Brett Volume 6: Chapter LVI - Hastings 1856
| 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. 27)
Town Clerk & Borough Surveyor (Assertions & Denials) (pg. 27)
The Court of Record (pg. 41)
Election of Mayor (pg. 44)
Meeting of Burgesses (pg. 46)
Town Council meetings (pg. 46)
Mr. Eldridge’s Fine (pg. 48)
Political Independence (pg. 49)
Mechanics Institution (pg. 50)
The Literary Institution (pg. 51)
The Fishery & other matters (pg. 53)
Hastings Regatta (pg. 55)
A case of smuggling (pg. 55)
Conviction for smuggling (pg. 56)
Sale of Land, etc., (pg. 56)
Church matters (pg. 56)
School items (pg. 58)
Inquests and Particular Deaths (pg. 59)
Entertainments & other Amusements (pg. 60)
Accidents (pg. 62)
Murder of a Hastings Gaoler (pg. 64)
Curiosities (pg. 66)
Discoveries on the East Hill (pg. 66)
Archaeological Discovery (pg. 66)
The Banking Testimonial (pg. 68)
Proclamation and celebration of Peace (pg. 68)
The Chewton Memorial. (pg. 74)
[ 27 ]
Chapter LVI. Hastings. 1856
Town Council Meetings
Rock-a-Nore Groyne. At the meeting on Jan. 4th, it was resolved that Mr. Selden repair the east groyne, estimated to cost £50, about 30 feet of it having been broken down on Sunday, Dec. 23rd by a strong S. W. wind after a S. E. wind had washed away the beach from the east side. Coun. Picknell said it was not the first nor the fifth time that such groyne had been damaged, and he contended that the lower end ought to be 5 or 6 feet higher; he had mentioned it in committee, but they would not entertain it [Laughter]
Protection for Carlisle Villas. After considerable discussion at the same meeting, it was granted to the owners of property at Carlisle Villas to construct a wharfage for the protection of their property, with an understanding that the Council did not give up their right to the beach. Coun. Ginner remarked that the parties had built their property too near the sea.
Surveyor Discharged. The next resolution was "That Mr. Gant be discharged from his office of surveyor on the 28th inst, and that he deliver to the Town Clerk all accounts and documents; and that the Inspector of Nuisances (Mr. Winter) be surveyor, pro tem, under the Board of Health." At a previous meeting the Surveyor was asked if he had any remarks to make in reply to Mr. Putland's proposals to alter the drainage plans, to which he said he felt himself to be in a difficult position. This was after Coun. Putland, with considerable warmth, rebuked the Town Clerk for venturing a remark that he was not asked for, Mr. Putland protesting against such interference, saying that he (Mr. P.) was responsible to the Board, and did not mean to be interrupted by the servants of the Board. The Surveyor might well feel a difficulty after that rebuke to the Clerk, but being assured by the Mayor that he had the fullest liberty to reply to anyone who criticized his drainage plans, the Surveyor forgot the respect that was due to the Board, and stated that his plans had been inspected and approved by men of greater ability than any man in that hall, and he did not care a sixpence about the opinion of Mr. Putland or of Mr. Williams. Mr. Gant had certainly had much provocation, but that was an expression as unfortunate as it was unguarded. Any unbiased person who had watched the whole proceedings in connection with the drainage question would have seen that certain Conservative members exhibited as strong prejudice against Mr. Putland when he was the Surveyor, and that a few Liberal Councillors who, in every discussion manifested a favouratism(sic) towards Mr. Putland, were decidedly unfriendly to Mr. Gant as Mr. Putland's successor. Mr. Gant's plans were however, in the end so generally approved that when Mr. Putland on being again returned to the Council, began to condemn them, Mr. Gant might have cause to be indignant, but when in his hasty expression he made the mistake of belittling the whole Council (though, perhaps, not intending to do so), by questioning their ability, he could hardly be surprised at their decision to dismiss him. It was then very natural for the Board to believe that they and their surveyor would not[ 28 ]be able to work well together; and for his dismissal the sanction of the General Board of Health was immediately obtained.
Preparing the Cemetery. - The Burial Board reported the receipt of tenders for building 3000 feet of wall, which in round numbers were, respectively, £15, £17 and £28 per 100 feet. That of Mr. Henry Grisbrook being the lowest, was accepted. It was calculated that £1100 would be sufficient for the building of chapels and waiting rooms, and £1000 for lodges, gates and front wall.
A General District Rate at 7d. having been resolved upon, Coun. Putland remarked that a sixpenny rate ought always to be sufficient to keep the town in order. The ratepayers for many years past would have rejoiced if Mr. Putland's "ought" could have been verified in practice.
Wellington Square and its approaches were reported by the Clerk to have been declared public roads.
A Mayor's Deputy. At a special meeting on Jan. 18th, Mr. Ticehurst being unable to attend, appointed Coun. Ginner as his deputy, but as a formal election was necessary, Mr. Ginner was voted to the chair in an ordinary way.
Cemetery Buildings. At the same meeting the Clerk stated that the plans of chapels, &c., having been referred to Mr. Carpenter for alterations, he had sent back the plans, but proposed to reduce the expense by substituting a bell-turret for the tower. He had also reduced the estimate to £893 for the chapels, £333 10s. for the waiting-rooms, £76 for the mortuary, £333 for the front wall and gates, £285 for the sexton's lodge, and £427 for the superintendant's lodge; altogether £2,348. Coun. Vidler could see no necessity for tracery windows, and wanted the estimate reduced to £2,000. Coun. Williams in moving the adoption of the committee's report, remarked that the architect had strongly advised them not to alter the style of the buildings, and he himself was in favour of something worthy of being looked; it would, he thought, be ridiculous to make an unsightly place of it, and thus keep the higher classes from burying their friends there. Ald. Rock concurred and seconded the proposed adoption. Ald. Scrivens thought that if they were going to have gothic architecture, it ought to be done properly, and that they might reckon the actua cost at £2,500, which, however, was better than £3,500. They had not paid a high price for the ground, and they need not therefore be too economical in the erections. £2,000 would make them very naked and unpleasing. The distance was the only objection to the cemetery, but its situation was otherwise so excellent that should another cemetery be made in the west, this would still be the cemetery of the town. Councillor Putland though that plain windows might be substituted, notwithstanding that the architect had stated them to be altogether out of character with the general design and would only make £15 or £20 difference. He (Coun. P) once thought the cemetery would be remunerative, but could now see he was mistaken. He was very sorry that the Burial Board was in the hands of the[ 29 ]Council [Hear, hear!] and that the distance from the town was so great. He now felt bound to oppose all unnecessary expenditure, because it would have to come out of the rates. - Coun. Bromley considered £2,300 to be a very low price for five buildings and a wall, and would have ben disposed to add a thousand pounds to it. He should take every opportunity of opposing those who would jeopardise the interests of the borough by their false notions of economy. - Coun. Putland rose to reply to Coun. Bromley's remarks, but was told by the latter that if he spoke a second time, Bromley would do the same. - Coun. Williams, as the mover of the adoption, then replied, after which, Couns. Vidler seconded Putland's amendment, and was reminded of his being out of order. The Report was adopted.Water Supply. At a meeting of the full Council in committee on May 26th, 1854, a report was drawn up relative to a scheme for obtaining additional water from near the Gas House. That report was adopted at the next meeting of the Local Board, but from that time the matter had been in abeyance until lately, mainly in consequence of the delay in obtaining permission to purchase or otherwise use the required lands. This had now been done, and the cost was reported to be £65 and expenses for a part of the Priory Farm, 1r. 2p.; £100 for 20 perches occupied by the S. E. Railway Company; £230 for 100 feet square of land on the West Hill belonging to the Countess Waldegrave, for a reservoir; £20 for roads; £25 for pipes; and £275 expenses. - Total £440. Coun. Bromley was not prepared to sanction the purchase of the ground unless there was an absolute necessity, seeing that in addition there would be the heavy cost of placing upon it a steam-engine and buildngs. He would like to hear what Mr. Clark had to say. In a letter from this gentleman (proprietor of the Eversfield Waterworks), he said
The Clerk said that Mr. Clark, by shutting off his water supply could throw the water to near the top of High, but by other means only to the bottom. Coun. Putland said that was from the Buckshole reservoir, the lowest level, than which, Mr. Clark had a reservoir at a much higher level. The Chairman (Mr. Gunner) said that two years ago he took a very active part in the question before them, but it had been so long in abeyance that it came before them as a new mater. If they had a water supply, they must have steam power to throw it on the West Hill and other high places, or the town would not be properly supplied; and Mr. Clark's offer did not meet the case. He was aware that the proposed scheme was expensive, but they could not expect to get good supply without expense. At Brighton, where steam power was used the water-rate was 6d. in the pound on the rackrent[Notes 1], and at Lewes it was 9d. In their own town the price[ 30 ]was at first 9d. It was afterwards lowered, injudiciously, as he thought to 6d. on the rateable value, which was, in fact, only 4¾d. in the £. He never concealed the opinion that to have a good supply they must raise the price. He moved that the details of the report be carried out. Ald. Scrivens remarked that they already had a good reservoir at Ecclesbourne and no water in it. What they wanted was an assurance that after going to the proposed great expense they would really get a good supply. Coun. Vidler would oppose the motion on the grounds of economy. It was his opinion that Mr. Clark had got the best spot for water. Coun. Bromley opined that as there was not before them any real estimate of the expense or of the probable receipts, Mr. Clark's water might be sufficient for them, with their own, as far as it could be made available. He moved therefore, as an amendment,
I will supply all deficiencies of water to Hastings for three years at £60 per annum, if worked as last year. The water for the roads could be drawn from the same source at a much lower cost than now paid for pumping. At the expiraton of the period, if the supply is satisfactory, I propose joining the two works on equitable terms.
An Opposite Decision. At the next meeting, the Water-Committee having recommended the purchase of the ground near the Gas Works, and the piece of ground on the West Hill - the first for its water supply, and the other for a high-service reservoir, Coun. Putland, in a long speech said it was a folly to pump water up 300 feet and the greater part to go down again; that he would assert without the fear of contradiction. The debt on the waterworks was £3,500, and when the proposed scheme was carried out, it would be £9,000, which would require a shilling rate for 21 years to pay of the capital. He would guarantee to supply the town with enough of good water for seven years at a 3d. rate, paying all expenses except interest; and with a 6d. rate, he would clear their debt in 11 years. In nine or ten years after, the water-works would be able to redeem the debt of the old Commission. There was no necessity for either engine or tank. The Barrack Ground people had got water in their wells, and would not take the town water even at a 2d. rate. He felt both grieved and disgraced when he saw what a quantity of beautifully clear water was being wasted for the want of good management. If they wanted to saddle a heavy debt upon posterity they were doing their best for that purpose. He would oppose the scheme with all his might. [There were many experienced inhabitants, not in the Council, who believed as did Mr. Putland, that much good water was running to waste in consequence of numerous springs and[ 31 ]several wells not being utilized(sic)as they might have been, and at a comparatively small expense.] - The Chairman (Coun. Ginner) disputed some of Mr. Putland's figures, and said that a majority of the townspeople were in favour of the new scheme. - The Committee's recommendation was carried by a considerable majority, several of the members contrariwise to what they did at the preceding meeting. Perhaps the Local Press was to some extent responsible for the change of voting. The Hastings News, to wit, after the previous meeting under the heading of "The Economy of the Economizers" had the following remarks:-
To give the town a good supply of water was one of the two purposes for which the Local Board was formed. Drainage was the other. They have done neither. Such was the substance of a speech made last Friday by one of our Councillors; and it strikes us as being rather a terse and faithful synopsis of the feeling of the majority of the ratepayers of Hastings. Let the council and the Local Board have their due. They have done a little to improve our fieldpaths and byways; they have given us a few neat box-gates in the neighborhood(sic) instead of the troublesome old stiles; they have widened our pavements and improved some of our road thoroughfares. Beyond this, they have not done much besides talking, quarrelling, and passing resolutions at one meeting to be rescinded at the next. They have had little confidence in their surveyor, and (if possible) still less in themselves. At one moment they have resolved on great things. The mountain has almost brought forth its mouse. But sudden fear has palsied the labouring functions of the mighty body, and even the mouse has failed to come! They have been nervelessly afraid of "expense", and have therefore spent fruitlessly most of what they have expended. They have been slow in learning that the truest economy is always associated with doing things properly. A niggardly outlay at starting is pretty sure in matters of public business to entail the loss of even that niggardly little. And amongst other costly things to be reckoned on as the companions of a false economy, is that miserable loss of time which is sometimes, and in some things more than money.
Still the Water Contention. At a special meeting on the 22nd of April, in a long discussion over the constantly agitated water question, Coun. Ginner moved the reception of the committee's recommendation to arrange with the Gas Company for carrying out Mr. Pennt's plan to pump water from the spring near their works to the West Hill. He at the same time was sorry that Coun. Putland's hostility to the scheme still continued. - Coun. Putlnd, then, in a long speech, also expressed his sorrow that they could not enter upon business without being personal. He stood there to protect the ratepayers. Their present was as good as any in the county; and he opposed the expenditure of perhaps £5,000, because he believed that there was plenty of water, and that all that was necessary was a better system of securing the mains and a means of filtering the water, which would not cost more than £10 a year. Coun. Ginner's motion was carried by 6 to 3. What were the other members doing? [ 32 ]Members more conspicuous. At the quarterly meeting on the 2nd of May, the water extension scheme was again debated. Mr. Penny, who was present, having given an estimate of £3,450 for the pumping system, Coun. Ross moved that the plans and estimates be forwarded to the General Board, with a request to borrow the money. Coun. Putland once more opposed the scheme in a lengthy speech, renewing his assertion that there was water enough for all except the Barrack Ground and a few houses in the Long Fields. He did not say that the people in the Long Fields had pump water of their own, and that the wells on the Barrack Ground had served from 3,000 to 5,000 troops, but doubtless, he was conversant with the fact. Anyway, he challenged the Council to get up a public meeting, and then, if they found a majority of people in favour of the scheme, he would cease his opposition, but until then, he would oppose it as long as he had an opportunity. Doubtless, Mr. Putland's land-surveying, town-surveying, road-making, water-getting and practical observations gave him more opportunities of knowing the resources of the locality than any other member of the Council and that fact would serve to fortify what he believed to be a correct attitude and not a mere whim of opposition. The original motion on this occasion was carried by 13 to 4.
Still Undecided. At the next meeting, on June 6th, Mr. Austin, having been down from the General Board, had sent in a long report, in which he recommended considerable deviations from Mr. Penny's plan, and which would entail greater expense. He contended that Hastings, with its rapidly increasing population would require more water than Mr. Penny's scheme was likely to produce. But Mr. Penny contended that as his plan was supplemental to the existing supply, it would be ample and less expensive. The matter was again left undecided. What were they to do? At the meeting on August 1st, it being proposed to borrow £,3000 on the water extension a/c. Coun. Williams moved that it be deferred for another month. This was carried, and it was next proposed to raise the water-manager's salary from three to five per cent. This was also carried by 8 votes to 2. Another motion was carried by 10 to 3 that Mr. Clark's offer be accepted to supply water for the roads at 2d. per budge, from three stand-pipes west of Robertson terrace. Then came the Manager's statement as to the quantity of water then available. There were, he said, rnning into all the reservoirs that morning a total of 45 gallons per minute - namely 9 gallons in the Ecclesbourne tank, 14 in the old tank, and 11 each at the tank and basin at the bridges. Coun. Ginner remarked that while the town required 120,000 gallons per day, the supply was only 64,800; and out of that supply, 11 gallons per minute came from the tank in Mr. North's ground, which was known to be hard water, and therefore unfit for the use of Hastings. The new works would not be ready for some months, and what were they to do?
Mr. Winter's Tender of £1,650 for No. 2 Water Extension had been previously accepted, the higher tenders for the same work ranging from £1,660 to £1900. [ 33 ]A Clerk of the Works - Mr. Penny being present at an ajourned(sic)meeting on July 18th, intimated that a clerk of the works was necessary, and said if the Local Board would give him 2 per cent. in addition to his 5 per cent. commission - an addition of about £60 - he would attend to it himself.- Coun. Putland (who was always the friend of local talent or labour), expressed his belief that someone in Hastings might be found to be clerk of the works; Whereupon Coun. Vidler moved that Mr. Jas. Winter be employed at 4/ per day. The motion was carried by 7 to 3.
The New Well At the same meeting, the Chairman said they had been pumping 150 gallons a minute at the new well near the Gas Works, and the water was still rising.
A £4,000 Loan At the Council meeting on September 5th it was resolved that a loan of four thousand pounds for the water-extension works be at once advertised for. The result was the offer of several loans at 5 per cent., in separate sums of £2,000, £500, £700 and £500 for five years certain. The offers were accepted.
A Modified Arrangement, with respect to the Clerk of the Water-extension works was agreed to at the Dcember meeting, when the Committee's recommendation was adopted to give Mr. Penny's clerk £28 to superintend No. 1 Contract, and Mr. Clark 27s. a week to superintend No. 2.
The Surveyorship. On page 27 it was shown that the Borough Surveyor had been discharged and the office was to be temporally held, or rather, its duties to be discharged for the Board of Health by the Inspector of Nuisances. At a special meeting on Jan. 18th, the committee recommended that the future surveyor be paid a salary of £150 a year by the Local Board and £20 by the Corporation, the same as had been to Mr. Gant. Coun. Beck was of an opinion that the Council had committed an error in not having a person wholly their servant. They ought to give a man sufficient to confine himself exclusively to the duties and carry them out properly. He considered that £300 a year was not too much. - Coun. Vidler - the avowed economist thought they ought to get a qualified surveyor for £170 a year. - Coun. Picknell proposed as an amendment to the Committee's report, that the salary be £205 from the Local Board and £20 from the Corporation. This was carried.
Claims by the late Surveyor At the February monthly meeting Mr. Gant having given up the papers, maps and accounts, as requested, the Clerk said he found the account wrongly cast, and that when compared with the vouchers, there appeared to be a sum of £34 18s. 10d. due to Mr. Gant; but when applied to, Mr. Gant could not explain the error, but he knew that no such sum was due to him, and he would not claim it. He had, however, a much larger claim to make. The Clerk then received a notice from Mr. J. Castle Gant[ 34 ](the ex-Surveyor's brother) demanding payment within a week of £40 1s. 5d. due to Mr. W. J. Gant on those accounts. The Clerk replied that the demand was the grossest he had ever met with. Some of the building plans were also missing, and the rest were in great confusion. Since then, Mr. J. C. Gant had reduced the demand to £34 18s. 10d. - on the motion of Ald. Clement, it was resolved to pay to Mr. Gant the sum that was due to him on account.
As might be imagined, a resolution was passed to defend the action against the Board if the threat was carried out.
I beg to enclose my account for extra work as surveyor to your Board, amounting to the sum of £224 17s. 11d., and which, after giving you credit for £85 2s. 9d., paid to me at sundry times, leaves a balance of £139 15s. 2d., which I request may be paid without delay. The conduct of your board towards me disentitles you to any consideration at my hands; and, therefore, unless I receive the amount due to me within a week from your next meeting, I shall place the matter in the hands of my solicitor, under whose advice I am now acting.
I am, Gentlemen,
your obedient servant,
W. J. Gant.
Gant and Shorter - Two very lengthy letters appeared in the Hastings News of Feb. 29th, one from Mr. W. J. Gant, the ex-surveyor and one from his brother, Mr. J. Castle Gant, a solicitor. According to the statement of these gentlemen, Mr. Shorter's report to the Local Board and his newspaper correspondence were both evasive and inaccurate, but they, in some measure excused his errors and ill temper on account of his long illness. - Mr. Ross also wrote to the same number of the News on behalf of Mr. Shorter, and asserted that the drainage plans and drainage scheme altogether were not prepared by Mr. Gant, but by a gentleman in London. Really the embroglio appeared to be a mystery!Gant Replies. - Another letter appeared in the News, in which Mr. Gant repelled the assertion that the drainage plans were not prepared by himself, and explained that by consent and order of the Council, he employed an assistant for the purpose of getting the drawings done by a stipulated time. In his concluding sentence he said -
[ 35 ]Local Board versus Gant - At the Magistrates Bench on the 3rd of April, Mr. W. J. Gant was summonsed by Mr. J. G. Shorter on behalf of the Local Board of Health for failing to deliver up certain plans, maps, &c. Mr. Langham conducted the case for the Local Board, and Mr. J. C. Gant for his brother. After a trial of five hours, the defendant was convicted, but not being present, his advocate said he would attend at any time to be taken into custody.
It will be seen, therefore, that the inference sought to be drawn that the plans and scheme were not mine, because I availed myself of the sanction of the Local Board to engage an assistant for a few weeks in a puerile attempt to destroy my professional reputation. Feeling, as I do, that I have acted throughout with a concientious(sic) desire to discharge the duties I undertook, and that had the Local Board performed their prt, the drainage of the town would have been long since carried out, and a saving effected of some hundreds of pounds. I have only to ask that I shall not be again induced to answer any further statements. I deem it unnecessary to reply to Mr. Ross's letter, as it is quite apparant that he has been put forward by Mr. Shorter to divert public attention from the point at issue.
The Question of Commmitment At the Council meeting on April 4th, the Clerk referred to the order on the preceding day for the order of commitment of Mr. Gant until he gave up maps, &c. for which he had been sued, and said that he had not done so. - On the motion of Mr. Bromley it was resolved that the application for commitment be delayed for seven days, and that the Board pledge themselves to pay the expense of action that may be taken.
Giving up the Documents.The warrant for the imprisonment of Mr. Gant being issued on the 26th of April, the offender was not to be found, but a letter from him in London was received, together with the documents claimed by the Local Board. The letter to the Mayor stated that the late Surveyor was ready to give up everything, although he was convinced that the decision against him would be quashed if he took his case to a higher court. But this he declined doing, as his imprisonment meanwhile would subject him to much professional loss and other evils.The New Surveyor's Duties At the Council meeting on April 4th, the duties of the Surveyor were resolved to be as follows:
Mr. Laing said he would agree to those conditions and while thanking the Corporation for his appointment, said he would endeavour to do his duty.
To act generally as architect and surveyor in connection with all the Corporation property; to make all plans, designs, drawings and specifications on any property that the Corporation might have occasion to carry out; after the completion and consecration of the new burial-ground to act as architect and surveyor thereof; and to give up the whole of his time to the Corporation when required.
Health-of-Towns-Bill Expenses At the meeting on Jan 4th, a government claim of £233 was received against the Corporation as their share of expenses in passing the Health of Towns Bill. No particulars were given, and it appeared that the amount had to be paid whether approved of or not; but the Local Board had the option of paying it out of the rates in one sum, or by five annual instalments. The latter course was decided on at the meeting of January 18th.
Another Disagreeable Claim At the February meeting, Mr. Ramel sent in a bill of £25 5s. 6d. with a request for payment, and as several members knew not for what the expense had been incurred, the Clerk explained that there was an order in the book for Mr. Ramel to come from London to inspect the drainage plans and to[ 36 ]give advice as to the water supply; but on meeting him, his terms were so high that he was not employed. The Clerk had an interview with Mr. Ramel for 1½ hours, but that gentleman did no work. His claim for the visit was £21 and expenses £4 5.6. He had been asked to diminish his claim, but refused. The Clerk's opinion was that however exorbitant the claim, it would have to be paid. A motion to that effect was therefore made and carried.
Protestations - Since, by request of memorialists, the road round Wellington Square had been declared to be public, the Local Board had received a protest from Mr. Shaddack and Mr. Farncomb against taking over the west side, and it was therefore decided that the declaration of the square as public roads should only apply to the north and east sides. - A letter of remonstrance was also received from the Commissioners of Woods and Forests against the Council placing seats at the east end of Carlisle Parade to prevent people falling over without first obtaining permission. The Clerk was instructed to intimate to the Commissioners that the Board made no claim to the right of doing what they had done, and that the Board had resolved to put good stone steps at the spot, there being a public footpath leading from the parade to the adjacent road.
The Police Bill At the meeting on the 4th of April, the first business was to consider the Borough and Counties Police Bill, as amended after Hastings and many other boroughs had petitioned against the original Bill. It came out in discussion that the objectionable clauses had been expunged or amended, so that in boroughs with a population of over 5,000 if the police force was maintained in an efficient manner, one-fourth of the charge for pay and clothing would be contributed by Government; but that if inefficient, the bonus would be withheld. No further action on the matter was proposed.
An Additional Policeman - At the close of the year, there was a complaint that the policemen were insufficient in number, and at the Council meeting on the 2nd of the following January, the Watch Committee having recommended an additional constable for the West Ward it was opposed by Couns. Bromley, Harvey, Duke and J. B. Williams, but Coun. Putland (who once wanted the force to be reduced from 12 to 9) and Coun. Eldridge showed that the whole front line was almost entirely unguarded, and after citing instances of thieves and other persons escaping through the want of a policeman being within call, and the absence of police-station, the Committee's recommendation was acceded to.
Gaol Arrangement - At the quarterly meeting on the 2nd of May, the Clerk said the gaol was then in the hands of the Council, who could keep it up as a prison or a lock-up, but in either case they would want a[ 37 ]man and a woman to live in it.- Ald Cliff said that certain things had transpired that morning at the Watch Committee which made it desirable to call a public meeting of the whole Council, and he would move that it be that day-week -At the special meeting on May 23rd, the report of the committee on the gaol was adopted, the recommendation being that as the building ceased to be a gaol on the 18th of April 18th(sic), it was necessary to retain it as a lock-up, with a keeper and matron residing therein; and that it was now wholly vested in the Council and not in the Magistrates, it should be placed under the police establishment; also that a married policeman should be appointed, who would be paid 20s. per week with house-rent, fire and candles, and that the appointment be given to Sergt. Brazier. Then followed the rules and regulations to be observed, to all which Sergt. Brazier consented, and was then and there appointed.
New Policemen - The Watch Committee elected Wm. Parker, Wm. Brazier, jun. Jas. Drury and Wm. Vidler, out of 20 applicants, to serve in the place of Sergt. Brazier (now keeper of the Lock-up), P.C. Hawkins (who had entered the County police) and P.C.'s Phillips and Brooker (who had been discharged).
Why a Lock-up instead of a Prison. The murder of a Hastings gaoler - described on page 63 gave rise to a letter from Sir George Grey, which represented the gaol as being in a discreditable condition, and recommended the Council to at once provide such a prison as was contemplated by the Gaol Acts or make a contract with the County for the maintenance of all prisoners, and immediately abandon the existing gaol. The Clerk said he had written to the Secretary of State, and pointed out that the Council were acting under an old contract between the late Mayor and jurats of Hastings and the Justices of East Sussex, dated 1827, which was sufficient for all purposes except that it might not meet the requirements of 5 and 6 Vic., because although adopted by the Council since 1836, the contract was not made by them. To this letter no answer was received. The contract price for the maintenance of prisoners at Lewes was 1/6 per day. Resolutions were passed to send all prisoners to Lewes after the next Quarter-Sessions, and to appoint a committee of five to dispose of the gaol. The recommendation of that committee to convert it into a lock-up and the adoption of this has been already shown.
Cemetery Affairs - At the meeting on June 6th, it was proposed to borrow £3,000 in addition to the £1,000 already spent on the Cemetery works, but to this, Mr. Williams objected, seeing, as he said, that they had in hand £4,000, of which only £2,500 would be wanted for drainage purposes that year, and £1,800 for the Cemetery during the same period. Let them, he said, take from one fund for the other. He contended that they were practically paying 8 per cent. for borrowed money, and only getting 3 per cent. for it. No motion was made on it then, but at the meeting on August 1st it was proposed to borrow not the £3,000 as before, but £4,000 on the Burial Board a/c. the[ 38 ]same to be repaid in 20 years. Coun. H. N. Williams renewed his former objection to borrowing money in a dear market before it was really wanted, when they could borrow from their own fund for a time. He was overruled, however, by Messrs. Bromley, Ross, Clift, Vidler and other Councillors who were also members of the H. I. P. S., the majority against him being four. It was also proposed to pay off £500 of bond No. 36 in the Hastings Improvement a/c. Mr. Williams asked why they should pay off 4 per cent. bonds and borrow at 5 per cent? Mr. Reeves would ask the same question. Mr. Putland also demurred to the borrowing of money in the then state of the market before it was wanted, and thus to pay both interest and principal before they began to make use of it. It was then decided to refer the matter back to the Committee. The result of this was to add another thousand pounds to the supposed requirement, thus raising it from £3,000 to £4,000, and from £4,000 to £5,000, and at the next meeting to resolve to memorialise the Treasury for consent to borrow the last named sum for the Cemetery.
Other Cemetery Matters - The Burial Board having recommended that the Superintendent of the Cemetery have 25s. a week and a house, the Clerk was asked what would be his duties; to which the reply was that he would have to be a man of respectability and good address; that he must be able to read and write well, have the general superintendence of the whole burial ground, have to act as a clerk, keep and have the care of a register, see that the ground was well kept up, and have the whole responsibility, but would not have to dig or do the heavy work. Coun. Vidler thought 20s. a week sufficient, and that to give more was to place a burden on the ground. He therefore proposed as an amendment to the report that 20s. be offered. Coun. Reeves seconded. Coun. Bromley moved the adoption of the report, for he considered 25s. a week was not exorbitant for a superintendent who ought to be a man of considerable address and ability. Coun. Putland had watched the expenditure with much care, but he was opposed to having under-paid servants any where. There would be plenty for him to do and the salary would be quite low enough. Vidler's motion was lost by 5 to 3., on which, in his disappointment he remarked that he had not doubt the person was already appointed. Coun. Ross and others dissented from Vidler's remark and thought it should not go unnoticed. [ 39 ]be empowered to determine on the management of the cemetery agreeably to the system suggested by the Clerk - namely, that there should be a superintendent and sexton on the ground; an officer, with an office in the town to receive all orders, fees, &c., and to keep a register, which would be transferred to slips of paper sent to the cemetery, copied and petitioned, and a duplicate register to be kept.
Non-execution of Contract. At a special meeting on the 22nd of August, the Roads Committee reported that Messrs. Rumball and Sheen had failed to execute their contract for the drainage, and that Mr. Rumball had refused to do so unless the payment clause was altered to monthly payments, with a retention of 10 per cent. on the amount of work done. On the motion of Coun. Ross, it was then resolved that any former motion pertaining to Rumball be rescinded. The next lowest tender being that of Mr. Rowe, the Clerk said he had written to him, and he also refused to take the contract without alterations. He (the Clerk) had since seen Mr. Mundy, whose tender was £118 more than Rowe's, and who was willing to go on with the work without any alterations in the conditions, and was ready to commence immediately. Coun. Ross had heard Munday spoken of as a man of good standing, and one who would do them justice; he therefore moved that Munday's tender be accepted. Ald. Clement seconded, and the motion was carried by 9 to 3, as against an amendment by Coun. Duke that the contract be offered to Rowe. - Mr. Munday being present at the meeting on Sept. 5th, said that during the time the question had been in abeyance, kiln bricks had become so scarce that it would be impossible to procure sufficient for the work, but as good clamp bricks would be just as well for the outer ring of the drain, he would allow a deduction of 3s. per thousand thereon. The Surveyor and Coun. Putland stated that no detriment would accrue by such arrangement and it was therefore agreed to.Commencement of Drainage - The general drainage plans for the Hastings drainage, so many years in abeyance were commenced to be carried into effect on Saturday the 13th of September, when the Mayor, Town Clerk, Surveyor, contractor, most of the Town Council and a large number of townspeople collected at the East Well, where the ceremony was performed amidst the flaunting of flags and the booming of cannon. Refreshments were provided in a building close by which was originally intended for a steam mill. Some current coins were placed in a bottle which was put into the stone, there to be laid, together with a scroll bearing the words
The first stone of the drainage of Hastings was laid by Frederick Ticehurst, Esq., Mayor, on the 13th of September, 1856; John Laing, C. E. surveyor, George Munday, contractor, William Winter, Inspector.
Pavements and Cesspools. In a discussion on these matters, the Surveyor said that he would see that during the drainage, the pathways should be kept clear and all cesspools filled up.
[ 40 ]
Hastings, 1856 Chap. LVI
# On Jan. 5th, 1856, it was ordered that the Mayor be the officer before whom the Court of Record shall be holden, and that the Town Clerk continue to act as Register of such Court
[ 41 ]
The Court of Record
Alteration of Parade - Mr. Grisbrook's tender of £120 for certain work at the parade at Stratford-place and White Rock being the only one received at an adjourned meeting on July 18th, and that tender being £30 more than the Surveyor's estimate, it was resolved not to accept it, and that the Council do the work themselves. Three months later, when the work was finished, the Surveyor said it only cost £97, although he had carried it four inches higher than the contract, thus saving more than £23.
The Court of Record - At the Council meeting on the 3rd of October, the question was asked if the £8 in the general account recommended by the Finance Committee to be paid to the Deputy Judge of the Court of Record was to continue for ever? The Clerk explained that the Court of Record had been practically superseded by the County Court, but the Recorder was the judge of the Court that was discontinued, and afterwards reopened by a mandamus #. There had, however, not been a case for some years until three years ago (1852 or '3) when there were two or three entries, but they never came to anything. Perhaps a few cases that came before the Court of Record may not be uninteresting, as showing the nature and practice of that now disused court. In 1822, Mr. Brown (whom I knew as living first in Courthouse street and afterwards in High street) was admitted as an attorney to the Court of Record. In the same year, Thomas and John Mannington, ironmongers of George street and William Garlick, jun. for £1 10s. 11d. and a rule nisi was granted. William Breeds and Wm. Hy. Troutbeck (Breeds and Troutbeck, grocers at 33 High street) sued Stephen Wilmshurst for a debt of £11 9s. 4d. George Jackson (a draper at 72 George street) and William Woodroffe for a debt of £23 10s. 8d. Thos. Breeds, Mark Boykett Breeds and Thos. Farncomb (merchants in High street) also made a claim against William Woodroffe of £9 5s. In this case, a declaration and common bail were filed, and an interlocutory judgement signed. Thos. Breeds, Hy. & Thos. Farncomb, Mark Boykett Breeds and Edward Wenham (bankers at 32 High street) and Richard Tutt and Samuel Cornford for a debt of £5 4s. 3d. In a case of Joseph Job versus Edward Eldridge, the latter absconded. Mark Phillips v. Richard Dewly, "respited". Thos. Shakeford v; Jas. Jenner "discharged". Thos. Maycock v; Thos. Austen, "paid with costs".
|Jas Mann & Jno. Cole, plaintiffs||Fine levied of two messuages and one garden & 2 curtilages with appurtances in All Saints street|
|Edward Milward & Sarah, his wife dfts|
Farncomb & others v. Wm. Woodroffe "Writ of Enquiry executed". These are but a few of the something like a hundred cases taken into the Court of Record in the year 1822, whilst in 1823 and '24, the cases, I believe were about fifty in each year, and apparently as varied as those of the County Court of the present day. The suits for Trespass were somewhat numerous as were also the cases of deforcements, it being a period in which there was much property changing hands; thus altogether, supporting the Town Clerk's statement at the Council Meeting in Oct, 1856, that much business was done at the Record court. The Breedses, who held the Rope Walks and other property at the Priory, were plaintiffs in several cases - some for debt and some for trespass. It[ 42 ]was in 1822, when the rush to the Priory waste was made to seize, without purchase, that "no mans land" from which resulted turbulent scenes of rivalry, to some of which I was an eye-witness. On the 29th of April, two persons had nearly completed each a building on that ground, when a previous disputation of right rose to a fierceness that induced one of them in a fit of exasperation, to pull down the other's wall. The latter retaliated upon his rival's structure, and so strenuously was the work of destruction pursued that in less than an hour considerable portions of both buildings were levelled with the ground. Fortunately, but little, if any, personal injury was sustained, and both parties, with their helpers, set themselves afterwards to repairing the work thus destroyed. There were many similar disputes with persons who had marked out boundaries for themselves one day, to find that their landmarks had been removed on the next by other scramblers. The contention of the Breedses continued for some years, and in 1827, Boykett Breeds was indicted for an assault on Thomas James Breeds, but the case was withdrawn. Another person, however, was bound over in sureties of £100, to appear at the Quarter Sessions on a charge of assault originating in an infringement of rights and priviliges(sic). But, to return to 1823, it was ordered, on the 17th of January "That this Court ajourn to the house of Edward Milward Esq. Mayor, to be holden on May 1st." This charge was of course necessitated by the taking down [of the] Town Hall in High street and erection of a new one on the site. During that operation, the Quarter Sessions were held in the large room at the Swan Hotel. The Court of Record was held at intervals of 15 days and was continued at Mr. Milward's house until May 27th, 1823, when Thomas Baker Baker, of the King's Bench was "admitted attorney at this Court of Record" and "The next Court to be held in the new Town Hall".
In affairs concerning property, Mr. and Mrs. Milward figured rather prominently in that court. The following are a few extracts:-
|May 18/23||Thos. Clarke plaintiff
and Edward Milward and Sarah,
his wife, deforciants
|Fine then levied of one messuage, one garden,|
and one curtilige, in All Saints.
|Oct. 30/23||John Tompsett [Town Clerk] plaintiff
Edward and Sarah Milward, deforciants
|Fine then levied between the parties of one rood of land & two curtilages in the several parishes of St. Mary in the Castle and St. Andrew, or one of them|
|Same parties||Fine then levied of half an acre of land and 14 curtilages with appurtenances, in St Mary in the Castle|
|April 29/24||Wm. Lucas-Shadwell Esq.
Edward & Sarah Milward,
|Fine then levied between the parties of one messuage, one library, half a rood of land, and one curtilage in the parish of St. Mary in the Castle. [This was Powell's Library and adjuncts, then for enlargement]|
|Jun 10/24||Thos. Breeds, plaintiff
Edwd. Milward & wife, defenciants
|Fine between them of half an acre of land in the parish of St. Mary in the Castle.|
|Dec. 23/24||Geo. Woll & John Tompsett
pltffs; Edwd & Sarah Milward,
|Fine then levied between them of one messuage and one rood of land in St. Clements. [Geo. Wool was a carver, gilder & booksellser. He opened shop at that time at 5 High street|
|Oct. 25/26||Geo. Wool. plntff
Jas. Little & w??[wife]
|Fine levied between them of 5 messuages, 8 cottages, 4 stables, 4 coach-houses, 4 gardens, 4 curtilages, 2 acres of meadow land, 2 acres of pasture land & 2 acres of brookland in St. Clements and All Saints [George Wool removed from 5 to 43 High street and Jas Little settled at Brooklands, Halloway place.]|
One of the most curious cases at this court - curious because of the trivial amount sued for was that of Breeds and Troutbeck against James Woodhams, for 10¾d. One would suppose that there was either misconception or great obstinacy on the part of the defendant, and well-assured correctness on the part of the plaintiffs, the word "settled" being written against the case.
As a contrast to this suit for a few pence only, if one looks back to the year 1757, he will find that Stephen Brown was sued by Edward Bilward in the Record Court for £100; and looking back still further, he will find that in the case of Wood v Wells - an ejectment filed by Thomas Adams, the suit was carried on and adjourned from court to court from August 1752, to July 28th, 1753, when judgement by default was given and a writ issued thereupon for possession. Another prolonged case was that of Sarah Morphett, widow, v Austin Luckett, for trespass and assault. It continued adjourned from court to court from Feb. 1752 till Jan. 1755. The advocates in such cases must have been gifted with great forensic ability, and have called up numerous witnesses on each side, or the cases must have been extremely difficult. The names one sees in the official records of this court - especially the later ones - recall to mind vast associations, which must not be here obtruded, the digression being already longer than first intended. The question put to the Town Clerk at the October meeting of the Council in 1856 reminded me that even quite recently letters have appeared in the local press with the enquiry "What was the Court of Record; when did it cease? etc." The foregoing extracts and comments will therefore, in some measure, serve as a reply. And now for the further proceedings of the Town Council.
Railway Ground - At the meeting in October, the Clerk said that in accordance with the resolution at their previous meeting, he had made application to the S. E. Railway Company for the corner of the ground near York Buildings. The Company agreed to take off 35 feet on one side and 30 feet on the other, and sell it to the Board at a nominal price for the purpose of being thrown into the road. He agreed on the part of the Board that they should pay all expenses of paving, &c., Coun. Putland - at whose suggestion the application had been made - had great pleasure in moving the confirmation of the Clerk's arrangement, and Ald. Rock moved that the Company be thanked[ 44 ]for the readiness with which they complied with the wishes of the Board.
Election of Mayor - Mr RossComplaint of the new Surveyor - Mr. Grisbrook's tender for the White-rock wall having been rejected because it was higher than the Surveyor's estimate, and the Surveyor having boasted that the Board had saved more then £20 by doing the work themselves under his direction, Mr. Grisbook, in a letter to the Hastings News of October 24th, wrote as follows:-
I feel it my duty to inform the public how far the Surveyor [Mr. Laing] has evaded the terms of the contract. He has introduced about 60 yards of lime concrete, costing about 2/3 a yard, instead of 60 yards of blue stone, costing 9/- per yard. He has also introduced as coping such stone as is not in accordance with the specification, and which stone he would have felt it to be his duty to reject. It is not in consequence of my tender being rejected by the Council that I make these statements - nay, I feel bound to say that their's was the proper course. Neither should I have made any observations publicly had not the Surveyor repeatedly endeavoured to build up his fame by withholding certain facts; thus misleading both the Council and the public, and thereby injuring me in the estimation of my friends.
Election of Mayor - At the Council meeting on the 10th of November, Ald. Scrivens, in proposing a successor to Mr. Ticehurst as Mayor, said they were aware that the Mayor must be elected from among the Council, whilst the Aldermen might be chosen from the burgesses. Whoever took the office whould have inclination as well as leisure to fulfil its duties. The very best men, if their time was engaged, would not attend to those duties, and men of less ability might make up their deficiency by their assiduity. But he had no fear of any deficiency in the gentleman he was about to name. Mr. Thos. Ross [Cheers and hisses]. The long time he had been in the Council ought to have placed him in a position to be thoroughly acquainted with its duties. Coun. Bromley never had a greater pleasure during his three years in the council than he had in seconding the nomination of Mr. Ross; for a more assiduous man, the town did not possess. - Coun. Eldridge would not oppose Mr. Ross, who was entitled to all that had been said of him, but he felt bound on public principle to offer an opinion. He had always thought that they should have gentlemen by profession or private fortune to fill the office of Mayor. He would like to see in the Council more of the class of medical men, solicitors and bankers - such as were always admitted to first-class society; or at any rate, such as were always admitted to first-class society; or, at any rate, such as Ald. Clement, whose position would enable him to act independently. He hoped to see politics entirely removed. He had been told that he must belong to some party; but he would only join that party who sought the prosperity of the borough [Cheers]. He would propose Ald. Scrivens, not because he thought there was a chance of him being elected, but because he was deserving all the encomiums that had been bestowed on Mr. Ross, and was of the class he had mentioned. - Mr. Harvey, in seconding Ald. Scrivens, quite agreed with all that Mr. Eldridge had said, and regretted that they should now have to go the the ranks for a[ 45 ]mayor. Mr. Ross had been very assiduous but he (Mr. H.) would prefer to have for a mayor one who was in a different position. He looked on Hastings as an important town, whose mayor should be able to meet Lord A or Lord B. He hoped, therefore, they would elect a man independently of a certain clique out of doors [Hisses and cheers]. - Ald. Scrivens rose and said he felt indebted to the two gentlemen who had proposed and seconded him, but he begged to decline. He had filled the office twice and did not wish to retain the office of Alderman without taking the consequences, but he thought they should elect those aldermen who had never served as Mayor. True, Mr. Ross was not an alderman at present, but it was in their hands to correct that in a very short time. Mr. Ross also possessed what he did not - the necessary leisure. The votes were then taken, when there appeared 14 for Coun. Ross and 3 for Ald Scrivens; some other members not voting. - The Mayor-elect in returning thanks, said he had felt that at some time he might be in a position to take such an honourable office. With regards to some remarks that had been made, he believed the speakers had acted concientiously, and he would regard them as great friends as ever.
Ald. Rock proposed a vote of thanks to the retiring Mayor, who had served the office longer than usual, it having been[a]leap year, and the 9th of November having fallen on a Sunday; so that Ald. Ticehurst's mayoralty consisted of 367 days instead of 365. - Coun. Harvey seconded, and hoped that as time rolled round they would have him as Mayor again. It would appear that a time had already rolled round for at least a change of sentiment since, in the same hall, Coun. Harvey attributed the treatment he had received to the chagrin of Messrs. Ross and Ticehurst than whom there were no two men in the Council more despicable; and when Mr. Ross retaliated "Is it not disgraceful that such a man as Harvey should be in the Council?" Also when Ald. Ticehurst would have felt degraded if even one good word on his behalf had come from Harvey's lips. But was the later indication of amity quite so real as it seemed to be? This, "to be or not to be" will exhibit development a little further on.
Election of Aldermen. - Three Aldermen had to be elected in the place of Messrs. Clement, Clift and Ranking, the last two being disqualified by non-residence. The result of the voting was Clement 19, Ros 16 and Ginner. In returning thanks, the now Ald. Ginner said he was the oldest member of the Council, having been in it ever since its first sitting in August, 1837, except a few months; and had nearly been returned[ 46 ]at the top of the poll.
Bad Bricks - Referring to the drainage contract, Coun Harvey said he had been told that both the bricks and cement used were worthless. Coun. Putland thought they were all disgraced by allowing such bricks to be used. Coun. Eldridge was interested in the discussion, because he had moved at a previous meeting that the bricks be removed and no more of this kind brought. Their surveyor ought to understand that the orders of the Council were imperative. Coun. Tree said there was too much sand put into the cement. Coun. Vidler opined that the surveyor was to blame for allowing the use of such bricks. - Resolved that the Roads Committee be called together next day.
The Mayor's Dinner was held as usual, at the Swan Hotel, and attended by a numerous company.
Meeting of Burgesses. Councillors Ross and Ginner having been elected to the Aldermanic bench, their places had to be filled by two new Councillors, and on the 12th of November - two days after that election - a meeting of ratepayers, convened by notice, was held at the Swn Hotel for the purpose of selecting "two competent men to represent the burgesses in the Council, and to devise the best means of doing so." The notice further stated that it was hoped all independent voters would attend. The room was well filled and Mr. Harvey was voted to the chair. In opening the proceedings, the Chairman said he knew but very little about the matter, but he quite approved of calling a public meeting; for, to meet in that way, was far better than to have secret meetings, where men might form a conclave for evil.
The H.I.P.S. Still a Dominant Faction
Mr. H. Polhill said that having been instrumental in calling the meeting, he would state his motives. There was no occasion for him to touch on the proceedings of the previous Monday, except to say that they caused two vacancies in the Council, and the moment the vacancies were announced, two addresses were posted in the Hall, thus giving one more proof that the business was privately concocted before it went to the Town Hall, or parties could not have known who were to be aldermen, unless they belonged to the H.I.P.S.[Notes 2] Now, this meeting was called independently of Party or politics [Hear, hear!] to give an opportunity of choosing for themselves the men they approve rather than to have thrust upon them those whose baneful influence had already been injurious to the prosperity of the borough - Mr. Vennell rose and said he would like to support Mr. Burchell, because him as one of long standing and very suitable for the office of Counillor. He would also support Mr. West, because he would go in as an independent man and would[ 47 ]strive to do his best for others as well as himself. He would propose that they be the two candidates. He certainly would not vote for any man whom the H.I.P.S. supported. He could not help noticing what was said about the drainage. Mr. Eldridge spoke about the bad quality of the bricks, but Mr. Bromley said it would hurt the credit of the contractor. What had they to do with contractor's credit that he should be shown favor? Winter said the work was so well done that it did not need looking after [ironic laughter] The work was really slobbered over. - The Chairman next addressed the meeting at considerable length, and said that he would tell them a little of the working of the H.I.P.S. Their first course at the formation was to appoint a secretary, who issued circulars to be held at some public-house once a month. There were only three of such meeting places - The Royal Oak, the Jenny Lind and The Hope [thus covering, as it were, the whole ground of Hastings]. Their first business at these meetings was to talk over everybody's affairs. They then decided that the town should have certain persons for certain offices. After referring to Ald. Scrivens as one of that association, he remarked that their meetings were on the Mondays preceding the Council meetings on Fridays; and if the Councillors did not do the bidding of the H.I.P.S., they were made to understand that they would be turned out at the next election. It was disreputable that a set of men should form themselves into a clique for evil. They were sixty or seventy strong, and were still desirous of adding to their strength. This, said the Chairman, was true, and he would defy contradiction to one iota to what he had stated. The present Mayor was one of the said H.I.P.S. - Mr. C. P. Hutchings, seconded Mr. Vennel's motion, and the meeting pledged themselves to support Messrs. Burchell and West as candidates.What the "News" Said" - On the morning of the Council meeting, Dec. 5th, the "Hastings News" remarked
[ 48 ]
Today's Council meeting will have a good deal of work to get through. The list of motions on the agenda is unusually long....One thing on the agenda may provoke discussions and stir up some unpleasant feelings. It is this -
That the fine paid by Mr. Eldridge in declining to accept the office of Assesssor be repaid to him!
There may be legal difficulties in the way of this, but there can be but one opinion among thinking men about the justice of the proposal. The object of the law in exacting such a penalty was, undoubtedly to prevent burgesses shirking a duty when fairly put upon them. It had no reference to the devices of party to carry out a faction's purpose, as in this instance. And be the man Mr. Eldridge or anybody else - it matters not to us - we reassert our conviction of the unworthiness of the ruse by which any burgess is mulcted £25 under the circumstances of this case. We know the retort "Would the other party have done it?" Very likely.
But would it have been therefore right? And when they do it we shall express the same opinion of their actions as we now do of those of the parties now in question. If the lex talionics[Notes 3] is to be justified as the rule of civilised life, we had better say so at once, and talk of justice and fair-play no more. This law of retaliation is only a modified form of Lynch-Law; and though respectable communities are often obliged to tolerate it, it is very bad when we take it as our justified ground of action. We feel bound by a sense of general fairness to say thus much on the principle of the case in dispute.
Mr. Eldridge's Fine
Mr. Eldridge's Fine - At the meeting thus referred to by the News, Coun. Harvey said he put a notice on the agenda for remitting Mr. Eldridge's fine because he felt that Mr. Eldridge was elected assessor in a manner derogatory to those who voted for him and to the town at large. Before he was elected as assessor he had become a candidate for a seat in the Council, and had made his canvass for the same, which showed him that his election was sure. It was a dishonest act to get a gentleman into an inferior office when his election was certain in another. He did not think Mr. Eldridge would have paid the fine, but he (Coun. Harvey) was convinced that those who voted for him did so for party purposes. He would therefore move that the fine be remitted. Coun Tree seconded. - Coun Vidler (a member of the H.I.P.S.) had heard that Mr. Eldridge's money had been paid by subscription and he thought that it was out of their power to refund it. - Coun. Eldridge denied it, and remarked that those who made such assertion should know what they were talking about. He came there not for party purpose, but to speak the truth and to serve the town. He knew nothing of any attempt to get his fine remitted until he saw it on the agenda. Coun. Bromley (another of the H.I.P.S.) thought it would have been better for Mr. Harvey not to have done so; the motion was a question for the burgesses and not for the Council; he believed Mr. Harvey's real motive was to be able to make a similar application for himself. Coun. Duke moved that they proceed to the next business. Coun. Harvey would not be thwarted in that way. Coun. Eldridge requested Mr. Harvey to withdraw his motion, as he was quite content to abide the consequences. - Coun. Harvey, in reply, said Mr. Bromley had no right to tell him that he ought not to put the motion on the agenda. He had done it with the purest motive, and had endeavoured to shield himself from personalities; but Mr. Bromley, not being able to control his temper, made a personal attack upon him. He (Mr. H.) had brought the subject before them for a fair hearing, but now, as the gentleman whom the motion concerned wished him to withdraw it, he would do so.
A Sevenpenny Rate having been recommended, Coun. Putland admitted that he had always said that a sixpenny rate ought to be sufficient for ordinary purposes, but the present estimated expenditure embraced the special drainage to the extent of about 1½d. in the £. - Coun. Harvey believed it would be the last rate even so low as 7d. [ 49 ]
A Radical condemns the Radical H.I.P.S
The surveyor's Fees. At the same meeting, Couns. Eldridge said there were many complaints among ratepayers of the £50 paid to the Surveyor for getting out the quantities for drainage A; and as the Road Committee had recommended that tenders be invited for sections B and C, a long and confused discussion ensured on the question of paying for the getting out the quantities for the contractor. Coun. Vidler contended that Mr. Laing was not entitled to any extras, the agreement being that he should give up the whole of his time to the Board for the amount of his salary. Here Coun. Vidler was right, this part of the agreement being very precise, and for the purpose of shutting out extra charges which had caused so much unpleasantness and led to the dismissal of Mr. Laing's predessor(sic)in office. As to complaints out of doors, said Ald. Ticehurst "I care very little about, seeing that the grumblers are very often disappointed contractors." The present, however, knows that it was not disappointed contractors, but responsible ratepayers who complained, and who, knowing the conditions upon which the Surveyor was engaged, held the expression of Ald. Ticehurst to be unworthy of him. On the motion of Ald. Clement, it was decided that Mr. Laing receive £50 from the board and 21s. each from those who tendered.
Political IndependenceA letter to the Editor of the Hastings and St Leonard News, dated Nov 4th is here reproduced:-
[ 50 ]
The result of the elections last Saturday seems to have given great annoyance to many of the Liberals of this town, especially to those who belong to the H.I.P.S. I am no less annoyed myself at some of the West Ward doings; but I attribute the whole to the gradual process of civic deterioration induced by the domineering impudence of the ruling section of the Radical party, and to the natural exasperation of those who were sought to be beaten by a cunning that has but recoiled upon itself. Sir, I am a Radical, and one of the many who protest at being dictated to by any club whatever as to my course at a municipal election. We do but fight Toryism with Tory weapons if we adopt the very corruptions against which Radicalism has lifted up its voice so loudly. Those of us, Mr. Editor, who are more attached to Liberal principles than inclined to do homage to the dignity of certain Liberal professors, feel heartily thankful to you for the independent way in which you have always denounced political meddling in the Council elections. You have made yourself enemies, but they are among persons whose judgements are worthless because warped by personal spite or party pay. The true Liberals - and amongst them I know are men who were radicals when it was a credit and a virtue to be so - men who opposed Toryism when the leading H.I.P.S. were babes in their mother's arms. These true Liberals approve of your doings, and thank you. It matters little what name diction bears. It is the essence of despotism whether it springs
from Radical or Tory clubs. Political influence is bad enough in municipal contests but political dictatorship is abominable. It now amounts to this; for if a Liberal votes for a man whom he thinks is fit for office, but who has not the honour of being a H.I.P.S. nominee, that Liberal is denounced forthwith a renegade and exposed to the taunts and insults of hirelings whose only knowledge of public duty is associated with the purse or the pot. I hear that the dominant club mercifully intends that a few Conservatives should find a place in the Council some day. This intention is urged as a proof of moderation and cited as an illustration of the way in which the said club is cruellly slandered! Merciful H.I.P.S.! Blessed moderation! - a new version of 'stooping to conquer!' - bending because they can't stand upright. The best thing they can do is to let municipal elections alone, and fight together. Now the dominant faction is only disgusting the better portion of the party, to carry unworthy schemes in unworthy ways. Let the ruling minds of local faction beware. They are not everybody. Nor will slander, personal detraction and private plotting either raise their character or give them permanent success.— I am, Sir,
A Thorough Radical
At a quarterly meeting of the Hastings Mechanics' Institution on the 7th of May, the accounts showed a favourable balance of £9.15s., and that although 130 new members had joined, 150 had left, thus leaving the number on the books 354.
The Lectures delivered on behalf of the Institution were "Insects in relation to Man" by W. R. Selway, of London, Jan. 21st; "Nitrogen Gas" by Mr. J. Banks, Feb. 19th; "Pneumatics" by J. E. Butter, March 3rd; "Sound" by J. G. Langham, of Uckfield, March 10th; "Fifty years ago" by Rev. G. Stewart, March 31st; "Carriages" by James Rock, jun., April 13th; "Non-Metalic(sic) Substances" by J. Banks, April 27th; "Great Men" by Rev. Geo. Stewart; Nov 3rd; "The Telescope" by J. Banks, Nov. 10th; "Fossil Botany" by J. Stidolph of St. Leonards, Nov 24th; "Shakespeare's Julius Caesar" by W. Ransom, Dec. 8th; and (a reading) "The Play of King John" by M. Beaumont. Dec. 22nd.
The Soireé - The annual - or it might be said, the triennial gathering of the friends of the Institution took place in the Assembly room of the Swan hotel on the 27th of October, the number of persons present being less than half what had been expected and provided for. G. Scrivens, Esq. presided and was supported on the platform by Messrs. F. Roc, J. Banks, W. Ransom. M. Vider, T. H. Cole and Rev. J. Stent, all of whom addressed the meeting, during the intervals not devoted to[ 51 ]to singing and music. The proceedings terminated with a series of dissolving views, exhibited by Mr. J. Banks. It was regretfully noticed that although there were present several members of the sister institution of St. Leonards, the proceedings did not seem so animated as had been those of the latter society's 8th annual soiree.
The Committee's Report at the quarterly meeting was also less encouraging than that of the younger society. The Committee regretted the paucity of attendance at some of the lectures, and hoped that by keeping down the expenses of the lectures in future to be able to make further additions to the library. The number of members had again slightly decreased, whilst those at St. Leonards had increased.
Church of England Association
In the month of March, and in connection with the Young Men's Church of England Christian Association, a lecture was delivered by Dr. Armstrong of Bermondsey on "Protestantism as distinguished from Real Popery."
For the same Association, a lecture "On Tempers" was delivered by the Rev. J. Owen, of London on the 1st of August.
Also on the 10th of December, the Rev. J. F. Thorpe treated the Y. M. C. A. to a lecture on "Poetry and Poets". The lecture consisted of two parts - an explanation of the nature, objects and effects of poetry, and a number of illustrative readings from the works of British poets. In the latter, no fewer than 30 pieces were recived, and the list was not exhausted, when the lecturer found it necessary to bring his remarks and reading to a close.
The Literary Association
The Annual Meeting was held on the 25th of January when the following resolutions were passed:- "That the statement of a/cs. be received and adopted." "That the a/cs. and a list of the officers of the Institution be printed." "That the members elected last year have their elections confirmed." "That a note of thanks be transmitted from this meeting to the President, F. North, Esq. for his long and valuable services to the Institution." "That Mr. Arthur Ransom be elected librarian at a salary of £15 per annum."
The members present at a special meeting of the General Committee on the 1st of Februay were Dr. Greenhill (chairman) and Messrs. Hays, O'Neil, Bennetts, Gant, Rock and Scrivens. Resolved that in future the order of the agenda be 1st. to read minutes of last meeting; 2nd. ditto of the Library Committee; 3rd. to examine accounts, write to members in arrear, and consider any proposition involving an outlay of money[ 52 ]of which notice has not been given; 4th, to elect new members; 5th, any miscellaneous business. Also resolved that Dr. Greenhill, Mr. Crosbie, Mr. Gant, Mr. O'Neil and Mr. Scrivens be the Library Committee; that the Observer of the Institution be made a member of the British Meteorological Society; that the Librarian's duties to be to manage the permanent library and Mundie's books (both under the Library Committee, in subordination to the General Committee), to assist the Observer, and to keep the premises clean at his own expense; that the Library Committee try to dispose of the remainder of the late museum; that the sum of £5 be allowed for binding and repairing books; that the Library Committee prepare and print a supplement to the catalogue; and that there be ordered for the present year, The Times, Daily News, Morning Post, Spectator, Illustrated News, Quarterly Review, Edinburgh Review, New Monthly Magazine, Blackwood's, Fraser's and Tait's magazines, Athenaeum; Builder and Punch.
The Accounts showed that the balance in hand last year was 4s. 11d.; receipts from 46 annual subscribers, £57.10s.; for 15 shorter period subscribers, £7. 10s. 6d.; and for Museum articles sold, £30; leaving a balance due to the Treasurer of £17 12s. 5d. It was therefore clear that the ordinary receipts were far from meeting the current expenses.
To Improve the Financial Position it was resolved at the meeting on March 28th "That it is desirable that the existing shares of the value of £25 each of the Capital stock be cancelled and in lieu thereof, for each share of £25, two shares oof £12.10 be issued, the two shares to have relatively all the advantages of the original shares, and to commute with such shareholders as may feel so disposed for one new share - a life-membership of the Institution, subject, nevertheless to the usual conditions of election by the Committee.
Mr. Gant's offer to sub-let a part of the museum room to the Institution was declined.
Additional Members On Sept. 26th, the following gentlemen were also elected members:- G. P. Bacon (proprietor of the Sussex Advertiser), 28 Robertson street; David Robertson Esq., of Gloucester place; Rev. Augustus A. Aylward, of Brede Rectory; Geo. Borrett, Esq., St Clement's Rectory; Rev. Hy. Stent, Fairlight Rectory; the Baron de Tessier, No. 7 Carlisle parade; and John Lindsell, Esq., of 24 Wellington square. [ 53 ]
The Fishery & other matters
The Last Meeting of the Year was on the Christmas Holiday, when it was resolved that a list of the honorary members and life-members be printed, together with the date of election and their places of residence.
The Board of Guardians.
The Guardians elected were W. Wood, S. Gutsell and R. Bromley for St. Clements; A. Harvey, W. Adams and H. N. Williams for All Saints; T. Ross, W. King and A. Vidler, for St. Mary-in-the-Castle; H. Polhill for Holy Trinity; G. Winter for St. Michael's; S. Putland and F. Tree for St. Mary Magdalen; J. Peerless for St. Leonards; G. Clement for Bulverhythe; R. Selden for Ore; S. Waters for Fairlight; A. G. Thorpe for Pett; and J. J. Thorpe for Guestling.
The Gas Company
The reduction in the price of gas had so increased the consumption that during the first month of the year it was found necessary to enlarge the works, and a contract was entered into with Messrs. Newton, Chambers & Co. for a cast-iron tank to receive a gas-holder containing upwards of 150,000 cubic feet. The designs were furnished by Mr. G. T. Barlow, the Company's consulting engineer. The extension of the works was completed before the end of the year.
Office of Surveyor
When Mr. Laing was appointed Surveyor to the Town Council and the Local Board, it should have been stated that no fewer than 62 applications had been received for the appointment. This showed that there was no lack of those who were supposed to be or concived(sic)themselves to be qualified for such an office.
The large luggers, in April, returned from the western mackerel voyage quite unremunerated for their time and toil, and while fishing in the home waters during the summer, there was the same want of success. Barely one of the mackerel fleet paid its expenses, so that one after another they "tricked off", and after the nets had been scalded and dried they were stowed away until the next season. But on Saturday, Aug. 16th, on a report that mackerel had been caught by some Frenchmen in good quantities, two or three of the Hastings boats were again supplied with nets, and a moderate take of fish was the reward. On the following Monday, there was a second "bending in" and the "shooting" of nets that night resulted in "sivvers" of 500 to 5,000 realising when sold by Dutch auction on the beach at an average price of 12. per hundred. In September a general "bending in" for the herring season was effected and with a fair amount of success. On the 30th, Duncan White caught about 2,300, and William ("Archdeacon") Gallop about 1200, the selling price being 12s. per hundred. Some of the larger[ 54 ]luggers, which sailed for the western waters were even more successful, one of them having caught nearly 40,000 herring in one night. The boats of Yarmouth also commenced the season with marked success. In a single trip, one of the Hastings boats was said to have caught the extraordinary number of 90,000, which realised £135. This better herring season would have enabled the men to pay off some of their indebtedness caused by the bad mackerel season. Although the success was a varied character, it continued off and on till November, when in the last week when the catches were very large, some of the boats netting as many as from 15,000 to 25,000. The largest quantity landed was on Sunday, Nov. 23rd. when the glut of fish created quite a consternation, particularly among visitors, who watched the rare event, with much interest.
During the week which terminated on Aug. 1st, the arrival of vessels was as follows:-"William" (Fisher, maser) from Seaham with coal; "Perseverance" (Dunk) from Newcastle with coal; "Midge" (Baker), ditto; "Elizabeth" (Freeman) from Hartlepool, with coal; "William" (Kent), ditto; "Ealing Grove" (Norris) 84 days from Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, with 12 passengers and a bag of letters; "Phoenix" with gasometer for Gas Company from Grimsby; "Rock Scorpion" with coal from Seaham; and "Pelican" (Phillips), ditto.
The Price of Coals
At the present time (1899) when so much is being said about the vastly greater cheapness of sea-borne coal when the harbour is finished it may be interesting to know what the price was in the year under review (1856). In Brett's Gazette appeared an advertisement worded thus:-"Reduced Price of Coals"-"Stewart's Wallsend coals delivered into cellars, at Hastings or St. Leonards at 28s. per ton. Thos. Breeds & Co. High Street."
On the night of Wednesday the 19th of December, the "Royal Standard" fishing-boat, belonging to Mr. John Webb, was run into by a brig and sustained damage the smallness of which was thought to be almost a miracle. So violent was the concussion that the hands on board (who had "turned in") were instantly aroused, and supposing their boat was sinking, made a general rush for their lives. Five of the crew succeeded in getting on board the brig, but the sixth - a lad - was not so fortunate. Subsequently, however, both boy and boat were found in the same position in which they were left, and but little the worse for the mishap.
In the following week, two similar casualties occurred, the first off Hastings, involving the death of a Brighton fisherman, and the other off Folkestone, resulting in the loss of a Hastings fishing lugger. The boat alluded to was a new one, belonging to Mark Swaine, jun., and[ 55 ]worth, with its gear about £500. For some weeks the boat had been engaged in the herring fishery off Yarmouth, and was on its way home, with a favourable wind, when, during the night, and in a thick haze, it got into collision with a screw steamer, and in a short time went down. The crew, eight in number, who had a narrow escape from being drowned, were taken from the half-submerged lugger as soon as the steamer could be hove to, and a boat lowered for the purpose. After being humanely treated by the captain and crew of the steamer, the unfortunate fishermen were landed at Dover on the following morning.
The Shipping and Mercantile Gazette reported an accident to another Hastings lugger, named the John and Mary, which was run foul of by the Clever brig, of Sunderland, which after sweeping away the lugger's masts and spars, proceeded on its course without offering any assistance. Such are the amenities of sea-life!
A more agreeable aquatic event than those above described was the Hastings annual regatta. It took place on Thursday Sept 18th, in moderately fair weather, after a rainy and misty morning. The most exciting race was, as usual, the one for first-class four-oared galleys, the prizes of which £15, £8 and £5. The winners were severally the Anne' of Brighton; the Topsy of Dover; and La Lucie, of Hastings. The winner of the first prize, though belonging to Brighton, was built at Hastings by Mr. George Tutt, whilst two of her rowers were Henry Curtis and George Wenham, both celebrated Hastings Oarsmen.
A Case of Smuggling
It having reached the ears of certain authorities that a number of tubs containing smuggled spirits were concealed at the Robin Hood, at Icklesham, kept by Edwin Barden, Inspector Jeffery, Superintendent Thomson and Supervisor Hare arranged to meet on the 23rd of August, with a force in reserve, to search the house. They happened to meet Barden in a cart, driving towards Hastings. On telling him they had a warrant to search the Robin Hood for smuggled goods, he declared he had not any there, and offered to drive them to his house for the search. This offer they accepted, and after searching every cranny without success, Inspector Jeffrey suggested that there might be a "cockloft" in the roof, entered by some secret trap; he having known of such places. Such secret trap was then discovered in a dark corner of Barden's bed-room. At this moment Barden re-entered his cart and drove off at a rapid pace. On entering the loft, the officers found 19 tubs, which they quickly seized, together with another afterwards found in the garden. They were at once conveyed to Hastings, and placed[ 56 ]in the High-street Custom House. The names of Barden and Robin Hood were famous in bygone times in connection with smuggling ventures. The case was tried at Rye on the 24th of September, the smuggled having been passed from the custom house of Hastings to that of Rye. The charge was that on the 23rd of August, 85 gallons of smuggled spirits had been found on the premises of which Barden was lately the landlord. Mr. Bellamy, Crown Solicitor appeared on the part of the prosecution, and Mr. Langham of Hastings, for the defendant. Evidence was given as above described, and Mr. Gent, of Rye proved the value of the spirit to be £107 13s. 4d. Mr. Langham did not attempt to prove the innocency of defendant, but pleaded for a mitigation of the fine, saying it would be impossible for defendant to pay the amount of penalty stated in the Act of Parliament, which was three times the value of the spirit; but if the Bench would mitigate the fine to one fourth, which they had the power to do, there would be a probability of it being paid. Mr. Bellamy did not think it was a case for mitigation, but the magistrates having consulted together, the chairman (Major Curteis) said they had convicted Barden in the penalty of £120 and £7 costs. Before the rising of the court, Barden paid down £80 and a fortnight was allowed him to pay the remainder.
Sale of Surplus Land
The sale of the surplus land of the South-Eastern Railway Company between the west end of York Buildings and the Station took place on the 16th of September. It consisted of 62 building plots of about 20 feet frontage and 100 feet in depth. All the plots were sold and realised good prices. The first four on the western side were bought at over £950 each by Messrs. Clement, Howell and Burchell; and among other purchasers were Messrs. Clark, Dinsdale, Vidler, Mills, Cox, Stace and Soloman.
The ancient church of St. Clement's, originally built of stone and flint, imbedded in cement and which by vandalism had been from time to time repaired with brick, was being restored in February of this year, not only for prevent further decay, but also for the purpose of restoring it according to the original design. A short time previously, mainly through the liberality of the late rector (the Rev. J. G. Foyster) a new window and doorway in the west front of the tower were put in; and now, by the addition of a reredos and a memorial window, to be placed at the east end of the chancel, the improvements were further progressing. Mr. Hy. Carpenter was the[ 57 ]designer and Mr. Burchell (both Hastings men) was the mason. All inhabitants of the town who were interested in the restoration of a church which was town property must have noticed with pleasure the gradual replacing stone windows for the barbarous wooden ones, the renovation of the belfry door and window, and other improvements which were effected in this church, and, above all, the beautiful stained window and stone reredos erected as a Foyster testimonial. The subscriptions to the restoration and testimonial fund were sufficient to cover the original estimate, but it was found in carrying on the work that the wall at the east end of the church was in such a crumbling condition that it was necessary to renew it, which entailed an additional outlay of between thirty and forty pounds, which I believe, was afterwards obtained in a second subscription.
Congregational Church. Although the movement for the erection of the Holy Trinity Church for the parish of that name preceded the same action for the Dissenters' place of worship in the same neighbourhood, the preliminary negotiations and the abandonment of the first selected site in the Step Meadow, gave the opportunity for the Congregationalists to be first to commence operations. It was thought, however that, as in the case of St Mary Magdalen Church and the Convent, so in this case, the rivalry of sects had the effect of augmenting the subscriptions. The laying of the foundation stone of the Congregational Church was performed on Thursday, Sept 4th in the presence of a large concourse of friends and others. The stone was laid by Apsley Pellatt, Esq. M.P. At a tea-meeting in the evening at the Swan Hotel, it was stated that the ground was leased for 99 years at a rental of £32, with a purchase clause of 5, 10 or 15 years for £800 - not a bad bargain, presumably for the vendor.
For the Holy Trinity Church, operations were commenced two months later, by the Rev. G. D. St. Quintin breaking ground in the Step Meadow, immediately behind where anciently stood the Priory of the Holy Trinity, but which site had afterwards to be abandoned, the soil being thought not to afford a sufficiently secure foundation.
The All Saints' Curate - the Rev. E. Smepp, was at this time presented with a service of plate by the inhabitants of Northiam, among whom he lately resided.
The Croft Chapel Pastor - the Rev.George Stewart - also at the same time took his departure for Mitcham, taking with the good wishes of the Hastings congregation of "Independents". Mr. Stewart was one of the persons appointed to collect subscriptions for the Congregational Church in Robertson street and Cambridge. When noticing the stone-laying of this structure, I might have said that it was[ 58 ]planned to hold 800 worshippers and estimated to cost £3,500. It has since been considerably enlarged and improved; in fact, almost rebuilt.
The Tabernacle, which is a close neighbour of the Congregational Church in Cambridge road, held its second anniversary services on the 29th of July, when, between the services, about 100 persons sat down to dinner and tea, and a sum of nearly £29 was collected. The same chapel was registered for marriages on the 1st of April; not, it should be hoped, for couples to practically illustrate the familiar description of that particular day.
The Baptist Chapel in Wellington square, had for one of its first deacons, Mr. Edward Phillips, a bookseller of George street, and previously of Hill street. He afterward emigrated with his family, to America. He died, this year (1856) in the month of May, at the residence of his son, Bloomington, Illinois. He was much respected, and his age at death was said to be about 56 years. I was well acquainted with him, and believe him to have been a sone of Thankful and Hannah Phillips, who was baptised at All Saints in April, 1802. His age would therefore have been 54 years.
The St Clement's Church Sermon, preached on the 5th of October to make up the deficiency caused by the refusal of a church rate, realised nearly the sum required.
In the same Church, on the 21st of October, was held the triennial visitation by the Bishop of the diocese, prayers being read by the rector of St. Clements and the sermon preached by the rector of Ewhurst.
The St Marys Schools had a sermon preached for them on the 20th of April, which realised £46 7s. 7d.
Evening Schools for Fisher-folk were renewed on the 27th of October, to be held during the winter months. The arrangements were at the Fishermen's Club-room on Mondays and Fridays for all persons of 21 and upwards; for Women and Girls over 14, on Mondays and Wednesdays; for all youths between 14 and 21 at the Boys National School-room, on Tuesdays and Fridays. A payment of one-halfpenny per week was required of the lads as a guarantee of their intention to avail themselves of the opportunity of improvement.
School Sermons on Sunday, Oct. 26th, realised £40 for All Saints and St. Clemens, and £69 for the schools of St. Mary-in-the-Castle.
An Evening School was opened in connection with Fairlight Church, where about 30 young men, under and over 20 years of age were instructed by the rector (Rev. H. Stent), Mr. E. Pinson (Master of the Day School), and another person. [ 59 ]The Infant Schools of St. Clement's and All Saints, on the 29th of February - a leap year date - presented a tea urn to the Countess of Waldegrave, as a testimonial for the great interest her ladyship had always taken in the schools. The Countess expressed her pleasure at this token of the children's gratitude, and promised to invite them to tea shortly, when the urn would be used. The promise was faithfully kept, the children being entertained at her Ladyship's house, and presented, in return with appropriate gifts of clothing, as a recognition of the children's expressed regard for her past exertions on their behalf.
Inquests and Particular Deaths
Frank French, a shoemaker, living at Castle terrace, having committed suicide by hanging, was the subject of a coroner's inquest, at which the evidence showed that he had been subject to fits and had afterwards complained of pains in the head; also that he had attempted to destroy himself on one or two previous occasions. Temporary insanity was the verdict. The deceased was about 62 years of age, and used to play on a violoncello that he himself made. He had two sons - Frederick and Stephen, who were members of Brett's Brass Band. The melancholy death of Mr. French occurred on Feb. 19th.
Thomas Quaife was also the subject of an inquest, which was held on the 14th of June. The deceased was a widower, about 60 years of age. He had been a brewer, but for 9 months had been without occupation. He had three sons. It was proved that his death was self-inflicted.
John Osborne, aged 22 years, met an accidental death on the 26th of June, while intending to bathe from one of Cobby's machines. He dived from the same into only three or four feet of water, forgetting that it required 12 feet for safety in such a leap. His head was heard to strike the ground by persons in the next machine. He was soon got out, in a completely helpless condition but sensible. There was a large wound in his head from which blood was flowing. He died the next day. He was a son of Mr. Thomas Osborne, carpenter and stationer, and had only returned home 3 weeks before from 3½ years
service as a sailor in the East India merchant service.
George Stonham, a fisherman, 26 years of age, also died by his head coming in contact with the ground, but in quite a different manner. At midnight of June 14th, he fought several rounds, while the worse for dring, with fisherman Hide, and fell violently to the ground each time. He died from injury to his head a fortnight after.
Daniel Helm, a fishermn, aged 37, committed suicide by cutting his throat at the Crown Inn, He had been ill, and appeared strange. He was buried at All Saints, his comrades (German musicians) attended[ 60 ]the funeral and played the "Dead March." The inquest held on the deceased was the third within as many days.
Mr. John Crocket, at the age of 37 years, died on the first of Oct., and having been many years a warm and consistent supporter of Oddfellowship, his remains were followed to their resting place in the cemetery of St. Mary-in-the-Castle on the following Sunday afternoon by 100 members of the Victoria Lodge of that Order. The same lodge held a soireé and ball at the Market Room, on Janry. 23rd., when nearly 300 were present.
Strayed from Home
On the 11th of October, a child of the age of two years, wandered from its home in Russell street, and was not found until after a diligent search of about nine hours. It turned out that the little fellow had been listening to a band of music, and by the "concord of sweet sounds," was supposed to have followed the band until he had lost his way. He was found by R. G. Brazier, near the Fountain Inn at St. Leonards, crying bitterly, and a distance of two miles from his home. His eyes were red from crying and his feet flayed by walking, which circumstance, coupled with the fact that his having been seen in various parts of the town led to the inference that the poor little fellow must have wandered over several miles of ground in the deepest distress. This event is a reminder that the present writer, when a child, was supposed to have strayed from home, and after several hours' seach by his parents and others, and the sending round of the Crier, was found in an unlooked-for place at home fast asleep.
Balls and other Entertainments
Mrs. Fletcher-Norton gave a ball and supper at her residence, 4 Wellington square to about 130 persons on the 8th of January, and a second one on the 22nd. Mr. F. North M.P. had a dinner and evening party at Hastings Lodge on Jan. 23rd., which went off with great éclat. P. F. Robertson M. P. also entertained a fashionable and influential party of 160, at Halton House, on Jan. 28th. Mr. Robertson also gave a dinner to the Recorder, Magistrates and members of the Corporation on the 24th of October. The Annual King's-Head Ball, was held on March 1st, the musicians being the Hastings Quadrille Band. A Panorama at the Market Hall, depicting scenes in the Crimea, &c. was visited by great crowds. Rock Fair was held on July 26th and 28th, in Brisco's field on the White Rock, where it had been placed for several years. Middleton's well-known theatre continued in Hastings for several weeks after the fair. Powell's Circus was also at Hastings, and when it left on the 7th of August, another circus was on its way hither. "What? No amusements in Hastings! (asked the local News)" Not only have we concerts, lectures or other entertainments every night, but we[ 61 ]also have had Middleton's six week's successful performances, and during that time no less than three circuses, one of them (Marcartes) making a grand entry with a car blazing with purple and red, and drawn by 20 fancy horses. Also, as a counter attraction, Haswell's Panorama of the last war." The News might also have added that at the White-rock Bazaar were morning entertainments in Magic and Mystery every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday; and evening entertainments on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Henry Russell, for the second time, appeared at Hastings to give his entertainment on August 12th to a full house. Ginnett's Circus entered the town on the 11th of August, and in its procession was a large number of ponies, on which children rode to personate the tale of Cinderella. Then, within a week there were no fewer than three numerously attended "Gypsy Fêtes" two at Ore Valley and one at Belmont. There were also cricket matches, whilst among the excursions was the annual one to the Swiss Gardens at Shoreham. This took place on July 7th, and consisted of about 350 persons, accompanied, as usual, by a band. During the week which ended on 19th of July, Hoffman's unique Organophonic Band gave daily performances to good audiences. There was a "Juvenile Gipsy Party" on the 22nd of June at the Tivoli Tea-gardens, attended by about 80 boys and girls. This was another of the "field days" which Mr. James Ives personally conducted. These gardens were always open for fêtes and tea-parties, music and fireworks being occasionally introduced. Not to classify strictly as an entertainment, the Regatta already described; it certainly afforded an additional attraction to the invariable or variable interest evinced in the boating and bathing, and the arrival and unloading of vessels; and as touching maritime affairs, one interesting sight was the appearance in the Hastings roadstead, after a series of easterly gales, nearly twenty French fishing boats, besides several brigs and schooners, which, with a strong wind and lively seas presented a very animated scene. Well might the Hastings News ask "What! No Amusements!" But to conclude this sectional narrative of events, there was the organ recital of Blind Musicians on the 17th of June. This musical performance was on the St. Mary's Chapel organ by three of the four children of a labouring man named Cramp, of Fairlight, who had been blind from their birth. The youthful triplet had been under the training of Mr. George Lindridge, their names and ages being Emily, 17; Ellen, 13; and Tommy, 11. Their performance, separately of five pieces each astonished and delighted all the large number of persons at the recital. It was my privilege or opportunity on two or three occasions to dandle the two elder children, as infants, on my knees when I was visiting their[ 62 ]grandmother, Mrs. Foord. I remember how distressed their mother was at her children being blind.
Once more the old bells of St. Clement's (on the 12th of May) rang in Whit-Monday, and once more a discomforting rain from the clouds attended its departure. The old town fair, which had been practically diminishing for several year, had now almost reached the vanishing point. The rain held off during the procession of clubs, which perambulated the street as usual, and attracted a large number of sightseers both from town and country. The Old Friendly, with its banners and scarfs, proceeded through the principal routes, accompanied by Brett's Brass Band and a German Band, attended church, and afterward dined at the Swan. The Victoria Lodge of Oddfellows, with its band, banners and regalia, after its procession, dined at the Market-room. The Benevolent Society dined in a large shed adjoining the Kings Head. The Adelaide Lodge of Oddfellows, with smart banners and regalia, headed by the band of the Royal Sussex Artillery, attended the St. Leonards Church, (where the Rev. J. A. Hatchard preached the sermon) and after walking round the town, dined at the Warrior's Gate.
A Lucky Escape. On the 26th of January, during a heavy surf after a two days' gale, six men and a lad put off from the cutter Active, and when near the shore, their boat capsized with the whole of the occupants underneath. A number of fishermen and beachmen, who had been watching the boat, immediately rushed into the sea, righted the boat and saved the men. The lad, however, was being carried out by the surf, when "Patty" Burfield plunged forward and rescued him. Had not this able and willing assistance been in readiness, some of the crew at least must have been drowned.
Another Narrow Escape. On the 13th of July, as a little girl, aged 13, the daughter of Mr. Chas. Baker, of Church street, was cleaning a window, 15 feet from the ground in Robertson street, she slipped from her position, but fortunately grasped the window sill, and held on till assistance came to her. She was, however, so frightened as afterwards to have occasional fits.
A Fractured Leg was the result of an accident which happened to a young man in the employ of Mr. Streeter, of Robertson street, while driving his bread cart near Guestling. He was bought home and taken to the Infirmary. It occurred on Whit-Tuesday.
[ 63 ]
A Sprained Foot and other twist resulted to a young gentleman, who being astride a runaway horse on July 28th, and thinking the animal was going into the sea jumped from its back. The sufferer in this case could have consoled himself with the thought that even his hurtful jump had possibly saved him from disaster by being thrown.
More Personal Injuries occurred on the following day and in this way:- A fly, while being turned in Robertson street had one of its shafts broken, and the horse, in its fright dashed off at a rapid pace, and at White-rock place threw its driver and a gentleman into the road The carriage also turned over and cooped two ladies underneath. Bruises were plentiful all round, but of fractured limbs there was not one.
More Bruises and Fractureless Bones accrued to a man named Richardson, a small shopkeeper in All Saints street, who, while in a soberless condition, got out of his bedroom window and fell to the ground.
A Lucky Escape was that of a huckster named Oliver, who, on the 23rd of September, who, was driving between St. Leonards and Hastings when his horse started off at a terrific speed, and when near Castle street became the more uncontrollable through the breaking of the reins. Pursuing its course to the Fishmarket, the cart was upset and its contents (including the driver) were thrown out, the driver, fortunately receiving no injury. Considering the rapid pace of the horse and the distance travelled, it was surprising that no further evil occurred.
£20 Loss, however, occurred on the same day to the owner of one of the mills on Fairlight Down by the blowing off of the sweeps during a strong gale.
A Badly hurt head resulted to a child in the first week of October by falling from a window in High street, but which, under the treatment of Mr. Ticehurst was restored to its normal condition.
A Horse falling down, during the same week, while conveying some ladies in a fly, caused the shafts to be broken, the horse's shoulder to be injured and the ladies to be only frightened.
A Lacerated Hand was the injury received by Thomas Tapsell, one of the workmen at Messrs. Burfield's Brewery, while doing something to the machinery.
A Series of Accidents. On the 22nd of December, as some ladies were riding down the steep road at the back of the Infirmary in a basket carriage, the horse started off at a quick pace, and in turning the corner, the carriage was turned over and the ladies wer(sic)thrown out, but not much injured. On the following day, at and near the same time and place, another wicker-work carriage drawn by a pony, knocked down a child of about 5 years of age, to whome the injury proved[ 64 ]not to be serious. A third accident of the week occurred at a late hour on the night of Dec. 26th, and was attended with more serious consequences. While conveying a party to or from the Christmas Ball, a fly was suddenly brought to a standstill through the fore-feet of the horse getting into contact with a man of gentlemanly exterior lying across the road. He was, as soon as possible, taken to the Infirmary and a doctor sent for.
[The foregoing accounts have been summarised from the St. Leonards Gazette, for which the said journal is responsible, but not for the accidents please!]
Murder of a Hastings Gaoler
Early on Monday morning, the tenth of March, the whole borough became sorrowfully excited on learning that Mr. James Wellerd, the greatly respected gaoler had been murdered. The said gaoler was about 70 years of age and resided on the premises with his son and his son's wife, the last-named being the matron. Wellerd had held the situation about 14 years, was extremely humane, was well connected and bore an excellent character for integrity and veracity. About a fortnight before the murder, two men and a boy were taken into custody for picking pockets. One of the men was discharged, but the other man, known as John Murdock (whose real name was William) and the boy, named George Wright, were committed for trial at the next quarter sessions. These two were placed in the gaol to await their trial. From the evidence given at the inquest it appeared that the two prisoners occupied the same cell in the day time, but were separated at night. On the morning of the murder the gaoler unlocked the cells as usual, which were on the second floor, and having done that, the prisoners followed him down stairs. The matron then hearing the bottom door bang; which was very unusual, looked out of her bedroom door and saw that the day-cell was open and the door of the gaoler's room shut. She heard a gurgling noise as if someone was being strangled. She then went back to her own room, bolted the door inside and ran to the window. On opening it, she saw the prisoners going from the gaoler's room into the yard and to the coal-house. She called out for the police, and the prisoners then ran back and locked the door and locked the door at the bottom of the stairs. They returned to the yard, when Murdock got on to the coal-house and pulled Wright up after him; but the latter jumped down again, and ran about the yar crying, saying "We have killed the man! Oh dear! It will all be laid to me!" The matron called out to Wright to unlock the door, and when he had done so, she saw the gaoler lying on his back close to the door, with his eyes starting from their sockets, and a little blood flowing from his mouth. His pockets were turned inside out, and he appeared to be quite dead. Mrs. Wellard then opened the outer door, let in assistance and sent for surgeon Ticehurst. Among the persons who were let in was Richard Coote, a powerful brewer's drayman, who had had his attention drawn towards the gaol through a runaway horse, when he saw a man jump off the wall and run in the direction of Breed's yard. He (Coote) was standing about 60 or 70 yards from the gaol at the time, but the prisoner was away before he could[ 65 ]get to him. As soon as the escape became known, every means were employed to recapture the man known as Murdock. Policemen and others were sent off in all directions, but nothing was heard of him until the afternoon, when a little girl saw a man lying in a ditch between a field on the West hill occupied by Mr. Thwaites and a garden occupied by Mr. Golding - a locality just above the road leading from the Croft to Torhill-field. The prisoner alarmed the little girl by threats, and she left him and told some boys who approached him, when he also threatened to kill them. Finding, however, that others had discovered his whereabouts, or were likely to do so, he ran off across the West hill towards the windmills and from thence down Wallinger's Walk, where he took off his shoes and threw them into a garden. Meanwhile he was pursued by the boys, who were joined by others, and was at length captured by Henry Barton and Thomas Tutt, who led him off, and gave him into the hands of Sergt. Brazier. The inquest was held on Tuesday and adjourned till Thursday. In the interim the examination of the prisoners took place, when they were both committed for trial at the next Sussex Assizes on the charge of wilful murder. Also, at the adjourned inquest, the jury returned a verdict against John Murdock and George Wright. During their examination the prisoners appeared to be but little affected, and when on the railway platform, en route for Lewes without irons of handcuff, the boy succeeded in tripping up Sergt. Brazier, in whose custody he was, whilst Murdock also struggled to get away.
The trial took place on Wednesday, July 16th, at the Sussex Summer Assizes, and Murdock, being found guilty, was sentenced for death. Wright was sentenced to two months imprisonment for larceny. John Murdock alias Joseph William, aged 19, was hanged in front of the Lewes new gaol at 12 o'clock on Tuesday, Aug. 5th. His conduct while in prison was most exemplary, and on the day before his execution, he wrote a letter to the son of the deceased gaoler, imploring him to forgive him. He also begged that the boy Wright (who had to some extent assisted him to escape) might be brought before him. His desire was granted, and the interview was a painful one. He urged the boy to relinquish his evil courses, and entreated him to keep before him as an example, his (Murdock's) fate. He also wrote affectionate letters to his mother and other relations. When the cap was drawn over his face at his execution, he prayed "Lord have mercy on me" "Lord Jesus receive my soul!". He died without a struggle. [Notwithstanding the solemn exhortation to the gaol a few weeks when he was taken up at High Wycombe for picking pockets, and sentenced to three months imprisonment.]
At the East-Sussex Sessions on the 1st of July, Frederick Henton was sentenced to six years' penal servitude, and Charles Hill to twelve months imprisonment, for breaking into Mr. William Cloke's cottage at Fairlight and stealing £70. [ 66 ]
A three-pound splintered cannon-shot was dug up on the West hill, near the Castle that had evidently been buried a good many years.
A marvellously Little Man, said to be even more diminutive than the renowned Tom Thumb, exhibited himself at the King's Head Inn, for a small payment.
A Large Badger, which is quite a rarity in this locality, was discovered near Ore Place on the 16th of May.
A Conger Eel, caught off Hastings, was exhibited at Mr. Stace's fishmonger's shop, in Castle street. It measured 6½ feet in length, 2 feet in circumference, and weighed 60lbs.
A Flint Arrow-head, a human jaw-bone, some teeth and other human bones, were discovered near the Look-out on the East hill. It was also in this year (1854) that Mr. Ross caused the excavations on the East hill which resulted in discoveries of great archaeological interest described on page 66.
A Monster Shark, 9½ feet in length, and weighing over 5cwts., was accidentally caught in Rye Bay, by one of the small fishing-boats of Hastings, on the 3rd of September, while drifting for mackerel. The monster had got entangled during the night, and in its struggles had rolled the net so tightly round its body as to cause it to be drowned in its own element.
An Important Discovery was made during the drainage operations at the conjunction of George street and High street. The workmen came upon the remains of some old and strong masonry, consisting of blue-stone and mortar, and was about six feet in width. After removing sufficient to carry the drain from George street to John street, they carried the drain along the top for several yards, when it was found that the discovered masonry diverged at right angles to the north. It was probably a part of the ancient draw-bridge, the existence of which was once proved by the conveyance of a house near it. A copper groat of Henry VIII. was also found near the wall.
A Curious Freak was witnessed on the 28th of January, when a cow that was being driven in George street, darted through the opening between the Albion and 11 Marine parade. The front door of the latter being open, her cowship unceremoniously entered, to the consternation of the inmates, who were at breakfast in the kitchen. She was just commencing to descend the kitchen stairs, when, being confronted by the master of the house, she would have faced about to get out if there had been room to turn. At length, the drivers who had lost the cow, came and backed her out, the only mento of her visit being a soiled floor and some horn-marks on the walls.
A Curiosity in its way would be Mr. Thwaites's annual show of 50 lambs at his butcher's shop in Commercial Road, which this year took place on Friday and Saturday, 25th and 26th of July, and all sold before the arrival of Sunday.
A Curious Occurrence also, was the return from Australia, of Thomas Collins, son of Mr. Collins of the Castle booking-office, who, after leaving home had not been heard of for some years, and had been given up as lost. [ 67 ]
Discoveries on the East Hill
A Curiosity - or, if not that, it was at least an uncommon occurrence that on Sunday morning, Sept. 21st, a young man residing in the neighbourhood of St. Andrews terrace, took himself a wife, and that almost at the same hour, his mother gave birth to her 22nd child; thus, with the son's marriage, adding two more to the already numerous family.
A Two-feet Gunnell(sic), turning the scale at 9lbs., was caught off Hastings, with hook and bait, by a gentleman, on Tuesday, Oct. 7th.
A Gigantic Skate, weighing 140 lbs., was caught in the trawl net of one of the Hastings fishing boats on the night of November 27th.
As stated on page 65, it was in 1856 that Mr. Ross obtained permission to make excavations on the East Hill which led to discoveries of great archaeological interest. It had long been known that remains of a very ancient date existed at the southern extremity of that hill just above the "Look-out"; there having been found, from time to time, pieces of stone, bones and other relics. Anxious to ascertain, if possible, the nature of the building, if any, that had in remote ages existed at that spot, Mr. Ross, as the local secretary of the Sussex Archaeological Society asked permission of the Countess of Waldegrave to make the necessary excavations. This being readily assented to, Mr. Ross commenced the work, but though continuing it for some time, his efforts were not attended with the success he had hoped for. The men he employed, however, cut across the graves of four persons of various sizes, and, consequently of different ages; also of varying depths of from one to five feet below the surfac. From the evident care which had been bestowed on the interment of some of the bodies, it was conjectured that those were persons of higher rank. Beneath each (the full length of the body) was a bed of charcoal about two inches in thickness, which it was thought, from certain marks had been prepared on the spot. Under the head was placed an oyster shell or a stone. Two of the skulls were broken up, the jaw-bones having the appearance of being severed in front with some sharp instrument. Another skull was peculiar for its extreme thickness of more than half an inch. On the northern part of the excavations, two stone coffins were uncovered, apparently made of Caen stone that had once formed part of the building, but there was nothing to show the nature of such building. A considerable quantity of Caen stone was lying about - mere remnants, probably of more definately shaped portions that during a long period of time had been carried off. There was[ 68 ]also found a considerable quantity of wood and iron, and some large iron rivets, mostly in rows, the heads of which were as large as a halfpenny. Two copper coins of the reign of Charles I. were found, but these, it was believed, had been left there accidentally, the other relics bearing evidence of an age long anterior to that date.
The once existent building, as far as Mr. Ross could trace it, was apparently a pharos or other kind of tower (See map of Sussex in Chichester Cathedral) of ancient design, and such as has been found in some of the oldest churches. in any case it was a place of sepulture, and one is tempted to ask the unanswerable question - "Was the original St. George's Church, which - like those of St. Leonards, St. Margaret's, and St. Michael's - had disappeared by the falling away of the cliff, and afterwards rebuilt on a more central part of the hill, at a greater elevation? During the progress of the excavations, the place was visited by a vast number of visitors and inhabitants (as had been the excavations of the Castle thirty years before) and the crowd was sometimes so great that it was feared some serious accident would result. Mr. Ross's paper read at the Archaeological Society's rambles, ten years later, varies slightly from the foregoing description, but not contradictorily.
The Ranking Testimonial
A testimonial to Mr. Robert Ranking was presented to him on the 23rd of February at his residence. It consisted of a massive silver inkstand bearing the following inscription:-
and a purse, containing one hundred and five sovereigns were presented to Robert Ranking, Esq., on his leaving Hastings in March 1856, as a testimonial of affection and esteem for him of the friends among whom he had resided and followed his professional duties with the most distinguished success, for a period of 36 years
The purse contained, in addition to the above-named sum eleven packets of two guineas each, for his children, grand children and great-grand children resident in Hastings, that thus every member of his family circle might have a part in this memorial of the esteem entertained for their respected parent. In consequence of Mr. Ranking's retirement the partnership of Ranking and Gabb was dissolved.
Proclamation of Peace
On the first of May, the Peace Proclamation was publicly read in front of the Town Hall as follows:-
"Victoria R. - Whereas a definition Treaty of Peace and friendship between us and our Allies and his Imperial Majesty the Emperor of all the Russias was concluded at Paris on the 30th day of March last, and the notifications thereof[ 69 ]have been duly exchanged, in conformity thereunto, we have thought it fit hereby to command that the same be published throughout our dominions; and we do declare to all our loving subjects, our will and pleasure that the said treaty of Peace and friendship be offered inviolably, as well by sea, as by land, and in all cases whatsoever; strictly charging and commanding all our loving subjects to take notice hereof, and to conform themselves thereunto accordingly."
"Given at our Court at Buckingham Palace this 28th of April in the year of Our Lord, 1856, and in the 19th year of our reign."
"God Save the Queen"
The Mayor, in his official robes, and several other members of the Corporation were present. The ceremony commenced by the Town Crier ringing his bell, after which the above proclamation was read by Mr. Robert Growse, Deputy Town Clerk, followed by lusty cheers. The Mayor was F. Ticehurst Esq.; and it here apropros to mention that on the 25th of the following June, the said Mayor, with the Borough Members attended the levee with an address to the Queen and kissed her Majesty's hand. These three gentlemen followed next to Col. Williams, the hero of Kars.
The Peace Celebration
A meeting, by requisition to the Mayor, was held at the Town Hall on Monday the 26th of May, attended by only a sparse company. After waiting some time, the Mayor expressed regret that only ten persons were present who signed the requisition, it being suggested that he should dissolve the meeting. Mr Winter rose, and said he did not like the meeting to be dissolved without some motion being put that they could decide upon; he would therefore move "That it is desirable to commemorate in some appropriate manner the ratification of Peace, and that as one means of doing so, the inhabitants be recommended to set apart one day as holiday." Mr. J. Rock, jun., in seconding the motion, said it was forty years since there had been the occsion to celebrate a peace, and he hoped it would never occur again; but it would, he thought, be a discredit to an old Cinque Port like Hastings not to take part in the general rejoicings. The Rev. J. A. Hatchard said he would yield to no man in his interest for the welfare of the working classes, and if those who employed them would pay them for the[ 70 ]day, they might consider it as so much money invested. He and other Christian ministers, while they were anxious that the Sabbath should be kept from desecration, would desire that the people should enjoy themselves. He wished that there were more means for public recreation for the working classes, and hoped the time was not far distant when they would have a Saturday half-holiday and four great national holidays in the year. If the war had continued, they would have been subjected to very heavy taxation, and surely it was a cause for rejoicing that it was ended. He thought the 29th would not be a suitable day, as many would like to see the rejoicings in London as well as those at home. He would suggest the 4th of June, a celebrated day in good old George's time. - Mr. W. Ransom said that though he agreed in the main with the previous speaker, he thought if the peace was worth commemorating, it deserved a more permanent memorial; he would therefore move as an amendment "That a committee be appointed to enquire into the probable cost of an illuminated clock on the open space between York Buildings and Robertson street." First impressions were often of great importance; and they could not too much for that part of the town to make it attractive to visitors when they first alighted. The amendment was negatived and the original motion was carried by 48 to 5. A committee was then formed, who immediately sat for business, the Rev. J. A. Hatchard being one to proffer his services in making arrangements.
The day thus fixed for the local celebration enabled the writer of these notes to go to London, there to see the magnificent fireworks from a most advantageous position on the roof of a new mansion, which commanded a view of all the places where they were exhibited, and certainly the sight was exceedingly grand. The display on Primrose Hill could only be seen by a sideway glance, but in the Green Park, Hyde Park and St. James's Parks, the view was complete and uninterrupted from that elevated position. And then, the illuminations in the principal thoroughfares were simply gorgeous.
The Local Celebration - The 4th of June came in its natural course and the peace celebration came with it. A report of the fête appeared in the St. Leonards Gazette, but as the file from April to September, with one solitary exception, hs been lost, the following account is condensed from the Hastings News[Notes 4]:- "Hastings does possess en[ 71 ]thusiasm - she is patriotic. She is not a century behind the rest of the world, though our fast friends would have us think she is; she rather deserves a place in the van of progress. Witness the Peace gala day last Wednesday. Never in Hastings was a holiday so hastily got up and so well carried out. Never in England could a holiday be more heartily enjoyed. The committee were peculiarly happy in compelling the town to keep a voluntary holiday... The public, too, must be congratulated for their open handedness with money so promptly and generously supplied; and that, after the public subscription purse had been pretty well drained by other things in a time of year notoriously dull in business... The best aspect of the old English out-of-door festivities seems to have been revived on Wednesday. A bright summer day crowned the whole with its beauteous sky and light cloud, green hill and valley, picturesque scenery and blue sea...The site selected for the fête was that part of the West Hill near the windmills. Preparations were made for the accommodation of the children by erecting two booths, some distance apart, the space between being occupied by seats. There were also two marquees for the committee. The public were fenced off from the enclosure by posts and ropes, and two ornamental arches were made of green boughs, each surmounted on the outside with the motto "Honour to the Brave", and on the inside "Welcome Peace".
A large bonfire, surmounted with three tar-barrels was stacked up in the space formed by the union of the St. Mary's terrace road with the road leading from Halton to the Priory. The morning was ushered in by the ringing of bells, the flying of flags, and reports of small cannon and firearms... As noon approached, High street and George street presented an animated appearance. Crowds of people collected to witness the assembling of the schools, with their flags and banners. These arrived punctually and were stationed four abreast on the Town Hall side of the street. The scene was such a one as had never before been witnessed in Hastings. The children occupied the entire length of the street when standing when standing(sic) in close order, and when walking, the procession was much longer.
The procession moved through George street to Wellington square, headed by a German Band... The people in the West Ward were as punctual as those in the East, and a procession nearly as long and quite as gay, walked from Warrior square to Wellington square, preceded by the Hastings and St. Leonards Brass Band. [Of this band, during its years of existence, T. B. Brett was general manager and harmoniser of music, whilst his two brothers were also members. It was the first band of its kind established in the borough.] The Warrior square procession joined the Wellington square procession, and then the- }} [ 72 ]whole walked round the latter square down to the bottom of Castle road, and proceeded up the same to the West Hill. The Hastings divisions consisted of St. Clement's and All Saints National and Sunday schools, St. Mary's weekday and Sunday schools, Halton weekday and Sunday schools, Wesleyan Sunday schools, Croft Sunday schools, Baptist Sunday schools, Parker's Charity, Saunders's charity and union-house schools, together with Mr. Murray's, Miss Borrow's and other private schools. The St. Leonards portion consisted of the St. Leonards National and Sunday schools, St. Mary Magdalen National and Sunday schools, Bohemia school, Bopeep school, Ragged school, Roman Catholic school, Mr. Wise's school and other private schools; the estimated number being between three and four thousand. When arrived on the hill, the children were served with pies, milk-and-water and other drinks. This was witnessed by immense crowds, and at two o'clock, the provisions having disappeared, a second grace was sung and the children were sent out of the enclosures to enjoy themselves in scrambling for nuts, marbles fruit &c., racing for toys and other articles, playing at blindman's bluff, ball-bias[Notes 5], drop-handkerchief[Notes 6], and other sports. The whole of the hill was thronged, and the "oldest inhabitant" could not remember seeing such a sight before. The two bands occasionally enlivened the people with their music, and some of the lads and lassies tripped it on "the light fantastic toe." These sports continued without intermission till past five, when the children were recalled to the enclosure, and after receiving a bun each, and singing the National Anthem, were dismissed to the St Clements Caves, which were opened and illuminated for their reception, where they disported themselves for a short time. The crowd on the hill continued to increase as the evening drew on, and as the bands kept up their playing, dancing became more general. Just after dark, some fire balloons were sent up, and shortly before eleven, the huge bonfire was lighted, which gave a picturesque scene to the sea of human heads. There were also private displays of fireworks and illuminations in several parts of the borough.
The Peace celebration at Ore consisted of a treat to the children at the expense of the benevolent rector - the Rev. W. T. Turner.
At the Town Council meeting on June 6th, it was resolved that a loyal address be presented to her Majesty at the next levée, congratulating her that in unison with her illustrious allies, the Emperor of the French and the King of Sardinia, she had been enabled to put[ 73 ]an end to the war. This was the address that was presented by the Mayor, F. Ticehurst, Esq., mentioned on page 72
Another Description of the Local Peace Festivities
"From ___ ___ ___ at Hastings, to ________, in London"
"On a fine June day,
In a sensible way,
At Hastings, we kept the Peace,
As all can tell for
'He maketh wars to cease'
Took part in the glee,
And marched its children down,
Who joined our ranks
On the sunny banks
Of the hill above the town
"There all our schools,
Let loose from rules,
Were feasted with good fare,
Of nice beef pies,
And large in size,
Plum puddings too were there.
"They all ate well,
And then they fell
To every kind of game;
'Twould you have done good
If you had but stood
Where you could have seen the same.
"Still more to make glad,
A bonfire we had,
And fireworks so splendid at night,
So well did they go,
And so brilliant the show,
That al the surroundings were bright.
"And as our good Mayor,
From his old civic chair,
Had moved as a happy conclusion
That some might assume
And be free to illume
It came to a quick resolution.
"And therefore V. R. s,
And beautiful stars
Blazed forth in arrangements of gas;
While as poor or elite,
In the road or the street,
The people assembled en masse.
"Thus into the town
From the hill they came down,
Some steady, and some in a race;
The old ones in quiet,
The young ones in riot,
But all with the happiest grace.
"And the loveliest sea,
Seemed to join in the glee,
As it played with the pebbles on shore;
As though it would say
'I'm rejoicing today,
For 'twas England's proud navy I bore.
"I forgot the big bun
Which, after the fun
Each one of the children there had;
For no one had heart
But to take a good part
In making the whole of them glad.
"Thus hear now from me
How St. Leonards-on-sea,
With Hastings old town kept the peace,
With hearts true and good,
Together we stood;
May never their unity cease!"
The Chewton Memorial. The stained-glass window in St Clements Church as a memorial to Viscount Chewton was finished in the last week of April. Over the subject of the window is the word "Sobraon" and beneath the subject, the word "Alma". Under that are the Chewton arms and the motto "Passes Avant". Above the window is a beautiful marble tablet with the following inscription:-
Cœlum non animum.
Sacred to the memory of William Frederick, Viscount Chewton. Late captain in H. M. Regiment of Scots Fusilier Guards, eldest son of William, 8th Earl of Waldegrave, C.B., and Elizabeth, his first wife. He was born on the 28th of June, 1816; served his Queen and country with honour, seventeen years in Canada, South America, Australia and the East and West Indies; bore, in 1846, a distinguished part at the battle of Sobraon, and on the 20th of September, 1854, fell gloriously on the heights of Alma, covered with wounds, in advance of his company, foremost in the assault.
He died in the hospital of Scutari, on the 8th of October, 1854, after 18 days of patient suffering, during which his sould found rest in Jesus"
"This monument and the window beneath were erected by a public subscription raised at Hastings to record the sense which many friends entertained of his worth - their admiration of his gallant and heroic conduct and their sympathy with the surviving family.
The tablet has a bas-relief portrait of Viscount Chewton, beautifully executed.
References & Notes
- Rackrent is a term for the full market value of a property - Transcriber
- Hastings Independent Political Society, which was established in 1851 by a Radical section of the Liberal party, who had got disgusted with the Whiggism of their older colleagues. PEN PORTRAITS OF LOCAL MEN. British Newspaper Archive Hastings & St. Leonards Observer 11 February 1888 Pg. 0006
- lit. "The Law of Retaliation", or "An eye for an eye"
- This article no longer appears in archives, however a slightly edited version appears at British Newspaper Archive Hastings & St. Leonards Observer 8 January 1887 Pg. 0003 - Transcriber
- Ball bias is a now obscure sport, similar in nature to rounders and/or baseball - see protoball.org
- "Drop-handkerchief" - one player runs behind the other players as they stand in a circle and drops a handkerchief behind one of them who then must pick up the handkerchief and run around the circle after the first player and try to tag, catch, or kiss the first player before he or she gets to the vacant place in the circle left by the second player - per Ian Shiner