The Financial Crisis of North Lincolnshire – 200 Years Ago


We may be in the middle of a major world-wide banking crisis at the moment but to Barton folk this is not a new situation to be in.  Thomas Marris’ bankruptcy in 1812 was probably one of the most disastrous financial events in the history of Barton and the surrounding area.  Thomas Marris, of Barton House, Barton upon Humber, was the chief partner of the “North Lincolnshire Bank” which he, along with Joseph Marris and Richard Nicholson, set up in 1790.  He was the eleventh child (of fifteen) of his father, also called Thomas.  He was twice married and had 13 children.  His wealth had grown so great that in 1811, whilst negotiating a loan, he stated his estate was free from incumberance apart from one mortgage of £1000 (approximately £34000 today), one of £2000 (approximately £68000 today), one of £3000 (approximately £102000 today), one of £5000 (approximately £170000 today), one of £12000 (approximately £407500 today), and his wife’s income of £100 (approximately £3400 today) for a year for life.  These were huge sums at the time.  Such was the scale of land owned by Thomas Marris junior at the enclosure of 1791 to 1793 he was awarded 162 acres, 3 roods and 12 perches, the 8th largest landowner in Barton at the time.  He was recorded in a trade directory of 1791 as an Attorney, at which time he often worked on cases of bankruptcy, and in a trade directory of 1811 he was recorded as a Banker. 

The North Lincolnshire Bank was situated along Priestgate, where Thomas Marris, along with his partner Richard Nicholson of Brigg, traded.  Thomas Marris senior bought a property off Sir Henry Nelthorpe in Priestgate in 1774 (Tombleson 1905, 92), demolished it, and built Cobb Hall in its place.  The initials T.M.E. can be seen on the rainwater head of the fine columned front doorway.  These initials stand for Thomas Marris and his wife Elizabeth and date the property to 1766, six years before apparently purchasing the old building off Sir Henry Nelthorpe.  Presumably the rainwater head is correct and Tombleson is in error but this is a mystery to be resolved at a later date.  This building, along with many others, passed to Thomas Marris junior.

 

 

Fig 1 : Cobb Hall along Priestgate.

 

Marris and Nicholson built up such a good financial reputation that it was said their notes were preferred to the notes of every other local bank, indeed they were considered equal to gold.  Every person of any wealth in the area had an account with them, and anyone who managed to save a little money deposited it at the “North Lincolnshire Bank”.  Their London agents were Boldero, Lushington & Co.  These agents were to be the start of the big banking disaster of the area.  On the 3rd January 1812 news reached Barton that Boldero, Lushington & Co had been declared bankrupt the previous day, and Marris and Nicholson owed them £34000 (approximately £1155000 today), a huge amount at the time and one they could not instantly raise.  The news hit the town hard.  The failure of this bank could ruin most of the town’s inhabitants.  Being an honest man, Thomas Marris set off to London with his friend, Thomas Walkden, in a coach to try to save himself and the hundreds of people who had trusted him with their money.  He begged the creditors for time, but they would not listen.  He then met with Mr Beauchamp, another London banker, and arranged for his debt to be cleared and to obtain some money to alleviate some of the problems in Barton.  Marris and Walkden sped back to Barton as quick as the horses would take them to spread the good news.  The town was ecstatic, it was saved, the church bells rang out and people celebrated into the night.  The morning was to bring the cold harsh reality back to the door of the bank however, as news spread that Beauchamp had withdrawn from the offer and required the return of the money.  On the 13th January 1812 Marris and Nicholson were declared bankrupt.  Mr James Kiero Watson, Mr Phillip Skipworth and Mr George Moore were appointed assignees, and commenced winding up the bank.  The following appeared in the Hull Packet of the 25th February 1812:-

 

The Commissioners in an  Auxiliary Commission of Bankrupt, awarded and issued against Thomas Marris, of Barton upon Humber and Richard Nicholson, of Glamford Briggs, in the County of Lincoln, Bankers and Co-partners, carrying on Trade under the Firm of Joseph Marris, Thomas Marris, Richard Nicholson and Company, intend to meet at the George Inn, in Barton upon Humber, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the 18th, 19th and 20th February 1812; and at the Neptune Inn, in the town of Kingston upon Hull, on Friday the 21st February 1812; at the White Lion Inn, in Brigg, on Tuesday and Wednesday, the 25th and 26th of February instant; at the Cross Keys Inn, in Winterton, on Thursday the 27th of February instant; and at the Talbot Inn, in Caistor, on Tuesday and Wednesday the 3rd and 4th of March next, at ten o’clock in the forenoon of each of the said days, in order to receive proofs of Debts not amounting to the sum of Twenty Pounds.
N. B. The Commissioners intend to appoint additional sittings for taking proofs of Debts under 20/. In the Town and Neighborhood of Hull, of which notice will shortly be given.

 

And the following, relating to the smaller claims, appeared in the London Gazette of the 10th March 1812:-

 

The Commissioners in a Renewed Commission of Bankrupt awarded and issued forth against Thomas Marris, of Barton upon Humber, and Richard Nicholson, of Glamford-Briggs, in the county of Lincoln, Bankers and Copartners (carrying on trade under the Firm of Joseph Marris, Thomas Marris, Richard Nicholson and Co,) intend to meet at the George Inn, in Barton upon Humber, on the 31st of March instant, and 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th of April next; at the Neptune Inn, in the Town of Kingston upon Hull, on the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th April next; at the Cross Keys Inn, in Winterton, on the 10th and 11th of April next; at the White Lion Inn, Brigg, on the 16th, 17th and 18th of April next; at the Talbot Inn, in Caistor, on the 28th, 29th and 30th of April next; and at the White Hart Inn, in Market Rasen, on the 1st of May next, at Ten o’clock in the Forenoon on each of the said respective days, (except the 6th of April, and on that day at Four o’clock in the Afternoon) in order to receive the Proofs of  Debts not amounting to the sum of 20/.

 

The number of dates and different venues show just how large and far-reaching this bank, and subsequent disaster, was.  Claims of over £200000 were proved against the joint estate by over 1000 individuals.  The disaster didn’t stop there however, as many of the working men, local shops and private individuals had some of the one-pound notes issued by the bank, which suddenly became almost worthless. 

The estates of both Thomas Marris and Richard Nicholson were soon auctioned off to recuperate some of the losses.  The auction was held at the George Inn in Barton and was reported in the Hull Packet of 28th April 1812 as such (I have only noted the estate of Thomas Marris):-

 

At the George Inn in Barton upon Humber

The following estates, the property of Thos. Marris and Richard Nicholson, Bankrupts, on days to be hereafter appointed, in the following lots:-

Lot I – An exceedingly good Mansion House in Barton, lately occupied by Mr. Thomas Marris; with excellent Walled Gardens, well stocked with fruit trees; a Stove Green-House, and Gardener’s House; Fish Ponds, well stocked with Carp, &c.; very good Stables, Beast-houses, Barn, and every convenience necessary, with about Forty-Three Acres of Land adjoining, beautifully enclosed and ornamented with Plantations.

Lot II – A most excellent Farm, called The Grange, containing 207 Acres of Land in a Ring Fence, with excellent Buildings in the centre.

Lot III – A Whiting Mill, with Shades adjoining.

Some other Houses and Lands to be divided into lots, of which notice will be given when the day of sale is appointed.

The mansion house in question was Baysgarth House, which he had purchased in 1806 (Tombleson 1905, 92).  The farm called The Grange is possibly the one situated between Horkstow  and Saxby All Saints.  The whiting mill was Kings Garth Mill, in Barton Market Place, which he had built around 1810.  Again this is an indication of the size of his wealth at the time.  Some of the valuable livestock on his farm was sold by auction on the 27th and 28th May 1812, again being reported in the Hull Packet.  There were upwards of 130 valuable rams of different ages.  All were to be shewn on the morning of the sale. 

 

 

Fig 2 : Kings Garth Mill on Market Lane.

 

This was not the end of the downfall for the Marris family however as in the Hull Packet of 14th July 1812 there was advertised a Valuable Household Furniture &c. sale:-

 

Valuable Household Furniture, &c.

At Barton upon Humber

To be Sold by Auction

(by order of the assignees)

By Bell & Hendry

At the House of Mr. J. G. Marris, in Barton, Lincolnshire

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, August 3rd, 4th and 5th, 1812, the sale commence each day at ten o’clock.

All the Neat and Valuable Household furniture; a sideboard, of modern plan; about Thirty Dozen excellent Port and Sherry Wines; a large Assortment of Glass and China; a Quantity of Table and Bed Lined, and about Fifty Lots of Books.

Further particulars will be given in future advertisements.

Catalogues may be had at the George Inn, Barton, and of the Auctioneers, fourteen days previous to the sale.

 

James Marris, presumably a relation, was recorded in the 1811 directory as a Farmer and Grazier.  It is unclear whether this was the property of James Marris or Thomas Marris being auctioned off.  I could find no notices of James Marris being bankrupt around this time so it is possible it could be some of the remaining property of Thomas Marris being sold off.  The request for all debtors of Marris and Nicholson to pay their debts went out in August of 1812, stating that they must pay the amount of their respective debts to Mr. J. C. Todd, of Barton upon Humber, the accountant of the said estate, on or before the first day of September. 

A meeting for the assignees to arrange the first dividend for the creditors of the failed bank took place on the 24th April 1813 and was reported in the London Gazette of 6th March 1813:-

 

The Commissioners in a Commission of Bankrupt, hearing date the 13th day of January 1812, awarded and issued forth against Thomas Marris, of Barton upon Humber, and Richard Nicholson, of Glamford Briggs, in the County of Lincoln, Banker and Copartners (carrying on trade under the firm of Joseph Marris, Thomas Marris, and Richard Nicholson and Company) intend to meet on the 24th day of April next, at Ten of the Clock in the Forenoon, at Guildhall, London, in order to make a Dividend of the Joint Estate and Effects of the said Bankrupts; when and where the Creditors, who have not already proved their Debts, are to come prepared to prove the same, or they will be excluded the Benefit of the said Dividend.  And all Claims not proved will be disallowed – All persons having affidavits and bills to be exhibited, are requested to forward the same to Messers, Martin and Scholefield, Solicitors, Hull, on or before the 6th day of April next, in order to their being examined by the Assignees previous to the meeting.

 

Time was running out for the thousands of individuals and businesses affected by this banking collapse.  They would have to prove the amounts they had with the bank in the hope that they would receive some of it back.  The effect on Barton and the surrounding area would have been immense.  To remove such a huge amount of the available money in the town would have brought many people near to bankruptcy, and probably some to suicide.

Meanwhile, the sale of Marris’s estate continued.  The Hull Packet of 16th March 1813 advertised the sale of the remaining stock of Thomas Marris on Tuesday 30th March 1813 at eleven o’clock.  This included “76 Ram Hogs, 90 She Hogs, a capital Waggon Horse, a Cart, a great number of Trays and many other articles”.

In June 1813 the first dividend was paid to the creditors of the North Lincolnshire Bank, this being 5s in the pound.  It was reported in full in the Hull Packet of 25th May 1813:-

 

NORTH LINCOLNSHIRE BANK

PAYMENT OF DIVIDENDS

For the Accommodation of the numerous Creditors who have proved their Debts against the joint estate of Thomas Marris, of Barton upon Humber, and Richard Nicholson of Glamford Briggs, in the county of Lincoln, Bankers and Copartners, Bankrupts, and of those who have proved their Debts against the separate Estate of the said Richard Nicholson; the Assignees will attend at the under-mentioned Places, from Ten o’clock in the morning until Four o’clock in the afternoon of each day, for the purpose of paying to the joint Creditors a first Dividend of Five Shillings in the Pound, and to the separate Creditors of the said Richard Nicholson, likewise a first Dividend of Seven Shillings and Six pence in the Pound, viz.

At the Neptune Inn, Hull, on Thursday the 3rd, Friday the 4th, and Saturday the 5th day of June next.

At the George Inn, Barton, on Monday the 7th and Tuesday the 8th of June.

At the Cross Keys Inn, Winterton, on Wednesday the 9th June.

At the White Lion Inn, Brigg, on Thursday the 10th and Friday the 11th June; and

At the Talbot Inn, Caistor, on Saturday the 12th of June.

And in case any of the Creditors shall not have the opportunity of calling for their Dividends at the places and times above-mentioned, they may receive the amount at any time afterwards, on application to James Keiro Watson, Esq. Banker, in Hull, one of the Assignees.

The Assignees think it necessary to state, that the Dividends will only be paid to the Creditors themselves, or to Persons legally authorized by them, by power of Attorney, and, that upon Payment, the Bank Notes or other Securities (in respect of which, the Creditors have not any other collateral Security) must be produced and delivered up to the Assignees.  It is likewise expected that the Creditors will bring with them sufficient change.

As the Assignees have it not in their power (on account of the great number of Proofs) to arrange the payment of the Dividend sooner than the days fixed, the application of any Creditor for an earlier payment, cannot be attended to.

 

The above was payment to the creditors of the North Lincolnshire Bank, but there was still the matter of the bankruptcy of Marris and Nicholson as individuals.  The commissioners in this bankruptcy case met at the Guildhall, in London, on the 30th July 1814 to receive proof of debts of both Marris and Nicholson.  They also met at the same venue on the 9th August 1814, at ten o’clock, to receive proof of debt for Thomas Marris, to enable a dividend to be set on his separate estate and effects.   The creditors who had proved their debts against Marris and Nicholson were able to collect their dividend from Kiero Watson, of High Street Hull, on Thursday and Friday the 1st and 2nd September 1814, and upon any future Thursday and Friday until paid.  This second dividend from the Marris estate was valued at 8d in the pound.

It was becoming apparent that a bank of this size and importance in the area would not have its affairs sorted quickly.  The Hull Packet of 15th November 1814 placed another notice informing the assignees of Messers. Marris and Nicholson would be attending the White Lion Inn, in Brigg, on Thursday and Friday the 24th and 25th November, at which time and place all debtors are desired to attend and pay their respective debts.  Any unliquidated accounts after this period will be placed in the hands of their solicitors.  A similar notice appeared in the London Gazette on 18th November 1817 advising all creditors to meet with the Assignees to assent or dissent from prosecution of persons still owing the estate money:-

 

The Joint Creditors who have proved their Debts under a Commission of Bankrupt awarded and issued forth against Thomas Marris, of Barton upon Humber, and Richard Nicholson, of Glamford Briggs, in the county of Lincoln, Bankers and Copartners, carrying on trade under the firm of Joseph Marris, Thomas Marris, Richard Nicholson and Company, are desired to meet at the George Inn in the Town of Kingston upon Hull, on Wednesday the 26th day of November instant, at eleven o’clock in the Forenoon, in order to assent or dissent from the said Assignees commencing and prosecuting a suit or suits at law or in equity against certain persons, to be named as such meeting, in respect of a sum of money which appears to be now due and owing from such persons to the said Bankrupts estate, or to compound for, or submit to arbitration or otherwise agree the same or any matter or thing relating thereto.

 

 

Fig 3 : A banknote from the failed North Lincolnshire Bank, signed by Thomas Marris.
(by kind permission of Dix Noonan Webb)

 

It was clear this was going to be a very complicated matter to sort out, and this would have compounded the financial problems facing many of the Barton families at the time.  There was also the estate of the late Joseph Marris to consider.  Joseph Marris died in August 1808, but was still part of the estate of Marris and Nicholson.  The call for creditors of the late Joseph Marris to prove their debts appeared in the London Gazette of 31st January 1818.

 

Pursuant to a Decree of the High Court of Chancery, made in a Cause Bower against Marris, the Creditors of Joseph Marris, late of Barton upon Humber, in the County of Lincoln, Banker, deceased (who died in or about the month of August 1808), are to come in and prove their debts before James Stephens, Esq. one of the Masters of the said Court at his Chambers, in Southampton-Buildings, Chancery-Lane, London, on or before the 7th day of March 1818, or in default thereof they will peremptorily excluded the benefit of the said Decree

 

It was the 14th November 1818 when the Commissioners next met to receive proof of debts against Thomas Marris, again this was reported in the London Gazette.  The notice of the next dividend was to appear in the London Gazette in November 1822:-

 

The Commissioners in a Renewed Commission of Bankrupt, bearing date the 2nd day of November 1822, awarded and issued forth against Thomas Marris, of Barton upon Humber, and Richard Nicholson, of Glamford Brigg, in the County of
Lincoln, Bankers, under the firm of Joseph Marris, Thomas Marris and Richard Nicholson, and Company, intend to meet on the 10th December next, at Twelve o’Clock at Noon, at the Court of Commissioners of Bankrupts, in Basinghall Street, in the City of London, in order to make a Dividend of the Joint Estate and Effects of the said Bankrupts; when and where the Creditors, who have not already proved their Debts, are to come prepared to prove the same, or they will be excluded from the Benefit of the said Dividend.  And all Claims not then proved will be disallowed.

 

This dividend paid 5d in the pound.  Again there was a long gap between the payment of this dividend and the payment of the fourth dividend.  The London Gazette of 15th February 1825 reported “the Commissioners were to meet again on the 12th day of April 1825, at twelve o’clock noon, in order to make a further dividend on the separate estate of Thomas Marris”.  Again the London Gazette reported in December 1833 that the Commissioners authorized to act under a Commission of Bankrupt was to sit on the 10th day of January 1834 to make a dividend on the separate estate of Thomas Marris.  The Hull Packet of 19th August 1842 reports the fourth dividend being paid on 17th, 18th and 19th August that year.  This dividend was 1s 2d in the pound.  Once more, on 22nd January 1853, the London Gazette reported that one of Her Majesty’s Commissioners was to meet on the 12th day of February 1858, at 11 o’clock in the forenoon, in order to make a dividend of the joint estate of the North Lincolnshire Bank.  The final dividend was reported in the London Gazette of 27th July 1858:-

 

Estate of Thomas Marris and Richard Nicholson, of Barton upon Humber, and of Stamford Briggs [sic], in the county of Lincoln, Bankers and Copartners, trading under the firm of Joseph Marris, Thomas Marris, Richard Nicholson, and Co.

The creditors who have proved their debts under the above Commission of Bankruptcy may receive their warrants for the Fifth Dividend of 1s 9 1/4 d in the pound, on Thursday next, or the following Thursday, between the hours of eleven and two, on application at my office, No 25. Coleman Street, London.  Those warrants which may not be received on Thursday the 29th of July instant, or on Thursday the 5th August next, may be received on any one of the Thursdays after the 6th of October next, between the same hours.  No warrant will be delivered without the production of the bills and other securities exhibited at the time of proof.  Executors and administrators will be required to produce the probate of will or letters of administration under which they claim.

 

In total the creditors were paid 9s 1/4d in the pound, stretching over 46 years.  It was strongly believed that Thomas Marris was solvent when he was declared bankrupt, and at the time he could have probably paid the bank creditors 20s in the pound, more than double what they eventually received.  His estate paid his private creditors in full.  Throughout the entire episode Thomas Marris never lost his personal and commercial integrity.  The general opinion was that the fault rested with Messrs. Boldero & Co’s establishment.  Thomas Marris became a member of the Old Friendly Society in 1785.  After his bankruptcy an old servant paid his monthly contributions for him, again showing that he was still held in high esteem.  It was lucky he did as Thomas Marris lived to be the recipient of the funds from the society for five years to 1848 when he was found dead whilst living in an outhouse of Robert Marris’ home in Charles Street, Leicester.

This was a long drawn-out resolution to what was a major financial crisis in Barton and the surrounding area.  The hardship and poverty which would have struck the town in the 46 years it took to sort it must have been immense, and it would be many years later before the town recovered.  This disaster shook the public faith in the banking system in the local area and this lead to local people hoarding their savings in their own keeping, in their houses in tins, under beds, and one former depositor kept his in a glass rolling pin and hung it as an ornament over his mantelpiece.  Unfortunately some unscrupulous person discovered the hiding place and stole the money.  It would be impossible to assess the full impact of the effect of this failure on the town, but a quick look at some of the other people who went bankrupt between the years 1812 and 1858 could give a clue.  Around 1821 William Heselden and William Smith Heselden, scriveners, went bankrupt.   In March 1823 George Capes, a draper and grocer, went bankrupt.  In July 1830 James Preston, a brick and tile manufacturer, went bankrupt.  In May 1832 John Uppleby Graburn, a lime burner, went bankrupt.  In March 1833 John Hall, a builder, went bankrupt.  In December 1835 Jonathan Fox, a grocer and provisions dealer, went bankrupt.  In June 1839 Edward Cart, a starch and whiting manufacturer, went bankrupt.  In January 1841 Thomas Hall (the younger), a linen draper, went bankrupt.  In September 1842 George Rudston, a woolen draper, went bankrupt.  In March 1849 William Chaffer, an ironmonger, went bankrupt.  In January 1851 Ann Walkden, a carrier and ship owner, went bankrupt.  And in January 1855 Bryan Heselden, a money broker, went bankrupt.  It must be noted that I have found no proof that any of these people went bankrupt due to the failure of the North Lincolnshire Bank.   A comparison to the sort of effect this may have had on Barton can be made with the nearby town of Louth.  There was a sad report in The Gentlemen’s Magazine volume 82 part 1 which highlighted the sorrows of this failure:-

 

Lincoln – At Louth, aged 17, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of the late Mr Charles Wiggelsworth.  The mother of the deceased, and four other children, are among the almost innumerable sufferers by the recent failure of the North Lincolnshire Bank; and it is a melancholy fact, that the young lady, whose dissolution is now noticed, has been hurried into the grave by that most unfortunate failure.  Excessive grief, in consequence of the loss sustained by her family, brought on a disorder in the brain, which terminated her existence.  The deceased was one of the several ladies in Louth, who, by their amiable and unwearied exertions in educating the children of the poor, have called forth the blessings and admiration of that and every other class of society.

 

This death really is a tragic way for this banking failure to affect such a young life, but one that I fear was probably repeated in Barton and many other towns in the area.  This is by no means the full story behind the failed North Lincolnshire Bank.  To follow the story from start to finish will involve many more hours of research.  To list every newspaper report made regarding the bankruptcy proceedings would be a full newsletter in itself.  There were numerous reports on the auditing of the Assignees accounts which I have not listed, there were reports on assigning new Assignees to the bankruptcy case which are not really relevant to this article, and numerous reports were placed in the various newspapers more than once.  Hopefully this summary of the bankruptcy has given the reader some insight into the crisis that must have befallen Barton folk 200 years ago.

 

References

Barton upon Humber Town Trail

Fragments Relating to Barton upon Humber 1905

Roads, Coaches and Carriers in Barton Before 1900

The British Museum website

The Enclosure of Barton upon Humber 1793-96

The Gentlemen’s Magazine Volume 82 Part 1

The Hull Packet and East Riding Star – various editions

The London Gazette – various editions

The Social History and Antiquities of Barton upon Humber 1856

Various Trade Directories

 

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