Lewes History Group: Bulletin 116, March 2020

Please note: this Bulletin is being put on the website one month after publication. If you would like to receive the Bulletin by email as soon as it is published, please contact the Membership Secretary about joining the Lewes History Group, and to renew your membership at the start of the calendar year. 

  1. Next Meeting: 9 March 2020: Christopher Whittick, ‘Banged up in Lewes’.
  2. Ambrose Galloway
  3. Coach and four outside the Star Inn
  4. Malling Mill House and Church Lane
  5. William Cruttenden’s Accident
  6. First Fatal Railway Passenger Accident in 1845 (by Andrew Lusted)
  7. A Martin’s Patent First Prize Swath Turner
  8. The Lewes School  of Science and Art in 1909


  1. Next Meeting         7.00 p.m. for 7.30 p.m.                  Monday 9 March

     Christopher Whittick  Banged up in Lewes: Criminal custody in the County Town

In March we welcome former County Archivist Christopher Whittick, who will tell us about the history of Lewes Prison, illustrated with images from the County Record Office and elsewhere. He will also take us back beyond the 19th Century to examine the history of judicial custody in the County Town over a period of almost a thousand years.

Christopher Whittick explains: “Although today we may automatically associate prison with punishment, that has not always been the case; indeed it is a relatively recent concept, emerging during the opening decades of the 18th century. The original function of a gaol or prison was to contain those who had been arrested pending their trial, to hold prisoners awaiting the gallows or transportation to a penal colony, or to confine debtors until their liabilities had been discharged either from the sale of their assets or by their families.”

Elevation of Proposed Lewes Prison, 1848, ESRO
Image: Elevation of proposed entrance gateway and residences, Lewes Prison, 1848 – ESRO R/A 2/516

As usual the meeting will be at the King’s Church building, Brooks Road, and all will be welcome. We shall be serving coffee and biscuits prior to the meeting.


  1. Ambrose Galloway

Ambrose Galloway is a name often encountered in Lewes history, but like several other apparently distinctive names, it belongs not to a single individual but to a dynasty. In this case there were three Ambrose Galloways, father, son and grandson, who lived in Lewes between about 1650 and 1738. All three Ambrose Galloways were leading members of the Lewes Quaker community.

Ambrose Galloway I (died 1696) and his wife Elizabeth (c.1615-1683) appear in Lewes in the early1650s, and were amongst those present at a Seekers’ meeting held in 1655 at a house in Southover who were convinced to become Quakers by the newly-arrived Cliffe felt maker and hatter Thomas Robinson. Ambrose is normally described as a tailor or salesman, and had a house and shop near Cliffe Bridge in All Saints parish. In 1667 he and his wife issued some trade tokens to compensate for the shortage of official coins – they must have issued a good number as quite a few survive today. He provided mortgages to others, and at his death owned South Malling windmill, on which he had previously held a mortgage.

Ambrose Galloway tokens

The token on the left was unearthed by a metal detectorist and recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme in 2011. That on the right was recently advertised for sale to token collectors.

Ambrose Galloway I & his wife Elizabeth had four children:

  • Mary Galloway (1652-1681), who married John Cook in 1676;
  • Peter Galloway (1653-1653), who died as an infant;
  • Elizabeth Galloway (1654-1679); and
  • Ambrose Galloway II (1659-1718).

Ambrose Galloway II (1659-1718) was thus the only one of the four children to outlive his parents. He married Ruth Hobbs in 1679 and they had three children:

  • Ambrose Galloway III (1680-1738);
  • William Galloway (1683-1710), who died as a young adult; and
  • Elizabeth Galloway (1689-1740), who remained unmarried.

Ambrose Galloway III left no widow or children. His sister Elizabeth was his executor and main heir, and the last of the family to live in Lewes. When Elizabeth Galloway died she nominated as her principal heir her friend Ruth Spence, an unmarried daughter of the Spence family of Malling House.

As a young man Ambrose Galloway II worked with his father, taking over his shop, but later diversified into other areas of business, so that even in his father’s lifetime he was described as a merchant. Ambrose Galloway III was also a merchant, trading particularly with Holland, where he offered financial facilities to other English merchants. They had a house and warehouse at the Bridge Foot wharf in All Saints parish, just below Lewes Bridge. In 1730 Ambrose Galloway III purchased the Bear Inn and yard, and other nearby property in the Cliffe, across the river from his Bridge Foot wharf. Ambrose Galloway II sold the South Malling windmill that he inherited from his father, but acquired the large corn watermill at Barcombe Mills. In 1717 he took a 21-year lease of Maresfield Forge, so participating in the Wealden iron industry. In 1718 both Barcombe Mills and the Maresfield Forge lease were inherited by his son.

As leading merchants in the town, Ambrose Galloway II & III dealt in a wide range of commodities. The Quaker William Penn, a personal friend, asked Ambrose Galloway II to provide a milk ass that his wife required for health reasons. In 1708 a Southampton mariner deposed that his ship, captured by a French privateer while off the Sussex coast, had been carrying a cargo of 550 bushels of salt being shipped by a Lymington merchant to Ambrose Galloway of Lewes. In 1716 the Southerham Farm shepherd gave evidence that land belonging to the farm, either side of the road from Cliffe to Southerham, had been let to Ambrose Galloway and another man for the storage of timber and other goods being transported by water. The 1728-1753 letters of the Wealden iron master John Fuller show that Ambrose Galloway III purchased his pig iron, and was responsible for shipping the cannon made at his Heathfield Furnace round the coast from Lewes to Woolwich. Fuller also purchased a range of goods supplied by Galloway, including wine, port, plants, seeds and pitched rope. Fuller, who addressed him in some letters as ‘Friend Ambrose’, also tried unsuccessfully to get him to train his son as an assistant and expressed deep regret on learning of his death. Ambrose Galloway III is also noted supplying and transporting millstones for a Sussex miller in 1723-4 and the materials for a new staircase at Danny, Hurstpierpoint, in 1728-9.

Between the Restoration in 1660 and the 1689 Toleration Act Quakers were persecuted for such crimes as refusing to attend divine service in the buildings they called ‘steeplehouses’, disrupting  those services they did attend, attending unauthorised services of their own and for refusing to pay tithes. Ambrose Galloway I & II were both amongst the Lewes Quakers formally excommunicated, in the latter case for failing to attend divine service “at a time when he was gone beyond sea” in the course of business. As they also refused to pay any fines imposed, their trade and personal goods were often seized, usually to a much higher value than the nominal fine. Ambrose Galloway I was kept in Horsham Gaol from 1662-1666, and in 1665 he was severely beaten, and kept in leg irons for intervening when another prisoner was mistreated. As he was the man charged with recording the sufferings of the Sussex Quakers for their faith, those of his own family are particularly prominent in the record. As one of the most prosperous Lewes Quakers, he was often required to pay the fines imposed on Quakers too poor to pay their own for attending meetings, as well as those imposed on his own wife and children. Ambrose Galloway II followed his father to gaol once he was old enough, and after he took over his father’s shop it was his goods that were seized to cover penalties imposed on his father. He became a personal friend of the leading Quaker William Penn, acting as a trustee for one of Penn’s family settlements.

After 1689 their situation of Quakers improved, but the more prosperous members of the community were still liable to penalties for such crimes as refusing to pay their tithes – a refusal that continued as long as the tithes themselves. Ambrose Galloway I was again in Horsham gaol for this crime in 1671. In 1690 Ambrose Galloway II had his goods distrained for failing to provide a man to serve in the trained bands, as the more prosperous citizens were required to do. There was perhaps some element of internal contradiction here, as Quaker merchant ships did not venture into dangerous seas unarmed for self-defence, and Ambrose Galloway III held the contract to deliver the guns manufactured by John Fuller at Heathfield Furnace round the coast to Woolwich Arsenal. Most Quakers were Whigs, but Ambrose Galloway III was a leading Lewes Tory – as the local Whigs recorded in the campaign leading up to the 1734 election: “Ambrose Galloway distinguished himself on the day of the [Cliffe] Fair by causing several Pieces of Cannon to be fired in his Yard and collecting a Mob on board a Barge in the River which he adorned with a Board on which was inscribed No New Excise”. Nevertheless the first bequest in his 1737 will was £1,000 to benefit Sussex Quaker charities, in addition to a separate bequest for maintenance of the Lewes Meeting House.

Sources: Familysearch; David Hitchin, ‘Quakers in Lewes’;  Colin Brent’s Lewes & Cliffe House Histories; The Keep catalogue; David Crossley & Richard Saville (eds), ‘The Fuller Letters, 1728-1753’, Sussex Record Society vol.76 (1991); the papers of William Penn; NA PROB 11/691/235, the 1738 probate of the 1737 will of Ambrose Galloway III.


  1. Coach and four outside the Star Inn

Coach leaving Star Inn, Lewes, Victorian photograph

This unprovenanced Victorian photograph showing a coach about to leave the Star Inn (now the Town Hall) for Brighton was amongst a batch posted on the Lewes Past website by Ian Freeston.


  1. Malling Mill House and Church Lane

Malling Mill remains 1908

This James Cheetham postcard, published soon after Malling Mill burned down in 1908, shows the view over the Mill House, looking north-west along Church Lane towards Malling House. This is one of the many illustrations in Bob Cairns superb book, ‘Lewes: The Postcard Collection’ (2015).


  1. William Cruttenden’s Accident

The 21 October 1797 Hampshire Chronicle reported the following fatal road traffic accident as occurring near Chichester, but in fact it occurred near Lewes:

On Wednesday night, about eleven o’clock, the following melancholy event happened near the Anchor on Ringmer Green, near Chichester, as Mr Cruttenden, conveyancer, of the Cliffe, near that town, was returning home in a chaise-cart, in which he had been out to spend the day with two other persons, a man and a woman, the cart overturned, and Mr Cruttenden unfortunately falling under the horse, was, by its plunging, killed on the spot: the other two escaped unhurt.”

I am not sure whether the editor of the Hampshire Chronicle had a particularly breathless prose style, or whether it was simply that his compositor was short of full stops. William Cruttenden aged 32, notary public, died on15 October 1797 and was buried three days later. Administration of his estate, valued at £600, was granted on 8 Feb1798 [ESRO PBT 2/5/53 & PBT 2/1/10/382A]. He was the son of the late Thomas Cruttenden of Cliffe, who had been a leading member of the Lewes Quaker community.


  1. First Fatal Railway Passenger Accident in 1845        (by Andrew Lusted)

The first fatal accident affecting a railway passenger in the Lewes area actually occurred before the official railway service began. The account below is from the 2 September 1845 Sussex Advertiser, as reported in https://glynde.info/history. The passenger service in this locality did not formally begin until the following year, 1846.

On Friday last an inquest was held before F H Gell, Esq, on the body of a young woman, aged 20 years, named Ann Knight, formerly of Littlehampton in this county. 

James Jackson deposed: I am a driver of an engine used on the new line between Southerham and Selmeston for removing earth, etc. On Friday morning, as I was taking ten empty wagons from Bushy Lodge with the engine, I felt a jerk of the engine and, on turning round, I saw three wagons off the line, one of which was lying on its side. I gradually stopped the engine, and then saw the deceased and a man sitting in the bottom of the upset wagon. I jumped off and, on running back, I found deceased lying on her back on the grass three or four yards from the rail. She just breathed and then died. The man was in the act of raising her up. I saw blood issuing from her nose and mouth, but could not discover any bruise. The deceased and the man had got into the wagon without my leave. We were going at the rate of ten or twelve miles an hour when I felt the jerk. I had deceased placed on a board and conveyed to Seal’s beer-shop at Southerham.

Isaac Perry, watchman at Beddingham Gate, saw the tender and wagon coming along that morning towards Lewes. A sleeper, which was hanging down between the bottom and the frame of one of the wagons caught the post of the gate I stood at. The sleeper then drove on towards the other rail and forced off one of the wagons. I saw deceased and a man in one of the wagons as they were coming up and, on going up, after the wagons got off the road, I found she was dead. 

James Smith deposed that he and deceased got into one of the wagons at Bushy Lodge to go to Lewes, no one, he thought, seeing them. Shortly after passing Beddingham Gate the wagon went off the line, and we were jerked out of it. I fell out first over the wheels and she fell on me, pitching on her head. I was senseless for a short time. We fell down an embankment, about a yard deep, upon the chalk. I picked deceased up and drew her on the grass. We had lived together about twelve months. 

The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental Death“.


  1. A Martin’s Patent First Prize Swath Turner

Martin's Patent First Prize Swath Turner, post card sent 1908

This advertising postcard featuring the latest available agricultural technology was sent in May 1908 to a blacksmith at Sheffield Green, Fletching, by Lewes ironmonger J.C. Burrow. The postcard was offered for sale on ebay in August 2019.


  1. The Lewes School of Science and Art in 1909

Amongst the Lewes institutions listed in the local directory for 1909/10 was the Lewes School of Science and Art in Albion Street, based in the building that later served for many years as the Lewes Library. The honorary secretary of the managers in1909 was Dr. W.F. Crosskey, and the headmaster was Mr F.E. Georges. The School was by then affiliated with the East Sussex county council education committee.

It was noted: “The building was erected about 35 years ago from funds derived from subscriptions and art exhibitions, and on its completion the money voted by the Education Department left it free of debt. The classes have been reorganised and the School is now open every day of the week with the exception of Thursday.”

Source: The Lewes section of the 1909 ‘Blue Book’ local directory, available on the shelves in Lewes Library.


John Kay

Contact details for Friends of the Lewes History Group promoting local historical events:

Sussex Archaeological Society
Lewes Priory Trust

Lewes Archaeological Group and go to ‘Lectures’
Friends of Lewes
Viva Lewes
The Arts Society: Uckfield & Lewes – meets 2nd Wed. Guests £7 per talk

Lewes History Group Facebook, Twitter


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.