The population must have been very small previously to the Warren being occupied by Mr. Howis, as there were then not more than twenty cottages scattered about the place. But immediately after Mr. Howis's arrival the extensive building operations commenced by him brought a large number of labourers to the spot. Many of these erected little huts of turf on the waste land, but were speedily driven away by the Lord of the Manor. Cottages were then built for them on the Warren estate.
The wages of the agricultural labourer, within the recollection of many now living, were only 7s. a week. At this time sugar was sold at 10d. per lb., tea at 7s. or 8s. per lb., rice at 4d., and flour varied from 2s. 4d. to 3s. 6d. per gallon. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that with articles of food at these high prices the labourers showed a spirit of discontent at the inadequate remuneration for their labour. This on one occasion manifested itself in what almost amounted to a riot.
A few men collected at Mayfield and marched towards Rotherfield. On the way considerable additions were made to their number, so that by the time they reached that village a large body of men had assembled, demanding in a threatening manner from all employers an increase of wage. They proceeded on to Crowborough, where they were joined by most of the labourers there, and, marching to the Warren, demanded of Mr. Howis, then the principal employer of labour there, a higher scale of pay. He treated them with great tact and discretion, appeasing them by several gallons of beer, and promising a favourable consideration of their demand. Satisfied with this, they then quietly dispersed.
Very little, if any, advantage, however, resulted to the labourer from this outburst of feeling and remonstrance against starvation wages.
On the same day that this outbreak occurred there was a vestry meeting at Rotherfield, at which Lord Liverpool, at that time the occupant of Buxted Park, was present.
Some angry words passed between him and a man of the name of Vinal, and a serious altercation took place, terminating in a scuffle, in which Vinal threw his lordship flat upon his back to the ground. Lord Liverpool, who seems to have been an admirer of physical strength, showed no resentment at this rough handling, but magnanimously said to Vinal: "I shall not prosecute you for this, but will make you my gamekeeper," which he did, and placed him in a snug cottage at Five Ash Down.