Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Samuel White

Perhaps it is fitting that Catherine Veri Vlieland's husband Samuel Ethelbert White became a supervisor for Her Majesty’s Excise, since his father Samuel White was a collector of ‘poor rate’ taxes for the Crown. Collection of these taxes “from every inhabitant, Person, Vicar and others and of every Occupier of Lands” was essential for the operation of the local workhouse.

A Canterbury workhouse had been set up in 1727 by Local Act of Parliament. The residents converted an existing building known as Poor Priest's Hospital on what is now Stour Street.

Local ratepayers met on the last Tuesday in each June to elect a total of 28 guardians (unpaid) representing the fourteen parishes. By this Act these Guardians were empowered to elect collectors of the rates.  
The policy, long before the Royal Commission of 1832 came to that same conclusion, was that the workhouse would be the main form of relief for the able-bodied poor.

Samuel White '(Senior)' was a bellringer at Canterbury Cathedral who participated in a famous marathon event there. A tablet in the cathedral belfry records. that On Wednesday December 26th 1827 was rung in this steeple a true and complete peal of 5,098 Grandsire Cater changes in 3 hr and 23 minutes”. Samuel White was 4th of the 10 ringers. He had, though, been christened in St Mildred’s (to the South West) and would die back in that area.

Samuel had been born in Canterbury on 7th March 1802, He and his elder brothers (William on 7th February 1796 and John on 29th October 1797); were baptised at St. Mildred, Canterbury where Samuel later became Parish Clerk, and the records show their parents as Daniel (and Susanna). St Mildred's is the oldest church (indeed, the only pre-conquest church still standing) within the city walls. St Mildred was the great-great granddaughter of King Ethelbert; a name that Samuel uses for his son (and his son uses for his; and his son uses...).

Samuel White married Elizabeth Mary Hatton, also a ‘Canterbury lass’, in 1822 in Canterbury Cathedral (one of only three weddings licensed to be in the Cathedral that year). They married by licence, by consent of Daniel White and Charles Hatton, the respective and lawful Fathers of the abovenamed minors”. At a time when very few people could write both youngsters signed their names.

So he had the right for a Cathedral wedding. Father, carpenter’ Daniel White, lives at Palace Street, St Alphage (which backs on to the Cathedral) He lived there through "The greatest flood ever known in Canterbury" (May 17 1824 Westgate notes) and for much of his life. Daniel became a Freeman of the City ‘by redemption’ on 11th July 1809. The records also show that, though the Statute of Artificers in 1814 meant that a tradesman no longer needed to have served an apprenticeship, Samuel was apprenticed to father Daniel as a carpenter on 2nd September 1817 and became a Freeman on 26th April 1825 – not by patrimony but after seven years apprenticeship.

The 1830 voters list shows Samuel as a voter – and a carpenter. He is still a cabinet maker in 1840 but the Canterbury Cathedral archives show that he was appointed as Collector of Poor Rates in 1831 by the Guardians at the age of only 29. At that time a collector kept two pence halfpenny (roughly one percent) of the sums collected and handed the balance to the Receiver every Thursday. He also enforced payment where necessary. The coming year would see a Reform Act abolishing the status of freeman and their ‘special trading rights’. This was, perhaps, ‘job change’ at just the right time.

Tuesday 19 December 1837 Kentish Gazette - at a special meeting of the Guardians the Poor for this city, held at the Court Room, on Tuesday evening, a compensation was awarded to the receiver, Mr. Duly, of the sum of £40, to the collector, Mr. S. White, £20, and the sum of £10 to each of the committee, for their services in valuing and adjusting the rates according to the new act—they having been laboriously engaged for upwards of four months. (The Chairman of the Royal Commission into the operation of those Poor Laws since 1832 was, of course, wife Catherine's Uncle - Bishop Blomfield).

Stapleton & Co’s Topographical History and Directory of Canterbury…August 1838 directory records him, not only as “S White – collector of poor rates” but as the Parish Clerk both of St Mildreds (near the Castle) and All Saints (Eastbridge – very near his Blackfriars home) and also as the Deputy Registrar of births and deaths. He is now living at 6 Blackfriars - an impressive three story building in the park near the city wall. Samuel stayed in the job for many years and was voted a salary. Then his approximate pound a week was about the same as a new recruit London Police Constable and now, in current terms, £50 translates to current ‘average earnings’.

The House of Lords ninth report of the Poor Law Commissioners (1843) had an entire Appendix on the separate Canterbury system. It showed Samuel White As the sole Collector of Rates for which he then received a salary of £70. It also describes the task of the Collector at Canterbury, simply, as follows: “A receipt-book after the accompanying form shall be kept by the collector, who shall use no other form of receipt. He shall, in every instance, give an acknowledgment for rates received, and enter the names of the parties and the amount of payment upon the check part of the receipt-book, and shall lay it before the court weekly for inspection”. Though officers were technically appointed at the July AGM for a parochial year ending June, (and their remuneration fixed annually) they would generally stay for a number of years. Samuel remains as the collector.

Saturday 21 June 1862 Kentish Chronicle "the court have occasion to speak in the highest terms of their collector (Mr. White), and it was observed that the onus of the large arrears did not rest upon the shoulders of the collector, but of the court (as they failed to enforce payment of the rates in arrear, when such a course was imperatively called for), and the justices. "

the 21 March 1863 Kentish Chronicle notes that “the court ... then proceeded to the special business of the day, the consideration of an application of Mr. White (the collector of the poor-rate) for an increase of salary, on the ground of increased duties and length of service. 30 years. The present salary was £90, and he had to collect over £8,000 in the course of the year. Mr. White was generally esteemed throughout the city for the manner in which he carried out the duties of his office”. He had vastly increased duties and was granted a raise to £110 per annum. The Kentish papers carry many reports of his work on committees and summonsing late payers of the poor rate and carry statements which “speak in the highest terms of their collector (Mr. White)”.

The most important later report, however, is probably that in the 2 November 1867 Kentish Chronicle which carries a detailed note of his resignation including the full text of his letter to the President and Guardians. “Having held for six and thirty years the office of Collector ... I feel the necessity from advanced years, and the state of my health not being so robust as I could wish, of asking you to permit me to retire from my office at the closing of the present rate. As my income is small, and the means of increasing it at my time of life by my personal exertion are limited and precarious, I trust in your kindness that you will accord me as large an annual grant of superannuation as, under the circumstances of the case and my long service, I am entitled to ask at your hands”. He is granted the annual sum of fifty guineas (which he is to receive for only three years).

It is perhaps a measure of the man that, despite having to take so many influential worthies to court for non payment and knock on so many doors he seems to be well respected and that, when the new Collector advised the Court that he “had some difficulty collecting the rates from the cottage tenants, it was agreed to ask Mr. White to reader him all the assistance in his power”..

Death reg: Oct/Dec 1870 age 69 at Canterbury vol 2a P422

Saturday 24 December 1870 Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald - Sudden Death.—An old respected citizen, Mr. Samuel White, for many years rate collector to the Canterbury Incorporation, expired suddenly on Sunday last.

Saturday 24 December 1870 Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald - VOTE OF CONDOLENCE TO THE FAMILY OF MR. S WHITE DECEASED. Mr. Welby rose to enquire whether the Clerk had any announcement to make allusion to the death of Mr. Samuel White, one of the retired officers of the Court. The Clerk thought it would be premature for him to make any such intimation at present ; of course Mr. White's superannuation would be paid to the time of his death.

Mr. Welby did not think of that for a moment. An old and respected inhabitant of the city, ex-officer of the Court, and one too who had combined faithfulness, tenderness, and kindness with the discharge of his duties as rate-collector, had recently departed this life, and what he proposed was that a vote of condolence should be presented to his family.

Mr. Dunn seconded the proposal, and with Messrs. Dance, S. Carter, and Rayner, bore testimony to the respect with which Mr. White was regarded by the citizens.It was stated that Mr. White was appointed as rate collector in 1831, on the 23rd August, and that he had collected some £100,000 during his term of office, which lasted until within a few years of his death, when he retired on superannuation. The resolution was carried unanimously.

Probate: 03/02/1871 Principal Registry Effects under £300 late of 3 Dane John Grove in the Parish of St Mildred in the City of Canterbury Gerntleman who died 18/12/1870 at 3 Dane John Grove was proved at the Principal Registry by Susannah Harrison White of 3 Dane John Grove Spinster - the Daughter the sole Executrix.

No comments: