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One theory suggests that John Minet Fector was in effect, the godfather of smuggling in North Kent. He was certainly a powerful man, but a man harassed by some of the Dover elite who were suspicious of his shipping business. But as the following account shows, he was generally seen as inspiring and popular, the son of a Huguenot immigrant who had succeeded in 19th century society regardless of his background.

Dover 27th June 1821 – the funeral of a much-lamented townsman John Minet Fector, Esq. begins with the bells at both parish churches tolling at an early hour in the morning. All the shops and nearly all the private houses in the line of the procession are closely shut:

‘From the great respect and reverence in which the memory of the deceased was held, not only by his townsmen and neighbours, but by the surrounding country vast numbers flocked into the town in all directions to witness the consignment of the remains of so good a man to the silent tomb; nor was this respect confined to his own countrymen, but several persons attended the funeral from Calais and Boulogne.

‘Almost every avenue from Mr Fector’s residence to the church was completely choked up with persons eager to view the procession; the house tops, walls, scaffolding, lamp-posts, and in fact every place where a view could be obtained were also crammed with persons of all ages, even the heights and castle were not without crowds of spectators. At eleven o’clock, the procession began to move in the following order:

john-minet-fector-funeral

‘The number of persons in the procession, exclusive of the children, were upwards of 300; but those in mourning, walking at the side of the procession, and in the church-yard, were incalculable; a great part of whom were deeply affected, particularly the females.

‘At the church there was an immense pressure for admission, but by the judicious arrangement of the peace-officers, no disorder occurred. The funeral service was performed by the Rev. Mr Dayman, curate of St. James’s and in the course of it, Pope’s beautiful ode of the ‘Dying Christian to his Soul,’ was admirably sung by the choir, led by Mr. Sutton.

‘After the prayers, the procession moved forward from the church to the place of interment directed by the deceased; which was a spot over hung by several elder trees, at the top of St. James’s church-yard, immediately under the Castle Hill, out of which the vault was excavated, and mausoleum erected over it.

‘The great and eager curiosit (sic) to obtain a view of the coffin (which was a plain black one, with a brass plate, having “John Minet Fector, esq. died 12th June, 1821, aged 67 years,” engraved thereon,) occasioned thousands of persons to flock to the edge of the cliff, and their danger, to those below was truly fearful, but no accident of any description occurred, and the remains of our much esteemed townsman were consigned to the chamber of death, to the general and lasting regret of his friends and neighbours.’


Reference:

Kentish Weekly Post

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