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