Farm Labourer’s High Finance


Mitcham Man’s Affairs.

At the Croydon Bankruptcy Court on Thursday, before the Registrar (Alderman J. E. Fox, J.P.), Henry William Seale, of Orchard-villa, Lewis-road, Mitcham, now described as a builder, came up for his public examination. There were some entertaining details. His unsecured liabilities amounted to £943 2s. 9d., with gross liabilities £3,215 13s. 9d. His assets were estimated at £5 9s. leaving a deficiency of £937 13s. 9d.

In answer to the Official Receiver, debtor explained that, he was in the first place a farm labourer, then he became a vegetable hawker, a general dealer, and a carman and contractor in turn. It was in the last capacity that he took premises in Lewis road, Mitcham, remaining there until 1908.

In 1905 he bought two acres of freehold land in Lewis-road. He had £200, and, borrowed £100 from his wife to purchase this. Financed by bankers, he built two houses – the house where he lived, and another which he sold for £200. They cost £180 – £200 to build.

Later, he built three more houses and a shop. He still had four houses left. On these he had taken a mortgage of £800 and then a second charge of £500.

His wife had earned money as a pig and poultry seller. Debtor had a contract for collecting dust with the Croydon Rural District Council, but he lost this in 1908, and, having lost this, he gave up his business, on which he was then losing, and sold his horses and carts. They fetched £60 at auction, but he only £40 from the sale. He had kept no books.

In reply to the Registrar’s suggestion that he must have made a good thing out of the pigs, as he owed so much for their food, debtor said that in an outbreak of swine fever several died, and 82 had to be killed. Some of these were not his, as he was feeding them for another person, but he paid the man compensation.

Answering another question from the Official Receiver, debtor said that his wife bought a piece of freehold land at Cheam for £35 and he built two houses on it, for which she paid. Another piece of land in Lewis-road she bought for £350 with the intention of erecting piggeries on it, but on his advice she had it dug up for 10,000 yards, as the subsoil was rich in sand. She sold it for 3s., 3s. 3d., and 3s. 6d. a yard. His wife had also bought freehold land in Arundel road, Cheam, for £150, and debtor built 13 houses on it for £150 each.

In May, 1914, debtor had at the most £40, and he purchased some freehold land in Gander Green-lane, Cheam where his wife has some property — for £230. He commenced to build seven houses on it, a firm who were going to buy them supplying £200 worth of timber. He only completed two houses, and the arrangements between the firm and himself fell through owing to the war. He had also received £750 from another man, who had agreed to pay him an advance of £150 on each house.

He had been insolvent since he gave up his business as cartage contractor, and had never succeeded in recovering himself. Every undertaking of his since 1906 had been a failure. For two months in 1914 he had run the Mitcham Timber and Building Supply Company, in Western-road. He had not mentioned this at first because he had overlooked it until he had found a book respecting the business. When he closed it down the timber was sold by auction for a about £26, of which debtor got nothing. He still owed for timber. He might have asked a Mr. Miller, who supplied him with timber, to find purchasers for him for the houses in Gander Green-lane for £1,300, and for those in Arundel-road for £2,900. He denied that when the bankruptcy proceedings started he told Mr. Miller he could do as he liked, as he hod arranged all his affairs and had no property. He had never behaved in that way to any creditor.

In answer to a solicitor who appeared on behalf of a creditor, debtor said that he had been married twenty-one years, and had lived at Carshalton. His wife had over £100 when she was married, but he did not know how much.

The examination was adjourned until February 25th.

Mitcham and Tooting Mercury, 22nd January, 1915

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