Revd Boyle 1842

Letters from the past

Affidavit to Geo Higham, Brighouse,

from William Chambers, concerning The Rev. John Boyle an insolvent Clerk, 1842

The letter is addressed to Geo Higham Esqre, Solicitor, Brighouse, Nr Halifax. It bears the York circular date stamp for JA 22 1842 with the identifying letter C at the bottom under the year, and a faint Pd 1 in red ink at the top left corner. There is no adhesive postage stamp as they were not compulsory until later in the 1850s but the Pd 1 in red showed that it was prepaid. Surprisingly, it also has the word Free written in the bottom left corner. This should not apply as the free postage was stopped once the uniform Penny Post was introduced in 1840.

On the outside of the letter is a note in a different handwriting:

1842 Re Mr. Boyle
(?) Affidavit of Mr Wm Chambers as to the value of Furniture &c not excepted.

1842 Jan 24 (?Ing CBC?).


The main letter then begins with the heading
In the Court for Relief of
Insolvent Debtors.

In the matter of the Reverend John Boyle Late of Brighouse near Halifax in the West Riding of Yorkshire, Clerk, but now a Prisoner for Debt in the gaol of York Castle in the County of York.

The writing then changes to another hand.

Most of the letter is very clear to read, but his abbreviations are sometimes questionable. Where I know or suspect the word it should be, I have put that in brackets with a question mark.

Wm Chambers of Brighouse in the Psh (Parish) of Halifax in the Co of York, Licensed appraiser maketh oath and saith that on the 21 day of Jany inst, he(?) this Dept (Deponent?) went to the late residence of the above named Prisoner John Boyle at Brighouse afs(aforesaid?) & did then and there see, examine and value each & every of the sevl (several) articles next hereinafter ment?(mentioned) & that the sums hereafter affixed thto (thereto) resply (respectively) amountg to £33. 0. 0 are the just and fair value thof (thereof) resply.

The items are then listed individually with their appraised values

That is to say Fenders & Fire Irons 5s 6d one Dining Table, £8.10.0d
one oak sideboard £2.15.0d 12 tumbler glasses 4s 0d 2 decanters 5s 6d
1 glass Pitcher 1s 6d 2 tin Cannisters 1s 6d 2 Bedrom candlesticks 4s 0d
2 Chests of Drawers £5. 0.0. 1 Ward robe £6. 10. 0. 90 volumes of Books £5. 0. 0.
2 portraits £1.10. 0. 5 small pictures £1 .5. 0. 1 Cupboard &Drawers £1 10. 0.

Sworn at Hudd (Huddersfield) in the Co of York the 24 day of January 1842 Before me…

The next line is very difficult to decipher, but seems to be

A Mister Extor In Ch.2 .

These look like abbreviations, which the addressee of the letter would recognise. At the end of the page, these sums have been listed and totalled to be the £33. 0. 0. Mentioned at the beginning of the letter.


Notes :

The addressee George Higham was born 1801in Castleford. He became a solicitor in Brighouse. He specialised in public business and matters relating to the railways. He was one of a number of attorneys who were commissioned for taking acknowledgements of deeds executed by married women. He was Clerk to the trustees of the Bradford & Huddersfield Turnpike Trust (on the death of Greenwood Bentley of Bradford). On 10th February 1825, he married Ann Rhodes. Their son George William Higham later joined his father as a solicitor practising in Brighouse.

I am surprised at the contents of this letter, as I thought that the vicars were supported by the church and the parishioners with the annual tithes, so how did this Reverend get so far into debt that he was declared insolvent.

I have found two websites with information about John Boyle, both are Google books…

First, a booklet published in 1841. “Reasons for the preferring the Worship of the Established Church” by the Reverend John Boyle, incumbent of Brigstock, Halifax, Second Edition 1841. Here is a transcript of the Preface to the second edition :

This little work is in substance, a Discourse originally preached in St. John’s Church Wolverhampton , in December 1836, and then printed in deference to the wishes of those who heard it. The Author, in complying with the call for a new Edition, will be much gratified should its re-publication tend to increase, or to beget, an attachment to the Worship of our time-honoured Church, of whose inimitable Liturgy an eloquent Dissenter* has remarked, “the evangelical purity of its sentiments, the chastised fervour of its devotion and the majestic simplicity of its language, have combined to place it in the very first rank of uninspired compositions.”

Brighouse Parsonage, August 1, 1841. (*) The late Robert Hall

So that seems to confirm he was the local parson at that time, but I can find no information about the church until about 50 years later.

Second :
An entry in the London Gazette Saturday 9th July 1842 The Court for Relief of Insolvent Debtors.

Assignees have been appointed in the following case. Further particulars may be learned at the Office in Portugal Street, Lincolns Inn-Fields on giving the number of the case.

Then among the list is this one

“The Reverend John Boyle, late of Brigstock, near Halifax Yorkshire, Clerk, an Insolvent, No. 58692 C.”

So, here is the mystery. Sometime after the printing of this booklet in August 1st 1841 what could have happened to the Rev Boyle’s situation as to have him made an Insolvent by January 1842. Did the cost of printing the booklet lead to his financial distress? Would he still be able to be a parson as he had been imprisoned for insolvency?

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