153 ]further argued that the disputed district was now the finest frontage in the Kingdom, and St. Leonards wanted to take it away from them. The Council had purchased it and paid their money; they had thoroughly drained it and lighted it; and it was Hastings to all intents and purposes, and all the talking in the world would not alter it. St. Leonards contained a population of about 2,000, and now they wanted to come through the Archway which Mr. Burton himself had put up. What business on earth had St. Leonards on the east side of the Archway? Did they say the Council had treated them scurrilously? They were treating the Council most infamously. It could not be altered without an Act of Parliament and if the St. Leonards people were to bring one in, the town of Hastings must be quite prepared to fight them on that front. The Council has laid out about £4,000 in that district and now St. Leonards came through the Archway and said "You have made a first-rate place of it, and now you must give it up to us" and as your Act of Parliament, we will drag our Act through the Archway and kick yours up to Verulam place Buildings" [St. Leonards, in again joining issue might have used almost the identical words of the irate alderman, but with an inverse application and truer meaning. Mr. Burton's St Leonards - apart from the People's St. Leonards - might say. We are in the Borough of Hastings as is the town of Hastings, but we oppose Hastings on the present occasion because Hastings is trying its utmost to deprive us of the post-office which we have always possessed in a lawful manner; and in this defence of our long-cherished right, we hope to defeat you as we did a few years ago. The boundary question is one which more concerns those whose property or residence is eastwards of the Archway; although we sympathise with them, as they mostly sympathised with us when you endeavoured to force upon us an Act of Parliament which we did not need - one which would have placed us at your mercy, and one under which you now illegally claim to take from our immediate neibours(sic) a name which with our consent and your own impotence to debar, they conveniently appropriated. St. Leonards of the outbound might have said "We are also in the Borough of Hastings, and although we assisted Hastings in procuring an Act of Parliament for sanitary purposes, and were willing to place ourselves under the control of a united Board for the operation of that Act, we did not contemplate a change of name, nor does the Act provide for such. But now an unrighteous attempt is suddenly sprung upon to deprive us of our name and [ 154 ]post-office as well. To paraphrase the words of Ald. Ross "It could not not be altered without an Act of Parliament, and if Hastings should bring in one, St. Leonards must be prepared (and is prepared) to fight them on that point". Hastings says "You have made a first-rate place of it, and now you must give it up to us." Certain property was bought from Mr. Eversfield, and although that gentleman had no authority to sell the name of the district and did not sell it, he gave over for a small sum all the parade and groynes from Carlisle parade to the Archway. And then, again, although the purchase was effected by the Hastings and St. Leonards Councillors with Hastings and St. Leonards money the name of the district was St. Leonards "to all intents and purposes, and all the talking in the world would not alter it!"] The postal district (said Mr. Ross) did not extend to Verulam place till a visitor, whose letter was delayed, asked the Postmaster-General to alter the arrangement, and then another slice was given to St. Leonards. If some old dowager lady, living at White-rock place, were to ask to have that place given to St. Leonards it would be done. Then they would very soon be shut up in All Saints and St. Leonards. There was a great agitation at St. Leonards, and the people there were doing their utmost; but the Council was doing nothing, and if they did not bestir themselves it would be with them according to the old adage, they would lock the stable after the horse was gone. He moved that a deputation of three be sent to the Postmaster-General, to hold a personal conference with him on the subject. If this should fail, some other steps must be adopted; because he had heard that a certain person was going to speak to a certain lady, and she would speak to a certain lord (Laughter). If this affair should be carried on in the back-stairs way in which business was sometimes done at St. Leonards, she might triumph, as she had before [Cheers].
Coun. Harvey (the eccentric member, who at one of the Council meetings expressed his belief that Mr. Ross would cut his throat if it were not for the protection of the law) now said he thought great praise was due to Mr. Ross, which was very characteristic of the whole of his doings when he was Mayor. He (Mr. Harvey) was always proud to record his feelings with respect to Mr. Ross's conduct when Mayor. He thought, however that the resolutions at the previous meeting were not quite so well considered as they might have been, but the more the subject was thought over, the stronger they must feel their position as a Council and the injustice of [ 155 ]the people of St. Leonards. No part of the district could possibly be called St. Leonards. The St. Leonards people had attempted to impinge upon them, and he would cordially second the proposition (Loud cheers). [This short, but incisive speech, so complimentary to the ex-Mayor, must have been gratifying to Ald. Ross, although coming from one of whom the said Mr. Ross had expressed great contempt, and was surprised that such a man as Harvey should be allowed to sit in the Council.]
Coun. Eldridge next spoke, and said, if he had been present at the last meeting, he should have made an attempt to prevent anything which would interfere with the St. Leonards post-office. As that was a separate town, incorporated by Act of Parliament, it was not under the control of the Council, and it was very much out of place for them to interfere with it (cheers). If they had proposed a plan for a general post-office for all which they claimed as Hastings, there would not have so much hubbub. They had acted immaturely and imperiously. The people who were the most interested in the matter ought to have been first consulted (cheers). Had he been present he might have advised a meeting of the ratepayers and owners of property in the district between Verulam buildings and the Archway (cheers). He wished to say it in good humour, but at that very moment, that part of the town was unrepresented. The West Ward Councillors wanted to be put in a position to act for that property. They could not call upon the township of St. Leonards to help them, and could only look to Hastings for what ought to be justice. All politics should be left out of the question. They were sent there as public servants of the ratepayers, to guard their interests, and to see that the money was spent judiciously; and when any Councilor introduced politics to the injury of the ratepayers, he ought to be asked to resign his seat. If the Council meant to carry out their resolution, let them leave the township
alone of St. Leonards alone. The post-office was very important to them, having close to it a large hotel that was visited by some of the highest families of nobility in the land. It was very much out of order to seek to dictate to them, while the Council had nothing whatever to do with their government. He wanted to see the two wards in harmonious union. Whenever improvements in the East Ward had been suggested, no objection was ever raised by the West Ward; but he was sorry to be obliged to say that when any beneficial measure was mooted for that "No Mans-Land" there was [ 156 ]generally a great opposition to it by the East Ward (Name the time!) He would give them a case in point. Though that district produced so much gold towards the expenses of the borough, the pathway opposite Warrior square was left in a disgraceful state, year after year, till he brought the matter before the Council and got a kerb laid down. He had asked for a pavement to be laid there, but there was a great opposition to it, and ladies frequently spoilt their dresses in consequence of its not having been done. Whenever a pavement had been wanted in the East Ward the West Ward Councillors had never opposed it. He next referred to a piece of ground leading from the Norman Hotel to the side of Warrior square where the excavations made by Mr. Moreing caused it to be dangerous. [The Mayor thought that had nothing to do with the question before the meeting, but Mr. Eldridge, before he moved a resolution, wanted to show that the Local Board of Health were less attentive to the needs of that district known as St. Leonards over which they had sanitary control than they were to any other part of the borough. He might have strengthened his position by a reference to the refusal of the Council to put down a pavement in front of 14 Grand parade, by Mr. Hempsted offering to pay the customary proportion of the expense; also to their refusal to grant the request of the committee of the St. Leonards Mechanics Institution. It was at a Council meeting on the 11th of July, 1854, that the said Institution applied to the Local Board to put down a pavement at 40 Norman road in consideration of it being a public building. On that occasion Coun. Bromley moved that the application be rejected, Coun. Williams said that as the Institution belonged to St. Leonards, although outside of the Commissioners boundary, let them be asked to do the paving. Ald. Rock - more considerate - thought they might have the front of the house on the same principle as that on which they had acted in the case of the Infirmary; and Coun. Ross, although admitting that they could not spend money on a more commendable object, still, he should vote against it]. With respect to the question now being agitated, Coun. Eldridge moved that the opinion of owners and occupiers betwen the Archway and White Rock be taken at a public meeting. Coun. Winter said they could not call a public meeting. Coun. Winter said they could not call a public meeting. Coun. T. B. Williams did not see why they should consult them at all; as that district belonged to Hastings.
Coun. Putland was very sorry to have to rise. He regarded the business as a very unfortunate one, especially at that season, when they wanted to be in harmony, instead of which they were all at sixes and sevens, and nothing was talked of from morning till night but the doings of the Council. Never, since he had had a sat in the Coun[ 157 ]cil. He then explained his motive for rising, when Mr. Ross was speaking. He merely wanted to know what the resolution was to be, so that he might be prepared, but this was denied him. He thought that ought to be known at first, in case an amendment should be moved. He believed that in the House of Commons the motion was always known whilst the mover was speaking upon it. As regarded Mr. Ross's remarks bout visitors being at the St. Leonards public meeting, Mr. Putland would admit that there were a few interested visitors, probably about one in twenty. The body of the room seemed to be filled with tradesmen, although at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, it was one of the largest meetings of the kind he had ever seen in the borough. It was called by placard, and he thought on such a question the visitors ought to have had the opportunity of giving their ay anyway. The Council had acted with great precipitation and without consulting the people - both residents and visitors - whom it most concerned, which conduct was looked upon as a sort of Russianism (Cheers and Laughter). It had been stated that the resolutions passed at the previous meeting were in consequence of difficulties experienced by people getting their letters; and it was therefore thought that there was no better way of ascertaining the truth than by inviting visitors as well as residents to a public meeting. With respect to Mr. Beecham's statement at that meeting concerning the name of St. Leonards being inserted in legal documents, he (Mr. Putland) could say that by far the greater portion of such documents were worded with the name of "St Leonards-on-sea, in the parish of St. Mary Magdalen, in the Borough of Hastings". (Mr. Vidler here held up a document in which he said that the district was called Hastings, but he did not state that it was called the town of Hastings). Mr. Putland would admit that there might be isolated cases to the contrary, but it was a general rule for the writings of property east of the Archway to be made out as he had stated. There was no one who objected to the fact of his being in the Borough of Hastings, but the town of Hastings was a different thing; and he must say that the present dispute was an unfortunate event. There had been no single proof of the necessity of such a step. He had not heard in what way any, part of the borough was to be benefitted by it, and yet the inhabitants were to be thrown into dire confusion. He next referred to the Act of Parliment which in 1836 authorised the "St. Leonards and Sedlescomb Turnpike" which commenced from the Saxon Hotel at the bottom of London road; and he contended that the Town Council had [ 158 ]no right to put up Hastings on that hotel and other houses in London Road. When the buildings east of the Archway were first put up, Hastings did not claim them; it could not even claim the old Priory; and at one time, it only embraced the eastern parishes. Hastings could not have claimed the now coveted district, and when [in after years] an attempt was made to get for it a "West Hastings" Act, he opposed, and was very glad he had done so. That district was a great boon to Hastings. By its rating and other sources wealth was streaming into Hastings; then why should the Council inflict an injury upon it, by insisting on a change which the inhabitants did not wish and the visitors - by whom they lived - did not wish? The action of the Council in this case was un-English; for, nothing was done by the English Government without in some way consulting those who were interested. To act otherwise would be the rule of a despotic Government; and he did not remember any act of the Council so despotic as this. He had spoken to almost everyone in the district on the subject, and had only found two persons who were in favour of the resolution of the Council. There might ve a score, but he did not believe that so many could be found in the whole of the district. For the last 25 years they had been known as living in St. Leonards. In 1851 the Hastings Act had no control over that district, and the Board of Health only embraced it as a district, there being nothing in that Act which gave the Council power to change a name. Lawyers agreed in that, and they all knew that it was mostly the business of lawyers to disagree. They (the Council) might as well go over to Winchelsea and write up Hastings on that part of it which belonged to the borough (Cheers, and shouts of "No, No", "Ridiculous", "You are laying it on too thick!"). Anyway, he supposed he should be quite in order in saying that they might as well write up Hastings at the St. Leonards Archery Ground. (Ald. Ross, "Quite So!") He next referred to the St. Leonards park, the St. Leonards Schools, the St. Leonards Mechanics' Institution, the St. Leonards Wesleyan Chapel, the St. Leonards Railway station, &c., as being in the district claimed as being in the town of Hastings. He could bear out Mr. Eldridge's remark that the West Ward Councillors were always ready to support improvements in the East Ward, but he intimated, that the great preponderance of numbers in the latter enabled them to cary anything they intended against the former; hence their present action. When, at the previous meeting, he heard Ald. Ginner say that about £4,000 out of £15,000 had be(sic) spent on that district, it became him to reply that the West Ward [ 159 ]was more than equal to the East Ward in its payments to the Borough fund, and not quite equal in its contributions to the Local Board, which latter had only spent about £4,000 in the West Ward, but from £15,000 to £17,000 in the whole borough. The Public Health Act gave them the power of dividing the borough into districts, each of which might be made to pay for its own drainage, but when the Act was adopted, he (Mr. P.) said "No" to the proposal for such division; "Let it all go into one, so that the light parts may help pay for the heavier ones. What he wanted was that all should have fair play (cheers). But they did not get it, the West Ward Councillors being always in a minority in consequence of its having only six members, whilst the East Ward had twelve [even without the Aldermen]. He again referred to the resolution of the Council to get Post-Office removed, and repeated his previous question "What possible advantage could it be to either town? A general post-office was a great boon, and why should St. Leonards be deprived of it? These were not times for centralization and tyrannization(sic) (cheers and ironic laughter), but for an extension of the suffrage and other privileges. The Council should let the post office alone, and they should not smear up Hastings on the St. Leonards houses (cheers). They were doing St. Leonards an injury without doing themselves any good. They were setting the East against the West and the West against the East. He had been taunted in the Hall with having called the St. Leonards public meeting, but he would say that almost to a man, the people were opposed to the action of the Council and claimed a right to have been consulted. They would contest the subject at every point, knowing as they did, that the Council had no authority for writing up the word Hastings. It was, as he had said before, an act of despotism. He would at all times submit to the voice of the people, and would second Mr. Eldridge's amendment.
Coun. Vidler said that at the meeting Mr. Hume tried to make him look very little. Well, he was little enough, God knew and Mr. Hume was a very tall man. He thought though he got the better of Mr. Hume on a previous occasion in the Borough Cemetery question. Mr. Vidler then referred to Mr. Beecham's remarks on the name of St. Leonards being put in legal documents, and produced a document respecting ground on which the Messrs. Tre built some houses. The Town Clerk read a portion in which the locality was described as being "in the parish of St. Mary Magdalen, in the borough of Hastings" [So much, chimed in Mr. Winter for the legal part of the question, as though the document controverted what Mr. Beecham and [ 160 ]Mr. Putland had said, but it did nothing of the sort; and Mr. Winter must have been wanting his usual acumen not to have seen that it told more in favour of those gentlemen's statements than against them, which were to the effect that in those deeds where St. Leonards was not written, the words were "In St. Mary Magdalen, in the borough of Hastings" the very words produced by Mr. Vidler in a triumphant tone to prove his case. There was no denying that the territory was in the borough of Hastings, and the committee appointed by the inhabitants had honourably consented to "Borough of Hastings" being placed immediately under St. Leonards. It was the town of Hastings that the Council intended the word Hastings to represent, and it was that, together with the abolition of the St. Leonards post-office, which the inhabitants and visitors were determined not to consent to]. Mr. Vidler continued his speech, and said, Hastings did not like to be cut down by little St. Leonards. It was the name of Hastings that was to be adored. Might he put up Hastings on his own house? Yes! replied Mr. Putland. "Then I will. We will have it Hastings, and it shall' be Hastings"
Ald. Ross, in the course of his reply, said he thought Mr. Putland had never come out with so much thunder, but it was a good job there was no thunder-bolt with it. Nothing, however that had been said affected the question. The Council did not with to take away the St. Leonards post-office [Oh, Oh!], but why should St. Leonards come and take away the best part of Hastings, where the late Mr. Burton and his ladies would not visit? The Mayor said that Mr. Burton had denied this last assertion. Ald. Ross believed what he had said was correct. He knew as much about St. Leonards as most people. He put the first brush of paint on St. Leonards [In a residence of 23 years at Hastings and 60 at St. Leonards, the first 18 of which latter the present writer had passed when Mr. Ross was speaking, the said writer was in the best possible position to prove that the Burton family not only visited Hastings, but also made purchases there, of which their own tradesmen sometimes complained]. After some desultory discussion by Messrs. Ross and Putland, and the Clerk's expression of doubt as to whether the expenses of the Mayor, Ald. Ross and Ald. Hayles as a deputation to the Postmaster-General could be legally paid
by the town out of the public fund, Mr. Ross's motion was carried by 10 to 4. The Hall was nearly filled with people from both wards, who frequently gave vent to their feelings with cheers, hisses and laughter.
The further consideration of this highly-wrought dispute will be found in chapters LIX and LX. for the year 1858. More details have been given of the affair than of any other subject (not omitting even the [ 161 ]accrimonious(sic) and prolonged contentions over the drainage and the cemetery), because of its importance, and also for the reason that at the time of writing - forty years after the event - there is probably, not one in a hundred of the local population who is acquainted with the real merits of the case and the inevitable issue. I now turn to other proceedings of the Town Council for 1857.
At the Council meeting on the 6th of February, a letter was received from the Rev. Thos Nightingale, soliciting aid for the Mendicity Society which had diminished vagrancy and rendered assistance to the police. The Clerk said there was certainly a much less sum then paid for the maintenance of vagrants by their not assembling at the police-station so much as formerly and there having to be lodged for the night and fed in the morning; yet to give money from the borough funds to the society would not be legal. Coun. Harvey said a similar application had been made to the Guardians, but they had no authority to dispense charity other than by means of the poor-rates. It was therefore resolved that the Council approved of the Society's operations, but had no funds by which they could assist.
At the same meeting (Feb. 6th) it was ordered that Mr. J. Putland drain the surface of the Cemetery with 5 inch pipes at a cost of £150.
Objections to Expenses At the meeting on June 6th, the Finance Committee having recommended of £660 on the Burial Board account, in which there was an item of £77 for books, Coun. Picknell asked who ordered them? The Mayor (T. Ross) said all the books were requisite. There were three sets; one kept at Mr. Carpenter's, one at the Clerk's office and one at the Cemetery. Coun. Harvey considered that they ought not to have gone to such an expense for the register of burials, such register not being of use to the public, and not standing good in a court of law. It frequently came before him, in his capacity as Registrar of Deaths, that even a church register of burials would not be admitted in a court of justice. It was their duty to curtail their expenses as much as possible. There had been double and treble the number of books required since the passing of the Act, and to pay £77 for these particular books was enormous. He also objected to a bill of £68 for shrubs, and another of £40 for shrubs to be planted in the ground. There was also an extravagant bill of £8 for grass seeds. He could understand [ 162 ]their desire to make the place look beautiful for the dead, but such expenses showed that they ought to be more careful of the public money. He supposed that the orders were given by the Committee; and if so, they ought to be divested of that power, and the work done by the whole body.
Other Wants At the April meeting, the Burial Board Committee having recommended the construction of 12 seats, a tool-truck on wheels and a galvanised cover for the pump at the Cemetry, Coun. Bromley suggested a less number of seats and more conveniently made. It was therefore resolved that six seats, with backs and arms be tendered for. Coun. Harvey did not consider the tools truck at all necessary, but it was agreed that it would be greatly the means of saving labour, and it was therefore consented to. Mr. Dennetts tender of £5.14s for an iron roller was accepted on the 3rd of July.
Appointment of Chaplain. At the same meeting (July 3rd) it was resolved to pay the Rev. T. Nightingale, as chaplain of the Cemetery, £35 for the year ending January, 1858, and 3s. to dissenting ministers for each interment.
At the meeting on Jan 2nd, it was resolved to invite tenders by advertisement for drainage divisions Band B. Also for the Surveyor to receive £50 for special services in getting out the quantities, and 21s. from each party tendering for the work. The tenders received for the B and C drainage were £7,344 from Bennett and Holdsworth, Pimlico; £8,548 from John Howell, Grand parade; £7,787 from Hughes and Hunter, St. Leonards; and from seven other firms ranging from £9,790 to £11,997. The tender of Hughes and Hunter was accepted whilst that of Mr. George Mundy was the contractor for division A at £9,928. (See page 163 for breach of contract).
Satisfactory Progress. At the beginning of July, the B and C divisions of the drainage works were in a satisfactory course of execution, and the contractors were praised for the excellent quality of the bricks used and which were made at their own works.
Mr. Munday's Workmen engaged in the A division of drainage gave much satisfaction by their orderly conduct that a supper was given them by means of a subscription headed by the Mayor and suggested by Coun. Bromley. It was given on the 23rd of February, and was in all respects a late dinner.
At the monthly meeting on January 2nd, a district rate was passed at 7d. in the £, the same being confirmed at the next meeting. A boro' rate at 3½d. was also agreed to on March 6th. A general district rate at 9d. in the £ was made on July 3rd for the current half year. [ 163 ]Breach of Contract. The tender first accepted was not that of Messrs. Hughes and Hunter, but that of Bennett and Holdsworth, as being the lowest. At the meeting on March 6th, a letter was received from that firm declining to undertake the work. The tender of Messrs. Hughes and Hunter being the next lowest, with Mr. James Smith and Mr. William Booth as sureties, the contract was given to them. Coun. H. N. Williams thought there ought to be some notice taken of the objector's conduct in having sent in a tender, and then stating in such an offhand manner they could not take the contract. He could not allow a public body to be thus treated without expressing his disgust. Coun. Bromley also agreed to a censure of the parties. The total amount of the drainage contracts was £15,796, and the extras were estimated at a few hundred only.
A New Town Clerk. A special meeting was held on the 28th of August, when Mr. Robert Growse was elected to the offices of Coroner, Town Clerk and Clerk to the Board of Health. In introducing the business the Mayor remarked that the subject which had called them together was a very painful one. In the late Mr. Shorter, the borough had had a most faithful and useful officer. If there was anything wrong in the borough no one felt more strongly on the matter than Mr. Shorter. He (the Mayor) had sat in the Council for the last 16 years, and had seen some very stormy debates, but amidst all he had never known the late Town Clerk swerve from his duty to the borough. Mr. Growse (who had been Deputy-Coroner during Mr. Shorter's illness) was proposed by Ald. Clement and seconded by Councillor Harvey. Coun. Eldridge said it afforded him great satisfaction that they had found a man in the borough who could take the place. The last time they appointed a public officer, they went out of the borough for him, and he hoped they were thoroughly ashamed of it. A long but friendly discussion then followed on the appointment to the other offices, together with the salary that should be given; and it was ultimately decided that Mr. Growse should receive £120 as Town Clerk, £15 as Clerk to the Board of Health and £30 as Clerk to the Burial Board. Also that the Deputy-Judgeship, for which theretofore £8 had been paid, should be merged into that of the Town Clerk without salary; as although the said Court had to a great extent been superseded by the County Court, it could not be abolished, notwithstanding that no case had been tried in it for 45 years. [This would take the active existence of the Court back to 1812.] No extras were to be charged by Mr. Growse, except for moneys paid out of pocket. [ 164 ]Rock Fair. At the monthly meeting on the 4th of September, Coun. Putland referred to Middleton's theatre
show and a bazaar remaining on the Rock-Fair ground after the fair had ceased, and wished to know whether, as a Council, they had any control over such things? The Mayor said the parties had asked his permission, and he had granted it, although it was rather a matter of form. They did not object to circuses coming here, and he, for one, should be sorry to interfere with the pleasures of the people. - The Clerk being appealed to, said that as the performance was on private ground, the Council could not proceed against them for acting without a license, if they did so.
The Russian Gun. At the monthly meeting on the 2nd of October, the Mayor said that the war trophy which he had applied for was now ready, and it for the Council to say by what conveyance it should be brought. Ald. Clement thought that if a proper application were made to the S. E. Railway Company, they would bring it free. An account of the application, response, and other particulars will be found at another place, under the heading of "A Trophy of the late War".
Brotherhood and Guestling. At the same meeting (Oct 2nd) the Mayor (Ald. Ross) said he stood before them at that time in the capacity of speaker of the Cinque Ports, and it was his duty to write to the other ports and two Ancient Towns to ask if it was their wish to hold a brotherhood or Guestling this year? He found that Mr. North attended the last meeting, and that the ports had then in hand a sum of about £160. The Clerk of the Ports held the keys of the chest at Romney, and that chest
held contained valuable records. These matters ought to be looked into, and he wished to know whether the Council had any objection to his sending a letter to the Ports as usual. Ald. Ginner was sure the Council could have no objection. The ancient duties of the Ports had gone from them, but they still had some privileges, among which was exemption from impressment and from being drawn to serve in the Militia. All the while they had privileges they were bound to send circulars to know if a meeting of the Ports was desirable. - It was unanimously agreed that the Mayor should write accordingly. At a special meeting on the 23rd of Oct., the Mayor said the Brotherhood and Guestling was fixed to take place at 11 o'clock on Thursday, Oct. 29th at New Romney, and the the Council was now called upon to name the barons and combarons, consisting of the Mayor, two barons and two combarons from each Port. Everyone who went would have to pay his own expenses. Ald. Ginner said he thought it was not so; for, by looking at the Local Act, he found that al the privileges of the Ports were reserved, and he thought it was not likely that in [ 165 ]former days the men who attended such meetings had to pay their own expenses. Ald. Rock moved that the two aldermen who had passed the chair (Ginner and Ticehurst) be sent as barons. It being made known that Ald. Ticehurst had lost his assistant and could not leave home, Coun. Wrenn proposed Ald. Rock as the next in seniority in the place of Ald. Ticehurst. Then followed a good deal of discussion as to who should be the two combarons, the honour be declined by one after another; but, ultimately it was decided that Councillors Putland and Emary should attend as such, and at their own expense; but that mace-bearers expenses - not to exceed £5 - should be paid from the borough fund (see pages ___[Notes 3] for account of the investing at Romney).
The Ash Yard. This was held by the Local Board on lease, and the Countess of Waldegrave having offered to sell the same for £300, the offer was accepted at the meeting on Oct. 2nd. It was also agreed to purchase another piece of land adjoining the Ash-yard for £200. The situation was in St. Andrew's parish, close to the railway arch.
Election of Mayor - At the quarterly meeting of the Council on the 9th of November, Ald. Ginner, in proposing Ald. Rock as Mayor, remarked that this gentleman was known far and wide beyond the limits of the borough and even the county, on account of the intelligence and artistic skill which he had displayed in his business. His name had been thus spread farther, probably than that of any previous mayor. He had obtained prize medals for his carriages both in the London and Paris Exhibitions. Hastings was not a manufacturing town and it was therefore seldom that they could place in office a gentleman whose manufactured articles were so highly appreciated. He
believed believed that Al.d Rock would exhibit as Mayor all the energy and ability that he had shown in his extensive business. In a similar strain of eulogy Coun. Putland seconded the motion, and the elction was entirely unanimous. The Mayor-Elect said he felt very diffident after the manner in which his name had been received, as to his ability to fulfil that important office, but he should have felt even more diffident had he not believed that he should have the assistance of the retiring Mayor who had so ably filled the office before him. He thanked the Council for their unanimous vote. On the the(sic) motion of Coun. Bromley, the ex-Mayor (Ald. Ross) was thanked for the efficiency with which he had discharged the duties of the office. The Mayor's banquet was held in the evening, for which see "Public Dinners" page [ 166 ]Roads, Pavements, &c.. At the February monthly meeting, on the motion of Coun. Putland, the Committee's recommendation was adopted to put down a kerb on the south side of Warrior square at an estimated cost of £33 10s. 6d. Coun. Bromley remarked that the footway there was greatly inconvenient, but it was hard that the town should be called upon to lay down a kerb where there would never be any houses built to pay for it, the conveyance of the ground being such as to prevent that. But he could hardly see the necessity of a kerb and nothing else.
At the August meeting, it was resolved to make the Castle street footpath 18 inches wider. It would be even then narrower than was required.
An application for a new shop in front of 56 George street was made by and granted to Mr. John Bevins, he giving up 18 inches at one end and 8 inches at the other.
At the meeting on the 2nd of January, it was resolved to lay down footpaths or crossing on the east and west sides of Warrior square at an estimated cost of £44.
On the 6th of February, leave was granted to alter the frontage of 71 High street, and at the same time, it was resolved not to adopt the St. Leonards park road. It was also agreed to widen the pavement in front of the Bourne street chapel.
Toll-bars and Gates. - On the 6th of February, Coun. Putland said they were all aware that the Board spent a large sum of money in repairing the roads between the town and the Hastings toll-gate, where there was a side bar which only took toll between Hastings and the Barrack ground. Financially, it was of no use to the trustees, who hardly got a shilling a year by it, whilst it was a preventive to the convenience of the inhabitants. They only sometimes caught a visitor or professional man who wished to return by the other road. It was a hardship, after the town spending so much money on the road for people to be obliged to go up the Castle road or the road past Mr. Robertson's to get out of the way of this side-bar. He therefore moved that the trustees of the Flimwell and Hastings Turnpike be asked to remove that bar - carried. The next motice on the agenda was to apply to the trustees of the £St. Leonards and Sedlescomb" and "Hollington and Hastings" Turnpike roads to remove some of their gates and to alter their systems of taking tolls. This, said Mr. Putland, was a more complicated matter and a greater source of annoyance. We had three railways and three turnpikes into Hastings, both of them being what the ought not to be. The gates were those of the Magdalen, the Old Tower, and the St. Leonards Green, all of which were in the borough of Hastings. Two of the roads crossed each other, and therefore [ 167 ]two cross gates were used, thus making five altogether. If one were put near the Tivoli Tavern, just where the roads crossed, one house might collect all the tolls right and left so that no person could get into the country without paying toll. But at present the tolls were a great annoyance to visitors, who did not know that if they went out one way, and came back another they would have two tolls to pay. If, as Ald. Clement suggested, they had a gate each side of the Tivoli, that would necessitate two collections, but that would be better than five. Something ought to be done to give at least greater facilities for visitors getting into the country. Although they had no control over the trustees, they could petition that the gates be removed out of the district. - Ald. Rock was very glad that Mr. Putland had brought up the subject. He was inclined to go further than Mr. Putland, and appoint a committee. At Tunbridge Wells, some time ago, they got all the gates pushed back some distance from the town. He moved that a committee. The said committee ultimately being appointed, consisted of Messrs. Ross, Rock, Clement, Duke, Bromley, Putland and Wrenn.
Lamps Whatever else might be achieved respecting the turnpike gates, a proposition was made to place a lamp between the Magdalen gate and the Tower gate, which would now mean about the centre of Tower road. No additional lamps, however were to be placed in Norman road, which then and for 40 years since, was and has been one of the worst lighted streets in the borough; but
An Extra Policeman was put on for the West Ward, which would include Norman road, thus causing the inhabitiants thereat cause to be thankful for small mercies.
Financial Matters. On the 2nd of January, the offer of Shorter and Phillips to lend £1,00 at 5 per cent. was accepted. On Feb. 6th, an offer of £400 loan for waterworks extension accepted. On March 6th, it was resolved to sell out £2,500 Exchequer bills. On April 3rd, the Finance Committee having recommended advertising for £9,000, Ald. Ginner said that in such matters they had gone on from bad to worse. Their mode of repayments was objectionable; people did not like their money back in small sums. The Clerk suggested that as they had already borrowed £6,500 they were only empowered to borrow £6,500 more. On May 1st, the offer of £9,000 at 5 per cent. by the General Unity Endowment Association, to be repaid in 30 years was accepted. The offer of a loan of £4,000
for at 5 per cent from the London and County Bank was accepted on July 3rd. It was ordered that on August 7th that the Treasurer have full power to accept the £9,000 loan, and that a cheque for £79 10s. 8d. as expenses for negotiating the loan and engrossing mortgage deeds be given. Resolved at the same time that £500 on the old Hastings Improvement [ 168 ]Act be paid off; also to be paid off the £4,500 advanced by the London and County Bank; also that £3,000 be placed in the London & County Bank.
Reappointment of Treasurer. On the 3rd of July, the Finance Committee recommended that in consequence of the stoppage of the Bank, the Treasurer, Mr. Frank Bennetts be requested to find two fresh sureties. A letter was also received from Mr. Bennetts, stating that he was prepared with them. (These afterwards were proved to be Mr. James Emary and Mr. Abel Shirleys.) Hereupon a discussion ensued as to the propriety of having a fresh treasurer, but it was urged by most of the Council that a well-tried and faithful servant ought not to be dismissed on account of the failure of his sureties, and it was ultimately decided by 14 to 3, that Mr. Bennetts should remain Treasurer at a salary of £35 a year, and he provide sureties for £2,000 as before. At the Council meeting on Dec. 4th, it was resolved on the motion of Ald. Clement, seconded by Ald. Ross, that the Treasurer receive an additional £5 for the Burial-Board a/cs, and addditional sums of £5 for Municipal and Local Board, respectively, thus raising his salary from £35 to £50. It was stated by Messrs. Ross and Bromley that they were greatly surprised at the work Mr. Bennetts had been doing for so small a sum as £35. - (See memoirs of Mr. Bennetts in Historico-Biographies of Local Worthies Vol ).
Water-Works. The offer of a loan of £400 for the Water-works extension was accepted at the February meeting. Agreeably to the recommendation of the Water Committee on the 3rd of April, it was decided to engage Mr. Thomas Mann, of St. Leonards, as engineer, at a salary of 25s. a week. At the time of writing this, in 1899, Mr. Mann is living in retired affluence which he has enjoyed for many years. In the month of June, the Water-works manager, Mr. Hide tendered his resignation and afterwards committed suicide, for account of which see "Inquests". At the July meeting of the Council, Mr. Hide's resignation was accepted and Mr. Pierce was appointed to fill the vacancy at a salary of £75. At a later period he also resigned the situation in consequence of financial embarrasments, which was not the case with Mr. Hide. From the 24th of June the water-rate was raised from 6d. to 1/- in the £ and the collector's salary was raised to 3½ per cent. At the meeting on August 7th, Mr. Penny reported the completion of the new water works and a bountiful supply of good water.
Capstans. - On the 6th of February, two new capstans and twelve new bars were ordered to be provided. At the next meeting, Messrs. Winter and Sons' tender of £27 for the capstans and bars was accepted - a price from which [ 169 ]some persons thought no profit could be derived. At the meeting on the 3rd. of April, it was resolved to place the capstans belonging to Messrs. How and Putland under the same control as the others, and whilst discussing the matter of capstans, it occurred to Coun. Bromley that the one at the slipway at Eversfield place was very inconvenient, and he would ask the Pierwarden if it could not be placed lower down? A conversation followed, and it was agreed to refer the matter to the Stone-beach Committee. This was the position of a capstan for chalk-sloops and other seagoing craft scores of years before Eversfield place and parade were thought of.
Appointment of Clerk of the Peace. At the Council meeting on the 1st of May, in the place of Mr. T. B. Baker, deceased, there were three candidates for the office - namely; Mr. W. P. Beecham, of St. Leonards, proposed by Coun. Putland and seconded by Coun. Neve; Mr. T. P. Langham, of Hastings, proposed by Coun. Harvey and seconded by Ald. Ginner; and Mr. G. S. Butter of Rye, proposed by Ald. Clement and seconded by Coun. Vidler. On a show of hands there were 2 for Beecham, 4 for Langham and 10 for Butter. This result, it was said by out-of-council people who professed to know, had been privately arranged.
Inquests and Particular Deaths
Mr. T. B. Baker (who is mentioned above as having died), quitted life on the 12th of April, 1857, at the age of 57 years and was consequently born in the first year of the present century, as were several Hastings inhabitants whom I have `known and some of whose names have necessarily appeared in the memoirs of which they have been the subjects. Mr. Baker had practiced in Hastings as a solicitor for about 35 years. He had previously practiced at the King's Bench and was admitted as an attorney at the Hastings Court of Record on the first of May, 1823, the Court being then temporarily held at Mr. Wilward's residence during the rebuilding of the Town Hall in High street. He was probably a grandson of Thomas Baker whose daughter Philadelphia Baker was married in 1754 to Dan Groombridge at St. Margaret's Church, Lothbury. The subject of this notice - Thos. Baker Baker was for many years Clerk of the Peace, and in 1830 was the employed advocate of the scot and lot men who claimed to be made freemen. He was married on the 27th of October, 1830, to Sarah, a daughter of the late John Carey, who had been Town Clerk of Hastings. The marriage took place at Guestling, where the bride had been residing. The Rev. Webster Whistler, of Hastings, conducted the marriage service and Mr. William Gill, resident partner of the Hastings Old Bank, [ 170 ]gave away the bride, whilst the bridesmaids were Charlotte Carey and Sophia Whistler. There were also present Messrs. William and George Scrivens. The children of this marriage were as follows:-
|1831.||On Nov. 8th, at 6.30 p.m. was born the first child and baptised privately, by the Rev. W. Whistler on Nov. 18th; afterwards in St Clements Church 21st, 1834.|
|1833.-||The second child was born at Hastings at 8.20 p.m. on April on April(sic) 20th, 1833, and baptised at St. Clements by the Rev. J. G. Foyster on March 21st, 1834.|
|1834.||Katherine, the third child was born at Hastings at 7.20 p.m. on Sept. 2nd, 1834, and christened at St. Clements on Dec. 14th of the same year.|
|1835.||Ann Ruth, the 4th child, was born at 11.30 a.m., on the 26th of November, 1835, and baptised by the Rev. J. G. Foyster at St. Clements, on Jan. 29th, 1836|
|1837.||Charlotte Dickenson, the 5th child, was born at Hastings at 7.45 on March 29th, 1837, and baptised at St. Clement's by the Rev. __ Auriol, on March 2nd, 1838. She died on the 28th of the same month.|
|1838.||Louisa Jane, the 6th child, was also born at Hastings, the time being recorded as 1.30 p.m. July 28th, 1838. She was christened, privately by the Rev. John Goodyer Foyster, and afterwards at St Clement's Church by the Rev. Henry Foyster.|
|1847.||Sarah, the mother of the six children (all girls) died at 7.30 p.m. on the 22nd of April, 1847, and was buried at All Saint on the 29th of the same month.|
The family resided at 80 High street until the mother's death, a house that had before been occupied by Mr. Thomsett, solicitor and Town Clerk, and after the Bakers by the solicitors Scrivens and Young. Mr. Baker possessed considerable ability both in and out of his profession, and on two or three occasions had to withstand the jokes of his political friends (or they might have been opponents) for what had been published by the compiler of this History, to which were attached the initials "T.B.B." The late Mr. Clement, having said that he knew the real writer, Mr. T. Baker Baker, requested him to ask the said writer to attach his name to what he might publish in that way in future. It was regretted by many townsment that so much intelligence as Mr. Baker possessed should have been marred by an unfortunate propensity which he seemed not to have the power to overcome. On the occasion of his death, the Hastings News thus remarked:- "He possessed a mind of a high order and [ 171 ]of considerable and varied reading; and, but for an unfortunate inattention to his general practice, arising from the dangers into which he was led by the indulgences of his goodheartedness, as it is commonly called, and his thoroughly social character, he might have stood well in his profession at this day. Few equalled him in natural mental power, and fewer still who excelled him (in his better days) in ready wit and conversational ease. His name will ever be associated in Hastings with the Reform movement in the earlier part of his residence here, and with many a political jeu d'esprit by which several of our old elections were amusingly enlivened. Had he been as true to himself as he was to many of his old friends, Mr. Baker might now have been one of the leading and most useful men in the borough De mortius nil misi bonum. His four children are said to be in America.
Melancholy Suicide. The Town Clerk, John Goldsworthy Shorter Esq., after six years of severe suffering from paralysis of the lower limbs and other complaints, shot himself while in bed on the 19th of August while of unsound mind. An inquest was held as a matter of course, but the verdict was a foregone concluson of "Temporary Insanity." Often have I seen the sufferer during his long illness wheeled to his duties at the Town Hall by his attendnant, James Weston, the steps being ascended by means of a wooden frame to form an easy gradient. The melancholy death of this gentleman was described in the Hastings News thus:- "It is our painful duty to record one of the saddest local events it has ever been our lot to chronicle. John Goldsworthy Shorter, Esq., with whose long and painful illness most of our readers are acquainted, has abruptly terminated his sufferings and his life by an act of suicide. We need to be at no loss to find the approximate of this unhappy event when we consider the depressing and exhausting tendency of the severe affliction which the deceased gentleman has had to endure the last six years. In that gradual weakening of body and mind - a body and mind, both in former days noted for their vigour and firmness - which is so constant a drain on the vital energies as this illness must have occasioned, a probable cause of fits of mental aberration, will be readily recognised by all who have been accustomed to study the connection of mental phenomena with physical influences. Mr. Shorter's peculiar fitness, from the strength of his natural intelligence and the character of his acquired knowledge, for the management of Corporation business, procured for him several public appointments of trust and re[ 172 ]sponsibility in this borough, the duties of which appointments have been invariably discharged with rare ability and faithfulness. It is not often that a man filling such posts as were occupied by him is found possessed of so large and varied a fund of mental acquirements as was the case of the late Town Clerk. In addition to this office, Mr. Shorter has for many years been Clerk to the Borough Magistrates, Clerk to the Local Board, Clerk to the Commissioners of Taxes, and (in connection with his partner, Mr. Phillips), Clerk to the County Magistrates. He had been in partnership with Mr. Phillips for nearly 29 years; and the firm has been well known as one of the most respectable and high-principled in the Kingdom. For six years, Mr. Shorter has been afflicted with paralysis of his lower members, and has been unable to move about in the town only as wheeled in a chair; but during a greated part of that time, his mental faculties have appeared unimpaired, and his attention to business has been remarkable. It was only within the last few weeks that these that these(sic) protracted sufferings seemed to have affected that strong intellect and to have occasionally deprived it of the power of self-govenment. The private loss to his family and friends is beyond both our province and our power to estimate. It must be soothing for the bereaved to know that as they always possessed the respect of the inhabitants of this town, so now they may rely on having their warmest sympathy. Regret, regard and sympathy mingle together to form at once a tribute to the dead and a consolation to the living" - - The funeral took place at the Borough Cemetery on the following Saturday, attended by members of the family, and by the Mayor, Aldermen, Councillors and other persons. The deceased left a widow and seven children.
An Inquest was held on the 8th of October at the Wheatsheaf Inn, Bohemia, on the body of Richard Stevens, who had hanged himself in Newgate Wood. He had been bailiff for about 7 years to Wastel Brisco, Esq. of Bohemia, and having been discharged for some small disagreement in his accounts, and being at all times a nervous man, he became depressed, and under that influence was judged to have committed the suicidal act.
Death of Miss Lutwidge. - This Lady, named Charlotte Menella, was the 4th daughter of Charles Lutwidge, Esq, of 2 Welllington square, Hastings. She died on the 2nd of December, 1857, deeply regretted both by the rich and the poor of Hastings, her active but unobtrusive benevolence and piety having endeared her to a large circle of friends, and to many among the poor who had been gladdened by her sympathy and pecuniary assistance. She [ 173 ]died from the effects of a cold brought on while engaged in works of benevolence. Her age was 50 years, and her remains were interred at the Borough Cemetery, where also were buried those of two sisters, named respectivly, Margaret Anne, who died on Nov. 30th, 1869, aged 60; and Henrietta Mary, who died, Oct. 9th, 1876, aged 61[Notes 4]. The father, Chas. Lutwidge, Esq., also died at the same residence in 1848, at the age of eighty years.
Death of Mr. Payne - The death of Mr. William Payne, sen. occurred at the Railway Terminus Inn (now the Bopeep Hotel) two days before the commencement of 1857. He had been a wheelwright and the keeper of the old wayside inn known for probably a century as the New England Bank, where a small fair was annually held, and which house was greatly frequented when the Martello Towers were built, also by soldiers at the Bulverhithe Barracks (which at one time were burnt down), as well as on occasions of the annual races (first on Bulverhithe Salts, and afterwards in the Filsham Valley). The old public-house had to make way for the Bopeep (now West-Marina) Station of the L.B.& S.C. Railway, and Mr. Payne having received compensation built the more convenient house just eastward of the railway station that was to be. No more respected man among my acquaintance was there than the said Mr. Payne. He was essentially a St. Leonards man, and was for sever years a thoroughly trusted assistant overseer. Mr. Payne's widow died four months later - April 9th.
Death of Mrs. Mather. The death of this lady - Sarah, the widow of Thomas Mather - took place at her residence, 65 Eversfield place on New-year's Eve, in her 92nd year. The house, I believe was her own and built in 1852 or '3. She had previously owned and occupied 5 Maze-hill from before 1839, until she removed to her new abode. Mrs. Mather was highly connected, and either herself or her daughter, Mrs. Taylor was nurse to some of the Royal children. When, in 1878, the lamented Princess Alice visited Hastings and St. Leonards, her Royal Highness called on Mrs. Taylor to be her companion during her visit. It is described in Brett's Jubilee Memento of Our Queen, as are also three other royal visits to Mrs. Taylor thus:-
|July 24, 1878
|Our much-loved Princess ALICE, whose sad fate
Two nations mourned, in Eighteen-sev'nty-eight
Both Hastings ud St. Leonards came to grace,
Five mouths before her mournful death took place,
'Twas Mrs. TAYLOR who did then reside
At Ev'rsfield place, where came Grand Hesee's bride
Who rode around these towns, both old and new,
And also walked the pier, the same to view.
|The Princess Frederica — now a bride — |
Appears again at Mrs. Taylor’s side;
The Baron, too, with his much-prized amour,
Is also here, while on the wedding tour.
|Oct. 11, 1879
|The Princess FREDERICA this day came,
To visit a St Leonards worthy dame;
E'en Mrs. TAYLOR, at her residence,
Who, with her royal visitor went thence,
The latter's father’s residence to trace
In days gone by—that is to say, Breeds Place.
|Oct. 24, 1862
|October twenty-fourth, in ‘Sixty-two|
"Tis not n secret I confide to you—
Was when the Princess MARY ADELAIDE
To Mrs. TAYLOR at St. Leonards paid
A friendly visit, o’er some parts to roam,
And meanwhile calling at the Ladies’ Home.
One deems it not out of place to add that the unique Jubilee Memento from which the above lines are extracted may still be purchased at 66 Norman Road, at the original price of one penny. It contains 30 engravings and rhymed accounts of over 50 royal visits to Hastings and St. Leonards. [ 174 ]
Mr. John Smith's death took place at 35 High street on the 7th of May, 1857, at the age of 72 years. He had been in earlier life a painter, plumber and glazier, his business premises being mainly in George street. In 1839, he built a house in Norman Road then known as No. 18 (now 71) and next above one that was built at the same time as Mr. Burgess, of which I was the first occupant. Mr. Smith, like Mr. Burgess, was a Wesleyan, but was unfortunate in his business after many years of honest labour. He then resided with his two daughters, who conducted a stationery and newspaper business in High street, and whilst assisting them in the business, was in the habit of coming every week to the present writer in Norman Road for a supply of newspapers and periodicals. He was a very worthy man, and was generally regarded as one of the oldest and most respected tradesmen in the town.
Major Close, of 32 Wellington square died on the 26th of January, at the age of 77 years. He was a retired major of the Royal Artillery, and his remains were interred at All Saints, Hastings. Maria, the widow of the same Major John Margerum Close, died seven years later - namely, May 11th, 1864, at the age of 81, and was buried at Halton. Their second son, the Rev. Robert W. Close, Incumbent of Woodhouse, Leicestershire, died on Dev. 18th 1852, aged 42 years. The mother of the Major, widow of the Rev. Henry Jackson Close, also died at Wellington square, the date being Dec. 9th, 1843, and her age 89. It was a good family to the Hastings people; and the Misses Close continued to occupy the residence, 32 Wellington square, till sometime in the 'seventies, after which my records fail to supply me with particulars; but I opine that one of them - Miss Hannah Close - died at White rock place on July 1st, 1889, at the age of 67, and was buried in the cemetery.
Some other deaths in Wellington square during 1857 were
Lennox, Dunbar Rothes, late Captain of 42nd Highlanders, 2nd son of Late John, Esq., H.E.I.C Civil Service Feb 1st, aged 22.
Starkey, William, Aug 3rd, aged 49
Rudibent[Notes 5], Eliza, wife of Charles, Esq., Oct 12th, aged 29
Jones, Miss Letia, Nov 24th, aged 67
Hastings people who died away Bartlett, Mrs Emma, wife of Daniel and daughter of Mr. W. Ginner, of Hastings, at Maidstone
Belsey, John Hadden, at Flushing, Nov 18th 1857, aged 54 years.
Fowler, Frederick, grocer, at Crouchfield, Hemel Hempstead, April 14th, 1857, aged 26
Cossum, Richard, of an old Hastings family, at Cleveland, New York, May 9, aged 37.
Coussens, Elizabeth Stone, wife of Thomas at London, August, 27th, 1857, aged 43
Lingham, Thomas, at Milwaukee, U.S. drowned while crossing a river Sep. 9th aged 33 [ 175 ]
Death by Suicide resulted to Mr. George Hide, late manager of the Water Works, on Sunday, the 26th of July, or, more precisely, on Monday 27th. On Sunday morning, however, he was discovered by the family hanging by the bedroom door, and on an alarm being given, Mr. Newberry, a next-door neighbour, rushed in and got him down on the floor. He then, with assistance, rubbed the unfortunate man with vinegar and salt as a means of restoration, whilst surgeon
was Mr. Ticehurst was being sent for. On the latter's arrival, he approved of what Newberry and Coote had done, and proceeded to let blood. After that operation, the man appeared to breathe(sic) freely, but never recovered from his then apoplectic condition, and died on Monday evening. At the inquest, which was held on the following day, a brother of the deceased and others deposed to having frequently noticed his being nervous and otherwise in a strange way. Mr. Ticehurst also remarked that he had previously spoken to him about the Water Works, and got as a reply that he did not think he should have any better nerve even if he were again appointed manager. He had also told him before he resigned that he thought he should be better if he gave up the situation. The deceased had complained to his brother William for twelve months past of being very bad in his head, and as he had before attempted to commit suicide, he (the brother) talked to him on the matter, when he said he hoped God would prevent him doing such a thing, but fits sometimes came upon him when he did not feel accountable for his actions. Under the circumstances, there could of course be but one verdict, that of "Temporary Insanity". The deceased left a widow and six children.
Major-General William Cox died at Maze Hill, on the 19th of January, aged 70 years. He was a distinguished Peninsular officer and Military Knight of the Royal Hanoverian Guelphic Order.
Major Charles Richardson, died also at St. Leonards on the 17th of February, at the age of 48. He was the eldest son of the late Francis Richardson, of Upper Portland Place, and was attached to the 57th Regt. Bengal Native Infantry.
Lieut-Gen. Charles Ramsay, Skardon, died suddenly at Hastings on the 29th of May in his 72nd year. He was Lieutenant-General of the H.E.I.C.S.
Augustus Elliot Fuller, Esq., late M.P. for East-Sussex, and owner of Rose Hill, Brightling, died in London on the 5th of August - four months after his non-re-election - aged 80 years.
The Rev. George S. Griffin Stonestreet died at Hastings, Dec. 6th, aged 75. He was prebendary of Lincoln, and Chaplain to the Guards at Waterloo. [ 176 ]
Whilst Mr. C. H. Frewen still represented East Sussex in Parliament he publicly stated that he should decline to be a candidate at the next election, and that Mr. Dodson, of the same political opinions as himself, would be the candidate. In consequence of this anticipated retirement two candidates - Lord Pevensey, a Conservative, and Mr. Dodson, a Liberal - came before the electors. Both parties commenced active operations in this borough and neighbourhood, and on Saturday, Feb 7th, Lord Pevensey addressed the farmers and others who were assembled at the Hastings Corn Market. About 4 p.m., when there were about 150 persons in the Market Room, his Lordship, and some of his political friends, entered and prepared to address the company.
W. D. Lucas-Shadwell, Esq., who acted as chairman said they were aware that Mr. Frewen was about to withdraw, and that Lord Pevensey had consented to be a candidate. His Lordship had not been among them before, but those who had read his truly Conservative address would, he thought, approve of it. He called it Truly Conservative because true Conservatism was not old Toryism, but something that marched forward with the times, and kept pace with the necessities of the nation. [Hear, hear!] In this important agricultural district it was highly necessary to have a man to represent them whose interest was strongly connected with agriculture - not a man who would support that to the damage of other interests, but one who would forward the interests of all. Those who lived on the land and by the land ought to be represented by landed proprietors, because such could understand them better than those interests were not bound up in agriculture; and he therefore thought Lord Pevensey was a very proper person to represent them in Parliament, The questions which agitated the country some time ago were now settled, and they did not wish to alter them; but there were still subjects which claimed their attention, one of which was the Income Tax. [Cheers.] They all felt this because it touched their pockets. The war tax, without regard to other taxes ought to be withdrawn immediately [Hear, hear!] He believed Lord Pevensey would take the same view as himself, and when returned to Parliament would do his utmost to remove such part of the said tax as was not assessed as a peace tax only. We had returned to peace, but Lord Palmerston had not encouraged the country to cultivate the arts of peace. There were one or two points of permanent interest to which must refer. They were most of them true Protestants, and he thought they would not record their vote for any candidate who would not pledge him[ 177 ]self to oppose the Maynooth Grant[Notes 6]. [Hear, hear! and a hiss]. Under Protestantism we had become what we were, and how could we lend our countenance to the faith which we believed to be opposed to the liberty of conscience and to the freedom which Englishmen held dear? We had a Protestant House of Commons, and should maintain by every means in our power the Protestantism of that House. He believed that Lord Pevensey would agree with him that it was our duty to oppose both the Maynooth Grant and the introduction of Jews into Parliament If we had so long flourished under our Protestant institutions, why should we seek to change them? After a few more words, the speaker introduced the candidate on whose behalf he had spoken.
Lord Pevensey, who was received with cheers, had to solicit the indulgence of his hearers for the few words he should be able to utter. He had been suffering severely from influenza, which had affected his chest and his voice, and did not think those who were in a distant part of the round could possibly hear him. He wished it to be understood - because Mr. Dodson at Brighton had intimated it - that there was no collusion between himself and Mr. Frewen [Speak Out!] Beyond the base communication of his intention to stand for Leicestershire, nothin had transpired between Mr. Frewen and himself. Here the talking and walking about became so great that his Lordship was obliged to stop; but the chairman having appealed for attention, the (still almost inaudibly) remarked that many thought that if anyone proposed a reduction of the Income-tax to its old state that person was one who was induced to cut down taxation altogether, but that was not the case; yet there was no reason after the war was concluded why that special tax should be continued. His Lordship next referred to the hop duty, the repeal of which he should vote for. Many who were Free Traders, but Conservatives in heart, would not support him because he had been a Protectionist; but whatever measures he had supported in those time, now as the matter was passed by, there was no special interest in it. He, himself, was one of those who went as a deputation to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to repeal one of the last protective duties which still existed - namely, the Excise Duty. With respect to the Maynooth Grant, he should certainly vote against the Maynooth Grant, but also every other grant from the national revenue to any particular religious body. Such a man, he thought, would vote for the separation of Church and State. His Lordship next criticised Lord [ 178 ]Palmerston's foreign policy as one that ought not to have caused a war with China, and afterwards stated that he was so suffering from an affection of the chest that he was unable to say more. He thanked them for their patient listening, and concluded amid cheers.
Mr. North, in opening the proceedings, said he had great pleasure in assisting at that meeting - first, because it gave him an opportunity of meeting many valued friends, and - second, because he should be able to introduce Mr. Dodson to them [Cheers.] There seemed to be a probability of their having to carry on one of the most important transactions which it was possible for freemen to be engaged in. They were about to have, or they thought they should have had, a day or two ago - to choose a member for East Sussex. How that might yet be he knew not, for Mr. Frewen still clung to his seat in Parliament. But, at all events, it would not be very long before they would have to exercise the franchise. It might fall to someone better than himself to introduce Mr. Dodson, but he doubted if that gentleman wanted any introduction. Many of them voted for him at the last election and would for him at the next [Cheers.] They would have two candidates - Lord Pevensey and Mr. Dodson. He had no sources of information concerning his lordship, but the public prints. He would not say anything disrespectful of Lord Pevensey, but he thought he was like those ancient ruins which they had to pass, two stations off, in coming to Hastings. There was much that was respectable and venerable, and, perhaps, admirably adapted for the feudal times in Lord Pevensey's opinions, but not adapted for our times. He (the chairman) had been suffering for a week past with an ailment in his throat, but he felt sure they would pardon his deficiencies.
Mr. Dodson, who rose amid cheers, and that his object in calling that meeting was to make a statement of his political opinions, and to point out the measure which he should support if they should make him their representative. It was rather difficult among the many topics of the day to select the one he should first notice, but there was one which must come home so entirely to the feeling of everyone that he could not be wrong in selecting it to begin with. He referred to the additional 9d. which was imposed in consequence of the war into which the country was [ 179 ]plunged. The opinion of the country on that war was all but unanimous, and England threw her heart and soul into that contest, believing that her interest and the cause of justice obliged her to do so. So long as the war lasted the people did their best, but now that the war had been concluded, they had a right to expect the burden to be removed from them, and he should feel it his duty to insist on the immediate removal of the war-tax [Hear, hear!]. He could not consent, he must add to purchase that removal by a loan contracted in time of peace or for a duty to be imposed which should press on the springs of industry or the investment of property, but should insist on the reduction of the income tax reducing the expenditure and cutting down the estimates; in a word, by giving the Chancellor of the Exchequer to understand that he must cut his coat according to his cloth [Cheers]. Since 1830 this country had been steadily progressing in a career of improvement. Religious disabilities were almost entirely removed, and there had not been an extension of the suffrage upon national and international principles. The harshness of criminal laws had been softened, and the education of the people had advanced. He trusted they had only temporarily suspended that career of improvement. The war had turned the attention of the matter from domestic questions to those other great questions that were fought out on the plains of the Crimea; but they could now devote their almost undivided attention to measures of international improvement and amelioration. He should feel it his duty to labour to the best of his ability to promote the policy alluded to. There were many amendments in the laws which might be advantageously carved out - an amendment as to laws of the land, reform in the statute laws, the criminal laws and other analagous(sic) measures. The extension of the suffrage must early claim their attention. As education was more widely diffused, so there would be year by year an increasing class of persons qualified to exercise the right of voting with advantage to themselves and the rest of the community [Cheers]. He had not come there to define the extent to which that suffrage should go, but only to point out those principles by which he should be guided. . . Many clerks, skilled artizans(sic) &c. were excluded from the franchise because they did not possess a peculiar kind of property. Some of them were not married and lived in lodgings, and had not, therefore, the right of voting which they might exercise with advantage and discretion. He had spoken of the war. His was the good fortune to be in the Crimea before the conclusion of peace, he having arrived there just one week after the fall of Sebastopol. He had facilities for visiting the armies of Sardinia and Turkey, and he must say, that to anyone who saw the four armies in active service together, there could be no question as to which possessed the superiority as to raw material; he meant as to the men who composed those [ 180 ]armies [Cheers]. It had not been our policy to keep a large standing army, but we had always been ready to consider that the bravery of our men could be relied upon; and so long as England could send forth such men as fought in the Crimea, she has little to fear either for her honour or her safety [Cheers]. But at the same time many persons had thought that through the insufficiency of our military regulations our army was exposed to unnecessary suffering and loss, and that we showed an inferiority in comparison with our allies. IT was now our duty to make our army the most efficient that could be had - to see that our officers were educated up to all that was necessary for such efficiency. . . As regarded the Maynooth Grant, which had excited so much attention. It was given as a national policy to raise up a priesthood at home rather than [Hear hear!] He thought it could not be said to have answered its object. He should be favourable to the withdrawal of that grant on the principle that it should be done so as not to raise a feeling of injustice to our Catholic fellow-citizens. He should not be prepared to support a measure which was directed by a narrow point of religious animosity against any Christian denomination whatever. He had said that Roman Catholics were looked upon with more suspicion than any other religious body, and he thought that he shared in those suspicions. He disliked that excessive and paramount authority which was claimed by the priesthood, and the power which they exercised over the people by the confessional and their connection with a foreign power rendered their motions more justly open to be closely watched. He would say this much at the risk of repeating himself that it was not his business to reason upon these principles led to so long as the people were loyal fellow-subjects [cheers].
The one other subject to which he would call their attention was the sudden and extraordinary way in which the country found itself surprised into an election, if, indeed, they were to have an election at all. He not recapitulate to them, the extraordinary steps taken by Mr. Frewen with regard to his retirement from the representation of East Susssex. These proceedings must now sufficiently well known to all. They were first induced to suppose that he meant to retire at the next general election. Then, without any warning, they found that he was standing for Leicestershire. Then he informed them that he was about to retire last week, a pledge he had not yet redeemed. Mr Frewen, as they knew him in Sussex, was a Prolectionist, chiming to that exploded policy long after it had been rejected by everyone else; still he made it his boast that he acted up to his family motto, and never changed his opinions. In that he told them that with hiim time brought no lessons, facts had no influence, and experience no weight. He also made [ 181 ]it his boast that he was the most staunch adherent of the Protestant religion - a champion sent forth to fight its bullies, which he considered to be in the greatest possible danger. t the time of the last election, he stood on the Hustings at Cork as the mouth-piece of a cousin, and there expressed himself in quite a different way. In his address to the electors of North Leicestershire, he contended that the Income-tax was imposed by Peel by a political trick and considered an unjust tax, and that he should vote for its repeal as a member for East Sussex, but if a bill for its repeal were to be brought in afterwards, then he would vote as the Leicestershire constituency might wish [Laughter]. So then, the unchangeable Mr. Frewen in East-Sussex would be most pliant in Leicestershire. But whether he retired or not, he (Mr. Dodson) thought that Mr. Frewen who was so unchangeable here and so pliant in Cork and Leicestershire, need not trouble himself to present himself again to the electors of East Sussex. The choice of such a representative did not reflect much credit on the direction of that knot of Tory gentlemen who recommended him and who had retained him in his present seat. His noble friend, Lord Pevensey came forward identifying himself with Mr. Frewen's politics, but only as Frewen's of East Sussex, and not as Frewen's of Cork and Leicestershire. Yet, while doing justice to his noble friends consistency, he thought the electors would hesitate before they returned at the present time, one who was pledged to Protection. [Cheers]
Mr. S. Putland, of St. Leonards, proposed the following resolution :- That it is the duty of the electors of East-Sussex to take the opportunity offered by the announced retirement of Mr. Frewen, to secure the return of our member to represent this Division of the County of Liberal and independent principles, and that John George Dodson, Esq., having borne the contest at the last general election, is eminently deserving the confidence of the Electors."
Mr. F. Howell next proposed 'That the thanks of this meeting are due to Mr. Dodson for having contested this division of the county at the last election on Free Trade principles, and that he has thereby established for himself a claim upon all classes of electors throughout the Division.'
Mr. Dunk(also of Hastings) seconded, and the resolution was carried.
Mr. Dodson expressed his thanks for the resolutions and for the unanimity with which they had been carried. A vote of thanks to Mr. North, as chairman, closed the harmonious proceedings.
This event was not long delayed. Mr. R. W. Blencowe proposed and General Davies seconded the nomination of John George Dodson, Esq., E. Hussey, Esq., proposed and W. D. Lucas Shadwell, Esq., seconded Viscount Pevensey. The [ 182 ]show of hands being in favour of Mr. Dodson, a poll was demanded by Viscount Pevensey. The nomination was on March 2nd, and the polling at Hastings was on March 5th. The numbers polled at Hastings were 189 for Pevensey and 187 for Dodson; thus the candidates running each other at a very close distance. The total result, however showed a greater disparity, the numbers as known in Hastings on the following night, being 2,300 for Pevensey, and 2,211 for Dodson, thus giving the former a majority of 89.
The General Election
This election soon followed the bye-election occasioned by Mr. Frewen's retirement, and caused the two rivals, Pevensey and Dodson, once more to enter into a contest, together with Col. Cavendish and Mr. Fulller for the other vacated seat. The result, as shewn in Chapter LVII was 2,524 for Liberal Dodson, 2,447 for Conservative Pevensey, 2,286 for Liberal Cavendish, and 2,216 for Conservative Fuller. The election thus fell to one Liberal and one Conservative. The old member, Mr. A. E. Fuller, not having regained his seat, a meeting of his supporters was held at the Star Inn, Lewes, on the 14th of April, when on the proposition of W. D. Lucas Shadwell, Esq., of Hastings the following resolution was carried:- 'That in order to show our respect and gratitude to our late member, Augustus Elliot Fuller, Esq., as a country gentleman, as well as for his honest and straightforward Conservative political career, as our Representative, and for his constant attendance in Parliament for the last fifteen years, a subscription be entered into to purchase a piece of place, as a lasting testimonial of our gratitude and esteem. Whether the testimonial was ever presented is not within the writer's knowledge, but (as shewn on page 175) only four months elapsed ere Mr. Fuller died, the testimonial might not have been completed.
The Borough Election
Whilst the General Election was approaching, the prevailing opinion appeared to be that on this occasion it would be unwise to disturb the quiet of the borough by provoking a contest. There were, as may be imagined, a few fervent spirits among the members of the H.I.P.S. who would like to have seen Mr. Robertson ousted from his Parliamentary set, but the severe castigation that had not long since been administered to that overbearing faction, even by Radicals as well as the more moderate Liberals, had, to some extent, divided their ranks and made it possible, if not probable, that there was likely to be a loss rather than a gain to the Liberal cause. They did not doubt for a moment, that Mr. North's seat was secure, under any condition, his local connection as a Hastings-born [ 183 ]man, his gentlemanly bearing, and his independently Liberal principles, having always placed him high on the poll at a general election. But his colleague, albeit the latter was a Conservative, had been steadily earning the good opinion of the townspeople by his urbane manners, to friends and foes alike, his practical desire to advance the interests of the borough, and his refusal to give a factious vote against Lord Palmerson's administration. It was therefore mostly judged to be worse than useless to interrupt the good feeling then existing by awakening strife with no probability of any political gain to those with whom it might be commenced.
The Members Addresses. In Mr. North's printed address, that gentleman re-affirmed his attachment to those principles of steadily progressive reform which had theretofore given strength to the social edifice of the Constitution, and referred to Lord Palmerston as having brought the country with credit out of the Russian wars as having, according to Mr. North's belief, courage and ability enough to bring the country out of even greater difficulties. Mr. Robertson, according to his address, would mainly rely on his conscientous regard for the public weal, his ready attention to local interests, his opposition to Popish aggression &c.
The Nominations. At 11 o'clock on Friday, the 27th of March, the late representatives, accompanied by their friends, presented themselves at the hustings in the Priory Meadow for re-election. The proceedings commenced with the reading of the Writ and the Act of Parliament touching elections, which duty having been performed by John Phillips, Esq., the Mayor (Ald. Ross) made the usual declaration, and called upon the electors to exercise their privilege in a becoming manner, and to give each candidate a full, fair and impartial hearing.
R. Deudney, Esq., then came forward and said it was his pleasing duty to propose to the electors, Patrick Francis Robertson, Esq., a gentleman whose conduct had been such as to entitle him to the respect and love of all parties. This statement was received by some of the Liberals with exclamations of Oh, ohs and laughter.
H. N. Williams, Esq., in seconding the nomination, spoke at considerable length - as was his wont in most cases of speech-making - during which he was frequently interrupted. In the course of his address he said that on a former occasion he told the electors that Mr. Robertson would prove himself worthy of [ 184 ]of their confidence. Had it been so or not? [No, no! and how about Disraeli's budget?]. He only wished that some parts of that budget had been carried out. He would speak of Lord Palmerston, a name just now of some potency. [Three cheers for Lord Palmerston!] Yes, he would speak of my Lord Palmerston and his obnoscious(sic) Constabulary Bill. Mr. Robertson opposed every stage of that bill; and so strong was the feeling against it that it was withdrawn. They all liked local government; indeed it was the very glory of Englishmen that they were a self-constituted government. In respect to local matters, Mr. Robertson had done everything in his power to promote the interests of the borough. He (Mr. Williams) thought they had frequently expressed their wishes for a quick transit to London, and he would say they had never had anyone who had given their attention to it as Mr. Robertson had done. If on the present occasion there had been a contest, he was perfectly certain that Mr. Robertson would have been placed at the head of the poll.
George Scrivens, Esq., said that the speech of his predecessor having terminated so abruptly, he thought the electors must have cut him short. He reminded the electors of the object of their meeting, and referred to Lord Palmerston's adverse vote as the cause of it. He would not make a stalking-horse of Lord Palmerston, but he believed that his Lordship would prove himself equal to the exigencies of the times. Lord Palmerston had boldly said, when on his trial, that the verdict of the House of Commons was against him. But there was no doubt that he would have a new trial, and that the verdict would be reversed. Mr. Scrivens then alluded to the Chinese war and the vote which Mr. Robertson gave in favour of Ministers on that important question as securing to that gentleman his re-election. Mr. Scrivens would endorse all that had been said on the other side as to the faithfulness with which Mr. Robertson had performed his duties. Indeed, he had been too true for his own party. He had renounced them by the independent vote which he gave for Lord Palmerston. Mr. Scrivens next alluded to Locke King's motion, remarking that Mr. North voted for that motion, although Lord Palmerston voted against it. The latter, however did not vote against it because it was a measure of reform, but because it was a small one and because it was introduced at the wrong time. The Maynooth Grant and the Income Tax were next severally dwelt upon, the former not so much to be feared as Puseyism, and [ 185 ]latter as being the basis of reform; and, at a low rate beneficial to the community. It was a pity, the speaker observed, that they could not agree on the question of education, but so it was, and he supposed that they were all to blame on the matter. They wanted law reform, but if there a hundred lawyers in the House what were they to do? Turning to the primary object of his speech, Mr. Scrivens said, in all relations of life Mr. North had proved himself worthy of esteem, and to him they owed a debt of gratitude. If there had been a contest they would have placed him at the head of the poll. [Oh, oh! and cheers]. He would conclude by proposing F. North, Esq. as a fit and proper person to represent them in Parliament.
A. Burton, Esq., of St. Leonards, in a brief but appropriate speech, seconded the nomination. After a show of hands in which Mr. North had a majority, the Mayor declared the two candidates duly elected.
P. F. Robertson., Esq., in returning thanks, said that although in some things many of the electors differed from him, yet he believed that he had no personal enemies. He would assure them he was not going to march through Coventry with Mr. Cobden [Hear, hear!]. They had been spoken to of education; and he could assure them that on all occasions, he had given his support to University Reform. In speaking of economy, he remarked that it was a very good thing if they did not have too much of it; not that they were likely to get that from the Whigs, who had it in their mouths, but not in their pockets [How about the franchise?] Well, he had not the least objection to an extension of the franchise, but he thought there were a good many noisy fellows who did not deserve it.
F. North, Esq., who was received with cheers, said he knew of no man whom in private life he more respected than his honourable colleague, but in public matters, they very much differed. The Chinese question, he regarded as a miserable farce. The real object was to oust the Government, and to get back Gladstone's straight-waistcoated party. He had thought that Mr. Robertson, who had resided in China, and knew all about it, would hae done the China part himself, and not left it to him. He would only say to those who spoke of the cruel bombard[ 186 ]ment, that he did not suppose a bombardment could be done without cannon balls or that they would fire sugar-plums. He acknowledged himself a supporter of Lord Palmerson, but he repudiated Palmerston alone. He was for Palmerston and progress, and the moment Palmerston separated himself from progress, then one of his adherents at least would separate himself from Palmerston [Cheers]. He (Mr. North) had opposed the ballot, but he was now convinced that it was the only means to prevent intimidation. He was also in favour of an extension of the franchise, but he thought education should be a political test. Education, however, was not a fit subject for the hustings. If three persons discussed the subject there would be three different opinions thereon. Church rates he would like to see abolished. He understood that the voluntary system in connection with St. Clement's worked admirably, and that they had a surplus in hand. He was born a churchman, and he hoped to die as such, but his principles were those of civil and religious liberty. He was asked if he would vote for the £70,000 for the Princess Royal! He would say that he hoped her Majesty would have accumulated sufficient for her royal daughter, and that the subject would not be brought into Parliament [Cheers.] -- A vote of thanks having been proposed and seconded by the two Members and the Mayor having responded, the proceedings terminated.
The Legal Documents usual on a dissolution of Parliament, were on this occasion received by the Mayor direct from the Crown Office, instead of, as formerly, by the more circuitous channel of the Cinque Ports Warden.
The Election Expenses of this unopposed return were said to hae been about £112 on the part of Mr. North and £130 on that of Mr. Robertson.
The Manchester Election
Although on the Saturday following the Hastings election political matters were comparatively quiescent, the electric telegraph was the means of conveying information of great personal and partizan general interest to Hastings people. Mr. George Scrivens, who nominated Mr. North had married a daughter of Sir Thomas Potter, and his brother Willliam had married Mrs. Scrivens's sister, and the family were therefore personally interested in Sir John Potter's candidature at Manchester. Sir John Potter and Mr. Turner were returned with very large majorities over Messrs. Bright and Gibson. Sir John's majority [ 187 ]was nearly 3,000, he having polled 8,368, the largest number of any throughout the kingdom. Manchester thus entered a disclaimer to the notion of being the hot-bed of Peace-at-any-price. It was evident that Bright and Gibson did not represent the opinions of Manchester on questions affecting England's foreign policy. Their former constituents now decreed that they would no longer be represented by men, howsoever good in other ways, which brought upon them the ill-name of "The Manchester School". This great defeat of Bright and Gibson at Manchester, together with Cobden's defeat at Huddersfield, was a striking proof of the energy with which English electors were prepared to award retribution to those of their statesmen who with their peace-at-any-price principles would foster the belief abroad that English chivalry was fast becoming absorbed in her greater craving for gold. But this political retribution - just or unjust, as differently viewed - was not wholly confined to Manchester, as shewn by the fact that over forty of those who voted in favour of the motion which threw the Minister overboard, were by the general election thrown overboard themselves. Mr. Cobden, who moved the resolution was without a seat. Mr. Milner Gibson, who seconded the resolution, was without a seat; and many of the loudest and longest-winded orators who declaimed against Ministers shared the same fate. The vote of want of confidence was a two-edged instrument that cut both ways, but one, nevertheless, that gave Lord Palmerston a much larger majority than he had before. In consequence of there being no contest at Hastings, the election was comparatively quiet, but in the boroughs and counties generally - and more particularly in the metropolis - the excitement was such as not to have been present to the memory of the inhabitant, whoever or whatever that patriarchal authority might have been. Thanks to the good genius of Reform, the elections even in '57, were not the slow torture that the fathers and grandfathers of the then electors were subject to. The election contest may be said to have been fast and furious. Writs were sent out to the proper authorities, the electors in many cases, if not already canvassed, were immediately talked to, and the battle at the polls was begun and finished in fewer hours than it occupied days in bygone times. That the electors and non-electors should have taken more than ordinary interest in the election of 1857, was probably due to the spread of political education, and would have thus afforded to some [ 188 ]
???tent the educational test that Mr. North would like to have for his extension of the franchise. And this political education must have been largely due to the cheap press; for, be it remembered that it was the first general election that had ever been when the the great mass of the people were kept well informed by a press that was within their reach.
When the returns had been fully made, Lord Palmerston's majority was variously estimated at from 40 to 70; but all such estimates must have been extremely vague until a party question in the House itself should indicate the strength of the rival forces. Political parties had a very different relative position to that which they occupied when "George the Third was King". Then the two designations, Whig and Tory sufficed to marshal the opposing parties, but at the time of this election there were Whigs, Radicals, Conservatives, Ultra Tories, Liberals, Liberal-Conservatives, Peelites, Russelites, Advanced Liberals, Palmerstonians, &c. But dividing them into the four most definite parties, there appeared to be 263 Palmerstonians, 227 Denbyites, 111 Reformers, and 53 Liberal Conservatives, together making the orthodox number of 654. When Lord Palmerston reckoned up his supporters according to their conduct immediately preceding the dissolution or to their hustings speeches, he must have been satisfied with the result of the election. His majority (probably fifty) supposing his policy to be Liberal, was as large as the Whigs secured at the first election under the Reform Bill, when Messrs. North and Warre were returned for Hastings. The moot question was would Lord Palmerston go with the times in the path of judicious reform and retrenchment, or would he, relying on his nominal majority, be regardless of the requirements of the country? No one could attentively observe the political signs without coming to the conclusion that there was a very general desire for widening the foundation of the franchise. The Liberal press had long been advocating the modification of the Reform Bill of 1832, and the Conservative press discerned the cloud in the distance that was likely to burst in a conflicting storm.
The Election of Speaker.
Lord Palmerston commenced his renewal of power by a show of Liberalism in making a Liberal member his protege for the important and lucrative office of Speaker. This was Mr. Denison, who was one of the two gentlemen who represented Hastings in 1827. The candidature of the gentle, supported by the Premier, had [ 189 ]naturally an interest to many persons in Hastings, including Mr. North, who must have known him personally as a representative, whom he in a few years was destined to succeed. The Premier confided to his whipper-in (Mr. Hayter, whose official designation was Parliamentary Secretary) the delicate task of summoning the Liberal members to the election of Speaker. Mr. Hayter invited Lord Palmerston's supporters to attend in their places on the 30th of April, and told them that Mr. John Evylyn Denison was to be the Government candidate, and expressed a hope that the whole Liberal party would attend and concur in his election. This move of the Premier and his trusty parliamentary Secretary, the Right Hon. Will'm Goodenough Hayter, was successful; and, presumably there were not many, who believed that anybody but Mr. Evylyn Denison had much chance of the £6,000 a year, the official residence, the pension and the peerage. Some of the newspapers confounded Mr. Evelyn Denison with another, and yet another Mr. Denison. The Press, for instance, laughed at a man being made Speaker who had invented the bell of the house. It so happened that there were two Mr. Denisons in the house, but neither of them was the inventor of the bell. Mr. Evelyn Denison, the member for North Notts, had been in Parliament ever since July, 1823, and had represented Newcastle-under-lyne, Hastings, Notts, Liverpool and Nation. He married when representing Hastings, Lady Charlotte the
fourth third daughter of the fourth Duke of Portland; and apropos of this marriage, it was said that the Speaker elect was the Government favourite because the Duke of Portland got Lord Palmerston's candidate in for Ayrshire, the proposition for Speakership being the quid pro quo. This Mr. Denison, however, to do with the great bell, as the Press, the Examiner, and perhaps other papers stated. Then there was Mr. Beckett Denison, the Liberal Conservative member for the West Riding, whose name was really Edmund Beckett, he having obtained leave to use the name of Denison. Then there was a Mr. W. H. F. Denison, the Palmerstonian member for Beverly.
Speakers of Earlier Times
It may not be unintersting to mention that it used to be the custom for the Speaker-elect while setting forth the arduous nature of the office and its qualifications formally to pray to be excused; and there is one case on record in which the Sovereign took the gentleman at his word, and sent the Commons back to elect another Speaker. Sir John Popham was the Speaker in question, and Henry VI the king. In 1678, there [ 190 ]
were was also a collision between the Crown and the Commons on the subject of the Speaker. King Charles II. wanted some tool of his own to be chosen; but the Commons asserted their independence, and selected Sir Edward Seymour. And as it was supposed that, as usual, on his presentation at the bar of the Lords his excuse would be received, he was instructed to say that he had been elected mem con. This he did, and instead of "I pray you have me excused" he concluded his speech with these words:- "And now I have come hither for your Majesty's approbation, which if your Majesty will please to grant, I shall do them (the Commons) and you the best service that I can." This unexpected harangue confounded the Lord Chancellor, who had got a nice little speech prepared for the occasion, which was thus rendered useless. However, after some thought and consultation with his brother commisioners, he told Mr. Speaker elect that the King reserved him for other services, and commanded the House to choose another. But the House persisted in their choice, and the matter was not settled without a prorogation, which led to a compromise. This Sir Edward Seymour was of the ducal house of Somerset, and was is said by historians to have been the proudest, if not the most arrogant man that ever lived. The following anecdote seems to prove the allegation:- On one occasion, when Speaker, he ordered Serjeant Pemberton to be taken into custody by the Serjeant-at-Arms for not paying him sufficient respect on passing through Westminster Hall. On another, when his carriage broke down at Charing Cross, he seized the carriage of a private gentleman then passing, and, turning the occupant out, took his place; and when the gentleman expressed surprise at such conduct, Sir Edward replies - "Sir it is more proper for you to walk in the street than for the Speaker of the House of Commons to do so".
The Speaker elect no longer prays to be excused; he now merely expresses his sense of the arduous duties of the office, and adds "that if it should be her Majesty's pleasure to disapprove of the choice, her Majesty's Commons will at once select some other member of their house better qualified to fill the station than himself."
An allusion was made on the Hastings hustings to the question of admitting Jews to Parliament; and it was a curious feature at the opening of the parliamentary session that "nugget on two legs" Baron Rothschild was present and prepared to vote on the election of Speaker, had there been a division. Nor could anyone have prevented him. He was the duly returned member for London, and stood in just the same position as everyone else in the House. No one had been asked to take the oaths, and the Baron, for aught anyone could prove to the contrary was prepared to take them. [ 191 ]The Mayor (Ald. Ross) having spoken up through the influence of Mr. North, M.P. for some kind of trophy of the late war with Russia for Hastings, as the principal Cinque Port and place of note in earlier fighting times, Lord Panmure replied that the application should have due consideration. The Russian gun was the result. To the application thus made might have been added that a considerable number of Hastings contributed to the ultimate success of the British arms in that fearful contest, some to be slain, some to be wounded, and some to return home safely. (See "letters from
the local men at the seat of war" in Vol. 5). The efforts of Mr. Ross (Mayor) and Mr. North (M.P.) to obtain for Hastings a suitable memento, were, as already indicated, attended with success. A piece of ordnance captured by British soldiers in that memorable struggle was confided to the safe keeping of the Premier Cinque Port. The St. Leonards Gazette, of July 18th, remarked that "While regarding this as a tribute of respect, we are the more gratified that it has been nobly earned by the intrepid conduct of a number of our townsmen who did battle in that fierce encounter. The following is a copy of the letter received from Lord Panmure's private secretary:-
"To the Mayor of Hastings
July 10th, 1857
Sir,— in reply to your letter of the 3rd instant, I am directed by Lord Panmure to inform you that his lordship has much pleasure in presenting to the town of Hastings one Russian gun as a trophy of the late war, for the correct mounting and careful preservation of which his lordship feels confident he may rely on the public spirit of the inhabitants of the place."
At the Town Council meeting on Oct. 2nd, the Mayor stated that the Russian Gun was in readiness to be forwarded and it was for the Council to say by what conveyance it should be brought. Alderman Clement suggested that if the South-Eastern Railway Company were approached in a becoming spirit, they probably would bring it without charge. I do not know if this was done, but its arrival by the 14th of 15th of October was an accomplished fact, and its abiding place was on the late ship-building yard in front of the Pelham Arcade, which was cleared by a subscription of from one hundred to two hundred guineas each by gentlemen who had property in Pelham Crescent and Pelham Place - namely, the Earl of Chichester and Messrs. W. Crake, G. Scrivens, J. Landsell, B. Smith, R. Kirby, Joseph Kay, and W. Lucas-Shadwell. [ 192 ]The Town Council having decided that a Brotherhood and Guestling should be held (see 165), the representatives from the Five Ports, two Ancient Towns and their eight Members, met a New Romney on the 29th of October, after an interval of 29 years since the holding of the last court. The weather was delightful and the little town was full of animation, while the ringing of a good peal of eight bells added cheerfulness to the event. From about 10 to 11 a.m., carriages continued to arrive with robed Mayors and gold or silver laced mace-bearers, most of whom made the New Inn their rendezvous. The Hastings Mayor and his party were among the earliest arrivals in a carriage-an-four. They proceeded to the residence of the Deputy-Mayor of New Romney, who escorted them to the Town Hall, where they were joined by the other deputations. A procession was then formed, headed by the Mayor of Hastings, who being also the Speaker, was attended by his chaplain (the Rev. T. Nightingale) and the Recorders (W. W. Attree, Esq.). On arriving at the church - a fine building, with a good organ - the mayors took their proper positions round a red-covered table in the spacious chancel, with their maces lying before in gorgeous array. The other members of the deputations sat in the pews near their respective mayors. After prayers had been read by the vicar, the Speaker's Chaplain from Hastings preached an appropriate sermon from Jeremiah IX 23 & 24 "Thus saith the Lord, let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might; let not the rich man glory in his riches. But let him who glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord who exercise(sic) loving-kindness, judgement, and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord."
The Brotherhood was held in the Town Hall as soon as the church service was concluded, and here the Mayor of Hastings, took the chair, with the other mayors in the following order:- Sandwich, Romney and Rye on the right; Dover and Winchelsea on the left, there being no mayor from Hythe.
The Speaker, in opening the Court, addressed his loving brothers, barons, combarons and friends, saying he had to thank them for their kindness in coming there that day. He had for a long time thought that a Brotherhood should be held, but he never thought that the honour of holding it would fall on himself. As soon as he was aware of it, he laid the subject before the Town Council, and they unanimously agreed that a letter [ 193 ]should be sent to the Ports and Ancient Towns, and it was that letter which brought them together that day. He would ask them to assist him in the deliberations which would come before them, and he felt sure that he should meet with a hearty response. He hoped everything would be conducted with good humour, and that they would bear and forbear if a discussion should, and that they would depart in the same kind spirit which had been implanted in them by the chaplain [Applause]. The Speaker then appointed the Hastings Town Clerk as his own clerk for the day. The Crier of Hastings (Mr. Poole) then called for the returns from each Port and Ancient Town, the one from Hastings being Thomas Ross, Esq., Mayor; Aldermen Ginner and Rock, barons; and Councillors Emary and Putland, combarons. The gentlemen from Seaford were H. Simmonds, Esq. (Bailiff), J. S. Turner, Esq. (Jurat) and F. H. Gell (Town Clerk). I have no list of names from other places except such as appear among those who took part in the discussions.
The Mayor of Winchelsea (C. Robson, Esq.) said he stood there alone, some of the freemen of that town having objected to send a deputation to the meeting.
The Deputy Mayor of New Romney thought it was a question whether Winchelsea should be again fined.
The Solicitor (Mr. Stringer) said that at the last Brotherhood and Guestling a fine of £60 and one of £15 had been inflicted on Winchelsea, neither of which had been paid. He should have to bring the case before them later on.
The Speaker said it was his duty to inform them of the cause for which the meeting had been called. After 29 years he thought that a meeting ought to be held, particularly as at the last meeting it was the expressed wish of the whole house that not more than seven years should pass oer without a meeting.
Other causes were that there had been no audit of accounts since 1828, and that one of the solicitors had died. Another object was to ascertain who would be Speaker of the Ports after the 9th of November. The Speaker came into office in May, but in those towns which were now under the Municipal Act, the Mayor was elected in November. They had not so much business to transact as in former years, but he was one of those who did not like to give up that which had brought so much honour to the country and had upheld the liberties of the people [Cheers]. He then said that the Solicitor to the Ports and the Deputy-Mayor of New Romney would open the chest and take out the celebrated Black Book. He would have much pleasure in meeting them [ 194 ]again in the church after about ten minutes.
The Court of Guestling. At about two o'clock the company again assembled round the table in the church, and in the following order: On the right of Hastings were Sandwich, Romney, Rye, Seaford, Faversham and Tenterden; and on the left were Dover, Winchelsea, Pevensea and Deal.
The Speaker began by saying that it was at all times a task for him to speak in public, and that it was more so on an occasion like the present. He then repeated to some extent what he had said at the Brotherhood as to his motive in calling the meeting, and remarked that he had much pleasure in acknowledging the gentlemanly manner with one exception in which the whole of his letters were answered. The Mayor of Hythe was that one exception, he not thinking it requisite to hold a court, and therefore declined to call a meeting to get the sense of the town in consequence of the expense. In the borough from which he (the Speaker) came they did not object to the expense of a shilling or two. He next spoke of the authority and privileges of the Cinque Ports. For four or five hundred years they and their members upheld the naval glory of England, which they had previously established. How the Ports became a Brotherhood he did not know; but, probably they first joined for their own benefit, and having become of considerable importance, they turned the means of their own defence to that of the country. In the grant of a piece of land by the King of Mercia to the church of St. Dennis, at Hastings, the kindly feeling between Hastings and her member of Pevensey was spoken of. This grant was made about the year 790; it was therefore at least 1000 years old. He believed that the good feeling then between Hastings and Pevensey had ever since continued [except perhaps, in 1596 and '7, when the Hastings Mayo, with Mr. Lake, Mr. Fermor and Mr. Henry Pelham were appointed by the Corporation to arbitrate on "the controversies, suits, questions and ambiguities" concerning the waste lands about the sluice at Pevensey; also in the dispute about the Sluice house.] He had no doubt that the same good feeling between the other Cinque Ports existed to this day. A few years after, Edward the Confessor granted a charter and certain exemptions; and this, the earliest notice they had, was probably for services rendered by our forefathers. The Speaker next alluded to Godwin's attacking London, with men from Kent and Hastings, and, doubtless with men from the other Cinque Ports, which at that time were of considerable importance. [ 195 ]They defended the "Narrows Seas" and the attack which they made on the opposite coast formed an extraordinary list of naval engagements. In the turbulent reign of John, the Cinque-Ports' fleet was such that then it was that the sovereignty of the seas first published at Hastings, and afterwards at the other Ports, which obliged every foreign ship to strike her topmost when passing an English ship. He knew that some of the members were anxious to get home, and he would therefore not much more intrude on their time. In former years this court had great business to do. On that deliberations were held on which depended the salvation of the Kingdom; in fact, according to the old chronicles, it appeared that some of our Kings were fain to do pleasure to the Cinque Ports, which of late had fallen from their high estate. Some had harbours still, and some had not. At the Court of Guestling, they used to elect bailiffs to go to the Yarmouth fair. This, at one time, was a most important matter, and when all the Cinque Ports traded with Yarmouth, especially in the fishery business. That trad had become almost extinct, except in the case of Hastings, which even now had about 40 luggers and 350 men engaged in the fishing at Yarmouth. Speaker Ross then read a letter from one of the greatest of Sussex antiquarians, as follows:-
"To the Right Worshipful Thomas Ross, Esq., Speaker of the Court of Brotherhood and Guestling of the Cinque Ports, Ancient Towns and their members at New Romney, now assembled, Mark Antony Lower of Lewes, a Freeman and Comaron of the Town and Port of Seaford and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquarians of London sendeth greeting"
"Right Worshipful, my loving Brother, Combaron and friend - I cannot but deeply regret that circumstances which I cannot control prevent my accepting your very kind invitation to be present at your deliberations upon the state and affairs of the Cinque Ports. I assure you that I feel greatly indebted for your politeness in requesting my attendance on so honourable and interesting occasion."
For every Englishman who values the 'Wooden Walls' of our beloved country; for every patriot who regards with pride the growth and development of our free institutions, the Cinque Ports should possess a charm of no ordinary character. Their antiquity transcends historical research; but there can be but little doubt that they arose out of the municipal regu[ 196 ]lations of Roman times at an early period of civilization in this island. In later days, the fleet of the Cinque Ports was at once the glory and defence of our land, as it was the first germ of that naval supremacy which has made the English flag an object of respect throughout the world. If in later times, those vicissitudes which attach to all human affairs have rendered that ancient league less efficient and less important than formerly; if Ports that once were, are Ports no longer except in name, it is still incumbent on all to uphold the dignity which the Cinque Ports for ages enjoyed. Patriotism and gratitude should hold intact those distinguished privileges which you, Mr. Speaker and your brethren possess. They are honourable to you, while they are injurious in no respect to any Englishmen. May the Cinque Ports ever retain their rank and dignity, and may that Parliament over which you are now presiding be a happy and prosperous one! We had deliberative and executive powers before a House of Lords or a House of Commons existed. May our existence as a loyal and patriotic league be prolonged while the name of England or the spirit of an Englishman survives. God save the Queen."
"From St Ann's House in Lewes
this twenty-eighth day of October, 1837"
The returns having been again called, a question was raised whether they ought not to have been stamped, those from Hastings and Dover not having been done. The Town Clerk of Dover deemed it not necessary, as they partook of the character of a writ, which did not require a stamp; but the Solicitor and the Town Clerk of Deal thought they should be stamped, as it was a commission, giving the deputation the power of Attorney. A stamp could, however be affixed to anything within six weeks.
The Mayor of Seaford remarked that although theirs was one of the poorest towns, and the furthest from New Romney, they responded readily to the Speaker's request, regardless of the expense. It was their determination to support all their dignities; but they wished to know whether a smaller number might not suffice for a deputation. [The full number if all were present would be 75]. Five was rather a large number for their small town to send, but they would abide by the decision of the court.
There being no return from Lydd, Mr. Prescott, though not deputed claimed to take part in the proceedings. A meeting he said, had been held, but the decision was against sending a deputation. They had no freemen now in Lydd to elect a bailiff. A bailiff had been proposed, but the proposition was not seconded. In duty to himself and the town he felt bound to attend, and if a fine were inflicted, he begged to know on whom it would fall. The Speker replied that the fine would be inflicted on the Corporation. It was then decided [ 197 ]that Mr. Prescott could only appear by petition.
The Speaker said the first business of the court was to decide on a time of meeting. It was resolved at the last court that not more than seven years should elapse between each meeting. Would the present make a similar resolution? or would they leave it to the option of the Speaker?
The Town Clerk of Sandwich wished it to be decided whether such meetings could now be legally summoned, there being now no such persons as jurats. Could the Speaker say whether these courts could be held according to law? The Speaker was of opinion that the way in which the present one was summoned was correct.
On the motion of Baron Rock, it was resolved that the Solicitor of the Ports give intimation to the Speaker for the year that it was his turn to hold that office. The Speaker in reply to a question whether anything had been received or paid since the last meeting, only knew that at the last meeting there was £160 in hand.
The Mayor of Deal having asked whether the penalties would be inflicted, the Speaker said it did not rest with him, but he should be in favour of their not being enforced.
The Solicitor then explained that the fines inflicted on Winchelsea in 1828 of £60 and £15 had not been paid, and that they were intended to be levied by the process of witherman. But the question having been submitted to Counsel, the opinion was that they could not be safely levied under that process; but when the Court should meet again the defaulters should not be admitted until the fines had been paid. In consequence of that opinion he called the Mayors together in 1835 at Hythe, and they unanimously agreed that as so many difficulties stood in the way, they would not resort to legal measures until a meeting of the Brotherhood and Guestling to be held that year. No meeting, however, took place; and in 1840, on occasion of the Wellington Festival, he wrote to the Ports to ask for a meeting, when the replies were from Folkestone that they saw no advantage in holding a court, from Faversham the same, and that it appeared unnecessary to appoint another solicitor in the place of Mr. Shipden who was dead; from Sandwich that they had no funds which could be applied; and from Hastings that it was deemed not necessary for the Court to be held. These were all the replies he obtained.
The Speaker said the question now was what had become of the £160? To this question the Solicitor replied by putting in a copy of accounts, which, being read by the Speaker's clerk, there appeared to be only a balance of £7.12s.9d. There was one item "charges made to Mr. Shipden's executors, being his proportion on general bill £107. The Solicitor explained that in 1840 he called attention to the accounts and asked for an audit on them. Mr. Shipden was then alive. [From this explanation, the inference is that the Ports did not act [ 198 ]wisely in declining to hold a court in 1840, when the accounts could have been audited and when claims would not have been debarred by the statute of limitations]
The Deputy-Mayor of Faversham said it was very proper to go into the question of the last fines and to audit the accounts, but he supposed all further notice of them would be unnecessary in consequence of the statute of limitations. The Faversham people thought it must be a very unimportant municipal affair that required to be settled only once in 29 years, and on that account both obsolete and unnecessary. They also thought that the Municipal Act set aside anything that they could do there; but the deputation came to support the dignity of the ancient institution and out of respect to the chair's.
On the motion of the Mayor of Sandwich, it was resolved that the accounts be passed. It was next resolved that the usual fee of five guineas be paid to the Chaplain, with thanks for his most excellent address, and a hope that it would be printed.
The Chaplain (the Re. T. Nightingale) said that though he had no local standing among them, he should feel it a dereliction of duty if he did not tender them his warmest thanks. With regard to publishing his sermon, they might not know that the notice he had was very short, and the sermon was put together somewhat hastily; still, he would take their request into consideration, and if they should think it deserving, nothing would give him greater pleasure than to comply with that request.
The next question being to appoint another solicitor in place of the late Mr. Shipden, it was ultimately decided that the Town Clerk of Dover be appointed without salary. Out of this question arose another - whether it was advisable to continue these meetings. Mr Rock, a baron from Hastings, asked what would be the consequence? He thought they could not give them up altogether, as that would be giving up their character. Baron Ginner (also of Hastings) asked what would be the position of the towns which were not affected by the Municipal Act if they abolished the court? Those towns governed themselves under the charters granted to that court, and it was a question whether they would be qualified to elect mayors or bailiffs if the court were abolished.
It was then moved by the Deputy-Mayor of New Romney that the meeting at its rising should adjourn till another summons was issued. He thought they would not be justified in throwing up all their privileges by dissolving the court. [ 199 ]The Mayor of Seaford, who seconded the motion, thought that by abolishing the court, they would be treating the Lord Warden with contempt.
One of the Faversham Deputation moved that the Court of Brotherhood be not summoned again. This was seconded by the Mayor of Dover.
The Speaker said the question involved in the amendment was a very serious one, and he did not know that it was a proper motion for him to put. It seemed to him a most extraordinary thing that gentlemen should propose a motion that would sacrifice the rights of those who would come after them [Cheers]; for gentlemen to sit there and destroy those charters which they had been enjoying for centuries.
Ultimately the original motion was carried by 29 to 10 to adjourn at the close of the present meeting.
The next proceeding was to take out the famous Black Book, charters, and an old silk flag, the last named being one that used to be taken by the appointed bailiffs.
The Solicitor said that since the last meeting an iron box had been substituted for the wooden one, and the contents transferred in the presence of witnesses. The box had been once since opened at the request of the Mayor of Hastings to allow Mr. Mark Antony Lower to inspect its contents.
Motions were now made authorising the Speaker for the time being to allow the Record Commissioners to have access to the contents, with a view to publish them.
Finally, a committee was formed to consist of all members of the court who could remain in New Romney, to meet at ten o'clock next morning, to inspect the records. A dinner was provided in the evening at the Assembly Rooms, which was partaken of by many of the members, and a pleasant evening was the result.
Local RecordsIt will have been seen that Mr. Ross as Speaker of the Cinque Ports for the time being held the Court of Brotherhood and Guestling on the 29th of October, a few days before his mayoralty expired. The same gentleman on the 22nd of January in the same year sent to the Hastings News some records copied, as he said, from the oldest parish book of All Saints, which appeared to have been bought immediately after the passing of the Act 39th of Elizabeth, 1598. The [ 200 ]records will be found (together with others) in copies from the same book in possession of the present writer. The first entry is as follows:-
This book was buyht by the consent of the p'shonrs of all Saints in Hastin the XXIIIIth of Apryll, ano 1598. ffor this purpose, that is to saye [leaf here torn] that the overseers for this yeare nomynated [ ] and the reste which from yeare to yeare are to be nomynatd in the p'she of all Saints by vertue of a Acte made at the Parlimente holden at Westminster the XXIIIj daie of October in the XXXiXth yeare of the rayne of our moste gracious Souverayne Ladie Queen Elizabeth are for register in this boke all souch some or sommes of money as theye shall taxe tha p'shoners or other p'sons beinge farrynors occupiinge landes in this p'ish towardes the relyffe of the poore, and also to register all such somme or sommes of money which they have layd out aobut the byinge of wares or payinge the poore their wages for there work, and of all sommes they have payde to any olde, lame, blind p'sons, so that whereas the Money taxed it may playulie and enedeth he appear unto the p'shoners of the p'she of All Saintes that the monye hath byn doulie and trulie implyed for the good and charitaball uses p'vided in the saide statute for the poore
- [Many other ancient records will be found in the "Premier Cinque Port" volumes.]
We Richard Lyffe, maior, John Lunsford, Martyne Lyffe, and William ffarmor [Fermor], justice of the peace, within the towne and porte of Hasting in the countie of Sussex, have nomynated Stephen Porter, Richard Lane, Marke Sargent the elder and Bayliffe, with John Stephens the younger, to be overseers of the poore of the saide p'ishe & all things to doe, executed and performed accordinge to the statute in that case made and provided at the Palimente holden at Westminster the XXIIIj of October in the XXXIXth yeare of the reigne of our most gracious Ladie Queen Elizabeth. In witness whereof we have here unto set our seales and subscribed our names. Gien at Hastinge aforesaide on Mondaie in the weeke beinge the XXIj daie of Aprill in the yeare XXXIXth of the reigne of our most gracious Soverigne Ladie Elizabeth, by the grace of God, of Englande, ffrance &c. Defender of the ffaith.
A correlative subject, but of more modern date, is that of the 1857 vestries. A meeting of the Holy Trinity parish was held at the Royal Standard hotel on the 9th of February, with Mr. Ge. Curling Hope in the chair. In consequence of the South-Eastern Railway Company having, by letters, desired to have [ 201 ]the rating lowered on that portion of the line running in the parish, and as the meeting considered that the gardens in the Trinity parish ought to be rated - namely the gardens on the Priory Farm, the meeting was adjourned for the purpose of getting information on the matter. Presumably the information when obtained was not favourable; for, at the adjourned vestry the gardens were not rated; but the rating of the Gas Works was raised from £100 to £400. On the other hand, Mr. Clark's water mains were assessed at £20 instead of the previous £40. At a later meeting of the same parish, a poor-rate was agreed upon at 3d in the pound, whilst at the vestry meetings of other parishes, 5d. was figured for St. Michael's, 9d. for St. Clements, and 10d. for All Saints.
All Saints Vestry Oppressive as was considered to be the ten-penny rate on the poorest parish of the borough, it rose to half as much more at the next vestry meeting on July 10th. But before the making of that rate of 1/s in the pound, Mr. Edward Wingfield was presented with a silver inkstand and a gold pen, worth about £5. He was acting as vestry clerk, and was so much surprised that he hesitated to accept the testimonial, saying that he was afraid that some of the parishioners had subscribed to it who could not afford it. He would gladly have it sold for the good of the poor. Being assured that not one had contributed who could not afford to do so, Mr. Wingfield said he would not delay the business of the meeting, but accept the testimonial with a thankful heart. This testimonial was in recognition of Mr. Wingfield's gratuitous service for a series of years. The rating in All Saints parish shill increased, and at the next vestry meeting, it attained to 1/4 in the pound. Mr. Sampson's salary was also increased from 7d. to 8d. in the £ for collecting. At the same time the St. Clement's poor-rate was 1s. and the Borough part of St. Leonards 4d.
A Nose-pulling Case. One of the All Saints Guardians was Mr. Anthony Harvey, and on the 19th of August a fracas occurred between him and Mr. Alfred Vidler, of St. Mary-in-the-Castle. At the Board of Guardian's meeting that day, one of them gave the other the "lie direct" and the other pulled or twisted the offender's nose. This resulted in a legal suit, and at the County Court on the 28th of September, the case Harman versus Vidler came on for hearing, damages being laid at £50. Vidler, who on public occasions, was sometimes more vivacious than discreet - at the said meeting of the Board of Guardians, said that [ 202 ]Harvey had had his knife in the Master of the Union ever since the last election. Harvey, who had always been on friendly terms with the Master, and so much so as to have been surety for him on two occasions, naturally resented the insinuation of enmity and told Vidler that if he said so again he should call him a liar. Vidler repeated the imputation, and then carried out his threat, and called a liar. Upon that, Vidler pulled and twisted Harman's nose. Mr. Langham was engaged for plaintiff, and Mr. Francis, Q. C. from London, conducted the case for defendant. The Hall was crowded almost to suffocation, and the trial evoked frequent bursts of laughter. Mr. Langham contended that £50 was not a farthing too much, and Mr. Francis, in an amusing manner declared that a brass farthing damages was quite enough. The Judge, however, awarded damages £5.
A New Treasurer. At a later meeting of the Board of Guardians, Mr. Francis Smith having resigned his office of Treasurer to the Union in consequence of the failure of the Hastings Old Bank, of which he was a partner, the said office was offered to Mr. O'Neil, of the London and County Bank, at a salary of £10 a year.
Removals. The incidental allusion to the London and County Bank is a reminder that the said Bank was at this time about to be removed from George street to 9 Pelham place, where the Old Bank had been held, and Mr. John Phillips, a solicitor (late Shorter and Phillips) from High street to the premises to be vacated by the London and County Bank. At a later period both establishments removed to the neighbourhood of where is now the Memorial.
Failure of the Bank
Said the St. Leonards Gazette of June 27th "For many years, the borough of Hastings has not witnessed such a state of excitement (shall we not say dejection?) as that into which it was thrown yesterday morning by the announced suspension of the Hastings Old Bank. The astounding intelligence circulated with electrical vivacity and in a short time the whole place was in a state of wild perturbance. "I'm a ruined man!" exclaimed one; "I deposited several hundreds, yesterday!" ejaculated another; "I hold a number of their notes!" gasped a third; "how shall I pay my men tomorrow?" imploringly asked a fourth. Groups of anxious men were to be seen at every turn; visitors were asking a hundred questions that no one [ 203 ]could answer; the telegraph wires were in great requisition; and business was almost at a standstill. Towards night, speculation was rife as to the probable "winding-up", and men's minds became calmer under the impression that the public loss would be less than was at first anticipated. Throughout the following week, "Anything more of the Bank?" or a similar question was put by almost every person one chanced to meet; and no wonder, for everyone hereabout was more or less directly or indirectly affected by the unlooked-for calamity. Every other event - even the dreadful catastrophe near Liverpool (in which more than one hundred persons were injured) and the alarming news from India (the revolt of the native Indian army) failed to excite so great a degree of attention as did the absorbing topic of the Bank failure. At the first announcement of the affair, our local community exhibited symptoms of a complete panic. Dejection was depicted on every countenance and gloomy forebodings reigned paramount in every homestead. So extensive were the connections of the Hastings Old Bank, so long had it existed, such accommodation had it afforded, and so unlimited a confidence had it acquired, that nothing short of a terrible reverse could be imagined capable of so suddenly arresting its career. Farmers and fishermen, tradesmen and tally men, clergymen and collectors, building societies and benevolent societies - all were supposed to be involved, and almost every individual, separately or collectively, it was thought, would be drawn into the general vortex of complete or partial ruin. Suddenly, however, a ray of light, "no bigger than a man's hand" appeared, which gradually assumed a form of greater magnitude until the elastic mind sprang up from a feeling of despair to one of hope. A favourable prospect was now indulged in, a dividend of 15s., 18s., and even 20s. to the pound was freely spoken of. Then again, the fair prospects became o'ershadowed by a cloud, and fifty was the highest per-centage likely to be realised that the most sanguine would venture to predict. But whether the dividend proved to be a good one or the revers, one thing appeared certain - that the step taken in suddenly closing the doors was the one best calculated to secure to the creditors the greatest amount of fairness. There appeared to be but little doubt of the firm having been for a considerable time in a state the reverse of solvency or that it was rapidly becoming so, and that if such a course had been persisted in much longer the result would have been still more disastrous. The first to experience inconvenience would be those persons engaged in commercial pursuits who had [ 204 ]pecuniary engagements falling due on the 4th, and for which large deposits had been lodged with the bankers previously to the latter closing their doors. The next to suffer would be those who employed a large number of mechanics and labourers, who might have been in the habit of drawing from their deposits at certain times the moneys wherewith to pay the weekly wage. The fishing interest would also suffer to some extent. but the class of persons who would probably suffer most, would be that to whom large advances had been made and on whom a demand would soon be made for repayments. Bad, however, as the case might have been, there was much cause for thankfulness that it was not even worse. The savings banks and benefit societies the latter of which were numerous - might have been deprived of the major part of their funds, and thus have been obliged to close the door of benevolence against their members at a time of their utmost need. There was reason to fear that the Bank's liabilities, stated to be £150,000, would exceed that amount; but whateer it might prove to be, it was of course hoped that the assets would be more than equal to the general anticipation, and that the ultimate loss would be so small as to restore in some degree commercial confidence, which by that even had received a sudden shock. Some of the inconvenience which was felt was partly relieved by additional facilities promptly afforded by the London and County Banking Company, who having establishments at Hastings and Rye, also arranged with Mr. Southall to superintend a branch bank at St. Leonards. In addition to this arrangement, not more than a week had passed when Mr. O'Neil, the Hastings manager, stationed himself at Battle for a similar purpose. At each of these branches accounts were immediately opened, and through them payments could be made in London at the head establishment, 21 Lombard street, or at Masterman, Peters and Co. It was not to be supposed, however that a district of so much commercial importance as that of Hastings and its neighbourhood would be content with one bank, when even thirty or more years before, with less than half the population, it had no fewer than three. There was sure to come another bank, howsoever accommodating the London and County company might be. In the mean time it behoved all classes to unite for the general good. To assist each other as much as possible should have been the aim and effort of all, and especially of those who had the means at their command. Doubtless the payment of accounts and ready-money purchases did much to relieve the pressure and [ 205 ]lighten the burden on the tradesmen. The St. Leonards Commissioners had money in the bank, and the St. Leonards people nobly engaged in a voluntary rate to meet the needs of the town.
Meeting of Creditors. A very crowded meeting took place in the Town Hall on the afternoon of July 4th, with the Mayor presiding. Mr. Langham gave a detailed account of filing the petition of bankruptcy and exculpated himself from any attempt to take undue advantage in the part which he had assigned to himself. He had acted, he said, solely for the benefit of the creditors. In alluding to a placard issued by Mr. Young, Mr. Langham said that as that gentleman had told them a part of what took place between himself and Mr. Young, he (Mr. Langham) would tell them the remainder. Three days after the adjudication offered him £25 and his expenses if he would not oppose him. He found a circular had been issued soliciting proxies on behalf of Messrs. Deudney and Piper as assignees even before the parties were bankrupts. That might be convenient, but was it decent? He had no hostile feeling towards the late bankers; on the contrary, he had the utmost respect for them; but as bankrupts, their affairs ought to undergo a strict investigation. He did not object to Messrs. Piper and Deudney on the ground of unfitness, but he contended that they were the nominees of the Bank, and as such, ought not to have the appointment. He understood that Messrs. James Smith, Tilden Smith and Francis Smith were indebted to the Bank to the extent of £40,000. He also understood that some handsome settlements had been made; that Mr. Hilder, a few years ago, settled a large amount of property on his sn; that a house in Pelham Crescent was settled on Mrs. Smith. But if the Bank was insolvent at the time, such property must be restored. After some other remarks, Mr. Langham moved the following resolution:- "Resolved that this meeting recognise the necessity of a rigid investigation of the affairs of the Old Bank and the importance of appointing men of ability and perseverance (free from bias on account of family connection with members of the Bank or otherwise) to the offices of assignees and solicitor."
Mr. Hawkins (late of Hastings) had come from London with much personal inconvenience, but as a large creditor, he had received a circular asking him to vote in favour of Messrs. Piper and Deudney, but after what he had then heard he should certainly not do so. He had heard as he came down that Mr. Langham's assignees were Mr. Clement and Mr. Shirley; he was glad to find that Mr. Langham [ 206 ]had no one to propose, and he would therefore with pleasure second the resolution.
Mr. W. B. Young essayed to speak, but as there was considerable interruption, the Mayor interposed, and said that as they had given Mr. Langham a fair hearing, he hoped the same fairness would be shewn to all. Mr Young then said that his sole object in nominating Mr. Piper was that he was a very fit person for the office, and knew much of the county connexion. Of the other person, he would say that if there was one man more than another who would interrogate the matter, it was Mr. Robert Deudney. Mr. Langham then moved "That a committee be appointed to nominate proper persons able and willing to discharge the duties of assignees to the Bankrupt estate who will exercise sound discretion in their selection of solicitor and report such their nominations at an adjourned meeting of the creditors to be holden here on Saturday next at two o'clock precisely."
Mr. Womersley, in seconding the motion, said he should certainly be opposed to the two names so freely set forth, because he believed them to be the nominees of the bankers. He sympathised with the bankers in their misfortune, but it was the creditor's position that now had to be considered.
The following gentlemen were then chosen to form the committee:- Messrs. Womersley, Clement, Noden, H. Burgess, N. Parks, J. G. Langham Grisford, Watts, J. Phillips, J. Oliver, and P. Banks.
Mr. Stoneman, of St. Leonards, in seconding the adjournment, hoped they would work well together to bring out a good dividend. He thought he should have heard more about the dividend and les of the antagonism of rival solicitors.
Mr. Langham then stated (unofficially) that there were £6,600 in the till, £4000 at Mastermans bank; £27,000 in bills; and other assets, making a total of £78,000, against £150,000 liabilities. The estimated dividend was 10s in the £.
The Adjourned Meeting of creditors was held at the Town Hall on the 11th of July, when the Committee's report stated that at their meeting at the Swan Hotel it was resolved that the names of Robert Deudney, Henry Baker, J. G. Langham, and Alfred Burton be submitted to the adjourned meeting of creditors, if they would severally act as assignee. Mr. Baker and Mr. Langham were willing to do so, but Mr. Deudney and Mr. Burton declined, both of whom identified themselves with Mr. Piper as an assignee and Mr. Young as the solicitor.
Mr. Hawkins, in moving the adoption of the report, said he was more than ever convinced that there were many things that had to [ 207 ]be sifted. It as somewhat singular that the bankers wished to choose their own assignees and their own solicitor; there must be a reason for it. He moved that this meeting adopt the committee's report and nomination of Messrs. Baker, Langham and Oliver to be assignees of the Bankrupt's estate and effects, and recommended to the creditors at large for election. Mr. Ranger of Eversfield place, seconded the resolution, which was carried unanimously.
Quick Work. The unusual celerity with which the proceedings were carried on all round was remarkable. Within a few days Mr. Young had obtained proxies for votings, which represented upwards of £80,000, which was more than sufficient to carry the choice against the committee's recommendation. The original proposition was, however modified by an additional assignee and an additional solicitor, and by Thursday the 23rd of June, at the Court of Bankruptcy, the creditors by their proxies elected as assignees Mr. Jesse Piper, of Hawkhurst, Mr. Robert Deudney, of St. Leonards, and Mr. Frederick Ticehurst, of Hastings. Also as solicitors, Mr. W. B. Young, of Hastings, and Mr. Edward Martin, of Battle. The Bankrupts were allowed £3 a week each, and were complimented by the Commissioners for the assistance they had rendered. Mr. Lawrence stated the accounts showed a dividend of over thirteen shillings in the pound. Thus the preliminary proceedings, though looking a little suspicious at first, were evidently in good hands.
Richard Smith's Bankruptcy. When the bank closed its doors, Mr. Richard Smith owed the firm £17,000, and was one of the debtors whose insolvency led to the stoppage of the Bank. He was a farmer and butcher at Salehurst and Sedlescomb, and on the 10th of July an adjourned meeting was held for the choice of assignee under Mr. Smith's extensive failure. A proof was then tendered for a claim of £3,000 and interest, money lent by Edward Yates, of London. The bankrupt said the money was borrowed in 1850 to carry on a trust of his late brother Henry, of which his brother Tilden and himself were trustees. He did not receive the money himself, but he supposed Tilden did, although he did not know. He was satisfied his brother Henry did not have it. Tilden did all the business of the trust, keeping the accounts and paying and receiving everything. He got the money to pay the interest out of the estate. The trust was wound up about four years ago, and he thought the promisory note should have been paid off. Further debts to about £6,000 were then tendered, including, including(sic) as creditors Mr. Jeremiah Smith, of Springfield Lodge, Rye, Miss Harriet Russell, of Brixton (lent cash £1,000) and Miss Charlotte Russell of Clapham (lent money £1,000). The creditors nominated Mr. George Clement, of Hastings, to act on [ 208 ]on behalf of the general body of creditors' assignee, and the Court confirmed his appointment. Edward Banting, a barrister, who held the lease of Abbey and Park farms, said he was unable to state the value within £5,000, but his claim on the lease was for money lent. He declined to give up possession. A meeting at his house had taken place, at which Tilden Smith, Monk Smith and Mr. Elliott were present. The bankrupt's affairs were then gone into, but as the matter was confidential, witness declined to answer any questions. - The bankrupt applied for an allowance, and was granted £5 per week from the 22nd of June when the bankruptcy took place. He was also granted protection till the next meeting on the 7th of August. It was intimated that the debts were not less than £40,00, whilst the assets were only £12,000. The sum of £17,000 was due to the Old Bank, of which his brother Tilden was a partner.
Tilden Smith's Separate Estate, at Vinehall near Hurst Green was bought in at £16,000. The auctioneer regretted the haste with which the sale had been urged on to get an early dividend for the creditors of the Bank. The estate consisted of farming stock, a family mansion, which cost £6,000, out-buildings, pleasure-ground, 36 cottages, a public-house and 578 acres of land. The mansion in Wellington square, known as Montague House, the property of Francis Smith, was also bought in, there being two bidders, the highest of which was for £2,000. Richard Smith farming stock at Swale's Green was also offered for sale and realised good prices. It may be here stated that the late Bank house in Pelham Place was bought by Mr. E. Stubbs for £2,800.
The First of the Bank Dividends was 10s in the £. The separate estates of Messrs. Smith raised £1800 and £1700 respectively, whilst that of Mr. Scrivens (who had not overdrawn his account at the Bank) was enough to pay the creditors in full and left a surplus of £5,000 for the joint estate. The settlement of Mr. Hilder's property on his son John in 1852, appeared likely to lead to serious litigation. The balance-sheets for the preparation of which Messrs. Turquand and Young charged £683, were 297 in number. They showed the following items: Creditors on deposits £33,629; creditors on drawing a/cs £90,744; notes in circulation £25,185; partners credit balances - Jas. Hilder, £2,42; George Scrivens, £5,288; profits £44,497; cash balance handed over to official assignees £6,592; stock in Reduced Three per cents, £4,625; debtors £122,182 (estimated to produce £1,00); bank furniture £200; partners' credit balances - Tilden [ 209 ]Smith, £9,923; Francis Smith, £8,565; losses, £22,423, Bank expenses. £12,980; profits divided (£4,200 to each partner) £16,800l deficiency on 22nd of July, 1857, £15,260. It was stated that all parties concurred that Francis Smith and George Scrivens should pass their examination, but it was proposed to adjourn the examination of the other parties, as Tilden Smith, subject to paralysis, was very ill, and James Hilder, at 87 years of age could not pledge his oath to facts contained in the balance-sheets. Mr. Commissioner Lane remarked that such a speedy realisation of assets was very creditable. Between July and October £87,533 belonging to the joint estate had been realised and further sums had been received from the separate estates.
Re Richard Smith - This bankrupt, whose debts and liabilities were about £40,000, and his assets about £6,000, owed the Bank £18,000.
James Hilder's Examination. Mr Hilder was 87 years of age; had managed the Robertsbridge branch of the Bank, the stoppage of which on the 26tth or 27th July, when there was £306 in hand, which he paid away, but knew not to whom. Perhaps his son John took it away. He might have had £50 or more himself. He had poor relations who sometimes wanted money. His clerk Adams had made entries up to June. His son farmed about 20 acres. His son had £509 twenty years ago, and he (the father) thought he could write it off on that day. His wife had destroyed his private ledger. His son had as much money as he liked from him. He supposed other people gave money to their children sometimes. He believed his son took the £500 himself, as he used to tell him he might take what money he liked as a gift. The money was his (the bankrupt's) own, and he thought he might do what he liked with it. His son was now on the Continent for change of air, he being unwell from excitement caused by the bankruptcy. When the others took their shares of the profits he did the same, and had received sums amounting to £1,600, which he might have given to his son John as presents. Scrivens did not let him know when the Bank was going to stop; he took it all upon himself to do. He knew that Smith's a/c was overdrawn. The failure of Richard Smith no doubt stoppd the Bank. He found that at one time Smith's debt was £31,000, that being £7,000 or £8,000 more than they had notes in circulation. In 1848 he mortgaged his own estate to Mr. Luck for [ 210 ]£6,000. The settlement made on his son was dated 22nd of July, 1852, and which disposed of all his landed property & everything he possessed - about £12,000 or £13,000. His son James, who was born before marriage, died in 1856. His object was to keep James from ruining the family. He was 37 years of age when he died.
Mr. Scrivens Complimented. On Thursday the 13th of December, news was joyfully received in Hastings that first class certificates were awarded in the Bankruptcy Court to Mr. George Scrivens and Mr. Francis Smith. In delivering judgement, Mr. Commissioner Fane said "I think it is my duty to express not only my satisfaction with the conduct of Mr. Scrivens, but my admiration also. It appears that Mr. Scrivens has, owing to the correct conduct of his partners, ended a most honourable career with this stigma of bankruptcy; but if ever there was a person who came to this court to whom that stigma should have no application it is Mr. Scrivens. He has led a life, I believe, of honest integrity and economy, and as regards his private affairs he does not owe one farthing. Every creditor has been paid; and as to the general features of the case, he is not only no burthen to his partners, but there is, after payment of everything, a surplus of £5,000 for the general creditors. I therefore have the greatest possible pleasure in giving him what he is fully entitled to, a first-class certificate and my expression of admiration of his conduct" In asking for a first-class certificate Mr. Lawrence said the bank had made large advances to Mr. Richard Smith, a relation of the bankrupts of that name. On the occasion of the bankruptcy of Richard Smith, Mr. Scrivens with great propriety suggested the closing of the Bank. The estate had already paid 10s. in the pound, and a further dividend of from 3s. to 5s. might be confidently anticipated. Mr. Scrivens entered the Bank as clerk 25 years ago, and afterwards became a partner. His private estate showed a surplus of at least £5,000, and in 1852 he had a clear capital of £9,400.
Mr. F. Smith's Certificate. A first-class certificate was next asked for on behalf of Mr. Francis Smith, who in 1852 was solvent, with a surplus of £16,681, although that surplus had been reduced by a loss of £10,000 by a nobleman who was his debtor. The certificate was awarded accordingly.
The Other Partner's Case. It was stated that Mr. Hilder had refused to sign certain accounts and that the ground of objection [ 211 ]was that the accounts showed him to be insolvent at the time he executed a settlement on his son, and which settlement would be void. There would be an adjournment till the 5th of February for the examination of Mr. Hilder and Mr. Tilden Smith. The further and concluding account of this extraordinary event will be found under Chapter LX.
Mr. Morgan's Dividend. Although not connected with the Bank except as an ordinary customer, Mr. Edward Morgan, a wholesale grocer at Claremont, also became a bankrupt, and with so great a disparity of liabilities and assets, that the estate yielded by 4/4 to the pound.
The Holy Trinity. On Wednesday the 22nd of July an interesting ceremony of laying the chief corner stone of a new church took place in the presence of the Bishop of the Diocese, the Mayor, Town Council, Magistrates, local clergy and a very large number of the leading inhabitants of the town, with a good sprinkling of visitors and persons from outlying districts. The site of the new edifice was in Robertson street, where the foundation had already been laid, and where, on this occasion considerable preparation had been made by Mr. Teulon, the architect, and Mr. Howell, the builder. In the centre of the ground was planted a long pole, from the top of which, in different directions four lines of streamers were to be seen "flaunting in the breeze". Which with numerous small flags waving above the assembly imparted to the scene a somewhat gay appearance. On the flags were the following mottoes:- "Life", "Love", "Prayer", "Praise", "Gladness", "Faith", "Mercy", "Joy", "Unity", "Charity", &c. On the spot where the ceremony was to be performed was erected a temporary shed, which but for the opportune cessation of showers would have been essential to the comfort of those whose services were deemed essential. Around this spot and its approach were a raised platform and roadway, easy of access and sufficient to afford accommodation for a large number of persons. On every side was placed a firm barrier as a provision against accidents, and at a convenient part of the enclosure was placed a harmonium, at which Mr. Lindridge (organist of St. Mary's presided, and with whom were many of the singers from the different churches. Thus every suitable preparation was made for the important ceremony.
Previous to the commencement of the appointed service the [ 212 ]venerable Bishop, in a distinct and audible voice, spoke as follows:- "Mr. Mayor, and good people here assembled, you are told in the form which is circulated with regard to the proceedings here today that they will commence with a few words addressed to those who are present on the object for which we assembled. And can I more properly engage your attention than by observing that we are standing around a lady well known to you for her unvarying kindness on all suitable occasions, and for her earnest desire to promote the glory of God and the spiritual interest of the population in which her lot has been cast. That lady is about, in the name of the blessed Trinity to lay the first stone of an edifice which we trust will, ere long, lift itself here as the receptacle of God's people worshipping within its holy walls, and obtaining there God's favour and blessing. Such being the object for which you are assembled, I am sure you would feel that it is improper to commence any such undertaking except in the way in which the Christian people of this happy land always desire to begin their important undertakings, namely, by imploring the blessing of Almighty God, and by committing them to his favour and protection.
Is it not necessary that such an undertaking should be put forward at this particular spot? You know that there are rising from year to year, and from week to week, houses that are to become the dwellings of the continually increasing population; and one consequence of this is that unless care be taken to provide places for public worship, such public worship must fail in the land. And when I say this, I am not insensible to laudable efforts that are made by other communities. I do not speak of the defect of places of worship in that sense; but I must say that it is the duty of bishops and other ministers of the Established Church to give an opportunity to the members of their Church for that which we in our consciences - and without censure of those who differ from us - regard as the more excellent way. And if it is the feeling of the inhabitants of this Christian land that no important undertaking should be commenced without an application to God for his aid and blessing, surely the object of building a church to His honour should be commenced by commending it with prayer to the Almighty Governor of all. I am thankful to see you in such numbers; and be assured there is a God who heareth prayer - a God who looks down now on this [ 213 ]undertaking, and whose favour may be more and more obtained as your prayers ascend to him. I will now call on a clergyman well known in this place that he may lead the devotion in accordance with the printed form. The Rev.. G. D. St. Quintin then gave out a hymn, and afterwards engaged the people in prayer. This was followed by the Countess of Waldegrave laying the memorial stone with a silver trowel, and in a manner indicative of a practical knowledge of what she had to do, saying "In the faith of Jesus Christ, we place this foundation stone in the name of God, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost." The Bishop next read a prayer, which was followed by other hymns and prayers. Previously to the ceremony here described, the Bishop preached a sermon in St. Clement's church, after which a collection was made, amounting to about £20.
At the Fishermen's Church, on Thursday, January 8th, a sermon was preached by the Re. T. Cave Childs on behalf of the Missions to Seamen off the coast of Great Britain. At the same church, on Sunday, May 19th, a sermon was preached by the Rev. Charles Kingley, author of "Westward Ho!" and other literary works.
A New St. Helen's Church. The Rector of Ore church (the Rev. W. Swiss Turner) issued a circular, dated Oct. 12th, in which he offered to give £2,000 towards a new church on a more convenient site, in which 600 persons might be seated, including 150 children, the church to be built ecclesiastic in style and substantial in structure.
At St. Mary's-in-the-Castle, on Sunday the 18th of January, a sum of £51 was collected towards the expenses of the evening services, which till then had been conduced(sic) free.
At St. Clement's and All Saints, on February 8th, a little over £23 was collected in aid of the District Visiting Society.
Fairlight Church Missionary Society. Two crowded meetings to inaugurate this branch were held in the parish schoolroom on Tuesday, March 3rd, and as a first effort for that object in the church itself, a sermon was preached on March 9th, which realised over £11.
In Lieu of Church Rates, the voluntary fund for St. Clements during the year amounted to £136, and was about £6 more than the expenses. An estimate of £120 was made for the ensuing year, and for which purpose it was arranged by the rector and churchwardens that sermons [ 214 ]should be preached and subscriptions set on foot.
The New Congregational Church in Robertson street was opened on Wednesday, June 24th, with befitting solemnity. There was a numerous congregation. The organ was constructed by Mr. Dawes, of St. Leonards.
At the Croft Chapel special sermons were preached on the 24th of January in aid of the building fund of the Robertson Street Congregational Chapel, but the collection was of a small amount. The Re. C. Galloway, of London was the preacher on that occasion.
For the Church Missionary Society nine pounds was collected at Hastings and twenty-six pounds at St. Leonards.
Three Sermons at St. Marys on Sunday, Oct. 26th, realised £56 for the schools of that parish, whilst the same number of sermons on the same day at St. Leonards added a little over £40 for the schools fund of that parish
A Testimonial was presented to the Rev. S. W. Winter, on his leaving Hastings for a living in Leicester, in recognition of his valuable services during 2½ years curacy of St. Mary-in-the-Castle. The testimonial consisted of an elegant communion service, valued at five guineas, a Bible, a Prayer-book and a purse of £116.
Another Testimonial. At the Wellington-square Baptist Chapel, on June 22nd, a testimonial was presented to the Rev. John Stent, with a purse of £40, on his resigning the pastorate. The presentation also consisted of a handsome mantel clock. Mr. Stent had laboured very assiduously, both in and out of the pulpit for the good of the town. His lectures in connection with the Mechanic's Institution and other associations were greatly appreciated.
Church Bells. On the afternoon of the 9th of February, a preliminary meeting was held at the Anchor Inn, with J. Phillipps, Esq. in the chair, to consider the advisability and possibility of providing the St. Clement's Church with a new peal of bells. It was thought to be highly derogatory to a town like Hastings to have no better bells than the town had, to ring on festive occasions, while many a small village could boast of a set of bells far superior. It was resolved that Messrs. Alderton and Shrewsbury be asked to ascertain the probable expense. On Friday afternoon, April 24th, a public meeting was held in the Town Hall for considering the expediency of procuring the bells in question. The compiler of this [ 215 ]History was present at the meeting, and on the same evening the following impromptu doggerel appeared in the St. Leonards Gazette.
On Friday afternoon, at three, was heard the Town-hall bell,
And why 'twas heard at such a time we now proceed to tell.
The Mayor (Thomas Ross, Esquire), a meeting did convene,
To speak of those discordant bells - St. Clement's bells, we mean.
At first, a very few were there; but, shortly, more came in,
And then his Worship lost no time the business to begin.
He read a note received by him from Mr. William Ransom,
Regretting he could not be there, in terms polite and handsome.
Squire Phillips said that those old bells gave out discordant sounds,
And that a new peal might be had for thrice one hundred pounds;
Then moved that 'twas expedient to purchase and to fix
In Clement's tow'r a peal of eight instead of present six.
A ready seconder was found in Mr. Henry Dunk,
Who spoke ecclesiastical, as any worthy monk;
He'd give his mite, he thought 'twas right to thus support the motion;
And we could trace in many a face agreement with such motion.
Two worthy aldermen - to wit, Will Ginner and James Rock -
Spoke well in favour of the scheme; but mindful of the clock,
Did say their say in bus'ness wy, and finnished(sic) each his ditty
By advocating there and then a suitable committe.
The said committee to have pow'r subscriptions to collect
To furnish old St. Clement's tow'r with brand new bells; in fact,
To undertake in ev'ry way whate'er might needful seem,
And carry out in full detail that all important scheme.
The motions having duly passed, as if by one consent,
To nominate committee-men was next their full intent.
Which one by one was fairly done, without the least demur,
And if you wish to know their names, we'll tell you who they were.
Of course the Rector would be one, as also would the Mayor,
And to exclude the overseers would not at all be fair;
The Sidesmen and Churchwardens, the Vestry-clerk, as well
With Messrs. Alterton and Rock - good judges of a bell.
The Rev'rend Henry Foyster's name was added to the list,
Whilst Gutsell and A. Vidler - both promised to assist.
Then Scrivens, Ticehurst, Ginner, Ransom, Dunk and Boykett Breeds;
Sure such a host of worthy names presages wondrous deeds!
But oh! we almost had forgot 'mongst all the names put down,
Those other well-known characters - Smith, Robinson and Brown
Should strangers say this is a pun, let natives undeceive them,
Or should they say we write in fun, let no sane man believe them.
Ficticious names have here no place, but good, substantial people;
And soon you'll find them hanging bells on old St. Clement's steeple.
Sucess(sic)! we say, to that proud day; we long to see the time,
When that old tow'r obtains the pow'r to peal a merry chime.
The bells shall ring, and belles shall sing a blythe and jocund lay,
And ev'ry band that's near at hand shall its best music play;
Those sacred chimes at proper times shall tell the sinners needs,
Or if sad war our peace should mar, they'll tell of Valour's deeds.
Their merry lays on festive days shall tell of laughing hearts;
Of echoing grove, of plighted love, of Cupid's piercing darts;
Or, at the least, of nuptial feast the news they will be spreading,
When they shall play "The Wedding Day" or "Haste ye to the Wedding."
Of Royal birth, with equal mirth, they shall the tidings bring,
And shall not spare that magic air - "God save the Queen" or King.
Then freely give all ye who live in this our ancient town,
To this grand plan, and unborn man shall tell of your renown!
Up to May the fifth the subscriptions for the proposed new bells had amounted to £150, of which sum the Rev. J. Fisk and Mr. James Breeds had promised £10 each; Messrs. John Phillips, Lucas-Shadwell, G. West and J. Grenside £5 each; W. Brisco, Rev. J. Vores and Miss North, also £5 each; the Mayor, £3; and other persons lesser sums.
Nearly two months were added to the roll of time when it was found that the "discordant bells" of old St. Clement's were to have a fresh lease granted to them in consequence of the subscriptions for the new peal having come to a stand-still near the half way house. In later chapters it will be seen that as the £300 could not be obtained, it was resolved to return the amounts subscribed for, and that afterwards the scheme was revived and the bells purchased. [ 217 ]
The Fairlight National Schools. The children of these schools, together with the master (Mr. E. Pinson) and some others persons, the number being about 60, were treated to a good supper on the 14th of April by Mr. Lucas Shadwell. The Rev. H. Stent and Mr. Jas. Rock were present. On the following evening Mr. Rock was also present at a treat to the boys of the St. Mary's Evening School
The Halton Schools (Sunday and Week-day) had their annual treat on August 13th. The number of children was 200.
For the Croft Sunday School £5 was collected on the 27th of September, after the Sunday service.
At the St. Mary's Evening School, on the 9th of March, a juvenile Soirée was held; when the boys, according to annual custom partook of tea, and were exercised in their reading, singing and other acquirements.
The St. Mary's Evening School resumed its operations in the usual room at the back of Stone street, and Mr. Rock, the treasurer received for its use the sum of £5 from a friend, as a thank-offering for the unexpected first dividend of 10s in the pound from the estate of the Old Bank.
The St. Mary's Schools (Sunday and Week-day) were benefitted by about £64 on the 18th of April, after sermons in the Pelham Crescent Chapel by the Revs. J. Vores and C. D. Bell.
The St. Clement's & All Saints' Schools had sermons preached for them on the 25th of April by the Hon. and Rev. S. Waldegrave (afterwards Bishop of Carlisle), Rev. H. S. Foyster, Rev. T. Nightingale and Re. Mr. Trotter. The total of the offertories was about £20. Sermons were also preached on behalf of the same schools on the 8th of November, when the appeals were more successful, the sum reached being £44. The children numbered 200 boys, 158 girls and 176 infants.
The Halton Schools were benefitted in like manner to the extent of £18, which was regarded as a fairly good sum for that district.
"American Poets" was the title of a lecture given in the rooms of the Institution on Feb. 16th, by Mr. Arthur Ransom.
Shingle Movement formed the topic of a lecture delivered in the same rooms on March 16th, by Mr. Major Vidler of Pevensey, late of Hastings. The lecture which treated also of groynes was very interesting.
Finances at a Low Ebb During the summer, the Institution was in an unsatisfactory condition, the cost of lectures and hire of lecture room in the winter session having crippled its resources. The Rev. J. H. Fisk kindly gave £5 to help it out of difficulties, and a fête was [ 218 ]arranged to be held in Mr. North's grounds. This took place on Monday, Sept. 21st, and was visited by about 500 persons. It realised, however, only about £6 after deducting expenses of illumination, fireworks &c.
An Hour with Robert Nicholl was the subject of one of the winter sessions lectures, and the lecturer was Mr. Pillow, of Hastings.
Women and Watchwork was the title of another lecture, which on the 26th of January, was delivered by Mr (afterwards Sir. John) Bennett of London. A report of the lecture which appeared in the St. Leonards Gazette, showed its main object to be the two fold one of giving employment to many hundreds of women, and by such employment to enable the English watchmaker to compete with the Swiss.
Frictional Electricy(sic) was ably treated of by Mr. John Banks, the indefatigable Secretary of the Institution, on the 30th of
August February[Notes 7] just at the time that the electric wire of the L.B. & S.C. Railway was completed to Hastings.
At a meeting of this society on the 30th of January, the following officers were elected:- President, F. North, Esq., M.P. Vice Presidents:- T. Agar, Esq., G. Batley, Esq., P. F. Robertson, Esq., M.P., J. G. Shorter, Esq., W. D. Lucas-Shadwell, Esq., Francis Smith, Esq. Treasurer, G. Scrivens, Esq. Secretary, Rev. John Parkin. Committee, the president, treasurer and secretary, Mr. Crosbie, Mr. Gant, Dr. Greenhill, Mr. Lindsell, Mr. O'Neil, Rev. T. Nightingale, Mr. J. Rock, jun. Dr. Stevenson and Rev. Thomas Vores. It was resolved that £5 be invested in the Savings Bank as a nucleus of a sinking fund; also that £10 be spent during the year in the purchase of new books.
At this time the position and prospects of the society were regarded as improved, there having been an increase of 11 members, and a cash balance of £17.
At the March meeting it was resoled that the subscription to Mudie's Library be increased to about £10 per annum, and that £5 be spent in the binding of books. New members elected:- Mr. Wm. Ransom, of 42 George street, Hastings, Mr. Hy. Dunk, of High street, Hastings, Mr. Edwd. Long Eve, of 1 Castledown terrace, Hastings, Mr. Robertson Ransom of 3 Verulam place, St. Leonards, and Mr. George Brown Turner, of 10 verulam place, St. Leonards.
On the 26th of June, in consequence of the failure of the Old Bank, the treasurer (G.Scrivens) sent in his resignation. The Secretary was requested to inform Mr. Scrivens that his resignation was ac[ 219 ]cepted with much regret and that the Committee unanimously passed a vote of thanks to him for the deep interest he had ever taken in the affairs of the Institution. Mr. O'Neil was afterwards appointed Treasurer.
At the September quarterly meeting the following persons were elected members:- A. E. Murray, Esq., of Manor House, Re. George Everard of 4 Belle Vue, Mr. R. Wilkins, Marine Cottage, Mr. Robt. Growse, of 85 High street, Miss. Tooth, of Castle street, Mr. Jos. Arnold of Magdalen road, St. Leonards, Edmund Mason Thomson, of 28 Wellington Square, Re. George Borrett, St. Clements Rectory, Arthur King, Esq., 5 High street
A share of the Institution having been purchased at a public auction for £20 10s. and offered to the Committee at the same price, the latter resolved to accept it.
At the December quarterly meeting it was resolved to accept from Mr. P. F. Robertson, M.P. 150 volumes of "The Records of the House of Lords and the House of Commons of Great Britain". New members elected - Miss Peers, 53 St. Mary's terrace, and Rev. J. E. Tanner, 12 High Wickham
in the month of January, several of the Hastings fishing luggers set for the mackerel to the western waters according to annual custom, and the letters received at home were of an encouraging tenour. Some of them had already made as much as from £50 to £100 by the catch of a single night. This good fortune, however, was of short duration, and when March had come round, the news from Plymouth was of a gloomy character, there being no fish within reach. The small success attending the mackerel seekers in the "far-west" continued to the end of April, when most of the boats had set out for the home voyage, whilst those that remained at home were then "bending-in" for the mackerel season. Two months had passed and then the home season appeared likely to be almost as that in the west, there being but very few fish that would find their way into the nets. But bad as the season had been the fishermen would not give up until every means had been exhausted, hence they toiled on night after night until the last week in June, when some of the boats netted from one to two thousand, which realised a good price. Even this piece of good luck continued but a few nights, and after a fruitless endeavour for another month, the whole of the mackerel fleet gave up by the first week in August, and the oldest man among [ 220 ]declared he had never known so bad a season. Thus, notwithstanding the good catches by those who sailed westward in January, the whole of the men were in debt. The herrings, however, even in the month of June, when not expected, were courageous enough to face the nets, and on the night of the 11th "Busy" Food caught 8,000, "Civil Dick", 5,000, and "Archdeacon" (William) Gallop, 4,000. Some other boats also netted a few fish.
Saving a Wreck. Although on the whole the fishermen did badly at their regualar(sic) avocation, a few of them were fortunate in other ways. At about 7pm. on the 24th of February, as the Hastings fishermen were trawling between their own town and Rye, and at about 8 miles from shore, they saw an outward-bound ship run down a schooner. The ship was hove to, and it was believed took off the schooner's crew. Four of the trawlers went to the spot, and lay by the wreck till the morning. They endeavoured to tow it ashore; but finding it impossible, one of the boats came home and got the help of a steam-tug from Rye. The wreck and its general cargo was got on to Rye bar by night, and by the next flood-tide into the harbour. Two months later, the crews of the four fishing boats obtained £284 as salvage money.
Another Collision On the night of the 20th of March, a Hastings fishing-boat sustained considerable damage, besides losing her nets, in consequence of being run into by an unknown French lugger.
A Previous Collision The "Elizabeth" fishing-boat had been also run into by the "Loire", but in this case the owner (Mark Swaine) received a compensation of £20.
And Yet Another. During a thunderstorm on the night of June 19th, the 'Bee' fishing lugger, of Hastings was run foul of by the barque "Hamilton" of Fredericstadt at about three leagues from Beachy Head. The lugger was riding by her nets at the time, and sustained considerable damage.
Run Aground. On Monday, March, 2nd, the Edith schooner ran aground opposite to Eversfield place, but was afterwards refloated without having sustained any material damage.
Catching Welks A new method of fishing for whelks by means of baited baskets was this year adopted, and was said by the fishermen to be much more successful than the old method.
A Fisherman Drowned - On the early morning of Nov. 27th, as Joseph Britt, on returning from a night's herring fishing, was [ 221 ]reefing the sail, the hook broke, and he was jerked overboard. He was a good swimmer, but with his heavy sea-boots on and other clothes, he sank and was drowned before he could be picked up. He left a widow and five children.
Storms of Wind and Rain
The Flower Show Wrecked. The autumn Horticultural Show which was to have been held in the Castle Gardens on the 8th of September was so assailed by wind and rain as to cause it to be postponed till the next day, but when the morrow came, the wind was even stronger and the rain was heavier. The tents were stripped of their canvas and many of the flowers were damaged. On the same day a smack, belonging to Messrs. Kent, of Hasting, sent some fish ashore, with the captains and man. They reached the shore with great difficulty, and in attempting to return to the smack, were knocked over by a huge wave, which caused the younger man to be drowned, whilst the captain saved himself by swimming ashore. On the next morning, a similar accident nearly occurred by the bringing fish ashore. The boat was driven broadside to a heavy wave. and but for the dexterity of the man at the helm, would have been capsized(sic) by the next wave.
A Fatal Gale. On the 7th and 8th of October Hastings was visited by a strong gale and a heavy sea which latter mounted the parades in magnificent fountains and cataracts, especially at the more vulnerable points at White Rock and East Parade. On the night of the first-named date, people were attracted to the Fishmarket by the discharge of a coastguardsman's pistol. A small sloop named "Draper" was seen driving before the gale at a short distance from shore. The tide was low, but there was a strong surf and a sea of foam. The vessel soon drifted helplessly on the rocks at the Rock-a-Nore groyne. A large ferry-boat was tried to be launched by means of horses, but after three attempts the
attemp work was given up. A lad named Enefer, an excellent swimmer next ventured into the surf, with a rope attached to him, and had nearly reached the vessel when he was hauled back in an exhausted state, the rope having got round his neck and placed him in imminent danger. The vessel soon became a complete wreck and all her crew were doomed. Perhaps it was the remembrance of this sad event that caused a fisherman to say when the present unfinished harbour was first mooted "If any vessel in a heavy sou'-wester misses the mouth of the harbour and runs on dem'ere rocks woe betide the crew, never a man will come out alive." [ 222 ]Rescued from Drowning. While bathing on the morning of the 17th of August, a person, unable to swim, got out of his depth, and seeing this, Cobby (who had before rescued two persons from drowning) swam out and caught him just as he was sinking for the third time, and got him ashore. The rescued man rewarded Cobby as far as his slender means would allow, but a gentleman who saw the whole affair gave Cobby a half sovereign.
A more pleasant theme in connection with the sea than the immediately preceding ones, was the annual regatta, although even that was to some extent disappointing. It was fixed for the 25th of August, and on the morning of that day, the weather appeared to be on its good behaviour, but as the tide rose, the wind rose, and the sea followed suit in a rising of roughness. The conditions thus became too dangerous for the skiffs and galleys; and so, only the two appointed sailing matches were accomplished. The next day being more favourable, the rest of the regatta was carried out, the prize-winners of which were as follows:-
Four-oared galleys - Black Bess, Hastings (G. Tutt) £15; Ann, of Brighton (John Fairey) £8; and Arrow, of Ramsgate (E. Goldsmith) £5.
Amateur Pairs - Nautilus of Ramsgate (E. Goldsmith) 15s. Panther, of Hastings (F. Tutt), 10s.; Unity of Hastings (A. Hutchinson) 7/6; Mary Jane, of Hastings (H. Roberts) 5s.
Four-oared Galleys - Lelia, of Hastings (C. Amoore), £8; Swift, of Brighton (John Fairey), £4; Flora, of Hastings (E. Picknell) £2.
Amateur-Fours - Black Bess (G. Tutt), £5; Unity, of Hastings (A. Soame), £3; Anne, of Brighton (John Fairey) £2.
Pair-oars - Panther, of Hastings (G. Tutt) £2; Nautilus, of Ramsgate (E. Goldsmith), £1; Anne, of Brighton (John Fairey) 10s.
Amateur-Fours - Flora, of Hastings (E. Gray), £4; Lelia, of Hastings (R. Chandler), £2; Surprise, of Hastings (J. Dickenden) £1
Losing Galleys - Arrow, of Ramsgate, £3; Surpprise, of Hastings, £2; Flora, of Hastings, £1
Tub-race - "Limpy" Ball, 5s., J. Bumstead, 4s.; "Trumps" Waters, 3s.
The annual meeting of this society was held at the Marine hotel on the 30th of April, when the report showed that although there was a balance against the society in 1855, there was a favourable balance of £12 12s. 10d. in 1856 - a larger amount than the society has had to&bnbsp;[ 223 ]boast of since its formation. W. D. Lucas-Shadwell was in the chair, and it was resolved to hold the spring show in the St. Leonards Subscription Gardens on the 23rd of June. The show was held accordingly, and was very successful. The autumn show, unwisely arranged to be held in the Castle ruins - unwisely for more reasons than one - was a sad event as described on page 221.
A Fractured Toe, on the 2nd of April, resulted to a lad in the employ of Mr. Ashton, of George street, by the fall of a shutter while opening the shop. The present writer could sympathise with the said lad, he having by just the same sort of accident injured his left fore-toe as to feel the effect for several years, the pain from which was only removed by an almost daily application of oil.
A Broken Arm and Dislocated
Shoulder Elbow befell one of the children of Mr. W. Edwards of John street on the 29th of April in the manner following:- Two children were taken by their cousin for a walk on the East hill, and during their rambles, they mistook the course of a rivulet for a foot-path, whereby they got over the cliff to a point from which they could neither ascend nor descend without help. The young woman fainted, and the two children fell or rolled over on the beach. The eldest - a boy, 9 years of age, was found with a broken arm and dislocated elbow, as before stated.
Bruises but no Broken Bones were the result of riding-master Willard's fall from his horse on June 16th, in consequence of the animal tripping against stone.
A Broken Axletree happened to a South-Eastern railway train on Sunday, July 19th, which caused the train to be three hours late, but no person was injured.
A Narrow Escape from serious injury was the lot of two men on the 21st of July. They were employed on the drainage excavations in Robertson street several feet below the surface, and were nearly buried by the shingle and loose earth which fell in upon them in consequence of some of the supports giving way. They were promptly released from their perilous position. A more serious accident at the drainage works, resulted in the blasting of rock in St. Mary's terrace, whereby a man named Garland in the employ of Hughes and Hunter, had one eye blown out and his face disgracefully injured.
Dinners, Suppers, &c.
The annual dinner of the Trade-Protection Society, was held at the "Royal Oak" on the 12th of March. In the after-dinner proceedings it was shown that the number of members was 66, and the cash in hand was £14. [ 224 ]A Supper (as already stated) was given to Mr. Mundy's men for their good conduct during the drainage operations.
A Dinner was given by Mr. North, M.P. to the Recorder, the Mayor and Magistrates on the 17th of April.
A Dinner to the Recorder and other legal functionaries after the business of the July Quarter Sessions, was given by the Mayor (T. Ross, Esq.).
A Supper, was given by Mr. John Howell to the men in his employ after the laying of the memorial stone of the Holy Trinity Church on the 22nd of July.
St. Clement, the Patron Saint of the Forge was duly honoured by Messrs. Alderton and Shrewsbury giving a supper to twenty-four of their workmen.
The Mayor's Banquet
On the 9th of November, the Mayor's dinner was prepared, as usual, at the Swan Hotel, where many scores of similar entertainments had taken place. The following are a few of the sentences culled from the after-dinner speeches.
Mr. Ross, the ex-Mayor, in toasting the Mayor-elect, said he had known Mr. Rock many years, and had always admired his upright conduct, and had heard many speak of him as a trustworthy young man, who was indefatigable in business and zealous in advancing the well-being of the rising generation.
The Mayor, in returning thanks, said he was glad the chairman had stopped in the catalogue of good qualities he was heaping upon him. He remembered their worthy friend, the ex-Mayor, last year, addressing them at some length upon retrospective matters, and giving the history, ancient claims and privileges of Hastings. Not possessing such a love for antiquity, he, himself, would speak more of progressive ideas and principles, and should attend to the present rather than the past. Within the memory of man Hastings had increased ten-fold. There were men living who had known it when its population was only 2,000, and now it was 20,000. There was not a town in England where the increase had been so large. Although they could hardly expect a ten-fold increase in their own time, he believed the borough would greatly increase both in size and importance; and nothing should be wanting on his part to help on such increase and progression.
F. North Esq. M.P. said however much pleasure it afforded him to be present on such occasions, his absence of late was caused by his fulfilling duties at other places - duties which as a country gentleman, he could not and would not neg[ 225 ]lect. Such duties were to those persons to whom he owed his living. He believed his political opinions agreed with most of those who sent him to Parliament, and when they did not he hoped they would turn him out.
The Ex. Mayor, in returning thanks, said the past year had been the happiest of his life, for it was no small honour to be Mayor of Hastings. The Town Council had done its best to increase the importance of the town, notwithstanding the accusations sometimes afloat of extravagance. The contracts for the drainage were £15,796, and the extras would be about £200. There was no town in England that had been so efficiently drained for that sum. Their Cemetery had cost them £6,276, a sum that in some places might have been paid for the ground only. Their water extension had cost them £5,668. Now they had a good drainage, an excellent cemetery and a good supply of water for less than £30,000. He was sure that the value of property would increase very much in consequence of these improvements.
Ald. Hayles said he had come to the town about ten years ago, and was so enchanted with the place that he collected his scattered fortune and took up his residence here.
Mr. Winter, as the youngest Councillor, hoped the young would prove worthy of confidence. As a member of the old Commission, he had taken an active part in introducing the Health of Towns Act. The introduction of that Act called into existence the Local Board of Health! If they had not carried out the drainage themselves the Government would have done it for them at an expense of about £30,000, instead of £16,000. If persons complained of taxation, they had quid pro quo for their money.
"The New Mayor" The Hastings News of November 13th, in its comments on the civic election thus remarked:- "By the unanimous voice of the Council the honours and responsibilities of the Mayoralty were conferred on Mr. James Rock, jun. Of the general esteem in which that gentleman is held we need not speak; writing as we are for those by whom he has been known, and amongst whom he has the 'even tenour' of his unostentious(sic) but useful career for nearly the whole of his life. On his business habits it is still less necessary for us to offer comment. The man who is recognised throughout the county as the active manager of an extensive factory and the intelligent improver [ 226 ]of many things connected with the scientific part of his vocation, requires no written word of praise to make his merits known. We are confident that our new Mayor will not fail in his arduous duties so far as integrity of purpose and aptitude of mental capacity are concerned; and he has our earnest wish that he may have sufficient health and leisure allowed him in the midst of his many engagements to enable him to bring that integrity and ability to bear on his municipal and magisterial duties. His Worship is fortunate in having in his predecessor, Mr. Ross, a deputy-Mayor ready with so much grace and efficiency to give him all the help he may have chance to need."
The Town CouncilIn further editorial remarks, the same journal says:-"The Council and Local Board of this borough have no small task in hand to rule, as they should do, these growing towns. The largest work may appear to have been done in the nearly completed drainage operations; but this may be in appearances only. The waterworks and the lighting, paving and rating departments of municipal legislation, will for a long time - perhaps always - require the greatest amount of wisdom and public honesty which the borough can snd to its governing board to ensure their being well attended to and equally done. In the Council there are a few men - the Mayor and ex-Mayor, for example - who represent the higher class of local business qualifications. But, taken as a whole, we cannot pronounce the municipal body to be above par. We will not say how much we think some of
"The stooping of a small mind to learn is a brighter omen of good than the soaring of a greater one to show off. However as we are in no immediate peril of being endangered by the erratic flights of genius, let us only hope that none of our Councillors will assume the faults of greatness in the acknowledged absence of redeeming irtues. Prudence and calm judgement will be more [ 227 ]than ever needed this year; for we have temporally the undoubted experience and sagacity of Mr. Alderman Scrivens, and have placed under eclipse the more doubtful importance of Mr. Williams. And although we have for the one the position and good sense of Mr. Alderman Hayles, and for the other the spirit and independence of Mr. Winter, yet there is, without doubt, a considerable loss of municipal experience and local knowledge. We do not say this to disparage our local servants, nor to encourage others to do so. We would rather uphold their hands and help them in every possible way. But the statement of facts like these is imperative, that we may both know what we have to do and what sort of material we have to do it with. The work is plentiful enough, and the workers' constituency hard enough to please, but patient, thoughtful, honest men are fully equal to the requirements of the hour.
Wisdom is oftentimes nearer when we stoop
Than when we soar
There was abundance of popular amusements throughout the year, irrespective of private entertainments, lectures at the various institutions, soirées, balls, &c. The Wizard Rosenfield gave his farewell entertainment on the evening of January 8ths, at the Swan Assembly room. Mr. Lewis, an intelligent and gentlemanly person of colour, gave a number of lectures and seances of an amusing and instructive character on Mesmerism, Magnatism, Phrenology, etc. - Cooke's Circus (a throw-off from Astley's) performed in the Priory Meadow, with wonderful success, and at the same time, a large menagerie was exhibited on the same ground. The great United States Circus also performed in Hastings, with 220 men and hrses. It entered the town, headed by a splendid car - containing a large organ, drawn by 40 horses driven by one man. Mr. and Mrs. German Reed appeared on two or three occasions and obtained large audiences for their popular entertainment. The "Sisters Sophia and Ann" also catered for the public with a fair amount of success. Then there was Rock Fair, also the summer and winter chartered fairs of the old town; and although but little more than relics of the past, still afforded amusement to a certain class of people.
Mr. J. H. Job, having been elected Assessor, claimed exemption on the grounds of having served within a certain period. His place was filled by Mr. Jos. Bannister, the Liberals' agent. [ 228 ]Running the Bounds. This ancient practice was observed by the All Saints' parish on the 21st of May.
Promotion. By the death of General George Beattie, our General Menzies, K.H.K.C. attained the rank of full General.
A Clipper Yacht. The yacht built at Hastings for Lord Willoughby D'Eresby, by Mr. George Tutt, entirely from his own design ran from Folkestone to Dover in 15 minutes, and it was said of her that sailing before the wind at 16 or 17 knots an hour, she would beat the fastest steamer.
A Monster Cabbage - A vegetable of this sort, weighing 19lbs. was cut from a garden near High Wickham. It was perfectly sound, and was presented to the Mayor.
The Rev. John Parkin. This esteemed clergyman of Halton was appointed domestic chaplain to Earl Waldegrave.
Relief Fund. Upwards of a thousand pounds was obtained in Hastings for the Indian Relief Fund without a collecting canvass.
Holmes' Charity. A distribution of 400 loaves from this charity to the poor of All Saints took place on the 20th of January.
Daring Robbery. On the night of Monday February 2nd, a man, dressed as an engineer at the York Inn, but there being no spare beds, he was recommended to the house of Mr. Cheal, a railway porter, where he obtained the required accommodation. On going to bed he informed the family of his intention to leave in the morning sufficiently soon to travel by the first train. In this there was nothing to excite suspicion, but on "tomorrow's dawn" it was discovered that not only had the supposed engineer departed, but also that sundry articles of clothing, together with the contents of a child's money-box were missing. By whom they were appropriated was a matter of easy conjecture, and but little time elapsed ere the police were put on the qui vive.
Suicide. - The finding of the body of a man suspended to a tree in Covehurst Wood on Sunday the first day of February, and the evidence given at the inquest on the following Tuesday, left no doubt that the said body was that of Spencer Kent, a fisherman, and that for some time past he had been in a strange way, and had committed self-destruction. He left a wife and family of 5 or 6 children in great poverty.
Friends in time of Need The subscriptions entered into on behalf of the owner and crew of the fishing lugger, which had been run down by a steamship, amounted to £146, which added to £238 awarded by the Fishermen's Club, met within £116 the estimates. [This and the immediately preceding paragraph, were omitted from their proper place of "The Fishery" and "Inquests"] [ 229 ]The Queen's Hotel. At the commencement of the year a large hotel was talked of to be built on the unoccupied space of Robertson terrace. Five directors were to be appointed in London and three at Hastings. The latter were already named as T. Agar, Esq., of Oakfield Lodge; E. Hayles, Esq. of Belmont; and Robert Hempsted, of 14 Grand parade. On the 7th of March the project was sufficiently floated for an advertisement to appear, inviting shares to be applied for, and on the 14th of May the ground was stumped out for the building. The spot selected old site of the "Shipwright's Arms", kept by a man named Gallop at an antecedent period of more than twenty years, and consequently before the ground was claimed by the Woods and Forests Commissioners. When the month of May had arrived, it was announced that a considerable number of shares had been taken up, and the work would be almost immediately begun. A fortnight later, the ground plan was marked out, and Mr. John Howell had obtained the contract for the foundations. The foundations, together with the cellar arches were made, but the shares were not eagerly sought for, and it was more than twelve months before the tenders were recieved for the erection of the superstructure. The accepted tender and other items will be noticed in Chapter LX."May" is not a number.
The Castle Club, better known as "The Peacocks", had their annual dinner at the Castle Hotel on the 11th of February, with Mr. Bromley in the chair. About twenty members partook of the good things there provided. According to report, the viands were of excellent character, the wines superb, and evening altogether most enjoyable.
A Harbour at Hastings, so often proposed and planned was alway abandoned as being too costly and too undesirable for a town like Hastings, whose situation was also not favourable for a harbour of Refuge, the late engineer Robert Stephenson gave it out as his opinion that there was no place on the coast as suitable as Margate - firstly, on account of the bay affording shelter for shipping; and, secondly, because there was plenty of room for an inner harbour.
A Cosmorama was opened in the Caves of the White Rock Bazaar by an enterprising tradesman on the 23rd of May. The exhibition of the Cosmorama and grotto-caves was open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at a charge of sixpence. Admission to the bazaar was at all times free. Mr. Ashdown was the proprietor.
References & Notes
- Brett again left the page number blank - he would appear to wish to refer to page 103 of Chapter 57
- A Merry Andrew is an old term for entertainer or clown
- Brett left this blank - he refers to pages - Transcriber
- Brett would appear to be mistaken in Henrietta's year of death - to have been aged 61, she would have had to have died in 1862 - a fact confirmed via genealogical sources - Transcriber
- This name may be transcribed incorrectly - Brett's handwriting is not clear in this point
- See Victorian Web for detail on this
- It would appear that Brett has made an error in his dates here - transcriber