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    by Jean Lear


    19 JANUARY 2006

Hawkins Talk poster

A very interesting talk was given by Jean Lear on 200 years of life at the above Hospital in Chatham, which was built in 1575 & refurbished in 1750. John Hawkins, who had lived at East Wickham, Plumstead, was Treasurer to the Navy & the Hospital had been set up for Pensioner Sailors. The Navy said the best type of sailor was a dead sailor, as obviously didnít have to pay him.

£74 was the first income for the Hospital & £62 expenditure for the pensions. Later, other sources of income were found. The Official Papers were kept in a chest with 4 keys, but The Trinity House Brethren generally either lost or forgot their keys & so the Blacksmith was often called in.

There were 26 Governors, of which only 4 were elected, including the Arch Bishop of Canterbury etc. They met on the first day of Easter week in the Deputy Governorís House, outside the pensionerís apartments. They read The Foundation Charter, then examined each pensionerís details ref: medical problems. They were chosen equally i.e. Sailors & Dockworkers (Shipwrights), but had to be in that order & were requested by dignitaries like The Lord High Admiral or Arch Bishop of Canterbury etc.

Many of the inhabitants had injuries & once at the Hosp, received 2 Shillings per week. This rate stayed the same for 150 years. It was then 8s at the end of the 1800ís but then went down to 7s. Eventually wives were allowed in but initially, they had to be over 50. New rules came into place ie: no swearing / drinking & to remain in the Hosp during darkness & were allowed out ten times per year, but one particular woman had permission for approx 30 nights, as she was a Nurse / Midwife.

The pensioners had a fuel allowance & extras if unwell; also money towards Drís & Ointments etc. Apparently, two Pensioners were removed, due to in-subordinations to the Deputy Governor. We then saw an Inventory of furniture / bedding, with records of some being decayed / broken. Establishments like this, created jobs within the community, eg: canvas supplier for the sheets, Glovers providing wool for the mattresses & Paviars for road paving.

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