Rule by the Margate Local Board of Health 1851 - 1858

Anthony Lee

Appendix VII.

Election of Mayor of Margate 1857.

Kent News and Advertiser, November 12 1857.

On Monday the Council just called into existence under the provisions of the Charter, assembled at the Hall, for the purpose of choosing Aldermen, Mayor and Town Clerk. There was a full muster, and a large number of the burgesses attracted by the interest they felt in this novel, proud and gratifying event.

David Price Esq. presided as the returning officer, and in opening the business, stated its purport, and that preliminary it was necessary the Councillors should qualify.

The Clerk having announced the official poll for the several candidates . . . and those which were returned as the successful ones,

The Chairman stated the pains which had been taken to see that the return was made accurately, which was necessary, as on it depended the knowledge which candidates would be the first to retire; and it having been announced that the votes in the Pier ward were equal, and that it was necessary for the Council to deter­mine which of the two councillors so placed should be the first to retire, the “die" fell on Mr. Standring.

The Chairman thought it necessary to explain that this was a most friendly proceeding, otherwise it might appear to some that his friend Mr. Standring was an unpopular man, by having so many votes recorded against him. He dared say they had something in store for him — he should not be surprised if they made him an alderman.   (A laugh.)

The motion was then put and carried unanimously.

Mr. Hunter then addressed a few observations upon the mode of procedure in electing aldermen, as there was no positive rule laid down for them who were not in activity as a Corporation.

Mr. Pickering thought it a matter of consideration whether they should select the aldermen from the Council or the town. He thought those who had won through the ordeal of an election should be the first selected. He submitted a motion to this effect,

Mr. Hunter concurred in this, as it would afford the burgesses the opportunity of returning some of those gentlemen perhaps who had been unsuccessful at the  late election, and perhaps some who were more competent even than those already elected.   In point of fact it threw into the hands of the burgesses as much of the constitution as could well be done. (Hear.) As might be known from his antecedents, he was one of those who desired to give the public the utmost power that could reasonably be placed in their hands; and therefore he, with much pleasure, seconded the motion.

Mr. Flint concurred in this view, as a means of affording the burgesses the largest possible amount of privileges under the Charter, and giving them again the opportunity of using their franchise.

Messrs. Price, Hunter, S. Mercer, and Standring, were then severally proposed aldermen, and agreed to unanimously:  after which a paper was signed to that effect, and handed to the Chairman.

These four gentlemen having been declared as duly elected, the Clerk announced that it would be their duty to conduct the elections appointed to fill their vacancies; and it was agreed that such elections should take place at the Hall, on Friday (tomorrow).         

Mr. Alderman Hunter then rose, and said that he felt the resolution which he was about to move on that occasion would come with better grace from him than any other councillor. When he took into consideration the position which he held as Chairman of the Pier and Harbour Company — when he remembered that he was a very old inhabitant, that he had long been a member of the Local Board of Health, and that he was a member of the same profession as the gentleman  whose name he was about to bring before them, ­—  he thought he was right in coming to the conclusion that the resolution would come more gracefully from him than anybody else, in proposing David Price, Esq. as Mayor for the ensuing year — (load plaudits) — a gentleman who had presided over the deliberations of their Local Board of Health for many years, in a manner highly creditable to himself, and as satisfactory to himself (Mr Hunter) as he was sure it had been to every member of the Board (Applause.) When they were called on for the first time to use the privileges which the Queen had been pleased to bestow on them, it appeared to him the most reasonable, the most graceful, and the most grateful mode of proceeding was to select for the first Mayor of Margate, a gentleman, who had so long and so ably filled the situation to which he had alluded. (Applause) Finding it was his  intention to take the office if offered to him — (the Chairman expressed dissent from this) —  at least (continued the worthy alderman) hoping that it was his inclination to take the office, in obedience to the call of his fellow townsmen, he (Alderman Hunter) felt that he could adopt no other course than that which he had determined to perform; being fully persuaded that if their worthy chairman would take office, he would perform the duties in a manner that would not only be creditable to himself, but highly satisfactory to him and to the town. (Applause) Knowing that he would have around him gentlemen who would act cordially with him, who would use their best exertions in aid of his carrying out the important duties devolving on him, he trusted that the resolution with which he was about to conclude would be unanimously  adopted. (Applause.) It was unnecessary that he should occupy their time with any lengthened remarks as he knew it would be irksome to their worthy chairman to hear his praises; and therefore he concluded with proposing him for the office which he had named — which was received with loud cheers.

Mr. Flint said, after an acquaintance  of thirty years’ standing with their Chairman, it was not stating too much when he said that there was not another individual in the town who had equal claim to their esteem and confidence that their Chairman had (Applause). He would not for one moment attempt to flatter him but he put it to the good sense of his fellow townsmen whether he was not justified in saying that in their  Chairman they had one of mature years, of large experience, judgment in no small degree, and firmness blended with kindness. He felt it would be a proud and a happy moment to the town if the respected gentleman would accept the office which they were about to offer him. (Applause). He was sure that the friendless and the poor of the town would, in the person of their chief magistrate, find one devoted to their interests, and who would sympathise with them in their sufferings (Applause). Mr. F. made in conclusion a brief remark on the domestic affliction under which their worthy Chairman was then suffering, and trusted that he would not be insensible to the position they desired him to occupy.

Mr. Caveler, looking to his conduct for a number of years, was sure they could not pick out a better man for the office of chief magistrate. Looking around, there appeared such fitness in things, that it was impossible for him to overlook the special claims of that gentleman on that occasion. Indeed he thought they would have neglected him had they not offered him the compliment. Whether he would accept it or not, was another matter of consideration. He did not know whether the proposition of Mr. Hunter did most honour to the proposed or to the proposer; because had it not been for the fitness of the man selected on this occasion, their eyes would naturally have turned in the direction of Mr. Hunter himself. (Applause) He most cordially supported the resolution.

Dr. Chambers observed that they could not be unmindful of the graciousness of the proposition which his honourable friend, Mr. Hunter, had made, for Mr. Price being mayor of this corporate town. While they were mindful of the competency and many excellent qualities of Mr. Hunter, they were not forgetful of the excellences, as had been well portrayed, of their worthy chairman. (Applause) As Mr. Caveler had justly said, it was one of those matter of course things which it was useful, profitable, and right, that they should carry out; and he hoped that the worthy gentleman named would take the office, and thank the proposer for his generous proposition. (Applause)

The proposition was then put to the vote, and carried unanimously — which was received with enthusiastic plaudits.

The Mayor-elect rose with considerable emotion, and was greeted with vociferous cheers. In giving utterance to his feelings, he said they were of a very conflicting nature. In the first place he was extremely grateful to his brother councillors for the very kind manner in which they had unanimously elected him Mayor of Margate. (Applause.) He was deeply indebted, in the next place, to Mr. Hunter, on that, as on other occasions, for his professional bearing and gentlemanly conduct, which the profession was ever ready to show to one another — (applause) — and next to Mr. Flint, for the kindly way in which he had seconded the  proposition. (Applause.) He was sure they would readily believe him when he said that he never in his life was in so pleasant and so unpleasant a position as he then was. (Hear, hear) No man living, however humble he might be, could help appreciating any distinction that was put upon him by his fellow townsmen. (Applause.) He felt this mark of their confidence very strongly; and his gratitude was due to them all, and particularly to the burgesses of the Fort ward, in having returned him at the head of the poll without the solicitation on his part of a single vote. (Applause.) But he was afraid they would think he had a very strange way of expressing his obligations for so great a kindness. He had every disposition to serve their town, and he would do it in purse and person, fearlessly and freely, were it not for the do­mestic afflictions to which Mr. Flint had alluded. (Hear.) He was, by God’s good Providence, doubtless, now suffering domestic affliction. At the beginning of the year, he lost his youngest daughter, and God only knew how long his eldest would be spared to him. (Hear, hear.) A man labouring under such afflictions, was not, he thought, a fitting one in the first year of the mayoralty of this borough, to take that office, as he could not pay that incessant devotion to its interests which was necessary. It was only under these feelings that he was compelled, but most thankfully, to decline the kindness which they had proffered to him. (Hear) But never to his dying hour, should he forget that kindness. (Applause.) He felt at that moment a great deal more than he could express; and were he less excited, he should be enabled to address them in better language and convey to them sentiments that were expressive of what he felt. (Hear). He thanked them all individually and collectively. He held himself under obligations to them, which no circumstances would ever efface from his mind. (Applause) On another occasion — God willing to spare his health, strength, and faculties, — he should find a gladness and pleasure in accepting such an offer as that then tendered to him. (Hear, hear). Now he must decline it, and he did so with less regret, as he knew there was a gentleman who, by his education, and long residence, his business habits, his extraordinary industry, and above all, his known integrity, would discharge the duties — if it were their pleasure to elect him, as he knew it would be, — with punctuality, zeal, and ability. (Applause). The worthy mayor-elect repeated his gratitude in conclusion, for this mark of their confidence, and wished them all, with their families, every health, prosperity, and happiness; and hoped they would long live to do honour to the choice for which her Majesty had made of their borough for incorporation. (Applause). The worthy mayor, throughout his address, betrayed the inward working of his feelings, and resumed his seat amid loud plaudits; but immediately afterwards rose and said that though he had declined the proffered honour, it was still competent to him as a councillor to propose a gentleman to fill the office of Mayor. He would do so briefly, because nothing that he could say could possibly add to the estimation in which the gentleman he was about to name was held among them. (Applause). Indeed, it would be an act of supererogation to say more of the attainments of that gentleman than he had already said. Therefore, as briefly as possible, he would propose his friend Mr. Alderman Hunter for mayor of the borough for the ensuing year — a proposition which was received with vehement cheers.

Dr. Chambers stood forward to second the proposition, and also to make a few remarks as to the scale of things then presented. He hoped the council would consider the circumstances which had given rise to their present mayor declining the honour, and that the gentleman now proposed would, as he doubted not he would, view the matter with that generosity that became all who rightly considered their present position of things. Therefore, as regarded referring to the qualities, the competency of his friend for the office, that would be mere fulsomeness. (Applause). He was as well, so generally known, that he thought the Council would elect him unanimously. (Applause)

The proposition was then put to the Council, and carried with acclamation.

The ex-Mayor then said he had much pleasure in announcing to Mr. Hunter that he had been unanimously elected to the Mayoralty, and he prayed that God would grant him health and strength, to go through the duties with zeal and ability. (Applause) He knew that his heart would be with those duties, and that he would leave nothing human undone to benefit the town. (Applause) The worthy ex-Mayor in conclusion, gave his assurance that he should endeavour, as far as possible, though declining to fill the chair, to attend the meetings of the Council, and sustain him who did occupy it, and sat down amidst loud applause.

The new Mayor elect was then welcomed to the chair by the retiring occupant, and greeted with enthusiastic cheers.

The Mayor at once rose and said — Mr. Price, other Councillors, and I may say on this occasion, inhabitants of Margate! I feel as though awakening from a dream. I came down to this Hall, for the purpose of proposing a gentleman to be Mayor, whom I thought, under all the circumstances, was most specially entitled to fill the office in which he was placed, but from which he has retired. I find in the course of a few moments, after hearing some observations from him, that I am called on to occupy the office of Mayor for the ensuing year, in consequence of his having positively refused to yield to the unanimous request made to him by his brother councillors. (Applause). I am sure that you feel with me, that I am placed in a most difficult situation, to return thanks for an honour which I had considered was due to another, and would be bestowed upon another. (applause). To  return thanks on the spur of the moment, for an honour conferred on me, which I had no right to expect — I will not say, from self-respect, that I am undeserving of the office — I cannot say that to you who have so kindly and unanimously placed me in it, — to return thanks at such a moment must be difficult, but I say that being so placed, I shall be called on to perform the duties in the most energetic manner, in which any abilities will enable me to do, but the difficulties and duties will be so much lightened, because my worthy friend Dr. Price has told us that although he has refused the honour offered him, he will aid me by his counsel as often as he can, in the deliberations which must necessarily take place. (Applause) I shall feel that my position is so far removed from difficulty because I shall have near me when I require it, the matured experience and judgement of a member of my own profession, whom I highly esteem, whose judgement I much value, and whose assistance I have frequently been called on to receive. (Applause) But in addition to this, I feel somewhat consoled and comforted by knowing that I am surrounded by a body of councillors who have been elected by a large majority of the suffrages of the Burgesses, and who, therefore, I feel possess the confidence of those burgesses, and will justify the choice which has been made of them, and which will smooth the difficulties of the office in which I am placed. (Applause) It shall be my constant endeavour to adorn the office in which you have placed me — to study to do all in my power to promote the interests of the town and the prosperity of the burgesses. (Loud applause) It shall be my study to act with strict impartiality, with perfect justice — to know no man as regards any office for which he may be presented, but him who is the most competent to fill it. (Loud cheers) It will be my duty and my study to find the best man for the best office, and to have no regard for personal inclinations or private patronage. (Loud applause) If I studied my own credit, I may say that I should shrink  from the duties of the office in which I am placed, but I feel that I should not do credit to those other councillors who have placed me here, if I did not accept the post with the most heartfelt pleasure and the deepest gratitude. (Loud applause)

Mr Caveler said there was one officer which they must, of necessity, appoint on that occasion — that of Town Clerk. He had said a short time back, when speaking of the gentleman who had retired from the chair, that he thought there was a peculiar fitness in certain individuals which naturally attracted their eyes to them; and to none did this apply more than to Mr. Harvey Boys, who had already filled so many offices for a long period. He was clerk to the magistrates, clerk to the Local Board and he (Mr. C.) was going to say clerk to almost everything — (a laugh) — all which capacities he had filled highly to his credit, and greatly to the advantage of the town. (Applause) After a further eulogium on the able and exemplary manner in which Mr. Boys had discharged his duties, Mr. Caveler proposed him as a fit and proper person for the office of Town Clerk, which was received with loud cheers.

Mr. Alderman Price cordially seconded the motion, and bore his testimony to all that had been said — observing that if they did not elect Mr. Boys to such an office as that now before them, they would be guilty of ingratitude, for it was to Mr. Boys they were solely indebted for rescuing them from bondage, by obtaining the Charter of Incorporation, and which he had done at a great cost of time, effort, and money. (Loud cheers)

The Mayor, in submitting the motion, expressed the gratification he should derive from Mr. Boys becoming the object of their choice for the office to which he was named.

The motion was carried unanimously, and with loud cheers.

The Town Clerk thanked both his proposer and seconder for the kind terms in which they had spoken of him, and the council generally, for their ready response in a unanimous election. (Applause) He only trusted as they had expressed a good opinion of his services in former years, they would never have reason to alter it. (Applause) If he should require any inducement to increase the efforts which he was desirous of making for his own town, the position in which they had then placed him would be sufficient. (Applause) He thanked them sincerely for the honour they had conferred on him, and his fellow townsmen generally, for the great kindness which they had ever manifested towards him. (Loud applause)

Mr. Alderman Price then handed to the mayor the charter of the borough — which was enclosed in a neat Box; and on receiving it the Mayor observed that he hoped it would be the cause of a new era opening in Margate and that through the united exertions of those gentlemen who were in office, much good would result — and that they might trust to increasing prosperity, and he hoped they would all live long to enjoy it.

The Mayor then announced that it would be necessary to have a seal; and suggested the appointment of a committee to determine of the “arms;” for which purpose Messrs. Caveler, Pickering and Keble were appointed, after which the meeting adjourned.

A large number of the friends of the Mayor met together in the evening at the White Hart Hotel for the purpose of taking a convivial glass. A variety of toasts were given by the Mayor, who occupied the chair, and some able speeches were delivered chiefly on the local notices of the town, by Messrs. Chambers, Flint, Caveler, Standring, Crickett, Higgins, and J. H. Boys. The utmost harmony and good feeling prevailed, and the meeting broke up about eleven.