We are indebted to Mr. Colin Jackson of Malvern for this story: whether true or legendary, it is a good tale. It has a tenuous link with Alcester, inasmuch as John Sing's grandson married a daughter of Joshua Hopkins a noted Baptist worthy of Alcester and proprietor of the shop on High Street which we now call Bunting's.
Part of a letter written in 1739 by John Sing, a tanner and pastor of Bridgnorth Baptist Church, detailing a remarkable incident in his life (in 1699)
'There is a large common called Morf, adjoining to the east side of the town upon which there is a large hill over the top where-of lieth the great road to Wolverhampton, etc. in the middle of which road on the top of the hill I found a shilling. It is natural at such a time to look for more, which I did, but in a superficial manner. The next day, my vocation leading me that way, I found another shilling. I then concluded there must be money lost in that place, which I carefully examined but found no more.
The next day, being the last Sunday in the month there was a sort of vestry or parish meeting which I was obliged to attend upon. Amongst other cases there was a very poor man that applied for relief, to whom the Bailiff ordered four pence per week with a penny loaf to be given him every day at church. It was answered by some present "He does not come to church??. "Where does he go", said the Bailiff. "In the church at the bridge end", said the overseer, meaning the Baptist Chapel there. 'Nay, then,' I replied the Bailiff, " the church at the bridge end maintain their own poor, for we will have nothing to say to them". Accordingly, the poor man was dismissed without any allowance and my heart ached for him annd did verily believe God had handed me that money for the relief of that poor man: for which, the good old man thought he could never sufficiently thank me. I told him he ought to thank God and not me, for I had it without any industry of my own. His answer was that he thanked God and me also.
About the latter end of the week I went that way again and in the very same place I found another shilling and resolved to make the strictest search I could, took my penknife and drew it to and fro in the sand and gravel for the space of three or four yards within the compass of the shilling and do verily believe that had there been another I had turned it up (though what shillings I found there from first to last always lay on the surface of the sand in the very same place in the midst of the track) but, as before, so at that time I could find no more, only began to think that there was something uncommon
The next week, going away and finding another shilling, I was exceedingly surprised andcarried away in transports of wonder and joy ..... However, from that time I was fully persuaded in my own breast that the money was handed to me in some extraordinary manner that whensoever I came there I could find a shilling and no other piece and that it would remain invisible to others passing that way; and lastly that all the money ought to be laid out for charitable uses and the whole to be kept as a secret.
Accordingly, I never went that way but that I found a shilling ...... and always applied the money to the best uses being obliged on Thursday to attend Kidderminster market, I had a servant with me to assist in taking the mare which I pastured in some lands on the other side of the hill. I saw the shilling at some little distance, put the servant before me, picked up the shilling and inadvertently put it to the rest of my money and with the rest of my money very foolishly paid it away for goods bought of Mr. Walker of Kidderminster
He had no sooner put up the money than my heart smote me. I saw my error in parting with the piece but had no power to ask for it again and stood (then as we say) like one planet struck. I cam all the way home with a heavy heart firmly believing I should find no more: which fell out accordingly. Thus, Sir, I have given you the history'.
Memorials to various members of the Sing (Synge) family are in the Baptist chapel at Bridgnorth.
Winter 1990 Index
© Alcester & District Local History Society 1991