Monday, 1 October 2012

An Octogenarian Bankrupt

It's time to say hello to one of the actors in the English Lager Beer Brewery drama: director John Bellamy Payne.

There's something really fishy about this tale.

John Bellamy Payne, retired lace manufacturer, of Perry House, Chard, also underwent his examination. Mr. J. H. B. Pinchard, of Taunton, appeared for the petitioning creditor Mr. Paynter, of Yeovil, for the trustees under debtor's marriage settlement; and Mr. Forward (Tucker & Forward, of Chard, for the debtor ; and the Official Receiver (Mr. G. Philpott) was also present.

Debtor's statement of affairs showed that the gross liabilities amounted to £15,114 6s, liabilities expected to rank for dividend to £8,858 9d, and the assets to £693 17s 9d, leaving a deficiency of £8,164 6s.

The Official Receiver's observations on the case are to the effect that for many years debtor carried on business at Chard, as a lace manufacturer, having commenced business in 1844. On the 1st January, 1891, he took Mr. J. C. Small into partnership. The partnership continued until about the 7th April, 1891, when the debtor retired, and an agreement was entered into, whereby Mr. Small was to purchase the debtor's interest for £27,500. The debtor has also been connected with public companies, having been one of the directors of the Bristol Joint Stock Bank and the English Lager Beer Brewery, Limited. Both these Companies are in liquidation. In connection with the latter Company, the debtor joined in giving accommodation bills to the National Bank of Wales, Limited, and also guaranteed (jointly and severally with others) the payment of £2,000 to the bank. Claims amounting to £719 11s 11d in respect of these transactions will be made against the estate. The debtor is also liable in respect of other accommodation bills to the extent of £180 2s 6d. On the 3rd March, 1892, the debtor executed a marriage settlement of certain property under which his wife and his brother, James Payne, take certain life interests. In 1870 the debtor states that he made arrangement with his creditors, but that he is present unable to give particulars. The debtor attributes his insolvency to Losses sustained in consequence of the failure of the Lager Beer Brewery, Limited, and the National Bank of Wales, Limited, accepting accommodation bills, law costs, and expenses in various actions," and he states that first became aware of his insolvency about March, 1894. The debtor has not kept any books of account since he retired from business except a bank pass-book. The above deficiency accounted for follows:— Excess of liabilities over assets the 30th March, 1894, £6,899 7s 11d; bad debts, £627 17s 1d ; sums paid on wife's account and household expenses incurred since 30th March, 1894, £189 2d ; liability to Mr. F. Gould on mortgage by way of Collateral Security, £401 11s 3d ; law costs and interest on mortgages, £207 12s 1d; sundry losses and expenses of which I have particulars, £27 17s 8d—total, £8,353 19s 2d ; less money received from wife, £189 13s 2d—total, £8,164 6s.

In answer to questions by the Official Receiver debtor stated that he did not wish to make any alteration in his statement of affairs. He was married on the 7th of March, 1892, but made the settlement upon his wife on the 3rd of March in that year. His wife's maiden name was Louisa Stower, for several years prior to his marriage she acted as his housekeeper. The marriage was celebrated at the Registry Office, Bath. He was ill at the time, and went from bed to the Registry Office. He was suffering from three complaints—rheumatic, gout, and sciatica. He was 85 years old last April, and his wife was 45. His wife had lent him money previous to marriage, and he had paid her back at different times. Before he was married he was in a solvent state. His property was valued by a London surveyor named Mr. Floyd at £80,000. The property was valued with a view to selling it, and it took place about two years before he was married. The valuation was not made to satisfy his wife. After he retired from the lace business he was ill for three years, and did nothing during that time. He could make out an account, if necessary, of his position at the time he was married. He owed the petitioning debtor, Mr. Keeling, £1,500 prior to his marriage, but he did not owe him that amount now. He and Mr. Keeling were like brothers, and he incurred that debt by borrowing. That was all he owed at the time of his marriage, except to the mortgagee. When he was married he had no pressing creditor. His wife had paid. Mr. Keeling £500 since the marriage out of her own private purse. The marriage had been kept secret until quite recently, but it was not order to avoid the payment of Mr. Reeling's liability. The marriage was anticipated three or four years before it took place, and during the whole of that time Mrs. Payne was living with him as housekeeper. Only two small properties of about £700 and £250 were not included in the marriage settlement. He was now living upon, the income coming to his wife under the settlement. He sold his business to Small & Co., on the 7th April, 1891, and if the contract were carried out, they ought to pay £2,000 more, which he should do his best to get.

Debtor, having been questioned by Mr. Pinchard, stated, in reply to Mr. Forward, that he kept his marriage a secret to escape ridicule from Mrs. Small. He did not do it with any fraudulent intent.

As the first meeting of debtor's creditors has not yet been held, the examination was adjourned till the 30th prox., at two o'clock."
Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser - Wednesday 03 July 1895, page 5.

John Bellamy Payne was one of the founding directors of the English Lager Beer Brewery. At the time he was 80 years old and retired from his lace business just a year later. It seems odd to have had such an old man with no brewery experience on the board. By his own account he was ill for three years after retiring and did nothing. Yet he was a director of the brewery. Odd.

The question I ask myself is why, when he was just about to retire from a business he'd been in for 50 years, did he suddenly invest in and become director of a Lager brewery? It seems a very speculative venture for such an old man.

Then there's his weird secret marriage to his housekeeper. Where he seems to have signed over £80,000 worth of property to his wife. Why did he do that? And why did he keep the marriage secret? If I were a cynical bastard, I'd say it was so he could avoid paying his debts. If so, was it his idea or his wife's?

We'll be meeting another bankrupt actor next.

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