Walter Rye.

Cromer, past and present: or, An attempt to describe the parishes of Shipden ... online

. (page 6 of 22)
Online LibraryWalter RyeCromer, past and present: or, An attempt to describe the parishes of Shipden ... → online text (page 6 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Possibly in connection with this is a petition of the inhabitants
of Cromer to Baron Clarke, dated 1604, which is amongst the
Marquis of Salisbury's MSS. at Hatfield, but which I have been
unable to see.

The open coast attracted many pirates in the early part of the
17th century, and the inhabitants were no doubt keenly alive to
the danger. There was a comic side, however, to the question,
and luckily it has been preserved to us by Taylor, the Water Poet,
in his "A Very Merry — Wherry — Ferry Voyage," published in
1623. It seems he was on one of his excursions, rowing round the
coast by Yarmouth, when making bad weather he was compelled
to come ashore in haste at Cromer.

" And thus half soused, half stewed, with sea and sweat,
We land at Cromer Town half dry, half wet ;
But we supposing all was safe and well,
In shunning Scylla on Chary bdis fell ;
For why, some women and some children there
That saw us land, were all possessed with fear ;
And much amaz'd ran crying up and down,
That enemies were come to take the town.
Some said that we were pirates, some said thieves,
And what the women says, the men believes.
With that four constables did quickly call,
Your aid ! to arms your men of Cromer alL
Then straightway forty men with rusty bills,
Some arm'd in ale, all of approved skill,
Divided into four stout regiments.
To guard the city from dangerous events.
Brave Captain Pescod did the vanguard lead.
And Captain Clarke the rearward governed.
Whilst Captain Wiseman and hot Captain Kimble,
Were in main battalia fierce and nimble.
One with his squadron watch'd me all the night,
Lest from my lodging I should take my flight :
A second (like a man of simple note).
Did by the seaside all night watch my boat ;
The other two, to make their names renowned.
Did guard the town, and bravely walk the round.
And thus my boat, myself, and all my men,
Were stoutly guarded, and regarded then ;
For they were all so full with fear possessed.
That without mirth it cannot be expressed.



Digitized by



Google



62 CROMER, PAST AND PRESENT.

My invention doth curvet, my muse doth caper,
My pen doth dance out lines upon the paper ;
And in a word I am as full of mirth,
As mighty are at their first son's birth.
Methinks Moriscoes are within my brains,
And Heys and antics run through all my veins ;
Heigh, to the tune of Trenchmore I could write
The valient men of Cromer's sad affright ;
As sheep to fear the wolf or geese the fox,
So all amazed were these senseless blocks ;
That had the town been fir*d, it is a doubt.
They did examine me, I answer'd then
I was John Taylor and a waterman.
And that my honest fellow Job and I,
Were servants to King James his majesty ;
How we to York, upon a mart were bound.
And that we landed fearing to be drown*d.
When all this would not satisfy the crew,
I freely ope*d my trunk, and bade them view ;
I shew'd them books of Chronicles and Kings,
Some prose, some verse, some idle sonnetings.
I shew*d them all my letters to the full,
Some to York's Archbishop and some to Hull ;
But had the twelve apostles sure been there
My witnesses, I had been ne'er the near.
And let me use all oaths that I could use.
They still were harder of belief than Jews.
They wanted faith, and had resolv'd before.
Not to believe what e'er we said or swore.
They said the world was full of much deceit,
And that my letters might be counterfeit ;
Besides, there's one thing bred the more dislike,
Because mine host was known a Catholic.
These things concurring, people came in clusters,
And multitudes within my lodging musters.
That I was almost worried unto death,
In danger to be stifled with their breath.
And had mine host took pence apiece of those
Who came to gaze on me, I do suppose
No jack an apes, baboon, or crocodile.
E'er got more money in so small a while.
Besides, the peasants did this one thing more,
They call'd and drank four shillings on my score ;
And like unmanhcr'd mongrels went their way,
Not spending ought, but leaving me to pay.



Digitized by



Google



THE OLD TRADERS AND TOWNSMEN. 63

This was the household business in mean space,

Some rascals ran into my boat apace,

And tum'd and tumbled her, like men of Gotham,

Quite topsy-turvy upward with her bottom,

Vowing they would in tatters piece-meal tear

They cursed pirate's boat, that bred their fear ;

And I am sure, their madness (to my harm)

Tore a board out much longer than mine arm.

And they so bruis'd and split our wherry, that

She leaked, we cast out water with a hat

Now let men judge, upon this truth's revealing.

If Turks or Moors could use more barb'rous dealing ;

Or whether it be fit I should not write.

Their envy, foolish fear, and mad despite.

What may wise men conceive, when they shall note,

That Ave unarmed men in a wherry boat,

Naught to defend, or to offend with stripes.

But one old sword and two tobacco pipes ;

And that of constables a mumivall.

Men, women, children, all in general.

And that they all should be so valiant wise,

To fear we would a market town surprise.

In all that writ, I vow I am no liar,

I muse the beacons were not set on fire.

The dreadful names of Talbot, or of Drake,

Ne'er made the foes of England more to quake

Than I made Cromer ; for their fear and dolor.

Each man might smell out by his neighbour's choler.

At last the joyfid morning did approach.

And Sol began to mount his flaming coach ;

Then did I think my purgatory done,

And 'rose betimes intending to be gone.

But holla I stay, 'twas other ways with me.

The mass of constables had shrunk to three I

Sweet Mr. Pescod's double diligence.

Had horsed himself to bear intelligence

To justices of peace within the land.

What dangerous business there was now in hand.

There was I forced to tarry all the while,

Till some said he rode four-and-twenty mile,

In seeking men of worship, peace, and quorum.

Most wisely to declare strange news before um.

And whatsoever tales he did recite,

I sure he caused Sir Austin Palgrave, knight,

And Mr. Robert Kemp, a justice there,

Came before me to know how matters were.



Digitized by



Google



64 CROMER, PAST AND PRESENT.

As conference 'twixt them and I did pass,

They quickly understood me what I was;

And though they knew me not in prose and looks,

They had read of me in my verse and books.

My businesses account I there did make,

And I and all my company did take

The lawful oath of our allegiance then.

By which we were believed for honest men.

In duty and in all humility,

I do acknowledge the kind courtesy

Of those two gentlemen ; for they did see

How much the people were deceived in me.

They gave me coin, and wine, and sugar too,

And did as much as lay in them to do,

To find them that my boat had torn and rent,

And so to give them worthy punishment.

Besides, Sir Austin Palgrave bade me this,

To go but four miles, where his dwelling is.

And I and all my company should there

Find friendly welcome, mixed with other cheer.

I gave them thanks, and so 1*11 give them still,

And did accept their cheer in their good will.

Then 3 o'clock at afternoon and past,

I was discharged from Cromer at the last.

But for men should not think that enviously

Against this town I let my lines to fly;

And that I do not lie, or scoff, or fable,

For then I will write something charitable.

It is an ancient market town that stands

Upon a lofty cliff of mouldring sands ;

The sea against the cliffs doth daily beat,

And every tide into the land doth eat.

The town is poor, unable by expense,

Against the raging sea to make defence ;

And every day it eateth further in.

Still waiting, washing down the sand doth win,

That if some course be not ta'en speedily,

The town's in danger in the sea to lie,

A goodly church stands on these brittle grounds,

Not many fairer in Great Brittain*s bounds ;

And if the sea shall swallow it as some fear,

'Tis not ten thousand pounds the like could rear.

No Christian can behold it but with gnef,

And with my heart I wish them quick relief.

So farewell, Cromer, I have spoke for thee.

Though you did'st much unkindly deal with me.



Digitized by



Google



THE OLD TRADERS AND TOWNSMEN. 65

And honest mariners, I thank you there,
Labouriously you in your arms did bear
My boat for me three furlongs at the least,
When, as the tide of ebb was so decreased,
You waded, and you launched her quite afloat,
And on your backs you bore us to our boat.
The unkindness that I had before, it come
Because the constables were troublesome ;
Longed to be busy, would be men of action,
Whose labours was their travels satisfaction ;
Who all were bom when wit was out of town,
And therefore got but little of their own.
So £3u^well Pescod, Wiseman, Kimble, Clarke,*
Four sons of ignorance (or much more dark).
You make me lose a day of brave calm weather,
So once again farewell, fare ill together."

That the fears of worthy Master Pescod and his colleagues
were not so unfounded and unreasonable as the poet thought, was
soon clear.

The very next year (1624), the Deputy- Lieutenant of Norfolk,
wrote up to the Lord Lieutenant that Weybourne Hoop was in a
very unprotected state (I will spare my readers the old rhyme this
time, for I am guiltily conscious that I have printed it oftener than
any one else), that forts erected in 1588 were washed away by the
sea, and that a flat-bottomed boat had lately come up to Cromer
and sounded the depths.f

Something very like wrecking seems to have been going on
about this time, for in 1589, at " Runton by Cromer," we read how
Sir Edward Clere and others wrote up to the Council that they
have taken order for the restoration of the Scottish goods lost, and

* The only Pescod I can trace is Jos. Pescod, who was of Suffield, 24 Charles II.
(1672), N. E., p. 549.

I don*t think we ever had a Wiseman at Cromer, but there were plenty later at N.
Repps.

By Kimble, no doubt was meant Henry Kimble, whose will was proved in 1626,
whUe Clarke was no doubt the representative of a very old name here. Robert and
Roger ''Clericus" are mentioned in a fine of land here in 1196. Hugh le Clerk was
here in 1327, and Stephen le Clerk in 1333, Robert Clarke in 1545.

Whether they were ancestors of Clarke, the present worthy clerk, the barber, and his
kinsman the batcher, I know not.

t Dom. S. P., James I., clxxiL, No. 48.



Digitized by



Google



66 CROMER, PAST AND PRESENT.

have proceeded against Roger Wyndham and his servants impli-
cated in the spoil of the Scots *

The Domestic State Papers give us glimpses of troublous times
round and about Cromer. The " Dunkirkers " were long scourges
of our coast, for one may as well tell the truth, and admit that
England did not by any means rule the sea till Blake cleared the
air.

In 1625, Robert Gaddye writes to the Council that the number
of sailors ordered to be pressed in the county of Norfolk could not
be obtained, but all who were at home had been brought to Cromer
this day (May 12), and had then been pressed.f

Next year (1626), in February, news comes up that the Dun-
kirkers were reported to have landed in Cromer Marsh, in Norfolk. J
I cannot help thinking that the " marsh " was an elongation of the
Cromer by some stranger. Where we arc to find a marsh at
Cromer I do not know, unless we think there fnay have been a salt
marsh, as at Wells — the last remnant of undercliff land being
washed away.

In the summer of 163 1, a Zealand boat was so hotly chased by
Dunkirkers, that its crew ran it ashore two miles east of Cromer.H

In 1660, the "Providence" man of war, commanded by Captain
Giles Snelling, struck on a shoal on going over the Wells banks
near Cromer.§

1665 is the date of our only dated Cromer token, which bears
the inscription, Richard Bennett, of Crommar, 1665, R.A.B., and
the device of a lion rampant, which is the same device as is on our
other token, an undated one, issued by Robert Drake.

In February of 1666, fourteen Dutch men of war and two galliots
were standing on and off between Winterton and Cromer,f and a
month later there were sixteen of them, and the coast was pestered
with their shallops.

On the 20 May, 1667, a despatch tells how a galliot hoy, chasing
a fleet of colliers off Cromer, spied a frigate and left them ;% and
in the June of the same year, an Ostender was ordered on board by
Holland men of war off Cromer, but pretending to be from Norway
they let him go (id,),

* Dom. S. P., Elizabeth, ccuii., No. 82. t Dom. S. P., Charles I., iL, No. 5a
t Dom. S. P., Charles I., xxi., No. 2. Dom. S. P., Charles I., ccxiii., No. 72.
§ Dom. S. P., Charles IL, xiv., No. 18. IT Dom. S, P., Charles IL, cxlix.
% Dom. S. P., Charles IL, ccL, No. 65.



Digitized by



Google



THE OLD TRADERS AND TOWNSMEN. 6/

In 1677, the admiralty jurisdiction squabble spluttered up once
more, as may be seen from the following extracts from the His-
torical MSS. Commission, 6 Rep., p. 384, Sir A. Ingilby's MSS. : —

*• 1677, Dec. 14th, Oxnead. Jo. Doughty to Lady Yarmouth. Yes-
terday was the Court of Admiralty kept at Cromer to inquire concern-
ing the ship that stranded there and to whom it should belong.
Doctor Hughes behaved himself with great moderation and prudence
as became his place ; and the jury being sworn, and having their
charge of what to inquire, Sir John Hobart told the Doctor that he
claimed the ship as tenant to the Duchy of Lancaster, and had in his
grant all wrecks, and that the Doctor had no right to keep Courts of
Admiralty, and to that purpose insisted on an Act of Parliament for
his authority, which he mistook in the construction. Sir John had
prepared a whole sheet for his speech, but the Doctor would not let
him go on, but sent the jury away to make their verdict, whereupon
Sir John protested in open court against the whole proceedings and
took his leave, Ac. Sir William Rant and Mr. Heme, who came as
agents for my Lady Wyndham, in whose manor the ship was stranded,
were both present, but said nothing at alL Upon the ship coming
ashore, my Lady Wyndham seized her as her's in the right of her
manor, and Sir William having a manor adjacent claimed also, which
also, after a great contest, they agreed to divide, finding their titles too
weak for contention. My Lady by consent unladed the ship, and
carried the goods (timber) to her own house, and then left the ship till
the Court should be over. The verdict of the jury was that the ship
was seized floating, and so belonged to the Admiralty .... The
ship is seized for my Lord. The other goods must lie a year and a
day to see if there will come any owner, who, if they claim within that
time, they must have their goods again, paying all charges ; but the
ship being perishable, may be sold by the law, and the money re-
turned, if there come the right owners and challenge her.

" 1677, Dec. 14th, Oxnead. Owen Hughes to Lady Yarmouth. On
the same subject, detailing his own and Sir John Hobart*s speech and
actions.

" 1677, Dec. 14th, Oxnead. John Gough to Lady Yarmouth. Gives
her a full account of the Cromer trial."

In 1719, the first lighthouse was built here at Foulness, near
Cromer, under a Patent, dated 9 September, 6 Geo. L (part 2, m
11).* It is said to have been built by Edward Browne, of Ipswich;

* There is a tradition that on the platform on the north-west comer of Cromer church
tower a flare used to he lit to warn seamen, and possibly to serve as a beacon. It is
said there was a coal beacon on the site of the first lighthouse, the cinders of which were
recently visible.

It is interesting to note that m 19 Ed L, the Sheriff of Norfolk and all knights and



Digitized by



Google



68 CROMER, PAST AND PRESENT.

but the "Norfolk Tour" (ed. 1829, page 152) gives an inscription
in St Clement's churchyard, Ipswich, to one " Edward Bowell, gent,
portman and twice bailiff of this Corporation [IpswichJ (He
erected the Light at Foulness, in Norfolk, 1719)." The same work
thus describes the old lighthouse : —

'* The lighthouse is u(>on an eminence about three-quarters of a mile
to the east of the town, and commands an extensive sea view, the in-
land prospect is confined by a range of hills, forming an amphitheatre
nearly round it. The tower, built of brick, is only three moderate
stories high, crowned with a lantern, lighted by fifteen patent lamps,
each placed in a large copper reflector, three feet in diameter, and
finely plated in the inside ; these, placed round an upright axis, are
kept in continual motion by machinery, wound up every five hours and
a half^ by which means a set of five reflectors are presented to the eye
in a full blaze of light every minute, the axis being three minutes per-
forming its rotation. This light is kept by two young women, who
receive from the Trinity House an annual salary of ^£50, besides per-
quisites, and who constantly reside upon the spot, which cannot be
exceeded for perfect neatness. From the lantern, a door opens to a
light iron gallery which surrounds it, and commands a sea view of
many leagues."

In 1832, there was so heavy a shoot of the cliff close to the old
lighthouse, that the present lighthouse was put in hand much more
inland. The old lighthouse remained a conspicuous object on the
very edge of the cliff till 1866, when it slipped into the sea silently
one night, and we are told that never a brick of it was ever seen
again, though some of the foundations are this year showing in the
cliff.

Once more the local spirit flickered up, and the traders made a
desperate effort to establish some shelter for their ships, and on
17 Jan., 173 1, a deed,* no doubt promoted by the Harbords, the
Wordhams, and the Wyndhams.

It recites that proposals had been made, and an undertaking was

head constables, &c., of hundreds and villages, were summoned to attend at Norwich^
and arrange watches along the shores of Norfolk for the security of the kingdom
(Bodl. Charter, No. 335).

* I am indebted for the sight of this deed, and of the other documents cited below, to
Mr. J. J. Colman, M.P. for Norwich, who, hearing I was at work on the subject, kindly
volunteered to lend them to me. I cannot too strongly impress on Norfolk antiquarians,
that it is their duty to aid the Carrow library in ereiy possible way. It is hardly possible
that it wiU ever be broken up, and until it is so (q.d.a) it is practically open to alL



Digitized by



Google



THE OLD TRADERS AND TOWNSMEN. 6g

then on foot for making and erecting a pier, or some other security,
for the safe riding and lodging of ships or small vessels, as well for
the importation, as also for the exportation of com, coal, and other
goods, wares, and merchandises, for the doing whereof several
parcels of wood and timber and other materials must be had and
purchased, and great sums of money laid out and expended, as
well for these as for other purposes ; and that after the same was
completed, a toll or duty by way of tonnage must be laid upon and
paid for all com, coals, and other goods, &c, for maintaining and
keeping the said pier or place for the lodging and riding the said
ships and vessels in good repair, order, and condition, for doing
which an Act of Parliament must be had and obtained Also that
the management of the undertaking had been committed to
Richard Ellis, of N. Repps (steward of the manor), Bozoon Briggs,
of Bradfield, Richard Smith, of Cromer, and William Claydon, of
Paston, gentlemen.

A covenant is inserted by the managers to expend all monies
they shall receive on the work, and that all who subscribe not less
than ;^io towards the undertaking, should have free liberty of
ingress and regress to and from the sea-shore of Cromer in over
and upon the Gangles or road now belonging to them leading from
the king's highway, leading from the now (new ?) mansion house of
him the said Richard Smith, down to the said shore for fifty years,*
Voting is to be one vote for ;£'20, two for ;f40, three for £60^ and
so on.

Those who executed the deed were —



H. Harbord -


;^I00.


Wm. Claydon


;^2a


A. Windham -


;^I00.


Richd. Smith


;^20,


F. Wyndham -


;^I00.


R Ellis aCompy.


;f20.


Edm. Jewell -


;^20.


James Weld (?) -


;^2a


Richard Ellis -


;^20.


William Goate -


;f2a


Bozoon Brigge


;^20.


John Kirby


;f20.


Pat St. Clair -


£2a







* The right of way, at all erents, seems to have been thought valuable, for in 1765,
Charles Stokes, of Stamford, Lincoln, clerk, who recites that he was an original sub-
scriber of ;f 20 to the midertaking (though it will be seen he did not execute the deed),
by his license, dated 28 Aug., 1765, gave leave to Elizabeth Ellis, of N. Repps, spinster,
in his name, and as his servant, to make use of the said ** Gangles,*' or road, she giving
him her bond of indemnity of the same date.



Digitized by



Google '



70 CROMER, PAST AND PRESENT.

The deed had seals for sixty-one subscribers, but the above
thirteen — unlucky number (!) — were all that subscribed, and I
expect the project came to nothing. I never heard of any Act
being obtained, though probably the work was actually begun, for
it will be remembered that in the disputes about the boundaries of
the manor of Cromer Gunners, in 1764 (see page 40), one witness
spoke of the pier having been begun about thirty-two years before,
which would be 1732.

The promoters of the pier lost no time in trying to promote the
trade, for in 173 1 — 2, they got leave first to discharge coal and
cinders, then to export com, and lastly, to ship and land coast
goods generally, as will appear by the three following letters from
the Custom House to the Collectors.*

Gentlemen,

Having had under consideration your letter of the 8th ultimo
in return (?) to the Petition of the several persons residing between
your port and Yarmouth, praying that coals and cynders may be
discharged at a creek coming to the town of Cromer, and the collector
and comptroller of Yarmouth to whom we referred the said petition,
being jointly of opinion with you that it will be for the interest of the
revenue and the accomodating the people to admit of the discharge of
coals at Cromer, you may suffer coals and cynders to be discharged
there accordingly, taking care that the masters do first report, and that
entries be passed and the duties received at your port, agreeable to
what is proposed by you and the officers at Yarmouth.

And you having recommended John Sussins as a person well
qualified to be coal master at the place before mentioned, we have
granted him a coal deputation, and you are to take care that he be
under oath and security for that purpose.

And in regard James Wells, the riding surveyor, resides at Shering-
ham, which is but three miles from Cromer. We direct that no coals
be discharged there but under his inspection, and you are to direct all
coal-warrents to him and the Coal Meter jointly, and take care that he
signs the returns on the Warrents as well as the Coal Meter.

We are,

Your Loving Friends,
Custom House, London, B. Fairfax,

May 18, 1731, Th. Walker,

To the ColL & Comp^ John Hill,

Blackney & Clay. J. Evelyn.

* Controllers at Blakeney and Cley, at which was the nearest Custom House Station.



Digitized by



Google



THE OLD TRADERS AND TOWNSMEN. 7 1

Gentlemen,

We read your letter of the i8th ultimo, acquainting us that
the merchants at Cromer and Creek between your post and Yarmouth,
who have been lately permitted to Discharge Coals at that place, have
applyed to yo desiring Liberty also to ship off com there to be carried
coastways. And having considered the same, you may for their
accomodation grant them this liberty, taking care that proper suffe-
rances be first taken and directed to the Riding Surveyor at Sherring-
ham, under whose inspection they are to be executed, and a return
made thereon by him in the same manner as was directed with regard
to coals by our letter of the i8th May last, and likewise that the mas-
ters make their entries, and receive proper cocquetts and other
despatches from you before they depart. But as there is no lawful key
at Cromer, you must not suffer any com to be ship*d there for foreign
parts.

We are.

Your loving friends.
Custom House, J. Walker,

London, C. Peers,

Dec. 9th, 1731, B. Fairfax,

To the Coll. & Compt' RoBT. Baylis.

Blakney & Clay.



Gentlemen,

Further application haveinge been made to us in behalf of the
Traders at Cromer, who by our Orders of the 14 ult. and ill. (sic) were
allowed the liberty of Landing and Discharging grf (?) goods at that


1 2 3 4 6 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryWalter RyeCromer, past and present: or, An attempt to describe the parishes of Shipden ... → online text (page 6 of 22)