William Everest of Epsom

2004/02 p4

 

 

The current issue of Surrey History contains an article on the life of William Everest written by his great-great-grandson, Max Everest-Phillips. The article appears to have been prompted by a printed public apology to Everest, which came to light in a private archive in Toyama, Japan. The apologist was William Hasted, a former Overseer of the Poor in Epsom, who had claimed that Everest, the Epsom Vestry Clerk, was guilty of corruption.

 

Everest was born in 1801. He probably qualified in law through articled training in the family firm of solicitors, Everest and Martyr of Greenwich, and became Epsom Vestry Clerk in 1827. The Vestry was the main instrument of local government and had ecclesiastical duties, such as maintaining the church property and appointing church wardens, as well as civil functions, such as maintaining the roads and supervising poor relief. It was empowered to raise money for these purposes by setting a local rate.

 

The corruption allegation arose in 1835 when a major irregularity was noticed in the accounts of William Hasted, the parish’s outgoing Overseer of the Poor, from which it appeared that a substantial unpaid sum of money was due. A meeting was convened to consider the matter and it was at this stage that Hasted made allegations of bribe-taking by Everest. Everest responded by initiating legal proceedings against Hasted. At the Vestry meeting Everest temporarily resigned as Vestry Clerk while the matter was being sorted out and was given a vote of confidence by the members. It was also unanimously resolved that the missing money should be returned. Within a few weeks the money had been accounted for, Everest had agreed to discontinue the legal proceedings and Hasted undertook to publish a humiliating apology and to pay Everest £100 in damages. In September 1835 Everest resumed his duties as Vestry Clerk.

 

Graham Brown