top of page

OYSTERS & FISHING  1754 - 1849

November 1833

THE IPSWICH JOURNAL - 9 February 1754 - “This is to give Notice, That at the Sign of the Three Crowns in Rowhedge, and at the Cooper’s Arms in East-Street, Colchester, are to be sold, OYSTER CASKS: viz. small Casks at Three Pence a Cask, and Peck Barrels at Three Pence Halfpenny a Barrel; where Persons may have them at any Time in the Oyster-Season, for ready Money.”


THE IPSWICH JOURNAL - 13 February 1763 - “To be SOLD by AUCTION, On Friday the 26th of February, 1762, at Two o’Clock in the Afternoon, at the Ship in East Donyland, near Colchester, in Essex.

A Very good FISHING-SMACK, with her Tackle, Apparel, and Furniture; also sundry Nets, and other Materials used in the Fishing and Oyster-Dredging Business.

For further Particulars enquire of Robert Martin, Esq; at Donyland.”


THE IPSWICH JOURNAL - 22 June 1765 - “June 21, 1765. ALL Persons who are indebted to the Estate or Effects of THOMAS WESTWOOD, of ROWHEDGE in the County of Essex, Oyster-Dredger, lately deceased, are desired to pay their respective Debts (one Month after the Date hereof) to Wm. Rolle of Colchester, otherwise they will be sued for the same without further Notice; and all Persons that have any Claim or Demand on the said Thomas Westwood, are desired to bring their Accounts, in order to receive Satisfaction for the same, within the said Time.”


THE IPSWICH JOURNAL - 24 July 1773 - “To be SOLD by AUCTION, (by HENRY LODGE) At the WHITE LYON at ROWHEDGE, near Colchester, on MONDAY the 26th Day of July, 1773, at Three o’Clock in the Afternoon.

THE HULL of a new FISHING-SMACK of a very handsome Construction, burthen about eighteen Tons, launched on the Eighth Day of June last, and now remains in a Dock near the Place of Sale.

She may be seen at any Time before the Sale, by applying to the Widow Gooding at Rowhedge; or to John Key at the Hythe in Colchester.”


THE IPSWICH JOURNAL - 5 March 1774 - “ROWHEDGE, March 3, 1774. To be SOLD on or before the 15th Instant. THE CUTTER called the LYON, 30 Tons burthen or thereabouts, Wm. Dyer, Master, with Materials for the Mackerel Season, Trawling, Stow-boating, or Dradging.

For Particulars enquire of Wm. Dyer of Rowhedge.”


THE IPSWICH JOURNAL - 3 March 1781 - “To be SOLD by AUCTION By TIMOTHY WALFORD, On Monday the 12th instant, at the Ship In East Donyland in the County of Essex, TWO Fishing Vessels; one burthen about 28 tons, the other 26 tons, together with or without their fishing tackle; consisting of nets, &c. for the fishing seasons. They may be fitted for sea in a few days, being just laid up, and were the property of Mr. Wm. Clark of Donyland aforesaid, ship-wright, deceased.

At the same TIME will be SOLD, Part of a New Vessel on the stocks, designed for a cod-smack; several oak trees, oak plank, crooks, knees, slabs, &c. likewise, all the tools used in the ship building business.

The sale to begin at Eleven o’clock in the forenoon.

For further particulars enquire of Messrs. Wm. Weatherly and Thos. Cole, executors to the said Mr. Wm. Clark.”


THE IPSWICH JOURNAL - 18 March 1786 - “ROW-HEDGE, EAST-DONILAND, March 9. To be DISPOS’D OF upon LEASE, Or at a YEARLY RENT of TENANCY at WILL, THE Premises of the late ISAAC POTTER, dredger, with the particulars annexed to them, viz. a stable, brewhouse, garden, oyster-pits and layings.

To be SOLD also to a future tenant, or other person, A stobad anchor, two skiffs, sundry sails, and oysters now upon their layings.”


THE IPSWICH JOURNAL - 29 May 1790 - To be SOLD by Auction By CHAPMAN and SON, At the White Hart, in Mersea Island, on WEDNESDAY, the 2nd June, 1790, at Four o’clock in the afternoon, THE good Smack LIVELY, square Stern, built at East Donyland, in the year 1787, burthen 15 tons, now lying in the port of Burnham, and will be at Mersea the day before the sale. Inventory may be seen on board.”


PETTY SESSION BOOKS – Essex Record Office

“Examination of Thomas Walford of East Donyland, County of Essex, Fisherman, 17 April 1793.

On Tuesday night last, the 9th inst., Michael Everitt of East Donyland aforesaid, Fisherman, assaulted this examinant by collaring him, shoving him against the wall and at the same time treading on his toes, from which assault to this examinant hath been same ever since for which he this examinant did not give the said Michael Everitt the least provocation.

Signed Thomas Walford.



THE IPSWICH JOURNAL - 21 July 1804 - “To be SOLD by AUCTION by BUNNELL and JACKSON, On Monday the 30th day of July, 1804, at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, at the sign of the Ship, in East Donyland, in the county of Essex, (if not sooner disposed of by Private Contract, of which timely notice will be given.)

ALL that good Smack or Vessel called the BETSEY of the Port of Colchester, of the burthen of 39 tons, or thereabouts, well known in the oyster and fishing trade on the coast of Essex.

This Vessel is in exceedingly good condition, well found in sails, stores, and materials, having two suits of sails and two cables, one of which is nearly new, and has a new 16-feet boat. She sails and loads remarkably well, and is now lying at East Donyland aforesaid, ready for sale.

The vessel and her materials may be viewed, and further particulars may be had by application to the Auctioneers, and of Mr. Daniel Sutton, Notary Public and Ship Agent, Colchester, and Mr. Joseph Willett, East Donyland.”


THE IPSWICH JOURNAL - 23 May 1807 - “On the 6th  inst. Thomas Walford and Robert Fenn, of East Donyland, were committed by William Waltham, Esq. charged on the oath of Abraham Nicholls, with having taken a quantity of oysters and oyster-brood in the fishery of Sir. H.P. St. John Mildmay, Bart. in the River Crouch, at Burnham, in this county, against the form of the statute.”


THE IPSWICH JOURNAL - 1 September 1810 - “FISHING SMACK and MATERIALS, ROWHEDGE, ESSEX, To be SOLD by AUCTION, By HAWES and FENTON, At the Ship Inn, Rowhedge, on Thursday, September the 6th, 1810, at Three o’clock in the afternoon, (By order of the Proprietors), A Fast Sailing and particularly good conditioned Fishing Smack, called the PRINCE of WALES, of the burthen of 27 tons, or thereabouts, with all her running and standing rigging, masts, yards, two good mainsails, one foresail, hour jibs, one gaff, and one square topsail; one bower and one ketch anchor, a cable, and other necessary materials, an inventory of which will be produced at the time of sale.

The above Smack is in a very good repair, well found, and particularly claims the attention of persons in the dredging, coasting, or fishing business.

At the same time will be SOLD, in Lots, A stobet Anchor, Cable, and Baulks, a new Boat, with oars, 4 large dredges, 6 smaller ditto, 2 match blocks, &c. The whole of which may be seen by applying to Mr. Harris, shipwright, or Mr. Thomas Cook, the proprietors, and the Auctioneers, Mersea and Colchester.”


THE COLCHESTER GAZETTE - 2 August 1817 - "An inquest was taken at the Three Crowns, East Donyland, yesterday se'nnight, on view of the body of Joseph Martin, aged about seventeen years, who accidentally fell from the bowsprit of a vessel called the Providence, of East Donyland, into the river Colne, on the Wednesday preceding and was drowned.— Verdict, Accidentally drowned."

THE ESSEX STANDARD - Saturday 5 November 1831 - “A meeting of the Committee of the Board of Health was held at the Moot-Hall, Colchester, on Wednesday. The gentlemen present seemed to be of opinion that cholera was not contagious; but they concurred entirely in the propriety of adopting effectual precautionary measures against the possibility if its introduction into the town or neighbourhood, as will be seen by the following resolutions:- ... That the medical gentlemen, magistrates, and clergymen, at the different villages on the sea coast, namely Brightlingsea, Wivenhoe, East Donyland, Mersea, &c. be requested to exercise a peculiarly vigilant care over all vessels arriving from abroad, and to any sickness that may emanate from them, and immediately report every suspicious case, should such occur, to the Mayor of Colchester, through the Secretary to the Board of Health in this town....

We have much satisfaction in hearing that the rumour of a case of cholera having occurred in a ship which had communication with some vessels of this port, proves to be a misstatement. A brig, supposed from the Baltic, which was on shore on the Maplin Sand, had been assisted by some smacks from the Colne; but it is found upon enquiry, that there was no sickness on board the brig, which had gone, as is now usual, into quarantine, in Standgate Creek, with all those of the crews of the different smacks who had had personal and immediate communication with her. Every precaution has been taken to prevent the entrance of suspected vessels into the Colne.”


THE IPSWICH JOURNAL - 14 December 1822 - “By Messrs. JACKSON and LAY, On Monday 30th December, 1822, At the Rose and Crown Inn, Wivenhoe, At Two o’clock in the Afternoon, ALL that good fast-sailing SMACK, called the Joseph, of the Port of Colchester, of about 43 tons burthen, in good and safe condition, with all her masts, yards, sails, anchors, cables, with standing and running rigging, and other materials, as per inventory, which will be produced at the time of sale. She is fresh caulked from keel to gunwale, and is fit for sea in every respect; is capable of carrying 540 bushels of oysters, Jersey measure; or, 230 quarters of corn, and is of very easy draught - she may be viewed at Rowhedge until two days prior to Sale, and after then at Wivenhoe Quay.

Further Particulars and Conditions may be had of Mr. Cole, East Donyland - place of sale - and of the Auctioneers Colchester.”


THE ESSEX STANDARD - Saturday 2 June 1832 - “OYSTER FISHERY - Several smacks belonging to this port have just returned from the oyster fishery off Jersey. The accounts brought home are far from being satisfactory; and the crews account for this by saying that “the thing is completely overdone.”


THE ESSEX STANDARD - Saturday 29 December 1832 - “WRECK OFF THE ESSEX COAST - The smack Betsy, of Colchester, Jeremiah Easter owner and master, (a vessel he had very recently purchased, repaired, and fitted out for the Fishery, in which he was engaged) when off the Barrow Deeps on the 24th inst., it came on to blow very strong at S.S.W. with an exceeding heavy sea. About 8 o’clock in the evening, Easter weighed anchor to get into the Swin for shelter; and on crossing the sand, the vessel (it is supposed) unfortunately struck a wreck, and almost immediately filled. The crew escaped with the greatest difficulty. The poor man’s loss is estimated at 300l. his little all was embarked in the vessel, and nothing insured. A subscription for Easter, we understand is set on foot by Mr. Chamberlain of Wivenhoe, and it is to be hoped that a humane and generous public will, by contribution, somewhat alleviate this industrious man’s pecuniary loss.”


THE ESSEX STANDARD - Saturday 24 November 1832 - “COLCHESTER CASTLE - [no date] - Joseph Webb was complained of by his master, M. Everitt, of East Donyland, fisherman, for having absented himself from his service, as an apprentice, and for otherwise misconducting himself, by unbecoming language towards his master and mistress. After an appropriate admonition, he was committed to the Castle prison for confinement during the space of a week, and to be brought up next Court-day.”


THE ESSEX STANDARD - Saturday 12 October 1833 - “CONVICTIONS - 4th inst.... Samuel Sebborn, one month hard labour, for leaving the service of his master, Michael Everitt [smack owner and fisherman], at East Donyland, he being at the time an apprentice...”


THE ESSEX STANDARD - Saturday 16 November 1833 - “COLCHESTER CASTLE - Saturday. COMMITMENTS - Thomas Simonds, of East Donyland, for trial at the same Session [the next adjourned SESSION], charged with dredging for oysters upon the property of Mr. Sandford, of Wivenhoe.”


THE ESSEX STANDARD - 29 November 1833 - “ESSEX ADJOURNED SESSION, on Tuesday last - Thomas Simons, 48, fisherman, was indicted for having unlawfully dredged upon the oyster laying of Thomas Sanford, at Tollesbury, with intent to steal oysters therefrom.- The hearing of this case lasted a considerable time, owing to the difficulty in discovering which way the wind blew.- Mr. Knox was for the prosecution, and Mr. Dowling for the defence.- The prisoner, it appeared, was employed on the 4th Nov. by Mr. Willett, whose laying adjoined that of Mr. Sanford, to get some oysters, and his dredge having passed the beacon which marked the boundary of the former, was caught in a trap which had been set by Robert Munson, the prosecutor’s servant, for the purpose of catching trespassers.- The trap was formed by ropes, affixed to anchors, and was, it seems, admirably adapted to the purpose.- Munson proved that he saw him with his dredge entangled in the trap, and John Bartlett, who was with Munson at the time, stated that on their speaking to the prisoner, he told Munson that if he was not d---d bad himself he would not think so of other people.- The witnesses for the prosecution all agreed that the wind blew in a direction to drive the prisoner’s vessel from the prosecutor’s laying, but Thomas Simons, the son of the prisoner, who was on board with his father, swore that it was a boisterous day, and the wind taking them on to Mr. Sanford’s laying, they threw out the dredge to stop the vessel from going further, where it was caught in the trap.- Mr. Joseph Willett, oyster merchant, was also called for the defence. He stated that it was a common practice for fishermen to throw out the dredge to stop the vessel from “wending,” or going too far; in such cases it was thrown out in a different manner, and no oysters would be caught.- In his cross-examination by Mr. Knox, the learned counsel said - You are a bit of a sailor I think Mr. Willett? Witness. I’ve been to sea this 50 years, and I think I am big enough to be a whole one. [Laughter.] Mr. Willett remarked that he had known Mr. Sanford 30 years, during which time he had found him very friendly - indeed he did not know where he had such a friend, and during that period they had never gone so long without speaking to one another as they had since they had been in Chelmsford, in consequence of this trifling matter.- Mr. Sanford replied that he should have been happy to have spoken to Mr. Willett.- Mr. Dowling. So then Mr. Sanford is mightily angry with you for coming to speak for this poor man.- Mr. Willett. I suppose so.- The conversation then dropped, and the Jury returned a verdict “Guilty of a trespass.” Mr. Knox considered the verdict as against the prisoner, but the counsel on the other side contended that as the charge was for dredging with intent to steal oysters, the verdict was one of acquittal.- The Chairman requested the Jury to reconsider their verdict, and having done so, they found the prisoner “Guilty of the misdemeanour.” - One month hard labour.”

THE ESSEX STANDARD - Saturday 7 December 1833 - “ESSEX ADJOURNED SESSION. The Session closed on Wednesday evening at six o’clock.... Thomas Simons was indicted for having unlawfully dredged upon the oyster-laying of Thomas Sanford, at Tollesbury, with intent to steal oysters therefrom. One month hard labour.”


THE ESSEX STANDARD - Friday 29 August 1834 - “COLCHESTER CASTLE - Saturday, August 23.- Thomas Cook applied to the Bench this day under the following circumstances. Having a short time since made application to the Magistrates for an order to have his indentures given up to him, he being twenty-one years of age, although by the indentures he had six months longer to serve, the Magistrates considered that he was entitled to the indentures, and granted the orders accordingly. The present application was on account of his master having refused to give up the indenture. A summons was issued to the master, [blank] Cheek, of Rowhedge, to appear at the next sitting.”


THE ESSEX STANDARD - 17 July 1835 - COLCHESTER CASTLE, Saturday, July 11. Robert Gage, Thomas Simons, and John Walford, were charged by Samuel Seaborn with assaulting him. It appeared that the parties are mariners, and live at East Donyland, and that in consequence of complainant’s giving evidence against the defendants concerning a robbery of oysters in which they were concerned, they committed the assault complained of. They were convicted and fined 9s 6d each, which they paid and were discharged.”


THE ESSEX STANDARD - Friday 21 August 1835 - “COLCHESTER CASTLE, Saturday, Aug. 15.- John Turf, shipowner, of East Donyland, complained against Philip Taylor, his apprentice, for absenting himself from his service for one week. The lad, in his defence, said that he did not leave his master of his own accord, but was taken away by his father, owing to the treatment he received whilst at Dieppe, from Samuel Harris, the captain of the smack in which he sailed. He stated that Harris often struck him on the head with a wooden shoe; also with a brush and a poker, and sometimes kept him without his victuals; he had complained of it to his master,  but the latter did not regard it. Samuel Harris stated that the headstrong disobedience which he (the apprentice) manifested provoked him to use him in the manner complained of. The boy was reprimanded by the Chairman, who told him that if he was brought before him for similar conduct again, he should send him to the treadmill. Upon his master promising not to send him to sea again with Harris, the affair ended.”


THE CHELMSFORD CHRONICLE - 4 March 1836 - “COLCHESTER. TOWN COUNCIL. THE COLNE FISHERY. The Council were summoned to appear on Monday last, to receive the opinion of Sir W. Follett, which had been obtained relative to the right of granting licenses to the dredgermen. Sir William’s opinion was found to be most unequivocal, that the power of granting the licenses was vested in the Mayor and Council, and not in the Mayor and Justices... The Court then proceeded to consider the different applications for licenses. The fresh applications were received first; viz. from those persons who had duly served their apprenticeship. Their licenses were £2.4s.6d. each, including fees, and the old dredgermen’s licenses were £1.3s.6d. including fees. The Court were engaged the whole of the afternoon in granting the licenses, of which there were upwards of three hundred.... John Root, of Brightlingsea, and Mr. N. Rogers, of Donyland, were also elected assistants to the Water Bailiff...”


THE ESSEX STANDARD - Friday 13 May 1836 - “COLCHESTER CASTLE, Saturday, May 7 - William Woodward (an apprentice) was sentenced to one month’s hard labour in the house of correction, for disobeying the orders of his master (Mr. John Everitt), a mariner, of East Donyland.”


THE ESSEX STANDARD - Saturday 15 July 1836 - “OYSTER FISHERIES’ BILL - The following Petition, numerously signed by smack owners and other interested in the Oyster Fishery, has been forwarded to the Right Hon. Lord Ashburton, for presentation to the House of Lords:-

To the Right Honorable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled.

The humble Petition of the undersigned Owners of Smacks, Fishermen, Oyster Dredgers, Tradesmen, and Inhabitants of Brightlingsea, Wivenhoe, and East Donyland, in the Port of Colchester, in the County of Essex, SHEWETH, That a Bill has recently passed the Honorable the Commons House of Parliament, “For the regulation and improvement of the Public Oyster Fisheries in England and Wales,” the provisions of which are of the most injurious tendency, and calculated to inflict upon your Petitioners  the most grievous consequences.

That there are in the various parishes adjoining the Essex Coast, in the Port of Colchester, upwards of 2,500 Dredgermen, who have always been employed in Dredging for Oysters’ Brood and Spat during the Summer Months in the open sea, upon the coasts of England and near the Islands of Guernsey, Jersey, and Sark, and off the coast of France; and that the Oysters’ Brood and Spat so caught have been brought by them and deposited upon Oyster Layings or Grounds, both public and private, where they grow, fatten, and improve in quality and size, until they are fit for the London and provincial markets.

That the Bill, under pretext of protecting the spat and small oysters, prohibits Fishermen from dredging within one league of the shore or low-water mark, from the twelfth day of May to the fourth of August; which comprehends the particular period in which 2,500 Dredgermen, in the immediate vicinity of your Petitioners, exercise their calling; and will, by the provisions of the said Bill, be entirely thrown out of employment; those being the only months when they can, with safety, employ their smacks in dredging at sea.

That your Petitioners entreat your Lordships to reflect, that the oysters’ brood and spat caught in the open sea, and in the harbours, roadsteads, and havens, where Fishermen have from all times been at liberty and accustomed to dredge, are not fit for market - but are deposited upon layings and oyster grounds, for preservation; whence, after two or three years, having arrived at perfection, they are again caught and sent to London.

That if the Dredgerman is prohibited from catching these oysters’ brood and spat, as they have been accustomed, a very large proportion will be wholly lost to the public, by being smothered and buried by the accumulation of mud and sea-weed, and if they escape that mode of destruction, they will be killed by a severe frost.

That a Measure similar to the present Bill, has, for several years past, been brought into the Commons House of Parliament, but has invariably been rejected as an unconstitutional infringement of the rights, privileges, and liberties of his Majesty’s subjects, who have an unquestionable right to exercise their calling as Fishermen, in the public open sea.

That the cultivation of the oyster layings or oyster grounds affords great employment to the parish boys who are bound apprentice to dredgermen, and this extensive branch of the British Fishery is, in itself, a most valuable nursery for seamen, and whence, in time of war, the Royal Navy is supplied with its best and most adroit crews.

That many of your Petitioners have expended large sums of money in building and fitting out vessels adapted to the catching of oyster brood and spat at sea and far from the land, and have taken apprentices and others to man and navigate them, but which vessels will, by the enactments of the said Bill, become useless; and such your Petitioners and their crews will suffer extensive and serious distress.

And your Petitioners beg leave further to represent that the present measure has been introduced into the lower House of Parliament for the purpose of serving the interests of a few individuals or companies, who will be benefitted by the monopoly which it will establish, and by which the general good will be overlooked and destroyed, for it is impossible to deny that a very large proportion of the oysters which are now caught during the prohibited season, and nurtured till perfect for market, will be lost to the public; and there must be a very scanty supply at the London market, and that at a greatly increased price.

Lastly. That if the Bill should be suffered by your Lordships to pass into a law, it would throw out of employment and pauperize many thousands of sailors, and grievously oppress the parishes wherein they reside; and that it would materially curtail the putting out lads apprentice to the sea.

That the provisions of the said Bill are inconsistent with each other; the 1st clause prohibiting the catching oysters or brood within one league of the shore, between 12th May and 4th August, and all the subsequent clauses making it penal to dredge any where during the prohibited season, or to have any oysters on board, although they were not dredging, nor caught the oysters within one league of the shore.

That the powers given to peace-officers are most unconstitutional.

Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray, that your Lordships will be pleased so hear them by their counsel, agents, and witnesses, against the said Bill, and that the same may not pass into a law.”


THE ESSEX STANDARD - Friday 26 January 1838 - “A lad named Philip Taylor, complained that his master, John Tuff, of Donyland, mariner, did not furnish him with sufficient clothing, according to the terms of his indenture. On examination of the indenture, the Chairman discovered that no premium was mentioned, and not sanctioned by two magistrates, it was only a private agreement between the parties, and could be cancelled at any time they might think proper. There seemed to be considerable ill-feeling existing between the lad and his master, and a wish on both sides for a separation, and the Bench advised them to destroy the indenture, which they consented to. It was therefore burnt, and the matter summarily settled.”

THE ESSEX STANDARD - Friday 4 May 1838 - “COLCHESTER CASTLE. Saturday, April 28 - “A lad, named John Watson, who had been bound by indenture as an apprentice to a mariner named John Powell, of East Donyland, was convicted of absconding from the service of his master, and sentenced to 14 days’ imprisonment in the House of Correction, and to be kept to hard labour.”


THE ESSEX STANDARD - Friday 24 May 1839 - “COLCHESTER CASTLE, Saturday, May 18 - Jeremiah Easter, mariner, appeared in answer to a summons issued the previous week, at the instance of P. Havens, Jun., Esq., for obstructing the hardway in the parishes of Wivenhoe and East Donyland, by placing anchors thereon, to the danger of passengers upon it.- S. Brown, Esq. also complained of the obstruction, and stated, that besides the defendant’s vessel, he had seen above twenty others on the same hardway, offering great impediment. The defendant replied that it had been done without his knowledge or consent, as it was far from his wish to occasion the annoyance complained of; nor was his the only vessel that had done so. The Court told him that he was answerable for those whom he employed; but at that was the first case that had been brought before them, they would not inflict the full penalty of 40s., as imposed by law but confine it to the expenses which had been incurred, amounting to 12s. This the defendant paid, and left the court.”

“Last week, the smack Blue-ey’d Maid, of this port, was run foul of by a Brightlingsea vessel, whilst dredging off the coast of Jersey. She shortly after sunk, but not before the crew and some of the ship’s stores were saved. The loss of the above vessel will prove of serious consequences to Crickmore, the master and owner.”


THE CHELMSFORD CHRONICLE - 15 March 1839 - “Castle, Saturday, March 9 - A lad, named William Watson, an apprentice to a mariner, named Henry Cook, of East Donyland, was convicted of disobeying the orders of his master, and sentenced to fourteen days’ hard labour in the House of Correction. After the Chairman (T.L. Ewen, Esq.) had passed the sentence, the prisoner burst into tears, and promised his master that he would conduct himself better for the future, if he would intercede with the Court in his behalf. The complainant then stated to the Bench, that as the lad appeared penitent, he hoped they would remit the sentence, and he would take him again into his service. After consulting with the rest of the Magistrates, the Chairman told the prisoner, that as the charge had been so fully proved against him, the Bench felt rather surprised that his master should have interceded for him in the manner that he had, for it was evident that he was far from being a good boy, and had repeatedly misconducted himself; that the Magistrates had given the matter consideration, and had resolved to assent to the application of his master, trusting it would be a warning to him for the future; before, however, he was liberated, the Court would expect him openly to confess his error, and promise his master never to offend again.- The lad very readily gave the required promise, and left the Court with his master.”


THE CHELMSFORD CHRONICLE - 2 August 1839 - “COLCHESTER CASTLE, July 27.- Mr. Joseph Willet, ship-owner and coal-merchant, of East Donyland, preferred a charge against one of his apprentices, named John Fisher, for absconding from his service. The boy had stated that he did not like the sea, and his master consented to let him go, but afterwards finding he had engaged with another vessel he had him taken into custody. Under these circumstances the Bench refused to interfere, and dismissed the case.”


THE ESSEX STANDARD - Friday 9 August 1839 - “OYSTERS! OYSTERS! The first day on which oysters are allowed by law to be sold in the public market falling this year on Sunday, the commencement of the oyster season was postponed until Monday morning at six o’clock, when the hatches of the oyster smacks were opened at Billingsgate, and the sale commenced with great briskness. The market was crowded to excess, but owing to the very judicious arrangements made by Mr. Goldham, the yeoman of the water side, the greatest regularity was observed, and the noise and confusion, attended with accidents, which used formerly to occur, were completely avoided. There was 60 sail of vessels from Rochester, Whitstable, Colchester, and other places, including a few “over sea” vessels from Jersey, with oysters much inferior to those from the English coast. Of “natives” there was a very small supply, and these fetched as high as two guineas per bushel. The common oysters produced generally 12s per bushel, and the “over sea” ones as low as 10s per bushel. The quantity, as well as quality, of the oysters brought to market yesterday was below the average. One company, which formerly sent many sail of vessels to market, did not send any yesterday, and other proprietors of oyster beds find it more profitable to defer sending any to Billingsgate until September, when they are not only much improved in flavour but considerably larger. By direction of Mr. Goldham the names of the salesmen and the quality of the oysters were painted on a large board, & fixed in a conspicuous place on each smack, to prevent frauds on purchasers. At the early hour of half-past six the lord mayor visited the market, and was conducted over the various departments by Mr. Goldham. His lordship was surprised at the bustle, and expressed himself highly pleased with the arrangements and the good conduct of the people. The lord mayor also went on board the various smacks, and, before he left the market, took a dish of natives with Mr. Goldham, being instigated thereto by a vendor, who reminded his lordship of the old saying, “Those who don’t eat oysters on the first day will want money all the year.” The reformation of the morals and manners of Billingsgate is certainly complete, and the old watch house has been converted into a place for the sale of coffee, and other refreshments.- Morning Herald.”

THE ESSEX STANDARD - Friday 16 August 1839 - “COLCHESTER CASTLE, Saturday, August 10. Benjamin Wood Ponder, a youth apprenticed to Henry Cook, mariner, at Rowhedge, made an application to the Bench, to recover various articles of wearing apparel from his master. He stated that he left his master in May last, when he told him that he had burnt his indentures, and would therefore give him his time out, but he refused to give him any more clothes than he had on at the time.- Mr. F.G. Abell appeared on the behalf of the master, and stated that from the bad conduct of the applicant to his master, the latter had been led to give him a verbal dismissal, provided he left the village of Rowhedge. But as he had not done so, his client had determined to recover him again into his service, and had taken steps to that end. To constitute a legal cancelling of indenture, the mutual consent of both parties must be obtained, and the same duly indorsed upon the indenture. In this case no such step had been taken, and therefore the applicant was still the respondent’s apprentice, and was liable to an information if he refused to enter his service when called upon to do so. In fact it was not till very lately that he had made this application for clothes.- Cook stated that the boy had behaved very ungratefully towards him, considering the kindness with which he had always treated him. His conduct had so irritated him, that in a moment of excitement he told him that he would give him his time out; but he had never agreed upon a cancelling of the indenture.- The Bench dismissed the application, and recommended him to return with his master and continue in his service.”


THE ESSEX STANDARD - Friday 11 June 1841 - “At the Castle, on Saturday last, Mr. J. H. Church made an application on behalf of John Ponder, a mariner, for the purpose of recovering the sum of £1, and some clothes. In this case the applicant had been apprenticed to Mr. H. Cook, a ship owner, at East Donyland. During the time of his apprenticeship he absconded for a week, for which he was sentenced to a month’s imprisonment, and his master now refused to pay him the above sum, as stipulated in the indenture, on the ground that applicant must serve that time after the date of his indenture (which expired on the 20th May last). After hearing Mr. Church for applicant, and Mr. Abell for respondent, the Bench were of opinion that he must make up the period of his absence in order to entitle him the amount claimed, and the Chairman put it to Ponder, whether being now of age he would avail himself of that and leave his master, or whether he would complete the period and enforce the claim he now made. Ponder declined returning to his service, and the parties left the court.”


THE ESSEX STANDARD - 29 July 1842 - “A fine sturgeon, eight feet in length, and weighing nearly a cwt., was exhibited in this town on Saturday last. It was captured by some fishermen in the Colne, near Rowhedge, on the previous evening.”


THE ESSEX STANDARD - Friday 4 November 1842 - “COLCHESTER CASTLE. Saturday, October 29th. - DISOBEDIENT APPRENTICE - A young man, named Daniel Taylor, apprentice to Mr. Thos. Mills, a smack-owner, of East Donyland, appeared to answer a charge of assaulting his master. Complainant stated that on Wednesday, the 19th of October, he went on board his vessel (which had returned a few days previously) and found 180 oysters concealed. He took them ashore, and in the afternoon the defendant came and abused him for doing so; he (complainant) pushed him away and told him to go about his work, when he knocked him down, and afterwards challenged him to fight. Since that time he had repeatedly ordered defendant to lock the vessel up at night, but he refused and laughed at him.- Taylor said in defence that his master knocked him down first.- The Chairman said the Court thought the charge fully made out, and considered it a case which ought to be made an example of, as it was too much the practice of apprentices when near the end of their time to consider themselves independent, and set their masters at defiance. The Court then sentenced defendant to one month’s hard labour in the County House of Correction.”

THE ESSEX STANDARD - 17 February 1843 - “COLCHESTER CASTLE, Saturday, February 11. A boy named John Davy, apprentice to Mr. Wm. Cook, smack-owner, of Rowhedge, was brought up for absenting himself from the service of his master. Defendant had previously been before the Bench on a similar charge.- Mr. Cook said the boy’s conduct had been so bad that he should be glad to get rid of him altogether, and hoped the Bench would cancel the indentures; to which the Bench assented.”


THE ESSEX STANDARD - 3 March 1843 - “THE TOWN COUNCIL - ADMIRALTY COURT. On Monday last the Town Council for this borough held a Court of Conservancy for the purpose of electing a Jury for the Fishery, and granting dredgermen’s licences.

The Town Clerk read a report from the Estate and Finance Committee, in which, after recommending a slight alteration in the regulations under which licences were granted, it was stated that two vessels, the Amity and the Comet, had lately grounded on the oyster beds, and caused considerable damage; and the committee recommended that steps should be taken to ascertain the names of the owners, and that the Town Clerk be directed to apply to them for compensation. The report also stated that the committee had been advised that the corporation were liable to repair 300 feet of the road on the Greenstead side of the Hythe bridge, and recommended that the treasurer be directed to take steps for that purpose. The report was ordered to be received and adopted.... after which the meeting adjourned to the Court below, and proceeded to elect a Jury (by ballot) for the management of the Colne Fishery, and other officers.

The following are the names of the Jury:- Mr. Thomas John Jeffries, foreman; Messrs. John Everitt, jun., Samuel Woolvet, sen., Thomas Ainger, sen., Joseph Drake, Robert Francis, Abraham Martin, Wm. Francis, Joseph Woolvet, Nathaniel Harvey, Charles Heath, Daniel James, Joseph Willett, Jeremiah Easter, and Thomas Allen....

James Oakley, Benjamin Cook Allen, Benjamin Tranham, and Abraham Ham, were admitted to the freedom of the river.

The Court then proceeded to receive applications for licences to dredge for oysters, 261 of which were granted; after which the Court adjourned till Monday, the 20th of March.”


THE ESSEX STANDARD - Friday 12 July 1844 - “COLCHESTER CASTLE, Saturday, July 6.- George Aldridge, apprentice to Mr. John Powell, smack owner, of East Donyland, was convicted of repeatedly absconding from his master, and was sentenced to two months’ hard labour in the County House of Correction.”


THE ESSEX STANDARD - Friday 25 October 1844 - “THE TOWN COUNCIL - A special meeting of the Council was held on Wednesday, for the purpose of holding as admiralty court or court of conservancy for the river Colne... Daniel Taylor, of East Donyland, applied to be admitted to the freedom of the river, and for a licence to dredge for oysters within the jurisdiction of the corporation; his qualification was a deed of indenture of apprenticeship, which expired subsequently to the last licensing day; and he applied for admission at the last adjourned admiralty court held at Mersea Stone.

The Jury expressed an opinion that the licence ought not to be granted, as the application was not first made on the general licensing day, which was the established rule of the Court.... The Mayor thought it best that the particular circumstances under which the application was made should be known to the Council and Jury. He wished to know why Taylor had not applied on the last general licensing day.

Taylor said his term of apprenticeship had not then expired.

The Town Clerk said on all former occasions every person situated as Taylor was was obliged to wait till the next general licensing day, and he would be in precisely the same position as other dredgermen who had preceded him; therefore, if the Council granted the application, they would be acting contrary to the usual custom of the Court.... “

[After much deliberation the situation was not resolved. Further investigation called for.]

ESSEX HERALD – 9 July 1845 – “COLCHESTER CASTLE, July 6th. George Aldridge, a mariner’s apprentice, was sentenced to two months hard labour at the house of correction, for absconding from the service of his master, John Powell, of East Donyland.”


THE ESSEX STANDARD - Friday 20 February 1846 - “COLCHESTER CASTLE, Saturday, Feb.14.- CAUTION TO MASTERS OF VESSELS - Henry Barnard, of East Donyland, master of the smack Lucy, was summoned by John Brown, a seaman, for refusing to deliver up his register ticket.- Mr. E. Church appeared for complainant, and Mr. F.G. Abell for defendant.- This case arose under the new Merchant Seamen’s Act, by which all seamen are bound to be registered, under a penalty, and the master of every vessel has to deposit at the Custom House a list of all his men, and has the custody of their respective tickets while they continue in his service. In this case the complainant had been sailing with the defendant from July last up to the 4th inst., when a dispute arose, which ended in his refusal to go to sea again, and a demand for his register ticket. This, however, the defendant refused to give up, and told complainant “he might get it how he could.” Complainant was consequently obliged to apply to the Magistrates, and as the defendant had again gone to sea he was left to subsist till his return from any casual employment he might meet with ashore, as any ship’s master taking him on board without a ticket would have been liable to a heavy penalty, and no new ticket could be obtained except upon proof that the old one had been lost or destroyed. The penalty to which the defendant had become liable by his refusal was £10; but previous to the case being gone into, an offer was made by Mr. Church to Mr. Abell (with the sanction of the Court) to withdraw the charge, upon defendant undertaking to give up the ticket, and paying complainant for his loss of time, together with court fees. Defendant, however, declined the arrangement, and complained that he had been put to considerable inconvenience by the refusal of Brown to accompany him again to sea. He also said that he had delivered the ticket up at the guard boat.- The Chairman said that was not the proper place, as it ought either to have been delivered to the complainant or at the Custom House.- Defendant then applied for permission to settle the matter, to which the Bench consented, and the parties retired. Upon their return it was announced that defendant had agreed to pay complainant £2 for his loss of time, with 8s. costs, and to give up the ticket. This being the first case of the kind brought before the Colchester Bench, a number of seamen were in Court to hear the decision.”


THE ESSEX STANDARD - Friday 27 February 1846 - “THE COLNE FISHERY - ADMIRALTY COURT - On Monday last the Town Council, as owners of the Oyster Fishery, held their annual Court of Conservancy for the purpose of appointing a Jury and other officers for the year ensuing, and granting licenses to dredgermen for the same period... The ballot was then taken, and resulted in the appointment of the following jury:- [For] East Donyland - Joseph Willett, Thos. Mills, Wm. Sibborn, Simon Lawrence, jun.

LICENSES - The Court granted 304 dredgermen’s licenses at £2.2. each, and, on a recommendation from the respective parishes, the “poor dredge” (at £1.11.6.) was awarded to ... Wm. Aldridge, East Donyland.”


THE ESSEX STANDARD - Friday 26 March 1847 - “At the County Magistrates’ Office, on Monday, before G. Round and J.W.E. Green, Esqrs., William King, apprentice to Mr. Houlding, smack owner, of East Donyland, was convicted of disobedient, and irregular conduct, and sentenced to one month’s hard labour.”


THE ESSEX STANDARD - Friday 28 May 1847 - “COLCHESTER TOWN COUNCIL. The quarterly meeting of the Town Council was held on Wednesday... ADMISSION OF FREEMEN - [inc.] John Whybrow Taylor, mariner, of East Donyland, admitted to the  freedom of the borough by right of birth.”


THE ESSEX STANDARD - Friday 23 July 1847 - “SETTING FIRE TO A VESSEL - On Sunday morning last, about three o’clock, Philip Scowen, the parish constable of East Donyland, observed smoke issuing from the Prince of Orange smack, which was lying in the river nearly opposite the village. He immediately rowed to it in the ferry boat, and having discovered that the fore cabin was on fire he returned to shore and called up the master, when they succeeded in extinguishing it. While so engaged they were surprised to see a boy belonging to the vessel, named James Carter, who was supposed to have been ashore, come up from the forecastle, and as he gave a very unsatisfactory account of his object in being there the constable took him into custody; and he was brought up for examination before the borough magistrates yesterday (Thursday). The early discovery of the fire was most providential, as otherwise not only that vessel but probably several others would have been destroyed. She belongs to Mr. Levett, of East Donyland, Captain Symonds being master and part owner; and from expressions which the prisoner has used, it is supposed he entertained a spite against the latter for having rope’s-ended him a week or two ago.”

ALSO - “COLCHESTER CASTLE. Thursday, July 22.- Samuel Carter [sic], the boy charged with setting fire to the Prince of Orange smack, at Rowhedge, the particulars of which will be found among our local news, was placed at the bar and underwent a long examination; but the Bench not considering the case sufficiently strong to warrant his committal for trial, he received a strong admonition from the Mayor, and was discharged.”


THE ESSEX STANDARD - Friday 2 March 1849 - “COLCHESTER TOWN COUNCIL - COURT OF CONSERVANCY FOR THE RIVER COLNE. On Monday last the Town Council, as conservators of the River Colne, held their annual Court for the purpose of appointing a Jury to manage the affairs of the Oyster Fishery, granting dredging licenses, &c.... The following Jury was then chosen by ballot:- [inc.] John Walford, sen., and Thomas Mills, of East Donyland.... The names of Mr. Thomas Levett Ham and Mr. Samuel Willett were drawn, but the former declined to serve, and the latter was disqualified by being described in the list as “Joseph” Willett.... On a recommendation from the minister and inhabitants of the respective parishes, the poor’s dredge, at a reduced charge, was granted to..... Wm. Aldridge, of East Donyland.


THE ESSEX STANDARD - Friday 28 December 1849 - “ACCIDENTS - On Tuesday, the 18th, as a young man, named George Cracknell, was coming from Rowhedge on a wagon laden with sprats, he accidentally fell from the top, and sustained a fracture of the left arm. He was conveyed to the Essex and Colchester Hospital, where the limb was set, and he is doing well.”

bottom of page