Brett Volume 3: Chapter XXXVIII - Hastings 1847

From Historical Hastings

Transcriber’s note

Chapter XXXVIII - Hastings 1847

Death roll of 1846
Relief for the Irish
Daniel O'Connell at Hastings
Fairs and festivals
Borough Election
Carly and Harvey's election tricks
Memoirs of Carly and his family
Election of Hollond and Brisco
A gorgeous chairing
The "Blue Pill" election squib
Elphinstone’s resignation of Lewes
Hastings prosperous in 1847
Establishing a savings bank and a proprietary school
A new Town Hall mooted
The local, Bands of both towns
Also a popular nigger band
George Colbran, the veteran gaoler
Numerous sudden deaths
A gay wedding
Cooke's circus and Wombwell's menagerie side by side
Reminiscence of Cooke's establishment in 1823
Stage-coaches taken off
East Hill House and memoirs of its owners and occupiers from 1761 to 1888 (two pictorial sketches).

[ 300 ]

Death Roll of 1846 - O'Connell at Hastings

Having, in the preceding chapter interpolated some reminiscences evoked by the death of Mrs. Robert Hollond, in association with 1847, I was reminded by "A Constant Reader" of the Gazette that the death roll of 1846 had not been produced in conformity with preceding years. The omission was accidental, and is here repaired. The list, as will be seen, is alphabetically arranged. contains the ages at the time of death, the month (and day where known) of each death, and the places/of sepulchre. These last include, not only the burial grounds of St. Leonards, St. Clement’s, All Saints, St. Mary-in-the-Castle and Halton, but also those of Bexhill, Fairlight and Ore. The list, like those of previous years, being limited to my own means of information, is necessarily incomplete, although perhaps less so than that which any other person might deem it convenient to employ time and energy to produce. Several circumstances of public interest connected with the lives of some of the departees might be narrated, but I content myself with the interpolation of only a few.

Ashdown, Caroline Amelia, 26 yrs., July, All Saints.
Balkham, Stephen Elias, 4 years, June, St. Lds,
Bartram, Fanny, dau. of Geo. and Eliz., 2 months, Aug. 27, Halton.
Bazinglington, Miss Anne, 86, Dec. 13, St. Clements.
Bird, Sarah, eldest dau. of Robert S., 58, Oct. 7, St. Mary’s.
Breach, Mary Archibald, second wife of Wm., 61, April 17, St. Clement’s.
Braye, Cecil Hubert, October 20, St. Mary’s.
Bumstead, John, 56, August, All Saints.
Burton, Mary Ann, of Bulverhithe, 22 years, Nov. St. Leonards.
Chandler, Chas. Fredk., 14 mos, October, St. Lds.
Chatfield, Mary, 90. March, Bexhill.
Crouch, Mary, 88, April, Bexhill.
Dutton, Mary, 69, Oct. 3!, All Saints.

Miss Mary Dutton was the twin sister of Martha, who died in 1821, the relative of James, the well known surgeon, of High street, in whose death the poor lost a good friend, and whose father was also surgeon at Hastings for many years.

Dabney, Elizabeth, 34 years, May, All Saints.

A descendant of one of the French Huguenots, whose original name was d’Aubigne or d’ Aubignee. Many such refugees located themselves in Rye and Hastings at the time of their expulsion.

Easton, Maynard, 89, November, Bexhill.
Ellis, Charles, of Southwark, 36, Oct. 18, St.Mary’s.

Elphinstone, Major-Gen. Sir Howard, 73, Ore.

Sir Howard Elphinstone was the owner and occupier of Ore Place from 1821 till his death, he having succeeded Mr. Lucas-Shadwell), the successor of General the Hon, James Murray), and preceded Mr, Pannel (the predecessor of Mr. Spalding).

Everest, John, 21 vears, July, St. Leonards.

The present writer was once a pedagogue, and in 1840, John Everest was one of his evening pupils, He, by some moans, accidental or otherwise, broke a pane of glass in the schoolroom, and was strongly advised by a schoolfellow not to pay for it Overhearing the advice thus proffered, I spoke of the want of morality and honesty in him who gave it, and told Everest if he would purchase the glass (which I believe cost ninepence) I would put it in for him. For this he was grateful. Five or six years later, I was accosted, on the Marina, by a young man whom I did not recognise, but whose slender frame, feeble gait and pallid countenance arrested my attention. “I see you do not know me,” he said, “and I do not wonder at it. Well, then I am the John Everest who was once your scholar, and to whom you behaved kindly, whilst you gave me a moral lesson that I have never forgotten. I have often thought of you, and especially during my illness. I have come home to die, and am glad to have had this opportunity of expressing my gratitude for all that you taught me.”

Farcey, Edward Ward, 6 weeks, June, St. Leonards,

Farnley, Eliz., wife of Rev. T., 36 years, Feb. 15, St. Mary’s.

“Whose great beauty and elegance of person,” we are assured by the memorial inscription, “ were set off and enhanced by the more valuable graces and ornaments of a truly Christian life and-conversation, She was exemplary in the discharge of every duty, devout towards God, a good wife, a tender parent, and the friend of the poor.”

Foord, Edward, 21 years, October, All Saints.
Foord, John, 81 years, March, Bexhill.
Friend, Harriet, 17 days, October, St. Leonards,
Gallop, George, 2 years, July. St. Leonards.
Gallop, Thomas, 63 years, April, All Saints.
Gibbs, Ann, 31 years, February, All Saints.
Godding, John, 13 months, September, St. Leonards.
Hales, Mrs. Eliz Harriet, 70 years, Jan. 26, All Saints.
Heath, Emily, dau. of Rev. Robert, May, St.Mary’s.
Heavens, John, 33 years, April, St. Leonards.
Holt, Benjamin, 24 years, Aug. 27, St, Leonards.
Hooper, William John, 9 weeks, May, St. Leonards.
Hore, Richard, 86 years, July 15, All Saints.
Hunter, Robert, 49 years, Aug. 24, St. Mary's.
Hyland, William, 83 years, December, Bexhill.
Jenkins, Louisa Sophia, wife of W. Esq., 25 years, October 21, St. Mary’s.
Jordan, Ellen, 20 months, October, St, Leonards,
Kirby, Eliza, 2½ years, August, St. Leonards.

Lightfoot, Mary, 44 years, Jan. 21, All Saints.

This lady, the relict of Dr. W. M. Lightfoot, of Leeds, died while residing in St. Clement’s, Hastings, and was buried at All Saints.

Longfellow, Charles, 44 years, September, All Saints.

Lubbock, Elizabeth Christiana, 95 years, St. Leonards.

The peculiarities and generosity of the Dowager. Lady Lubbock have been described in an earlier chapter, but it may be here stated that she lived in St. Leonards about 16 years, that she was in her 95th year at death, and that her remains were deposited in a vault beneath the church.

Manley, Thomas, of London, 66 years, June 24, All Saints.

Martin, James, 83 years, February 14, Battle.

This venerable attorney was well known at Hastings (where his son practised in the same profession), and his remains were deposited beneath a raised and railed memorial in Battle churchyard, beside those of his wife, who at the age of 32 died 55 years before her husband.

Miller, Thomas, 71 years, October, Bexhill.
Moon, Harriet, 42 years, March, All Saints.
Moore, Mary, 48 years, January 10, St. Mary’s.
Ockenden, John, 88 years, February 4, Bexhill.
Ockenden, Jane, 78 years, July 16, Bexhill.

Overy, Thomas, 86 years, October 2, Fairlight.

Mr. Overy’s wife was buried at the same place ten years previously, and two daughters (Jane and Bett) were interred there in 1811 and 1816, respectively.

Palmer, George Valentine, 4 years, April, St. Lds.
Parkin, Joseph, $ years, son of Rev. J., August 10, Halton.
Phillips, Henry, son of George and Ann, 14 years, I August, All Saints.
Phillips, James, 56 years, June, All Saints.
Pont, Edward, 33 years, July, All Saints.
Quaife, Henry, 38 years, November, St. Leonards,
Quaife, Eliza, 10 months, November, St. Leonards,
Ranger, Judith, of St. Clement’s, 60, May, All Saints.
Ranger, Wm., blacksmith, 45, Dec. 21, St. Clement's,
Reed, Harriet, 51 years, January, St. Leonards.
Reed, Ann, 31 years, October, All Saints.
Reeves, John, 88 years, September, All Saints.
Ridley, Henry, 38 years, March, All Saints,
Sisley, John, at Ore, 75 years, June, All Saints.
Smith, Thomas, 16 years, June, St. Leonards.
Tapp, Mary. 16 months, December, St. Leonards.
Taylor, Jane, 22 years, July, St. Leonards.
Towner, Thomas, builder, 65, May 29, St. Leonards.
Tassell, Mary, 71 years, January, All Saints.
Talfour, Ann, relict of John, 75, Dec. 27, St.Mary’s.
Thomas, Cicely, 75 years, August, Bexhill.
Thorpe, William, 60 years, April 11, Halton.
Troughton, John, Esq., of Lancashire, 47, Dec. 27,7 St. Mary’s.
Vine, Sarah, daughter of Chas., 12 years, October 7 St. Leonards.
Waters, James, 57 years, May, All Saints,
Weller, Sarah Harriet, 1 month, December, St. Leonards.
Wenham, Mary Ann, 24 years, Sept., All Saints.
Weston, Charlotte Nolbrow, 20 years, Sept. 28, All Saints.
Wingfield, Wm., of St. Clement’s, 36 years, May, All Saints.
Wood, Ann, 59 years, October, All Saints.
Worthington, Charles, 68 years, May, St. Leonards.

To resume the narrative of events in 1847, now that at the time of writing, the ” Home-rule ” proposals for Ireland are causing extraordinary ex: excitement both in and out of Parliament, it will be apropos to notice the efforts.that were put forth or Ireland’s behalf in the year under consideration On Wednesday, Jan. 13th, Mr. F. Ticehurst, as mayor, presided at a public meeting in the Town Hall to devise means for relieving the suffering of the Irish people. Mr. North proposed, and Dr MacCabe seconded a resolution “That subscription! be entered into for the relief of Ireland.” Mr Ranking suggested the inclusion of Scotland, ant Mr. Hollond expressed an opinion that the amount collected would be best sent to the fund to which her Majesty had contributed two-thousand pounds. [ 301 ]

Borough Elections - Return of Hollond and Brisco

A committee for the purpose was then formed. Later on, when Parliament assembled, a grant of ten millions of money was voted for the distressed Irish an addition to the funds voluntarily raised throughout the country. Irishmen, to the number of 750,000 were set to work at ​road​-making, for which employment they received regular wages. On the 6th of March, Daniel O'Connell, the agitator for the repeal of the union, arrived at Hastings for the benefit of his health, his intention being to travel by easy stages to France and Italy, In appearance, he was quite a different man to what he was when he first visited Hastings, and addressed a number of persons from the balcony of the Marine Hotel. He was now greatly debilitated and dejected, and his attendants believed he could never return to public life. He was accompanied by his sons and a Roman-Catholic priest, who had not the gratification of bringing the invalid back alive. His death took place at Genoa on the 15th of May, after he had pathetically bequeathed his soul to Christ, his heart to Rome, and his body to Ireland.

One of the secular festivals of 1847 was the anniversary celebration of the benefit clubs, which took place, as usual, on Whit-Monday. It was as gay as ever, with its imposing procession, its several bands of music and its glittering regalia. Previous to dining at their respective club-houses, the members assembled at St. Clement’s church, where a special sermon was preached to them by the Rev. J. G. Foyster.

Rock Fair was also held on the regularly appointed days, namely, July 26th and 27th. The days of the week were Monday and. Tuesday, and. the keepers of the stalls, booths, shows, &c., sought to obtain permission of the Mayor to continue the fair during Wednesday. A third day, however, was not granted, in consequence of such day having been appointed for the nomination of candidates for the Borough Election. It had been rumoured that Mr. Downing Bruce would offer himself for the representation of Hastings, and that the second Conservative candidate would be Mr. Serjeant Byles. The following brief account of the proceedings will show that the real candidates were Messrs. Hollond and Warre in the Liberal interest, and Messrs, Brisco and Robertson in the Conservative.

When the 28th of July came, Mr. Brisco was met at Coghurst Hall by his friends and supporters on horseback, and after forming themselves into an’ imposing cavalcade, they came into Hastings and assembled at the hustings. Mr. Hollond was nominated by Mr. George Scrivens as an old and tried friend who had represented the borough for ten years, and Mr. Stephen Putland seconded the nomination. Mr. Brisco was proposed by Mr. A. W. Crake, as also one of the tried and esteemed representatives for three years previous to the Dissolution. The proposal was seconded by Mr. C. Burfield. A new man in the person of Mr. Robertson was then brought forward by the Conservatives and nominated by Mr. Shadwell, who admitted that the gentleman thus proposed was a stranger, but that fact, he said, was no disparagement to his merits. He (Mr Shadwell) preferred a stranger whom he could trust to one who had already represented them and could not be trusted. Mr. N. Williams seconded, and expressed an opinion that the Conservatives would win two seats. The fourth candidate was Mr. J. A. Warre. a gentleman who, with Mr. North, represented Hastings in 1832. I do not remember who were his proposer and seconder on this occasion, but I have a notion that one of them was Mr. B. Smith, an active Liberal politician and the owner of property in Pelham crescent. If so, there were no fewer than four persons taking part in the nominations who were property owners in Pelham place or Pelham crescent, namely, Messrs. Crake, Shadwell, Scrivens and Smith.

Two of the gentlemen above named (Mr. G. Scrivens and Mr. H. N. Willams) I rejoice to say are were still among us and enjoying the esteem of their fellow townsmen, albeit the four decades that has had passed since the Election of 1847 have had made sad gaps in the ranks of those who took part therein, including the whole of the four candidates.

One of the active participators in that election has just paid the inevitable debt of nature whilst I am writing. Mr. George Carly, who had been a Liberal politician almost from his youth up, and was proud of having his name on the “ Golden Roll” of those who voted for Robert Ross Rowan Moore in 1844, expired at his residence, 5 Alexandra terrace, on Tuesday of this week (May 18, 1886) in the eightieth year of his age. Mr. Carly at the time of this Election had been in business as a baker and confectioner at 49 All Saints’ Street for about twenty years, and a near neighbour of his was a pawnbroker of the name of Houghton. The said pawnbroker was out of health on the morning of the Election and felt unable to rise from his bed. On hearing of this, Mr. Carly went to see Houghton, and to endeavour to rouse him from what he thought might be partially a fit of lethargy. “Come,” said Carly, ”rouse thee, man, and accompany me to a capital breakfast, which, I am sure, will do you good.” The invitation was at length accepted, and after the refreshment it required but a little further application of the persuasive art to get Houghton into a carriage en route to the hustings to vote for Holland and Warre. At a little later period Mr. Anthony Harvey, a Conservative agent, was seen to go to Houghton’s door, when he was accosted by Mr. Carly in words to this effect “You needn’t trouble yourself, Harvey; I have already taken Houghton to the poll, and so you may score one to me this time.” My readers will understand that in those days of electioneering arrangements there was a fictitious virtue attached to those who could prove themselves the sharpest. Hence, as Harvey was looked upon as a sort of King of All Saints in consequence of his parochial as well as his political zeal both at the Council Board and in other ways, the exultation of Carly in having foiled his purpose in that one instance was naturally great. In my next instalment of this History I purpose quoting a political handbill circulated on the day of nomination by “The Compounder of the Blue Pill.” And now I will confine myself to some reminiscences and other matters connected with the respected townsman who has just made his exit from this mundane stage. George Carly was a native of Hastings, he being the youngest member of a somewhat numerous family, His father’s name was Adams Carly, and his mother’s maiden name was Ann Phillips. She was a sister of Mr. John Phillips, sen., of High street, who died in 1844, aged 90, and an aunt of John Phillips, jun., a highly respected solicitor and many years vestry-clerk of St. Leonards and one or two other parishes. Mr. and Mrs. Adams Carly, I find, were married at All Saints Church on the 14th of January, 1792, and among their offspring, as shown by the baptisms at the said church were

Mary Ann, baptised 1792, died 1806.
Nov. 2, 1794.
Aug. 3, 1797,
Richard Adams
Oct. 2, 1799, died, 1820,
Henry Phillips,
Sept. 4, 1803.
April 29, 1807.

Thus it is seen that the subject of this notice was born in April, 1807; and, as his death occurred on the 18th of the present month of May, he had consequently entered on his 80th year. One of his sisters, whose baptism I have not found, but whose husband’s name was Clarke, lived many years in Ireland, and died in her 87th year, whilst another sister (Mrs. Elizabeth Elphick), well known in St. Leonards, died in her 73rd year, and was buried at Hollington. Mr. Carly was born in a house in All Saints street, not far from the reputed birth-place of Sir Cloudesley Shovell, and the site of what is now the National Schools. It was there, I believe, that his mother died, in the month of August, 1838, at the age of 74, whilst his father survived until the month of May, 1840, when he died in the parish of Ore, at the age of 86, and was buried in the All Saints’ ground. There was another Ann Carly (presumably George’s grandmother) who at the age of 77, died in September, 1811.

The subject of my sketch was over thirty years in business at Hastings and nearly the same period at St. Leonards, he having retired therefrom as recently as 1885 in favour of Mr. Newberry, Apart from his business pursuits Mr. Carly was ingenious as a modeller in cork and other materials; and I remember being amused as long back as 1828 or 9 with seeing in his shop window some figures moving by mechanical means on what I now suppose was an artificial plum-cake. In his late painful illness Mr. Carly exhibited great patience and thankfulness, whilst his intellectual faculties served him to the last. He died peacefully and hopefully like as one conscious of having done his duty in that state of life unto which it had pleased God to call him. His remains were interred at Hollington, beside those of his sister, Mrs. Elphick.

After speeches by Messrs. Hollond, Brisco, Warre and Robertson on the day of nomination, a show of hands was declared to be in favour of the former two. A poll was then demanded by Mr. Warre. On the next day, July 29th, the election was energetically proceeded with by all parties, yet with a quietness that had never been equalled since the passing of the Reform Bill. It was an almost foregone conclusion that the two wealthy candidates, Hollond and Brisco, would be returned, although the Liberals — or as they more generally called themselves, Reformers — were hopeful that Hollond’s influence would secure a seat for Warre as against Brisco. It was between these two gentlemen that the contest was keenest, there being but one or two votes difference between them all through the period of polling until just before the close, when a score of electors walked in together and gave Brisco a majority of 18 over his opponent. On the following day (Friday) the returning officer announced the numbers as follows :—

Hollond (L.) 423
Brisco (C.) 407
Warre (L.) 389
Robertson (C.) 349

The chairing procession was of a gorgeous character, the day being observed as a holiday, and the spirit of all parties being such as to impel a conduct of sobriety and good humour throughout.

The Conservative Member thus returned, with a Liberal for his colleague, was familiarly spoken of as “The Squire of Coghurst Hall,“ he having built the mansion of that name, and surrounded it with beautiful lakes, lawns and plantations. His father died in the year 1834, and then, as the eldest son, Mr. Musgrave Brisco (a descendant, by the bye, of the Norman De Birkskeugh) came into possession of the farms and estates of Coghurst and Lankhurst. For the ornamentation of those grounds a large number of trees were purchased from Thomas Barton, a nurseryman at Heathfield, and at about the same time (1837) a supply was also obtained from the same source for Bohemia, Mr. Wastel Brisco, the brother of the re-elected Member, having purchased that estate and removed thither from his previous residence at Rose green. (See the interesting history of Thomas Barton, Bodle Holmes and others other long-lived members of the family in Bretts Historico-Biographies.)

I now quote an electioneering placard professed to have been written by The Compounder of the Blue pills. I had hoped to have accompanied it with another literary effusion made public by a writer on the other side of politics who appeared to be more than a match for his antagonist, both in style and substance, but as I have not recovered this lost or mislaid document, the Radical writer's composition must stand

alone. It may serve at any rate to open up a partial view of the political conditions of 1847, It is headed, in bold type, “The Violent Effects of the Blue Pill,” the “Compounder” of which says—

”After the lapse of several days, my ‘Blue Pill’ has called forth some very vituperative remarks from ‘A Churchman,’ I feel astonished at the blackness of this dose of Tory compounds, and can only commiserate the state of mind of the unfortunate individual who so wildly ‘discharges his calumnious missiles on one whose person is unknown to him, and whose character cannot suffer from such reproach as his. Reply, on my part, I frankly own to be impossible. I have nothing given me to reply to. My facts are yet unanswered, and my sentiments untouched by even the shadow of an argument! ‘A Churchman’ vomits nothing but black abuse of the most unworthy kind — which I should consider it a degradation to notice, further than by simply adverting to it as the invariable resort of men who lose their temper, in default of finding arguments. It is obvious that the disgraceful

war-whoop of ‘No Popery’ has recoiled upon its Tory originators. With their own rod they have been well whipped; and hence the unpalateableness of my wholesome ‘pill.’ It is enough for me that the truth of my unanswered statements has been thus openly acknowledged and that my belief of the haughty intolerance of some Churchmen has been so lamentably confirmed. The paper of ‘A Wesleyan Elector’ I have read; and, in common with most acquainted with the respected author, I sincerely deplore the weakness which has induced him to lend his influence to a party which has uniformly despised and wronged the community he belongs to. The assertion, that ‘every truly enlightened Dissenter’ would repudiate my sentiments, might well have been spared. Why, the Hastings Wesleyans and Dissenters — almost to a man! — have cordially approved of the sentiments of my placard, and will evince that approval at the poll! They can distinguish between historical facts and personal venom; and this distinction I am proud to feel they will ell make between my ‘Blue Pill’ and the very ‘Black Dose’ of ‘A Churchman,’ I triumphantly appeal to the respective placards, and confidently leave the subject to the common sense and piety of Christian readers: giving my opponent the doubtful honour of being the first to introduce into this controversy the bitterness of personal acrimony and ‘unprovoked abuse,’

Electors of Hastings! Tomorrow at the Poll shew that you are not to be blinded by the foolish party-cries ‘of the Tory faction. Two years ago, these ’No-Popery’ men were full of prophetical fallacies about Free-Trade. They termed its advocates ‘ mountebanks,’ and ‘the whole measure a ‘juggling scheme.’ Silenced by experience on that subject, they have another cry equally senseless and fallacious. England is to be overran with Popery as of old when Tories ruled! Electors! Judge of the value of their prophecies by the lessons of the past; and believe me, these violent. exertions to awaken 2 re-action in the public mind towards themselves, arise from their settled opposition to all political improvement and intellectual progression. We say of Toryism, as Tories say of Popery — It is unchanged. It has always been, and still is, at enmity with the poor man’s dearest interests. By a vigorous effort, then, disenthral the Borough from Tory bondage for ever! Vote for the People’s Friends,—the men who give you Free Trade, Political Reforms and Religious Rights,

— Messrs, HOLLOND and WARRE.”

While still on political matters, it may not be out of place to refer to the retirement of Sir Howard Elphinstone from the representation of Lewes. This gentleman (illegible text) was an unsuccessful candidate for the representation of Hastings in 1881 and ’32, but was elected in 1835 along with Mr. North, the votes obtained by the Liberal and the Radical being on that occasion 665, as against 316 that were recorded for the losing Conservatives, Planta and-.Brisco. In i841 Sir Howard declined to be re-nominated for Hastings on account of what he described as a ruinous expense. Mr, Hollond, therefore, took his place at Hastings, whilst Sir Howard obtained a seat for Lewes. ‘That seat was, however, obtained at a cruel cost, the electors of that borough being even more exacting than Hastings. In the month of March, 1847, after six years’ service in the cause of Liberalism for Lewes, Sir Howard Elphinstone accepted the office of the Chiltern Hundreds, and addressed his constituents as follows :—

“I regret that circumstances will prevent my attending with regularity to my duties during the remainder of the present Parliament. I therefore feel it necessary to resign into your hands the trust which you have confided to me. I shall always look back with grateful satisfaction to my connection with your borough, during which period I have been able to assist by my votes in those great social improvements which have now become settled by the laws of the land. I hope that at some future day it will be in my power to solicit at your hands a renewal of the confidence with which I have been honoured the last six years.”

The death, in 1847, of Sir Joseph Planta, who at one time was Sir Howard’s political rival, has already been referred to, with added memoirs of that estimable parliamentarian. [ 302 ]

Wheat £31 per load - Coroners Inquests

171 H Descending from imperial to local politics, it becomes me to note that the municipal election on November 1st was a triumph for the Conservatives, four of that party being elected with a total of 1,040 votes, as against two Liberals, with 898 votes. These were Messrs. Burfield (C) 491; Ginner (L) 450; Ross (L) 448; Harvey (C) 347; Deudney (C) 116; and Murton (C) 86. Mr. Voysey, a Liberal candidate for the West Ward, failed to secure his election by 9 votes. On the 9th of November Mr. F. Ticehurst was made an Alderman, and elected Mayor for the second time, his place as a Councilman being taken by Mr. Amoore, a Conservative.

I believe I have before stated that there never was a period of greater prosperity for Hastings and St. Leonards than during the time when the borough had a wealthy Liberal and an equally affluent Conservative for its representatives. The year 1847 was no exception to so pleasant a condition. Each Member did his best to induce his friends either to become permanent residents in the borough or to pay frequent visits thereto; and each Member competed with his colleague in contributions to worthy objects, and in gathering around him, for the general benefit, a circle of wealth and fashion. Mr. Hollond gave several dinners and balls at his residence, Allegria, and Mr. Brisco did the same thing at Coghurst Hall. One very grand affair by the latter gentleman was that of November 4th, whilst among the many invitations sent out by Mr. Hollond was that of October 29th 10 the Recorder and Corporation.

The Bachelors’ Ball at the St. Leonards Assembly-rooms was one of the best that had been held for many years. It was the first, or almost the first occasion on which a London band was thought to be necessary, it being engaged by Mr. Acraman, the pianist who had succeeded Mr. Hatt. The annual ball at the same place on behalf of the Widow and Orphans’ Fund of the Adelaide Lodge of Oddfellows (principally managed by the present writer) was aiso a brilliant affair. Still more so was the ball given by Mr. and Mrs. Hollond on the 26th of October. A paragraph in the Brighton Guardian of that period thus summarises the round of amusements:—

”St. Leonards at the present time is the gayest of the gay. Balls, dinner-parties, fancy-fairs, pic-nics, archery-meetings, riding-parties, cricket-matches, shooting-competitions, boating-excursions, and other amusements, all have their respective voteries.”

Among the balls and card-assemblies in the old town were one at the Swan Hotel, one at the King’s Head, and two at the Royal Oak, all well attended.

Two institutions of considerable value may be said to have dated their success from 1847, namely, the Proprietary School and the Savings Bank. It was on the 19th of January that an examination of the Proprietary Grammar School was held at the Swan Hotel, the Mayor (Mr. F. Ticehurst) being in the chair. The first annual report was then read by Mr. Edge, the master, in which the committee referred with lively satisfaction to the then condition of the school, and stated their honest conviction that it was fully carrying out the intention of the founders to give a sound and useful education to sons and daughters of the middle classes of Hastings and St. Leonards. It should be stated that although the first annual report was submitted on this occasion, the school was first opened at Michaelmas, 1344, The number of pupils was originally limited to 65, but the applications had been so pressing that at the time of this examination there were 71 on the books. An excellent address was delivered by the Rev. G. S. Faught, of Ore, whose name ought to be held in veneration for the many acts of kindness and practical benevolence which he displayed towards his parishioners. Among the persons present at the examination were the Revs. H. Barrett, the Rev. W. Davis, Mr. Alderman Maw, and about forty other gentlemen, who at the conclusion dined together at the same hotel. When giving a biographic sketch of the late John Hornby Maw and his family I stated my belief that the eldest son of him who was Mayor of Hastings in 1844-5 received a portion of his education at the Proprietary Grammar School, then held at Hill House, Hill street, which, at the time of writing, is still an educational establishment, conducted by Mr. F. W. Foster. I also stated that Hastings might well entertain a sense of pleasure in having afforded Mr. Maw and his family a dwelling place during ten years of the early life of the son George, who has since achieved a world-wide reputation as an artist, a traveller, an author, a botanist, a geographer, and the proprietor of the largest majolical and tesselated tile-works in England.

Of the Hastings and St. Leonards Savings Bank it was said, when the report appeared in January, that it had already taken its place as one of the permanent institutions of the borough. The deposits for the twelve months ending with the preceding year amounted to £5,300.

Hastings, however, was sadly in want of another public institution, namely, a new Town Hall, and which it did not succeed in getting until thirty-four years later. At a meeting of the Town Council on the 14th of April, the clerk introduced the question of enlarging and otherwise improving the ​building​ then in use, and stated that the matter thus placed on the agenda emanated from the Judge of the new County Court, who declared the hall to be the most inconvenient place he had ever sat in. The Clerk expressed his belief that the said Judge would contribute something handsome towards a new hall.

In the discussion which followed, Mr. Ross viewed the old hall in High street as being not only inconvenient in itself, but also as situated much too far eastward of the rapid extension of the borough westward. Mr. Hicks would like to see a new ​building​, but on the same site; whilst Mr. Putland contended that no respectable structure could be placed on the site of such a “tin-pot ​building​.” I pass from the Town hall to the Town band, the members of which arranged to play on Saturday evenings in Wellington square, while continuing on other evenings to perform on the stand at the Marine parade, A voluntary subscription was also entered upon for the purpose of getting morning performances thrice a week. I do not remember how far remunerative were the means, thus adopted to those who constituted the band, but I was in a position to know that the St. Leonards band was more adequately remunerated when it chose its own times and places, and made its own collections, than when it was under the control of a committee who undertook the collections. I am now somewhat curious to know what is the experience of the present Town band now that its remuneration is partly paid out of the rates, and partly by voluntary contributions. I do know that the answer to the band collector is in many instances “I cannot be rated for the band and give to the band as well,” but I do not know to what extent this objection is carried,

Reverting to the local bands of forty 45 fifty years ago, long since defunct, yet of whose members several are still living in our midst, a reminder is afforded that in the year under treatment a band of MNigger minstrels sprang into existence whose equal for good melody and harmony no subsequent period has produced. I make this averment with confidence, and without the least disparagement to the (illegible text) more recent “Black Crown Minstrels,” whose creditable performances and general services {{Str|have been}] were often devoted to charitable and philanthropic purposes. The “darkies” of 1847 made their first appearance at the Mayor's dinner on the 9th of November, when Mr. Ticehurst was elected to the civic chair for the second time. So little publicity had been given to the formation and training of this new vocal and instrumental association that the company assembled at the Swan Hotel to do honour to the elected mayor were completely taken by surprise when the disguised minstrels marched into the room. Of the composition of this Nigger band and of their achievements I purpose to treat in the narrative of events of 1848, and for the present I will merely say that their first public performance evoked extraordinary enthusiasm and brought them a collected sum of money far beyond their anticipations.

In more than one particular the year 1847 resembled the one in which I am writing, and the low temperature of the month of May was one of the ‘features of similarity. The prospects of harvest were below par, and the price of wheat (£31 per load) caused the quartern loaf to be sold at Is. 2d. ‘The distress among the poorer families was great, and efforts were made, as before described, to raise funds for their relief. As a relative topic, it may be stated that Louis Phillips (not Louis Phillipe who came to St. Leonards in the following year as an exile, but Louis Phillips), a gardener at Hastings, realised in August a bountiful quantity of wheat from 410 grains previously planted in his garden on the West hill. The ground occupied was one rod, and the said 410 grains were placed nearly 8 inches apart in drills that were 12 inches asunder. The produce was five gallons, or at the rate of 100 bushels per acre.

In the month of November, the magistrates were in a flutter and other inhabitants were in a whirl of excitement in consequence of an advertisement appearing in some of the Sussex papers by a respectable firm, acting as parliamentary agents, to the effect that it was intended in the next session to apply for a Bill to create the Rape of Hastings into a separate district of the county, to have its own goal gaol and to manage its own county affairs. It also intimated that it was intended to abolish the corporate magisterial jurisdiction of Hastings, Rye and Winchelsea, and that these things were to be done with the consent of the magistrates themselves. The benchers, however, soon met to give publicity to their repudiation of the scheme, and to deny all knowledge of the same. The authors, they said, must indeed be of weak minds to suppose that the burgesses would be cajoled out of what they considered was their birthright. In a similar spirit of antagonism the Town Council also took up the question, and there the proposed innovation, ended.

Although there was a general repudiation of the projected magisterial and gaol scheme, it was 4 rather coincidental circumstance that in the same month the keeper of the Hastings gaol was removed, and his place taken by William Brazier, whose wife also acted as matron. George Colbran — ”Old George,” as he was familiarly called — was 74 years old when the change was made, and although a strong man for his age, yet, recollecting that an earlier keeper had been murdered, the change could only be regarded as a judicious one. The ex-keeper continued, however, to serve the Corporation for several years longer, one of his occupations being that of attending the Mayor as a mace bearer. He was of a family whose name had appeared in the Hastings registers for at least 100 years, under the varied orthography of Coalbrand, Coalbran, Colebron and Colbran, and his death, later on, as a nonagenarian, has been alluded to by The Postman in his halt at 9 Hill-street in the following lines:—

”But ere his retains in their grave shall recline,
George Colbran, who carries the mace
When aged ninety-two, at this house number nine,
Will end his terrestrial race.
To serve the same town for so many long years,
With mayors, both many and new,
And witness nine decades of peoples’ careers
Is only the lot of a few.”

The incidental allusion to the death of old George Colbran reminds me that in the year under consideration another well-known native of Hastings passed over to the undiscovered region of immortality. This was the good-looking wife of Richard Baldock, described by visitors and others as the ”bonnie and obliging fishmonger.” She was sister to Mr. Ball, an equally obliging fishmonger of St. Leonards, and a member of the old Hastings family who, in the days of “Good Queen Bess,” spelt their names interchangeably as Bawl and Baull. Another noteworthy death was that of the Countess of Cornwallis, the third wife of the Earl of that title. She died at St. Leonards on the 4th of November, at the age of 37, greatly esteemed for her amiability and generosity. The year 1847 was remarkable for the number of sudden deaths, thus necessitating an equal number of coroner's inquests, among which were the following:— Sarah Chapman, aged 66, died from apoplexy; Edmund Drury, of St. Leonards, went out for a walk on Sunday, April 11th, and on his return sat in a chair and immediately expired, A week previously, Thomas White, a bookkeeper and grocer to the fishery, while assisting to launch a boat for the mackerel season, injured himself in such manner as to cause immediate death. He was 67 years of age, and, as a native of Hastings, could boast of an ancestry dating from time immemorial. His son, Thomas White, an octogenarian is a retired grocer, and one of his daughters is a Mrs. Richardson, who, with her husband and son carries on the grocery business established by her father, in a house said to be 300 years old. Mrs. Richardson, together. with Miss Joannah Thwaites, Mrs. Anthony Harvey, and a few others I could name, are still comely, although venerable in age, and are excellent specimens of the “many maidens fair” for which Hastings was in days gone by reputed to be pre-eminent. On the 19th of April a visitor named Samuel Humphrey died suddenly from water on the chest; and on May 31st an inquest was held, on Robert Gurr, who, on the preceding Whit-Monday, was knocked down and run over by a van. On August 10th an inquest was held on Mercy Sharp, aged 53, who died of apoplexy; also on a child named Palmer, overlain by its mother. Another coroner’s inquisition was held on Oct. 9th, the subject being Cordelia, wife of Edward Hyland, who, from “natural causes,“ had been found dead in bed. She was one of three sisters named respectively after three sisters of the late Alderman Deudney, J.P., and whose father, named Dabney, was run over and killed in one of Mr. Deudney’s fields, The Dabney family, originally D’Aubigne, of the expelled French Huguenots, have a curious and interesting history (See Chapter I[a]). But my list of inquests would not be complete were I to omit the one which was held by a mock jury under the presidency of a pseudo coroner, The venue was the Cutter Inn, and the subject was a newly-elected Town Councillor. Mr. Anthony Harvey, the so-called ”Political King of All Saints,” had been returned only as fourth on the poll, and so his antagonistic quidnuncs declared him to be virtually dead. Mr. John Dungate Thwaites was foreman of the jury, “Tally” Phillips was one of the deponents, and the verdict was that the “deceased had come by his death by the cruel hand of Politics.”

Instructions were gtven that his body politic be buried, head downwards, in the west corner of Halton churchyard. Grotesque as was this mock inquest, it seemed to be hardly more of a burlesque than the giving of three shilling[1]e to be divided among three men who had, at the risk of their own lives, rescued a gentleman from drowning. The money was accepted by Cobby, Page, and another as the “value of the gentleman’s life.”

Having recorded a series of sudden and sorrowful deaths which occurred in 1847, I will now describe some events of a more cheerful character. On Tuesday, June 22nd, a gay wedding was witnessed at the Royal Victoria Hotel, the bride being the eldest daughter of Mr. William Chamberlain, and the bridegroom Mr. James Hilder, of Robertsbridge. The latter was a member of a long-established and well-known family of East-Sussex, whilst the father of the former was for many years (1839 to 1851) the highly respected lessee of the Victoria Hotel.

In August and September much amusement was afforded to the residential and visitorial population by the performances of Cooke's equestrian company and the exhibition of Wombwell’s menagerie, both of them being located in the Prory Meadow, and constituting, with peep-shows and other accessories, a superior sort of fair. I remember having had the boyish delight of witnessing the performances of Cooke’s Circus, twenty-four years before its visit just described. On that earlier occasion (Jan. 30th, 1823) the circus was erected on the beach, contiguous to the huge cliff which overhung the present site of Breeds place. The performance was patronised by the Mayor, E. Milward, Esq., and among the crowded company were the Duchess of Richmond, the Countess of Buckinghamshire, the Ladies Lennox, etc. Among the executants were the Messrs. and Miss Hengler, who performed on the tight rope; Master Cooke, who executed some astonishing feats of horsemanship; and Mr. Bridges, who evoked great applause by his masterly evolutions on a bare-backed steed. There were also a Spanish parade of beautiful horses, a country-dance on horseback to the tune of “Paddy Carey,” and “a naval engagement between the Shannon and Chesapeake,” the latter being exploded with red-hot shot. I have here dwelt longer on the equestrian performances of 1823 than on those of 1847, my object being to show, firstly, that the site of Breeds place was more out of the town at the former date than the Priory Meadows (now Bank ​building​s, Queen’s ​road​, &c.) were at the latter date; and, secondly, that the famous equestrians, Cooke, Hengler and Bridges, have been familiar with Hastings for two or three generations. They are all of them in some way related by marriage, whilst the boy - Cookes, whom I personally knew as playmates, were nephews of Mr. Thorpe, a well known schoolmaster of Hastings.

While describing the progress of the Brighton and Hastings railway in 1846, and its effect on the stage-coach traffic, I stated that one of the coaches which plied between Hastings and the South-Eastern railway at Staplehurst was taken off, as was also the Brighton coach, which had been driven for many years by Jonathan Mose; and now I will close my narrative of events of 1847 with a record of the fact that the last of the London and Hastings daily coaches, named The Express, but better known as ‘The White,’ was reduced to the running of thrice a week. The proprietors were Messrs. James Emary, of the Castle Hotel, Benjamin Worthy Horne and John Watson, the last-named partner being also the driver. It continued on the ​road​ until about November or December, when it was laid up in ordinary for the remainder of the winter, by which time the Alliance, another coach of which Mr. Emary was proprietor, had become non est. At about Christmas, a similar fate overtook Mr. Emary’s omnibus which had been running thrice a week to Maidstone, the introduction of the railway having made the undertaking an unpayable one. [ 303 ]

Edward Capel and East Cliff House - Successive Occupants

172 H


Whilst writing in 1886 of the events of 1847,a nonagenarian clergy-man who came to Hastings in the earlier year, takes his final departure in the later one and that whilst The Postman in his metrical reminiscences describes the principal local events of 1797, he comes across a note in his diary which presumably refers to the sale of a mansion in which the said nonagenarian has died, after a residence therein of thirty-two years. This linking of the past and present, although somewhat digressive, is nevertheless the sequence of those mutable and memorial associations which I venture to think are not devoid of interest. The house in which the Rev. J. H. Fisk has for a long time resided, and from which he has been recently removed by death, is almost the only one remaining of the several grand old mansions once existent in All Saints’ street and its adjacencies. Of this mansion — successively known as Capell’s House, Scott's House, and East-Cliff House — I have now something to say; and, while reproducing what has been related of its eccentric founder, I purpose giving my readers some original particulars of his successors down to the equally eccentric, but more venerable and more benevolent gentleman who has been the latest owner and occupier of East-Cliff House.

The mansion at the nether end of All Saints’ street (once known as Fishers’ street) was built for Mr. Edward Capell — a professional barrister, an amateur architect, and a Shakesperian commentator. It was erected from his own designs at a cost of about £5000, during the period 1761-3; when James Bruderel and William Ashburnham were the parliamentary representatives of Hastings; when Edward Milward and Thomas Evitt held the mayoralty in turns; when Hastings joyously celebrated the nuptials of George III. and Queen (Charlotte; when the canopies at the Coronation were supported by Edward Milward and William Ashburnham of Hastings, John Pelham and Richard Rideout of Lewes, Luke Spencer of Malling, and Rose Fuller, M.P for Maidstone; when Harvey’s powder-mills at Battle were accidentally destroyed by five tons of powder; when four Hastings smugglers (John Colbran, Reuben Colbran, Stephen Bourner and Robert Inkley) were drowned while running contraband; when a French privateer was beaten off from chasing a Hastings sloop; when cambrics, muslins and lawns were first manufactured by foreigners at Winchelsea, under the protection of squire Nesbit; when the opening of the new harbour at Rye was witnessed by three thousand persons and inaugurated with a banquet, after a French privateer had been wrecked against the pier; when grocer Lintott, of Hastings, sold the best white brandy at 6/- per gallon, and was wanting to re-let the ancient ”Maidenhead” inn (now 43 High street), together with the furniture, fixtures. and brewing utensils at a fair valuation; and when, after Mr. Capell’s mansion was finished, the sea threatened its destruction by flowing to a greater height than theretofore had been witnessed by living man. In Illustrations of the Literary History of the Eighteenth Century, as quoted by Moss, it is said of Mr. Capell that

”As he must show a taste for something, he chose architecture, and built a house on the faith of his own skill in that science, for which be paid dearly, to the disappointment of those who succeeded to his fortune. This house was placed in a situation of all others the most uninteresting to a man of taste who looks for diversity of prospect in lawns, groves, rivulets, &c. Here he was so much cramped that he was obliged to hire several adjacencies or pay for them ‘inch-meal,’ This whim cost him by his own account nearly £5,000 and, lamentable to tell, did not, after his decease, realize much more than £1,300. Here, for the last twenty years of his life, he passed his hours from May till October, equally unknowing and unknown, for he was of too haughty a temper to associate with the inhabitants, and too much of a humourist to be sought for by the neighbouring gentry. At first, indeed, he used to make morning visits to the Earl of Ashburnham and the Bishop of Chichester (Sir William Ashburnham, who had a patrimonial seat in the neighbourhood), but even these wore away, and he became as much a hermit at Hastings as in his chambers at the Temple. Having never seen his house at Hastings, I am entitled to say very little about it, but that it is now [1790] a lodging-house is a circumstance which, could he have foreseen, he would, no doubt, have pulled it down, and not left one stone upon another.”

It seems to me that in many cases writers and reviewers are too prone to express opinions on insufficient evidence, and that adverse criticisms are thus not unfrequently the result.
Brett's illustration of the girl Finch being drawn.png
The writer above quoted admits that he had never seen Mr. Capell’s house, yet he declares that it was placed in a situation of all others the most uninteresting; although at the same time he observes, ”The spirit of nicety and refinement prevailed in it.” Now, even in my time the house in question has had the reputation of being a well-built and comfortable habitation, With a spacious and protected terrace in front, and commanding an uninterrupted view of the sea and its shipping from Dungeness to Beachy Head. If these then were the conditions sought for by Mr. Capell, surely his efforts were not so misdirected as his critic would have us believe. Indeed, as viewed by, many persons of ”taste and refinement,” even down to within the last half-century, Hastings itself was regarded as being even more picturesque than the same persons would admit her to be in the present day. So much was this the case that it: would have been difficult on any day in suitable weather to walk the beach contiguous to Capell’s house without seeing two or three artists at work with their pencil and brush, It was the very next house to Capell’s that Mr. Hunt, the artist used to select tor his periodical, dwelling. The annexed illustration represents an artist sketching the form and face of an immensely fat girl, named Finch, who, whilst being anything but intellectual, was perfectly gentle gentle, and might be met with almost daily on the parade or on the beach.

But let my readers picture to themselves what All Saints’ street was like at the time and for many years after Mr. Capell built his house. The front of his own mansion was not obstructed, as is now the case, with fishing-boats and rope-shops, those utilitarian objects being confined to the stade between Mercer’s Bank and the Battery, whilst from his garden in the rear of the house (where Garrick planted Shakespeare’s mulberry tree, still existing and bearing fruit), Mr. Capell had easy access to “Mount Idle,” and thence to the summit of the East Hill, which commanded a view of landscapes and seascapes — dioramic and panoramic — not surpassed by any others on the south coast. At a few rods from Capell’s house was the Crown Inn, which although now by comparison is only a minor tavern, was then one of the two principal hotels of the town, and was frequented by aristocratic families to such an extent as sometimes to necessitate the hiring of thirty or forty beds in private houses. It was from here that a thrice-a-week, and afterwards a daily coach was despatched to London. On each side of the street was a range of houses, with long gardens sloping up to what is now the Tackleway, on the East Hill, and on the other side a similar range, with gardens extending down to the Bourne stream. Here and there the line was relieved and diversified by rich foliage overhanging the gates which led into a spacious garden, and thence to a large mansion like that of Wenham’s, known as East-hill House, where many a rich family sojourned in turns, or like that known as Hastings House, which served as a residence for the Duke of Wellington, Lord Byron and other distinguished persons. Some idea of the extent of the old “Hastings House” and its garden may be obtained from the fact that the site is now occupied by the new “Hastings House,” and the twenty-four houses known as the Old Humphrey Avenue; whilst a similar inkling of ”Wenham’s House” and garden (now presenting a desolate appearance) may be gained from the following advertisement, which appeared in September, 1793.

”To be sold by private contract, in All Saints’ street, (lot 1) a well-built tenement, 50 feet frontage and 41 feet depth, with walled-in garden in front of the house, a terrace, 60 feet by 18 feet, commanding en unbounded view of the sea, built within twenty. years, in a superior manner, Also (lot 2) a small tenement, 19 feet by 27 feet, adjoining lot 1 Underneath this are capital wine vaults, lately constructed, Also (lot 3) a tenement, 15 ft. by 29 ft., now occupied by Nicholas Simmonds. Also (lot 4) a tenement of two dwellings, 27 ft. by 14 ft., occupied by Bevins and Southouse, Also (lot 5) coachhouse and stable near lot 1. Also (lot 6) an unfinished ​building​, intended for a house, adjoining lot 1, 12 ft. by 36 ft. Apply to William Wenham, the proprietor, or to Mr. Shadwell, attorney.”

The above property, not finding a purchaser by private treaty, was afterwards sold by auction, but whether at the request of the owner or his family, or of some other authority I do not know. I may say, however, that “Will Wenham, the bold smuggler,” was a household word in Hastings, and attached to his death, as an exile in France, is a tale of heroic, but melancholy interest. In the year 1798 a mariner named Thomas Barry — a brother, I believe, of James Barry, the librarian — employed as a pilot in the unfortunate expedition against Ostend, on seeing the danger of the British troops being surrounded by the French army, dashed into the sca, swam through the surf, and gave the warning which saved them from the fate to which the misfortunes of war had consigned so many of their brave countrymen. He regained his vessel without molestation or serious injury, although much exhausted by his efforts. He had been previously in the service of Mr. Wenham, and possessed much of his employer’s confidence and courage as a smuggler; and when asked by order of Government in what manner he preferred to be rewarded for his heroic conduct at Ostend, he replied that the only recompense he cared for was the pardon of Mr. Wenham, his old master, in whose service he had gained the knowledge which he had been able to apply for the benefit of his country, Wenham’s outlawry, it was stated, was thereupon reversed, but the man died before the glad tidings reached him.

Wenham's property, which has led me into this digression, was situated at a short distance from what was still known as Capell’s house, to which latter I must now return in my contribution next week.

For twenty years Mr. Capell oscupied his marine residence, bounded on the east by huge cliffs, on the west by the Pulpit gate and part of the town-wall, on the south by the open sea, and on the north by the town and country. As an editor of Shakespeare, he spent the greater part of that twenty years on his work, and is said to have copied the writings of the dramatic bard no fewer than ten times, He obtained the place of deputy-inspector of plays, with a salary of £200 a year. He also edited and wrote some other literary compositions, but his style has not received commendation from his critics. He died on the 4th of January, 1781, at the age of 68, and was buried at his native place, near Bury St. Edmunds, in Suffolk. For about eight years after Capell’s decease, the house appears not to have had any recognised or responsible tenant, but in 1790 it was let as a first-class lodging-house. in 1796 the following advertisement appeared:-

“To be sold by auction at the Swan Hotel (lot 1) a superior freehold brick-built house, 31 feet deep and 72 feet long, with sea-view and a good garden, (lot 2) a site for ​building​ at Maser's (Mercer's) Bank, now occupied as a deeze by Mr. Ball, (lot 8) a stable fronting the sea, in possession of Mr. Weatherman, and (lot 4) a shop, 13 feet frontage, in possession of Mr. Hutchinson, tenant at will.“

Mr. Edward Milward, I believe, was the purchaser at this time, and the house, with coach house and stables in the rear, leading out into the Crown Lane, was in his ownership or occupancy until some time after 1807. The premises which cost Mr. Capel, a sum of not less than £5,000, only realised £1,300 for his surviving relatives or trustees. In the late John Campbell's autobiography, edited by myself, the house is referred to as being in the possession of Sir Horace Mann, the period, I presume, being from about 1811 to 1817. In the year 1818, even if not before, the owner and occupier was a Mr. John Scott, a gentleman who, prior to the death of Edward Milward, senior, in 1811, was the occupant of Torfield House. Capell’s house then became known as “Scott's house,” and continued under that appellation until 1823, at about which time Mr. Scott appears to have died. The executors, together with a niece of the deceased, then carried the house on as a lodging-house until about 1836, when Mr. John Goldsworthy Shorter was either the owner or the hirer or the agent, although not the actual occupant. It was then that Mr. Shorter had some goblets made from the mulberry-tree — a cutting from Shakespeare’s — which Garrett planted by the garden-seat in one of his visits to Capell; and it is not improbable that mulberry wine from fruit of the same tree was quaffed from the same goblets by Mr. Shorter and his. friends. Miss Scott, the niece of Mr. Scott, already referred to, was, I believe, afterwards a governess in Mr. Shorter’s family. At the death of Mr. Scott, the house was re-christened, and has ever since been known as East-cliff House. It was at one time in the Court of Chancery, but whether that occurred after the death of Mr. Capell or Mr. Scott, I have not ascertained; the probability is in favour of the latter. In 1852, and some time after, the resident at East-hill house was the Rev. William Margesson, whose daughter, Frances, in 1853, became the second wife of Sir Charles Lamb, of Beauport ,and died on the first of July, 1884, she having survived the death of her husband twenty four years. In 1850, Mr. Wastel Brisco was owner of East-hill houses, when for a year or two it was tenanted by Harry Chester, Esq. Mr. and Mrs. Winter then had charge of the same until 1854, when they transferred their services to the Rev. J. H. Fisk, who at that period purchased the mansion from Mr. Brisco. Mr and Mrs. Winter remained with Mr. Fisk about five-and-twenty years, when the death of Mrs. Winter necessitated a change. And now that the latest owner and occupier is no more, it behoves me, as is my wont in such cases, to give an obituary notice of one who has lived so long and died so respected in our midst.

East Cliff House and Rev. J. H. Fisk

The Rev. John Hammond Fisk appears to have come to Hastings in 1847 (the year in which this History has reached), and to have taken up his abode at the Castle Hotel, where he remained about six years He then went into private apartments, at Mr. William Smith’s, 4 Cobourg place, where he continued until July, 1854, when he removed to East-cliff house, his newly acquired property. He gave Mr. Brisco. I believe, about £2,000 for it, al[ 304 ]though, some years before, in consequence of the rapid extension of St. Leonards eastward, and of Hastings westward, the depreciation of the larger Property in the old part of the borough was such that East-cliff house might have been bought for £900, and would have been 80 bought by a near neighbour but for the lack of means. That it was very substantially built its present durable appearance after an exposure to 120 years of storm and sunshine is a sufficient proof, And if further evidence were wanting that in olden times, as distinguished from modern times, houses were built for durability rather than for sale, one has only to look for it at the corner house opposite to the late Mr. Fisk’s, which is now 300 years old. It belongs to Mr. and Mrs. Richardson, and is situate at the top of East Bourne-street, erroneously described in the Archeological Collections as “Court-house street.”

From what has been stated it will be seen that Mr. Fisk resided in Hastings altogether about forty years, thirty-two of which found him an occupant of East-cliff house. Here he dispensed his charities with a liberal hand, very rarely, if ever, declining to contribute to any worthy object. One of his recent acts was to add to the Infirmary funds by a donation of £500. He had been known to give even larger sums than this to philanthropic institutions in other towns, whilst to the Norwich Cathedral fund he contributed as much as £3,000. To the poor of Hastings, and especially to poor fishermen, he was always kind and charitable, and this benevolence naturally evoked a manifestation of friendly feeling towards him, so that flags were flaunted at half-mast by every fisherman from the time their benefactor died until the day of his interment, when such fishermen as could get away from their mackerel-catching followed his remains to the grave. Although an ordained clergyman of the Church of England, Mr. Fisk had withdrawn from clerical duties for many years and had derived his income from property at Norwich and from investments in public funds. He kept but little company, although on his birthday anniversaries, in the month of February, I believe it was his custom to invite a few friends to dinner, on which occasion there would be a dish of salmon, cost whatsoever it might, So far as I know he was frugal and unselfish in his mode of living; and this would enable him the better to contribute to others’ necessities. Until feebleness arising from the decay of nature confined him to the house and finally prostrated him, the good old gentleman took almost daily exercises on foot, and on Sundays in particular he might have been seen in all sorts of. weather walking to aid from one or other of his favourite churches, particularly those of St. Mary-in-the Castle and St. Leonards. One of Mr. Fisk’s peculiarities was to scatter copper money to the crowds of boys who clustered round him in his walks on New-year’s day — a practice which old Hastingers would regard as not so much an eccentricity as a survival of an ancient custom in a slightly different form, With a stooping gait (which might be looked for in so old a man), Mr. Fisk was always neatly attired, although the wearing of an old-fashioned high collar gave the fishermen an opportunity of recognising him by what they thought was a suitable sobriquet. This familiarity was in no sense the out-come of derision, but merely the force of habit — a habit that for generations has given nicknames to all of their own fraternity At ninety-four years of age Mr. Fisk could read without the aid of spectacles, and was so well served by his mental faculties as to be able to take an interest in much of the world’s affairs, although evincing but little concern in party politics. His death occurred on the 5th of June[b]and his interment on the 9th. The latter was at the Borough Cemetery, in close proximity to the remains of another good old clergyman, the Rey. William Twiss Turner. The funeral rites were performed by the Rev. G. A. Foyster, rector of All Saints, in the presence of a large number of persons, among whom may be specially mentioned, Mr. John Marshall Fisk (cousin of deceased), the Rev. W. B. Bennett, (late assistant minister at St. Clement’s), Councillor Bradnam (Mayor of Hastings), Mr. R. Kent (pierwarden), Messrs Bumstead and Clark (boat-owners), Mr. and Mrs. H. Richardson, Mr. H. Richardson, jun., Mr. H, Starr, Mr. H. Chapman, the servants of the deceased, two family solicitors, and a number of fisherman(sic).

Some time since, Mr. Fisk was observed to be in mourning for his wife, whose death was duly announced in the Times newspaper An only daughter (Miss Fisk) survives her parents, but was not sufficiently in good health to attend her father’s funeral. A will of the deceased dates as far back as 1848, and whether a later will exists has not yet been, I believe, conclusively ascertained.

I have said that Mr. Fisk was always kind and charitable to the fishermen, and as he did not for himself make use of the flight of steps which by which the terrace in front of his house was approached from the beach, the following sketch will show to what purpose he allowed it to be put.

East Cliff House.png

After the death of Mr. Fisk, in 1886, the grand old house was purchased by Mr. E. Smith, who converted what formed the steps and terrace of the mansion (portions of which are seen in the engraving) into an extensive show-room for new and second-hand furniture.

  1. Brett would appear to mean volume 1 as opposed to Chapter 1 - Transcriber
  2. Brett would appear to be incorrect about his date of death - this being recorded as being the 4th of June - Editor
  1. An explanation of old currency and coinage may be found at the following website Pre-decimal currency, accessdate: 16 June 2022