Five Generations of Soldiers and Seafarers

In St Leonard’s churchyard in Hythe are commemorated five generations of the same family, many of whom served their country on land or at sea.

Generation one

The dynasty started with James Nelson, who was born in Scotland in 1781 and who joined the British army as a young man. He served as a private, first with the 78th West Highlanders, a regiment set up specifically to fight the French, and later with the Royal Staff Corps, a short-lived set-up, founded in 1800 and disbanded in 1837. It was a combat engineer Corps during the Peninsular campaign, and James served with it at the battle of Corunna in January 1809.

It is likely that he travelled there from Hythe with Sir John Moore’s forces, who had been sent to Spain to assist in resistance to Napoleonic rule. The little town of Hythe, with a population of under two thousand, was swamped by the presence of ten thousand troops at the height of the Napoleonic wars. Weatherboard accommodation and a temporary military hospital were built at the western end of the town and William Cobbett wrote that ’the hills are covered in barracks’.   Moore himself was based at Shorncliffe barracks, just a couple of miles away. He did not return from Corunna with his men. He was buried wrapped in his military cloak in the town ramparts, dying after he heard that the French had lost the day. Hythe commemorates him with a road named for him, and another for the battle in which he died, and he has a memorial on the seafront at nearby Sandgate.

After the battle of Corunna, the returning troops were paraded at Hythe, but were in a sad state. Unceremoniously disembarked at Dover, they had been obliged to make their own way back to the town. The hospital was full of the dying and injured, and the presence of maimed soldiers in the town was a common sight.

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Sir John Moore is fatally wounded at the Battle of Corunna…

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…and his memorial in Sandgate, where he lodged.

In 1813, James was back on the Iberian Peninsula, this time with the Duke of Wellington, who led the British forces there. On 21 June of that year, he fought in the battle of Vitoria, which finally ended the Napoleonic domination there.

Between the two battles, James had married Jane Hills, and their first son, James, was born the next year in Hythe.  Another son William was born in 1813, and then another, Henry, in France in 1817. Presumably Jane had accompanied her husband there. The birth is recorded in military records. A daughter, Jane, was born in Chatham in 1820, the year her father took James took his army pension of a shilling a week. Finally, another son, John, was born in 1825 in Hythe.

James had taken his family back to the town where he had been stationed,  and turned his hand to buying and selling. He worked as beerseller, dealer and chapman (trader or peddler) and grazier with land on the Innings between the town of Hythe and the coast. He lived with his family in Shoemakers Bridge Place, at what was to become in the next generation of the family, the Nelson’s Head Public House.

His wife, Jane Nelson nee Hills was baptized on 3 April 1785 at Chiddingstone, Kent, the  daughter of  John Hills and his wife Elisabeth. She married James Nelson on 13 August  1811 at Newington-next- Hythe.

Generation Two

The son born to James and Jane in France was Henry Nelson. As a young man, he first tried his hand as a slipper maker in London, but was perhaps unsuccessful and returned to Hythe where he worked as a labourer before he took over the licence of the Nelson’s Head public house in Bank Street from his brother John.  He married Mary Anne Back in Cheriton on 28 September 1836

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The building in Hythe, now a restaurant, which used to be The Nelson’s Head public house

 

Generation Three

Their eldest  son was Henry James Nelson.  He worked as an errand boy before joining the Land Transport corps, a very short-lived organisation founded in 1855 to deal with transport in the Crimea, where Britain was fighting Russia, and disbanded in 1856. It had been set up as a quasi-military organisation and recruited both civilians and regular army officers. Henry James died when the corps was involved in the siege of Sevastopol. The town was the home of the Russian tsar’s fleet, and a prime target for the British and their allies. It was besieged for a year from September 1854 to September 1855, and saw fierce fighting. It was presumably during the unsuccessful bombardment which started in April 1855 that young Henry died. He can only have been in the Crimea a matter of weeks.

The Siege of Sevastopol

The eldest daughter of Henry Nelson and Mary Anne Back was Jane Frances Nelson. She did not marry, but spent many years keeping house for her father’s brother, John Nelson. In her old age, she lived with her widowed younger sister Annie in Rosebery House, Parkfields, Hythe (now in Albert Road). Jemima Elizabeth Nelson was the sixth child of Henry and Mary Ann Nelson. She became a school teacher, and after a period teaching in Buckinghamshire, she returned to Hythe where she taught and lived with her parents until their deaths. In later life she lived in Corunna Cottage in Parkfields next door to her sisters Annie and Jane Frances. She did not marry.

Another sister, Alice Mary Nelson, who died as an infant is also buried in the churchyard.

The fourth child of Henry Nelson and Mary Ann was Charles Rice Nelson, born in Hythe in 1844 and baptised there on 1 December 1844.  He was apprenticed to a carpenter as a young man and carried on his trade after his marriage to Catherine Godfrey in on 12 November 1866. The couple lived in Theatre Street Hythe. For a few years, Charles also took on the licence of the Bell Inn in East Street, Hythe, but later returned to carpentry living in Nelson Villa in Albion Street.  After his retirement, he took employment as a collector for the gas company and secretary to a friendly society. Catherine died in 1915. The couple had ten children.

Image result for the bell inn hytheThe The Bell Inn, Hythe

Generation Four

John Henry Charles Nelson was the eldest child of Charles Rice Nelson and his wife Catherine. His first job was as an office errand boy, but he went on to become a builder and house decorator, and lived at 2 Bank Street Hythe.  He married Mildred Stoakes who was born in Stanford, not far from Hythe, the sixth child of John Stoakes, a master carpenter, and his wife Thomasina Dora. Before her marriage, she was in service with Dr Arthur Randall Davies in the High Street. She married John Henry Charles Nelson in 1893 in London, and they had six children.

The second son of Charles Rice Nelson and Catherine,   Edward James Nelson was baptised in Hythe on 13 September 1868 and died in London just after his eighteenth birthday.

The third son, Charles Rice Nelson jnr was baptised in Hythe on 14 June 1874.   As a young man he worked as a book stall assistant before joining the merchant navy as a general servant. He was among the 334 lost when his ship the ss Persia, on her way to India, was torpedoed seventy miles off Crete by a German submarine on 30 December 1915. SS Persia was attacked at 1.10 pm on a rising sea. She was struck on the port side and within five minutes the port side boiler exploded. She sank quickly. Passengers had collected their lifebelts and made their way to the lifeboats, but the incline of the ship hindered their launching and passengers slipped on the steeply canted deck and were washed overboard. It was reported two of the life boats floundered and went down. Four life boats made their way to safety and many of the remaining survivors were picked up by a trawler some 30 hours after the sinking, but Charles was not among them.

His name is recorded on the Tower Hill memorial in London

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The SS Persia

Henry Nelson was the fourth son of Charles Rice Nelson and Catherine. He started his working life as a servant with the Blyth family of Saltwood near Hythe, but very soon joined the Merchant Navy where he worked as a steward. His ship, the P&O -owned SS Kaisar-i-hind was launched in 1914 as luxury passenger ship sailing to India and Australia. She was requisitioned by the Royal Navy for transporting troops to the Middle East and India, and survived several attempts to torpedo her. Henry’s death, officially recorded as pleuro-pneumonia, appears to have been from natural causes, and may have stemmed from an infection or underlying condition.

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The SS Kaiser-I-hind

His sister Flora, the second daughter of Charles Rice Nelson and Catherine, married Henry Beckwith, a merchant navy officer, and moved to Gravesend, where the marital home was called ‘Nelson Villa.’

Generation Five

Charles Edward Beckwith, the second son of Henry and Flora Beckwith, born on 26 October 1910, also went to sea, but chose the Royal Navy. He attended Dartmouth College, and saw action in both World War II and the Korean War. He later served in North Africa, Hong Kong, Malta and Gibraltar as Paymaster, and on leaving the navy took employment with the shipping line Niarchos. He then lived in Hampstead, but on retirement moved to Hythe, where he was a generous benefactor of St Leonard’s Church and an instigator and great supporter of musical performance there.

THE GRAVES

 

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Inscription In/loving memory/of/Edward James Nelson/the beloved son of/ Charles Rice and Catherine Nelson/who died 21st October 1886/aged 18 years

Also/Charles Rice Nelson/Late of P&O. SS Persia/who was drowned at sea/30th December 1915/aged 41 years

Also/Henry Nelson/late of P&O SS Kaisar I-Hind/who died of pneumonia 31st May 1918/in hospital at Alexandria/aged 41 years

And of/Charles Rice Nelson/who died 5th November 1925/aged 81 years

Commander/Charles Edward Beckwith/son of/Henry and Flora Beckwith/nee Nelson/died 27th July 2002/aged 91 years

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Inscription  In memory of/James Nelson/born 16th June illegible/died 16th Novr illegible

And he said unto me my illegible/ for the illegible/..this made perf.. illegible

Also of John Henry Charles/Nelson/died 23rd March 1942/aged 75 years

And of/Mildred Nelson/died 12th Novr 1943/aged 76 years

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Inscription Illegible/Henry Nelson/born 8th March 1817/died 26th August 1881

Illegible died 20th January 1898

And/Jane Frances/daughter of the above/born 2nd May 1842/died7th January 1922

Jemima Elizabeth Nelson/born 6th October 1849/died28th October 1926

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Inscription In memory of/James Nelson, formerly of the 78th West Highlanders,/and the Royal Staff Corps who after/serving his King and Country in Holland, Spain and France from 1800/ to 1821  settled at Hythe and died/April 29th 1849 aged 68 years

Also of Jane his wife/died April 13th 1848 aged 65 years

Also of Henry Nelson/grandson of the above/Sub Superintendant Land Transport/Corps who died before Sebastapol/ June 4th 1855 at the early age of 17 years.

Enter not into judgement with Thy /servant O Lord

 

Inscription

Headstone: Illegible memory/Alice Mary/the beloved daughter of/Henry & Mary-Ann/Nelson/who departed this life/January 26th 1866/aged illegible years and 10 months

Remainder illegible

Footstone: A M N 1866

Nearly a centenarian – Edward Palmer

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Inscription In/loving memory/of/Edward Palmer

Remainder illegible except for the name Harriet Palmer

Edward Palmer was born in Coningsby in Lincolnshire in 1812 and baptised there on 1 January 1813. He was the son of Robert and Jane Palmer. He became a teacher and worked in the National Schools, at first in Yorkshire, where he met and married Harriet Sharp of Lincoln. The couple’s first two children were born in Guisborough, before they moved to Tamworth in Staffordshire, where a third child was born.

National Schools were religious educational establishments run by The National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church throughout England and Wales – usually, for obvious reasons, abbreviated to The National Society.  They had started setting up schools in 1811, in response to a similar initiative by the non-conformist British and Foreign School Society.

Edward and Harriet settled in Hythe in 1849, and he became headmaster of the town’s National School, then situated in Stade Street in a ramshackle old building.  He soon proposed and then oversaw the building of new school premises next to the town Green, which was used as a school playing field for games and recreation.

 

20170120_125311Hythe National School, viewed from the Green. The buildings are now private houses.

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And Hythe Green, which has provided a recreation area for the town for hundreds of years.

Edward also served as schoolmaster at the School of Musketry in the town, and became the local Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths.  Meanwhile, Harriet gave birth to another seven children.

After Edward’s retirement in 1875, when he and Harriet were presented with a marble clock, he was appointed School Attendance Officer for Hythe, at a salary of £20 per annum. Harriet died in 1886, aged sixty-three.

Edward was a supporter of the Liberal Party, and was agent for the town’s MP, Baron Meyer Amschel de Rothschild from his election, unopposed, in 1859 until his death in 1874 (until 1950, Hythe formed a separate parliamentary constituency). Rothschild was a scion of the banking family, and appears to have left no mark on British politics: his main interest in life was hunting. However, the electors of Hythe seemed to like him, and the town’s lifeboat was named ‘Meyer de Rothschild’ in his memory.

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Baron de Rothschild

Aged eighty-five, Edward retired to Farnham to live with his daughter Jane, also a school teacher, but they had returned to Hythe by 1905, when he was reported to be ‘in the best of bodily health with mental faculties unimpaired’. He lived in Oak Walk, near St Leonard’s Church in the town,  where he died in 1912 aged 99.

 

A Soldier of the Crimea

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(illegible) memory/Osmond John Macmillan

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Barbara Ann MacMillan/widow of the above/who died January 4th 1900/in her 77th year

Although William MacMillan’s name has now faded, we know that he is buried in this plot, since his widow’s epitaph refers to him, and a photograph of his grave (then in better condition) appears in the edited version of his diaries.

William MacMillan was born a long way from Hythe, in Dumfries in April 1825.  His father was a farmer, and William himself went to work for another farmer at nearby Ellisland. Remarkably, we know exactly what it looked like, as it has been very much sketched and photographed and is now a museum, kept as it was two hundred years ago. It was the home of Robert Burns for a couple of years during his most creative period and where he wrote Auld Lang Syne

 

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Ellisland as it was during the lifetime of Robert Burns

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Ellisland as it is today

 

By the time William MacMillan got there it was owned by a Mr Taylor, who thought very highly of him. When William left him in 1844, he wrote:

He kept good company, was sober, honest and of good character. He attended church regularly. I hope he will not depart from the path of virtue’.

William went off to become, of all things, a tea dealer and somehow made his way to Taunton, in Somerset. Perhaps he was not a very successful tea dealer, because in another abrupt change of direction, he joined the Coldstream Guards in 1848, when he was twenty three years old.

For the next ten years he served as a private, and just before the outbreak of the Crimean War he was sent down to Hythe, to the School of Musketry. It seems likely that it was then that he met the Hythe woman he was to marry, Barbara Ann Elgar, although that would be a few years later.

After the School of Musketry, he was promoted to corporal and was sent to the Crimea, where war had broken out the previous year, 1853

What is remarkable about William is that during his time there he kept a diary, which he brought home with him and which was given after his death to the Coldstream Guards who put it in their archives. There it was discovered in the 1980s, by Keith Hingle, who wrote this book:

SHOW BOOK

He has transcribed most of the entries, and filled in the background to Sgt. McMillans’s life with the help of the late Jack Barker, a Hythe historian.

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A page of William’s Crimea diary

William travelled to Crimea via Malta, where he was very impressed with the cheapness of the rum and brandy and of the cigars, and very daringly for a time when sea bathing was not yet fashionable, he had a dip in the sea. He liked the island very much, but on Sunday 2nd of April 1854 he writes:

Most beautiful morning, sea so calm there is not even a ripple upon it. Not a breath of air stirring. Oh how I should like to be at Hythe with Barbara.

At the end of April he sailed for Constantinople, now Istanbul. He thought it ‘the most wretched place I was ever in’. It was crowded and dirty and there were snakes and lizards and he didn’t like the Turks and disapproved of the way the women covered their faces. It is in Istanbul that he starts to write the diary as if he is addressing someone, and I think that the diary forms a long letter to Barbara in Hythe.

 

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After Istanbul, he was sent to Varna, which is in modern day Bulgaria. He didn’t like it there either. There were more snakes and lizards , and clouds of locusts, and the locals kept black people as slaves which he disapproved of.  There were continual outbreaks of cholera.

It got worse.

In September 1854, just I time for winter, he sailed to the Crimea and started the march to Balaclava and on to the siege of Sebastopol. Someone stole his socks and he had to spend that bitterly cold winter without any, as apparently the army did not provide spare pairs, He describes one night sleeping outside without a tent.

 ‘I was wet through, my blanket was wet and I lay shivering on the cold ground. I could not sleep. It blew a hurricane and the rain descended in most drenching showers all night.’ 

Later, the rain stopped and it started to snow. The men got lice, there was no wood to light fires and they lived on half-rations of biscuit and salt meat. Unsurprisingly, dysentery and frostbite were rife.

 

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Eventually, in spring, William was sent back to Balaclava. There he saw, for the first time ever, a western woman wearing trousers. She was French, of course.

Then it was back to the front. It got hot again and there was another epidemic of cholera, but he survived the war and saw the fall of Sevastopol.

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The ‘official’ version of the Coldstream Guards after Crimea

 

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 Another view of the Guards after the war, recovering at their barracks in London

After the Crimea, William came home, was promoted to sergeant, signed on for another 11 years in the army and came to Hythe to marry his Barbara. She was the daughter of Henry Elgar, a Hythe smith, and his wife Eliza. The family lived in Chapel Street in Hythe. She married William Macmillan in London in 1858 and stayed with him when he was posted in the London area for some time after that. Their four children were born there.

However, in 1868 William was discharged as unfit for service, suffering from paralysis in his left leg.  The authorities decided that this must have been brought on by his experiences in the Crimea and awarded him a pension of two shillings a day. William and Barbra went back to live in Hythe, where Barbara had family, and set uo home in Park Road,

A doctor friend, however, tells me that it sounds as though he was suffering from motor neurone disease. He lived for another twenty five years, but the paralysis grew worse, and for some years before his death he was immobile, though unaffected in his mind.  He died in 1893.

It must have been hard for him. He had seen his younger son, Osmond (who is buried with him) die young, and had to apply to a local charity, Weller’s Gift, to get his older son tools for an apprenticeship.  Although money was tight, the one thing he never sold were his Crimea medals, with four clasps, for Alma, Sevastopol, Inkerman and Balaclava.

Sources: Keith Hingle: The Diary of Sgt W.Macmillan: The Coldstream Guards (undated)

The Worthington Family, Coachmakers

 

Worthingtom William

This is the grave of William Worthington and his wife, Blanche. The inscription reads:

William Worthington /entered into rest March 12th 1893/ in his 72nd year.

Only good night beloved, not farewell/a little while and all his saints shall dwell /in hallowed union indivisible/ good –night good -night

Because I live you shall live also John XIV 19

Also of Blanche Worthington /widow of the above/died Jan. 31st 1912/aged 92

Jesus Christ who died/that we should live together/with Him. Thes. 5. 10.

William Worthington was the founder of the business which became the Worthington coachworks on East Street in Hythe, on the site now occupied by Worthington Court.  He was born in 1821  in the town in relatively humble circumstances and lived in Elm Terrace in Hillside Road as a boy.  

He became a wheelwright by trade, but was obviously an ambitious young man. He married the girl next door, Blanche Lucas in 1843 and four years later, when he was twenty-six, he set up the Worthington Carriage Works.  

His business flourished and so did his family. He and Blanche had nine children. By 1871 they had moved to The Avenue in Hythe living in this house overlooking the Royal Military Canal and very near the works.

 

Worthington House

By the time he was sixty, when he was employing a workforce of nine, he had bought ‘The Gables’ in North Road, an even bigger house, high up above the town and the church.  It was clearly a step up from in the world in more ways than one.

One of his more unusual jobs was building the carriages for the Sandgate Hill lift in 1891. It was one of four cliff lifts in the Folkestone area taking visitors up and down from the beach to the grassy Leas and the town above. This one was a  hybrid between a water balance lift and a conventional tramway.

Worthington Hill left

William and Blanche had three sons, Robert, William and Frederick and after their father’s death, their business became Messrs Worthington Bros, Coach Builders. By 1909 they had become Worthington Brothers Ltd.

This is their advertisement.

Worthington advert

(the date of 1847 written on the card is incorrect!)

William, the middle son, was the first to die.

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The inscription on his grave reads:

In/loving/memory/of/William/Worthington/born Nov. 22nd 1854/died Nov. 7th 1906

Not slothful in business/fervent in sprit/serving the Lord. ROM.XII.II.

And of Mary Ann/wife of the above/born April 3rd 1857. Died March 7th 1925.

Also Arthur./ dearly loved son of the above/who was killed in the battle of Arras

Remainder illegible

William had married Mary Anne and had four children and they lived in his father’s former home overlooking the canal.  William had to overcome a disability in order to succeed in life, as he had been born with only one ear, and poor hearing in the other one. He relied to a great extent on lip reading. He was, like his brother Robert, a stalwart of the Methodist Church in Hythe and was a Sunday School teacher, steward and trustee. He took his duties seriously. Apparently if he missed someone at church on Sunday, he would find out where they lived and looked them up. As he worked all day, the only opportunity he had for doing this was in the evenings.  In the countryside round the town, the nights were very dark in winter.  

One evening in November 1906, when he was 52, he left the house at about half past seven in the evening. It was drizzling and later rained hard, but he did not take a coat with him. He didn’t tell anyone where he was going.  This was in the days when there was a railway line running from Sandling station, which is still in use,  down to Hythe station which has long since closed.

Shortly after nine thirty, the driver of the train from Sandling to Hythe felt a bump and felt his ballast shift, as if he had hit something. It was too dark to see anything, but when he got to Hythe, he and the Station Master went back up the line in a spare carriage. At the Saltwood crossing, where a footpath crossed the railway line, they found William on the line, dead from terrible head injuries.

There was an inquest two days later at Saltwood, which returned a verdict of accidental death, as the jury supposed that William could not have heard the train coming. This despite the fact that the evidence of the train driver and the Station Master was that William had clearly been lying down, between the tracks and parallel with them, when the train hit him.  It seems likely that the verdict was a kind decision on the part of the jury designed to help William’s family and widow, and not just from the stigma of suicide.  He had two insurance policies on his life, but they only covered accidental death. In the event, he seems not to have left his family very well off. After his death Mary Anne ran a boarding house in Cobden Road. Perhaps he did have money worries.

Things did not get better for Mary Anne.Her son Arthur worked in the family business, as a manager.  When war broke out in 1914, he combined this with working as an evening driver to transport medical staff and volunteers to the Bevan Hospital at Sandgate.  He was also organist at the Methodist Church where he played every Sunday.  I can’t find out when he joined up, but he was killed in the Arras offensive on 3 May 1917, although his body was never found. His mother had to wait fifteen months after his disappearance for the War Department to declare him dead.  

 

Worthington Arthur

Robert was the next Worthington brother to pass away.

 

Worthington Grave 3

In loving memory of/Emma/the dearly loved wife of/Robert Worthington/born March18th 1856/died May 10th1906

Also the above/Robert Worthington/born October 15th 1845/died December 19th1908

“In  Your presence is fullness of joy” PS XIV 11

Like his father, Robert became the father of nine children, including three sons, and his public life flourished, too.  He was another stalwart of the Wesleyan church, Secretary of the Hythe institute and had been a member of the fire brigade. He lived in a house called ‘Kildrummie’ on Tanners Hill, Hythe.  A substantial house, with six bedrooms, a dining room, drawing room and morning room, and large garden it was just the place for a successful business man. It was also within site of the works.

kildrummie

One Saturday evening in December 1908, when he was 64, he was off to Folkestone, and walking along the Seabrook Road flagged down a motor bus. Once on board he was taken ill and the coach diverted to the nearest doctor’s surgery, Unfortunately, by the time they got there Robert was dead, so the doctor made all the other passengers get off the bus so that it could take the body back to Hythe.

After Robert’s death, the business was run by the surviving brother, Fred, assisted by his nephew, William’s son Arthur.  Fred was very much the baby of the family, 19 years younger than his brother Robert. The firm  already had a good reputation for producing carts, carriages and even a coach for one of the royal house of Siam. They moved with the times, and invented a hybrid mode of transport called the Worthington cycle car in 1912, which seems to have been a sort of motor bike.

At the same time, they were developing a car,  the Worthington Runaraound. Only one was ever built. This is its specification:

It was originally powered by an 8hp horizontally-opposed twin engine, but this was replaced by an 8.9hp V-twin J.A.P. The transversely mounted engine drove by two chains to a countershaft, final drive being by belt.

It was intended to sell the car for £90,  but the company overstretched itself and got involved in the other latest transport craze, the aeroplane and in the end failed to produce either car or plane. I  don’t know when the company stopped trading, but Fred, who lived at Twiss Villas in Twiss Road, later worked as a ‘coach painter’. He didn’t die until 1948, aged 84, but was survived for some years by two daughters who lived in the town.

Many of old William Worthington’s other descendants emigrated to Australia, Canada and the USA.

 

The Wilks Family of Hythe

The next two plots in St Leonard’s Churchyard are dedicated to four generations of the Wilks family of Hythe.

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The first was George Wilks who was born in Ospringe, Kent, and baptised there on 18 January 1836. He was one of the fourteen children of Edward Frederick Wilks, a farmer, and his wife Maria. By the age of twenty-five he was a qualified solicitor and had married Fanny Stringer. She was the daughter of William Stringer, an Attorney of New Romney, and his wife Mary. After their marriage, in 1861, the couple lived in Mount Street in Hythe, later moving to a house in the High Street next to George’s office, where eleven children were born to them. George was Town Clerk for over thirty years and also Treasurer and Manager of the Hythe Church of England Girls’ School. Many schoolchildren and their teachers attended his funeral on 2 July 1900. After his death, Fanny moved back to New Romney to live with her sister Laura, and died there

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This stone commemorates George Stringer Wilks and his cousin Charles Edward Wilkes

Their eldest son was George Stringer Wilks, baptised at St Leonard’s Church on 14 March 1862. By the age of nine he had been sent away to school at Rocky Hill House in Maidstone. After school, he followed in his father’s footsteps and at nineteen was an articled solicitor’s clerk.

In 1886, newly qualified as a solicitor, he married Florence Gertruda Lovegrove and took a house in Church Avenue, Hythe.  Two daughters were born: Sibyl in 1887 and Katherine in 1889 .   George practised law together with his father from their offices at 54 (now 114) High Street, Hythe, and he joined the volunteer battalion of the Buffs East Kent Regiment, something which seems to have been expected of local gentlemen. Obviously a good shot, in 1889 he was appointed an Instructor at the Hythe School of Musketry. Originally established in the mid-19th Century, the school taught skills in firearms and marksmanship to Army officers.  Always a busy man, George also served as Town Clerk, a post he had inherited from his father,  and Clerk to the Magistrates of Hythe.  In 1889 published ‘The Early History of Hythe’

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114 High Street, Hythe, where George Wilks and his son George Stringer Wilks practised law and raised their families. Now a Red Cross charity shop, it is decorated for the biennial Hythe Festival.

His sister, Mildred Stringer Wilks also rests here. She was the sixth child of George and Fanny Wilks and lived at home until her late twenties, when she took up a post as matron of a girls’ boarding school in Lancashire. She returned home later in life and died in the Folkestone area.

The first George Wilks had a much younger brother, Charles, a farmer at Chislett, who married and had a son, Charles Edward  Wilks. Charles senior died young, and his wife sold the farm, of 754 acres, and took her children to live in South Shields, where she had been born. Charles junior became a chartering clerk with a shipping broker there.  However, in 1917, he returned to Kent, and married Sibyl, the daughter of George Stringer Wilks, and his own second cousin, in Hythe.  They are buried here together.

The son of Charles Edward  and Sibyl Wilks was John Wilks, born in  London in 1918. He was a member of the Friends Ambulance Unit which, during WWII transported medical supplies into China for civilians and worked alongside the Chinese Red Cross in tending casualties. He later became a surgeon at Bolton Hospital. He married Wu Shih Tsen, ‘Doris’, who was born in China and was a fellow member of the Friends Ambulance Unit . They had two children. Both John and Doris Wilks are commemorated on this plot.

Sibyl’s sister Katherine is also named here. She married Charles F.H.Baines in Kensington in 1924.  They later lived in Fulham where Katherine worked as a beautician. Charles died in 1958, and in 1967 Katherine married the artist Mordaunt  Mauleverer  Parker who died three years later.

 

 

The Middling Sort – Part Five

The middling sort was often able to give their sons, and occasionally their daughters, some sort of formal education.  A degree of prosperity was required to release a child from the necessity of working to put bread on the table as soon as he could and to send him to school instead.   Nationally, there had been a huge expansion of education after the 1550s. Religious and more secular concerns had both played a role in this. Protestantism encouraged the devout to read and learn from their bibles.  The concurrent expansion of internal trade meant that by the seventeenth century tradesmen needed basic literacy, the ability to read a bill and sign a contract, in order to benefit from the growth in trade in foodstuffs and other goods.  There was also an increase in job opportunities open to the literate, in the church, in medicine and particularly in the law – there had been a big expansion in litigation towards the end of the sixteenth century.

Schoolmasters in Kent were licensed by the Diocese of Canterbury and Hythe had a licensed schoolmaster throughout the period. Often it was the curate, who usually had a university degree. Sometimes a man who was judged to be literate enough was given the post, as were Edward Grawnte in 1602, John Crumpe in 1620, and Matthew Mantell in 1640. All were also jurats, and Mantell described himself as a gentleman, although that was wishful thinking on his part as his family’s fortunes had collapsed when his great-grandfather was executed for his part in Wyatt’s rebellion.

It is likely that teaching was carried out in the church, as it was in other towns, and St Leonard’s church had the perfect schoolroom in the Parvise, a commodious chamber over the south porch. Reading and writing were taught separately, reading first, and then, at about the age of seven or eight, writing. By that age, children were becoming useful in the workplace, and many would not have learnt to write beyond a signature or just an initial. Many of Hythe’s tradesmen could sign, however, more or less legibly, and produce written bills.

The signature of William Gately, Blacksmith (Canterbury Cathedral Archives)
The signature of William Gately, blacksmith (Canterbury Cathedral Archives)
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The bill of John Banbury, carpenter, for work done at the alms house barn (John Osbourne)

For the well-off there were grammar schools after elementary education. One of Hythe’s M.P.s, Norton Knatchbull, endowed a ‘free’ grammar school in Ashford, and there was another one in Canterbury. This latter cost twelve pounds a year, to which a parent would have to add the cost of the loss of a son’s labour. It was a big investment, and beyond the means of most.

Only very occasionally does anything more complex than bills and accounts survive as evidence of literacy, although James Pashley’s letters of 1658 are one example. This was because they were written to Henry Oxinden of Denton, a member of the minor gentry, to whom Pashley, a yeoman and Hythe jurat,  had become related through marriage, and who was a man who kept all his correspondence.  A grammar school education was a possibility for a yeoman’s son, and Pashley’s turn of phrase suggests an education beyond the elementary schoolroom:

‘Cousin, I hope there will be no doubt but you shall effect your desire, for I find Mr Lushington and Mr Arthur and all their party very constant for you, and my friends stand fast and do promise me to their utmost power; therefore I think you need not make any doubt’

Oxinden was standing for election as one of Hythe’s representatives in Parliament and his ‘cousin’ Pashley was canvassing for him. Oxinden lost, and the relationship rather fizzled out after that.

The Perils of Public Office

Life might have provided some luxuries for the middling sort, but the other side of the coin was that it fell upon them to provide most of the composition of the corporation and its various offices.  Gentlemen, too, played a part, but there were far fewer of them.  Hythe corporation  had a mayor and deputy mayor, up to twelve jurats; up to twenty-four commoners, a chamberlain (treasurer),  a town clerk, the warden of St Bartholomew’s Hospital;  a constable; two leather searchers; two market searchers, two flesh searchers,  the town sergeant, the mayor’s sergeant; the chamberlain and an attorney. The mayor was chosen annually from the jurats, who were themselves chosen from the common council composed of the freemen. Men became freemen either because their father was a freeman, or because they had married the eldest daughter of a freeman or by invitation and paying the asking price, usually about twenty shillings. The other posts were filled by the jurats and freemen, except that of attorney, who was legally qualified and employed on a retainer. Acting as a jurat was a double-edged sword.  Prestige was the principal reward, especially if one became mayor, but a reputation could be forever sullied if it became known or was believed that one had abused that authority. The jurats were amateurs at government, with many temptations to take advantage of their situation and little in the way of guidance to avoid pitfalls. It could be an explosive combination.

Honour and reputation were important and dismissal could mean ruin. In the early 1620s an ugly situation developed between Thomas Browning and David Gorham, both jurats, but of very different backgrounds. The Brownings were gentlemen; Thomas’s uncles had been mayors, his sister had married into the influential Tournay family of Saltwood, and in 1620 Thomas started his own campaign to become mayor by wining and dining his colleagues, an unsubtle tactic which did not go unnoticed by his opponents. Nevertheless, it proved successful, and he became mayor in 1621, and again in 1625. In the meantime, David Gorham, a fisherman, had been made mayor in 1623. He was the Cinque Ports Bailiff to Yarmouth in the year of Browning’s second term of office and created mayor again himself in 1626. However, that year Browning trumped him by being selected to be one of the Cinque Ports ‘barons’ to carry the canopy at the coronation of Charles 1 in March.

The beginning of 1627 saw Browning’s downfall. He was dismissed as jurat ‘for divers misdemeanours and for telling the secrets especially about the election and choosing our burgesses to Parliament and telling lies about them many times in a gross and ill manner’. This was uncompromising language, and Browning had no intention of letting it pass.  He petitioned anyone and everyone he knew, starting with the Lieutenant of Dover Castle, Sir John Hippisley, who passed the matter up to the Duke of Buckingham. The corporation were required to explain themselves. While awaiting a decision, Browning took his case to the Cinque Ports’ Brotherhood and Guestling – and won his suit. They judged that the case against him was ‘weak and feeble’ and ordered that the corporation and Browning ‘reconcile themselves’ and reinstate him.  However, in 1628, the Lord Warden concluded that the real reason for Browning’s dismissal was ‘his contemptuous behaviour towards Mr Gorham’.

That has the ring of truth. Twenty five years earlier, another gentleman, Ambrose Warde (later mayor of Hythe himself) had taken a similarly arrogant attitude towards the mayor of New Romney, a tradesman. During a court hearing he deliberately jostled him and commented ‘in skoffynge wise’ and loud enough for all to hear that any pedlar or butcher could be mayor of New Romney.

Whatever their station in life, jurats were expected to maintain high standards in their personal lives. In 1662, Peter Philpott was dismissed as a Hythe jurat.  for ‘begetting a bastard child and other misdemeanours well known to this assembly’. Since the facts of this case were incontrovertible, Philpott stayed dismissed.

The jurats’ amateurism could also land them in hot water. As a Cinque Port, Hythe had, among other privileges, the right to any vessel, goods or fish washed ashore within the port’s jurisdiction. In February 1656, when the corporation was flat broke, it seemed that fortune had smiled on them by providing just such a gift: a Dunkerque sloop, on a mission to seize English ships, was driven onshore by the English navy and its captain and crew arrested. The fleet sailed off westward, leaving the prisoners in Hythe, where, almost inevitably, given the town’s record in this area, they escaped. They were recaptured and sent to Dover Castle (where the Lieutenant had no idea what to do with them). Not missing a trick, Hythe corporation asked the Lord Warden to reimburse them for the cost of keeping the prisoners and then seized the sloop, which had been abandoned on the beach, for the town.

A couple of months later, they sold the sloop to some of the jurats, on condition that they did not sell it on to any ‘foreigners’ ie anyone who did not live in Hythe. The jurats failed to find a local buyer, so the corporation gave them permission to offer it to all comers, which resulted in a sale a few months later. The jurats had promised to give any profits to the town, but found that after their expenses in the matter were taken into account that the total profit was exactly two pounds, fifteen shillings and tuppence

Even this slender profit was to be challenged when the sale came to the attention of the naval authorities, who were of the opinion that the sloop did not belong to Hythe at all, presumably because it was not, strictly speaking, a wreck. An emergency conference was held at the home of the mayor, Michael Lushington, attended by everyone who had been involved in the sale, and the hapless mayor was despatched to London to plead with Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector, on the town’s behalf. Cromwell may have listened, as no action was taken immediately, but the navy was not so easily discouraged, and in 1661 Hythe corporation paid to the Commander of the Navy an undisclosed sum in compensation.

It was a hard lesson, but one well learned. The next time a ship washed up on the beach, in 1692, the town clerk, Thomas Tournay, prudently went to Dover to the Admiralty Court to check the situation. The ship, the Dorothea of Stockholm, was wrecked above the low water mark and Tournay asserted the town’s right to it but the court considered it was not a wreck at all, as its crew had been saved. Another disaster for the corporation was, however, averted.

The Middling Sort – Part One

The majority of people who lived in English towns in the seventeenth century were neither particularly poor nor especially rich, and the term ‘the middling sort’ to describe them first came into use in this century. It meant those with adequate wealth, but at the time had connotations of mediocrity and meanness as well as being neither one thing nor the other. People of the middling sort worked for their income, and traded using the products of their labours or knowledge. They were a town’s main consumers, and it was they who filled the civic and church offices which kept the town running: jurats, mayors, churchwardens, overseers of the poor, constables, market searchers, town sergeants, and criers.

Their lives were tied, in one way or another, to commerce, and the whole family was involved in making the business pay to ensure their survival. Failure could be a disaster. If a man had borrowed and subsequently became ill, unable to work, and could not repay his debt, there were no bankruptcy laws to mitigate the blow: his bones would be picked bare and he would probably thrown into prison, and friends and kin who had co-signed on loans would suffer the same fate.  If he had extended too much credit and died and his creditors could not repay his widow, she would be pitched into poverty. It was a precarious existence.

Hythe supported all the trades essential to maintain life in a small town. Provisions for the kitchen could be bought from the butchers, the poulterer, the bakers, the vintners, and the rippiers (fish-sellers); other household wants were supplied by the tailors, drapers, mercers, tallow-chandlers, cutlers, haberdashers, grocers, glovers and shoemakers. Then there were the manufacturers: blacksmiths, coopers, brewers, joiners, ropemakers,  gunsmiths, saddlers, wheelwrights; and those who supplied the manufacturers: tanners, fellmongers, malsters, millers, woolcombers, weavers, physick gardeners, and malsters.

Other men and women provided services. There were barber-surgeons, physicians and midwives; painters, carpenters, glaziers, and pavers; thatchers and chimney-sweeps; schoolmasters and scriveners and innkeepers and licensed victuallers.

Finally, there were those who made their living from the land or the sea: yeomen and husbandmen (as a very rough rule of thumb, the former owned the land they worked, the latter leased it) and the fishermen.

Not all these occupations were present at one time in Hythe, but there was a profitable hinterland in the towns of the Romney Marsh with whom trade was possible. In 1623, Robert Smith, a weaver and woollen draper got his fleeces from a fellmonger in New Romney. James Pashley and John Oldfield, both brewers, supplied inns in New Romney as did George Thurbane later in the century.

Very often, a family had more than one source of income.  A man called Bridgman was both a thatcher and a chimney-sweep, presumably because he had the longest ladders.  Richard Clarke, a saddler, opened an alehouse in 1615, but overlooked getting a licence and was fined. Elizabeth Turner, wife of Richard, supplemented the family income by working as a midwife. In 1622, Phillip Van De Walle, a woolcomber, also kept ‘a shop of small wares’ and grazed a few sheep. Towards the end of the century, Vicesimus Gibson augmented his takings as a grocer by writing letters and legal documents for townspeople who could not write themselves.

At the beginning of the century, at least, fishermen did not generally need to diversify in this way, as there were opportunities for employment and trade all year round.  It was the single most populous occupation in the town.

As a buffer against financial ruin, some members of the middling sort used their savings to invest in land or property, becoming as rich, if not richer than the ‘gentlemen’ of the town who did not engage in trade.  Men in relatively humble occupations, such as William Gatley, a Hythe blacksmith or John Lambe, a carpenter bought land.  Gately bought land in Saltwood and Bilsington. The Saltwood holding passed to his niece Susan on his death in 1652. She almost immediately sold it and it eventually became part of Weller’s Gift. Susan meanwhile lived off the profits until they were spent and then applied for parish relief in her home town of Ashford. Instead she was prosecuted for not following a lawful occupation. Not all of the middling sort espoused the protestant work ethic. Lambe bought an acre of pasture land to the west of the town in 1657. The next year he bought an adjoining cottage and sold both as one lot to John Bassett, a grocer, who then rented it out.

Very often, property in Hythe was bought from, or sold to, outsiders. George Thurbane, the brewer, bought his premises from a man in Canterbury and Ferdinando Bassett, inn keeper of the White Hart, paid £360 to a vicar in Norfolk for seven acres of fresh marsh.  William Deedes, a mercer, bought two houses and stables from Thomas White of Wapping for £100. The middling sort were not only enterprising, they were mobile and had a wide network of acquaintance outside of the immediate environs of the town.

‘Not alms but his legal due’ – Part Four

Men and women were also moved to pity when they came to make their wills. Charitable donations took two forms. The funeral dole was a medieval habit, the last chance a soul had to fulfil the church’s commandment to feed the hungry. Although the Church of England no longer taught that these sorts of actions could impact on whether a soul would be saved or not, the tradition lingered on, and money, food or clothes were handed out to the poor at the funeral.  In 1601 George Baker of Hythe asked that a shilling be given to six poor people ‘who have most need’ and William Grigson, a fisherman, left five shillings. Even as late as 1653, Thomas Hooker, a Hythe butcher left instructions for twenty shillings to be shared out.

The second way was a charitable bequest, large or small. Arthur Blechinden and Thomas Browning,   gentlemen who both died in 1612, left money to the poor of Hythe, Canterbury, Dymchurch and Postling between them;  in 1653 William Gately, a blacksmith, left three pounds to the poorest of Hythe who were not  in receipt of parish relief, recognising that relative poverty co-existed with destitution.  Other bequests were in the form of goods. Richard Knight, a gentleman, in 1639 left to Thomas Boykin, a servant at the George inn a suit of clothes.

The largest and most enduring charitable bequest was left by Lawrence Weller, a tanner, jurat and former mayor of Hythe. In 1663 he left eighty pounds and land, the income from which was to pay for apprenticeships and tools for fatherless children in Hythe. The charity was to be administered by the churchwardens and overseers of the poor with the advice of the mayor and jurats. The bequest was so important to the town that in 1830  extracts from Weller’s will were painted on a board and displayed in the church (the charity, still known as Weller’s Gift,  continues to function in the twenty-first century although the objects of its benevolence have changed).  One of the first to take up the scheme was Stephen Keeler, a butcher, whose apprentice William Baker was recorded as being able to support himself after his term ended.

The board bearing details of Weller's Gift to the people of Hythe, which used to hang in the parish church (courtesy of St Leonard's Church, Hythe)
The board bearing details of Weller’s Gift to the people of Hythe.(courtesy of St Leonard’s Church, Hythe)

The poor, lacking savings, were particularly vulnerable to economic downturn. James I  was  extravagant with money. He gave lands, monopolies, offices, jewels and houses to his favourites; he held elaborate masques and banquets. His spending was twice that of Elizabeth. Within seven years of his accession he was flat broke, and by 1617 the country was sliding into depression, although to be fair to James, he was not entirely to blame as Europe was also affected. However, the Crown’s restraints on economic activity did not help. 1622 was the worst year of the depression. Over-abundant harvests in 1619-20 had lowered the price of grain but cut back agricultural purchasing power, while the atrocious harvest of 1621 was to result in rocketing grain prices and severe hardship among workers. There was widespread unemployment and malnutrition.

The weather was the other unpredictable factor in the lives of the poor.  The seventeenth century was generally cold, so cold that the last serious and widespread famine on mainland Britain occurred in the 1690s, mainly in highland communities in Scotland.  Atlantic storms tracked consistently further south than today and deep depressions passed eastwards right across the British Isles, giving rise to severe winters. This is now thought to have been caused by a marked absence of sunspot activity, suggesting a reduction in solar energy received on earth. The Northern Lights became so rare that they hardly ever appeared.  Dust veils were also reported during the period, resulting from twelve known volcanic eruptions round the Pacific from 1638 to 1644.

But at the time, people generally blamed the visitation of divine displeasure for the sins of mankind. These were many and various and included swearing, negligence in attending church, play-going, covetousness, and extravagant female fashion. Bad weather was also attributed to Catholic, Protestant or Laudian changes in religion, or to the sins of Parliamentarians or Royalists, depending on your loyalties. Alternatively comets were to blame (there were three in 1618 alone), or eclipses of the sun.

The winter of 1607/8 was one of several in the century known as ‘The Great Winter’. Trees died due to the severity and length of the frost and ships were stranded by ice several miles out into the North Sea. This was a disaster, as much commerce was done via coastal shipping. Ice formed on the Thames in London, thick enough to bear all sorts of sports and perambulations and even cooking. The frost lasted overall for some two months and many more hard winters were to follow.

Summers seem to have been either too dry or too wet. Drought is reported as frequently as flooding caused by storms. In 1636 in the South-East, it was reported that there was ‘not a drop of rain from March to August’. Although there were occasional hot spells, summers were generally cooler than those of the twenty-first century, In 1674 and 1675, it has been estimated that the mean temperature for June, July and August was 13.7 degrees centigrade.

The affect on crops was disastrous. Winter-sown crops perished in a really bad winter; spring-sown crops could not thrive in drought or were ruined by flood.  Shortages meant that grain prices rocketed, as did the cost of bread, the staple food of the poor.  1630 saw a particularly bad harvest, and the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports issued edicts forbidding the export of grain.  Having already banned the export of corn in May 1630, by July he was writing:

Notwithstanding the order forbidding the export of corn I am informed that divers persons daily ship and export great quantities of wheat and barley, that the store of corn in those parts is so far exhausted, and the prices so much enhanced that without some speedy remedy a great dearth is likely to ensue.

The harvest of 1631 was poor again, and the ban remained in force, although the Lord Warden made an order for ‘the quiet sufferance of one hundred quarters of wheat lately bought by Sir Sampson Darrell in Sussex, for the supply of his Majesty’s navy, to pass without interruption’.  Mutinies in the Navy were not to be risked again.

There were three successive bad harvests in 1647, 1648 and 1649, and the winter of 1657/8 was brutal. Crows were allegedly found with their feet frozen to branches. Trade all but stopped and grain prices soared. The 1660s saw another cycle of poor harvests, trade depression, and subsequent high unemployment.

The effect on the poorest can only be imagined. To be hungry is one thing; to be ill-clothed and freezing or ill-housed and wet as well, with no hope of employment or improvement, is true destitution. The new Poor Laws were stretched to their limits.

The next few posts will be about ‘the middling sort’ about whom there is much more information, and how they lived their lives

‘Like prison, with the possibility of being drowned’ – impressment to the navy

If you were poor in the seventeenth century, it was hard to imagine life getting any worse, but it could, when the press men arrived. In January 1603 the Lord Warden ordered a muster of all Hythe’s mariners and seafaring men between the ages of sixteen and sixty, ‘out of which there shall be choice made and impressed’.  Impressment was the way the navy crewed its warships and the burden fell most heavily, if not exclusively, on the poor and the young.  The choice of who was impressed was largely determined by corruption, bribes and influence, and no man who could avoid impressment for himself or his son through these channels hesitated to use them. The other factor in the decision-making process was the health and strength of the men, qualities more likely to be found among the youth of the town. The requirement for ‘seafaring men’ did not narrow the field very much, as in a port and fishing town, most of the young men would have some experience of the sea.

Life in the navy was dangerous and often short. Conditions on board were notoriously tough: the food was poor, insufficient and frequently mouldy; there was no  heating and wet clothes sometimes did not dry out for weeks; sleep, especially unbroken sleep, was always at a premium.  Disease was rife; in fact ships were deliberately overmanned to allow for a high death rate, thus contributing to the problem. Commanders regularly complained that their vessels were ‘infested and noisome’, their men unfed, unpaid and unclothed and if put ashore sick were likely to be left to die by the inhabitants of the recipient port. One wrote of his crew that ‘their toes and feet miserably rot and fall away piecemeal’, which was probably the result of complications of advanced scurvy. The worst of it as far as their home town was concerned, was that the navy very often failed in its duty to support families left behind, so that they became a charge on the town.

In the end, five Hythe men were chosen to meet the complement of one hundred which the Cinque Ports had to provide.  They were told to make their way to Chatham, about forty miles distant, and given twelve pence each for imprest money and a halfpenny for each mile to Chatham. The Admiralty, exasperated by reports of pressed men arriving unsuitably dressed and unarmed, stipulated that their family and friends should, if necessary, provide them with good clothing, a sword and a dagger. This betrays either complete ignorance of the means of the average poor family, or more likely a cynical attitude: by issuing the order the Admiralty could tell its commanders it had done its best to ensure the men were well-equipped.How many of the five Hythe men got to Chatham and joined a ship is not known. The desertion rate was high, but presented dangers for the deserter. He could not return to his home town, and unless he could find work very quickly became a vagrant, with all that entailed. There was an alternative. The towns of the Elizabethan era were frequently terrorised by reports of gangs of deserters marauding their way through the countryside.

In 1627, after another impressment exercise in the Cinque Ports, the Lord Warden went himself to Chatham to check on the situation. Of two hundred men pressed, only a hundred and forty had reported to their ships, and many of these subsequently deserted. The Lord Warden hoped that they would be found and made an example of. A year later Hythe was required to provide another six men, this time for Buckingham’s bungled attempt to help save the French Huguenots from persecution by their own government by landing on the Île de Ré.  By this time the navy had been neglected for years by the king, who preferred to spend money elsewhere (on his favourite, Buckingham, for example), so ships were even more insanitary and unpleasant places to be for the two hundred Kentish men who were pressed. Hythe’s former M.P., Edward Clarke, warned Buckingham that the men were so disaffected they were ‘more apt to run into a mutiny at sea than perform their duties’, and he was proved right.

File:Invasion of Re1627.jpg

Map of the landing, siege and retreat by Buckingham’s ships at the  Île de Ré. He was unable to take the citadel as his scaling ladders were too short.

Impressment continued throughout the century and on into the Commonwealth. In 1653 when the country was at war with the Dutch, John Carter, in charge of impressments in the south, wrote frantically to the Navy Commission:

‘I have pressed 114 men in the places I was sent to, but those at Hastings have not pressed a man, and I could only press 2 there; so you may judge of their love to you…There are 33 vessels at Brighton and they have but 10 men in the service..I. have received 10 sick men from the fleet, and orders from Major Bourne to provide for them. I want to know what is to be allowed for them. There are five private men-of-war here, three from Dover and two from Rye, who receive and hide the seamen as long as there is any press in the town…. What shall I give soldiers and seamen discharged for sickness, but without certificates for relief?

I put in prison at Hythe two men whom I had pressed at Rye and sent to Chatham, but I met them again going for Dover, and put them in prison there. I wish you to ask the Mayor of Hythe how theycame be set at liberty’

The response of Austen Grenland, then mayor of Hythe, is not recorded. He was a Puritan who had always conformed to Parliamentary authority, and had shown ‘much affection’ to Parliament’s cause, so it is not likely that he was trying to undermine the government.  Perhaps someone with the keys to the gaol was moved to pity.