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In the Committee of the House of Lords, 
April 19 & 20, 1866, 




Explanatory Introduction and Notes 











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In the Committee of the House of Lords, 
April 19 & 20, 1866, 




Explavatoiy Introduction and Notes 







<L S. 



Evidence taken on oath in the Committee of the House 
of Lords, April 19 and 20, 1866, on the Bills pro- 
moted by the Whitstable and the Heme Bay &c., 
Fishery Companies, with an explanatory introduction 
and notes. 

So many facts and opinions of much interest to the 
shareholders were elicited in the Committee of the House 
of Lords to which were referred the Bills promoted in the 
present session by the Company and the Whitstable Com- 
pany, that it has been considered expedient to print, for 
the information of the shareholders, all the evidence of 
any importance to them which was given on oath before 
the Committee, with some necessary explanations. 

In order that the statements in this pamphlet should 
be altogether accurate, application was made for informa- 
tion on many points to the Company's energetic Secretary, 
and it is due to that Gentleman to acknowledge the value 
of his most candid and obliging explanations on every 
matter on which enquiry was made. It is also fitting that 
the shareholders should know that the Secretary was thus 
giving effect to the wishes of the Board. 

It will be observed that some of the evidence against 
the Company was given with a boldness of assertion 
which had to be corrected by cross-examination; but 
although for the sake of avoiding needless length some 
evidence relating to the Whitstable Company and the 
evidence on some questions on manerial rights, which were 
rather vaguely raised by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, 
are omitted, care has been taken not to leave out a singly 


statement which was intended to be prejudicial to the 
Heme Bay Company. 

The Directors arfe evidently anxious that every share- 
holder should be fully and accurately informed as to the con- 
dition and prospects of the Company's property and affairs, 
and not the less so because of their conviction that the more 
rigid the investigation to which the Heme Bay Fishery is 
subjected— so that the scrutiny be honest and not deliber- 
ately prejudiced — the more satisfactory to the shareholders 
will be its results. 

' The last parliamentary contest between the Whitstable 
Company and the Heme Bay Company related ohiefly to a 
piece of ground below low water mark, which each Com- 
pany desired to secure as an addition to its own oyster 

In order that the relative position of the two Com- 
panies may b© understood, it is necessary to gd back to 
times past. 

The Whitstable Company are a most ancient body of 
a free fishers and dredgers," who, from father to son, have 
carried on the business of an oyster fishery during (it is 
probable), a period of at least 2,000 years. It was about 
A.I). 80, that Julius Agricola first exported oysters from the 
neighbourhood of the Reculvers to Rome, and for the an- 
cestors of the Whitstable free dredgers, Rome was during 
about three centuries their Billingsgate. It is therefore 
likely that they are the oldest known business firm in the 
world, and they are entitled to the respect which in our 
aristocratio country we gladly pay to ancient lineage. 

They are not only " free dredgers," but they are fair 
dredgers, and whatever may be the rivalry between the 
two Companies, the Heme Bay Company need have no fear 
that the members of the Whitstable Company will forfeit 
their good repute by acting otherwise than as honest 
neighbours. It will not be the fault of the Heme Bay 
Company if the two Companies are not good friends. 

After the lapse of many centuries, the Whitstable 
Company were in the year 1793 incorporated by an Act of 

Parliament, tinder which they purchased their fishery, 
which before that time they had rented of the Lord of the 

The Whitstable fishery lies on the southern side of the 
estuary of the Thames, eastward of the Isle of Sheppey 
and where the waters of the Medway and the Swale flow 
into the sea. 

In order to the fattening of the best oysters, the soil 
on which they lie must be of a particular character, 
and the water that covers them must be neither fresh nor 
salt, but a due admixture of the two. The Whitstable 
fishery has the requisite advantages of both soil and 
water, and the great superiority of " Whitstable natives " 
over almost all other oysters is mainly owing to these 

The members of the Whitstable Company are a fine 
body of nearly 400 men, brought up from their youth to 
the business of their fishery, but all their intelligence 
and industry would be thrown away, if the soil of their 
oyster grounds were mere mud or moving sand, and 
the water which flows over them were unmixed sea 

Careful culture of their oyster beds is of course one 
of the requisites for the production of first-rate oysters, 
and it is not improbable that it is owing to great care in 
cultivation that the "Whitstable natives" have of late 
years surpassed in popularity the old favourite " Milton 
oysters," which were formerly heard of among " the cries 
of London," and which were fattened on oyster beds near 
to the Whitstable grounds. 

The extent of the Whitstable . fishery is somewhere 
between two and three square miles. Like other large 
oyster grounds, its quality varies in different parts ; some 
parts being more fit for breeding oysters than for fatten- 
ing them, but a great part being better adapted for 

Eastward of the Whitstable fishery, and stretching for 
several miles along the coast of Kent, are other grounds, 

B 2 

many parts of which, in the quality of the soil and of the 
water, possess much the same advantages as the Whitstable 
grounds. The chief if not the only advantage over these 
which the Whitstable grounds possess, is that a natural bank 
of boulders and shingle, still called Whitstable " Street," — 
a name evidently of Roman origin; " via strata lapidibus " — 
runs out into the sea at the eastern end of the grounds, 
and as a breakwater gives some protection to the shal- 
lower parts of the grounds, which is not enjoyed by the 
shallower parts of the more eastwardly grounds. 

Northward and eastward of the Whitstable grounds 
and including these eastern grounds is a large extent of 
"flats," probably about 60 square miles, on which the 
" spat " of oysters falls. 

All the true " Native " oysters sold in England have 
been, and still are, with the exception of a few from the 
Northern Essex coast, obtained from these "Flats." But 
of these 60 square miles of "Flats," about 29 square miles 
only are good natural oyster beds adapted for breeding, 
and the Heme Bay Company's fishery includes six of 
these 29 square miles, and according to the best evidence, 
the portion by far the most prolific of " spat " and " brood," 
of the whole of the " Flats." 

The oyster goes through the several stages of " spat," 
"brood," "half-ware," "ware," and "oyster." 

The " spat " or spawn is emitted from the oyster in 
immense quantities. Mr. Frank Buckland has ascertained 
that 800,000 spat can be produced by a single oyster. 
Other observers, perhaps not so accurate, have estimated the 
number at 1,500,000, and some have gone so high as 

But much and long continued scientifically accurate ob- 
servation is needed, in order that we may arrive at some- 
thing like certainty about the propagation of the oyster. 
All the known fisheries on the coasts of the United Kingdom 
seem to have been managed on the " rule of thumb " prin- 
ciple— " what father did, I does," gives the clue to their 

1 All the evidence given by the free dredgers leaves the 
same impression on the mind — that the witnesses observed 
what was forced on their observation and nothing more ; that 
fifty years' experience left a man as ignorant of every- 
thing beyond what was palpable to his sight and touch as ho 
probably was when he had been only five years in the 
business ; and that he consequently had the undefinable 
horror of " science," which his forefathers had of magic. 
Like uneducated men, he thought that whatever was new 
to him must be nonsense. 

He can tell you that there is " a good spat," or " a 
heavy spat" in the estuary of the Thames about once in 
every seven or eight years, but what are the conditions 
(except a warm season) on which it is dependent, he evi- 
dently neither knows nor cares to know. It is probable 
that Mr. Frank Buckland is the first person interested in 
oyster-culture, who, during the 2,000 years of the Whit- 
stable fishery, took the pains to ascertain the specific 
gravity and the temperature of the water opposite to 
Whitstable and opposite to Heme Bay, which he found to 
be on the same morning exactly the same — 1*024 and 

So far as can be learned at present, the spat floats in 
the water for a time, and if it be not carried out to sea nor 
killed by cold nor swallowed by fish, it falls to the bottom 
in order to anchor itself there for life. If it falls on mud 
it perishes at once, if on weed it perishes with the weed. 
But if it falls on a clean bottom of "culch" — broken 
shells, small stones and the like — it adheres to the hard 
substance and there grows. 

The Heme Bay Company, in imitation of their neigh- 
bours, are preparing their grounds for the reception ot 
spat by clearing them from weeds, and parts of their 
grounds as beds for fattening oysters by also laying on 
them a surface of culch. 

They have thus already cleared about five square miles 
for spat, of which about one square mile is occupied by 
the fattening beds which are already culched. 


Portions of the flats liave natural beds on which the 
spat falls and thrives. 

When it has arrived at the "brood" stage or at a 
more advanced stage it can be dredged up from the flats 
and removed to other grounds better adapted for 
fattening. > 

Before the Heme Bay Company's Act was passed, 
parts of what are now their grounds were open to the 
public as common grounds from which any persons might 
dredge up brood, &c., at their pleasure, and from them the 
Whitstable Company got a great quantity of the oysters 
which they fattened on their own grounds. 

The Act of 1864 which gave to the Heme Bay Company 
exclusive rights overparts of these eastern grounds, of course 
deprived the Whitstable Company of the opportunity of 
dredging up brood, &c., there, and, as was to be expected, 
the Whitstable Company most strenuously, though in 
vain, opposed the application to Parliament for the Act. 
The Whitstable Company applied to Parliament in the 
sessions of 1865 and 18{56 f for an extension of their fishery, 
but in each case without attaining their object. 

It is to be hoped that their money will be better 
employed hereafter. 

The Company's oyster grounds extend from west to 
east about seven miles along the coast of Heme Bay and 
northwardly about one mile and a half into the hay and 
their total area is about nine square miles. 

Of this area about one third (three square miles) lying 
between high and low water mark is " foreshore." 

Mr. Plummer, the steward and solicitor of the Whit* 
stable Company, says in his evidence, "the ground between 
high and low water mark is valueless in the oyster 
fishery. It is necessary that it should be covered with 
water ;" and, eo far a* regard* the foreshore in its mere 
natural state, his evidence is in this respect accurate. 

The western portion of the Company's grounds is in 
the Manor of Swalecliflfe, of which Earl Cowper is the 
Lord. The manor comprises also ground beyond the 

western end of the Company's grounds which is shoira 
on the map (A a), and is referred to in the pages following 
as ," the leasehold ground," and further westward are open 
grounds, part of the flats, stretching to the eastern boun- 
dary of the Whitstable grounds, and marked (B) on the 

Earl Cowper refused to cede to the Company his 
rights over the manor grounds within the Company's 
limits unless the Company took " the leasehold ground " 
also, and accordingly a lease for 99 years of the whole of 
his lordship's grounds below high water mark has been 
granted to a trustee : as to the grounds within their limits 
upon trust for the Company ; and as to the leasehold 
ground (A a) upon trust for the Oyster Company Limited ; 
which, as the shareholders are aware, is practically united 
to the Company. 

The Company hare no parliamentary authority to hold 
the leasehold ground (A a) themselves and they therefore 
applied to Parliament for the requisite authority. 

The Whitstable Company also applied to Parliament 
for an extension of their grounds and proposed to take in 
the whole of the grounds below low water mark between 
their eastern limits and the Company's western limits, 
including therefore all the available part of the leasehold 
ground. The ground applied for by the Whitstable Com- 
pany is marked (B A a) on the map, and is oalled in 
Mr. Plummer's evidence " the extension ground." 

Parliament however has not yet thought it expedient 
to comply with either application. 

It is perhaps almost needless to say that a strong 
feeling adverse to the Company has been excited in some 
members of the Whitstable Company, on seeing them- 
selves excluded from grounds which had theretofore 
-been open and common to themselves and other 

While the existence of this feeling is to be regretted, 

. it cannot but be regarded as being a very natural feeling. 

The hope is, that it may soon subside, and that the 


WhitBtable Company will before long entertain the same 
wish as the Company, that the two should, in the words 
of Mr. Nicholls, the Whitstable Company's foreman, be 
good neighbours and work honestly. 

It is not in any spirit of exultation that the fact that 
the Whitstable Company have, in three successive sessions 
of Parliament and under what the event has proved to 
be very injudicious advice, fought a losing fight against 
the Heme Bay Company is referred to. It is hoped that 
wiser counsels may prevail in future. 

If the Whitstable Company had applied for only that 
part of the extension ground which lies westward of the 
leasehold ground and is marked (B) on the map, and their 
application had been successful, they would have almost 
doubled their available grounds. 

According to Mr. Plummer's evidence, this addition 
would have enabled the Whitstable Company to take from 
these grounds in four years more than 300,000 bushels of 
oysters, which, at the old low price of 40s. a-bushel, would 
have given a gross return of 600,000/., or 150,000/. a-year, 
yielding to the members of that Company a very satisfactory 
profit It may be thought that it would have been wiser 
on their part to have tried only for the grounds which 
could yield such a profit than to have fought for a larger 
area and have got nothing. 

Several statements evidently intended to operate to 
the prejudice of the Company have been circulated, and 
this appears to be the proper place to notice them. 

The statements are to some [extent contradictory of 
each other, and it will be seen that all of them are suffi- 
ciently refuted by the evidence given below, but before 
proceeding to examine them, it is desirable to premise one 
or two remarks. 

It must be borne in mind that before the Company ob- 
tained their Act, parts of the grounds which they now 
have, being common and conveniently near to Whitstable^ 
had been thoroughly dredged for brood to be laid down 
chiefly on the Whitstable beds, so. that the Company came 


into possession of grounds from which the crop of oysters 
had been almost entirely cleared — a stubble field, as it were 
— and they have to cleanse, stock, and cultivate their 
grounds — to plough, manure, sow, and weed the stubble 
field — before it will yield them a proper crop. 

The Company's Act did not receive the Royal Assent 
until July 25, 1864 : the Company then had to be orga- 
nised : they then had to arrange with the Office of Woods 
and Forests for a lease of grounds from the Crown : and 
although they were able to make a beginning before the 
lease was granted, yet it was not till about a year ago 
that they were in full legal possession of the " stubble 
field," which they are now cultivating. 

Considering that^they have now finished all the works 
which their Act obliged them to make, have laid down on 
their grounds many millions of oysters, and have about 
five square miles in good condition for the reception of 
spat, including one square mile of fattening beds, they 
may at least claim the credit of not having been 

What can be done in a few years with a bare piece of 
oyster ground may be seen by Mr. Plummer's evidence. 

" You have not sufficient land for the growth and cul- 
tivation of the oyster ? — " No, we have not ; and there is a 
part of the ground to which I wish to refer, just to show the 
capabilities of the oyster fishery. About ten years ago, the 
circumstances of the [Whitstable] Company were not good, 
they were in debt, and they did not cultivate all the ground. 
There is a bed on the east side, next to the Street, consist- 
ing of about 300 acres. It had not been stocked for some 
years, and during the "great spats of 1858 and 1859, we 
stocked that piece of ground thoroughly. In the next four 
years we took 150,000 bushels of oysters from that ground 
to market, showing, I think, that if we obtain the exten- 
sion for which we now apply, we shall be able, on the en- 
tension ground, which is about six times the dimensions of 
that portion of the ground to which I have referred, three 
square miles, we shall be able to take, I think, at least 


1,000,000 bushels of oysters from this extension in the next 
four years." 

To compare what the Company have done with the 
jdoings of the Whitstable Company, would be like making 
a comparison between the doings of an infant, and of a 
man in his prime, but a strong conviction is entertained 
-that before many years have passed the Heme Bay 
Company will not be the Company to shrink from the 

The statements which have been circulated to the 
prejudice of the Heme Bay Company, so far as they are 
known, may be arranged under the heads following :— 

1. TJie Company's grounds are valueless as oyster grounds. 

When the Company's Act was applied for, it wa$ said 
that the ground was too valuable to be given up to them. 

See Captain George Austin's evidence, that "pro- 
bably the portion taken by the Heme Bay Company was 
about the best. The whole Bay swore that it was, and I 
believe that they were not far from right." 

Captain G. Austin had given similar evidence before 
the Sea Fishery Commissioners, and the late Mr. James 
Lowe, a witness most decidedly hostile to the Company, 
said, " I believe that the most valuable portion of the flats, 
upon which the spat fell in the greatest quantity, was 
that which has been taken by the Herne Bay Company." 

2, The Company have injured the dredgers by taking away 
from them some of their best common grounds. 

See Mr. Plummer's evidence (183), that quite 60 square 
miles of the estuary of the Thames are still left open, and 
his enumeration of the "very fine brood grounds,"— the 
Pansand, &c,, — within that area. 

3. The Company have more ground than they can use. 
See Mr. Plummer's evidence, showing that the fore- 


shore in its natural state i? useless for oyster culture, and 
that it is impossible to say before proper trial lias been 
made, what parts of " the extension ground " would grow 
or would fatten oysters. It is the same with the Com* 
pany's available ground. They must ascertain the quality 
of the soil, and use only those parts which are approved 
on trial. 

Mr. Plummer states that he is "credibly informed" that 
the Company are only using " about one mile out of nine " 
— the nine miles including about three miles of foreshore. 

It appears that the Whitstable Company also are using 
part only of their grounds. Mr. Plummer, in trying to show 
that it was necessary for the Whitstable Company that they 
should baye " the extension ground," asserted that they 
were obliged " to lay all our present grounds with oysters 
for the market, and the result is, that we have no ground 
upon which to lay the brood of. oysters when the spat 
comes," and " if the spat came, we should have no place 
to lay it on, and the result would be, that we must strip 
part of our present ground of oysters in order to use that 
ground for brood-" 

In answer to the question, " Is the ground that you 
have got now folly stocked " he replied " Yet" and on 
the question being repeated, he replied, " Ves, it is fully 

These assertions by Mr. plummer were, however, 
directly contradicted by Mr. Nicholls, the foreman of the 
Whitstable Company, who, on cross-examination, admitted, 
as will be seen by his evidence (257, 8, 9), that their grounds 
were as near as I can tell you, only about one-third stocked. 

4. The Company do not employ a sufficient number of men. 

Mr. Plummer said, " I think that you may be carrying 
it" (the oyster fishery), " on to an unappreciabie extent ; 
for instance, you have five boafa, and ypu employ ©bout 
twenty men." 


Mr. Cholmondeley Pennell, the Company's then Chair- 
man, refuted this assertion. "At the present time, we have 
thirty-three men in our regular employment, but we have 
had at different times as many as one hundred men in our 

Thirty-three men regularly employed by a Company 
not two years old, will compare well with the men em- 
ployed by the Whitstable Company. The evidence given 
by their witnesses is often not very exact as to their own 
affairs, but it will be seen by the evidence below, that 
when the Whitstable Company's Act passed the number 
of their members was thirty-six, and that although it has 
gradually increased to about four hundred, yet they reckon 
only about three hundred of them as working men. 

In the Report of the Sea Fisheries Commission, it is said 
of them, "The rate of wages varies according to the quan- 
tity sold and the price of oysters; on the average of the 
last eighteen years, the rate of pay to the members being 
23*. a-week ; the last few years it has been considerably 
more, and a bonus was divided in 1863 of 20/., and in 1864 
of 16/., so that the amount each member has received 
during the last twelve months has been altogether 100/. 
The widows of members are also entitled to one-third ot 
the pay which working members get. Between 33,000/. 
and 34,000/. has been paid over by the Company to its 
members in the course of one year. For this pay the 
average work performed by the dredgermen during the 
open season, when they are engaged in dredging up 
oysters for sale in the market, is about two hours a-day ; 
and during the close season, when they are occupied in 
dredging and clearing the ground and moving and separa- 
ting the oysters, four hours a-day. The rest of their time 
is generally occupied in dredging the ' Flats ' for brood, 
which they sell to the Company for laying down, and in 
good years they often make more by work outside than they 
receive from the Company itself in wages." 

If six hours be a fair day's work, the three hundred 
working members are practically one hundred; and the 


infant Company -with thirty-three men in regular employ- 
ment and one hundred men in occasional employment, 
may, even by the side of their very ancient neighbour, 
claim the credit of having made a respectable beginning as 
employers of labour. 

The Company's rate of progress has been from nil to 
thirty-three in two years : the Whitstable Company's from 
thirty-six to three hundred in seventy-three years. 

5. The Company cannot breed oysters on their grounds. 

When the Company's Act was applied for, one of the 
chief allegations that was made by its opponents was, that 
it was proposed to take from the public one of the best 
parts of the " Flats " for breeding oysters. 

The Company's grounds, and " the extension ground," 
are together one tract of oyster grounds, and Mr. Hum- 
mer's evidence shows how anxious the Whitstable Com- 
pany were to secure for themselves the extension ground ; 
an anxiety which they probably would not have felt if they 
had not been convinced of its great value. 

Mr. Nicholls, in his evidence says, that "it is a very 
good bit of ground for spat and brood." 

See also Captain Austin's evidence, as follows : — 

" Now you are acquainted also with the ground which 
the Whitstable Company seek to obtain by this Bill?— 

"A portion of what are called * the Flats'?— Yes. 

" Is that portion of the Flats the best portion for ob- 
taining the spat of the native oyster? — Probably the por- 
tion taken by the Heme Bay Company was about the best. 
The whole Bay swore that it was, and I believe that they 
are not far from right. 

"That was taken in 1864? — Yes;, the part granted 
already by the Act of Parliament." 

6. The Company cannot fatten oysters on their grounds. 
The evidence which contradicts the fifth allegation 


against the Company is also contradictory of this allega- 
tion. Taking the evidence of Mr. Phtmmer, Mr. Nicholls, 
and Captain Austin together, it will be seen that the 
extension ground is regarded by the Whitstable Company 
as a valuable fattening ground, and that the Company's 
grounds are at least as good as, if not better than the 
extension ground. 

See Mr. Cholmondeley Pennell's evidence, as follows : — 

" Although you have only had this limited period since 
the opposition of the Crown was withdrawn, to work your 
oyster beds, have you produced good oysters? — -Yes, 
certainly ; because, putting aside any question of opinion, 
a good oyster is an oyster which will sell in the market at 
a large price. I think that is a fair estimate of its value ; 
and we have sold many at large prices, and the sale has 
greatly increased. In the last week we have sold 150/, 

u As your cultivation proceeds, and the maintenance of 
your oyster grounds continues, I presume you hope to 
improve your oysters and sell them still ? — Clearly. The 
oysters now are not equal to what they will be. We have 
already produced well-fed oysters fit for the public market,- 
and they have been very touch liked. 

" I believe the oysters come up uncertainly. Some are 
good, and some are not ?— They are getting touch better. 
A few in every bushel are bad. 

"And you expect a further improvement in them? — 
Yes. We have weighed the proportion of meat to the 
shell at different times, and we found a very steady 
improvement in the proportion of meat. That is in the 
growth of the oyster. 

" Your grounds have, I believe, fattening properties ? — 
Very large fattening properties, no doubt. Our oysters 
now are not quite equal to the Whitstable oyfetertf. They 
have only been down for a year, and the Whitstable have 
been down for font and five and six years* I wish to state 
the case fairly." 

Mr. Frank Buckland, one of the Directors, stated some 


time ago, as the result of his examination of oysters from 
the following grounds, that the proportion of meat to shell 

Whitstabld One-fottrth. 

Colchester • . . * . . One*fourth. 

Heme Bay (natural oysters not "1 q g^i 

cultivated) . . . . • • J 

, Paglesham . . ., .. One-fifth. 

Falmouth . . . . . . One-sixth. 

Isle de Re One-fifteenth. 

He has lately ascertained that many natural oysters 
found on the Company's grounds are quite equal to the 
best Whitstable natives. 

The oysters which the Company have laid down on 
their grounds, and therefore the oysters which they have 
sent to market, have been of different qualities. Some 
were " common" or " channel" oysters, which always fetch 
a low price. The average of the Company's sales of 
natives to April 30, 1866, was 41. 15*. a-bushel. 

See also the evidence of Mr. Ffetinell, one of the 
English Fishery Commissioners, as follows j — 

" Of the oysters you did see dredged [from the Com- 
pany's grounds], you say some were good, and a great 
many bad ? — There was not what I would call a bad oyster 
among them. There was not an oyster among them that 
was not in a progressive state to a good condition." 

And at the conclusion of his evidence : — 

" And you found [on the Company's grounds] a good 
marketable oyster? — Yes; I found a good marketable 

The Company can ascertain only by experience what 
parts of their grounds are the best fattening grounds. It 
is probable that some portions of the fattening grounds 
may be found to be in patches with inferior grounds inter- 
mixed. Until the limits of the best fattening grounds are 
ascertained, the Company will inevitably have the occar- 


eional disappointment of finding that they have laid down 
some of their brood on the inferior grounds, and of being 
obliged to remove it to the better grounds before it yields 
good marketable oysters. 

But their experience hitherto renders it probable that 
several square miles of excellent natural fattening grounds 
are there, and these the Company are improving. 

7. The Company have not capital enough to work their grounds 


The Company have a capital of 100,000/. fully sub- 
scribed, and more than half paid up, and power to borrow 

Considering that the Whitstable Company started 
afresh under their Act of 1793, without capital and with 
borrowed money, and have not only paid off their debt of 
30,000/., but had lately a stock on their ground, which 
was valued at 400,000/., this allegation may be con- 
sidered as futile. 

8. The Company cannot carry on their oyster fishery so as to 
make it profitable. 

For this 8th allegation divers reasons are alleged. 

(a) The Company's grounds are not such as can be cultivated 


If, as there is every reason to believe, the Company's 
fishery comprises fattening grounds at least as good as the 
extension grounds, then Mr. Plummer's evidence alone is 
sufficient to dispose of this allegation. 

It will be seen by his evidence, quoted above, that 
about ten years ago, when the Whitstable Company 
were in debt, they thoroughly stocked an oyster bed of 
about 300 acres (about half a square mile) which had not 


been stocked for some years — which therefore was in much 
the same condition as the Company's grounds in 1864 — 
and that in the next four years they took 150,000 bushels 
of oysters from that ground to market, and that he ex- 
pected, if the Whitstable Company obtained " the exten- 
sion ground," they would take about one million bushels 
of oysters from it in the next four years. 

At the recent highest price of oysters this would give 
a gross return of more than 5,000,000/., or 1,250,000/. 
a-year. Supposing the price to fell to the old rate of 
2/. a-bushel, here on Mr. Plummer's estimate would be a 
gross return from the extension grounds in four years of 
2,000,000/., or at the rate of 500,000/. a-year. 

The Directors do not hold out any such sanguine 
expectations ; but this evidence may fairly be cited as 
indicating the amount of profit which the Whitstable 
Company's steward and solicitor considered that his 
Company might get from a piece of ground not protected 
by the Whitstable Street, and being in no respect, so far 
as the evidence shdws, better than the Heme Bay Com- 
pany's available ground. 

Of course it would have required a large expenditure, 
perhaps at present prices not less than 250,000/. to have 
stocked the extension ground with the brood required to 
produce the 2,000,000/. 

It is not easy to ascertain from the evidence adduced 
by the Whitstable Company what are their actual receipts. 
They seem to fluctuate according to the object of the 

When it is desired to exalt the value of the Whitstable 
grounds and to prove how well the Whitstable Company 
have prospered, their gross receipts reach an astounding 
figure ; but when it has to be shown that it would be a 
hardship on their members to allow the Heme Bay Com- 
pany to have more ground, then the payments to the 
members shrink into small dimensions. 

See Mr. Nicholls's evidence, according to which the 
proceeds of the 150,000 bushels during the four years 



1860, 1861, 1862, and 1863, gave to the members of the 
Whitstable Company an average of about 70Z. a-year each, 
or a total of about 112,000*. 

The average of the prices for Whitstable natives 
during those four years was about 21. 10s. a-bushel, and at 
that rate the 150,000 bushels fetched 375,000Z. 

During the seven years beginning with 1857, the 
Whitstable Company, on their own showing, laid out 
147,000£ in buying brood to stock their grounds. Setting 
the whole of that outlay and the 112,000Z. for wages 
against the proceeds of the 150,000 bushels, there 
remains a balance of about 116,000Z. not accounted 

This table was given in evidence in 1864, by Mr. Nicholls, 
on the opposition to the Company's Bill. 

Whitstable Oyster Fishery. 

Quantity of Brood 

Quantity of 

obtained from the 

Total cost 


Total cost 


ground proposed to 

obtained from 

thereof inclusive 

be taken by the 

other (distant) 

of freight. 

new Fishery. 



£ s. d. 


£ s. d. 



3,000 3 10 


8,260 1 8 



6.914 13 7 


14,142 10 8 



8,574 17 7* 


20,136 2 7 



8,319 7 9 


11,519 13 4 



2,761 4 11 


13,271 19 6 



1,520 15 7 


35,192 6 1 



828 17 11 


12,560 11 11* 


31,920 1 2* 


115,073 5 9* 

Totals .. 


31,920 1 2* 


146,993 7 0] 

A " wash " is about a quarter of a bushel ; a London 
bushel of oysters being equal to about two ordinary 


It has been estimated that one wash of brood produces 
one bushel of oysters, and at that rate the gross return 
for the 146,993/. 7*. Od. would, at the average of only 
21. 5*. a-bushel for oysters, amount to 1,111,620/. 

Deducting the 150,000 bushels which Mr. Plummer 
says were taken to market, there would remain brood for 
344,053^ bushels of oysters, which in the course of the 
next three or four years ought, at that low average price, 
to yield to the Whitstable Company a gross return of 

Allowing for casualties and for some of the oysters 
being of inferior sorts, these figures show that the old men 
of the Whitstable Company's Jury were probably not far 
from wrong, when, as Captain G. Austin stated in his evi- 
dence before the Sea Fisheries Commission, they, in 1864, 
assessed the Whitstable Company's stock at 400,000/. 

This table gives a basis for estimating the probable 
value of the Company's grounds. 

Mr. Nicholls said most confidently that two-thirds 
(109,260) of the 163,891 wash came off what are now the 
Company's grounds. 

Captain G. Austin, in his evidence given below (992), 
estimated the total number of wash taken off the flats in 
the five years ending with 1861, by the Whitstable Com- 
pany, the Pollard Company, the Faversham Company, 
and the Essex boats, at 544,683 wash. 

If it be supposed that instead of two-thirds, only one- 
third of what was taken by the Whitstable, the Pollard, 
and the Faversham Companies, and the Essex boats, came 
from the Company's grounds, the brood taken from those 
grounds, probably, amounted in the seven years to about 
250,000 wash. 

If the grounds had belonged to the Whitstable, or the 
Pollard, or the Faversham Company, and they, instead of 
taking off the brood, had duly cultivated it on the grounds, 
then, at a bushel for a wash and only 40s. for a bushel, the 
gross return for the spat that had fallen on the Company's 
grounds would have been about £500,000. 

c 2 


Unless the only evidence on which any reliance is to 
be placed, is the assertion that oysters cannot be fattened at 
Heme Bay, an assertion which is directly contradicted by 
fact, there cannot be a reasonable doubt that the Company 
have a good prospect of being able to employ their capital 
very profitably. 

(b) The spatting of oysters has ceased. They have had their 
day, and are about to become an extinct mollusc. 

Spat falls periodically in the estuary of the Thames. 
There is a heavy spat in one or two years, and then a 
fallow of several years. It is now the fallow time, and a 
good spat before long is hoped for, but it seems to depend 
on the seasons. 

Nothing but time can contradict a prediction of what 
is to happen in future ; but towards the close of the last 
year there was a small fall of spat on the Company's 
grounds, and it was said by a member of the Whit- 
stable Company, that " Heme Bay has got almost 
all the spat of the year." Where oyster grounds are 
neglected, the stock of oysters on them is brought very 
low, but, except where mud or sand or weed chokes the 
grounds, the oysters are probably never extinguished. 
With time and care they could be restored. 

Some years ago it was confidently predicted that the 
world was to come to an end in the year 1866, but it is 
understood that those who assisted in circulating the pre- 
diction did not rely on it sufficiently to induce them to 
drop their life policies. The prediction that oysters are 
coming to an end may, probably, be safely dismissed as an 
equally worthless guess. 

(c) The present high price of oysters cannot last; and when 
the price falls, Oyster Fisheries will become unprofit- 
able. / 

The price of oysters, like all other prices, depends on 


demand and supply. When oysters are dear, brood is 
dear : and when oysters are cheap, brood is cheap. 

The artificial profit of an oyster fishery arises from the in- 
crease in the value of brood when it is laid down on a good 
fattening ground. The quantity of labour bestowed on 
the grounds, and the growth of the brood till it becomes 
marketable, are the same, whether prices are high or 

It would probably be perfectly safe to say that if the 
average price of Whitstable natives during the last twenty 
years — 21. Is. a-bushel — were to become the permanent 
price, oyster fisheries in the estuary of the Thames must 
still yield a very handsome profit. The Whitstable Com- 
pany did well with that low price. 

In the Sea Fisheries Commissioners' Report, pre- 
sented to Parliament, in February 1866 (p. xci.), is a 
table of the Whitstable Company's purchases of brood 
from the Flats and Essex, and of the value of natives sold, 
with averages of prices from July, 1852, to March 1865 ; 
from which it appears that their outlay for brood was 
223,363/., and their receipts from oysters 540,453?. But 
this table does not include their outlay for brood from dis- 
tant sources, which, as given by Mr. Nicholls in the table 
cited above, was 115,073£ 5s?tyd. in seven of those years ; 
nor does it appear how much of this was for brood from 

It is very difficult to get at the facts and figures which 
would present the accurate statistics of the Whitstable 
Company, and would afford a test of the truth of the state- 
ment, by no means generally discredited, that the income 
of their members has in prosperous years ranged between 
240Z. and 280Z. each. 

The present high prices have much checked the sale 
of oysters, even from the Whitstable Fishery. Mr. Chol- 
mondeley Pennell says, in his evidence : — 

" It has been an exceedingly slack season ; so much so, 
that the boats have gone back to Whitstable and other 
places with their cargoes. It is admitted that it has been 


an exceptionally slack season, as far as oysters are con- 
cerned ; but notwithstanding that, we have sold a great 
number at a good price." 

With low prices, consumption increases, and "the 
nimble ninepence" is proverbially profitable. 

(d) The present high price of oysters has given a great stimulus 
to oyster culture; and so many new beds will be maa\ 
that the market will be overstocked. 

It is true that oyster fisheries are much more thought 
of now than before the experiments in France and the 
establishment of the Company drew special attention to 
the subject; and a large amount of capital is likely to be 
invested in them; but there are unsurpassable physical 
limits to the extension of oyster grounds, and railways 
can now carry oysters by the ton to inland towns which 
formerly received them only by the barrel. 

In the first place, it is indisputable that the fattening 
grounds in the estuary of the Thames stand in the first 
rank; and their area cannot be enlarged. At the same 
time, some further portions of the estuary could be made 
private, and by being brought into regular cultivation 
could be rendered available for fattening oysters. So 
long as those portions remain open, they will be dredged 
for brood, which will not be allowed to He there long 
enough to become oysters. But Mr. Nicholls, the Whit- 
stable Company's foreman, who speaks with an experience 
of fifty years, says in his evidence, on being asked his 
opinion as to competing neighbours, " I do not mind how 
many we get for the market; for I believe there is a 
sufficient market for every one who has sufficient good 
oysters to sell." 

In the next place, it cannot sanely be imagined that a 
single acre on the coasts of the United Kingdom where 
oysters could breed or fatten, but on which they have not 
already bred or fattened, could b$ found. 


Oysters have been cultivated here for twenty centuries. 
Whenever there has been a spat it has floated in the sea 
in unimaginable millions, and to search for such an acre 
would be as absurd as to search Salisbury plain for cm acre 
on which thistle down had never fallen. 

The late Duke of Northumberland, among his many 
generous efforts to benefit his tenantry and others, spent, 
it is said, thousands of pounds in vain in the attempt to 
make oyster grounds where oysters had theretofore been 

There are, however, known oyster grounds on the 
southern coast of England and the western coast of Scot- 
land and elsewhere, which are in a neglected state, and 
which under good management could doubtless add to 
the supply of marketable oysters ; but, on the other hand, 
the population of the United Kingdom, and therefore the 
oyster- consuming power of the nation, has greatly 

But capita] is required to bring these grounds into use, 
and the capital will not be forthcoming if adequate profits 
are not to be made by it. 

(9) The Company have not kept faith with the public by com" 
plying with the requirements of their Act. 

The Company were obliged by their Act to erect 
boundary stones and provide buoys for showing the limits 
of their fishery, and to make a tramway firom the North Kent 
line to their oyster grounds, and a pier at the end of their 
tramway. These are the works which they were obliged to 
make, and all these works they have made. 

The Company are permitted but are not obliged by 
their Act to make other works, including tanks. A section 
in the Act, which was introduced at the instance of the Board 
of Trade, has rendered it questionable whether this permis- 
sion extends over more than five years, and whether, if any 
of these permissive works were made after that time, the. 


Company would not forfeit their privileges. The Board of 
Trade did not intend that this should be the case, and are 
willing that the doubt should be removed. The Directors 
of course will take care that the doubt does not become of 
any practical importance. 

It will be seen by the evidence that a great point was 
attempted to be made of the fact that the Company had 
not yet made any tank for themselves, and it was endea- 
voured to be shown that the Company were pledged to 
Parliament, by the evidence given for their Act, to make 
tanks and to spend 80,000Z. of their capital on works, 
because some of the witnesses had held out an expectation 
that breeding tanks would be tried, and Sir Charles Fox, 
the Engineer, had estimated for tanks. 

The shareholders will have pleasure in learning that the 
Company will set an almost unique example by keeping their 
expenditure on works far within the engineer's estimate. 

Since the Directors have been in office they have ascer- 
tained that an expensive permissive work which, although 
not specifically alluded to in Parliament, had been esti- 
mated for, not only could most properly be dispensed with 
but ought not to be undertaken by the Company. 

The total expense of the works which the Company 
were obliged to make, and of the permissive works which 
it appears probably that they may require during the five 
years, will not, as the Directors expect, reach 2 5,000 L 

The greater part of the Company's outlay will be for 
brood to lay down on their fattening grounds. 

Mr. James Mitchell who, according to his evidence, is 
an unsuccessful experimenter in oyster culture, sneered at 
the Company's tramway and pier (see his evidence). He 
professed to be " tolerably well acquainted with the native 
oyster fisheries," but he could not imagine the Company 
making any other rise of their tramway and pier than for 
sending oysters to Billingsgate. 

Whether the Company will ever use them for that pur* 
pose is at present uncertain, but yet they will be of great 


The western coast of Ireland has extensive oyster 
breeding grounds from which immature oysters are 
bought in large quantities to the fattening grounds 
in the estuary of the Thames. These Irish oysters have 
hitherto been brought in sailing vessels, and the length of 
the voyage is uncertain. The Company have had two 
cargoes of them. The first was delivered in fair condition, 
but the vessel which brought the second was detained on 
her voyage, and a considerable portion of her cargo died. 

This is a casualty to which all of the Thames fisheries 
are exposed. 

Careful inquiries have shown that Irish oysters can be 
brought by railway across Ireland and England with the 
short intervening voyage across St. George's Channel more 
speedily, cheaply and safely than in sailing vessels, and the 
Company's railway and pier form the last link in the chain 
of communication between the breeding grounds on the 
coasts of Ireland, Wales and England, and the Company's 
fattening grounds. 

The Directors had made preparation for one breeding 
tank if it should be required, but their late superintendent, 
Mr. Crofts, was anxious to try at his own cost an experi- 
ment with a breeding tank of his own invention, and to 
this the Directors assented. It is a very ingenious inven- 
tion, and if it succeeds it will be most valuable, but 
hitherto it has not proved successful. 

That tank is now in the possession of the Company, 
and is in use experimentally. It is possible that it may yet 
prove to be of value, but the Directors do not entertain any 
confident expectation of that being the case. They do 
not at present see their way to another breeding tank 
experiment, and they are indisposed to spend any large 
sum in speculative attempts at forcing spat. It cannot be 
admitted that the expectations of witnesses, before the Com- 
pany were incorporated, as to what they would probably 
do when incorporated, imposes any moral, as it certainly 
does not impose any legal obligation on the Company to 
waste their money. 


Mr. Frank Buckland, one of the Directors, is con- 
stantly making experiments for the Company on an in- 
expensive scale, and he is thus accumulating evidence of 
what will not succeed — only second in value to evidence of 
what will succeed. 

In 1864 it was generally believed that the French had 
made wonderful discoveries in the propagation of oysters. 
It is now questioned whether the success which was then 
attributed to their plans was not merely the consequence 
of a very unusually heavy spat, and whether their " Parks " 
and "Claires" are of more use than the Company's 
unenclosed oyster beds. 

But even if the French plans are of great use on the 
western coast of France, it does not follow that they 
would be of any use on the northern coast of Kent. 
Mr. Frank Buckland has well said that " climate is almost 
everything in artificial oyster breeding, and the climate of 
the Isle de Re is fit for the growth of grapes, and the 
climate of the Isle of Sheppey for turnips." 

That gentleman's accuracy of observation and patient 
attention to every small detail may ultimately be rewarded 
with success, but the Board do not intend to incur any 
large outlay on permissive works without having good 
reason to anticipate that it will be remunerative. They 
will soon have several storage tanks, and it is probable that 
they may by degrees increase the number of those tanks, 
which cost only a few pounds each. 

This ninth allegation against the Company is refuted 
by Mr. Ffennell, one of the English Fishery Commissioners! 
Whose duty it may hereafter be to report officially on the 
Company's compliance with the requirements of their Act. 
In his evidence he says distinctly that the Company " have 
faithfully fulfilled the duties imposed upon them, and having 
been one of the persons appointed by the section of the 
Act who might be called upon to report if they did not do 
so — if I were called on to do so, / could most conscientiously 
say they have done everything that could be reasonably expected 
of them. As a public officer — " 


44 Yoti had a duty imposed upon yon as a public officer 
to make the enquiries ? — Yes ; I went down frequently to 
see how they were going on, because I might have been 
called on under the Act to report : and, if I was called 
on, / could most conscientiously say they had done a great 

It will be seen by the preceding remarks, and the evi- 
dence which follows : that these points are satisfactorily 
established : — 

1. Oyster culture by the Whitstable Company is a most 
profitable business. Starting in 1793, with borrowed money, 
paying to the working members handsome wages for very 
light work on their own grounds, and large sums for brood 
dredged up by them from the Flats, and making payments 
to all the non-working members and widows of deceased 
members, the Whitstable Company have repaid 30,000?. 
which they borrowed, and now have a stock of .oysters 
worth probably between 300,000i and 400,000i, represent- 
ing accumulations of profits. 

2. The Heme Bay Company possess oysters grounds 
which are probably better as breeding grounds than the 
Whitstable Company's grounds, and are already proved to 
comprise good fattening grounds which when thoroughly 
cultivated will probably be found to be quite as good as 
the best of the Whitstable Company's grounds. 

3. The area of the Whitstable Company's grounds which 
is in actual cultivation is less than two square miles — less 
than 1,280 acres. 

4. The Heme Bay Company have already brought 
about 3,200 acres into such a state as to render the 
whole of that area fit for the reception of spat, and on 
parts of it they have laid down many millions of oysters 
to breed and to fatten. 

5. In order to insure a regular supply of oysters, it is 
necessary to stock the grounds yearly with brood to grow 
and fetten on them. 

6. The Whitstable Company expended in the seven 


years ending with 1863, 147,000/. (on the average 21,000/. 
a-year) on brood for stocking their grounds. 

7. The Heme Bay Company have expended in a year 
and a half about 25,000/. in stocking their grounds with 
brood ; about 2,000/. of it being for mere labour. 

8. The 50,000/. which the Whitstable Company spent 
for brood in 1858 and 1859 produced a gross return of more 
than 300,000/. in the next four years. 

9. The Heme Bay Company's subscribed capital and 
borrowing power are sufficient to enable them to expend 
in stocking their grounds more than 50,000/. in addition to 
their past expenditure. 

10. Artificial oyster breeding is at present a matter of 
experiment which may or may not succeed, and the Com- 
pany, like their neighbours, must rely for their stock mainly 
on the heavy spats which periodically fall on their grounds, 
and on the brood which they buy and bring from other 

11. Not one of the reports that have been circulated 
against the Heme Bay Company is well founded. 

With this introduction the reader will be the better able 
to understand the bearings and the force of the evidence 
printed below : — 

Mr. Hope Scott, Mr. Merewether, Mr. Gates, and 
Mr. Plummer (not the witness of that name) appeared as 
counsel for the Whitstable Company. 

Mr. Marshall Griffith appeared as counsel for fishermen 
and dredgermen of Whitstable, Favershamj &c., who 
petitioned against the Whitstable Company's Bill. 

Mr. Rodwell, Mr. Granville Somerset, and Mr. Meadows 
White appeared as counsel for the Heme Bay Company. 

Mr. Davison and Mr. Pember appeared as counsel for 
the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who claimed some 
manerial rights on the northern coast of Kent. 

Messrs. Plummer, Nicholls, Francis, Johnson, Smithers, 
Shrubsall and Hampton, with others whose evidence is 
omitted, were the witnesses tor the Whitstable Company, 


Messrs, Cholmondeley Pennell and Ffennell were the 
witnesses for the Heme Bay Company. 

The evidence for the Ecclesiastical Commissioners is 

Messrs. Austin, Gann, Stroud and Rowden, with others 
whose evidence is omitted, were the witnesses for the 
fishermen, &c., who petitioned against the Whitstable 
Company's Bill. 


Examined by Mr. Gates. 

1. Are you steward of this Whitstable Company? — 
Yes ; I am steward and solicitor of the Company. 

2. And have been so, I believe, for 20 years ? — Yes ; 
my father was before me, and my grandfather before 

3. You are, I believe, intimately acquainted with all 
the affairs of the Company ? — Yes ; with their property. 

4. Do you produce the Act of Parliament incorporating 
the Company in 1793 ? — Yes. 

5. The Company were incorporated by that Act, the 
23rd George HI ? — Before this Act they were tenants of 
the fishery under th 3 lords of the manor ; they were incor- 
porated to purchase the fishery, and they did afterwards 
purchase it ; it was conveyed to them. 

6. That is, the ground which they still hold ? — Yes. 

N.B. — However strong may have been this gentle- 
man's conviction that his acquaintance with the Com- 
pany's affairs was accurate and sufficient, and that he 
had exercised due discrimination in listening to talk 
against the Company, yet it is obvious that he had a 
prejudice against them and a strong bias in favour of his 
clients, which led him to express himself too positively 
on some matters not within his own knowledge. The 


consequence was that his evidence in chief had, as it 
will be seen, to be corrected by his evidence on cross- 

11. What is the extent of the ground in question? — It 
is nearly three square miles in dimensions. 

12. How much of that can you use for oyster layings ? 
— Nearly about two square miles; then there are about 
from 300 to 400 acres for the anchorage of vessels, which 
we have abandoned on account of the increase in the 
shipping trade into Whitstable; for, whereas, about ten 
years ago there were not more than twenty vessels coming 
into Whitstable, there are now more than 300 vessels 
which come there, and that is why we come here to ask for this 

13. There is not only the ground you have mentioned, 
but, I believe the foreshore between high and low water 
mark is used for oyster layings ? — The ground between 
high and low water mark is valueless in the oyster 
fishery. It is necessary that it should be covered with 
water, and that is a large tract. 

14. Has there been any increase in the demand for 
these oysters for consumption ? — Yes. Another reason is 
on account of the great increase which has taken place in 
the demand for these oysters ; and we are obliged, to meet 
that increased demand, to lay all our present grounds with 
oysters for the market, and the result is, that we have no 
ground upon which to lay the brood of oysters when the spat 

15. In point of fact, you require all your present ground 
for feeding the oysters ? — Yes ; we so use it now, and if 
the spat came, we should have no place to lay it on, and the 
result would be that we must strip part of our present 
ground of oysters in order to use that ground for brood, 
and we should send fewer oysters to market. 

16. You have not sufficient land for the growth and 
cultivation of the oyster ? — iVo, we have not ; and there is a 


part of the ground to which I wish to refer, just to show 
the capabilities of the oyster fishery. About ten years ago 
the circumstances of the Company were not good, they 
were in debt, and they did not cultivate all the ground ; 
there is a bed on the east side, next to the Street, 
consisting of about 300 acres, it had not been stocked for 
some years, and during the great spats of 1858 and 1859, 
we stocked that piece of ground thoroughly. In the next 
four years we took 150,000 bushels of oysters from that 
ground to market, showing, I think, that if we obtain the 
extension for which we now apply we shall be able, on the 
extension ground, which is about six times the dimensions 
of that portion of the ground to which I have referred, 
three square miles, we shall be able to take, I think, at 
least 1,000,000 bushels of oysters from this extension in 
the next four years. 

N.B. — This "extension ground" included the 
"leasehold ground," and if the Whitstable Bill had 
passed, the Whitstable Company could not have 
taken "the leasehold ground" without making com- 
pensation for the lessees' interest in it, and this piece 
of evidence might have been of importance in 
enhancing the value of that interest. The witness 
does not appear to have been conscious how this 
evidence might have been used against his own clients. 

17. How long does it take for an oyster to become fit 
for the table ? — An oyster ought to be four years old, or 
from three to four years old. 

18. 1 believe, when the oyster spawns, the spat floats 
for a time upon the surface of the water? — Yes ; it floats 
upon the surface for about twenty-four hours, and then, 
* after it has acquired a consistency, it drops down on to 
the soil. If it drops on to culch, or on to clean shells, or 
on to stone or gravel, it will live ; but if it falls on to mud, 
it will die. 

19. The spat having fallen upon some culch, I believe 
it is afterwards dredged up and put into beds? — It is 


necessary to do that, or it would die ; it would otherwise 
be smothered and killed by five lingers; therefore you 
must collect it into beds, and protect it ; you must con- 
stantly move it, otherwise it would silt up and die : the 
brood of oysters requires the greatest attention when young. 

20. I believe you have brought and can produce to 
their Lordships some specimens of the oyster in different 
stages of growth? — Yes. {The same are handed in.) 

21. To begin with the spawn. I believe in the first 
instance it is called spat ? — Yes ; it is. 

22. In the second year it is called brood; is it not?— 

23. Eventually it becomes an oyster? —Yes. 

24. You say that the Company have required all their 
present land for oyster layings ; how do they supply them- 
selves with oysters to lay in the beds ? — They buy now 
what we call " half- ware" wherever they can ; they buy it 
in Essex : these are oysters that come into the market in 
the next season, and they have no ground whatever upon 
which to lay the brood of oysters ; if the spat were to come 
this year or next year, they have no ground to put it on 
for growth and cultivation, that is, to lie there for three or 
four years, which it ought to do. 

25. They have to purchase brood from other people ? 

26. Are they the principal purchasers of brood in that 
neighbourhood? — Yes; they are the chief purchasers. 
The Faversham Company purchase very little brood. I 
think in the six years, from 1857 to 1863, the Faversham 
Company laid out 4,700/. in brood, and the Whitstable 
Company in the same time expended no less a sum than 
149,000/. in purchasing brood to lay on to their own 
ground ; that is, for growth and cultivation, and for the 
supply of the market. 

N.B. — The Heme Bay Company's expenditure in 
stocking their grounds has exceeded 25,000/. in about 
eighteen months. 


27. If the Company obtained this extension ground, to 
what purpose would they put it? — We should use it; but 
in the first place we should assess the quality of the soil 
at the bottom ; it is impossible to say what parts of that 
soil will grow or will fatten oysters for market, and we 
should have to judge of that in the future. We should 
use portions of the ground for brood, and we should also 
use such portions of the ground as would fatten the 
oysters. If a particular part of the ground would not do 
that, we should move them on to our present ground for 
that purpose ; on our ground the quality of the soil, the 
same as on all fishery grounds, varies very much, and it 
may be that parts of this particular extension are not well 
adapted for feeding oysters ; but of that, as I said before, 
we shall judge in the future ; I may mention that upon 
our own ground there is a piece called the " Slank," which 
is on the west side of our grounds, and that will fatten 
oysters more quickly than any other part of the ground ; 
and in the same way so it may be with this extension ; all 
parts of it may not be equally well adapted for fattening 

28. If the Company should get this extension, would 
they not be able to supply a large additional quantity of 
oysters? — There is not the least doubt that they would 
be able to do so, judging from the fact that I mentioned 
before, when I referred to their using an additional piece 
of ground on their own property some years ago and 
spoke of the great quantity of oysters which they took 
from that particular part of the soil. 

29. Do you happen to know what the Heme Bay 
Oyster Fishery Company have done ; they obtained their 
Act in 1864, and do you think, if they had obtained the 
ground which they go for, they could make use of it so 
advantageously and so well as the Whitstable Company 
have done with their ground ? — They do not make use of 
their own ground which they have got; they are only 
using, as I am credibly informed, about one mile out of 



nine; and, if so, what they can want an extension for it is 
impossible to say. 

N.B.— Mr. Plummer here treats the whole of the. 
nine miles as if they were available as oyster grounds, . 
not making any allowance for the three miles of fore- 

The Heme Bay Company very reasonably wished 
to have Parliamentary authority to hold " the lease- 
hold ground." .At first they asked for authority to 
hold (A a) on the map, but they afterwards limited 
their application to (A.) 

30. Do they employ the same amount of labour that 
the Whitstable Company do ? — The Whitstable Company 
have 300 men in their employ working 100 boats, and in 
addition to that they employ thirty boats to get brood off 
the flats, and generally they are all used in the fishery ; 
on the other hand, the Heme Bay Company have, I think, 
five boats, and they employ regularly about twenty men, 
probably less, I think not more. 

31. Is it the fact that they have not stocked the ground 
which they already have ? — Certainly it is. 

32. What is the whole extent of the estuary of the 
Thames, is it about eighty square miles? — According to 
Captain BurstalTs evidence, it is about eighty square 

33. Taking the Whitstable Fishery Company and the 
Faversham Company, they occupy, I think, about twenty 
square miles ? — Yes ; the recent fisheries which have been 
granted, are the Heme Bay Fishery, consisting of nine 
square miles, and that was granted in 1864 ; and the exten-. 
sion of the Pollard Fishery, which is called the " Ham," 
that was granted in the last session of 1865. Those are 
the only two fisheries which have been granted, and taking 
the two together, I think the Ham is about two and 
a-half square miles, and the Heme Bay nine miles ; 
together they would be about twelve square miles, out of 
the whole estuary of the Thames. 


34. Then there would be ever sixty square miles still left, 
open? — Yes, quite that. Then with regard to the flatsmen 
who get a living on this estuary, they obtain their living 
by getting whelks, and which we should not interfere with 
on the estuary in any shape or way. The whelks they 
get over the whole of the estuary, and not upon that 
portion of the ground which is adapted for oysters. The 
whelks will live in mud, and in sand, but the oysters will not* 

35. Did the flatsmen oppose the Heme Bay Company 
last year? — No; and the flatsmen did not oppose the 
Ham Fishery Extension of last year. 

36. These flatsmen, besides working over the Flats, 
trawl, do they not ? —Yes. The flatsmen are not oppo- 
sing the Heme Bay Extension Bill of this year. They 
opposed the Whitstable Company's Extension Bill, but 
not the Heme Bay Company's Fishery Bill, who are 
bringing in a competing Bill ; and the inference, I think, 
is that it is a got-up opposition on the part of the Heme 
Bay Company and other competing Companies against 
the Whitstable Company. 

N.B — Another and probably a more correct infer- 
ence might be, that the flatsmen hoped to obtain 
regular employment under the Heme Bay Company, 
who not being a body of free dredgers, must hire all 
the labour they require. 

The Heme Bay Company of course cannot answer 
for other Companies ; — but, so far from the Heme : 
Bay Company having had anything to do with getting 
up this opposition, the fact is that the Flatsmen 
began by opposing the Heme Bay Bill because it 
originally proposed to take in part of the Flats north* 
ward of the Heme Bay grounds, and marked (a) on the 
map. When the Company's application was limited 
to part of " the leasehold ground," (A) on the map, the 
Flatsmen ceased to oppose their Bill. 

- 37- Using the ground as the Whitstable Company pro- 

D 2 


pose to do, they will not interfere'with the flatsmen taking 
floating fish ? — No ; we do not interfere with their floating 
fish, or with the line or the hook ; the provisions of the 
Act are identical with those in the Heme Bay Act of 1864, 
and in the Ham Act, of 1865. 

38. You do not propose to take fish between high and low 
water mark? — No; we shall not interfere with the branches 
of industry so employed ; many hundreds of poor people get 
a living along the shore from Canterbury by gathering 
mussels, whelks, periwinkles or cockles; with regard to one 
of the petitions presented to the House against the Whit- 
stable Company's Bill, there is a contention going on •, they 
say that they have a lease from Lord Cowper as to the land 
between high and low water mark, and I believe they say 
that their lease extends to the land below low-water 
mark; there is a contention between Mr. Crofts, who 
represents the Oyster Company, as to the limits to which 
these poor people are restricted, and he has summoned 
some of these poor people before the Magistrates at Can- 
terbury for taking mussels contrary to law ; but the 
Justices refused to adjudicate, because Mr. Crofts did not 
show a title, and they dismissed the case accordingly. 

39. Mr. Rodwell : Were you present on the occasion 
to which you have referred ? — No, I was not 

40. Mr. GATES : You have, I presume, ascertained the 
facts before you came here to speak upon them? — Yes; the 
poor people came to me first, but I did not go on with the 

41. How is it proposed to work this extension of ground 
if it is granted? — With regard to the extended ground, I 
may say that the Company already number about 300 
working freemen, and it will be impossible for them to 
work this extension with the same amount of labour ; 
they must therefore employ a great deal of hired labour, 
and our intention is to work the extension chiefly in that 
way, that is to say, by the employment of people who are 
unconnected with the Whitstable Oyster Company. 

* 42„ You mean flatsmen and people in the district ?— 


Yes, anybody who chooses to take service under the 
Whitstable Company. 

43. Instead of buying brood from the adjacent flats- 
men, you will hire them and employ them as labourers ? — 
We should have to buy brood all the same to lay upon 
this ground ; the brood that would fall would not be suffi- 
cient and therefore we must buy it from off other por- 
tions of the flats that can be dredged when it falls ; it is 
only about once in five or six years that they dredge their 
brood at all ; these flatsmen do not get their living by 
doing that, but it is a benefit to them ; when it falls, then 
they are benefited; their living is obtained by getting 
whelks, and there is no doubt that they get a decent 
living in that way. 

44. You have spoken about one of the petitions, which 
is signed by a great many persons, as many as 200 ? — The 
petition which is lodged against the Whitstable Company 
is signed by 140 of the Faversham Company, a competing 
Company, and by about fifty flatsmen proper only, none 
of whom have petitioned against the Heme Bay Fishery 

45. One point that is made against your Company by 
the petitions is, that if you were conterminous with the 
Heme Bay Company, it might give rise to disputes. I see 
that you are conterminous with the Pollard Oyster Fishery 
on the one side and with the Faversham Company on the 
other. Has that given rise to any disputes ? — Never ; no 
disputes ever arise from that contiguity. 

46. I believe there have been some petitions in favour 
of your Bill ? — Yes ; I have an analysis of those petitions 
which I have made ; one is in favour of the Whitstable 
Fishery Bill. 

47. There is one petition, I believe, from the inhabi- 
tants of Whitstable and Sea Salter which is signed by 501 
different persons? — Yes, people of different professions. I 
have one petition which is signed by the dealers in London 
in favour of the Whitstable Bill; it is signed by 137 
dealers. Another petition is signed by dealers, by nine in 


^Canterbury, twenty-one in BroacUtairs, eighty-one in 
Ramsgate, three at Ashford, seven in Hastings, three in 
St. Leonard's-on-the Sea, four at Tunbridge Wells, five in 
Dover, one in W aimer, three at Folkestone, and three at 

48. The Heme Bay Company, by their Act, were comr 
pelled to make tanks, were they not ? — Yes. 

49. Do you know whether or not they made any tanks ? 
— I wish to mention first that there is a petition against 
the Heme Bay Bill which is signed by 492 people. 

50. Mr. Rodwell : But that is not appeared upon? — It 
is not on the merits. 

51. Mr. Gates : Do you know whether the Heme Bay 
Fishery Company have made any tanks ? — They have made 
none at all; from my personal inspection of their ground I see 
no signs of it. 

52. I believe Mr. Frank Buckland was one of the pro- 
moters of that Bill ? — There is no doubt of that. I was 
opposing the Heme Bay Bill all along, and no doubt it 
was upon the strength of Mr. Frank Buckland's evidence, 
and the evidence of Mr. Pennell, as to the capabilities of 
the Company to breed oysters by artificial means that they 
obtained their Bill. Oysters were very dear at that time, 
and the Committee seemed to think that they might as 
well allow the Company to try. 

53. Did not Mr. Frank Buckland propose to breed 
oysters in tanks ? — Yes. 

54. But no tanks have been made ? — None whatever. 

55. Have they, in fact, bred any oysters by artificial 
means ? — No. 

56. Mr. Bodwell : Is there one word in this Bill to 
compel them to breed oysters ? — That I think is within the 
scope of the Bill. 

57. What clause in the Bill is it by which they are conv- 
pelled to breed oysters ? — The preamble is that " whereas 
by * The Heme Bay Fishery Act, 1864/ the Heme Bay, 
Hampton, and Reculver Oyster Fishery Company in this 
Act palled * The Company,' thereby incorporated were 


authorised to make and maintain the several works therein 
(Section 26) specified, some of those works being works 
shown on the plans and sections deposited for the pur- 
poses of the reciting Act, and others of them being works 
not shown thereon, and some of those works not so shown 
being works to be made by the Company from time to 
time," &c. {reading). 

Cross-examined by Mr. RoDWELL. 

58. Having oyster beds, they are desirous of increasing 
the supply of oysters, and you read that to mean breed? 
— Unquestionably. 

59. That is all in the Bill, is it?— Yes. 

60. Do you not know that there was a Report made by a 
Commission that oysters could not be bred in those places ; 
do you not know that ? — In what place ? 

61. In tanks and places of this description ; I ask you 
whether you know that or not ? — Are you speaking of the 
Report of the Fisheries Commission ? 

62. Yes?— No ; but the practical men always said that 
they could not breed oysters in tanks. 

63. I ask you whether, in this Bijji, there is one word to 
say or to show that these people said they would do it ? — 
The evidence of the witnesses called in support of that 
Bill went distinctly to that, that you could breed oysters 
in tanks. 

64. The words are, " And whereas the Company have 
proceeded to put the recited Act in execution, and they 
are maintaining and cultivating their oyster grounds, and 
they have expended a large sum of money in stocking their 
oyster grounds, and they have obtained from other parts, 
and laid down thereon, to fatten there, about 40,000,000 
of oysters, and they have already produced on their 
oyster grounds well-fed oysters, fit for the public market, 
so as to be of public advantage." You say that the mean- 
ing of that is to breed oysters ? — That clause, coupled with 
the intention* to make tanks, and coupled with the evi-= 


dence, shows, I think, distinctly that you intended to breed 
them in tanks. 

65. Here I see tanks, oyster beds, or tanks for the 
storage of oysters ; is that breeding oysters? — No. 

66. Then where is there a word about breeding in the 
Act? — It is with reference to the evidence that I mean. 

67. But I am referring to the Act ; is there one word 
about the Company I represent being compelled to breed 
oysters ? — I think Sir Charles Fox's evidence went to the 

68. But I am asking you about this Act. 

Mr. Gates : I was asking him about the evidence. 

69. Mr. Rodwell : I am asking him about this Act ; is 
there one word compelling them to breed oysters in that 
Act ? — None at all. 

70. What difference does it make to you whether they 
have done what they ought to have done or not ; I mean, 
the Heme Bay people ; you complain of their misfeasance 
or malfeasance ? — We say that it was a breach of faith to 
the public and to the House. 

71. Suppose we have not done that which you say we 
ought to have done, how does that affect you? — We are a 
part of the public, and we say that it is a breach of faith to 
the public. 

72. Did you prepare this petition against our Bill for 
the Whitstable Company ? — Yes. 

73. Is it true that we have already abandoned our 
works and operations ? — You have already abandoned those 
tanks for storing the oysters. 

74. Are you prepared to say distinctly that we have not 
now got a tank there, and that it has not been put down 
expressly for the purpose of storing oysters ; do you not 
know that we have a tank there at this moment lying there 
for storing oysters ? — No ; I do not know that. 

75. Are you prepared to say the other thing, that there 
is not a tank there ? — / know that you have no tanks for breed" 
ing oysters there. By the Heme Bay Bill they were to lay 
out 80,000/. 


76. I did not ask you about that ; to your knowledge is 
there not a tank down there for the storage of oysters ? — 
Not to my knowledge. 

11. Will you not venture to say there is not? — 

78. What works do you say that they have aban- 
doned? — The tanks for breeding those oysters, for which you 
were to lay out 80,000/., according to Sir Charles Fox's 

79. Have we omitted to do anything in the way of con- 
struction that we undertook to do ? — I found what you 
intended to do upon Sir Charles Fox's evidence 

80. Have the goodness to answer my question: can 
you name to me any single act which the Company I 
represent were to have done, or any work which they 
were to have constructed, with the exception of what you 
call tanks for breeding oysters, which the Heme Bay 
Company have not carried out ? — / know nothing about your 
tanks for the storage of oysters. 

81. It is said "that the Company have already 
abandoned such works," &c. {reading to the words " oysters") ; 
do you know that we have sold upwards of 800/. worth of 
oysters ? — No ; how can I know such a thing. 

82. Then why did you say that they had not done any- 
thing in your petition if you did not know that ? — What I 

say is, that you have not sold well-fed oysters, fit for the market. 

83. Do you mean to say that we have failed to pro- 
duce on the ground granted to the Company, well-fed 
oysters fit for the public market ? — Yes ; and we shall prove 
that you have not done so. 

N.B. The facts are that the Company began selling 
their oysters at 5/. a-bushel, when Whitstable natives 
were selling at 6/. a-bushel. The prices afterwards 
fell, till the Company's natives fetched only 4/. 4*., and 
the Whitetables 5/. 

Considering that the Company's oysters had been 
' on their ground only about eighteen months, while the 


Whitstable natives had been laid down four years or 
more, the Company made a respectable approach 
towards the highest market prices. 

84. Have you been down there lately yourself? — Yes ; 
I was there on the 26th of March. 

85. That was lately. Did you go over our works 
then ? — I saw your pier and railway, and I looked about 
to see if I could find any tanks for breeding/ oysters, but I 
failed in doing so. 

86. Did you find no tanks at all ? — No. 

87. Did you find any oyster beds ? — No. 

88. Do you know as a fact that the Company have 
expended upwards of 60,000/. in carrying out these 
works? — Upon the pier and railway? 

89. No ; in carrying out the works in connection with 
this Oyster Company? — It is impossible for me to know, 
but I should think nothing of the sort. 

90. Did you make it your business when you were 
down there to enquire whether we had spent money, and 
that we had been bonA fide proceeding with the works ? — 
I know that you are proceeding with the pier and the 
railway; but how far you are carrying on the oyster 
fishery is a different thing. I think that you may be 
carrying it on to an unappreciable extent; for instance, 
you have five boats and you employ about twenty men. 

91. Do you state that as a fit representation to their 
Lordships of the state of our business, that we have five 
boats and about twenty men ? — Yes. 

N.B. — This witness is contradicted as directly by 
other witnesses as by himself. 

Sir Charles Fox's estimate was 89,008/. 19*., 
including 20,000/. for dredging and stocking the beds, 
12,000/. for the pier, 2,376/. for the tramway, and 
1,890/. for diverting a public road. He gave no 
distinct estimate for tanks, but he proposed to have 
four, beginning, however, with two, "because they 
are to some extent experimental." If tanks should 


be proved by sufficient experiment to be good for 
the breeding of oysters, the Company would make 
them. If they should turn out to be useless there 
would be no breach of faith to the public or to 
Parliament as representing the public, if the Company 
do not throw away money upon them. The Act 
gives the Company five years for making the works 
they require, and to accuse them of having " aban- 
doned" any works because they have not more 
than one experimental breeding tank within the 
first two years, is to employ that word in, at least, 
an unusual sense. 

Few things could be much more irrational than to 
suppose, that, because a civil engineer, utterly unac- 
quainted with oyster culture, had estimated for 
experimental tanks which he supposed might be 
wanted, therefore the Company, having five years to 
try whether or not they would be of any use, were 
bound to make them within the first two years, or 
be condemned for not having kept faith with the 
public ! 

Cross-examined by Mr. Pembek. 

92. Will you be good enough to explain your plan, 
&c., &b. 

116. You say that you intend to use that part of the 
ground partly for fattening oysters and partly for the 
cultivation of the breed ? — No, we do not intend to use 
that part, because that is land between high and low 
water mark, which our Bill does not affect. 

117. Does not your Bill propose to take all that piece 
which is enclosed in the yellow lines ? — No, not the fore- 
shore between high and low water mark. 

118. You intend, do you not, to take all the land 
marked blue on your own plan? — Yes. 

119. Does that, or does it not, correspond with the 


piece of ground which is enclosed within the yellow lines 
in my plan ? — I think it does pretty much. 

120. For what purposes shall you use that piece of 
ground? — As an oyster fishery. 

121. Shall you use it partly for fattening and partly 
for the cultivation of brood after it has been collected ? — 

122. Then for those two purposes you will exhaust the 
whole of it ? — Yes. 

123. Is the ground that you have got now fairly stocked? — 

124. It is? — Yes, it is fully stocked; we have been 
carrying to market about 40,000 bushels of oysters since 
the season opened. 

125. What has been the greatest amount of oysters in 
value that you have ever had upon that ground ? — Upon 
our own ground 200,000/. worth ; I should say that we 
valued the oysters alone on that ground at that sum a 
little while ago. 

126. Did you not, in the year 1859, have as much as 
500,000/. worth of oysters there ? — I should say not; never. 

127. I am told that you gave those figures in evidence ? 
— Show them to me. 

N.B. — In his evidence before the Sea Fisheries 
Commission Captain G. Austin said, " the Whitstable 
Fishery is the largest and most thriving fishery ever 
known in the shape of an oyster fishery. The stock 
of the Whitstable Company was assessed last year 
[1864], by the old men of the jury, at 400,000/. 
I believe they were not far wrong in their calculation; 
for if it is considered that they can sell oysters which 
bring them in from 100,000/. to 120,000/. and 130,000/. 
a-year, and that the oysters generally come to ma- 
turity in four years, the parent stock will be worth 
nearly 400,000Z." — "With an immense stock and 
capital estimated to be worth 400,000/. they cannot 
use all the ground they have now," 


128. Hfhat is the value of the oysters that you have 
on the ground now, do you know ? — I think I can approxi- 
mate to the value. 

129. Then tell me, if you please, as nearly as you can? 
— I suppose that we ought to have 150,000/. worth of 
oysters there, after selling off about 60,000/. of oysters, 
since the season opened in August last. 

130. How much in value have you got there now? — 
"About 150,000/. worth. 

131. Is it or not true that this ground within your 
blue line is confessedly one of the best pieces of ground in 
the estuary of the Thames for the deposit of spat and 
brood? — I am not a practical fisherman, and I cannot 
answer that question. 

132. You stated, I think, that after you had taken 
into account all this ground, you would still leave about. 
sixty square miles in the estuary of the Thames open for 
public fishermen ? — Yes. 

133. How much of those sixty square miles is oyster 
bearing ground? — There are some very fine brood grounds ; 
there is the Pensand, the Heckmore, and half-a-dozen 
more. There is the Gull, the Whitestone, the Pudding, the 
Penrock, the Pensand, and the Heckmore, and they are 
good brood grounds when there is brood about. But 
these flatsmen of whom I have spoken get their living by 

134. Were you ever on the Pensand? — No. 

135. Were you ever upon any of the others ? — No. 

136. That is, you have not spoken from your own 
knowledge ? — No. 

N.B. — Captain G . Austin, speaking from his own 
knowledge, in his evidence before the Sea Fish- 
eries Commission said, "in a good spat season like* 
that of 1858, the spat that fell upon the flats was 
worth, at the lowest farthing* 400,000/. or 500,000/." 

137. You propose, as I understand you, to work this 


ground within the yellow lines by hired labour? — We do 
bo intend chiefly. 

138. Are the members of your own Company a very 
hard worked set of men, the fishermen ? — No ; they are 
not particularly hard worked, but they do a good deal of 
work, they have other avocations which they follow at 

139. How many hours a-day do they work at the oyster 
fishery ? — It varies very much, according to the stint they" 
have to catch. They work sometimes for three or four 
hours, then sometimes for six hours, and sometimes for 
eight hours when they are doing that work. 

140. That is sometimes, but what is the smallest 
amount of work that they do, or the smallest number of 
hours?— They will tell you; they will be calkd as wit- 

141. You must know something about it ? — Yes ; 
I know a good deal. 

142. Do they work on the average an hour a-day ? — 
Certainly they do. 

143. Do you think they work two hours a-day ? — Just 
now at the end of the oyster season, very likely they do 
not work above two hours a-day ; I may be wrong. 

N.B. — Mr. Nicholls; the foreman of the Whitstable 
Company, in his evidence before the Sea Fisheries 
Commission had said that, taking the whole season 
through (between nine and ten months) the average 
work would not exceed two hours a-day. 

144. When do the oysters cease to be sent to market ? 
—In the month of May. 

145. When do they begin to come to market ? — On the 
3rd of August. 

146. What is the best time for collecting the spat, and 
removing the spat and -brood? — All through the year; 
they move it constantly ; they work there in doing it. 

147. What is the best time for removing the* spat and 


trie brood, is it not between May and August, or in the 
warm weather? — Of course we should move it then; we 
are not taking oysters to market at that time, that is when 
we collect the brood, it is a reasonable time. 

148. That is the slack time of your men as to the 
oyster fishery ?— Yes, it is the slack time, so far as the 
catching oysters for the market is concerned, but it is the 
time for hard work in keeping the ground clean. 

149. And as to collecting the spat ? — Yes, for getting 
the spat also, wherever we can get it. 

150. Although you have said that yon remove the spat 
all the year round, is it not true that it is a dangerous 
thing to remove the young brood of oysters in cold 
weather, as they will not bear the carriage? — It is a very 
dangerous thing. 

Cross-examined by Mr. MARSHALL GRIFFITH. . 

151. You have been for sometime solicitor of this 
Whitstable Company? — Yes. 

152. Can you tell me how many persons there are who 
are members of the Company at the present time? — 
I think there are nearly 400 altogether. 

153r Who are the persons who are entitled to be 
members of the Company ? — Every son of every freeman 
is born free of the Company, and is entitled to take his 
freedom on attaining the age of twenty-one. 

154. Out of that number would they all be working 
men? — Nearly all; about 300 of them actually work on 
the ground, and others of them live elsewhere, some of 
them are in Australia, I believe about three or four of them 
are in Australia; there are not many there now; they 
follow other businesses. 

155. Are you able to say what number of persons there 
are in Whitstable who get their living by fishing, other 
than members of the Company ? — There are about a hun- 
dred people. 

156. Are there not more than three hundred? — Cer- 


tainly not ; there are about a hundred of them whom wtf 
call flatsmen proper. 

157. What enables you to put down the number at the 
figure of one hundred? — Because I know all about these 

158. Are there not more than one hundred who get 
their living by fishing? — No ; I think that would include 
those who are employed in the Pollard Fishery and others ; 
it includes all the non-freemen. 

159. Do you mean to use the word "flatsmen" as 
describing any person who is engaged in fishing in Whit- 
stable not being members of your Company? — Yes. 

160. What is the whole extent of the ground that you 
now consider to be sought by the Whitstable Company ? 
— Nearly three square miles. 

161. Have you had measurements taken of the ground 
to enable you to say ? — Yes. 

162. When were those measurements taken? — They 
were taken within a few days. 

163. Have you got the witnesses here who took those 
measurements ? — I have got a witness here who took the 
measured ground as laid down on the plan. 

164. The measured ground, as laid down on the plan, 
is the ground which the Whitstable Company now con- 
sider to be their own? — Yes. 

165. What is the extent of the ground which, by the 
Bill, you seek to obtain ? — Three square miles. 

166. Of the ground that you at present possess and 
use, how much of it do you use as fattening ground ? — 
Nearly two square miles ; all we can possibly use is used as 
fattening ground. 

167. What do you do with the other one-third, the 
rest of the ground ? — Part of that ground is given up for 
the anchorage of vessels, the remainder is between high 
and low water mark, which is valueless I should say for 
the oyster fishery. 

168. How much do you give up for the anchorage of 
vessels ? — About 300 acres. 


169. Do you put down the other 400 acres as the land 
between high and low water mark ? — That is much about it. 

170. Is your answer this ; that all the land which is not 
occupied for the anchorage of vessels, or which is not land 
between the high and low water mark, is land that is used 
by you for fattening oysters ? — Yes. 

171. There is no other land you now possess, or the 
Whitstable Company, which will be available for that pur- 
pose ? — Just so. 

172. Is it not the fact, that your Company have for 
many years past bought large quantities of spat from 
these flatsmen ? — Yes. 

173. The quantity of spat varies, I believe, very much 
in different years, does it not ? — Yes ; it varies very much 
indeed. We have had none for the last three or four years, 
and that is what makes oysters so very dear. 

174. The year 1858, I believe, was the great spat 
year ? — Yes ; 1858 and 1859 were excellent spat years. 

1 75. With regard to this piece of ground that you now 
seek to obtain possession o£ I believe that is excellent 
fishing ground for other purposes, besides the spat?— 
There are very few flat fish. 

176. There is a large fishery in whelks, is there not? — 
They are to be found everywhere ; but there are not so 
many there as there are further out, where the sand and 
mud are. 

177. With regard to the flatsmen, do they fish con- 
tinually there for whelks and for other fish?— They fish 
occasionally there, a few of them. 

178. Do you employ upon your grounds any other 
persons except the present freemen of the Company? — 
No ; not on our present fishery. We intend to work the 
proposed extension chiefly by hired labour. 

179. With regard to the Heme Bay Company, do you 
know whether they employ hired labour or not?— No; 
they employ a few men. 

180. Would not the flatsmen have an opportunity, if 
they wished it, to be employed by the Heme Bay Com- 



pany, if they wanted to employ hired labour ?«~-The Heme 
Bay Company, when they got their Bill, professed to give 
an immense amount of labour, which was one reason why 
9 everal of the flatsmen came forward and supported them, 
and what they complain of nqw is, that the Heme Bay 
Company have given them no labour whatever, except to a 
few men. 

N.B. — The flatsmen did not oppose the Heme Bay 
Company's application for " the leasehold ground" (A) 
on the map. 

181. Do not the Heme Bay Company carry on their 
works and operations by hired labour ? — Yes. 

182. With regard to this petition of ours that you 
spek© of, you said that it was signed by eleven persons 
belonging to the Ham Biver Company, did you not?««-Tht 
Ham Fishery and the Pollard Fishery. 

183. Can you point out to me the names of any persons 
on this petition who are members of this Company ? — I 
have not got my analysis here. 

184. Looking at the list, can you tell me of any one 
person belonging to that Company who has signed that 
petition? You said that there were eleven in the 
Ham Biver Company? — I cannot put my finger on them 
now unless they were pointed out to me. I think, however, 
that there is a witness who will prove it. 

185. You stated, I think, that the petition was signed 
by eleven persons belonging to that Company ?— Yes ; but 
I analysed the petitions with the assistance of those who 
were competent to aid me. 

186. Do you say now that there are the names of eleven 
persons who are members of the Ham Biver Company?— 
The Ham Fishery ; the Pollard and the Ham. 

187. WiU you point out the names of any persons who 
are members of either the Pollard or the Ham Fisheries ? 
—I think there is a man of the name of Stroud there. 

188. Will you point the names out?— There is William 
Stroud, junior. 


189. But how do you know that Stroud is a member of 
that Company? — Not a member of the Company; he ig 
employed by the Company. 

190. All the other names are the names of persona who 
were only employed by the Company?— Yes. 

191. You said, as I thought, members of the Company ? 
— Certainly not; these are flatsmen employed by the 

192. Persons in the Ham Fishery Company, you said, 
did you not say ? — No : I intended to say that those men 
who signed this petition are members chiefly of the com- 
peting Companies with the Whitstable Company. I said 
that 140 were members of the Faversham Oyster Company, 
and about fifty-three were flatsmen proper, and only about 
eleven belonged, meaning that they were employed by the 
Ham and Pollard Fisheries. But their gains will be very 
little interfered with. We do not find that the Heme Bay 
Fishery has interfered with the gains of these flatsmen at all. 

Re-examined by Mr. Gates. 

193. You have been asked whether the Heme Bay 
Fishery Company employ hired labour ? — Yes. 

194. The dredgermen, I believe, are not members of 
the Heme Bay Company, are they ? — Which dredgermen 
do you mean? 

195. I mean the common labourers ? — No. 

196. It is quite a different Company to yours, is it not ? 

197. They are a separate lot of shareholders ? — Yes. 

198. They are scientific gentlemen, I believe, and pot 
labourers ? — Yes ; theirs is a Joint Stock Company, a Co- 
operative Association. 

199. Instead of employing a great quantity o£ labow, 
and which they represented they would employ, I believe 
they employ only about about twenty men ? — Yes. 

2!06. -Mr. Gates : My learned friend Mr, Radwell eross- 
exafttinsd you as to whether anything was in the Heme 

- ' E 2 


Bay Company's Act which compelled them to lay out 
money on their works ; were you present when they gave 
evidence before the Committee which passed the Bill? — I 
was, the whole time. 

207. Did they put it forward before the Committee that 
they intended — 

Mr. Granville Somerset objects to the question, on 
the ground that if former evidence is to be gone into 
the question and answer should be read. 

208. Mr. Gates : I will read it from the evidence of Sir 
Charles Fox, — Q. 600. Part of the operations proposed is to 
construct some tanks, is it not? — A. Yes. — Q. A sort of in- 
land beds for the propagation of oysters ? — A. Yes. — Q. How 
many do you propose to have ? — A. Four ; I should think 
at first they would only construct two, because they are to 
some extent experimental. — Q. Would they be connected 
by a line of flood-gates, so as to admit the sea water to 
flow in and out ? — A. Yes. 

Mr. Granville Somerset objects on the ground 
that Sir Charles Fox might be called to give evidence 
on the present occasion ; and that the evidence given 
in 1864 could only be understood as a whole. 

The Chairman states that the Committee does 
not think it necessary to interfere with Mr. Gates' ex- 

209. Mr. Gates : And in the same way, Mr. Buckland, 
in the year 1864, before the House of Lords, asked this 
question. It is put by Mr. Francis : " This Company pro- 
poses to breed oysters in tanks? — A. They propose to 
breed oysters in tanks and also in the open air ?" — Yes. 

210. Now, in point of fact, you say that they have 
made no tanks? — They have made no tanks whatever. 

211. You have been cross-examined further as to 
whether there was an experimental tank at Heme Bay ; do 


you know one constructed by Mr. Crofts ? — I know an ex- 
perimental tank which is constructed half a mile to the 
west of the Heme Bay Company's ground on the beach, 
constructed, as I understand, by Mr. William Crofts, the 
promoter of the Heme Bay Company ; but it is not con- 
structed on the Heme Bay Company's ground. 

212. But by Mr. Crofts, the promoter of the Company ? 
— As I understand. 

213. Has that, do you know, succeeded for the breed- 
ing of oysters? — I believe it is an utter failure ; it is con- 
structed with great ingenuity, they have hot water appa- 
ratus for the purpose of forcing the oyster to breed quicker, 
as I understand. 

214. But at all events the question has resulted in utter 
failure ? — It has resulted in utter failure. 

215. You have also been asked about the quantity of 
oysters which the Heme Bay Company sent to market and 
sold ? — I know nothing of my own knowledge ; I simply 
hear we have a witness to speak to that. 

216. Have you heard of some being returned? — Oh, 
yes ; they sent some to Canterbury, but they would not 
look at them. 

217. Do you know of their having sent any good oysters 
to the fish markets? — No, I do not. 

N.B. — The tank is not on, but is not far from the 
Company's ground. It was made with the Board's 
permission by Mr. Crofts, the late superintendent, 
entirely at his own expense and risk and in con- 
nexion with a patent for artificial oyster culture which 
he has taken out, and it is still experimental. The 
Directors have no sanguine expectation that it will 
succeed, but it is too early to pronounce it an " utter 



N.B. Mr. Nicholls is a highly respected member of 
the Whitstable Company. 

Examined by Mr. GATES. 

218. You are foreman of the Whitstable Company ? — 

219. You hare been foreman for several years ?— Yes, 
for nearly sixteen years. 

220. And have you for above fifty years taken an active 
part in the Company's business ?— Yes. 

221. Do you know the eastern boundary of your present 
grounds? — Yes. 

222. And have you heard Mr. Plummer give his expla- 
nation of it ; and, if you have heard it, do you agree with 
him ?— Yes. 

223. And have you for years made use of the ground 
up to Whitstable Street? — Yes, as long as I can re- 

224. And are there notice boards warning the people 

225. Stuck up on your grounds ? — On our grounds. 

226. Of how many freemen does your Company con- 
gist?— Nearly 400, between 390 and 400. 

227. Do the widows of the freemen take any benefit? 
— Yes i and there are forty-seven of them. 

228. In all are there nearly 2,000 persons who axe de- 
pendent on your fishery ? — No doubt about it. 

229. We have been told that you have about 100 
yawls or smacks ? — Between 80 and 100. 

230. Is your Company the largest suppliers of oysters 
for the London market? — By great odds. 

231. Are you dependent for the brood upon being able to 
purchase it from other people ? — Yes. 


232. Tour land is all taken up with the layings for 
fattening the fatters? — Our ground will never keep us aiip- 
plied, not with spat. 

233. You purchase brood from other owners ? — Yed. 

234. To keep your own layings full ?— We purchase 
brood from Essex as well as flats. 

235. Let lis know a little about the management of 
your Company ; your Company is managed by a foreman* 
deputy foreman, and jury ? — Yes* 

236. And others, officers elected annually at a water 
oourt? — Yes. 

237. You know the quantity of brood that you hare 
purchased for the last several years ?-^Yes» 

238. And you gave it to the Fishery Commissioners? 

239. What did you tell them?— From 1845 to 1846 ; I 
told the Commissioners' up to last year. 

240. How is the working of your grounds carried on, 
and the getting of oysters, and sending them to market ? 
-*-Each man has so many to catch, and they are put into a 
market boat and sent to London. 

241. How do you determine the quantity each man is 
to catch? — That is done by myself and the jury overnight, 
and we send them up in the morning. 

242. Having done their allotted work, how much are 
they paid?— So much by the day, or, if they think proper, 
so much for the voyage. 

243. Do they get anything if they do not work at all ? 
— Oh, yes ; they all have a part whether they work or not 

24A. Do those who do iiot work get as much as those 
who do the work? — No, of course; the sick and infirm have a* 
much within a shilling a-day for the voyage as the man who 
goes catching, and the widows, they have about a third. 

245. And what do the non-working freemen get?— Z7*« 
non-working freeman gets the same a$ a widow. 

246. We know that some of your present ground is 
used for the anchorage ground ; have you, in point of feet, 
sufficient ground in your present Company? --We have 


not had for the last six or seven years ; we have had more 
stock than we have had ground to lay it on. 

247. If we should have the good fortune to have a 
good spat, you would not be able to make the most 
advantage of it? — No. 

248. Has there been an increasing demand for your 
oysters lately? — Oh, yes; very much, of late years very 

249. Whilst your power of supplying the demand has 
diminished ? — Yes. 

250. And is that the reason of your coming to Parlia- 
ment again, to ask for an extension of the ground? — Yes; 
to ask for an extension of the ground. 

Cross-examined by Mr. GRANVILLE SOMERSET. 

251. Is your land full ? — No, it is not fully but it is 
covered over from one end to the other here and there; 
they are not altogether, if you understand me, not touching 
each other. 

252. I will change my expression. Is it fully stocked? 
— No ; I should not call it full. 

253. When was the last good spat year ; 1857, was it 
not?— 1857 and 1858. 

254. Is there as much stock now as there was in 1859 ; 
is it as fully stocked now as then? — No. 

255. Half as much?— No. 

256. A quarter as much? — Oh yes. 

257. Shall I put it at a third? — You may put it at a 

258. Yes ; but would that be fair? — You may put it at 

259. Would it be true ? — As near as I can tell you. 

260. Thank you, that will do : two-thirds less stocked 
than in 1859. Was not the last gentleman mistaken in 
his estimate of two square miles ; is it not nearly four? — 
I think not. 


261. I want the fact? — Well, I never measured, 
myself; we have a party who has measured it ; all that I 
know is the length and breadth I use. 

262. That is not my question. I will take that, how- 
ever, if you like. What is the length and breadth? — The 
length we use is about two miles. 

263. You cannot give me the length and breadth of 
the ground you have power over? — I should say the 
width ; the breadth of the ground we use 

264. No, not that, but what you have power over; 
you have given me what you use ? — Nearly as much again 
as we use for laying stock. 

265. You are very prosperous, are you not? — At 
present we are. 

266. And I hope you will continue? — I hope so, too. 

267. Let me ask you this : You have been connected 
with the Company fifty years ? — Nearly ; thereabouts. 

268. Nearly; well, in that time have the freemen 
increased? — Oh yes, more than half. 

269. More than that, have they not ? — More than ever, 
since I was a freeman. 

270. You were examined before the Deep Sea Fishery 
Commissioners ? — Yes. 

271. Of course you told them what was the truth? — 
I did tell them what was the truth. 

272. Of course you did ; I am not disputing that. You 
said the number had increased from 36 to 408 ? — There- 

273. When you began, the thirty-six gentlemen began 
with borrowed money? — Yes. 

274. 30,000/.?— Yes. 

275. Have they paid that off ?— Yes. 

276. Is your property (I hope this is not an important 
question) worth at least 300,000/.? — I really cannot 

277. Well, now, you told us last year ?— That was a 
mere guess ; it is impossible for any man, or any number 
of men, to tell what it is worth. 


278* I should not put it too high at that ?*— I could 
not Bay within 50,000/. if I was to guess. 

279. It is so large, is it? — We cannot tell what the amount 
of it 18. 

280. I hope, As yoti have increased to 408, the 408 are 
better off than the 36 ? — They are none the worse ; Hot a 

281. The thirty-six began by borrowing money, and 
last year 112/. a-piece was divided among you ?— Yes. 

282. That would make 40,000/. ?— Well, last year we 
had to pay income tax, we shall not do that this year. 

283. Last year?— Yes. 

284. And the year before ?— Yes. 

285. And for a good many years back you have ?— 
For a good many years back we never did. 

286. The two last years 112/. you say?— Yes. 

287. The year before, 100/.?— Never before above 
100/. ; I have not got above 100/. off the ground but the 
year before last. 

288. What two years?— 40/. and 50/., 50/. and 60/., Waa 
about the average. 

289. It Was about three years ago you paid off your 
debt of 30,000/.?— Yes. 

290. And now you divide forty or fifty thousand 
among you gentlemen ?— Yes. 

291. And you have two-thirds less stoek lipon your 
land than in 1869?— Ye#; and perhaps it is worth as 
much money now as then. 

292. You charge us more for oysters?— Yes ; if we 
could let you have more oysters We could let you have 
them for less money. 

293. You understand all about Oysters and spat, and 
so forth; do you think it is a good thing for Ojtter 
grounds to have rival oyster grounds outside of them?— I 
cannot answer that question. 

294. You do not think it is a good thing ? — No, n$r a 
bad thing whilst they are good neighbours and Work honest 

295. I do not wish to use the word bad neighbour*, 


but competing neighbours ; do you think that is a good 
thing ? — Competing neighbours ? My idea of a bad neigh- 
bour would be one who tried to thieve ; that is my meaning. 
296. 1 mean simply competing neighbours, neighbours 
who want to get each other out of the market ? — / do not 
mind how many we get for the market, for I believe there ie a 
Mufieient market for every one toho hoe sufficient good oysters to 

Cross-examined by Mr. PfiMBER. 

297^ What lies quite east of yotir easternmost boun- 
dary. Tou spoke of your easternmost boundary ? — What 
lies beyond that ? 

298. Yes?— It is public. 

299. That is to say, the public dredge over it ? — Yea. 

303. Who does your Company purchase brood of? — 
Anybody that can sell it. 

304. The brood off this publio ground, who gets it ? — 
The public who work for it. 

305. Your own memberd work for it? — Some of them 

306. They Bell to your Company ?— They do. 

307. They constantly work there in the winter time ? 
— Many of them. 

808. And that is how they employ their time in the 
printer ? — They have no other way to do it. 

309. They collect the brood and sell it to the Com- 
pany?— -What they can get. 

310. I believe that is a very good bit of ground for 
spat and brood ? — Which ? 

811. That which lies eastward of you?— I 7 **. 

812. That is about the best bit, a vast quantity falls 
there ? — Not vast. 

313. The fall of spat is always capricious ; it is always 
accidental, more or less ? — It is always accidental, where 
it falls. 

314. It is more likely to fall on a piece of ground 


where there are oyster^ beds on each side? — Where they 
lay in the stream. 

315. The stream in front of that ground? — Yes. 

316. And there are oyster beds on each side ; yours 
on one side, and the Heme Bay Company's on the other 
side, are there not ? — We call them ends, not sides. 

317. If your Company get this piece of ground, what 
would they use it for? — To cultivate the brood. 

318. They would not use it for dredging over? — Oh 
yes, that is what they do. 

319. Do you mean to say they would dredge over the 
same piece of ground they would cultivate ? — They would 
dredge over it before it is fit for anything, and cultivate it 

320. What would they dredge for ? — They would dredge 
to keep it clean. 

321. Not for the sake of getting the spat and brood ? 
— No ; to keep the vermin from it ; if we did not do that 
we should lose the brood. 

322. If you dredged it for any other purpose, would 
you lose your beds? — It all depends upon the time of 
year ; in summer, perhaps, you would not hurt it. 

323. Anybody may work there now? — Yes. 

324. What men would you employ? — We should have 
to employ our own and also others to go. 

325. You would employ their own people if they would 
go? — Yes; most decidedly, our own people would goto 
work, and the other people would go to work just the 
same as they go to work on the fields when it is public 

326. They would go to work, provided your own men 
could not gather all the spat and brood? — If we had not 
work enough for other people we should occupy our own 

327. You were foreman of this Company in 1858 ? — I 
was in 1858. 

328. That was a wonderfully good spat year, was it 
not?— It was very good. 


329. It was shortly after that you had the largest 
stock of oysters you ever had? — I think Mr. Johnson 
could answer for that better than me. 

330. Never mind that: I want your statement? — 
Mr. Johnson could answer better ; he had the pleasure of 
seeing them. 

331. You get about as much spat as you want on your 
ground then? — No ; if we had had more ground at that 
time, we could have put it so that we should not have lost so 
much by death. 

332. What do you mean by death ? — If we had had 
more room to lay the brood on the ground we should not 
have lost so much by death on account of laying them so 
near together. 

333. After that you had more than you have ever had 
since? — Yes. 

334. Your last two years have been the best you have 
ever known ? — We have had more money, if that is what 
you mean. 

335. As much money as in that year ? — Yes ; because 
we worked ourselves out of debt the year before, and then, 
instead of having to pay to our creditors, we divided it 
among ourselves. 

336. Your ground is one-third full, you told my friend ? 
— That is as near as lean say. 

Cross-examined by Mr. C. MARSHALL GRIFFITH. 

337. You gave to the Sea Fishery Commission the 
amount you paid for labour in each year; would that 
amount be divided among the working members of the 
Company? — The last two years were somewhere about 
112/. divided to each member ; the year before that be- 
tween 80/. and 90/. ; the year before 60/. and 70/. ; and the 
years before that, many years it was between 60/. and 50/., 
40/. and 50/. 

338. You do not quite understand my question ; you 


made a report of the price paid for labour from the August 
in each year to the May in the next year, and I see the 
report states, in the year 1862 and 1863 40,000/. was paid 
for labour, in the year 1863 and 1864 46,000/. was paid for 
labour ; the question I ask you is, would that amount be 
divided among the working members of the Company ?~ 
— No, no; the whole of the members, men, widows, 
and all. 

339. What number of working men would there be in 
these two years ? — The working men are generally about 
300 ; they have been about 300 the last two years. 

340. And what is the number of widows ?— Forty- 
seven; and then there were between thirty and forty 
infirm people and invalids during this year. 

341. And what proportion would be paid to the widows 
as compared to that paid,to the working men? — About 

342. That would 'give each working man something 
more than 200/. a-piece for each of those two years ? — No, 
no, 1 doubt not ; I do not think you will find it to be so. 

343. I am told that would be 281/. ; you know that is 
your calculation, upon your own figures ? — I tell you plain 
and positive that the money received was 112/. the year 
before last, and last year somewhere about that ; if I made 
any mistake I did not know it, I have not done it wilful. 

344. Would they be able to earn anything else besides 
that which would be paid to them by members of the 
Company for any work ; if they went out for them- 
selves to dredge, for instance, would what they got be in 
addition ? — All that they get besides they have. 

345. How many men gain a livelihood tjy fishing in 
Whitstable who are not members of your Company? — 
There may be more than 100. 

346. May there be 200 ; shall we put it at 200?— -No ; 
oh, no. 

347. How many do you think? — Very little over the 

348. Are there a large number of persons besides those 


belonging to the Whitstable Company who fish this 
ground ?— There have been. 

349. Ib there not a considerable amount of fish to be 
obtained there, even when no spat can be had?- — No flat 

350. I did not say flat fish ; is there not considerably 
fishing of whelks ?— There are very few whelks. 

351. What is the largest number of boats you have 
ever seen fishing on that ground? — Well, perhaps I may 
have seen 100; that has not been of late years; there 
have been very few of late years. 

Re-examined by Mr. GATES. 

352. Your own freemen dredge this ground to the 
right of you ? — More of our own freemen than others. 

353. Your Company has been doing very well, Mr. 
Nlcholls,.and, of course, you are glad of it; everyone has 
been asking you that ; I suppose there is no secret about 
it ? — No ; we have done very well. 

354. And you attribute that to your being practical 
men, and not scientific men ? — We believe we can beat the 
science ; we should like to have a little help from science 
if we could get it. 

355. If you had it could you increase your supply, I 
mean if you had this ground ? — If there should come a 
heavier spat and brood we could. 

356. At the present time you have less stock than in 
1859 ; 1858 and 1859 were two good spat years? — Yes. 

357. At that time there was not quite so much of your 
ground taken up for anchorage as now ? — Well, there is 
not much difference. 

358. Have you since that had a difficulty in getting a 
sufficient brood? — Since when? 

359. Since 1859 ? — These last three years we have not 
got so much as we should like to have got ; that has been 
the occasion of the oysters going up to so high a price ; 
we have had to give so much for the brood. 


360. If you get this extended piece of ground you will 
have to prepare it for making the beds in it at considerable 
expense ? — It will be a vast expense to clean it properly. 

361. What do you mean by cleaning ? — To cultivate 
it ; taking away the rough soil, and making it proper clean 

362. Clearing away the weeds and destroying the 
mussels ? — If there are any mussels we shall have to take 
them away, certainly. 


Examined by Mr. PLUMMER. 

363. You are the originator and manager of a fish and 
oyster dealing Company? — Yes. 

364. You have had considerable acquaintance with 
pisciculture ? — Yes, since 1849, when Gflini et R6ny first 
brought in the subject of artificial culture of fish in 

365. And I believe you have studied oyster culture as 
well? — Yes. 

366. Practically?— Yes. 

367. Have you paid attention to the native oyster 
fisheries? — Yes, I am tolerably well acquainted with the 
native oyster fisheries. 

368. Can you name those that you have visited? — I 
have visited nearly all, from the Colne downwards. 

377. Do you know the ground the Company have 
applied for ? — Not practically ; I have visited the ground 
in the neighbourhood, but I could not say I know of my 
own knowledge the nature of the bottom in that par- 
ticular piece. 

378. How would you judge of the qualities of a piece 
of ground for the purpose of laying oysters ? — Well, there 


is a particular class of soil that is found in almost all the 
native oyster beds, but that ground may be in a state 
more or less fitted for laying oysters, according to the 
attention paid to it. 

The Chairman suggests that it is not necessary to 
go into the details of oyster culture, the object being 
to know -whether the Whitstable Company should or 
should not have additional ground given to them. 

379. Mr. Plummer : Tou think, however, there would 
be a great advantage in increasing the area of the oyster 
beds ? — Certainly. I agree with what the Commissioners 
say. I think there can be little doubt, that what is done 
in France shows that. Because in France they have 
hardly any oyster layings which are proprietary, in our 
sense of the word. That is one of the reasons why they 
are so short of supplies, and have to come and buy in this 
market. The only proprietary grounds they have are 

380. You have experimented on oyster culture at 
Southend? — Yes. The Company, which was more an 
experimental Company than any other, have gone further 
into the actual trial of what is generally called the arti- 
ficial system than any other ; and I am sorry to say that 
the results are by no means satisfactory. 

381. You think the land applied for by the Whitstable 
Company is not adapted for that species of oyster 
culture? — I was talking of the foreshores ; what is called 
artificial culture, has been conducted on the foreshores 

382. Do you think that the oysters ought to be laid in 
deep water ? — I have no doubt whatever. The results of 
experiments show that in this country there is hardly 
anything to be done, except in deep water, that is, water 
below low water mark. That I attribute to the climate. 

383. With reference to the practicability of the Whit- 
stable and the Heme Bay Companies working an exten- 


sion, do you think the Heme Bay Company's capital 
Bufflcient to make them work their present fishery well? 
— It depends on whether they maintain or get rid of the 
clauses binding them to lay out money in works. If the 
original scheme was carried out their capital for the pur- 
chasing of stock would be clearly insufficient. 

384. According to that scheme 80,000/. or 90,000/. is to 
be laid out in works? — 80,000/. out of the capital of 
100,000, 1 understood. 

N.B. — The Company have already made the whole 
of the works which their Act obliges them to make. 
They have laid out more than 25,000/. in clearing and 
stocking part of their grounds, and they have the 
command of 40,000/. capital, subscribed but not yet 
called up, and 25,000/. which they may borrow on 
mortgage, not one shilling of which are they obUged 
to lay out on works. 

385. Where the fishery is established there is a risk of 
losing many oysters by death, is there not? — That is a 
practical question that a dredgerman would be better able 
to understand, but I have always understood so ; I have 
been informed so; that it was almost impossible to tell 
beforehand what the result will be. It is only experience 
that will show. 

386. In estimating your capital, that is to be taken 
into consideration ? — The risk of loss ? 

387. Yes ?— Evidently. 

388. What would be the result of such a loss to theHerne 
Bay Company? — A Company possessed of 20,000/. for the 
purchase of stock might, under certain unfavourable 
circumstances, lose the greater portion of it in one year. 

, 889. You do not think it possible that, with the present 
capital of the Company, they can succeed ? — Yes ; I think 
they might succeed, supposing they get rid entirely of 
the clauses requiring them to lay out their capital in 
^productive work. 


390. If they keep these clauses, it is evident that the 
Company cannot succeed, that they cannot carry on their 
fishery? — Nobody can say that, but everybody can see the 
cif cumstances are unfavourable. 

391. Do you think that if the Whitstable Company had 
the extension of ground that the public would be bene* 
fited by the supply of oysters being increased ?— If the 
public would not be benefited by the Whitstable Company, 
there is certainly no other Company that could benefit 
the pubKc by cultivating that ground. The results of the 
working of the Whitstable Company clearly prove what 
they can do. The large number of men they have in 
their employment is an immense advantage. 

392. Do you think they have enough capital for the 
purpose? — Their labour is their capital chiefly. The 
history of the Company shows they can always command 
capital sufficient for any emergency. 

393. Do you know the extent of the flats? — Yes; I 
should say I know it entirely from the charts. I have 
been over the flats, but I go by the charts with regard to 
the size. 

394. Is it a fact that Channel oyster and native oysters 
are the only oysters that came to market ?~- No ; there are 
many others. In these later years a great variety of 
oysters have come. 

395. The native oysters are incomparably the best, are 
they not? — Well, the price is the criterion. 

396. That would be the criterion? — Certainly. 

397. Do you think that private layings are necessary 
to increase the supply of the brood? — I have no doubt 
about it. 

Cross-examined by Mr. RODWELL. 

398. What are the clauses you suggest which are un- 
productive for the Heme Bay Company? — Those which 
relate chiefly to works. 

399. You seem to have gone into the question. Will 

F 2 


you just tell us which you think ought to be altered ? — 1 
am sure the tanks are of no use. 

400. They all talk against the tanks. Is there any- 
thing else ? — The tramway and a junction railway. The 
idea of preparing a railway to bring your oysters before 
you have produced them, seems to me an idea that no 
practical man would have entertained. The jetty and 
landing place especially, considering the water carriage. 
You dredge oysters, and then, instead of sending them up 
by water to Billingsgate, you put them on the tramway 
and delay the passage of them ; water carriage is decidedly 
the quicker way. 

401. I thought transit by railway was quicker than by 
water; do you not think that oysters can be conveyed 
by railway quicker than by water? — Everything con- 
sidered they are certain to arrive at Billingsgate by 

402. Are there not a great many people who have 
oysters in London without going to Billingsgate for them ? 
— I suppose there may be. 

403. Can you not imagine cases in which it is more 
convenient to have rapid transit by railway than the 
more tedious one by water? — No doubt there are such 

404. Are those the unproductive clauses to which you 
refer? — There are the dams, buildings, workshops, stores, 
cranes, floodgates, sluices, and other things. 

405. Those are unproductive, are they? — They are 
undoubtedly unproductive. 

406. They do not produce oysters, that is what you 
mean ? — And do not tend to lower the prices. 

407. You do look upon these things as facilities to 
carry the oysters to market ? — I do not see how floodgates 
and cranes can assist oysters to market. 

408. Perhaps you think some of those things may be 
necessary for the purpose of putting the oysters on the 
boats? — Not in the least ; you cannot have a better model 
for oyster fishing than the Whitstable. 


Cross-examined by Mr. PEMBER. 

409. When were you asked to give evidence on this 
Bill ? — A fortnight ago. 

410. You have been down to see the ground since? — I 
have not been down since. 

N.B. — It is to be inferred that this witness had 
been told that the Company were obliged by their 
Act to spend 80,00007. out of 100,000/. on useless 
works, and had believed it ! 

A very small endowment of common sense would 
have led most men not only to question the possibility 
of such an absurdity, but also to hesitate in asserting 
that carriage by water is decidedly quicker than 
carriage by railway, and in condemning as unprac* 
tical the idea of having a railway ready to be used 
when it should be wanted. 


Examined by Mr. GATES. 

411. You have given attention to the cultivation of 
fish? — Yes; I have to the subject of the oysters, crab-fish, 
and so on. 

412. In order to increase the supply of oysters, do you 
think it is desirable to develop the present fisheries, before 
trying further experiments ? — I think so certainly. 

413. Do you know the Whitstable fisheries ? — Yes ; I 
visited them. 

414. Have you any doubt that if they get the addi- 
tional piece of ground they are applying for, that they 


will increase largely the supply of oysters for the London 
market ? — Not the least doubt at all. 

415. Yon know the nature of the soil there ? — Yes ; 
the nature of the ground that they appear to be applying 
for is very similar to their own, excepting that it is much 
more foul at present. 

416. But that will be dredged and cleaned? 

The Chairman requests that the evidence of this 
witness should be on points not yet before the Com- 

417. Mr. GATES: You think there is plenty of culch to 
be cleaned or dredged ? — Plenty there now ; but there is 
a great deal of vermin there, which is very prejudicial at 
present ; there is a great deal of vermin on it, very preju- 
dicial to the Whitstable Company, because it migrates 
from that ground. 

418. You mean such vermin as five-fingers, mussels, 
and the like ? — Yes. 

419. They are the natural enemy of the oyster? — Yes; 
on a recent occasion at one haul of the dredge we took up 
150 five-fingers, which would have made very short work 
of anything like a brood. 

420. At the time you hauled up that did you get any 
oysters in good condition? — Very few indeed; while 
dredging that ground we did not get more than one or 
two at a dredge ; very few oysters indeed were on that 

421. In what condition were those you did catch ? — 
They were in very fair condition. 

^422. That shows, I apprehend, that the soil is suitable? 
— The soil is suitable, I should say, certainly. 

423. If it were dredged and cleaned, then, you think, 
it would be beneficial to the public, $nd increase the 
supply ? — Unquestionably it would. 

426. I suppose you agree with the Fishery Commis- 
sioners, that to increase the supply it is necessary to have 


private grounds?— I think it is the only possible way of 
increasing the supply. At present the system is to destroy 
the public beds; and, therefore, if you do not have private 
ones, you cannot increase the supply. 

427. The Heme Bay Company have tried a portion of 
the ground; do you think they can make use of it as 
beneficially as we can ? — It appears they cannot make use 
of the ground they have got. I do not think they can ; 
and surely they cannot want any more. 

428. (By a Lord) : As to the ground to the east of the 
Heme Bay Company, is that well adapted for oysters ? — 
It is very difficult to say. In the east we found very few 
oysters ; I cannot say the condition of the oysters. It 
would be very well adapted for laying oysters for the 
purpose of growth; but they must be placed on better 
ground to fatten them, and make them fit for market. 

Cross-examined by Mr. Rodwell. 

429. You know this blue piece of land (pointing to the 
map) ; you know that is the piece the Heme Bay Company 
are asking for? — No ; there is more. 

430. This blue piece upon whichf my finger is ? — You 
have taken the foreshores, and they are not in the plan. 

431. This is not my plan; I will take your answer, 
this plan is a little incorrect, then ; do you know that at 
present the Heme Bay Company have leased this from 
Lord Cowper, the lord of the manor? — I do not know. 

432. You say you do not think it will be any use to 
them?— Which? 

433. This land, I thought you said, would not be of 
use j> — if you will explain the question you wish to ask 
me, I will try and answer it. What piece of land is it you 
mean ? 

434. This, where my finger is (pointing to the map); 
would it be of use to the Heme Bay Company? — It would 
be of use, unquestionably. 


435. I misunderstood your answer ; are you connected 
-with the Whitstable Company? — Not at all. 

436. Do you know there is a tank on that piece now? 
No, I do not. 

437. Have you been down lately ? — About three weeks 
or so ago, and I saw no tank there then. 

438. Not anywhere ?—No. 

N.B. — The witnesses who went to the ground and 
did not see Mr. Crofts' tank, could scarcely have been 
anxious to find it. 

Cross-examined by Mr. Pember. 

450. When you said this piece of ground would not be 
wanted by the Heme Bay Company, you mean they had 
plenty; that the ground was not full? — I do not see how 
it can be. 

451. Your idea is, fill one piece of ground before you 
ask for another? — That is reasonable. 

452. When you were down looking at the Whitstable 
ground, was that fully stocked? — Fairly stocked; there 
was a very reasonable stock upon that. 

453. Did you hear Mr. Nicholls' evidence ? — I did. 

454. Did you hear him say the present stock was not 
one-third they had had? — Yes; you may have too 
many on. 

455. Did he say so ? — He did y a great many died. 

456. I suppose there are other causes from which those 
oysters might have died? — Overcrowding is the most pro- 
bable cause. 

457; You say the beds of the Whitstable Company are 
pretty well supplied with fish ? — I say they are reasonably 
stocked. They are not overstocked, nor very much under- 
stocked. They have been taking all the season, and you 
do not expect them to be so fully stocked at the end of 
the season as at the beginning. 


458. What number of oysters are they capable of 
holding? — It is impossible to say. 

459. A vast number ? — Oh, yes, a vast number. 

460. By being fairly stocked, I suppose you mean with 
tolerably foil-grown oysters ? — Yes, there is a good many 
fall-grown oysters. 

461. Most of them are beyond a size that vermin would 
not hurt much? — Oh, vermin will do damage to fall -grown 

462. What sort of vermin will damage fall-grown 
oysters ? — Five-fingers and dogwhelks. 

463. What sort of a fish is a five-finger ? — A large star- 

Cross-examined by Mr. C. MARSHALL GRIFFITH. 

464. What is the character of the land? — The land is 
patchy, if you understand what I mean by that. There is 
a good piece here, and a bad piece next ; then a good one, 
and then a bad one. There is a better piece here, then 
some parts are not very good. 

Re-examined by Mr. GATES. 

475. Ton say you have been over the Heme Bay Com- 
pany's grounds ? — No. 

476. You have been in the neighbourhood? — Yes; I 
have seen their fishery from a distance, sailing round the 

477. Have you seen Mr. Crofts' tank? — No. 

478. Do you know anything about the experiment of 
raising oysters in tanks ? — I told Mr. Mitchell it would not 
succeed in this country, and the result has justified the 
opinion I then gave. 


Examined by Mr. PLUMMER. 
479. You are a freeman of the Oyster Company?— Yes 

480. And you are on the jury ? — I am on the jury. 

482. How do von intend to work this ground when yon 
get it? — By hired labour principally. Of course, as far as 
we can, we shall work our own boats and crews. 

Cross-examined by Mr. RoDWEIiL. 

488. Can you say why the Heme Bay Company should 
not be able to work with men and boats as well as the 
Whitstable Company? — I do not see why. 

Re-examined by Mr. GATES. 

499. Was the competition you meant, competition . for 
the brood? — Most decidedly, that is what I mean. We 
have had to pay considerable more this year because the 
Heme Bay Company are in the market ; that is one of the 
reasons why oysters are dear. 

500. Do you know of their sending any good oysters ? 
— No, I do not. 

Mr. JOHN SMITHERS, sworn. 

Examined by Mr. GATES. 

518. You are a fishmonger in London ? — Yes. 

521. Have you heard of the Heme Bay Company ? — I 
have had no dealings with them. 

522. Have you seen any of their oysters ? — No, I have 


Examined by Mr. GATES. 

523. You are a fishmonger at Margate ? — Yes. 

524. And were formerly a flatsman residing at Milton? 


533. I believe you appeared here once before as a wit- 
ness for the Heme Bay Company ? — I did. 

534. Have you been employed by them since ? — I do 
not want to be employed by them ; I have got employment 
elsewhere ; I was employed a month once. 

535. Do you know how many men they employ? — 
About twenty, / have heard. 

536. Do you know the Heme Bay ground, which they 
have got ? — Yes, I could go over it on the darkest night. 

537. Has that been dredged and cleaned ? — It is very 

538. How lately have you seen it? — About eight or 
nine times I have sailed down ; my boat goes up every 

539. You say you are not employed by them, but still 
you have been over the ground? — Yes. 

540. Do you know whether the Heme Bay Company 
have produced any good oysters for market? — I have had 
three different sorts from them, and they are very bad in- 
deed, I have throwed them away. I have had some from 
Alexander, and some of the French oysters, and some of 
what they call Welsh oysters, and they are very bad in- 
deed. I have got some by me ; they are not fit to give 
any gentleman, and they never will be, that's another 
thing. If they do not work the ground they will never bo 
any good, and the ground becomes to be of no good, like 
a farmer's field that is not tended to. 

Cross-examined by Mr. RoDWELL. 

548. Where did you get these oysters from that you 
say are so bad? — From Hen*e Bay; My. Walker wrote for 

549. Somebody wrote to you ? — Mr. Kelsey is the gen* 

550. These oysters wanted keeping? — I should say 
you would have to ksep them very long ; the Alexander 
ones were old. 


551. These Heme Bay oysters, that you talk of as 
Heme Bay oysters, were they not Channel ones? — No; 
that is what they call their Alexander ones ; they were 
fed on this ground, bat they could be no good to anybody. 

552. Did the Company want to employ yon? — They 
came begging for me to go over for a month, else I didn't 
wish to go ; I done it as a favour. 

553. Yon left of yotir own accord? — Certainly I 

554. Eh! come now? — Yes. 

555. Was there no difference about seven men or three 
men? — Not any, as I know of; I signed a bill, and there 
was a question about some money. 

556. There was no dispute, then, you say? — Why, 
Crofts chastised me as he does many others; he wants to 
make them out as they are rogues ; I have never been brought 
before a magistrate yet. 

557. You are rather too sensitive ; I said nothing about 
being brought before a magistrate ; was there any dispute 
about money? — Crofts, as he always does with people made a 
row about money. 

558. You are vexed with Crofts ? — I told him I did not 
want his employment. 

559. Come, now, you are vexed, I see it from your 
manner ; you were examined for the Heme Bay Company 
two years ago, and now you appear against them ? — It is 
a bad job for the public at large, I tell you ; I speak 
candid; they are all starving; I have seen 200 sail of 
boats and the people getting a good living ; now it is all 

560. Do you not know that the Heme Bay Company 
have employed as many as eighty men?— I do not know ; 
I was down yesterday, and / was told they have employed 
twenty men. 

561. You know nothing but what you picked up at 
Heme Bay? — Oh yes, I do. 

562. Have they not twenty-seven boats? — I do not 


Cross-examined by Mr. Pember. 

563. You do not like a new Company coming on the 
ground? — I do not like a Company coming on the ground 
and doing as they are ; I have had experience of it in 

564. What was that? — I saw how we used to go on, 
and what came of another Company ; I tell you now, one 
Englishman can catch as many as ten Frenchmen, and it 
is so at Heme Bay ; the ground is all lost ; they may as 
well chuck the money overboard ; the Whitstable people 
knows how to work it ; 150 sail of boat I have seen on 
the ground. 

Cross-examined by Mr. MARSHALL GRIFFITH. 

571. Do not you think if the Whitstable Company get 
this ground that it would be as great a loss to these men 
as if the Heme Bay Company got it? — It is impossible. I 
do not like to see good ground lying smothered and dead. 
This is entirely dead, half the oysters they throw over- 
board they will never see again. 

Re-examined by Mr. GATES. 

572. Then you think this will be injurious to the Heme 
Bay people ? — They are starving. 

573. You have not seen as many as twenty-seven sail 
working in the Heme Bay Company's grounds. How 
many have you seen? — Seven. 

574. That is the most you have ever seen ? — The most 

575. You have no objection to a big Company coming 
there if they do good ? — No ; I should like to see them ii 
they do good and employ people. 

576. If the Whitstable Company enlarge themselves, 
and get this ground you think, they will not do harm ? — 
No ; I think they will do good because they are practical 
people there, and know how to work their ground. 


Mr. JAMES HAMPTON, sworn. 

Examined by Mr. GrAtES. 

627. You are an oyster salesman in London? — Tea. 

628. Living in Cannon Row ? — Yes. 

629. And I believe you supply the Houses of Parlia- 
ment, through Mr. Lucas, with oysters ? — I do. 

630. Have you heard of the Heme Bay Company ? — 
I have. 

631. Have you ever tried their oysters? — I have tried 
them three or four times. 

632. What has been your experience about their 
oysters ? — The first natives I bought were complained of, 
and they were inferior to the Whitstable oysters. 

633. That is the first lot?— Yes. 

634. Now about the second lot ?— I tried them merely 
because some gentlemen that visited my house simply 
wanted to Bend some samples to their friends in the 
country, merely as a sample. I said, if you complain to 
me that they are not so good as the Whitstable ones, I say 
they are not, I only sell them as a sample. 

635. Did you get a second lot and sell them as a 
sample ? — No. 

636. Were they sufficiently improved for you to get an 
order for them ? 

Mr. RodwELL objects to the form of the question. 

637. Mr. Gates: Having given the second lot of 
oysters to your friends, was there any order given to you 
in consequence ? — No. 

638. How about the third time you tried them? — 
I only tried the natives twice, then I bought some common 

639. How many times did you try the common oysters ? 
—Three or four times. 


640. Did you continue to deal with them, and have 
you been able to continue ? — No ; not with the Heme Bay- 
Company. I cannot, because they are so inferior that 
I cannot deal with them ; it is quite out of the question. 

641. Were you able to sell all those you did get from 
them? — I did sell them, but complaints were made. 

Cross-examined by Mr. Rodwell. 

642. That is to say, people who wanted Whitstable 
oysters did not take the Heme Bay oysters, that is what 
you mean ? — No ; they would not have them ; they were 
thin, and very inferior in flavour. 

Re-examined by Mr. GATES. 

643. You never sold the Heme Bay oysters as Whit- 
stable oysters, did you? — To tell you the truth, Twos obliged 
to ; we had only one peck to try; I did not say they were either 
one or the other. 

644. I dare say you thought before they came they 
would be as good ? — Yes, I did. 

645. They were natives, I suppose ? — Yes. 

646. You did not happen to send any to the kitchen of 
the Houses of Parliament ? — I do not know that they had 
any of those ; a peck was not much, and some of those 
went into the country. 

647. You sent the Whitstable to the Houses of Parlia- 
ment, I suppose? — I merely tried this one peck; you asked 
whether I sold them as Heme Bay ; I did not tell people 
they were Heme Bay, because I only had them to try, and 
they found fault, and said, " your oysters are not so good 
this morning." 

648. You did not send any here ? — I did not have any 
at all, even in my own house ; I tried them ; in fact I sent 
them to all parts of Scotland and Manchester and Liver- 

649. You mean to say you sent the Whitstable to all 
ports?— 'Yes; in fact I did not buy any but the Whit- 


stable merely having those two pecks to try, one was an 
order for a gentleman who merely wanted to send them 
into the country ; I could not sell them mysel£ 

N.B. — The Company now have the satisfaction 
of reckoning this respectable oyster salesman, 
Mr. Hampton, among their regular customers. He 
has lately been buying their natives at . 4/. 4s. a- 
bushel and retailing them at a fair profit. His 
conduct in not attempting to give to the Heme Bay 
natives the name of Whitstable natives has not 
always been paralleled. 

Early in the late oyster season, and long before 
the Company had sent any of their oysters to market, 
a gentleman, high in Her Majesty's service, asked at 
a most celebrated oyster shop at the west end of 
London if they had any Heme Bay oysters, and, on 
being assured that they had and that they were first 
rate oysters, ordered a dozen for his luncheon. He 
was altogether satisfied with what they set before 
him, but was startled when they charged him 2a. for 
the dozen, and not quite convinced by their assertion 
that it was " impossible to sell Heme Bay oysters at 
a lower price." 

The Whitstable Company and the Heme Bay 
Company may expect to have retail tricks of this sort 
played with their oysters. 


Examined by Mr. MEADOWS WHITE. 

650. I believe you are the Chairman of the Heme Bay 
Company ? — Yes. 

651. And have been so, I believe, since its formation? 


— No. I was Deputy-Chairman from its formation ; but I 
have been Chairman since last year. 

652. You obtained your first Bill, I believe, in 1864 ?— 

653. Before that, had you taken considerable interest 
.in oysters? — Yes; I had taken an interest in the subject* 
in connection with other fishery matters. 

654. I believe you and Mr. Frank Buckland were 
instrumental in the formation of this Company? — Yes ; we 
took a promiuent part in it. 

655. And you obtained this Act before a Committee ? 

656. As to that Act, it has been said, that before the 
Committee a pledge was given as to breeding oysters in 
tanks. Was that so? — No; no pledge was given that 
breeding tanks were to be made. The question of tanks 
was brought before the Committee amongst other works 
which the Company might require for the oyster fishery ; 
but no distinct pledge was given. On referring to the 
evidence, I see that it was particularly avoided. There is 
no evidence on the subject; it was a work in contem- 

657. I believe there were some theories as to oyster 
culture which very much interested the public, and it was 
contemplated to make an experiment upon this mode of 
cultivation? — Yes; we intended to try all experiments 
that could be tried. 

658. The chief object of the Bill, I believe, was to 
secure the appropriation of part of the sea bottom, for the 
purpose of carrying on operations as the Whitstable Com- 
pany carried them on? — Yes. 

659. A Company was formed, and the shares were 
placed with great facility ?— Yes; the shares were pla ce 
with great facility. We have had no advertisements 
issued, and no reference of any sort was had to the Stock 

660. All the shares were taken, and are now held by bond 
fide holders? — All of them; most of them by men of property, 



1 #61. Have you a register of the shareholders here? — 
Yes; and I can produce it, if their Lordships wish to see it. 

N.B. At the beginning of June 1866, the 10,000 
shares were held by 194 shareholders. 2,171 shares 
were held by the seven Directors. There were twenty- 
five shareholders who each held 100 shares or upwards, 
and fifty-one shareholders who each held fifty shares 
or upwards. 

662. I believe the shares are at a premium ? — I do not 
know what premium they are at now. They have reached 
a premium as high as cent, per cent, upon the amount 
paid up. 

663. I will put in the original Act, my Lord {handing 
in the same). 

{To the Witness): The present Bill recites certain 
: portions of that Act: there is a recital of the 32nd section 
of that Act, and the next recital is : — " Whereas the Com- 
pany have proceeded to put the recited Act in execution, 
and they are maintaining and cultivating their oyster 
grounds, and they have expended a large sum of money in 
•stocking their oyster grounds, and they have obtained 
from other parts and laid down thereon, to fatten there, 
' about 40,000,000 of oysters, and they have already pro- 
duced on their oyster grounds well-fed oysters fit for the 
public market, so as to be of public advantage." Those 
statements, I believe, have been questioned by the evidence 
here ? — You are now speaking of the present Bill ? 

664. Yes ; I am now reading the recital of the present 
Bill. I will ask you this question as to the truth of this 
part of the preamble, Have you proceeded to put the Act 
into execution? — Yes ; we have proceeded to put the Act 
into execution, and to take the steps that the Act required. 

: We published advertisements in the papers of the extent 
of our oyster grounds, and we erected boundary-stones, 
' and, with the assistance of the Trinity Board, laid down 
.buoys to mark out the grounds. 


665. The Act received the Royal assent, I believe, on 
the 25th July, 1864?— Yes. 

666. After that, you proceeded to carry out its pro- 
visions ? — Yes ; as soon as possible. 

667. The works are enumerated in the 26th section of 
the Act of 1864 ?— Yes, they are. 

668. Which of those works enumerated in the 26th 
section were marked on the deposited plans?— The pier 
and tramway, and the diversion of a road. 

669. The diversion of a public road? — Yes. 

670. The straightening of the road, and raising its 
above the risk of flood? — Yes ; in fact, to avoid interfering 
with our tramway. 

671. What progress has been made with those works? 
— They are all completed; practically, everything is completed, 
except laying down the tramway on the pier. The tramway is 
not completed, but the whole of the pier is quite com- 
pleted. I will hand in a photograph of the pier in its 
present stage (handing in tlte same). 

672. I believe that the pier has three objects : it is for 
shelter for the fishing boats, and for the landing of oysters 
and materials ; and it also acts as a breakwater to your 
grounds ? — Yes ; it does that. 

673. We have heard in evidence that the Whitstable 
grounds were protected by a spit of land ; this may be 
compared to that as an artificial protection? — Yes; to 
some extent. 

674. That was the most important work, I suppose ?-**- 
The pier was the most important work, and the most 
expensive ; that is completed, with the exception of laying 
down rails on the pier itself. 

675. Has the public road been straightened? — I believe 
that is completed also. I may say that the works 
would have been completed much earlier, but that we 

676. I was about to ask you this. You say that yon 
proceeded at once. After the passing of the Act, did you 
meet with any opposition from other unexpected, sources 2, 

G 2 


a— Tea ; we had opposition from several sources — the most 
important of them was from the Crown. The Crown 
claimed certain rights over the ground. 

677. The advisers of the Crown threatened you with 
an information and proceedings for interfering with their 
rights?— They commenced proceedings and applied for an 
injunction for commencing without their concurrence. 

678. I believe this dispute lasted for some time? — Yes, 
it lasted for about six months. 

679. Was that dispute such as to interfere with your 
Stocking your grounds? — Completely so. The Crown 
claimed the whole right in the soil, and they gave us 
notice that if we laid down any more oysters we should 
do so at our own risk. 

680. At last that dispute, I believe, was settled by 
your accepting a lease from the Crown ? — Yes. 

681. And thereupon you proceeded to stock your 
grounds ? — Yes. 

682. This is the lease, I believe, which you have had 
from the Crown, for sixty years (producing the same) ? — 

683. We have heard that there is a great scarcity of 
brood. I believe you had great difficulty in procuring 
brood ? — Yes ; considerable difficulty. We could not get 
it at the prices we had anticipated. 

684. Did you send far a-field for this brood? — We sent 
our agents over a great part of Ireland, over Wales, and 
over England, and Mr. Buckland, acting in some sense 
as agent, even visited the French Fisheries to see 
whether he could get oysters there. We made every 
possible effort. 

685. Had you made your calculations of the capital 
required, taking into consideration that the brood would 
cost less than it did actually cost you? — Much less. 

686. Did you proceed to prepare the grounds for the 
deposit of this brood upon them? — Yes; we had the 
grounds cleared, and what is called "culched," that is 
Covered over with shell and small stones. 


687. That is what the spat falls upon ? — Yes. 

688. You prepared your ground by clearing it?— * 

689. When you had got this brood, did you proceed 
to stock the ground with it ? — Yes ; we laid it down on. 
parts of the ground which had been prepared for it. 

690. That is, I believe, what is called an oyster bed? 1 
— Yes*, in ordinary parlance that is an oyster bed. 

691. The ground having been prepared in this way by 
dredging and clearing, and the culch deposited upon it, 
is the bed upon which the oyster falls and lies ? — Yes. 

692. Mr. Hope Scott treated "tanks" and "oyster 
beds " as synonymous in his address, is that so ; they are 
oyster beds which the Whitstable Company have, are they 
not ? — Yes, they are not tanks. 

693. And you have prepared beds in the same way, 
have you not ?— Just so. 

694. Will you give me some estimate as to the amount 
you have spent in stocking your grounds, and in preparing 
them, in labor, and in the purchase of brood. But first I . 
will ask you how much capital has been called up? — 

695. I believe there is a call payable in this month? — 
The 60,000Z., I think, includes the whole, I am not posi- 
tive about it, but I think it does include the whole. 

696. What was the capital under the Act ?— 100,0007. 

697. How much have you spent of the 60,000/. ?— The 
whole of it, except a few hundreds. 

698. How much has been spent upon the purchase of 
brood and in stocking and cleaning the grounds? — We 
have spent about 25,000/. in the purchase of oysters, and 
we have spent about 2,000/. in the cleaning of the grounds 
for the oysters to be laid down upon. Of course there arei. 
the incidental expenses, which would form a considerable 
part of that item. 

699. And the labor? — I think that is included in the 
25,000/. ; it is [practically] for nothing but labor, except the 
purchase of a certain amount of " culch," . . . . , 

700. The balance has been expended in purchasing 
oysters ? — Yes. 

701. After the purchase of the oysters and the labor, 
the balance, I believe, has been expended in the execution 
of the works ? — Yes. 

702. As to the tanks, has that experiment been tried ; 
has any tank been constructed? — Yes; one tank has been 
constructed by the Superintendent of the Company on part of 
the Company's grounds, at a cost of about 700i, and it is 
now in course of working, but whether it will succeed I do not 

703. We have heard that possibly you will not succeed, 
but you have constructed a tank to carry out the experi- 
ment which you contemplated ? — The tank I speak of has 
been constructed, and if it succeeds it will he a guide to us 
in carrying out others. 

704. I see that the preamble says you are maintaining 
your oyster grounds ; what labor do you employ at the 
present time ? — At the present time we have thirty-three men in 
our regular employment, but we have had at different times as 
many as 100 men in our employment 

705. Are there times of great pressure when more 
labor is required? — When the ground requires cleaning we 
employ more men. I do not include in that the workmen 
employed upon our works, that would make it a couple of 
hundred men. The men I speak of are dredger men. 
We employ thirty-three men and we have employed 
upwards of 100 ; that was in July of last year. 

706. Considering the uncertainty of the spat, and the 
great abundance with which it falls in certain years, and 
assuming a large fall of spat, you would have more to do 
than could be done ; you would obtain it more cheaply and 
stock the ground more rapidly? — Certainly. 

707. The labour would produce its result and fruit?-— 

708. You would have not only your capital, but the 
profits of your undertaking to fall b^ck upon ?— Certainly ; 
that is all obvious. 


709. You are regularly cultivating and maintaining 
your oyster grounds? — Yes; you asked me about the 
amount we had expended in oysters ; I should like to say, 
that we have exceeded our estimate. We gave 20,000/, 
for stocking, but that was to be spread over three or four 
years. We have spent 25,000/. in the two years. 

710. Can you tell me how many bushels of oysters you 
have laid down? — We have laid down between 15,000 and 
17,000 bushels. 

711. How many oysters would that be? — Taking that 
as a fair estimate, the lowest [number] I think would 
be about 40,000,000. 

712. It is stated that you have already produced upon 
your oyster grounds well-fed oysters fit for the public 
market ? — Yes ; we have. 

713. We heard from witnesses on the other side that 
an oyster takes four years to come to perfection ; I believe 
that if an oyster is brought young enough to grounds 
which are suitable, it will become a native oyster wherever 
it is produced ? — No ; I do not think that that is so ; the 
spat from that would probably become a native oyster ; 
certainly it would in a generation or two, but the oyster 
itself would never become the same as if it had been bred 
in the Thames. 

714. In a generation or two it would become of that 
character ? — Certainly. 

715. The scarcity of native brood has been very great, 
I believe; have you bought all you could get?— Yes; 
everything we could get. 

716. Have you bought anything else but native 
brood? — Yes; we have bought Irish oysters and Welsh 

717. And I believe the Whitstable Company have also 
done so ? — Yes ; we have stocked our grounds in the 
ordinary ?<ray. 

718. Although you have only had this limited period 
since the opposition of the Crown was withdrawn to work 
your oyster beds, have you produced good oysters ?— Fes, 


certainly, because putting aside any question of opinion, a good 
oyster is an oyster which will sell in ike market at a large price, 
I think that is a fair estimate of its value, and we have sold 
many at large prices, and the sale has greatly increased — in the 
last week we have sold 1501. worth. 

719. As your cultivation proceeds, the maintenance of 
your oyster grounds continues. I presume you hope to 
improve your oysters, and sell them still ? — Clearly. The 
oysters now are not equal to what they will be, [but] we have 
already produced perfectly well-fed oysters, ft for the public 
market ', and they have been very much liked. 

720. I believe the oysters come up uncertainly ; some 
are good, and some are not? — They are getting much 
better— -a few in every bushel are bad. 

721. And you expect a further improvement in them ? 
—Yes ; we have weighed the proportion of meat to the shell at 
different times, and we find a very steady improvement in the 
proportion of meat — that is in the growth of the oyster. 

722. Your grounds, I believe, have fattening properties ? 
— Very large fattening properties no doubt Our oysters now 
are not quite equal to the Whitstable oysters ; they have only 
been down for a year, and the Whitstable oysters have been 
down for four, and five, and six years ; I wish to state the 
case fairly. 

N.B. Considering the much longer time that the 
Whitstable oysters have been on the fattening grounds, 
the Heme Bay oysters maintained dining the past 
season a very respectable comparison with them. Early 
in the season, when the Whitstable natives sold at 6/. 
a-bushel, the Heme Bay natives sold at 51. a-bushel, 
and when the Whitstables had fallen to 51. a-bushel, 
the Heme Bay's fetched 4:1. 4*. a-bushel. The average 
at which the Heme Bay natives sold, down to April 30, 
was 4£ 15s. a-bushel. These prices dispose of the 
allegation that " Heme Bay has no fattening 


723. I believe I may say just now that you have no 
objection to the Whitstable Company taking an extension 
of their ground, provided they do not come upon the Pink 
and overlap you ? — Certainly. 

724. I will now go to the preamble, it says, " And 
whereas the Company commenced within one year after 
the passing of the recited Act the works thereby autho- 
rised and they have since completed the whole of the 
works shown on the deposited plans and sections." 
That is at the bottom of page 4 in the preamble. —That 
is at the 35th line, I think? 

725. It is at the bottom of the page? — In the last 
paragraph ? 

726. Yes; you say that the rails are not laid down 
upon the pier, but that the tramway is completed ? — Yes ; 
I do not think the rails are part of the original plan ; but 
they are not on the pier. 

727. There it says : — " And whereas by reason that 
the works by the recited Act authorised comprise not only 
the works shown on the deposited plans and sections, and 
which were to be completed within the five years thereby 
limited and have already been completed, but also works 
which, for carrying the recited Act into full effect, it may 
be found requisite to make after the expiration of those 
five years, doubts have been raised as to what works axe 
by section 32 of the recited Act required to be completed 
within a limited time, and for obviating those doubts and 
defining the works which by the recited Act were required 
to be completed within a limited time and for obviating 
other doubts as to the meaning of that section, it is expe- 
dient that section 32 of the recited Act be repealed and 
be re-enacted with amendments thereof." I believe you 
have been advised, and I see that all the works are to be 
commenced within a year ; Is that so ? — Yes ; I should say 
that the works are divided into two classes, that is to say, 
the permanent works in which the public have an interest, 
and [minor] works in which no one [but the Company] has 
an interest, such as cranes and so forth. We are informed 


that if wepotany rfthetemponuy[penm 
operation after the fire yean? Hunt, out powers might be 
forfeited, as that would be taken to imply that we had not 
u completed n them. 

728. Then I see: "And whereas by the recited Act 
(section 40), the Company were required to erect and 
maintain boundary stones and to provide and maintain 
buoys at the several points therein specified for denoting 
the limits of the oyster grounds." Have you erected 
boundary stones, Ac ? — We have. 

729. And whereas by the recited Act (section 47), the 
Company were required to give public notice of the limits 
of the oyster grounds and the provisions of the recited Act 
relating thereto and to the Company's Oyster Fishery. 
Have you given public notice? — Yes, I have the news- 
pipers here in which the notices appeared. 

730. "And whereas by the recited Act (section 55), 
provision was made with respect to a lease from the Com- 
missioners of Her Majesty's Woods, Forests and Land 
Revenues to the Company of land belonging to Her 
Majesty, and a lease has been made and accepted accord- 
ingly." That has been put in has it not ? — Yes. 

731. " And whereas it is expedient that further provision 
be made for the protection of the Company's oyster grounds, 
fishery and property. And whereas doubts have been 
raised with respect to the construction of section 45 of the 
recited Act, and for obviating those doubts it is expedient 
that that section be repealed and be re-enacted with amend- 
ments thereof." Their lordships will see, I think, that 
these amendments are really trifling ? — Yes. 

732. " And whereas it is expedient that the limits of 
the Company's oyster grounds and fishery be extended as 
by this Act provided, and the powers and provisions of the 
recited Act, as by this Act amended, be applied to the 
Company's oyster grounds and fishery as so extended." 
Upon that point I will just ask you a few questions — 
I believe it is said to be nine square miles ? — Yes. 

N.B. The exact measurement of the area at high- 


water is given at eight square miles and 602 acres ; 
almost nine square miles : — a square mile containing 
640 acres. 

733. What is the length of the fishery that you have ? 
— It is about seven miles. 

734. By what ? — It varies ; it [the foreshore] is about 
one- third of the whole ground. 

735. What is the nature of the foreshore. You say it 
is about one-third of the whole ground? — Yes ; I think so. 

736. The foreshore is not suitable for making oyster 
beds ? — No ; it is useless. 

N.B. — " Useless," for that purpose ; but it might 
be found useful for other purposes, as, for instance, 
for " claires " on the French system, storage tanks, &c. 

737. Then we heard from the witnesses on the other 
side that these grounds are in patches. Do you know that 
to be so ? — Yes ; I know it to be so to a great extent. It 
is the case in almost all oyster grounds, and it is so in ours. 

738. It is estimated that the available space for your 
fishery is about the present limits of the Whitstable Com- 
pany ? — That estimate has been made, and I dare say it is 
not far from the fact : but it is impossible to say accu- 

739. There are many places which are not fit for the 
cultivation of oysters ? — Just so. 

740. Before the passing of the Act, I believe Lord 
Cowper had made a claim in respect of his manor of Swale- 
cliffe ? — Yes ; and he threatened to oppose the Bill unless 
we took the manerial rights of Swalecliffe. 

741. After the passing of the Act, I believe you en- 
tered into negociation with Lord Cowper's agents for a 
lease ? — No ; we arranged with him before the passing of 
the Act, and then he withdrew his opposition. 

742. The limits of the manor of Swalecliffe are marked 
on the plan, and I think they have been pointed out by 
Mr. Plummer ? — Yes. 


743. Part of it fills within the authorized area ? — Yes. 

744. And part is that piece up to the limits of which 
yon desire to extend your limits ? — Tea. 

745. I believe Lord Cowper refused to grant the one 
without the other ? — Yes ; he did. 

746. He recites in this lease "all that several foreshore 
of me, the said Earl Cowper, on the lands lying and being 
from high water mark as fir into the sea," &c Those are 
the parcels in this lease, and I hold in my hand an office 
copy of the injunction in a suit between the Right Honor- 
able Earl Cowper in 1810, and certain parties — restraining 
them, and it describes it in this form, " The said manor,'* 
&c. That describes the limits of the manor as then re- 
cognized by the Court of Chancery, in 1810 ? — Yes. 

747. I believe you have taken the line exactly, and 
prolonged the line to the utmost of your parliamentary 
boundary ? — Yes. 

748. You do not seek for powers over the flats beyond 
that?— No. 

749. The Whitstable Company I see overlap it ? — Yes. 

750. I believe the parliamentary boundary is within 
those limits, as described in those Chancery proceedings ? 
— I believe it is. 

751. Can you tell me what the dimensions of the ground 
are there? — If you will oblige me with a plan. . . I think I 
can tell their lordships without a plan ; 80 chains at the 
northern boundary, 80 chains at the southern boundary; 
our present boundary is 120 chains into the sea ; occupying 
an area altogether of a mile and a-half. 

752. That includes the foreshore ? — That includes the 

753. And the tide runs out a considerable distance ? — 
Yes, a very long way. 

754. What is the area available for oyster culture ? — 
About one mile square. 

755. The Whitstable Company say they propose to 
work theirs by hired boats ? — Yes. 

756. That is the statement? — It is. 


757. That ground is granted to Mr. Crofts as trustee 
for a Company called the Oyster Fishery Company ? — Yes, 
for the Oyster Fishery Company (Limited). 

758. What is the nature of the Company ? — The shares 
are held, [share for share] by the shareholders in the Heme 
Bay Company. 

759. That is the nature of the Company? — The number 
of each share is the same, and the shareholders are the 

760. When Lord Cowper would not grant you one part 
of the manor without the other, that is the mode in which 
you managed to get a lease of the whole ; Crofts, in fact, 
is the trustee for your Company ? — Yes. 

761. Which is the [Heme Bay] Oyster Company ? — Yes; 
and one of the conditions is, that the shares can only be 
held by shareholders .in our Company. 

762. That is the manner in which it was carried out by 
Lord Cowper, " Whereas it is expedient that the name of 
the Company be changed " ? — Yes. 

763. " Whereas the whole of the Company's capital of 
100,000*. has been subscribed for?"— Yes. 

764. " And more than half thereof is paid up ? " — Yes ; 

765. "And whereas the Company has no mortgage 
debt?"— That is so. 

766. " Whereas it is expedient, that the Company be 
authorised to raise further capital," — additional means ? — 

767. The sum you ask for is 100,000*.?— Yes. 

768. You contemplate using part of that money for 
the purpose of stocking and working the fisheries ? — We 

769. And part also you require for additional fishery 
purposes ? — Yes, the principal portion. 

770. With regard to the Heme Bay Pier Company; 
you wish to have power to make some arrangements with 
•that Company, if possible, to buy their materials and use 
that as an additional break-water? — Yes ; it acts to somQ 


extent as a break- water, and perhaps a small expenditure 
might make it a very efficient one. 

771. And if you were to fill it up it wotdd be more 
advantageous to you ? — Yes, it would. 

772. Would you have any difficulty in placing your 
further capital ? — No ; I think we should have no difficulty 
in getting the whole of our shares taken up. 

773. Have you the register of shareholders here ? — We 

774. I believe there are many practical men amongst 
your shareholders? — Yes; they are almost all men of 
wealth. I omitted in my answer to your question just now 
about the oysters, to say we have some oysters here which 
were dredged from our ground, if their lordships thought 
fit to see them ; they were brought up this morning. 

N.B. These oysters had been brought from the 
market boat then at Billingsgate. They were a fair 
average sample of the cargo. Mr. Thomas Gaun, then 
in opposition to the two Bills, and whose evidence is 
given below, saw them opened and said that "he 
would not wish to see a better oyster." Mr. F. Wise- 
man, a witness before the Sea Fisheries Commission, 
now the Company's Superintendent at Heme Bay, and 
who has had many years practical experience in oyster 
culture, said that " they were as good as the Whitstable 
natives." Other bystanders, interested in the parliamen- 
tary contest, agreed that " they were first-rate oysters." 

Cross-examined by Mr. MEREWETHER. 

775. You and I have had the pleasure of meeting 
before ? — Yes. 

776. Let me ask you first of all with reference to the 
pledge question. I understood you to say you gave no 
pledge. Do you remember my cross-examining you last 
year. Will you allow me to present this question and 
answer to you, " Will you tell my lords whether, in pre- 
senting your Bill to Parliament last year, you did not pier 


sent, to use the phrase that yon made use of this morning, 
did you not present it to Parliament as a thing which was 
to introduce a new system of oyster culture, and was not 
your answer, * Yes, that wae put forwajd as one amongst 
the many advantages the Company proposed?" — Cer- 
tainly, that was my answer. 

777. Did I then put this question to you, " Was it not 
prominently put forward?" and did you not make this 
answer, " It was one of the principal points the Company 
put forward ? — No'; I think not. 

778. That is the short-hand writer's note ? — My voice 
is rather indistinct, and he may have misheard me ; what 
I said was, it was one of the principal points. 

779. Did I not read those words to you? — What I said 
was, it was one of the principal points. 

780. That is what I have read to you, " It was one of 
the principal points the Company put forward?" — The 
meaning is altered by [the accentuation of J the question. 

781. Did not Mr. Frank Buokland enlarge very much 
on the French culture? — He mentioned it as one of the 
plans that we should hope to try. 

782. As regards your shares you say they are all paid 
up, that is, all the money that has been called, but are 
there not some shares which are fully paid up ? — A few. 

783. What amount has been paid upon those shares 
which have been fully paid up ? — 10/. per share. 

784. Is that the foil amount of the share ?— That is the 
foil amount of the share. 

785. Are there no shares which are reckoned in your 
capital as fully paid up on which nothing has been paid ?— 

786. All the shares have been paid upon?— Yes; all the 
shares have been paid upon. 

787. Then I understand you to say for your stocking 
you have exceeded your estimate by 5,000/. ? — Yes ; we 

788. You come for an additional 100,000/. under this 
Bill ; will you tell the Committee what you propose of that 


100,0007. to spend in stocking your land? — We shall 
probably expend the greater portion of it. 

789. Shall I say 80,000/. ?— Yon may say 80,000/. if 
yon like. 

790. I am asking yon? — I do not say so. I shonld 
say we shall spend a large portion of it in stocking the 

791. What shall I take as the fact ? — I am not prepared 
to say the amount. 

792. Shall I take half; shall I say 50,000Z. ?— If yon 
like. I cannot really answer the question. I am not 
prepared to answer the question. We propose to spend a 
large sum in the stocking of oysters. 

793. Now about the tank ; to be distinct, you told my 
friend the tank had been erected by your Superintendent 
at a given cost ; do you represent to the Committee that 
the Company had erected that tank? — It practically 
answers the same purpose, because the Superintendent 
erected it on the Company's premises ; on the Company's 

794. Has the Company expended a farthing towards 
erecting it? — They have expended a certain sum; not 
very much. 

795. What do you say ? — I cannot tell the sum they 
have expended; something, but not very much. They 
have expended something. I remember that fact. 

796. You said you could not tell us what you had 
spent in stocking. Will you tell the Committee what the 
Company has spent in erecting this tank which the Super- 
intendent has made? — I said nothing of the sort. Yon 
asked me what was going to be spent on stocking. 

797. Now, I ask you what your Company has spent in 
money towards making this tank, which my friend repre- 
sented had cost 700Z. ? — My answer is, I cannot give yon 
the exact figures, but it is something very trifling ; very 
small ; a few pounds ; 20Z. or 30Z. 

798. Is it actually on your land ? — It is within the 
ix>undaiy of our original fishery. 


799. If I am not misinformed about it, is it not half a 
mile to the west of your original boundary? — No, I asked 
the question before coming into the witness box, " If it is 
within our limits," and it is within our limits. If I am 
mistaken our engineer will correct me. 

800. Now, with reference to the oysters ; you spoke of 
haying sold the oysters. Have all your sales resulted in a 
profit to the Company? — Well, I imagine they have ; they 
have been sold at large prices. 

801. Do you know of the dealing with Mr. Williamson! 
in which you asked him one pound for some oysters that 
cost you 38a.? — No; I cannot tax my mind with those 
trifling things. 

802. Tt is not a trifling discount, if there is that 
discount on the sale of your oysters? — We have sold same 
of our oysters at more than cent, per cent, on their cost to us, 
and we have had a very handsome profit on almost all the 
others. I cannot, of course, bear in mind every sale that 
has been effected ; if I was the salesman I could not. 

803. Were you present yesterday when Mr. Shrubsall 
was examined? — Yes. 

804. Were you surprised to hear him say that he 
received some oysters which he threw away ? — No, I am 
not surprised. 

805. Do you impute to him that his evidenoe is un- 
true ? — Not at all ; two men may take different views of 

806. Was it true? — I am not called on to say it is not 

807. But, if true, are you surprised to find that he 
threw away your oysters ? — / say, the way in which ilie man 
left our service was such as to leave an unfavourable impression 
on his mind. I do not know if he took a few oysters and 
threw them away. 

808. I will present to you a substantive fact ; do you 
deny the fact? — If you will read me the evidence he gave 
I will tell you. 

809. " Do you know if the Heme Bay Company have 



produced any good oysters for market ? " and the answer 
is " I have had three different sorts of them, and they are 
very bad; indeed, I have thrown them away." What 
do you say to that? — I say, if you like to go and 
buy some Whitstable oysters and throw them away, you 
are at liberty to do so. Mr. Shrubsall's taste in oysters 
may be peculiar. 

810. He is a business man, and a dealer in oysters, is 
he not ? — He may be. I do not know, that he is in a very 
large way of business on his own account. 

811. There is Mr. Hampton, who says he is a salesman 
in London, and he supplies the Houses of Parliament ? — I 
think his is, probably, very fair and straightforward 
evidence ; he stated the oysters he received were not so 
good as the Whitstable, and those customers who preferred 
Whitstable did not like the Heme Bay, but when our 
oysters are three years more on the ground they will be 
as good as the Whitstable. 

812. He goes on to say he did not give a second order? 
— He said he did give a second order. I think he did 
say so, if you refer to the evidence. I think he did not 
give a third. 

813. Yes, he did give a second order for his friends? — 
He ordered first for himself and then for his friends. 

814. Just with reference to Lord Cowper's lease — do 
you know Lord Cowper granted a lease to a Mr. Gann ? — 
No, I do not. 

815. Is Mr. Gann going to be a witness of yours ? — No. 

816. I observe in the lease granted by Lord Cowper, it 
is to Mr. Crofts ? — It is as trustee. 

817. Did you notice in the lease that he is not specified 
as trustee ? — Yes, he is specified as trustee. 

818. I think not? — I am pretty sure he is ; if he is not, 
it is an oversight ; but I am satisfied he is. 

819. Will you take it in your hand, and tell me where 
it is; it has escaped me if it is so? — He is trustee; 
whether he is specified so or not I cannot tell, but he is 
trustee, and I think he is so specified. 


Mr. White states the lease is " upon trust for the Heme 
Bay Oyster Fishery Company." 

N.B. — Mr. Crofts is a trustee for the Heme Bay 
Company of so much of Earl Cowper's land as is 
"within their limits under their Act of 1864, and is a 
trustee for the Oyster Company Limited as to the 
rest : — " the leasehold ground." (A.a.) 

820. Mr. Merewether : With reference to the 32nd 
clause; that is rather a matter of argument than evidence, 
I will put this question to you : you have not done any- 
thing with reference to the tanks more than you have 
stated ? — Yes, we commenced them within the year. 

821. What have you done ? — We have commenced to 
excavate them. 

822. Have you done more than you had done last year? 
— No, I believe not. I am not sure that we have not. 

823. Was it not proved that a man approached the 
ground with a wheel-barrow and dug and filled his wheel- 
barrow? — That is another of those cock-and-a-bull stories. 
I have seen the place, it is as large as this room. 

824. What depth? — From four to six feet, perhaps 
eight feet. 

825. I am distinguishing your excavation for the tank 
from some brick making excavation? — The tanks were 
made on the site of the brick field ; the place is now ready 
for the reception of bricks, if we choose to make tanks. 
It is twice as large as this room. 

826. How long has that been done? — It was com- 
menced in the year from the date of the Act, and it has 
been progressed with since. As I have explained, the 
tank which our Superintendent has built answers all pur- 
poses, and until we see the result of that, it would be 
unwise to go on. 

Re-examined by Mr. WHITE. 

827. I suppose you have heard sometimes of even ths 

H 2 


Whitstable Company's oysters turning out badly, a lot of 
them, and being thrown away ? — I suppose so. 

828. And oysters come to your grounds in very 
different condition, according to the way they have to 
travel, and all that ? — Yes, they are subject to all sorts of 

829. It is to be borne in mind you have only had this 
oyster ground a very sort time in operation, and your 
oysters have not had time to grow? — They have been 
down fifteen months, and the Whitstable Company's have 
been on an average down for eight years ; they were laid 
down, the great part of them, in 1858, and they are there 
at the present time ; we do not start on a fair footing. 

830. You have sold a considerable quantity besides 
those parcels of oysters we have heard of? — Yes, a great 
many hundred pounds worth ; at the same time, it has been 
an exceedingly slack season, so much so that the boats have gone 
back to Whitstable and other places with their cargoes. It is 
admitted that it has been an exceptionally slack season, as 
far as oysters are concerned, but, notwithstanding that we 
have sold a great number at a good price. 

N.B. It is not to be expected that the highest 
price of the best Heme Bay natives will, for some * 
years, equal the highest price of the best Whitstable 
natives. The Whitstable Company have the advan- 
tages of prestige and of their stock being several years 
older than the Heme Bay Company's stock. But when 
it is considered that Heme Bay natives not eighteen 
months on the ground have lately been selling at 4L 
4*. a-bushel when Whitstable natives four years or more 
on the ground have been selling at 51 a-bushel, the 
expectation that Heme Bay will, in a few years, 
fairly rival Whitstable will not appear extrava* 

831. When you begin to realize a profit, then you will 
not require the capital for keeping up the works ; you will 


have the receipts and profits to work upon ? — Yes, there 
will be a profit and loss account. 

832. (By a Lord). Which do you say is the best 
ground for oysters, the east or west end of your ground? 
— The west : contiguous to the ground we propose to take ; 
this is a better place for oysters; that is a better place for 


Examined by Mr. WHITE. 

833. I believe you are one of the Fishery Commis- 
sioners for Ireland? — No, I was. I am now in England. 

834. You are now one of the English Commissioners ? 
— Yes ; I have been removed to England from Ireland. 

835. While you were Commissioner in Ireland you 
granted many licences under the powers you had ? — Yes, 
for oyster laying. 

836. How long were you a Commissioner ? — In Ireland? 

837. Yes. — About seventeen years. 

838. Have you had a very large experience in oyster 
culture ? — Yes, we had a great deal to do about oysters in 
Ireland, in making by-laws for the open and close 
seasons, for one thing and another, and I had often to 
interfere with the Whitstable, Sheppey and Queens* 
borough people who came over to purchase oysters from 
the Irish. I often went to settle the disputes. 

839. In granting licences, was your principle to give 
preference to those who had rights? — Yes; the law re- 
quired that no licence should be given without the per- 
mission, in writing, of the owner of land abutting on the 

840. There was to be no interference with those who 
had acquired rights in the soil? — Yes, it could not be 
given without the permission of the owner of the land. 

841. You know the Heme Bay Fishery ? — Yes* 


842. When the Act was granted, you went down with 
the Chairman of the Committee of the House of Commons? 
- — Yes ; the Committee requested both parties to be pre- 
sent to have an investigation of the ground, and we went 
down; the promoters and the opponents; they had 
dredged over the greater part of the ground. 

843 They proposed to take at that time? — Yes. 

844. You had an opportunity of understanding the 
state of the ground before the Act passed ? — Yes ; I had 
seen it before that. * 

845. The Committee wished to see it ? — Yes. 

846. And the Whitstable boats dredged? — It was 
a Whitstable boat, as well as I recollect, that 

847. What did you find, then, the state of that ground 
to be ? — I think the result of several hours' dredging in 
the beet part, as pointed out by the men— both Whitstable 
and other men — I think the result of the whole dredging 
was three oysters — as well as I remember, three or four 
oysters — so completely was the ground denuded of 
oysters at that time. 

848. Have you seen this ground since the Oyster Com- 
pany [the Heme Bay Company] have come into existence 
and begun operations ? — Yes, frequently. I may say, those 
three oysters were eaten by members of the Committee. 
Of course they had a preference ; and they were pronounced 
to be very good. 

849. That showed the ground was good for the culti- 
vation, though few ? — Those three oysters were pronounced 
by the Committee to be very good, 

850. You have seen it since ? — Yes. 

851. Will you be good enough to state, in your own 
language, what the state of the ground is now? — Twice 
I have seen a considerable portion of it dredged, and it is in 
very good state, to my mind; and I had portions of it 
(hredged for Irish and Milfoid oysters, which were laid 
down, so that there was a great quantity ; and the ground 
teas, so far as I saw it, in very good order. 


852. Clean? — Yes; and very few of those creatures 
spoken of so much. 

853. Did you find plenty of culch had been laid down f— 
Yes ; plenty of culch. 

854. Do you, from your experience, agree in what has 
been stated ? What would you have expected, after this 
short management and culture of the ground? — / know, 
myself, the oysters that were laid down there. I may say, no 
ground has any better, because that I saw tested had nt any- 
thing like the time necessary to produce a first-class atticle on the 
very best fattening ground. 

855. You would not have expected it? — I should not 
have expected it — not at all — and J told the Berne Bay 
people not to sell on any account this year, especially any of 
the oysters that came from Ireland or Wales. 

856. You know that class of oyster ? — I know it from 
my experience of the oyster beds in Ireland — the very 
best fattening beds. There, the proprietor would never 
sell them under three years, if he could avoid it. They 
must keep up a certain supply, but they have to entrench 
sometimes on their stock. 

857. If your advice had been followed, the Heme Bay 
Company would not have sold this year? — Not a single 
oyster. I met a person in Dublin the other day, and he 
said, The [Irish] oysters are so bad, we cannot go on; 
they are selling them too fast. 

858. The [Irish] beds are being exhausted in that way ? 

859. Did you test the quality of these [Heme Bay] 
oysters ? — Yes ; I had some oysters sent up to my house, and I 
saw all those opened. There were a great n, any of those vet y good 
oysters, quite as good, if not better, than I could have expected in 
so short a time; and subsequently I went down to the ground, and 
I saw the oysters dredged, myself, and I had them opened on the 
spot; some of them were very good, and others not at all what 
they ought to be; infact 9 they were in different stages, but some 
of them were very good and marketable oysters, though perhaps 
not up to live superlative sample that Whitstabh can furnish. 


860. Do yon believe, if your advice had been followed, 
and no oysters had been brought to market till next yea*, 
it would have been better? — I believe they would have 
been very different. 

861. There were great temptations in the high prices? 

862. Shareholders sometimes wish to see a little money 
back? — Perhaps there may be a little anxiety to see how 
they were going on and what they could do. I recom- 
mended them to keep quiet. 

N.B. It is understood that the Directors have not 
been selling oysters for the sake of forcing a dividend. 
They are well aware that oyster grounds cannot be 
expected to yield a great profit until they have been 
three or four years in cultivation ; but they have been 
desirous of ascertaining the capabilities of the Com- 
pany's grounds, and, knowing the old proverb that " the 
value of a thing is just as much as it will bring," they 
submitted as soon as they could some of their oysters 
to the practical test of the market. 

The oysters which the Company laid down at 
Heme Bay were in different stages of growth from 
"brood" to "ware," and thus an earlier opportunity 
was afforded for the sale of some samples than if only 
brood had been laid down. 

The test of the market, whether at Billingsgate 
or at Ostend — for a small cargo has been exported — 
has been satisfactory. It has shown that the Heme 
Bay grounds comprise good fattening grounds — for 
(it is almost needless to say) good marketable oysters 
cannot be produced except from good fattening 
grounds — and that when the Company's stock is 
sufficient to enable them to enter on their business 
of oyster selling on a sufficiently large scale, they 
may reasonably expect that the position which 
they take in the market will fairly approach to an 


equality with that of the beBt old Oyster Fishery 

The total quantity of oysters of all sorts which 
the Company sold up to April 30, 1866, was 531 
bushels, and the gross return for them was 9752. 6*. 9d. 
The natives exported to Ostend sold at 4/. 9*. a 
bushel. The average price for which the natives sold 
was 4/. 15*. a-bushel. 

863. Generally^ in your experience as a Commissioner 
of Fisheries, have you read the Act of Parliament under 
which the Company has been constituted? — Yes. 

864. And you have heard the evidence upon the 
enquiries before the Committees ? — I have. 

865. In your judgment, has the Heme Bay Company 
faithfully fulfilled the duties which were imposed upon 
them? — Yes; they have faithfully fulfilled the duties imposed 
upon them, and having been one of the persons appointed by the 
section of the Act, who might be called upon to report if they did 
not do so y if I were called on to do so, I could most conscien- 
tiously say they have done everything that could be reasonably 
expected of them. As a public officer 

866. You had a duty imposed upon you as a public 
officer, to make the enquiries ? — Yes ; I went down frequently 
to see how they were going on, because I might have been called 
on under the Act to report, and if I was called on, I could most 
conscientiously say that they have done a great deal. I think it 
very hard, after all your money has been expended and no- 
thing alleged against them approaching to a defalcation 
if they get no return. 

Cross-examined by Mr. Gates. 

867. You do not know anything about the scientific 
culture of oysters ? — I will give no opinion about the scien* 
tific culture of oysters, it is beyond my knowledge. I do 
not understand it. 

868. You were in the Committee-room and heard the 


evidence given upon which the Bill passed? — Yes ; I heard 
it all, or almost all. 

869. You know it was proposed by Mr. Buckland, at 
all events, to breed oysters scientifically? — Yes, it was 
proposed, and several experiments have been tried. I hope 
they are not given up. 

870. And with that view they made these tanks, and 
they hope to breed the oysters in them ? — I cannot recollect 
the details exactly but I heard a great deal about the 

871. Did you hear Sir Charles Fox examined ? — I think 
I did. 

872. Did you hear Mr. Frank Buckland examined? — I 
think I did. 

873. Did they propose to breed oysters in those tanks? 
« — Yes, they proposed to try every experiment tried in France and 

874. They proposed to have four tanks ? — I do not re- 
collect that at all. 

875. How lately have you been at the Heme Bay 
Fishery ? — Very lately. 

876. How lately? — Well, I think I have been there 
within three weeks, something thereabouts. 

877. How many tanks have you ever seen there? — I 
did not go to see the tanks at all. I went out on the 
ground to see it dredged. 

878. Were you not taken down to see Mr. Crofts' tank? 

879. You saw no tank ? — I saw no tank ; the last time I 
was there, I think was in the autumn last, a little before 
the winter set in. I walked down and saw the tank you 
call Crofts' tank; he came with me and showed me that he 
was then progressing with the work ; he had several things 
done, but it was not finished, and he told me that that was 
the tank that the experiment was to be tried in. It was 
not completed then. 

880. It was Mr. Crofts' tank? — I do not know whose it 


881. It was not on the ground of the Heme Bay Com- 
pany ? — I cannot tell. 

882. The last time yon were down there, you did not 
see any tanks at all ? — I did not go near the place. 

883. Were you told it was a failure ? — I enquired a 
great many times how it was going on, and I was told it 
had not succeeded. 

884. Have you seen any excavations they have been 
making for the formation of those tanks ? — No, I did not 
go to that part of the place. 

884*. Were you told that there were excavations being 
made? — Yes, I was ; I heard all about the tramway, and a 
good deal of conversation. 

885. I did not ask you about the tramway — the tanks 
is what I am going upon — you did not see them ? — No ; I 
went direct to Heme Bay, and I went out on the water at 

886. When was the first time you went after the Heme 
Bay Act passed ? — I should say some weeks — I cannot re- 
collect exactly — I did not go till after they had commenced 
putting their oysters there — they had got some oysters 
from Ireland, and I went down soon after that I recol- 

887. Was that after they had been cleaning it ? — Yes : 
and they had been putting down culch, and they showed 
me the great quantity of oyster shells they brought from 
the Channel. 

888. They must clean it before they put down the 
tsulch? — Yes. 

889. You say you have seen some of it dredged re- 
cently, and it was quite clean? — Yes, what I saw was in very 
good order. 

890. When was it you saw a portion of it dredged? — I 
said before, about three weeks ago, very recently. 

891. About how much did you see dredged? — I think 
we were on the ground something about three hours, and 
there were a great many attempts made in different places 
— we changed about — and the dredge was thrown out and 


a scrape was made, and then another scrape. There were 
several scrapes made, as they call it. 

892. About how many scrapes ? — I dare say twenty. I 
cannot recollect. The stuff was all brought up to me to 
examine and look at. 

893. Did you not get up any weed or any substance of 
that sort ? — JV0, there was very little weed. 

894. Any dead oysters? — Yes, a good many of the oysters 
off the Irish bed died. I think that very often occurs when 
oysters are conveyed a long way, and I was informed that 
there was a mishap occurred to one cargo of Irish oysters, 
the boat was delayed, and there were a good many dead 
oysters in the Irish part of the bed. 

895. In the dredging, did you find any five-fingers ? — 
Very few five-fingers, that I remarked particularly — there 
were very few indeed. 

896. Now about the oyster beds which they have. Do 
you know how much ground they have covered with beds ? 
— No, I could not at all tell. I was only taken where the 
Irish oysters were laid and the Welsh oysters were laidi 
and new oysters were laid. I was anxious to see if there 
was any spat. 

897. Who took you down ? — One of the Company took 
me down — there was a boat and everything ready when 
we arrived. Mr. Crofts was with us and three or four 

898. You were taken down with a view to giving 
evidence here ? — Yes, I was requested to go down and see 
how it stood, and everything, I was told, should be ready 
for me to satisfy myself. 

899. When was it you had the oysters sent to 
you to test; was it recently? — Some time before that; 

900. The oysters that were sent to you to test, you 
did not see them dredged ? — No. 

901. They might have been a selected sample ? — They 
might be ; they were sent to me from the officer of the 


902. Do you know if the oysters that were sent up to 
you were dredged up from the sea or fattened in this 
experimental tank ? — No ; of course I cannot speak to 
that, I did not see them dredged; I can only speak of 
those I did see dredged. 

903. Of the oysters you did see dredged, you say some were 
good and a great many bad? — There was not what I would call 
a bad oyster among them ; there was not an oyster among them 
that was not in a progressive state to a good condition. 

904. At present they are rather thin and watery? — 
Yes ; they are in a great many stages. 

905. I am speaking of the four-year olds ? — I did not 
examine the age of any. 

906. You can tell the age of them ? — No, I cannot. 

907. Not with your experience ? — No ; and I dare say 
there are a good many who profess they can that cannot 
be certain, although they might give a pretty good guess 
by their shells, but I am not sure they are correct, those 
who profess to know. 

908. This Company having got their Act in 1864, this 
being 1866, might they not have purchased " half-ware," 
as it is called, and had it down in their beds and fattened 
it by this time ? — I am not satisfied about that. 

909. You know what I mean? — That would depend 
upon what ground they came from. There might be very 
good half-ware from one ground and very bad from another 
that would require two or three years to fatten. 

910. I suppose it came from the immediate neighbour- 
hood and some congenial soil? — If half-ware had been 
taken off a really good fattening ground of course it would 
be in a forward state. 

911. It might be good enough for the fish consumers of 
Margate to eat ? — No doubt it alt depends on where they 
come from. I know hundreds of thousands of pounds 
worth have been brought from Ireland to my knowledge, 
and they are never fit to eat at all when they are brought 
here, but they become good oysters after a considerable 


Re-examined by Mr. White. 

912. As my friend has put forward this question of the 
tanks again, you were present at the proceedings of the 
Committee of 1864?— Yes. 

913. Will you tell me this, was not the main question 
discussed before the Committee — the policy of appro- 
priating common grounds ? — Quite so, I advocated that 

914. And in fact, by the Act of Parliament, it creates a 
Company similar, in some respects, to the Whitstable 
Company which possessed appropriated ground on which 
they could lay oysters ? — As a public officer for many years, 
I advocated it, and there are reports before Parliament to 
show that, because I considered it of very great utility to 
enable these grounds to be worked by private parties. 
They go for little or no good unless they are made private 

915. And it was put forward that experiments were to 
be tried in breeding ? — Quite eo. 

916. In your judgment, would it not have been very im- 
prudent for a Company just starting to have at once plunged 
into the great expense of tanks ? — Extremely so, and I strongly 
advised them to go by degrees and not lay out too much. I wit- 
nessed another experiment. I went down last summer to 
where Mr. Buckland had laid a quantity of tiles at a very 
large expense, and that has not succeeded either, but I 
suppose there was not a spat fell on that part, and although 
it has not succeeded in the last spat season it may yet 

N.B. The tiles did not cost the Company 30/., 
Mr. Buckland who is very economical in his experi- 
ments also tried fascines, according to the French 
plan, and hurdles. 

917. This Act of Parliament for which we are applying, 
proposes to give to the Board of Trade power to eay 


whether or not it is expedient that within a certain time 
these tanks should be constructed? — I should still recommend 
the people who have the means to try all these experiments, but 
to try them by degrees and not to expend large sums of money 
before they have something to warrant it 

918. Now about the dead oysters, you say it is a com- 
mon thing for oysters brought from a distance that some 
of them should die ? — Yes, from the fattening grounds. I 
know in Ireland one of the best fattening grounds that 
only contains four acres. 

919. Out of what space? — It covers a space of four 
acres, and I know myself — I have examined those beds — 
there are certain little holes or places in that four acres 
where an oyster will not fatten, and not only that, but 
will die after a certain time, and they have from experi- 
ence discovered that, and they take care not to put them 

920. But they do not know what it is ? — No. 

921. When you went down for the purpose of dredging 
these grounds, did you direct the Whitstable men where 
to go ? — No ; I told them to take me to where the Irish 
oysters were laid, and to where the Welch oysters were 
laid, and to take me to some of the grounds where they 
had laid culch. I wanted to see whether there was 
spat, and in what stage the Irish and Welch oysters 

922. And you found a good marketable oyster? — Yes; T 
I found a good marketable oyster. 

Captain GEORGE AUSTIN, sworn. 

N.B. This witness is a highly respected gentle- 
man of great experience and accurate observation in 
all matters relating to oyster fisheries, both in the 


estuary of the Thames and on the western coast of 

Examined by Mr. M. GRIFFITHS. 

971. Are you one of the joint owners of the Pollard 
Fishery at Whitstable ?— Yes. 

972. That is a fishery on the west of the Whitstable 
present ground ? — Yes ; adjoining them on the west. 

973. And have you also had experience in the oyster 
fisheries in Ireland belonging to you ? — Yes ; I have the 
largest fishery in Ireland. 

974. You were examined before the Sea Fishery Com- 
missioners, and your evidence is alluded to in their report? 
— Yes ; the Commissioners stated it was the only thriving 
and profitable bed in all Ireland. 

975. [By a Lord). At what point? — Near Westport. 

976. Mr. Griffiths : Do you know the ground that 
the Whitstable Company at present possess? — Yes, very 

977. Are you able to say whether at present it is stocked 
or not ? — I have not gone over it ; but it is perfectly well 
known in the bay. 

978. It is not one-quarter stocked at the present time ? 
— When I mention stock, I mean the ground— the best 
stocked ever remembered — I mean the ground which was 
the best stocked ever remembered in 1859 ; at that time, 
there was a large part of the ground that they did not 

979. Now you are acquainted also with the ground 
which the Whitstable Company seek to obtain by this 
Bill?— Yes. 

980. A portion of what is called the " flats' 1 ? — Yes. 

981. Is that portion of the flats the best portion for obtaining 
the spat of the native oyster ? — Probably the portion taken by 
the Heme Bay Company was about the best. The whole Bay 
swore that it teas, and I believe that they are not far from 


Mr. WHITE: That Wis taken in J 864?— Yes, the part 
granted already by the Act of Parliament, but taking the 
remainder of the flats which the Whitstable Company 
asked for, that is the only piece of the flats which is a 
large public fishery ; there are a large number of men who 
gain their living entirely from that. 

983. Mr. M. Griffiths : Is it the best part of that which 
is still left of the public fishery ? — You may go down now 
and telegraph there, and you inay find forty or fifty still 
upon that piece, but upon the outlying piece you will 
find very few indeed ; they can always get a living upon 
that piece, but not upon the outlying piece. They can 
stop Upon this piece in very bad weather, at least in 
middling weather, but the other portion is much inore 

984. Do you know the number of people in Whitstable 
who have been in the habit of fishing that flat? — I have 
not the least doubt 250 men who more ot less gain their 
living entirely upon this piece of ground. 

985. In good spat years, I suppose they collect 
spat? — Yes; that is their chief occupation, it is the most 

986. (By a Lord). The detail of the fishery is not ot 
importance?— It is very valuable for this reason. This 
goes to the root of every thing before you to-day. There 
is a particular spat of oyster that falls upon this ground, and no 
where else in the world; it is the thing that makes the native oyster. 

987. Mr. M. Griffiths : Is there also a valuable fishery 
there besides the spat — the whelk ? — Yes. 

988. Are you able to say what has been the product of 
that fishery within the last two years ? — From enquiries, 
made at the time, the Whitstable Company here gave 
evidence about it, they proved it was worth about 10,000Z. 
I have made very close enquiries among the fishermen 
and others, and there can be no question that it produces 
about 12,000Z. a-year at the present time. 

989. Is there any other fish except the whelk which is 
caught on that particular part of the flats ? — There are 



soles, and a large number of men go trawling for soles. 
There are also eels and turbot caught there occasionally. 
I bought a lobster the day before I came from Whitstable, a 
very fine one caught there. There are also large numbers 
of men employed in catching plaice. At certain periods of 
the year there are a large number of boats that go 
catching shrimps. Also there is about that ground a 
turbot fishery. 

990. Do you know from your experience of oyster 
fishery, whether it is desirable that the spat, after it is 
deposited, should be removed as soon as possible? — There 
is no doubt it is, if it lies upon the flats ; .the whole 
evidence given before these Committees all goes to the 
same point — it runs great risk of being smothered in the 
mud or the sand or eaten up by the five-fingers. It 
requires at once to be removed into the proper bed. 

991. Do you know whether the fishermen of Whitstable 
have also been in the habit of collecting cement-stones 
from this piece of ground? — Yes; a large quantity of 
cement-stones have been gathered — many thousands of tons. 

992. That amounted to some 3000/. or 4000/. in the 
course of the year? — Averaging 4000/., no doubt. There 
can be no reasonable man, who is not prejudiced, that 
could have any doubt that the different products are 
now sought to be confiscated for the benefit of the freemen. 
There is no doubt that there is a public fishery of 30,000/. 
a-year; and in a good year, when good spat falls, like 
1858 and 1859, it is impossible to say what the value of 
the spat is. There is an account I have made up for five 
years ; it was printed by the Whitstable Company them- 

elves. The Whitstable Company bought, for five years 
ending 1861, 156,338 wash ; the Pollard Company, 
Mr. Gann, manager, 54,000 wash : that is only for two 
years. The Faversham Company make their return in the 
same report five years, which five years of the Faversham 
Company is 22,345 wash. It was collected by the Faver- 
sham fishermen. There may be an error in that. Then 
Milton, 12,000 wash, The whole of the Essex boats, who 


deal immensely in spat, they took away altogether 250,000 
wash ; and other private boats and various other parties 
took about 60,000 more. That would make a total of 
544,683 wash. Upon the first calculation, every one of these 
wash of brood ought to produce a London bushel of native 
oysters, and they are now worth 5/. 10s., or something of that 
kind, and the amount may be conceived which 544,683 
bushels of oysters would represent ; therefore it is a prize 
worth fighting for. 

N.B. — The Whitstable Company's return for the 
seven years 1857 to 1863, of the quantity and cost of 
the brood laid down on their grounds, showed that 
during those seven years they paid 146,9937. 7*. for 
394,053 £-wash ; or, within an unimportant fraction, 
10*. a-wash. 

At this rate, the cost of the 544,633 wash would 
be 272,316/. 10*., and, at one bushel for every wash, 
and 5/. 10*. for every bushel, the gross proceeds would 
be 2,995,756/. 10*. 

But 5/. 10*. a-bushel is a most exceptionally high 
price; and it would be safer to take 40*. a-bushel, 
which was about the lowest price during the seven 

At this rate, the gross proceeds of the 544,633 
wash would be 1,089,266/. 

According to Mr. Plummer's evidence as to the 
300 acres which were taken into cultivation in 1858, 
it would require four years to realize this 1,089,266/. 

If it took 600 men, instead of the "Whitstable 
Company's 300 men, to cultivate this quantity of 
oysters, and every man were paid 112/. a-year wages 
— the highest payment (according to Mr. Nicholls) 
which the Whitstable men have had — the wages 
would amount to 268,800/., which, added to the 
272,316/. 10*., the cost of the wash, would make 
541,116/. 10*., leaving 547,049/. 10*. balance of the 

I 2 


These figures tend to show that the report that 
the 300 Whitstable men have received about 2802. 
a-year eaoh is not without an appearance of probability. 

993. Do you consider that the ground which the Whit- 
stable now wish to obtain is a suitable ground as a fattening 
ground for the oysters?— It is impossible. It is precisely the 
same ground as the Heme Bay ground. 

994. Will you state the reasons why it is not suitable 
as a fattening ground for the oysters? — There is a great 
deal of moving sand, and there are some places which are 
tolerably good; but it is the place that fats an oyster, and an 
oyster left there would never become a native, because it does not 
grow there, and does not get fat; it becomes all shell. 

N.B. — Here Captain Austin seems to have spoken 
from hearsay. The five square miles which the Heme 
Bay Company have cleared are singularly free from 
mud and moving sand. See Mr. Cholmondeley Pen- 
cell's evidence (721), that on weighing the oysters 
from time to time there was found a very steady 
improvement in the proportion of meat to shell. 
Captain Austin evidently had not applied to the 
oysters on the Heme Bay ground the test of weigh- 
ing their meat against their shell. There have been 
dredged up very recently from parts of the Com- 
pany's grounds which they were clearing some scores 
of bushels of fat oysters, the natural produce of the 
grounds, in the finest condition as regards both heavy 
meat and thin shell. 

Cross-examined by Mr. Merkwether. 

996. As I understand you, that part which was given 
to the Heme Bay Company in 1864 you consider the best 
ground ? — 1 think, about equally good with this. 

997. You rather give it the preference. Did you 
oppose the Heme Bay Company getting that? — I was 
very much opposed to them, although I did not get up the 
personal opposition. 


998. Did you oppose them before Parliament? — Of 
course I did not. 

999. Did your clients ? — I cannot say, I had nothing 
whatever to do with it. I was out of England the greater 
part of the time till just before it came on or I should 
have opposed them, for I never supposed such a grant of 
a public fishery would have been given. 

1000. You did not oppose them ? — No. 

1001. Do you oppose them now? — The question has 
been answered. There is no opposition. I do not, or 
the Whitstable fishermen do not. 

1002. May I ask you why you do not ? — I have not 
been instructed to do it. There is no question that there 
is not the money. The opposition here costs a good deal 
of money, and it is a misfortune for them. 

1003. It would not have cost very much more to 
oppose them ; your evidence would be the same ? — I do not 
know how that would be. My Parliamentary Agents 
would satisfy you upon that. 

1004. You have spoken of this as a prize worth fighting 
for? — Yes. 

1005. I think it is a prize that you have had a battle 
for yourself. Are you a Director of the Ham Extension of 
last year? — lam. 

1006. Is the Ham Extension indicated by this green 
upon this map ? — I believe so. 

1007. Did you come to Parliament last year and get 
that? — I was in Ireland, and I knew nothing about it till 
the Bill was got. 

1008. It seems to me you go to Ireland just at the 
wrong moment ? — I go very often. 

1009. You are a Director of that Ham Extension ? — I 

1010. Have you lifted up your hands and raised your 
voice against being invested with those powers since ?— 
No, certainly not. 

1011. You have accepted the goods which the Lords 
ax*d Commons have provided? — Yes; there is just this 


difference, that the Ham ground never was fished by the 
public. There never was a fishery upon it at alL The 
consequence was, when the Bill went before the House, 
there was not a single soul who noticed or objected to it. 
It was a piece of worthless ground. It was taken with 
the idea of trying to make it useful, being near the head 

1012. What do you say to the Heme Bay people's 
proposal ; they having nine square miles as against our 
three square miles, what do you say to their proposing to 
take the ground we ask of the Committee? — I think it is 
very preposterous. They have at least twenty times 
more than they can use, I believe, for sometime to come, and 
therefore, to ask for more now, at this time, is the wildest 
thing I have ever heard of, and would be to those who 
understand the matter 

N.B, — Captain Austin, probably, was not aware 
that " the leasehold ground " for which the Heme Bay 
Company were asking was included in the lease from 
Earl Cowper. If he had been aware of it he would 
probably have considered it not "preposterous," but 
posterous (if the word may be permitted) in them to ask 
for it. 

1013. I accept your evidence to that extent, at any 
rate; do you know that they only want this for the 
purpose of its being a deposit place ? — Every man in the 
Whitstable, and myself among the number, are perfectly 
satisfied what you want it for is for the value of the spat 
that Mis there. 

1014. Accepting your view that we want it for the 
spat? — And the whelks as well, which are worth 12,000/. 

1015. Which is the adjacent oyster ground to this 
district?— This. 

1016. What is the adjacent oyster ground to the fresh 
ground that we ask for?— It adjoins the Heme Bay on 
one side, and the Whitstable on the other, and the Faver- 


sham at this point. Ifc is taking the whole Vacant ground 
among the other fisheries. 

1017. May I venture to ask you. I put it boldly, and 
probably you will give an answer not in accordance with 
my view ; will not the greater part of the spat floating 
over that ground come from the Whitstable oyster 
fishery? — It is just as likely to come from Faversham. 
The state of the tide would Certainly bring it mofre from 
the Faversham than the Whitstable. The tide sets off 
the shore there, and the Faversham would cross that blue 
piece, but the spat that falls on that piece of ground 
which the Whitstable Company are asking for, is just as 
likely to come from the Milton and the Faversham as from 
the Whitstable. 

1018. I cannot expert IaA entirety Cdttlfortable answer 
from you, but may I take it it would be as likely to come 
from the Whitstable as from the Faversham ? — No, I said 
"not quite so likely." I think there would be a larger 
proportion come from tke Faversham on account of the 
state of the tide. 

lOld. Which has the greatest abuttal upon this ground, 
the Faversham or the Whitstable ? — As to the area, the 
space where the oysters are laid* I should presume the 

1020. I am taking the water and the spat, and 1 ask 
you and direct your attention to that question ; which is 
the greatest area alongside of the blue bit we are seeking 
to take, the Faversham or the Whitstable ?— Aiong the 
blue bit; the plans are coloured in different cofoum Will 
you allow me to look at a plan. 

1021. Here is one (apian is handed to the witness)? — The 

1022. And very much »o? — Not if you consider the 
laying ground. 

1023. The laying ground is the area of the whole fishery ? 
— It is perhaps a fourth or more possibly* 

1024. You would put it as a fourth or more ? — As near 
as I could form an opinion I should say one-fourth or more. 


1025. And I am to understand you to say that the set 
off the Fa veraham would be more upon that blue part than 
the set off the Whitstable ? — I said a trifle more ; but there 
is very little difference — a trifle more. 

1026* The direction is a trifle more? — Yes. 

N.B. — Captain Austin's evidence before the Sea 
Fisheries Commission is well worth reading by those 
who wish for information about oyster fisheries. 

Mr. THOMAS GANN, worn. 

Examined by Mr. Griffiths. 

1028. Are you a shipowner living at Whitstable?— 

1029. Are you one of the joint proprietors of the 
Pollard Oyster Fishery?— Yes. 

1030. On the west of the Whitstable Company?— 

1031. You have great experience, therefore, in the 
growing of oysters ? — Yes. 

1032. How .long have you lived at Whitstable ?— All 
my life. 

1033. Are you able to say what number of public 
fishermen there are at Whitstable not conneoted with the 
Company?— I think from 250 to 300. 

1034. Have those fishermen been in the habit of fishing 
this piece of ground that the Whitstable Company now 
seek to obtain? — Yes, to a large extent — they go there 
five times out of six— they fish principally upon that. 

1035. Do you know whether that piece of flat is the 
best of the whole of the flats, both for the deposit of spat 
and for fishing? — Yes. 

1036. What sort of fish is caught there at the time that 
there is no deposit of the spat?— They catch a great many 
whelks, and they sell the Ht-ar fish they catch for manure. 


They get a good deal of cement stones, and mussels some- 
times if there are any. 

1037. Do you know at all what would be the annual 
value of the fishery?— Well, I should think from 25,000/. 
to 30,000/. a-year. 

1038. And how would you make up that amount? — 
With the cement stones, five fingers, mussels and some- 
times cockles. 

1039. And the whelks fishery is an extensive one ? — 
Yes ; the men get a living now, day after day, by whelks 

1040. What is the use made of the whelks ? — They are 
brought to London, a great many of them, and sold in the 
markets the same as common oysters, and a great many 
are sent away for cod baits, for which they are considered 
the best. 

1041. You have been living so long at Whitstable, 
are you able to say from your own observation, how much 
time the members of the Company are employed at their 
work for the Company? — I have known them to go off, 
and not work upon the ground more than a quarter of an 
hour — I have known them go off after one dredging — 
they have not been more than an hour from shore to shore 
— sometimes they are more, but I have known them to do 

1042. Take a recent period since Christmas downwards 
to some time, what do you suppose the average time each of 
the members would be occupied in that way ? — Not an hour upon 
the ground. 

1043. Do you suppose they are occupied every day of the 
week in that way f — No, three times a-week. 

1044. Not an hour in a day? — Not an hour upon the 

1045. Have you ever known from any persons of the 
public fishermen of Whitstable being employed by the 
Whitstable Company? — Very rarely indeed — only when 
there is a little more work than they like to do. They go 
and lay oysters, which will take four or five hours, then 


the fishermen will not go — they get somebody else to go, 
because it is hard work. 

1046. Do you consider that this ground which the 
Whitstable Company are now going for, is suitable ground 
for the fattening of oysters ? — No, I think not. 

1047. Why do you think not? — / never knew them to be 
very Jit — very seldom — not so good as they are on the private 

1048. Do you know Mr. Gann, whether the Whitstable 
Company have got their present ground fully stocked, or 
how far it is stocked ? — I should not think more than one 
quarter part of what they had in 1861. They have been 
selling from that stock for the last five years. 

Cross-examined by Mr. Merewether. 

1054. You are a partner of the last witness, are you 
not?— Yes. 

1068. May I ask you whether you opposed the Heme 
Bay getting their land in 1864 ? — I did not. 

1070. Did you not take a lease from Lord Cowper of 
the Swalecliffe Manor ? — My father did. 

1071. And what was the end of that lease ? — The end 
of it was, that they could not find the proper title. 

1072. And was there not some litigation about it ? — 

1073. And was not your father beaten? — Yes. 

1074. And it ended in nothing? — Of course it 

1075. Mr. White: I have one question to ask you. 
Was the information which is now in possession of the 
Heme Bay Company not in your father's possession at that 
time?— It was not. My father said he had seen the 

1076. And that was not accepted as evidence ? — No, 
the Attorney said he could not find it. 


Examined by Mr. GRIFFITHS. 

1077. You are a dredgerman or fisherman living at 
Whitstable?— Yes. 

1078. How long have you lived there ? — All my life. 

1079. Have you been in the habit of fishing the flats 
which the Whitstable Company are seeking to get ? — Yes. 

1080. Is that the best part of the flats for obtaining spat ? 
— Yes. 

1081. Do you catch any other fish there except the 
spat? — Yes. 

1082. What fish do you get? — Whelks, soles, shrimps, 
and such like ; all sorts of fish. 

1092. Have you discussed the matter with the other 
fishermen as to what it is worth? — 50, 000 J. or 60,000/. a- 

Examined by Mr. M. GRItnTHS. 

1 107. You are a flatsman, living at Whitstable ? — I am. 

1108. How long have you been there? — I was born 

1109. How long have you been a fisherman there? — 
I have been on continually fifteen years, and perhaps I 
might say sixteen for what I know — never any where else. 

1112. Is this piece of ground the Company wish to 
obtain, the best part of the flats for fishing? — It is. 

1113. Is that the best place for getting the spat of the 
native oyster when any spat is to be found ? — It is. 

Ili4. What other fish can be caught on that piece? — 
Fish of ail sorts, almost. 

1115. Principally what? — Whelks, shrimps, plaice, 
turbot and many other fish, anything that comes to the 


1127. Do you know how long it takes a member of the 
Company to go oat and catch what yon call a stint? — 
Sometimes they are gone a very little while. 

1128. What time is that ?— About half an hour, or less. 

1129. Do yon know how often they would go oat for a 
stint? — I have known them them go oat three times 
arweek, that is the time they are on the ground I am speak- 
ing of 


Examined by Mr. M. GRIFFITHS. 

1180. Are you foreman, or were you last year foreman 
of the Faversham Oyster Company? — Yes. 

1192. Do you think it would be a great injury to the 
Faversham men if the Wbitstable Company got this land? 
— Very great indeed, for tins reason : the scarcity of spat 
has caused nearly all the oysters to be dredged off the 
Faversham ground, and their principal means of subsist- 
ence will be from working on the flats. 

1193. Ton know this piece of ground the WhHstaUe 
Company are wishing to get — do you know whether it is 
a suitable ground for the fattening of oysters? — Well, I 
should think not. 

1194. It can be used to obtain the spat, but it is not a 
fit place to fatten in ? — It is excellent brood ground. 

It will be seen from the foregoing evidence and expla- 
nations, that the statements which have been circulated 
with the object of creating a prejudice against the Heme 
Bay Company, will not bear the test of candid examination. 

All slanderous statements require a semblance of truth 
to give them plausibility, and facte which are undisputed, 
are made to support a superstructure of gratuitous fabrica- 

Thus : the fact, that the Heme Bay Company, not two 


years old, have made only a beginning in oyster culture, is 
used as a foundation for the allegation that they are doing 
nothing : — the fact, that their oyster grounds having been 
dredged bare of oysters have come into their hands in a 
state of nature, is employed to support the statement that 
their oyster grounds are worthless for breeding and for 
fattening : — the fact, that the oysters which they have sent 
to market after being only eighteen months on their 
grounds are not equal to the best Whitstable natives which 
have been laid down four years or more, is made the basis 
of a prediction that they never can succeed in fattening 
oysters fit for the public market : — the fact, that the Com- 
pany have proceeded cautiously in making experiments in 
artificial oyster culture, is caught at to justify the asser- 
tion that their plans are an utter failure : — and so on. 

The best retaliation on the Company's detractors is 
a statement of facts ; and it will afford much satisfaction 
to the shareholders to know, that, after most careful 
investigation, this pamphlet can be concluded thus : — 

1. The Heme Bay Company's oyster grounds are among 
the best of the breeding grounds in the estuary of the 
Thames, on which alone the true native spat falls. 

2. The experience of only eighteen months has shown 
that they are good fattening grounds for natives, and 
gives hope that a few years may show that they are 
among the best of the fattening grounds. 

3. The Company have already cleared about five 
square miles, and culched about one square mile of their 
grounds, and have laid down on parts of their beds many 
millions of oysters. 

4. When the best Whitstable natives, four years or more 
on the ground, were selling at 6/. a-bushel, the Heme Bay 
natives, only eighteen months on the ground, sold at 5/. 
a-bushel, and when the price of Whitstable natives had 
fallen to 51. a-bushel, the price of the Heme Bay natives 
had fallen only to 47. is. a-bushel. 

5. Mr. Ffennell, one of the Fishery Commissioners for 
England, whose official duty it may be to report on the 


Company's proceedings, testifies that " they have faithfully 
fdlfilled the duties imposed on them," and "have done 
everything that could be reasonably expected of them." 
June, 1866. 

The following correspondence has passed between some 
of the Shareholders and the Directors : — 

" Gentlemen, 

" We (who hold in the aggregate about one-sixth of 
the shares in the Heme Bay Company), having carefully 
read and considered the pamphlet winch we send to you, 
adopt it, and beg leave to suggest that you should have it 
printed and sent to the shareholders. 

" We are, gentlemen, 

" Your obedient servants, 
John Harvey,* 
Charles Saunders,! 
Henry Shuttleworth,J 
John Bullar.§ 
" To the Directors of the Heme Bay, &c., Company." 

" 10, Adelphi Terrace, W.C., 
" Gentlemen, June 27, 1866. 

" The Directors are much obliged for the pamphlet of 
which you have been good enough to send them a draft. 
They nave given it careful consideration, and, having 
regard to the quantity of valuable and authentic infor- 
mation which it contams, they concur in your suggestion 
that it would be desirable that the shareholders should be 
placed in possession of it, and have therefore instructed 
me to circulate it among them. 

" I remain, gentlemen, 

" Your obedient servant, 

"A. F. Pennell, Secretary. 
" To Messrs. Harvey, Saunders, 
Shuttleworth, and BuUar." 

* Chairman of Quarter Sessions for Bedfordshire. 

t County Court Judge and Recorder of Wells, Plymouth, and Deronport. 

X One of the Elder Brethren of the Trinity House. 

§ Barrister-at-law.