Village vicar in debt to money-lenders

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1914 Court

Today at the Scarborough Bankruptcy Court, before the Registrar (Mr F Bedwell), the Rev James Whittram, of Sherburn Vicarage, came up for examination. The statement of affairs showed liabilities expected to rank for dividend amounting to £1,696 17s 7d, and a deficiency of £1,476 19s 2d.

Debtor, replying to Mr JL Poland, the Assistant Official Receiver, said he was ordained in 1882, and had been first as curate and then rector at two or three places. He was rector at Cumberworth, near Huddersfield, in 1888, and subsequently he was at Rosedale Abbey. He was preferred to Sherburn in July, 1905. His present stipend was £211, and he had no other private means. At the time of coming to Sherburn he was overdrawn at the bank to the extent of about £60, and it ultimately reached a total of £237, but the latter figure had been somewhat reduced. The bank had certain script, and was left with an unsecured balance of £75. His first wife died in November, 1909, and in pursuance of a marriage settlement upon the death of his wife he came into an income of £340 a year. Of that sum £300 was specifically left to him only for so long as he remained a widower. Another sum invested brought £40, which went to him as a life annuity. He thus, on the death of his wife, and with his stipend, had an income of £550 a year. About 18 months later he married again, and thus forfeited £300 a year, his present wife having no private means. In January of this year he executed a mortgage in respect of the remaining annuity in consideration of certain monies advanced to him. Since January he had only had his stipend. He had stated his cause of failure to be due to heavy expenses incurred in renovating the vicarage and church restoration at Sherburn, in consequence of which he had recourse to money-lenders. From these he had borrowed at high rates of interest. About £340 was expended on the vicarage renovation, the renovation being necessary. There was an agreement between him and his first wife that she should pay for the housekeeping, and he would pay for the expenses of the vicarage renovation out of the stipend. The stipend, however, was insufficient to meet the charges, the house having been practically uninhabitable. That was the primary cause of him having recourse to money lenders. He had borrowed from 10 money lenders at rates of from 120 to 150 per cent. His other debts included a butcher’s bill to the amount of £72, wine merchants £74, furnishing £50, drapery £44.

The Assistant Official Receiver: I put it to you that your insolvency was largely brought about by you living beyond your means, by extravagance, is that so?

Debtor: Not personal extravagance. The house was not an easy one to keep up.

Proceeding, debtor, in reply to Mr Poland, admitted he had purchased a motor car for £110, and had a chauffeur for a time. He paid the chauffeur at the rate of £26 a year. He had a page-boy at £4 a year, and two servants at £16 and £15 respectively. He also had, occasionally, a gardener.

The Assistant Official Receiver: I put it to you that that was quite unjustifiable extravagance in view of the amount of your income? Yes.

That has contributed very materially to the extent of your present liabilities? It has.

Continuing, he said, that he had borrowed various monies from Mr Kirk, Mr Cayley, Mr Sawkill (the village schoolmaster) and his mother-in-law. He paid Mr Sawkill a month later - out of his stipend. He had been to money-lenders. He had borrowed monies from one to pay another. The motor car did not turn out as he had expected and had to be repaired. It cost him about £70 in the year. He was hoping to repay because he expected another preferment worth £480 a year. The deficiency was now £1,476 19s 2d.

Continuing, debtor said that he had at first charged personal expenses against the church accounts. He had been secretary of a local clothing club, and on the date of the Receiving Order £37 13s was due. A few days before the Receiving Order the money was intact, but he had to pay it out. He could not say how he paid it. Nine days later the Rev Grenside paid it for him.

Questioned as to his transactions with money-lenders, and letters he had written to them, he admitted that some statements as to his private income were incorrect.

A debt of £44 due to Rose and Co, wine merchants, Malton, he had omitted in his first statement, and his wife claimed £32 10s for the sale of her ponies, which he had sold.

He had volunteered to set aside £50 a year of his income if there was no sequestration for the benefit of creditors.

The examination was closed.