Brett Volume 4: Chapter XLVIII - Hastings 1852

From Historical Hastings

Chapter XLVIII Hastings 1852

Transcriber’s note

[ 187 ]


Town Council meetings, at which were discussed the acceptance from Mr. Eversfield the parade between Claremont and the St. Leonards Archway, the Eversfield water-works, Mr. Chamberlin’s resignation, bonds for officials, general district rates, the taking of beach, the removal of rocks, the improving a well at Halton, the financial conditions, bathing machines, the borrowing of £3,500, the taking of ten feet off the Eversfield parade, the preservation of public footpaths, the improvement of the Tackleway, the non-forthcoming of drainage plans, the list of attendances, Ald. Clement’s ​building​ designs in Robertson street, the salaries of employees, repairing of ​road​s and sea-wall, letting the Market Hall, the Duke of Wellington’s death, and funeral, and attendance at the latter, the conduct of the Mayor of Rye, the Hastings Mayor to take the initiative, the Pier-warden’s a/cs, the payment of the Local-Board map, Sabbath-day hiring of flies, the municipal elections, etc. — The Borough Election and disgraceful scenes thereat — The County election and similar scenes — Choosing Mayor, and charge of indiscretion by Mr. Ross — More political fire — Repeated contentions on the question of paying for the Local-Board map; the Town Clerk’s opinion and Counsel’s opinion dead against St. Leonards being charged with it; the County-Court judge deciding the same way; the East-ward Councillors yielding with ill-grace — Mr. Brisco’s bounties — Starting the Volunteer Rifle Corps — Mechanics’ Institution — The Atheneum — The Early-Closing Association — Smuggling mis-adventures — Loss of fishing-boats — Other maritime casualties — The Coppard family’s heroic actions in saving life — Railway items — Hastings and the Great Exhibition — Immense crowds to see the preliminary local show — The Duke of Brunswick and Mr. Green’s balloon ascent from Hastings – Natural materials to be found in Hastings and neighbourhood — Particular deaths and inquests — Accidents, fatal and otherwise — Robberies and Burglaries — Public dinners and private hospitalities — Balls and concerts — Lectures and lecturers — Complementary memorial to the E. Pepys, Esq., Vestry meetings — Missionary meetings — The Censi of 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851 — Curiosities and miscellaneous occurrences. [ 188 ]

Town Council Meetings

The Eversfield Parade. At the Council meeting, on the 2nd of January, it was resolved that the purchase be made of the Eversfield parade from the White-rock Brewery to the St. Leonards Archway, together with the groins, for the amount of the iron railings and lamp-posts, valued at £261. Also resolved on the motion of Ald. Scrivens that application be made for sanction to borrow £2,500 for repairs and improvements of said parade and purchase of same, roughly estimated at £375; for repairing the breach opposite the Saxon hotel, £625; for another breach at Eversfield place, £450; setting back the wall in front of the Infirmary, £575; for repairing groins, £325; and contingencies £150.

Special District Rate. — The Clerk, in introducing a recommendation of the Finance Committee for a special district rate at 3d., to be levied within the district of the late Commissioners’ Act, stated that the rate was required to pay off the interest of the Commissioners’ debt. Coun. Harvey objected, and in a lengthy and warm discussion which followed, the said Councillor thought it very much out of course for the Clerk to try to put down any member of the Council, and if that gentleman didn’t know his place, he should teach him.

More Dissensions. — At a special meeting on Jan. 14th, the Surveyor (Mr. Putland) having stated as a reason for delay in some of the work that he could not get the co-operation of the Inspector, the said Inspector (Mr. Thwaites) said he found his work much heavier than he expected, and he never anticipated being under the authority of the Surveyor. A long, and somewhat heated discussion followed, in which Mr. Deudney expressed regret that such an altercation had taken place, and hoped the Press would take as little notice of it as possible. Coun. Burfield reminded the meeting that they had been 1¼ hours without doing anything but fix the engine-keeper’s salary. He thought they ought to be restricted in their speaking. Coun. Rock said it was evident that the two officers were embarrassed in their work, but he thought if the Inspector would take his orders from the Surveyor it would go all right. — Coun. Ross agreed with Coun. Deudney, that it was a misfortune for the public to become acquainted with their dissensions thus early, but he could not approve of muzzling of the public press.

Railings and Lamp-posts. Mr. Eversfield and the Local Board having agreed to a valuation of the iron rails and lamp-posts, and that valuation being so very much below what they were supposed to be worth, a letter was received from Mr. Batty, expressing surprise at the valuer’s estimate of only one-fifth of their original cost; and hoping that Mr. Eversfield’s £25 cost of the appraisement would be paid by the Board. This, the [ 189 ]Board declined to do.

The Eversfield Waterworks. — A memorial having been received from a few persons east-ward of the Archway, complaining of the water in that district, Coun. Deudney and the Surveyor both testified to the excellent quality of such water, and that it was only necessary for the works to be properly constructed to ensure an unexceptional supply.

More Dissent. — It having been resolved to lay down 24,361 square feet of paving in the western district of a better kind than then existed, at a cost of £821, and to charge the owners of the houses two-thirds of such cost, Coun. Harvey pronounced such a decision too iniquitous to be tolerated, and he would put a notice on the agenda to rescind the motion.

Resignation. — At the Council meeting on Feb. 6th, Coun. Chamberlin’s resignation was received, together with the fine of £25, upon which a discussion ensued on the question of remitting the fine, as had been done previously in the cases of Mr. Mann, Dr. Moore, and Mr. Putland. Coun. Harvey proposed, and Coun. Rock seconded the remission. Coun. Ross wondered if the Mayor could put such a vote, and if it were put, he should most decidedly vote against it as illegal. The Mayor referred to the authority which at a previous meeting had been given him by the Council to write to Mr. Chamberlin [who was leaving the borough], that the fine, if paid, would be remitted. They had accepted his resignation on that condition, and Mr. Neve had been elected in his stead. — Coun. Ross again rose to address the meeting, when Coun. Harvey protested, saying that it would be the third time that Ross would have spoken, and that he ought not to be allowed to address the meeting so many times on one subject [Hear, hear!]. The motion being then put, was carried with only Coun. Ross’s dissentient vote.

Eversfield’s Thanks. — Coun. Deudney tendered to the Board the thanks of Mr. Eversfield, who had great pleasure in resigning the esplanade into their hands, and would be willing at all times to aid in public improvements. He would also have great pleasure in receiving any members of the Board to dine with him [Applause].

Bonds for the officials. — The after proceedings embraced the following resolutions: That bonds of £300 each be found by Mr. Phillips (collector of rates), Mr. Bailey (collector of coal duty), and Mr. Pierce (Waterworks Manager). That Mr. Phillips in future make out his own collecting book, and that the charge of £3 16s. 6d. for the same to the Town Clerk be discontinued.

District Rate. — Resolved that a district rate at 9d. in the pound be levied, to realise £2,124. The estimate on which this rate was founded [ 190 ]showed an excess of outlay for the six months of £2,137. Coun. Deudney was sorry that a lower rate could not be safely taken, and Coun. Ginner regretted the necessity for making so high a rate, but hoped that the increasing property in the borough would lighten the rates in future.

Refusals. — At a special meeting on March 5th, Mr. Hy Tree’s application for beach in front of two houses east of Denmark place, was not complied with. Mr. Simmons’s application to construct an ash-pit in Gower’s Walk, on the site of the old Town Wall [between East Bourne-street and Pleasant Row was also refused.

Removal of Rocks. — At the Council meeting on the 2nd of April, the Stonebeach Committee’s recommendation was adopted to remove the rocks at the foot of the short groin near the site of the old battery, to obviate the great scarcity of beach at that spot. It would have been well if other rocks had been removed. I once believed, with Mr. Beckles that rocks were a protection to the sea-front, but a long course of observation afterwards, convinced me that Dr. Bowerbank was right in his contention with Mr. Beckles, that where there were most rocks there was less beach.

A Capstan to be put down near the Saxon hotel for the use of a new pleasure-boat, would be permitted by Mr. Lynn, the owner, doing it at his own expense and paying 18s. a year.

A Barrack-ground Well. At the same meeting a long discussion took place on a proposition to clean out a well on the late Barrack Ground, 81 feet deep, and to erect a pump at an estimated expense of about £60. Coun. Ginner said the Local Board by taking over the ​road​ had got possession of the well near the Hope Inn, which well was both filthy and dangerous, and from which a dead cat had recently been drawn up. — Coun. Harvey corroborated Mr. Ginner’s description, except that the cat, which had been missed for a fortnight, was drawn up nearly dead, but was now running about quite lively. He moved that the expense be paid out of the general district rate. — Coun. Deudney proposed an amendment that the expense be a special district rate, it being for the special benefit of a particular district. — The West Ward had never asked the East Ward to pay for their water supply, and he was sure that if they had asked they would have been thrown on their backs. — Ald. Scrivens was apprehensive of a new principle of supply to a district with water provided by the Local Board. The waterworks were only made to pay by the rates from those who used the water, and he did not see that those who paid should also pay for those who did not. The principal proposed was therefore a dangerous one. Those who could build houses could dig wells, or repair those that were already dug. The original proposal to pay the expense out of the general rate was, however, carried.

£2,000 Wanted. — Another long discussion ensued on the recommendation of [ 191 ]the Finance Committee to borrow £2,000. Coun. Deudney was surprised that they should have been left so much in the dark. They had been led to suppose that only £1,000 would be wanted, but now it appeared that £1,400 was due to the Gas Company, and that the Market alterations, the contract for which was £600, had cost nearly £1,300. Coun. Ginner moved that the sum be advertised for. Ald. Scrivens thought that with consols at 98, they might possibly get the money at less than 4 per cent., but he was an advocate of the system of Exchequer loans, by paying so much principal and interest every year — say for 30 years, then who lived longest would pay most. [A penalty for taking care of one’s health.]

Alleged Injustice. — Coun. Deudney presented a memorial from the parishioners of Holy Trinity, complaining of a shilling[1] highway-rate, in addition to the nine-penny rate of the Local Board. He thought it was very hard that the new parishioners should be saddled with such additional burthen. — The Mayor (Mr. Hickes) explained that when the ​building​ operations commenced, the surveyors were obliged to alter the ​road​s; hence the expense. — Coun. Ross [exhibiting his usual political bias] also explained that when he first went into the parish there were excellent ​road​s, but since Mr. Robertson commenced his ​building​s on the Crown estate, it was decided to heighten the ​road​s. [Yes! And a very wise decision, too; not by Mr. Robertson, but by the Surveyor of the Local Board, of which Mr. Ross was a member. That gentleman should have known that the heightened ​road​ — now Robertson Street — was previously one of the worst ​road​s in the borough, and besides being low, was so hollow from about the centre to the western end, as to be flooded by the sea at spring tides, half the winter through. The only good ​road​ was the shorter and higher one under the cliff — now Claremont — and this was kept in good order mainly by Mr. Boykett Breeds, with chalk and beach: — Mr. Breeds being a lime-burner, as well as a coal, timber and porter-merchant. From that short street to White-rock street, the still existing avenue, west of Trinity Church, descended a considerable number of feet, in just the same manner as Levett’s passage now does from North street to Shepherd street.]

The Loan Obtained. — At the Council meeting on May 7th, after much discussion, it was resolved to accept the loan of £3,500 from the County Fire Office, at 4 per cent., no person having offered money, in reply to the advertisement, at a less rate of interest. — Ald. Scrivens expressed satisfaction that the money was to be borrowed on the equitable principle of paying with the interest every year, one thirtieth of the loan.

Bathing Machines. — Ald. Scrivens had put a notice on the agenda for the better regulation of bathing machines. He did not suppose they could legislate on the charges, but they could offer a suggestion. The dearness of bathing at Hastings was calculated to prevent visitors coming to the town. They complained of having to pay a shilling[2] for going into the water. — The Clerk stated that whereas the old Commissioners Act — now defunct — only prohibited bathing other than from machines between the east groyne and the Priory [ 192 ]culvert, the Local Board were empowered to prevent it from the east groin to the St. Leonards Archway, and from the west of St. Leonards to the extremity of the borough. — Ald. Clift said, at Ramsgate for the last two years, the price of bathing from a machine was only sixpence, and he had known a gentleman staying, with his family of 14 persons at Brunswick House, leave Hastings for Ramsgate, because the bathing here cost him a guinea a week more than it did there.

Narrowing the Parade. — At a special meeting of the Local Board, it was resolved to widen the ​road​ from the Infirmary to the Archway, by taking ten feet off the Parade. This was done under the superintendence of Mr. Putland, as well as the heightening of Robertson street, Mr. Putland being then the Town Surveyor. He was, however, complained of by some of the Liberal members at this meeting for having heightened the ​road​ in Robertson street without authority; but the Surveyor, at some length endeavoured to justify the act as one of urgent necessity. — Coun. Deudney thought they should have confidence in their surveyor, and not tie his hands in cases of emergency. — Coun. Ginner, while testifying to the ability and integrity of their Surveyor, said he sometimes commenced new works without authority. The discussion ended with a resolution to limit the Surveyor’s power to an expenditure to sums not exceeding £5.

Footpaths. — The Roads Committee reported that Mr. Shorter, the Town Clerk, had taken up the question of public footpaths, as great complaints were ab​road​ on the subject. A fence had been placed by Mr. Crawford across a footpath near St. Mary’s terrace, but it had been cut down by order of the Town Clerk. A path had also been illegally closed, leading along from the Gas Works to the western side of the Hop Gardens by Mr. Webb of the Hole Farm. Another path similarly jeopardized was one leading past Kite’s Nest farm towards Ore. Coun. Deudney expressed his desire that the public rights should not be encroached upon. [To the credit of that gentlemen, be it said, he never prevented persons using even private paths that had an outlet over his own grounds]. — Coun. Williams referred to Mr. H. E. Wyatt’s conduct in closing the bridle ​road​ in front of his house at Mount Pleasant and compelling people to go round at the back of his house, where unruly dogs were kept. — Resolved that Messrs. Clement, Clift, Ross, Williams and Deudney be a committee to look after the footpaths.

Committee’s Report. — At a special meeting on July 2nd, the Footpaths Committee reported that several footpaths within the borough boundaries had been stopped up, which having been used by the public for over 20 years, without protest, could not legally be closed. They recommended an immediate removal of the obstructions. This was afterwards done, and various improvements effected in connection with the right-of-way. Several paths were at once widened and repaired, and as many as fifteen [ 193-4 ]box-gates put up in the place of inconvenient stiles.

The Tackleway. — At the same meeting a memorial was received from ratepayers at the foot of the East hill for an improvement of the Tackleway, and the Local Board resolved to make application to Lady Waldegrave, as the owner of the hill, and to Mr. W. M. Eldridge, the possessor of the Crown Lane, for permission to make a carriageway of the Tackleway.

The Water Supply. — Coun. Ginner thought it would be best to come to terms with Mr. Clark and Mr. Eversfield for the waterworks which those gentlemen had established. A letter from Mr. Clark’s solicitor stated that from three to four thousand pounds had already been spent on the works, and that Clark had no desire to sell his interest. — Coun. Ross did not think the waterworks were worth treating for; an efficient supply might perhaps be got from Robertsbridge for that amount of money. [Perhaps not!] The Surveyor had great expectations of the new waterworks at Ecclesbourne.

A District Rate at 6d in the pound, on the motion of Councillor Deudney, was agreed upon, and another district rate at the same percentage was ordered at the meeting of the Aug. 6th.

Illness and Death. — At the meeting of Aug. 6th and at two or three previous meetings Mr. John Phillips performed the duties of Clerk, in consequence of Mr. Shorter’s illness. A letter of condolence was also ordered to be sent to the widow of the late Inspector of Nuisances. The said Inspector (John Dungate Thwaites) died on August 4th, at the age of 61 years, and was buried in the ground of the old Ore Church, where were also interred his first wife, who died in 1815, his second wife some years later, and three of his children. His third wife survived him till 1866.

What about the Drainage? At the same meeting (Aug. 6th) the Clerk, in his report, said, in February last he delivered to the Surveyor Mr. Gant’s plan of the town, with instructions to prepare plans for the drainage so far as the plan extended, but up to that time he had not been able to discover what progress had been made. He had asked the Surveyor to report in May, and it was then postponed to June, but even then there was nothing to show what had been done. He (the clerk) concluded that the Surveyor had been six months thinking about the drainage, and required three months more to adjust his thoughts. He was of opinion that in point of economy, as all the main drainage plans would require inspection and certifying by the General Board, it would be better to apply at once to the Board to send down a competent engineer to go over the town, and with the assistance of the Surveyor, to prepare a general system. — Coun. Rock moved that such application be made. — Coun Deudney would like to hear what the Surveyor could do. Mr. Putland then spoke at considerable length, saying it would be impossible to do any drainage that year. There was nothing [ 195 ]in the drainage he could not do, but he would not consent to be pushed into the unreasonable. He would tender his resignation if advisable. The first thing to be done was to secure a good water supply. The next thing to consider was whether the whole of the manure should be thrown into the sea, and he would like to have advice on that point. His work, so far, have been very heavy, and the town was never before so clean; but the drainage could not be commenced till the next year. To take the levels, if he did nothing else, would require three months. It was his intention to have the levels taken by a person who was clerk of the works at the esplanade, which, would occupy him about a month — not that he could not do it himself, but to save time. He had also thought of employing his brother, who had been engaged in railway work at Ashford, Rye and Robertsbridge. Hitherto his own labour had been so excessive that he felt his strength to be failing, although he had been as healthy a man as anyone in that hall. At that time no fewer than 150 houses were being built, all of which he had to attend to, more or less. To carry on all this work he must have an office in the centre of the borough which he intended to provide at his own expense. He had never once thought of his own pecuniary advantage, and had been already obliged to employ assistance. — A long discussion then ensued on the advantages and disadvantages of preserving the manure, and of draining into the sea. On the motion of Coun. Deudney it was resolved that the Surveyor lay his plans before the Board at the November meeting.

Attendances. — Coun. Ross complained that the Clerk had not produced the periodical return of attendances as ordered. This also gave rise to a long and animated discussion, several members being in favour of rescinding the order. Coun. Ross said persons should not take office if they could not attend to its duties. Coun. Harvey was sure the remark did not apply to him, for he was generally at the committee meetings a quarter of an hour before Mr. Ross, who only stopped just long enough to have his name put down [Laughter]. Coun. Ross rose to reply, but was met with cries of “Spoke,” “Question,” etc. He, however, rebutted the charge, and said that Harvey was the real delinquent, instancing the waterworks committee. “I’m not on that committee”, responded Harvey. — The order was afterwards rescinded.

Ground wanted. — The Building Committee having recommended that Mr. Clement’s application be granted on condition that an adjacent piece of ground on the north side of the east end of Robertson street should not be built upon, Coun. Beck moved that the report be confirmed, with the exception of the part named, such restriction being without precedent. Ald. Scrivens seconded, and the motion was carried. Coun. Amoore remarked that Ald. Clement might now give up the ground, but the Alderman replied, they had got 30 feet of his ground there already. [ 196 ]Salaries. — Coun. Deudney moved, and Ald. Clement seconded that a committee be formed of the whole Council to take into consideration the salaries of the employees, under the Municipal Act and the Public Health Act. He believed that the Board generally were unacquainted with the number of their employees and their remuneration.

Sundry Transactions. — At a special meeting the following business was transacted: — £195 to be transferred to the Local Board Sinking Fund; that the pier dues be collected half yearly; that three capstans be moved six yards lower down in consequence of accumulated shingle; that as £5 had been offered by contiguous inhabitants towards Mr. Spice’s price for the site of his rope-shop, the other £40 be paid to him; that fresh ground for his rope shop be let to him at 1/- a year; that Mr. William Winter be Inspector of Nuisances in place of the late Mr. Thwaites; and that Mr. Wyatt’s proposition to alter a path across the railway be not entertained.

Mr. Gant’s Plan, at the meeting on Sept. 3rd, of the entire district under the Local Board was produced. It was beautifully executed on a scale of two feet to a mile. The size was 5 feet to 10 ft. 6 in. Three smaller plans, 3 ft by 2 ft showed those portions of the district containing ​building​s not comprised in the plan ordered by the late Commissioners. Coun. Deudney said the boundaries were not correct, but could be easily altered. Coun. Ross thought accuracy very desirable, as last time when walking the boundary of the borough, great difficulty was experienced in consequence of it not having been previously gone over for a hundred years. In the said plan the township of St. Leonards was left blank. Coun. Deudney thought that town ought to be included, which Mr. Gant said would cost £40 extra, but which charge ought not to fall on St. Leonards, as that town had a map of its own, and the present map being for the Local Board. The entire expense so far had been £200 to the Local Board and £90 previously to the Hastings Commissioners. When lithographed, as contemplated, there would be an additional cost of £100. Coun. Williams thought that when St. Leonards was included, the map would become a municipal document, and that St. Leonards should bear its proportion of expense. The Mayor (Mr. Hickes) opined that St. Leonards could not legally be charged for that which only belonged to the Local Board, and Coun. Ginner was of the same opinion. Coun. Deudney was decidedly against St. Leonards paying for what its people did not order and did not want. Coun. Beck also objected. On the motion of Coun. Rock, St. Leonards was to be inserted, and the question of expense to be left open.

Repairing Roads. — The Surveyor having applied, through the Roads Committee for 120 yards of stone and 300 yards of broken boulders; at a cost of £300, Coun. Deudney objected to the use of flint, as being bad for horses feet, and causing an unpleasant dust when pulverized. The best piece of ​road​ was that which was made of hard blue stone by Mr. Burton’s father. The Surveyor knew that piece of good ​road​, but as there would be greater traffic where the stone was now wanted, he was anxious [ 197 ]to try an experiment with a mixture of stone and flint. Application granted.

The Sea-Wall. The surveyor having prepared plans for raising the sea-wall at Stratford place and White-rock place, at an estimate of £83, wished the tenders to come in at once, as the work would facilitate his operations on the ​road​. Coun. Williams and Coun. Harvey objected to the Surveyor’s application as being out of order. Coun. Rock deemed it necessary for the matter to go before a committee, as part of the parade belonged to the Crown. Motion carried accordingly.

The Market Hall. — Mr. James Ives having tendered £197 11s. for the hire of the Market, and Mr. Saunders, the previous lessee, £190, the latter was accepted. Mr. Ives being a Liberal in politics the rejection of his — the highest — tender, was afterwards a sore subject with those in the Council who professed the same views.

Duke of Wellington’s Death. — On the demise of the Duke, as Lord Warden, on the 14th of September, the Council held a meeting, at which a desire was expressed to pay every possible respect to the memory of the illustrious deceased, and it was suggested that a meeting of the Ports should be held. That no time might be lost, the Mayor at once drove over to Rye to see the Mayor (Mr. E. S. Banks), who being Speaker that year, had the power of calling the Ports together. On the request being made, the Mayor of Rye positively refused to do so, saying he was not aware of his being Speaker, or if he was, he should not write or give himself any trouble about the matter; “and so you have got your answer; some people think it an honour to be Mayor, but I don’t; it has been thrust upon me. The Duke was a very good man, I dare say; he is dead now, so why make any fuss? Let them bury him; I know what these undertakings are”. The Mayor of Hastings (Mr. Hickes) said he came not as a private individual, but as Mayor of the Chief port, to request the Speaker to do his duty. The reply was “If I refuse, what then?”

The Mayor’s Report. — At a special meeting of the Council on the 1st of October, the Clerk read a report from the Mayor, officially announcing the death of the Lord Warden as a national calamity. As Mayor of the Premier Port he went to Rye with Coun. Ross on the 17th ult., to request the Speaker to call a meeting of the Ports for considering what course the latter should pursue. But the Speaker refused to assert his authority or otherwise to interfere. On the day after, the Mayor of Romney, with Mr. Stringer, the Cinque Ports Solicitor, waited upon the Town Clerk of Rye (Mr. Dawes), who told them that Rye would take no active part in the matter. It was then arranged at Rye that the Solicitor should go to London to obtain an interview with Lord Derby. The Mayor of Romney and the Solicitor then came on to Hastings and saw the Town Clerk, who considered it advisable that the Solicitor should proceed on a mission to Lord Derby if the Speaker would not take any active part in the matter. The Mayor of Romney then returned to Rye, when the Speaker [ 198 ]consented to this arrangement. Having resolved to make one more effort to induce the Mayor of Rye to use his authority, the two gentlemen named made another call on him on Sunday, when the Town Clerk told them that the Mayor thought anything further to be necessary. On Sunday morning letters were received by the Mayor of Hastings from Sandwich and Hythe, asking, what was to be done? Whereupon the Mayor issued letters to the mayors of the other ports, stating that as the Mayor of Rye had refused to act as Speaker and declined to interfere, the Mayor of Hastings had been requested to take the initiatory step in the matter. He forthwith called a meeting of the mayors of the five Ports and two Ancient Towns, to be held at the Saracen’s Head, Ashford, on Sept. 21st, then and there to consider the subject. [Here a letter was read from the Town Clerk of Rye, which, after confirming thus much of the Mayor’s report, added “I am further directed to state the Council of this borough consider the proposed meeting, tomorrow to be altogether unnecessary, and do not intend to be represented at it.”]. At the meeting which took place at Ashford, the mayors of all the Ports attended, the two Ancient Towns of Rye and Winchelsea only being unrepresented, and resolutions were unanimously passed, expressive of a desire on the part of the Ports to pay every respect to the memory of the deceased Lord Warden. It was ordered that these views should be conveyed without delay to the Earl of Derby, and that the Mayors of Hastings, Sandwich and New Romney, with the Solicitor of the Cinque Ports should be a deputation to wait on Lord Derby for that purpose; also to solicit his lordship to allow at the public funeral the attendance of as many members of the Councils of the Cinque Ports as his lordship might deem expedient. On the 22nd of September the deputation proceeded to his lordship’s official residence, and were received by the Hon. Mr. Talbot, who promised to communicate Lord Derby’s reply. That reply was afterwards received, dated Knowsley, Sept. 25th, and was to the effect that the wishes of the Cinque Ports should be taken into consideration in the arrangements of the funeral.

Coun. Deudney opined that the Mayor had a strong claim on their gratitude for the zealous and able manner in which he had upheld the interests of the Ports on this occasion; he therefore moved that the thanks of the Council be presented to the Mayor for his attention and exertions. Coun. Harvey seconded, and the motion was unanimously carried.

The Mayor (T. Hickes), in acknowledging the compliment, said, that so far as he was concerned, he felt a pleasure in doing anything which lay in his power to uphold the dignity of the borough. He felt, from the commencement of the recent proceedings, that the old custom and privileges of the Cinque Ports should not be forgotten [Hear, hear!], and that it was proper for it to be shown to the world that the Ports still existed. He had been induced to go further than at first was contemplated in consequence of what he must call his extraordinary reception at Rye. The nature of that reception could not have resulted from any private pique between himself and the Mayor of Rye, as he had never had the honour of becoming [ 199 ]acquainted with that gentleman till they met on this subject, as stated in the report. He had seen what had been put in print concerning this interview, and he felt bound to say that the printed version was as correct as words could make it. [General applause].

The Funeral. — A letter was afterwards received by the Solicitor of the Ports to the effect that the Barons would be represented in the procession of the Duke of Wellington’s funeral by the attendance of a deputation of four persons in one carriage, and that seats would be provided for such of the Mayors as were not included in the deputation, as well as for seven persons representing the remaining corporate members of the Two Ancient Towns and Members thereof. The seats here indicated were to be in St. Paul’s Cathedral. The question next arose as to who were to occupy a place in the procession, and this was determined at a meeting held at Rye on the 28th of October. They were to be the Mayors of Hastings, Sandwich, Dover and New Romney. The Mayor of Rye (strange to say, after his previous conduct) claimed the right, as Speaker, to be one in the procession, but this was properly negatived by the voting. The four mayors thus selected rode in the seventh carriage as numbered in the procession, and in the Cathedral seats were provided for all the mayors of the Cinque Ports and their adjuncts. To the Mayor of Hastings (T. Hickes, Esq.) was mainly due the full recognition of the Ports and their allies, whilst to the Mayor of Rye (E. S. Banks, Esq.) belonged the discourtesy — to use a mild term — of which the people of Rye could not be proud.

The Pierwardens Account — to go back to the meeting on the 1st of October — it showed a balance in hand of only £8 5s. 9d., and it was stated that if the suggested reduction of stade dues had been made there would have been a deficit of £14.

The Stade Dues — The Stone-beach Committee recommended a reduction of the stade dues from 10s. to 5s. on vessels under 60 tons, which would include all except colliers. Ald. Emary said that unless the reduction were made (which would require an alteration of the bye-laws) the coasting vessels would be beaten by the railway, and would cease to sail altogether. Coun. Williams said the railway had been complained of for its high rates and imperfect accommodation; but, as the South-Eastern railway at Ramsgate and Margate had to contend with steamboats, the rates charged in those towns were lower. — Referred to Committee.

Sea Wall. — Resolved that the sea-wall from Claremont ​road​ to the Infirmary be raised from zero up to two feet, at an estimate of £84 14s. be proceeded with.

A Borough Rate at 3½d in the pound had been figured as being necessary, and the same was agreed upon, the previous rate had been fivepence.

The General Map. — Coun. Williams moved that the expense of the general map of the borough, be paid out of the borough rate, arguing that as a municipal body, they had a right to a municipal map, and that although the map preparing by Mr. Gant had been ordered under different circumstances, now that it was to be a borough map it ought to be treated as such. In the first instance, [ 200 ]the three parishes of St. Clement’s, All Saints and St. Mary-in-the Castle paid £94 10s. for the map, as it then only represented those parishes. A further expense of £200 was then incurred (as yet unpaid) to include the remaining portion of the borough, exclusive of St. Leonards. It was now thought desirable to include St. Leonards. This entailed a further expense of £40. Then, as the £94 10s. paid by the three parishes could not be dealt with, it was only just, that the £240 should be charged to the entire borough. — Ald. Burton protested against such a motion. The map was ordered strictly for sanitary purposes for the district out of St. Leonards, that town having already a large map of its own. The inhabitants, however, were not disposed to cavil about any reasonable expense, and were ready to bear their portion of the £40 incurred for the insertion of St. Leonards in the enlarged map, although they did not require it. — Coun. Deudney seconded Ald. Burton’s amendment, that with the exception of the £40, the expense should be borne by the Local Board. He believed the Council could not legally enforce the main proposition. — Coun. Beck said the insertion of St. Leonards in the map was a point on which they were all agreed, and the Town Council could only order the money to be paid for that portion from the municipal funds. The map, when completed would belong to the Local Board only, for its drainage and other sanitary purposes. — The original motion was, however, carried, a result which was anticipated, seeing that even if all the Councillors of the West Ward voted there would have been only six, as against twelve in the East Ward. It was this inequality of representation between East and West that gave certain members of the Council the assurance of victory in any important question that affected the two divisions as separate entities; and, as will be seen in other matters yet to be dealt with, continued to disturb the relations of the two sections.

The Tackleway. — Lady Waldegrave’s reply to the application of the Local Board was to the effect that she had no objection to the widening and extending the Tackleway from the Church pathway to the “Look-out” if a retaining wall of from 5 to 6 feet were constructed at the foot of the East hill. Mr. Eldridge had also agreed to give up the Crown Lane for such compensation as Mr. Inskipp, an architect, might consider fair.

Water Supply. — The Committee appointed on the West Ward water supply reported that they could not recommend the Eversfield waterworks either for purchase or hire, and advised that a trial-shaft, to cost about £20, be sunk near the Gas-works, where, when the new gasometer was erected, a spring was found, said to yield from 50,000 to 100,000 gallons a day. — Recommendation adopted.

Sabbath-day Flys. — In a speech of considerable length, Coun. Williams moved that flies should not be allowed to ply for hire on Sundays. The motion was supported by Councillors Rock, Amoore, Beck and Peerless, and opposed by Ald. Clift, Ald. Scrivens, Couns. Ross, Harvey and T. B. Williams (the proposer’s brother). The motion was negatived by a majority of one. [ 201 ]Municipal Election. The outgoing members of the Council were Messrs. C. P. Hutchings, J. Amoore, C. J. Jeudwine, and T. B. Williams, in the East Ward. Mr. Jeudwine declined standing again, but the others sought re-election, and five other candidates appeared in the persons of J. Emary, jun., S. Gutsell, J. R. Bromley, G. Winter and R. Funnell. In the West Ward the outgoing Councillors were C. Neve and J. Rock, jun. These stood for re-election, with H. W. Tree, a third candidate. The polling commenced at nine and closed at four, the votes being taken at the Town Hall and the St. Leonards St. Leonards Assembly Rooms. At Hastings the presiding alderman was C. Clift, Esq., and at St. Leonards, G. Clement, Esq. The numbers polled for the East Ward candidates were J. Emary, jun., 513; S. Gutsell, 493; T. B. Williams, 463; J. Amoore, 441. J. R. Bromley 416; C. P. Hutchings, 383; G. Winter, 306; and R. Funnell 149. Thus two of the old members and two new candidates were returned. In the West Ward the numbers were 176 for Neve, 170 for H. W. Tree, and 94 for J. Rock, jun. It was difficult to account for the rejection of Mr. Rock, who was one of the most intelligent members of the Council and had done much extraneous work in connection with the Great Exhibition and in other ways, both for the honour and the benefit of the town. As a municipal election the proceedings were both unusual and disreputable; a faithful description appeared in the Hastings News as follows. —

“The recent election for the vacant seats in the Town Council has given rise in the East Ward to a contest probably more severe than ever yet known on a like occasion. . . . . So far as appearances could be trusted, it was evident that one consideration reigned paramount with the election agents — namely, that of securing the return of those who would best serve political purposes. We make this statement fearlessly, as it is a matter of public notoriety; and, as it is a matter of fault on both sides of the question, our neutrality cannot be compromised by this declaration. In the West Ward there was little or no excitement, but in the East Ward a most active contest raged. Public-houses were marvellously hospitable, and beer abounded. Flies were darting about incessantly while the poll was open. Despite the humid atmosphere and muddy streets, a large crowd assembled in and about the Town Hall, provoking the curious observer to a calculation of how many days were lost in the aggregate to the working-men of Hastings by their anxiety to see the proceedings connected with this annual saturnalia. As the day wore on here and there a drunken man would be seen rolling and staggering through the streets, and by the evening the number of inebriates was disgraceful to the reputation of the town. Working men, scarcely able to keep on their feet from intoxication, were to be seen on every hand, reeling about with cigars in their mouths. The ordinary tobacco-pipe seemed to be renounced for the day. To any reflecting mind the scene was a strange compound of the melancholy and the absurd. The drunkenness [ 202 ]visible at the Borough Election apparently fell short of the excess displayed on this comparatively trifling occasion. In the course of the day the presiding alderman at the Town Hall was scoring down the votes as they were given in. Mr. Harman and Mr. H. N. Williams protested against this act, and announced their intention of disputing the validity of the election if this course were persevered in. The presiding alderman said if anyone had a complaint to make, they had their remedy, and he declined altering his mode of proceeding. In addition to this, Mr. A. Harvey requested the presiding Alderman to turn out of the department where the votes were taken, all persons who were not immediately connected with the proceedings. This request was complied with. Afterwards, some disturbance in which Mr. Harvey was involved, took place in the Hall, and that gentleman was removed. Not long afterwards, Mr. Harvey returned and provoked some remonstrance from Mr. J. Bannister. General confusion and scuffling ensued, and the presiding Alderman requested that as the election was interrupted by the presence of Mr. Harvey, that gentleman should be removed. The police commenced a general clearance of the disorderly characters, in the midst of which Mr. Harvey was taken into custody. The confusion was then increased, and when the police appeared in the street with Mr. Harvey in custody, the excitement was prodigious. Males and females vied in creating one of the most tumultuous uproars known in Hastings for many years. The police drew their staves, blows were given and received. Police Constable Adams sustained considerable damage on the nose, and an alarming scrimmage took place. . . . . The news spread like wildfire that Mr. Harvey — a councillor; a guardian, a churchwarden — was in the Watchhouse. A house on fire was nothing to it, and no parish engine was ever gazed upon with more interest at the conflagration of a cobbler’s stall then were the redoubtable squad of policemen who laid there sacrilegious hands on Mr. Harvey.”

[This offender and two others were liberated on bail, and on the following day Mr. Harvey was fined by the magistrates 20s. and costs.]

Choosing of Mayor. — The ninth of November came round in due course, and, as usual, the Council of the town met to perform their civic functions of choosing a Mayor and transacting other business. Coun. Alfred Amoore, in proposing Mr. Hickes for re-election, said he did so without hesitation, as that gentleman had performed the duties in the past year with credit to himself and satisfaction to the borough. Coun. Deudney seconded, and Ald. Burton suggested that if there were no amendment the motion might be carried by acclamation. — Coun. Ross, with signs of disappointment at the defeat of the Liberals at the recent Borough Election, displayed his political animus, by saying that up to a recent period he had greatly admired the conduct of their worthy Mayor, and had determined on all occasions to support him, but when he, as Mayor took the chair at a political [ 203 ]dinner to celebrate a Conservative triumph, he (Mr. R.) was sorry that he had so far forgot himself [No, no! and Yes, yes!]. He would declare with all the fervency he possessed that the Mayor did forget himself [confusion] Yes, and all the cry in the world would not put him down; he was sent there by the burgesses, and he would do his duty. He still respected their worthy Mayor, and if that gentleman were elected he would give him his cordial support, but he considered that he had committed an error of judgment. — Ald. Emary was sorry that any necessity existed for the remarks of Mr. Ross, but he felt that little need be said to recommend Mr. Hickes for re-election. The motion was then put to the vote and carried unanimously. The Mayor elect thanked the Council for their high approval. Last year he was merely elected by a majority, but this year they had honoured him with unanimity. His friend Mr. Ross had referred to his having presided at a recent dinner, but he would say now, as he did then, that if the opposite party had elected two members to represent the borough and, afterwards 300 burgesses gave them a dinner, he should have felt himself justified, if requested, in presiding at that dinner [Applause]. Whether Liberal or Conservative, he considered himself to be at the call of so large a number of burgesses [Hear, hear!]. With reference to the future, he was aware that a heavy expenditure would be required. It became them not to spend money so grudgingly as to require the work to be done twice over. There was no occasion to launch out on a large scale at once, but whatever they did, their plans should first be well matured. He would suggest that they put only five gentlemen on each committee, by which means there would be five committees without any gentleman being obliged to serve on more than one. That would be a division of labour which would make the work much easier than at present. — Coun. Harvey moved that Ald. Clement be the presiding alderman for the East Ward. Coun. Ross objected, and moved an amendment that Ald. Emary be the presiding alderman.

More Political Fire — Mr. Ross had had his fling at a Conservative Mayor for what he described as an error. Now comes the retaliation of the Conservatives for what they considered was equally an error on the part of a Liberal Alderman. — Coun. Williams complained of the conduct of Ald. Clift at the muncipal election in scoring the votes as they were handed in, thus obtaining information which might be used for party purposes. [It was this irregularity which first started the tumultuous scenes which occurred]. Coun. Ross warmly resented Coun. Williams’s remarks, ascribing them to a party spirit, forgetting for the nonce, his own exhibition of party spirit. He characterised Williams’s charge as base, and said if anyone had dared to insinuate such a charge against himself that individual should have heard of it again. [Ironical laughter] Yes, that he should. The charge was only worthy of the person who made it [Oh, oh!]. — Ald. Clift denied [ 204 ]having made any improper use obtained by him. The only information he gave was to Mr. William Amoore. — The Mayor hoped they would have as few speeches as possible, as there was a good deal of business to get through. The motion which gave rise to this heated discussion resulted in Ald. Clift being elected presiding alderman for the East Ward, and Ald. Clement for the West Ward.

Pier Dues. The Pierwarden reported that in the year 1851-ˋ2 of there were 12 local vessels above 60 tons and 7 under 60 tons which grounded. Of stranger vessels there were 4 over 60 tons and 14 under. It was explained that why foreign vessels were made to pay 4d. a chaldron pier dues on coals, and local vessels, such as the Pelican, only 10s. for the entire cargo, was because the local taxation fell upon the inhabitants, in which traders at a distance had no share.

The Map Again. Ald. Burton moved that the Council should rescind an order made at their last meeting for payment out of the Borough fund of the expense of preparing the map of the municipal borough, and in lieu thereof to order that the £40 be paid out of the borough fund for mapping St. Leonards alone. The map was originally ordered by the Local Board, and not by the Council. He would admit that the existing order would not put St. Leonards to a very great expense, but the opposition was directed against a wrong principle. The following memorial was then read: —

“The Commissioners of St. Leonards beg to assure the Town Council of Hastings of their readiness and desire to fall in with the wishes of the Council so long as they are consistent with justice to the St. Leonards ratepayers, but they must frankly declare that in their opinion the cost of the maps constructed for the Local Board of Health for their own purposes, ought, on every principle of justice to be paid as agreed upon by the Local Board. The Commissioners cannot doubt that the characteristic straightforwardness customary with English bodies, will always prevail, both with the Commissioners and the Town Council in their intercourse with one another. The contract with Mr. Gant for the maps having been entered into by the Local Board of Health, the Commissioners of St. Leonards cannot come to any other conclusion than that as above expressed; and they especially beg to call the attention to that document.”

Coun. Deudney seconded Ald. Burton’s motion, and the Town Clerk being appealed to, referred to the original order, and found, as stated, in the memorial, that the original order for the £150 map was made in the name of the Local Board of Health, whilst the addition of St. Leonards was ordered by the Council. Coun. Williams, however, still opposed the motion, as did also Coun. Ross and Coun. Ginner. Coun. Tree remarked that St. Leonards never wanted the Public Health Act and had not got it. It also did not want the map, for it had got [ 205 ] one of its own. Coun. Beck, in supporting the motion, compared the conduct of Hastings towards St. Leonards in this matter with his buying a gig on credit, taking Mr. Williams for a ride in it, and then, because the expense of the vehicle proved to be rather heavy, trying to make Mr. Williams bear a part of the cost. After all there was a question as to the legality of the order. The motion was then put and lost by 3 votes — 12 against 9. This was a foregone conclusion and when it is considered that Mr. Burton’s part of St. Leonards had only a part of the representation of the six West-ward councillors, as against the twelve East-ward councillors, it goes to show that in obtaining so many as nine votes for Ald. Burton’s motion, some of the East-ward members must have voted for the cause of justice. But although thus thwarted, it will here be shown, the Commissioners were not to be beaten, numerically powerless as they were in the matter of representation at the Council board.

“Truth and Justice oft may fail
Nor should any doubt they will;
But let energy prevail,
And then Truth shall triumph still.”

At the next meeting (Dec. 3rd), Coun. Harvey having moved the adoption of the Finance Committee’s recommendation that certain bills be paid, including £150 for making the map, Coun. Deudney moved, as an amendment that the said map be paid for out of the Local Board funds. In supporting the amendment, Ald. Burton again protested against the original motion, whereby St. Leonards was called upon to pay for what was specially ordered by the Local Board, particularly after what the Town Clerk had stated on a former occasion that the course was illegal. He would suggest, even as a matter of courtesy, that Counsel’s opinion be taken on the point, and if such opinion be against them, then the St. Leonards ratepayers would cheerfully pay towards the £150; but if the contrary, he hoped the Town Council would agree to pay for the map out of the funds of the Local Board. Coun. Beck, in supporting the amendment, said it was of no use taking votes, as the result was a foregone conclusion. If, they first took counsel’s opinion, he would abide by that opinion whatever it might be. — The amendment, when put to the vote was negatived as expected. Counsel’s opinion was nevertheless obtained, and notwithstanding that it was strongly worded against the pretensions of the East Ward Councilmen, and notwithstanding that their own Clerk was against them, as also the decision of the County-Court judge, they yielded at last with the utmost ill-grace. Further details will appear in chapter fifty, as the question was not settled until in 1853.

Cavendish Place. — The Clerk desired to know how the £60 was to be raised that had been voted for the improvement of Cavendish Place? In the Finance Committee’s report it was recommended that a penny-rate be levied within the district of the late Commissioners’ Act, towards the Commissioners’ debt. Coun. Harvey complained that the Board should know so little of its financial position. They were called upon to [ 206 ]pay a new rate before they knew how the old one was spent. Was there any sinking fund, and if so, how was it being applied to the late Commissioners’ debt? The Clerk stated that there was an available sum at the Bank for that purpose of £394. It was therefore resolved, on the motion of Coun. Harvey, that £400 be applied to the reduction of such debt, and that Mr. Aubert receive notice that he would be required to take that amount in three months’ time.

The Drainage Plans. — The Surveyor (Mr. S. Putland) produced some plans, which he said were not yet ready, but were well forward. The weather of the last two months would have prevented any man working out of doors. He had found it necessary to take the levels of every house, which he did not expect at first. Coun. Harvey said he began to despair of getting the plans. They had now been 16 months in office, had levied heavy rates, and the ratepayers expected long ago to have seen the drainage taken in hand. The plans were not now ready, as promised, and he feared they would lose the whole of next year through these delays. The Surveyor’s duties appeared to be so arduous that he could not get on with them. If the Surveyor attended to those duties more, instead of being so constantly absent from them in attending other places, he would perhaps get on better [These remarks probably had reference to Mr. Putland’s religious and political proclivities and activity as opposed to those of Mr. Harvey]. The Health of Towns Act required to be expeditiously carried out, and the Surveyor should either do the plans or give them to someone else.

The Surveyor Explains. Again the Surveyor explained that the weather had been bad, and such a condition he thought was fortunate, for if an attempt had been made to carry out the drainage, it would have been extremely hazardous. For the purpose of forwarding the plans he had endeavoured to get assistance, but the preparation of railway plans for the Parliamentary Sessions had employed so many hands that he had been unable to get efficient assistance. If anyone could point out a suitable person, he should be happy to have him. He would just say that the Public Health Act had already done much for the cleanliness of the town. When asked where he found it, he said, on the previous day, he found the Bourne cleaner than he had seen it before. [If the Surveyor had lived close to the Bourne for nearly three years, as the present writer had done, he would have known that the rain which he complained of, was the sole agent in cleansing the Bourne, and that though the increase of water at first put the stream in a turbid condition, it soon after became more than ordinarily pellucid.] He wanted a map of the Priory Brook on the same scale as the large plan. The borough map was of no use to him. — Coun. Williams, without wishing to say one word in disparagement of the practical knowledge of their Surveyor, thought it was evident that he had begun without knowing how much was required of him. He now said that without a particular map he could not go on with his scheme of drainage. Most people thought the drainage of the town was one of the chief reasons why the Board of Health was required. He thought the Surveyor had put a new feature on the case. — Mr. Gant having been sent for, respecting the map, he attended, and said the Priory culvert could be put on the map in a few minutes, even while the Council were sitting. It [ 207 ]was resolved, however, that Mr. Gant should prepare a plan of the Priory Brooks on a large scale. The Mayor hoped that they had got rid of the map, and desired the Council to get on with other business.

Cavendish place. The question of raising the £60 already noticed for the improvement of Cavendish place was involved in the following arrangement: — It had been resolved that the Board should contribute £50 for the purchase of the property, and £10 for effecting an improvement in connection with Mr. Standen’s step and coal vault. Also, in order to carry out the proposed improvement it was needful to purchase some premises belonging to Miss North, who would sell the same for £200. Lady Waldegrave would give £100 for a part of the premises, and another part was worth £20, so that £80 was wanted to make up the deficiency.

Wyatt’s Path. — The Mayor produced a communication from Mr. Wyatt, asking the Board to take over his “new and safe path and bridge” which had crossed the railway a little below St. Mary’s terrace, and to close the old path, which was “dangerous”. As this was but a repetition of a previous application, it was not entertained, it being regarded as an attempt to deprive the public of one of their footpaths.

A Shooting Freak. At the same meeting (Dec. 3rd) the Town Clerk reported that Mr. Abel Shirley had been able to pay ten shilling[3]s as compensation for shooting at one of the Pierwarden’s children — namely one of the buoys swimming in the sea.

Letting Waste Beach-land. — It was resolved that a 21 years’ lease be granted to boat-builder Geo. Tutt, of 30 by 70 feet of waste-beach, adjoining his present shop, at 10s. per foot frontage; that 60 feet at same place be let to Geo. Winter & Son at the same rate; and that it was not expedient to lower the pier dues on the vessels over 60 tons.

Another Map. — Mr. Gant appeared with a statement that the borough map on one half the existing scale would cost £100 for 300 copies struck off from zinc or stone, or £130 from copper plate. It was resolved that Mr. Gant should be at liberty to publish the plans as his own speculation.

The Accompts. — On the motion of Coun. Deudney, it was carried that the Local Board a/cs. after being audited, should be printed and circulated among the members of the Council.

Altering a groyne. — The Surveyor stated that he had had cut down at an expense of £3, a groyne near Lossenham, to preserve the Eversfield parade from danger, and that it answered very well. — Ald. Scrivens did not object to the removal of the planks, but he was sorry the piles had been cut. The alderman certainly took the best of view of the case, seeing that if the supposed remedy eventually failed, the planks could easily have been replaced.

A New Yacht

The Mr. George Tutt, mentioned above as the lessee of waste-beach from the Council, was the builder of a new yacht, capable of carrying 100 persons, for Mr. Miles, of Brighton. She was a clipper schooner, resembling in rig and at build the celebrated American Yacht, but with a flatter bottom for more convenient landing. She was named “Skylark”. [ 208 ]

The Borough Election

I have witnessed a considerable number of Parliamentary elections and some of them of a burly character, especially the one in 1835, when the Rt. Hon. Joseph Planta, as a candidate, was roughly used and spat upon; but even that election hardly equalled in spleen and turbulence the one in 1852.

The Nomination. — The 7th of July it was one of the hottest days of an unusually hot summer, and that was the day previously selected for the nomination. The Liberal candidates, Messrs. Warre and Locke, with their supporters, were the first to arrive at the hustings in the Priory Meadow, and filed up into the north side of the same. Next came Patrick Mr. Robertson and his supporters, also in processional order, soon followed by a still gayer procession with Mr. Brisco, who located themselves in the south division of the hustings, which like the other faced what is now Queen’s ​road​. In front, between a row of carriages and the Hustings, was an immense crowd, among which were to be seen big loaves, little loaves, and other exhibitions which pretty well indicated the kind of reception some of the candidates were likely to get. Cheering and hissing, clapping and yelling immediately commenced even before the returning officer had time to explain the object of the meeting. The Mayor (T. Hickes, Esq.) in addressing the several thousand persons before him remarked that if the parties hooted each other, neither party would be able to hear what the other had to say. The electors were not obliged to believe all that might be spoken, but they were bound, in common fairness, to hear all sides.

W. Crake, Esq. had the honour, he said, to propose his old friend, Musgrave Brisco, Esq., of Coghurst Hall [A Conservative! Gentlemen, shouted Mr. W. D. Cooper, a signal for another volley of hooting and hissing]. I am glad to see you all so cheerful, resumed Mr. Crake [Give up your brief; it’s no use!] Our duty to-day will be much prolonged if we have so many of these are amusing interruptions. One point I would like the candidates to remember, and that is the necessity for improved railway communications. It is a question of home politics, and I hope whoever comes off victorious in this contest, he will strive to advance our interests in that respect. In nominating Mr. Brisco, I can speak of him as a well tried friend [Cheers and groans].

Mr. F Smith, a banker, seconded the nomination, and remarked that he would not advocate the cause of Mr. Brisco if he did not feel convinced that he had given satisfaction to a majority of the constituents. If they returned Mr. Brisco, he was sure that gentleman would act honestly [Yes, sell the poor man!]. He was glad to see that large loaf before him, for Mr. Brisco was a man to favour that, and not the small loaf. [Confusion]. Mr. Brisco would never favour the reimposition of duty on corn [We won’t have it!]. They had four candidates, and he would treat them all with the utmost respect, whatever might be the result.

Mr. Alderman Emary, hotel-keeper, had the honour of proposing their old and tried friend, John Ashley Warre, Esq. [Cheers]. It was now 24 years since Mr. Warre came to open the borough and to extricate the constituency from their political thraldom. Hastings was at that time a close and [ 209 ]rotten borough with only 17 voters [28 voters — 10 jurats and 18 freemen]. They had not yet got all they wanted, but they had seen the constituency increase from about 30 to 1100*. He therefore called on the electors to support Mr. Warre as a progressive reformer. Something had been said about a stranger. He would ask what Hastings would be without strangers? Without them, instead of it being the second town in the county it would relapse into its original condition of a mere fishing village. He thought it a great honour to propose Mr. Warre [Cheers].

Mr. Nelson Andrews, lodging-house keeper, in an excited speech, with much personality, seconded the nomination. His suggestions of bribery, and his statement that one Conservative candidate had tried to out-manoeuver the other by recommending the splitting of votes, provoked a demand to name the party, which he declined to do. Several other parts of his speech met with flat denials and contradictions. They also caused confusion, and some of the Liberals wished to their cause were in better hands.

Mr. R. Ranking, surgeon, next addressed the electors, and said that measures, not men, should be their watchword, but measures must be represented by men; and he had the honour of proposing a man of sterling principles [He has none!]. He would propose Peter Francis Robertson — he meant Patrick Francis Robertson [Mr. Cooper — “He is such a stranger that he doesn’t know his name!”]. That gentleman would not fail to support the dignity of the Crown, the rights of the people and the integrity of the Protestant faith [Uproar]. Then, as to the Free Trade question, he was sure that Mr. Robertson would not vote for the re-imposition of the duty on corn [Cheers and hisses]. Mr. Robertson wished to see the people fed, and with even better bread than the big loaf before him — with one, in fact, not made with chaff [Cheers and counter-cheers]. They had substantial evidence of the interest Mr. Robertson took in the borough by the handsome ​building​s that were being erected, which they could see from that spot.

Mr. Councillor Deudney, yeoman, stepped forward to second the nomination, but was met with such an uproar, that the Mayor had to appeal for a hearing. But even he could not be heard, and amidst the tumultuous din several of the Liberal roughs mounted the barriers and refused to get down. Mr. Deudney then leant forward on the bar, and announced his determination to be at his ease until he obtained a hearing. He afterwards said he would endeavour to express his views fairly whether they heard him or not. I am, he said “a public servant of the inhabitants in the Town Council, and as long as I remain in it, I will endeavour to do my duty faithfully. Mr. Robertson is a British merchant who knows the world, and has exerted himself to reduce the burden of taxation. He has been spoken of as a Scotchman. Well, a man never need be{ [ 210 ]ashamed of his birthplace as long as he manifests an honest principle, [You never did!]. You have now amongst you a family that is spending a princely fortune and exhibiting a liberal and charitable spirit. I hope and expect to see Mr. Robertson in a proud position on the poll [Cheers and yells].

*[Nearly 300 freemen voters were made by invitation of the Corporation before the passing of the Reform Bill]

Mr. Alderman Clift, next proposed Mr. Locke, the Radical candidate, but was greeted with as much discordant noise as was Mr. Deudney, some shouting that he was mad as usual. He stood, he said, before them as a consistent reformer of all abuses; as an advocate of the large loaf and repeal of the Corn Laws; as a supporter of the man who offered himself in accordance with these principles. Ought not the electors of Hastings to support such a man [No, no!, Yes, Yes! and great confusion]. He hoped they would adopt the Mayor’s advice and give all a fair hearing, so as not to disgrace the borough. He concluded by proposing John Locke, jun., Esq. The announcement was received with a few cheers, but more hisses, thus showing that Mr. Locke was not a favourite even with the Liberals.

Mr. Robert Hollond, a retiring member, in seconding the nomination, remarked that no one could doubt the advantages of Free Trade; still they were in danger of reverting to the old laws of Protection [No, no!]. They should endeavour to maintain those liberal institutions which had been gained since the Reform Act. Were he not convinced of this, he should not stand in opposition to their old and tried friend, Mr. Brisco, whose labours on their behalf he could bear witness to [Conservative cheers]. But they must do their duty. He had known Mr. Locke as a school-fellow, and he had known him in public as a man of professional and political eminence. He hoped they would do as he intended to do, vote for Mr. Warre and Mr. Locke.

Mr. Brisco addressed the electors amidst renewed tumult. In again asking for their support, he was assured he had fulfilled every pledge he had given them [Much cheering]. He could not omit the present opportunity of paying a tribute of respect to his late honourable colleague, Mr. Hollond [Cheers]. They had not sat on the same side of the House [Why didn’t you?], but whenever a question of a local character was to be considered, he always found Mr. Hollond ready to co-operate for the good of the borough. He could give Mr. Hollond credit for a sincere desire, equal to his own, to perform his duty to his constituents [Cheers]. He wished to return thanks for their personal Kindness to himself during his canvass. They might be politically opposed to each other, but every Englishman had a right to his opinion. He did not see why political differences should destroy personal friendship or cause them to act otherwise than fairly and candidly. He would remind them that he voted with Lord John Russell against the Papal aggression [Treat working men well! Give them the big loaf! This was an imperious [ 211 ]order, and quite inapplicable, it being well known that Mr. Brisco was one of the most liberal benefactors to the poor in the whole borough]. He pledged himself to vote against any attempt to re-impose a duty on foreign corn. He had endeavoured to advance the prosperity of his labourers, many of whom were there and could speak for themselves. He felt a pleasure in going round to the cottagers, to see if they were comfortable [Much confusion and interruption here prevailed, caused by the rougher element among the Liberals, which induced even Mr. Cooper to call for order, and to declare that Mr. Brisco was one of the best landlords in the county, and that he (Mr. C.) as a liberal, had a right to say it]. He was always happy to meet his tenants and workpeople, and he believed that no one could charge him with ever having done a dishonourable action [Cheers and hisses].

Ald. J. A. Warre said it was with feelings of proud gratification that he found himself once more on his old ground. He would express his concurrence in what had been said by their townsman, Mr. F. Smith, and would endeavour to avoid all personalities; but on the question of Free Trade he had expected something more encouraging than a cold and reluctant consent. He had expected something about the extension of the franchise, upon law reform and upon national education. On Mr. Brisco’s banners he noticed “Reform when needed” and “No Delusion” [Laughter]. He disliked delusions as much as anybody, but Mr. Brisco should have told them what delusions he meant [The reporters’ bench here broke down through other persons getting on them for whom they were not intended, which caused more laughter, but no slaughter]. He wished to put a few questions to Mr. Robertson, if not too late in the day. He had expected him to fulfil a recorded promise of some ten weeks date, that he was looking forward to various opportunities of stating his views at greater length. It was for Mr. Robertson to choose his own time, but the opportunities were now reduced to one. There were hundreds and thousands who were disappointed that explanations had not come sooner. [The speaker then indulged in personalities which he had promised not to do. He was profuse in questions and assertions, and evoked responses of a similar character, which gave rise to much confusion. He was told to be content with giving his own opinion, and when asked if he did not vote for the Militia Bill, he said he did not, because there was none when he was in Parliament, but he admitted having voted for the Mutiny Bill, and told Mr. Langham that he was making a happy confusion between lawyers’ law and military law.] He would ask Mr. Robertson to give his opinion on the management clauses of the Education question, a matter of no small moment, the dispute being whether the Puseyites should not have the dominant ascendancy [Conservative No, no!] He would tell them that if they had heard as he had done, the great discussions on the point, they would not be so ready to say No! [Here the speaker was frequently interrupted and much confusion prevailed]. He [ 212 ]would decline further argument, as he did not think the electors required it or that he should be justified in detaining them any longer.

Mr. Robertson next addressed the electors at considerable length, but not without numerous interruptions, one or two of the noisy ones again mounting the barrier that they might be seen as well as heard, but were ultimately dismounted by order of the Mayor. Mr. Robertson felt himself better able to ask for their confidence than on a former occasion, because he was better known. They had been told that he was late in giving explanations. Now, had he not given every elector an opportunity of learning his opinions? [No, no!] Had he not called at the house of every elector and seen everyone he could find at home? and had he not willingly entered into explanations with those who would listen to him [No!]. True, he had called at some houses where the electors said it’s no use speaking to us, for we have made up our minds [Cheers]. There was one point on which he need not address them at any great length, although it was of importance. At the last election some had pronounced it a phantasmagoria, though now they admitted its reality. In Ireland the Roman Catholic priests were endeavouring to return men to Parliament who were pledged to obey a foreign power [Nonsense, we know better!] regardless of the oath they were bound to take. Then as to the big and little loaf, he had always declared that he should not vote for the re-imposition of duty on foreign corn. The price of sugar too, was of importance; but what was England now doing? Was She not encouraging slavery? With what consistency could she taunt America with slavery, when she was doing the same? [Hear, hear!]. Mr. Warre was good enough to put a number of questions to him, but he did not give direct answers to any that were put to himself [Interruption]. He was now asked what he thought of the National Educational clauses? He might as well be asked what he thought of the whole of the National debt; but he could state that he should oppose all those clauses that tended to throw unqualified power into the hands of the Bishops [Loud cheers]. Trusting that he had not among them a personal enemy, Mr. Robertson concluded amidst cheers and hootings.

Mr. J. Locke, in addressing the electors, soon discovered that he was not popular even with many of the Liberals. He said he did not ask for a hearing as a favour, but as a right. He was proud to stand before them as the candidate of the people [Uproar]. They would gain nothing by interruption; it would only elicit from him more unpalatable truths. He was not going to be put down, and never had been; they should hear him. There seemed to be a man in the crowd who was talking, but did not know what he meant. Mr. Robertson said he was a supporter of Lord Derby [You omit the qualification!] And what did Lord Derby propose but that subjection to the bishops which Mr. [ 213 ]Robertson repudiates? [No! and confusion]. Mr. Robertson told them a few months ago that he could see no difference between Protection and Free Trade [No such thing!]. I took down his words at the time [More interruption, in which Mr. Robertson appealed to the hearers to let Mr. Locke go on]. How had Mr. Robertson answered the questions put to him [Most satisfactorily!] Mr. Robertson supports Lord Derby [He is not pledged!] I am not answering you, sir! I say Mr. Robertson is supporting Lord Derby [Great uproar]. Mr. Robertson said he would oppose all attempts at undermining those institutions which had secured our national greatness. Has he condescended to say what those institutions are? Is it a larger duty on corn? Mr. Robertson has just said Yes! [A positive denial by many voices]. Did he ever vote for a Free Trader? [I never voted at an election before!]. There is a man then for you to send to Parliament. The reason why, he had never heard, except that they must [That’s your opinion!]. It was not a matter of opinion, but something else; they could all understand what. [Here, for a time, the patience of the meeting utterly broke down, followed by cheers, groans and cries of shame]. It was all very well for Mr. Deudney to try to carry them in the West Ward by some hocus-pocus [They are all bought!]. No, he was sure no man in Hastings could be bought; he was too valuable a commodity. [Mr. Locke, in continuing, laboured to show, amidst repeated interruptions, his own every qualification and Mr. Robertson’s no qualification, and concluded in a complete uproar of cheers and yells.

The Mayor, in taking a show of hands, declared it to be in favour of Warre and Locke, upon which, a poll was demanded for Brisco and Robertson — a poll which on the following day showed a different result. That the Liberal candidates damaged their prospects by their personalities and intemperate addresses there could be no reasonable doubt.

Result of the Poll

The polling took place on the day following the nomination, when the four candidates assembled at the Hustings, with their retinues, banners, etc. There was a good deal of Gibing and badinage, but, on the whole less ill-temper and abuse than on the preceding day. The usual practice of posting up at the committee rooms, the progress of the poll, hour by hour, was resorted to, the figures of which were not always to be depended on, although at the close, they were nearer to the official declaration than might have been expected. They were severally as under: —

Conservative Liberal Official
Robertson 506 501 501
Brisco 488 499 487
Warre 475 479 477
Locke 384 387 386
[ 214 ]

The Declaration

As returning officer, the Mayor, with other officials, appeared at the Hustings on the following morning, and declared Messrs. Robertson and Brisco to have been duly elected. During the preceding day’s polling a portion of the hustings broke down a second time, and precipitated the gentlemen on the Conservative side to the ground, who received little or no injury, but which accident, their opponents hoped was an omen of good for the Liberals. To prevent a third break-down, the hustings had undergone a strengthening process during the early morning, and all was made secure. The large area in front of the hustings (a portion of which is now the Recreation Ground) was filled with electors, non-electors, bands, banners, horsemen and decorated carriages, and the whole scene was as brilliant as it was animated. Information had got to the ears of the Conservatives — and not altogether erroneous — that the Liberal “roughs” intended to work mischief during the proceedings, to counteract which, a party of athletic Conservatives voluntarily armed themselves with staves covered with calico to look like wands, to be used if necessary for protection. Whilst the people were assembling and the Mayor was engaged in his formal capacity, the derisive shouts and questions by some of the disappointed Liberals were as menacing as they were amusing. There was no mistaking the temper of the noisy ones, writhing under defeat. It was evidently their intention to be as insulting as possible. Just before the Mayor’s announcement of the result, Mr. F. Streeter (who in early life had been a fighting man, and even after his conversion to Wesleyanism gave more than one proof in my presence of being a “muscular Christian”), mounted the barrier in front of the hustings and asked the Mayor if authority had been given to men to carry bludgeons? A skirmish had taken place during the polling, and it seemed to be a proper thing to beseech the Mayor to have the weapons taken away. This was ordered to be done, but the bad temper and insulting — not to say dangerous — acts of the defeated partizans plainly showed that the rumoured intention of causing mischief was not without foundation. The Mayor renewed his exhortation for the preservation of order, not to give way to revengeful feelings on the one side, nor to undue exuberance on the other. The advice, however, had but little effect on the defeated party, for as Mr. Robertson came to the front he was assailed with the most discordant shouts of “Bludgeon men”, “Bribery”, etc.

Mr. Robertson commenced to return thanks with “Electors of Hastings and St. Leonards, I feel grateful”, but here again he was met by such deafening yells that he could not proceed. Then Mr. Brisco, in the midst of similar tumult could only be heard to say “I return you my thanks”. It was next Mr. Warre’s experience to be received with a storm of mixed cheers and tokens of dissent, and during the babel of tongues he was heard to say that while thanking his friends, he desired to express his best wishes for the happiness and prosperity of the borough. Mr. Locke, as [ 215 ]being the lowest on the poll, was of course the last to return thanks. This he did in the midst of less tumult than the rest, which clearly proved that most of the previous discordance had emanated from the political extremists. But even Mr. Locke’s utterances did not all float on smooth water. He said he stood before them as a defeated candidate, but he was not going to be angry. The state of the poll was [too much for you!] such that he had a right to congratulate himself upon it. He had polled 386 independent votes, but he regretted to say he had 39 broken promises [Yes, bought up]. His two opponents had the enjoyment of those; but taking them away from the highest on the poll and 44 others of which Mr. Robertson had made Mr. Brisco a present [No, no!]. He stated that, not because he was angry [Oh, no, not at all!], But because he had told them he was sure of being successful [Laughter]. If the Conservatives would consult Cocker, and take the numbers he had given [Where did you get them?], they would find him justified. They had returned by some means those gentlemen [Don’t trust again to a rotten stick]. The men who had voted for him had done so without the inducement of bribery [Time’s up!]. He hoped the time would come when instead of having two supporters of the Derby administration, they would have [Here the rest was lost in complete uproar]. The hustings was then cleared and the Conservatives immediately prepared for the ceremony of

The Chairing.

Before getting clear of the ground, Mr. Robertson was fiercely assailed with hooting, hissing and pieces of turf; also with a shout of “Tear him up!” His party took the lead in the procession, and though somewhat imposing both as a display as well as for numbers, it was excelled by the colours, banners and decorated carriages in Mr. Brisco’s party. The united procession was of so great a length as to entirely reach round the two main streets of the old town and something to spare. All, and more than all, the musicians forming the bands were engaged, and every available vehicle was requisitioned. But the pageant was received with ill-favour and reprehensible conduct by partizans of the defeated candidates. Some bags of flour and other materials were thrown at the carriages before leaving the Priory, and when the immense cavalcade passed the Liberal committee-room at Breeds place, both water and flour were cast upon it. At the foot of High street a disorderly mob assembled on the Oak Pavement and showered quantities of dirty substances as well as flour into the carriages. The rest of the way through High street the cheering and waving of kerchiefs predominated, but on descending All Saints street there was much hooting and molestation. Mr. Polhill, of Robertson street, was specially marked out for abuse and for pelting with missiles. Also when passing through the Fishmarket, his horse was seized and thrown upon its haunches, to the imminent danger of its rider. The flag-bearers were also molested, and a bag of flour [Why not have made it into a large loaf?] was thrown into the carriage where Mr. Robertson was sitting. The offender in this instance was [ 216 ]knocked down by a Conservative, who was himself knocked down in turn, and a general fight ensued until one of the combatants was taken in custody by the police. On the ​road​ between Hastings and St. Leonards, where Mr. Andrews resided there was some show of ill-feeling and when passing an unfinished ​building​ an ill-advised workman threw some lime into Mr. Brisco’s carriage, which, fortunately, did not effect the harm that probably was intended. It provoked, a retaliation in which two squares of plate glass were smashed. In the part of St. Leonards within the jurisdiction of the Commissioners, the procession was enthusiastically received and greeted with cheers and waving of handkerchiefs. Many of the houses also exhibited decorative tokens of pleasure at the result of the election. In returning to Hastings, the cavalcade travelled round some other portions of the town and then broke up. There were several free fights during the afternoon, but there was no apparent drunkenness.

A letter, copied from the Hastings News, treating of this election and showing that a great blow to Liberalism had resulted through the Liberals’ own disreputable proceedings, has appeared on page 181, under the heading of “Politics and Passions”.

The Election Petitioned against

A petition was presented in the House of Commons on Friday night, Nov. 19th by Mr. Hayward, setting forth that certain corrupt practices took place in the borough of Hastings during the late election, in which practices the now sitting members were involved, and in respect of which the petitioners prayed that the said members might be ousted. A scrutiny was also demanded in the case of Mr. Brisco, the petitioners [Nelson Andrews, Henry Phillips, and James Dowsett] alleging that the majority obtained by that gentleman over Mr. Warre was due to the recording of sundry illegal votes; and it was also prayed that Mr. Warre might be declared elected in the place of Mr. Brisco. The petition having been thrown out by the examiner on technical grounds, a petition was presented on Dec. 12th, praying that the House would allow relief in this case.

East-Sussex Election

The nomination for this election took place at Lewes on Monday, July 12th, when Augustus Elliot Fuller was proposed by Sir Hy. Shifner, Bart., as a firm supporter of Conservative principles [Yah! and laughter], and as he had, in two parliaments assiduously discharged his duties, he need only urge them to reward those services by again returning Mr. Fuller as their representative [Hisses].

Mr. Lucas-Shadwell, of Fairlight, in a speech of much greater length, seconded the nomination. He referred to the great depression in the agricultural interest, and more particularly to the Papal aggression. He said there were many men in the kingdom who called themselves Protestants, and yet wished to uphold the Romish faith. He appealed to the electors whether the present Prime Minister had not boldly  [ 217 ]resisted the advance of Jesuitical principles in this country? The Government had issued that fearless manifesto which Lord John Russell, with all his professions, would have shrunk from in dismay. He therefore called on the electors to support the Government, and look for the maintenance of the Throne, the Church and the Constitution [Yah, yah! and down with the Church].

Sir Chas. Lamb, of Beauport, said it was unnecessary for him to explain who the gentleman was and what his claims were whom he had the honour of introducing. Deeds were better than words, and they were all well acquainted with the conduct of their late member. He would content himself with naming Mr. C. H. Frewen. [Yah, yah!]

W. R. Blencowe, Esq., nominated Mr. J. G. Dodson, and received an attentive hearing. The seconder in this case was Col. Davies, whilst the seconder of Mr. Frewen was Mr. John Ellman. The candidates then addressed the meeting, Mr. Fuller being badly received, and Mr. Frewen still worse. The conduct of the Liberals at the county election, though not so bad as at the Hastings Borough election, was not of a creditable character. Perhaps, in each case there was a fear that they were playing a losing game. On a show of hands being taken, it was declared to be in favour of Dodson and Fuller. A poll was therefore demanded for Mr. Frewen. The poll commenced on July 15th, and continued for two days, after which the numbers were shewn to be for Fuller, 2155; for Frewen, 1974; and for Dodson, 1637. The Conservative candidates were therefore re-elected. The polling at Hastings resulted in 138 for Fuller, 125 for Frewen, and 124 for Dodson.

Political Meetings

It has been stated that the Liberal candidates for the representation of Hastings, held a meeting at St. Leonards on the 7th of May. This was exactly two calendar months before the nomination. The same candidates were also present at a Free-Trade and Liberal meeting at the Market Hall, Hastings on the 28th of April, and expounded their views. A similar meeting was held in the same hall on June 3rd, when addresses, in addition to those of the candidates, were given by Mr. Bromley (chairman), Mr. John Smith and Mr. W. D. Cooper. — A Free-Trade lecture was also delivered in the Market Hall on the 14th of May, by R. R. R. Moore, Esq., barrister-at-law. During the lecture (the report of which occupied five or six newspaper columns) the lecturer was many times enthusiastically applauded, his oratory being of the highest order. Also previous to the election (April 14th) Mr. Brisco met his constituents in the Swan Assembly room, to explain his conduct during the 9 years past, and to solicit a renewal of their support.

A New Association, under the title of the "Hastings and St. Leonards Non-Electors’ Independent Political Club" was formed on June 11th, with W. Ransom, jun. in the chair. The first public meeting was held, three [ 218 ]days later, in the Market Hall, when addresses were delivered by F. North, Esq., (chairman), W. Walter (secretary), W. Maule, S. Putland, jun., C. D. Swain, W. Ransom and the Rev. J. Stent. None of those persons would have given countenance to the disgraceful proceedings of the Radical faction at the election which took place a few weeks later.

Mr. Brisco’s Bounties at Coghurst

At the Borough Election it was admitted by Mr. Cooper, a Liberal politician, that although Mr. Briscoe was a Conservative, he was one of the best landlords in the county. The following paragraphs will show in what way his benevolence was manifested.

At the threshold of the year Musgrave Brisco, Esq., M.P. repeated his usual bounty of a sovereign to each of his workmen and half a sovereign to each of the boys in his service, in addition to beef and bread. To the poor also of Ore, Fairlight and Guestling were distributed both food and raiment.

On the 7th of June a large wedding-cake, some bottles of wine and some money, were given by Mr. Brisco to one of his gardeners on the occasion of his marriage.

On the 8th of October, Mr. Brisco’s annual wedding celebration was observed at Coghurst with a dinner, music and games to his workpeople, their families and friends, the persons being present on this occasion numbering one hundred and thirty. The Fairlight Band was usually in attendance at these festivities, but on one or two occasions, Brett’s St. Leonards Band was engaged, to which latter band Mr. Brisco was an annual subscriber of £2 2s.

On the 20th of December, Mr. Brisco met his tenants at the Swan hotel; and, two days later, entertained them at dinner at Coghurst Hall.

“We record, with pleasure [says the Hastings News] the recurrence of those marks of genuine benevolence which have for many years honourably characterised the munificent owners of Coghurst Hall, Musgrave Briscoe, Esq. and his excellent lady. At Christmas the men in Mr. Brisco’s employ were presented with a sovereign each and the boys with half a sovereign. The married men had, in addition, beef and bread according to the number in family. On New Year’s Day they further received presents of suitable clothing. Many of the poor of Ore and the two neighbouring parishes had blankets given them, and twenty-four boys were fitted out with strong winter boots. To the girls belonging to the schools (handsomely supported by Mrs. Brisco) presents of shawls and cloaks were made. We are glad to hear of the continuance of these good old customs, and commend this example to the rich, generally, for imitation.” [ 219 ]

The Rifle Club

The persons who mooted the formation of a Rifle Club held a preliminary and private meeting at the Town Hall on the 11th of February, with the Mayor in the chair, when a committee was formed to report on the best plan for the formation of the club. On the following week (Feb 18th) the Rifle Club was formed, and rules adopted, the title to be the Hastings and St. Leonards Rifle Corps. The first quarterly meeting was held at the Town Hall on the 6th of May, the chair being occupied by Dr. Stevenson. The number of members was shewn to be 56. About twenty of those who first signed the declaration, refused, when called on, to pay the required subscription, yet, when all expenses were paid, there was a balance of £6 in hand.

The Athenaeum

At the second quarterly meeting of this new society the report showed that the members had increased from 182 to 207, whilst the balance of cash in hand was £45 10s. The rooms of the Athenaeum were over a draper’s shop, at 49 George street. This property was let for £105 per year, and on the 7th of June, it was sold by auction for £1080. A belief was prevalent that so great a rent would not continue to be realized, and that the sum for which the house was sold was as much as it was worth. At the first annual meeting in November, an encouraging report was read, showing the number of members to be 163, and a favourable balance of cash of nearly £19. The number of books in the Library was a few short of 400, whilst the current literature consisted of four daily papers, seven weekly do., eight monthly magazines and two quarterly.

The Mechanics’Institution

The founding of the Athenaeum militated considerably against the success of the older society, coming as it did between the Mechanics’ Institution on the one side and the Literary Institution on the other, and embracing features which were held to be more popular. Its effects on the Mechanics’ Institution were immediately experienced; so that at its quarterly meeting on the 3rd of November it was shewn that the number of members had fallen to 250, and that the financial liabilities were about £20, with a sum of only £2 13 9d to meet them with.

Early Closing Association

This association held a quarterly meeting in Mr. Banks’s schoolroom, on the 16th of March, with the Rev. W. W. Hume in the chair. The prospects of the movement were regarded as being hopeful. At a later meeting, the efforts of the Association were reported to have been so far successful that many tradesmen had adopted the practice of closing at eight o’clock, instead of nine. [ 220 ]


In the month of May, Mr. White’s tender of £1,000 was accepted for ​building​ the Girls’ National school in All Saints street.

The Halton schools were benefited by £13 2s. on Sunday, Nov. 7th, collected after a sermon, by the Rev. T. Parkin.

For the Cheltenham Training Schools, a sermon on the same Sunday, by the Rev. F. Close, at St. Mary’s Chapel, realised £39 8s.

[School-aid sermons on the 10th of October (as stated in previous chapter) realised £30 10s at St. Leonards, & £24 10s. at St. Mary Magdalen.]


The London Missionary Society held a meeting at the Croft (Independents’) Chapel on the 20th of October, when the financial statement read by the Rev. William Davis, showed that during the year, Hastings had contributed £51 18s. 6d.

The Wesleyan Missions were benefited by a collection of £15 at a meeting on Oct. 18 and sermons on the preceding Sunday. — On the 28th of Nov. the Jewish Missions had sermons preached on their behalf which realised £65. Also at the next day’s meeting £16. The amounts sent from Hastings during three previous years had been £86, £127 and £137, respectively.


This (and a few other years, before and after), was a period in which great encouragement was given to lecturers; and a desire — to the credit of the inhabitants — was manifested to benefit by the instruction thus conveyed. To give even a skeleton sketch of those lectures ought not to be valueless, but in a work of this kind the allotted compass will only suffice for the names of the lecturers and the titles of their subjects.

A lecture on “Natural Magic or unusual appearances in the Heavens” was delivered by Mr. Cox, of London, under the auspices of the Athenaeum.

On the 12th of January, a lecture on “The Crystal Palace”, was delivered for the Mechanics’ Institution, by H. S. Gore, Esq., C.E.

On Monday, Jan. 19th Mr. H. Vincent gave the first of a series of lectures in the Market Hall on “The Commonwealth”. His 2nd and 3rd lectures on the same subject were delivered on Tuesday and Wednesday of the same week, and his 4th, 5th and 6th on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the following week.

English History was the title of a second lecture delivered at the Mechanics’ Institution by the Rev. John Stent, a Baptist minister. A third lecture was given on the following Monday, and a fourth, on March 1st. The reverend gentleman had intended to deliver six lectures, but after the third one he declined to continue the course in consequence of a newspaper criticism which charged him with violating the rules of the Institution, which excluded the introduction of politics or religion. The members generally could not see that the rules had been infringed, and a long letter was published by Messrs. Hy Winter and John Banks, in which the points of criticism were repudiated, and the criticism itself strongly condemned. After that an urgent appeal was made to Mr. Stent to continue the course, and the 4th lecture was delivered as above stated. The sixth and last lecture was delivered on the 15th of March. These discourses were very instructive and highly interesting. [ 221 ]Electro-Biology, or the new science as it was then called formed the subject of a lecture and séance by Dr. Darling, under an engagement by the committee of the Athenaeum, on the 18th of February. It was witnessed at the Market Hall by nearly 500 persons, and was repeated at later dates. The experiments were remarkably successful. The persons operated on included Messrs. John Cripps, T. Soane, L. Weston, H. Shorter, J. Tucker, H. Prior, C. Hutchings and D. Soane.

Geology, as a lecture, was ably descanted on the Rev. J. S. Sharr, Wesleyan minister, in the Swan Assembly Room on March 22nd (continued on March 29th) on the same science. The room was well filled on each occasion.

The Natural History of the Nightingale, and the Migration of Birds, formed the theme on which Mr. Jas. Howell, of Brighton, dilated at the Mechanics’ Institution, on Ap. 5th.

Electro-Biology was again lectured on and experimented with on the 12th and 13th of April — this time by a gentleman who maintained that the use of metal discs was a mere device and not at all necessary. He held it to be purely a science of imagination, and that all that was requisite to perform the operation was to press the nerves of the patient’s wrists and to put on a determined aspect, although practice and competence were also necessary. As in the case of Dr. Darling’s experiments, some strange and amusing effects within produced on such as were susceptible.

Tobacco, its uses an Abuses found an exponent in Dr. J. Steavenson, in connection with the Mechanics’ Institution, on the 18th of April. The doctor gave a brief history of tobacco and adduced many chemical authorities in proof of the poisonous nature of the plant in whatever form employed. He also cited several cases of disease arising from the use of tobacco and snuff, and closed with a hope that the youths of the town would abandon the evil habit of smoking.

Electricity and Galvanism, with illustrations and experiments, were ably treated by Dr. Child at the Market Hall on the 22nd of April.

Physiognomy was the subject of a lecture to a rather sparse audience at the Swan Assembly Room on the thirtieth of April, by Dr. Johnson, of New York. This was the third M.D. lecturer in succession.

The Tendencies of the Age, as a lecture, delivered by Mr. Vincent, attracted a large audience at the Market Hall on the 28th of May. It was, indeed, a second lecture on the same topic, and was highly appreciated.

Three Lectures by the celebrated Henry Vincent were given in the Market Hall during the week which ended on Nov. 13th. He assigned the “Manchester School”[4] a high place in the history of the empire, eulogised Sir Robert Peel as a pattern of political magnanimity, expressed great hopes of Disraeli, and considered that the then Government were prepared to give up Protection in toto.

Home Influence” was ably dealt with by the talented Mrs. Balfour, in connection with the Mechanics’ Institution on the 12th of November. This lady’s lectures were always received with favour and attentively listened to.

“The Life of Luther” was ably described by the Rev. C. D. Bell on the ninth of Dec. [ 222 ]in connection with the newly formed Church of England Christian Association.

“Self-Education” was intellectually treated as a desirable handmaid in the exigencies of life, by Mr. William Ransom. This was the last lecture of the year in connection with the Mechanics’ Institution, the date being Dec. 20th.


A concert took place in the Market Hall on the 8th of March, under the management of Mr. Elford, the executants being local people, assisted by a few musicians from Kent.

Another concert was given in the same room on March 17th and was well attended. This was also by local professionals and amateurs for the relief of the sufferers by the Holmfirth flood. Mr. B. Wood led the instrumentalists and Mr. Elford the vocalists.

Mons. Julien’s celebrated band gave a well-attended concert in the Market Hall on the 21st of October.


An “Opening Dinner” took place at the newly-built house in Robertson street, named the Royal Standard. Mr. Linfield was the landlord, Mr. R. Deudney the chairman and Mr. Peter Pagden the vice-chairman. The party numbered 87, and the dinner took the form of a reception to P. F. Robertson, Esq., as a gentleman who had expended a large sum of money in the ​building​s erected on the Crown land. It was not professedly a Conservative gathering, although as Mr. Robertson was known to be a Conservative, and likely to become a candidate for the borough, and the first tradesmen in Robertson street (Mr. Polhill, Mr. G. C. Hope and others) were Conservatives, with Mr. Deudney a Conservative as chairman, the so-called opening dinner could hardly assume any other than that of a political complexion. Anyway, it was so regarded by those of opposite politics, and an effort was made to increase the number, a few weeks later, at what was called Yates’s annual dinner at the “Royal Oak” — essentially a Liberal House and a Liberal gathering. The number present, however, (43) was only just half that of the Royal Standard party. The Royal Oak dinner was on the 17th of February, and, two days later, Mr. Hickes, the Conservative Mayor, gave a dinner to the members of the Town Council.

The annual dinner of the Trade-Protection Society was held at the “King’s Head” on the 16th of March, G. Scrivens, Esq. was the efficient chairman, and the number present was 30.

The next public dinner was of a decidedly political character, it being one that was given by 300 Conservatives at the Market Hall to the newly elected Borough Members, Messrs. Robertson and Brisco, and at which Mr. Hickes a Conservative Mayor presided. For the part thus taken the Mayor was publicly denounced by Councillor Ross, a leading Liberal. It had been bad enough to have one Liberal and one Tory to sit in the House of Commons but to have two Tories thrust upon them was gall and vinegar, as shewn by [ 223 ]the proceedings at the election. And for the new member to be returned at the top of the poll, partly by the electors in Holy Trinity, in which parish, years before, the Radical party were in a rampant majority, was really intolerable. Add to this subversion of political conditions, the presiding of a Conservative Mayor at a Conservative demonstration, and the insult to injury was complete. So good a man was Mr. Hickes in other respects that even Councillor Ross could not resist the will to vote him into the civic chair a second time; but the one grave fault referred to could not be forgiven, and he must not only be told of his misconduct, but measures must be resorted to to prevent a similar recurrence, such efforts were ultimately successful, and from that year to 1873 there were no fewer than 21 Liberal Mayors in succession. Mr. Ticehurst, a Liberal, was Mayor five times; Mr. Gausden, a Liberal, was elected five times; and Messrs. Ross, Ginner and Scrivens (all Liberals) were elected four times each.

A Swindling Transaction

As Robertson street and Robertson-street people have figured rather prominently in the foregoing account of the public dinners, they bring to one’s mind an extensively dishonest transaction in connection with that district. On Saturday night, the 21st of February, a large number of persons in the employ of a man known as Phillips, assembled at the Hastings Arms inn for the purpose of receiving their wages. They waited all the evening but no paymaster appeared. On the following day it was ascertained that cheques to the amount of nearly £100 had been forwarded through a person who went by the name of Quamby, an agent of Phillips’s, and that after cashing them he absconded. The extensive work was afterwards stopped. He was cleverly captured, and his real name was said to be James Benjamin Parker. He was of gentlemanly appearance and was said to have been tried for forgery; that four indictments were preferred against him at Maidstone for obtaining money under false pretences; that he absconded from his bail and his sureties were in prison; that he has recently built some houses in Folkestone, under the assumed name of Phillips; that he had carried on a wine business in London and a corn-merchant’s trade at Colchester; and that he was connected with a party trading as Chas. Neale & Co. This Charles Benjamin Parker, better known in Hastings as “Phillips”, was tried at the Maidstone assizes for getting by false pretences, goods from various persons to a large amount, and was sentenced to six months hard labour only. He had also victimised several persons in Hastings. He was 35 years of age, and had thus pursued a nefarious career.


A burglary was effected on the night of Feb. 28th. at Mr. John Sinden’s, a pork-butcher in Castle street, and £3 or £4 worth of meat stolen. Another burglary was effected early on Sunday morning, June 20th, at Mr. Jas. Hart’s residence at the Tackleway and two hams, a piece of mutton and some soap carried off. On the preceding Sunday, Mr. Hart lost from the Market a leg of veal, weighing 21½ pounds, and about three weeks before that he lost from the same market 18lbs of beef. The thief or thieves must surely have made some Hart-y meals.

[ 224 ]

Accidents and Incidents — fatal and otherwise

A Broken leg was sustained, on March 6th, by James Benge, a man in the employ of Messrs. Breeds & Co. He was carrying a can containing 1 cwt. of oil up the Oak passage, better known as the “Broken Light”, when he slipped and fell heavily to the ground. — A child was run over by a fly in All Saints street on the April 14th, and was much bruised, but no bones were broken. — On the following day Walter Weller fell from an upper window of Strickland’s corn warehouse in George street, and though considerably hurt, escaped without fractured limbs. — A broken thigh was sustained by James Jarrett — a man with a wife and seven children — on the 26th of April, by falling from a temporary scaffold whilst marbling the stair-case at 5 Breeds place. Tilden Chapman was also thrown down at the same time, but he fortunately caught hold of the hand-rail, or he would have fallen a depth of 30 feet. — Contusions and bruises befell James Drury, a bricklayer, on the 2nd of May by falling 20 feet from a scaffold at Mr. Thwaites’s new coal warehouse behind Wellington square. — Drowned while drunk was the case of Henry Beake, a workman at Messrs. Rock and Son’s coach factory. Thomas Balt, another workman, was the companion of the unfortunate man on the night of Friday, July 16th, and according to the evidence of the latter, the said Beake and Balt went to the Wellington inn and drank three pints of ale and some whiskey. Then they went out to Carlisle parade, taking with them are a pot of ale, some tobacco and some pipes. They sat there till after midnight and then went into the sea to bathe. Beake was drowned, and his body — an unusual circumstance —floated to the shore. Means for restoration were adopted by coastguards and policemen without success. The same men who attempted the resuscitation of Beake declared that Balt was drunk when he came out of the water, and there was no doubt that Beake was in the same condition. The drowned man was 25 years of age. — A miraculous escape from death or even fractured limbs resulted to an infant daughter of James White, sexton of All Saints, on the 31st of August. As this child, twelve months old, was sitting in the second floor window of Lavender’s house (late the Foresters’ Arms), it fell through a cracked pane of glass on to a sky-light close beneath the window, breaking through the same and falling down a depth of 11 feet on to a stair-case landing, by which, without being cut, it received a contusion of the head and for a time became in sensible, but recovered. — Nearly drowned in the week ending Sept. 18th, was a lad named Woolley, employed by Mr. Edward Bowmer. While bathing, he was carried ¾ of a mile out to sea, and was in imminent danger of sinking when he was picked up by “Admiral” Wingfield, who was out with a party of ladies in a small pleasure-boat. — A fractured leg befell Mr. Edward Morgan, a wholesale grocer, of Hastings in this way: — Having heard that a vessel, freighted with salt, for Hastings, was stranded near Romney, he proceeded in that direction, and at a spot beyond Rye, his gig collided with a post, by which Mr. Morgan fractured one leg. The bone was afterwards set, and the sufferer returned to Hastings the same night, in great pain. — A broken arm was the result of an accident to James Perry, on 

[ 225 ]the 23rd of October. This man was a well-known and steady porter, and as a railway van was leaving Breeds’s Yard with 16 pockets of hops, two of them fell off and Perry with them, by which fall one arm was broken near the wrist, necessitating amputation. After a time Perry followed his occupation as well as he could with a hook attached to the broken arm. — A fatal fall occurred to a lady, in High street on the (I think) the 9th of November. Miss Selina Cork, a visitor, aged 29, was riding with a gentleman, each on horseback, when she suddenly fell from her seat, was picked up and carried into Miss Whistler’s, where she expired, after a few moans. She had been staying at 15 White-rock place. — A great fall of cliff occurred on Sunday, Dec. 5th, close to the easternmost groyne. There were, indeed, two falls, within about twenty minutes. The crash was like thunder, and the sand-dust rose like smoke. The total amount of rock, earth and other material must have been several hundred tons. A wooden tool-house was demolished, but no one was injured. A man and woman had just passed when the first precipitation occurred, and so nearly were they caught that the woman fainted on the beach. — A broken leg befell a man, on Dec. 8th, through falling off the steps of the Railway Arms beer-house, at Halton. Another fractured leg — this time to Mrs. Daniel Wood, and on the 30th of December. In descending a flight of stairs, she fell from the bottom step, and thus received the hurt. To re-set the limb required her to be put twice under chloroform.

Maritime Casualties

A Fishing-boat lost. On Saturday, Feb. 7th, “The Brothers”, belonging to Mrs. Margaret White, and the “Peace and Plenty”, the property of Mr. John Ball, were trawling at about 16 miles from shore, when The Brothers caught what the fishermen call a “fastening”, from a fresh breeze, and before the hindermost boat could clear away, their nets became entangled and brought the boats in collision. It was soon discovered that the Peace and Plenty was rapidly filling with water. The crew, unable to save anything, had barely time to get on board of The Brothers before their own boat went down. The loss was the greater in consequence of the boat being nearly new, and just furnished with a new set of sails.

Successful Fishery. The Hastings boats away from home had good catches of mackerel during the week which ended on the Feb. 21st. Mark Swain’s “Three Sisters” caught 17,000, and sold them at Brixton at 12s. per hundred; W. Breach’s “Free Trader” caught 12,000, and sold at same place and price; George White’s “Betsy” caught 15,000 and sold them at Worthing at 16s per hundred; and Wm. Pomphrey’s “Palace” caught 13,600 and sold them at Portsmouth at 18s per hundred.

A Distressed Family. — The wife and family of James Crawford, living in the Creek, were left entirely destitute in consequence of Crawford being lost, with many others by the sinking of a ship in the Irish Sea.

[ 225v ]*On the 4th of January, 1852, the West-India mail steamer Amazon, two days after leaving Southampton on her first voyage, was destroyed by fire, when 102 persons on board were lost either by burning or drowning.

On the 7th of January, 1852, the Birkenhead troop-ship sailed from Queen town for South Africa, and on the 26th of February she struck upon a rock off Simon’s Bay when 454 out of 638 soldiers and sailors perished.

On the 9th of November the Victoria steam-packet was wrecked off Gothenburg, and many lives were lost.

On the 24th of December, the St. George emigrant steam-ship was destroyed by fire, when 50 out of 150 passengers and crew lost their lives. They were bound from Liverpool to New York.

On the same 24th of December, the Lily was stranded and blown up by gunpowder on the Calf of Man, when 30 persons lost their lives.

[ 226 ]Mackerel, to the number of 37,000 were brought ashore on May 12th, in Williams Spice’s “Four Brothers”, and sold for £47.

Fortunate rescue. — On the 26th of October, a galley belonging to the Revenue cutter having come onshore for provisions, put off to regain the vessel, in the face of an on-coming gale, but was unable to reach the cutter, which latter had herself sailed away to the eastward to escape the storm. The galley being then half-full of water, parted with some of its provisions to prevent sinking, and was even then in peril until a fishing-boat took off the crew and brought them ashore, at the same time towing the galley at the stern.

Fishing-boat wrecked. — On the night of the Nov. 15th, a Brighton fishing-boat, bound for Ramsgate, with 2½ lasts of herrings, was obliged to run ashore at Hastings during a gale, and the time being near midnight, help was not readily at hand. The boat, therefore became a wreck and the crew lost their fish, with other property, including £12 in gold.

A Fortunate Rescue. The preceding paragraph had reference to a fishing-boat going to Ramsgate, and the present one refers to a fishing-boat from Ramsgate. It was on the Sunday morning when the great fall of cliff occurred — viz. Dec. 5fth, that the “Cecelia” Ramsgate fishing-smack appeared off Hastings and sent two lads ashore. The sea was rough, and the two lads in putting off to regain the smack, were capsized at a short distance from the shore. One of them got back to land without much difficulty, but the other, when pluckily rescued by “Boatswain” Simmons, was insensible. He was taken to the “Rising Sun”, where, by the skill of surgeon Ticehurst, assisted by other persons, he was eventually restored.

Floods and Gales

A Blighting Gale. — During a terrific gale which swept over the south-coast in the month of August, the leaves of the trees as well as the flowers and vegetables were blighted and withered, but in five or six weeks’ time, many of the trees were again budding, as though spring had taken the place of autumn.

An Unusual Flood. — The heavy rain which fell on Friday, Dec. 17th, was quite abnormal. A great quantity of water poured down the valley below the Clive Vale reservoir, which completely inundated Mrs. Samworth’s gardens as well as Capt. Jones’s premises. It also flooded the ​road​ under the Elms to a considerable depth. The Bourne burst through the paving at the “Upper Lane” and flooded some of the houses at Waterloo place, whilst the water in the thoroughfare was knee deep. At the Priory, the water from the overcharged brooks, rose to an immense height and with unprecedented rapidity.

A Terrific Gale from the SSW. visited Hastings on Sunday night, Dec. 26th, when tiles, slates and chimney-pots were sent adrift, and in the more exposed places the houses were felt to rock. A lady was blown down at the corner of Claremont[ 227 ]and was picked up with a broken leg. This storm, which so greatly raged between Christmas Eve and the 27th of December, overtook the “Harbinger” schooner, (Coppard, master) belonging to the Messrs. Kent and Winter of Hastings, which was in ballast and on the way to Shields. She was driven into the North Sea, where the weather was terrific. Coppard’s good seamanship had been many times well tried, and was again put to the test in the hour of peril. The vessel’s sails were blown away, and the ballast having shifted, she was laid on her beam-ends for the space of two hours. The crew then cut away the masts and the vessel righted. In that conditions she was afterwards towed by a smack into port, 18 miles from North Shields, the passage occupying 60 hours. During the same hurricane a German emigrant ship, with ten sailors and 74 emigrants, was wrecked in Dungeness Bay, and only 5 of the crew and 34 of the emigrants, were saved. *See opposite 225 page for other sad wrecks of the year.

The Census

The statistics of last year’s census showed that both the town and borough of Hastings, or rather the borough and registration district of Hastings had increased in population more largely or rapidly than that of any other important town in Sussex. The population and percentage of increase of the undernamed places are here shewn:

Population Total increase Percentage increase[5]
Brighton 65,572 18,912 4.05
Lewes 25,713 897 0.36
Worthing 18,749 1,181 0.67
Hastings Boro’ 17,620 5,831 4.94
Hastg’s District 21,214 6,378 4.30

Vital Statistics

During the June quarter the births in the Hastings District were 171 — twenty-seven above the average of the preceding four years. The deaths were 68, or 35 below the average of the same period. The marriages, although eleven short of those in 1851, were 43 in number, and one more than the said four years average.

Particular Deaths

Mr. Tilden Smith, jun., the eldest son of a partner in the Hastings old Bank, who was seized with illness a month before, died on the 5th of August.

Mr. Dungate Thwaites, expired at his residence, Bedford Cottage, on Aug. 4th, at the age of 61. He was well-known and respected as Inspector of Nuisances to the Local Board of Health, and before that as Surveyor to the Hastings Commissioners. In earlier life he was a block-maker and master-shipwright. His remains were interred at Ore (old) cemetery, as were those of two of his three consecutive wives.

The Duke of Wellington, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, and greatest warrior of [ 228 ]his time, died at half-past three at Walmer Castle on Tuesday, Sept. 14th. On the following Sunday, the Mayor and Corporation attended church in deep mourning. For attendance at the Duke’s funeral see Town Council meeting, Sept. 14th, and Oct. 1st. (pp 197-ʾ8). Nearly all the shops were [closed] on the 18th of Nov., the day of the funeral.

A Sudden Death. — On Thursday, Oct. 28th, Mrs. Charlotte Jones fell down stairs at 4 Claremont, and was so injured with loss of blood from compression of the brain that although she apparently slept during the night, she died the next morning.

Another Sudden Death occurred, two days later, this time at the house of Mr. Woods, the Hastings postmaster, where she had been lodging in delicate health. She was a private tutoress, and her name was Elizabeth Campbell. Deceased was not in the habit of taking supper, but that evening she partook of scalloped oysters which had been sent to Miss Lloyd, who had been living with her. Soon after she was seized with violent headache and sickness. Dr. Gabb was sent for, who gave her an emetic of mustard, and whilst he went back to get a powder, the poor lady died. A post mortem revealed a chronic disease of the heart and an attachment of the right lung.

Vestry Meetings

At a vestry meeting of the Holy Trinity parish, on the 8th of April a poor-rate at 2d. in the £ was agreed upon; and at a vestry of All Saints on the 13th of Aug., an exceptionally high rated at 10d. was levied. The arrears of the latter parish being heavy, the collector was ordered to summons all defaulters. At the time of writing (Sept. 1898) the poor-rate for All Saints is 1/4 and said to be the highest on record. If, however, one takes a leap back to the beginning of the century — namely 1800, he will find that, under the old system of parish workhouses, the poor rates for All Saints amounted to 6s. for the year, there being six books made between April and March, and each book considered as a shilling[6] rate, whilst half a book was a 6dy rate and a quarter book a 3dy rate. In 1801, when Mr. Milward sold to the parish three loads of wheat at the reduced price of £30 per load, whilst the market price was £40, there were five poor-rates at 1s. in the pound. In 1802 there were five whole books at 1/-; in 1803 there were seven books; and in 1804, no fewer than eight books, which would be equal to a half yearly rate of 4/- in the pound. The only modifying circumstance was that the rents and assessments were lower than they now are, and almost every house had a garden, running down to the Bourne or up to the hill, nearly all of which are now covered with cottages or other human habitations.


In the spring of this year a number of letters appeared in the local and county Press, complaining of the stopping up of footpaths. In one of them “A Constant Visitor” wrote “The neighbourhood of Hastings was formerly famous for its beautiful walks. Many of these have been stopped, and some of them deprived of all beauty by high walls and palings. There is [ 229 ]no surer way of driving away visitors than this”. Another correspondent wrote a long letter under the signature of “Junius”, in which he said—“The way in which some of the footpaths in the neighbouring fields are being obstructed is scandalous; and one marvels where the public spirit is when these attractions of the place are being so ruthlessly swept away. Surely it does not require a very great degree of long-sightedness to discern the irreparable injury to our trade which a few years will disclose if the country walks about us are not protected. Does anybody think the visitors come here to look at stuccoed houses or to walk about the streets? Is it not notorious that are our beautiful scenery and romantic walks are the chief inducements to most persons who visit us?”

Rival Bands

Mainly at the instance of Mr. Clift — who was an ardent, but not very popular Liberal politician — a meeting was convened at the Town Hall by the Mayor, when the gentleman first named referred to the engagement of a German Band, last year, in consequence of several persons refusing to subscribe either to the band of which Mr. Elliott was leader or to the one which Mr. Colbran was leader. A subscription for the German Band was opened and well responded to, but an ill-feeling in the town was engendered, which he much regretted. Hastings was again in want of a band, and he believed Mr. Elliott did not now want the engagement. — Mr. James Meadows stepped forward and offered to supply a band of nine performers to play during the evenings at £7 per week. — Mr. J. Phillips proposed, and Mr. Bromley seconded that an evening band was sufficient. Mr. Elliott supported by saying that when the Hastings Band first met with opposition he sent his son to count the audience which the German Band obtained. The number was very small and at length it got the name of the “Nursemaids’ Band”. Mr. Gabb said as regarded the playing of a morning band in Wellington square, he knew many of the inhabitants wished it to Jericho. — Mr. Elliott said if a morning band must be had the Hastings Band could not be engaged. — Mr. Meadows said he could supply an efficient band by the following Monday. — An amendment was proposed by Dr. Steavenson that it was necessary to have a morning as well as an evening performance. This was seconded by Mr. Pagden (a lover of music in any shape). Mr. Elliott wished it to be distinctly understood that if the amendment was carried, the Hastings Band could not be engaged, and must becoming extinct, although it had existed 30 years. He was the father of that band, although that might not be much in its favour. — Mr. Elphick (a clarionet player in the Hastings Band) said that while Mr. Elliott had been going off, other [ 230 ]and younger members had been attaining greater efficiency, and Mr. Elliott was not now the leader. — The original motion was ultimately carried to have an evening band only and for the Hastings Band to be engaged. The members of the said band voted and thus made up the majority. The band appeared on the parade in the following week with a new leader, and was generally judged to have improved. At the same time the following letter appeared in the Hastings News: —

“Sir, — On the grounds of public justice, we the undersigned, feel it incumbent on us to make a few remarks on the recent self-engagement of a portion of the Hastings old Band, in which their display of selfishness and bad taste was so ably and so justly exposed in your last week’s leading article. As you are aware, and as their late leader honestly testified, they have been lying comparatively idle for two or three years last past, and have suffered in efficiency thereby. In other words, they have been partially disbanded, and, in a musical sense, out of practice. But whilst they have been declining, another band has been progressing, and attained to a considerable amount of efficiency; and, but for the bribing of one of its members by the principal or principals of the Hastings old Band, would have been at the present time in a position to have offered its services for the parade. We are members of that band, and therefore regret the circumstance, in as much as from the fact of our having made no application at the public meeting, many persons will, doubtless, infer that the Elphick-Meadows Band is the only one of local origin that could be brought into competition with the Germans. Now, the German band, as everybody knows, is a good band, and we the Brass Band at present dare not assert our equality with them; but when we find parties employing those strategic energies — for which we know they have an aptitude — in getting themselves elected to a post which both their previous and subsequent performances prove them to be unequal to, we do not hesitate to avow that although (prudently we hope) unwilling to compete with the Germans, we have, nevertheless, brass enough, to compete with their would-be-thought superiors. It may seem strange that at the meeting to which we have alluded, our bare existence should scantly have been recognised; but when it is remembered that meeting was comprised chiefly of Germans, on the one hand, and the members, as well as the partizans of the Hastings Band on the other, it no longer becomes a matter of wonder. Add to this that our pains-taking managing member, Mr. T. B. Brett, was ill, and knew nothing about the meeting, or, we do not doubt our claims would have been honestly represented. We only regret that one member of our band should so far lose sight of the propriety of conduct as to listen to the bland persuasions of Messrs. Elphick and Co., when he knew so well that everything had been done by them to annihilate that band of which he was a member. We trust that he has seen his error, and that [ - ]

Wellington Square

[ 231 ]on another occasion when the tempter tries his insidious art, as our conductor said when a similar offer was made by the same party, that no amount of money should tempt him to forsake his own band.

We are, Sir, yours obediently,
Edward Balkham.
Henry Brett.
William Brett
William Goldsmith
James Martin.

Miscellaneous Items

A very numerously attended fête, with music and fireworks, took place in Mr. P. F. Robertson’s charming grounds at Halton, lent for the occasion, on the 24th of August, and under the management of the committee of the Athenaeum.

Cooke’s Hippodrome entered the town on the 18th of June, making a grand display of horses, elephants and other accessories to a unique procession.

An excursion train of 30 carriages and two engines left Hastings on the 13th of August, by the South-Eastern railway for Ramsgate and Margate.

Bartlett Woods, the youngest son of John Woods, a Hastings postmaster, who, with his brother Charles, emigrated to the back woods of America, about the year 1833, was this year, 1852 elected to the important post of County Commissioner for the 1st District of Lake County, Indiana.

Readings from Shakespeare by Mr. J. Russell, were given in the Swan Assembly Room, on the 1st of December, to a numerous audience.

A wooden house, that had served various purposes of coach-office, fish-shop, etc., and lately belonging to Mr. Tapsell, at the south-east corner of Castle street, was removed on March 11th, on a “timber-tug” to Tivoli, there are to be placed in Mr. Clement’s brick-field. The site was afterwards purchased by Mr. Shirley for what is now 32 Castle street.

The St. Clement’s Belfry was to be restored from its dilapidated state, by Messrs. George Winter and Son, for £128 2s 7d.

A new Iron railing round the Wellington-square garden, together with other improvements, was decided on by the proprietors at a meeting on April 7th.

The Baptist Chapel, in the same square, also needed repairs and improvements, to cost £70 or £80, and various donations for that purpose were promised a tea-meeting on Easter Monday, when 130 persons were present. (see below)

The Sussex Archaeological Society met at Battle on July 23rd, presided over by Earl Waldegrave, when Mr. M. A. Lower read a paper on the Battle of Hastings; Mr. J. Hunter, one on the Battle-Abbey Roll; Mr. Blaauw, on a visit of King Henry II, to Battle, in 1324; and the Rev. E. Turner, one on Sir Anthony Browne. After exploring the Abbey, about 400 persons dined in the Refectory. Among the company from Hastings and St. Leonards, were Earl and Countess Waldegrave, P. F. Robertson, M.P., [Cont. on pg 232 ]

[ Inset ]


This famous and once splendid ecclesiastical foundation owes its origin to the great battle between King Harold and William of Normandy, which deprived the former of his crown, and decided, at one of the most critical stages of her history, the fate of England. It has been repeatedly stated from Camden, in modern publications, that the village of Battle was known before this event by the name of Epiton. But this, as Mr. Gough many years ago remarked, is a mistake of the venerable antiquary, founded on an expression of the old chronicler Ordericus Vitalis, who uses the term Epiton, or rather Epitumium, merely for any field of battle. Ducange had long before explained the word in his Glossary. As to the village, it is expressly stated in old documents to have gradually sprung up around the abbey, and there is no reason to suppose that it existed at all before that ​building​ was erected. There seems, however, to have been a church on or near the spot in more ancient times, which was known by the name of the Church of St. Mary in the Wood, The neighbouring country remained covered with trees down at least to the Conquest; and this church was doubtless intended for the use of the peasants who were scattered up and down over the forest.

The town of Battle, which, with the parish, contains about three thousand inhabitants, stands on rising ground about eight miles north-west from Hastings. It commands a rich and extensive prospect, comprehending the expanse of the ocean to the south, and a sweep of highly cultivated country in all other directions. The village itself consists principally of a single street, which runs up the declivity, and at a little distance from the termination of which, on the top, stands the abbey. It was on the 28th of September, 1066, that William of Normandy landed at Pevensey, or Pemsey, as it is commonly called, on the Sussex coast, about nine miles to the west of Hastings, at the head of the powerful armament with which he intended to win a kingdom. Harold was at the time in the north, where he had just achieved a great victory over another band of foreign invaders, the Norwegians, headed by their king, who fell [ - ]in the fight.
Brett Battle Abbey-pic1.png
Owing probably to this circumstance no attempt was made to oppose the landing of William. That leader, as soon as he had got his troops on shore, commenced the erection of a fort on the spot, and sunk, or as some authorities assert, burnt his ships, which are said to have been above nine hundred in number, without reckoning small craft. They must have been vessels of such size as to carry fifty or sixty men each. It was some time before Harold made his appearance to repel this aggression upon his dominions. But the two armies met at last on the 14th of October, the birth-day of the English king. Harold on that morning was posted on the eminence now occupied by the village of Battle, and his adversary on another rising ground a short distance to the south. A very full and animated account of the fight which ensued (commonly called the Battle of Hastings), has lately been given in an able publication, of which only the first volume has yet appeared, ‘The Biographical History of England, edited by George Godfrey Cunningham;' the writer of which has evidently made himself very completely master of the details given by the various old French and Latin chroniclers, and has caught also not a little of their graphic spirit. The narrative is a great deal too long to be given entire, but we shall select a few passages sufficient to present at least an outline of the course of the battle.

“About nine in the morning, the Norman army began to move, crossed the interval between the two hills, and slowly ascended the eminence on which the English were posted. The banner of St. Peter, as a presage of victory, was borne in the van by Tonstain the Fair,——a dangerous honour, which two of the barons had successively declined. Harold beheld them gradually advance, and as the third division appeared, he broke out into violent exclamations of anger and dismay. He had the advantage of the ground, and having secured his flank by trenches, he resolved to stand upon the defensive, and to avoid all action with the cavalry, in which he was inferior. The men of Kent were placed in front, a privilege which they always claimed as their due. The Londoners had the honour of being the royal body guard, and were posted around the standard. The King himself, on foot, took his station at the head of the infantry, determined to conquer or perish in the action. The Normans rushed to the onset, shouting their national tocsin, ‘God is our help!’ which was loudly answered by the adverse cry of ‘Christ's cross! The Holy cross!’ . . . The battle soon became general, and raged with great fury. The Norman archers advancing, discharged their weapons with effect; but they were received with equal valour by the English, who firmly kept their ground. After the first shower of arrows, they returned to the attack with spears and lances; and again they were obliged to retire, unable to make any impression on their opponents. . . . The battle had continued with desperate obstinacy; and from nine till three in the afternoon, the success on either side was nearly balanced. . . . Disappointed and perplexed at seeing his troops every where repulsed by an unbroken wall of courageous soldiers, the Norman general had recourse to a stratagem. He resolved to hazard a feigned retreat; and a body of a thousand horse were ordered to take flight. The artifice was successful. The credulous English, in the heat of action, followed; but their temerity was speedily punished with terrible slaughter. . . Still the great body of the army maintained its position; for so long as Harold lived and fought, they seemed to be invincible. . . A little before sunset, an arrow, shot at random, pierced his eye: he dropped from his steed in agony; and the knowledge of his fall relaxed the efforts of his followers. . . A furious charge of the Norman horse increased the confusion which the King's wound must have occasioned. . . For a time, the Kentish men and East Saxons seemed to retrieve the fortune of the day. . . At length, the English banner was cut down, and the papal colours, erected in its place, announced that William of Normandy was the conqueror. [ - ]It was now late in the evening, but such was the obstinacy of the vanquished, that they continued the struggle in many parts of the bloody field long after dark. . . . The carnage was great. On the part of the conquerors, nearly sixty thousand men had been engaged, and of these more than one-fourth were left dead on the field. The number of the English and the amount of their loss are unknown. The vanity of the Normans has exaggerated the army of the enemy beyond the bounds of credibility; but the native writers reduce it to a handful of resolute warriors. The historians of both countries agree, that with Harold and his brothers perished all the nobility of the south of England."

The erection of Battle Abbey (the Abbatia de Bello, as it was called in Latin) was commenced by the Conqueror in the course of the following year, in conformity, it is said, with a vow which he had made before the fight, but was not completed till 1094, in the reign of Rufus. The high altar is asserted to have been placed at the spot where the dead body of Harold was found. It is more probable, however, as other authorities record, that the spot was that on which the royal standard was raised at the commencement of the battle. The house was originally intended to contain one hundred and forty monks, but only sixty were placed in it, who were brought from the monastery of Marmoustier in Normandy. Many manors, chiefly in the counties of Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Oxford, and Berks, were bestowed upon it, along with the most ample privileges,—exemption from all taxation, the rights of free warren, treasure trove, and sanctuary; independence of episcopal jurisdiction; and, to the abbot, the singular prerogative of pardoning any condemned thief or robber whom he should meet on his way to execution. Numerous charters, granted by the Conqueror, by William Rufus, by Henry I., and by other kings, down to Henry IV., in favour of this establishment, are still preserved, copies of several of which may be seen in Dugdale's Monasticon. Its possessions, in course of time, were greatly extended, through the liberality of its regal patrons. The abbot enjoyed the dignity of wearing the mitre, and was always summoned to parliament so long as the ancient religion lasted. The last individual who held the office was named John Hamond. He was elected in 1529, and in 1538 he surrendered the monastery to the King. According to the valuation which had been taken a few years before, its revenues amounted to £880, according to Dugdale, but Speed says to £987. Hamond retired on a pension of £66. 13s. 4d. Alter the dissolution the property was granted to a person named Gilmer, who, after pulling down a great part of the ​building​s and disposing of the materials, sold the place to Sir Anthony Browne. The latter soon after commenced the erection of a dwelling-house on the site of part of the old monastery, which was finished by his son, the first Lord Montague. This ​building​, however, fell afterwards into ruins; but the estate having been purchased by Sir Thomas Webster, the ancestor of the present Sir Godfrey Webster, a new house was erected, which still exists. It forms one of the sides of what appears to have been originally a complete quadrangle, of great spaciousness. The entire circuit of the ruins of the abbey, indeed, is not much short of a mile. Only a fragment of the church now remains, from which it is impossible to trace either its form or extent; but there are still to be seen some arches of the cloisters, a hall called the refectory, about 150 feet in length, and another ​building​ detached from the rest, exhibiting the remains of an immense room, 166 feet in length by 35 in breadth, the walls of which are still adorned by twelve windows on one side and six on the other. This is supposed to have been the great hall, in which the abbot and his monks gave their more solemn entertainments. Good living seems to have been cultivated in the establishment. The ample kitchen still exhibits the remains of no fewer than five fire-places.

Abbey gateway penny mag2.jpg

One of the most striking parts of the ruin is the great gate at the entrance of the quadrangle, of which the wood-cut above is a representation. It is supposed to be of the reign of Henry VI., and, with its battlemented tower», is a very imposing structure. Until about forty years ago, the apartment over the gateway was used as a town-house; but on the 18th of September, I794, the roof was driven in by a violent storm of wind and rain, and it has not since been repaired.

[ 232 ][Cont from pg 231 ]Musgrave Brisco, M.P., Wastel Brisco and family, G. Scrivens, Esq., W. D. Lucas-Shadwell, Esq., Rev. J. Stent, Decimus Burton, Esq., P. O. Callaghan, Esq., G. H. M. Wagner, Esq., Mrs. and Misses Wagner, Mr. J. Rock, jun., Mr. T. Ross, and others. Mr. Vickery, of Hastings was the caterer. (See inset leaves for Battle Abbey).

Building Society. — At the first annual meeting of the Hastings and East-Sussex Building Society, held on the Aug. 26th, it was stated that sums amounting to £10,000 had already been advanced to borrowing members.

Mr. J. J. Thorpe was elected on Sept. 2nd as Relieving Officer for No. 2 District of the Hastings Union.

“Boatswain” Simmons, a bricklayer, albeit accustomed to the sea, who had saved two or three persons from drowning at the risk of his own life, not having been awarded anything by the Humane Society, was promised aid by public subscription.

The Literary and Scientific Institution

It has been shown that the founding of the Athenaeum had the effect of greatly lessening the number of members of the Mechanics Institution, and from what here follows it appears also to some extent to have been prejudicial to the above named society. At its meeting on the 30th of January, with Michael Collin, Esq., in the chair, the following officers were re-elected for the year 1852.

Frederick North, Esq., President,


Ben. Smith, Esq..
J. G. Shorter, ″
Robt. Ranking, ″
Francis Smith, ″
Robt. Hollond, ″
Musgrave Brisco, ″
P. F. Robertson, ″

G. Scrivens, Esq. Treasurer.

Frank Bennetts, Secretary.

Mr. Charles Clark was admitted as a member of the society.

At the next meeting, on the 27th of February, with G. G. Gray, presiding, it was ordered that the Treasurer’s accounts by passed, which showed according to the old system of keeping them an unfavourable balance of £16 9s, but if the liabilities were included the adverse balance would be £39 and 0s 10d. In consequence of this financial position and the decreasing number of members, the meeting thought it desirable to call upon the trustees for their early advice and assistance.

The next meeting was on March 26th, when Mr. Robt. Ranking, one [ 233 ]of the vice-presidents, took the chair, and the meeting resolved that the shareholders be requested to accept 3 per cent. interest on their shares until the Society was in a position to pay the full interest. It was also resolved that the Trustees be requested to withdraw the £100 in the Savings Bank, with the interest thereupon of £13 11s 9d, that the £100 be paid to Mrs. Holmes, if she will accept it in reduction of the mortgage of £800; and that the £13 11s 9d be paid to the Treasurer towards the deficit in the accounts. It was further resolved that the Museum be abandoned, that the specimens be restored to the donors and lenders, and that the room be let to the best advantage. These resolutions were confirmed at a later meeting; and on the 25th of June the Secretary was requested to write to the curators of the Canterbury, Dover and Chichester Museums, offering the remaining articles at a very reasonable price.

Transcribed by Ian Shiner

  1. An explanation of old currency and coinage may be found at the following website Pre-decimal currency, accessdate: 16 June 2022
  2. An explanation of old currency and coinage may be found at the following website Pre-decimal currency, accessdate: 16 June 2022
  3. An explanation of old currency and coinage may be found at the following website Pre-decimal currency, accessdate: 16 June 2022
  4. Manchester Liberalism (also called the Manchester School, Manchester Capitalism and Manchesterism) comprises the political, economic and social movements of the 19th century that originated in Manchester. Led by Richard Cobden and John Bright, it won a wide hearing for its argument that free trade would lead to a more equitable society, making essential products available to all. Its most famous activity was the Anti-Corn Law League that called for repeal of the Corn Laws that kept food prices high. It expounded the social and economic implications of free trade and laissez-faire capitalism. The Manchester School took the theories of economic liberalism advocated by classical economists such as Adam Smith and made them the basis for government policy. It also promoted pacifism, anti-slavery, freedom of the press and separation of church and state. Wallace, 1960.
  5. Brett has the decimal point in the wrong place, it should be one place to the right.
  6. An explanation of old currency and coinage may be found at the following website Pre-decimal currency, accessdate: 16 June 2022