1918 court: Farmer’s misfortune led to bankruptcy

Before His Honour Judge Lock at the Scarborough County Court, Frances Pinkney, late of Red House, Hackness, and formerly of Farfield, Howsham, Kirkham Abbey, farmer, applied for his discharge in bankruptcy under a receiving order made on November 4, 1914, Mr J Whitfield appeared for the debtor.

The statement of affairs lodged in the bankruptcy showed liabilities of £320 17s 10d. A first and final dividend of 7s in the £1 was paid on £322 3s 5d. The assets were estimated to produce £82 and actually produced £79 preferential claims estimated at £20 were reduced to £6 6s 8d.

Bankrupt commenced as a farmer in March 1890, when on the death of his father, having no capital of his own, he entered into an arrangement for partnership with his mother to carry on a farm at Crambe near Kirkham Abbey which his father had formerly carried on. Bankrupt became tenant jointly with his mother. He contained this farm with success until March, 1904, when it was given up and his mother relinquished her interest. During that period debtor had saved £200 and he received £105 as valuation. He also removed farm stock worth £800 to Howsham which he rented from 1904 to 1914.

In March 1914 there was a sale of his effects when debtor removed to Red House, Hackness, which he carried on as a boarding house up to the time of his bankruptcy. It appeared that bankrupt had lost certain receipts, but on accounts being taken it was ascertained that he had made overpayments of rent to the extent of £100. This sum was refunded to the Official Receiver with £25 for interest, and it was largely from this source that a dividend of 7s had been paid.

Mr JL Poland, assistant official receiver, in giving particulars as outlined above, said the conduct of the bankrupt had been satisfactory.

Mr Whitfield said debtor’s position was due to misfortune. He took the farm in 1904 when the farm was in a poor and rundown condition. According to his statement the landlord allowed him to keep back his rent and said he would not press him for certain rents. The landlord, however, died and a claim for the total amount was put in, and debtor was unable to contest it.

His Honour: What was the amount spent on the improvement of the farm?

Mr Whitfield: He put into the farm £400 more than he got out of it in the way of improvements.

Hi Honour: He got some alternative.

Mr Whitfield: Yes, he got the ordinary valuation, but the ordinary valuation did not compensate him for what he put in.

His Honour: Who was the landlord?

Mr Whitfield: The late Sir Charles Strickland.

Mr Whitfield emphasised the point that defendant actually paid £100 more in rent than was his due and that crippled him. If he had had this £100, it was possible that he might have escaped bankruptcy altogether.

He suggested to His Honour that a nominal judgement for £1 might be entered against debtor so that he might obtain his immediate discharge. It had been done in another case.

Debtor went into the box and answered a number of questions.

Mr Poland said it was a rather peculiar case, but he was quite willing to leave the matter with the judge to be dealt with on its merits. If proper books and receipts had been kept he would not have paid rent twice over.

Replying to His Honour Mr Poland said one £50 was paid in the lifetime of the late Sir Charles Strickland and one afterwards. The money had been entered in the cash book of the estate, but had not been carried forward into the ledger. His Honour entered judgement for £1 and granted an immediate discharge.