Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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The Sussex Ironmasters.                   67
before. I told him I wondered to hear such things from him, for I heard he was my mortal enemy because I took that forge, and I told him that if he would let me go partners with him in the furnace, he should go partners with me in the forge. He desired time to consider of it, and he rode presently into Kent to inquire of me, and found such an account of me, that he told me I should go partners with him in all his works."
After a partnership of 15 years with the Burrells (the progenitors of the owners of Knepp Castle, Westgrinstead, and Ockenden House, Cuckfield), Leonard Gale became the sole proprietor of Tinsloe forge, one of the best in Sussex. At 46 years of age, having made, in 30 years, about 5,000 or "6,000, he thought it time to marry, "and chose (to use his own words to his sons) this woman, your mother, the daughter of Mr. Johnson, with whom I had 500 and one year's board with her." A singular provision this, and which, we believe, is now unknown to newly-married couples in England.
Things now prospered so well with Leonard Gale that at 66 years he had improved his estate to at least 16,000, "which is," he remarks, ""500 a year, one year with another, which is a very great miracle to me how I should come to so great an estate, considering my small dealings, the bad times, and my great losses by bad debts, suits of law, and by building." A proof, this, that fortunes were not so rapidly accumulated, even by Sussex ironmasters, 200 years ago, as they are now.
Leonard Gale had five children, and, addressing his two sons, Leonard and Henry, he gives them some advice which throws a light on his own character and also on the times. " Be not," he charges them, " too familiar with your vile neighbours, as I have been, and you now see how they hate me." It is clear from this that there was a Nemesis of prosperity 200 years ago; and that the man who rose from the lower classes, be his virtues what they might, had his enviers and detractors. "Next, suffer no man to inclose any land nor build houses on the waste." Here shines out the old spirit of resistance to encroachment, came it from high or low.
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