I’d like to find out more in­for­ma­tion about the bank­ruptcy case of Robert Crighton. Can you help?

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - Q&A - Chris­tine Wib­ber­ley

QI’m look­ing for records of Deeds of Com­po­si­tion – agree­ments reached be­tween those who were in­sol­vent and their cred­i­tors – as I’d like to know to whom Robert Crighton, ship and in­sur­ance bro­ker, owed money in 1867. His of­fice was in Rum­bold Place, Liverpool. The no­tice in

Perry’s Bank­rupt Gazette gives the date of the Deed as 20 Novem­ber 1867 and the num­ber 27,519. I’ve lo­cated no­tices in the

Lon­don Gazette and Manch­ester Courier but it seems to have been kept out of the Liverpool pa­pers, per­haps be­cause Robert was some­thing of a hero, hav­ing res­cued 185 peo­ple from a sink­ing ship in 1854.

Clare Ab­bott, by email

AUn­for­tu­nately it’s most un­likely this Deed of Com­po­si­tion still ex­ists, or if it does, that it can be lo­cated. It would not have been per­ma­nently lodged with the court but, as stated

in the no­tice in the Lon­don Gazette ( www. thegazette.co.uk/Lon­don/is­sue/23323/

page/6101), it was recorded in the court reg­is­ter with only the same de­tail set out in that no­tice. The same no­tice should have been placed in a pa­per in the area where Robert car­ried on busi­ness even if he es­caped a more scan­dalous re­port con­cern­ing his affairs.

Once recorded, the deed (likely to have been pre­pared in du­pli­cate) would have been re­turned to the par­ties – that is the trustee and Robert Crighton or their re­spec­tive lawyers – and placed with their pa­pers, though there would have been a court file. For a guide on in­sol­vency records see

bit.ly/1JqceqG (para­graphs 4 and 5). A search of the records men­tioned doesn’t re­veal a sur­viv­ing court file for Robert. Even if a file sur­vived, it would be un­likely to give the in­for­ma­tion sought. A com­po­si­tion was es­sen­tially a pri­vate agree­ment be­tween a debtor and his cred­i­tors, the ben­e­fit to the debtor be­ing that he avoided the stigma of bank­ruptcy and to the cred­i­tors that they avoided the costs of bank­ruptcy pro­ceed­ings. The mod­ern equiv­a­lent is an In­di­vid­ual Vol­un­tary Ar­range­ment (IVA). The com­po­si­tion, if not de­stroyed, may still be in pri­vate hands; the chances of it hav­ing sur­vived and be­ing find­able are re­mote. Searches of cat­a­logues of Dis­cov­ery and Lan­cashire Ar­chives do not re­veal any likely doc­u­ments.

At www.thegazette.co.uk/Lon­don/ is­sue/22803/page/63 you will find a no­tice of the dis­so­lu­tion of Robert’s part­ner­ship as a bro­ker in Liverpool with an Archibald Roxburgh in 1864, which may be of in­ter­est though not giv­ing the in­for­ma­tion sought. Part­ner­ship dis­so­lu­tions were and are fre­quently a symp­tom of fi­nan­cial prob­lems.

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