1792 Act ; Original Copy.

''An Act for more effectually embanking etc "

The introduction to the Act.

”An Act for more effectually embanking,draining, and otherwise improving, the Island of Canvey, in the County of Essex.”

This is an original copy, printed and published in 1792, of the Act of Parliament which instituted and appointed the Commissioners for Sewers. Considering the number of Commissioners and interested parties involved there must have been several hundred of these copies printed. This particular copy is in very good condition and it would be of interest to know of any other copies still in existence.

The ACT and it’s effects are most succintly described by Dr Basil E. Cracknell in his ‘The History of a Marshland Community’ thus:

  • In 1792 an Act of Parliament was passed “for more effectively Embanking Draining and Otherwise Improving the Island of Canvey in the County of Essex.” Some indication of the extent of the damage is contained in the preamble to the Act: “.. .the walls embankments and works are in a very ruinous state and afford such a feeble protection that there is great reason to fear the whole island will in a short time be totally lost.” The Act established a new body called the Commissioners of Sewers for Canvey Island. This body was similar to the many Commissioners of Sewers already existing in marshland districts of England and Wales, but it had special powers and responsibilities of its own. The most important of these related to the Third Acre lands The Act recognized that although the owners of the Third Acre lands were legally responsible for the maintenance of the walls the burden was, an onerous one, and it gave powers to the Commissioners to enable them to levy wall scots on the Freelands whenever they found themselves unable to keep the walls in adequate repair from the Third Acre rates alone. Thus the first small breach in the privileged position of the Freelands was made, but for another century the Third Acre lands continued to bear the main brunt of the repair and maintenance costs of the wall the Dutch had built about two hundred years before.

In the following paragraph headed ‘The Commissioners for Sewers’ he continues;

  • Between 1792 and 1812 the Commissioners levied wall rates on the Freelands as well as the Third Acre lands, but from then onwards until 1881 the Freelands remained free of wall rates except in the three years 1837-9. Thus the provisions of the 1792 Act did not greatly affect the position of the landowners of Canvey and the main outcome of the Act was the establishment of a Commission of Sewers. To the local historian this is important, for their manuscript records have been preserved and provide useful information on the important work of sea defence.

Finis.

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Special thanks to Jan for scanning all these pages.

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