Sunday, 29 December 2013

Thomas William Alexander goes bankrupt

Like I said, the fallout from Mr. Alexander's moment of madness rumbled on for years. The settlement he made with his wife was the problem. It ate up all of his money.

In May 1888, just two months after the court case, the Cromwell brewery was bought by Lionel Charles Bastow for £948. Not a huge amount of money, especially when you consider that Alexander had sunk £5,000 of his own capital into the business.

It turns out he didn't really leave town. He just moved to Balderton (a village on the outskirts of Newark) and went into the dairy business. At least until he went bust.

A first meeting of creditors the case Thomas William Alexander, Balderton, near Newark, formerly brewer, now milkseller and cowkeeper, against whom a receiving order was made on the 7th inst., was held this morning at the offices the Official Receiver (Mr. H. R. Thorpe), St. Peter's Church-walk, Nottingham. The summary of debtor's statement of affairs showed liabilities of £674 10s. 4d. owing to unsecured creditors. The assets were returned £1,200, leaving, according this, a surplus £525 9s. 8d. The causes of failure were thus set out by the debtor :— "Through having settled property on my wife about two years ago. Bad debts." The Official Receiver's observations in the case were as follow :— The receiving order was made on a creditor's petition, the act of bankruptcy alleged against the debtor being his non-compliance with the requirements of a bankruptcy notice served upon him on the. 12th day of June last. The debtor was adjudicated bankrupt the 7th inst. The debtor states he commenced business as a brewer at the Cromwell Brewery, Newark-upon-Trent, about four years ago with a capital of £5,000, and that he sold this business about 18 months ago to Lionel Charles Bastow, recently bankrupt. The debtor states that in March, 1888, he settled certain property, consisting of a freehold house, in Crown-street, Newark, and £700 in cash or invested mortgage on his wife, Mrs. Almeida Alexander. The debtor states that was under the impression that he was solvent at the time he made this settlement, but that he has subsequently discovered that without the aid of the property included in the settlement he was insolvent at the time of making it. I have not seen the settlement or any copy of it. If the bankrupt's account of his position, at the time of making the settlement, is accurate, it would seem that there is ground for an application to the Court to declare the settlement void under Sec. 47 of the Bankruptcy Act, 1883. The only asset shown in the debtor's statement affairs is £1,200, the estimated value of the property so settled upon his wife, and from which, after paying his existing liabilities, set down £574 10s. 4d.", he estimates a surplus of £525 9s. 8d. There are, therefore, no funds in the bankruptcy with which to contest the validity of the settlement. It is open to the creditors to appoint a trustee at the meeting, but whether the estate is administered by the Official Receiver or by a trustee, if litigation is intended to be commenced on behalf of the estate, it will be necessary that the creditors should make some provision for meeting the expenses incident to such litigation. The debtor states that he kept a proper set of books in his brewery business, and that they were handed to the purchaser when that business was sold. The debtor was examined by the Official Receiver, to the circumstances under which the settlement was made upon his wife. Mr. White, chartered accountant, Newark, was appointed trustee, with Mr. J. Crossley, Newark Mr. T. H. Robinson, Newark, and Mr. G. S Penfold, Southwark, as a committee of inspection."
Nottingham Evening Post - Friday 25 July 1890, page 4.

As it turned out, he didn't actually have the assets to give his wife £700 and a house. In a couple of years his £5,000 had evaporated and the £1,200 he had given his wife had in fact been all that he had. So technically the settlement probably wasn't valid. Oh dear. But as there weren't enough funds to contest it, nothing could be done.

Had Alexander deliberately bankrupted himself to get the settlement with his wife undone? I think it's a possibility. But it didn't work.

Though he must have scraped some money together, because he eventually paid back most of what he owed:

"Thomas Wm. Alexander, Balderton, near Newark-upon-Trent formerly brewer, now milk seller and cowkeeper. First and final dividend 15s. in the pound, payable July 27, at 52, Castle gate, Newark." Sheffield Daily Telegraph - Wednesday 15 July 1891, page 8.
15 shillings in the pound is 75%. Not all that bad. And which means that he must have found £430 17s. 6d.

We'll be moving on to another bankruptcy next. You can probably guess of whom: Lionel Charles Bastow, the purchaser of the Cromwell Brewery. Who was bankrupted even before Alexander. And it seems that Alexander played a role in his bankruptcy.


Ed said...

He's a wrong'un that Alexander.

Ron Pattinson said...


I think so. But I'd love to know more.

I can't help thinking about their four-year-old son. Born in 1884. If he'd stayed local he could have been living in Newark when I was a kid.