Brett Volume 2: Chapter XVII - St. Leonards 1837
| 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.
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Chap XVII - St. Leonards 1837
For Decimus Burton see Historic Biographies, Vol.2, pp 125, 126
Deaths of the Founder of St Leonards and his Numerous Family
Sickness and cold characterised the commencement of 1837, and the prolonged winter was succeeded by what has been termed the latest spring on record. It was for the most part a sad and gloomy time, and the gloom in St. Leonards was increased by the death of Mr. and Mrs. Burton, the found of St. Leonards, and his wife. The latter died on the 14th of January, and the former on the 31st of March. They were both born in the year 1761, and were consequently both in their 76th year at the time of their demise. Mrs. Burton was greatly beloved by her family and by the townspeople with whom she had associated in many acts of kindness. Mr. Burton, too, a man of extraordinary energy and enterprise for his age, was greatly missed in the town of his own creation - a town, the conception of which was due to a dream which the respected architect had before he even knew the site, so vividly pictured to him in Dreamland. As the venerable gentleman was ill for about three months before his death, it may be assumed that he never fairly rallied from the shock which he sustained by the death of his wife. At the Commissioners' meeting next after his decease, it was resolved,
"That this meeting, deeply lamenting the death of the late James Burton, Esq., the funder of St. Leonards, cannot separate without recording their deep sense of the loss which the Commissioners and the town generally have sustained in the removal of so able, honourable and excellent a man."
The deceased gentleman was of a family named Aliburton (sic), and related to the author of "Sam Stick" and other works, who, when staying at St. Leonards, laid the first stone of the Infirmary at White Rock. A mural tablet of black marble may be seen on the interior wall of the St. Leonards Parish Church, with the following inscription:-
In memory of James Haliburton, founder of the town of St. Leonards, lineat descendant from the Haliburtons of Newmains, on Tweeside, but better known under the abbreviated name of James Burton, Born 29th of July 1761, died 31st March 1837. Also, of Elizabeth, his wife. Born 12th Dec. 1761, died 14th of January, 1837.
The mortal remains of Mr. and Mrs. Burton were placed in a vault of a pyramidal form in the St. Leonards Burial-ground on the West-hill; and to several noteworthy coincidences which have occurred during the writing of this history, may be added the fact that just as I had arrived at the date when the death of Mr. and Mrs. Burton would have to be related, the family mausoleum was again opened, to receive the remains of their last surviving daughter. Mrs. Wood, who had principaly resided in St. Leonards from almost its commencement, died at North Lodge, in the 88th year of her age; and although she expired somewhat suddenly the feebleness which Time had wrought upon her constitution made the event not wholly unlooked for. The deceased lady had always taken a great interest in the growth and prosperity of the town, and was ever cheerful and communicative to the older tradespeople and to those other persons whose fortunes or misfortunes were associated with long residence. Sympathetic and benevolent as far as her means would permit, Mrs. Wood could not fail to be remembered as well as missed by many of the poorer inhabitants, whilst her death would also be regretted in the higher walks of life by those to whom her name and those of her daughters were a "household word." Mrs. Wood was among the first promoters of the National and Infant Schools, and her many little acts of kindness to the scholars are not forgotten by those who have since grown into men and women. As an instance of this - simple though it may be - a small card, about an inch square, lies before me which a person had treasured as the gift of Mrs. Wood to her when she was a schoolgirl. The miniature card has an ornamental border traced with red ink, and in its centre is written in very small characters "St. Leonards-on-sea: First stone laid, March 1st, 1828." This little memento, I believe, was given with other things, to each of the scholars as a treat on the occasion of the Queen's coronation. It helps to show the interest which the deceased lady evinced in her father's achievement, and to explain in some degree her anxiety to save the Subscription Gardens, which her father so much prized, from the ruthless hand of the speculative builder. In the annexed view which was sketched in 1830, the venerable founder of the town is represented as sitting beside the central piece of water watching some ducks.
Mrs. Wood's remains were conveyed in a hearse, first to the church - where a necessary lighting up of gas relieved, in some measure the gloom usually attendant on funeral obsequies - and, secondly, to the burial-ground already described. The hearse was followed by several private carriages, and the mourners included Messrs. A. H. Burton F. Fearon, Edmund Burton; Edgar Burton, and H. Pott (nephews of the deceased). No plumes were used, and the funeral was altogether devoid of ostentatious display. The coffin was covered with black cloth, and on the plate was inscribed
Born April 3, 1792,
Died Dec. 11, 1879.
The funeral service was impressively read by the Rev. G. G. Gardiner (rector) and the Rev. J. S. Davies (curate). The interior of the mausoleum was remarkably dry, and ws otherwise in an excellent state of preservation. It was built by Mr. Smith, the father of Mr. E. Smith, now of St. Leonards Green, and to whom was given the work of forming the cemetery, the Subscription Gardens, and the Archery Gardens. The same Mr. Smith, who built for himself three houses on the West Hill and one or two in Mercatoria, also excavated the cliff as a site for the St. Leonards Church.
The late Mrs. Wood was the relict of the late Thomas Wood, Esq., who died in 1867, and who, besides being for several years one of the St. Leonards Commissioners, was also one of the most active promoters of the Archery Society, at the time when Her Majesty became a patron of the same. To the father and mother of Mrs. Wood were born twelve children, most of whom rose to eminence in their procession or to esteem for their virtues in private life. One of them was the late Mr. James Burton (or Haliburton the original family name), the well-known Egyptian traveller, whose valuable collection of drawings and hieroglyphics is in the British Museum. Another son was Dr. Henry Burton, of St. Thomas's Hospital, one of the first physicians to introduce reforms and improved sanitation into hospital arrangements; and who, while labouring assiduously among his fraternity, fell a victim to the cholera epidemic of 1849. Another son was the late Alfred Burton, Esq., whose sudden death at the age of 75, we had to deplore in 1877, and who in his relations with the town was regarded as his father's worthy successor. The eldest daughter was Miss Eliza Burton, a quiet, unassuming, benevolent lady, who died at the age of 91, two months before her brother Alfred; and, as already stated, was interred in the family mausoleum. She was five years the senior of Mrs. Wood whose remains were placed beside those of her sister. The tenth child of the late founder of St. Leonards was Decimus Burton, Esq., the well known architect, of London, whose gift of ground and money for the St. Leonards National Schools, and other acts of beneficence will be noticed as I proceed. *See ante page
Notwithstanding the severe and prolonged winter of 1836-7, a thaw set in on the 2nd of January, and a thick fog prevailed extensively during the greater part of the month. At the commencement of the thaw there occurred a general outbreak of influenza. Easterly winds were predominant, and that aurorae were frequent. It is remarkable that the influenza also existed simultaneously at Sydney, the Cape of Good Hope, and on the Baltic coasts. About half the population were attacked in St. Leonards, Hastings, London, Hamburgh (sic) and Copenhagen; and of so severe a type was it that St. Leonardensis, who was one of the sufferers, did not recover from its effects for a long time, and was obliged to seek a change of air, a change of diet, and a change of employment. It is worthy of note that epidemics of influenza have usually followed very closely upon the heels of great extremes of weather, and attended by unwholesome fogs. The following facts, extracted from the History of Influenza in the Library of Medicine, and quoted in Pearce’s Weather Guide, may afford information to many of my readers.
Influenza Epidemics 1323 to 1837 - Attempted Act of Parliament
"The epidemic of 1323 prevailed throughout the whole of Italy, and, according to Buoni Segni, was attributed to a pestilential wind ... A similar disorder prevailed over all Europe in the autumn of 1557, after a hot, dry summer, followed by cold northerly winds. The malady was in some places preceded by ill-smelling fogs ...
Another visitation occurred suddenly in April, 1658, and was chiefly prevalent in England, after great extremes of weather; the following summer was exceedingly hot, and a fatal epidemic fever prevailed at its close ... In 1663 it is said that 60,000 persons were attacked with the influenza in the states in one week. The disease was attributed by Paulini to an intense fog which came from the Adriatic ...
In 1675 Germany was visited in September, and England in October by a similar epidemic; the previous summer had been unusually warm, and followed by cold, most weather. The epidemic was preceded in France by these fogs ... The influenza which prevailed throughout all Europe in 1729 and 1730 was attributed by Hoffmann to changes of weather from heat to cold, and cold to heat, greater than he had ever experienced; by Loeu it was referred to thick sulphurous fogs ... The influences on which catarrhal epidemics depend appear to have continued in operation from the year 1732 to 1737, and they were associated with remarkable electrical and telluric phenomena.
During the spring and autumn of 1732 the weather was unusually dry; the aurora borealis was often peculiarly vivid; volcanic eruptions occurred in various parts of the world; south winds were attended with a dry, and those from the north with a rainy state of the atmosphere. The disorder is said by Huxham to have ceased suddenly after the explosion of a meteor in the air, which was accompanied with a foetid fog and produced, for an hour, an appearance as though the north of the heavens was on fire ...
The years 1741 and 1742 were remarkable for atmospheric vicissitudes, frequent appearances of the aurora borealis, and of meteors resembling soldiers fighting in the air. Catarrhal fever visited several countries during the years 1741 and 1742, and in the spring of 1743, after five months of excessively severe weather with easterly winds ...
The spring of 1762 was characterised by remarkable alterations of intense heat and cold, and by a rapid succession of wind frost snow and rain; an epidemic catarrh was general in Europe. It prevailed among sailors in the Mediterranean in July, during the prevalence of hot weather with easterly winds ...
The autumn of 1775 appears to have been remarkable both in France and Britain for this noisome fogs, so prolonged as to obscure the Sun for many weeks. In France the weather was cold and rainy, in Scotland unusually dry. The commencement of the year was very cold, then followed snow, abundant rain, and sudden changes of temperature. These vicissitudes occurred later in England than on the Continent, in correspondence with the latter appearance of the epidemic. Disease prevailed at the same time among dogs and horses; meat suspended in the air by means of a kite, near Glasgow, quickly became tainted ...
As respects the relation of the epidemic of 1782 to meteorological conditions, we may mention that the summer of 1781 was excessively hot and dry, no rain falling in England from the middle of June to the middle of September; the autumn was cold and damp, and the winter changeable. The spring of 1782 was remarkably late, the hedges in some parts of England not being full blown until June. In May the weather throughout Europe was singularly disturbed, gloomy, cold, and humid. Dr. Darwin observes that the Sun was for many weeks obscured by a dry fog and appeared red s through a common mist. In Bedfordshire according to Dr. Hamilton, the temperature of the 22nd of May was one degree lower than that of the 22nd of the previous December. on the 2nd of January the thermometer at St. Petersburg rose during the night from 5 deg. below to 30 deg. above zero, and in the morning, in that city alone, 40,000 persons were affected with influenza. For three months previously to the occurrence of the epidemic, in the midland counties of England, scarcely a day passed without rain; and the outbreak of the disorder was preceded by thunderstorms presenting remarkable phenomena:- the lightning consisted of balls, which stuck against each other and emitted sparks; and although the thunder was distant, houses were burnt trees shattered, and several persons killed ...
The influenza of 1803 advanced in a northerly direction. North-easterly winds, thick, foetid, acrid fogs, vivid appearances of aurora borealis, and sudden atmospheric changes, had been previously observed, and in some countries shocks of earthquakes were experienced ... In September, 1830, the disease again appeared at Manilla; it attacked some parts of Britain in the spring of 1831, but did not reach others until the autumn. Remarkably thick fogs and great variations of weather had been observed for some months previous to its appearance.
My reference to the serious epidemic of influenza which followed the great snow of 1836, and the copious extracts which I gave from the influenza epidemics in general, having called forth an expression of satisfaction, it may be apropos to say that at the threshold of 1837 the said epidemic and the question of a harbour engrossed almost the exclusive attention of the inhabitants. On the third of February, Mr. Burton, although in a weak state of health, and suffering from mental depression in consequence of Mrs. Burton's death, was engaged, with his assistants, in surveying the western part of St. Leonards with a view to the erection of a pier. the design for this must have been upon a comparatively small scale, as the estimated expense was only £6,000 the sum to be raised by £50 shares, and the work to be begun as soon as two-thirds of the amount was subscribed for.
This was not an entirely new project, but its revival was probably due to the efforts which a certain party were just then putting forth for the formation of a harbour at Hastings. The Town Council had already resolved to set on foot a subscription to defray the expense of a survey. Such expense, it was thought, would be about £100; and as the borough funds could not be touched for such purpose, the proposed mode of raising the money was resorted to. The general sickness at that time had however a depressing influence on public matters, and the progress made in the harbour question both at St. Leonards and Hastings was very slow. On the 15th of March, however, the Hastings Harbour Committee which had been previously formed, met in the Town Hall to discuss the subject, and whilst the Priory site was generally considered as the most eligible, some of the committee desired to draw to Mr. Cubitt's attention to the Fishmarket as a more suitable site. It was generally held, however, that the old Corporation party were averse to a harbour of any description, and as every public project in those days was made a party question of, the Radicals taunted Mr. North for his continued adherence to the party of obstruction and his practical indifference to the interests of the borough. The following remarks clipped from a newspaper of the period very fairly exhibit the feeling of irritation against one of the best men that ever represented Hastings, but whose moderation and generally safe calculations were viewed as defects rather than as virtues by the so-called party of progress. Alluding to the harbour question, the newspaper article here reproduced says :-
It is too true that the prevailing influenza is proving to be very serious, but the harbour mania will prove to be equally fatal to the political existence of Mr. North. We say it at once, and we hurl defiance at anyone who chooses to accept the challenge, that Mr. North's unpopularity and the incapacity of his intellect to grasp a subject of magnitude, coupled with his fondness for the 'Dilly,' have done irreparable injury to the cause which he and his underlings would have the people believe they espouse. The fact is that Mr. North anticipated an election in the spring, and, finding that his Parliamentary conduct had brought him below par., he at once seized the harbour question as a clap-trap. But the people are determined not to trust their interests to one who has neither the mind nor the moral influence to represent them effectually (sic). Really, the farce that has played during the time he has been a Member of the Lower House has become almost unbearable. When he declared to the council meeting that a survey and report for a harbour could not be done under from 12 to 18 months it is clear that his object was not to promote it, but to delay it.
I am not sure that this last allegation was altogether untrue, for I remember that, as even in later years, there were persons who looked upon Hastings and St. Leonards as rising towns of a fashionable character, whose interests would be likely to suffer by the introduction of a harbour and its unavoidable associations. This would account for the fact that a subscription list lying at the Bank for over two months received signatures only for the amount of £20. Yet, notwithstanding the constantly mis-judged motives of Mr. North, it was that gentleman who, at a quarterly meeting of the Town Council on the 3rd of January, moved that £30 be coveted towards the expense of a harbour survey. This was not carried however until the next quarterly meeting, the chief opponent being Dr. MacCabe, who was then Mayor, and not one of the Old Corporation party, but a man whom the Liberals themselves delighted to honour. But in the meantime, the promoters of the scheme took up the matter energetically, and I believe I am right in saying that at a meeting held at the Royal Oak, Mr. S. Putland, of St. Leonards, with some other persons, offered to canvass the town for subscriptions. anyhow, printed papers were circulated and a sum of £200 was obtained by the end of March. Mr. Cubitt was communicated with, and his consent obtained to comply with the wishes of the committee for the sum of £150. By about the middle of June Mr. Cubitt's plans and estimates were received, the latter amounting to £150,000. It was calculated that the harbour would occupy from five to seven years to construct, and that the repairs and wages to necessary attendants would cost about £500 a year. The site selected was a part of the Holy Trinity ground, then known as the Priory. But the space to be appropriated to the scheme for a harbour, as designed by Mr. (afterwards Sir William) Cubitt, was not confined to that of the Priory; it embraced the whole foreshore from the Priory stream to the old Battery at what is now East parade. The scheme however was never carried into effect; the £150,000 being regarded as too serious an outlay, and the design as being altogether upon too large a scale. The abandonment of Mr. Cubitt's designs for the Hastings harbour and the proposed pier at st. Leonards being also deferred, two smaller plans were submitted in the following year - one by Lieut.-Col. Williams, and one by Mr. John Smith. These will be noticed in their proper place, and in the meantime it will be convenient to invite my readers' attention to another project of simultaneous origin, which began curiously and ended ingloriously.
On the 10th February a meeting of property owners and occupiers in the parish of St. Mary Magdalen, east of the Archway, was held at the Saxon Hotel for the purpose of conferring with the surveyors and solicitors of the Eversfield Estate, expecting an application to Parliament for an Act to regulate that part of the borough. The Bill had been prepared by the said solicitors and surveyors without any previous consultation with those whose interests were directly affected by its provisions; and the result of the meeting was to declare by a unanimous resolution the inexpediency of the Bill. Notwithstanding this expression of feeling, the Bill was smuggled into Parliament, and the inhabitants had to take further action to prevent the passing of the same. Accordingly on the 8th of March a second meeting was held at the Saxon Hotel, not merely to vote the inexpediency of the proposed Act, but to petition against it. It was found to contain provisions similar to those of the St. Leonards Act, and with which the people were not very favourably impressed. Two surveyors- one in London and one at Hawkhurst, managed the affair; but, as I shall show, neither creditably nor successfully. It was naturally supposed that after so decided an expression of opinion, the agents would not presume to usher the Bill into Parliament; but to the astonishment of the objectors the petition for the Bill - signed only by eight persons - was unblushingly presented. The signatures attached to the document were two farm tenants one inhabitant (who not having attended the meeting, supposed he was doing what the meeting desired), one living a quarter of a mile beyond the district, two solicitors, one surveyor, and one trustee, living in London. Such were the petitioners for an Act of Parliament to light, pave and otherwise control that portion of the borough immediately eastward of the Archway, and thus divert a part of St. Leonards into the town of "St. Mary's." Presumption could go no farther. The opportunity was seized while Messrs. North and Elphinstone were away from London to get Mr. Hodges, a Kentish Member, to present the Bill; the absence of the Hastings Representatives being pleaded as an excuse for giving him the trouble. Our own two members, however, opposed the Bill, agreeably to instructions, and it was consequently withdrawn. The alleged necessity for the measure or at least the principal argument of the promoters, was that a town had rapidly grown into existence between St. Leonards proper and Hastings proper; that the erection of still more valuable property was in prospect; that the Eversfield Estate had constructed a handsome parade, three-quarters of a mile in length; that rails and lamp irons had been placed throughout the extent of the parade; that notwithstanding the last-named provision, the via media had remained unlighted for two years, and the pathways and fronts of the houses for the most part were unpaved. The St. Leonards Commissioners, it was justly stated, had no jurisdiction over the district, and the Hastings authorities could not exercise the needed control. On the other hand, it was contended that although the district in question was not comprised in the Act of Parliament which Mr. Burton had obtained for St. Leonards it was nevertheless in the parish, a portion of which formed the greater part of the territory on which St. Leonards had been built, and for six or seven years had taken the name of St. Leonards, both for convenience and by necessity - a name which its inhabitants were not disposed, either then or thereafter, to relinquish. Another thing which weighed with the objectors was the prospect of heavy burdens in the shape of rates and the monopoly of control which such an Act of Parliament would give to the Eversfield Estate. There was no denying that improvements were needed beyond what the parish could perform, and some persons went so far as to censure the Hastings Town Council for their utter disregard to the interests of the new district. The supineness of that body, it was somewhat uncharitably asserted, was notorious, and the reason, it was further averred, was obviously this:- The district in question was an improving one, and therefore like all other improvements, it was regarded as an encroachment on the rights of the old Corporation party. "How long," asks a pungent writer of the period, "will the visitors and inhabitants submit to this state of things for mere party purposes? We were but just now (continued the critic) in danger of being saddled with an expensive Act of Parliament, and the attempt will no doubt be renewed next session unless the Hastings Corporation do their duty. Perhaps the next election of Town Councillors will determine the matter." It is probable that the much abused "Old Corporation Party" were entitled to a good round lump of odium, but I am of the opinion that in this case, as in many others, they were awarded rather a larger share than was fairly their due.
St. Leonards Inhabitants in 1837
Although I was indirectly connected with St. Leonards from its commencement, I had no dwelling-place among the inhabitants until 1839, and I was therefore not privileged to take part in opposing the proposed Act of Parliament for the district of St. Leonards-without. But that the meeting was a largely-attended one I have no manner of doubt; and that my readers may have the means of knowing the men who resisted a project, which, as subsequent events have almost certainly proved, would have been detrimental to the district, and would have increased, rather than have diminished the rival jealousies which had a too palpable existence I will here append a list of the owners and occupiers of property in the portion of St. Mary Magdalen parish not included in the jurisdiction of the St. Leonards Commissioners. The year 1837, together with the immediately antecedent and succeeding periods, formed what in common parlance would be called "stirring times"; and, as much that we see around us at the present day is due to the initiative of those who had a stake in the welfare of the borough in those times, it seemeth meet that this History should in some formal manner preserve their names from oblivion. Furthermore there was no directory of the inhabitants in 1837, but as the persons here names were personally known to me, almost without an exception, the accuracy of the list may be relied on. But now in 1897, although everyone of that constituency has passed into spirit-land, it may be of interest to some of their descendants to be reminded of their ancestors' residence or belongings at the date here treated of.
OWNERS OR OCCUPIERS OF PROPERTY IN 1837
Adelaide Place (now Grand Parade):
David Manser 1, Miss Hickly 2, Mis Cole 3, Thos. Towner 4, John Hilder 5, James Harman 6, Mrs. Garling 7. Thos. Foster 8, W. P. Beecham 9, James Risb 10, George Blutohn 11, Mrs. Fulager 12, H P. Hutchings 13 (Saxon Hotel)
Seymour Place (now Grand Parade):
Geo. Mitchell, Saxon House, Wm. Waghorne, Royal Mansion, Hon. Mrs. Comerford and Sir W. Hitham 3, Thos. Vincent 4 and 5, John Austin 6, Walter Inskipp 7 and 8, D. Manser 9.
Cliff Cottages (now Eversfield Place):
Geo. Duke 1, John Jeffrey 2.
Verulam Place (nicknamed "Rascal's Row."):
Dr. Byron 1 and Wm. Watson 1, John Hudson 2, John Twisden 3, D. Manser 4, 5 and 9, Nelson Andrews 6, Miss Hancock 6, Mrs. Young 7.
White-rock Place (six houses and not numbered):
Mrs. Howell, Wm. Austin, R. G. D. Hazle, Thos. Holt, E. Strickland, Deudney and Fagg.
Rev. John Jones.
London Road (not numbered):
Stephen Putland, Joseph Beck, Jas. Smith, Wm. night, Geo. Brooker, E. Tabay, W. Strickland, W. Eldridge, R. Baldock, Steph. Veness, W. Ranger, E. Picknell, Eliz. Baker, Chas. Nicholas, John Smith.
Norman Road West:
Steph Pilcher (Warrior's Gate Inn), Geo. Hyland, R. Starnes, - Naylor, J. Cook, C. Neve, Hughes and Hunter, - Kaye, - Eastland and W. Wellerd.
Norman Road East:
G. Voysey, G. Beaney, W. Phipps T. Thorpe G. Hayter.
Gensing Road (not numbered):
S. Sinden, G. Lee, A. Cruttenden, C. Pain, T. Muggridge, R. Cull, Mrs. Bishop.
Shepherd Street (partially numbered):
Robert Shepherd (who named the street), W. Verrall, Steph. Manser, J. Lanyon, J. Hayott, Edw. Avery, T. Reeves, C. Terry, T. Barden, J. Filmer, J. Smith, W. Elson, W. Homes, J. Drew, J. Murdoch, J. Brisco, H. Potter, W. Tichbon, - Pulford, T. Martin, J. Britt, G. Wilson, E. Quaife, J. Tapp, J. Hyland, H. Vennall, E. and W. Waghorne, J. Evenden.
North Street (not numbered):
W. Mortimer, W. Towner, J. Towner, J. Burgess, J. Raven, J. Foord, J. Friend, S. Milstead, C. Chapman, Edm. Chapman.
Perry, Hyland, Russell, Law, Noakes, Freelove, Towner.
12 shops and 7 cottages not finished.
"An Old St. Leonards-ite" whilst offering thanks for the foregoing list of early inhabitants when first published, expressed an opinion that such list was incomplete by being confined to the inhabitants outside of what he called Mr. Burton's boundary, but as the list was afterwards extended to the early dwellers of St. Leonards within the jurisdiction of the St. Leonards Commissioners "An Old St. Leonards-ite" must have recognised therein his own name and address. This extended list consisted of
THE OWNERS OR OCCUPIERS OF PROPERTY WEST OF THE ARCHWAY IN 1837
Hy. Harman (beadle) 1, Geo. Viner 2, Wellstead and Chandler 3, Newton Parks 4, T. B. Williiams 5, Alex. Walter 6, Jas. Phipps and Jas. Drury 7, Joseph Job 8, Mrs. Reynold 9, Edw. Waghorne 10 and 11, B. P. Smith 12, Hy. Beck 13, Thos. Brown 14 (these 14 houses now form the South Colonnade) Mr. Greenough 15, Robt. Shepherd 16, Elizabeth Syrus 18, Elizabeth Woodgate 19, Wm. Mills 20 and 21 (Harold Hotel and Tap), Mrs. Johnson 22 and 23 (Conqueror Hotel), Edw. Pilcher 25, jos. Naylor 26, Robt. Bond 27, Jas. Harman 30, Mrs. Lansdell 31, John Gill 32, Capt. Bradford 33, Geo. Mitchell 34, A. Burton and G. A. Murton 36, John Philpot 38, B. P. Smith 40, Admiral Carpenter 41, J. Peerless 42, W. H. Honiss 43, W. Lemprier 44, Harriett Deudney 45, Hy. Edlin 46 (Victoria Hotel), Richd. Gausden 48, the Misses Edgar 53, Hy. Burton 58, John Painter 65, J. H. Ashworth 67, Rev. S. H. Widdrington 68, T. J. Rawson 99 (Sussex Hotel), Edward Smith, Sussex Tap and Mews, Stanton Noakes, Fountain Inn, John Latter and Mrs. Prior, Fountain Cottages, Wm. Payne, New England Bank, Bopeep, Chas. Vickery, next the Baths, Geo. Roberts, Royal Baths, C. H. Southall, Victoria Library.
West Hill (not numbered): W. Durrant Cooper and E. L. Richards, John Langford, Laura Phillips, Augustus Smith.
Jas. Taylor 1, Mrs. Bond 3, Rev. Rush 4, Mrs. Mather 5, John Prince 6, Mr. Hatfield 7 and 8, J. C. Gant 9, E. T. Water 10, A. Sutherland-Graeme 12, T. Wood, North Lodge East, W. Edlin, North Lodge West, the Misses Dyneley, North Villa (now Winterbourne), W. Golden, Turnpike Cottage.
Dr. J. Harwod 1, C. F. Hardman 3, Elizabeth Kaye 4, W. D. Davies 5.
Michael Bland 1, E. Burton 2, the Misses Morley 3, Wm. Beck 6, Jas Mann 7, John Carey 8, Edw. Minister 9, Wm. Beaney 10, Mr. Frase 11, Sam. Chester 12, Wm. Sinden 13, Jos. Mann 14, Wm. Russell 15, Felix Jarrett 17, Jas. Knight 18, Jno. Streeter 19, W. Carey Edwards 20, Thos. Rudd 22, Wm. Welsted 24.
Edw. Smith 1, Steph. Milsted 2, C. V. Levett 3, - Lidbetter, Horse and Groom Inn, L. Avery 5, Jas. Nicholas 9, Richard Be 10, Mrs. Tully 11.
Mews Road and Passage (not numbered):
Wm. Abrahams, Thos. Ranger, Jas. Rock, Thos. Price, Thos. Cooper, Jas. Goldsmith, Geo. English.
Jas. Bates, Chas. Fuggle, Ernest Herbst, Thos. Russell.
Lavatoria (now Norman Road):
Thos. Bumsted 1, Thos. Burt 2, Wm. Quaife 3, Thos. Smith 4, Jno. Sinnock 5, Christopher Deering 6, Thos. Marchant 7, Chas. Vaughan 8, Benj. Cork 9, Wm. Palmer 10, Geo. Savage 11, 0 Hobden 12, Thos. Burgess 13, Jno. Wilson 14, - Mortimer 15, Sam. Summerall 16, Jno. Prendergast 17, Jas. Bungay 18.
Thos. Thorne 1, Mrs. Philcox 2, Richard Hayward 3, Jas. Cheiney 6, Thos. Blake 7, Benj. Homan 8, Mrs. Phillips 9, Edward Pierce 10, Wm. Waghorne 11, M. C. Pearce 12, Col. Jeffries 13, Jas. Offen 14, Chas. Pilcher 15, Hy. Hughes 16, C. H. Southall 18, Baldock and Breach 18.
Deaths of Mrs. Neve, Miss Dyneley, Mr. Chester & Mrs. Philpott - Tivoli Fair - Silverhill &c
The last survivor of those whose husbands took part in resisting the attempt in 1837 (also in 1851 and 1858) to make the district between the Archway and the Infirmary other than St. Leonards, has now, too, joined the disembodied majority. This was Mrs. Sarah Neve, the widow of Councillor Charles Neve, whose death, at the age of 54 years, was the cause of regret in 1864. His widow after surviving her husband the long period of 32 years, has recently passed away (May 13th 1896) at the age of 85, and at 9 Undercliff, where she had resided nearly sixty years. This lady, who always manifested a deep interest in whatsoever pertained to the welfare of the town, came, I believe, with her husband, firstly from White-rock street (now Robertson street) to 4 Stratford place (now White-rock place); secondly to Norman road, where Mr. Neve had Mr. Hall as business partner for some years previously to trading by himself; and thirdly, as a residence only, at 9 Undercliff, which, as before stated, was Mrs. Neve's home for nearly 60 years. Much has been shown to prove the healthiness of Hastings and St. Leonards by their low death-rate statistics now for the best part of a century, but in addition to these it will have been proved in this History - more particularly in its interpolatory and obituary chapters - that the locality has been also conducive to longevity. The late Mrs. Neve (herself in her 86th year) was the bearer of a name which gives us further instances of long life. The following is a list of ages at the time of death :-
|1823||Hannah, wife of Wm. Neve||78|
|1831||William Neve, husband of Hannah||93|
|1857||Charles, son of Wm. and Hannah||87|
|1861||Elizabeth, widow of Charles||87|
|(leaving six sons and six daughters)|
|1862||William Neve, retired schoolmaster||86|
|1862||Caroline, widow of William||76|
|1864||Charles Neve, Town Councillor||54|
|1896||Sarah, widow of Charles||85|
As previously intimated, the surviving inhabitants of 1837 when this History was first published in 1878 were comparatively few, and after the last-named date the number was lessened by the passing away of two ladies whose names had been identified with the town almost from its commencement. Mary, the widow of John Philpot, died on the 5th January, 1880, at Chestnut Lodge, Hurstmonceux. She, with the husband, lived with a member of the Burton family, whose service they relinquished while the town was quite young, and entered into business (as shown by the foregoing list of names, at 38 Marina. In one portion of the premises Mr. Philpot carried on a boot and shoe trade, while in another Mrs. Philpot conducted a millinery and drapery business. Mr. Philpot died some years before his wife, and the widow subsequently retired from business, whence she removed to Hurstmonceux. The business is still carried on at 38 Marina by a member of the family; but who is there among the visitors of twenty or thirty years ago that could recognise in the present enlarged premises and elegant shop-front the comparatively small and modest-looking binary business of the Philpots in earlier days?
The name of the other lady whose death I have to notice was Catherine Dyneley, the last surviving daughter of the late Robert Dyneley, Esq., of Bramhope, York; and taking into account her great age and length of residence, was entitled to be regarded as the oldest inhabitant. Miss Dyneley, with her mother and an elder sister, was living, I believe, in Wellington Square, Hastings, at about the time that St. Leonards was commenced, and either in the year 1829 or '30, Mrs. and the Misses Dyneley took up their residence at what was at first called North Cottage, next to North Lodge. The house was afterwards known as North Villa, and at a later period was re-christened "Winterbourne." Some years after their mother's death, the Misses Dyneley removed to Gensing Lodge, a mansion which was expressly designed and erected for them. The elder sister (Eliza Dyneley) died on 21st of November, 1870, and her remains were interred in the Abbey Cemetery at Bath, beside those of her brother Charles. It is there also that the body of Miss Catherine Dyneley was deposited on the 16th of January, 1880.. The deceased lady - whose illness was only of a few days' duration - was born on the 15th of April, 1794, and her death occurred on the 12th of January, 1880; she had therefore nearly completed her 86th year, and had lived in St. Leonards half a century. Of late years the Misses Dyneley had courted retirement; but, doubtless, there are still a fair number of persons who remember them, so prim and so lady-like, mounted on their steeds, with a "natty" groom behind them. Latterly, the lady who was the last of her generation, was a member of the church of St. John's, although she continued her subscriptions to the schools and other institutions connected with the old church or its parish.
It has been hinted that in referring to Miss Dyneley as the oldest inhabitant, the writer must have forgotten Mr. Shoesmith, who was a nonagenarian. It might as well have been said that he had forgotten Mr. Brett, of Shepherd street, who was also a nonagenarian. But really there was no forgetfulness in this matter; for, although Mr. Shoesmith was the senior of the late Miss Dyneley by some five or six years, he had not been a permanent resident in the town so long a period as had the lady whom I said "taking age and length of residence into account," &c. For several years, Mr. Shoesmith was beadle for Hollington and the outbounds of St. Leonards, conjointly, and only came to be a permanent resident in the town at a later period. This reminds me that there were some other old inhabitants whose names did not appear in my list for 1837, and for the reason that I did not know their places of abode. These were William Balcomb, Edward Towner, William Kirkby, and a few others. I am further reminded that as among other persons who constituted the first tradespeople, mechanics and labourers of St. Leonards, there were many who migrated from Bexhill, Battle, Hollington, and the so-called "America," so about the time now under review (1837) several of the St. Leonards people, either from choice or necessity, migrated to the outbounds which have now become so populous as to rival many small towns. One of these immigrants was Mr. James Homan, a builder, who became the landlord of a new wayside public-house called the Wheatsheaf. Another of those who changed the venue of occupation was Mr. Thos. Phillips, who exchanged the business of a hatter, on the Marina, for that of a publican at another new Inn, called the Tivoli Tavern. The distance between these public houses was about half a mile, and the inhabitants in each district were so few as to scarcely justify the venture in either case. But a prospect of success appeared to lay in the new roads just opened up from Hastings and St. Leonards to Battle, Sedlescomb, and other places. To the Tivoli Tavern (afterwards a private mansion, known as Silverlands), were attached tea-gardens and pleasure-grounds, since converted into a double range of dwellings; and, as Bopeep fair had become or was becoming a thing of the past, Mr. Phillips established a "Tivoli Fair in honour of the "Glorious First of June." There were introduced the time-honoured sports of jumping in sacks, climbing greasy poles, bobbing for treacle rolls, &c.; and these pastimes, together with the accessories of a few stalls, were sufficient to attract a goodly number of sightseers. But after a few years the annual fete of the "Glorious First of June" degenerated into a mere fishermen's carousal (sic), and was ultimately abolished. Of Mr. Phillip's general success my readers must judge when I tell them that common report credited him with the virtue of never calling his landlord away from other business merely to receive the amount of his rent. There was said to be a stipulation in the arrangements between Mr. Phillips and Mr. Eldridge that the former should pay no rent unless he could sell on an average a certain amount of liquor per week; and so seduously (sic) did the publican endeavour to keep just under the stipulated quantity that on one occasion, when a party of huntsmen appeared likely to be better customers than usual, the virtuous victualler moralized on the duty of moderation, and actually set a limit to the huntsmen's imbibition. This was very kind of Boniface, seeing that "Bruce's Act" at that time was not even thought of. But the Tivoli Tavern changed hands long ere Mr. Phillips or Mr. Anybody else had time to realise a fortune. Indeed it was anything but a fortunate house notwithstanding that all sorts of attractions were from time to time provided including the before-mentioned fair, tea-parties, quadrille parties, concerts, skittles, cricket matches, pic-nics, and pyrotechnics. These amusements were chiefly of a spasmodic character, and frequently did not compensate the caterers for the outlay, whilst the district was so sparsely populated as to afford but scant support to a house with somewhat ambitious associations. In fact the Tivoli district, now known as Silverhill, with its churches, lecture-halls, schools, villas, and long ranges of houses and shops - consisted in 1837 of about a dozen small tenements, known as Tivoli row and Pottery cottages. An impetus to building operations and improvements in that district was first given by Mr. W. M. Eldridge but to the energy and enterprise of Mr. Clement, the proprietor of Silverhill house and lands, was mainly due to the present and populous town-like character of Silverhill. Let me hie me back, however, to the house which was known under the several appellations of the Tivoli Tavern, the Tivoli Inn, and the Tivoli Hotel, but most familiarly as "The Tivoli." Its changes of occupants were both numerous and frequent, and I remember, as some of the participators (sic) in those changes, the names of W. M. Edlin, R. Harman, W. M. Eldridge (the owner), W. Reeves, G. Bennett, and J. Barnett. It was, I believe, during the tenancy of the last-named person that the house and grounds were sold; and, in digging down for a lower foundation to the new house, the skeleton of a gigantic iguanodon was discovered, together with the bones of a smaller specimen, all of which have been preserved. At a later period James Barnett was found to be exhibiting his sign of the "Tivoli Tavern," in Hollington Lane, near to the spot where in 1837 some three or four cottages only existed, and which were occupied by Mrs. Ann Britt, Thomas Britt, Wm. Britt, and Jesse Chapman. The place is now known as Silverdale, and occupies a portion of two parishes - St. Leonards and Hollington. It lies on the main roads to Hollington and Battle, and the whole of the inhabited district includes long rows of houses, detached mansions, two churches (Old and New Hollington), a chapel, mission rooms and public schools, the last-named under the direction of a School board.
Coming back to the "Wheatsheaf" at Bohemia, whither, as already stated, Mr. Homan had migrated from St. Leonards, it enters into my plan to describe how far the place had grown in the way of human habitations since the period described in the early period of this History. In the larger and populous district to which the name Bohemia is now generally applied, there were in 1837 just a score of small tenements besides the mansion and cottages owned by Mr. Brisco. Two or three of these were at Spittleman's Down, and the remainder were known as the "New Houses." They were principally owned by Messrs. Scrivens, Deudney and Tutt; and the occupants were Messrs. Apps, Griffin, Halford, Macfarlane, Croucher, Lavender, Deeprose, Balcomb, Jinks, Kent, Elphick, Christian, Cossam, Drury, Coote, Standen, Dicks, Dahney and Cramp. If any of these inhabitants are still existent, they will, doubtless, recognise the accuracy of my list. But what a change has come o'er the scene! Shops, houses, places of worship, social institutions and a police station now cover what was once comparatively a desert; and, like the other two modern districts of Silverhill and Silverdale, Bohemia is far larger than some small towns.
I purpose relating a few lively anecdotes in connection with some of the names which compose the foregoing lists, and afterwards resume the thread of politics and general events.
Anecdotal Reminiscences - Quid pro quo
Not many years ago it was a custom with surgeons in small towns or sparsely populated districts to eke out a limited practice with the associative business of chemist and druggist; and in the list of St. Leonards residents in 1837 which has been placed before my readers, will be found Pg.148 the name of a gentleman who adopted that custom, his residence being at the Marina, and his drug repository at the Colonnade. The community at that time, as I have shown, was comparatively small, and a good deal of gossip was retailed and detailed at some of the social and convivial meetings of the period. A not infrequent topic was the business relations and disputations between the townspeople and the surgeon-chemist whose name, I will say, had B. P. S. for its initials. Among other tittle tattle it was said that B. P. S. was much fonder of receipts than disbursements, and more solicitous to keep down other people's charges than his own. I will only burden my readers with two illustrations of these particular, though not altogether singular characteristics. On the occasion of an accident which befel a workman, the said accident giving rise to the fear that serious injury had resulted, the man was taken to B. P. S. who pronounced him to be a little shaken and a good deal frightened, but not hurt. The man's employer was, however, both frightened and hurt at the receipt of a bill in which a guinea was charged for the surgeon's mere glance at the uninjured workman. But having afterwards an opportunity of outsetting the account, with some paper-hanging that was ordered to be done, the tradesman went and looked at the work and sent in his account of a guinea to balance the contra. Not always, however, could the clients or even the creditors of B. P. S. cry quits with the doughty doctor in so easy a manner. The St. Leonards Commissioners, to wit, had a claim on him for sundry rates, and as they neither wanted surgeonry nor medicine for their body politic they were put to the trouble of applying to another body for a summons ere the account could be squared. These are the two simple illustrations which fulfil the conditions of my promise, yet it may be allowable to cite one more case, as showing that there was just another peculiarity in the idiosyncrasy of the chemical doctor. The case is one, however, which can be attested by the writer. A certain sum of money was to be paid to St. Leonardensis - who was then a minor, acting under orders - in exchange for a written acknowledgement; but the imperious voice and gesture the latter was demanded to be given up before the stipulated quid pro quo was forthcoming. A refusal to comply with the demand evoked a burst of displeasure, but the embryo St. Leonardensis cares less for such an exhibition of "injured innocence" than for the due execution of his instructions. The transfer, therefore, had to be made in the orthodox fashion, and the homo duplican, as a professional and a tradesman, once more found that he had to meet his antagonist on equal terms.
The next anecdotal subject was a lady; and although she was no stranger to St. Leonards, it only required the prefix of two consonants to her name to make her appear so. Her impecuniosity was either very great or very constant; and, as in the case of the gentleman last referred to, the trouble arising therefrom did not confine itself to the person with whom it originated. Not only in 1837, but also during an antecedent period, the Commissioners and their rate-collector had their minds well exercised with applications for a reduction of assessments, postponement of payments, and total or partial remissions - to say nothing of intermediate threats or execution of legal processes. I have alluded to this circumstance before and it is well to reiterate it, because no inconsiderable portion of the difficulties with which the Commissioners had to contend arose from the inability or the unwillingness of persons to pay their rates. Whether one or both of these conditions would apply in the case now under consideration will, perhaps be best elucidated by the remainder of my story. The heroine of the tale was said to be decidedly clever in the manipulation of ornamental work, whilst as the principal of a young ladies' boarding-school, she was regarded as being intellectually fitted for her profession. Yet she never appeared to have the wherewithal to satisfy the draper, the grocer, the baker, or the laundress; and whenever these importunate creditors essayed a visit to the lady instead of sighting the once familiar order to "Knock and ring," they found the knocker muffled and the bell-cranks rigid. "It's a go!" said one; "It's a do!" shouted another; "We are done brown!" cried a third. But there was one tradesman more plucky than the rest who was determined not to be baffled by appearances nor to be put off with the everyday answer of "Miss So-and-so is not at home." He rode a favourite pony to the door which was opened, after sundry irresistible knocks had been made upon it with the knob of a riding-whip. Pressing forwards into the hall, and followed by his obedient nag, the tradesman threatened to retain the duo-occupancy until the invisible lady made her appearance. He had not long to wait; and as he turned a deaf ear alike to expostulations, entreaties and promises, he soon had the gratification of discovering that the lady's impecuniosity was less gigantic than had been supposed. The experiment, notwithstanding its novelty, was so eminently successful that the author of it was enabled to carry about the greater part of his claim, with a promise that the remainder should be paid next day. I need only add that I was a witness to the due fulfilment of that pledge.
The next anecdote is also one connected with money matters, and although as a novelist would say, the scene was laid at a period some few years less remote, it best suits my convenience to describe it now. Be it known, then, that the original proprietor of a Royal Mansion - as it was then called - being totally oblivious to the fact that his indebtedness to St. Leonardensis was precisely the same as it was before certain monthly, quarterly, and annual applications for an alteration has been made, the troublesome applicant was suddenly inspired on Valentine's Eve to send by post the following "amorous" effusion:-
"Long time you have had, sir,
'Tis really too bad, sir,
Your payment so long to evade;
So pay me off-hand, sir,
The sum I demand, sir,
Ere county-court process be laid".
The loving missive thus inspired by Cupid - though no cupidity could be discovered therein - was so wonderfully effective that on the morrow gold came to my empty treasure-chest, with "thanks for your patience and double thanks for your valentine." "There, now!" I afterwards exclaimed "see what it is to be a poet - a real practical poet!" Suppose I had eschewed poetry, as Mr. W. strongly advised me to do, I never could have written such a splendid valentine, and might have lost my money and missed my reputation! Our worthy J.P. and ex-Mayor will, I am sure, pardon the allusion to his advice - advice which was given many years ago, when the adviser and advised were on the same level, and of course before the change which made the former to don the civic purple and left the latter in the old position of a plebeian St. Leonardensis.
In proceeding with these anecdotal reminiscences, my thoughts revert to an elderly gentleman whose name is included in my list of 1837 as being a resident at East Ascent. he was neither a Pope nor priest; neither parson nor preacher; yet he was a real Minister - "a fellow of infinite jest" who could amuse his friends with some mirth-provoking stories, but which I dare not repeat, because, like the original text of Shakespeare's plays, they were insufficiently refined for the present age. I will merely say then of my old jesting friend that although he was a Minister he followed the occupation of a tailor, whilst he also followed suit in receiving summonses for the non-payment of rates and in having the said rates ultimately remitted on the score of alleged poverty.
But the simple fact of Mr. Minister being a tailor and living at East Ascent is a sufficient reminder of another old friend who lived in the same neighbourhood at the time, and followed a similar occupation. He was one of the emigrants from the Priory at Hastings, and he bore the honoured name of Russell. He was a "snip" who could occasionally snip enough "cabbage" for a vest from the leg-hollowings of a pair of trousers - a feat which all clever tailors used to boast of - and he could also snip the hirsute superfluity from a man's poll. The latter ability was indicated by a pole, with certain significant spiral bands, which was daily projected from a pilaster in Mews road. Among Mr. Russell's near neighbours was a family, the male head of which used to go to daily labour, whilst his wife went out as an occasional cook. One a certain day a party were bent on having a "lark", and, hearing that instructions had been given to the children to keep the pot boiling during the absence of the father and mother, so the beef-pudding might be cooked at the proper time, one of the party contrived to get unto (sic) the house unobserved, when he took the pudding from the pot, "piping hot." The said pudding was conveyed to a smith's shop just by, and there devoured by the perpetrators of this practical joke. It was, however, but half their work, it being deemed necessary to provide something in return for the family's dinner. They therefore tied up a goose in the pudding cloth, and deposited the same in the pot. But it wasn't an eatable goose; it was even tougher and harder than the goose which some English officers purchased at a fabulous price during the Crimean campaign, and which one of the declared must have been the last of the pair which came out of Noah's Ark. The St. Leonards goose was really and truly an iron goose which the "lively larks" had taken from the shop-board of the tailor Russell; and such was its persistent gravitation that Mr. - could not avoid the exclamation "What the deuce makes your pudding so heavy?" as he endeavoured to take it out of the pot just as his wife arrived at home to see about the dinner. Of course he was chided for his awkwardness, and was also dispossessed of the cook's prerogative which he had temporarily usurped. But the queen of the household finding that her two-prong sceptre could no more rule the roast than could that of her usurper, immediately came to the conclusion that the children had suffered the pot to get "the boil." She tugged with much exertion and with some loss of equanimity, but finding all her efforts unsuccessful, she arrived at the conclusion that the pudding was irretrievably sticking to the pot. Judge of the surprise which followed when she found that the rotundity of her culinary preparation had disappeared, and that an elongated mass, "heavy as lead," had taken its place. Judge, too, of her flow of anger, as she afterwards threw the goose down an unsavory abyss which shall be nameless. The sequel is that one party feasted right merrily on a stolen meal; that a second party was thrown into a paroxysm of rage by the audacity of the tricksters; and that a third party, who had had his "goose cooked," was obliged to pay a couple of shillings for the restoration of his property.
The principal events in the early part of 1837, already related, were the influenza epidemic, the death of Mr. James Burton and his wife, the rival harbour schemes, and the defeated attempt to foist an Act of Parliament on the eastern part of St. Mary Magdalen against the will of the inhabitants. The death of Mr Putand and his fifty years connection with the town have also been dwelt upon, and a nearly perfect list of property owners and occupiers in 1837 has been given. But as a considerable number of persons in the said list had then recently migrated from the Priory ground with - to use a simile - their houses on their backs; and as such houses are (or were before later improvements) conspicuous less for their architectural finish than as being among the earliest buildings eastward of the Archway, it may not be amiss to point out which those habitations are. In what is now London road, were erected two houses by Messrs. John Tyhurst and Edward Picknell, and numbered, respectively, 19 and 27. Mr. Tyhurst also brought the materials of a smaller house for reconstruction in East Street. Then in Norman road, the houses occupied by Mrs. Starnes and her son, after Richard Starnes's death, and now tenanted by Mr. Wilson and Mr. Gilham - originally numbered 1 and 2, but now known as 33 and 35 - were brought from White-rock street by Mr. Milstead, and re-erected where they now stand. The two adjoining houses, 37 and 39, were transplanted from the Rope-walk by Mr. Naylor. Higher up the Road is 57, which, with its projecting windows, is one of the smartest of the "America" importations. It was removed to its present position from what was called "The Mount" in White-rock street, near the side of the present "Bodega" in Robertson street. The owner of that transplanted house, as well as Pg.149 of three cottages 28, 29 and 30, on the south side of Shepherd street - brought also from the Priory - was a Mr. William Weller. This proprietor was afterwards the Hastings Gaoler who was brutally murdered by a prisoner. On the north side of street, and opposite to the three houses, just described, is the "Foresters' Arms", formerly the "Black Horse," beer-house and its adjoining property, re-built from Rope-walk materials by "Jemmy" Hyland, whilst the houses 6 and 7, just above, were transplanted from where the Holy Trinity Church now stands by Mr. Milstead. Higher up Shepherd street, the two larger houses, 10 and 11, were also brought from the Priory, as the property of a Mr. Hammond, of Bexhill. Then, on turning round to North street, may be seen two small houses (22 and 23) owned by Mr. C. Chapman, which were originally in the Rope-walk, as the property of old "Charlie" Chapman, a grandfather to the present possessor, and a milkman of the olden time, who could bear a good-natured joke when told that he had lost his best cow in the removal of the Priory-farm pump. About the centre of North street are Nos. 11, 12 and 13, the first of which was built by Milsted from a Priory house, and the other two by John Foord, sen., who conveyed them from Rope-walk, during the general exodus from that locality when the Crown took possession of the site. It will be thus seen that at least two-and-twenty houses in the district of St. Leonards-without, were those which had formed part of the "squatters' colony" in the parish of the Holy Trinity; yet, as shown in a previous enumeration, the owners of such property were but a minority of the population which migrated to St. Leonards from the same district. No wonder then, that whilst the parishes of Holy Trinity and St. Michael became depopulated, the sister parish of St. Mary Magdalen received a large accession of inhabitants. Equally non-surprising it should be that some of the rivalry and jealousy previously existent between the "regulars" of the old town and the "irregulars" of squatterland, as separated by the Priory Water, continued to show itself, even after the rivals had placed a mile of vacant ground between them. Both in conversation and in print it used to be stated that the Priory people were "a lawless and disreputable lot," but it could be easily shown that many hard things were laid to their charge which were not justified by facts, and that, as a whole, the "Americans" were quite as law-abiding and respectable as an equal number of their traducers. Even my old friend, the late Mr. John Banks, in his "Smugglers and Smuggling,"[Notes 1] tells his readers that "It became a locality for the drunken and the lawless, and it was really not safe to pass over it after dark." Now, as I resided there several years with my parents, and knew almost every one of the inhabitants, it behoves me to say that the above quoted statement is a libel, begotten of prejudice. There were a few bad characters, but even those were not worse than the same class in the old town from whom they had separated. As a test of respectability, take the names already mentioned as having removed their property to St. Leonards, and add to them those of Messrs. Beale, Coe, Thorne, Weller, Reeves, Noakes, Newell, Harding, Chester, Levett, Picknell, Gallop, Stanley, (illegible text), Brooks, Barnes, Hills and Woolgar; also those who were afterwards honoured members of the Town Council, such as Mr. Kirk, who was twice Mayor; Mr. Neve, Mr. Austin, Mr. Bicknell, and others.
Marriage of Holy Trinity Couples at Hollington
It was even said that most of the inhabitants of the Priory ground lived in a state of concubinage, as proved by the very few marriages that took place. This, too, either through malice or ignorance, was the reverse of truth. For reasons which it would not be difficult to explain, the marriages of Holy Trinity people, as well as those of St. Mary Magdalen, St. Leonards and even St. Mary's-in-the-Castle that were solemnised at the two old Hasting churches were comparatively few, whilst those that took place at Holington were very numerous. The Holy Trinity or Dissolved Priory began to be peopled about the year 1822, and became depopulated in 1834, and the following list of marriages from that small parish that were celebrated at Hollington between those dates, if it had been presented, would not only have refuted the statement of detractors, but would probably have greatly surprised them. They were:
|William Monks||to||Mary Apps|
|William Bates||to||Sophia Bayley|
|Henry Weller||to||Mary Whylston|
|Thos. Bovis||to||Jane Wood|
|David Woodgate||to||Ann Munn|
|John Chatfield||to||Jane Marris|
|Thos. Reeves||to||Mercy Trimer|
|Fredk. Tapp||to||Sarah Skinner|
|John Huggett||to||Hannah Jones|
|Wm. Picknell||to||Sarah Collins|
|Samuel Smith||to||Mary Bryant|
|Wm. Downe||to||Phillis Mills|
|Jas. Waine||to||Mary Fuller|
|Robt. Poole||to||Mary Ann Newnham|
|Edward Honess||to||Louise Bowyer|
|Geo. Foster||to||Sarah Jane Wakeling|
|Wm. Kirby||to||Mary Molls|
|Robt. Everson||to||Jane Merricks|
|Geo. Kent||to||Eliz. Casswell|
|John Buxton||to||Charlotte Briers|
|Wm. Longley||to||Catherine Martin|
|Thos. Noakes||to||Harriet Noakes|
|Edmund Chapman||to||Eliz. Shackelford|
|Geo. Savage||to||Phillis Balkham|
|David Bryant||to||Harriet Hoof|
|Thos. Burgess||to||Leonora Parris|
|Edw. Crittenden||to||Harriet Collins|
|Wm. Pilbeam||to||Mary Ann Buss|
|Mary Ann Reeves||to||Robt. Saxby|
|Thos. Carpenter||to||Jane Hook|
|Hy. Easton||to||Sarah Goldsmith|
|Wm. Eaton Foster||to||Sarah Gallop|
|Jas. Eason||to||Eliz. Burgess|
|Hy. Pocock Clark||to||Ann Waters|
|Jas. White||to||Ann Farrell|
|Jas. Carley||to||Caroline Sims|
|Steph. Farrell||to||Margt. Howell|
|John Howell||to||Frances Cheesman|
|Sam. Wells||to||Hannah Headman|
|Mark Stubberfield||to||Mary Colbrain|
|Wm. Nash||to||Charlotte Honiss|
|Steph. Buss||to||Martha Molls|
|John Perry||to||Eliza Chapman|
|Wm. Whyborn||to||Jemima Hutchings|
|Geo. Winter||to||Hannah Snelling|
|Jeremiah Grisbrook||to||Eliz. Cobby|
|Thos. Freeman||to||Hannah Collins|
|Robt. Aldridge||to||Sarah Russell|
|Geo. Gorring||to||Ann Page|
|Geo. Kent||to||Ann Wimble|
|Francis Jno. Reeves||to||Jane Ransom|
|Jas. Howell||to||Eliz Gurr|
|Jas. Harding||to||Martha Sheather|
|Thos. Starr||to||Philadelphia Follington|
|Steph. Starnes||to||Eliz Starnes, widow|
|Edw. Waters||to||Margt. Vine|
|Sarah Thomas||to||Jas. Hook|
|Philly Thomas||to||Rich’d. Earl|
|Wm. Mortimer||to||Joanna Haisell|
|Hy. Beney||to||Jane Miller|
|Wm. Crittenden||to||Mary Bray|
|John Chainey||to||Harriet Fuller|
|Wm. Turner||to||Ann Harris|
|John Francis Martin||to||Ann Hook|
|Edw. Bumstead||to||Eliz. Knight|
|Wm. Bannister||to||Ann Filmer|
|John Bowen||to||Maria Westly Pounsford|
|Wm. Skinner||to||Eliza Sophia Noakes|
|Saul Mills||to||Ann Greenland|
|Wm. Picknell, widower,||to||Sarah Collins|
|W. Gallop||to||Frances Guilford|
|Thos. Morris||to||Judith Harman|
|Jas. Dunk||to||Mary Bashford|
|Hy. Geo. Wilkins||to||Matilda May|
|Chas. Terry||to||Charlotte Moulds|
|Geo. Austin||&||Hannah Humphries, widow|
|Thos. Chester||&||Martha Dennis|
|Thos. Field||&||Harriet Shoesmith|
|Wm. Edwards||&||Sarah Abbott Foster|
|Wm. Stanley||&||Mary Gosling|
|Chas. Poile||&||Dinah Bowen|
|Richd Sutton||&||Mary Piddlested|
|Geo. Wenham Taught||to||Mary Bumsted, widow|
|Thos. Lock||&||Sarah Martin|
|John Sinden||&||Harriet Mann|
|Hy. Hughes||&||Sarah Hook|
|Jas. Larkins||&||Ann Adams|
|Thos. Salmon||&||Maria Piddlsted|
|Edw. Saxby||&||Hannah Allen|
|Jas. Gardner||&||Sarah Brazier|
|Wm. Tapp||&||Sarah Ann Manser|
|Wm. Gammon||&||Hannah Heniss|
|Geo. Burfield||&||Hannah Prior|
|Francis Burdett Harris||&||Emma Charlotte Humphries|
|John Glyde||&||Jane Lusted|
|Wm. Elliott||&||Lydia Skinner|
|Thos. Brazier||&||Harriett Arrundell|
|Chas. Baldwin||&||Frances Huggins|
|Robt. Atkins||&||Catherine Bond|
|Jas. Prior||&||Henrietta Russell|
|Wm. Brok||&||Harriett Venall|
|Jas. Smith||&||Mary Kirby|
|Wm. Finnes||&||Hannah Grey|
|John Snashall||&||Ann Elliott|
|John Filmer||&||Eliz. Friend|
|Saul Smale||&||Mary Ann Padgham|
|Edwin Jno. Edwards||&||Mary Ann White|
|Chas. Lee||&||Eliz. Heniss|
|Edw. Daniel Wood||&||Mary Swane|
|Thos. Baker||&||Ellen Waters|
|Geor. Pritchard||&||Mary Ann Baker|
|Jas. Fennings||&||Mary Ann Phillips|
|Hy Harman||&||Mary Ann White|
|Burford Teakins||&||Sarah Harriet Mitchell|
|Geo. Martin||&||Amelia Walker|
|Wm. Carpenter||&||Ann Wilson|
|Wm. Brazier||&||Hannah Burt|
|Thos. Ranger||&||Mary Brden|
|Geo. Honiss||&||Mary Ann Balkham|
|Geo. Carpenter||&||Mary Iggulden|
|John Miles||&||Mary Jeby|
|Wm. Howes||&||Margt Jones|
|Jas. Philcox||&||Mary Avery|
|Geo. Waters, widower,||&||Sarah Stevenson|
|Geo. Larkins||&||Rebecca Wilson|
|John Morgan||&||Sarah Marchant|
|John Lavender||&||Lucy Towner|
|Jas. Thompson||&||Mary Baker|
|Walter Hickmott||&||Martha Farley|
|Wm. Collins||&||Phoebe Suran Cheele|
|Geo. Phillips||&||Mary Ann Crittenden|
|John Nash||&||Ann Tewhurst|
|Wm. Engham||&||Sarah Dann|
|John Fowler||&||Mary Bailey|
|Louisa West||to||Wm. Ewing|
|Geo. Piper||to||Ann Collins|
|Thos. Burt||&||Maria Medhurst|
|Saul Gower||&||Mary Ann Clark|
|Saul Bishop||&||Ann Child|
|Wm. Fuller||&||Ruth Tindall|
|Geo. Baker||&||Sarah Woodhouse, widow|
|Augustus Smith||&||Eliza Spinden|
|Richard Pout||&||Maria Tutt|
|Wm. Beale||&||Sarah Buffard|
|Wm. Chapman||&||Mary Wilding|
|Joshua Whiteman||&||Jane Head|
|Thos. Beaney||&||Eliz. Haywood|
|Wm. Manser||&||Sarah Gallop|
|Jas. Shoesmith||&||Elizabeth Mann|
|Steph. Goldsmith||&||Maria Bedwell|
|Rich. Cousins||&||Isabella French|
|John Harrod||&||Mary Ann Fellows|
|John Butchers||&||Fany Crittenden|
|Jas. Murdock||&||Mary Noakes|
|Edward Rodney Sawyer||&||Mary Ann Turner|
|Thos. Gibbs||&||Ann Cobby|
|Jas. Wm. Oakley||&||Susannah Taylor|
|Edw. Knight||&||Esther White|
|John Kilmaster||&||Mary Ann Hazleden|
|Geo. Hope||&||Tereza Macdonald|
|Geo. Breach||&||Martha Piper Booth|
|Thos. Fisher||&||Jane Caroline Greenway|
|James Kirby||&||Charlotte Piper|
|Edw. Paul||&||Charlotte Adams|
|Jno. Davis||&||Jane Hannah Wingfield|
|Geo. Wilson||&||Fanny Clapson|
|Thos. Jeffery||&||Eliz. Breach|
|Thos. Willis||&||Eliza Renshaw|
|Jas. Peters||&||Mary Birch|
|Wm. Taylor||&||Charlotte Upton|
|Joseph Robinson||&||Harriet Hodge|
|Jeremiah Grisbrook||&||Susannah Kent|
|Steph. Sheather||&||Hannah Tester|
|Jno. Elphick||&||Harriet Fuller|
|Edw. Prior||&||Eliza Evans|
|Jno. Webb||&||Jane Phillips|
|Thos. Lamb||&||Caroline Wright|
|Jno. Soper||&||Rachel Coleman|
|Jas. Taylor||&||Marian Fairhall|
|Geo. Simmons||&||Denny Austin|
|Jno. Goodsell||&||Lydia Ballard|
Marriages at Hollington - London Road &c
Pg.152 Thus it is shown that there were married at Hollington church in those comparatively few years as many as 181 couples from the Trinity parish, whilst at one of the Hastings churches there were only six, and probably not more at the other. There were also during the same period 29 couples married at Hollington from the Magdalen parish and 66 from St. Leonard, the church for those two parishes not being then built. It is therefore here shown in that phase at least how distinctly were the interests of the dwellers east and west of the Priory Bridge and how determined were the inhabitants of the three newly populated parishes to demonstrate their freedom from control by the Hastings authorities whose jurisdiction at that time did not extend westward of the said Bridge. But this apart, the point has been in giving the fore-going statistics, to show that the first inhabitants of that part of Holy Trinity now known as Government property were as law-abiding as those of the old town and that their observance of marriage rites and duties were no less regular.
The next view represents Hollington Church, not as it now is but as it was, at the time when the marriages in the foregoing list were effected.
#[Notes 2]The London road out from St. Leonards was contracted for by Messrs. Tester and Marchant, of Tunbridge Wells, and with which Mr. S. Putland|Mr. Putland]] was also connected. A large amount of sandstone was got out between the lower part of Norman road and the site on which Christ Church was afterwards erected. The land on which the upper part of Norman road was built was purchased by Mr. Manser, and a portion of it sold to Mr. Tree, whereon was also built a portion of Gensing road and Shepherd street, also the Wesleyan Chapel (in 1836), of which Mr. Walter Insliff was the architect. Shepherd street took its name from Mr. Shepherd, a lodging house keeper on the Marina, who purchased some of the building plots.
Carousels - Work at the "Amsterdam"
Pg.153 It will be in harmony with the purpose hitherto observed of noticing as I proceed the current deaths of old inhabitants if I here introduce a short obituary of the late Mr. Henry Chandler. It is an additional coincidence - and one over which I can have no control - that in the month of April, 1837, Mr. Chandler commenced business in St. Leonards, and that after a commercial career of just forty-three years, in the same month of April, whilst I was writing of the April of 1837, I was called upon, as it were to notice Mr. Chandler's death. The deceased tradesman was twin-brother of Mr. Councillor Chandler, and when about 25 years of age entered into partnership with the late Mr. John Wellsted at 3 South Colonnade - or, as it was first called, 3 Marina. The business was that of plumbing painting and glazing; and the partnership was continued for over 22 years, when the death of Mr. Wellsted brought it to a close. Mr. Chandler then continued the business by himself from January, 1860, until within a few days of April, 1880, when after a brief illness from bronchial affection, at the age of 68, he was compelled to bid adieu to the many townspeople whom he had known so long, and to the material surroundings whose growth he had watched and helped to develop. He was never known to have had any serious illness previously to that which caused his death, except in the year 1853, when, in the midst of the cholera epidemic, he was attacked, but recovered, after two or three weeks' prostration. If I rightly remember what he once told me, senna was his only medicine, and bread and water the almost invariable food with which he broke his fast. Although experiencing so little illness himself he was not unfrequently amongst it in others; and many were the acts of kindness which his humane nature prompted him to perform for his suffering townsmen. Mr. Chandler was twice married, but was a widower at the time of his death. His son succeeded him in the business the same having been wholly removed from the Colonnade where it was carried on so long, to 13 East Ascent, where Mr. Chandler had resided for some time prior to his death. In early life, the deceased townsman worked on the farm at Blacklands, which was rented by his father, Mr. Richard Chandler, an old inhabitant of Hastings, who built the Pelham Arms Inn, of which he was the landlord until his death. After that event the house was conducted by his son, who, as already stated, was twin brother to the subject of this notice. The circumstance of the senior Chandler having rented Blacklands Farm reminds me that a previous occupier was a person of the name of Edwards, and that in the not over-accurate pronunciation of the period the said farm was spoken of as Old Ethards's. There used to be a large spreading-oak in one of the fields, near to what is now the site of the St. Andrew's Schools, and which I have cause to remember. In the summer of - I believe - 1824, there sat, and danced, and sand and drank around that "brave old oak" a sillabub (that is to say, a silly-bub) party of shipwrights and others who having completed and launched some new vessels from the yard of Thwaites and Winter near Pelham place, thus assembled to celebrate the event in a debauch of rum and milk. I was a boy of about 8 or 9 years, and but for having been sent thither via the "Long Fields" (now St. Mary's terrace) with a small can of milk, I should not have witnessed the "glorious fun." It was funny to hear a song whose refrain was "Tink-a-dillo, dillo, dillo; he that loves his rum-and-milk is a hearty good fellow"; it was funny to hear them shout "We won't go home till morning", when it was only five o'clock in the afternoon; it was funny to see stalwart men rolling down the steep hill like a set of nine-pins; and it was funny to find myself thrown into the air by a brawny shipwright and gravitating to the top of a blackberry hedge. Whether my elevator was too excited to keep me from soaring so high, or I was too giddy to remain in my exalted position when there, I will leave the reader to decide; and will only add that as impressions are lasting, so the slight hurt and the greater fright of that "jubilee" have been indelibly impressed upon my memory for about 72 years.
In many ways the year 1837 was a memorable one, and the events even of a local character appear to be of sufficient interest to justify the appropriation of not a few additional columns to a description of them. The Conservative dinner brought me to the end of March - a March which for its wintry character, and coming after the unparalleled snowstorm of the previous Christmas, is worthy of special remembrance. I have already stated that the spring of 1837 was the latest on record, and I may now add that on the night of Easter-Sunday (March 26th) the thermometer recorded 15 degrees of frost whilst snow fell to the depth of about nine inches. In many parts of the country it was much deeper and the mail-coaches were several hours behind their usual time. At Jersey a snow-depth of several feet was experienced, and it said that such a storm at the end of March had not been known since 1799. On the last day of that severe month the death took place, as before stated, of the founder of st. Leonards, and on the 10th of the month another of the town's benefactors was taken away. It was Mr. Edward Bland, son of Michael Bland, Esq., of 1 East ascent, and one of the earliest inhabitants. The gentleman who thus died was always a friend to the poor, and one who took a great interest in their education. He had a belief - which was not usually entertained in those days - that if there were more education there would be less crime, and consequently less suffering when crime was detected. Mr. Bland was one of the first members of the Literary and Scientific Institution.
On the second day of April the Rev. Sydney Henry Widdrington began his ministrations at St. Leonards Church, and took up his abode at 68 Marina. This gentleman was elected on the Board of Commissioners in the following October when, in consequence of the deaths of Messrs. James Burton, Edward Stevens and John Bowers, and the resignation of John Gill, a town meeting was held to fill up the vacancies. The other new members were Thomas Jekyll Rawson, Esq. (who owned 24, 25, 29, 30, 31, 66 and 68 Marina, in addition to the Sussex hotel, the Conqueror hotel and other property), John Harwood, Esq., M.D. (who with is brother, Dr. William Harwood, occupied 1 and 2 West ascent), Mr. Bond (who owned 27 and 28 Marina), and Mr. Martin Hatfield (proprietor of 101 to 103 Marina and two houses on the West hill). The Rev. S. H. Widdrington remained a Commissioner for about two or three years.
On the 3rd of April another attempt was made to clear out the Amsterdam Dutch ship, submerged in 1749 about a mile westward of St. Leonards. Previous efforts had been made in 1810 and 1827, of which I gave some account in the previous section of this History and to which I will here add some further particulars from an old newspaper which had been lent to me. This ship was 997 tons burthen, 151 feet long, and 39 feet wide across the beam. She had a general cargo of cutlery, glass and china, about ten tons of copper, a quantity of silver, and two or three cases of specie. She also mounted 14 guns. This valuable ship with its cargo was run ashore at Bulverhithe on a Sunday morning in the year 1749 by a crew that had mutinied in consequence as it was said, of having plague on board. "An old man here" [Hastings 1837] says the newspaper paragraph, "now 97 years of age, remembers the circumstance, and his testimony is highly interesting in a geological point of view, as it shows that the vessel was run into muddy ground, covered, he says, with sedges and reeds; and this circumstance, in connection with the submarine forest extending along the coast, gives us good data from which we may judge of the encroachments of the sea within a stated period."
The old man here referred to was probably Mr. Edmonds, whom I knew as living in High street, in 1827, and to whom I alluded when describing the second attempt to clear the vessel in 1827. I then stated that the work had to be relinquished in consequence of the Lord Warden claiming the greater portion of such treasure as was recovered. But in this latter attempt an old sailor of the name of Bungay obtained permission from his old commander the Lord Warden, to proceed with the work; which however, had soon to be given up for want of the necessary capital and appliances. As the accounts in the local handbooks of this still submerged ship are both meagre and unsatisfactory I have here and heretofore stated the facts within my own knowledge and research as fully as possible.
I will now conclude this part of the "entertainment" with an extract from an article on "Foreshore Changes," which appeared in BRETT'S GAZETTE of April 12th 1879. After describing some remarkable changes which had then taken place along the coast, the article proceeds thus:- "In consequence of this action of the winds upon the tides, there were visible at Bulverhithe for an entire week, large fields of the submarine forest not usually seen, whilst the hull of the old Dutch ship Amsterdam, which has been submerged about 126 years, projected from its bed to such an extent as to be seen from the West Marina parade. On the 27th of March, when we first "got on board of her," we had to step over his timbers at midships about three feet high, whilst some of her ribs and planking, especially those at the bow, were at least five feet above the sands. At a subsequent visit we took her dimensions as nearly as the shortening of the tides and other circumstances would permit, and their measurements were from stem to stern (over all) 158 feet, and from side to side at the widest part about 36 feet. As, however the ribs inclined inwards, the width of the vessel was evidently greater lower down. Much of the external planking which probably has not been exposed since the year 1827 was visible on this occasion; and projecting obliquely out of the sands on the western side of the vessel was what appear to be the lower portion of the mainmast, in the position which it might have taken when falling overboard. During the present week the perigeal spring-tides with a southerly wind have nearly filled up the vessel again with sand, and also entirely changed the appearance of the foreshore by lowering the high ridges of shinge and spreading their contents more thickly and laterally towards the sea. The extremely low ebb tide on April 7th and 8th left a clear way of nearly 200 feet between the sea and the rudder-post of the sunken Amsterdam". For further and more interesting details of this submerged ship on the Bulverhythe sands, see the "Collier Correspondence" of 1749, specially contributed to BRETT'S GAZETTE, and first published in 1894.
During the week that operations were re-commenced on the submerged Dutch ship at Bulverhythe, the town of St. Leonards as well as that of Hastings swarmed with Dutch or Flemish "Buy-a-brooms," an incursion of sixty of these girls having been effected a few days before at Dover. The incident is worthy of a passing notice if only because the annual immigration of these curiously-attired and somewhat importunate females appears to have been long discontinued. It would indeed be a rara avis, or at least a novelty to hear again those quaintly musical tones "Buy-a-broom? - A large one for de lady, and a small one for de baby!"
In the same week the Hon. William and Mrs. Dundas arrived at St. Leonards, and took Quarry House as a permanent residence for which they were rated at £200, and in which they continued to reside until 1845 and 1852, respectively, when, dying, at the age of 84 and 92, also respectively, they were interred in the St. Leonards Burial-ground.
Princess Victoria's 18th Birthday Celebration - Queen Victoria Proclaimed
Another occurrence of that week was the severe illness of Mr. F. North, M.P., an event which was feelingly alluded to by Mr. Sutherlad-Graeme at the Conservative banquet. A good deal of painful and morbid excitement prevailed in the locality at the same time in consequence of the Edgeware road murder, for which James Greenacre and Sarah Gale were arrested on suspicion.
When preparing the first issue of this History in 1880, I was still writing of 1837 or of the reminiscences springing out of it when by a Pg.154 purely fortuitous coincidence my narrative had reached to the 24th of May, the very day (after a period of 43 years) I was about to describe the 18th birthday anniversary of the Heiress-apparent to the British throne. And now that I am revising the said History, and the longest reigning monarch has nearly completed 60 years of Imperial rule, it is no less a pleasing task to repeat the story of the local celebrations. In 1837, by a statutory provision, the Princess Victoria had been declared of full age, and her uncle (William IV) being then in a feeble condition the thoughts and hopes of our local community were naturally centred upon the royal lady who with her mother, had honoured St. Leonards with a three months' sojourn only two years before. The anniversary was on a Wednesday, and the day in its meteorological conditions was a prototype of that which has since accompanied so many of Her Majesty's public ceremonials, and has thus acquired the name of "Queen's Weather." The morning was ushered in with the ringing of bells and the firing of cannon; and as it had been determined to make the day a holiday, the shops remained unopened throughout. At ten o'clock, people began to crowd in from neighbouring towns and villages, and at an hour later, the school children, to the number of 1,750, assembled in Wellington square, where the Hastings town band - then in the height of its efficiency - was stationed. After being marshalled, with mottoed flags in their ranks and headed by the band and a royal standard, the children moved off in procession round the town. The entire train, which included teachers, parents and others reached from the Pelham Arcade to the top of High street; and with the exception of the chairing of Messrs. Planta and Holland, two months later it was, perhaps, the longest civil procession ever seen in Hastings up to that time. After passing through the principal thoroughfares, the children made the Priory meadow their rendezvous, where the Reform Dinner was held in 1832, and where, on this later occasion, the older folk also assembled, to join in the sports then and there provided. An attractive pavilion had been temporarily erected, from which the children were supplied, each with a glass of wine and a piece of cake. The pavilion was afterwards utilised for dancing. Booths for refreshment were also provided, and the number of persons present was estimated to be ten thousand. In addition to music and dancing the amusements of the day consisted of running-matches, donkey-races, running in sacks, jingling-matches[Notes 3] , treacle-roll bobbings, and other old-fashioned sports, the whole concluding with a magnificent display of fireworks. There was afterwards a ball for the richer folk at the Swan hotel. The refreshments for the children were provided mainly by Mrs. North, Mrs. Milward and other leading ladies of the town; and be it stated, that many aged couples among the poor were recipients of a good dinner sent to them at home.
Such is an outline of the rejoicings at Hastings; and now for a brief account of what took place at St. Leonards. There too, the general aspect was one of pleasure and gaiety, the two towns vieing with each other in their demonstrations of loyalty. At Edlin's (Victoria) hotel an enormous new royal standard was hoisted, whilst in other parts of the town a variety of flags was displayed. The St. Leonards school children, numbering about 200, paraded the town with a band of music and finished their perambulation at the Assembly Rooms, where a substantial dinner was provided for them, supplemented by a small gift of new money and other souvenirs. The children were afterwards marched to the Archery Ground, where they indulged in various games and participated in the distribution of toys. For this treat, as a demonstration of loyalty, the public - and especially the children - were mainly indebted to the generous efforts of Mr. Alfred Burton, Mrs. Wood, the Misses Mackay, the Misses Dynely, the Misses Morley, Lady Lubbock, Capt. Hull, and a few other influential inhabitants. An al fresco dance was arranged for such of the up-grown folk as chose to engage therein, and there was a ball in the evening. Everything passed off happily, and some are still living who remember with animated satisfaction the day when "England's Hope" attained her 18th year.
On the 24th of June (exactly a month after our local communities had celebrated, with so much loyalty, the 18th birthday of the Princess) the royal lady was formally proclaimed throughout the borough as the Queen of the British Empire. The visitors at Hastings and St. Leonards were unusually numerous at the time, as was shown by the books at Diplock's and James's Libraries, as well as at the several hotels knows as Deudney's Marine, Emary's Albion, Edlin's Victoria, Johnson's Conqueror, and Hutchings's South Saxon. Many of such visitors joined the procession, in which also were Dr. Ranking (officiating as Mayor), members and officials of the Corporation, the Coastguards under the command of Capt. Peak, many other inhabitants, and (last as well as least) your humble chronicler. The reading of the proclamation at certain places was received with acclamation and much enthusiasm was evinced. There was one event of the day, however, of a less joyous character, and that was the accident which befel Mr. T. B. Baker, in the evening, by which that well known attorney and public official sustained a fractured leg. The proclamation was after this fashion:
Whereas it has pleased Almighty God to call to his mercy our late Sovereign Lord King William the Fourth, of blessed and glorious memory, by whose decease the Imperial Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland is solely and rightfully come to the High and Mighty Princess Alexandrina Victoria. We, therefore, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of this Realm, being assisted by his late Majesty's Privy Council, do hereby, with one voice and consent of tongue and heart, publish and proclaim that the High and Mighty Princess Alexandrina Victoria is now by the death of our late Sovereign, of happy memory, become our only lawful and rightful Liege Lady Victoria, by the grace of God, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; to whom we do acknowledge faith and constant obedience, with all hearty and humble affection, beseeching God, by whom Kings and Queens do reign, to bless the royal Princess Victoria with long and happy years to reign over us. Given at the Court of Kensington this 20th day of June, 1837. God save the Queen.
On the same day that the Queen was proclaimed, her uncle Ernest took his departure for Hanover, there to possess himself of a crown which had hitherto been united to that of England from the accession of George I. in 1712. It will be observed that the Proclamation makes no mention of Hanover, and for the reason that by the laws of Hanover that Kingdom falls not to a female in the line of succession. At the death of William IV., therefore the crown of Hanover passed to his brother the Duke of Cumberland, who, with his family, had a six months' sojourn at Hastings, in 1833. It next descended to Prince George of Cumberland, the blind youth who laid the foundation-stone of the Hastings Market, and who was ultimately deposed by the German Kaiser. Subsequently dying, the blind King left a son (the Duke of Cumberland) and two daughters (the Princess Frederica and the Princess Mary of Cumberland). And after the prayer in the Proclamation "to bless the Royal Princess Victoria with long and happy years to reign over us" had been granted, that same Victoria gave the required consent to her cousin's daughter, Frederica of Hanover, to marry a German Baron, and then provided them with a beautiful cottage at Osborne, wherein to reside.
The circumstances under which VICTORIA ascended the throne were such as could not fail to obtain for her a full measure of sympathy. For a girl of eighteen years, who had theretofore lived in comparative seclusion, to be called upon at once to act of important a part in the affairs of the nation, was fitted to excite a feeling of solicitude in every considerate and sensitive mind. It was said that previously to such event the youthful Princess had on several occasions exhibited a deep sensibility of the responsible prospect which was opening up before her When, however, this prospect merged into realization, she met the numerous persons holding high estate in the realm with a becoming, not to say, dignified, bearing' and delivered her first address to her subjects with great propriety and self-possession. Of course like all such addresses of the Sovereign, it was the work of her responsible advisers, and it reflected quite naturally the complexion of their own policy. But in addition to that, Her Majesty expressed a hope in the Divine guidance, and a resolution to "maintain the Reformed Religion as by law established." Then there was a generous recognition of the valued acts and good intentions of Her Majesty's predecessor in the following words :- "I esteem it a peculiar advantage that I succeed to a Sovereign whose constant regards for the rights and liberties of his subjects, and whose desires to promote the amelioration of the laws and institutions of the country, have rendered his name the object of general attachment and veneration."
It may not be altogether a supererogation to remind my younger readers that Queen Victoria is descended, on her mother's side, from John Frederick, surnamed the Magnanimous, Elector of Saxony, who, having taken arms against the Emperor Charles V. and fallen after the battle of Weilburg into the hands of that Sovereign, was detained in prison till his death, which occurred in 1554, after seven years of distressing captivity. This Prince left two sons, John Frederick, founder of the old line of Saxe Gotha, and John William, with whom commenced the line of Weimar. The marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Kent was first performed at Cobourg in May, 1818, and again at Kew in July of the same year. A few weeks later they returned to the continent and resided at Amorbach, the residence of the Duchess's first husband (the Prince of Leiningen) who left his widow in the occupation of the Palace and in the guardianship of their only son. The Duchess acceded to the wish of the Duke to return to England, where Victoria was born only seven months before the Duke's lamented death. Her Majesty, therefore, can have no recollection of her father.
The Queen did not disturb the Administration then in office, as some of our local quidnuncs declared she would do; forgetting, as they must have done, that a statute was passed in the reign of George III. that the Legislature should not be dissolved by the mere demise of a King or Queen, but that the Lord High Steward for the time being should attend the Lords and Commons within 24 hours after the death of a monarch and administer the oaths of allegiance, supremacy and abjuration to the Speaker, Lord Chancellor, and the members of both Houses; and that the Parliament thus constituted should continue for six months, unless previously dissolved by the new Sovereign. Queen Victoria therefore met her Parliament a week after the interment (sic) of her uncle, and never was a Sovereign received throughout the entire procession with greater enthusiasm. After the royal speech had been delivered, however, the young Queen, by the advice of her Ministers, exercised her privilege, and immediately prorogued Parliament with a view to an early dissolution. As it was not deemed desirable to proceed with any further legislation until a new Parliament had been called, the sitting members were not again called together as might have been Pg.155 done by her Majesty with six days' notice, and the writs were therefore immediately issued. Then came additional excitement to the borough of Hastings, and the people who had witnessed so many important events and public demonstrations were again warmed into enthusiasm until a sort of political climax was ultimately reached.
Rival Rate Collectors - Death of William IV - Archery Meeting
But if all was harmonious rivalry on the 24th of May, that harmony was considerably disturbed three weeks later, when in consequence of an order from the Poor-Law Commissioners for the Board of Guardians to elect a competent person as rate-collector, a rivalry of a different character immediately manifested itself. Among the candidates for the office were two men whose claims were urged in a party spirit which may be fitly described as Church versus Dissent, Tory versus Radical, and Hastings versus St. Leonards. The principals in this contest have long since passed away; yet, for conceivable, if not for obvious, reasons, I judge it prudent to withhold their names. As, however, I must adopt some mode by which to recognize the competitors, I will call them Whig and Tory. The Whig-Dissenter had been in business at St. Leonards, and had failed therein, because, as his friends declared, he had a large family to provide for, had lived in a time of commercial depression, and could not prevent his neighbours from making their purchases at Hastings. The Tory-Churchman, it was alleged, had no incumbrance, was nephew to a churchwarden and poor-law guardian and was in receipt of good wages. For the former to oppose the latter was announced by the latter's supporters to be a most disgraceful proceeding. But so evenly divided were the Guardians on the question that when the votes were taken the numbers polled for each candidate were just alike. The chairman then gave the casting vote, and the Liberal-Dissenter was elected. Not satisfied with this decision, Mr. Anthony Harvey, another Tory-Churchman, wrote to the Government board, who refused to ratify the choice. At this the Whig-Dissenters re-kindled their fire of indignation, and some of them had the boldness to declare that an honest man had been crushed by a dishonest clique. But subsequent events did not justify the allegation. The Whig-Dissenter became a rate-collector, and in the exercise of his calling he was eventually found to be a defaulter to a considerable amount; whilst his original opponent - the "avaricious" Tory-Churchman - also obtained a similar appointment, which he filled for many years to the satisfaction of all parties, and ultimately died, greatly respected.
It was at this time (the first or second week in June) that Lady Elizabeth Dutton engaged for a period of six weeks the new house at the corner of Seymour place, now known as Adelaide House, Grand parade. It was then more commonly called Waghorne's Marine Mansion, and it obtained its present appellation when the Dowager Queen Adelaide had been its occupant, which was immediately after the tenancy of Lady Dutton. His Majesty William IV. expired at Windsor shortly after 2 a.m. of June 20th, and this nationally important event immediately revived one of my earliest reminiscences - the demise of his father, GEORGE III., which took place seventeen years before, on a Sunday in January. The dissolution of the "Sailor-King" was hereabouts made known by passengers and parcels which arrived by the London coaches. The death of the King was marked by the inhabitants of both towns with the usual signs of mourning; and, as the visitors for the time of year were unusually numerous there was a great demand for the London papers. It was in June, 1830, that WILLIAM IV. ascended the throne so that at his death it wanted six days to complete the seventh year of his reign. Small as was that number of years as compared with the long reign of his father and the - at present - sixty years' of his niece it was a period fraught with immense consequences to the country. With strong conservative proclivities, there can be no doubt that His Majesty commenced his rule with the desire to preserve as far as was in his power, the institutions of the country as they existed at the time of his accession. The unceasing demands for constitutional changes were, however, too strong for him; and after losing his Conservative Administration, he was obliged to yield to the representations of Lords Grey and Brougham, and thus to give-in his reluctant adherence to the sweeping provisions of the Reform Bill. Personally, no doubt, the aged monarch acted towards his people with the desire to do that which he conceived to be right; and although the sympathy between himself and the majority of his subjects was not always of the most cordial kind, a general respect was paid to his memory as soon as his spirit had entered the region of eternity, where "God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil."
Long before he became King, Prince William was considered by Lord Nelson to have been superior in his profession to two thirds of the officers on the navy list. He passed through the several gradations of Midshipman, Lieutenant, Captain and Rear-admiral-of-the-blue; and when he announced to Don Juan de Langara that the latter's boat was ready to take him back to his own ship after his great defeat by Admiral Rodney, the Don exclaimed, "Well may England be mistress of the ocean when her King's sons are thus employed in her service.
The 17th of August was the 51st birthday anniversary of the Duchess of Kent, and this occurrence was celebrated at St. Leonards with a grand archery meeting, followed by a dinner and a ball. In those days of loyal demonstrations and fashionable reunions the prize-meetings of the St. Leonards toxophilites were of a gay and enthusiastic character, and were sometimes attended by no fewer than from four-hundred to five-hundred persons. One of such meetings was that of 1837, and as neither St. Leonards nor Hastings could boast of a local newspaper at that time, the following report, with emendations by the present writer, may help my readers to imagine what those meetings were like, whilst the meeting itself may be thus made to put forth a claim to be numbered among the numerous demonstrations of that eventful year. The Brighton Guardian proceeds to say :-
We owe it to St. Leonards that we never witnessed a more gratifying scene, nor one which we believe to be so likely to conduce to the benefit of the neighborhood. It afforded a proof of what can be accomplished by public spirit when properly directed. The ruling maxim of the St. Leonards property-holders has not been that of sparing either labour or expense in providing for their patrons the best accommodation and the most refined amusements. The Archery Grounds on the occasion of competing for the grand annual prizes was literally thronged. Wherever the eye wandered it encountered faces beaming with hilarity; and, indeed, the picturesque and romantic appearance of the spot, together Pg.156 with the beauty of the shrubbery and the fineness of the weather, led one to believe that the glories of Elysium were something more than the fervid imaginations of the poet's brain. The neighbouring heights were studded with spectators, and both Hastings and St. Leonards appeared to have sent forth their industrial populations to overlook the gay throng then present within the enclosures. They appeared, indeed, to have consecrated that day as a general holiday, and as a mark of respect to Her Most Gracious Majesty and her illustrious mother, who are the valued patrons of the Society. Numerous white marquees were pitched about the grounds which with flags and bannerets formed an agreeable contrast to the shrubs and trees, whilst over the north-end butts the royal standard was unfurled. The first arrow was shot by Mr. Fleetwood, M.P., after which the all but never-failing arrow from the bow of Miss Helen Wood was the theme of admiration, as were also the excellent shots by Miss Mackay. The competition was carried on with much spirit to the close, when the highest scores were announced to have been made by Miss Helen Wood (162) and Miss Mackay (146); but as the first named lady was barred two circles for previous winnings her number only counted as 120. The winners of the Royal Victoria Prizes therefore were Miss Mackay, Mrs. Tredcroft, Mr. C. Lawrence and Major Thornhill' whilst the winners of the Society's were Miss H. Wood, Miss Holdsworth and Mr. Fleetwood, M.P. At the conclusion the honorary treasurer and secretary, T. Wood, Esq., in addressing the assembly, remarked that the splendid meeting of that day filled him with delight. During the two years they had enjoyed the patronage of her Majesty and her illustrious parent, the Society had flourished beyond their expectations, and now they had received a letter from S. H. Wheatley stating that the Queen would also be pleased for the Society to be called ‘The Queen's Royal St. Leonards Archers’.
Dowager Queen Adelaide at St. Leonards
A banquet was provided in the St. Leonards Assembly Rooms at half-past six, and later in the evening the ball-room at the same place resounded with the strains of Mr. J. Hart's band, and was filled with a brilliant company of toxophilites and terpsichoreans.
Let it not be supposed, however that to St. Leonards alone was confined the privilege of doing honour to the name of Victoria. the gay young town might have its Victoria Archers, its Victoria Library, its Victoria Coach and its Victoria Mews, but Hastings would at least have a something that should perpeuate the royal name; and so, on the 21st of August, the person who a few days before, had sent the report of the archer meeting to the Brighton Guardian - there being at that time no local newspaper - joined ten other persons in forming the Victoria lodge of Oddfellows. Their names were Joseph Bannister (electioneering agent), Wm. Waite (Mr. Alfred Burton's butler), John Buxton and James Deudney (occasional waiters), John Lucas and George Creed (two sons of St. Crispin), Charles Perry (a tobacconist), J. J. Waters (baker) and George Fox.
A few days later, or at any rate, before August had run its course, the welcome fact was bruited that the Dowager Queen Adelaide, who was still grievously affected by her recent bereavement, had been advised to come to St. Leonards, and that her physician had selected two houses in Seymour place (now 22 & 23 Grand parade), between the Saxon Hotel and the new Square that was to be. Passing over some minor events, that I may not break the links in the chain of this Royal visit, it occurs to me that on the 26th of 27th of September the Mayor convened a meeting to consider how the Queen-Dowager was to be received on her entrance to the borough. Among the persons present were the Rt. Hon. J. Plants, M.P., Alfred Burton, Esq., Dr. MacCabe and the Rev. G. Stonestreet. A letter was read from Lord Howe, acknowledging the resolutions passed at the previous meeting, which he said were duly appreciated, yet Her Majesty was satisfied how agreeable it would be if, considering the circumstances which caused her to select St. Leonards as a temporary place of residence, all outward marks of public kindness might be dispensed with. His lordship was unable to name the day of arrival, but probably it would be the 12th of October. Within one day of this date, namely on Friday the 13th, the Queen Dowager, with the Princess Augusta and suite, arrived at St. Leonards, with the understanding that there was to be no officially arranged demonstration. The loyalty of the people, however, could not be entirely restrained. The carriages came, not over the rugged road of Cuckoo Hill - as was, unfortunately, the case with those of the Princess Victoria and the Duchess of Kent - but into St. Leonards direct, beneath the gate-way of the North-Lodge, where a magnificent view of the subscription Gardens and the sea must have met the vision of the royal party like a scene of enchantment. On the parade in front of the selected residence was stationed the St. Leonards Band, to play a strain of welcome, whilst in the road by the same thoroughfare were ranged a long line of carriages. There were also congregated on foot a number of people estimated at 3,000 to give Her Majesty a silent but respectful welcome. In the evening, a brilliant star of gas-jets appeared on the Saxon Hotel, surmounted with a crown and the monogram A.R., and ornamented on each side with festoons of variegated lamps. Mr. W. H. Honiss also illuminated his premises at 34 Marina very tastefully with the words "Welcome Adelaide." The royal party having arrived a full hour before they were expected, the police arrangements were incomplete, but Capt. Marshall, the M.C., was present, together with the principal tradesmen of both towns. Many of these afterwards dined together at the Saxon Hotel, where Mr. Hutchings provided a sumptuous dinner at his own cost, and at which Mr. Stephen Putland and Mr. James Harman were respectively the chairman and vice-chairman.
The royal party drove into the old town on Saturday; the Town Council presented an address; the enclosed grounds at Warrior Square were placed at the Queen's use by Mr. Troup; and the Filsham Hounds met thrice a week. Her Majesty gradually improved in health and spirits, and on Saturday, the 11th of November, the Royal Party (including also the Duke and Duchess and Prince George of Cambridge) paid a visit to Sir Chas. Lamb and Lady Montgomerie, at Beauport. The Cambridge family had previously visited the Rt. Hon. J. Planta, M.P., at Fairlight, and enjoyed the extensive scenery from that elevation. It will be recollected that the Duke of Cambridge had acted as Viceroy of Hanover until just previously, when the death of his brother William and the succession of his next elder brother, Ernest, as King of Hanover, relieved him of his post.
Two days later, Nov. 13th, the Princess Augusta met a procession on its way to Coghurst to present Mr Brisco with a piece of plate, and appeared very much pleased at the sight. The processions had formed in Wellington square, and consisted of a band of music, several gentlemen on horseback, a large number of men on foot, and a carriage containing an elegant silver epergne, weighing 150 ounces, and a handsome silk banner. The epergne was presented to Mr. Brisco by the electors for his exertions and generous behaviour in the election that had recently taken place, whilst the banner was got up by the electors' wives for presentation to Mrs. Brisco. On arriving at Coghurst Hall, the number of persons present was about five-hundred, all of whom were invited by Mr. and Mrs. Brisco to partake of refreshments. I have said that the Princess Augusta saw the procession but it must not be inferred that Her Royal Highness was one of the number who partook of Mr. Brisco's hospitality. She continued for a considerable time thereafter to take walks and drives with the Dowager Queen, the latter of whom received as a visitor, on the 15th of Dec., a son of the late King William, namely, Lord Alfred Fitzclarence, Commander of the Forces.
On the morrow of the handsome presentations to the defeated Mr. Brisco and his lady, the two newly elected representatives appeared at St. Stephen's to take their seats according to the form prescribed; and on the day next succeeding, notwithstanding the opposite political views of Messrs. Planta and Holland, both gentlemen voted for the re-election of Mr. Abercrombie, as Speaker. Five days later, namely Nov. 20th, the young Queen opened the new Parliament in person, amidst the sympathy and enthusiasm of a loyal people. Her Majesty had previously honoured the City of London with her presence at the Lord Mayor's banquet which was described in the newspapers of that period s far exceeding in magnificence any civic pomp of previous reigns. London kept high holiday in a suspension of business and in witnessing the procession of the youthful monarch as she went in state to the banqueting hall. Many of the well-to-do people of St. Leonards, and not a few also of Hastings proceeded to London about that time either to take part in the pageantries or to be spectators of the same; the recent residence of Her Majesty and the still existent presence of the Queen Dowager among them having created a more than ordinary attachment to the foremost representatives of royalty - an attachment that was further enhanced by the interest that was reciprocated by those exalted ladies in their expresses concernment for our local institutions and general welfare. In the absence of railways, our splendid coaches, with some of the best "whips" in the country, were for many days so laden with passengers who had booked for the whole journey as to be unable to take up any from the intermediate towns and villages. Then there were the private carriages of the visitors, giving employment to the several post-boys - any of whom, being still alive, are able to corroborate this statement - and the said private carriages were by no means few in number for St. Leonards was highly patronised at that time by royal, noble and other distinguished persons. Among these were the Dowager Queen Adelaide, the Princess Augusta, and Lord and Lady Howe at Seymour place; the Duke, Duchess and Prince George of Cambridge at Edlin's Victoria Hotel; Lord Brougham, Lord Saumerez and Mr. Justice Littledale at the Marina; Lord Alfred Fitzclarence at the Saxon Hotel; Sir Francis and Lady Sykes at the Marina; and Lord and Lady Howden, and Lady Gage, at the Marina. There were also several resident families of wealth and influence, including the Dowager Lady Lubbock, the Hon. W. Dundas, &c.; so that if the community was comparatively small, even after eight years of the town's existence, there was more than an average proportion of rank and fashion in its composition.
On the 28th of October, just a fortnight after the arrival of the Queen-Dowager a violent hurricane occurred, doing damage to some of the houses by the dislodgment of slates and chimney-pots, and by exciting "Old Davy" to a "breach of the peace" in his dealings with the parade walls. This was another trouble to the St. Leonards Commissioners, who being still unable to obtain the loan of money they had so frequently advertised for were obliged to incur additional expenses in temporary repairs, and in calling in the advice of a surveyor to examine the entire wall and report thereon forthwith. The person selected was Mr. Barnes, of Wartling Hill, who gave his opinion that the wall was in greater danger than ever, and advised that a groyne such as described in his specification was absolutely necessary. Not a moment was lost in the issuing of invitations for tenders and these a week later, were received by the Commissioners as follows :-
|Thwaites and Winter||£187||10s|
|Carey and Mann||248||12s|
|How and Abraham||286||10s|
It will be observed that a similar disparity was shown in the above estimates to those which are frequently met with in more recent times; a fact which seems to evoke surprise that so vast a difference should appear in the calculations of practical men. In this case, as might be supposed, the lowest tender was accepted; but it was on the condition that Messrs. Thwaites and Winter would take a bond of £50, bearing Pg.157 interest at 5 per cent., as part payment on the contract As a provision for the larger portion, Messrs. Rawson W. F. Burton and A. Burton promised to advance £50 each, taking the Commissioners' bonds as security. In addition to these arrangements, the faggot groyne was ordered to be repaired for a sum not exceeding £25, together with the wall and steps, damaged by the sea near the Library. Mr. Charles Deudney was requested to superintend the work, and in the mean time (sic) Mr. Benjamin Homan was appointed Surveyor to the Commissioners at a salary of £10 per year. Another resolution passed at that meeting was to extend the parade about 134 feel further westward, and to meet the expense by a loan of £300. But as this was an undertaking for the next year, I must devote yet a little more space to the events of 1837.
Purchase of an Organ for the church - Origin of the Infirmary - Annual Races
Mr. Elford, who was the conductor of the St. Leonards Band which played in front of Seymour place when the widowed Queen arrived, had been industriously collecting donations towards the purchase of an organ for the Church, and on the fact becoming known to Queen Adelaide, Her Majesty caused her name to be placed on the subscription list for twenty guineas. This amount, with the sums of ten guineas each from Mr. Brisco,[[Joseph Planta (1787–1847)|Mr. Planta, Mr. Hollond, (sic) and one or more members of the Burton family, together with similar or smaller sums from other inhabitants, made up the purchase money, and the organ was immediately put up by Holditch, of London. The flutes, violins, and other instruments theretofore in use were then discarded, and on Wednesday, 15th of November, 1837, the organ was opened with a grand musical festival. Unfortunately, the weather was unpropitious, and the service was less numerously attended than was hoped it would have been. Among the professional vocalists engaged were Miss Woodyatt and Miss Hawes, from London; who with the gentlemen professionals and the church choir, performed their several parts in an admirable manner. Mr. Elford, as the appointed organists, in addition to his services in collecting subscriptions, gave a year's salary as his own contribution. As one of the almost indispensibly useful men in the early years of St. Leonards, the late Edmund Elford will probably lay me under contribution to speak of him again in my desire to render justice to whom justice is due; but for the present I will only relate the circumstance of his receiving the permission to use the name of Queen Adelaide as his patron. Mr. Elford was the author of a te deum service which became popular, and in a letter written by Lord Howe, as the Queen's secretary, and dated St. Leonards, Feb.23rd, was enclosed a sovereign, for two copies of the musical composition, with a written authority for the composer to use the patronage of Her Majesty. But the royal patronage was not bestowed solely upon Mr. Elford, nor was the Queen's generosity confined to the twenty guineas given to the organ fund. Her bounties to the poor during a semi--gay, semi-suffering season, in the midst of severe weather, were neither few nor far between, and her contribution to the fund proposed to be raised for an Infirmary, as well as her patronage at a later date to the Fancy Bazaar for the same object, were practical examples of a generous impulse. And now that I have mentioned the Infirmary, I may as well describe the origin of the project, the revival of which took place during Queen Adelaide's stay at St. Leonards.
About two years anterior to the time of which I am writing, in consequence of the numerous accidents which befel (sic) the men engaged at the new buildings, as well as in cutting down the cliff constructing the sea-wall and forming the road between the Archway and the White-rock brewery, an attempt was made to create a fund for the purpose of erecting a structure to be called the East-Sussex Hospital, and to unite the funds of the Hastings and St. Leonards Dispensaries for supporting a small establishment for the treatment of accidents only. But the project was received by some people in the old town with so much apathy, and by others with such decided opposition, apparently because the scheme had emanated from the western part of the borough, that only three persons could be got to promise subscriptions to the extent of ten guineas, Mr. Troup was one of these, Mr. Elphinstone, M.P., was another, and Mr. North, M.P., was the third; although the last-named gentleman expressed an opinion that such an institution was not then required. In 1837 his views had undergone some modification, and it was thought that his support might be reckoned upon. The public were, however, advised to see that the project was placed under proper management, so as to prevent the jobbery which to some persons appears to be perfectly natural. In the original proposition it was suggested that the provisional committee should consist of the Protestant Clergymen and Dissenting Ministers of Hastings and St. Leonards together with the Mayor and two Members of Parliament for the time being. But the apathy which was evinced, or the hitch which occurred in the negociations (sic) not only impeded the work, but also shut out the £500 and the proceeds of showing Bodiam Castle, which had been offered by John Fuller, Esq., of Rose Hill. Some progress, however, was made with the scheme between its revival in November 1837, and another meeting which was held on the 30th of May following. Narrow as the views of the provisional committee were said to be, a sum of £1200 had then been given or promised, but the site which at the Town-hall meeting was proposed by Dr. Cooke and supported by Dr. Duke, and afterwards advocated by Mr. North in letters to the county newspapers, was decidedly disapproved by Lieut.-Col. Williams, of Hastings, and the Rev. S. Widdrington, of St. Leonards. It was argued that however competent Dr. Cooke might be to give lectures on anatomy in the theatre of the proposed building, a discerning public could not accept his choice of a site on the Priory swamp[Notes 4]. Of Dr. Cooke's anatomical lectures I shall introduce something amusing by-and-by; and so now again to my subject. Mr. Troup now doubled his original donation, thus making it £21, and added thereto ten guineas from Mrs. Troup. He also promised to make one of three gentlemen to purchase an acre of land on a suitable site if valued as agricultural land, or if an appropriate spot of building-land were selected he would give building-land of proportionate value in exchange, and present it to the institution. Meeting succeeded meeting but the unhappy jealousy which existed between the two towns, aided on the one hand by the repeated attempts of the Trustees of the Eversfield Estate to found an intermediate town, and on the other by Mr. Troup's determination that his property should not bear the name of St. Leonards, gave rise to much contention on the subject which the arguments, pro et con, both in oral and written discussions, exhibited almost as much bitterness as did the harbour question and the battle of the roads, all of which were floating or floundering at the same time. The Infirmary project was not allowed to drop, however, for, notwithstanding the mutual jealousies which were so prominent, a further period of six months found a number of ladies holding a "Sale of Fancy Goods" in the Pelham Arcade with the object of adding to the fund which had already been collected or promised. The Sale took place on the 17th, 18th and 19th of December 1838, ostensibly for "building and endowing the Infirmary." The bazaar was in every way worthy of the occasion, and realised a sum which exceeded the expectation of the promoters. The stall-keepers were Lady W. Fitzroy (with whose husband St. Leonardensis had had an unamiable contention), Lady Micklethwaite (whose husband was made a baronet for stopping the runaway horses of the Princess Victoria when at St. Leonards) Lady Ashburnham (who once gave her old lodge-keeper a half-a-crown in fulfilment of his dream, with the hope that his dream would not be repeated), Mrs. Milward (who declared that she got capital prices for her sixpennyworth's of rubbish), Mrs. M. Brisco (a generous friend to the poor), Miss North (the respected proprietor of Croft House), Miss Birch, Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Wrench, Mrs. Druce, the Misses Rush and Mrs. W. Duke. The Queen Dowager was pleased to grant her patronage to the Sale, and also contributed several articles of value. The first day's receipts were £371; the second (with wet weather) £175; and the third, £92; total, £638.
I have here gone somewhat ahead of my chronology that I might show the origin and preliminaries of the Infirmary, and that I might also conveniently associate therewith the name of the Queen Dowager. I will now take leave of that august personage by saying that she left St. Leonards, with her attendants, on the 1st of March, 1838, carrying with her the merited regard of all classes.
In an earlier portion of this history I described the site and building of the St. Leonards poor-house, and I remarked at the time that probably few persons are now living who would be able to point out the spot. That statement has received a partial verification in the fact that only a few years since, one of the oldest dames and at the same time one of the oldest inhabitants, told me she thought I was wrong about the poor-house. She never recollected St. Leonards having a poor-house. Now, it happens that in the year of which I am treating, the said poor-house was publicly sold, the establishment of the Union-workhouse in Cackle street, having rendered the separate parochial work-houses no longer necessary. The sale in question was decided upon at a meeting in the vestry-room of the St. Leonards church on the 19th of October, 1837, at which meeting the Rev. Sidney Widdrington was chairman. The motion was as follows :-
"Resolved by ratepapers and property-owners present that the meeting consent to the guardians selling off by auction at the St. Leonards Hotel, by Mr. George Mitchell, all that piece of freehold land, containing one rood, a little more or less, together with the cottage or tenement thereon, in the parish of St. Leonards, and lately used as the poor-house, but now unoccupied; the sale to be effected under the provision of an Act passed in the 5th and 6th years of the reign of William IV., entitled an Act to facilitate the conveyance of Workhouses and other property of parishes, &c. and the said sale to be for the permanent advantage of the parish as the Poor-Law Commissioners shall direct.— Signed: Sidney Widdrington, John Painter, Chas. Overy, Alfred Burton, and Hy. Edlin."
I need hardly say that the Rev. Sidney Widdrington was the then Incumbent of the Church, or that Mr. Edling was the lessee of the Victoria hotel, still less need have I to explain who was Mr. Alfred Burton; yet it may not be supererogatory to state that Messrs. Painter and Overy were the overseers who had in the same year succeeded Messrs. Chas. Deudney andEdward Farncomb, and whose parish meetings continued to be held at the "New England Bank," the site of which is now occupied by the approach to the West-Marina railway station. It was there that the said overseers made two sixpenny poor-rates during 1837, to raise about £50 each, and a shilling borough-rate, to raise £73. These figures when compared with what a sixpenny or a shilling rate now produces, will show the marvellous growth of the town during the intermediate period. If I mention also that the parochial disbursements included the separate charges of Colbran and Campbell as constables, the Union charges, the County rate, the Borough-rate, the Lewes-House-of-Correction rate, the "crying of notices in church," etc., an idea may be acquired as to the different forms of taxation at the two epochs.
Jealousy of the Rival Towns - New Roads - Death of Wm. Lucas
The Hastings and St. Leonards Races, held on the Bopeep Salts, were in those days regarded as one of the greatest events of the year, and in 1837 they were chiefly noteworthy for their meteorological associations and contrasts. The first day, Sept. 28th, was as wet and uncomfortable as could well be imagined, the attendance being in consequence, extremely meagre. The second day was altogether the reverse, and its enjoyable fineness brought together one of the largest and most brilliant assemblies ever witnessed on that ground. The principal stakes competed for were the Town-plate of £50; the Sweepstakes of £3, with £40 added from the fund; the St. Leonards Plate of £50; and Mr. Brisco's Plate of £50. For these prizes the competition was so spirited and the running horses were so evenly matched, as to necessitate not fewer than three or four heats to each race before the victor could be declared. Dusky night therefore began to show itself ere the grand equipages and the humbler vehicles could well get off the ground. And that these were very numerous may be imagined; for, what with the presence in St. Leonards of royalty, nobility and gentry, the town was fuller of visitors than it had ever been since its formation. The throng of carriages, horses and pedestrians along the only available road was immense, and there were several narrow escapes from serious mishaps. The something more than semi-darkness of the road which connected the Archway and the White Rock revived on that occasion the slumbering complaint about a two-years existence of lamp-irons without lamps or lights, Pg.158 But what was to be done? The district was equally outside of the jurisdiction of the St. Leonards Commissioners and the Hastings authorities, whilst the Trustees of the Eversfield Estate refused to do anything without an Act of Parliament, and such provision the inhabitants of St. Mary Magdalen stoutly rejected. The houses on the road were still few and far between, and Mr. Troup was labouring in every possible way to obtain for that district the appellation of "West Hastings" which the other inhabitants, by their conveyance-deeds, visiting-cards, commercial circulars, invoice-heardings, postal communications, and other necessities, had already for about five years, decided to be St. Leonards. Mr. Troup - a gentleman of indomitable self-will, many good intentions, and as many objectionable mannerisms - declared that he would make it "Hastings" before he had done; and, as a means to this end, he memoralised (sic) the Postmaster-General for letters addressed to persons between the Archway and the White Rock to be delivered from Hastings instead of St. Leonards. As I was in the Post-office at the time, his communication passed through my hands; but mark the result! Instead of the morning letters being delivered at 7.30 as they had hitherto been, they were withheld until 1.30, after the East-Coast mail arrived. Thus again Mr. Troup was foiled, and the inhabitants were inconvenienced. The letters for the Queen Dowager and her suite were, of course, an exception: but it was not to be supposed that a number of persons were to be inconvenienced merely to suit the crotchets of one man, and so another change was soon effected, which left Mr. Troup with no other alternative than to send or go from St. Leonards to Hastings twice-a-day for his own letters. He did this with the utmost ill-grace; but whilst he evidently winced under defeat, he frequently put on an ironical smile, or uttered a dogmatic assurance that he would ultimately carry his point. His vaticination, however, was never realised, although for the moment it received a shade of support from the incidental publishing of a view by Mr. Ross, of Castle street. This gentleman had taken a sketch of Seymour place - henceforth to be called Grand parade - with the residence of the Queen. To the lithographed copies of this view was attached the word Hastings; but a similar view of "Grand parade, St. Leonards," quickly made its appearance from Mr. Southall's Victoria Library, and Mr. Troup appears as little likely to achieve his object as before.
But the jealousy of the rival towns continued to exhibit itself in more ways than one; and, according to some people's views, to the detriment of both. The new roads out of St. Leonards - the only direction in which the distance to neighbouring towns and villages, and even to London, could be shortened - were retarded for the want of that united support which it was opined should be forthcoming, and a writer in the Brighton Guardian of December 27th, referring to this supineness in connection with the St. Leonards and Sedlescombe road, thus moralises:
It must be a valuable acquirement (sic) to Hastings and St. Leonards, but the people in the old town have acted as if it would injure them. How strange! The heavy hill leading out of Hastings is a crying grievance, yet the Hastings people would prefer to continue their steep and circuitous route, distressing as it is to the cattle on the road. The new road which is to be opened next year, coming as it does to St. Leonards, and also nearer to Hastings, leads the traveller through a most beautiful and hitherto almost unknown part of the country, abounding in scenery of the most picturesque description. It will afford a sheltered and beautiful drive for visitors and an ample opportunity of recreation for pedestrians. Yet the inhabitants, eager as they may be to secure permanent residents, are apparently as indifferent about the new roads as if they were being formed in Van Dieman's Land. What will induce royalty to repeat its visits to this place if proper care be not taken to make its convenience a first consideration? It is really to be hoped that the inhabitants, though late, will open their eyes to their own interests by liberally supporting improvements which are necessary to the prosperity and even existence of the towns as places of fashionable resort. The mail-coach line is shortened from 2 1/2 to 3 miles on its route to London, and its entry into the country from the north of the Harrow archway is unrivalled in its delightful landscape.
But whatever may have been the apathy of the local capitalists and tradespeople, the road was making progress of some sort, even though its pace was a slow one, and its subsequent difficulties unperceived. There was a Trustees' meeting of the St. Leonards and Sedlescombe road at the Harrow Inn sometime in December, which was presided over by Sir Charles Lamb, and at which the surveyor reported that the whole of the road from St. Leonards to the intended Archway under the old London road from Hastings was formed, and would be opened to the public in the spring; also that the line northward of such archway to a point near Sedlescombe, where the road formed two branches (one to join the direct London road, and the other leading directly into Kent) was progressing, and would be opened in the ensuing summer. Even before that meeting so much of the road was available as to permit the removal of the toll-gate just above the North Lodge, and the last toll on Mr. Burton's road was therefore taken on saturday the 22nd of July, 1837. Against the Surveyor's statement, however, that the entire route would be opened to the public in the following summer, anyone gifted with prevision might have placed a reasonable query. But more of this anon. Meanwhile it may be interposed that, howsoever much the charge of apathy in the matter of improvements might have been justified as against the inhabitants at that period, such a display of indifference can hardly be charged to the faults of a later generation. True, there is an occasional growl, that the public purse is not sufficiently open to public requirements, but any person who has been absent from the locality even half the number of years embraced by the interval, must be astonished at the vast improvements, the great extensions and the multiplicity of facilities which have been accomplished by the energy and capital of the inhabitants. And then, in mere justice to those who have gone before us, it should not be forgotten that their resources, as a whole, were more limited, whilst their views of public requirements were sometimes focalised on other great projects. One of these was the proposed harbour for Hastings, a project which has already been touched upon when describing a similar but smaller scheme for St. Leonards. A meeting was held on the 22nd of August by the promoters of the Hastings harbour, and at that meeting also were Messrs. Planta, North, Hannay, Shadwell and Rankin, who, as members of the old Corporation party, were regarded by the promoters of the harbour as opponents of the same, and as a general drag to the wheels of progress. I have felt it my duty more than once to soften the asperities of such a sweeping accusation, and I still feel that at least, St. Leonards, and, perhaps, Hastings, is better without a harbour than with it. Anyhow, it was shown by some of the gentlemen named that notwithstanding that more than 1700 vessels had been wrecked round the coast during the two years 1833-'35, it had been proved before a select committee of the House of Commons that the commanders of vessels, owing to the exaction of harbour dues, were deterred from making use of harbours of refuge except as quite a last chance of safety. [[Joseph Planta (1787–1847)|Mr. Planta also remarked that he was just then unfortunately not in a position to exercise an influence with the Government, and was therefore unable to do what his colleague perhaps might do. The harbour was, however, strongly advocated by some of the speakers, who pointed out that there was no good harbour between Ramsgate and Portsmouth, a distance of 150 miles. It was ultimately resolved to proceed with the project, and to accomplish it by means of a joint-stock company. Farther on it will be seen how the project fared.
I close my preview of 1837 as pertaining to St. Leonards, with a melancholy event by which a servant of Lady Lubbock met a fatality. The venerable Dowager was invariably kind and generous to all her servants, but had to grieve at the misfortune that befell two of them. In 1834 her coachman committed suicide, through no conceivable cause, and in February of the present year, a female servant fell, by accident or design in a well and was drowned. While in her ladyship's service, Mary Ann Lucas lost her reason through, as was supposed, a love affair, and was placed at the expense of the Dowager with a person named Hyland at Westfield. Notwithstanding that the poor girl was well cared for she was found drowned in a well, and was buried at Westfield on the 28th of February. About 57 years lager, I was able to trace the whereabouts and to obtain a certificate of her burial for her relatives after they had unsuccessfully searched for it at St. Leonards, Hastings, Bexhill, Hollington and other places.
Deaths and Biographic Sketch of Mr. Stephen Putland
If in these historic and biographic sketchs there are occasionally some abrupt transitions from grave to gay and from mirth to sadness, it is less the result of design than of fortuitous circumstances, which sympathetically impel me to "rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep." A considerable number of persons who lived in the pre-St. Leonards epoch have made their exit from this mundane stage since I began my story, and these events have given rise to a series of mournful episodes in the general narrative. But of all those departed spirits there was not one more closely identified with the history of St. Leonards as a whole than his whose earthly tabernacle found a resting place in the Borough Cemetery on the 22nd of February, 1880, when Pg.159 this portion of history was being written. For nearly half a century he had filled, continuously, some public office or offices, and it is probable that in the collective records of the borough the signature of Stephen Putland appears with greater frequency than does that of any other unpaid official. Yet, like many others whose fortunes have been bound up with these towns, Mr. S. Putland was not a native either of Hastings or St. Leonards. He was born at Beckley in 1806, and received his school training - a very limited one - in the contiguous village of Northiam, where he remained until about the year 1820. He afterwards made himself acquainted with road-making and, in 1826, executed a contract at Uckfield. He also consummated a marriage contract in the same year with his cousin, and was soon after that event brought from his business pursuits at Buxted into the neighbourhood of Hastings, near to which town his uncle - a farmer and brick-merchant - resided. In 1830 or there about Mr. and Mrs. Putland took up their abode at Lavatoria (now an extension of Norman road), and in 1831 the cliff eastward of the late St. Leonards Arch was excavated for the site of Adelaide place under Mr. S. Putland's direction. In 1832 and the year following he was elected and re-elected as one of the St. Leonards Commissioners, he having in the mean time resigned the office to undertake and carry out a contract. For the next two or three years he continued to work for the Commissioners, and in 1834 he allowed himself to become disqualified as a Commissioner in consequence. Among the contracts which he thus undertook was one for watering the public roads, another was for drainage work, a third was for sloping and finishing 125 yards of new parade, a fourth was to widen the road near the Fountain Inn, and a fifth for trimming the cliff at East Ascent and planting the slopes with shrubs. About the year 1833 Mr. S. Putland erected some property on his own account in the angle of what were afterwards the London and Norman roads, and in these premises was a room that was used for the first religious meetings of the Wesleyans, with whom Mr. S. Putland was connected. On the 26th of December, 1835, the burgesses of the West ward sent him as one of their representatives to the first sitting of the Hastings Town Council' but as it was his lot to be one of those who had to retire on the first of November in the following year, his re-election was successfully opposed by Mr. Charles Deudney, whose claim to the seat, however, was alleged to be invalid. On the next occasion, Mr. S. Putland was re-instated, and in the mean time - 1836 - he took an energetic part in the erection of the Wesleyan Chapel, in Norman road. He was also a lay preacher, and in consequence of that some of his political opponents represented him as a Wesleyan minister, and urged that he was consequently ineligible for the office of Councillor. Some larger works in road making were next undertaken by the subject of this notice, including the London and other roads leading out of the borough. These contracts and their associations gave Mr. S. Putland some influence among workmen, and being himself a consistent Liberal, he was solicited to second the nomination of Mr. Hollond on the occasion of the general election of 1837. This he did in a well-chosen speech, and had the satisfaction of seeing Mr. Hollond triumphantly elected. After 1837 Mr. S. Putland's business transactions and public services, whilst still, in a subsidiary sense connected with that part of St. Leonards over which the Commissioners had jurisdiction, were primarily attached to the parish of St. Mary Magdalen, and in an especial degree to that portion of it which lay eastward of the Archway. It was there that his family were then located, and it was there that he established himself as a coal-merchant while he still worked as a road-surveyor. He had become by that time an important factor in the calculations of political rivals, and he seemed to have brought all his influence to bear against the opposing influence of Messrs. Deudney, Noon and Troup. Those who, like myself, remember the peculiarities and the unyielding obstinacy of the last-named gentleman, will not be surprised to learn that in 1839 he brought a serious charge against Mr. S. Putland and his colleague, as surveyors of highways, and that he applied to the magistrates for summonses against them, as he insinuated on behalf of the parish. A vestry meeting was convened - an unusually large one for those days - and at which the surveyors were entirely exonerated. An examination of the books showed that instead of the surveyors being indebted to the parish as alleged, the parish was indebted to them.
In the following year a newspaper paragraph informed the public that "Our esteemed townsman, Mr. S. Putland, has received satisfactory instructions in reference to a branch being formed from this borough in connection with the South-Eastern railway." In 1841 Mr. S. Putland interested himself, with a few other persons, to get the St. Leonards Commissioners and Mr. Burton's executors to consent to the opening of a carriage way through Lavatoria, and thus to connect Mercatoria, Maze-hill and the East ascent with Norman road. The effort was wholly successful, and a strip of land was also given up by Mr. Manser by being conveyed to Alfred Burton and Stephen Putland in trust for the public. The improvement thus effected was quite as great a boon to the people of Hastings as to those of St. Leonards, for by its means the brewers, the coal-merchants and other tradesmen of the old town who supplied the upper parts of St. Leonards, were enabled to avoid the long and roundabout distance to those parts via the Marina and East ascent.
Yet, notwithstanding Mr. S. Putland's recognised public services, a strenuous effort was at that time made to prevent his return to the Council by the circulation of a printed bill in which it was alleged that he, a pretended reformer of abuses, had, in common with the rest of the Radicals, neglected every opportunity for improvement unless something was to be got out of it. This ungenerous, not to say slanderous document was, however, inoperative, the subject of its attack being again returned, not only to the Council Board, but also to the Board of Guardians, at which latter the poor not infrequently found in him their best friend. Indeed, to help his fellow creatures when in distress was said to be one of his attributes. A goodly few could be named who in the hour of adversity appealed to him for advice, and were relieved of their embarrassment as far as circumstances would permit. It might happen that the arrangements were not always beneficial to others, but to the adviser in such cases must at least be given the credit of desiring to protect the weak against the strong.
At a meeting of the Board of Guardians in 1849 Mr. S. Putland urged that measures be taken for applying the Nuisance-Removal Act to the several parishes under the control of the Board; and in August of the same year he also advocated the application of the Health of Towns Act to the borough. In 1850 Mr Putland seconded the nomination of Mr. Emary for the civic chair, and commented upon the selecting of the chief magistrates from the middle as well as from the upper ranks. In addition to his being a trustee of the Mechanics' Institution, he was made a vice-president and was one of those who helped to raise the Institution from pecuniary difficulties by purchasing a life-membership. When the Public Health Act was adopted in 1852, and the Town Council became a Local Board of Health to the extinction of the old sanitary Commission, Mr. S. Putland obtained the office of Borough Surveyor, promising that if appointed he would resign his seat and pay the fine of £25. He did not however, retain the appointment very long, as he found that with the rapidly accumulating requirements of the office, together with the calls of his own business, imapired his health, and taxed his time and his energies to a greater extent than could be compensated by the salary of £150 per annum. In 1853 the Hastings and Tunbridge Railway opened, and building operations will in full swing; and as the subject of this sketch was already a timber-merchant as well as a coal-merchant, it may be conceived that both his hands and his head were pretty fully employed; yet he continued to give a large amount of time and attention, both as a Councilman and a Guardian, to public matters. He was by no means avers to improvements in the old town but he was ever a loyal representative of the new; and in 1854, he took part with the Rev. W. W. Hume and other influential inhabitants in opposing the scheme for a cemetery as first proposed by the Council. Also in 1858 he manfully stood up with others for what he considered were the rights and privileges of St. Mary Magdalen, when an attempt was being made to re-name as Hastings that which for six-and-twenty years had been known as St. Leonards. On this occasion his usual genial nature yielded to a righteous impulse, and he boldly accused his opponents of having a desire to blot out the name of St. Leonards. Anxious alike with the other West-ward representatives, to see a more befitting town-hall, and in a more central part of the borough, he strongly recommended the Council in 1851 - as he had previously done in 1849 - to purchase Kentish Buildings as a site for the same. In 1863 Mr. S. Putland took sides with the memoralists for a re-distribution of wards, and in his advocacy of the same he declared that the time must come when the greater rateable value of the two western parishes would so far exceed that of all the other parishes as to demand it. It wanted no very astute foresight perhaps to discern this, but urged on by his sanguine nature, it seemed to be Mr. S. Putland's desire to accelerate it. I remember expressing my dissent from his views when at a sitting of an assessment committee he favoured the raising of the rates, as I thought too extensively. Albeit, the worthy Councillor's prophecy has been well fulfilled in both conditions. Time went on until the November of 1867 arrived, when mr. Putland was elected to the mayoralty and was enabled to gratulate himself on his having attended every meeting. He was then made an Alderman, and in 1873 his selection as a Borough Magistrate received Government sanction. Three years later, on the 3rd of April, Mr. and Mrs. Putland celebrated their golden wedding, but the worthy Alderman had had an apopletic (sic) fit, by which he was so much shaken as to be compelled to withdraw from public life. He had brought up a numerous family, among whom there had been marriages and a second generation of descendants. Some of these, however, had been taken away by death, to which affliction Mr. S. Putland resigned himself with Christian philosophy; but in 1878, the partner of his joys and sorrows was taken from him after a union of 51 years duration; and this last bereavement again very naturally tried the aged gentleman's once robust constitution, and appeared to bring down his grey hairs in sorrow to the grave. But although weak, and not at all like his former self, Mr. S. Putland kept about until 1879, when he was again prostrated by severe illness from which it was thought he could not possibly recover. Yet again he rallied, but remained in a condition of bodily weakness until 1880, when on the 18th of January he drew his last breath, in the 74th year of his age, and with the full hope of a joyous resurrection.
Thus without aiming to give a eulogistic obituary of the late Mr. S. Putland, I have sought merely to place before my readers those facts drawn from person recollection or from my own private memoranda which, while they give an outline of one who raised himself from low estate to a position of honour, show also his connection with the town from its earliest history.
- John Banks - Reminiscences of Smugglers and Smuggling Google Books
- This refers to an, as yet, unidentified marker - Transcribers
- Jingling matches involved a man with a bell round his neck being chased around a field by an army of men with blindfolds. An experienced jingler may lead these men into a merry game of cat and mouse. However, one might have some sympathy for the inexperienced jingler, cantering around a field, jangling away, and being bundled over by an excited mob. - Transcribers
- The exact location of the Priory swamp is undocumented, but most-likely near or on the site of today's Priory Meadow - Editor
Transcribed by Jan Gilham