Directory section details

Directory: 1791 Universal British Directory.

Pages: 305 - 312.

Name: Hastings.

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HASTINGS is the first of the cinque-ports, and sends two members to parliament. Its distance from London is 64 miles, from Rye 10 miles, East Bourne 18; Battel eight, Winchelsea seven. It is governed by a mayor, twelve jurats, and an indefinite number of freemen. King William landed at or near it with his army, and by him it was made one of the five ports, (as the Lord Coke, in the fourth part of his Institutes, affirms,) and, as tradition tells us, fortified it with a castle, built on the top of a hill near thereto, a part of the ruins of which are yet to be seen. It gives the name to the easternmost of the six divisions of the county of Sussex called Rapes; the barony whereof, and of the castle, were given by William the Conqueror to John de Britannia, (as Speed's Chronicles testify;) and since, Edward the fourth conferred, with other royalties, the title of Lord of Hasting on William Hasting, one of his bed-chamber, in the first year of his reign. THis hath added to the honourable titles of the Earl of Huntingdon, who enjoyed the honour and profit thereof till the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and the then Henry Earl of Huntingdon, in the 33d year of that queen's reign, sold the profits of the rape, &c. to Thomas Pelham, Esq. By the charter of King James the second, it was incorporated by the name of mayor, jurats, and commonalty, of the town and port of Hasting, in the county of Sussex, and under this charter the corporation now exercises its francises, probably for political reasons; for in the 30th year of Queen Elizabeth a charter was granted, but the government of the borough under this charter, whatever may be the reasons, is not attended to.

Before the passing of Mr. Crewe's bill, the appointment of the representatives in parliament for this town was wholly in the treasure; the number of voters was usually about twenty, (at present twelve,) the whole of whom had places under, or were otherwise provided for by, government. The management and conduct of this faithful and well-disciplined corps of treasury auxiliaries was, for a long series of years, vested in Mr. Collier, who, in this situation, acquired a very princely fortune, whereby he was enabled to provide for five co-heiresses, his daughters, in a very handsome manner. Upon his death, Mr. Edward Milward (who had married a Miss Collier) succeeded to this post of agent to the treasury; and, by way of compensation for the proper discharge of his election-duties, was appointed to the very lucrative office of surveyor-general of the riding officers; from which post, about five years ago, he was removed by the board of customs, notwithstanding the whole interest and influence of the treasury was exerted to prevent his being displaced. [That this opposition between two such great powers may not appear strange to our readers, we think it necessary to inform them, that at this time the board of customs (owing to a change in administration) were in opposition to the lords of the treasury; most of the commissioners, having been appointed under former administrations, felt no very great affection for the present. Mr. Henry Pelham, and Mr. Papillon, however, having been prevailed on to retire, the treasury have now regained the favourable opinion of that office.] This loss was, however, made up to Milward, by the appointment of his son to the office of deputy comptroller of excise, who, on coming of age, was made a jurat; but it was judged expedient to unite alos to his person, in addition, the more lucrative office of town-clerk; accordingly, Mr. Thatcher, the old town-clerk, was turned out of his place, to make room for this young gentleman. A trial in the court of King's Bench, between these two competitors for office, was the consequence; when it was determined, that a jurat of the corporation of Hastings might be elected town-clerk; but that the two offices are incompatible, and that the acceptance of the latter, through an inferior office, will vacate the former. - He has since resigned the office of town clerk, on getting his more valuable place in the excise, and is now again a jurat; these two places, it is presumed, not being incompatible.

It would be very difficult to pronounce, whether, at this time, the treasury, or Mr. Milward's interest in this borough, be the superior; indeed, this point is not likely to br brought to a very speedy determination, as this gentleman invariable sides with the minister for the time being, whose appointees he returns to parliament upon very moderate terms and conditions, without making any inquiry as to their capacity, or fitness for that situation. In fact, the only indispensible requisite is, an ability and disposition to say yea and nay according to the mandate of the minister. At present, the whole patronage of government, in this place, is in the hands of Mr. Milward, who disposes of the various places as he imagines will be most conducive to the common interest of himself and the treasury. Since Mr. Crewe's bill, it has been necessary to keep up a certain number of freemen (just enough to go through the farce, and to perform the various ceremonies of an election) who do no ostensibly hold any place or post under government. These, however, do not go unprovided for; they are, as of course, quartered on such of their brother-freemen as are in possession of the most lucrative situations; others, rather than lose their franchises by the operation of that bill, have given up their places to their sons, and other near relations; by which measure the freeman preserves his vote and the treasury its influence. Whatever personal interest Mr. Milward may have at this place, apart from, and independent of, the treasury, is obtained and preserved by lending small sums of money on bond to the more indigent freemen; which obligations are never meant to be enforced, so long as they are, as electors, in a state of passive obedience and non-resistance; but if, at any time, they should venture to give the smallest indication of an inclination to an independence of opinion and sentiment, a payment of their debts is required, and a prison the certain consequence of the smallest delay.

In a contested election, between Colonel Beaumont and Mr. Grey, in 1689, the number of voters polled was 67; in 1698, between Mr. Austen and Mr Gott, 70. In 1690, a petition of Robert Munn, Esq. was delivered to the house of commons, shewing, that the petitioner was duly elected on of the barons of this port, and ought to have been returned; but John Beaumont, Esq. governor of Dover Castle, who pretended to have a power of the several cinque ports, wrote several madatory letters to the mayors and returning officers of the cinque ports, requiring them not to engage their voted for any particular person, for that his majesty would recommend to them such persons as he should think convenient for them to choose; and, by several menaces and threats, procured a majority of the electors to vote for him to serve in parliament for the port of Hastings, and prevailed on the mayor to return him, though not legally elected, to the prejudice of the petitioner; which petition was referred to a committee to report upon, &c.

We make no comment on the above, but leave the reader to form his judgment of the purity of this borough from a naked statement of facts; and we will venture to assert, since the time of this petition, that it is in no way amended; but this by way of sample. From the evidence on the trial of the mandamus, brought by H. Moore, against the mayor and jurats of this town, it appears, that the right to the elective franchise in this place, according to its true constitution, and according to the custumal then produced, is as follows:- in 1736 a writ of mandamus was brought by Henry Moore, to require the mayor, jurats, and commonalty, of the town and port of Hastings, to admit him into the place and office of one of the freemen of that town; and the writ sets forth, that he is the eldest son of a freeman, born within the town, after the admission and swearing of his father into the place and office of one of the freemen of the said town and port; and that he has a right, in respect thereof, and also upon paying a reasonable fine, to be admitted into the place and office of one of the freemen of the said town and port. The above was the matter at issue for the jury, who gave a verdict for the plaintiff, Mr. Moore.

We should here observe, that Moore was completely successful upon this occasion. It is true, that he claimed his freedom merely as an eldest son; but the same evidence by which he availed himself went the full length of establishing the right of every other son of a freeman to his freedom. The verdict, given by the jury upon this occasion, came under the review of the court of king's-bench, as appears from Strange's Reports, 1070, which, after solemn argument, was confirmed by the unanimous determination and sanction of the judges.

We wish, in a very particular manner, to draw the attention of the reader to this very important trial, as it not only clearly and satisfactorily demonstrates what was originally, and what ought still to be, the constitution of Hastings, but throws great light upon the true constitution of the rest of the cinque ports, not withstanding the usurpations and corruptions which, in these latter days, prevail, more or less, in all of them.

In the course of the Seaford contests, it became important to some of the parties to inspect this custumal; and a rule was accordingly obtained from the court of king's bench for that purpose; but lo it was missing, and not to be found! Through fear that some future claimant of a freedom should attempt to accomplish and perfect what Moore left undone, it was thought expedient to commit this highly important and venerable record to the flames. But, notwithstanding this destruction of it by fire, we congratulate the public, that the most material and consequential part of it has been preserved in the State Trials, by reason of the mandamus brought by Moore.

By the last determination of the house of commons, which took place in the year 1698, it appears, that the right of election of the members of parliament for the port of Hastings, is in the mayor, jurats, freemen, resident, and not receiving alms. But here arises a very important question, which is, Who are entitled to be freemen? Mr. Milward contends, that only the first-born son of a freeman, and such as are annually nominated by the mayor; we have ver little scruple to say, that, if this question should ever be fairly brought before an impartial committee of the house of commons, we have no doubt that the determination would be, that the right of freedom is according to the custumal above set out.

Government have at this place a custom-house; a custom-house boat, under pretence of watching the smugglers, the crew of which are all landmen, but taken from amongst the freemen; an ordnance-fort, of no utility whatever; and an establishment of twelve riding officers; besides the usual retainers of the excise and of the post-office.

A complaint was exhibited to the commissioners of the customs against the patrons of this borough, by the town-clerk, in 1787, for quartering freemen, at five, ten, and twenty, pounds a year each, upon the revenue-officers of this port; in which complaint were specifically mentioned the names of Bevins, Hide, Meadow, Bourne, and others, who had paid such forms. We must not omit to add, that it was in consequence of this complaint, that the elder Mr. Milward was deprived of his place of surveyor-general of the riding officers by the board of customs.

Hastings is supposed to have derived its name from one Hastings, a Danish pirate, who built a small fort on his landing here, in order to cover his men, and secure his retreat, after he had pillaged the country. It is so ancient, that in the year 294 it had a mint.

As chief of the cinque-ports, it was formerly obliged to find 21 ships, within 40 days after the king's summons, well furnished and armed for service, and to maintain the crews a fortnight at its own charge; but, if their attendance was required longer, they were to be defrayed to the king's.

The harbour of Hastings, though formerly so famous, is now a poor road for small vessels, it having been ruined by the storms, which, from time to time, have been so fatal to the neighbouring ports of Rye and Winchelsea; and it still continues a very indifferent one, though great sums have been laid out in order to recover it.

This port had charters from Edward the Confessor, William I. Henry II. Richard I. Henry III. Edward I. and Charles II. but it was burnt by the French in the reign of Richard II. after having been plundered by them. It has sent members ever since Edward III. The present members are, the Right Hon. Sir Richard Pepper ARden, Knt. master of the rolls, and John Stanley, Esq. The mayor is the returning officer.

The present town of Hastings is built between two hills, containing three parishes, viz. St Clement, All Saints, and St. Mary of the Castle. Between the two runs a fresh-water stream called the Bourne, serving chiefly for the use of the whole town. There is a place called the Priory, near the town, but the foundation of which tradition leaves but few traces. There are two churches; and, by a certain customal, it seems, there was formerly another called St. Michael, and an hospital called St. Mary Magdalen.

The number of houses is computed at six hundred, and the inhabitants at three thousand.

There is a great fishery at this place, particularly for herrings and mackarel; and London is supplier from hence with abundance of fish that are taken on the coast.

The town is endowed with two noble charities, under the wills of James Saunders and William Parker, by which are founded two free-schools for the instruction of 130 scholars in the several branches of literature and religious education, placing poor boys apprentice, &c.

Mr. Milward, the present mayor, has a very large plantation of hops near the town, the quality of which is said to be equal, and thought by many to be superior, to any in the country.

It is very remarkable that there is not a single dissenter from the church of England, nor is there is a copyhold-tenure, in the town.

The salubrity of the air, the situation of the town (being near the sea), and the accommodations, render it equal, if not preferable, to any place on the coast for sea-bathing, and of course it is become a favourite watering-place. There is an elegant ball-room, and two good libraries.

The market, which is pretty considerable, is held on Wednesdays and Saturdays; and there are three fairs annually, one called Rock fair, held July 26, the others called the town-fairs, and are held on the 23d and 24th of October, and on the Tuesday and Wednesday in Whitsun-week.

Bankers. -The firm of bank is Tilden, Shadwell, Hilder, Harvey, and Gill, and their bills are payable at Messrs. Newnham and Co.'s, bankers, London.

The post goes out every day (except Sundays), at four o'clock in the afternoon and comes in about ten in the morning.

Several hoys trade from hence to London, which is a great convenience to the inhabitants, as the carriage of goods by water is far cheaper than by land.

The following are the principal inhabitants:.


Richard Ball, Freeman.

Robert Ball, Freeman, officer of customs.

Benjamin Bossom, Freeman.

John Carey, Town-clerk.

Rev. William Hicks Coppard, Jurat, freeman, clergyman.

John Crouch, Jurat.

Nathaniel Crouch, Freeman.

Walter Crouch, Jurat, officer of customs.

Jos. Diplock, Freeman.

Joseph Edward, Freeman.

Richard Edwards Sen., Freeman.

Richard Edwards Jun., Freeman.

Edward Evitt, Freeman.

Thomas Evitt, Jurat, deputy-comptroller of customs.

Thomas Godley, Freeman.

John Hide, Freeman.

Thomas Hide, Freeman.

Spencer Kent, Freeman.

William Lintott, Freeman.

Thomas Mannington, Freeman.

Robert Meadow Sen., Freeman.

Robert Meadow Jun., Freeman.

Edward Milward Esq., Mayor.

Edward Milward Esq. Jun., Deputy mayor.

Thomas Morsee, Freeman.

Hon. Sir James Murray, Freeman.

Thankful Phillips, Town-crier.

William Polhill, Jurat.

Henry Sargent, Freeman.

John Sargent, Freeman.

William Scrivens, Freeman.

Goldworthy John Shorter, Jurat.

John Stanley Esq. M. P., Recorder.

Charles Crouch Stevens, Freeman.

John Stevens, Jurat, officer of customs.

Stephen Taught, Freeman.

John Thatcher, Jurat.

Robert Thatcher, Freeman, officer of customs.

John Weatherman, Freeman, officer of customs.

John Weatherman, Serjeant at mace.

John Williams, Freeman.

John Williams Jun., Freeman.

John Williams, Serjeant at mace.

Gentry, &c.

Thomas Adams Esq.

John Gladwish Esq.

- Hamilton Esq.

Henry Jackson Esq.

William Wenham Esq.


Rev. Mr. - Peyton, Clergyman.

Rev. William Whitear, Clergyman.


Charles Crouch, Surgeon, apothecary and man-midwife.

John Satterley, Surgeon, apothecary and man-midwife.

Samuel Satterley, Surgeon, apothecary and man-midwife.

John Weatherman, Druggist.


Walter Acton, Attorney.

John Carey, Attorney.

William Shadwell, Attorney and notary public.

John Thatcher, Attorney.

Traders, &c.

- , Grocer and tallow chandler.

Thomas Adams, Hair-dresser.

Charles Amore, Grocer and tallow chandler.

John Ball, Wheelwright.

James Barry, Post-master.

James Barry, Librarian, &c.

Thomas Bossom, Cooper.

- Breeds, Captain of the coasting hoys to london.

- Breeds, Captain of the coasting hoys to london.

Edward Burchett, Shoemaker.

W Burfield, Butcher.

William Carley, Ironmonger, appraiser, and auctioneer.

Jos. Carswell, Shopkeeper.

Jos. Caswall, Baker.

John Cole, Hair-dresser.

E Cornwall, Victualler of Ship & Castle.

Francis Cossoms, Mercer, draper, and grocer.

John Cossoms, Mercer, draper, and grocer.

Thomas Crouch, Mercer, draper, and grocer.

W Crouch, Distiller.

Jos. Diplock, Victualler of Ship.

- Dulvey, Taylor.

Tho. Dunn, Victualler of Rose & Crown.

- Edmunds, Shoemaker.

Jos. Edwards, Peruke-maker.

- Fisher, Butcher.

John Foord, Cooper.

John Giles, Milk-man.

Wm. Gill, Watch-maker & silversmith.

- Hide, Carpenter & joiner.

Thomas Hide, Carpenter & joiner.

Thomas Hopper, Blacksmith.

Thomas Hovenden, Common-brewer.

W Johnson, Sadler and collar-maker.

Spencer Kent, Ship-carpenter.

John Knight, Cabinet-maker & carpenter.

John Lee, Ship-carpenter.

W Lock, Fishmonger.

- Lovell, Mercer, draper, and grocer.

Thomas Mannington, Blacksmith.

Michael Martin, Shoemaker.

Alexander Murphy, Shopkeeper.

John Penfold, Mercer & draper.

John Phillips, Shopkeeper.

W Phillips, Baker.

Tho. Reed, Stone-mason & glazier.

Charles Rickarsie, Shopkeeper.

William Scrivens, Innkeeper of Swan.

William Smith, Carpenter.

James Stell, Librarian, &c.

James Tebay, Ironmonger, appraiser, & auctioneer.

Robert Thatcher, Shopkeeper.

Henry Thwaites, Shopkeeper.

Thomas Thwaites, Sail-maker.

Thomas Thwaites, Shopkeeper.

Stephen Tutt, Common-brewer.

George West, Grocer.

John Whiting, Stone-mason.

Richard Whiting, Cabinet-maker & carpenter.

John Williams, Shopkeeper.

- Winter, Shoemaker.

John Woodhams, Shopkeeper.

John Woodrosse, Innkeeper of George.

Other People Mentioned

Colonel Beaumont.

Right Hon. Sir Richard Pepper Arden Knt., Master of the rolls.

Earl of - Ashburnham.

Bishop of - Chichester.

Mr - Collier.

Miss - Collier, Wife of mr. millward.

Mr - Crewe, Author of parliamentary bill.

- Gill, Banker.

Mr - Grey.

- Harvey, Banker.

- Hilder, Banker.

Henry Moore.

Hon. General - Murray of Beauport.

Mr - Papillon.

William Parker, Benefactor of free school.

Henry Cressett Pelham Esq.

James Saunders, Benefactor of free school.

- Shadwell, Banker.

- Tilden, Banker.

Broomham Place, the seat of the bishop of Chichester, is about four miles from Hastings. - The seat of the earl of Ashburnham is about ten miles distant. - Henry Cresset Pelham, Esq. has a seat at Crowhurst, six miles distant. - Beauport, the seat of the Hon. General Murray, is four miles distant. - Exclusive of the above, there are many other gentlemens' seats in the neighbourhood.

About two miles west of the town is a large broad-stone on which, it is said, king William the Conqueror dined on his landing.

Here was fought that famous battle between Harold king of England and William duke of Normandy, on the 14th of October, 1066, in which the former was defeated and killed; and by his death William, surnamed the Conqueror, became king of England. The night before the battle, the aspect of things was very different in the two camps. The English spent their time in riot, jollity, and disorder; the Normans in prayer and other duties of religion. In the morning, the duke divided his army into three line; the first, headed by Montgomery, consisted of archers and light armed infantry; the second, commanded by Martel, was composed of his bravest battalions, heavy-armed and ranged in close order: his cavalry, at whose head he placed himself, formed the third line; and were so disposed, that they stretched beyond the infantry, and flanked each wing of the army. He ordered the signal of battle to be found; and the whole army, moving at once, and singing the hymn or song of Roland the famous peer of Charlemagne, advance, in order and with alacrity, towards the enemy.

Harold had seized the advantage of a rising ground, and, having besides drawn some trenches to secure his flanks, he resolved to stand upon the defensive, and to avoid all action with the cavalry, in which he was inferior. The Kentish men were placed in the van, a post which they had always claimed as their due; the Londoners guarded the standard; and the king himself, accompanied by his two valiant brothers, one named Gurth and the other Leofwin, placed himself at the head of his infantry, and expressed his resolution to conquer or to perish in the action. The first attack of the Normans was desperate, but was received with equal valour by the English: and after a furious combat, which remained long undecided, the former, being overcome by the difficulty of the ground, and hard pressed by the enemy, began first to relax their vigour then to give ground; and confusion was spreading among the ranks, when William, who found himself on the brink of destruction, hastened, with a select bank, to the relief of his dismayed forces. His prefence restored the action; the English were obliged to retreat with loss; and the duke, ordering his second line to advance, renewed the attack with fresh forces and with redoubled courage. Finding that the enemy, aided by the advantage of ground, and animated by the example of their prince, still made a vigorous resistance, he tried a stratagem, which was very delicate in its management, but which seemed advisable in his desperate situation, when, if he gained not a definite victory, he was totally undone: he commanded his troops to make a hasty retreat, and to allure the enemy from their ground by the appearance of flight. The artifice succeeded against these unexperienced troops; who, heated by the action, and sanguine in their hopes, precipitately followed the Normans into the plain. William gave orders, that at once the infantry should face about upon their pursuers, and the cavalry make an assault upon their wings, and both of them pursue the advantage which the surprise and terror of the enemy must give them in that critical and decisive moment. The English were repulsed with great slaughter, and driven back to the hill; where, being rallied again by the bravery of Harold, they were able, not withstanding their loss, to maintain the post and continue the combat. The duke tried the same stratagem a second time with the same success; but, even after this double advantage, he still found a great body of the English, who, maintaining themselves in firm array, seemed determined to dispute the vitory to the last extremity. The long bows of the Normans, however, greatly annoyed the English, who at this time were unused to them, and threw them into great disorder. The duke ordered his heavy-armed infantry to make the assault upon them; while his bowmen, placed behind, should gall the enemy, who were exposed by the situation of the ground, and who were intent in defending themselves against the swords and spears of the assailants. By this disposition he at last prevailed. Harold was slain by an arrow, while he was combating with great bravery at the head of his men. His two brothers shared the same fate; and the English, discouraged by the fall of their princes, gave ground on all sides, and were pursued with great slaughter by the victorious Normans. A few troops, however, of the vanquished dared still to turn upon their pursuers; and, taking them in deep and miry ground, obtained some revenge for the slaughter and dishonour of the day. But the appearance of the duke obliged them to seek their safety by flight, and darkness saved them from any farther pursuit by the enemy.

Thus was gained by William duke of Normandy, the great and decisive victory of Hastings, after a battle which was fought from morning till sun-set, and which seemed worthy, by the heroic feats of valour displayed by both armies, and by both commanders, to decide the fate of a mighty kingdom. William had three horse killed under him; and there fell near fifteen thousand men on the side of the Normans. The loss was still more considerable on that of the vanquished besides the death of the king and his two brothers. The dead body of Harold was brought to William, who restored it without ransom to his mother.

Transcription details

The text for this section was transcribed by: Mark Collins.

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