Recently information from the 1939 Register was released on Findmypast. It was quite expensive to see the original pages, but I realised that they could be seen, for free at the National Archives at Kew. By coincidence, Rugby Family History Group had a coach trip arranged for the following week. We usually have problems finding enough people onto these trips, so it was an ideal opportunity. Helped by a demonstration of what was available at the computer evening a few days before, this time, the coach was nearly full.
We had a good journey and arrived about 10.00 am. After a brief trip to the 2nd floor to renew my reader’s card (I didn’t think I’d need it that day, but since I was there…) I settled down at a computer terminal. I had various relatives to look up plus around 130 Madder entries to plough through, so expected to spend the day there. Working alphabetically I had reached Ernest Madder when I started having problems with the website. Time to have some lunch, but when I returned it had stopped altogether. It did come back, late in the afternoon, but was extremely slow. I don’t know if the problem was with Findmypast, TNA or the internet itself, but it certainly spoiled the day for a lot of people.
What to do? I hadn’t prepared any other research to do. Stuck in front of a computer screen I randomly clicked on various things and ended up searching the TNA catalogue. I searched for Madder – of course. I had done this many times before. I had set up a list in Excel to record details of documents. I had noted when I had seen them and details of what I had found. I didn’t have the list with me, so I just scrolled down looking for anything I didn’t think I’d already got. I came across this:
I recognised the names, but I knew I hadn’t seen this document before. I have written a lot on this blog about John Madder, his daughter Isabella and his brother George and the various wills written by the family. I have written about the legal dispute found in the London Metropolitan Archives where George Madder took Daniel Shanke to court because he hadn’t proved the will of Isabella. See Horrid Murder ! , A Problem with Wills and Wapping to Bethlehem . I thought I had found all there was to find. I was wrong. Daniel Shanke had taken the matter further – to the Court of Chancery.
Glad I had renewed my reader’s card, I ordered the document. As usual with these fascinating legal documents, it arrived in a large flat cardboard box. I had to search through other documents until I got to the one I wanted, two documents, the bill & the reply
As you can see, they are beautifully written and I ought to say that I sat down and read them all the way through. I’m afraid not. After checking I had the right document I took plenty of photographs and transcribed everything later on the comfort of my own computer.
I could tell from the first line that this was about John Madder:
“That John Madder late Mariner deceased being in his life time and about ten or eleaven yeares since bound in a voyage to ye East Indies in the Service of the East India Company on board the shipp called the Worcester…”
This was first mistake in the bill, the ship was not in the service of the East India Company, it was a private venture. It mentions the names of merchants John Madder was acting for (he wasn’t – he was first mate, responsible for sailing the ship and forbidden to trade.) It tells of his death and his will, in which he leaves everything “…to Isabella Madder his only Child and made her and Susan Madder the wife of his Brother George Madder Joynt Exectrixs of his said Will.” The will was proved by Susan Madder, in June 1707, because Isabella was still a minor and confirms what I suspected, that no other children of John Madder had survived. The will was written in 1701 and John Madder died in 1705
The bill gives a lot more information about Isabella. The estate of John Madder “amounted unto a Considerable Vallue ” Unfortunately it doesn’t give an amount, but it was enough for Isabella to be given, in addition to her aunt Susan, an official Legal Guardian “one Wainwright … who had procured himself to be admitted her Guardian and who – as the Commissioners understood made a large demand under pretence of Moneys laid out and disbursed by him for and upon account of the Said Isabella”
In August 1707 the government awarded compensation to the crew of the ship. This included for John Madder, £100 for clothes etc, £60 for legal expenses and £300 “for his death: We find upon enquiry he has left a family destitute of subsistence and therefore are of opinion the said demand may be a reasonable recompence for their suffering” (Calendar of Treasury Books, vol.21, British History Online website)
Daniel Shanke, in the bill, states it somewhat differently “the sum of three hundred pounds to be paid to the Said Isabella & one hundred and Sixty pounds to the Said other persons for and in respect of their said losses and an Order was made to the Commissioners of the prize office to pay the same accordingly and the Commissioners finding that the said Isabella by reason of her minority was under the Government of the Said Susan her Aunt (and Wainwright) the Commissioners did therefore think fitt to refuse the payment of the Said three hundred pounds to them or either of them but directed that some friends and neighbours of the said Isabella should be made Choice of to inspect it the Said Wainwrights accounts.” Someone obviously thought Wainwright was a bit dodgy.
Daniel Shanke was appointed Isabella’s guardian and the £300 was paid to him and the £160 held back while it was decided how it should be split between the various claimants (the merchants thought to be owed money). They couldn’t agree, so the money was handed to Daniel Shanke to sort out. The main argument developed between Shanke on one side and Susan Madder, her husband George and “said Wainwright” on the other, about who had spent what money “on the maintenance and Education of the Said Isabella”. This could have dragged on for years, but in November 1708 Isabella died. “being then about Sixteen years & a half old and before she was Seaventeen years old“. She was still a minor. Looking back, it seems strange that the girl died not long after being put in Daniel Shanke’s care, but no-one seems to have thought there was anything suspicious.
Isabella’s will, written a month before her death, made bequests to friends and relatives. They included £20 to George Madder and £10 to his wife. The rest of her estate went to “My loveing Friend Daniel Shank”
By April 1711, George and Susan had not received their bequest and went to the Court of the Bishop of London (LMA Ref: DL/C/545/123-124). Shanke was not happy with the result. He claimed that the person he employed to argue the case made a mistake in the accounts, that the disputed £160 should not have been included in Isabella’s estate. He says that he had paid all the debts and charges claimed by Susan Madder and Wainwright before Isabella’s death and “had no more of the three hundred pounds in his hands then three and thirty pounds or thereabouts” and Isabella had left her estate to him “being very well satisfyed” with his treatment of her.
After paying the expenses of Isabella’s funeral and other debts, there was no money left in the estate to pay the bequests because “a Considerable quantity of Goods effects and personall Estate of her Said Fathers in the hands of the Said George Madder or Susann his Wife” So, he states in the bill “your Orator applied himself unto the said George Madder and Susan his Wife and required and demanded of them that they would give your Orator A Just and fair account of the Goods Chattells and personall Estate of the Said John Madder the Said Isabella’s Said decased Father which had been possessed by them and retained and withheld from that Said Isabella all the time of her life and in a faire and Friendly manner your Orator desired that they would deliver the same unto your Orator whereby your Orator might be enabled to pay the debts and Lagacyes of the said Isabella they the Said George Madder and his Wife having Sufficient of Such Goods chattells and personall Estate in their hands and power for that purpose and whereby your Orator might have the rest and residue thereof after ye payment of such debts & Legacyes to his own use and thereby have some benefitt by the devise to your Orator in and by the Said Isabella’s Said last Will and Testament”
They refused and Shanke claims that they conspired, with other unknown persons, to conceal the property from him and still demanded their bequests. They won their case in the Bishop’s Court, although, he says, they know a mistake was made in the accounts. Shanke also says that George Madder was threatening him: “And the Said George Madder being a Seafareing man doth threaton and give out in Speeches that if he can recover the Said Legacyes of your Orator that your Orator may get an account”
He requests that the court force the Madders attend and produce the accounts.
In their Reply, they deny that John Madder was trading on any other person’s behalf (as I mentioned above). They also claim “the said Defendant Susan saith she did not possess herself of any household goods or any other goods Effects or personall Estate of the said John Madder but the said George and Susan his wife say that the said John Madder was at his death indebted for money lent at seveall times to the said George Madder in a hundred pounds and upwards.” They say that the whole £460 was due to Isabella alone, and that Shanke had only had guardianship of her for less than three months. He had “paid to the said Mr Wainwright Forty pounds or thereabouts as they have heard & also paid to ye said Defendant Susan Sixty pounds and no more towards satisfieing for Tenn years board and Expences of the said Susann upon account of the said Isabella”
They agree that the Will was written as stated but “they do not know what personall Estate the said Isabella dyed possessed of but beleive the said Complainant may have possessed himself of Severall hundred pounds of her estate” . They admit Shanke asked for an account of the goods and estate of John Madder “but these Defendants having no estate of the said John Madder they had no account to give” They say it is true that they went to the Bishop’s Court to demand Shanke produce an Inventory of the personal estate of Isabella that came into his hands but know nothing of any mistakes made by his representative. “they obtained a Sentence in the said Spirituall Court for the said legacies of Twenty pounds and Tenn pounds and So Endeavour to obtain the Effect of such Sentence as Expeditiously as they can by the rules of the said Spirituall Court”.
They deny ever having possession of and property of Isabella Madder or conspiring with anyone to hide it. George “saith true it is he is a Seafairing man” but denies ever threatening Daniel Shanke. They ask that the case be dismissed and their costs reimbursed.
The case in the Bishop of London’s Court is dated 1711 and the accompanying costs for George Madder labelled Michaelmas 1711. The Bill is dated 8th May 1712 and the Answer 6th May 1713. The law works slowly. So what happened next? I don’t know. The problems with these wonderful documents is that no-one writes at the bottom who won the case. Perhaps the case went on for years. There is one clue – the date of a note on the reverse of the will of Isabella Madder. It seems to suggest that Daniel Shanke eventually proved the will on 2nd December 1722.
Daniel Shanke died in 1730. George Madder died in 1717 – his wife Susan proved his will in that year, but I don’t know what happened to her thereafter.
Perhaps I’ll come across her when I’m looking for something completely different.
Orator – term used for the Plaintiff in the Chancery Court.
£460 in 1711 would be worth somewhere between £40,000 and £60,000 today – worth going to court for.