Saturday, 11 January 2014

Samuel Taylor goes bust

Samuel Taylor junior was only landlord at the Royal Oak for five years before it all went terribly wrong. In that time he managed to get himself £2,500 in the red. To put that into context, £50 was a pretty decent annual salary.

"MEETING OF CREDITORS IN NOTTINGHAM.
At the George Hotel, Nottingham, on Thursday, a first general meeting was held of the creditors of Samuel Taylor, innkeeper and wine and spirit merchant, Stodman-street, Newark, whose petition for composition or liquidation of his affairs was recently filed by Mr. B. Cockayne. There was a fair attendance of creditors, and on the motion of Mr. Robert Hodgkinson, solicitor, of Newark, seconded by Mr. Cockayne, who again acted for the debtor, Mr. Thomas Leman was appointed chairman. — A number of proofs amounting to a total of £3,524 10s. 3d having been handed in and admitted, the debtor handed in his statement of assets and liabilities as follows :— Liabilities : To creditors unsecured, £2,725 0s. 6.5d ; creditors partly secured, £800, less £40, £760; creditors for rent, rates, taxes, and wages £50 14s. 9d ; total, £3,535 15s. 3.5d. Assets : By stock at Stodman-street, Newark, estimated to produce £250 11s. ; book debts, £390 17s. 9d., estimated to produce £40 ; cash in hand, &c, £12; furniture, fixtures, fittings, &c, at the Royal Oak, Newark, estimated to produce £761 13s. 6d ; total, £1,064 4s. 6d."
Nottinghamshire Guardian - Friday 16 September 1881, page 7.

I'm quite surprised at the value of the stock and the fixtures and fittings. A 36-gallon barrel of Mild cost less than two quid in the 1880's. £250-worth of stock is an awful lot of beer. Unless he had a cellar full of expensive malt whisky, I struggle to see how he could have stock worth that much. The same goes for the £761 for furniture, etc. In 1888 the freehold of the pub only cost £2450.

It was no secret that the pub wasn't doing well:

"— Mr. Cockayne observed on behalf of the debtor that he had to state what was a well-known fact in Newark, that trade had been very bad for some time past, and although the debtor's house was very well known and belonged to a capital landlord, still that landlord would not grant leases, though he behaved well to his various tenants. The debtor had unfortunately spent upon the house a considerable amount of money, or something like £1,000 or £1,200, and then finding that in consequence of the bad trade he could not go on any longer without further involving his creditors or his relations by increasing his liabilities, had filed his petition. The house had, however, been occupied by the debtor's father and mother for 50 years, and he therefore did not wish to leave it, and with this view had consulted him (Mr. Cockayne). In consequence, certain negotiations were entered into for the private settlement of the debtor's affairs without having recourse to the statute, but these had failed, and that meeting then ensued. The courses which were open to the meeting for adoption were three. Mr. Taylor might make them an offer of a composition, which they might accept or reject; or they might take the whole of the estate and throw it into liquidation under the court. If the debtor had been getting rid of his property by improper means, the latter would undoubtedly be the right course to take; but the valuer's report would be produced, and he (Mr. Cockayne) asserted that there had been nothing wrong; that the reports which had been circulated in Newark were without the slightest foundation; and that the whole matter might be easily explained to the creditors there. Of course if both composition and liquidation failed the estate would be thrown into bankruptcy, but he trusted that they would accept the offer which he was about to make for a composition, because liquidation or bankruptcy simply meant ruin for the debtor, and he was prepared to make what he thought they would consider a fair offer upon the balance sheet. He estimated, in the first place that the costs of those proceedings for the receiver and the solicitor would be about £100, and it might be taken generally that the assets would not be so great, nor would the liabilities be so small, as appeared upon the face of the debtor's statement; that was almost invariably the ease. The estimated value of the estate was, however, £1,052 4s. 6d, taking off the £12 for cash in hand; there were also certain creditors who would probably assist the debtor by not insisting upon immediate payment; and he therefore was prepared subject to the approbation of the chairman of that meeting to offer a composition of 5s. in the pound, security to be paid by equal instalments at three and six months' date."
Nottinghamshire Guardian - Friday 16 September 1881, page 7.

The capital landlord was the Duke of Newcastle. I don't think it's true that Samuel Taylor senior and his wife were landlord for over 560 years. In 1841 William Taylor - presumably the father of Samuel Taylor senior - was running the pub. Samuel Taylor senior took it over sometime between 1841 and 1845. Samuel Taylor junior took it on in 1876, meaning his parents couldn't have run the pub for more than 35 years. It's quite likely that the pub had been in the hands of the Taylor family for over 50 years as William Taylor was 64 in 1841.

"— Mr. William Hirst said that he had had a valuation of the estate made by Mr. George Shepherd, of Newark, who fixed the value at £1,012 4s. 6d.— In reply to Mr. Radford, who represented Messrs. Bass and Co., brewers, of Burton-on-Trent, and other gentlemen, the debtor stated that he had occupied the house about five years, and entered it upon a valuation, upon which he paid £1,800. The stock was then in about the same condition as now. He had spent over £1,000 in alterations and improvements of the house, but the trade latterly had fallen off seriously. When he entered the house his receipts were £30 or £35 a week, but latterly they had been only £20 a week. He did not consider the place worth as much as when he went in. There was a brewing plant and brewery on the premises when he took possession, but he had sold the plant for a nominal sum."
Nottinghamshire Guardian - Friday 16 September 1881, page 7.

Lots of juicy tidbits in those few sentences. First off, the Royal Oak must have been selling Bass, if Taylor were in debt to them. Nice that the takings are listed. With Mild retailing at 2d a pint, £30 represents 3,600 pints or 12.5 barrels. Seems a perfectly reasonable amount. But more than £1,000 on improving a building he only had a lease on? That seems way over the top. Especially as the freehold was only worth a bit more than double that amount.

But the last sentence is the biggest revelation: there was a brewery attached to the pub. It's the first mention I've found of it. I wonder when it was last used?

"— Mr. Hodgkinson, acting for some of the largest creditors, said that he did not accept the offer of Mr. Cockayne. The estate showed a total which appeared to render the offer a fair one, but he was advised that a very handsome premium could be obtained for the good-will of the business, and was in fact informed that a few weeks before the debtor's petition was filled there was an arrangement all but concluded whereby the debtor agreed to transfer the business in consideration of a sum of £500. He could not help feeling sorry for Mr. Taylor in his trouble, but if he had spent money upon the premises it was his creditors' money, and they ought to get the benefit of it, while if they accepted the composition they could not obtain the premium. — Mr. Iremonger said that he lived under the same landlord and agent (the Duke of Newcastle and Mr. Tallants), and knew that no purchase of good-will would be permitted. — Mr. Hodgkinson said that in the case referred to by him, the tenant suggested by Mr. Taylor had been accepted by the agent, and the agent told him (Mr. Hodgkinson) that it was so. — Mr. Lees, acting for the wife of the debtor, was of opinion that it would be better to take an offer of 5s. in the pound than allow the estate to pass into the hands of a trustee.— The debtor denied that he had ever had any negotiations for the sale of the good-will of his business. All he ever said was was that if trade did not improve he would be inclined to dispose of it; he had not had £500 offered for it. — Mr. Cockayne asked Mr. Hirst if he knew if the sum mentioned had been offered. — Mr. Hirst believed it had. — Mr. John Tinley advocated the acceptance of the composition, as otherwise judging from his experience, they would get nothing. — After some further discussion Mr. Cockayne said He would make an amended proposition, to the effect that the composition be 6s., payable in three equal instalments in three, six, and nine months' time, dating from the time of the registration of the resolutions, security to be offered to the satisfaction of Mr. Hodgkinson and Mr. Hirst, but that he knew no proposition of the kind would he acceded to by those gentlemen, without whom it could not be adopted. In order to give time for consideration, however, he now proposed that the meeting be adjourned till next Tuesday week, the 20th, at the same place and hour. — Mr. Lees seconded the motion, which after a debate of a desultory character was adopted."
Nottinghamshire Guardian - Friday 16 September 1881, page 7.

Five shillings in the pound is 25%. Not a great offer, but, as Mr. Lees said, better than nothing.

I happen to know who offered to take on the lease of the pub. But I'm saving that for next time.

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