ESTATE of CAPTAIN EDWARD GOLDSMITH in CHANCERY, London
MARY SOPHIA DAY his niece at Hobart, Tasmania
GEORGE MATTHEWS ARNOLD solicitor, Gravesend, Kent
BENTLEY and TOLHURST descendants
View from the tower of St Mary the Virgin Church, Chalk Kent UK, known as Chalk Church where lie the graves of Captain Edward Goldsmith and family – looking down Church Lane to Lower Higham Road, the Salt Marshes and the Thames beyond. Photo copyright © Carole Turner March 2016
Captain Edward Goldsmith and his wife Elizabeth Goldsmith nee Day lost their first-born son Richard Sydney Goldsmith (1830-1854) to typhoid fever at Hobart, Tasmania. He was born at Fremantle days after their arrival in 1830 on the James, Captain Goldsmith in command. He was a cashier at the Union Bank of Van Diemen’s Land, 24 years old, when he died. He was buried at St David’s Cemetery, opposite the Goldsmiths’ residence at 19 Davey St. Hobart.
Their second son Edward Goldsmith jnr was born at Rotherhithe, London UK on 12th December 1836 and died young at Rochester, UK, on 8th May 1883. He married Sarah Jane Rivers from Deptford, UK in July 1870, and left no offspring.
The Tasmanian nieces of Captain Edward Goldsmith, Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day (born Rotherhithe 1847) and Mary Sophia Day (born Hobart 1853) had received generous allowances from their uncle as children during his visits in command of merchant ships to Hobart up to the early 1850s, and in his will he not only designated them as annuants, he set aside for them as beneficiaries eleven cottages at Vicarage Row, Rochester, UK. These two nieces were daughters of Rachel Pocock and Elizabeth Goldsmith’s brother, Captain James Day. When their parents married at St. David’s in Hobart in 1841, Captain Edward Goldsmith attended as a signatory witness. Their mother Rachael Pocock died of consumption in Hobart in 1857, and their father died in 1882 in the home of his younger daughter, Mary Sophia Axup nee Day, at Sloane St. Battery Point, Hobart.
In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson’s Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Gads Hill like this:
GAD’S-HILL, an eminence 1 mile NW of Strood, in Kent. An obelisk is on it, to the memory of a local celebrity of the name of Larkins; an inn is on it, called the Sir John Falstaff Inn; and a red brick house is on it, inhabited by the novelist, Charles Dickens, Esq. The hill got its name from being a resort of “gads, ” or high-way robbers; it formerly had thick woods, which gave them shelter; it possessed such bad reputation in the time of Elizabeth as to be appropriately selected by Shakespeare for the scene of the robbery of Falstaff; and it continued to have that reputation till the time of John Clavell, who speaks of
“Gad’s Hill, and those
Red tops of mountains where good people lose
Their ill-kept purses”.
Source; The imperial gazetteer of England and Wales : embracing recent changes in counties, dioceses, parishes, and boroughs: general statistics: postal arrangements: railway systems, &c.; and forming a complete description of the country
by Wilson, John M. (John Marius)
Publication date 1870
Topics Railroads, genealogy
Publisher Edinburgh : A. Fullarton
Collection allen_county; americana
Digitizing sponsor Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center
Contributor Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center
Volume 2, C-G
Captain Edward Goldsmith was 65 years old when he died on the 2nd July 1869 at Gadshill, Higham, Kent.
Source: Thames & Medway burials
At the time of his death, Captain Goldsmith was living with his wife Elizabeth Goldsmith nee Day at Gadshill Cottage, situated inside the grounds of his six acre property and Gadshill House, Telegraph Hill, in the village of Higham, Kent. The lease on the main house, Gadshill House, was renewed for 14 years to Andrew Chalmers Dods, Esq., at a rental of £165 per annum see auction notice below, 1870).
Entrance gates to Cpt Goldsmith’s residence Gad’s Hill House, with The Lodge extreme right
Telegraph Lane, Higham, Kent. Google Maps 2012
July 1869: Probate of the Estate
EDWARD GOLDSMITH, Esq., Deceased.
Pursuant to the Act of Parliament 22nd and 23rd Vic., cap. 35, intituled “An Act to further amend the Law of Property and to relieve Trustees.”
NOTICE is hereby given, that all creditors and other persons having any claims or demands upon the estate of Edward Goldsmith, late of Gads-hill, Higham, in the county of Kent, Gentleman (who died on the 2nd day of July, 1869), are hereby required, on or before the 1st day of December next, to send particulars of their debts or claims to the undersigned George Matthews Arnold, at his offices, No. 1, Berkley-crescent, Gravesend, in the said county of Kent, Solicitor for the executors of the said Edward Goldsmith, deceased, after which time the executors will proceed to administer the estate and to distribute the assets of the said deceased among the parties entitled thereto, having regard to the claims and demands only of which they then shall have had notice; and that the said executors will not be liable for the said assets, or any part thereof, so distributed to any person of whose claim they shall not have had notice at the time of such distribution. –
Dated this 31st day of July, 1869.
GEO. M. ARNOLD, Gravesend, Solicitor for the Executors
Source: London Gazette, 31st January 1869 [?]
George Matthews Arnold (d.1907) (8 times Mayor of Gravesend, made Honorary Freeman of Gravesend December 1907 just before his death)
Artist: John Haynes-Williams (1836–1908)
Location: Gravesham Borough Council, Civic Centre
May 1870: Gadshill House etc at auction
Auction of Captain Edward Goldsmith’s properties
Source: Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser 16 May 1870
Freehold Residences, Cottage Property, and Building Land, in the Parishes of Higham and Chalk, near Rochester and Gravesend.
MESSRS. COBB are instructed by the Executors of the late E. Goldsmith, Esq., to SELL by AUCTION, at the Bull Hotel, Rochester, on TUESDAY, the 14th of JUNE, 1870, at 4 for 5 o’clock, in 18 lots.
IN THE PARISH OF HIGHAM
The valuable FREEHOLD RESIDENCE called “Gad’s Hill House”, with entrance lodge, lawn, gardens, shrubberies, and plantations (the whole containing 6a. 3r. 28p.), situate on an eminence commanding extensive views of the Cobham woods, the Rivers Thames and Medway, let on lease for the term of 14 years from Michaelmas, 1869, to Andrew Chalmers Dods, Esq., at a rental of £165 per annum, in one Lot.
The comfortable and well arranged FREEHOLD RESIDENCE, called “Gad’s Hill Cottage”, with 1a. 0r. 32p. of garden and orchard land, in the occupation of Mrs. Goldsmith, and of the estimated value of £70 per annum, in one Lot.
9 FREEHOLD COTTAGES, situate in Higham-place abutting on the turnpike-road, let at weekly rentals, together with 0a. 3r. 20p. of building land adjoining, amounting to £87 10s. per annum, in 4 Lots.
11 FREEHOLD COTTAGES, in the Vicarage Row, let at weekly rentals, amounting to £93 11s. per annum, in 3 Lots.
0a. 3r. 0p. of SALT MARSH LAND, near the River Thames, in the occupation of Mrs. Youens, in one lot.
IN THE PARISH OF CHALK
27 COTTAGES and GARDENS in the village of Chalk, held at rentals amounting to £196 15s. per annum, together with 2a. 0r. 0p. of valuable plantation, house and garden, and building land, in the occupation of Mr. John Craddock, at a rental of £30 per annum, in 8 Lots.
Particulars, conditions, and plans may be obtained at the Auction Mart, London; Bull Hotel, Rochester; G. M. Arnold, Esq., Solicitor, Gravesend; and of Messrs. Cobb, Surveyors and Land Agents, 26, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, and Rochester, Kent.
Craddock’s Cottage, Chalk, Kent
Photo copyright © Carole Turner March 2016
This was one of Captain Edward Goldsmith’s properties, Craddock’s Cottage, believed to be where Dickens spent his honeymoon with Catherine Hogarth, April 1836. It was listed for auction in 1870 as – “2a. 0r. 0p. of valuable plantation, house and garden, and building land, in the occupation of Mr. John Craddock, at a rental of £30 per annum”. The land next door was known as Goldsmith’s Plantation until the 1930s. It is mentioned in Goldsmith’s will on pages 6 and 8:
Due from John Craddock of Chalk Kent labourer and considered to be irrecoverable …. £40.0.0
TRANSCRIPT (page 8 of Captain Edward Goldsmith’s will 1869-1872)
(10.) A piece of garden ground containing by admeasurement 1r. 30p. on the north side of the Gravesend and Rochester turnpike road with the cottage or tenement thereon erected and built situate in the parish of Chalk aforesaid and also a piece of orchard ground situate on the north side of the road leading from Gravesend to the village of Lower Higham and lying in the parish of Chalk aforesaid and containing by admeasurement 1a. 3r. 32p. all which premises are now in the occupation of John Craddock as yearly tenant at the annual rent of £30.
Source: National Archives UK Ref C16/781 C546012
These two images date from the 1900s when a plaque of Dickens was placed above the front door of Craddock’s Cottage. The land adjoining was still known as Goldsmiths Plantation in the 1930s.
Dickens’s honeymoon and where he spent it
by Philip, Alexander J. (Alexander John), b. 1879
Kent Photo Archive
Ref. No: MMPC-Q500002
Location: CRADDOCKS COTTAGE CHALK KENT
Craddock’s Cottage, Chalk, Kent, with plaque of Charles Dickens
Photo copyright © Carole Turner March 2016
The auction of Captain Goldsmith’s estate took place at the Bull Hotel, Rochester, under the watchful eye of solicitor George Matthews Arnold. The Bull was Mr Jingle’s “good house” in Dickens’ Pickwick Papers and the hotel he named the Blue Boar in Great Expectations.
Source: The Victorian Web
Source: Map of Chalk and Higham Kent (webshot)
Red dot indicates Captain Goldsmith’s property, Gads Hill House, Telegraph Hill
Highlighted areas showing extent of Cpt Goldsmith’s estate from Chalk Turnpike to Chalk Church, Salt Marshes, Higham and Lower Higham.
Ordnance Survey First Series 1856 Sheet 1
Link: Vision of Britain
Recent Map: Captain Goldsmith’s Gads Hill House is marked with a black dot.
Link: Gravesham Borough Planning Map.
The Suits in Chancery 1871-1922
THE COURT OF CHANCERY
Is celebrated as a manufactory of suits which generally last a very long time. The best method to obtain one is to get a legacy left you by a lawyer; for gentlemen who have been engaged as attorneys and solicitors have either so great a regard for their profession, or so great a fear of it, that they usually contrive to leave plenty of employment for those who follow them. Persons who have had Chancery suits describe them as rather unpleasant, being as difficult to get out of as a pair of wet leather breeches.
Punch, Jan.-Jun. 1842
The New Public Record Office, Chancery Lane. Illustration for The Queen’s London (Cassell, 1896).
Charles Dickens had a fake set of book-backs made up, displayed even today in his study at Gads Hill Place, called ” History of a Short Chancery Suit” in twenty-one volumes, among others such as “Hansard’s Guide to Refreshing Sleep. As many volumes as possible“. His house was located at No. 6 Gadshill Place. Captain Goldsmith was the landlord of the cottages nearby at 1-4 Gad’s Hill Place.
January 1871: Goldsmith v. Goldsmith
Goldsmith v. Goldsmith, Chancery, London Times, 3 June 1871
Edward Goldsmith jnr’s “Cause” against his mother Elizabeth Goldsmith
PURSUANT to an ORDER of the High Court of Chancery, made in the Matter of the Estate of EDWARD GOLDSMITH, late of Gad’s Hill, Higham, in the county of Kent, gentleman (who died in or about the month of July 1869), are on or before the 12th day of April 1871, to send by post, prepaid, to Mr. Thomas Sismey, of No. 11, Serjeant’s Inn, Fleet-street, London, the solicitor for the defendants Elizabeth Goldsmith, widow, William Bell Bentley, and Alfred Bentley, the executors of the deceased, their Christian and surnames, and the Christian and surnames or any partner or partners, their addresses and descriptions, the full particulars of their claims, a statement of their accounts, and the nature of the securities if any held by them or in default thereof they will be peremptorily excluded from the benefit of the said Order. Every creditor holding any security is to produce the same before the Vice Chancellor Sir John Stuart, at his Chambers, situated No. 13 Old-square, Lincoln’s Inn, Middlesex, on Saturday, the 23rd day of April 1871, at Twelve o’clock at noon, being the time appointed for adjudicating on the claims. – Dated the 23rd day of February 1871
H.F. CHURCH, Chief Clerk
On the death of his father Captain Edward Goldsmith in 1869 at Gadshill, Higham, Kent, Edward Goldsmith jnr contested the will in 1871 in a Chancery suit against his mother Elizabeth Goldsmith, widow, and his father’s executors, William Bell Bentley and Alfred Bentley. He also contested his father’s legacy as plaintiff against his Tasmanian cousins, legatees Mary Sophia Day and Elizabeth Rachel Day. But in 1872 both Elizabeth Nevin and her husband, photographer Thomas Nevin, were named in a Chancery suit as defendants, along with Edward jnr and his mother, this time lodged in the name of Elizabeth’s younger sister, Mary Sophia Day as the plaintiff (Ref: National Archives UK C16/781 C546012).
April 1871: Goldsmith v Goldsmith
When the administration of Captain Edward Goldsmith’s will was listed in 1871 (National Archives UK Ref: C 16/715/G18) William Bell Bentley was named as defendant along with Captain Edward Goldsmith’s widow, Elizabeth Goldsmith versus their son Edward Goldsmith jnr and Sarah Jane Goldsmith, his wife. William Bell Bentley and his brother Alfred Bentley were the named executors of the will, the latter better known as the father of William Owen Bentley, founder of Bentley Motors Ltd (1919) whose mother Emily Waterhouse was born in South Australia. Another of Alfred Bentley’s sons, Alfred Hardy Bentley was added to the amendment in 1922.
Elizabeth Goldsmith’s only son Edward issued this summons to his mother as an annuant of his father’s estate, even though both mother and son were listed as residents of the same address, 14 Piers Road, Rosherville, known for its fabulous pleasure gardens in Northfleet, Gravesend and close to St. Botolph’s Church Northfleet Kent, where Captain Edward Goldsmith may have been baptised on 20th July 1804, although his Trinity House registration recorded his birth at Chalk, Kent. Elizabeth Goldsmith had vacated and put up for auction her two freehold houses at Gadshill – Gad’s Hill House and Gad’s Hill Cottage in May 1870 (see auction list above).
Reference: C 16/715/G18 Description:
Cause number: 1871 G18.
Short title: In the matter of the estate of Edward Goldsmith late of Gads Hill Higham, Kent, deceased: Goldsmith v Goldsmith
1871 A No. 18
Filed 31 January 1871In the matter of the Estate of
Edward Goldsmith late Gads Hill Higham
in the County of Kent deceased
Between Edward Goldsmith Plaintiff [son]
Elizabeth Goldsmith Widow
William Bell Bentley
and Alfred Bentley Defendants
Upon the application of Edward Goldsmith at No.14
Pier Road Rosherville
in the County of Kent Gentleman
who claims to be an annuitant under the Will
of the above-named Edward Goldsmith
Let Elizabeth Goldsmith of No. 14 Pier Road Rosherville aforesaid Widow
Williams Bell Bentley and Alfred Bentley both of No. 126 Cheapside in the City of London
the Executors and Trustees named in the last Will and Testament of the said Edward Goldsmith
attend at my Chambers. No. 13 Old Square Lincolns Inn
Middlesex, on Thursday the 9th day of February 1871
at 11.30 of the clock in the fore noon, and show cause if they
can, why an order for the Administration of the real and personal
Estate of the said Edward Goldsmith deceased
by the High Court of Chancery should not be granted
Dated this thirty first day of January 1871
This Summons was taken out by Thomas Sismey of No. 11 Sergeants Inn Fleet Street in the City of London
Solicitor for the above-named Plaintiff Edward Goldsmith
To the Defendants
Note. If you do not attend, either in person or by your Solicitor at the time and place above
mentioned, such order will be made and proceedings taken as the Judge may think just and expedient
Chancery 1872: Day v Goldsmith
Although both nieces in Tasmania were annuants under the terms of the will, Mary Sophia Day’s bill of complaint was struck through in 1872, and Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin had made no claim. Lawyers may well have advised Mary Sophia Day to file suit because she was still eligible under British law: she was under 21 yrs old (“infant”) and unmarried (she married Captain Hector Axup six years later in 1878), while her sister Elizabeth was both married and over 21 yrs old by 1872.
BILL of COMPLAINT filed by plaintiff Mary Sophia Day by her next friend Thomas Butler.
National Archives UK
Cause number: 1872 D50. Ref:C 16/781/D50
Short title: Day v Goldsmith. Documents: Bill only. Plaintiffs:…
Reference:C 16/781/D50 Description:
Cause number: 1872 D50.
Short title: Day v Goldsmith.
Documents: Bill only.
Plaintiffs: Mary Sophia Day infant by Thomas Butter her next friend (both struck through).
Defendants: Elizabeth Goldsmith, William Bell Bentley, Alfred Bentley, Edward Goldsmith and Sarah Jane Goldsmith his wife, Caroline Tolhurst, Matilda Tolhurst, Edward Tolhurst (abroad), Richard Tolhurst (abroad) and Thomas Nevin (abroad) and Elizabeth Rachel Nevin his wife (abroad).
Amendments: Amended by order 1888. George Matthews Arnold added as a named party. Amended by order 1894. Sarah Jane Goldsmith widow added as a plaintiff. Amended by order 1894. George Edmeades Tolhurst added as a party. Amended by order 1908. Sarah Jane Goldsmith widow as a defendant and William Bell Bentley, Alfred Bentley, Brownfield Tolhurst and George Phillips Parker added as co defendants.
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
March 1872: Plaintiff Mary Sophia Day
This legal document appears to be particularly cruel. It sets sister against sister, Mary Sophia Day as the plaintiff and her elder sister Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day as defendant, both daughters of Captain James Day, nieces of Captain Edward Goldsmith’s wife Elizabeth Goldsmith nee Day.
TRANSCRIPT Frontispiece 1872
1872 D. 50
Between Mary Sophia Day (an infant under the age of 21 years) by Thomas Butler her next friend .. Plaintiff
Elizabeth Goldsmith, William Bell Bentley, Alfred Bentley, Edward Goldsmith and Sarah Jane his wife, Caroline Tolhurst, Matilda Tolhurst (inserted), Edward Tolhurst, Richard Tolhurst and Thomas Nevin and Elizabeth Rachel his wife (the four last named defendants being out of the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court) … Defendants
I the undersigned Thomas Butler of No. 9 The Grove Gravesend in the County of Kent Genteleman (inserted) hereby authorize and request you Mr Thomas Sismey of No. 11 Sergeants Inn Fleet Street in the City of London Solicitor to institute the above suit on behalf of the above named infant plaintiff Mary Sophia Day who is now residing at Hobart Town in Tasmania and is a spinster and to use my name as her next friend for such purpose
Dated this twenty fifth day of March 1872
TRANSCRIPT Page 1
1872. D. – No. 50
Filed the 4th day of April 1872
Between MARY SOPHIA DAY (an infant under the age of 21 years) by THOMAS BUTLER her next friend ….PLAINTIFF
WILLIAM BELL BENTLEY
EDWARD GOLDSMITH and SARAH JANE his wife
RICHARD TOLHURST and
THOMAS NEVIN and ELIZABETH RACHEL his wife (the four last named defendants being out of the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court) …. DEFENDANTS
BILL OF COMPLAINT
TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE WILLIAM PAGE BARON HATHERLEY of Down Hatherley in the county of Gloucester Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain. 
TRANSCRIPT Page 2
HUMBLY COMPLAINING sheweth unto his Lordhip Mary Sophia Day of Hobart Town Tasmania spinster an infant under the age of 21 years by Thomas Butler of No. 9 The Grove Gravesend in the county of Kent gentleman her next friend the above named plaintiff as follows –
1. Edward Goldsmith late of Gadshill Higham in the county of Kent gentleman deceased duly made his last will dated the 15th day of February 1865 and thereby gave devised and bequeathed all his real and personal estate whatsoever and wheresoever unto his wife the defendant Elizabeth Goldsmith and the defendants William Bell Bentley and Alfred Bentley their heirs executors administrators and assigns respectively according to the nature thereof respectively upon the trusts and for the purposes following (that is to say) – Upon trust to permit the said Elizabeth Goldsmith to appropriate and select for her own use and enjoyment during her life so much and such part of the testator’s household furniture and effects plate linen china books pictures and prints as she should require and to get in and convert the residue of his said personal estate into money and after and subject to the payment of the testator’s debts funeral and testamentary expenses to invest the same in the names of his trustees for the time being in the public funds of Great Britain or on mortgage of freehold or long leasehold property or in other real securities. And the testator declared that the trustees for the time being of his said will should stand seised and possessed of his said real and personal estates upon and for the trusts ends intents and purposes thereinafter expressed and declared of concerning the same (that is to say)- Upon trust by and out of the rents issues and profits dividends interest and annual produce thereof to pay unto Mary Tolhurst[sister of Edward Goldsmith] then and now residing at Number 18 Hill Street Peckham in the county of Surrey widow the sum of 1 pound monthly during her life free from the debts control and engagements of any husband with whom she might intermarry. And upon further trust by and out of the same rents issues and profits dividends interest and annual profits to pay unto the defendant Elizabeth Rachel Nevin (at the date of the said will and therein described as Elizabeth Rachel Day) and the plaintiff Mary Sophia Day (in the said will called Mary Day) the nieces of the testator’s said wife then and now living at Hobart Town aforesaid and the survivor of them an annuity or yearly sum of 10 pounds until the youngest of them the said Elizabeth Rachel Nevin and Mary Sophia Day should if living have attained the age of 21 years or if the youngest of them should die under that age until she would if living have attained the said age and the same annuity of yearly sum of 10 pounds the testator authorized to be paid to the parents or guardians as the case might be of the said Elizabeth Rachel Nevin and Mary Sophia Day and to be by them applied for or towards their respective maintenance advancement and education and the receipt of such parents and guardians was to be a full and&
TRANSCRIPT Page 3
complete discharge to the testator’s trustees for the time being for the same annuity or yearly sum and upon further trust by and out of the same rents issues and profits dividends interest and annual produce to pay during the life of the testator’s said wife one annuity or clear yearly sum of 100 pounds unto the testator’s son the defendant Edward Goldsmith for his life by four equal quarterly payments on the 25th day of March the 24th day of June the 29th day of September and the 25th day of December in every year the first of such quarterly payments to be made on the first of such quarterly days which should happen after the testator’s decease and subject to such monthly sum of 1 pound and yearly sum of 10 pound and to such annuity or yearly sum of 100 pounds as aforesaid upon trust that they the trustees and trustee for the time being of the said should pay unto or permit the testator’s said wife to receive and take for her own absolute use and benefit the said rents issues and profits dividends interest and annual produce of his said real and personal estate subject nevertheless to the expenses of repairs and insurance and incidental to the general management and control of the said estates and effects during her life free from the debts control or engagements of any husband or husbands with whom she might intermarry and from and immediately after her decease. Upon trust to deliver unto the testator’s said son the defendant Edward Goldsmith the said household furniture and effects plate linen china books pictures and prints which the testator’s said wife should have had in use during her lifetime for his own absolute use and benefit and to pay unto or permit the testator’s said son to receive and take for his own use and benefit the said rents issues and profits dividends interest and annual produce of the testator’s real and personal estates as aforesaid subject nevertheless to the expenses of repairs and insurance and incidental to the general management or control of the said estate during his life and from and immediately after his decease. Upon trust to convey and assure pay transfer and divide the same real and personal estate subject as aforesaid unto between and amongst all and every the children of the defendant Edward Goldsmith who being sons or a son should live to attain the age of 21 years or being daughters or a daughter should live to attain that age or marry under that age in equal shares and to their respective heirs executors and administrators as tenants in common and not as joint tenants and if there should be but one such child then the whole of the said real and personal estate subject as aforesaid should go to such only child his or her heirs executors and administrators and in the will now in statement were contained powers for the advancement and maintenance of the children of the defendant Edward Goldsmith and in case there should be no son of the defendant Edward Goldsmith who should live to attain the age of 21 years or being daughters or a daughter should live to attain that age or be married under that age. And in case the defendant Edward
TRANSCRIPT Page 4
Goldsmith should have been married with the testator’s consent he should be dead with the consent of his said wife or having been married after the decease of both the testator and his said wife should have left a widow him surviving then upon trust to pay unto or permit any such widow of the testator’s said son to receive and take for her own absolute use and benefit the net annual rents and profits dividends interest and annual proceeds of the testator’s real and personal estate and effects subject as aforesaid and subject to the expenses of repairs and insurance and incidental to the general management and control of the said estates and effects during her life free from the debts control or engagements of any husband or husbands with whom she might intermarry and from and immediately after her decease upon trust that they the trustees or trustee for the time being of the said will should convey and assure the testator’s eleven cottages and hereditaments known as Vicarage Row Higham in the county of Kent unto the said Elizabeth Rachel Nevin and the plaintiff Mary Sophia Day their respective heirs and assigns as tenants in common and upon further trust that they the trustees or trustee for the time being of the said will should convey and assure pay transfer and devise all the rest and residue of the testator’s said real and personal estate unto between and amongst all and every the children of the said Mary Tolhurst who should be living at the time of the testator’s decease and their heirs executors administrators and assigns respectively according to the nature thereof respectively as tenants in common and in the said will was contained a proviso and the testator thereby directed that in case either his said wife his said son (except as to the household furniture and effects plate linen china books pictures and prints given and bequeathed to him at the decease of the testator’s wife ) or the said son’s widow (if any) should at any time or times do permit or suffer any act default or process whatsoever which but for the proviso now in statement would have the effect of vesting the right to receive the rents issues and profits dividends interest and annual produce or the said annuity of 100 pounds thereinbefore directed to be paid as aforesaid or any part thereof repsectively or any interest therein respectively in any other person or persons whomsoever then and thenceforth the trusts thereinbefore declared for the benefit of such person or persons doing committing or suffering any such act default or process as aforesaid should cease and become void should immediately thereafter be paid or payable to or applicable in such manner as they the said trustees in their uncontrolled discretion should see fit either for the benefit of the person or persons who should have been entitled to the same respectively by virtue of the trusts powers and authorities in the said will contained in case
TRANSCRIPT Page 5
the testator’s said wife his said son or the said son’s widow (if any) as the case might be had departed this life or for the benefit of the person or persons respectively who should so respectively do commit or suffer such act default or process as aforesaid and in the said will was contained a proviso that it should be lawful for the trustees or trustee for the time being of the said will at their discretion from time to time to sell the said real estate or any part thereof in manner therein mentioned and to make or enter into and execute all such acts deeds assignments and assurances whosoever as should be necessary or be deemed expedient by the said trustees their heirs executors or administrators and the testator thereby declared that the trustees or trustee for the time being of his said will should hold the monies to arise from any such sale or sales as aforesaid. In trusts in the first place to pay satisfy and discharge the costs charges and expenses therein mentioned and upon trust to invest the clear residue of the said monies in or upon public stocks or funds of Great Britain or on mortgage of freehold or long leasehold property in England in manner as aforesaid and to stand possessed of the same and dividends interest and annual income thereof. Upon the same or the like trust as were thereinbefore declared and might then be subsisting concerning the testator’s said real estate which should for the time being be so sold and disposed under the provision now in statement and in the said will was contained a power for the said trustees or trustee to lease all or any part of the testator’s freehold and leasehold hereditaments for any term of years not exceeding 21 years in possession at rack rent and the usual trustee’s receipt clause and a power for the surviving or continuing trust or trustees or the executors or administrators of the last surviving or continuing trustee to appoint his said wife and the said William Bell Bentley and Alfred Bentley executrix and executors of his said will.
2. The said testator duly made a codicil dated 30th of June 1869 to his said will which codicil omitting formal parts was as follows –
” Whereas I have entered into a contract for the erection of certain buildings upon my freehold estate at Higham in the county of Kent and whereas the trustees of my will may have occasion to make further improvements and whereas I am desirous that my dear wife during her life and after her decease the trustees for the time being of my will should have power to raise money after my decease for the completion and performance of such works and all the expenses incidental thereto if she or they shall deem it necessary or expedient. Now I do hereby authorize and empower my said dear wife during her life and after her decease they my said trustees or trustee by any deeds or documents to raise and
TRANSCRIPT Page 6
take up so much and such money as she or they respectively may think necessary or expedient for the purpose aforesaid and such securities to be executed by her or them respectively shall be as valid and effectual as if executed by me and may comprise the fee simple and contain all powers of sale and of giving receipts and all usual powers and authorities of mortgages and I confirm my said will in all other respects.”
3. The said testator died on the 2nd day of July 1869 without having revoked or altered his said will and codicil and the same were duly proved by the defendants Elizabeth Goldsmith William Bell Bentley and Alfred Bentley in the Principal Registry of Her Majesty’s Court of probate on the 27th day of July 1869.
4. The said testator was at the time of his death possessed of the following personal estate that is to say –
Cash in the house at testator’s death …..£23 0 0
Cash at the London and County Bank Gravesend ….. £66 15 4
The proportion of rents of testator’s freehold property to his decease ….. £5 14 6
Due from John Craddock of Chalk Kent labourer and considered to be irrecoverable….. £40 0 0
Certain furniture and effects which were taken by the defendant Elizabeth Goldsmith under the power in that behalf contained in the testator’s will. The testator’s personal estate not specifically bequeathed was insufficient for payment of his debts.
5. The real property of or to which the testator was seised or entitled at the time of his death was as follows –
(1.) Eleven cottages and premises situate and being Nos. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 and 11 Vicarage Row in the parish of Higham in the county of Kent specifically mentioned in his said will and at the time of the testator’s death let to weekly tenants.
(2.) A small piece of land situate on the north side of the Gravesend and Rochester turnpike road at Gadshill in the parish of Higham demised to Edward Whitehead with the piece of land hereinafter described and numbered 9 for the term of 14 years from the 1st day of September 1869 at the apportioned yearly rent of 5s. And also another piece of land with 5 cottages or tenements thereon erected and built situate on the north side of the Gravesend and Rochester turnpike road at Gadshill aforesaid and called or known as Nos. 5,6,7,8, and 9 Higham Place and at the time of the testator’s death let to weekly tenants.
(3.) A piece of land with 4 cottages or tenements thereon erected
TRANSCRIPT Page 7
and built and known as Nos. 1,2,3, and 4 Higham Place aforesaid and at the time of the testator’s death let to weekly tenants.
(4.) A piece of marsh land called or known as Lady’s Tippet situate in the Salt Marsh called Higham Mead in the parish of Higham aforesaid and containing by admeasurement 3r. 1p. and at the time of the testator’s death let to Mrs Mary Youens at the yearly rent of 10s.
(5.) Four cottages or tenements and premises situate on the noth side of the aforesaid Gravesend and Rochester turnpike road in the said parish of Chalk and situate on the east side of the cottage and garden hereinafter described and numbered 10 which said 4 cottages or tenements were at the time of the testator’s death let to weekly tenants.
(6.) A piece of land situate opposite the “Lisle Castle” public-house on the south side of the aforesaid Gravesend and Rochester turnpike road in the said parish of Chalk and formerly let to John Craddock as yearly tenant which was sold by private contract in the year 1869 for the sum of £200.
(7.) A piece of land containing by admeasurements 6a. 3r. 28p. with the messuage and premises thereon erected and built and called or known as “Gadshill House” situate at Gadshill aforesaid in the occupation of Andrew Chalmers Dods under and by virtue of an indenture of lease dated the 12th day of June 1869 and made between the said testator of the one part and the said Andrew Chalmers Dods of the other part whereby the said premises were demised unto the said Andrew Chalmers Dods his executors administrators and assigns for the term of 14 years from Michaelmas Day 1869 at the yearly rent of £165. The testator had in his lifetime bound himself to the said Andrew Chalmers Dods to enlarge the last mentioned house and had entered into a contract with a builder for the execution of such work. The defendant Elizabeth Goldsmith after the testator’s death raised the sum of £500 on mortgage of the testator’s real estate for the purpose of paying for the said work and the plaintiff submits that as between the said houses in Vicarage Row and the testator’s other real estate such mortgage ought to be borne wholly by the testator’s real estate other than the said houses in Vicarage Row.
(8.) A piece of land containing 1a. 0r. 32p. with the messuage or tenement thereon erected and built and known as “Gadshill Cottage” situate and being at Gadshill aforesaid and formerly in the occupation of the said testator since then of the defendant Elizabeth Goldsmith but now of Charles Henry Walter under an indenture of lease dated the 13th day of August 1870 and made between the defendants Elizabeth Goldsmith William Bell Bentley and Alfred Bentley of the one part and the said Charles
TRANSCRIPT Page 8
Henry Walter of the other part whereby the same premises were demised unto the said Charles Henry Walter his executors administrators and assigns for the term of 13 years and 48 days from the 12th day of August 1870 at the yearly rent of £70 payable quarterly.
(9.) A piece of orchard land containing 3r. 20p. situate on the north side of the Gravesend and Rochester turnpike road at Gadshill aforesaid and adjoining the premises eightly described and which said piece of land (with the said small piece of land hereinbefore mentioned and numbered 2) was demised to the said Edward Whitehead for the term of 14 years from the 1st day of September 1869 and is now in his occupation at the apportioned yearly rent of £4. 15s.
(10.) A piece of garden ground containing by admeasurment 1r. 30p. on the north side of the Gravesend and Rochester turnpike road with the cottage or tenement thereon erected and built situate in the parish of Chalk aforesaid and also a piece of orchard ground situate on the north side of the road leading from Gravesend to the village of Lower Higham amd lying in the parish of Chalk aforesaid and containing by admeasurement 1a.3r.32p. all of which premises are now in the occupation of John Craddock as yearly tenant at the annual rent of £30.
(11.) Twenty-three cottages or tenements and premises situate in or near to the aforesaid road leading from Gravesend to Lower Higham in the said parish of Chalk all let to weekly tenants.
6. The defendants Elizabeth Goldsmith William Bell Bentley and Alfred Bentley have in exercise of the power of sale given to them by the said will sold the said hereditaments numbered respectively 1,2,3,4,5, and 6 and out of the proceeds of such sale and out of the testator’s personal estate not specifically bequeathed the defendants Elizabeth Goldsmith William Bell Bentley and Alfred Bentley have paid the testator’s funeral and testamentary expenses and debts except as hereinafter state including some part of the mortgage debts hereinafter mentioned.
7. At the time of the testator’s death the principal sum of £294.2s.4d was due from him to George Matthews Arnold of Gravesend in the county of Kent gentleman and was secured by a deposit of the title deeds of the testator’s real estate (excepting the said pieces of land hereinbefore described and numbered respectively 1 and 4). By indentures of mortgage dated respectively the 22nd day of July 1869 and the 1st day of January 1870 and made between the defendant Elizabeth Goldsmith of the one part and the said George Matthews Arnold of the other part All the real estate of the said testator was mortgaged to the said George Matthews Arnold to secure to him the aggregate principal
TRANSCRIPT Page 9
sum of £836. 10s. inclusive of the sum of £194. 2s. 4d. part of the above mentioned sum of £294. 2s. 4d. The defendant Elizabeth Goldsmith alleges that the said mortgages were executed in order to raise money for the purposes of the contract in the testator’s codicil mentioned. The sum of £100 (the residue of the said sum of £294. 2s. 4d.) was due in addition to the said sum of £836. 10s. and the sum of £15 has been paid to the said George Matthews Arnold on account of such debt of £100.
8. The defendant Edward Goldsmith claims that the sum of £350 was owing to him by the said testator at the time of his decease and the same sum still remains unpaid.
9. By a decretal order of this Honorable made in Chambers and dated the 9th day of February 1871 made in the matter of the estate of the said testator and in a cause between the said Edward Goldsmith and the defendants Elizabeth Goldsmith Will Bell Bentley and Alfred Bentley defendants It was ordered that the following accounts and enquiries be taken and made –
(1.) An account of the personal estate not specifically bequeathed of the said Edward Goldsmith the testator in the summons named come to the hands of the defendants Elizabeth Goldsmith widow William Bell Bentley and Alfred Bentley the executrix and executors of his said will or any of them or to the hands of any other person or persons by their order or for their use.
(2.) An account of the testator’s debts.
(3.) An account of the testator’s funeral expenses.
(4.) An account of the legacies and annuities given by the testator’s will.
(5.) An enquiry what parts (if any) of the testator’s said personal estate were outstanding or undisposed of and it was ordered that the testator’s personal estate not specifically bequeathed should be applied in payment of his debts and funeral expenses in a due course of administration and then in payment of the legacies and annuities given by his will and it was ordered that the following further inquiries should be made and taken.
(6.) An enquiry what real estate the testator was seised of entitled to at the time of his death.
(7.) An enquiry what incumbrances (if any) affect the testator’s real estate or any and what parts thereof. And it was ordered that the further consideration of the said matter and cause should be adjourned and any of the parties were to be at liberty to apply as they shall be advised.
10. Affadavits have been filed by the defendants Elizabeth
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Goldsmith William Bell Bentley and Alfred Bentley in answer to the enquiries directed by the said order but the Chief Clerk of His Honor the Vice-Chancellor Sir John Wickens the Judge to whose court the said matter and cause is attached finds himself unable to consistently with the practice in the Judges’ Chambers to make a certificate under the said order.
11. The defendant Edward Goldsmith married after the testator’s death with the consent of the defendant Elizabeth Goldsmith but has never had a child.
12. The plaintiff submits that the testator’s real estate remaining unsold and the testator’s personal estate specifically bequeathed ought to contribute ratebly with the proceeds of the sale of the said real estate already sold towards payment of the testator’s funeral and testamentary expenses and debts and further that the said funeral and testamentary expenses and debts ought to be apportioned between the said eleven cottages in Vicarage Row which are by the said will contingently devised to the plaintiff and the said Elizabeth Rachel Nevin as aforesaid on the one hand and the residue of the testator’s real estate on the other hand.
13. The said Thomas Nevin and Elizabeth Rachel his wife are resident in Hobart Town aforesaid out of the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court. No settlement or agreement for a settlement has ever been made before or after such marriage.
14. The said Mary Tolhurst had four children only living at the time of the testator’s death that is to say the defendants Caroline Tolhurst Edward Tolhurst Richard Tolhurst and Matilda Tolhurst. The defendants Edward Tolhurst and Richard Tolhurst are resident at Ballarat in Australia out of the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court.
15. Under the circumstances aforesaid the plaintiff submits that the testator’s real as well as personal estate ought to be administered and the trusts of his will carried into execution under the direction of this Honorable Court.
The plaintiff prays as follows –
1. That the real and personal estate of the said testator may be administered and the trusts of his will carried into execution under the direction of this Honorable Court.
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2. That if and so far as may be necessary this suit may be taken to be supplemental to the said matter and cause in re Goldsmith’s estate Goldsmith v. Goldsmith.
3. That the plaintiff may have such further or other relief as the nature of the cause may require.
Names of defendants.
&The defendants to the Bill of Complaint are –
WILLIAM BELL BENTLEY
EDWARD GOLDSMITH and SARAH JANE his wife
THOMAS NEVIN and ELIZABETH RACHEL his wife (the four last-named defendants being out of the jurisidiction).
W. W. KARSLAKE
NOTE.- This Bill is filed by Mr. THOMAS SISMEY, of No. 11, Serjeants’ Inn, Fleet Street, in the City of London, the Solicitor of the above-mentioned plaintiff.
PAGE 12: Struck through
TRANSCRIPT Page 12
1872. – D. – No.
Filed the 4th day of April 1872
Bill of Complaint
To the within named defendants Elizabeth Goldsmith William Bell Bentley Alfred Bentley Edward Goldsmith and Sarah Jane his wife Caroline Tolhurst and Matilda Tolhurst Edward Tolhurst Richard Tolhurst and Thomas Nevin and Elizabeth Rachel his wife (the four last named defendants being out of the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court) – Greeting.
We command you and every of you that within eight days after service hereof on you exclusive of the day of such service you cause an appearance to be entered for you in our High Court of Chancery to the within Bill of Complaint of the within named Mary Sophia Day (an infant under the age of 21 years by Thomas Butler her next friend and that you observe what our Court shall direct.
Witness Ourself at Westminster the 4th day of April in the 33rd year of our reign.
Note,- If you fail to comply with the above directions the plaintiff may enter an appearance for you and you will be liable to be arrested and imprisoned and to have a decree made against you in your absence.
Appearances are to be entere at the Record and Writ Clerk’s Office Chancery Lane London.
11, Serjeants’ Inn. Fleet Street, Plaintiff’s Solicitor.
Source: National Archives UK
Cause number: 1872 D50. Ref:C 16/781/D50
Short title: Day v Goldsmith. Documents: Bill only. Plaintiffs:…
Reference:C 16/781/D50 Description:
Cause number: 1872 D50.
Was Mary Sophia Day successful in her claim against the will of Captain Edward Goldsmith? It appears not, at least in terms of the original will, since Page 12 was stuck through. Two factors mitigated against her claim proceeding further: first, she turned 21 years old in 1874, and second, she married Captain Hector Axup in 1878. By law she was no longer an “infant” – the term applied to a woman under 21 years old – and as a married woman she was precluded from claiming the annuity under the terms of Captain Goldsmith’s will. The same two exclusions had already precluded her sister Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day from filing a claim as a plaintiff.
The eleven houses at Vicarage Row which Captain Edward Goldsmith had specifically requested be set apart as a benefit for these two nieces, the daughters of his wife’s brother Captain James Day, were on offer at the auction of the estate in 1870, and presumably were sold, the proceeds to pay funeral expenses and testamentary debts (Page 10), the residue to be apportioned between the two nieces which would have been negligible by the time a dozen more claimants filed as defendants in the matter of the estate after the untimely death of the primary beneficiary (apart from his mother who died in 1875), son Edward Goldsmith jnr in 1883.
Highlighted: the houses at Vicarage Row, School Lane, Rochester UK
Knowle House was built in 1857 by the Rev. Joseph Hindle, owner of Dickens’ house at 6 Gadshill Place. Google Maps 2012
The final clause of the Bill of Complaint in which Mary Sophia Day as plaintiff had sought redress for the Vicarage Row legacy – No.3.on Page 11 – stated that “the plaintiff may have such further or other relief as the nature of the cause may require“. There is no further indication of what might have constituted that “relief” unless it entailed payment of legal costs, or compensation by way of gifts and family memorabilia. Mary Sophia Day did inherit books from her cousin Edward Goldsmith’s estate, but little else. No account of a substantial inheritance from Captain Goldsmith’s estate has passed into family legend.
Purchases from Captain Goldsmith’s estate by Robert Luke, 1870
Saltmarsh bought by Robert Luke 1870, and eleven cottages in Vicarage Row, Higham
Description: Also Gads Hill House, Gads Hill Cottage and nine cottages in Gads Hill; twenty seven cottages, Chalk Street, Gravesend; one deed 1870 of saltmarsh in Higham, remaining topographical references from a sale catalogue with plan, 1870
Held At: Kent History and Library Centre
Document Order #:U36/T1810/5
Access Status: Open
Contact: Kent History and Library Centre
Saltmarsh in Higham bought by Robert Luke, 1869
Description: Also Queens farm in Shorne; messuages and land in Chalk Denton, Milton, Northfleet, Swanscombe, Woolwich; one deed 1869 of Higham; abstract of title from 1833 provides remaining topographical references.
Held At: Kent History and Library Centre
Document Order #:U36/T1810/6
Extent: 5 docs
Access Status: Open
Contact: Kent History and Library Centre
Amendments 1888, 1894, 1908 and 1922
Amendments: Amended 1888. George Matthews Arnold named party. Amended by order 1894. George Edmeades Tolhurst added party. Amended by order 1922. Alfred Hardy Bentley added as defendant (NAUK Reference: C 16/715/G18)
Amended by order 1888. George Matthews Arnold added as a named party. Amended by order 1894. Sarah Jane Goldsmith widow added as a plaintiff. Amended by order 1894. George Edmeades Tolhurst added as a party. Amended by order 1908. Sarah Jane Goldsmith widow as a defendant and William Bell Bentley, Alfred Bentley, Brownfield Tolhurst and George Phillips Parker added as co defendants
(National Archives UK Cause number: 1872 D50. Ref: C 16/781/D50)
The complete list of claimants to the estate of Captain Edward Goldsmith from 1871 to 1922, whether as plaintiffs or defendants, or indeed as both, included these individuals:
*Elizabeth Goldsmith nee Day (1803-1875), wife of Captain Edward Goldsmith
*Edward Goldsmith jnr (1830-1883), son of Captain Edward Goldsmith and wife Elizabeth nee Day
*Sarah Jane Goldsmith nee Rivers (1835-1926), wife of son Edward Goldsmith jnr
*Mary Sophia Day (1853-1942) , niece of Captain and Elizabeth Goldsmith, annuant, legatee and plaintiff 1872
*Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day (1847-1914), niece of Captain and Elizabeth Goldsmith, annuant, legatee and defendant
*Thomas J. Nevin (1842-1923) , husband of Captain Goldsmith’s niece Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day, defendant
*William Bell Bentley (b. 1833- nd), silk merchant and executor of Captain Goldsmith’s will; son of close friend Robert Bentley, silk and ribbon merchant.
*Alfred Bentley (nd), brother of William Bell Bentley, silk merchant and executor of Captain Goldsmith’s will; son of close friend Robert Bentley, silk and ribbon merchant, and father of William Owen Bentley, founder of Bentley Motors Ltd (1919) whose mother Emily Waterhouse was born in South Australia.
*Alfred Hardy Bentley (nd), son of Alfred Bentley was added to the amendment in 1922.
*Caroline Tolhurst (1839 – nd), niece of Captain Edward Goldsmith, daughter of his younger sister Mary Tolhurst nee Goldsmith
*Matilda Tolhurst (nd), niece of Captain Edward Goldsmith, daughter of his younger sister Mary Tolhurst nee Goldsmith
*Edward Tolhurst (nd), nephew of Captain Edward Goldsmith, son of his younger sister Mary Tolhurst nee Goldsmith, resident in Ballarat, Victoria
*Richard Tolhurst (nd), nephew of Captain Edward Goldsmith, son of his younger sister Mary Tolhurst nee Goldsmith, resident in Ballarat, Victoria
*George Matthews Arnold (1826-1908), solicitor for the executors who filed a Bill of Complaint in 1856 against the will and heirs of Richard Goldsmith snr, father of Captain Edward Goldsmith in an attempt to secure his own claims against the Goldsmith estates; the heirs, however, refused to comply with full disclosure of the extent of their properties. Read the original will of Richard Goldsmith snr, and the transcript of G. M. Arnold’s Bill of Complaint here.
*George Edmeades Tolhurst (1826-nd), diamond merchant, brother-in-law (?) of Caroline Tolhurst nee Goldsmith (b. 1839 – nd), nephew-in-law of Captain Edward Goldsmith
*Brownfield Tolhurst (nd), diamond merchant, son of George Edmeades Tolhurst and Caroline Tolhurst (?), great nephew of Captain Edward Goldsmith
*George Phillips Parker (nd), antiquarian, BA Alumni Harvard (bookplate below), son of GEORGE PHILLIPS PARKER who died in New-York City, 19 January, 1856, aged 62. He was son of John Parker, of Boston; where he was born 2 March, 1793. His name originally was George Parker; but, some years after leaving college, he took the intermediate name of Phillips. He entered his father’s counting-room, where he remained a short time; after which he went to Europe, where he travelled several years. For some years before his death, he was actively engaged in the temperance cause, and contributed liberally from his ample means to promote its objects.
Source: University of Michigan Library
Bookplate of George Phillips Parker. Dimensions: 7.9 x 10.4. Features: Seal with three stag’s heads; Dog and stag’s head; Banner with inscription: “Fortitude in adversity”; Inscription: “Legacy from John Parker, Jr.”. In pencil on back, “1812”. In the Harvard Men bookplate collection. Harvard Men
Modern Books & Manuscripts, Houghton Library Bookplates of Harvard male alumni
Chancery as told by a mutual friend …
Victoria & Albert Museum
Charles Dickens House Gadshill
Date: 1850s to 1870s (photographed)
Artist/Maker: Francis Frith, born 1822 – died 1898 (maker)
Materials and Techniques: Whole-plate albumen print from wet collodion glass negative
Credit Line: Acquired from F. Frith and Company, 1954
Museum number: E.208:1513-1994
Bleak House by Charles Dickens (1852-53)
Courtesy of King’s College London
London. Michaelmas term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snowflakes — gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun. Dogs, undistinguishable in mire. Horses, scarcely better; splashed to their very blinkers. Foot passengers, jostling one another’s umbrellas in a general infection of ill temper, and losing their foot-hold at street-corners, where tens of thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day broke (if this day ever broke), adding new deposits to the crust upon crust of mud, sticking at those points tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at compound interest.
Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls deified among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little ‘prentice boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon and hanging in the misty clouds.
Gas looming through the fog in divers places in the streets, much as the sun may, from the spongey fields, be seen to loom by husbandman and ploughboy. Most of the shops lighted two hours before their time — as the gas seems to know, for it has a haggard and unwilling look.
The raw afternoon is rawest, and the dense fog is densest, and the muddy streets are muddiest near that leaden-headed old obstruction, appropriate ornament for the threshold of a leaden-headed old corporation, Temple Bar. And hard by Temple Bar, in Lincoln’s Inn Hall, at the very heart of the fog, sits the Lord High Chancellor in his High Court of Chancery.
Never can there come fog too thick, never can there come mud and mire too deep, to assort with the groping and floundering condition which this High Court of Chancery, most pestilent of hoary sinners, holds this day in the sight of heaven and earth.
On such an afternoon, if ever, the Lord High Chancellor ought to be sitting here — as here he is — with a foggy glory round his head, softly fenced in with crimson cloth and curtains, addressed by a large advocate with great whiskers, a little voice, and an interminable brief, and outwardly directing his contemplation to the lantern in the roof, where he can see nothing but fog. On such an afternoon some score of members of the High Court of Chancery bar ought to be — as here they are — mistily engaged in one of the ten thousand stages of an endless cause, tripping one another up on slippery precedents, groping knee-deep in technicalities, running their goat-hair and horsehair warded heads against walls of words and making a pretence of equity with serious faces, as players might. On such an afternoon the various solicitors in the cause, some two or three of whom have inherited it from their fathers, who made a fortune by it, ought to be — as are they not? — ranged in a line, in a long matted well (but you might look in vain for truth at the bottom of it) between the registrar’s red table and the silk gowns, with bills, cross-bills, answers, rejoinders, injunctions, affidavits, issues, references to masters, masters’ reports, mountains of costly nonsense, piled before them. Well may the court be dim, with wasting candles here and there; well may the fog hang heavy in it, as if it would never get out; well may the stained-glass windows lose their colour and admit no light of day into the place; well may the uninitiated from the streets, who peep in through the glass panes in the door, be deterred from entrance by its owlish aspect and by the drawl, languidly echoing to the roof from the padded dais where the Lord High Chancellor looks into the lantern that has no light in it and where the attendant wigs are all stuck in a fog-bank! This is the Court of Chancery, which has its decaying houses and its blighted lands in every shire, which has its worn-out lunatic in every madhouse and its dead in every churchyard, which has its ruined suitor with his slipshod heels and threadbare dress borrowing and begging through the round of every man’s acquaintance, which gives to monied might the means abundantly of wearying out the right, which so exhausts finances, patience, courage, hope, so overthrows the brain and breaks the heart, that there is not an honourable man among its practitioners who would not give — who does not often give — the warning, “Suffer any wrong that can be done you rather than come here!”
Who happen to be in the Lord Chancellor’s court this murky afternoon besides the Lord Chancellor, the counsel in the cause, two or three counsel who are never in any cause, and the well of solicitors before mentioned? There is the registrar below the judge, in wig and gown; and there are two or three maces, or petty- bags, or privy purses, or whatever they may be, in legal court suits. These are all yawning, for no crumb of amusement ever falls from Jarndyce and Jarndyce (the cause in hand), which was squeezed dry years upon years ago. The short-hand writers, the reporters of the court, and the reporters of the newspapers invariably decamp with the rest of the regulars when Jarndyce and Jarndyce comes on. Their places are a blank. Standing on a seat at the side of the hall, the better to peer into the curtained sanctuary, is a little mad old woman in a squeezed bonnet who is always in court, from its sitting to its rising, and always expecting some incomprehensible judgment to be given in her favour. Some say she really is, or was, a party to a suit, but no one knows for certain because no one cares. She carries some small litter in a reticule which she calls her documents, principally consisting of paper matches and dry lavender. A sallow prisoner has come up, in custody, for the half- dozenth time to make a personal application “to purge himself of his contempt,” which, being a solitary surviving executor who has fallen into a state of conglomeration about accounts of which it is not pretended that he had ever any knowledge, he is not at all likely ever to do. In the meantime his prospects in life are ended. Another ruined suitor, who periodically appears from Shropshire and breaks out into efforts to address the Chancellor at the close of the day’s business and who can by no means be made to understand that the Chancellor is legally ignorant of his existence after making it desolate for a quarter of a century, plants himself in a good place and keeps an eye on the judge, ready to call out “My Lord!” in a voice of sonorous complaint on the instant of his rising. A few lawyers’ clerks and others who know this suitor by sight linger on the chance of his furnishing some fun and enlivening the dismal weather a little.
Jarndyce and Jarndyce drones on. This scarecrow of a suit has, in course of time, become so complicated that no man alive knows what it means. The parties to it understand it least, but it has been observed that no two Chancery lawyers can talk about it for five minutes without coming to a total disagreement as to all the premises. Innumerable children have been born into the cause; innumerable young people have married into it; innumerable old people have died out of it. Scores of persons have deliriously found themselves made parties in Jarndyce and Jarndyce without knowing how or why; whole families have inherited legendary hatreds with the suit. The little plaintiff or defendant who was promised a new rocking-horse when Jarndyce and Jarndyce should be settled has grown up, possessed himself of a real horse, and trotted away into the other world. Fair wards of court have faded into mothers and grandmothers; a long procession of Chancellors has come in and gone out; the legion of bills in the suit have been transformed into mere bills of mortality; there are not three Jarndyces left upon the earth perhaps since old Tom Jarndyce in despair blew his brains out at a coffee-house in Chancery Lane; but Jarndyce and Jarndyce still drags its dreary length before the court, perennially hopeless.
Jarndyce and Jarndyce has passed into a joke. That is the only good that has ever come of it. It has been death to many, but it is a joke in the profession. Every master in Chancery has had a reference out of it. Every Chancellor was “in it,” for somebody or other, when he was counsel at the bar. Good things have been said about it by blue-nosed, bulbous-shoed old benchers in select port- wine committee after dinner in hall. Articled clerks have been in the habit of fleshing their legal wit upon it. The last Lord Chancellor handled it neatly, when, correcting Mr. Blowers, the eminent silk gown who said that such a thing might happen when the sky rained potatoes, he observed, “or when we get through Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Mr. Blowers” — a pleasantry that particularly tickled the maces, bags, and purses.
How many people out of the suit Jarndyce and Jarndyce has stretched forth its unwholesome hand to spoil and corrupt would be a very wide question. From the master upon whose impaling files reams of dusty warrants in Jarndyce and Jarndyce have grimly writhed into many shapes, down to the copying-clerk in the Six Clerks’ Office who has copied his tens of thousands of Chancery folio-pages under that eternal heading, no man’s nature has been made better by it. In trickery, evasion, procrastination, spoliation, botheration, under false pretences of all sorts, there are influences that can never come to good. The very solicitors’ boys who have kept the wretched suitors at bay, by protesting time out of mind that Mr. Chizzle, Mizzle, or otherwise was particularly engaged and had appointments until dinner, may have got an extra moral twist and shuffle into themselves out of Jarndyce and Jarndyce. The receiver in the cause has acquired a goodly sum of money by it but has acquired too a distrust of his own mother and a contempt for his own kind. Chizzle, Mizzle, and otherwise have lapsed into a habit of vaguely promising themselves that they will look into that outstanding little matter and see what can be done for Drizzle — who was not well used — when Jarndyce and Jarndyce shall be got out of the office. Shirking and sharking in all their many varieties have been sown broadcast by the ill-fated cause; and even those who have contemplated its history from the outermost circle of such evil have been insensibly tempted into a loose way of letting bad things alone to take their own bad course, and a loose belief that if the world go wrong it was in some off-hand manner never meant to go right.
Thus, in the midst of the mud and at the heart of the fog, sits the Lord High Chancellor in his High Court of Chancery.
“Mr. Tangle,” says the Lord High Chancellor, latterly something restless under the eloquence of that learned gentleman.
“Mlud,” says Mr. Tangle. Mr. Tangle knows more of Jarndyce and Jarndyce than anybody. He is famous for it — supposed never to have read anything else since he left school.
“Have you nearly concluded your argument?”
“Mlud, no — variety of points — feel it my duty tsubmit — ludship,” is the reply that slides out of Mr. Tangle.
“Several members of the bar are still to be heard, I believe?” says the Chancellor with a slight smile.
Eighteen of Mr. Tangle’s learned friends, each armed with a little summary of eighteen hundred sheets, bob up like eighteen hammers in a pianoforte, make eighteen bows, and drop into their eighteen places of obscurity.
“We will proceed with the hearing on Wednesday fortnight,” says the Chancellor. For the question at issue is only a question of costs, a mere bud on the forest tree of the parent suit, and really will come to a settlement one of these days.
The Chancellor rises; the bar rises; the prisoner is brought forward in a hurry; the man from Shropshire cries, “My lord!” Maces, bags, and purses indignantly proclaim silence and frown at the man from Shropshire.
“In reference,” proceeds the Chancellor, still on Jarndyce and Jarndyce, “to the young girl — ”
“Begludship’s pardon — boy,” says Mr. Tangle prematurely. “In reference,” proceeds the Chancellor with extra distinctness, “to the young girl and boy, the two young people” — Mr. Tangle crushed — “whom I directed to be in attendance to-day and who are now in my private room, I will see them and satisfy myself as to the expediency of making the order for their residing with their uncle.”
Mr. Tangle on his legs again. “Begludship’s pardon — dead.”
“With their” — Chancellor looking through his double eye-glass at the papers on his desk — “grandfather.”
“Begludship’s pardon — victim of rash action — brains.”
Suddenly a very little counsel with a terrific bass voice arises, fully inflated, in the back settlements of the fog, and says, “Will your lordship allow me? I appear for him. He is a cousin, several times removed. I am not at the moment prepared to inform the court in what exact remove he is a cousin, but he IS a cousin.”
Leaving this address (delivered like a sepulchral message) ringing in the rafters of the roof, the very little counsel drops, and the fog knows him no more. Everybody looks for him. Nobody can see him.
“I will speak with both the young people,” says the Chancellor anew, “and satisfy myself on the subject of their residing with their cousin. I will mention the matter to-morrow morning when I take my seat.”
The Chancellor is about to bow to the bar when the prisoner is presented. Nothing can possibly come of the prisoner’s conglomeration but his being sent back to prison, which is soon done. The man from Shropshire ventures another remonstrative “My lord!” but the Chancellor, being aware of him, has dexterously vanished. Everybody else quickly vanishes too. A battery of blue bags is loaded with heavy charges of papers and carried off by clerks; the little mad old woman marches off with her documents; the empty court is locked up. If all the injustice it has committed and all the misery it has caused could only be locked up with it, and the whole burnt away in a great funeral pyre — why so much the better for other parties than the parties in Jarndyce and Jarndyce!
Source: Victorian London
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