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John Mance & Family

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        JOHN MANCE
        1792 - 1857
        Army, 84th Regiment of Foot, 1808 - 1819
        Constable, Bow Street Runner, 1820 - 1824
        Governor, Petworth Prison, 1824 - 1856
Outside St. Leonards, Shoreditch - 1816


The son of John Mance from Odcombe, Somerset & Elizabeth Dodge from Sherborne in Dorset, John Mance was born on the 4th November 1792 at Datchet in Buckinghamshire.
The first recorded address for John and his family is in c.1793 at lodgings, near the Broadway in Westminster, London.
His father being a private in the 1st Foot Guards they moved shortly after into the Westminster Barracks. John Mance senior served with the Foot Guards for over 20 years until he was 55. His discharge papers, for June 1814, are shown - right.
This military influence seems to have taken a hold on John and he can next be found working in an officers mess at Deal in Kent as a waiter from around 10 years of age onwards.
At the age of 17 still shown as a servant by trade, he enlisted into the recently formed 84th Regiment of Foot.

Discharge, John Mance, senior June 1814
Discharge, John Mance, senior - June 1814 click to enlarge papers

84th Regiment of Foot 1808 - 1819

At Bow Street in London, John enlisted as a 'private soldier' on the 9th August, 1808, beginning 11 years service in the '84th Foot'. Within a year, aged 18, he was heading to Holland as part of the Walcheren Expedition, often called the 'Walcheren disaster'.
In a bid to assist the Austrian army the campaign was an unsuccessful attempt to destroy the French fleet thought to be in Flushing whilst providing a diversion for the hard-pressed Austrians. However, by the start of the campaign the Austrians had effectively already lost the war.

John was one of 40,000 soldiers, 15,000 horses together with field artillery and two siege trains crossing the North Sea and landing at the swampy island of Walcheren on 30 July. The British troops soon began to suffer from malaria, and within a month of seizing the island, they had over 8,000 fever cases. The medical provisions for the expedition proved inadequate despite reports that an occupying French force lost 80% of its men some years earlier due to the same disease.
The Campaign involved little fighting and although the British captured Flushing and the surrounding towns on 15 August with only 106 lost in combat the heavy losses from Malaria, popularly dubbed 'Walcheren Fever' cost the lives of over 4,000 of the British troops.
With the main objective for the British out of reach, the expedition was called off in early September. Around 12,000 troops stayed on Walcheren, but by October only 5,500 remained fit for duty and they withdrew on 9 December 1809. Along with the 4,000 men that had died during the campaign, almost 12,000 were still ill by February 1810 and many others remained permanently weakened.

British foot regiment, Peninsular War, click for info
British foot regiment - Peninsular War

Some months after Walcheren, John found himself with his regiment in Ireland for a year or so. In November 1812 they were active in the Peninsular War and involved in many battles in Spain and France. He was present at the 1813 Siege of Bayonne in France.
Back in Ireland by 1816, near Athlone he discovered an abandoned baby 'John Strawyard', which was given to an orphanage. By now John had been promoted to sergeant with a number of commendations it seemed that he was set for a lifetime military career.
This came to an abrupt end when in October 1818 during an infantry sword exercise John overexerted himself causing a hernia.
Now thought unfit for military duties he was discharged on 30th June 1819, aged 28, and of “exemplary” conduct and character. His discharge was signed by Lt.Col Henry Daubeny and he was recommended for a pension of 9 pence per day [approx.modern £1 per month].
His discharge papers described him as 5 feet 11 inches in height, brown hair, grey eyes, and fresh complexion.
In October of 1819 a letter of recommendation was written at Sheerness by Lt Col. Daubeny, the commander of the 84th Regiment of Foot.
The 84th ended up as part of the York and Lancaster Regiment which opted to disband in 1968 rather than be amalgamated.
information on the 2nd Battalion 84th Foot

Bow Street Runner 1820 - 1824

From 1820 and over the next few years John Mance is a resident ‘inhabitant householder’ in St Leonard Parish, Shoreditch, possibly in Bacon Street referring to a 1821 census entry, although misspelled 'Manse'.

The Police force as we know it today, was just beginning to be formed. One of its predecessors being the 'Bow Street Runners' to which John enlisted as an officer in 1820, serving nearly 5 years, based at the ‘Worship Street’ Office, close to his home in Shoreditch, although on occasion it appears he worked from the famous 'Bow Street' office and certainly was at times a witness in the Bow Street Magistrates court.
The general 'lawlessness' in the capital prior to the 'Runners' being formed was seen as an 'epidemic of crime'. The success of the initial force based in Bow Street finally encouraged the government to pass the Middlesex Justices Act of 1792 which established 7 police offices and magistrates courts, each staffed by paid magistrates and constables. One of these was Worship Street in Shoreditch.
By the time of John enlisting, the number of 'Bow Street' patrols numbered close to 300 men. The main role of the officers was deterring

Bow Street, Magistrates
click to enlarge
Bow Street, Magistrates
Drawn by Augustus Pugin, Ackerman's Microcosm of London - 1808-11.
Bow Street Runners
Bow Street Runners c.1823

crime and apprehending offenders. They preferred the title of Principal Officers, as ‘runners’ made them sound like servants, and policed the main metropolitan thoroughfares and roads into London with mounted patrols deterring and preventing highway robberies.
John Mance made a number of arrests within his 5 years of service and was witness to a recorded 36 court cases between 1820 and 1824 with no doubt many more unrecorded. A number of cases are shown separate to this page and demonstrate his commitment to his work and yet further mentions of 'exemplary conduct'.
This, and his military record, were no doubt amongst the important factors in him obtaining his forthcoming position at Petworth Gaol.

A major episode in Johns life would have been his marriage to Sarah Page on the 14th January 1824.
Sarah was born on the 16th July 1785, at Hammersmith, the daughter of Richard Page, a minister and Sarah Page.
She accompanied him to Petworth and is recorded as being Baptised at the Independent Church in Petworth on the 11th of October 1827 by the Rev J Young.
She was Matron at Petworth Prison for 27 years, from 1824 until her death on the 22nd of March 1851 aged 61 years.

Governor, Petworth House of Correction 1824 - 1857

John Mance was installed as Governor of the House of Correction at Petworth, Sussex in April 1824. Although he was well suited to fit the position, by the standards then held, taking into account his past service records, previous police duties and his "exemplary devotion to his duties" he was also very highly recommended.

Along with his letter of recommendation by Lt Col. Daubeny, the commander of the 84th Regiment of Foot and many others, he was given a commendation to the "highest possible moral standard" by Samuel Twyford, Chairman of the Sussex Quarter Sessions. His wife Sarah became Matron at the same time, which was a common practice of a governors spouse taking on this position.
Petworth Gaol had a reputation for being a "ruthless and pitiless institution" and John Mance in many respects furthered that with his own reputation of 'harshness'. We have received many messages relating to the cruel treatment of prisoners at this prison, usually being their past family members. Placing aside the obviously bias feelings this would produce, there were a number of independent reports, including newspaper articles, usually regarding deaths at the prison, which supported this. Examples being the death of 16 year old Thomas Allard in 1849, mangled on the tread-wheel when he stumbled, his only ever

Petworth Gaol
Petworth Gaol
offence that of being an 'orphaned vagrant' caused an uproar of local discontent as did the death, also after being forced onto the infamous tread-wheel, of William Gardiner, aged 28, a journeyman butcher from Chichester, who died after only 9 days in Petworth Jail. read more
chapel with highsided pews that prevented prisoners from seeing each other
chapel with highsided pews that prevented prisoners from seeing each other

John Mance, once proudly stated "I now have a notorious vagrant in my custody who declared to me that he would rather go three months in Lewes [prison] than one in this house, and he assures me to my great satisfaction that he will never come into this division of the county again".
With the harshest reputation he was also very religious and he believed it was his religious duty to stop prisoners reoffending and that he was performing 'Gods work'. It is also possible that the term 'harsh' simply meant 'strict' or 'by the book'. Which looking at his past and the practices he employed to operate the prison seems more probable. He was very efficient, to say the least. He didn't make the rules, he simply enforced them, to the letter.
The treadwheel used at the prison served no purpose other than punishment. Treading the wheel was similar to climbing a flight of stairs. Rules decreed that it turned 48 steps per minute and that each prisoner stepped through 11,340 feet, or just over 2 miles per day. This was the rough equivelent of climbing Mount Snowdon 3 times per day 6 days per week. The distance had to be achieved within a specified time. Time spent on the dreaded treadwheel was known as ‘grinding the wind’.

John Mance redesigned and made an Ergometer used at Petworth to measure work done on the treadmill. This accurately measured the distance each prisoner walked each day. Most other prisons at that time had treadwheels of some kind, but very few had an accurate method of ensuring the length of time spent working it. The use of the ergometer not only ensured the prisoner completed his full punishment, but also that he wasn't punished further by inefficient measurements. His ergometer was so successfull that it was also employed at Lewes Jail.

His great efficiency within the prison service cannot be over stated. Within his time as governor he saved the prison system a small fortune. An example of this efficiency is demonstrated remarkably in the report of the Midsummer Sessions of 1841. A copy of this document shown here was donated to our archives by Marilyn Lilley of Cape town, South Africa, who is directly related to John Mance. Although there are numerous other similar documented reports of his dedication to duty, this one document demonstrates it in no uncertain measure...Midsummer 1841
John Mance was author of a small book named ‘A Soldier Spiritualised’ printed in 1857 along with many reports and articles throughout his later years. The book was described as "Every military movement is made, in this little work, the vehicle of illustrating scriptural truth. The author was a soldier in the Peninsular war, and after his retirement was connected with the London police, and for thirty years governor of Petworth Gaol. He had ' the merit of introducing the new system of prison discipline, which he carried out with much firmness, tempered with extreme kindness to the unfortunate objects of his care.' This work is without any literary pretension, yet may be read with profit."

Petworth Gaol Midsummer 1841 - click for full document
Petworth Gaol Midsummer 1841

He died at the age of 65 on the 29th of August 1857 at Zion House in Pulborough, Sussex the home of the Rev Francis George Sharp and was buried at Petworth, Sussex. - Read his obituary here - [full source page]
There was a bequest of 19 guineas to Frances Sarah Peacock, illegitimate daughter of Frances Harriet Upton Peacock. A further bequest was of The Fox Public House, orchards in Pulborough, and other effects to Emma Stoveld Sharp, wife of the Rev. Francis George Sharp, non-conformist church in Petworth, Sussex.

    17 September 2010
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related or associated :-
Petworth Prison
Petworth index
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born - 04.11.1792
army - 1808 - 1819
runner - 1820 - 1824
married - 14.01.1824
governor - 1824 - 1856
died - 29.08.1857

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Bow Street Runners truncheon c.1820s
Bow Street Runners uniform c.1829
Worship Street, 1862 -
scanned image by Jacqueline Banerjee -
click to enlarge

Church & Golden Square, 1920 - 
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