Sinners and (Latter Day) Saints – Part One

James Warby, a soldier with the 43rd Regiment of Foot, who had fought in the Peninsular Wars at the Battle of Nivelle in 1813, hung up his boots in Hythe, married Mary Woods and raised a family. All was well until, in April 1834,his eldest son, eighteen-year-old William, was found guilty of stealing a half-sovereign from Susanna and Andrew Lawler.  He had gone to the house to sell potatoes and noticed where the cash was kept.  He contrived to loiter after the sale. A small child was present whom he sent off on an errand, and once alone helped himself to the money, which he changed at a butcher’s in Sandgate. He was sentenced to six months in the town gaol.

He spent his sentence alongside Alexander Swain, who had received six months for burglary. By February the next year, they were both back in the same gaol, charged with stealing a pet rabbit from a local solicitor. Swain, probably fearing a stiff sentence, persuaded a seventeen-year-old girl who was visiting her brother in the gaol to give him her clothes. He walked out of the gaol dressed in a blue gaberdine frock and a hat. Of course, he was soon missed and only got as far as Rye before being apprehended the next day.

In court, both men were sentenced to seven years’ transportation. They were removed to the prison hulk Fortitude at Chatham. William, who was reported in gaol to have been bad-tempered and violent was apparently sobered by the hulk experience and was described as ‘orderly’. The men were transported on the ss Norfolk,  arriving in van Diemens Land (now Tasmania) on 28 Aug 1835. Once there, Alexander Swaine disappears from the records and probably died either during the voyage or shortly after arrival.

Van Diemen’s Land was known as a convict hell. Work was hard and punishments harsh. William received fifty lashes in September 1837 for disobeying orders.

 

A sketch of a Van Diemen’s Land chain gang

 

Henceforward, he kept out of trouble and got his Certificate of Freedom in 1842. The next year he sailed for Sydney, not just to get away from the place of his servitude, but to rejoin his family.

James Warby had brought his wife and family to New South Wales in 1839. It was not in fact, unusual for convict’s families to do this. Convicts rarely returned home and often their letters made Australia seem more attractive than England at a time of economic depression.  James must have decided that a reunion on the other side of the world was the best course of action, though he could not possibly have known how it would turn out. With him, apart from his wife Mary, were his other sons, John (19), James (17), Thomas (8) and daughters Mary Ann (15) and Celia (12). They arrived at Port Jackson as Bounty Immigrants then moved on to Morpeth and finally Maitland.

All the children married.

Mary Ann married first, just before her seventeenth birthday. She and her husband had fourteen children. Celia was next. She married John Chivington, a former convict,  on 13 Feb 1845. They had four children, but only two survived to adulthood.  Then James married Mary Ann Blanch in 1846 in Morpeth; John married in 1855 and had seven children and finally Thomas married in 1856 in Maitland and had eleven children.

On 25 February 1851, the husband of William’s younger sister, Celia, died.  William, now in New South Wales, moved in with her.  In 1853, their first child together was born and thereafter William and Celia lived together as husband and wife until their deaths, days apart, in September 1900.

We cannot know whether, from Celia’s perspective, this relationship was consensual or abusive. Whichever was the case, it brought terrible suffering to their children. They had seven, four of whom had  catastrophic disabilities: Noah, who lived to be forty as an ‘invalid’; Samuel, who died aged twenty-six, ‘a cripple from birth’;  Thomas, who lived only a few months and died of ‘inanition’, an inability to feed or drink; John, who died aged forty-four in an ‘asylum for imbeciles’.  It could be said that William’s real crimes were committed not in Hythe but in Australia.

To be continued….

Details of William’s life after leaving Van Diemen’s Land are taken from the Warby family’s site:

http://www.thetreeofus.net/3/182026.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hole Family – Part 3

William Hole was born in Hythe in 1793, the son of John and Elizabeth Hole and was the younger brother of James Hole, who is buried in St Leonard’s churchyard (see The Hole Family Part One). His father was a fisherman. Like his brother, he was intended for a life of shop-keeping and was apprenticed to a Hythe trader. He then went to London to establish his own business but failed several times and was declared bankrupt on 30 April 1827, when his wax and tallow chandlery in the Edgware Road was unsuccessful. After that, he kept an Italian warehouse in the same street. In 1822, he had married Harriet Whittaker.

A fellow-townsman lived nearby. He was Thomas Knowles, eleven years older than William and was the son of George and Ursula Knowles of Hythe. His father worked in the brewery. When young, Knowles was a footboy and afterwards a footman in London. He was declared insolvent in 1819 and again in 1825. In April 1829, he was admitted to a debtors’ prison in Whitecross Street as he owed one George Vincent £40. He was discharged as insolvent in August but did not leave prison until November. He then, with tears in his eyes, asked for a loan to redeem a suit of clothes from the pawnbroker. The governor lent him £4 9s. A few weeks later, the governor met him in the street, very smartly dressed and reminded him about the loan. He never got the money back. During this time, Knowles was living at 2  Lion Terrace Edgeware Road. He was married and had a son.

In 1836, Knowles and Hole set up the Independent and West Middlesex Assurance Company. This was a business for which they were entirely unfitted, but that was irrelevant.   Hole was the secretary. The directors included Knowles; George Williams, a solicitor who had been declared bankrupt in December 23 1832; and the appropriately named James Devereux Hustler, surgeon, who had been in the King’s Bench prison in January 1835 in ‘utter destitution’. Another dozen names were added to the official list, but these were, alas, all fictitious. George Edward Williams, the son of George Williams was the auditor and Knowles’s son worked as a clerk in the offices, which were in Portman Square, off Baker Street in London. It was, and is, a very grand location.

London’s Portman Square, little changed since the 1840s

A little later, more genuine (at least as far as their names were concerned) directors were taken on. Hole’s brother-in-law, William Whittaker, was one. Another was his wife’s sister’s husband, William Edward Taylor, a journeyman locksmith and bell-hanger. He was appointed a director and attended the office on Fridays. His job was to sign anything put in front of him and for this he was paid £80 a year. He was told to dress smartly and to wear rings on his fingers. Hole actually gave him a ring to wear to the office and docked his pay if he did not. Then there was George Wilson, who kept a school in Edgeware Road and applied to be a clerk at the firm. He was accepted and his name was placed on the list of directors. He also attended one day a week and signed policies and annuity deeds.

An advertisement (Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History)

The Company’s prospectus was lavish. They offered annuities at an astonishing 10% per annum and insurance policies. They claimed to have £1 million in funds, raised by selling shares at £50 each and that the Duke of Wellington was among their clientele.

Hole, Knowles, Williams and Hustler agreed to appropriate a certain number of shares to each of them for what they called their vested rights. They drew money on these and bought carriages and smart grey horses with the cash.  They settled shares on their respective wives, too.

Then Hole and the solicitor Williams fell out and there were mutual recriminations. Hole was eased out, but got an impressive golden handshake: £20,000 with an annuity of £600, the freeholds of houses in Gloucester Street, Surrey Place and Maida Vale and ‘a splendid silver cup with lid’. He went in 1839.

The next year, rumours started in the press that the company was not what it seemed. Hole was recalled. He asked for a statement of business since his departure and was told that the company had received £38,000-£40, 000 and it had all been spent. He refused to get re-involved.

Williams also retired from the business leaving it in the hands of Knowles and Hustler and went abroad. Hole was then persuaded to put his signature on two promissory notes for £500. Inevitably they were refused. Hole made it clear that he intended to leave the country and was promptly arrested. He spent a month in prison and his goods were seized and sold. He had put the property he had acquired in 1839 in trust for his wife and children, but this was overturned in court and the houses were forfeit, too.

Knowles disappeared. It was rumoured that he was abroad and that he had been seen playing ‘rouge et noir’ in Baden-Baden.

The gaming tables of Baden-Baden. Was this where Knowles spent his ill-gotten gains?

The business had been a sham from the start, though it did, occasionally, actually pay out on policies and annuities were paid until 1840. Many people lost their life savings. A Dr Harrison had been persuaded to part with £600 to buy an annuity, some of which was his wife’s. He said she died of a broken heart after the money was lost. A man called Thomas Higgs killed himself after losing £100. The company had issued over three thousand worthless policies and the total swindled was reckoned to be £300,000. The press called it an ‘atrocious system of robbery’, ‘villainous’ and ‘plunder’, though one journalist thought ‘it is most astonishing how any man in his senses could be lured into the gilded but clumsily baited snare’.

In 1842, Hole was sued by eleven investors who hoped to get their money back. He was found liable for £5000. He tried to avoid payment by claiming insolvency, saying he owed £80, 732. The case was dismissed.

William Hole died, destitute, in 1849. His widow Harriet, now fifty-nine, had little option but to go into service as a monthly nurse.

The Many Causes of Sarah Kingsley

Sarah Maria Kingsley Haselwood was born in Chelsea in 1842, the second daughter of Richard Haselwood, a captain in the Indian Navy and his wife Ann. Her father died before she was nine, and her widowed mother took the girls to live with her own mother, in Manor Terrace, Chelsea.  Sarah later worked as a governess.

On 19 July 1864, she married her second cousin, Henry Kingsley, twelve years her senior. He was the  younger brother of Charles Kingsley, who had published The Water Babies the previous year. After leaving Oxford University, Henry had tried his luck in the Australian goldfields but was unsuccessful and returned to England after five years to write a novel,  The Recollections of Geoffrey Hamlyn (1859), set in Australia. More novels followed, of which Ravenshoe (1861) was the best received.

Henry Kingsley

In 1869, Henry and Sarah moved to Edinburgh, where he was to edit the Daily Review, but he soon gave this up, and in 1870 became war correspondent for the paper, covering the Franco-German War of 1870-71.  He continued to write fiction, though this was increasingly poorly reviewed. In  1874, the couple moved to Cuckfield in Sussex, where Henry died of cancer on 24 May 1876.

Sarah named her house after Henry’s book

Sarah moved in 1884 to Wimbledon, where she lived in a house she called ‘Ravenshoe’. Still young, with no ties and presumably an inheritance from Henry, she devoted the rest of her life to good causes, mostly to do with temperance and ‘morals’.

The year of her arrival in Wimbledon she became embroiled in  controversy when the annual gathering of military volunteers on Wimbledon Common attracted the usual rowdy mob of London hangers-on. The Times published a piece entitled ‘The Wimbledon Scandal’ and  Sarah wrote to the editor to verify the debauched scene the paper had reported. She said that she and other ladies had formed a ‘vigilance committee’ to protect ‘young girls, especially of the servant class, from the yearly contamination of immoral women and equally immoral men’.  It was suggested in other publications that Sarah and her kind wanted to keep the common for themselves, and not have it used by ordinary people to enjoy themselves.

By 1887 she was president of the Women’s Union in Wimbledon (part of the Church of England Temperance Society), one of a myriad of religious and secular organisations advocating either complete abstinence from alcohol or extreme moderation. Sarah was in favour of total abstinence, except for medical reasons. In  1888 she became a Guardian of Kingston  Board of Guardians (which included Wimbledon), their first woman board member. She was unafraid to speak her mind and told them that the workhouse master was inefficient and the surgeon too old to do his job properly.  She also founded the Wimbledon Society for Befriending Young Girls – specifically, young women who had left the workhouse who needed help to find accommodation and work.

In July 1891 the Surrey Comet announced that Sarah was moving to Hythe to do mission work and giving up public speaking as the strain on her voice was too great.  At a farewell presentation in October, she said Sandgate, where she intended to live, was a place where there was ‘an enormous amount of indifference and a great deal of sin.’ This remark was scarcely a good introduction to her new home and it not unnaturally upset the local press, who published her comments before her arrival together with a rebuttal.

Sarah got over the strain of public speaking very quickly and gave her first talk in Hythe a month later, entitled ‘How We Got Our Bible.’  In religious matters, she seems to have changed her allegiance and henceforward was associated with the Emmanuel Chapel in Park Road, Hythe. It was run by two sisters who were members of the Plymouth Brethren.

She continued with her temperance work. In 1894 she became secretary of the Folkestone Branch of the British Women’s Gospel Temperance Association (the gospel was preached at every meeting); the next year she was on the executive committee of the Kent Temperance Congress and attended the National Congress.

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Temperance propaganda which shows the effects of alcohol on all levels of society

Politically, Sarah seems not to have been partisan, but joined the Hythe Ratepayers Association, a pressure group which wanted to see value for money in local government. There were a few other women members: they were dubbed ‘the Screeching Sisterhood’ by the local press.   As the 1890s progressed, support for the Ratepayers’ Association declined, ironically becauvse it involved the council in an expensive legal case. In1898, Sarah took on its reorganisation, only to be dubbed a ‘Demon of Discord’ by another local newspaper.

At the same time, she was asking awkward questions of the council, usually through lengthy letters to the press. In one, she wanted to know if there had been any systematic investigation of the number of people living together in the town’s slum cottages: she referred to a recent case ’too disgusting and indecent to write about in any public paper’.  She wanted to know why an alcoholic woman was prosecuted for neglecting her children and her husband was not and why publicans were willing to serve the couple’s ten-year-old daughter when she was sent out late to buy beer.

The temperance movement had a good number of supporters in Hythe. At the town’s 1901 licensing sessions, a ratio of one licensed house per 222 persons was reported, and the police wanted to see a reduction. March 1902 saw the first meeting of Hythe and District United Temperance Council, which was attended by delegates from the various temperance organisations in the town and Sarah Kingsley was unanimously elected President.  She took her responsibilities seriously. A couple of years later she  followed a soldier she suspected of being drunk into a public house and demanded that the landlord refuse to serve him. The publican ignored her and served the soldier, who then threw his beer over Sarah. In 1905 she wrote to the Board of Guardians of the workhouse to insist that the inmates should not be given their annual treat of beer on Christmas Day. The Guardians disagreed and when she wrote another very long letter to them on the same subject two years later, they declined even to read it.

The Guardians of Elham Union Workhouse, which served Hythe, set up a Ladies Visiting Committee in 1893. Sarah joined it the next year, visiting the women’s and children’s wards, holding gospel temperance meetings and offering private interviews with the women.

Other causes caught her attention. In 1903 she refused to pay her rates because the 1902  Education Act had allocated local funding to church schools. She was prosecuted and told the court: ‘I am not going to contribute to the Roman Catholic schools’. The statement was greeted with applause by the packed court, but the magistrates still issued a distress warrant.  In 1910 she espoused the cause of Women’s Suffrage and organised a branch of the New Constitutional Society (a non-militant group) in Hythe.

She was seventy-two by the time war broke out and seems to have by then withdrawn from public life.  She moved from her house in Napier Gardens to the Bayle, in Folkestone, where she died in August 1922.

The causes she espoused are not, today, fashionable and it is easy to belittle the attempts of middle-class women to right the wrongs perpetrated on and by the working class, or to dismiss the women as ‘do-gooders’.  The press tried to undermine Sarah by name-calling but it did not deter her and there is no doubt that she cared,  especially about the poor women and girls she came into contact with. She was sometimes not tactful and sometimes prejudiced, but she gave her work her all.