1860

The Company's year of greatest production.

The Railway came to Whitstable giving faster access to the London markets.
Whitstable was developing fast and where open beach had once existed, conducive to the business of oyster dredging, it was becoming developed. One can understand to some extent the wish of the Free Fishers to gain some control over this change to the beach in order to protect access to the beach to facilitate their business.

In 1860 The famous agitator, Chartist, Reformist and Parliamentary agent...
James Akland was agent for the Company in the

'The Memorialists' dispute.
Whitstable tradespeople had complained to the Government about the Company's antics in its attempt to ... annex lands above High Water.
I quote...

The humble Memorial of the undersigned Ship Owners and Inhabitants of the Town of Whitstable in the County of Kent,

Sheweth

That your Memorialists and the Public generally have, from time immemorial, had free access from the Town and neighbourhood of Whitstable over the High Beach to the Sea Shore for the purpose of Fishing and the Navigation of the Sea.

That, within the last few years, a Company called the Company of Free Dredgers, have claimed the right of the whole Beach above high-water mark and likewise below it, and have erected Buildings on and above the said Beach, and thus taken from the public the right of free egress and regress to and from the Sea Shore.

That the said Company have not only taken away the public right of user of the said Beach, but have compelled Owners of Buildings, erected for stowing Ship Materials, &c., to pay Ground Rent to the said Company, under the threat of pulling down the said Buildings, although such Buildings have been erected above Thirty years ago, while at the same time they are selling portions of the said Beach to private persons.
(It is noteworthy that not only are the oyster company claiming/extorting beach above High Water but also below. In view of the quotation below from Lord Chief Justice Erle it seems that the need to claim above low water indicates that confusion existed over what was indeed the landward extent of the fishery as purchased of Thomas Foord in 1793 the phrase "within the last few years" places the said action prior to the 1859 general election. Disputes had been going from at least 1828 if not before.)


T
he Company's members were attempting to gain voting rights via the reforms of The 1832 Reform Bill...This may have been in relation to the 1859 General Election.
Voting rights were refused
The Company appealed, in 1860, represented by James Akland in the Court of Common Pleas... and lost.
It seems that 1860 so-called 'agreements' were an attempt to demonstrate ownership of land "never covered by water"...by which 'claimed' freehold ownership, members of the Company sought to establish voting rights.
The 1832 Reform Bill had enfranchised freeholders of land valued over 40/s...
The 350 oystermen
'claimed' freehold ownership...of 'dry land' whose value was over £1,000 i.e. more than 40/s per head.
The Judge found that such alleged freehold ownership was corporate and could not be divided.

The Company had since 1847-8 (the period of Chartist's riots)...been asking their Barrister Mr Needham, what rights they had above high water...
In essence his response was that members of the Company were subject to Company by-laws but against 'strangers' who possessed title via roots not party, however remote, to the deeds of 1792/3 & Foord, the Company could make no claims.


1860 was also the year when the Company, along with other unilateral acts... issued, for the first time, a Table of Tolls in respect of the Sea Beach.
They also issued proceedings that, in 1861, became

The Gann Trial.

Lord Chief Justice Erle... in the 1861 Gann trial ... reading the description of... the Company's lands from the Company's deeds...Quotes...

"I grant you the Fishery, and all the lands from the Sea-beach to the south, so far as the Fishery extends".

Later he said...

"Once, For All, I may take it to be of all the lands...from the Sea-beach so far as the fishery extends"

This is a description, in 1861, of a fishery bounded by... LOW WATER...
Confirmed by the Lord Chief Justice!

The Storehouse/Pub was built in its entirety, according to the Diver's Trail website...in 1847...& shown on maps of the time AS ...
above High Water!

eventful years!

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