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Hop Sweepstakes Winnings? (Barden, Ticehurst, E. Sussex)

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Hop Sweepstakes Winnings? (Barden, Ticehurst, E. Sussex)

Postby DianaCanada » Sat May 11, 2019 8:40 pm

I found this newspaper reference to my ancestor's brother, Thomas Barden, who lived most of his adult life in Ticehurst, E. Sussex. He was born ca Sep 1801 in nearby Burwash.
The newspaper (Maidstone and South Eastern Gazette, 20 Aug 1850) reference is headed "Ticehurst" and it talks about the annual Hop Sweepstakes dinner being held in Ticehurst..."the chair being occupied by Mr. Thomas Smith who pronounced Mr. Thomas Barden the winner of the sweepstakes, whose set was 79,000 pounds, the ensuing year ranged from 156,000 pounds to 231,000 pounds, and the betting was in favour of 190,000 pounds to 200,000 pounds."

My question is, did Thomas win 79,000 pounds?! That seems like a fortune for 1850.

(Just for the record, Thomas was the son of John Barden and Naomi Boorman, and he married Jane Knight on 28 Apr 1824 in Heathfield, E. Sussex and they had 8 children).

Thomas and Jane's youngest son, Joseph, died 26 Sep 1902 after falling into a canal at Camberwell, London, where he was living. He was drunk. He died later due to pneumonia resulting from the dunking in the canal.
There is quite a lot about this in the papers...including that he was estranged from at least one of his children, and that at some point he had come into a lot of money, and basically drank it away.
I always wondered where the money came from...now wondering if it had something to do with this Sweepstakes, although that was over fifty years before.
I have not found a will for Thomas, though I may have simply not known where to look.
Last edited by DianaCanada on Tue Jun 18, 2019 11:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hop Sweepstakes Winnings? (Barden, Ticehurst, E. Sussex)

Postby Mick Loney » Sun May 12, 2019 5:28 am

If the betting was between 156,000 and 231,000 pounds, it seems to me to be on Pounds weight rather than Pounds sterling. Perhaps the aim was to guess the weight of the hops produced over a particular period. The one with the closest guess being the winner.

A similar thing occurs for the Grand National race, when lots of Pubs Clubs and offices hold a sweepstake. All the horse names are placed in a hat, each participant then picks a horse at random, and the winner is the one holding the ticket with the name of the winning horse.
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Re: Hop Sweepstakes Winnings? (Barden, Ticehurst, E. Sussex)

Postby AdrianB38 » Sun May 12, 2019 6:27 am

I just cross checked the size of a hop harvest and found this reference:

Ann George of Hop Growers of America estimates that most alpha varieties yield up to 3,000 pounds dried hops per acre, whereas aroma hop plants only eke out 800 to 1,900 pounds, depending on the variety.4 Feb 2015

See URL https://www.motherjones.com/environment ... uhstaller/

Taking the 3,000 pound per acre figure, and having absolutely no idea of the size of hop farms, those numbers sound reasonable for hop harvests - perhaps the number being bet on is the total figure for that area and the "whose set was 79,000 lbs" refers to that chap's single farm.

That seems all plausible - whether it's right is another matter!

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Re: Hop Sweepstakes Winnings? (Barden, Ticehurst, E. Sussex)

Postby JaneyH » Sun May 12, 2019 8:44 am

This post immediately piqued my interest as I live on the Kent/Sussex border (Ticehurst is just 12 miles from me) and hops are still grown in the area, albeit not on anything like the scale they used to be.

I’ve found other references to sweepstakes at hop dinners, and they do appear to relate to pounds in money rather than weight. More specifically, the sweepstake is a bet on the amount of duty that would have to be paid to the Government each harvest. (The dinner would be *before* the harvest.) Duty had been levied on hops since 1710 according to my googling, and in the mid-19th century was 1d per pound of hops. As to yields, I’ve found a report from 1857 which discusses opposition to moving from a duty linked to production to one based on acreage. Yields varied considerably - obviously weather and disease were big factors, as was the type of land used for hop gardens. Figures of 10cwt per acre seem typical, although it could be as low as 5cwt per acre, and occasionally hitting a ton (20 cwt) per acre. Lots of information about hopping here https://sites.google.com/site/wateringb ... cs/hopping from a local historical society.


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Re: Hop Sweepstakes Winnings? (Barden, Ticehurst, E. Sussex)

Postby Mick Loney » Sun May 12, 2019 9:14 am

JaneyH,
You may well be right, but nevertheless, I don’t think the 79000 pounds referred to the winnings

I know some farmers are wealthy, but that was a serious amount of money for a prize for those days! Like our present Grand National sweepstakes, I suspect their sweepstakes were just a bit of fun, to liven up the dinner. :D
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Re: Hop Sweepstakes Winnings? (Barden, Ticehurst, E. Sussex)

Postby DianaCanada » Sun May 12, 2019 12:58 pm

First, thank you all for your suggestions and kindness looking online for info. All very interesting!

I should have clarified this in the original post - it is pounds money, not weight. My laptop keyboard does not have the £ sign, unlike my iPad which I am using now!
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Re: Hop Sweepstakes Winnings? (Barden, Ticehurst, E. Sussex)

Postby JaneyH » Sun May 12, 2019 3:00 pm

Sorry Mick, I didn’t explain very well. The amounts of money relate to the amount of hop duty payable once the hops were all picked. It’s certainly not the winnings. It seems a bit odd to be betting on how much revenue is owed to the government, but apparently it was a thing back then. There’s a reference to another dinner very like the one in Diana’s original post in my link.


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Re: Hop Sweepstakes Winnings? (Barden, Ticehurst, E. Sussex)

Postby Mick Loney » Sun May 12, 2019 7:39 pm

Diana,
I assume your using a US keyboard. For future reference, when you need the £ symbol, just press and hold the Alt key, then type 0163 :D
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Re: Hop Sweepstakes Winnings? (Barden, Ticehurst, E. Sussex)

Postby DianaCanada » Tue Jun 18, 2019 11:08 am

Mick Loney wrote:Diana,
I assume your using a US keyboard. For future reference, when you need the £ symbol, just press and hold the Alt key, then type 0163 :D


Thanks Mick, for this handy tip!
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