Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Plush v Saddington - A suit in Chancery

Once again I must apologise for the shortage of posts this month. However, the exams are now out of the way and I have just about got my life back in order.

A couple of years ago, I received an enquiry from a gentleman in South Australia who had come across a family called Plush who, for a couple of generations, had used the name Saddington as a forename. The family descended from three brothers who had emigrated from England to South Australia in 1839, the sons of Thomas Plush and Frances Taylor. One of the sons was named John Saddington Plush, and my enquirer asked if I could assist him with any connection between the Saddington and Plush families on the basis that surnames used as forenames tend to be family surnames somewhere along the line.

Well, I had nothing in my database at the time, so I had a look round the Internet. Initially, all that I could find were IGI records for the marriage of Thomas Plush and Frances Taylor on 1 November 1804 at St Leonards, Shoreditch, London and a marriage for John Saddington and Ann Plush on 16 February 1792 at St Peters, Cornhill, London.

On the National Archives website, I also found a reference to a document referred to as "Item C 13/589/19 = Plush v Saddington. Answer only." It was dated 1801 and related to a matter in the Court of Chancery. It also appeared that only part of the paperwork still existed.

Some months later, I took a trip to the National Archives and ordered the Chancery document in advance. When I went to collect it, what I was given was a huge roll of documents which had been brought specially from the disused salt mine in Cheshire where documents which are rarely requested are kept. With my white archival gloves on, I worked my way slowly down the roll until I reached my document. Straining my eyes to read the tiny writing, I discovered the following story.

The document was an Answer to a Bill of Complaint. The Bill had been brought by John Plush and Sarah, his wife, and by Sarah Plush, James Plush, Mary Plush and William Plush, Infants [i.e. persons under the age of 21] by their father, John Plush. The Answer was submitted by the Defendants in the case, who were John Saddington and Ann, his wife, and Jane Plush, the Guardian of the Infant Defendants, Thomas Plush, Jane Plush, Elizabeth Plush and William Colewell Plush.

The Bill of Complaint [which was missing] appeared to have related to the Will of the late William Plush, who had died on 26 December 1794, and who was the father of Ann Saddington and the grandfather of the Infant Defendants.

When William Plush Senior had died, his Will had been proved in the Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury by his Executors, Daniel Tanner and Titus Tanner. In his Will, William had left his daughter, Ann Saddington, £310 in 3% Capital Stock, and he had left his four grandchildren £200 in the same 3% Capital Stock. His remaining 3% Capital Stock (about £200 worth) and his personal Estate had been left to his son, William Plush Junior. Unfortunately, William Plush Junior had died during his father's lifetime, so this bequest had lapsed and the residue was divided between his daughter, Ann Saddington, and the four grandchildren. William Plush Senior had also owed his son in law, John Saddington, the sum of £34 17s 2d, which John Saddington had kindly forgiven.

Now, during his lifetime, William Plush Senior and one Thomas Home or Horne [it was difficult to read this surname, so I will call him Thomas Horne throughout this post] had been the Trustees of a Trust Fund containing £600 worth of 3% Capital Stock for the benefit of the Complainant, John Plush. At some point in the past, £100 worth of stock had been sold at John Plush's request and the money given to him on the proviso that the stock was to be replaced using the dividends from the remaining £500 worth of stock.

However, in May 1792, Thomas Horne had prevailed upon William Plush Senior to sell out the remaining £500 worth of stock without John Plush's knowledge or consent, so that Horne could use the money himself. Horne signed a memorandum dated 8 May 1792, acknowledging the agreement and agreeing to repurchase stock to the sum of £500.

In December 1794, William Plush Senior died and Horne became the sole Trustee. From Christmas 1797, John Plush had been receiving dividends from Horne equivalent to the entire £600 worth of stock. However, when John Plush went to collect the dividends that had accrued at Christmas 1799, he discovered that Horne had absconded. Horne was insolvent, avoiding his creditors, and had never replaced the stock as agreed in the May 1792 memorandum.

The Defendants' Answer to John Plush's Bill of Complaint came in two parts. Firstly, it stated that William Plush Senior's Executors, Daniel and Titus Tanner, had not done their job properly. They had failed to make the proper enquiries in relation to the Estate, and they had refused to allow John and Ann Saddington to make the proper enquiries. The Executors had therefore been unaware of the Trust Fund and indeed one of the Executors was now dead. The 1792 memorandum signed by Thomas Horne had only lately been discovered by John Saddington amongst a bundle of William Plush Senior's papers which were in the custody of William Plush Junior's widow (probably Jane Plush, the Guardian of the Infant Defendants).

Secondly, the Defendants stated that John Plush should have made proper enquiries in relation to the Trust Fund and paid proper attention to the reinvesting of the stock after the initial £100 worth had been sold at his request. They went on to say that Thomas Horne had been solvent for many years after William Plush Senior's death, so if John Plush had taken proper care, things would never have been able to get to this point.

And for these reasons, the Defendants should not have to reimburse John Plush out of what they had inherited from William Plush Senior's Estate.

Unfortunately, there appears to be no further documentation to say what the outcome of the case was.

However, putting all the evidence together, I believe that the Thomas Plush who married Frances Taylor in 1804, and who named one of his sons John Saddington Plush, was the Infant Defendant Thomas Plush in this case. It would seem that his aunt's husband was sufficiently important in his life that he named one of his sons after him.

But who was John Saddington and where did he come from? The Answer doesn't say. If you have any further details relating to this case and/or John Saddington, I would be delighted to hear from you.