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Herefordshire Archive  and Records Centre


019/2/4 - 13


Copy of original document


Transcription of letters relating to the Michaelchurch Court Estate and the Bankruptcy of Thomas Daniell

Place name:

Michaelchurch Escley


1845 - 1848



These transcriptions by ELSG are of an incomplete collection of letters written between 1845 and 1848 by various parties in connection with the disposition of the Michaelchurch Court Estate following the bankruptcy of its owner Thomas Daniell in 1835. The correspondents are Thomas Daniell as owner, whose assets including the estate are being sold off on behalf of his creditors; RJ Nevill Esq. who appears to be a land agent acting for Mr Daniell; Messrs. Druce & Sons who appear to be land agents acting for the creditors and/or the Bankruptcy Court; Charles Bailey Esq, who took over Estate management c.1841 from Mr Daniell’s appointee Alfred Cocker; Mr Beckett who seems to be an auctioneer appointed by the creditors to prepare the Estate for sale and sell it off for the highest achievable price; and F Hernaman the Official Assignee appointed by the Bankruptcy Court to recover Mr Daniell’s assets for distribution to his creditors including Miss Traill who held a mortgage secured on the Estate.

The exact sequence of events after the bankruptcy in 1835 is not clear and there is certainly other related correspondence between the parties and with others that has not survived. However, it is clear from the surviving letters below that disposal of the Estate was a complicated business lasting in excess of thirteen years, which was bedevilled by mismanagement and accusations of corruption and left the property in ruinous condition.


Ewyas Lacy Study Group



Reference 019/2/12

BRA 170 Box 732.39



Postmarked Llanelly Oct 25 184

Addressed to RJ Nevill Esquire, Llangennech, Near Llanelly, South Wales


Bellingham October 23rd 1845


My Dear Nevill


I received your letter of the 20th yesterday on my return from Bath.

The purport of Allen’s letter which I was desirous of communicating to you is that he had called at Beckett’s and found from his clerk (the principal being absent) that everything remained precisely in status quo notwithstanding his assurance that he was about to bring the property to the hammer. Allen concludes the subject by saying “If I move any further I fear he will fancy that my wish is to serve you and if so it will prevent my furthering your wishes at any future time.”

I had mentioned to Allen that I had taken a ride over to Michaelchurch and found the property going rapidly to ruin for want of repair, the rain pouring through the roofs of the houses and barns and Mr Beckett refusing to make any repairs. He had immediately before last Candlemas given the tenants notice of a large increase in their rents and as they had no time to look out for other farms or to dispose of their stock they had been under the necessity of holding their farms for the present year – but they have given notice to quit at Candlemas next and are providing themselves with other farms. At Trenant there are several leaks – one close to poor Maddox’s bed – and his cider mill is broken so as to be unserviceable and he is obliged to send his apples to be ground at a neighbours. He has written several letters to Mr B who does not deign to notice any of them. On this subject my brother says “I think Nevill would do well to step in and give him notice to keep the property in repair and if some of the claimants on your estate would then ask for an immediate settlement of the bankruptcy he would be pressed to a decision.”

I will only add on this subject at present that my report to him of the state of the property was by no means an exaggerated one and that I am satisfied if you were to examine it yourself or send a surveyor to do so you would find yourself quite justified in taking it into your own hands.

Ralph and his wife and surviving daughter reached us after three weeks passage about a month ago. They stayed a week here and then went to Dover to visit Mrs. R’s father.

You will I am sure be sorry to hear the result of my visit to Bath. Poor England is placed in the lunatic asylum at Bailbrook and there is little or no hope of his ever leaving it alive. […?] and her young family came with me to this place and we are looking out for a house for her in the neighbourhood.

Ever my dear Nevill

Yours most truly

T Daniell



Reference 019/2/4

BRA 170 Box 732.39



Llangennech 4 November 1845

Jno. Druce Esquire


My Dear Sir


I think it extremely probable I shall be in town this month with Mr Lewis of [Stradey?] in the hope of getting more satisfactory information than we have at present received respecting the claims of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests and having received a letter from Mr Daniell on the subject of the Michaelchurch Property I determine to send it herewith in the hope you will be so good as to read it and consider by the time  I have pleasure of seeing you whether anything and what ought to be done respecting it.

It is most vexatious to see the property going to decay and that for the benefit of no one.

By the time I am in town I hope I shall be prepared to make Messrs Druce and Sons a payment on account of the demand on the Carmarthenshire Railway Co. and I remain

My Dear Sir,

Yours very truly


R Nevill



BRA 176 Box 732.39


Llangennech 9 November 1845


Jno. Druce Esquire


My Dear Sir


I am happy to be able to send you the copy of a letter from Mr Beckett to Mr Allen Daniell which his brother Mr Daniell has sent me.

“I am happy to inform you that I have arranged to have the Equity of Redemption in the Michaelchurch Estate Life Interest and Policies with the reversions put up for sale by auction in […?] in London and in a few days I will forward on a particular of the proposed sale.”

Mr Allen Daniell adds “I do not think he expects to get a bidding except from Mr Druce but I do not know this as a certainty.”

I hasten to give you this information and I hope I may receive the particular by the time I have the pleasure of seeing you in town where I expect to be on the 18th or 19th inst.

Mr Cooper has written to inform me that Mr Dalton is about to be removed from the Trust and his brother […?] Cooper appointed in his stead. To this I apprehend I need make no objection as it will not increase my responsibility.

I remain

My Dear Sir

Yours very truly

R Nevill



Reference  019/2/13


BRA 170 Box 732.39


[Bellingham?] December 13th 1845


John [Dewar?] Esquire, Solicitor, Billiter Square, London



My Dear Sir


I have just been favoured with your letter of yesterday informing me that the Michaelchurch Estate is to be offered for sale on the 22nd. An advertisement to that effect appeared in the Hereford Times of the third instant and I have communicated with Mr Nevill on the subject. I do not think it likely that Mr. Beckett will obtain an offer of anything like £24000 besides timber for it. It is in worse condition than when you visited it eighteen months ago and it is quite a fallacy to state the rental at £963.12-. Very shortly before Candlemas last and when it was too late for the tenants to get other farms and it was consequently impossible for them to quit Mr B gave them notice of a rise in their rents and he may possibly be able to effect it from them for the current year but when I was on the spot in October they said it was impossible for them to continue to pay it and they were preparing to leave. They have I understand none of them purchased lime or sown clover seeds or shown any symptoms of an intention to remain.

I consider the Estate however as a highly improvable one. It would cost but little to put the fences, gates etc in repair and the land has not been ill-treated nor the timber injured and the buildings might be repaired at an inconsiderable expense – a couple of carpenters employed for a year and a half and a mason occasionally would make a vast difference in their condition. If all these things were done and the roads in the neighbourhood a little attended to, I am confident the rents might be raised to nearly £1000 a year without taking the sheep walks into consideration. These have been for many years extremely neglected but in former days above a thousand sheep were kept on them and if any arrangements can be made by which I can again possess an interest in the Estate it will be my aim to make considerable profit from them again.

So lately as last month Mr Beckett wrote to my brother to the following effect – ‘I am happy to inform you that I have arranged to have the Equity of Redemption in the Michaelchurch Court estate life interest and policies with the concessions put up for sale by auction in December in London. My brother adds in his letter to me ‘I do not think he expects to get a bidding except from Mr [Druce?]

Should it turn out thus it cannot cost many hundred pounds to obtain possession of the property independently of the concessions which I fear I must abandon all hope of retaining in my family and I rely with confidence on the kindness of you and Mr Nevill in assisting me in this respect.

I have friends who though not able conveniently to advance the money would certainly give security for it if requested to do so.

Excuse this long epistle and believe me

My Dear Sir

Yours very truly

T Daniell


Envelope postmarked Eardisley and Hereford Dec 16 1845



Reference 019/2/5


BRA 170 Box 732.39


Llangennech 15th December 1845


Messrs Chs. Druce & Sons


Dear Sir


On further consideration of the Michaelchurch sale I have to beg the favour of your consulting with Mr Alex [Druce?] respecting it and whatever course he and you deem it most advisable to pursue I shall be happy to follow.

The way in which I arrive at £21500 as the proper sum to bid is as follows. I consider the Estate well worth £900 per annum which at 25 years purchase is £22500, to which I add £1000 for the timber and deduct £1000 for repairs which is quite as little as must be spent.

If the property were well managed and looked after I think the rental would advance to near £1000 per annum and the value to 27 years purchase but this would take some time and would be the result of great care and attention.

I suppose the repeal of the Corn Laws will for a time affect the value of land but I know no property less likely to be damaged by such a measure than Michaelchurch.

I have no wish to attend the sale nor do I think I could do any good by leaving home at present.

Yours very truly

R Nevill



Ref 019/2/9





Exeter 6th April 1848


Dear Sir


Re Daniell


Having gone very minutely through the accounts of the mortgagees for receipts and payments on account of the Michaelchurch Court Estate I cannot but express my surprise at the gross charges made for repairs alone during the management by Mr Cocker from the 2nd February 1835 to 2nd August 1841 amounting to the large sum of £3094.15.9 exclusive of the sum of £534.0.5 charged for disbursements, the gross sum of rent for this period being £5067.18.8d. If Mr Cocker however had power given him under his appointment to undertake the repairs and if it can be shown they were necessary for the benefit of the Estate and to discharge the Incumbrances I fear the Assignees will gain but little by any proceedings in Chancery against the Mortgagee, although the vouchers for the payments ought undoubtedly to be produced.

The abatement of £1549.19.5 from the sum of £10549.19.5 stated to be due to Miss Traill in December 1842 for principal interest and charges implies I think a admission that the charges for repairs were excessive and ought not to to have been undertaken beyond the annual surplus after payment of the Incumbrances there would then have accrued little or no arrears of interest.

The Estate under Mr Bailey’s management shows a very different result and it may be satisfactory for the assignees to have that gentleman’s opinion as to the necessity for the repairs before any proposal is made to Messrs Nevill of a price for the payment of their claim.

I am, Dear Sir, yours truly

F Hernaman

Official Assignee



No reference

Illegible address


?April ?27th 1848


DS Beckett Esquire


My Dear Sir




I have received your letter of the 22nd instant with copy of your letter of the 24th December 1847 to Mr Hernaman the Official Assignee and copy of that gentleman’s letter to you of the 6th instant.

The approval of my management of the Estate cannot be otherwise than gratifying to me. It commenced in 1842 and ended in 1847 and during the 5 ½ years I paid in cash the sum of £530 to Mr Cocker, to Messrs [Druce?] and Son £2900.0.10, to yourself £100.14.2 and my charges for the sale of the Estate £115. I mention this to show that under ordinary management the Estate was productive  of something like a reasonable rental whilst under the prior management of Mr Cocker during 6 ½ years it only afforded in cash £2239.2.6. My average cash amounted to about £680 per annum whilst Mr Cocker’s only averaged about £345.

I first saw the estate in the year 1836 and although some of the buildings were dilapidated my impression was that £500 judiciously laid out would have put everything in good order and would have sufficed for at least 7 years. I am therefore surprised I may say astounded to find that the enormous sum of £3094.15.9 for repairs and £534.0.5 for other disbursements appears charged in Mr Cocker’s accounts.

My impression further is that nothing approximating this amount could have been properly expended and I do not think an investigation of the work which was performed would prove that more than £500 was the value thereof.

It must be borne in mind that timber and stone for the repairs was taken from the Estate.

It appears that there is only one course to be pursued in settling this matter – the usual and proper course and that is to require a plain debit and credit account to be furnished …[missing text]

Then to have the work inspected and compared with the bills to ascertain that ordinary skill diligence and care were exercised by the agent in the performance of his duty.

I am

Yours most truly

Chas Bailey



Reference 019/2/4

BRA 720 Box 732.39



Llanelly 27 August 184[8?]


John [Druce?] Esquire


My Dear Sir


I have at length obtained from a surveyor who has been strongly recommended to me a valuation of the Michaelchurch property which appears to have been very carefully made. The Estate is reported to me of the value of £25147.10 exclusive of the manor of which the quit rents are stated to amount to £14 or £15 per annum and of the timber respecting which the following note is added to the valuation: “There is some timber on the Estate but not fit to fell to any amount. Some timber has been cut down for repairs.”

Mr Daniell has recently written to me very much out of temper at the delay which has occurred in getting the valuation which it was wholly out of my power to prevent but which I can understand and excuse in his present situation of distress and uncertainty and I am in no way disposed to [illegible] in my efforts to procure for him an immediate income from the property and for ourselves repayment eventually of the loan made by Messrs [Erdaile?] & Co which we guaranteed and were ultimately […completely to be discharged?]

I do not think the property can be got out of the hands of Miss Traill and the assignees of Mr Daniell’s estate for a smaller sum than £8300 and I come to this conclusion from an impression that Miss Traill will not part with her securities for a smaller sum than £7500. I expect the assignees would require £500 for their interest and I suppose the law charges could not be less than £300.

The first business is to see whether these sums would be accepted and I am not sure the most effectual course would not be to explain to the parties that Mr Daniell’s future support mainly if not wholly depends on their taking a considerate and reasonable view of their claims and the means of satisfying them.

If it should be found that the sums I have mentioned (or any others which in the aggregate would not amount to more than £8000) will be accepted I will endeavour to borrow the amount (and I think I should succeed at 4 or 4 ½ % interest) on condition that I should stand  in the capacity of second mortgagee and owner of the concession on the following conditions: that the rents of the Estate should during Mr Daniell’s life be applied in paying the interest of the above mentioned sum of £8300 and also in maintaining the insurances for the £4000. Then in paying Mr Daniell an income of £200 per annum and the surplus if any to be applied in keeping down the interest of the Estate loan which should at Mr Daniell’s death be discharged by the amount to be received from the insurance cover.

As an assurance that I do not [covet?] the estate I would undertake to convey it to such person as Mr Daniell might name provided the £8300 were paid within an agreed number of years and such security given as you might be satisfied with for the regular payment of the premiums on the policies and interest on the [Erdaile?] loan the policies themselves still remaining with me as an alternate provision for the debt.

If the property netts as I expect it will £850 per annum the charges will be as follows:


Interest on £8300 at 4 ½ %



Annual policies of £4000



Income for Mr Daniell






Balance applicable for the reduction of the interest on the Erdaile loan




If the £8300 could be obtained on easier terms I should have no objection to agree to an equivalent addition to Mr Daniell’s income – I shall by this post write to him and suggest the propriety of his seeing you to consult together on the feasibility of the foregoing suggestions and if they are approved to determine on the most likely means to accomplish them. My persuasion is that you will do better with Mr Cocker and Mr Beckett than Mr Daniell will, and if you think Mr [Crowder?] has more interest with either of these gentlemen than you have I am sure he would readily lend his aid. To Miss Traill the inducement would be the immediate receipt of £7500 and an effectual separation from an estate which for years has been a trouble to her. To the assignees the argument would be that so distinctly expressed in your letter of August 1837 strengthened by the feeling which I really believe actuates them and the creditors to be of service to Mr Daniell if thereby they do not put their hands in their pockets.

I wish it to be clearly understood in the present stage of the business that I do not absolutely pledge myself to find the sum of £8300 though I fully believe I shall succeed in getting it.

If Mr Daniell calls on you, you are at liberty to show him the whole of this letter or any part of it you may think fit and I remain

My Dear Sir

Very truly yours

RJ Nevill


I had yesterday a letter from Mr [Rankin?] by which I infer that this matter must stand over till I am next in town.



Included with the letters is a financial schedule headed ‘Various Positions’ copied as an image below. The schedule sets out alternative ways in which the proceeds from a sale of the Estate might be distributed between the various interested parties. Its date and provenance are uncertain.



A copy image of Mr Cocker’s accounts for the Michaelchurch Estate between 1835 and 1841 referred to above is held in the website digital archive.

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