John Kenyon Winterbottom: turnpike trust clerk, not wholly trustworthy

We have published a few previous posts about Roger’s work as a cataloguing volunteer.  In the following post, Roger tells us about some recent discoveries:

In the mid-nineteenth century the Thornsett Turnpike Trust managed a number of roads in and around New Mills. Some Trust records have survived in Derbyshire Record Office collection D535, and in the course of listing these records I have come across two small documents that made me curious. The first is a letter written in 1844 by Edward Reddish, clerk to the trust, to Ebenezer Adamson, treasurer. Reddish mentions a “hiatus” in the books between 1840 and 1843 “following the absconding” of John Kenyon Winterbottom. Winterbottom was a Stockport solicitor who amongst many public offices undertook the duties of clerk to a number of turnpike trusts. He was for a time town clerk of Stockport and a local magistrate. He was a founding partner in a local bank and his was one of the names printed on that bank’s banknotes. His story is remarkable, not only for what happened but also for the amount of information available to anyone wanting to discover his story.

Through digital collections of historic British newspapers it is possible to follow the story of his downfall.  By 1840 he was facing financial difficulty. Under threat of bankruptcy he absconded. There were rumours that he had been seen on the quayside at Liverpool close to a ship bound for America. An alternative speculation was that he had gone to France. He was found to have forged signatures in order to receive payment of £5,000 from the life insurance policy of one of his former clients. After four years’ absence Winterbottom returned to Liverpool where he was recognised and arrested. He was convicted of the forgery and sentenced to transportation for life.

It was the practice that any pleas for mitigation of sentence were made not at the trial but subsequently to the Home Secretary. One consequence is that amongst the Home Office records held at Kew (National Archives series HO 18 and HO 19) are the many petitions and letters submitted on Winterbottom’s behalf.  (Some Home Office records are included in a data set called “England & Wales, Crime, Prisons & Punishment, 1770-1935” on www.findmypast.co.uk, which can be used free of charge in Derbyshire Record Office or your local Derbyshire library.) The sentence provoked such disquiet that within weeks petitions signed by some 20,000 residents of Stockport, Liverpool and Manchester were submitted: signatories included almost every magistrate, clergyman and businessman of Stockport and district. Poignantly there were letters not only from Winterbottom’s wife but also from his victim, the widow who had trusted Winterbottom to deal with her late husband’s estate.

The sentence was not changed and aged in his mid-fifties Winterbottom was taken first to Millbank prison in London and then to the penal colony of Norfolk Island and ultimately in 1847 to Tasmania.  Convict records survive in Kew (National Archives series HO 10 and HO 13) and several records are available on Find My Past or Ancestry (also available for free to visitors here).  During this time there were further fruitless appeals by Winterbottom himself and by associates in England: a final petition was submitted in 1852, accompanied by testimonials to Winterbottom’s exemplary conduct written by senior members of staff and visiting magistrates at Norfolk Island and Tasmania. Winterbottom followed an established sequence: work at the penal colony followed by confinement at a probation station and assignment to local civilian employers. In 1855 he was granted the relative freedom of a ticket of leave.

By 1857 Winterbottom had sufficiently re-established himself in Hobart that in competition with fourteen others he was appointed town clerk of Hobart. A further digital collection, of Australian newspapers, is valuable: trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper.  It is clear from reports of a meeting of Hobart town council that by 1867, when Winterbottom reached the age of 78, there were misgivings about his work as town clerk. But how might the aldermen challenge their venerable old servant? They broached the subject by suggesting that he should take some leave; then made a formal request for his resignation, with a pay-off of a year’s salary. But it seems that once the aldermen had openly voiced their misgivings others were freed to speak. Within a week the aldermen learned that two years earlier Winterbottom had sold council debentures and kept the £400 payment for himself. He was allowed a few days’ grace but did not repay the money. In court he pleaded not guilty but offered his advocates nothing substantial as a defence. He was found guilty and sentenced to two years imprisonment which he served in Hobart prison. He was released in September 1869, a few months after his eightieth birthday and appears to have lived in Hobart until his death in 1872.

 

Authenticity Hoo-Ha pt. 3: Is this Mr Glover’s sketch book?

Authenticity is what archives are all about.  Here is the last in my series of three blog posts on this subject.

Some months ago, I had a message from a researcher who had recently been looking at copies of an original document we hold, described in our catalogue as the sketch book of the antiquarian Stephen Glover (1794-1869). Stephen Glover is well known in this county as a pioneering antiquarian and compiler of trade directories, and naturally enough the researcher wanted to know how we had arrived at this attribution. It certainly was not from a signature, as none of the sketches is signed.

The answer was helpfully supplied by our colleagues at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery. A note in their files, stamped by the Derbyshire Museum Service, suggests that the book was purchased after having been identified as Glover’s work by an expert in English watercolourists.

So far, so good.

Imagine my surprise when I saw that the note made it pretty clear we had got the wrong Glover!  The note referred not to Stephen, but to John Glover (1767-1849), known as “the father of Australian landscape painting”.

When the Derbyshire Museum Service closed in 1992, the sketch book was among a large number of historic documents transferred to the custody of Derbyshire Record Office. I can only suppose that one of our archivists must have mis-read their own notes, and mentioned Stephen Glover in the catalogue entry by mistake. And we all know how long a mistake can endure once it has been put in writing, don’t we?

I certainly didn’t want to replace the mistake in the catalogue with another mistake, so needed an expert on John Glover’s work to verify all this. Step forward David Hansen, Associate Professor at the Centre for Art History and Art Theory, part of the Australian National University in Canberra. Prof Hansen took a look at some sample images from the book and quickly got back in touch to say this discovery had made his day: he was confident that they are the work of John Glover, and even suggested that the suggested date of c1810 might be a few years late.

John Glover was born at Houghton-on-Hill in Leicestershire, the son of William Glover and his wife Ann. He earned a strong reputation as an artist and drawing master and became president of the Old Water Colour Society in 1807. At the age of 64, in 1831, he moved to Tasmania. He was very active as a painter in his new surroundings and by the time of his death in 1849, Glover had made what would prove to be a lasting contribution to Australian art.

He may have been a Leicestershire man by birth, but there is a strong Derbyshire flavour to the work preserved in the pages of the book, including scenes of Haddon Hall, Ault Hucknall parish church, Kedleston Hall, Chatsworth House, Bolsover Castle and South Wingfield Manor.

A digital copy of the whole book can be viewed in our search room using CD/406 – or if you need to see the original itself, please order using the reference D3653/30.  To whet your appetite, here are some samples:

D3653 30 1_00082 Repton

Repton

D3653 30 1_00080 cattle

Some cattle and some people, drawn by John Glover.

D3653 30 1_00069 Bolsover Castle

Bolsover Castle

D3653 30 1_00026 Kedleston Hall

Kedleston Hall

D3653 30 1_00004 Haddon Hall

Haddon Hall

Sir John Franklin: Fabled Arctic ship found

You may have seen in the news that a team from Canada believe they have discovered one of the ships from the lost Franklin expeditionhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-29131757

Franklin was one of the outstanding explorers of the early 19th century, but it was the Admiral’s tragic end that earned him iconic status. As a young midshipman, Franklin served at Trafalgar. He then commanded a frigate in the seas around Greece between 1830 and 1833. Four years later, in 1837 Franklin was appointed Governor of Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania), a post he held until 1843. His lasting reputation derives from his major expeditions to the Canadian Arctic in search of the North West Passage. He embarked on the third in May 1845. The last sighting of his ships was in July 1845. Relief expeditions were mounted, but by 1850 it was clear to everyone except his second wife Lady (Jane) Franklin (1792-1875) that the expedition was lost. She continued to raise funds to send out search parties until 1859 when proof was found of the deaths of Franklin and his party.

Derbyshire Record Office holds a good range of records relating to Franklin and his various expeditions, including papers relating to the many searches for the final expedition after 1845. The papers have come to the Record Office through Franklin’s daughter, Eleanor Isabella. Eleanor was the daughter of Franklin’s first wife Eleanor Anne Porden (died 1825), and the wife of Rev. John Philip Gell, of the Gell’s of Hopton Hall, near Wirksworth and Carsington.

Lady Franklin's Final Search p1

D3311/112/2 Lady Franklin’s Final Search p1

Lady Franklin's Final Search p2

D3311/112/2 Lady Franklin’s Final Search p2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D3311/219 Copies of Instructions to Captain Sir John Franklin in reference to the Arctic Expedition of 1845, 1848

D3311/219 Copies of Instructions to Captain Sir John Franklin in reference to the Arctic Expedition of 1845, 1848

DSCF0358

D3311/95 ‘ Echo from the deep’ – Newspaper cutting from the Daily Express 14 Apr 1965 regarding discovery of Erebus or Terror – although it transpired that this was not one of the lost ships

 

Also in the collection;-

D3311/81 – An Account of a clairvoyant describing where to find Sir John Franklin and his ships, copied by E.J. Gell, 1849

D3311/51/1-4 Extract from Capt. Fitzjames’ letter to Mr Barrow regarding Sir John Franklin 1845; Extract from a letter from a Canadian missionary, Rev Father Tacke describing an expedition setting off to find Sir John Franklin’s 1845 expedition 1848
2 Notices of the expedition’s discovery and search 1849