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Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 70  1956  page 24
The Origin and First Hundred Years of the Society

By Frank W. Jessup, Honorary General Secretary   continued

coffin, the bones being re-interred, and it duly came to Maidstone Museum, where it still reposes.
   George Payne moved with such celerity that he had the coffin on the train, en route for Maidstone, less than 24 hours after he had obtained the faculty for its exhumation. He was indeed an energetic field antiquary, and had already undertaken numerous excavations, some on behalf of the Society. For several years he had been prominent at Annual General Meetings, and when, in 1889, Canon Scott Robertson decided that the time had come for him to resign the Secretaryship (though he retained the Editorship, now constituted a separate office, for another three years), he was succeeded by Payne, who was also appointed "Chief Curator" at a salary of £50 a year. This was the nearest that the Society ever came to employing a paid Secretary, and the arrangement was not continued after Payne’s departure. In 1892 Council was persuaded to accept his suggestion that he should be appointed as a salaried Inspector of Antiquities for the county, part of his salary to be borne by the twenty or so boroughs, who would be able to seek his advice in organizing their museums, and generally on antiquarian matters. In spite of an approach by the President to all the mayors, none of the boroughs was interested in the proposition, and it fell through.
   Payne’s term of office as Secretary was not an especially successful one. His genius lay in the field, not in the study.

He had not the comfortable financial security of his predecessors, and he was obliged to spread his energies widely. Probably he tried to take on more than any one man, however energetic, could manage. It was unfortunate, too, that by the nineties the initial impetus that had carried the Society so far in its early years had spent itself. The enthusiasm of the ‘60s and ‘70s had gone. Council meetings were poorly attended, the business was rarely of much importance, and Payne’s Minutes make dull reading. The Annual General Meetings saw the same familiar rounds of visits; imagination was lacking. Not surprisingly the numbers of members at the annual meetings fell, and by the end of the century the annual dinner attracted only 40 or 50 members, in place of the two or three hundred who had once been accustomed to sit down during the Society’s early years. The membership was steadily shrinking, and continued to diminish throughout the first decade of this century, until by 1910 the total number of members was down to seven or eight hundred, compared with 1,100 in 1868—and this in’ spite of the fact that in the meantime the population of the county had largely increased. Some members of Council realized that all was not well: C. E. Woodruff, for example, suggested posing, at the 1902 Annual General Meeting, the questions—how can the meeting be made more profitable and instructive to members; and how can the usefulness and popularity of the

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