Brett Volume 3: Chapter XXVI - Hastings 1841

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Transcriber’s note[edit]

Chapter XXVI - Hastings 1841[edit]

 Pg.242 

Planta and Hollond's rivalry; ditto canvassing, nomination and re-election (pg. 242)
Speeches at the hustings (pg. 242)
The new Parliament-Conservative majority of 96
Commentary on the addresses
The Lushington divorce case
Trial of Earl Waldegrave and Capt. Duff
Commissioners' meetings
Proposed consolidation of funds
Offers to give up front gardens at York Buildings
Town Council meeting
Resolution to make a road over the
A political sketch
Marriages, deaths, etc.

Nomination of Messrs. Planta and Hollond for Parliamentary Honours[edit]

The £300 given to the Fishermen's Society in 1837 by Mr. Hollond had not altogether alienated his rival from the good-will of the fishermen, and it was through him that they made known their grievances to the Government officials. The following reply to Mr. Planta’s application will show the nature of the grievance as well as the remedy to be applied.

"March 25, 18?1. Sir,
—I am directed by the Board of Customs to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 18th inst., transmitting a memorial from the owners of fishing-boats, requesting that their boats might be marked on their sterns as of Hastings, without any reference to that of Rye; and I am to acquaint you that the Board purpose issuing instructions to the Collector and Comptroller of Rye by tomorrow's post, acquainting them that, adverting to the 12th section of the Act 3 and 4 William IV.,cap. 53, the Board are of opinion that boats belonging to Hastings not having been registered should be described by painting on their sterns as belonging to Hastings, and that there is not any obligation for the.alteration of licenses to that effect; but that if such boats be already registered it is necessary with reference to the 10th and 24th sections of the Act, cap. 55, that the words "Of Hastings, Port of Rye," be painted on their sterns.

— I have the honour to be your most obedient servant,
C. Scowell

Mr. Planta further interested himself on behalf of the Hastings and St. Leonards fishermen — for there were at that time two boats which made the beach at the west end of the new town their landing place — and exerted himself to obtain for them substantial protection against the attempts of the French fishermen to pass the recognised limits of their own fishing ground. The encroachments of the latter were so frequent and so persistent that, on Mr. Planta’s representation, a Government vessel named the Pantaloon was ordered to cruise off the coast for protection. In the month of April this vessel was withdrawn, probably for other duty, and the Frenchmen, always on the alert, seized the opportunity for renewing their aggressions. The bad feeling was, therefore, kept up by this determination of the Frenchmen not to comply with the fair provisions of a convention which had been previously entered into for the prevention of aggressive acts. The Gallic fishermen not only infringed the international agreement by fishing out of their bounds, but they also occasionally cut and carried off the Englishmen’s nets. One night, about the 2nd or 3rd of May, a French lugger attempted to run down one of the Hastings boats, but being unsuccessful, its crew pelted the English fishermen so fiercely, with the beach-stones used for ballast, that the latter - inferior in number — were obliged to take shelter below. To the discomfiture of the Frenchmen, however, the Pantaloon had been replaced by the gun-brig Rapid, whose commander found it necessary to fire into the Frenchmen before they would sheer off. The shot struck the bulwarks of one of the boats, and this boat, with two or three others, was detained for several days; thus teaching their crews a lesson which they did not very soon forget.

On the 14th of June, Mr. Hollond met his Liberal constituents at the Royal Oak, and on the same evening, Mr. Planta arrived at the Marine Hotel. On the following morning both gentlemen commenced an active canvass, ere the writs for a general election were issued, with a view to secure their re-election. The work was of a short duration and resultd in the return of those gentlemen unopposed to the second Victorian Parliament, which assembled on the 19th of August, 1841 and continued till July 23rd, 1847. The nomination took place on the 30th of June, when the Mayor, in a cariage drawn by four horses and decorated with dark-blue colours, proceeded to the hustings in the Priory meadow, where one division of the building was already occupied by Mr. Hollond and his friends, who had been escorted thither with band and banners, and where, in the other compartment, Mr. Planta and his frieds appeared in similar form and number. After a few words delivered by the Mayor, R. Ranking, Esq., said it was a proud satisfaction to him to be allowed to propose the Rt. Hon. Joseph Planta as a proper person to represent them in Parliament. He was a man of strict political integrity, and by voting for him, they would evince a strong desire to support the Church and State [Interruptions] to support that Constitution which had been the pride and ambition of Englishmen - that Constitution which was both the envy and admiration of the world. He was a gentleman who had the interest of the town at heart, and, as they all knew, had hitherto benefitted the borough both in his public and private capacity.

Mr. N. Williams seconded the nomination in an appropriate speech, after which, Mr. Duke stepped forward, and said he wished the duty for which he had been selected to perform had fallen into abler hands. The Queen had appealed to the country, and he expected that every man would do his duty [cheers]. Differences of opinion there always were, and always would be, but he did not disrespect a man because he honestly differed from himself. Right was right, and wrong was wrong, and therefore it was not possible to vote for both Planta and Hollond and be an honest man. Water and oil would not unite, and such abortive unions were debarred by Nature. He hoped the electors would act conscientiously. It was for them to consider that by their votes, they would promote to offices such whom the Queen disliked - men who had insulted her [No, no and cheers]. The gentleman who he was about to propose was now well known to them and needed no encomoniums from him. His conduct and his votes were before the constituency. He (Mr. Duke) would therefore propose Robert Hollond, Esq. of Allegria, St. Leonards.

Nomination of Planta and Hollond[edit]

Mr Putland said he appeared before them with less embarrasment than on the last occasion to second the nomination of his friend, Mr. Hollond, because the gentleman they were called on to support was no longer a stranger, but was well known to them in his private character and in his private character and in his public capacity. He was not one of those who would leave the town he professed to serve and stick Pg.243  up his house to let [shame]. They required gentlemen who represented them to keep up some establishment. Mr. Hollond had always been found at his post to support the Ministers when he considered them right, but when he held them to be wrong, he voted against them. On the Poor Law Bill, he had cared for the poor, but how had Mr. Planta acted? [Hear, hear for Planta]. Mr. Hollond voted against the paid Commissioners or giving Guardians more power that they might control the dietary tables in the Union Houses. He voted that the widows should not be forced into the house, but that they might be allowed out-door relief. He voted in the Division against the Government, and all on the right side. The Liberals were not Destructives. The joined not the Chartists for bad measures, but the Tories like the Chartists, were Destructives. The present measures of the Government were good, the greatest proof of which was that they were opposed by the Tories. Mr. Putland concluded by seconding the motion of Mr. Hollond.

Mr. Planta, who was received with cheers said - Mr. Mayor and gentlemen, It falls to my lot to perform the grateful task of thanking you and my friends who have proposed me to be again your representative in Parliament. It also becomes me to state the grounds on which I have again ventured to ask that favour at your hands. I had hoped that at this election where are seen to be only two candidates, it would be in the nature of things for us not to be opponents to each other, and that all proceedings might have been carried on in good temper, without aspersions on any gentleman, which while they conduce to no good purpose, cannot fail to be personally offensive. I will now ask Mr. Putland what right he has to interfere with my private arrangements? If I choose to let my house, or to sell any property I possess, it surely should be my business, and not his. But, gentlemen, what is the real history of this affair? When I left Place, it was solely because I could not inhabit it with comfort during the winter. I therefore came and took a house in Hastings, where I lived the whole of the time that I could spare from my parliamentary duties. If, then, Mr. Putland has so much the good of the town at heart, he should have been gratified at my coming to abide in the delightful town of Hastings Mr. Planta might have added that by letting his house, he brought another family, Mr. C. B. Ponsonby's to Place]. But the object of Mr. Putland was to hurt my feelings by this ungenerous attack, which he was not justified to do. I do not believe there is another man on the hustings who would resort to such a course [Hear hear!]. I will dismiss the subject with the remark that I am sorry that he who did it was the man who seconded Mr. Hollond's nomination. I now come to the ground on which I again solicit your confidence to be returned as your representative. As consistency is the virtue in which some gentlemen take delight, I can say that I have ever been consistent in my conduct from the first time I met you. You have known me long and my conduct is before you. My late honourable colleague in his address to you, has stated that all the votes he has given in Parliament have been opposite to mine [Mr. Hollond, my honourable friend is mistaken]. Notwithstanding the disclaimer, I repeat those were the words used in his address.

But I also declare that I do firmly believe that the votes I have given have been for the good of the country and the happiness of the people. Now let us review the questions before the country. In the first place, there is the loyalty to the Throne, which is felt by all honest subjects of this realm to be desirable; but I do not consider it to be right to introduce her Majesty's name into electioneering arguments. If anyone questions my own loyalty, I will defy him to prove that there ever was anything in the conduct of my family (who have been for three generations in the service of the Crown) that for loyalty could be questioned. That they have by their services proved their devotion to King and Coun Pg.244 try is, I beg to claim, the same feeling which prompted me in my duties, in addition to the obligations of the solemn oath I took when I was sworn in a privy Councillor. I now come to the question of Free Trade. I am not one who will be affected by it. I am not a monopolist and never was; it happening that I had never more than enough for myself. The principles of Free Trade were first brought forward by Mr. Huskinson and my friend Mr. Canning [Canning and Planta resided near each other in the neighbourhood of Hastings at the same time]. But their Free Trade principles were not pressed into notice at improper times: They were always brought forward at opportune moments; and I say this is not the time when such a system can be carried into effect either with safety to the State or benefit to the country at large. As respects the sugar duties[Notes 1], in which I successfully voted, it had been clearly demonstrated that if that had been carried the only relief it would have effected would have been 10d. in the cwt. to the wholesale dealer and nothing to the consumer, and therefore to say that the Ministers would have promoted cheap sugar for the people is a fallacy. It would have risked the question of slavery which to annihilate has been the glory of the Tories as well as that of the Whigs. You would have risked the trade of the West Indies, from whence, in succeeding years, there will be a great supply. It would have been a measure fraught with much mischief and it was therefore very properly thrown out. As respects the timber duty, I will put it in the simplest form. You all know from reading or otherwise the state of the Canadas at the present time; that lately there was an insurrection in that country and that within a short period a union had been carried into effect between the Upper and Lower provinces, and that at the present time it requires the nicest cultivation of goodwill, conducive to prosperity, to enable that country to recover from its late excitement and to properly appreciate the good effect likely to follow in the arrangements just made. And then when the United States are ready to pounce upon the Canadaes(sic) it is proposed to pass a measure that would ruin them. When the petition from this place in favour of the Ministerial measures was sent up to me for presentation, I returned for answer that I could not support it, because I considered those measures were based on error. I do not, however, know that Canada will remain in its present state, and I may be able to support some such measure as is now proposed. I now come to the corn question. The cry that is raised is cheap bread. Well then I want to ask, will you have cheap bread with starvation wages? The effect of getting rid of this law would be the lowering of wages. Should you get rid of it entirely, you would of necessity ruin the agriculturist and the farmer; or if not that, they would turn off their workmen or keep them on at much lower wages. By such a system the labourers would be forced into the towns, there to compete with others, and a reduction of wages among them would also take place. This seems to me to be as clear certain as that the sun now shines above us. But the Government do not propose a total abolition of the duty. They admit there must be a certain amount of protection - namely, 8s. per quarter. My objection to a fixed duty is that when corn is cheap it is not a sufficient protection, and that when corn is dear, it cannot be maintained at all. I think a sliding scale is the best system, and which can be so found as to meet both the wishes of the agriculturist and the people. If you have to depend on foreign lands for your corn in times of scarcity, what, let me ask, will be your position. Suppose you had a war with Russia, her first step would be to shut the great corn ports in the Black Sea against you. And if America declare war against you, thus shutting you out from the means of existence, what then will be the state of happy England? No man of feeling can contemplate. Such are my views of this all-important question. I am happy to say that in all my canvass I have not heard much complaint of the Corn Laws, and I do not think the cry of cheap bread has produced much effect in this Pg.245 town.

Speeches of Messrs. Planta and Hollond[edit]

It was a sudden thought, undigested that produced the alteration of the postal system in this country. A measure that before worked well and profitably was never considered to be an oppressive tax except by a few bankers and merchants. It was freely paid by the people; but it was one of those schemes of the Government by which they hoped to gain over a few to their fast thinning ranks. The number thus gained I think was eight. The alteration was made against the opinion of the experienced men who were engaged in that department and against the remonstrance of Col .Maberly, secretary to the establishment. The Ministers did it, however, and the consequence was that last year there was a deficiency in the revenue of £1,400,000. That was occasioned by the remission of that which was never regarded as an oppressive tax by anyone; or if it was so considered, it was not by the poor but by the rich. In the face of such deficiency, the Ministers were obliged to lay ten per cent. on the taxes of the country. The only other question is the Poor Law, and in respect to this, I am happy to meet the charge of Mr. Putland and to tell him that when he states that I did not vote on this or that clause, he was right in his statement so far, but wrong in his conclusions. I did not vote against any particular clause, but against the Bill as a whole.

I recorded my conviction that it was bad and voted for it being thrown out. There were, doubtless, some abuses in the old law, but I think they might have been remedied without having recourse to such a grinding law as this. I will yield to no one in affection for Hastings and St. Leonards. For many years their locality has been my residence, and I can justly claim a right to express my sincere affection for the inhabitants. My efforts to support these towns have perhaps been feeble as compared with the kindness with which my friends have spoken of them, but it has always been my object to satisfy the wants and wishes of the inhabitants. I have endeavoured to promote your views on the question of a harbour and the protection of the town. I feel that the time must come when the Government of the day will see the necessity of making some place of refuge between Beachy Head and Dover. The fishery have my warmest interest. When I was informed that the French fishermen were annoying you, I applied to the Admiralty, and in two days I received an answer that a vessel had been despatched, and here I find her. If you should elect me, I can only say that I shall do as I have done before and will now leave my case in your hands. [Applause]

Mr. Hollond, who was also received with cheers, said he had much greater satisfaction in addressing them than he had four years ago, because he was then a stranger, but now surrounded by a number of friends. There had been many salutary measures introduced by the present Ministers, but he was sorry to see that they had not been supported as they deserved to be. He was a firm supporter of the Church, and he thought he supported it best in its religious character by wishing not to make those contribute to its support who conscientiously dissented from it. He much regretted to see people who refused to pay church-rates on conscientious grounds had been put in prison. Such a system was against his feelings as a Christian, and his exertions would be used to remedy so great an evil. He had done all he could to relieve the poor from the harsh provisions of the Poor Law. He voted for going into Committee because he felt that a return to the old system would be the ruin of many small ratepayers. He attended that com Pg.246 mittee every night for the purpose of relieving as much as possible the Bill of its severe and unjust clauses. He believed it might be so amended as to become a good law if the ratepayers were allowed to elect as guardians, men of respectability and confidence, without their being subject to the despotism of the three Commissioners. He hoped he had acted in accordance with their feelings in this and all other measures that had been before the House of Commons. They had now a most important measure before them, on which the Ministers had thought proper to advise her Majesty to appeal to the sense of her people. It was simply to ask if they would be relieved by receiving to their benefit the remission of the taxes which were now levied on certain articles of this country, or whether they would still allow that amount to go into the pockets of the corn and sugar monopolists, who, while they pretended to represent the people in Parliament, looked only to their own advantages. Nothing was more common in Parliament than to hear it said that such and such an interest must be consulted - that the West-Indian interest must not be touched - that the agriculturists' interest must be protected; but they very seldom heard that the public interest and the interest of the poor had been consulted [Cheers]. Now, he thought that there should be but two interests to consult - firstly the interest of the British people, and secondly, the interest of the country at large. He knew no other interest, and if they returned him again, he should ever act on that principle. The £20,000,000 they had paid for the abolition of slavery was not to create a monopoly to the injury of this country. Then the interest of the farmer must go with the nation. If the prohibitions duty - miscalled Protection - could be kept on by the land proprietor, they would take care that the people should consume bread at a high price, while they themselves revelled in indolence and partook of cheap bread elsewhere. The Tories had not told them what they intended to do if they got into power. All they heard was from Sir Robert Peel, who said he would make the revenue and expenditure equal, and, in order to do that, he refused to listen to the arguments on the Corn Laws, and said there was no other system he could adopt but that of laying on new taxes which would oppress the people and endanger the State. He (Mr. Hollond) was glad to find that the first two members returned to the new Parliament were Liberals. If the Tories unfortunately succeeded in obtaining a majority to uphold their false pretensions, he was satisfied that the people would soon waken to a proper sense of their position, and would compel them either to resign or to carry out the measures proposed by the present Ministers. He had only further to say that he would do to the best of his ability to prevent the election of Tories by voting against them.

Comments on Mr. Putland's error and Mr. Planta's speech[edit]

There being no other person proposed, the two gentlemen were declared duly elected amidst the cheers of their respective supporters and other friends. They were afterwards chaired round the town in a most imposing manner, but in separate and distinct processions. The remainder of the day was spent in mirthful and rational recreation. The Mayor (Mr. W. Duke) was the returning officer, to whom thanks were given for his impartial conduct. It was generally understood that there would not be a third candidate, and that if even at the last moment, there should come a surprise of that sort, the constituency had been so well canvassed by the two ex-members as to leave not the shadow of a chance for a third candidate. The Pg.247 allusion by Mr. Putland to [[Joseph Planta (1787–1847)|Mr. Planta's letting of his house was felt to be not only injudicious, but also a blunder, even by some of his own party, who knew all the circumstances, and who, saw that there was an opening for retaliation in the fact that the speaker was interested in a pecuniary as well as in a political sense in the return of Mr. Hollond. The reply to Mr. Putland's accusation was a correct one; for not only did Mr. Planta take a house in Hastings when he let the one known as Fairlight Place, but by means of such arrangement he brought another family into the neighbourhood. It was in my own knowledge that Place was occupied for about six months by Mr. C. B. Ponsonby and family, and that after their removal in consequence of Mrs. Ponsonby's death, the premises were taken on for a time by Mr. Little. These families were served by tradesmen of Hastings. Mr. Putland was also at fault in asserting that Mr. Planta's votes on the Poor-law Bill were all opposed to those of Mr. Hollond. The latter gentleman admitted that he voted against many of its clauses as being extremely harsh, and that he did not approve of the Bill. But Mr. Planta, instead of voting for or against specific clauses, voted against the Bill as a whole, his opinion being that its provisions were altogether bad. It need hardly be said that the Bill was not favourably accepted by the people generally, but, as has been shown in an earlier chapter, the old systems of relief to the poor were such as to urgently require a decided change. But, under any system, there are likely to occur difficulties in the administration of relief to the poor. What with the fetters of centralisation, and sometimes the misappropriation of means, local troubles will occasionally arise. One source of these troubles has been the sundry defalcations by assistant-overseers and relieving-officers, as of those which apply to the Hastings Union in 1841, 1852 and 1897. The first-named irregularity, although perhaps not present to the minds of Messrs. Planta and Hollond when they condemned the Poor Law while speaking on the hustings, must, nevertheless come to their knowledge. The following advertisement will indicate the nature of the occurrence:-

Whereas Thomas Thwaites and Thomas Cloake, relieving-officers of the Hastings Union, have absconded, the Board of Guardians hereby give notice that all persons to whom the said officers are indebted on account of the said Union are requested on or before Wednesday, the 28th of July next to transmit the particulars of such account to Mr. Inskipp, clerk to the Board in order that they may be examined and discharged.

Of Mr. Planta's defences of the Corn Laws and Sugar Duties, one would have to speak with bated breath, as against the now long-established Free Trade system; yet there was much in his argument that, unfortunately for British industries has been too thoroughly realised. Farm Labourers, in consequence of lower wages or lessened employment have migrated to the towns, there to compete with urban labourm thus helping on the numerous and lamentable strikes which have occurred against the lowering of wages through which the suspension of work has resulted in untold hardship. Sugar growers and refiners have also suffered immensely in consequence of the importation of undutied and bounty-fed sugar until it has become necessary to send out money for the relief of the West Indies. Also thousands of British farmers have been brought to ruin, consequent on their inability to market their produce at a profit.

The Lushington Divorce - Hollond's Grand Banquet[edit]

 Pg.248 

Then asked Mr. Planta "What will be our position in the event of a war with Russia or the United States?" This question was fully answered by the effects of the war with Russia in 1854-5. But the honourable gentleman was less happy in his denunciation of the postal changes when he said no one but a few bankers and merchants desired it. If the history of the Penny Post (See chap XXIII) by the present writer had been then published, our worthy Member of that day would have received considerable enlightenment. True, there was a loss to the Revenue for the first two or three years, but since then the profit, as well as the development of the reformed system in postal management has been enormous.

On the 17th of August a grand banquet was given by Mr. Hollond to commemorate his second return as one of the representatives of this borough. Several spacious marquees were hired of Mr. Taylor, of Cranbrook, and these were so erected in the Priory Meadow (near where the new Town Hall now stands) as to form an immense pavilion, within which covers were laid for 550 persons. The interior was gorgeously decorated with banners, bunting, flowers and foliage. At 3 p.m. nearly the full number for which provision had been made stood around the tables while the Messrs. Weller and other vocalists from Cranbrook sang Non Nobis Domine. A superb dinner was then partaken of, prepared conjointly by Mrs. Johnson, of the Conqueror Hotel, St. Leonards and Mr. Yates, of the Royal Oak Hotel, Hastings. The Hastings Band played during the repast. and toasts, accompanied by speeches, were given by Mr. Hollond (chairman), Mr. Austin (deputy-chairman), Dr. MacCabe, Col. Williams, Mr. Duke, Mr. H. Thwaites, and other gentlemen. Tickets had been issued to ladies, and at the conclusion of the speeches, these were admitted to the number of 500, and the centre of the united marquees cleared for dancing. As one of the diners and dancers, it fell to my lot before the closing time of an hour after midnight to assist two of the ladies to their homes at St. Leonards, which the giddy waltz or the something else would have made difficult to reach without some such assistance.

This great banquet was admirably arranged by the committee of management, and the event was one to be long remembered.

As the new Parliament, with a Conservative majority of 76, met on the 19th of August, it is clear that Mr. Hollond’s banquet was given two days before.

Two other public (but non-political) dinners were reported during the year. The first was on the first day of February to celebrate the re-opening of the Swan Hotel by Mr. and Mrs. W. Carswell. There were present no fewer than 140 of the principle inhabitants and the cuisine was of the excellence for which that hostelry (now no longer existing) was for centuries famous.

The other was an annual Tradesman's dinner, which took place at the Marine Hotel on the 28th of April. The company on this occasion were fewer by 100 than those who dined at the Swan, but they were not less jovial nor less loyal, as evinced by the fervour with which the toasts, sentiments and songs were received. The viands and the wines were also praised by the whole company, who separated with a wish that they might all meet in the same way, and at the same house a year hence. It was the fate of this hotel also to become non-existent, the year of its demolition being 1898.

One of the much talked of events in 1841 was the dissolution of marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Lushington. The latter, whose maiden name was Sarah Brisco, was first married to William Camac, Esq., a man considerably older than herself, and after his death, she became the wife of C. A. Lushington, who was considerably younger than herself. This second marriage proved to be a very unfortunate one, the husband's conduct being simply disgraceful. It is not too much to say that he turned out to be a drunken and obscene bully, a fact that could be attested by myself and many others. It therefore gave rise to much gossip, but no surprise when on the 22nd of April, the case of Lushington versus  Pg.249 Lushington was taken to the Court of Arches. It was a suit for divorce on the grounds of cruelty and adultery. No opposition was offered by the defendant, and Sir H. Jenner, without entering into details, held the accusation to have been established, and pronounced for the divorce.

Trial of Earl Waldegrave and Capt. Duff - Seven Fishermen Drowned[edit]

Another reprehensible affair in high life, and in the same month was the trial in the Queen's Bench of Earl Waldegrave and Captain Duff, for violently assaulting a policeman. The first-named offender in this case was not the 8th Earl Waldegrave who, at a later date, was married to Mr. Milward's widow, but his nephew, the 7th Earl, who was the second of four husbands of a lady first known as Miss Braham, a daughter of the celebrated vocalist. The case excited a good deal of local interest in consequence of the Earl Waldegrave having visited both St. Leonards and Hastings. Counsel was heard at great length in defence of the culprits who were present in Court. Lord Denman also entered minutely into the case, and concluded by saying -

This court has always felt itself bound to protect peace officers in the execution of their duty, and the Legislature has added its sanction to such a practice, because it has provided that punishment may be inflicted upon persons who obstruct peace officers in the execution of their duty. That act of Parliament provides that persons may be punished by imprisonment for not more than two years, with or with-out hard labour, and a reasonable fine. We have taken all the circumstances into consideration, and, giving you the full benefit of having made submission to the law of the land, and willing to make compensation to the party injured, the sentence of the court is, that each of you be imprisoned in the Queen’s Bench prison, in the custody of the Marshal, for six calendar months, and that you, Lord Waldegrave, do pay a fine of £200, and you, Captain Duff, a fine of £20, to her Majesty, and that each of you be further imprisoned till those fines be paid.

As touching the divorce suit, though still bearing the name of her good-for-nothing husband, Mrs. Lushington had, of course, no cause to regret the legal separation, and could continue to move in fashionable circles with even greater freedom. She was one of the invited ladies to a quadrille party at Mr. and Mrs. Hollond's residence on the 15th of October, and on the 29th of December, she gave in her own ballroom, a gorgeously arranged fancy-dress ball to the leading nobility and gentry then in Hastings and neighbourhood.

During the year, the gains and losses of the fishermen included the following:-

A Hastings boat was lost during a gale on the 5th of February, whilst on a voyage to Plymouth, and at about 20 miles distant from that port. The whole of the crew were drowned, the names being, Coppard, sen. Coppard, jun. Jarret, sen. Phillips, Swain, Bumstead (a lad) and another lad named Simmonds.

In the first week of November, the local fishermen were fortunate in their vocation and particularly so as regards their catches of Herrings. As many as from 40 to 50 lasts[Notes 2] were landed daily, and prices were good until the markets were too plentifully supplied. That success was soon followed by a run of bad weather, and on the 17th of November, one of the fishing boats was completely wrecked on coming to land, and another was greatly damaged. During this period of stormy weather (on Saturday, 14th), there occurred a large fall of the cliff from the at Rock-a-Nore.

The successful netting of herrings in November, was preceded in October by an unusual catch of mackerel, these being landed on the 29th of that month as many as 75 lasts, which realised £937.

Among other maritime associations was the launching from Thwaites and Winter's premises, the new schooner "Osprey" intended for the foreign fruit trade. As showing the significance of the local shipping trade, the arrivals in three days (April 27th to 30th) were the Sussex, the Wiliam Pitt' and the Milward, with general cargoes; the Jane with cheese and coke; the Rising Star, the Queen Victoria', and the Lamburn with coal; the Mary Ann with potatoes; and the Caroline with coals.

Commissioners Meetings[edit]

At the April meetings of the Hastings Commissioners, it was announced that the persons elected to fill up the vacancies were Joseph Bannister, William Bannister, Thos. Edwards and William Carswell, all for St. Clements; W. Richardson and Thomas Houghton for All Saints; and George Clement and James Emary, jun. for St. Mary's-in-the-Castle.

The water-works committee reported that the work Pg.250  in Mrs. Samwell's field had progresses about 40 yards, but they were unable to say that when the work was finished it would answer expectations. A cheque for £40, however, was wanted and granted.

An important proposal of the owners of property in York Buildings to give up the garden ground in front of their houses for a more commodious footpath from Castle street to the Priory Bridge was taken into consideration. Mr. Ginner said as it would incur much expense, he moved that it be referred to a committee to examine and report at the next meeting. This was done, and the report represented the paving as too expensive to make the acceptance desirable. Hence the non-aquisition(sic) of a line of frontage which later owners or occupiers have been able to turn greatly to their own advantage.

There were no shops at the time in York Buildings, the whole range of houses (one or two excepted) being let in apartments to visitors. The ground offered to be given up consisted of neat flower-gardens, enclosed by painted railing and small gates. It happened, however, that boys and others who should have acted differently amused themselves by plucking the flowers and damaging the slender railings with sticks or other objects. Hence, probably, the desire of the owners to give up the ground to the public.

Some of the Committee, it was thought, having an eye to the picturesque, deemed the turning of gardens into footpaths to be the reverse of improvement, whilst others regarded the expense of the work not justified by the low state of the Commissioner's finances.

Consolidating the funds of three parishes - Council meeting[edit]

The meeting having been made special for the purpose of considering the necessity of consolidating the funds of the several parishes, Mr. T. B. Williams said the motion was one that he should have made long since had he been aware the act would have allowed him to do so. He felt convinced that many commissioners held an opinion which was an erroneous one, that St. Clements was so pressed by expense that they could not fulfil their engagements.

In 1820 an Act of Parliament was obtained, when the rateable property in St. Clements was equal to the two parishes, a double portion of the debt then incurred, and also a double portion of the income. In 1832 another act was obtained based on the above principles, At the present time, St. Mary-in-the-Castle was nearly equal to double the other two. It could not be supposed that St. Clements would so press upon the funds of the other two as to make any material difference to them. He wished to raise such a fund that might enable the commissioner to make such improvements as the town stood in need of. He then proposed that from and after the first of June next, the funds of the parish of St. Mary-in-the-Castle shall become consolidated with the other two for the purpose of raising such sums of money as the commissioners might deem expedient. They must either pass this resolution or revert to their position in 1834. Mr. Gill asked if the motion was to make St. Mary-in-the-Castle liable for the debt already incurred by St. Clements. Mr. Langham answered yes, and seconded the motion. It had been said by some gentlemen present, that it was contrary to the Act, but as he could see nothing in the act directing separate accounts to be kept. One clause (which he read) clearly referred to such consolidation. Mr. Hannah stated in 1820 All Saints parish was left out of the Act of Parliament altogether, and only consented to be brought in the act on the arrangement made previous to the passing the act in 1832. Mr. Thwaites stated, in 1820 the act was passed as Mr. Hannah had stated, and that the parish of St Clement being allowed 40 commissioners, double that of St. Mary’s, the parish of St. Clements had carried every question in its favour, and had, he believed, taken more of the money of St. Mary-in-the-Castle than they ought to have done. He contended, from accounts he held in his hand, that the funds of St. Clements were not now in a worse state than they were in 1832. St. Clements had endeavoured to get every expense shifted on to the other two: if they wanted a sewer, it was a market sewer; if a house was to be pulled down to widen the street. Mr. Williams did not then say where is the money to come from. Had Mr. Williams come forward stating the parish of St. Clements insolvent, and not with the cloven foot, he (Mr. Thwaites) had no doubt that they should have been willing to assist them. He hoped gentlemen would not be hoodwinked by his friend of darkness, Mr. Williams, but enter fairly into the subject before they voted for such a wild scheme.

Mr. Gill stated that if the motion was carried, it would be a violation of agreement entered into at the time of obtaining the acts. The rates in St. Mary-in-the-Castle were very high. He then handed a letter from Mr. Duke, barrister, stating his opinion to be, that the commissioners were impowered(sic) to pass such a motion as the one before the meeting. Mr. Vidler thought Mr. Williams should consider that property in St. Mary-in-the-Castle was much depreciated, as there was not any property which produced £5 per cent. Mr. A. Harvey stated that the parish of All Saints would receive more than equivalent to what it would be called upon to expend. Mr. Ginner thought it would be a benefit to the parish of All Saints, but he was not prepared to vote for the motion as he did not see the justice of making one parish pay the burden of another. He moved an adjournment for two months, to allow time for consideration. Mr. Heath seconded. Mr. Williams wished to reply to gentlemen who had spoken as to the engagement made at the time the act was passed, to which there was not a dissenting voice; and again went through the whole of the previous arguments, for the purpose of refuting those used by the opposition. The Chairman said they had heard the opinion of two legal gentlemen, as to the legality of the motion; he thought it best for their clerk to give them his opinion as to the legality. The Clerk said it was his decided opinion that the Commissioners had a legal right to adopt the motion.

Mr. Ginner's motion was carried by a majority of four.

Council Meeting[edit]

At the quarterly meeting of the Town Council on the 3rd of August held at 11 O'clock in the forenoon, with the Mayor (Mr. F. Smith) in the chair, a communication was received from the Commissioners of Woods and Forests respecting a new road over the Priory ground. Letters were also received from Lord Corowallis and Mrs Millward in answer to some communication made to them on the 28th of May last on the subject; in which answers they stated that they had taken the subject into consideration and saw no reason to alter their previous determination. Some discussion then took place on the subject, which ended in a resolution being carried to proceed at once with the road without reference to the claims set up by either of the individuals in question.

On the motion of Councillor Clement, a bye-law was passed for the suppression of dog-carts within the borough [it is a curious circumstance that Mr. G. Mills, a Hastings man began his commercial career with carrying fish into the country by means of a cart drawn by dogs, and that in after life he, like Mr. Clement, became a rich man]. At the same meeting, the Clerk drew the attention of the meeting to the fact of the late Condemned Hole not having fulfilled their covenants. He was directed to write to them on the subject.

On the motion of Mr Thwaites, seconded by Mr Ross, the salary of the Pier Warden was ordered to be icreased £5 per annum, and he was directed to take upon himself the duties of the water bailiff. The Mayor also reported the return of the Rt. Hon. Joseph Planta and Robt. Hollond, Esq., as Barons of this port to serve on the ensuing parliament.

On the 6th of July great excitement was caused in the borough by the arrival of intelligence that a Liberal candidate had been nominated at Lewes for this division of the county. The Tories were prepared to chair their Members on the day of nomination, and the cortege was to have been very imposing, had not Mr. Curteis, M.P. for Rye, suddenly appeared emong them and broke the charm by proposing Mr. Shelley in the Liberal interest. They were dismayed beyond measure to think that the slumber in which they had been indulging was thus broke in upon. The Liberals, on the other hand, were in high spirits at the prospect of an opportunity of at least recording their votes as county voters in favour of the Liberal measures of Her Majesty’s Ministers. The candidates then were Messrs. Darby, Fuller and Shilley. Of the second candidate, the Sussex Advertiser remarked that Mr. Fuller was recommended at the Hustings as the inheritor of the legislative virtues of the late Johb Fuller, Esq. of Rosehill; but, said the same journal, "we are assured that he will never attain the peculiar parliamentary celebrity enjoyed by his relative!" Whatever might have been the ability of the several candidates, it was soon proved that both Mr. Fuller and Mr. Darby were far ahead of Mr. Shelley at the poll, for while the last-named gentleman obtained only 883 votes on the first Pg.251 day's polling (which induced him to decline any further contest) the numbers recorded for Darby and Fuller, respectively, were 2227 and 2195.

Marriages and Deaths in 1841[edit]

Deaths[edit]

In Chapter XXV I closed the year's occurrences with a list of deaths at St. Leonards, and I here note such of the deaths at Hastings as have come to my knowledge. These, with their ages, were - Jas. Cates, 43; Elizabeth Dunk, 79; Mary Evenden, 53; Ann Godden (of Ore), 80; Marina Southerst, 54; John Perry (of Ore), 40; Hannah Murphy, 79; Sophia Norman, 79; John Brabon, 78; Jane Adams, 57; Ann Prior, 65; William Whyborn, 46; Hannah Hazleman, 55; Chas. Stanford, 37; Thos. Willis, 34; Elizabeth Beaney, 55; Harriet Collins, 34; John Coleman, 21; James Walker, 75; Chas, Quinnell, 45; George Page, 30; Simpson Walker, 32; Joseph Mepham (by a fall from a mail-coach), 42; Richard Salmon, 42; Benj. Willis, 39; John Vine, 54; Elizabeth Boreham, 57; Sarah Evans, 58; John Cole, 75; Elizabeth Bedwell Stocker, 76; Thos. Tichbon, 75; John Harris, 53; Adelina Welfare, 62; Jos. Harman, 52; Ann Charlotte Eaton, 27; Coppard and six others drowned while sailing to Plymouth.

Marriages[edit]

Among the marriages which took place here were the undernamed couples:-

William Wenham & Mary Tassell,
Alfred Russell & Maria Watson,
John Page and Eliza Benge,
the Rev. W. H. Vernon and Susannah Loft (at St. Mary's)
George Oak and Ann Swaine,
Spence Cloke & Hannah Roffe Jones,
Benj. Wood (musician) and Charlotte Rubie,
Mr. Hide and Sarah Selden.
Douglas Hazle & Jane Foster,
Edw. Puselted and Ann Fryman,
John (afterwards Councillor) Duke & Elizabeth Fisher,
John Reeves & Matilda Mose,
Jeremiah Morris & Rebecca Collins,
Joseph Betts & Jemima Coffy,
Jabez Palmer (Wesleyan minister) & Elizabeth Eleanor Francis,
Philip Kent and Charlotte Manne,
Henry Geo. Glyde & Mary Mitchell,
John Hide and Charlotte Hayward,
William Kent and Charlotte Chandler,
Jas Winburn (schoolmaster of Ninfield) and Charlotte Smallfield,
Reuben Diton & Sarah Mann,
William Mann & Saah Diton.

These last two couples made the curious change of Sarah Mann to Sarah Diton, and Sarah Diton to Sarah Mann.

One of the specially erected dwellings in 1841 was that of the Halton parsonage, the first stone of which was laid on the 19th of April by Miss North, niece of Mrs Milward, who was ill at the time, and by whom the expense of the erection was mainly defrayed.

In the month of November there was a large fall of cliff near the East Well, a reminder that on the third of May a piece of cliff detached itself near the St. Leonards Caves and buried a boy, 9 years of age, named Eldridge. He was got out much bruised and in a precariously insensible condition.

The Benjamin Willlis named in the preceding list of deaths was a facetious vendor of hot rolls, pies and sweetmeats. He committed suicide by hanging himself in his bedroom while in a state of intoxication. In days of yore the sites of what are now Bank Buildings, Havelock Road and Queens Road were frequently flooded with water from land and sea, and the winters were severe enough to change them into a field of ice. The in was that Ben. Willis, nicknamed "Bug" would be almost ubiquitous with his cry of

"Here am I,
To toss or buy
My lollipops good as a jelly,
From barrel or bottle
To tickle your throttle,
And also to comfort your belly!"

  1. The sugar tax was a contentious issue in 1840 - after the abolition of the slave trade in 1833, there were a number of petitions to equalise the taxation on both imported and home-produced sugar, this would, it was believed, would increase the consumption of tea and coffee which were considered healthier than beer, and would also improve health by reducing the cost of jam and other preserves. See Parliament Select Petitions - Editor
  2. Brett's writing is unclear here and the transcription may well be incorrect for this word - it could be 'boats', however assuming lasts, this would give a catch of between 480,000 to 600,000 fish, or a total weight of between 140-170 ton of fish landed - Transcriber

References[edit]