[Bell Historians] W & T Mears 1791 bankruptcy ??

Chris Pickford c.j.pickford.t21 at v47MyV8Dzvw70uM2Yoh5hdSFlniF5bdCj01mA5aqxSpKCCQgoTfehVY8hoNt4fUZOK21sqxX8855ITxTxipKj7EkH3CdhQ.yahoo.invalid
Fri Oct 3 21:52:57 BST 2008

It was a complex period in the history of bellfounding at Whitechapel and in London - with several bankruptices, fall-outs, etc. Here's a summary, taken from the article I did for the RW some time ago on Edward Simmons, the bellhanger. Have researched this in quite a bit more depth than the summary shown here, but this should update and "rewrite" the histories that have appeared in other places.

Bellfounding in and around London 1770-1800


            It should perhaps be stressed that the period between 1775 and 1790 was a troubled time at Whitechapel. Although the foundry has an unbroken history of bellfounding, the ownership of the premises and management of the foundry were not always in the same hands. At times this caused complications, and one doesn't have to read too deeply between the lines to see that there was bitter rivalry between the "key players" at this time. 


            Briefly, the business descent of the "old foundry" in Whitechapel High Street seems to have been as follows:


            1769-1781       Pack and Chapman (Pack died in 1781)

            1781-2             William Chapman 

            1782-4             Chapman and Mears (Chapman died in 1784)

            1784-7             William Mears

            1787-1790       William and Thomas Mears (William Mears went bankrupt in 1789 and fled the country)

            1790-1804       Thomas Mears II


Other founders working nearby or involved with the Whitechapel founders included:


            Thomas Janaway - working at Chelsea 1762-1788. At one time he had been foreman to Thomas Lester, to whom he claimed to have been related. Lester's will included a bequest of £50 to Janaway, but this was struck off a few days before Lester's death on 18 June 1769. Janaway joined the College Youths in 1786.


            James Exeter of Whitechapel "bellfounder" (1764) seems to be a constant figure in the story although from 1771-1797 he is listed as a coachmaker at 272 Whitechapel Road. He was executor to the will of Thomas Lester in 1769, witness to the marriage of Robert Patrick in 1772, trustee to the will of Thomas Pack in 1781, and creditor of Robert Patrick in 1785. He died of dropsy in 1797. He became a member of the College Youths in 1764.


            William Savill was founding in London in 1777.


            William Mears worked at Whitechapel from 1762 until 1777 when he set up on his own account in Gould Square, Crutched Friars, Fenchurch Street. He traded on his own for some four years before he was declared bankrupt in March 1781. He rejoined William Chapman at Whitechapel in 1782 and took over the sole management of the business in 1784. He remained at Whitechapel until he again went bankrupt in 1789. "William Mears Esq., Whitechapel" joined the College Youths in 1775, serving as master of the Junior Society in 1783-4.


            Thomas Pack died in 1781 and Robert Patrick succeeded (by right of his wife Sarah Oliver, grand-daughter of Thomas Lester) to the Whitechapel foundry premises. Pack had joined the College Youths in 1752.


            Thomas Osborn (of Downham Market) and Robert Patrick were working in partnership at Whitechapel in 1782-3. The surviving bells by Patrick & Osborn may have been cast at Downham Market as they are included in Osborn's catalogues, although in October 1782 the founders claimed to have "retained in their service the best and most ingenious Workmen, who were many years employed by Lester and Pack". The partnership was short-lived.


            Robert Patrick is mentioned as a cheesemonger 1772-1781. After his brief liaison with Osborn, he was founding alone - probably using Whitechapel premises and plant - in London from 1783 to 1787. Although characteristic of the Whitechapel foundry in mouldings and shape, Patrick's bells are usually inscribed in a different set of lettering. His address is given as "86 Cornhill and Whitechapel" in 1784 directory. He took out insurance on a house at 9 Little Alice Street, Goodman's Fields, in September 1784. He was declared bankrupt in 1785 - one of his creditors being James Exeter of Whitechapel. Number 10 Fieldgate Street, Whitechapel, was insured in his name in October 1786. Patrick took part in a peal attempt with the College Youths at St.Martin's Birmingham in October 1786, but this is the only known reference to him either as a College Youth or, indeed, as a ringer. Patrick is last heard of in 1787 and attempts to discover his later whereabouts and date of death have so far been unsuccessful.  


            John and Thomson Warner were working as brassfounders in Wood Street, Cheapside, (1765-1770) and then in Fore Street, Cripplegate (1771-1788). John Warner, brassfounder, first appears at 139 Fleet Street in 1787. John's name appears on bells from 1787, initially in association with Robert Patrick. Bells by Warner bearing dates between 1787 and 1802 have been recorded.


            Space will not allow a full examination of this interesting period here, but new evidence uncovered during the past few years indicates that the succession at Whitechapel was rather more complicated than previous writers have suggested.


            As an example of the web of interrelationships between the parties involved, it is worth citing the tenor at St.Giles, Cripplegate which was recast in 1787. The Vestry minutes indicate that the contract was awarded to John Warner, whose name appears on the bell as "contractor". The inscription names Robert Patrick as "founder", and details of the bell are given in the Whitechapel foundry records implying that it was actually cast there. Similarly, the six bells at Gwennap, Cornwall, were ordered from Warner. Dated 1786, they are inscribed in Patrick's lettering, but evidently cast by Mears at Whitechapel where full details are recorded in the books. 


            It should be remembered, too, that it was in 1785 that the Rev. William Ludlam, an informed commentator who contributed an article on bells to a technical Encyclopaedia of the day, observed that the Whitechapel founders were "great traffickers but no artists". He described Whitechapel bells as "leaden ones", expressing a preference - for tone - for the work of innovative provincial founders like Edward Arnold of Leicester.


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