William Scrivens (1805-1871)

From Historical Hastings

Private Life

The eldest son of a former banker, William Scrivens, William was educated at a private school and entered into a career of law, being articled to a law firm in Lewes in 1821[1], qualifying as a solicitor in 1826. This appointment was possibly as a result of his father's business connections with the firm, F. Harding Gell, in relation to the practice acting as vendor for the Mill Field when Scrivens senior purchased it in 1810[2].

Taking out a private practice in Hastings at 113 High Street during 1828, he was joined in his firm by William Blackman-Young, and practiced under the name of 'Scrivens and Young'. He married Elizabeth Potter, eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Potter in 1834. After retiring from law in 1846[2], he spent some time touring Europe[3], but returned to Hastings to live at firstly 90 High Street, where his occupation was listed as 'Proprietor of Houses'[4], moving to 113 High Street, where his occupation reverted to that of a Solicitor by 1861[5]

He was a keen watercolour artist and painted two scenes which are on display in the Fishermans Museum; these being 'The East Clif at Hastings' and 'Hastings Beach'[2]

Public Life and Interests

Alderman William Scrivens had many interests within the town other than his political career as four-times Mayor of Hastings. He served as a magistrate, was Major of the 1st Administrative Battalion Cinque Ports Artillery, a lawyer who whilst not practicing, maintained his registration. In addition to this, he was President of the Hastings Working Men’s Club, was Vice-President of the Hastings Mechanics’ Institution, was connected with the Literary Institution, George Street, the Young Men's Christian Association, Wellington Square, was Treasurer of the Hastings Cottage Improvement Society, Chairman of the Pier Company[3] and Director (formerly chairman) of the Hastings and St. Leonards Gas Company[2]


By way of showing just how many institutions he was connected with locally, the following extract from the reporting of his funeral in the Hastings & St Leonards Observer may prove informative:-

"The deceased mayor had expressed a wish that his funeral should be as private as possible, and so far as it was possible to carry out this wish it had been complied with. The volunteers attended as if for church parade. There were, in the procession, in all more than sixty carriages, and perhaps no greater indication if the esteem in which the mayor was held could be given than in the fact of some forty of these carriages being occupied by tradesmen of the borough, who had left home and business to pay the last and only tribute of respect in their power to the deceased mayor.

The arrangements of the procession were carried out by Mr. Glenister, who performed his sad duty in a manner for which he deserves no light thanks. The cortege moved off to the Fairlight church yard in the following order -

Detachment of Borough Police.

The Volunteer Fire Brigade—Foremen Welfare and Marchant ; Hon. Surgeon Savery.

The 1st Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers—Col, Luard; Capt. Rock; Lieuts. Thornely and Field; Ensign Cooper; Hon.-Surgeon Savery; Sgt.-Major Kerswell, The 6th Cinque Ports Artillery Volunteers—Capts. Turner, Vidler (Rye), Tubbs, Hunter, and Jeffrey {Folkestone); Lieuts. Bratt, Gant, Grenside, Mair, Fryman, (Rye); Lieut. Poole (2nd), Lieut, Finnis (1st), Lieut. Sampson (9th); Quartermaster Clark; Hon. Assistant-Surgeon A. R. Ticehurst; Master Gunner Bell, R.A. (Rye); Sergt.-Major Russell, RA; Sergt. Banhan, R.A.; Sergt. Mac Mahon, R.A. (Rye) and a full muster of non-commissioned officers and men.

Private carriages conveying the following members of the Town Council and borough officials: Aldermen Putland, Bromley, and Clement; Councillors Picknell, Cuthbert, Crisford, C. Amoore, Dobell, Davis, Duke, Brown, Hayter, Poole, Rodda, Reeves, Gausden, Gutsell, Veness, and Winter; Messrs. Hide, Andrews, Glenister, Skinner, F. Bennetts, C, Picknell, and W. Winter.

Private carriages conveying the Borough Magistrates: E. Hayles, T. Hickes, H. C. Caulfeild, F. W. Staines. A. Burton, P. F. Robertson, and W. Ginner, Esqrs. J. G. Langham, Esq.

The deputy-Mayor and Town Clerk - attended by the borough maces (draped in crape, and carried by the Sergeants-at-Mace, Campbell and Chatfield).

The Undertaker, Mr. W. Coleman.


Drawn by four horses; and attended by the under-bearers: Drum-Major Tutt, Sgt. Majors Dowsett, Picknell, and F. T. Russell; Sgts. Pierce, Cressingham, and Hards ; and Bombardier Adams.

Mourning coach and pair, conveying George Scrivens, Samuel Scrivens, Frederick Scrivens, and John H. Potter, Esqrs., chief mourners.

Mourning coach conveying R. Deudney, Esq., (chairman of Gas Company); W. B. Young and F. Ticeburst, Esqrs.

Mourning coach occupied by Francis Smith, Esq., C, Ashenden, Esq., and the Rev. W. B. Bennett.

Mourning coach conveying old servants of the family.

Private carriages of G. Scrivens, Esq., S. Scrivens, Esq., (Bexhill); the Countess Waldegrave."

This was followed by a large number of other coaches carrying local tradesmen and other public figures to Fairlight Church, the numbers who had congregated in the churchyard being estimated as six hundred people, where the coffin was carried in by the pall-bearers through a parade made up of the Volunteers. The service was conducted by the Rev. H. Stent[3].

His will being proved in Lewes at less than £10,000, he left the bulk of his estate to his brother George, with small legacies to some relatives[2]. A photograph of William Scrivens is hanging in the Town Hall.

References & Notes

  1. UK, Articles of Clerkship, 1756-1874 (1821)
  2. a b c d e Square Toes and Formal (Christopher Langdon) Google Books
  3. a b c British Newspaper Archive Hastings & St. Leonards Observer 16 September 1871 Pg. 0002
  4. UK Census 1851
  5. UK Census 1861