TitleLetter about change of The Plough Peldon from Beer House to a Public House
AbstractThe Peldon Case.
Letter from Robert Eden, Hill House, Peldon, to the Editor of the Essex Standard, complaining about an article relating to the change to a public house of one [ the Plough ] of two beer houses in Peldon.

To the Editor of the Essex Standard.

SIR.- The very erroneous impression which your report of the above case, as gone into at the Colchester Castle last Saturday, must convey, compels me to request your insertion of this letter, and to express my surprise at your having in your report adopted just that view of the question which might excite prejudice against the Clergymen of the parish, and which is the view taken, as was to be expected, by the Kent and Essex Mercury, from whose report you seem to have abridged your own.

You state that Mr. Cooper, who appeared on behalf of Mr. Osborne, the landlord (for it is ridiculous to speak of his appearing in favour of the applicant, Mr. Chignall, who has told me again and again that he did not wish to have his house licensed), "put in a memorial, numerously signed by the respectable parishioners of Peldon." Your reporter must have heard the names of five persons read, who alone signed the memorial from Peldon in favour of the licence - four respectable farmers, and one respectable cordwainer (who, by the way, was, it seems, in treaty with Mr. Chignall to take his shop business off his hands should Mr. Chignall succeed in obtaining his licence). "The memorial", you go on to say, "was signed by a number of the influential parishioners!" Now, without in the least impugning the respectability of the parties signing the memorial, I have no hesitation in saying that one, and one only, is an influential person in the parish, and he most deservedly so, namely Mr.Bean, with whom I regretted extremely to find myself differing in opinion upon this subject.

Having thus led the public to suppose that a "number of influential" persons in the parish had memorialized the Bench in favour of Mr. Osborne's application, you then lead them to think that Mr. Palmer, the Rector, and the Rev. Mr. Wackerbath, the Curate, alone petitioned against it; for you state "Mr. Abell also put in a memorial, signed by the Rev. Mr. Palmer and the Rev. Mr. Wackerbath, against the licence being granted." Now this is, to use lightest term, most dishonest. The memorial against the licence was signed by the Rector and Curate, by the two Churchwardens, by myself as Assistant Curate, by Mr. Dakins, the surgeon, who is also the largest holder of land in the parish, and by six other respectable inhabitants or landholders in the parish, whose names were read aloud by Sir Henry Smyth, the Chairman, as were also those of the parties who petitioned in Mr. Osborne's favour. I think, therefore, I have good ground for complaining of the dishonest and erroneous report made in your columns.

But the public really ought to be made acquainted with some of the facts relating to this business. In Peldon there were two beer-shops and one public-house - The Rose. This public house is conveniently situated for the public, standing just where the two roads branch off to Maldon and to Colchester from Mersea; or should parties be coming from Maldon to Colchester, the "King's Head," at Great Wigborough, affords accommodation and refreshment for them; a beer-shop in Peldon (about 2 ½ miles further on) will afford them refreshment, should they require it again so soon; and barely two miles further on again the "Lion," on Abberton Green, will afford them accommodation and refreshment. In whichever direction persons may be travelling, within the distance of either two or three miles, provision is made for their refreshment. It is therefore, absolute folly to say that the convenience of the public required that one of the two beer-houses already in Peldon should be converted into a public-house. And then as regards the parish itself, it was not wanted - five persons only thought it was; the Clergy and Churchwardens deprecated it, as likely to injure materially the morals of the poor people; and in this opinion they were supported by some of the most respectable and influential parishioners. They felt it could do no good, and might do much harm. Then as regards Mr. Chignall himself, I repeat that he again and again told me he did not wish it. So, Sir, out of the four parties who might be supposed to have an interest in the question - the public, the parish, the beer-shop keeper, and Mr. Osborne, the landlord, it is quite clear that the only person to be benefited is the latter; and therefore, it appears, that for his benefit the Magistrates have inflicted upon the little parish of Peldon the dire curses of another public-house. Mr. Round said that a respectable public-house was preferable to a beer-shop, and that since last year the police had been established. This last could only have operated as a reason for Mr. Round's change of opinion (who voted against the licence last year), for the first was as valid when the application was made last year as it can be this; but, in giving the preference to a public-house, he must surely have overlooked these facts - that a beer-shop must be closed at a given hour in the evening - a public house even the Magistrates cannot compel to close throughout the whole night; and is this an advantage for the parishioners of Peldon? And as regards the police, they cannot interfere to prevent poor men spending their earnings during a sitting of many hours in a public-house, unless they should prove riotous; nor can they prevent the demoralizing effects which gradually and insensibly flow from such a place of rendezvous.

In looking again at your "report," I find an error which I have made, in supposing the passage "it was signed by a number of the influential parishioners," was intended to apply to Peldon; but I now find that it applies to the memorial in favour of the licence from the parish of Little Wigborough. The number of persons who signed this memorial was two - they are no doubt, both respectable, but the "influence" which may be granted to Mr. Harvey of Copt Hall, can hardly be granted to the other, who on the back of his cart, styles himself "a sheep dresser."

Thus out of two parishes, seven persons only asked the magistrates to visit Peldon with another public-house; but twelve persons of the parish of Peldon, and among them the clergymen and church-wardens, requested them to abstain from doing so. Can any person explain to me the ground upon which they acted in the face of the circumstances detailed above, and which I pressed upon the magistrates before they decided? One of the magistrates, who voted for the licence, told me that "these things were jobs;" but he would not like me to believe it. Pray, Mr. Editor, is not Mr. Osborne, the porter merchant, a very influential person?

I am, Sir,
Your obedient Servant,
Hill House, Sept 12.

Transcription by Elaine Barker
From Essex Standard 18 Sept 1840, with thanks to British Newspaper Archive

Published12 September 1840
SourceMersea Museum