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Dersingham Folk
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Site by Mike Strange
John Platten
Research by Mike Strange and compiled by Elizabeth Fiddick  ©
John Platten, or St. John Platten as it seems this was his full name, was born on 27th December 1786 in Fakenham Norfolk.  His father Thomas was 34 years old and his mother Bridget (Seppings) was 33.  He was christened in Fakenham with Hempton on December 29th 1786.  His brother Robert was born in 1794 in Helhoughton when John was eight years old.

John married Mary Clethero Partlett in King’s Lynn on the 26th July 1809 when he was 22 years old.  John and Mary had two children. John Clethero was born in 1810 and two years later, in 1812, Thomas Partlett was born in Lyng Norfolk. Both boys grew up and were ordained into the church.  The following cutting from The Cambridge Chronicle includes the ordination of Thomas Partlett Platten  on 26 Sep 1835 and reveals he attended Emmanuel College Cambridge. It seems probable, therefore, his brother John was ordained some years earlier.
In 1827 St. John’s mother, Bridget Seppings, died aged 73 in Fakenham.  Ten years later 1837 his father Thomas died aged 85 in East Runton.  Just a year later in 1838 John’s wife Mary Clethero died  aged just 50.

If we just consider the birthplace of their two sons it would seem that John and Mary lived first somewhere in Fakenham with Hempton.  But for the birth of their second son Thomas they were living in Lyng, a small village about twenty or so miles south east of Fakenham. But later records show that by 1836 John was well established in King’s Lynn where he owned house and land on London Road, namely Guanock Place.

The newspaper record of 1837 is especially interesting as it not only records John on London Road but also a George Platten living close to John in Southgate Street.  George would appear to be another  brother of John besides the Robert already mentioned  as this announcement of the death of Adelaide Louise at the house of her uncle, John Platten, makes clear.

In 1841 his residence is listed at All Saints, South Gate, King’s Lynn.  In 1844 it is recorded on London Road South Lynn,  All Saints.

In 1846 his residence is described as being “ on the corner of Valinger’s Road and London Road”
All Saints Church
He was also elected as Chief Magistrate “with general approbation” as this cutting of 18th  November 1839 records.

Life in King’s Lynn

By 1836 John had established himself as a well respected member of the King’s Lynn society.  He was a member of the Town Council and was three times elected Mayor, first in 1837, in 1839 and again in 1853 (From list of Lynn Mayors).

18 Nov 1839 - Bury and Norwich Post

16 Nov 1853 - Bury and Norwich Post

16 Nov 1853
The Great Northern Railway
John attended the meeting when a deputation from the Great Northern Railway Company came to Lynn to argue that Lynn from its population, position and commercial enterprise was entitled to be placed on a trunk line.  John Platten voiced his support for the company and seconded the motion for approval which was carried unaminously.  He did not only speak for the proposal he also put his own money into the project as was shown when he was summonsed to appear before the magistrates for trespassing on the Lynn and Ely Railroad and refusing to go when ordered by  the police.

It must haver been an uncomfortable meeting as Jiohn was at the time a magistrate himself and  a member of the Town Council.  Nevertheless  he was told he was liable to a penalty of £5 or two months imprisonment. In his defence John stated that as a shareholder in the railway he had every right to walk on the line. The magistrates  adjourned the case while they sought legal advice. 
The Corn Laws 1815-1846

During these years when John was such a noted figure in the town an important topic of conversation and argument  were the Corn Laws introduced by Parliament in 1815.  These imposed tariffs and  restrictions on imported food and grain.  They were designed to keep corn prices high in favour of domestic producers, to block  the import of cheap corn and impose steep import duties.  They were supported by Conservative landowners as they enhanced their  profits and political power.  But they raised food prices and the cost of living  and hampered growth in other sectors due to the fall inthe spending power of the general public so were oppose by Whig Industrialists.   However in 1845 the Great Irish Famine forced a resolution as there was an urgent need of new cheaper food supplies.  Sir Robert Peel moved to repeal the Laws in parliament in 1846.

Sir George Bentinck, M.P. for King’s Lynn with Benjamin Disraeli argued fiercely that a repeal would weaken landowners socially and politically and destroy the “territorial constitution“ of Britain by empowering commercial interests.  Disraeli predicted ruin for agriculture if they were repealed. But their arguments were in vain and Sir Robert Peel carried the day and the Corn Laws were repealed.

This was greeted with dismay by landowners and country gentlemen here  but they wished to show their gratitude for the valiant if unsuccessful effort of Sir George Bentinck so a magnificent dinner was arranged to honour Sir George. Invitations were sent out by the Secretary of the Dinner Committee who was none other than Mr. John Platten.

It is well worth reading Lord Stanhope’s reply to the invite from John and the newspaper report of the dinner  as they give a clear insight into the strength of feeling about the repeal and the sense of betrayal felt towards Sir Robert Peel. (Sir George and Disraeli got their revenge a few weeks later when they forced the resignation of Sir Robert Peel over a different Bill.)

July 25th 1846 - John Platten writes to Lords Stanhope and Bentinck

6th August 1846 Report on the Dinner to Lord George Bentinck
So what was John Platten’s occupation? It seems from the many newspaper advertisements concerning the sales of landed estates al lover the area that John was a Land Agent. His name can be found listed as a person to approach for details of the sales. A Land Agent was a managerial employee who conducted the business affairs of a landed estate. He supervised the farming of a property and  collected  rents and payments.
27 July 1842
27th August 1853
Dersingham Connection
In the course of this job John would have been in constant contact with the many landowners in the area so it explains his close association with the planning for the celebratory dinner for Sir George and also gives us the reason for his association with our village of Dersingham.

This section of the 1839 Tithe Map for Dersingham depicts properties in Chapel Road. The property at 147, and much of the land rising behind it is the farm known later as Blackheath Lodge. The landowner is listed as Trustees of Robert Elwes but the farm was managed by John Platten and according to White’s Directory of 1845 tenanted by one Robert Hunt. So it seems that the Trustees of Robert Elwes had employed John Platten as their land agent.

Other references to John Platten on this web site are within:
84 Chapel Road, Dersingham

The Hammond/Elwes Family

It is of great interest that further on down Chapel Road is the property numbered 141, 142, and 143, namely Dersingham Hall. The landowner is listed again as Trustees of Robert Elwes and the occupant is Mary Ann (aka Marianne) Brett. The significance of this is that in St Nicholas Church, Dersingham, on June 9th 1841, Rev. Thomas Partlett Platten, John’s younger son, married Marianne Brett, the daughter of the late Rev. John and Mary Ann Brett of Dersingham.

Thomas was residing in Saffron Walden at the time and his father is listed as Gentleman.

I wondered if the Trustees of Robert Elwes also employed John as the Agent for the property at Dersingham Hall and in this way he and his family would have had close contact with the Bretts.  Another connection could be that the late John Brett was an ordained Minister and curate and rector at Wolferton.  (White’s 1836) ( Biography  of Brett family listed)

John Platten died aged 73  on July 31st 1860 and was buried in South Lynn on August 4th.

Letters of Administration were granted to Rev. John Clethero Platten of North Barsham and Rev. Thomas Partlertt Platten of Chilsworth in Suffolk  on his estate valued at under £3000.