John Rumble
John Rumble was a farmer and appears to have been involved in buying and managing farmland, but does not appear to have been a major player in the town’s development. Rumble was a successful farmer when most income was derived from the land, he would have been part of a network of landowners (Scratton for example), corn merchants (the Luckings and Vandervords), farmers and even blacksmiths who all depended upon each other for income and so looked after each other's interests. The local directories in the mid-19th century describe him as a farmer and living at 14 Royal Terrace with his wife Charlotte. He was born in Cliffe, a village on the Hoo peninsula in Kent. Even today, the area consists of farmed marshland (with a nature reserve) and any experience gained there would have served him well in farming on Foulness and in Wakering in the 19th century. The date of his birth is not recorded but his various ages provided for census returns and on his death record all indicate that he was born in 1806. John Rumble first appears in Essex Records in 1830 where he is described as a farmer of Foulness and was entering into a partnership with William Henry King, a South Shoebury farmer, regarding West Shelford Farm in Foulness. The agreement involved Rumble taking upon himself the entire management of the farm. In the same year, Rumble paid for a valuation of Newick Farm on Foulness Island. It is evident that he was either considering purchasing the farm or already owned it. The 1841 census shows John Rumble living at New Wyck (aka Newick Farm), Foulness with his wife Charlotte and five others. Four were men in their early 20s and therefore likely to be farm workers. A woman in her early 30s was likely a domestic servant. Ten years later, the 1851 census shows that John Rumble was doing well for himself. He was then living at 14 Royal Terrace, Southend with his wife Charlotte and two female, domestic servants (aged 16 and 24). He was then described as being in occupation of 300 acres and a labourer. By 1855, like others in Southend who were involved in either property dealings or law, John Rumble also had a London business address (7 Delahay Street in prestigious Westminster). In that year, Rumble purchased Brays Farm (aka Tyrell's Farm), a 47 acre site in Great Wakering and Little Wakering. The farm comprised a farmhouse, then divided into 2 cottages, a homestead with barn, bullock house, stable and cart lodge, and arable and pasture land. Three others were involved in the purchase James Gardner, Richard Hall and Stephen Allen. Gardner and Hall were appointed as trustees of the farm in the agreement so it appears that Rumble was a silent partner in the farm, providing financial backing but leaving the management to others. The farm had been purchased from the North Shoebury Estate of the Welch family (who had previously purchased it from the Tyrell family). This period of the mid-19th century was a time when the two major landowners in the area, the Asser-Welch and Scratton families) were beginning to sell their manorial estates and tenant farmers, who had previously leased their land, were able to buy the same outright. In subsequent descriptions in Essex Records, John Rumble was no longer described as a farmer but as a 'gentleman', meaning one who makes a living from ownership of land (rather than by working it). In 1869, Daniel Robert Scratton sold a large swathe of lands of his Prittlewell Priory and Milton Hall Estates in order to retire to Devon. As Scratton realised, this period would be one of transition from the manorial system of local government to local boards that would later become local councils. The sale of Scratton's land enabled John Rumble to purchase the freehold to the property that he occupied at 14 Royal terrace for £400 (April 1869). Residents of Royal terrace had previously enjoyed the exclusive use of the Shrubbery, a private garden that extended down the cliffs to the beach on the west side of Southend's pier. Scratton saw that the Shrubbery had been neglected over the years and wanted to preserve it so that it could become a space to be enjoyed by the public in what would become a rapidly developing town. In July 1869, Scratton set up a Trust to maintain the Shrubbery until such time as a local authority could take over its management. He funded the trust and appointed the trustees. Immediate funds were provided for a makeover of the gardens and Essex Records hold copies of invoices for wrought iron works and gardening supplies from local nurseries. From this time, the Shrubbery could be enjoyed by all members of the public and a small admission fee was charged to contribute towards the cost of maintaining the gardens. John Rumble, a resident of Royal terrace was appointed as a trustee of the Shrubbery, along with Daniel Scratton himself, James Scott (owner of the Royal Hotel) and John Page. Thus, in 1869, we see John Rumble being involved in public service. It is for the following year that Essex Records first reveal John Rumble's involvement with St John the Baptist's Church. The Scratton family had provided the land on which the church had been built to open in 1842. The church then served a parish population of nearly 2,300 but this would more than quadruple by 1880. Records from 1870 show that St John's churchyard had been extended and the additional land was consecrated in that year. Amongst the documents are records of a court case heard in the Chancery between John Rumble and Elizabeth Heygate. In the same 1869 sale, the Heygate family had purchased their previously leased land from Daniel Robert Scratton and this included the land surrounding the church. There was evidently a dispute regarding the land to be consecrated and maps were produced along with documents relating to the 1869 sale of land. The documents are amongst the churchwardens papers and it must be assumed that John Rumble was acting as churchwarden at the time. It is not clear what stance Elizabeth Heygate was taking as defendant. At this time, the churchyard was bounded by orchards attached to Grovefield House. The latter was owned by Elizabeth Heygate but was occupied by Rev. William Edward Heygate, the vicar of St John's and was used as the vicarage. In any event, the consecration went ahead as a result of the court's ruling. Elizabeth Heygate died in about 1876 and the Heygate family decided to sell the land around St John's, retaining Porters as the family residence. The vendor in the 1880 sale was Revd Thomas Edmund Heygate. The sale of land enabled the development of the area including York Road and Heygate Avenue but the name of one of the new roads, Chancellor Road (built alongside the churchyard) appears to be a reference to the Chancellor's court where the legal judgement was obtained. A year after this sale, John Rumble died at home in Royal Terrace on 18th March 1881. He was buried in the extended section of St John's churchyard with Chancellor Road in the background of his headstone. By 1897, the fledgeling Municipal Borough of Southend-on-Sea had built a new graveyard and St John's churchyard was closed to further burials on the site.
By Warwick Conway
John Rumble’s memorial in the churchyard of St John the Baptist Southend

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Plaque in the wall of the churchyard St John the Baptist Southend
Close up of inscription on John Rumble’s memorial
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