Brett Volume 3: Chapter XXIX - St. Leonards 1843
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Chapter XXIX - St. Leonards 1843
The Commissioners' proceedings
Mr. Burton asked to open the Archery grounds and Subscription Gardens free to visitors
Remarks on foreshore defences both at St.Leonards and Hastings
Bazaar at the St. Leonards Assembly Rooms and sermons at the churches resulting in £657 for the General Infirmary
The Queen off St.Leonards
A frozen sea
Troup's accusation against the Infirmary management (a stormy meeting and a crowded court)
Efforts to obtain railway accommodation and a day-mail
Renewal of touting
A terrific wind
The comet of 1843 first discovered by the writer of this History
The effects of cemetery visitations treated of
coaches first running to meet the railway at Staplehurst
Fatal coach accident
Oddfellows balls and ornate decorations
Festivities and successions of the Eversfield’s
Samuel Woodgate; J.L. Linney; Mr. Springett; Mr. Shoesmith; Mrs. Peters.
[ 265 ]
A Frozen Sea - Infirmary Affairs - Benefits and Quarrels
I commence a new year, as usual, with a narrative of so much of the Proceedings of the (now defunct) St. Leonards Commissioners as may deemed of public interest. At their March and June sittings there was little transacted beyond the figuring of rates and the summoning of defaulters, but on the 26th of September at a meeting of property-holders (£20 and upwards), Messrs. Frederick North, Hugh Wm. Brown, and Howard Elphinstone were announced as having become disqualified by non-attendance; and Messrs. G. F. Jarman, William Waghorne and John Gill were announced to fill the vacancies. At another ratepayers’ meeting on the 6th of November, a second list of disqualified Commissioners was read by the Clerk (Mr. G. Fraser) and their places filled by Messrs. Jas. Rock, W. D. Davies, S. Chester and Robt. Hollond, M.P. Mr Henry Burton was also elected in the room of Mr. John Ashley Warre. A Commissioners’ meeting followed, when it was resolved that Mr. Burton’s immediate attention be called to the close Proximity of bathing-machines to the Marina houses, a thing which was injurious to the town; and that it be suggested to him that he have them placed as far to the westward as possible. Also resolved on the motion of Mr. Hollond, seconded by the Rev. C. W. Leslie, that it be suggested to Mr. Burton whether it would not be greatly to the advantage of the town if the Archery Grounds and surrounding Park were thrown open to the public, except on prize-shooting days, and to have a notice affixed at the entrance to that effect. Also resolved, on the motion of Mr. Southall, seconded by Mr. C. Deudney, that an arrangement be made, if possible, with the house holders for Visitors to be admitted gratuitously to the Subscription Gardens, it being conceived that a great advantage would thereby accrue to the town.
It was argued that the subject was one of great importance at that time, when more than ordinary efforts were being made at other fashionable resorts to attract visitors. The Clerk reported that the recent storms and high tides had carried away the coping-stones.of the parade-wall nearly opposite to the church, and raked out. the earth from behind the wall. In voting payment of certain interest-money due to Mr. Duckworth, it was moved that he be informed in reply to his suggestion to raise the rates, that for many years past the rates had been already raised to the full amount sanctioned by the Commissioners’ Act. It must have been known by Mr. Duckworth that the Commissioners’ shilling rate on town property and sixpenny on agricultural holdings were ”as regular as clockwork,” and it is probable that his suggestion was for an increase in the scale of assessments. It was, at any rate, so understood by the public, for at the next meeting of the Board several ratepayers, as if anticipating such procedure, applied for a reduction of assessment. This resulted in a decision to reduce the houses in Lavatoria from £11 to £9 each; 5 Mercatoria from £17 to £14, and Mrs. Putland’s cottage near the Fountain from £10 to £8. Another resolution of the Commissioners at their last meeting in 1843 was that the flymen’s application to be licensed be acceded to, and that a committee be appointed to confer with the Hastings Commissioners as to regulating the flys in both towns, and to consider what bye-laws should be made for regulating hackney-coaches, carriages, flys, sedan chairs, horses, asses and mules ‘plying for hire, etc.
There were three or four matters dealt with by the Commissioners in 1843 upon which a few remarks may be made in 1882. In the first place the bathing-machines were to be placed as far to the westward of the houses as possible, which of course meant beyond 81 Marina; the more palatial residences which are now seen in that district not being erected until eight years after. But if it was injurious to the town to have bathing-machines in front of the houses in 1842, how much more injurious ought it to be forty years later when the houses and the machines are in even closer proximity, and cover a space of from two to three miles in extent? Methinks that ideas have changed with the times, and that in the present day the greater injury to the town would be the removal of the bathing-machines to “as far west as possible.”
The next suggestion of the Commissioners — viz., to open the Archery Grounds and Subscription Gardens, had much more to recommend it, but as those ornamental retreats were private property, it was reserved for a later period and for a new order of things to effect the desired change. Nearly four decades of years had come and gone from the time the suggestion was made, when the Hastings Urban Sanitary Authority — as legal successors of the St. Leonards Commissioners—having been memorialised to purchase the Subscription Gardens to save them from being sold for building purposes, acceded to the prayer of the inhabitants by spending £7,000 in: the said purchase, and throwing them open, with all subsequent improvements to the public free of charge. A more beautiful spot than this is not to be found either in or out of the borough; and one cannot help contrasting the place in its cultivated aspect with the same site in days of yore when, in the act of ”nutting,” boys or men would sometimes discover in the ”Tap Shaw” the dead body of a soldier suspended from a tree.
Another matter which occupied the attention of the Commissioners was the partial destruction of the parade-wall by storms and tides. This, as I have previously shown, was no new theme for discussion; it was, indeed, the old, old story, and for the want of necessary funds, if for nothing else, the Commissioners were all but powerless to grapple with it. Their borrowing and taxing powers were equally limited, and hence they could only make a patch-work defence against what was called the encroachments of the sea, but what in reality was the shutting out of the sea from its own domain, In a question of this sort the Hastings Commissioners were also in a similar quandary. The old Battery had been partly destroyed and the shingle of the stade carried away to an alarming extent by the sea, and the question of erecting a stone groyne at the eastern part of the town was debated with much warmth by the advocates and opponents of the scheme, and the same thing is being now done by the Town Council after a lapse of 40 years, That same Council, however, has by an expenditure which the Commissioners could never have ventured upon, protected a vast range of valuable and high-rated property from the ravages of the sea, and at the same time constructed a handsome and commodious parade that is the envy of other watering places. The Corporative body have already accomplished much in the way of sea-defences, and their efforts are now narrowed to a comparatively small area at the Fishmarket. That, in the course of a short time, either with or without a stone groyne, with the help of accumulated shingle, they will achieve success also in that direction is my own belief.
The St. Leonards parochial officers for 1843 were John Painter and Edward Farncomb, overseers; Charles Deudney and Edward Farncomb, highway surveyors; John Painter and Wm. Noon, assessors; Ed. Farncomb and Richard Lamb, assessors for outbounds; Jno. Phillips, vestry clerk; Jesse Marchant, Thos. Brett, Hy. Lamb and George Taylor, parish constables. The vestry meetings were held as usual at the “New England Bank,”
Where sailors, soldiers, smugglers, all
Hob-nob'd in days of yore;
That wayside inn whose site just now
The railway covers o’er.
It was a somewhat curious coincidence that for the year 1843 the highway rates were 4d. and 3d.; the borough-rates, 4d. and 8d.; and the poor-rates 4d. and 3d.
The members of the Town Council for the West-ward (St. Leonards) were Alfred Burton (alderman), Robert Deudney, B. P. Smith, Stephen Putland, C, H. Southall, Jno. Austin, and another whose name is not on my list. Of the East-ward (Hastings) representatives there were W. Scrivens, F. Smith, P. F. MacCabe (aldermen); F. Ticehurst, W. Amoore, W. Ransom, Matt. Kelland, T. Ross, jun., Jas, Emary, W. Duke, G. Clement, Anthony Harvey, W. Ginner, W. L. Yates, and G. Thwaites. The political forces here named were 12 Liberals and 9 Conservatives; Mr. Ticehurst being at that time one of the latter. The Mayor was Wastel Brisco, Esq.
Another coincidence to be added to the many already adduced in the course of this History, is that of the warm discussion over Infirmary matters described in my last instalment, and the no less important discussions over Infirmary matters at the present time of writing, nearly forty years later. As regards the former period, however, I have said that I should have something to relate of a more gratifying character than that which pertained to the disputations and assault case between Mr. Troup and the doctors, and it is this :—
On the 6th and 7th of March an elegant bazaar was got up by some ladies for the funds of the Infirmary, and was held in the St. Leonards Assembly Rooms, the financial results of which were £70 taken at the doors, and £400 at the stalls. A sum of £136 was also collected in the churches, and these several sums, together with £51 from other sources, made up a total of £657, which not only paid the current expenses, but also cleared off a debt of about £97, and left a surplus of £42. The beds were increased from 6 to 12, additional furniture was procured, hot and cold baths were added, 45 in-patients were admitted, and 175 out-patients were recipients of medical attention. One of the cases admitted to the Infirmary was that of a painter in the employ of Mr. Charles Neve. The unfortunate man was at work at 1 Warrior square, when, through the breaking of a ladder, he fell a distance of 20 feet on to the balustrade, and thence to the area below. One leg was fractured, and other severe injuries were sustained. This occurred on the 29th of June, and although it was doubted at the time if the sufferer would ever recover from the effects ot the fall, I believe he‘is alive to this day, 54 years later.
Besides the fancy bazaar that was held in the Assembly Rooms, there were the usual Christmas Ball, the Archery Ball, Race Ball, and the summer Horticultural Exhibition. The last-named event was on the 27th of June; whilst the autumn show of the Society was held on the 12th of September, and in the Swan Assembly-Rooms, Hastings.
While writing of the Assembly Rooms andtheir musical associations, I ought not to forget my old friend George Buckland, who for a short time was organist of St. Leonards church, and for a longer period a musical professor and composer at St. Leonards town. It was on Saturday, September 23rd, that he gave a morning concert which generally gratified and occasionally convulsed with laughter a numerous and fashionable audience. The event is worthy of note, inasmuch as the said George Buckland, 24 years later, paid a visit to Hastings to give an equally enjoyable concert, in which he showed himself as original, as comical, and as vivacious as ever, although age had begun to make inroads on his personal appearance.
It was in the same month (Sept. 12th) that the Queen and Prince Consort were off St. Leonards in the royal yacht Victoria and Albert on their way from Brighton to Bruges, Ghent, Brussels and Antwerp. When off the town, and close to the shore, with the royal standard flying at the main, and the union-jack at the mizen, the yacht lay-to for some time to enable her Majesty to view the house she resided in during her stay at St. Leonards in 1834-5.
Two days later her Majesty's ships of war St. Vincent, Camperdown and Caledonia passed St. Leonards westward from the Downs.
A marine sight of a much less agreeable character was the Ann Veness fishing-boat, belonging to Mr. Winter, from which, when off Verulam place, on its way to Plymouth, one of the men, named Page, fell overboard and was drowned. His body was not picked up until six months after.
Another tale of the sea was that on the second of February, when the cold was so intense that the water froze all along the shore and presented an extraordinary sight. Conger-eels and other fish in great abundance were found dead among the rocks at low water. The greater part of the previous month, however, was of a mild and stormy character, the 12th day bringing with it a terrific hurricane, which tore up large trees by the roots, blew down chimney-stacks and partly divested many buildings of their windows and roofs. The weather generally during the spring and summer was of a fickle and variable character, followed by a very hot and thundery August and a stormy October. A very severe gale occurred during the latter month, one effect of which was the destruction of a large groyne in front of 51 Tower.
A contention of public interest was one which resulted in a trial for assault, and in which the irrepressible James Troup, the founder of Warrior Square, was the complainant. The origin of the dispute was this:— The Governors of the Infirmary held a meeting on the 8th of August, with the Hon, J. Planta, M.P., in the chair. The persons then present (all of whom, have passed the confines of mundane strife) were the Rev. W. Pearce, Dr. Duke, Dr. Harwood, C. Lutwidge, Esq., J. Troup, Esq., C. F. Hardman, Esc., W. Duke (surgeon), G. Duke (solicitor), J. Savery (surgeon), F. Ticehuret (surgeon), C. A. Grenside, Esq., R. Day, Esq., Mr. Southall (librarian), G. A, Murton (chemist), C. Gorringe (chemist), C. Amoore (chemist), C. Deudney (merchant), J. Hart (professor of music) and A. Shirley (hairdresser). The first transaction was the passing a resolution that future annual meetings be held on the first Tuesday in March instead of January; and the next was the appointment of Edward Bowmer as secretary and collector at a salary of £10 per year. It should now be stated that when the Infirmary was opened in July, 1841, it was arranged that the chemists should supply drugs at 2s. 6d. per head per month, as Mr. Murton had previously done to the St. Leonards Dispensary. This system was adopted to obviate the expense of fitting up a dispensarv in the building; but, as Mr. Duke explained it, it was both expensive to the institution and unremunerative to the druggists. It was therefore decided to purchase drugs from the chemists, and have them prepared on the spot by the dispenser. The economy of the latter plan was shown by the fact that whilst the cost in 1842 was £62 10s. 6d., in the subsequent six months it was only £26 18s. 5d. A wrangle then commenced, and during the heated discussion Mr Troup stated that he had received a very intemperate letter from Mr. Duke in reply to one in which he (Mr. Troup) had pointed out that whilst Murton's bill for drugs supplied to 290 patients in [ 266 ]1840 was only £74, the cost at the Infirmary for the same number had been nearly £103. He therefore placed an order in the Visitors’ Book that the rugs in future be purchased from Mr. Johnson, and in such quantities as will command wholesale prices, He admitted that the order was not in conformity with the rules, but it was done to save the funds. It was not acted upon by the medical officers, so on the 12th of June he made another entry in the Visitors’ Book. In addressing the meeting, Mr. Duke contended that a charge had been made by Troup which had not been substantiated, that the medical officers had prescribed improper quantities, from which it might be inferred that they knew nothing about their business. Mr. Gorringe, as a chemist, vindicated the trade from insinuations of high charges, and Mr. Murton did the same. Then, after further personal allusions and recriminations, in which Mr. Troup’s autocratic orders in the Visitors’ Book and his paragraphs in newspapers were condemned, a resolution, moved by the Rev. W. Pearce, was carried, “ hat the entries in the Visitors’ Book reflecting on the decisions of the Committee, as well as drawing invidious distinctions of professional ability, are irregular on the part of a weekly visitor, and that the same be erased.” As already stated, this stormy meeting took place on the 8th August, and it was on the 24th of the same month when the Town Hall was crowded by persons desirous of hearing the charges of assault brought by Mr. Troup against George Prior (the dispenser) Mr. Duke and Dr. Duke. Mr. Langham appeared for the complainant, and Mr. Baker for defendants. The investigation was a long one, Mr. Langham stating the case with his usual legal acumen, and Mr. Baker showing that the whole affair was a fabrication; for vindictive ends. It was proved, however, that during this storm in a tea-pot the dispenser had rudely snatched a paper out of Mr. Troup’s hands, and for this he was fined 20s, with costs while the surgeon and the physician came out of the conflict unscathed.
A large and brilliant Comet - Electric and Magnetic Activity
It happened that a gentleman named Wilson, residing at St. Leonards, had rendered himself obnoxious to boys and hobbledehoys who delight in a ”scrimmage,” and it also happened that the more staid inhabitants did not feel particularly hurt at seeing a ”reconnaissance in force” on a particular night in the month of March. This resulted in an epistle of twelve foolscap pages being sent to the Council, containing charges against the police and the magistrates for not having done their duty on the 28th of March, when a lawless mob of 400 or 500 persons assembled at the Undercliff and burnt an effigy of the writer's son. A magistrate (Col. Jeffries) lived next door, and did not attempt to enforce the law; neither did other magistrates after the outrage was perpetrated make any sign. To this Mr. Deudney remarked that he went by, and instead of their being 400 or 500 persons present there were about 40 boys. Mr. Southall had also witnessed the transaction, and he described Mr. Wilson’s letter as being full of inaccuracies and exaggerations. As might be expected, the Council passed on to other business.
The year 1843 was noted for the efforts that were made to obtain railway accommodation and postal facilities. Alderman Burton at the April meeting of the Council moved that the Postmaster-General be memorialised for a day-mail. No fewer than 320,000 letters, he said, passed through the Post-office from Hastings and St. Leonards during the past year, and he thought that a representation from the Council would have more,weight than the petition previously sent by the inhabitants. The subject was again brought up at the next meeting, when Mr. Emary abruptly terminated the discussion by saying that the Post-office had positively declined to accede to the memorial.
Against the refusal of the Postmaster-General to grant a day-mail there was, of course, no appeal; but as regarded the question of railway accommodation, the townspeople urged their claims with greeter persistency. The South-Eastern Company in their reply to the promoters of a Hastings and Rye branch, stated that they intended to carry out such a scheme, but that just then, with three Bulls already in Parliament, they could not undertake any new project until their works were in a more forward state. This reply did not satisfy the promoters, and it was therefore resolved to carry out the proposal as an independent line. In the mean time the new turnpike road known as the Hawkhurst Junction, was being rapidly proceeded with, and on Monday the 21st of August the men in the employ of the trustees haying cut their way through, a new coach named the Hawkhurst Junction was started from the Swan and Saxon hotels on an experimental trip over the said road to meet the South Eastern Railway at Staplehurst. It entered the new road at Bodiam, and as it passed through Sedlescomb and adjacent hamlets with its red-coated buglemen, and drawn by four noble steeds, the villagers greeted with a loudly expressed welcome the first stage coach ever known to pass that way. The experiment was held to be a success, and in lest than a month the Hawkhurst-junction had attracted a magical popularity. It was still in an unfinished state, yet there were no fewer than three four-horse coaches, an omnibus and a luggage-van, besides post-chaises and private carriages, making use of the road to and from the Staplehurst station, Every train was directed to stop at that station, as the best outlet to St. Leonards and Hastings from London and Dover. The new road also opened up a beautiful part of the country which was previously almost inaccessible.
Apropos of coaches, it may be mentioned that the coach-proprietors Chamberlin, Emary and Hutchings, with their own contributions and collections from other persons, raised the sum of £76 17s. for the widow of Levi Osborne, who, as my readers have been told, was killed by the overturning of a coach near the Saxon Hotel. The poor widow, however, only received the net balance of £6 14s, 10d., the other portion having been paid for funeral expenses, rent, and tradesmen’s claims.
There is still another matter in connection with coaches that ought not to be overlooked. It wilt be remembered that in treating of the events of the preceding year, I described the disreputable system of touting which was prevalent, and the temporary death-blow that was given to it through cases of assault which were taken before the magistrates. But the new mode of travelling by road anu rail appeared to stimulate certain rival tradesmen to & revival of the annoying practice, and this gave rise to the publication of the following lines :—
A touter is a tramping scout—
A lazy, sneaking, hateful lout—
A beggar in disguise;
A fellow who, despising work,
Throughout the town is seen to lurk,
A nuisance to all eyes.
A touter’s practice is to lie,
His neighbour’s name to vilify,
And bully where he can;
With insolence upon his face,
He thinks dishonour no disgrace,
Audacity’s the man.
There have been several occurrences during the year in which I am writing that serve as reminders of similar events in the year 1848, among which are the recent storms and the comet. But first let me state as a corroboration of an editorial in the Hastings News in which it is affirmed that teetotalism has existed in Hastings for at least 43 years, that on Wednesday, the 17th of May, 1843, there was a gathering of teetotallers in the Baptist Chapel, under the presidency of the Rey. Mr. Cramp, when 80 persons partook of tea and several new members were added to the pledge-roll.
On the 12th of January a terrific wind swept over the town and other parts of the south coast, blowing down fences and walls, tearing up a large number of trees, hurling down chimney-stacks, and partially unroofing houses and other buildings. This hurricane was even more severe than that which has recently occurred (Oct. 24th), and nearly equalled in strength that of Nov. 29th, 1836.
Another reminiscence of 1843 is the comet which on favorable opportunities is now (1882) visible from 4 till 6 a.m., and which some astronomers have identified as that which made its appearance so suddenly on the evening of March 17th, 1843. I hope to be free from the imputation of arrogance, or presumption in venturing to put in a claim as the first person in Hastings — and perhaps in England — who discovered the celestial stranger. It was a fortuitous circumstance which placed me in an advantageous position to see in broad daylight what I first imagined was a slowly moving meteor trailing against the sky, but which afterwards burst upon the vision as a large and brilliant comet. In calling at the house of an acquaintance at Cavendish place, I had to pass into a narrow passage which divided two houses known as Isabella cottages, when, casting my eyes upward, as was my wont, I observed a somewhat faint but well-defined streak of light. My friend was not at home, and I therefore hurried away to St. Leonards, but on reaching the Government Ground at the Priory I saw my friend, in company with the late Mr. Giles, an organist, standing upon the new wall which Messrs. Hughes and Hunter had built for the Woods and Forests’ Commissioners, as against the inroads of the sea, and which afterwards was known as Carlisle parade. Here the trio stood for some time, expatiating upon a scene of unusual beauty. The sun was just setting, as it were, behind the South Downs, and the varied soft tints of the sky, graduating from pink to purple, reminded us of some paintings of Italian scenery. At the same time, a broad ray of white light shot upwards from the direction of the sun,which caused me to describe the trail of a large meteor which I supposed I had previously seen. The party separated, but as I resumed my journey westward, I fixed my attention on this luminous streak until I became self-assured that the object was nothing less than a gigantic comet. On reaching what was then 17, but is now 69 Norman road, some young women whose employment was that of making chest-expanders invented by Dr. Harwood, had formed themselves into a group of observers, and were enquiring of every passer-by the nature of the startling object then in full view. Some declared it to be the “ shay” of a great fire somewhere; others opined that it was the reflection of the South-down lime-kilns; but Mr Chandler, a schoolmaster, had settled the question by stating that it was a lunar rainbow. Notwithstanding this absurd dictum of a schoolmaster — the beautifully fine warm air and the position of the moon rendering such hypothesis nugatory — the question was re-opened as soon as I joined the group of enquirers, and the more palpable idea of a comet was received and propagated with avidity. It was on a Friday evening that this great comet first became visible in England, but as news and newspapers did not travel so fast in those days as in the present it was not until the following Sunday or Monday morning that the public could read the letter (along with many other reports from different parts of the country) which I despatched to the London press. It should be here stated that I was still under the impression of having seen a large meteor an hour or two previously, and in something that I have written before this the supposition has. been insisted upon. Of late, however, after a more matured review of the whole circumstances, including the peculiar position from which I viewed the object, and recollecting that the comet had been seen by daylight at the Cape of Good Hope — the report of which had not reached England at the time when the phenomenon was first seen in England — I have arrived at the conception that the supposed meteor-trail was really the comet as seen by myself in broad daylight.
What do we now experience as the apparent effect of cometary visitation? Just that which has so often been noted by careful observers on previous occasions. During September—a warm month, after a cool summer—there was much electric and magnetic disturbance, including earthquakes, volcanic activity, and an unusual number of destructive thunderstorms. Since then we have experienced periods of unusual cold, repeated downpours of rain, intermittent hail and snow in many localities, and floods of extraordinary depth and breadth. These are the usual concomitants of cometary visitation. Mr. Pearce, in his Weather Guide, states that comets have very great influence on the weather; high temperature and dryness being observed to occur coincidently with the approach of large comets, and a re-action on their departure from the solar system. As an instance of this, he points out that in June, 1861, a large comet appeared, and that the average maximum temperature of May, June, July, August and September was 82 degrees, or 10 degrees higher than that for the corresponding months of 1860. Mr. Pearce might also have instanced certain conditions of the weather before and after the presence of the comet in 1864. It was in that year that a small number of persons made use of Mr. W. H. White, a veteran meteorologist, to propagate a new weather theory, the essays and predictions upon which were published in the St. Leonards Gazette, and were, afterwards published, as revised by myself at Mr. White’s request, in a volume of nearly 400 pages, under the title of The Science of the Weather, ”Edited by B.”. I could not agree with some of Mr. White's deductions from erroneous premisses(sic), and some of my criticisms appeared in the said volume, as they had previously appeared in the Gazette as foot-notes. But that which mostly pertains to cometary influence at present under consideration is a private letter to Mr. White, dated August 23rd, 1864, a copy of which is before me, and from which I extract the following sentences:—
“It appears, my dear sir, that you have forgotten to take into account the effects of the comet, now receding from the Sun and Earth — a point on which you have yourself dwelt before now, when refuting the statement of Mons. Arago that comets have no influence or the weather, and in reitering(sic) your own statement that ‘a violent meteoric action is said by astro-meteorologists to predominate during cometary visitations, manifesting itself in heat and drought as comets approach the sun; and in cold, wet, storms, earthquakes, &c., during their presence and on their departure from our system.’ Now I have been telling the folk hereabouts that the weather would remain hot and generally dry until after the perihelion passage of the comet on the 16th inst., when a re-action would ensue in a period of wet and cold. This has really been the case, and to such an extent as to become a topic of general conversation. .... Again, let me say that the comet has had much to do with the late heat and dryness, as well as with the present cold and wet. Up to the 16th inst., as I pre-intimated, we had generally warm weather, but on the 17th, the day of the Grand Archery Meeting, the weather changed to a wintry temperature. . . . On Sunday again the air was very cold, and at the time I am writing to you the cold rain and wind from the east which continued all day yesterday and throughout the night,threatens an intensified continuance.”
I have dwelt on cometary influence because of the similarity of coincidences at the time I am writing with those which have been observed before as constituting what may be regarded as cause and effect. When the present comet was approaching the sun in 1843 — if it be the same comet — there was much mild and stormy weather in January and February, and on its recession there followed a very fickle, showery and unsettled summer. But perhaps one of the most noteworthy instances of support to the theory here advanced was that in connection with the magnificent comet of 1811. I possess a record of many interesting features of that year, both of a local and general character, which on a future occasion may find a place in this history, but I will now conclude this subject by merely noting the fact that during the presence of that comet the heat exceeded that of any similar period for many years, that even in November the gardens were decked with blossoming trees as in May, and that the comet's departure was followed by a very cold, stormy and ungenial spring and summer: the reaction thus commenced culminating in the winter of 1813-14 with terrific gales, extraordinarily high tides and severe frosts. During that winter the old Battery at Hastings was undermined, the stade greatly torn up, and the Elizabethan pier-piles and cross-ties laid bare to an extent said to have seen never before, end certainly never since, equalled. The Priory brooks were covered with water and frozen over on the 10th of January, while a fair was held on the Thames, and the snow in some parts of Kent and Sussex was from 10 to 16 feet deep.
In the enumeration of parochial officers for 1843 I find that I only gave those for St. Leonards parish and consequently omitted those of St. Mary Magdalen. The latter were George Voysey and John Carey, overseers; John Austin and Nelson Andrews, highway surveyors; William Noon and Newton Parks, assessors; John Austin and Stephen Putland, lighting inspectors; and John Phillips, vestry-clerk.
The lighting-rates as then levied by the parish were severally 4d. and 5d. in the £; the poor-rates, two in number, were 6d.; and for watering the roads between White Rock and the Archway the sum of £35 was voted to be paid out of the highway rate. It was in that year that an Act, passed in the reign of George III, was adopted at a vestry meeting to assess owners instead of occupiers, whose rent was between £6 and £20 per annum. The vestry-meetings were usually well-attended, the number of parishioners present being on some occasions as many as from 30 to 40, which with the then comparatively scarce population were in excessive proportion to the numbers at the meetings of later times. It afforded a little amusement, however, to see that a considerable number who were not over proud of their calligraphy invariably walked off at the conclusion of the business without subscribing the minutes. I am not aware that there was any special feature of interest in the year’s transactions except a legal contention between the overseers of St. Mary Magdalen and those of Shepton Malet(sic). On behalf of the former, Mr. Voysey was requested to go to Portsmouth to obtain evidence of Michael Perfect’s settlement there. An order for removal being subsequently obtained, 1t was appealed against, whereupon our home authority gave instructions to defend the action and to employ Counsel to argue the case. I forget what was the result, but as the family (Perfect by name and imperfect in behaviour) continued to reside at St. Leonards, it is probable that the appellants were successful. [ 267 ]
The Eversfields - The Commissioners - The Overseers, &c.
Among the festivities of the year was the third annual ball of the Adelaide Lodge of, Oddfellows, an event which increased in importance from year to year until it came to be regarded as one of the town’s most enjoyable gatherings. Of this I shall have more to say further on. The particular ball now referred to was not held in the Assembly Rooms as were those of later years, but in the Lodge-room of the Warrior's Gate Inn, a very different house to the one now existing; and how, on the 16th of February, 1843, sixty persons could find space for their terpsichorean exercises, seems to strike one as a sort of puzzle.
There was a friendly rivalry between the Oddfellows of St. Leonards and those of Hastings even in the matter of dancing, the Adelaiders and the Victorians competing with each other for ornate display and an exchange of courtesies. The ball of the Victoria Lodge was held on the 17th of April, and was very fully attended. It is rather singular that whilst for several years a Hastings band was engaged for the St. Leonards ball, a St. Leonards band occupied the orchestra for the Hastings ball; so that the exchange of amenities extended even to the musical appointments.
Another annual ball was that which took place at the St. Leonards Assembly Rooms on the evening of the second race-day, September 21st There was not a very grand muster on that occasion, there being just then a paucity in the elite constituent of the community. From the same cause the Races were thinly attended; and, as though such conditions exerted an influence upon the horses, the racing was of an inferior character. It was said that the best part of the two days’ performance was that of the united bands of Hastings and St. Leonards, which played for the first time the original polka just introduced as a musical novelty, and repeated by request. With this exception, the two bands performed alternately, one under the leadership of Mr. Elliott and the other under that of Mr. Elford. The race- course was still in the Filsham valley at Bopeep.
Another annual ball was the one in connection with the Royal St. Leonards Archers, after the Grand Prize-meeting on the 17th of August, and at which, as was customary, the prizes were distributed. On this occasion the winners of the Royal Victoria prizes were Miss Mackay and Miss K. A. Wood, and G. W. Willis, Esq., and Capt. Norton. Miss Mackay also won the gold bracelet presented by her Majesty, while Mr. Willis carried off the silver cup.
Apropos of silver cups, I am reminded that an elegant silver tea-service was presented to the Rev. A. Peat, then residing at St. Leonards, as a testimonial from the parishioners of Lambeth.
The next event of a festival character was celebrated at Horsham, but so associated with the history of St. Leonards was it as to deserve a passing notice. For several generations the greater part of the land in the parishes of St. Leonards and St. Mary Magdalen — including the entire site on which the town of St. Leonards now stands — has been successively in the possession of Sir Charles Eversfield, Wm. Eversfield, Esq. (W. Markwick, a son-in-law, taking the name and estate), Chas, Eversfield, Esq., Chas. Eversfield’s trustees, and Charles Gilbert Eversfield, Esq. Their residence was at Horsham, and for three generations the Deudneys - Thomas (who came from Horsham in 1750), Charles, and Robert - have been successively the local agents.for the Eversfields. The festivity to which I am now referring took place at Horsham on the 7th of October, 1843, when Charles Gilbert Eversfield attained his majority and feasted all the children of Horsham, together with 70 work-people, cottagers, &c., on his estate. A dinner was also given to about 80 tradesmen. Even the prisoners in Horsham gaol were not forgotten; and this last act of generosity 80 warmed up the gratitude of the inmates as to fire the muse of one of them to the following strain:—
Though distant from us,
Yet our spirits are with thee;
The kindness of thy tender mother
Fills our heart with utmost glee.
Though inmates of a debtors’ prison,
Her Christian love hath entered here;
Her kind and lib’ral hand has given
Plenty on our board to cheer.
Oh! may the son be like the mother !
Tread her path in future life!
And when in Hymen’s bonds united,
Find a mother in a wife !
As on this day your boyhood’s over,
Bud full blossomed in the man,
May blessings from above descending,
Kindly lengthen out life’s span!“
I intended before this To have again entered into an enumeration of the additional house property and its inhabitants, with the object of showing the increase of each since my last description; but it will be convenient to defer this & little while longer. may mention, however, that of the haut ton of St. Leonards in 1843 were Sir Joseph and Lady Littledale, Sir E. and Lady Paget, Lord & Lady Marsham (Adelaide house), Lord Faversham, Lady Hanbury, Dowager Countess Sefton, Count Metaxa (34 Marina) Baron Alderson (Warrior square), Dowager Lady Lubbock (52 Marina), Gen. Mead (Victoria Hotel), Dowager Lady Howden (54 Marina), etc., etc.
The last-named gentleman, who occasionally resided in St, Leonards for many years, and was sometimes almost the only visitor at the hotel, invariably gave a liberal donation to whomsoever played “St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning” under the window of his sleeping apartment on the morning of St. Patrick’s Day. It was to the present writer’s profit to administer to this whim of the old General’s for several years, and as it was not always possible to get the members of an organised band together at so early an hour of the day, the gratuity was never withheld even if the performers consisted only of a couple of flautists and a drummer. When at St. Leonards, it was also the General’s custom to dine every evening with his sister, Lady Howden, whose butler was a Mr. Gower, afterwards a lodging-house keeper at Grand parade, and whose tall footman was a Mr. Hebden, also a lodging-house keeper in the same locality. It used to be said of the latter that he sold his pension to the son of Lady Howden. If this were true, it was, probably, to enable him to take the house and furniture for his new undertaking.
But there is something more to be told of Lady Howden. Her sympathies were so wrought up by the exertions of a pedestrian named Giyde, whom, Her ladyship regarded as being so greatly distressed by the feats which he undertook she gave him a sum of money to relinquish them, That he ceased his walking and running matches in the direction of the Marina is very probable, but that he relinquished the practice altogether is not so likely. He turned his feet, however, another way, as when, on the 30th of May, 1843, he undertook on a wager to run four miles in 26 minutes, the ground being a measured mile from Mitchell’s (afterwards Hempsted’s) Corner, London road, to the Royal Oak, Castle street. Glyde won his wager on this occasion, with a minute of time to spare. Shortly after this success, St. Leonardensis had the courage or audacity to try conclusions with this professional athlete over a portion of the same ground, and carried off the laurels. And here it may be remarked, as showing the self-control of Glyde’s victor, that although the latter’s friends offered on several occasions to back him for considerable sums against any comer in a walking or running match, St. Leonardensis was too chary of so easily acquired notoriety and its associations to accede to the oft-repeated proposal. Since then it has been enough for him to know that he has never yet been beaten in any one of the numberless little spurts at the instance of some casual and silent challenge during a subsequent period of 40 years. The moral of this little display of egotism is, Never let your ability to excel in a doubtful pursuit draw you away from better purposes or fixed intentions on a course of greater usefulness.
On the 5th of January an incident occurred over which the gossip was only equalled by the surprise A sister of Miss W- at St. Leonards, was seen to walk deliberately into the sea and lie down, apparently to drown herself. Some of Mr Rock's men at the White rock coach works rushed and pulled her out and carried her to the Pelham Arms Inn. She begged of her rescuers not to thwart her intention. It was never publicly known why the rash act was attempted, but it is satisfactory to know that the subject of it afterward lived to a very advanced age.
|"Brett annotates alongside the text below to the Obituaries section as "This should be 1844, it being respected under its proper date". The text is indeed, largely repeated in Chapter 31. It has been left in this position in order to maintain a faithful transcription - Transcriber|
The Commissioners, with the view of securing greater efficiency in the management of the fire engine, resolved — That notice be put up that the key of the engine-house can be obtained at Mr. Naish’s, in the Victoria Mews, and at the South Lodge; that the distance of fire-plugs be painted on the nearest walls; that a crow-bar and pole-axe be provided; that a dozen torches be kept in readiness for the use of the firemen when called out in a dark night; that a duplicate implement be provided for turning-on water in the absence of the turncock; that Mr. Chamberlain be paid £13 17s. for rent of the engine-house & that Mr. Naish be paid £4 14s. for past services, and that he receive £5 per year in future on the understanding that the engine be exercised not fewer than four times 8 year. — The further transactions of the Commissioners were comprised in the following summary: — The usual twice-a-year rate of 1s. on town property and 6d. on agricultural was, of course, levied on owners or occupiers, and the stereotyped order given to summons all defaulters_ if demands were not complied with in a reasonable time. Unfortunately for both parties, the reasonable time was never well defined, it being variously contracted and extended.
The question of a sinking-fund was re-introduced by the Clerk for the ninth or tenth time, but no motion made thereon. Unsuccessful negociations(sic) with replicants to six advertisements in the Times for loans at 4 per cent. were brought to a close, and the advertisements were ordered to be repeated, 1t being desired to pay off the existing bondholders and reduce the cost of interest. A loan of £2,500 at 44 per cent. and an additional loan at the same rate haying been offered by Capt. Style, the said offers were declined, and the Clerk was ordered to make further efforts, but not incur any further expense. In consequence, however, of the death of the the Commissioners’ Clerk (Mr. George Fraser) this duty devolved on his successor (Mr. Wm. Markwick Burton). A draft was to be given for the Clerk’s salary as soon as funds would admit of it, and a similar process was to be observed for the payment of interest to bondholders.
The overseers appointed for St. Leonards were John Painter and Edward Farncomb; the surveyors were Charles Deudney and Edward Farncomb; the assessors were William Noon and Newton Parks for the inbounds, and Edward Farncomb and Richard Lamb for the outbounds; the vestry-clerk was John Phillips. The parochial business of that year was strictly of a routine character, the greatest item of public importance being the levying of two poor rates at 3d., two borough-rates at 3d., and one highway rate at 3d.; which, with the Commissioners’ two rates at 1s., brought up the total of the year’s rating for that parish to 3/3 in the £. It may be mentioned that a threepenny rate at that time realised about £52.
The overseers appointed for St. Mary Magdalen were George Roberts and John Peerless; the surveyors were John Austin and Nelson Andrews; the assessors were William Noon and Newton Parks, The rates for the year were two for the poor at 6d., two for the borough at 3d., and one for the highways at 3d.; total 1/9 for that portion of the parish eastward of the Archway, or 3/9 for the property in the western portion as far as the Victoria Hotel, where the two parishes joined. The average attendance of parishioners at the vestry meetings was about a dozen. The committee appointed for revising the assessment consisted of George Voysey, Stephen Putland, Wm. Noon, John Peerless, James Troup and Charles Neve. The report of this committee was adopted, At one of the meetings it was resolved that the Vestry-clerk give notice to the Trustees of the Magdalen Chanty Lands that it is the intention of the parishioners to enforce their claims and interest as they may be legally advised. At the next meeting, Mr. T. B. Baker was appointed Vestry clerk, and the overseers were desired to take his opinion respecting the rating of the Magdalen turnpike gate and other property.
On the 20th of February a meeting of the owners and occupiers of property in the parishes of St. Leonards and St. Mary Magdalen was held in the Assembly Rooms, with Major Jeffries presiding, when resolutions were passed in favour of the projected Brighton, Lewes and Hastings Railway; but in opposition to this, another meeting was held, three days later, to promote a line in a different direction, whose terminus should be at Hastings instead of St. Leonards. The ball of rivalry was thus again set rolling between the two towns, not to be stopped in this instance until both parties could claim the winnings.
The second meeting was held in the Town Hall, Hastings, the Mayor (Dr. MacCabe) presiding. Excuses for non-attendance were read from the Borough Members (Planta and Hollond), the first on the score of illness, and the second through “ inability.” These gentlemen had been previously requested by the St. Leonards Commissioners (of which Board they had both been members, and one still held office) to support in Parliament the Bill for the Brighton line. They therefore knew of the rivalry of the two towns; and they also knew of the Duke of Wellington’s desire, for military eventualities, to have railways round the coasts. In not attending the Hastings meetings the Borough Members doubtless thought discretion the better part of valor. The Mayor having expressed his disappointment, Mr. North moved and Mr. Staines seconded, "That a railway communication between London and Hastings is desirable, and likely to prove highly advantageous to the borough and its neighborhood.” This being carried, Mr. Fearon said he represented the “Hastings, Rye and Tenterden Railway,” and also the Board of Directors of the South-Eastern Company, of which latter board there were four members present; namely, Major-Gen. Hodgson, Mr. Hankie, Mr. Lewis Cubitt and Mr. Stewart. They were, he said, going to take the line in their own hands, and were determined to back it with all their strength. Mr. Lucas-Shadwell then moved, and Mr. Ginner seconded, “That this meeting having had under consideration the two lines of railway projected between London and Hastings, and now before Parliament, the one having its terminus in the parish of St. Mary-in-the-Castle, and the other in St. Leonards, is of opinion that the Hastings, Rye and Tenterden Railway, as being the nearest to London and passing through the most populous district, is the best adapted to meet our interests.”
It was next moved by Mr. Langham,and seconded by Mr. Phillips, ”That this meeting pledges itself to support the Hastings, Rye and Tenterden Railway, as opposed to the Brighton, Lewes and Hastings line, by all the means in its power.”
Then commenced the real tug of war. In the densely crowded hall there were persons from the western part of the borough who had no objection to a railway communication with Hastings in addition to the one projected to St. Leonards. Some of them, indeed, rejoiced in the prospect of having two lines instead of one coming to different parts of the borough; but when Mr, Langham’s strongly-worded motion was made, “as against,” &c., signs and expressions of dissent were used by those who were present from the district within and without the St. Leonards Archway. they were told, however, by Mr. Langham that they had no lucas standi, for although living in the borough, they were out of the township of Hastings, and were not of those who signed the requisition for the meeting to be convened. This ruling war practically remembered, some years later, when a forcible but unsuccessful attempt was made to bring a portion of the said district under the designation “ Hastings.”
The St, Leonards party were naturally jubilant at the receipt of intelligence that the Bill for the Brighton and Hastings line had passed a second reading on the 19th of March, and were still more elated to find its third reading effected on the 23rd of May, the same to be fully established on the 29th of July. On the evening after the third passing, a band was engaged by the people of St. Leonards to parade the town, with flags and banners, and afterwards to proceed to Hastings, there to enliven the good folk with demonstrations of the happy event. It was said that one effect produced in the old town — an exceptional one, it may be believed - was to cause a chemist to close his shop, he stating as a reason that the Hastings people had had so strong [ 268 ]a dose as to not require any other medicine for at least a fortnight.
Be it said, however, that, like men who could wisely accommodate themselves to accomplished facts, many of the influential residents of the old joined those of the new in a grand dinner at the St. Leonards Assembly Rooms on the 18th of September, to celebrate the passing of the Bill. Included with these were Dr. MacCabe (Mayor), C. Hicks, Esq., (Mayor of Rye), R. Hollond, Esq., M. P. H Elphinstone, Esq., M. P. J. Nash, Esq., (Chairman of the Railway Company), A. R. Briggs, Esq., Lieut-Col Williams, C. E., Capt. Mackay, James Troup, Esq., and about 100 other persons. Mr. Hutchings of the Saxon was the caterer, and Mr. Elford's band performed the music.
After this, two other meetings were held before the close of the year, to receive reports of the committee appointed to watch the progress of the South Eastern Company's Bill through Parliament.
Obituaries of Samuel Woodgate - E. A. Springett and William Shoesmith
Among the deaths recorded in Brett's Gazette of April 7th 1883 are those of several old inhabitants, and as it has formed part of my purpose to notice such as transpire concurrently with the time of writing, it thus behoves me, ere I further proceed with the historical details, to refer to at least three persons whose deaths are announced in the obituary column of the Gazette, The first is Mr. Samuel Woodgate, whose death took place on Tuesday last, and whose two surviving sisters and himself formed the oldest trio among the St. Leonards inhabitants. Mr. Woodgate would have reached the age of 81 years in July next, whilst the Misses Woodgate, I believe, are in their 88th and 86th year, respectively. The elder Miss Woodgate came to St. Leonards as maid to a lady named Bignell, in 1829 — one year after the town was begun. Miss Bignell and her maid occupied one wing of the North Lodge, while Mr. Thomas How occupied the other. In 1830 or '31 Miss Bignell and Miss Woodgate removed to 8 Marina (now known as the South Colonnade), and after Miss Bignell’s death Miss Woodgate took 19 and 20 Marina to conduct as lodging-houses, and where for at least forty five years she has remained. It was during her residence with Miss Bignell at North Lodge, and, consequently, before 1830, that her brother Samuel came to St. Leonards. As the finished houses were few in number, and the work-people had difficulty in getting a home nearer than Hastings or Bexhill, Mr. Woodgate was fortunate enough in finding one at North Lodge; and as showing the condition of the town at that time it may be mentioned that on Sundays Mr. Woodgate was accustomed to drive Miss Bignell over rugged roads and no-roads to the church of St. Mary-in the-Castle at Hastings, there being at the time neither church nor chapel at St. Leonards. At a later period the subject of this sketch was to be seen actively making his way as & carpenter and upholsterer, first by himself, then in partnership with Mr. How, and afterwards by himself again. The deceased was never solicitous of public office or honours, for on being chosen a member of the St. Leonards Commissioners in 1866, he allowed himself to become disqualified in the following year; preferring, perhaps, to serve both the Board and himself, as he had sometimes done, by accepting contracts. He was, however, an overseer for St. Mary Magdalen in 1852, and a member of the Assessment Committee in 1854 and 57. At 17 or 18 Marina was the widow Elizabeth Syrus, who, with her husband, had previously lived, respectively, as housekeeper and butler in the service of Lady Lavender at Hampton Court. Mr. Syrus was in delicate health, and did not live long after taking the house at St. Leonards. In course of time his widow was married to Mr. Woodgate, and the two lived happily together until the 19th of May, 1865, when Mrs. Woodgate was taken away by Death in her 65th year. Mr. Woodgate very naturally felt the loss of his partner, which, with increasing age, materially modified the business energy which he had theretofore displayed. This was further observed about three or four years ago, when his two nephews — engaged in the business — were taken away somewhat suddenly, and after which event the old gentleman became quite an invalid. After confinement to his bed for about seven weeks, Mr. Woodgate died, as before stated, on the 3rd of April, in his 81st year. His remains will be interred on Monday in the family vault at the Borough Cemetery.
J. L. Linney
The next person whose death is the occasion for a few remarks is the late John Lewis Linney. As an octogenarian he was even the senior of Mr. Woodgate, but he was not a townsman of so long a standing. I first knew Mr. Linney about the year 1857, when, in association with Mr. Horner, he took the bookselling and stationery business at 9 Robertson street which had been previously carried on by Max. Edward Pierce. Near the close of 1860 Mr. Linney succeeded Mr. Diplock at the Marine Library, while Mr. Horner, with the assistance of Mr. Giles, continued the business at 9 Robertson street. At a later date — about 1865 or '6 — Mr. Linney removed his business to 9 Breeds place, and afterwards, opened a shop in London road, St. Leonards, which is now conducted by his daughters. It was here, after spending some years of a more rural life at Pevensey, the old gentleman died on Monday last, in his 82nd year. Mr. Linney was a member of the Society of Friends, and was of a particularly quiet demeanour.
The next noticeable death is that of Mr. Edward Alldridge Springett, of St. John’s road and Norman road, St. Leonards. The deceased was a saddler and harness-maker by trade, and was a son of Mr. Robt. Springett, who carried on the same sort of business at 5 Castle street, Hastings, in the old coaching days. The deceased tradesman was & man of good business habits; industry, punctuality and probity being leading features in his character. He was a comparatively young man, having only turned the age of 46, when, after 2 few days' illness from a bronchial attack, his existence terminated. He leaves a widow, put no family, to mourn his loss; and we have reason to believe that his death is deeply regretted by many with whom he was acquainted.
The oldest inhabitant was William Shoesmith, familiarly known as “ Daddy,” and who has died at the patriarchal age of ninety-five years and seven months. About six weeks ago Mr. Shoesmith, was seized with a paralytic fit, which rendered him all but speechless, and caused.a cessation of his customary daily walks about the town. On Thursday week, while attempting to go down stairs at his lodgings, he fell head-foremost to the bottom and sustained a severe wound, from the effects of which he died on the following Sunday. Mr. Shoesmith was a native of Bexhill, and in his younger days was a “ fair trader,” or, in other words, a smuggler. He was also at one time employed in the Battle Powdermills; and if such employment happened to be between the years 1811 and 1817, it might be that he was one of the fortunate men who escaped harm by explosions which were no fewer than six in as many years, But William Shoesmith’s more regular occupation was that of an agricultural labourer, in which capacity he worked separately for Mr Wm. Farncomb and his son Edward, of Filsham; Mr. Pocock and Mr Cooke, of Crowhurst; Mr. —— of Pett; and Mr. S, Putland and Mr. F. Tree, of St. Leonards. When about the age of 68 he cut more corn for Mr. Tree in a given time than any of the younger reapers. Soon after the founding of St. Leonards, Mr. Shoesmith was employed as beadle for the parish of Hollington, together with the outbounds of St. Leonards and St. Mary Magdalen. At a vestry meeting of the last-named parish on the 2nd of April, 1833, the sum of three pounds was voted to be paid to Hollington parish for the services of William Shoesmith as beadle for the next year. In the following year it was arranged that the money paid to Hollington for Shoesmith’s services should be taken from the highway rate, and that three tradesmen should be appointed special constables as a more efficient police, together with a fourth person whose stipend should be £4 per year In 1837 notice was given to Hollington parish that no more money would be contributed to Shoesmith’s salary as beadle; and hence, so far as concerned the town his services would cease. At some time subsequent to that year, while in the employment of Mr. Edward Farncomb as a carter, the subject of this notice was suddenly confronted with religious convictions, which, as he has told me, determined him to at once forsake the evil propensities and training of his earlier life, that he might im the future be prepared to meet death without fear whenever it should come upon him. He connected himself with the St. Leonards Wesleyans, and afterwards with the Temperance party, and to these bodies he has been ever since attached with unfailing fidelity. He was not a man of great intelligence, but his earnestness made him demonstrative, sometimes even to a fault; yet he was very much a favourite with those around him. His wife and a daughter having died many years ago, and his other only daughter living far away from St. Leonards, the old man provided Himself lodgings with another family. His great age has long precluded him from work, and he has therefore eked out his existence with the help of his religious and teetotal friends, together with a small pittance from the Guardians. His remains have been borne to their resting place in the Cemetery at the voluntary cost of those friends, who, it is said, intend also to erect stone to his memory. I have stated that Mr. Shoesmith was a native of Bexhill, and I may add that he was one of a family noted for longevity. A Joshua Shoesmith, born in 1753, lived to the age of 88; Hannah Shoesmith born in 1763, lived to the age of,90; Sarah Shoesmith, born in 1764, lived to the age of 87; Thomas Shoesmith, born in 1778, died at the age of 86; Stephen Shoesmith, born in 1791, lived to the age of 88; and William Shoesmith (the subject of this notice) born in 1787, has reached the age of 96 ‘Thus it will be seen that these six members of the Shoesmith family made up a total life of over 63) years, or an individual average of 89 years.
Another nonogenerian and old inhabitant of St. Leonards was Mrs. Peters, who departed this life on the 1st of December, in the 91st year of her age, Eliza Peters was the widow of Mr. John Peters, who many years ago kept the Hare-and-Hounds Inn as a licensed victualler, She was also a sister of Mr. John West, formerly a farm-bailiff, who also died at St. Leonards. Mrs. Peters died at 21 North street, St. Leonards, where she had resided during the last twenty-one years. Beyond the interest which might be felt in a person of such. advanced age, I am not aware that the life of the old lady was anything more than ordinarily eventful.
- An explanation of old currency and coinage may be found at the following website Pre-decimal currency, accessdate: 16 June 2022