Hundred Records - Volume 4 (ISBN 978-0-9530998-2-5)
FAVERSHAM OYSTER FISHERY
Through Eleven Centuries
By Patricia Hyde and Duncan Harrington
book approx. 170 mm x 250 mm in size is sewn and hard backed. It has ten
introductory pages and 281 pages of text with 24 photographs, maps and
illustrations. The coloured dust jacket is based on a surviving 1608 map
of the oyster fishery. (ISBN 0-9530998-2-2) Only 425 numbered and signed
copies have been printed and are available at £28.50 plus postage
and packing of £4.75 within the U.K
This volume is the result of years of research and provides for the first
time a detailed history of oyster fishing through the vicissitudes of
one company from the medieval period to the present day. The many disputes
the company had with neighbouring fisheries, as well as information from
other authorities, show us not only the development of the industry in
Faversham, but also offer us a window into the problems that beset many
other oyster grounds during the period. Over-fishing, pollution and the
rigid, antiquated structure of the fishery led eventually to a long, slow
decline at Faversham.
The first controlled fishery is heard of in the area of Seasalter, in
a charter granted by Offa, king of Mercia, in 785 where a fish weir is
mentioned. At the Conquest Faversham, Whitstable and Milton were all fisheries
that were then royal manors, perhaps controlled by the crown, perhaps
not. Our researches have shown that there is no doubt that King Stephen,
in founding the abbey at Faversham in 1147 by granting them the manor
and hundred of Faversham, founded the oyster fishery company. It may have
been based on arrangements made when Faversham had been a royal manor,
but we have no proof one way or the other.
Like so many businesses the records of The Company and Fraternity of Freefishermen
and Dredgermen of Faversham and the eventual formation of the Faversham
Oyster Fishery Company Ltd. in 1930 have left no complete archive. Despite
this, through diligent research in many archives, we have been able to
build up a comprehensive account. Twenty-five appendices, arranged in
chronological order, provide transcripts of some of the more important
documents and include lists of members taken from a variety of records.
Comprehensive name and place indexes enable individuals to be easily located
in these records.
Based on original documentation we hope that we have made clear what happened
to what may well be the oldest controlled oyster fishery company.