Figges Marsh Toll Gate

1952 Clip from Merton Memories photo 51729 Copyright London Borough of Merton

1952 Clip from Merton Memories photo 51729 Copyright London Borough of Merton

On the western side of London Road, opposite Figges Marsh and just north of Victoria Road, is a milestone which marked where the toll gate was. Eric Montague said in his Mitcham Histories: 2 North Mitcham, page 31, that “this was erected in compliance with the Turnpike Acts of George II by the Trustees of the Surrey and Sussex Roads who, from 1766 until the middle of the next century were responsible for the construction and maintenance of the highway from Kennington Common through Tooting and Mitcham to Sutton.”

Leamington Spa Courier – Saturday 04 July 1846

The Judge and the Toll-taker.—

John Fawcett, late toll-taker at Figs Marsh-gate, in the parish of Mitcham, surrendered to his bail, to answer charge of having, on the 27th of May last, exacted from George Cox, groom to Mr. Sergeant Adams, the sum of 11d.

Mr. Sergeant Adams appeared, and made the following statement: ” I went to Epsom Races on the Derby day in a phaeton, drawn by two ponies. We went over Vauxhall-bridge, paying toll there, as also at Vauxhall-gate, the toll demanded was 11d. When we got to Figs Marsh-gate, toll was again demanded. I said we have come through Vauxhall-gate, and the defendant, who was acting as collector, said, that gate does not clear here ; and I then ordered my servant pay him, which he did, and received a ticket. On our way hack, my servant said, “There must be some mistake, sir, for this ticket (showing the Vauxhall-gate one) clears Figs Marshgate.” When we arrived at Figs Marsh, I said to the defendant, ” The ticket that I had from Vauxhall-gate clears this gate ; give me back my 11d.” Defendant made me no answer. I said you had better give it back,” and he still made no answer, I then looked for the name over the tollhouse door and said, “Is your name John Fawcett? ” And he replied, “It always was and I suppose it is now.” He also said, “You shall not stop here ; if you do I will back your horses heads.” I then said, ” You shall take the consequences,” and drove off.—George Cox, groom to Mr. Sergeant Adams, confirmed his master’s evidence.

Mr. Everett said the lessee of these tolls, a Mr. Whatton, of Hercules buildings, Lambeth, had died since the summons was taken out, and he now attended by the widow’s desire. He did not for one moment attempt to justify the defendant’s conduct, but he would still submit the provisions of the act had not been complied with. By reference to the 35th section of the General Turnpike Act, it would be found that it was necessary to have produced and shown the Collector the ticket which had been received at Vauxhall gate, and this, it appeared, had not been done.— Mr. Sergeant Adams said he had expected a defence of this kind to be set up; he was aware that the ticket was not produced, but his answer was that he had dispensed with the production of the ticket because be had said that Vauxhall gate did not clear that gate. He was more offended with the conduct of the man than the mere exaction of the illegal toll. There was a sauciness about the defendant that was peculiarly disagreeable to a gentleman, and I am sure (said the learned Sergeant,) nobody could mistake me for otherwise than a gentleman. (Laughter.) Had I told him who I was he would have been down on his knees in a moment; but that would not do. (Renewed laughter.)

Mr. Sergeant Adams, after a few words had passed in a low tone between him and Mr. Everett, that person apparently endeavouring to beg the defendant off, said raised voice, ” I shall expect you to pay a sovereign to the poor-box.” —Mr. Clive observed that if a penalty was to inflicted, it must to the Crown. But the question is, do you intend me to decide the case, or you withdraw it? —Mr. Sergeant Adams who appeared to have forgotten the locality of the Court he was then in, and imagined himself the real locum tenens, said, “I must have my expenses paid. My servant has expended more than a pound in coming here. He must have 10s. And you must pay a sovereign to the poor box.” —

Barnes, the summoning officer, here observed that there were 5s. incurred in serving the summons and warrant:. — Mr. Sergeant Adams said that must be paid also. Mr. Clive, who had sat a mute spectator of this extraordinary scene, now said, then I understand the charge withdrawn. —The Learned Sergeant, who was occupied at the moment receiving the money, from Mr. Everett, did not appear to notice the magistrate’s observations, but turned round to the defendant and said, ” Young man, before you go, let me give you little advice. Don’t you play such tricks again, or you will, perhaps, be sent to prison,” And then addressing the usher, and handing a sovereign to him, said, “Now, sir, you will give that to the poor box” — The learned Sergeant then took his departure, and so this somewhat novel scene terminated.

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