In attempting to understand the documentary
history of Stag Cottage and in particular the Deeds
of 1853 and 1858, one must appreciate more fully the life, times
and achievements of its previous owner John Deane.
It is also necessary to understand the use of the word 'since' in mid-Victorian England.
The main reference for the life of John Deane (and his brother Charles) is the excellent work published by Dr John Bevan, chairman of the Historical Diving association titled - 'The Infernal Diver'
In this book John Deane is characterised thus
"He was by far the most highly respected underwater engineer in Britain having spent many years working directly with the country's foremost civil engineers"
John Deane was signed up by The Admiralty to superintend the
diving and associated works necessary to clear Sebastopol Harbour
in the Crimea. His efforts attracted approbation of the highest
order and recommendations from such illustrious public figures
as Admiral Sir Edmund Lyons in charge of the naval forces and
also General Sir William Codrington, Commander in Chief of British
forces in Crimea.
John Deane was awarded the Crimea Medal with Sebastopol and Azof Clasps.
"Mr Deane is an active, bold, and intelligent man "
John Deane had a stand of his diving gear &c. at The Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in 1851.
Deane was involved intimately in Whitstable society and business
affairs since probably the mid 1820's. He was, over the
years, the partner, employer and close friend of Whitstable divers,
ship-owners and Free Fishers. He co-owned several ships and
prior to and after 8/2/1838,
a warehouse at Whitstable.
He eventually married Sarah Ann Browning, daughter of Matthew Browning a Free Fisher, member of the Oyster Company and a ship owner of Whitstable. He was resident in Whitstable full-time from around 1847. He went to Crimea with his business partner William Edwards at the end of October 1854, returning alone in Sept1856. Sadly Wm Edwards had died of cholera. John Deane had been mentioned on a number of occasions in The Times newspaper in its reporting progress of the war. Indeed it was the famous Times War Correspondent, William Howard Russel who had dubbed John Deane the "infernal diver" as a result of the massive explosions he was responsible for in destroying the Sebastopol docks.
Undoubtedly John Deane was a man of status in Whitstable, particularly
on his return from the Crimea in 1856. He was involved in public
affairs, being chairman and president respectively of the Sanitary
Board and - Committee of the locality up until at least 1866.
He also was a ship owner until late 1864.
In many contemporary papers and letters connected with John Deane are numerous examples of the use of the words 'SINCE' or 'HAVE SINCE' to mean previously, -before, -in the past.
"A few days since a North Country Brig got ashore near the wears at Seasalter. The Lalla Rookh is to have £100 for getting her off" Lalla Rookh was Dean's ship.
" having received information that a valuable vessel was lost some years back on the north east coast of Ireland, two or three smacks were dispatched from hence a few days since"
"Colonel Pasley of the Royal Engineers whose abilities are well known, has received orders to remove the wreck of the Royal George it is little creditable to former governments that this impediment in the principal anchorage of the Empire, should have been allowed so long to exist; and their apathy is more surprising from the example shown by the French, who have since got up all the wrecks left at Toulon, by Lord Hood and Sir Sidney Smith at the evacuation of that port in 1784."
" about 4 months since, the Byron, a vessel bound to Liverpool, and laden with railway iron, was run down . &c Since that time has ."
"Edmund wrote me a short time since
"I told you a short time since of our having "
"Did I tell you some time since that Dr Williams has become bankrupt "
"You will most likely find your shirts and collars very limp having been starched so long since "
"I must tell you about 3 months ago since his wife had a disease in her arm which was amputated in consequence and after great suffering she died leaving 8 children. He has since married again to a person belonging to London "
The above quotations have been chosen in the main to illustrate the use of since to mean previously, however I have included others to show what varied timeframes it can define other meanings too.
It is only against the above historic context, and also by reference to maps and surveys of the time, that a full understanding and correct comprehension is gained of what is conveyed in the deeds of Stag Cottage. Other reference is needed to fully analyse how this relates to the exaggerated claims of the Free Fishers and their Whitstable Company and the documents allied to these claims.
In a letter from John Deane to Colonel Pasley 8/2/1838, on
the subject of diving suits, John Deane said
which may be seen at our warehouse at Whitstable near Canterbury
Quite clearly a warehouse existed on the site of Stag Cottage before at least 1840 since one is shown on the Tithe Map of that date. Similarly(sizewise) a storehouse is shown on the site of Stag Cottage on the 1848 and 1850 maps of drainage board surveyor Thos.Thurston, creator of the plan in the margin of the 1853 deed poll showing a building 18ft6in by 33ft. This latter document witnesses the purchase by Deane and Edwards of the 'side' of the seawall & frontage rights,
i.e. "ALL Right title and interest in and to" of the Drainage Board at the rate of 5 shillings/linear foot run i.e. 18.5 x 5s = £4 12s 6d. This 1853 deed poll was later annotated in 1856 by Wm Edwards' widow/executrix to show that John Deane had purchased William's share for £60.
In 1858 Deane sold the entire storehouse in fee simple, forever
- together with rights, members and appurtenances.
It was stated, having recited details of the previous 1853 deed poll,
"Deane and Edwards have since built the storehouse "
Given the fact that a large storehouse, shown on that document
(1853), had existed for many years
(it may have been re-built
or otherwise improved by Deane and Edwards)
the words "have
since built" can only be taken to mean at some time prior
to that 1853 deed poll/ transaction... recited in that of 1858.
Given also all the assurances therein made, by John Deane now selling to the Canterbury Brewers, Flint & Co,
his standing in Whitstable socially and in the country, in business too, his continued connections with Whitstable well into the 1860's, it is inconceivable that he was only conveying the first 19ft (from the road), or 25ft of that storehouse. There is absolutely no mention of any adulteration of the fee simple/Title or any involvement of the local Oyster Company. Such a difficulty would devalue the property, sold in 1858 for £155, and/or subvert any sale equally then as now. There is no such problem. It is a modern fiction!
Any supposed agreements later emerging and relating to the property can only be for land seaward of the property sold in 1858, as no part has/had been sold off since. Agreements purporting to involve the Stag Public House and The Free Fishers have no legal basis then or now and must be set against the 1860 Memorialists letters, The 1861 Gann and other Trials, The failed 1865 Fishery Extension Bill and the 1865 Wynn Ellis agreement... together with the title documents of the Oyster Company 1793. In my view, based on the company's own records and the legal opinions they obtained, now all in the Canterbury Cathedral Archive of the Company, these year on year supposed agreements could only be taken to be unsuccessful and mistaken attempts at extortion unless of course it is accepted they are for lands within the company's title at the time of their creation.
Modern mis-understandings of the historic context have led to these 'agreements' being given currency over land to which they never could have reference... I am reminded that as a child I somehow became the possessor of a Reich or Weimar Republic bank note whose face value was a vast number of marks and so by my calculation I was certainly wealthy. On proffering this note to the teller in the bank in Leytonstone High Road I was told that the note was no-longer legal tender and was of historic interest only Ah! . Such disappointment... perhaps I would have had more luck in Whitstable where currency is more flexible
Given all the above + the fact that the company's deeds confined its title to lands below the high water mark + these deeds have been the basis of all claims in this case + the Company has never bought any portion of what Dean conveyed so it is preposterous that their claim has gained any credibility.
All agencies that have dealt with this case have been confused by the initial error created by Land Registry in 1971 and and the enigmatic words contained within the 1858 and 1946 Deeds.