Thursday, January 17, 2013

The troubles of Christopher Carter

As I said in the previous post Christopher Carter was the innkeeper of the Three Swans inn on Stony Stratford's High Street. He had been there since 1705. He claimed in the letter of 1726 that his business misfortunes arose from the demolition of part of his building 12 years earlier and a failure to make it new. It is hard to estimate at this distance in time how much of Christopher Carter's business losses were due to this factor or his own mismanagement.

Anyway, by 1730, Christopher Carter was facing insolvency and was unable to pay his rent. The letter I reproduce below is from Thomas Chapman, who I take to be a Stony Stratford solicitor, to the Trustees. He comes across as a reluctant advocate and is not terribly sympathetic to Christopher Carter. The letter to William Bromley, one of the original trustees and dated March 30th 1730, is transcribed below.
Upon the continued and pressing entreaties of poore Mr. Carter of Stratford, I am prevailed upon (very unwillingly) to give you this trouble, tho I told him, that I am confident that you would not transact anything without the concurrence of some of the other trustees.
He says Mr. Battison (the Radcliffe Trust Land Agent) tells him that unless he can give  a further security for the payment of his rent, besides that of his goods to be held already given, he must turn out as soon as any other tenant will come in, which he says would ruin him at once. Not but that, he seems very willing to leave, at any time, if he could have what allowance you gentlemen will pleas to make him, for the great damage, and losses, he sustained by the ruinous condition of his house. for severall years, which (by his lease from Sir Edward Longueville) was to have been supported, and repaired by his Landlord, and was at last done. But he says it lay so long a time in that condition, that for want of convenience, most of his lost guests went away to other houses and his trade could never have been retrieved, which is the occasion of the present meane circumstances; he says also, that you and Sir George (Sir George Beaumont, another trustee)  told him that he shou'd have an allowance for his losses but that he may be better able to Settle his accounts to Mr. Battison, he humbly begs to know what that allowance is to be, as that you will pleas to excuse this trouble from
Your most obedient humble servant
Thomas Chapman 

The outcome was that the Trustees did give the man relief from his debts and immediately took on another tenant - R. Wilmer in 1730.

The tone of the letter is interesting. Chapman is doing his duty by his client (who is presumably paying him for the letter) but he is clearly anxious not to offend anyone as mighty as as Radcliffe Trustee.

The Three Swans would have been caught up in the great fire of 1742 and was presumably rebuilt. It stayed in business until about 1785 when it was converted into a residence.

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