Brett Volume 1: Chapter VIII - Hastings 1832

From Historical Hastings

Chapter VIII Hastings 1832

Investigation of the Charities
Corrective items in 1781, 1787, 1796, 1801, 1807 & 1809
The Chancery suit
£1232 borrowed for defending the suit, and more than £1000 otherwise paid to the Chancery Court
A gift by Mr. Milward of £492 to the Corporation. Explanation of the Drowned lands. Successive schoolmasters
The Enquiry of 1832, and report of committee
Death of C.S. Crouch, 8 times Mayor
Reform celebrations
Important political and: municipal changes
The Commissioners' new Act obtained and the old one repealed
Deaths and fatal accidents
An exciting race
a violent hurricane
Arrival of the Duke, Duchess and Prince George of Cumberland for 6 months
First election under the provisions of the Reform Bill. political dinners, balls, etc.

Transcriber’s note

[ 63 ]On the 26th of April a Committee was formed from the enlarged Corporation to investigate the condition of the several charities, and to report thereon, but before even a summarised copy of that report is here produced it will add greatly to the elucidation of a somewhat complicated theme if recourse be had to an antecedent period of about fifty years for tracing the varied phases and circumstances leading up to the present enquiry. [ 64 ]

The Charities

At the epiphany quarter sessions in 1781 Mr. Milward requested the Mayor to call to his assistance as soon as convenient some jurats, freemen and principle inhabitents to examine and settle the account of moneys received and paid on behalf of Saunders Charity and for other matters. On the 7th of April, 1796, the same gentleman delivered up his lease of the Maudlin [Magdalen Charity] lands of 21 years (from 1787) then occupied by Charles Deudney as his under-tenant, in consideration of the then recent advance value of lands in general, so that the rents and profits of such named land might be for the benefit of the poor of All Saints' and St. Clement's. It was then ordered by the Corporation that Messrs. Jeremiah Smith, of Crowhurst, and Thos. Cruttenden, of Westfield, be requested to re-value the said land.

At the quarter sessions held on the 7th of April, 1801, the a/c of moneys received and paid by Mr. Milward for Saunders' Charity from 1753 to 1795 was examined and allowed, the balance in favour of the Charity being £33 11s 5¾d. At the March quarter-day of 1807, the 86 acres of Charity land at Wittersham, which had before been loaned by William Taylor, was let to Smith Crouch at a rental of £80. To the Corporation on the 27th of May, 1809, was presented a copy of an information in Chancery at the suit of the Attorney-General upon the relation of Thomas James Breeds, of Hastings, and Thos. Clark of Rye, against the Trustees under the will of Mr. James Saunders, and it was then ordered that the Town Clerk, with the assistance of the Mayor and jurats prepare an answer to such information. The Mayor reported that he and the Deputy Mayor met the trustees of the Rye part of the Charity at the Town Hall of that town and inspected the a/cs which appeared to be just. The first letting of the Charity land was for £36 per annum; the second (in 1740) was £32; the third (in 1787) was £32, when was paid off £35 borrowed money; the fourth (in 1797) was £50; and the 5th was £89 5s 6d. There appeared, said the Mayor, nothing to be dissatisfied with. On the 25th of September in the same year, the Corporation received from Mr. Hoad a valuation of Parker's school lands in the parish of Ore, comprising 5 pieces in the occupation of Samuel Satterly (45a. 2r. 9p) valued at £44 per ac.; one piece of arable land called Bunger field (6a. 1r. 24p.), occupied by Mr. Weller, valued at £6; seven pieces of arable land and a shaw (44a. 2r. 37p.) occupied by Richard Edwards, valued at £36 10s.; four pieces of arable and pasture land (9a. 2r. 3p.) occupied by Thomas Sinnock, valued at £47 10s. Total £134.

Mr. Hoad further reported that Mr. Edwards had greatly improved his land since 1802 by underdraining, grubbing and manuring, which ought to be taken into account. Also that Thomas Sinnock's land was much improved, but that in consequence of the barracks close by, it required fencing from the road with post and rail, or its value would be lessened. The Corporation resolved that Mr. Hoad's valuation would be accepted, their belief being that he was a competent judge and a man of strict integrity. The different tenants also agreed to accept his valuation. On the 12th of April, 1810, at a Corporation meeting after the reading of two letters from James Breeds and James Hallaway, the Mayor states that the several augmentations in the rents of charity land had been in 1787 from £30.6s. to £49.16s.; afterwards, under the valuation of Mr. Skinner, from £49.16s. to £67; under the valuation of Mr. Hoad, in 1802, from £67 to £75; and in 1809, [ 65 ]under Mr. Hoad's valuation from £75 to £134. At the same meeting, it was resolved "that the Corporation entirely approve of the conduct of the Mayor and jurats, and hereby ratify and confirm all that has been done by them." The suit against the Corporation at the instance of Thos. Jas. Breeds and Thomas Clark, having now commenced caused much ill-feeling amongst the inhabitance, some of them siding with the so-called narrators and some of the believing that the Corporation had faithfully and honourably carried out their trusts. Thomas Breeds, it was said entirely disapproved of his brother's James' interference, and roundly abused him, for which he was summonsed for an assault, but the case was withdrawn. It was also said that he was vexed at his brother for using his baptismal Thomas James instead of James only, as many persons might suppose that it was he (Thomas) who had been one of the instigators of the Chancery suit. Another withdrawn indictment at the Quarter Sessions was that against George Carswell for an assault on his brother Rowe Carwell. At the Corporation meeting of December 4th, copies of affidavits made by Thos. Jas. Breeds and William Amoore - re the Chancery suit were read and explained.

At another assembly of the Corporation (Feb 28th, 1811), the answer to the amended information in the Chancery suit at the instance of Thos. Clark and Thos. Ellsworth, of a fourth part of the Priory lands, was entirely approved and put in before Messrs. Bishop and Thorpe, the Commissioners appointed for that purpose. It was also ordered that notice be given to the respective tenants of Parker's lands to quit at Michaelmas, as directed by the Lord Chancellor. On the following 11th of June, it having been stated by the Town Clerk that upwards of £300 had already been spent in defending the Chancery suit on a charge of mismanagement of the Charity estates, and that a further sum for conducting the defence would be required, it was ordered that £500 be borrowed at 5 per cent interest and that the Mayor or his Deputy be authorised to apply for the same. It would appear that the Corporation had been asked for the original deeds of the Magdalen lands, and being unable to produce any, a memorial was presented at the adjourned Michelmas Sessions in 1812, as follows:-

That whereas the real estate of the Magdalen lands, consisting of 9 pieces or parcels of arable, and meadow pastures and woodland, containing 55 acres and 31 perches with a barn and close situate in the parish of St. Mary Magdalen near Hastings & the gross income amounting to £49. per an & the objects of which foundation are the poor of Hastings, was founded by some person unknown, and that there are no deeds, wills or other instruments in our possession or any other person to the best of our knowledge.

— The Mayor and jurats of the Corporation of Hastings

The Charities (cont.)

It has been here shown that the several tenants of Parker's Charity were to quit possession, as ordered by the Lord Chancellor at the ensuing Michaelmas quarter-day. Presumably, this order was complied with, and [ 66 ]on the 7th of December the Corporation ordered that the Charity Lands be let by tender for 14 years, to commence from such time as the Corporation could legally possess themselves thereof conformably with the direction given by the Court of Chancery.

From a letter of this date which once caught my vision in a County newspaper, it would appear that someone personally interested in the case had written disparagingly of the action taken by Breeds and Clark, and which provoked the following reply:-

The trustee who undertook to remark so illiberally upon the statement of these proceedings, would have done well had he consulted certain records and founded his observation on well known facts. Mr. Saunders gave a considerable landed estate to establish a grammar school and two children's schools, and to put out annually two apprentices. Mr. Parker also gave a large estate to establish a grammar school, and a Mr. Richard Ellsworth gave considerable property for a school. The principal schools are all under one master and the children's schools are under two old women as mistresses. These are recorded facts. It was not our wish to mislead your readers, but we feel we did commit an error in stating the rent obtained for the farm was only £225 10s. instead of £240. It may be well also to observe that by the interference of the relators, Hastings has derived an annual increase of rents, and altogether an addition of £338 10s. to what was received by the Trustees.

— C.B. for the Relators

The foregoing correspondence does not throw much light on the affair as it might be read by a stranger, and when all the facts are fairly stated, the advantages gained by an appeal to the Court of Chancery were not beset by such roseate views as might have appeared at first blush. When, as has been shown, the Corporation had to borrow £500 to defend their position against the charge of mismanagement, add to which more than a thousand pounds had to be paid from the Charities' funds as the costs incurred in the Chancery Court by Breeds & Clark, and that one school was suspended for five or six years in consequence, it will be admitted that these conditions were a great drawback to the otherwise improved regulations.

As the main provisions of these Charities are given or are intended to be given in the "Premier Cinque Port" under the years in which they were granted by the testators, it will not be necessary to repeat [ 67 ]them here; but as the present History dates only from 1828, it has been thought desirable to go back to an earlier period and trace this particular feature from such earlier period to the year 1832, in which a later enquiry has given rise to this review, many items of which are published for the first time.

By the new regulations as decided by the Court of Chancery, £50 instead of £20, were to be applied to apprenticeships; £35 to each of the school dames and the residue (about £100) to the master of Saunder's school, such master to find his own school room and to teach 70 boys reading writing, arithmetic, mathematics, navigation and Latin. The land in future to be let to the highest bidder, such bidder to give security for the rent; but if the rents decreased, the salaries to the schoolmaster and mistresses to be reduced. The accounts to be gratuitously kept by the schoolmaster, and separate from all other accounts. The schoolmaster to have no other avocation, and to be appointed or dismissed by the Mayor, jurats and commonality, who would also have power to make rules for the better management of the schools if not contrary to the intention of the founder.

A present of £492 3s. 10d. by Mr. E. Milward to the Corporation

For twelve years, Mr. Joseph Hannay had been master of the Saunders and Parkers schools, united and had limited the number of scholars to 55, the income from the two charities being very small even for that service; but after the Chancery arrangements, he tended his resignation of Saunders School and on the 2nd of March 1813, the Corporation resolved

That this assembly highly approves the unremitting attention which has been shown by Mr. Hannay to the moral and religious instruction of scholars entrusted to his care ever since he was appointed master of the charity schools in 1800, at which time he was permitted by the Commissioners of Excise to resign his office in their department for the purpose of being eligible for the management of such schools. And we are unanimously of opinion that he is eminently qualified to teach the youth of this town to get their own living comfortably in the benevolent intentions of the founder as expressed in his will, and the inhabitants would derive great advantage from his continuance as master of the school on Mr. Parker's foundations whenever it may be thought fit to separate such school from the one founded by Mr. Saunders

The £500 borrowed by the Corporation for the expenses of the Chancery Suit being insufficient for the purpose the following resolution was passed at their meeting on May 4th, 1813:-

Whereas it appears that further expenses to the amount of £732 over and above the aforementioned sum of £500 have been incurred in defending the Chancery Suit, and that it is expected a sum should be raised immediately to defray the same, as well as to pay off the said £500 and interest, it is ordered that £1,232 be borrowed of Messrs. Tilden, Sampson Harvey and Gill, bankers upon bond, at lawful interest, under the seal of the Corporation. Also at this assembly it appears that whereas the sum of £492 3s. 10d. had at different times been borrowed by the Corporation of E. Mil[ 68 ]ward, Esq., deceased, and as appears by the promissory notes now produced by his son, as well as by the public a/cs. of the Corporation, audited on the 15th of March, 1813 - Now it be known that at this assembly, the said son, E. Milward Esq., requested the Corporation's acceptance of the said sum of £492 3s. 10.d, as a mark of his esteem and respect for the Corporation; and the said E. Milward delivered up the promissory notes to be cancelled, and the same are cancelled accordingly.

After Mr. Hannay's resignation of the mastership of Saunder's school, the scholars which he then had continued with him as upon Parker's foundation, but in 1816, he also resigned that office and was succeded by Mr. Slade who had the reputation of being a good educationalist. On the 5th of October, 1817, (after several years suspension of Saunder's school in consequence of the funds being absorbed by the costs of the Chancery suit), the Corporation appointed Mr. W. H. Prior[a] as schoolmaster, who, not being able to afford, as required, or even to obtain a school room in the town, had to put up with the loan of a loft over Breeds's Warehouse at the White Rock end of the Rope Walk. Also in the same year, Mr. Jas. Thorpe was engaged as master of Parker's school, using an inconvenient building near The Croft, this attended by "The Postman"

From Eighteen-fifteen until Thirty three
It was his right or privilege here to be
He bought the house, adjoining store as well
The last for school, the first wherein to dwell.
This Mr. Thorpe for fifteen years or more
At Cobourg Place, schoolmaster was before
In Eighteen-sev'nteen, Mr. Thorpe became
Of School the master Parker's school by name

On the 7th of December, 1818, an official enquiry was held by the Charity Commissioners, in which evidence was given by E. Milward, Esq. (Mayor), J. G. Shorter, Esq., Mr. Tompsett (Town Clerk), Mr. Edwards (chamberlain) and Mr. Prior (schoolmaster). The facts elicited as pertaining to Saunder's Charity were that the costs of the Chancery suit had to be paid out of the charity estate, and the costs of the defence to be paid out of the Corporation funds; that the property consisted of two houses, a barn and buildings, with about 75 acres of land at Wittersham, in the Isle of Oxney, let in 1812 for 14 years to David Dunk at a rent of £233 10s. Also 17 acres of so-called drowned lands, then only at times covered with water, but the boundary undetermined, for which £4 11s. 8d. was paid as rent. Also an undivided moiety of lands called Starvenden, let to Mr. Goble at £22; that for about six years past there had been no schoolmaster; that the two schoolmistresses had been paid a part of the time; that no apprentices had been put out since 1810; that the re-opened school was now filled; that a permanent schoolroom was much needed, but difficult to get; that the master was obliged to find a room out of his salary, and not being able to get a proper place was thankful to Mr. Breeds for the loan of his warehouse; that the chamberlain, as advised by the solicitors on both sides, received from Mr. Dunk only a rent of £212 10s. instead of £233 10s. until 17 acres of drowned land were recovered and enjoyed by the tenant; that Dunk complained he could not live on the farm at so high a rent; that more than £1000 had been paid into Chancery; and that there was a balance of £54 8s. 1d. in the bank due to the trustees.

The Drowned Charity Lands

Of Parker's Charity, the property taken under the will dated Nov. 15th 1619 consisted of 113 acres and 22 poles in the parish of Ore, which in 1780 was let for 21 years to Mr. Milward at a varied rent of  [ 69 ]from £36 6s. to £49 16s. In 1802, it was let in three separate parcels to an equal number of tenants, for a total of £134. Shortly before the filing of the information, Mr. Thos. Jas. Breeds, one of the relators, offered £210 for it, but the offer was declined on the ground that it would be unjust to the tenants, who had increased the value of the lands by very considerable improvements under the belief that they would be permitted to occupy them for at least seven yers. In 1811, however, the Chancery order was that they should be let by auction but that Mr. Breeds should not bid less than the price he offered. As no other person would bid at so high a price, Mr. Breeds became the lessee for 14 years at £210, clear of all deductions. After that the Chancery Court ordered the Corporation to pay £137 13s. out of their own funds, being nearly the difference between the old rent and £200 for two years. It has been already shown how great was the expense to the Corporation - and, consequently, the town - were put to by the Chancery suit, and how one of the schools was not re-established for five or six years, and how Mr. Milward generously gave to the Corporation the £492 3s. 10d. for which his father held bonds for lent money.

Another investigation and report of Charity Lands

As there are so few persons acquainted with the history of the so-called drowned lands mentioned in the foregoing official enquiry the following explanation is presented. Wittersham Level is referred to in a decree of Lord Clarendon dated from June 6th 1666, which

SHEWETH - That in 1604, Thomas Fane and others exhibited their bill of complaint into the Court of Chancery against Sir Edward Hales and others, to the effect that they (the complainants) are owners of lands in Wittersham Level - and that the said Level that, for the last forty years & upwards, consisted of 1000 acres or thereabouts of low marsh land, & of 1500 acres, or thereabouts, of high marsh land; all of which said high lands about 37 years ago were good summer and winter lands, & all of the said low lands were then also good summer lands, & for the most part good winter lands, & that the said level is governed by a particular Commission of sewers, & that the upper levels for the last 40 years did consist of 5000 acres or thereabouts, of marsh adjoining the said Wittersham Level, the greatest part of which were, about 36 years since, drowned & lost, yielding no profit and the residence were then decaying and in danger of being lost, also; that the said Upper Levels were governed by another particular Commission and that owners (having fruitlessly spent about £20,000 about the draining & preserving the said marsh by the old circular way of sewering by Appledore) took into consideration a new course or channel, which might be made through Wittersham Level in a direct line, and five miles in ten nearer to the sea than the former old circular way; but as the same could not be effected but by sew[er]ing through Wittersham Level, they made several propositions to the owners of the said marsh to obtain their consent. The parties having agreed, the owners of the 
[ 70 ]two Levels petitioned the Lord Keifer, the owners of the Upper Levels, that they & the owner of Wittersham Level that they might be governed by their own particular Commission as formerly. And, upon hearing of counsel on both sides, Nov. 11th, 1629, his Lordship ordered—

That there should be six indifferently chosen of the owners of the Upper Levels, who had no lands in Wittersham Level, and six owners of Wittersham, who had no lands in Upper Levels, and the twelve or major part, should consider of some means for the draining of Upper Levels, without prejudice to Wittersham, or, if they should receive prejudice, then they might be secured out of the lands of the said Upper Levels. In pursuance whereof, Sir George Fane, knt., and five others were chosen for the Wittersham Level, at Robertsbridge; and Sir Edward Hales, knt., and five others, were chosen for the Upper Levels, at Maidstone. That, after the space of two years or so, upon February 15th, 1631, these twelve made an agreement for completing certain works for the recovery and preservation of the Upper Levels, and also for securing and indemnifying Wittersham Level.

Then followeth the several articles of agreement, and the Decree further sheweth —" that all these articles were agreed to and benefit reaped therefrom by Upper Levels; but before all things were accordingly accomplished, the sea and dead waters of the Upper Levels broke in upon above 1500 acres of land in Wittersham Level, and that great danger threatened the rest: whereupon the aforesaid Lord Keeper, in September 1635, ordered (on complaint made to him) that the waters broken in should there remain, and Sir Edward Hales and others should enter into convenants to Sir George Fane and others, to make satisfaction for damage which was, or should be, sustained by the owners of Wittersham Level, by reason of the continuing the sea and letting off the river of Rother into the indraught until such securities as formerly mentioned should be perfected; or otherwise Krell Dam should be made up at the charges of the said Upper Levels."

Other articles of agreement follow, including one in which Sir Edward Hayles and others “agree to pay the rent by indraught landowners half-yearly, at the church porch, in the town of Rye, and to make good all damages done."

The Charities - Important Changes

And now - to repeat what was first stated-on the 26th of April 1832, another enquiry was suggested, and the Corporation

Resolved that in consequence of the late increased number of freemen it was deemed necessary to examine and regulate the several charities and funds invested in the Corporation, the same to be reported on at the next meeting by the following committee:-
The Mayor and Deputy Mayor, W. Scrivens, Jos. Hannay, Walter and Nathaniel Crouch, Wm. Thorpe. Geo. Duke, K. B. Baker, Wm. Edwards, Wm. Amoore, Geo. Robinson, Geo. Jackson. Jas. Winter, Wm. Ransom, Wm. Longley, J. Mannington, Wm. Chapman and Jas. Emery.

The committee appointed to investigate the condition of the Charities submitted their report at a meeting of the Corporation on the 28th of May nearly as follows

"We find on J. Henbry's part of Parker's Charity that several buildings have been erected, the whole hedge is in a dilapidated state, thus making the high road dangerous, the hen-house adjoining the Fortune of War, encroaching 3 feet, a footpath leading to the side door also an encroachment, the meadow land badly farmed, a large piece of the 8½ acres in a filthy state, with hog-sties and a slaughter-house, all of which are encroachments, and a footpath made across the 8½ acres opposite the beer shop on the Barrack ground towards Mr. Puttock's house which has no right. We recommend that Mr. Henbrey have notice to put all things to rights and to use the land in a husbandry-like manner. On proceeding to that part of the said estate let on lease to George Robinson and now occupied by Mr. Wyatt, we find the land in a very good state of cultivation, all in good repair and no encroach 
[ 71 ]ments.

With respect to the Magdalen Charity, we carefully examined the land occupied by Ransom and Ridley, and find it well used and fences well kept up. We are of the opinion that the present mode of distributing the funds of this charity is highly objectionable and that it confers no real benefit on anyone. We suggest that the rents should be distributed in sums of £10 amongst such poor deserving families of St. Leonards and All Saints as the Corporation shall select.

Of Saunders' Charity, we recommend that the £139 80s. 10d now in the Court of Chancery be obtained if possible, and appropriated towards the erection of a schoolroom on the ground lately purchased, and that the relators, Messrs. Breeds and Clarke be applied to as to whether they will resist the application.

The application, as is shown in the next year's items was not resisted and the money was recovered, less the legal expenses.

The following changes were also recommended by the committee to be effected by the Corporation:-"That for the better administration of justice, a barrister of 9 or 10 years standing, be engaged to attend Quarter Sessions, at ten guineas each session; that the Hundred and Audit dinners hitherto paid for by the Corporation be abolished; that Stephen Waters be apprenticed with Saunders Charity, to Hugh Penfold, ironmongerer and gas fitter; that the Hundred Court in future to be held annually, and that in settling the pier dues with the merchants no deductions be allowed for suppers as heretofore; that payment of the fee-farm rents be strictly enforced and that the same rents and compositions of rents of all premises held in fee and collected by the chamberlains be offered to the owners of the premises, out of which they are issuing at 20 years purchases on the amount of their respective rents, and that the annuity of £25 payable for the fee-farm rents to Mr. Milward be purchased of him provided he is willing to sell the same; that £500 be invested by the Mayor in the new Commissioners' Act when that Act has become law; and that the freehold of the ground applied for by the Castle parish overseers at the price of £400 be granted. The Corporation received and adopted all the recommendations of the Committee, except those which relate to the distribution of the Magdalen Charity fund, the payments for the ringing of church bells on H. M. birthday and Coronation anniversaries (which were to be continued as usual), and the price of land to the Castle parish overseers (which was to be £200, instead of £400).

To understand the purpose for which the said land was wanted, it is necessary to state that on the 30th of March, at a vestry meeting, the overseers and others resolved to apply to the Corporation for a conveyance of the freehold of the Workhouse ground, and upon what terms, so that a plan and elevation for 3 or 4 small houses might be prepared by Mr. Walter Inskipp. At another vestry meeting (June 21st), it was ordered that the offer of the Corporation to sell the ground to the overseers for £200 be accepted, the conditions being that no building was to be erected beyond a line from the corner of John Simmons's house, near the Priory Bridge to the corner of the Wellington Library. At the next meeting (Aug 2) it was resolved that £100 be raised during the year [ 72 ]towards the purchase of the Workhouse ground, and that tenders be invited for a sixty years' lease for the two pieces of the Workhouse land for building thereon, the erections not to exceed three storeys, including basements - Hence the dwarfed appearance of those houses and shops opposite to York Buildings, even at this time (1897). The three lots were sold - so it was understood - to Peter Banks, Thomas Nelson and Edward Honess, the price of each lot being £14 15s. and the leases ordered to be prepared at once. An engine-house was also permitted to be built on a piece of the Workhouse yard for which the Corporation was to pay 1s. a year.

On the sea-front of this ground was Denmark Place, and a complaint was made to the Corporation that the taking of beach from the mouth of the Priory Water was endangering the houses. It was therefore ordered that Messrs. Ransom, Prior and Gallop see that the waggons remove the beach from a spot where no harm would accrue.

On the 5th of April, Robt. Ranking, a surgeon and a freeman was called to the magistrates' Bench to serve as a jurat, for the honour of which he paid a sum of 40s. In the following year he was chosen Mayor. He also in 1836 took the office a second time, in the place of solicitor W. Thorpe, who had been declared a bankrupt. Later in the yer, the Corporation ordered to be written on the minutes the following

Memorandum, that on the 22nd of October 1832, at 11 p.m. Charles Steevens Crouch, Esq., one of the jurats, departed this life at 53 years of age, universally respected.

Mr Crouch had been Mayor in 1817, 1819, 1821, 1823 (when he laid the first stone of the High-street Town-hall and Market), 1825, 1827, 1829 and 1831; altogether eight time. He, like Mr. Ranking, was a surgeon by profession. At the same meeting that Mr. Ranking was made a jurat, a letter was received from Messrs. Shipdeen and Stringer (solicitors to the Cinque Ports) requesting the interference of the Corporation at the House of Commons in relation to a Bill of the Commissioners of Sewers, containing clauses which would impinge on the ancient jurisdiction and liberties of the Ports. The action taken on this communication was a petition against such clauses, presented by the town's representatives, Messrs. North and Warne. As a detailed account of the Reform Banquet, and festivities of 1832, appears in Chapter VII under the heading of St. Leonards, it will not, of course, be repeated here - but as the money collected for the purpose did not quite meet the expenses, it was ordered by the Corporation on the 2nd of August that £25 be paid by the Chamberlain to make up the deficiency. In the same chapter, reasons are given for recording the joyous event under the head of St. Leonards, rather than that 
[ 73 ]of Hastings, to which, may be added as a further motive, the intention to describe under the head of Hastings, the way in which a similar demonstration took place at Battle.

Reform Banquet at Battle

It occurred to me that as Sir Godfrey Webster was the first to bring the news of the passing of the Reform Bill to Hastings and St. Lonards, and that as his was the ruling spirit at a grand celebration of that event at Battle, more than three weeks before our own demonstration; also that as the Hastings Reform dinner was to a great extent an enlarged copy of the one at Battle, which was witnessed by hundreds of persons from these towns, it would be but simple justice to the Battle people to reproduce the account of their loyal and enthusiastic manifestation on that occasion. The following description was sent by an inhabitant to the London Sun newspaper, a few verbal alterations and elistions being here made by way of condensation:-

JUNE 26TH, 1832

"To the Editor,

Having a leisure hour on my hands, I feel that I cannot employ it beiter than in writing you a brief account of our grand féte on Tuesday, the 26th inst. to celebrate the passing of the Reform Bill. Brief and imperfect such account must be, for no words can describe the pleasures of that day—none, indeed, but those who saw it can form an idea of the beauty of the scene, the regularity of the proceedings, the admirable conduct of all concerned, and the unbounded joy of those who participated in the entertainment, as well as of those who were spectators of the same. As soon as the Reform Bill received the Royal Assent, the inhabitants decided to celebrate the event with a public dinner for all the poor inhabitants, and for this purpose Sir Godfrey Webster was kind enough to offer the use of his beautiful lawn in front of the Abbey. Subscriptions were raised, the day was appointed, and every preparation was duly made. At sunrise on the auspicious morning we were aroused from our slumbers by the discharges of cannon, soon after which the town presented a busy scene. Flags were hoisted or suspended in various parts, and groups of young men were to be seen bringing in evergreens and flowers from the neighbouring districts wherewith to decorate the town, and which, in a few hours was done to admiration. The flags were really beautiful and bore the several mottoes of "The King and Reform", "The Constitution in its Purity", "Liberty", "Peace and Prosperity", "The Voice of the People", "Grey and Russell", &c., &c. The dinner consisted of hot roast and boiled beef and plum pudding. At a very early hour all were in motion, every householder being in some way assisting or providing for the occasion, whilst the preparations on the Abbey lawn were at the same time going on.

Twenty-six tables were there erected, each capable of dining 70 persons. They had an open space in the centre and were encircled with a coach road, the centre having a platform for the use of an excellent band of music. Two vases of flowers were placed on each table, each table being providing with an 18 gallon cask of strong beer. The chairman at each table had two deputy-chairmen, three waiters and a butler. The company were admitted by ticket on which was the number of the table. The dinner-party brought their own knives, forks, plates and mugs, but the table-cloths were provided by the chairmen. I should say that about seven-eighths of those seated at the tables were agricultural labourers and their families. Many were the forebodings of enemies of Reform that the day would end in riot, but they were greatly disappointed. Some of the labourers came into the town with flags and banners, on one of which was inscribed 'The Support of the Nation.'

Small flags were carried by children, bearing such mottoes as 'Liberty,' 'Peace,' 'Plenty,' &c. At 2 o’clock dinner was on the tables, with 1,800 persons seated to partake of it. A mortar was fired, the trumpet was sounded, each chairman said grace, the band played 'O, the Roast Beef of Old England,' and the dinner was commenced. At this stage the large gates were thrown open and spectators to the number of thousands from the adjacent towns and villages were admitted. ‘The number on the grounds was estimated at from six to ten thousand, and they all appeared struck with astonishment at the grandeur of the scene and the good order which everywhere prevailed. The toasts, heralded by trumpet, were announced from the centre, followed by cheers and appropriate music, consisted of 'The King and Constitution,' 'Earl Grey and Reform,' 'Althorp, Russell and the rest of His Majesty’s Ministers,' 'May the Reform Bill shower Blessings on us All,' and 'Sir Godfrey and Lady Webster, with thanks for their kindness.' The most gratifying circumstance was the conduct of the labouring poor. They evidently came to enjoy and not to abuse themselves, there being nothing approaching to drunkenness or riot. They were, indeed, in ecstasies and could not find language to adequately express their pleasure. Among their exclamations were - 'This is a day!' 'I never expected to see such a day as this!' 'I never enjoyed myself so before in my life!' 'I shall never forget this day!' &c. At 6 o'clock a procession, got up by the young men, entered the town, with a gorgeous car drawn by four horses, ridden by postillions, elegantly dressed. Over the car was a banner 'We have gained the-palm, but not without difficulty.' In the car was seated Earl Grey, personified, and holding in his hand the Reform Bill.

Headed by the band and banners, the procession paraded the town, the 'Earl' repeatedly bowing in response to the acclamations of the multitude. He wore a rich coronet, his robes of office, and the garter, on which last was embroidered in gold ' Honi soit qui mal y pense. ' Later in the evening an air baloon(sic) ascended from the lawn and dancing took place until about 9 o’clock, when the company adjourned from the lawn to the outside of the Abbey, there to witness a bonfire and a magnificent display of fireworks, which continued till nearly midnight in the midst of the greatest good order and decorum. No illuminations were attempted, we having grown wiser than to celebrate, as was once our wont, our rejoicings in oil and tallow. I may say, in conclusion, that the expenses of band, erecting tables, and the procuring of many other requisites, has not exceeded £110, the secret of which is that everyone's heart was in the cause, and no one thought of being paid for his time and exertion.

— I am, yours truly,

Also in the Brighton Guardian of July 4th, appeared a report which in every way corroborated the foregoing account. It was as follows:-

"Yesterday se’nnight, Tuesday, June 26, the day on which a féte was held to celebrate the passing of the Reform Bill, will never be forgotten in Battle. The firing of the park guns and the ringing of the church bells ushered in a brilliant morning, and the weather throughout the day was very favourable. About noon the Rye Band arrived, and played through the town as far as the George. where they partook of refreshments provided for them. About one, a large party of labourers arrived from the Black Horse way, bearing a handsome banner, inscribed "The Supporters of the Nation." They walked in procession, each man having a wand, and following a band of their own. These were met at the top of the town by another considerable party from the Netherfield Road, with a large banner borne by two men, and inscribed "From our labour, springs wealth." These also followed with music of their own. The several parties were led on by kings of their own choice, fitly decorated with stars, ribbons, &c. When they arrived within a few yards of each other, they halted; and after a solemn pause, the chiefs met halfway and shook hands, amidst the cheers of an immense multitude. The labourers then fell into each other's ranks, their bands united, their kings placed themselves at their head, and in this order they all marched to the lawn in front of the Abbey, the use of which was granted for the occasion by [[Sir Godfrey Webster (1789-1836)|Sir Godfrey Webster]. The preparation which had here been made by the committee was most admirable, and, indeed, their labour must have been unremitting during the last fortnight. Over the gateway hung a large banner, inscribed "Fete to celebrate the passing of the Reform Bill," with the words "Grey," "Brougham," "Russell," and "Althorp," at the corners. Outside the gateway and on the towers the Abbey colours were waving in the wind; and the lawn was fitly decorated with various flags with appropriate inscriptions.

The space which enclosed the tables was enclosed by a fence, and in the centre a platform was raised, covered with green branches of trees, and from this elevation the excellent band that was engaged spread its dulcet notes during the afternoon. The tables were numbered, and the company were admitted by tickets only—particular tickets being assigned to each table, over which a steward presided, with the aid of two assistants and three waiters. There was also a president to the beer-barrel. Not the least confusion prevailed. The spectators were not admitted within the gates until the company were seated. At half-past one the discharge of a gun gave signal to take up the dinner, which was cooking at the houses of the inhabitants in the town. In a quarter of an hour, at the firing of the second gun, the viands were put on the table, and a third gun announced that the attack on the edibles had begun. The gates were thrown open to all who chose to enter. There were presented to view six-and-twenty tables, with a barrel of strong beer at the head of each, and each provided with four ponderous joints of beef of the best quality—roast and boiled, six large plum puddings, a bushel of potatoes, 14lbs of bread, and garnished with three pots of flowers. There were seated at each table 68 persons, making a total of 1,768. After dinner, various toasts were given, the band playing suitable tunes. The beer, so plentifully supplied, held out till late in the afternoon. Indeed, at some of the tables there was a difficulty in emptying the barrels, the people observing a perfect sobriety. They all appeared impressed with an idea that they had a duty to perform as well as a pleasure to enjoy. Not a single instance of intoxication was to be seen. Betweén six and seven a procession got up by the young men of the place paraded the town, the most prominent object of which was a handsome car, decorated with flowers and green branches, and drawn by four horses. In it was seated a gentleman dressed appropriately with robes, and representing Earl Grey with the Reform Bill in his hand. The car was preceded by the band, and followed by the dinner guests marching two-and-two with their colours flying, and a great number of people—there could not be less than 5,000. Tuesday happened to be the day on which the magistrates held their sitting, and they mustered in great force. It sometimes happens that they cannot without great difficulty get so many as two to transact the parish business; but on that day ten were collected, and some of them were, it is said, engaged a considerable time in conning over the Riot Act, and discussing the point at which it would become applicable. Surely they would have been as well employed had they followed the example of one of their number, Sir C. Lamb, who left the Bench and went to the lawn, where he was so struck with wonder and admiration, that, although he [ 74 ]had previously refused to subscribe when applied to by the committee, he sent his steward the following day to express his regret, and to offer to make up any deficiency, should there be any in the funds, and which, we are sorry to say, is considerable. The manner in which this day passed off will never be forgotten, either by those who gave, or by those who partook of the bounty; and it will do more to allay the bad feeling which has existed among the labourers and their employers—it will do more towards quenching the fires and suppressing the riots from which this parish has suffered so much, than all the police officers that can be procured from London, or all the soldiers in the pay of the King, or all the special commissions that can be sent into the county by the King in Council. On that day might be seen the mother smiling on the hand that fed her children, while the father’s countenance beamed with benignity and joy as he felt, perhaps for the first time, that even his children were to him a source of pleasure."

Another account states that on Tuesday, the 26th inst., this town presented a scene of gaiety and joyous animation, such as had never been witnessed here by the oldest inhabitant. The day was set apart for the celebration of the passing of the English Reform Bill. The Committee that had been appointed to make the necessary arrangements had been most unremitting in their exertions for a considerable time previous, and the result of their labours was such as to reflect the highest credit on their activity and judgment, eliciting the most unbounded applause. The heavens were propitious to the fete, and the pleasures of the day were greatly enhanced by the liberality of [[Sir Godfrey Webster (1789-1836)|Sir Godfrey Webster], Bart., who granted the use of the beautiful lawn in front of the Abbey to be appropriated for that day as a heaven-canopied dining-room for the rustic guests. The whole town was beautifully decorated with evergreens and numerous banners, bearing appropriate inscriptions, and the scene upon the whole was calculated, as was evident by the sequel, to gladden every eye and warm every heart.

And here let it he recorded to the honour of the influential inhabitants of the parish, that, all appeared to vie with each other in promoting the great objects of the day, the comfort of the agricultural labourers and working-classes, and the promotion of that kindly feeling which links man to man, and is the only certain safeguard of person and property. About one o'clock the labourers from the East and West divisions of the parish marched in procession into the town, each party being preceded by a band of music, and a leader in a grotesque dress carrying a banner. On the banner of one division was inscribed "From our labour, springs wealth," and on that of the other "The Supporters of the People." Both parties now uniting, and being joined by the townspeople, a regular procession was formed, which proceeded to the lawn, where the guests, consisting of eighteen hundred men, women, and children, being seated, signal guns were fired, and a hot dinner of roast and boiled beef and excellent plum puddings was served up on 26 tables, each table being attended by three carvers and four waiters, the bands playing "God Save the King," and other national airs. The greatest order and regularity prevailed, and the whole scene was of that gratifying description which must be seen to be properly appreciated. After dinner, the following toasts were drunk :— "The King and Constitution." "Lord Grey, and the rest of his Majesty's Ministers," "The Reform Bill, and may it shower down blessings on us all," "Sir Godfrey and Lady Webster, with thanks for the use of the Lawn."

Although the supply of ale was unlimited, not an individual was to be seen in a state of intoxication. The most uneducated appeared deeply impressed with the importance of the great national measure which they were assembled to celebrate, and the manner in which numbers of them expressed their gratitude for the feast which had been so liberally provided for them was calculated to awaken in the breasts of the donors the most pleasurable feelings. At six o'clock another procession was formed, which was got up by the young men of the town, assisted by numerous young ladies, who most willingly lent a helping hand in preparing the dresses, decorations, &c. A car, tastefully adorned with evergreens and flowers, formed the most prominent object. A gentleman was seated in it, attired splendid robe and other appropriate insignia, intended to represent Earl Grey. The vehicle was drawn by four horses, the postillions being gaily dressed, and a band of music, playing popular airs, preceded the car. There were 18 flags and banners in the procession. The first was the Union Jack, and the following were among the inscriptions on others :—"The Patriot King and the People," "Liberty," "Peace," "The King and Reform," "The Constitution in its Purity," "The Voice of the People." The procession was closed by a large banner on which was inscribed, "United we are invincible." Upwards of £100 had been subscribed, a sum which would have been very inadequate, but the generosity manifested by the inhabitants in furnishing nearly everything necessary for the occasion, free of expense, precluded the necessity for any greater pecuniary advance. And this highly commendable display of social and generous feeling was not confined to the precincts of the town; many of the farmers in the neighbourhood, in addition to their subscriptions, kindly gave the use of their teams and waggons for the carriage of the materials which were used in the various arrangements. It was a subject of high gratification during the day that although the influx of people from the neighbouring parts was greater than on any former occasion, and a great majority of them were agricultural labourers, yet not the slightest disturbance occurred, proving that they were possessed of minds capable of being conciliated, and that the best security which the middle classes can obtain in the present distressful times against violence from what is termed the "lower classes" will be found in the exercise of that generous sympathy which, being God-like in its nature and operation, will invariably be conducive to innocence and peace.

"The thoughtless world to majesty may bow,
Exalt the brave and idolise success;
But more to Innocence their safety owe
Than power or glories e'er conspired to bless."

As soon as the shades of evening appeared, a large bonfire was lighted on the market green, after which a most beautiful display of fireworks closed the pleasures of the day, and the immense assemblage retired in the most peaceful manner to their homes. On the following day, leave having been kindly given by [[Sir Godfrey Webster (1789-1836)|Sir Godfrey Webster], a game of cricket was played on the Abbey lawn by the young men who had taken an active part in the celebration of the féte, and in the evening the gentry and principal inhabitants, who had been actively and, indeed, laboriously engaged the day before in promoting the comfort of others, experienced a most agreeable relaxation by tripping it on the light fantastic toe on the green sward till—

....."The bright-haired sun
Was seated in his Western Tent,"

when, on the invitation of Lady Webster (whom to know is to admire, and whose generosity on this and other occasions has raised her high in the esteem of the inhabitants) they retired to the Abbey to partake of refreshments and listen to the cheerful song till the witching time of night drew near, and they then departed highly gratified.

On the day of the féte a very large flag, handsomely ornamented, was hoisted on the Abbey gate. On this is to be inscribed an account of the féte and the great national victory which gave rise to it. It is then to be placed in some conspicuous situation as a memorial.

There on the walls the patriot’s sight
May ever hang with fresh delight,
And graved with some prophetic rage,
Read Albion's fame through every age."

The Commissioners New Local Act

It has here been shown that 1832 was a more than very important year for Hastings in its Parliamentary and Municipal life, as well as in associations abounding with features of local interest. It was in the same year that the new Act of Parliament was obtained which gave increased powers to the Commissioners. For about two years the proposed measure had been advocated and discussed, and although mostly the townspeople were favourable to it, there were others who threw obstacles in its way, especially those whose property, regarded as an obstruction was sought to be removed, as witness the various correspondences respecting Beach Cottages. It was on the 23rd of June 1832, that the Commissioner's new act received the Royal Assent, the provisions of which are here set forth with as little of the legal verbality of such documents as its general report will allow.

It is entitled "An Act for Paving, Lighting, Watching, Cleansing and Improving the Town and Port of Hastings, and for establishing and regulating Market therein and supplying the inhabitants with Water, and for other purposes." It recites and repeals a former Act of 1820, which [ 75 ]provided Commissioners for the whole of the parishes of All Saints and St. Clement's and the inbounds of St. Mary-in-the-Castle. It also prohibited the revival of any portion of a still earlier Act, under Commissioners were ordained for St. Clement's only. The new Act next sets forth the sums of money borrowed, paid off, and still owing by the three parishes as follows:-

Borrowed by St. Clement's £4,550, of which £3,000 was unpaid; borrowed by All Saint, £1,900, of which £1,300 was still due; and borrowed by St. Mary-in-the-Castle £1,550, of which sum £1,000 had still to be paid off. Thus the whole of the borrowed money amounted to £8,000, and the combined remaining debt was £5,300. There was also £600 out of £1,500 borrowed by St. Clement's Commissioners under their own exclusive Act of a date before 1820 to be paid off. It was therefore enacted that all existing arrangements for collecting moneys, for paying off the said debts, according to original contracts, were to remain in force; also that the officers employed under the previous Act were to hold their situations according to agreement. But the new Act purported to give enlarged powers, not only for paving, lighting, watching &c. but also for removing projections, obstructions and encroachments; also for constructing groins(sic) and walls against encroachments of the sea; for building a new market-place, and for a better supply of water from the Bourne and other sources. The names of 100 persons as appointed commissioners were enumerated as follows:-

William Amoore, John Adams, William Bayley, Wastel Brisco, James Breeds, William Bishop, Thomas James Breeds, Solomon Bevill, Thomas Breeds, Thomas Baker Baker, Boykett Breeds, William Breeds, John Bayley the younger, George Bennet, Charles Steevens Crouch, Benjamin Coffrett, Walter Crouch, Nathaniel Crouch, George Bristow Carpenter, John Coussens, William Campbell, Richard Chandler, William Chapman, William Camac, William Duke, Thomas Daniel, Arthur Deudney, George Duke, William Edwards, William Ellis, John Eaton, Thomas Reeve Emary, James Emary, Thomas Foster, Edward Fermor, Matthew Fagg, John Gill, Rickman Godlee, Richard Harman overseer, Joseph Hannay, John Hide, Thomas Curtis Hutchinson, Francis Henbrey, Richard Harman innkeeper, Anthony Harvey the younger, George Jackson, John Inskipp, Charles John Jeudwine, Charles Lavender, James Lansdell, William Longley, Edward Milward, John Manington, Jonathan Mose, William Marden, Charles Frederick Mott, Frederick North, Samuel Nash, Thomas Phillips, John Plummer, Peter Malapert Powell, George Robinson the elder, George Robinson the younger, William Ransom the younger, William Ridley, John Russell, John Goldsworthy Shorter, William Lucas Shadwell, William Scrivens the younger, George Strickland, Benjamin Standen, William Standen, John Smith baker, John Smith stonemason, George Stonestreet, Griffin Stonestreet clerk, Wiliam Thorpe, Henry Thwaites, Richard Tutt, George Tutt, Thomas Thwaites sailmaker, John Tree, John Thwaites, John Townsend, Webster Whistler clerk, Thomas White, Abraham Wood, John Williams the younger, Edmund Weekes, Humphrey Wickham, Stephen Welfare, William Winter, William Wellerd, Nicholas Harrison Wimble, Sir Wathen Waller baronet, William Wallinger clerk and William Blicers Wallis, together with Twenty-one persons be elected in manner hereinafter mentioned.

[ 76 ]The additional numbers of Commissioners to be elected were 11 for All Saints and 10 for St. Mary-in-the-Castle. The qualification for voting for such was an annual rent or rate of £5 and upwards. If an elected Commissioner should refuse to take the oath for nine months, or not attend the meetings for the same period, another was to be elected in his place. The qualification for a Commissioner was that of a resident inhabitant, being either in his own right or that of his wife in actual possession or receipt of the rents and profits of a freehold (or an unexpired leasehold of 60 years) of lands, tenements &c. within the town of the clear value of £20. Then follows the form of oath, the penalty for acting and not taking being £100. The first general meeting was to be held at the Swan inn or some other convenient place on the first Monday after the passing of the Act, at the hours of ten and twelve in the forenoon, and afterwards on the first Monday in every calendar month. Other hours might be adopted from time to time as might be agreed upon. A chairman must be appointed at the meetings and in cases of equal voting he to have a casting vote. Minutes of the proceedings were to be kept in books. Not less than seven were to form a quorum. Committees might be appointed, as also a treasurer, a clerk, a surveyor and a collector of moneys, the treasurer and clerk not to be the same person and the treasurer to provide security. The Commissioners might sue and be sued in the name of their clerk, the clerk to be a competent witness. Commissioners not to be personally liable and officers not to take fees or rewards. Accounts to be kept and examined yearly. Pavements, markets and waterworks were to be invested in the Commissioners, but the stade and stone-beach not to be so invested. The Commissioners were also empowered to declare new streets and squares when made public. Persons assessed under the Act were to be exonerated from Statute duty and Highway rates. There was to be no alteration of pavements or drains without the consent of the Commissioners, who were empowered to make contracts for widening, altering, watering, lighting and otherwise improving the streets and roads, but all contracts above £100 to be advertised. Penalties, not exceeding £5 for wilful damage to lamps, and damages to be made good if by accident. Gas pipes to be laid 4 feet from water pipes to prevent contamination. No unauthorised person to take away ashes, and no offensive materials to be thrown into the streets, but no penalty for the use of ashes or sand during frost. All pavements to be swept daily between the morning hours of 6 and 10, the neglect of which would subject owners of occupiers to a fine not exceeding 20s. Slaughter, tallow or soap houses to be removed if necessary, and owners to be compensated if such houses were erected previously to the passing of the act. All [ 77 ]obstructionable or objectionable pent-houses, porches, sheds, windows, verandahs, balconies, palisades, rails, posts, fences, steps, cellar windows, hatchways, signs, show-boards and other projections to be removed at the owners' expense within thirty days after notice. All rebuilt premises to be set back to within the line of the street, the owners being compensated for any loss thereby sustained whilst permission might be given for buildings to be advanced if the streets by such advance were improved. Doors opening outwards to be altered at the owners' cost within 21 days after notice. Commissioners were empowered to purchase or otherwise provide fire-engines and necessary apparatus.

No one to be allowed to hang up or to air clothes in public thoroughfares except on the sea-beach between Ecclesbourne and the eastern end of the Battery, but clothes, sails or nets might be spread on the beach even westward of the Battery. Beasts wandering in the street were to be impounded, and penalties to be inflicted for attempted rescue. In any case of suspicion of canine madness being prevalent, an order for dogs to be confined to be obeyed within twelve hours and if then at large in the streets to be destroyed. The Commissioners to appoint from time to time watchmen, beadles and constables and to have control of their duties, gratuities, rewards for apprehending felons, rogues, vagabonds &c., as also to suspend or inflict fines for neglect of duty. Penalties also to be inflicted on publicans for selling liquors to watchmen while on duty, and on persons for obstructing officers in their duty. Commissioners to have power to license pleasure-boats and hackney coaches and to make byelaws(sic) for the same. Also to prevent bathing in the sea within certain limits, except from machines; to erect groins(sic), to establish markets, to erect public weighing-houses, to discontinue the then meat market, and to compensate the Corporation for the tolls of such. Also to exact penalties not exceeding £5 for selling or hawking meat, vegetables, butter &c., in any other place than the new market or markets, except in shops or dwelling houses. Fish, however, might be carried about in baskets or other means without being subject to toll or duty. Commissioners to have power, with the consent on Corporation to order stalls and standings to be erected on the (then) fishmarket ground, and to be subject to such tolls and regulation as the Act provided. Any three Commissioners and a magistrate to order the destruction of un-wholesome food. Next follows a list of tolls to be demanded which were 1/6 a day for the use of stall or table in the sale of meat, fish, cheese and bacon; butter, 5lbs and under 1d.; turkey or goose 2d; poultry, wildfowl, partridges &c. ½d; hare, pheasant & grouse 1d.; pigeons 12 or less, 2d.; eggs, a dozen ½d; fish (except lobsters, crabs, prawns, shrimps, oysters) per bushel, 6d.; lobsters or crawfish, 6lbs. 2d.; crabs, 6lbs. 1d.; prawns 100, 2d.; shrimps, 1 quart, ½d; oysters or scallops, 1 bushel 3d. cockles or "muscles" 2 gallons ½d; fruit of any kind, per bushel, 6d.; herbs, roots or vegetables, 2d. per 12lbs. No other market [ 78 ]was to be erected within the limits of the act except by the order of the Commissioners. They were also empowered to construct works for supplying the town with water, and to make use of the stream called the Bourne and contributaries, but to make and maintain two places at or near the Bourne for a gratuitous supply to the poor. The water-rent to be paid by private consumers was 6s per year on houses pack-rented at ten pounds, and above that rent at 9s in the £., but where used for other than domestic purposes, at such rents s might be agreed upon. Water rents to be payable in advance, but if after the tender of a half-years' rent, the Commissioners neglect to supply water to a consumer for the space of 21 days after a proper request in writing, the would have to allow the would-be consumer treble the amount of rent, and 20s. a day so long as they neglected or refused the supply. Rents, however, were to be payable even if the supply ran short in times of scarcity or when repairs were necessary so long as the stoppages did not exceed 7 days at any one time or 14 days in one half year. The Commissioners, if resolved upon at a special meeting, might let the rents for three years to anyone willing to farm the same. Penalties were to be imposed for fouling the water or using it in a fraudulent manner; but one person might supply water to another in case of fire or when pipes and taps were out of order. The mains were to be kept full and fire-plugs made in the streets. The Waterworks as well as the Market to be exempted from parochial rates. Then follows a number of enactments respecting the purchase of land as premises, mortgages, etc. the legal jargon of which is extremely tedious to read and far to difficult to compress into a few sentences. But in order to raise money for carrying the several purposes of the Act into execution it was to be lawful for the Commissioners once a year, or oftener, if necessary, to make one or more equal rates on the occupiers of all houses, shops, lands &c. (except St. Mary's Chapel, which was exempted by law) to the extent of not more than 8d in the £ for any one year on houses, shops, warehouses &c., and 4d in the £ on agricultural property. In cases of poverty such rates might be excused. As an equitable means of rating, each parish was to raise such sums as were necessary for defraying current expenses of the year, and its proportion for carrying the Act into execution and for the payment of any moneys to be borrowed by virtue of the said Act, as well as for the payment of the previous debt of £5,300. The Commissioners were also authorised to receive a duty not exceeding of 3s. per chaldron (36 bushels or 25½cwt.) on imported coal, culm or coke and no vessel to leave the port until such duty be paid, irrespective of any other dues or charges. The same rate of duty to be demanded for coal [ 79 ]brought by land conveyance, in either case if not paid, the coals or the vessels might be distrained. A drawback of duty was to be allowed for so much of the coal as was carried for consumption to places beyond the limits of the town. All rates, tolls and duties were to be consolidated (except the water-rents) into one fund, and on that fund was to be charged the £5,300 borrowed on the credit of the previous Act. And for the more effectual raising of money for the purposes of the present Act, a sum not exceeding £4,000 might be borrowed on the waterworks a/c., and a sum or sums not exceeding £12,000 on the consolidated fund. But if the £4,000 should prove to be inadequate to complete the waterworks, an additional sum not exceding £2,000 might be borrowed; and if at any time the money borrowed on the consolidated fund should be paid off or reduced to less than £4,00 then a further sum or sums, not exceeding £4,000 might be similarly borrowed on that fund. A sinking fund was to be formed of three per cent. per annum over and above the money borrowed from time to time on the credit of the consolidated fund for the gradual payment thereof, and as often as the sinking fund amounted to £50 it was to be applied in the payment of the principal then owing by lot among the creditors. It was to be lawful for the Commissioners to borrow money at a lower rate of interest to pay off mortgages of the original rates. For the discharge of the debt of £600 on St. Clement's, an additional rate was to be levied on that parish for raising £120 a year until the £600, as part of £1,500, and interest was fully paid off. Next follows a number of enactments for enforcing payment of rates and rents, the infliction and recovery of penalties, rewards to informers, &c., and lastly an ordnance that "Nothing in this Act shall be construed to diminish or take awy any rents, tolls or customs belonging to the Mayor, jurats and commonality of Hastings, but that they shall continue to hold such rights, liberties, privileges and franchises as they might or should do in case this Act had not been passed."

The needless verbosity of all Acts of Parliament finds no exception in the one known as the Commissioner's Act of 1832; and although its provisions are here produced in the most condensed form that is possible, it occupies considerable space; yet, methinks not more than is necessary to understand the references made to it at the Commissioners' meetings of after years. [ 80 ]As the Act of 1832 superseded the Act of 1820 and as the later Act legalises the retention of the coal duties, it may be incidentally stated that at a vestry meeting of the Castle parish in 1819, then held at the Castle Inn "that the parish is willing to join those of St. Clement's and All Saints in applying to parliament for a new general Act provided that the duty on coal should pass the House, but if it be opposed, the Bill to be withdrawn."

It has been shewn in chap. VII that a Commissioners' Act was also obtained in 1832 for St. Leonards, the coincidence being somewhat singular.

Summary of Events

The following are some other local occurrences in 1832, enumerated agreeably to consecutive dates, and in addition to those noticed under the heading of St. Leonards
On the 19th of January, the interment took place at Ore of the remains of Mrs. North, the grandmother of the late F. North, M. P. at the age of 89. On the same day was launched from Thwaites and Winter's ship-yard, a schooner named "The Fairy."
On the 3rd of February, a fancy dress ball under influential patronages was held in the Hastings Theatre. On the same day, a French lugger, having caught 40,000 mackerel sold them at Hastings for £400.
During the first week of February, the following six persons died whose united ages amounted to 464 years; namely, Mrs. Dunn aged 88; Mr. Baker, 69; Mrs. Lock, 81; Mr. Lock, 71; Miss Maria Milward, 77; and Mrs. Deeprose, 77. All these, with one exception were said to have used the contaminated water of the Bourne.
There was at this time, a general fast in consequence of the choleras.
On the 11th of February was buried at All Saints, Thomas Kent, aged 24, who had been fatally shot in a smuggling encounter. The smuggling fatalities of Jan. 1st and Feb. 22nd are described in Chapter VII.
On the 2nd of March, the death occurred of the Rev. Webster Whister, rector of Hastings and Newtimber, while on the same day, guns were being fired at Hastings on a false report of the passing of the Reform Bill.
On the 13th of April, the wife of a man nick-named "Mad Jack" was found dead in wheeler Balls yard. This described by "The Postman"

In timber-yard of Ball's, now Albion Mews.
One "Mad Jack's" wife some brute did badly use;
Whose lifeless form, as seen by morning light,
Had undergone ill-treatment in the night
A fallen creature was that Mad-Jack's wife,
Yet, God, alone, should take away the life.

On the 13th of May, during a heavy fall of snow, J. G. Shorter, sen. Esq. was elected Mayor, for the 8th time.
On the 28th of May, in anticipation of the passing of the Reform Bill, a public dinner was served up at the King's Head inn, with Mr. Howard Elphinstone residing.
On June 5th the news of the Reform Bill having passed on June 1st. was brought to Hastings by Sir Godfrey Webster in his private carriage, with two royal standards, when bells were rung, cannon fired, tar-barrels lightend and bunting was featured in all parts of the town.
On the 13th of the same month was buried William Oake, aged 55, who had been fatally buried by the fall of sand-rock.
A meeting on the 18th of June for celebrating the passing of the Reform Bill was held in the Town Hall, and £400 subscribed for a banquet; and on the 25th a grand celebration took place at Battle.
On the 26th, a man could barely be kept from the fury of the people for having attempted to steal a little girl named Bedwell.
On July 16th a little boy named James Woolgar (half-brother of the writer) was run over and killed near Boykett Breed's lime kilns through sheer carelessness of a carter.
On the 19th was held on the Priory Brook, the grand fete in celebration of the Reform Bill.
The "Queen Adelaide" cutter was launched from Ransom and Ridley's Shipyard on the 1st of August.
On the following day Messrs. North and Warre 
[ 81 ]attended the opening of the Reformed Parliament.
On the 10th another child was run over and killed - this time in All Saints street, the child being a girl named Ball.
Also in the neighborhood(sic) of All Saints Street a man named Sinden committed suicide on the 4th of September, by hanging.
On the 10th of September a most exciting race took place between the pleasure boat Atlanta and the fast pilot boat Spring and after covering a course of 20 miles, the latter won only by a length.
On the 26 & 27th were held the annual races at Bopeep, under the stewardships of the Hon. H. Compton Cavendish and Howard Elphinstone, Esq.
A violent hurricane, with lightning and thunder visited the town on the 6th of October.
On Sunday, Oct. 21st, the St. Clement's Church was first lighted with gas.
On the 26th of the same month, Messrs. Archer Ryland and S. R. Bosanquet, the appointed barristers under the Reform Act, attended at the Town Hall and revised the list of voters.
On the 1st of November, the Duke and Duchess of St. Albans honoured Mrs. Camac with a visit.
Prince George of Cumberland and suite arrived at 5 and 6 Breeds place; and four days later, his father and mother, with the Baroness Howe, commenced a six months residence at the same place.
On the 24th of the same month, Mr. & Mrs. Camac entertained the Duke and Duchess of Cumberland at 4 Wellington square.
On the 26th, Sir Francis Sykes patronised the Bourne street Theatre.
On the 10th of December, His Majesty's Writ and the Lord Warden's mandate to elect two Barons to serve in parliament having been read, Messrs. F. North, J. A Warre and H. Elphinstone were nominated, and a poll being demanded, the election was commenced next day, and continued from the 11th to the 13th, when the votes recorded were 356 for North, 239 for Warre and 212 for Elphinstone. The Postman, in his "Reminiscences", refers to this election thus:-

"F. North was elected with John Ashley Warre,
And, finding to enter J. M. Stephen's no bar,
They entered the House and secured each a seat
In August, when it was appointed to meet.
They sat there before in the Parliament last
The Sessions in which the Reform Bill was passed;
It therefore was right to return them once more,
The they its prvisions might keep to the fore.

On the 18th, the re-elected members gave an election ball at the Swan Hotel, at which 600 persons were present.

On the 20th, Mr. Elphinstone, the unsuccessful candidate dined at the Pelham Arcade with 200 of his political supporters.


  1. Baines gives the spelling as 'Pryor' - see Hastings Grammar School - Transcriber