Bankruptcy of 1862 – Joseph Lancaster and Son, Timber Merchants, Bradford

Joseph Lancaster and his son, John, were in business as timber merchants in Bradford. On 3 July 1862, the Bradford Observer announced their bankruptcy and on 29 July their stock and assets were sold for the benefit of their creditors.

Further information on the bankruptcy has come to light since this story was related in ‘Lancasters of Pateley Bridge’. I speculated in the book that John’s return to England from the USA was occasioned by the outbreak of the civil war. It seems that this was not the cause of their business downfall.

According to the Leeds Intelligencer of 2 August 1862, Joseph and John were examined again in court the previous day. Their debts amounted to £1035 10s. 1d. and their assets were estimated at £360. The reason for the bankruptcy appears to have been as follows: £300 of the shortfall was caused by selling some wood for much less than it cost and “the remainder was attributed to similar sacrifices”. Mr. J. Bulmer, acting for several creditors, alleged that they had acquired some timber from Messrs. Dyson, Jamieson, & Co. of Hull knowing they could not pay for it. It was claimed that they sold the wood and repaid a loan to a Mr. Sharpe, who had been pressing them for payment. (If they had known they could not pay, it would have been a case of fraud.) The Lancasters claimed that they were given to understand that Mr. Sharpe wanted the money temporarily and was going to renew his loan to them of £150 or £200. In the event, Mr. Sharpe did not renew the loan and they were forced to petition for bankruptcy. The account ends with: “The bankrupts passed their examination, and will receive their order of discharge in the usual course.” A notice appeared in the same paper on 22 November announcing that the court allowed ‘Joseph Lancaster and Son’ a discharge.

Joseph died on 14 November 1863. I have to conclude that Joseph was never very good with money but his virtues were amply demonstrated in other spheres of human endeavour.

John returned to America and died in 1887. It is thought that descendants of his son, William George Lancaster, still live in the Chicago area.

Source: The British Newspaper Archive

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