Part I: Captain Swing - East Preston
"They must labour to obtain what by labour can be obtained; and when they find, as they commonly do, the success disproportioned to the endeavour, they must be taught their consolation in the final proportions of eternal justice".
ONE HUNDRED and SIXTY YEARS AGO, in 1840, the foundation stone of the first East Preston School was laid. The charity had been established in 1839, although the only surviving deed was drawn-up after the founder's decease, as the George Olliver Charity of 1863.
The original building remained in use for over one hundred years, until 1951, when the present school was opened at Lashmar Road; but the old school is still a well known feature in Sea Road, with its cleft flint walls and slate roof.
DARKER DEEDS, connected with the school may also be commemorated. In 1830, the Swing Riots set the night skies ablaze across the southern counties, when poor farm labourers burnt ricks and barns, and destroyed threshing machines, in protest against their treatment by the landowners. In East Preston, Edmund Bushby set fire to a corn stack on the Homestead Farm, and for this he was convicted at the Lewes Assizes, and suffered the brutal revenge of society on New Year's Day 1831, by being hung in public. George Olliver, the landowner, received a massive £500 reward and immediately used half of it to found a private prosecution society, to counter further crime, but then after nearly ten years of calm, used the money to found a school for the poor children of East Preston and Kingston, bringing enlightenment in the place of repression.
But for the conflict of 1830, the village may not have had an elementary school until after the 1870 Education Act, for although there may have been other schools the Ferring National School did not open until 1873, despite being in the same Vicarage.
The peculiar origin of the charity clearly deserves its own account, prior to the general history of the school, and the first part of this book attempts to describe the village and its unique tragedy, from the several extant sources relating to EDMUND BUSHBY and the VILLAGE in 1830.
1 THE VILLAGE in 1830
What more pleasant scene could there have been? A network of verdant corn fields, enclosed by neat quickset hedges and great elm trees, reaching from the downs to the sea, and embowering small villages of flint and thatch. Only the towers and spires of parish churches, and the sweeps of numerous windmills, pierced the sky as landmarks to travellers by land and sea.
In all that great landscape, from Burpham to Littlehampton and Goring, known as Poling Hundred, there were no more dwellings than in the one village of East Preston today. A little over five thousand people, of whom sixteen hundred were swelling the prosperous new town of Littlehampton, and nine hundred more the stagnating townlet of Angmering.
Amongst the great estates, that of the Duke of Norfolk was dominant, made greater by his purchase of Michelgrove in 1828. But, in the southern parts of Angmering, and from Rustington to Goring, the estates were more fragmented and owned by a small group of gentry, amongst whom was Gratwicke of Ham, Capt. Pechell of Castle Goring, and the widespread Olliver clan, all with their fine new mansions befitting a ruling class trying to raise themselves above the level of their yeomen forebears. By virtue of owning this land they ruled over a toiling 'lower order'" of farm servants, who were valued for little more than their labour, and when that could not be provided were accorded the charity of the parish dole or workhouse. One of the greatest evils in the ownership of property, on which others depended for their lives, was that it did not then entail any intrinsic duty to them.
KINGSTON Since 1786 the whole of Kingston had been owned by the Ollivers, and was split-up between cousins, Samuel Henty in East Kingston and George Olliver in West Kingston. The old manor house was occupied by Henty, while Olliver had the 18th century house in the western part of the manor, which he improved, but only towards the end of the 19th century did it acquire the name Kingston Manor. A remnant of the ancient village, consisting of a farmhouse and a few cottages, bordered the Street, today a by-way known as Peak Lane. In 1830 George Olliver junior occupied this farmhouse, and managed an estate which included the Homestead Farm in East Preston, purchased in 1812. Of squire and cottagers, only eleven families remained in a village where no settlement was allowed, beyond that small number needed as servants in mansion and farm.
EAST PRESTON In the neighbouring parish the situation was less well defined. That old hegemony provided by manorial lordship, had withered away, and the village was divided between several freehold farms. The demesne, or manor farm, was itself a partnership between members of the Corney family, to be broken-up as soon as they died. The principal farms included the Corner House occupied by Phillis Olliver and her son John, who demolished the old farmhouse and built Preston Place nearby in 1838. Nearby, Bay Tree Farm [some modern names must be used, the old names being lost or constantly changing] was owned by Squire Gratwicke of Ham, but the tenant was John Heasman. George Henty of Ferring, had the combined Beehive and House-on-the-Bend farms, but who the tenant was is uncertain. John Slater had recently built Preston Cottage for himself, leaving his mother at Old Yews, opposite Bay Tree Farm, and managed the old freehold together with his wife's share of the manor farm. Finally, Richard Baker was a survival from the past, as the last of a family of yeomen freeholders of the manor, holding Baytree Cottage and its few acres.
Apart from the farms, it is no easy task to reconstruct the village of that era, as detailed rate books and census returns do not begin for another ten years after 1830. Bare figures for the census of 1831 speak only of 30 inhabited and 2 uninhabited houses, with 43 families, of which 26 were in agriculture and a peculiarly large number of families, 14, in undefined occupations. The explanation is that the village had two unusual 'houses' one of which was occupied by over forty paupers - the workhouse, while another 'house' was the Coast Blockade [coastguards] occupied by ten families of mariners. The true village consisted merely of 28 occupied houses, and two others unoccupied, with 32 families, and around 150 people in all. Even so a burgeoning population compared with the twenty families of a hundred years previously.
The houses and cottages were dispersed across a small parish, principally along the Street and a Lane, which together extended from Corner House to the sea south of the Blockade House - The Street and Sea Road in modern terms. No Vicarage house troubled the conscience of villagers, and the church itself was isolated from its parishioners on the western boundary, only approached in a direct way by a footpath across the manor farm. The Rev. Green of Rustington officiated as curate. It was the first workhouse, built in 1791, which dominated the parish, directly opposite the beer shop recently opened by Elizabeth Corney at the Rosery, today a restaurant. But a nearby house, belonging to Thomas Knight would later become the Three Crowns Inn. John Slater, the Parish Guardian of the Poor, at the workhouse, could cast a censorious eye over these neighbours from Preston Cottage on the corner of North Lane. Whilst, among few tradesmen, Nancy Corney had a homely grocery shop in North Lane Cottages, recently built by Richard Baker. And the young James Booker, blacksmith, may already have occupied one of the two cottages soon to be named after the forge - Forge Cottage.
Labourers dwellings included the model cottages Jasmine and Apple Tree, south from Corner House. They also included various farm houses reduced in status, and in multiple occupancy. The House-on-the-Bend in Sea Lane, and Boxtrees in Sea Road, are examples, the latter house occupied by the two Ayling brothers that owned them. Two more cottages lay next to the road, near The Homestead.
Other houses were occupied by farmers, and those of middling status, such as Wistaria where Charles Farley farmed part of the manor land. Beehive Farmhouse, was probably tenanted by Henry Jupp who was certainly a farmer in 1830. Finally, Seaview, south of the Blockade, was perhaps the earliest retirement home in the village, occupied by J.G. Heasman, who lived to his hundredth year, and recorded those well known reminiscences of land overwhelmed by the sea at Rustington.
It only leaves to be mentioned the Bushby family. William, the father, occupied a small dwelling south of Baytree Cottage, while William junior had a more bracing prospect in Sea Cottage, on the beach at the end of Sea Road. And the final figure in the drama, Edmund Bushby, as yet single, was in lodgings at a house in Two Acres, south of the present cricket field, tenanted by James and Mary Burcher.
Some mention has already been made of the principal characters involved. George Olliver, born in 1799 to a family that built their fortune on lands aggrandized over many generations in Angmering and Kingston, who acknowledged himself to be a gentleman. In later life he gained a reputation of rigid application to duty, including his administration of the workhouse as its Visitor, which made him unpopular in the district amongst his peers. Albeit poor folk are said to have respected him for his charitable work, even if he did it as a matter of social engineering rather than through warmth of feeling.
At the opposite end of the social spectrum, the Bushby family were labourers on the Homestead farm. William senior had evidently been born in Rustington, to unwed Mary Bushby, and perforce took her surname. On marriage and settlement in East Preston, a family of five daughters and three sons were baptised in the parish church; his middle son, Edmund, in 1804. By 1830 a new generation was in the offing, with William junior's second son born in October. Stephen meanwhile had marginally improved his prospects, by marrying Jane Farley of Wisteria in September.
Such social hierarchy as existed consisted of the resident landowners, tenant farmers, tradesmen, and finally labourers. Of the landowners only the Olliver cousins, and John Slater, would have been on a level with such country gentry as Gratwicke of Ham, since the Corney heirs of the manor farm were of peasant stock from North Stoke, and Richard Baker's farm would have kept him poorer than many tenant farmers such as Heasman. Of tradesmen, forming the middle strata, a shoemaker, carpenter, blacksmith, and beer shop keeper, were the limit a small community could sustain. This left about seventeen families at the base of the social pyramid, on whose shoulders fell the husbandry of 450 acres of arable land in the parish. This barely provided one man to twenty acres, which was the rate usual locally during that labour intensive century. Thirty years earlier, with only twenty families farming the whole village, labour should have been at a premium. In Kingston labour must have been deficient, and brought in from East Preston and Angmering.
A more radical distinction between rulers and ruled was currently under threat from reformers, including the Whigs who had won the election in 1830. A ferment of change had brought civil rights to Nonconformists and Catholics, and electoral reform promised greater democracy in the parliamentary franchise. As it turned out, the 1832 Reform Act brought in only a few more property owners, and not until 1884 did all rural householders have the vote. In 1820 a poll book listed a mere nine electors for East Preston, including five members of the Corney brotherhood, George Henty of Ferring, William Olliver of Corner House, John Slater, and Richard Baker, as 40s freeholders in the county constituency. After 1832 similar names appear on the lists, together with John Ayling and John Heasman, but ordinary working people were still the 'lower order''.
The same patronage existed in local politics, as a result of Gilbert's Act 1782, under which East Preston Union was formed in 1791. Administration of poor relief passed from parish overseers, to the workhouse Guardians, and they were to be elected only by £5 ratepayers. Later legislation made voting rights even more complicated, without transferring any power from property to poverty.
There was good cause for concern about the poor, since the population of the country had been steadily increasing from about 1740, and migration to the towns had ceased to absorb the surplus. East Preston was typical of local parishes in having experienced a 50% increase since 1800, and continued growth was to be expected. Economists were sympathetic but as Malthus wrote, "Our laws ... bind society to furnish employment and food to those who cannot get then in the regular market; but in doing so they attempt to reverse the laws of nature". It might better have been suggested that if the whole community owned the land it occupied, "natural" laws might well have operated to restrict population.
THE FARM The whole economy, and indeed life of the village, depended upon the farm. Long before memory, most villagers would have had small-holdings in the common fields, but even in Kingston these had disappeared during the previous century. In Angmering and Rustington remnants had been enclosed recently, but the reality was that only a shadow of common farming had been lost. 'Enclosure by agreement' and engrossment had taken place over a long period, and in Preston engrossment was so slow that only the oldest people might have recalled when there had been a dozen holdings, compared with the present eight. The concern was to obtain a subsistence wage, in a market economy designed to profit only the propertied class.
For them all, the benefits and threats of the industrial revolution were at hand. Olliver had a threshing machine ready for use, albeit horse-powered rather than steam, and reapers had been developed. However, the thresher was only marginally more profitable than hand flail work, as yet, and did nothing to increase productivity; but its use would have caused considerable unemployment during the winter, putting men onto parish relief paid for by the landowners. For this reason the machine was more of a goad than a useful tool, and hand threshing continued for another generation.
Artificial fertilisers, other than lime and marl, had not arrived, but improved methods and rotations were slowly increasing yields on the coastal corn belt. Turnips and clover were used in a rotation of fourths in Preston, and thirds in Kingston, sheep being folded onto the turnips; fallow years were long forgotten. Draft horses were replacing oxen, and in a census during the war years Preston was unusual in having no oxen, and very few cattle of any kind. High corn prices had concentrated the farmers on corn, and with an average of one milch-cow to a farm, only the owners would have had dairy produce in their diet.
How much profit the 57 acre Homestead farm made is not known, but current glebe rents were £2 an acre, fallen from the inflated war years at £3 an acre and upwards. In the 1790s, before inflation, an estimated 46s an acre profit from a similar farm, with rents at £1 and yields of 3 quarters, give some idea [Rev Young p49]. Olliver could expect at least 4 qrs of wheat from an acre and with higher prices commensurate profits. He had no great tithes to pay since he owned them, having paid less than £1 an acre to the Prebendary for a lease, but various taxes and the poor rate were heavier. Almost certainly the most pressing encumbrance would have been the purchase of his farm in 1812, at up to thirty times its annual value; the family was beset by such debts in later years.
An example of taxation in 1817, in Hertfordshire, including tithes, rates, land tax, and numerous other minor duties, averaged £1.28 an acre; in so far as his taxes are known Olliver must have paid out a similar amount in 1830. This includes a calculation for poor rate of £18, which had reduced considerably since 1800 when, at 16s in the pound, he would have paid £48, compensated for by high corn prices. His farm workers had a greater imposition in 1830, with half their paltry earnings taken by food and other taxes. [Hammond p172]
It must have been galling for the cottagers to bring in harvests, even in bad years, enough to feed them all to excess, and yet need an allowance from the Overseer in order to pay market prices. Three acres could support a family of five, at least to the much quoted Speenhamland standard.
THE LABOURER The community depended on the industry of its farm workers, except that supply had begun to outstrip demand. In 1834 it was stated that the quality of labourers had diminished, "from being obliged to employ more than is required". [PL1834] The same source indicates that soon after 1830 wages for the family man were about 12s, but averaged 10s over the year, allowing for sickness and time laid off. "It is an abuse of the term, to call that money which is paid according to his necessities, and not the value of his labour 'wages'".
Their cost of living revolved around the staple bread, and the wildly variable price of wheat, especially as such alternative staples as potatoes were little used in Sussex. In the years to 1815 the price had reached over 120s a quarter, and only recently fallen back to near 60s; this made a 4lb quartern loaf cost 10d rising to 11d in 1830, and according to the Speenhamland scale, a man needed the value of six loaves, and his wife and family three each to sustain them each week, on which basis a family of five required a wage of 15s. In 1834 rates paid in Angmering to parish workers included 9s for a family with three children, although bread was then slightly cheaper.
ALLOTMENTS Nor were the poor able to help themselves by cultivating allotments, garden or smallhold. Legislation of 1819 had empowered parishes to buy land for the purpose, and lease it out, then after the Swing Riots the 1831 Act raised the limit to fifty acres. However, in Preston it took the initiative of George Olliver to set aside 2.5 acres of his own land as gardens, during that decade. It is notable that an Elizabethan law, which forbade erection of cottages having less than four acres of land, was repealed in 1775; about 1610 there were new cottages built in Kingston which probably complied with this ordinance but they did not survive far beyond the manorial survey of 1671.
BREAD DOLE Charities for the poor existed in most parishes, administered by the vestry. When John Corney, owner of the manor farm died without direct heirs, his will of 1805 provided for two charities, of which the least but still considerable was for the poor of East Preston. It consisted of £1400 invested in consuls, providing £13 16s interest each year, to be distributed by the churchwardens. Instead of doling out money, being "of little or no benefit" a twice yearly bread dole was instituted instead. As the price of bread fell after 1800, it takes little calculation to realise that the amount must have overwhelmed the recipients, bread being perishable, and this is confirmed by anecdotal sources relating to more recent years. On the other hand, a regular money dole would have made the needy less eligible for poor rate support. About 1837 a benefit society was formed in Angmering, taking subscriptions from members in local parishes, to pay out in sickness, leaving the residue to share out yearly: Rev. Reeks later pointed out that this merely reduced other benefits, and recommended ending the share out. If given out to one aged woman, or man, the Corney fund would have been just enough to live on over a year.
As it was, the poor had neither trade unions, benefit societies, social clubs, or even regular sports clubs for cricket or football. It took another generation for this need to be recognised, and modern social provisions developed.
RECREATION and EDUCATION According to a Select Committee of 1843, the chief cause of crime was a lack of recreations, with village games killed off by Puritanism. [Hammond p223] In contradiction to this, sports such as cricket and football were popular, and county cricket was established, although the Sussex club was not formally founded until 1839. It can be assumed that games were played on an informal basis, the gentry organising matches on occasions that suited them, as in 1858 when the grounds at Kingston Manor were used for a match between the villages.
The last embers of folk traditions were still glowing a generation later, when such collectors as W.H. Gill, and R.J. Sharp lived locally. Surviving folk songs, and the Tipteer plays, show that a folk culture must still have been strong in 1830, for anything to have survived. School logs report children away 'Maying' in 1885, taking hoops decorated with flowers around the village. About the same time the Tipteers, or Mummers, toured the great houses in Preston, although it appears to have been less a custom than a revival for reward.
A change was taking place which made folk custom a sub-polite world, not recognised by the literate class. It can be seen in the deed drawn up in 1831; a last generation such as John Slater and John Olliver were still proud to be yeomen, but their sons would be 'polite' gentlemen. It was that generation, together with schools when founded, which stifled the common traditions of rural England, for they were more concerned with religious festivities than profane.
Apart from such customs, the cottagers were expected to observe the Sabbath, were allowed to attend the beer shop, and at least publicly condemned for resorting to poaching and smuggling.
At this time the three parishes of Ferring Prebend were in the hands of curates, J.C. Green the Vicar of Rustington officiating at East Preston, for which his stipend from the small tithes was a mere £40. It also meant that the parish had only one service each week, on Sunday, and a quarterly communion; however this was an improvement on the 18th century when services had been fortnightly, and the church was falling to ruin.
The previous curate, William Nourse, had nurtured a cottage school paid for by subscription, "A small school kept by a woman containing 14 children" [SCE] in which the rudiments of reading and religion may have been taught. There is no evidence that it ever became an official church school, and did not survive under Rev. Green. Most local villages had these "Dame Schools" until better provision was made by church and state, after the 1870 Forster Act. The Older Charity school in Angmering, founded in 1682, was exceptional, and most people were poorly educated, signing their names with marks as did Edmund Bushby.
The newspaper reading class had a patronizing attitude to those without the means of education, who could seldom pay the 7d which local Brighton newspapers cost, or 1s for Cobbett's, Political Register. Any aid in money they would have been given would probably have been dissipated. "With respect to beer shops, they have been most prolific in extending every kind of vice ... I was told of a beer shop in which a game called 'four corners' was played by the paupers ... and time is consumed in ... the perusal of seditious publications, not the less dangerous because not thoroughly understood". These "shops" had been opened in October 1830, by householders who could pay two guineas, and were restricted to selling beer in order to reduce gin drinking, and in that time had little influence on the riots. Elizabeth Corney ( of the manor farm family) was one of the few in the village with the means to set up in this business, and she had a closer affinity with the customers than the critics if these places. Such was the genesis of the Three Crowns Inn.
Until 1831 only the larger landowners, and leaseholders, could shoot game and the penalties were severe. Imprisonment was the least that could be expected by anyone snaring a hare outside their cottage, or killing a pheasant; and game keeper's man traps had only recently been banned. But the idea that wild things were owned exclusively, was scorned, and the law abused accordingly by cottagers. In this locality, Gratwicke, the Ollivers, and few others could legally take game, and certainly not the tenant farmers. How much did Richard Baker, or the Corney brothers respect the law? It is no wonder that poaching was not looked upon as a heinous crime, more than smuggling.
SMUGGLING Smuggling was the other crime which was customarily tolerated. It had a fillip during the wars ended in 1815, but even in 1787 William Pitt claimed that two thirds of the brandy consumed had been smuggled. Although more prevalent in Kent and eastern Sussex, this locality had its profitable share. In opposition were the Riding Officers on land, and Water Guard and Revenue Cutters at sea. Then in 1816 a Coast Blockade was created having a boat and shore patrols of mariners, which proved quite successful. In 1831 the service was reformed as H. M. Coastguard.
The Blockade extended its bases and reached Preston during the 1820s, its young mariners dominating the church registers during that time with their baptisms of children. Their station was confusingly named Kingston Watch House, although sited on land leased from the Homestead farm, but it was owned by the Ollivers of Kingston.
The local scale of operations may be judged from only three sales of contraband in 1805, at Arundel Customs House, comprising 6365 gallons of Geneva gin, and 2724 gallons of brandy, besides rum, tea, and wine. In October the Hawk revenue cutter happened on 600 casks of spirits, cast in the sea by a vessel under chase.
John Gratwicke Heasman of Seaview had previously been an officer of the Customs, and was involved with other officers in a savage attack by smugglers at Kingston in 1804, when casks of spirits were carried away from their custody. [SWA]
But by the 1820s smugglers had to employ large parties of batmen to take over beaches, up to one hundred men. "In 1832 ... it is recorded W. King chief boatman, and John Richardson boatman, received injuries in conflict with a large body of batmen ... at Kingston station." [Harper] At this time Richard Woolver was the chief officer in charge of thirteen boatmen in Preston and Goring, from all parts of the country, but particularly from the west and Ireland, and all regularly moved from station to station to prevent too close fraternity with local people. "The smugglers are divided into two classes, the carriers or bearers who receive from five shillings per night upwards according to the number of tubs they secure, and the batmen so called from a bludgeon ... they go out in disguise frequently with their faces blackened and now with fire arms, they confine themselves to the protection of others and are paid 20s or more a night." [PL1834] The extent and ease of the trade about 1800 must have been one of the reasons why the dire poverty of those years did not cause riot. it provided a substantial source of income in the coastal districts.
WAGES and the WORKHOUSE Current concern for the poor had behind it the principles of Malthus and Ricardo. It could not benefit them to be paid above the market, making the rich poor, and encouraging larger families beyond the funds and food available to support them; and indiscriminate poor laws had resulted in a crippling burden of poor rate. "If the poor laws had never existed, though there might have been a few more instances of very severe distress, yet the aggregate mass of happiness among the common people would have ben much greater than it is at present." [Malthus]
Until 1791 local parishes had regulated their own poor relief under the Poor Law of 1601, overseers paying out doles from a rate levied on the land and houses of their parish. Workhouses might have been established from 1722, but it was the Gilbert's Act of 1782 which provided the stimulus which resulted in East Preston Union of parishes and its house. Only the aged and infirm, or abandoned children, could be admitted to the house, all able-bodied poor were to be found work and subsidised from the rates by outdoor relief.
What precisely made the five parishes unite is not recorded, but in Ferring and East Preston it was evidently the new squirearchy that abandoned the old ways. The landowners all now lived locally, and were virtual owners of the village and villagers, and naturally any business has to be managed profitably. It eased matters that two of the parishes were already united ecclesiastically in Ferring prebend.
It was the very same year, 1791, that the parish churches of Ferring and Preston were rescued from a century of neglect and restored. Not that it cost too much, one of the bells from Preston being sold for £45 towards the eventual bill of £119 for the roofing of the church. The nave roof would otherwise have collapsed.
The deeds of the workhouse include the title for purchase of two acres of land from the House-on-the-Bend farm, 14th Sept 1791, for £150. The farm had been mortgaged and was in difficulty, so providing the new Guardians with an opportunity that they may already have been aware of when they agreed to unite in June that same year. The house needed to be fairly central to the united parishes, of Littlehampton, Burpham, Goring, Ferring and East Preston. William Henty was the Guardian for Ferring and George Olliver of Kingston for East Preston, and the Vicar of Ferring the first Visitor. One notable advantage to them in the Gilbert Act was that it deprived cottagers, under £5 value, of their franchise in poor law business. The electors, guardians, and landowners, were now all one.
the building erected cost at least £2600, borrowed from private sources such as Elizabeth and Thomas Corney, at 4.5% interest. Within twenty years the Union had expanded to nineteen parishes, between Lancing and Amberley, and remained at that size until reconstituted in 1869, with a new workhouse. No more parishes were permitted to join, after the 1834 Act. "The principal advantage of retaining our existing constitution are discretionary powers of giving casual outdoor assistance [not permitted under the 1834 Act] that of taking a portion of a man's family into the workhouse during temporary distress and the extra control of the Diet and Clothing and general Management of the House." [WG2/7]
In 1834 the Poor Law Commission Report contained a description of the workhouse and its moderate regime. "That at East Preston, incorporated for  parishes is the largest ... with which I met [in West Sussex] though the inmates did not average more than 50 in summer and 70 in winter ... The house is farmed at 3s a head per week [3s was allowed for the maintenance of each pauper at that time] ... A Visitor is appointed annually, and attends the house twice or three times a week. A committee [Guardians] meet at the house the first Monday in every month ... The diet is arranged by the committee and the bread and beer consumed are made in the house. Six meat dinners and one bread and cheese dinner are allowed, also a pint of beer daily. Breakfast consists of milk, bread and cheese or soup ... supper is the same. The inmates are ... either old and infirm, a few young children, orphans, deserted or bastard, and occasionally females who have been sent home ... on account of pregnancy ... A medical man attends twice a week ... There is a manufactory of sacking and ropes and bedding, to an extent not exceeding £20 a year ... A cottage garden .. and a large square yard in the centre of the holding, belong to the house ... Some of the old people are allowed to smoke, and to some an allowance of tea or tobacco is made. All dine in the same hall, but the sexes have their meals at different tables, and are separated at night, the men sleep two to a bed. One of the paupers stands at the gate, which was stated to be always locked"
The fact that James Float, the governor, was himself illiterate and had been a pauper at Yapton workhouse, did nothing to diminish his eligibility to manage the lives and work of destitute poor to his own profit.
Another view of the House from an Angmering couple was voiced in 1860. "About twenty years ago an elderly couple came to this village and settled down. They occupied a small thatched building, which was formerly used as a hovel [cattle hovel]. Formerly the man had been a master builder, and being prudent he provided for a rainy day by subscribing to a club. Soon after he reached the age of sixty he became incapacitated; he was entitled to superannuation. They have now reached the age of eighty years having lived together for sixty years, and a week or two since a letter reached the old couple containing the sad tidings that the club had become impoverished and the allowance would stop. Nothing was left to the old man but to apply to the parish for relief; the answer was that he might 'go into the House'. 'What' said the old man, 'go into the house at my time of life and be separated from my wife, with whom I have lived happily for sixty years?' No answer could be made. The old people said they could live on five shillings a week, but no, this could not be done, and now they have to be driven from their nest and end their very little rime upon this earth in the Union house, one on one side and the other on the other side. This is a very sad illustration of the vicissitudes of life, and one which human forethought could scarcely guard against". Or. as the couple might have said, "Those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder, unless it be the parish Guardian". We might almost wonder if modern society is any wiser, if it promotes private insurance for sickness and retirement, without firm guarantees from government.
The workhouse opened at a time when expenditure on poor relief was growing, and when the effects of war would soon cause rates to increase massively. By 1801 East Preston had a rate the equivalent of £4.5 for every person in the village, outside the workhouse. Small villages tended to have higher burdens than local towns, but perhaps the landowners were making enough profit from inflated prices to sustain this outlay on subsidised wages. The history of the workhouse and village, in this early part of the century, is more particularly detailed in various other books in print or pending [East Preston and Kingston in the 19th Century in print, and the Workhouse History pending].
By Bushby's generation prices and parish relief had returned to more acceptable levels, but the reform of the system in 1834 was brought about through a continuing concern about the level of rates, and the indulgent way paupers in the workhouse were treated. It is very sad that the new system did not adequately distinguish between those who were pauperised by sickness, and infirmity through age, or as abandoned children, and that smaller number who were temporarily unemployed. Whatever the theory, the fact was that the workhouse was not a home, but a stigma, and little distinction was made between one sort of pauper and another.
Only a few years previously, in 1825, over twenty per cent of the population of East Preston were receiving some form of relief, temporary or permanent. This dole amounted to 10s per head of the whole population, for the year, or about a week's wage for a labourer. In Kingston only one person, an old woman, was receiving assistance, a dole that worked out at 4s a week or £10 8s for the year. This was about the normal rate for a single person, when baker's bread cost 11d for a quartern loaf, and cheap meat 4d a pound.
REVOLUTION Developments in farming, and electoral reform, have already been mentioned. 1830 was an election year, which would bring in the reforming Whigs. Even more disturbing were the current revolutions in Europe, making the aristocracy of this country wary of sedition by the 'lower orders'; the French Revolution of 1789 was still a living memory.
William Cobbett, that great champion of a past yeoman society, and of the poor, expressed strong feelings in his Political Register, blaming recent wars and increasing taxation for social conditions. "The working people, especially the country people, lived in the happiest state that can be imagined until ... war against our brethren in America ... and France ... no human beings were ever treated so unjustly, with so much insolence, and with such damnable barbarity as the working people of England have ... within the last ten years". Despite his florid language, credit must be given him for seeing that many people had little to enjoy outside the beer shops, or in pursuit of illicit trades and petty crime. Therefore crime was plentiful, and no professional police force other than the Bow Street Runners, until the 'Peelers' of 1829. In Sussex some parishes had their ancient headboroughs, or for Poling Hundred a few constables such as James Olliver from Angmering. The law resorted to extreme forms of punishment to deter crime, and in the courts of 1830 every conceivable offence was rewarded by transportation or death. However, since most capital sentences were immediately commuted, very few hangings took place in comparison, and then perhaps as 'examples'. "The system made the poor man the prey of his rich neighbours", through fear. [Hammond p203]
At Lewes Assizes in December 1830, the Judge attempted to explain the law on arson. The crime of setting fire to buildings such as a church or chapel was to incur death; and likewise for destroying mills and machines of manufacture. Burning standing corn might receive a death sentence, transportation, or another unenviable punishment. Destroying threshing machines incurred seven years transportation. He then emphasised that firing stacks of corn, the staple food, might cause distress and would be treated seriously. [BG]
2 'CAPTAIN SWING' 1830
The farm labourer's riots and Bushby
There had been another very wet summer in 1829, with a poor harvest, and few fine days between June and September. Snow had fallen in October, before harvest was fully in. The next winter was severe, and then a hot summer was followed by very wet weather in August and September. [AR] "The labourers must have faced the spring of 1830 with the memory of cold, hunger, and unemployment, and the reflection that another winter like the last was more than flesh and blood could bear". [CS p85]
The riots were sparked off in Kent, and spread into Sussex with the first reported incident at Brede on the 5th of November, reaching western Sussex in an outbreak of violence at Petworth workhouse on the 13th. Breaking of threshing machines, and arson, were reported from all parts of the county, accompanied by threatening letters fictitiously signed by 'Captain Swing' demanding higher wages, the rate demanded being 14s a week. Reductions in taxes and tithes for farmers were also called for, to enable better wages to be paid. Fire offices quickly suspended acceptance of insurance for farm stock and buildings. Large mobs in the Bognor area moved on to threaten Arundel by Monday 15th November, and the Brighton Gazette spoke of, "a large body of labourers assembled in the town, but they were peaceably disposed being without weapons". In Worthing two hundred men assembled, but the magistrates called in the Coast Blockade and, "on their appearance the mob separated and went back to their houses". It is indeed remarkable that very little personal violence was exhibited by the rioters anywhere in the country, and The Times, 17th Nov., commented, "Divested of its objectionable character ... the conduct of peasantry has been admirable ... the spokesman sometimes a Dissenting or Methodist teacher ... after a barn or two had been fired".
On Tuesday 16th November, a massive fire broke out in Angmering, at Old Place farm occupied by Mr Amoore, in which "two barns and one hundred quarters of wheat ... were burnt and so strong were the flames that the glare was perceived from Brighton" in modern terms about twenty tons destroyed. [BG] William Holmes, Mayor of Arundel, naturally felt alarmed at the course of events, and the magistrates there soon had the town guarded by 300 special constables, so that by 19th November the borough was free of mobs. The magistrates also tried to avert trouble in agreeing a new wage scale [presumably for parish work], at 2s a day whether wet or dry, and 1s 6d for every child above the age of two, and 2s extra through the summer; trouble then subsided, although these rates of pay did not continue long. [Hammond p258]
Meanwhile the riots spread to other counties, and the farmers of East Preston and Kingston may have imagined that the had been passed by unscathed. On the 23rd November the London Gazette published a Home Office notice, listing rewards for the apprehension and conviction of rioters, with a maximum of £500 for conviction of incendiaries.
BUSHBY The isolated and relatively minor incident at East Preston on the night of Sunday 28th November, would now be forgotten but for the unique consequences. Over the past one and half centuries, romanticism and sheer historical error have crept into the story, as with any incident that stimulates mythology, and in the recent past fiction had become more real than fact.
On the Homestead farm the wheat harvest had finished in September, with its extra pay, followed by the traditional harvest-home dinner given by the farmer. Neat thatched ricks, or stacks, had been built preparatory to the process of 'thrashing' out the grain; one such rick standing in the midst of the midst of the farm - almost exactly at the east end of Old Manor Road of the present day - and in a corner of the Blockade Field, named after the Blockade Station nearby. Such a rick may have been set up on a staddle frame supported by staddle-stones. A footpath crossed by the rick, connecting Preston with Kingston Street, near where George Olliver junior had his current farm house dwelling. The exact disposition of the various items of evidence in the subsequent trial can be determined, in relation to various maps of the late 19th century, in particular the tithe map, and with very little margin of error.
Threshing by hand flail was a long and arduous winter occupation, and an expert might get through three quarters, or thirteen hundredweight, in a six day week. This task was the mainstay of farm workers in the dead season, and as such often reserved for family men, who would have looked askance at Olliver's new machine which, even if horse powered, threatened unemployment and pauperism. Olliver clearly recognised this, and was prepared to pay what he considered fair rates for hand threshing, rather than use the mechanical thresher. He had to steer a course between the expense of labour, the poor rate, sympathy for his men, and causing resentment enough to foment rebellion against his peers, the privileged few.
On Wednesday 24th, Olliver sent for Edmund Bushby, and offered him a piece-rate of 4s a quarter, considered adequate for a single man. Bushby replied that he should work at the "swing" rate of fourteen shillings a week and, upon hearing this, Olliver evidently threatened to use his threshing machine instead.
On Sunday the matter had still not been settled, and after Olliver had been to afternoon service in Preston church he was walking home along the footpath through his farm, when Bushby overtook him and an altercation took place between these two young men. The employer revoked his offer and told his man that he would get no work at all, not even from the magistrate, that is parish employment paid by the overseer. This naturally made Bushby furious, and he threatened that if he could not work by day he would do so by night, by which was to be understood the 'trades' of poaching or smuggling.
That evening, Edmund with his father and brother William, went to Elizabeth Corney's beer shop in the centre of the village, directly opposite the oppressive sight of the workhouse. They remained there until ten, and with the beer they no doubt passed comments on the recent riotous events in Sussex, the fire in Angmering, and the character of country gentlemen in general, and particular. They speculated on the future of William senior, and whether he would soon end his days in the House; how much pay such family men as William junior needed in order live decently, and what should be done if Olliver were to use his machine and deprive them all of work. Whether a plot was concocted is speculation, although Edmund's original request for better wages may have been made in agreement with other men, to test if Olliver would submit to similar demands from the more vulnerable family men in the village. Whatever the case, in the half-hour it took for the brothers to get to their homes, on a ten minute walk, Edmund had resolved on intemperate action.
Past his lodgings with Mary Burcher, and towards the rick, ran the Kingston footpath, through fields with few nearby cottages and the risk of being observed by wakeful villagers. On the other hand, brother William had the way from his home directly overlooked by the Blockade cottages. Recklessly, Edmund borrowed a tinder box and matches from Mary Burcher's hands, and only fifteen minutes later was heard shouting the alarm of fire along the street. Then as the Blockade men, and others, were dousing the blazing wheat stack with water from the Central Ditch, both brothers were seen close by and heard to say, "Let it burn" and they wished Olliver "were in the middle of it".
In the sober morning light, Olliver needed little wit to suspect Edmund of the deed, and his embarrassment on being questioned, allied to Mrs Burcher's testimony, was enough for Edmund and two others to be arrested and taken before the local magistrate, WGK Gratwicke of Ham. He was immediately committed to Horsham gaol to await trial, at the next Assizes for the county. Gaol accounts record the prisoner's miserable allowance of 2lb of bread each day, at a cost of 2 1/2d a pound, during his last weeks until January 1st.
William Holmes, Mayor of Arundel, took the opportunity to write to Lord Melbourne, Home Secretary, of the circumstances, and about the recent disturbances in the mayor's town. On 4th December, George Olliver also wrote, in politely obsequious language, asking for one or two Bow Street Runners to be sent to investigate others he suspected of complicity in "these fiend like offences". The letter is endorsed with the note that "an officer of the name of Johns has been ordered to go to him immediately". Nothing more is known of this last gentleman, or his findings, and in the report of the trial he was not mentioned, so presumably his Sergeant Cluff methods bore no fruit. The sentiments expressed by Olliver show that he was still incensed, and had no thought but to prosecute all those involved.
And so Bushby spent the next three weeks locked in a cell of the felons wing at Horsham Gaol, along with the other prisoners destined for Lewes Assizes. There is a detailed layout of the goal of that period, which indicates the various parts. Nearby could be heard the hard labour machine grinding out the aimless hours for criminals who had escaped the hangman, or transportation. In the week before Christmas, thirty-nine prisoners were transferred to Lewes for trail, but without the reports in Sussex newspapers virtually nothing would be known of the evidence employed. The assize records contain nothing more about Bushby than a brief statement of the charge, parties involved, and the sentence.
The trial began on December 21st, with no substantial evidence apart from Burcher's, although that was damning even without modern forensic methods. So far as was then possible the case was circumstantially proved, and only the complicity of others remained in doubt and had no mention. Olliver had decided that prosecution of the main culprit was sufficient.
According to tradition, Olliver paid for witnesses to appear for Bushby, but in fact no such witness is recorded; on the contrary, his brother was at the trial and might have been called, but it was felt by the counsellors that brother should not be set against brother, as would have happened in cross-examination. The prosecution evidence was already quite adequate. It was not even possible for the defence lawyer to speak for the prisoner, as this was not permitted in felony cases until 1836. He, an overawed and uneducated 'peasant' had to defend himself against the whole weight of the court and prosecution. Not a word, it seems, was said of his previous good character in mitigation. However, it may be supposed that Olliver paid for the defence counsel, who could only cross-examine prosecution witnesses.
In his summing-up the Judge admitted that the evidence could only be circumstantial in, "deeds of darkness". Then the jury withdrew and in a few minutes returned the verdict of "guilty". The judge proceeded to address the culprit, informing him that the offence was one for which the enacted punishment of death was seldom commuted, and he must be made an example. It would perhaps have been wrong for the judge to give hope of a reprieve, especially in a case of rick burning, but it is a distasteful form of justice that selects criminals as deterrent examples, as if admitting that sentences were not proportionate - but then they were not.
An entirely false latter day story, [SCM Vol 11] which a little research would have corrected, linked Bushby and the crime with a youth named Goodman. This Thomas Goodman, only eighteen years of age, was convicted at the same assizes, for firing a barn at Battle, and he subsequently confessed to setting five fires out of eight in the area, but no thought of such a thing had entered his head until he attended a lecture by Cobbett at Battle. As with so many others, he was sentenced to death and accorded little hope of reprieve.
On Christmas Day, both Bushby and Goodman were conveyed back to Horsham by fly, under two guards. Then on Sunday, next day, the chaplain delivered a sermon to the gathered prisoners, "O Israel return unto the Lord thy God for thou hast fallen by thy iniquity". By this time Edmund was reduced to a suitable state of contrition and made full confession, both to the chaplain and George Olliver. The last visit he had was by his brothers and sisters, later in the week, and was naturally, "very distressing".
An illustration of the harshness of the law may be provided by a random selection from newspaper reported sentences meted out at that same assizes, although many of the extreme punishments were commuted in the accepted way. Sentences for theft included - for twenty one fowl, seven years transportation; one sovereign, death; a gelding, life transportation; a loaf of bread, two weeks hard labour and to be whipped; seventy books, three men were sentenced to death; sixteen hop poles, three months hard labour; a silver watch, one year hard labour; a bay gelding, death. For breaking threshing machines, but recommended to mercy on account of previous good character, one year prison; assault during a riot, three months prison; a boy of fourteen considered half-witted, who fired a hay rick, death, but informed that his life would be spared. Finally a Captain Winter the skipper of a coasting vessel, tried for the murder of his wife, having been seen hacking her to death, a verdict of manslaughter, since the parties might have been having a quarrel. On a superficial basis, it is difficult to reconcile the range and severity of the punishments with the crimes.
It was later reported that Edmund had implicated James Burcher, as instigating and assisting in the crime, and it cannot be doubted that he had conversation with others on the general subject of the riots. It is also notable that the Burcher family soon afterwards ceased to live in the village, although the Bushby clan remained there throughout the century. Is the story in circulation early this century, that one Good Friday seventy years before, a fire engulfed the Burcher cottage, quite inexplicable? Cottage and family were certainly gone when the 1838 tithe map was drafted.
On New Year's Day, Edmund was brought out of the gaol into the gaze of some hundreds of the public from the surrounding parishes. The crowd exhibited the "greatest decorum" during the proceedings, while a company of Foot Guard paraded nearby. A scaffold had been erected, and after ascending it Bushby, "addressed the spectators exhorting them to take warning by his end", and after the chaplain had read the Lord's Prayer, the bolt was drawn. Soon afterwards his brothers carried the body home to East Preston, and three days later Edmund was given a suitable burial in the parish churchyard, as recorded in the register. There is no reason to think he was buried outside the consecrated ground, although some secluded part would have been chosen, and it is unlikely that his family ever afforded the luxury of a headstone; nor were affluent villagers so sympathetic as to provide a memorial. No trace of the burial site is extant.
Meanwhile, Thomas Goodman had expected to follow Edmund to the scaffold, but was told that his confession had saved him, and he would be transported instead. Altogether seventeen men from Sussex travelled down to Portsmouth, bound for exile in the penal colony of Tasmania. Goodman's confession later played a part in the unsuccessful trial of Cobbett for sedition [Hammond p318].
A few months later George Olliver received his well earned reward of £500 from the Treasury, the maximum payable for having successfully prosecuted an arsonist. As a person of rigorous principles, he did not wish to keep all of the money for his own use, only such part as repaid him for providing "various witnesses ... and others compensation for their time, trouble, and services in the said Prosecution". Both he and Gratwicke, who presented his indictment examination of Bushby at the trial, had to stay in Lewes at inflated boarding costs, as well as the other witnesses who had their lodging costs recompensed by Olliver at "5s per diem". Olliver was also recompensed for the loss of the rick, it having been insured, although the amount is not known. He was now left with a residue of £250 which he decided to put to charitable use.
In October 1831 a deed placed the fund of £250 into the hands of trustees to administer:
In the first place; to pay out suitable rewards for conviction of "any felons who commit fire or murder in the parishes of Kingston and East Preston".
In the second place; to reimburse Olliver in the event of another fire, whether by accident or "any wicked incendiary" and also the costs of prosecution.
In the third and last place; to use only the interest, for "putting out some poor boy ... of Kingston or East Preston an apprentice to some useful trade ... from the most industrious and deserving families".
No doubt was expressed in the deed regarding the morality of the Bushby conviction and punishment; he was "tried and duly convicted ... and hanged for the said crime". Any idea that he felt shock at the severity of the sentence may be dispelled, unless his public face hid a very different private face, Olliver was a pure and simple upholder of the law. Although prepared to be charitable to the poor, the protection of Property came first. Eight years later the fund was still intact, with no awards having been made in a village now quiet and orderly. There is no knowledge of any boy being apprenticed, and at 4 or 5 per cent interest the sum accrued would hardly have sufficed for more than one year's premium. Deserving families also have their pride, and perhaps they did not wish to profit from 'blood money'.
It is an erroneous story that his brother William was forced to leave the village, as a suspected conspirator. None of the family went away apart perhaps for Stephen, who has no mention in the incident. The father died in 1857, and William junior in 1876, long after the village school had been built with the same 'blood money'.
Many of the latter day myths about Bushby presumably derive from the William Albery account of the "Mobbing Winter" written in 1937. [SCM] In this, Bushby and Goodman were associated in the crime, and only Bushby was hung, "He was a strong, good looking young man, 26 years of age, six feet high and full of vigour, but meanly dressed in a short round frock [smock] packing trousers, and half-boots. Three or four privileged persons approached and shook hands with him, saying, "God bless you" to which he heartily responded. After he was pinioned he mounted the scaffold with a firm step; and when the rope was put round his neck and the end put over the beam, his demeanour was resigned and even dignified. In answer to the question if he wished to address the crowd, he said: "I hope none of my friends will share my unhappy fate. Lord have mercy on my soul." The crowd on this occasion was very patient and decorous and in quite a different frame of mind from that with which it would witness the execution of a hardened criminal. It was felt that a victim of hard times, and not a felon, had suffered, and many an eye shed tears expressive of feelings that the untutored lips could not formulate. "God bless him, Lord have mercy on him" these were the expressions of the crowd that witnessed poor Bushby's last moments, as they dispersed quietly and thoughtfully. The body hung the usual hour, and then was delivered to the dead man's friends, who conveyed it to its native parish of East Preston where, close to the old parish church and the cottage in which his distracted mother lived, it was given its last resting place."
Where the Albery version derived from is not stated, but it could only have been a different and more colourful newspaper report than that in the Brighton Herald.
Of much more interest, and value, is the brief article by JGS Candy of East Kingston, written in 1952 [SCM 26] about the founding of East Preston School. He recounts having in his possession an old broadsheet containing a report of the trial and execution of Bushby; this broadsheet was still in existence a few years ago, and was clearly reproduced from the Brighton Herald. The broadsheet refers to Olliver paying, "out of his own pocket the whole cost of the defence, including counsel's fees and witnesses expenses." It is peculiar that newspaper reports have the evidence of witnesses for the prosecution, and their cross-examination by the defence counsel, but no witness for the defence can be identified. As already mentioned, none of the family were called, perhaps because they would have made the situation worse.
Mr Candy provided the interesting postscript; "the sequel was provided by Mr Robert French, founder of the firm of solicitors, Messrs Holmes, Campbell & Co. of Littlehampton. Mr French told the story to his grandson, the late Mr Edward Hills, my uncle, who in turn passed it on to me. When Mr Olliver laid information against Bushby, he had no idea that any very heavy penalty would be exacted. However, as the judge indicated on passing sentence, rick burning had reached such a measure that the Government feared a famine and decided to make an extreme example of the next culprit. As a result of the successful prosecution and conviction, Mr Olliver received a substantial award from the Treasury as an informer. This award was so distasteful to Mr Olliver that he devoted the whole [sic] sum to the building of East Preston Village School". It took ten years before the award could have become so very distasteful, from the evidence available.
Generations after the event, Bushby came to be seen as a virtual martyr, a natural romanticism of victimisation, as a solitary execution in the whole of Sussex surely seemed. A tradition recorded in 1947, names brother William as the real culprit, but as he was a married man with children Edmund took the blame on himself. A Rustington woman whose daughter had a birth mark on her face, took the baby and touched it against Bushby's hand as he lay in his coffin, after which the mark went away; proof if anything could be that Edmund was innocent. [MO] Such traditions are far too good not to be true.
Mr Candy makes no mention of George Olliver offering Edmund's father £200 compensation, and being refused. A newspaper refers to this in 1955, when some trees were about to be felled which Olliver supposedly planted in the village. Indeed, the pine trees north and south of the old school would have been planted by the Olliver family, before the 1870s, and if anything they were in memory of George himself who died in 1861. The last of these trees, felled in 1982, had only about 100 visible growth rings, and photographs indicate they were still quite young at the beginning of this century. The article goes on to refer to other trees planted, "at the spot in Kingston where the rick was fired." This group of conifers was presumably those in the field directly west of Kingston Manor, and far distant from where the rick was undoubtedly situated in Preston.
It may be thought a pity for such stories to be undermined, but a little demythologising is unavoidable if truth is to mean anything.
The best that can be said of Olliver, from the direct evidence, is that he did find it distasteful to use the reward of £500 purely for himself. He covered the expense of prosecution, and probably the expenses of members of the Bushby family taken to Lewes, but not called as witnesses, and visiting Horsham gaol before the execution. Most of the residue he then used to found his prosecuting charity, which was of benefit to himself; but eight years later his new school charity used all the £250, and that was to the benefit of poor people, although quite properly also for the purpose of social engineering. It is not possible to say whether the accrued interest entirely covered the cost of building the school room of 1840, at some £8 or so per annum it was barely enough, without placing the school in temporary debit.
SUSSEX Following the riots, 252 were capitally convicted from 16 counties and 101 of these in Hampshire, but only 3 in Sussex. 19 were subsequently hung, 3 in Hants, but only Bushby in Sussex, and ten other counties had their 'examples'.
Of 1976 prosecutions, 4 in 10 were acquitted, 3 in 10 jailed, and a massive 505 men or 1 in 4 transported.
In Sussex, of 52 tried, 18 were acquitted, 16 jailed, 3 sentenced to death and 1 hung, and 17 were transported to Tasmania.
Of 64 incidents reported in western Sussex, 22 concerned wage riots, 12 robbery, 11 arson, 11 breaking threshing machines, 5 Swing letters, 1 tithe riot, 1 workhouse riot, and 1 political. [CS]
Edmund was the only person to be executed in Sussex as a result of the riots, and almost every county had just one or two hangings, whatever number had been capitally convicted. Clearly the law provided penalties out of all proportion to the crimes, and only by large scale commutation of sentences was a blood bath avoided. It was possible to show magnanimity in the majority of cases, whilst carrying the law into full effect in a few instances as public examples, particularly where the general peace was threatened. What might an efficient police force have done to counter the riots, is speculation. 1830, the year of reform, had provoked the underprivileged to protest; the Victorian era which followed, begrudgingly brought them a measure of the social justice which they sought.
Although many of the reforms were for the purpose of reconciling the peasantry with their station in life, the effect of some of them was more far reaching, in particular in the expanded education required by an industrial nation.
Poor families could have become independent smallholders on only three acres of arable, but landowners would not countenance this loss to them of land and labour; however, Olliver had the good sense to set aside two and a half acres of his Homestead Farm as allotment gardens, which labourers cultivated in their own time. This both provided a good rental, and allowed low wages to be supplemented from the labourers own industry. Undoubtedly large scale private ownership of land, has had benefits in efficiency and scale of output, at a time when this was needed by an increasing urban population - but good ends only justify vicious means that cannot be avoided.
Friendly societies were encouraged, as leading to frugal and saving habits. Poor people saved their pennies in benefit clubs, which paid out during sickness, and local gentry charitably contributed their few pounds. Soup kitchens helped stave off the worst ravages of winter distress.
Poverty began to diminish, but less because of better wages than falling prices, especially after America began sending cheap corn in the 1870s. A quartern loaf which had cost 17d about 1800, reduced to 10d by 1830, but by the last decade of the century was only 5d. Manufactured goods were also cheaper.
3 RECONSTRUCTING the EVIDENCE
In 1830 everyone knew what had happened, where, and those involved. The purpose of the evidence, at the trial, was to determine guilt and the appropriate punishment. Today the situation is the exact reverse. We know what the verdict was, and may accept it as being just by prevailing standards, with perhaps a few questions about accomplices. But nothing is known, by present personal knowledge, about the village or its people, or where any of the events took place, other than by a process of reconstruction from the evidence.
The fact is that, in the recent past, there was such a variety of tradition and myth that he places involved may have been almost anywhere in East Preston and even West Preston. But from the evidence collected some conclusions are certain.
1 The farm on which the rick was situated belonged to George Olliver of Kingston and was in East Preston. It can readily be shown, from the Tithe Apportionment map of c1840 that George Olliver owned the Homestead Farm, and it was a cousin William who owned other lands. By working backwards with tithe returns, it can be shown that in 1830 the Homestead farm was a small area east of what is now Sea Road, virtually the same as in the 1759 estate map of the village.
2 The exact site of the rick can be determined from the trial evidence. It was in the Blockade Field and adjacent to both a ditch and a path. The field took its name from the recently built watch house, later Coastguards, both of which are shown on the 1840 map. The ditch was therefore the central ditch, traces of which still remain in Angmering-on-Sea estate, and the path is shown on early maps wending from Kingston through East Preston towards the church.
3 All the principal people involved lived in East Preston, apart from George Olliver who lived in Kingston. Although William Bushby junior was born in Rustington in 1798, the family had moved to East Preston shortly afterwards, for Edmund was born in the parish in 1804 as were later members. The parish church registers confirm this.
4 The distance from the rick to the Burcher house, where Edmund lived, was measured as exactly 400 yards. There were very few places within that range, and those near the actual range include only Beehives, the House-on-the-Bend, and a place supposed to have existed in Two Acres . On the whole the latter place is the most likely. This also relates well to the walking time to Elizabeth Corney's beer shop quoted in evidence.
5 The 1840 map and apportionment, and 1841 census, fix where all the members of the Bushby family were then living, including the parents.
Nevertheless, it may be suspected that the cause assigned for the Labourer's Revolt, and the Bushby incident in particular, will depend on the political prejudice of the reader, in a society partial to reductionism.
Part II: The Schools 1840-1902
This part traces the history of the old village school, in Sea Road, from 1840 to 1902.
In 1989, when the first edition of this history was written, it did not seem likely that any more information would be forthcoming relating to the school in the Victorian era. Only one source had possibilities.
Emma Florence Gordon of Kingston Manor died in 1994, and the house and contents were subsequently disposed of by her son. She had been the widow of John Edmund Gordon 1887-1942, the son of Charles Vincent Gordon 1830-1897, who was the husband of Francis Edith 1844-1933, a daughter of George Olliver 1799-1861, the founder of the school. It is therefore no surprise that items of historical interest lay forgotten amongst the accumulation of two centuries. However, but for the interest of the caretaker, one important record may have been destroyed, an account book for the school covering the years 1847 to 1863.
This second edition of the history incorporates details from the new source, although it must be admitted a log book would have been much more informative about the management and activities of the charity school, such as supplying the names of the head teachers - an item about which the account book is inexact.
1 Building the Schools
For over one hundred years the foundation stone announced itself to the village, from the west wall of the Schools in Sea Road, until about 1970 when the present large shop window intruded itself and the stone was cast aside. Fortunately Mr J. Eschbaecher was on hand, and he rescued this important historical relic, and kept it safe until this year .
It would be a very desirable conservation measure to reinstate the stone, promoting respect for the building in future. It should not be placed in the few remaining panels of flintwork in the building, but rather in one of the rendered panels, as close as possible to the small room built in 1840 as the Sunday School. It would be inappropriate, and misleading for it to be placed in those parts built forty and fifty years later.
There is a unity of style in the old school which is deceptive, for the building really consists of a series of individual rooms, under their own roofs, which therefore cluster together without being entirely integrated. Why that is so can be explained by the fact that the original Sunday School of 1840 was but a single room, and over the next sixty years piecemeal extension took place culminating in the building we see today.
The first school had a simple but attractive symmetry, square in plan with two sash windows in each elevation, except to the north side which had an entrance lobby. A Welsh slate roof formed a truncated pyramid, sliced across by a lead flat area, in the centre of which there was an ornamental ventilation "lantern", as may be seen in a later photograph. The lobby also had a flat roof, behind parapets. All of the walls were in flint rubble, faced with panels of coursed and knapped, but not squared, flints. The joints were filled with flint flakes in a technique known as galleting, although much of this has been removed over the years, perhaps due to children in the playground gashing themselves on the sharp edges. Brick window and door surrounds are faced in stucco, mimicking ashlar stonework. Although blending with nearby brick and flint cottages, the classic treatment was borrowed from Preston Place and Kingston Manor, parts of which mansions were built about the same time.
In size the room was about 18ft by 18ft internally, and is 20ft 6in square externally.
If all the sixty children living in East Preston and Kingston had registered in 1840, they could barely have found space in that room, even crowded on forms. Those who did enter were not pampered by the provision of a boarded floor for another thirty years, and at best brick pavings were used. Forms would have sufficed, rather than desks, since reading and religion were the only subjects taught; and indeed most of the children worked at home or on the farms, when needed, schooling was as yet nothing more than an adjunct to religion taught on Sundays.
Since the surviving account book is of later date, the amount spent on constructing the room can only be surmised. George Olliver's apprentice charity of 1831, on being refounded for the school in 1839, still used the same £250 principal, and the interest accumulated from it would have been about £80, which was barely adequate. This is based on interest at 4% which was the rate about 1868.
It is interesting that George Olliver chose to build in the corner of Frys Field, next to his cottagers allotment gardens, with the foundation stone facing towards the cottage occupied by Edmund Bushby's father. Pure coincidence, or was it really a tacit memorial to the son so harshly dealt with? There is also a tradition that a line of pine trees that lined the road, north and south of the school, were planted by Olliver as another memorial. However, the little that is known about that gentleman, does not suggest he was prone to sentiment in his charitable works, and they were of later date.
A generation passed and, despite a rising population, the number of children had not increased by 1871, at which time only twenty three were described as scholars. This is consistent with the Account Book subscriptions, from which attendance can be estimated. Between thirty and forty is the norm in diocesan returns, but the Vicar provides conflicting estimates in 1871 at thirty and forty six, the higher figure given to the National Society when he requested a grant, presumably the average on the registers rather than the average attendance.
FIRST EXTENSION 1871 Forster's 1871 Education Act caused a reappraisal of the foundation, with the managers deciding to carry on as a Voluntary Public Elementary School, qualifying only for limited government grants, rather than facing the imposition of an elected School Board and funding by rates, with the possible termination of sectarian religious education. During 1871 the first H.M.I. inspection took place and, although the children passed, the room was condemned. An extension was immediately built, having a boarded floor throughout, but the Vicar made his appeal for a grant from the National Society too late and was refused, due to the overwhelming call on their funds following the Act. Union with the Society was therefore delayed for many years.
According to notes left by Admiral Warren in 1925, the extension cost £115 by voluntary subscription. His father, Reginald Augustus, was in occupation of Preston Place and as a principal trustee of the charity there can be no doubt he contributed handsomely to the building fund.
The extension was a simple lengthening of the room by thirteen feet, although narrower at 14ft, under a gabled roof, the wall and window treatment matching the original building. It was now possible to separate the infants from the older pupils, in their standards. The senior pupil was Sarah Bushby, two generations removed from Edmund, and at thirteen years of age no doubt a monitress.
In February 1882 a bell was "affixed to the school", to summon children not in possession of watches and clocks. From a contemporary photograph, it may be seen that this obscure phrase signified the erection of a bell cote at the east end of the new roof. When the 1898 infants' room was built a new bell cote was provided and this can still be seen at the south end of that building. The old school closed in 1951 and was sold, after which the bell found its way to Forge House and was displayed in the forge outbuilding there, but was later stolen and its fate is obscure.
The next generation was one of rapid expansion, due to pressure of population and the demands of the Education Department. Average attendance increased to fifty by 1883, and then seventy when the workhouse children were admitted in 1887, rising to more than eighty in the next ten years when over one hundred were on the registers.
SECOND EXTENSION 1883 In 1882 the H.M.I. complained that there was no classroom for the infants, who formed 38 per cent of the number registered. At this time the oldest surviving son of George Olliver had inherited the family estate, and on 10th Sept. 1883, Gervase granted a plot of land, all of seventeen feet square, for a new room to be built on the southeast corner. The room is some 15ft square internally. This grant was slightly retrospective, for on that same day the Master commented on disturbance to discipline being caused by construction work already in progress. The classroom was in use by the following January, when HMI called for more assistance in supervising the infants. Admiral Warren gave the cost of this extension as £131, and again his modesty does not allow contributors to be named.
The classroom stood virtually separate from the main building, access to it through the girl's lobby, perhaps because this was an economical arrangement rather than good planning which would have integrated the whole under one roof. Originally, the elevations matched the older parts, with single sash windows to the main sides, but in 1911 the insertion of an extra window and door on the west side spoilt its proportions.
PLAY GROUND and THIRD EXTENSION 1889 For the first fifty years there had been no thought of providing a playground; an area about the school was divided between the boys and girls, but amounted to little more than access ways and standing room. Nevertheless, the master made a note in 1879 that the children were being kept in during recreation time and deprived of play. Then in 1888 a Royal Commission called for improved school facilities, including adequate playgrounds, and the very next year an area about sixty by forty feet, north of the school, was taken in from the allotments and designated a Play Ground.
At the same time another classroom extension had to be built, to satisfy the HMI; the admission of sixteen workhouse children in March 1887 making this imperative, and for a while no more children could be admitted. Department of Education building rules had now to be satisfied, and in February 1888 the HMI stated, "Plans of any new building that may be proposed ... must be submitted to the Department before work commences".
In July the Angmering builder, Mr Jarrett, surveyed the site preparatory to making plans, and in May 1889 alterations commenced, on the north side of the original school. For three weeks in May the school was closed, and then for another six weeks the managers provided rooms in a farmhouse for school use. Almost certainly this was at the Homestead, owned by Messrs Olliver, where Mary Haines the widow of the farmer had died in March. The whole of the ground floor would have been occupied.
The improved school opened after the Harvest Holiday, on September 24th, with the old parts now altered to the form which survives today. An L shaped room, which in recent time was occupied by a bank and lately by a shop. The new room extended north about 16ft and is 18ft wide internally. Although facing flintwork was again used, the size of the new wing and the large north window, gave it a more institutional appearance, at variance with the cottage character of the older parts.
According to Admiral Warren, this substantial alteration cost £509, "from the neighbourhood generally". These words are significant, for with the Union children forming a large proportion of the scholars, adequate facilities had become an obligation on more than the one parish. Contributions were no doubt canvassed across the whole Union. The Gervase Olliver grant of land for this alteration, and playground, was not ratified until 1892, demonstrating the caution with which such deeds should be treated.
The new layout was sensible only on the basis of a minimal staff, consisting of two teachers and a monitor. With more teachers the extension might better have been a separate classroom; as it was, the standards were ranged next to each other, competing in a cacophony of voices. Provision of a curtain between the two arms of the L shaped room, in 1891, made life a little more bearable.
FINAL EXTENSION 1898 Jane Booker qualified as an uncertificated teacher in 1891, but with more and more children the imperfect arrangements became obvious, and the small infants' room was the primary concern. By 1893 the HMI was filing reports of the inadequate space available.
As a voluntary school, the managers worked under legal impediments, particularly the prohibition of the Union Guardians from assisting with building costs in church schools. In 1898 the Vicar appealed to the National Society for aid, stating, "The Class Room in which the infants are now taught ... would accommodate 25 and there are frequently over 30 present ... caused by the presence of the Workhouse children".
It was proposed to construct a room 25ft x 17ft 6in to take 44 infants at an estimated cost of £500. The final expenditure, as stated in 1900 to the Charity Commission, was £552 18s 2d, and the subscription list covered the whole of the Union of twenty four parishes, but even so it was found necessary to sell £80 of the charity's investments for £111 9s. Of the private subscribers, RA Warren was by far the most generous in providing £100; however, if the school had been rate aided a similar charge may have been made on him compulsorily.
The National Society eventually made a generous donation of £20, but to qualify the entire foundation of the school had to be reformed in order to put it in union with the Society, and ever after subject to it.
The infants' room came into use on the 28th November 1898, and was in "every way satisfactory" to the Master; while the HMI went so far as to report that, "in no village in the diocese is there a better chance for the children than here".
The new room was, and remained, the most satisfactory part of the school. It had been designed by the Diocesan Architect and built by Mr Jarrett, but as another piecemeal attachment, it left the whole accommodation badly balanced for the various standards. All of the rooms were classrooms, with no thought given to other activities, and after the County took over control of education in 1902 the lack of staff and assembly rooms had to be considered.
Mr Warren now owned the surrounding land, and so he provided the final addition to school property by extending the playground in compensation for the area built over. Also in 1900 an allotment was rented from him for teaching cottage gardening, and this was later added to forming a "war garden" and orchard, but this land was never owned by the managers.
Postscript: In November 1998, a hundred years after the 1898 wing was opened, the Parish Council had the foundation stone of 1840 rather crudely reinstated, by surface mounting on a flint panel of this wing. It is to be trusted this will be a temporary measure, and it will eventually be more correctly built into a rendered panel over a door or window on the west side of the building, next to the 1840 wing it properly commemorates. The flintwork should not have been very damaged.
Schoolmasters 1840 - 1951
Excluding Acting Head Masters
J. Beckett ? to Aug. 1849
[ILLUSTRATION foundation stone to insert later]
2 George Olliver's Charity School 1840 to 1871
George Olliver's first charity of 1831, founded on "blood money" paid for the conviction of Edmund Bushby in 1830, sat dormant for eight years until 1839. No murder, arson, or other terrible crime, blighted the life of the village, to be recompensed from the fund, and even if the interest had been enough to pay the premiums for an apprentice boy, it does not seem likely that the opportunity interested the Bushby family neighbours.
In the meantime, new ideas on how to treat the "lower order" were gathering strength. The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, expressed a common sentiment in 1831, "Knowledge is the bulwark of the State, and the interests of the poor and rich are one ... The Three Rs are indispensable, but they are not enough; the poor must also be taught the rights of property, and realise that gradations of rank and fortune are as natural to society as differences of sex, of strength, or of colour". What that really meant was the right of property to rule, rather than simple respect for chattels.
The SPCK and Sunday School movements had fostered education of an elementary kind in the eighteenth century, whilst not inhibiting children from working every hour of the day that could be imposed on them by farm or factory. By the early nineteenth century schools were to be found in most villages, and often supervised by the parish priest and churchwardens. Few of these were in purpose-built places, and at worst were run by women offering mere child care, as the much maligned "Dame Schools". One such academy existed in East Preston before 1830, an unknown woman in charge, fortunately under the superintendence of the curate; it probably had scripture reading lessons and related subjects.
The 1834 Poor Law Act provided three hours of tuition daily, for workhouse children, which reinforced the decision in August 1832 by East Preston Union to pay Sophia Float £5 per annum to teach reading to its pauper children. One year previously the Government made its first substantial commitment to education by voting £20,000 to school building, a sum to be shared between the National and British Societies. It was the, National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church throughout England and Wales, founded in 1811, which helped to establish most such schools before 1870, or had its principles imposed on established foundations during the Victorian era.
It was the view of the Church that parish schools were the nurseries for the parish church, but other people favoured a more secular system. In 1839 a Committee of the Privy Council was established to control grants, having Dr Kay as Secretary, who considered it to be the Government intention to oppose a purely ecclesiastical system. Grants would be given equally to the two Societies, but giving the right of supervision to HM Inspectors. Rules for building design were issued, including requirements for permanent and substantial construction, and a space of six square feet for each child.
It may be expected that George Olliver followed the dispute and formed his own determined opinion, and now that his first charitable trust had served its purpose, decided to make a clearer mark on the village. In March 1839 the School Charity was founded, one month before the Committee of Privy Council was established. The exact form and wording of the deed is now lost, but after Olliver's decease in 1861, a new Deed of Trust was drawn up, and in draft form was worded as if it had been a direct revision of the original trust.
After a long recital of the rick burning by Edmund Bushby, his trial and execution, and the payment to Olliver of £500 as his reward from the Home Office, and how £250 remained in hand, the deed stipulated various conditions for the new trust: "In the erection of a School Room at East Preston .... to pay and apply the sum of £5 per annum part of the Interest ... for and in support of a Sunday School for teaching the poor Children of East Preston and Kingston to read and giving them Instruction in the Protestant Religion ... with the residue of such Interest ... to purchase Winter Clothing and to give and distribute the same annually on the 6th day of January in each year unto ... the poor persons ... in the said Parishes .." In total the interest was stated to be no more than about £8, and various Churchwarden's Presentments indicate that the school did only have £5 at its disposal, no doubt the residue being used for the secondary purpose, with the school being left to make up its expenditure deficit from subscriptions. A clothing club which existed at the end of the century was presumably a direct descendant of Olliver's clothing charity.
How the school was managed is not known but, as donor and churchwarden, George Olliver had a paramount influence. The foundation stone and deed make it fairly certain that only a Sunday School existed at first, but by 1844 a Presentment refers to a Day School as well, superintended by the Vicar. The Day School is not noted in Education Papers for 1845, however, and so its early demise is assumed.
The first teacher may well have been Harriet Jupp of Beehive Cottages, her father had been the parish clerk before his decease in 1839. She lived with her mother and brother, and a lodger named David Hazelgrove, whom she married in July 1841 when she was 24 years of age. There would be no knowledge of her as the "School Mistress" but for the church marriage entry. Nevertheless at that date she would most likely have been in charge of the Sunday School, with the later Day School in the hands of a male teacher.
It is at this point that the account book provides hard information, and numerous clues. A small book only six by four inches, leather bound, with a brass clasp. On the front is written:
'East Preston School General Accounts from yr 1847 to September 28th 1863'.
That is to say the accounts were nominally from Michaelmas each year, September 29th, although there were variations as suited the unknown accountant.
The reason for the accounts ending in 1863 may immediately be stated. George Olliver, the founder of the school, died in 1861, and as a result the establishment was refounded in 1863.
The Account Book begins in the year 1847 for the obvious reason that a new Day School was then started, the lack of debit or credit from the previous year making this highly probable. There is nevertheless a definite reference to a balance or credit to be paid in from the "late Sunday School" in 1848, and so this establishment had presumably continued unbroken through those early years, and was simply refounded in 1848. In 1849 the existence of separate accounts for the Sunday School are indicated by the payment from its Treasurer of a sum, including the endowment of £5, which then continues to be paid in every year - "From the Treasurer of the Sunday School".
If confirmation is needed, in 1850 a definite note in Minister's Articles states, "There is a Daily and Sunday School at East Preston attended by about 15 girls, and 13 boys". Those figures appear to be accurate, the accounts seldom indicating more than thirty children attending, as an average. Other sources also provide confirmation, in 1855 Education Papers [[EpI/47/4] state that there was no National School, but "A Daily and a Sunday School supported by Subscription in the Parish of East Preston". While other returns [EpI/22/2] of various dates, note the £250 endowment and interest of four per cent.
For sixteen years the whole expense of the establishment, including teacher's salaries, was accounted as £791 7s 1d, a yearly average of £49 9s 2d. The year with highest income was 1848-9 at £60.10.7 and the lowest 1857-8 at £37.15.1, and the expenditure ranged from £58.17.9 in 1851-2 down to £34.7.0 in 1850-51 when the school was closed part of the year due to lack of a Master.
A list of Masters has been given at the end of the previous chapter, and it seems fairly certain they were trained teachers, whether or not certificated, and many would have come from other schools where they may have risen from monitor status. Advertisements for the post were made in the 'Record' in August 1849, and presumably on later occasions.
J. Beckett is named within the period ending August 1849. The next two masters are not named, one lasting exactly a year until dismissed in 1850, the next to February 1855. Then in 1855 the name Lock appears briefly, and from June 1855 to April 1858 C. Cooper was the master. Finally, for this era of the school history, Henry Baker was appointed in May 1858 and continued in service until 1876, he certainly came to East Preston from Angmering school, although there is nothing in the account book about this or the C.Vs of other teachers.
With respect to salaries, it is known that the workhouse teacher only received £5 per annum from 1832, increasing to £10 by 1855, however she also had her board and lodgings. In contrast the Older's School at Angmering, with three times the number of pupils as at Olliver's school, paid its Master £80 by 1855, twice the national norm. This puts the salary of the East Preston masters into perspective, for the accounts make it clear they were close to the norm.
After an initial high during 1847-8 of £46.17s for the year, the salary at East Preston fell slightly to a monthly rate of £3.15s for nine months in 1848-9 [£45 pa] and then rose briefly to £1 a week. In 1850 it was only 18s a week, although this is in fact equals the £46.17 p.a. originally paid. This continued as the norm, except that in 1855 a half rate of pay was introduced for holidays, that is 9s for the four weeks in summer and one week after Xmas, as the usual holidays.
Henry Baker, who admittedly was very young, began at a rate of 15s a week, but this was shortly raised to 17s a week, with half rates during holidays. He remained at that level for the period of the accounts which ended in 1863. The holidays were now usually four weeks in summer and two weeks at Xmas, when he was on short shrift, together with various holy days, .
No assistant is noted in the accounts until 1849 when Mrs Farley was evidently engaged, and she retired in January 1860. Jane Farley was the widow of Charles, who had farmed the manor house lands until his decease in 1844 at only 53 years of age. His wife was left with five children at Wisteria Cottage (Farley's Cottage), and as a lady below gentry class she was no doubt eminently qualified to assist at the school. By 1860 she was 64 and her children all grown, at which time she left the village for Shoreham where she died in 1874, being brought back to Preston for burial. The register has the note, "used to be Schoolmistress in East Preston" which perhaps overstates the case, for it is probable she was only a part time teacher of needlework to the girls.
It is notable that Mrs Farley is listed in the 1851 census as a "schoolmistress" but no other teacher appears, although the school certainly had a male Master at the time. Either he was away from his lodgings at the time, or he lived outside the village, although no such teacher can be found in census returns for the adjoining parishes.
From November 1860 Miss Downer is noted as "work teacher" presumably the title Mrs Farley would have had, and she continued as such throughout the accounting period. In September 1863 the name Mrs Baker appears, but it is known that Emily Downer married Henry Baker, hence the change of name but not person.
These assistant teachers received 2s a week for the whole accounting period, and indeed they received it for 52 or 53 weeks of each year, although there is no reason to believe they had any work during the holidays.
There remains those hidden teachers who were not paid, and so do not appear in the accounts; one such would have been the Vicar, taking religious education on occasion. There were no curates for East Preston at the time, but later they regularly took RI.
The children, or their parents, were charged a weekly fee throughout the period, but as only the total amounts from this source are given, there is no positive indication of the numbers attending. In 1872 it is known that 3d a week was charged, with some relief for poor parents, and such few figures as there are for school attendance are consistent with this rate being paid from the first establishment of the day school. The yearly amounts raised, varied from a low of £7.17.3 in 1851 to £20.6.6 in 1854-5. £11 to £16 was nearer the norm and this is consistent with an average attendance of 25 children for 47 weeks at 3d, giving £14.13.9. The average income each year was in fact just over £15, and represented 30% of the whole school income.
In the 1851 census there were 57 children in Kingston and East Preston in the age range from 4 to 12 years inclusive, of which only ten boys and thirteen girls were described as scholars. In addition Emma Farley, daughter of the teacher, at fourteen years old, was a scholar and almost certainly the monitress. Most of the rest had no named occupations, with only two boys of eleven and twelve definitely specified as agricultural labourers.
TABLE Actual Income and Expenditure each year, with Children's Pence (assumed at 3d per week) and a calculation for the average number of pupils attending each year. The accounts were in £sd, but this table translates the totals into decimalised pounds.
The number of weeks in the assumed school year varies for several reasons. Initially the teacher was paid the same rate for the whole year, and holiday periods are not stated, so that 47 weeks schooling is assumed. From 1854-5 holidays are noted in relation to half-pay, and the school year is taken to be the remainder. Also a school with only one teacher (apart from the needlework teacher) is rather vulnerable, and in 1850-1 it had to close after the master was dismissed, and a similar interregnum in 1857-8 was due to illness and the teacher leaving. The extra long year in 1854-5 was purely on the basis of the accounting year actually including more than twelve months. It can only be assumed that the children's fees were accounted for in the same financial years.
Ministers Articles for 1850 indicate that the Daily and Sunday Schools were attended by 15 girls and 13 boys. Articles for 1856 report 22 girls and 12 boys, very little different in total to 1859 when there were 20 girls and 16 boys, in which year the Rustington minister observed that some children from West Preston were attending school at East Preston. In this context, Rustington National School was not built until 1859, when in theory West Preston children should have attended there. In 1862 only a Daily School is reported as in use, with 18 girls and 12 boys, but since the accounts mention contributions to a Sunday School still continuing, it was perhaps overlooked.
It is difficult to reconcile the Minister's figures, and the averages in the accounts, with the 1861 Census, in which the vast majority of children from 5 to 13 years are described as scholars, 52 in all. It can only be supposed that half of them were scholars in name only .
A major part of the school income had to come from subscriptions made by the gentry, there being no subsidies out of the rates as yet. This includes the £5 endowment to the Sunday School from the interest on the £250 invested by George Olliver. This £5 was paid in each year by the Secretary of the Sunday School, who is not named, but it is known from churchwardens presentments that 4% interest was being obtained in 1868. Although nothing is stated in the accounts, that implies about £5 was allocated each year for the winter clothing charity to the children,
George Olliver was principally supportive of the Sunday School, to which he subscribed 11/2 guineas yearly, although others of the family gave their own various amounts to the day school. Previous to 1855, when Mr Reginald Warren arrived at Preston Place, it was let to a Mr Coombe, and he was a regular subscriber in amounts from £4 down to £2, although latterly this appears to have been from his wife, he perhaps having died. When Mr Warren arrived even more generous amounts were paid, with £2 to the Sunday and £5 to the Day School, as from 1856. Perhaps as a result of the decease of Mr Olliver, Reginald Warren increased his payments to £10 in 1862. The Vicar Rev. Dixon, and his wife, shared the two schools between them, he giving a guinea to the Sunday and she usually giving the same to the Day School. Other notable donations came from the chief officer of the Coast Guard, Lieut Davis and his wife, at £1 each. Mr Gratwicke of Ham Manor, subscribed a regular £5, while his tenant at Baytree Farm, Mrs Gilbert, is also often noted. Others such as Mr Catt, and Mr Sells, gave similar amounts from time to time but their residences are not known.
During several years, collections at church were made for the school, after suitable sermons.
Amongst items of expenditure were fourteen bibles and several hassocks, in 1850. There was a constant expenditure on 'slate pencils' although large numbers of copy books, pens and ink were also obtained. Indeed various work was sold towards funds including copy books.
It is very difficult to make out the yearly amount of coal purchased for the one fireplace, and until 1850 it is not mentioned at all. At an approximation, 1 cwt. each month during the winter was the ration, costing around 1s 4d; undefined wood was also obtained presumably for kindling, but it is unimaginable how the amounts accounted for could have been enough for any continuous daily heating. A hundredweight each week would have been mean.
HENRY BAKER 1858 - 1876
With the arrival of Henry Baker in May 1858, it is at last possible to flesh-out the names of the teachers. Born in Angmering in 1839 he was only eighteen at the beginning of his teaching career, qualified simply by training as a monitor at Older's School in Angmering, a route which was often taken towards teaching certificates. Being a stranger to the village Henry needed lodgings, and this was arranged for him by the managers, with rooms at Seaview south of Coastguard Cottages, the residence of Hannah Downer and her daughters. Here he lived for the whole eighteen years of his stay in East Preston.
Apart from his salary, little enough is told us by the account book about Henry, but with the retirement of Mrs Farley and her replacement by Emily Downer from Seaview, in 1860, his future was virtually decided. Emily was two years younger than him, and it is no surprise that three years later they were married. In the 1861 census she was described as a dressmaker, which emphasises that her role at the school was as a part- time needlework instructor although this is nowhere specifically stated. She is inexactly described in the accounts as the "work teacher".
With the decease of George Olliver in 1861, the Vicar expressed some foreboding about the continuance of the school. In 1862 he reported "There is ... a daily school at East Preston which I fear must be given up owing to subscriptions failing". The account book does in fact close at the end of 1863, without comment, but the demise of Olliver's charity was not the reason, for it was in 1863 that the charity was refounded and the arrival of Reginald Warren at Preston Place in 1855 helped ensure its survival.
With forethought, George Olliver had provided in his will for the continuation of the charitable trust, and two years after his decease a new deed was ratified, with his oldest son George Kingston, Henry Dixon the Vicar, and RA Warren, as trustees. It is interesting that only reading and religious instruction, in the Sunday and Day Schools, are mentioned as subjects to be taught, which may have satisfied the needs of poor people in the view of the benefactor, but other subjects were already in Henry Baker's curriculum no doubt with the blessing of the managers.
It was well for the pupils that the new trustees did not require grants and supervision by HMI, or the 1862 Code would certainly have reduced the curriculum to the Three Rs. Nor would Henry Baker have wanted to divide the pupils into infants (age over 3 years), and six standards for those between six and twelve years of age; he may well have divided his room into four groups as recommended in 1840.
With the new security of the refounded trust, Henry Baker was able to marry his assistant teacher, Emily Downer, in that same year of 1863. Her sister was married on the same day, leaving Henry and his wife at Seaview with the widow Hannah. Very soon he had acquired three sons, all of whom were eventually registered at the village school.
Exams had no essential purpose in those days before HMI and 'Payments by Result', but the managers naturally wished to confirm the quality of teaching, and what better time to do so than at Christmas, the season of goodwill! The earliest such event reported was in December 1863 [WSG].
A "numerous party consisting principally of the parents" heard answers given to questions in arithmetic, grammar, geography, etc. which "reflected the greatest credit on Mr Baker their excellent schoolmaster". Skill at writing, or rather calligraphy, was invaluable to those who took up clerical work and particular note was made of "exceedingly good" writing. Presumably this is where the large number of "copy books" in the accounts were involved. Mrs Warren presented the most proficient with cloaks for the girls, and books for the boys; and Mr Henry Slater, the Parish Guardian and Treasurer at the workhouse, in the absence of Mr Warren, addressed the children complimenting them on their progress, concluding "a very pleasant evening".
Apart from the church and beer house, no public meeting place existed in the village except for the school room. This made an excellent club house centrally located in the village, although some reports make it appear like a substantial auditorium.
"An excellent lecture was delivered by Mr Baker our respected schoolmaster ... to a numerous and highly respectable audience. The subject was, Women Her Position and Mission the Treatment of Women in Different Countries her Sphere of Usefulness Etc. The lecture ... was given in a bold and sonorous voice eliciting considerable applause". Mr Baker had by then been married several months! A number of such winter season lectures were given on a wide variety of subjects, including St Valentine, Italy and Garibaldi, and on The Road and Rail, this last by Henry Slater. If only the lectures had been recorded for posterity.
It might be thought that with an increasing population and better attendance, the school room was soon inadequate. Certainly the number of households in Preston and Kingston, excluding the workhouse, coastguards, and gentry, rose from 41 in 1841 to 54 in 1871, but a marked reduction in family size had also taken place from 4.85 to 3.7. Therefore the number of children remained fairly stable with 41 between the ages 4 and 13, and another 19 from the more prolific coastguards. Three of these were in employment and another 23 were described in the census as scholars. The best estimate of school attendance is that derived from statements by the Vicar in 1871, with about 30 at school on average out of 46 on the registers.
George Kingston Olliver died in 1868, only twenty years old, and Henry Dixon the Vicar in 1870 rather more aged at seventy two, thus leaving Mr Warren as the sole remaining trustee of the charity. New arrangements had to be made and in future the trustees were the Vicar and churchwardens, who appointed two lay managers to assist the Vicar. Mr Warren was for most of the period until 1899 the sole churchwarden and one of the managers, but who the other manager was is only incidentally mentioned in the school log. It may be deduced that Mrs Olliver, widow of George Olliver, virtually inherited the position until her decease in 1893, and then in the next few years both Charles Peachey of Kingston and George Harding of Preston are mentioned.
09 March, 2010