Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Some new additions

Mow Cop
Photo: Tony Grist
We were sent a collection of newspaper clippings from the 1920s and 30s this week – someone who didn’t want them but didn’t think they should be thrown away (quite right too!). They’re mostly photographs, captioned by hand in writing that puts us to shame. (We think the writer was twelve at the time, to make things worse.) The photos are from right round Europe, but of most interest to us were a 1925 photo of Mow Cop folly captioned ‘…long famous as a landmark which it is now proposed to demolish’ (thank goodness that didn’t go ahead – we knew there was a long-running dispute over the land in the 1920s but didn’t realise demolition was ever on the cards); and a later one of the not-so-lucky Hooton Hall near Chester being demolished to make way for new houses. The collection also includes a number of politicians, including Mrs Mercer, the ‘first Lady Mayor of Birkenhead’ (1924/5) – hard to imagine anyone wanting to keep a picture of a modern-day MP in their scrapbook.

We’ve also added more local documents to our collection. We have several letters written by John Sneyd of the Staffordshire landowning family (Ralph Sneyd went to court in the 1850s to claim Mow Cop belonged to him; in the end he had to share ownership with Randle Wilbraham), and also more legal documents from the Challinor archive, detailing wills, indentures, loans and court cases, mostly from the Leek area. (This seems to have been a massive archive – we know quite a few people who have items from it and we believe the William Salt Library also has a large collection.) We also have some letters written from Liverpool in the 1790s: addressed to ‘Mr Cooke, of the Upper Pool near Hereford’ and ‘Mrs Edwards in the marketplace, Westbury’, they give you an idea of the size of the population at the time!

Our favourite, though, is a loan agreement made in 1766 between two Macclesfield men: Humphrey Goodwin, twister and button dyer, and Edward Bennett, hatbandmaker. Humphrey borrowed seventy-two pounds off Edward, around £8,500 today, to be repaid along with thirty-six pounds’ interest. We’ve found Humphrey in the records –  he was born in 1742 and christened at King Edward Street Presbyterian chapel; he married Hannah and had at least four daughters. Edward is proving more elusive so we’ll have to dig a bit deeper for him. What we really want to know, though, is what Humphrey did with the money …

Bond between Humphrey Goodwin and Edward Bennett, 1766 
(click to enlarge)

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