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I HAVE endeavored in the following pages to make known the actual condition of Suffolk in 1851, as far as such condition could be ascertained by personal inquiries, and a careful examination of published and unpublished documents.
I am conscious that my ability is very far short of my desire to do justice to so important a topic as the one I have undertaken to elucidatė. Transferred at nine years of age from the school-room to the work
shop — self-helped and self-guided in my progress to manhood-launched into business before I arrived at maturity, I have had no opportunity to strive for the graces of composition.
My connection with the press, slight as it has been, procured me friends in various parts of the county, who kindly offered to aid me by collecting materials for the work I projected. Doubtless, there are as many who under-estimate as there are who overestimate their powers, and omit to do good from miscalculating their capacity for usefulness. Not desiring to belong to either of these classes, I have devoted five years to the production of this Volume, and now commit my collection of facts to the notice of the Public, and bespeak for them that calm consideration which their importance deserves.
Hitherto the works on Suffolk have referred to the Past rather than to the Present; the authors tell us of what occurred in our towns and villages hundreds of years ago, rather than of what was going on in their own
and I have long felt the conviction that a work illustrating the Moral and Social condition of the people of this district was much needed.
To the moral and social reformer the facts adduced generally will present rather a gloomy aspect, but almost every month brings some proofs that brighter prospects are dawning upon this district. The noble exertions of Sir Edward Kerrison, Bart., M. P., and the munificent liberality of John Fitzgerald, Esq., have stimulated the gentry of the district to aid in the
establishment of a Reformatory School, where kindness and persuasion will now, for the first time in the history of the county, be applied on a large scale to that portion of our laboring population who have never previously experienced anything but the frowns of society and the rigors of the law. I anticipate good results from this movement.
Since the body of the work was penned, Robert Newton Shawe, Esq., the model country gentleman, has gone from among us full of years and honor. His sound judgment gave to the agricultural population of the district in which he resided the best legacy that could be devised for working men — a sound and useful education ; and we trust the success of his efforts may induce the landowners generally to follow so unostentatious and worthy an example. Encouraging signs of the times present themselves in this direction. Excellent School Buildings, and, what is better, an efficient Schoolmaster, have been provided by John Tollemache, Esq., M.P., for the parishes of Helmingham and Framsden, and as soon as Charles Austin, Esq., became a resident of the Brandeston Estate, a School-house was erected, and the hitherto neglected children of the District were gathered together for mental and moral discipline.
In the Chapter on Crime the parish of Helmingham will be found in the list of those conspicuous for excess of criminals. Only five prisoners were committed for
. trial from this village in ten years, but, singularly enough, the whole of these commitments occurred in the very five years which I examined, viz., those ending 1853.
In justice to the Rector I have deemed it my duty to point out the peculiarity of this case.
My thanks are especially due to Sir John Walsham, David Power, Esq., and to Patrick M'Intyre, Esq., the worthy Governor of Bury St. Edmund's Gaol, for the loan of scarce books and unpublished documents; and, at the same time, I beg to express my obligations to many other gentlemen for their assistance in furnishing me with much valuable information, and in providing me with the sources of many important statistical facts.
The Author begs to state that the delay that has occurred in the publication has been entirely caused by excess of business in the Printer's hands.