Rule by the Margate Local Board of Health 1851 - 1858

Anthony Lee

Appendix IV.

The Separation of Margate from Dover 1853.

Kentish Gazette, 12 April 1853.


On Wednesday last, the 6th inst., an important public meeting of the inhabitants was held in the Town Hall, convened by the Deputy, F. W. Cobb, Esq., for the purpose of taking into consideration the propriety of adopting measures with the view to obtaining the separation of Margate from the jurisdiction of Dover. There was good attendance, and considerable interest was manifested in the proceedings. The Deputy of Margate occupied the chair, and was supported by the Rev. Geo. Sicklemore, T. Blackman, Esq., H. Cotton, Esq., J. S. Swinford, Esq., G. Y. Hunter, Esq., (chairman of the Pier Directors) Wm. Brook, Esq., Rice Giles Higgins, Esq., T. Cobb, Esq., Dr. Chambers, J. H. Boys, Esq., S. Mercer, Esq., E. Mottley, Esq., &c., &c.

The Chairman, in opening the proceedings, read the following requisition, which had been presented to him, signed by the Rev. John Lingham, vicar of Margate, and 49 other rate payers of the parish:—

“We, the undersigned rate-payers of Margate, request you to call a public meeting to consider the propriety of memorializing the government in favour of separating Margate from Dover and placing Margate within the county jurisdiction.— Margate, 31st March, 1853."

In pursuance of that requisition he had convened the present meeting. It was not for him to occupy their time by any expression of opinion on the subject which they had met to consider: still, he could not forbear from remarking, that it was one that not only affected the present position of the inhabitants of Margate, but also those who might come after them. (Hear.) And it embraced a positive change, too, from which they could not return; therefore, he commended it their calm, candid, and deliberate consideration. It would not be wise on their part, if they came to any conclusion on the subject before they had thoroughly investigate it, and given it a careful consideration.

Mr. Mottley remarked that the subject had occupied the attention of the inhabitants for nearly a century past, and he therefore wished the meeting to exercise their deliberate judgment in considering it on the present occasion. He referred to the different proceedings that had taken place in the matter. About four or five years previously a committee was formed for the purpose of examining the accounts of the Corporation of Dover, and the result of that investigation showed that all the muniments of the Corporation were in pawn, even down to their very punch-bowl. (Laughter.) The question would naturally be asked, how men, who took little care of their own property, could be expected to exercise a wise discretion over that belonging to others. It had come to his own knowledge that the salaries of several of their officers were in arrear at the present time, and one of the Town Council had asserted that they could not support the criminals so economically as they would be in a position to do, were they in possession of ready money. Now, it was a wonder to him how they could be so much in arrear, seeing that they had received the sums due from Margate: but Mr. Wood had discovered that some of the out-lying parishes were in arrear. That was not acting fairly towards Margate, for if the sums thus in arrear had been paid, with the amount in the hands of the Treasurer, — all the various demands against the Corporation might have been liquidated, — and thus all the parishes connected with Dover benefited. A short time since a precept was sent to the churchwardens and overseers for £611 11s. 8d. for a liberty rate. Mr. Wootton wrote back to the clerk requesting an abstract of the accounts for the previous five years, with a copy of the estimate upon which the assessment had been founded. Having received no reply to his communication, he wrote again, but only his last letter was acknowledged: the churchwardens and overseers had, however, transmitted a large of sum money to Dover. A friend of his (Mr. M.) had handed him a copy of the accounts of the Corporation, at the present time, from which it appeared that they were in the same position they were in five years back. Every account of figures ought to explain itself, to any person of common capacity, — but he considered it impossible to understand the accounts of the Dover Corporation, as published; still it was evident that there were several places in arrear, which was an injustice to Margate: but whether that arose from political feeling or not, he did not know — yet they all knew that strange things had been done in some boroughs. It was in consequence of such a position that the present meeting had been called. He was bound, however, in fairness to tell them, that the improper collection or application of dues would not in itself be a justification for parting with Dover. But the question for them to consider was, would they (the inhabitants Margate) gain or lose by the move: (Hear) That was an important point, and one to which they were bound to look to narrowly. — So far as rates were concerned, they were not so heavy as they were previously to the examination of the Dover accounts by the committee, to which he had already adverted. The liberty rate for the previous five years had averaged 3½ d. in the pound.

The Chairman thought, from his experience of the accounts, that 3¼ d. was nearest the mark.

Mr. Boys confirmed the correctness of Mr. Mottley's average of 3½ d. in the pound.

Mr. Mottley continued. The county rate for the previous 10 years had averaged 2½ d. in the pound. They had, therefore, to put 2½ d. against 3½ d. as the amount which they would have to pay were the change contemplated carried out; but then, the Dover people had observed, that change would demnify certain legal gentleman who held offices under the Corporation, — and they would therefore be entitled to a certain amount of compensation, which sum they were bound to take into their account in considering the subject. He had calculated that £55 per annum would the amount, at the very highest, which they would be called upon to pay for that purpose; therefore, a rate of 1d. in the pound would be amply sufficient for that and the debt now due on the gaol. They would see, then, that the rates would be nearly equal — 3½ d. in the pound — for some time to come. So far, whether the present proposition was acceded to, or not, the rates would be about the same. (Hear.) But when the officers entitled to compensation, fell off, of course the town of Margate would saved that expense. Then with respect to the attendance of jurors at the sessions at Dover, he observed that 64 was the present number, from Margate, and many of them were poor men, and they were taken to Dover at great inconvenience and expense to themselves, which they were ill able to afford. A ludicrous instance of the expedients to which they were compelled sometimes to resort, occurred to a neighbour of his, — who was obliged to have a raffle  in order to obtain a black coat to make his appearance in the Dover Sessions. (Laughter).

The Chairman — The petty jurors are taken according to the premises they occupy, without reference to their condition in life. So a poor man takes a house to let out in lodgings, and thus renders himself liable to serve on petty juries: it relates to the occupancy of a party, and not to any other circumstances.

Mr. Mottley — Certainly: the names found on the rate-book are taken.

The Chairman — You cannot remedy that.

Mr. Mottley — No: they must fulfil their duties. Having referred to the Act of Parliament under which jurors are chosen, he went on to notice another saving, which he considered would be effected by the proposed alteration, viz., in the cost of pauper lunatics. During the previous six years there had been six, seven, and eight persons in a lunatic asylum from Margate, a large number for a population of 11,000 persons. The difference in the cost of maintaining these persons at two different asylums, which he mentioned, would effect a saving of about £60 per annum. Well, then, looking at the question in all its bearings, and considering the present position of Margate, he was of opinion that the proposed change would be for their benefit. It was one that the inhabitants had long desired, and they had now the whole facts before them — upon which they were called upon to decide. The gentleman who occupied the chair on the present occasion, and his family, had filled the office of Deputy for Dover for nearly a century; therefore, it was natural that he should have a feeling in favour of Dover; still he felt persuaded that that gentleman would not allow his feelings at all to influence him in his decision on a subject in which the interests of the inhabitants were involved.

The Chairman — If I saw that the town would be benefited by the change, I would hold my hand up in favour of it at once. (Hear.)

Mr. Mottley — There was another point to which it was as well to allude. As the town of Margate was at present situated, they could not have a jury appointed for the County Court there: but if it was divided from Dover, they would be able to have one. Then again with respect to the assizes at Maidstone. If the change was made, and Margate brought into the county jurisdiction, — some few of the inhabitants would be liable to attend the assizes — the oldest once in about 30 years, — and at the sessions once in nine years: he stated that upon the authority of Mr. Wildes, the Clerk of the Peace for the County. They would also have great relief by attendance at Canterbury instead at Dover.

The Chairman reminded the meeting, that if they were called upon to attend the assizes at Maidstone, they might be detained there a week perhaps, as they were liable to serve on special juries.

A gentleman remarked that only persons in good circumstances would be liable thus to be called upon to serve on special juries.

Mr. Mottley then read the following memorial, which it was proposed to address to her Majesty's Treasury:

To the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury.

“The  humble petition of the inhabitant ratepayers of the town Margate, in the County of Kent, at a public meeting convened by the Deputy and High Constable in the Town Hall, on the fifth day of April, 1853, pursuant to a requisition,


“ That from time immemorial, Margate, now containing a population of 11,000 (exclusive of visitors) has been long a non-corporate limb and liberty of Dover, one of the Cinque Ports, and its distance therefrom 22 post miles, or 24 miles by railway and coach road, there being no direct railway to Dover.

“That all prisoners for trial and witnesses, and those summarily convicted, are sent to Dover, whereas, if sent to the county gaol, at Canterbury, the distance would only be 16 miles with a direct railway, and the expense considerably less.

"That 64 jurors are annually summonsed to Dover, whereas if Margate was thrown into the county, the number of jurors would be less.

“That the coroner for Dover has jurisdiction in Margate, whereas, if the county coroner had jurisdiction, considerable time and expense would be saved.

"That there is now due from Margate to the Corporation of Dover about £1600 for the  expenses of the gaol there, the principal and interest of which your petitioners are willing to pay by instalments and also compensation to such officers as  may be entitled thereto.

"That a liberty rate in the nature of a county rate, is assessed by Dover on Margate; that such rate upon an average of years has exceeded the amount in —  of the county rate, and if Margate formed part of the county instead of being a limb of Dover considerable expense to your petitioners would be eventually saved.

“That with reference to the civil jurisdiction, the County Court at Margate is the only district (it is believed) in which plaintiff and defendant are deprived of their right, under the County Court Act, to have their case tried by jury, because Margate, not being in the county, the Sheriff cannot return any jury list to the clerk of the Court. And the Clerk of the Peace for Dover has no Nisi Prius list.

“Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that your lordships will be pleased to recommend Her Majesty to cause Margate to be separated from Dover, and to be thrown in to the county  Kent, — whereby the grievances  so long felt by your petitioners may be redressed.         

“And your petitioners, as is duty bound, will ever pray  &c.”

He then read a letter, which he had received from James Worsfield, of Dover, who had favoured him the accounts, to which he had referred. The writer expressed a strong opinion that what the town of Margate wanted, was a separate and an entire jurisdiction (hear, hear) and which would be of great advantage to the inhabitants. (Hear.) The petition he (Mr. M.) had just read, if adopted, would be no let or hindrance to their obtaining that jurisdiction which they so much desired; but it was necessary before they could be released from one jurisdiction, to state another to which they were desirous of being attached; therefore, they had expressed their desire of being attached to the county. The object then of the memorial was to deprive Dover of the power of levying rates upon the inhabitants of Margate. The alteration contemplated would not necessarily be a permanent one but would continue only as long the inhabitants approved of it. In conclusion, therefore, he begged to move the adoption of the memorial, as it would be beneficial to their common interests.

Mr. Pickering seconded its adoption, because he thought it would be the first step to their obtaining a jurisdiction for themselves. About 80 years previous Margate applied to government for a charter of incorporation. He was of opinion that if it was right at that period, with a population considerably less than at the present time, it was necessary now, and would be productive of benefit to the town.

Mr. Hunter knew nothing of the previous proceedings or measures in connection with the movement, with the exception of what he had seen in the newspapers, therefore he was not prepared to express any definite opinion of its merits, or to advise the adoption of such a course; still he could not refrain from congratulating the gentleman who had brought the matter before them today, for the mild and conciliatory manner in which he had done so. It was certainly a question of vital importance to the town, and one that required their candid and calm consideration. For himself, he wanted more time to think over the subject before he gave his assent to the project. If it could be shown that they would derive advantages by its adoption, however remote might be the period — the sooner the separation from Dover took place the better, he considered, it would be for Margate, (hear), and he should advocate their doing so at once, as he felt that he would not be discharging his duty to the inhabitants of the town, if he acted otherwise. But at present they had only the statement of Mr. Mottley before them. He therefore thought that the more reasonable course for them to take, and one that he would advise, was — that a certain number of persons interested in the rates and welfare of Margate should form themselves into a committee, and consider all the points connected with the proposed change. Let the result of the investigation be printed and circulated prior to an adjourned meeting being held, at which the report of the committee might be submitted: — then the inhabitants would have time to consider all the circumstances of the case, and be prepared to support or oppose the proposition. They could not come to a sound conclusion without having that preliminary inquiry he had just referred to. Up to the present time, there had been no town meeting or committee appointed on the subject (with the exception of the committee appointed by the vestry meeting, which did some good); with that exception,  there had been no inquiry that would justify the meeting at arriving at the conclusion to which they were asked to come. From his own profession, he was not liable to serve as a juryman; therefore, the proposed alteration so far would not affect him personally; but with respect to the expenditure, he had an interest in that as an inhabitant of the town. Having been born in Margate he was anxious for its welfare, and was desirous of joining with anyone in forwarding any effort that was calculated to promote that object. (Hear.) Alluding to the charter of incorporation, he observed that he had endeavoured to obtain that object; but the great opposition to accomplishing it, was the connection of the town with Dover. (Hear.) The separation from Dover might facilitate, perhaps, that other great measure, if it was considered by the inhabitants, that it would be of advantage to them. (Hear, hear.) He agreed with those gentlemen who wished to sift the matter, and see if any advantages could be obtained by its adoption for Margate. He did not think it would be courteous towards the gentleman who had brought the subject forward, were he (Mr. H.) to move an amendment to his motion; but if that gentleman was desirous that an honest inquiry should take place, perhaps he would not press the adoption of the memorial at the present meeting.

Mr. Mottley would most willingly accede to the suggestion to withdraw the memorial for the present, as the meeting had not been called by him, and he had not time to inquire into the correctness of the figures he had quoted. He therefore readily withdrew the memorial, as he had no wish for the onus of the whole affair to rest on him.

Mr. Hunter remarked that the Deputy of Margate (their Chairman) had expressed similar sentiments on the subject at the Easter dinner, to those he had given utterance to today.

Mr. Waddington said there could be but one opinion, that the present was the most important meeting that had been held in the town of Margate during their recollection, and his only surprise was, that the hall was not crammed by the inhabitants, — as it ought to have been. Many present did not know the reason of their having been called together. It was most remarkable that five magistrates, four clergymen, and other persons had signed a memorial for Margate being separated from Dover, — and yet the inhabitants had not been told for what. Today, they had been told that they would have to pay their fair proportion of the liberty rate, the retiring pensions of the officers of the corporation of Dover, and for the gaol. The first thing, however, was to get rid of Dover. Some years previously, the inhabitants of Margate got the Ostend boats, because it was the best pier for starting for Ostend. How did they lose them? Through the interest of Dover. They had a right to expect, some day, to have a member of Parliament for Margate, to watch over their interests. If they had been so situated lately, they would not have had that intolerable yoke placed upon them — the Health of Town's Act, — which, he considered, would be the ruin of the town. It would be difficult to upset it — but it might be got rid of yet. Reverting to the object of the memorial, he observed that the distance from Margate to Dover and back by train, was about 110 miles. It was quite right, then, to get rid of Dover, — but the question for their consideration was — how was it to be done? He understood, from what had fallen from the Deputy, that if they changed from their present position, and joined the county they could not return again to it. Well, then, he did not know why they could not have an active, independent, corporation for the whole island, or for half of it, or for Margate alone? (Hear.) It was not for him to say — but the principal inhabitants of the town should be consulted on the point. It had been alleged that if they separated from Dover and had a corporation of their own, that it would be very expensive, as they would require a gaol. Well, they had one already: the Union workhouse was a gaol. (Laughter and hear.) Certainly, it was no longer such a gaol as it once was, for he believed there were at the present time 16 windows in it. What they wanted then was an active corporation, with a mayor and good dinners. (Laughter.) If they objected to use the union as a gaol, they might have one built between Ramsgate and Margate, when of course, one governor would be sufficient for the two places. He should like to see it done very much: still he could not help thinking that the memorial had been carried out without due consideration. When he said it was signed by five magistrates, he did not wish thereby to make any reflection on those gentlemen: but he considered that it was the duty of the Bench to administer the laws of the country, and of the municipal officers to consider the welfare of the inhabitants. It would be more satisfactory, therefore, if a committee of gentlemen investigated the whole matter, and have the result of their investigations printed, as had been already suggested.

Mr. J. Harvey Boys explained how the present movement had originated and his connection with it. On the 11th February, 1847, a vestry meeting was held with respect to the liberty rate, and a committee was appointed to inquire into the subject. Two years elapsed before the committee made their report, when a special meeting of the vestry was called. At that meeting the report of the committee was unanimously adopted by the parish. (Hear.) That report, after going into the subject of the junction of Margate with Dover, concluded by advising the inhabitants of the former place to join the county. (Hear, hear.) That report was signed by the whole of the committee. It was well known to all, that it was impossible to carry that recommendation out while the Duke of Wellington was alive — it would have been futile to have attempted it. (Hear.) As some blame had been attached to him out of doors respecting the memorial, he would explain how it came to be sent without a public meeting of the inhabitants being first called to consider the propriety of doing so. As soon as he heard of the death of the Duke of Wellington, he prepared the memorial, obtained the signatures of the magistrates and others, and sent it to the Lords of the Treasury at once. The necessity of acting thus promptly was evident — for if the matter had been delayed, and Lord Derby had been appointed successor to the Duke of Wellington prior to the memorial being presented, they would have had the same answer they had received before, namely, that the appointment had taken place and that the new Lord Warden had sworn to preserve inviolate the various powers and privileges attached to the office, and that therefore the memorial could not be taken into consideration. — That had been the answer received on many occasions: they ought to have applied before. Under the circumstances, it was the proper course to pursue, and so far as he was concerned if placed in a similar position again, he should act just he had done in the present instance. (Hear, hear.)

The resolution for the adoption of the memorial having been withdrawn, a committee was named, and the following motion unanimously adopted, upon the motion of Mr. Hunter, seconded by Mr. Jenkins:—

"That a committee of the following gentlemen be appointed, to consider the subject which has been brought before us today, and to report to an adjourned meeting to be held in the Town Hall, Margate, the 21st of April next."

After a few further remarks from the Chairman, Mr. Waddington, and Mr. Mottley, the thanks of the meeting were unanimously accorded to the Deputy, and the proceedings terminated.