Chap. XV.j Incorporation. 201
The proposal met with a certain amount of opposition from Willingdon ratepayers, but not of a very pronounced kind except in the case of a farmer, Mr. John Filder, whose range of vision on all public questions was very limited. The question finally turned on the attitude of the 1st Viscount Hampden, better known as Sir Henry Brand, the ex-Speaker of the House of Commons. Lord Hampden, I think was personally in favour of the inclusion of Willingdon, and on the grounds that it would undoubtedly raise in the long run, the value of the Katton property, but he seems to have felt that as his grandson, the present Lord Willingdon (who was the largest owner of property in Willingdon), wras a minor, the question should be left open until such times as his grandson was of age, and in a position to take a line for himself. The Parish of Willingdon was therefore struck out of the Draft Charter, notwithstanding that East-Bourne offered to submit to a differential rating for a certain number of years so as to ease the pressure on the Willingdon rates.
The Charter met with no further opposition and came into operation in due course, and the first Council was elected on November 1, 1883, and the first meeting was held in the following week on the statutory day the 9th. The first Mayor was Mr. G. A. Wallis, who had previously been the last Chairman of the defunct Local Board. I was elected a member of the Council for St. Mary's Ward and sat for 5 years when I was turned out as the result of a conspiracy engineered by Alderman W. E. Morrison.
No provision having been made by law to authorise the purchase of a chain for the Mayor, or for a mace, the Duke of Devonshire kindly presented the Corporation with a chain, and Mr. 0. D. Gilbert a mace. The ceremonial presentation was made on April 21, 1884.
The first provisional Burgess Roll exhibited the following numbers :—
Central Ward........ 1133
St. Mary's Ward......590