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Old Ilson Blog 1855


Jan 3rd

Yesterday the bankruptcy case of Henry Mantle Hitchcock, Ilkeston miller, continued, once more, at Nottingham Bankruptcy Court …. and once more it was postponed !! ….. (see last year !!)
It now appears that there is some suspicion that Henry has tried to conceal property from the court — the items in question include two patchwork chairs and a parrot, made by his wife, two dozen bottles of sherry, six silver spoons and some electro-plated forks, and a collection of dogs.
All of this was either denied or disputed; hopefully the truth will emerge on the 23rd when the case will recommence.

Jan 24th

As expected, the saga of miller Hitchcock continued yesterday at Nottingham Bankruptcy Court when his history at Rutland Mill was revealed.
Henry Hitchcock came to Ilkeston about five years ago, taking over the steam corn mill, with no capital to back him, despite the fact that the business required at least £2000 to work. His father, who lived at Leicester, acted as his agent and had supported him financially — purchasing grain as and when required by his son. Soon a debt of over £8000 was owed by the son — the father gave a gift of £1000 and accepted a bond for the rest.

The Court was satisfied with the bankrupt’s explanation of his property and the final meeting was set for February 20th


Feb 15th

A couple of days ago the opening lecture for the season, of the Mechanics’ Library and Literary Institution, was given by our Baptist minister, the Rev. Thomas Roberts Stevenson, on the poetry of the late Thomas Hood. During it, many extracts from Mr. Hood’s finest poems were quoted. I was particularly moved by the first and last verses of what I consider his finest work … the verses almost identical, save for that vital extra line in the last stanza …

With fingers weary and worn,
    With eyelids heavy and red,
A woman sat, in unwomanly rags,
    Plying her needle and thread—
        Stitch! stitch! stitch!
In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
    And still with a voice of dolorous pitch
She sang the “Song of the Shirt.”

With fingers weary and worn,
    With eyelids heavy and red,
A woman sat in unwomanly rags,
    Plying her needle and thread—
        Stitch! stitch! stitch!
    In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
And still with a voice of dolorous pitch—
Would that its tone could reach the Rich!
She sang this “Song of the Shirt!”

The title of the poem lies in the final line of each verse.

Feb 16th

Like many in his family, Charles Beardsley of Cotmanhay worked as a warp-hand, but also like many in his family he was recently having great difficulty finding employment in that trade. Consequently he looked elsewhere, and this led him to what he hoped was temporary employment at West Hallam iron works.

A few days ago he was engaged in removing spoil from the heaps, close to the iron pits — what Charles didn’t realise was that the large mass had been previously undermined and without awrning, it collapsed onto him. He was severely injured; conveyed home but survived only a short time thereafter.

He had yet to reach forty years of age and leaves a widow, two young sons and one step-daughter.

Feb 21st

Yesterday Henry Mantle Hitchcock once more appeared at Nottingham Bankruptcy Court … and there were harsh words by the Commissioner for his behaviour, and the conduct of his accounts. Consequently protection was provided for only one month, after which time the bankrupt could apply for its renewal.

Feb 22nd

While the Parish Church of St. Mary is being restored, the girls’ National School in the Market Place has been licensed for public service.

Feb 27th

A week ago — on Shrove Tuesday — a concert was held at the Baptist Meeting House in South Street to welcome the arrival of the new organ, installed there. Particular credit must go to George Small West who trained and led the choir during the concert.


Mar 6th

Henry Mantle Hitchcock, lately a miller at Ilkeston, is a frequent subject of this blog. And it appears that his problems continue, and extend … they now have embraced his father Henry senior, also a miller, trading at Leicester.

The latter appeared yesterday at Leicester Nisi Prius Court, being sued by Market Harborough corn merchant Jacob Biddles over an unpaid bill for 57 quarts of wheat, valued in total at just over £187, and sold in August of last year.  Apparently Henry did not deny acquiring the wheat and not paying for it; however he claimed that the purchase was for his son, Henry Mantle, that he had handed the corn over to his son, and had informed Jacob that he should get payment from that same son. Unfortunately for Jacob, the son was now bankrupt; thus full payment would not be forthcoming.
The corn merchant however argued that he had sold the produce to the father and that, therefore, he was the one who should pay.
Though I was not present at Court, I am informed that there was much discussion and conflicting evidence over who said what to whom, over who was present to hear these conversations, and who promised what, and when.
In conclusion, the judge said that the members of the jury should base their decision upon the degree of credit they attached to the respective parties. They subsequently did —reaching their decision in just over a minute — and Jacob Biddles left the court a richer man, by £187.

As a post script, I learn that Henry Mantle has now left his home city of Leicester and is managing a business at Dunchurch. Meanwhile, if I need to remind you, his bankruptcy case has once more been postponed until the 20th of this month.

Mar 15th

What a surprise !!

A valuable corn-mill, powered by a 26-horse-power Condensing Steam engine, with two good boilers, is up for sale by auction in Ilkeston … recently occupied by guess who ??

The premises include a dwelling house, granaries, stabling, coach-house, gardens, offices, &co., — there are also four acres of pasture land. It is held under a 21-year lease, dated from April 5th, 1850 — presumably the date when it was first occupied by its former tenant — under the terms of which, the lessor is bound to supply coal, free, to the wharf next to the mill, for the purposes of working the mill and its adjoining premises.

The mill is described as twenty yards from the Erewash Canal and a quarter of a mile from Ilkeston Station on the Midland Railway.