The National Archives, Kew
His Majesty’s High Court of Chancery
In 2007, I became aware of the fact that the National Archives in Kew, just outside London, was the repository of a gold mine of old court documents pertaining to Matthew Morry. We had long known that Matthew Morry was fond of using the courts to settle his disputes. The earliest Southern District Court Volumes, held at the Registry of Deeds, of all places, in St. John’s, are full of examples of cases in which he and other members of his family were involved. In his lifetime, the late Ray Curran had made lists of all of these court records, not just for the Morrys of course, but for all the families in Ferryland and surrounding areas. Since his death, Kevin Reddigan has picked up the baton and continues to plumb these records for hidden gems that reveal the give and take between early residents of the area, which he has used to effect on his website ( http://www.calvertweb.ca/index.shtml ). So it came as no surprise to learn that Matthew spent a great deal of his time in court in England as well.
So in 2008 I made the pilgrimage to Kew and spent two days attempting to photograph the huge rolls of parchment (roughly A0 size — 33.1 x 46.8 inches) that comprise the court records. Unfortunately, because of their size and the strict rules of the reading room concerning how these ancient materials must and must not be treated, photographing each sheet individually was impossible and I had to make as many as 6 or 8 photos of each page in hopes of piecing it all together later. What I discovered when I got home was that the photos missed some parts and blurred others beyond the ability to transcribe what was written so, very sadly and reluctantly, I gave up on the venture.
Fast forward nearly eight years and, in early 2016, I decided to bite the bullet and pay the shockingly exorbitant fee to have a professional digital copy made of all these court records. It cost me the equivalent of an airline ticket to London, but the results were worth it – crystal clear reproductions of each page in ultra high resolution with every word legible. Two weeks of intensive work resulted in the complete transcript of each series of documents associate with each case.
What is (or was) the High Court of Chancery?
The High Court of Chancery was an alternative system of justice which dealt exclusively with property issues that, for one reason or another, could not be resolved through a Court of Common Law (cases most often heard in the Court of King’s Bench in those days). It was a court of Equity, which ensured that if, as an ordinary citizen, you were being dealt with in an unfair manner and in a way that left you with no defence in Common Law, you could bring your grievance to the Lord High Chancellor or his representative, the Keeper of the Rolls, for arbitration. This form of court existed in England from the 14th Century until 1873, when it was merged with all other courts and made a Division of the Common Law court system.
In the early 1800s, when Matthew and John Morry were bringing cases before the High Court of Chancery, it operated in the following manner. The Lord High Chancellor, or permanent officers of the court working on his behalf (the so called Six Clerks, though they were actually Barristers), appointed a number of upstanding citizens to act as Commissioners of the Court. They would in turn have the power of subpoena under penalty of fine or incarceration to call to bear witness all those involved in the two sides of the dispute, and anyone else who might be able to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the “Cause” or “Complaint”. Some of these features would have appealed to Matthew in settling his business disputes, but above all it would have appealed to him that the process was abbreviated compared to Common Law, and hence less expensive. The trick was to word your complaint as a cause of equity, and not simply a dispute over money, so that the case would be accepted by the Court of Chancery.
What Court Records are Found at Kew?
For reasons that I have not yet learned, the National Archives have been entrusted with what remain of these Chancery Court records, but not with all the records of the Courts of Common law or other courts. This means that we are undoubtedly missing many historical records pertaining to Matthew Morry and others that were tried in Courts of Common Law, such as the Court of Kings Bench. That is an investigation for another day. I have just learned that there are some (perhaps 10%) of the Court of King’s Bench Plea or Judgment Rolls held at Kew but that they are not easily accessed and one must actually go there to view the index. It was not mandatory for the attorneys involved to submit these documents for retention and over the years they became ever more lax about doing so.
A standard collection of documents associated with a bundle of Chancery Court Case records at Kew should consist of the following:
The oaths to be sworn by the Commissioners and their Clerks (standard “boiler plate”; the same from case to case)
The Commission, identifying those chosen by the court to take testimony, and also naming the Complainant (s) and the Defendant (s)
The Complaint of Cause, usually occupying several full size sheets of parchment, approximately 33.1 x 46.8 inches
The Interrogatories: questions to be answered by those called to give testimony; both Complainant and Defendant could submit these
The Answer; that is, the response of the Defendant (s). This too usually occupied several full size sheets of parchment
The Depositions; answers to the Interrogatories by witnesses called to testify by the two sides; usually shorter in length than the Answers
Example of a Commission from the High Court of Chancery
Note that I said the records at Kew SHOULD contain all of these. In general they do not. As explained to me by Paul R. Dryburgh, PhD, Arch. Dip, the Principal Records Specialist (Medieval Records) in the Advice& Records Knowledge Department of the National Archives, some cases were dropped long before they went to arbitration, either because the complainant realised it was a lost cause, or because a settlement was reached out of court. But I also discovered from reading information on the National Archives website that part of the problem with the missing documents stemmed from the fact that the High Court of Chancery filed documents, not by case number, but rather by type. So the Commissions would be filed separately from the Complaints, and the Complaints filed separately from the relevant Answers and Depositions. Why they chose to do this is anybody’s guess, but the inevitable result was that, years later, when the documents came to Kew, it was virtually impossible to connect all the relevant pieces of any one case to each other. In all likelihood, all the pieces are in the vaults, but lacking a common identifier, they cannot be assembled into a comprehensive package.
Chancery Decrees and Orders
Note also what is conspicuously absent: the Judgement! Sadly, not all Judgements handed down by the Lord High Chancellor were made public and in any event they never form a part of the document bundles found at the National Archives.
Over the years there were summaries published annually, by a number of independent legal authors, of the most interesting cases heard at the Chancery Court, including the Judgement handed down. But evidently none of the cases involving Matthew Morry, or for that matter his grandson, John Morry, were deemed interesting enough to find their way into these digests. I have viewed the indexes for the relevant years in these tomes online and there is no mention of the cases of interest to us.
There is a way for a researcher to attempt to discover the final outcome of a particular case, but it involves visiting Kew (or engaging a researcher to do so on your behalf) and accessing a collection of “Chancery Entry Books of Decrees and Orders”. In April 2016, I made contact with such a specialist researcher, Susan Moore. We discussed what options were open to me for searching within these Entry Books for further details on the cases involving Matthew Morry and his grandson, John Morry, as detailed below. Although there is a separate series of Chancery records at the National Archives named “Final decrees, arbitrations, and appeals” (Catalogue reference C 78 and C 79), the reality, according to Susan Moore, is that extremely few cases before the Chancery Court ever saw their final judgement recorded in this series. The so-called “Chancery and Supreme Court of Judicature, Chancery Division: Six Clerks Office and successors: Decree Rolls” are the original documents, not copies, and are not indexed by name or searchable in any other manner. So it takes a great deal of time to thumb through them in order to find the outcome of a case that is of interest, if it indeed did go to judgement. A far more profitable area to search would be the “Decrees and Orders” (Catalogue reference C 13) mentioned above. So we determined that she should go to Kew and search the annual index volumes for this series from 1811 to 1821 searching for entries related to the cases before the High Court of Chancery involving Matthew and/or John Morry.
After expending the agreed amount of time finding a number of entries pertaining to the cases below, Susan Moore provided her preliminary report. Unfortunately, I discovered that she had used the time allotted to go beyond what we had agreed, which was to isolate the cases of interest in the annual indexes and photograph the entries themselves. She did isolate quite a few items of interest, but then spent the rest of the time allocated transcribing them, which consumed all the time allocated but only allowed her to complete about half of the entries. After discussion she agreed to return to Kew and photograph the remaining entries for me to transcribe on my own. The results of our combined transcriptions are given below under the respective cases to which they refer.
These entries proved disappointing for the most part because they were nothing more than perfunctory orders from the Court to try and prompt a response to a complaint by the plaintiff, or other similar day to day affairs of the Court. Only a few contained any amount of additional detail on the cases in question.
On a visit to the National Archives in April 2017 I set about to determine if we had perhaps missed anything of importance to these cases. I redid the work done already by Susan Moore of screening the annual indexes for the years 1811-1821 and did actually discover a few minor references missed by Susan Moore during her search. But what I did discover of far greater importance was that the case of John Morry against his grandfather Matthew Morry and Walter Prideaux dragged on well beyond the 1821 cut off date I had given to Susan Moore to search. In fact, two significant entries were found in 1825, which did in fact include the judgement in that case. Amongst the Chancery cases represented below, it turns out that this is the ONLY case for which a definitive outcome has been found so far.
What are the Cases Which Involve Matthew and John Morry?
I have received and transcribed six case files pertaining to Matthew Morry and his grandson John Morry, but there is quite a bit of overlap in the subject matter amongst theses separate files. There is one more case file that I evidently overlooked in my first search and must now order, but Dr. Dryburgh tells me it is not a new case but rather some of the missing elements of one of those summarised here. In chronological order, here is a summation of each case as we know it, based on the limited number of documents included in each case bundle:
1. Morry v Rowe: C 13/1987/62. 3rd July 1811. Plaintiff: Matthew Morry. Defendant: Joshua Rowe. Bill only.
This is a case filed by Matthew Morry in his role as the Executor for the Estate of Mary [Foale] Morry, the widow of his late son. John died in 1807 and left a substantial estate to his wife and only child, John Foale Morry, emanating from the Prizes he captured as a Privateer. There is a bit of a mystery surrounding the deaths of John and Mary. We have no way of knowing for sure, but from the evidence seen it would appear that John died at sea in a skirmish while attempting to capture another vessel. He was young at the time (31) and it seems unlikely he died of natural causes. We don’t really know how old Mary was (there is some evidence she was older than her husband) but we can assume that she too was too young to have died of natural causes, yet she died only months after her husband and, unlike him, without having had the opportunity to make out her Will.
As a result, John’s father, Matthew Morry stepped in and applied for Letters of Administration in order to file for Probate of her Intestate Estate on behalf of her only heir, her son John. Four years later Matthew was still trying to tidy up some loose ends. Joshua Rowe was an Agent and Auctioneer in Torpoint, Cornwall, and was the person responsible for disposing of the various Prizes that John captured and brought to port, as well as the cargo that they carried. The proceeds would have been split between the Crown, the Ship Owner and the Officers and Crew, with the Master and Commander taking a large portion of the crew’s share. And of course the Auctioneer would take a hefty fee off the top for his services.
At the time of his death, John and his crew, aboard the licensed Private Ship of War or Privateer, the ALEXANDER (a Schooner of 100 tonnes, with a crew of 25 and ordinance consisting of ten – 12 pound cannon on board), had at least one Prize that they had brought to port but that had not yet been auctioned. Proof of this is evident from a number of auction notices that appeared long after John’s death, in newspapers such as Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post, for a number of Prizes, to which John’s name was attached as Master of the ALEXANDER (see John Morry’s Page). But none of the funds from the disposal of these Prizes and their cargo had been forwarded by Joshua Rowe to Mary Foale Morry during the brief time that she survived her husband, nor to the estates of either her or her husband subsequently. Matthew suspected that Rowe had embezzled these funds, in as much as none of the crew, in the absence of their Captain, who would have seen to such things, had received a share either.
We may never know the outcome of this case for two reasons. First, this file in the National Archives only consists of one sheet of parchment, that being Matthew Morry’s Bill of Complaint. There is no Answer from Joshua Rowe. This could be an example, as suggested by Dr. Dryburgh, where the matter was settled out of court. But the second reason we may never know the outcome is that, if it was settled out of court, the funds that would have been representative of John Morry’s share of the Prize never made it into the account of his estate or that of his widow, both of which were administered by Matthew Morry. One can therefore only speculate as to the reasons for this. It should be noted however that there were instances where, for whatever reason, the settlement of the crew shares of a Prize was delayed for a very long time. In one such instance, Joshua Rowe advertised in the London Gazette on February 11, 1812 that he would be distributing the officer and crew shares of a Prize captured on July 28, 1807. Though this was not one of John Morry’s Prizes, the same kind of delay could have affected distribution of his share from the Prize or Prizes he had entrusted to Joshua Rowe.
Torpoint, February 11, 1812.
Notice is hereby given to the officers and company
of the hired armed cutter Adrian, that
the net proceeds of the cargo of the Danish ship
Thetis, Peder Belousen, Master, captured the 28th
July 1807, will be paid at the Counting House of
Joshua Rowe, Torpoint, on Thursday the 20th instant;
and will continue to be recalled every Tuesday
and Thursday for three months from that date,
as the-Act directs.
Decrees and Orders on the Case
Susan Moore, the researcher I hired in April 2016 to search the High Court of Chancery indexes to Decrees and Orders found three entries relevant to this case:
the first was on the 8th of January 1812 — IND 1/10699/22 C 33/591 folio 193 Morry v Rowe
the second was on the 37th of February 1812 — IND 1/10699/22 C 33/591 folio 385 Morry v Rowe
the third was on the 2nd of June 1812 — IND 1/10699/22 C 33-594 folio 1253 Morry v Rowe
The first two represented delaying tactics on the part of the lawyer for the defendant and the third was a vain attempt on the part of the lawyer for Matthew Morry to hasten the response by Rowe to the charges. After that, from 1812 onward, there is complete silence on the matter. In April 2017, whilst on a research visit to Kew, I reviewed these same indexes and did not find anything further around the time of the lodging of the original complaint. Nor was there anything pertaining to Joshua Rowe and Matthew Morry as late as 1825. So I think it is safe to say that this case never went forward. Whether that implies a settlement out of court, or an abandonment of the claim by Matthew Morry for some reason, we may never know. One thing is certain, no funds from the sale of this Prize ever made it into the estate of John Morry the Elder, nor his widow, Mary Foale Morry. Had they done, this would have been mentioned in the Chancery case of John Morry versus Matthew Morry and Walter Prideaux below.
2. Morry v Newman: C 13/2148/31. 30th June 1819. Plaintiff: Matthew Morry. Defendants: Robert Newman, Walter Prideaux, Walter Were Prideaux and Robert Were Prideaux. Bill and Answer.
To understand this case and the one which follows, which involve the same parties and much the same complaint, you must first know a bit about the history of Matthew Morry and Company. It is now a well-documented fact that Matthew Morry was a self-made man of the sea, rising from an Ordinary Seaman on vessels travelling to Newfoundland to prosecute the fishery as early as 1870, when he was 20 years of age, and rising rapidly from Mate to Master by 1874, and finally owning and acting as Master and Commander of his own vessels starting in 1875, when he was 25. It was in that year that the name “Matthew Morry and Company” first appeared in the shipping records. But the growth of his business from that time forward was not entirely attributable to his prowess as a seaman and businessman, because he became Co-Partners in the company with Walter Prideaux, a Barrister and Solicitor in Dartmouth. The Prideaux family were among the upper class in Dartmouth. In addition to Walter Senior, a respected member of the bar, two of his grandsons, who are also named as defendants in these cases, Walter Were Prideaux and Robert Were Prideaux were principals in the Kingsbridge Bank, a so-called Country Bank that operated at a distance from the Bank of England in order to provide banking and monetary services to the business community outside of London. Such banks, including the Kingsbridge Bank, were even permitted to print their own bank notes, a laxity in the financial system that was a recipe for disaster. This led to the collapse of virtually all County Banks and nearly bankrupted the country as a whole in 1829. The Prideauxs were Royalists who fought on the side of Charles the First during the Civil War and suffered for their loyalty under Cromwell. But after the Restoration they profited from their loyalty, despite one very obvious disadvantage — they were Quakers.
Today when we think of Quakers we are put in mind of the Pilgrim fathers who founded New England, and think of them as pious and God-fearing people, though they may have burned an innocent woman or two as witches. But in reality, Quakers were just like any other group of people. There were honest ones, and there were dishonest ones. The court cases involving Matthew Morry and the Prideaux family leave open the question of in which camp these particular individuals fit.
In any event, as it transpired, Matthew Morry and Company prospered under this Co-Partnership between Matthew Morry, the Newfoundland partner, and Walter Prideaux, the Dartmouth partner, for 35 years or more. Then things began to unravel, the stumbling block being of course money. Records show that in the good years the partnership was netting over £5000. The problem was, who was keeping tabs of all this money? And the answer seems to be — no one! Well that is one interpretation. Matthew Morry contended that he left the book keeping to Walter Prideaux, and Walter Prideaux, rather disingenuously told the court that he was only a humble servant of the law and had no knowledge of business affairs and finances. One hopes their Lordships were not foolish enough to swallow that line! But it is credible that Matthew Morry, a man who probably went to sea as a cabin boy of 14, was not capable of managing complex business matters, and probably did leave it to his better educated partner to do that for them both. If so, that was a decision he would later regret.
The case involving Robert Newman is very complicated. But boiled down to its essence, Robert Newman sued Matthew Morry and Walter Prideaux in the Court of Common Law for non-payment of the costs of repairing the Brig PRISCILLA, which they jointly owned as partners. The total cost of repairs amounted to £311 16 Shillings and 1 1/2 Pence, to be precise (see table below for detailed breakdown of costs). Robert was a Shipbuilder and, though most likely related to the famous family of Newmans who made their fortune in the Newfoundland fishery and later the Port wine trade, he was not involved in those businesses personally. Since Matthew was a flight risk in his mind, Robert got a court order to have Matthew arrested when he came back to Dartmouth on business and Matthew had to put up Bail in order to be released from prison. It may just have been coincidence that the business that brought Matthew to town at that moment was an attempt to close out the partnership with Walter Prideaux and recover what he believed to be his rightful share of the assets of Matthew Morry and Company. According to Matthew’s testimony, he had constantly tried over the years to get Walter Prideaux to give him an accounting of the business assets without success. So, he claimed, he was completely in the dark, and had no idea that Robert Newman had not been paid for his work.
At this point, Matthew’s testimony begins to take on an air of manic paranoia. He contends that the business over payment of Robert Newman’s bill is nothing more than an elaborate scheme, involving Robert Newman, whom he rightly or wrongly believed to be heavily indebted to the Prideaux family, acting as the stooge for Walter Prideaux and his conspirators in this crime, his grandsons Walter Were Prideaux and Robert Were Prideaux and their Kingsbridge Bank. It is really necessary to read both the Complaint and the Answer in this particular case to begin to get the full dimensions of Matthew’s elaborate paranoid delusions as to what was happening. Or was it paranoia? Is it really possible that Robert Newman was being manipulated by Walter Prideaux, with the collusion of his grandsons, to defraud Matthew Morry of his rightly share of the business assets, now that this cash cow was about to be taken away from Walter Prideaux? Frustratingly, we will probably never know for sure, because the Judgement in this case, and all the other cases reviewed here, is unknown.
Before leaving this case and moving on to the next, which involves the same principals, it is worthy of note that these cases together help to set to rights an age-old canard that has formed a part of the mythology of the Morry family, passed down from generation to generation. The family has always believed that the main reason that Matthew Morry finally chose to settle in Newfoundland, rather than retiring back to Dartmouth as he got older, was because he had been defrauded out of his fortune by a partner in a bank in the Channel Islands that he co-owned with a man named Prideaux and another named Le Messurier. In these cases we discover the element of truth that was stretched by deliberate or inadvertent distortion into a story that no longer bore much, if any, resemblance to the facts. Matthew Morry was not a partner in any bank. Nor was he partnered with the Le Messurier family. That came much later in his grandson, John Henry Morry’s time, in Newfoundland. The only element of truth appears to be this partnership with Walter Prideaux in the firm of Matthew Morry and Company, a fishing and shipping concern. Walter Prideaux was a principal in several banks in Devon, but none involved Matthew Morry or a person named Le Messurier. Whether Walter cheated Matthew or vice versa, or whether they were just both incredibly incompetent businessmen is up to the individual reader to decide.
One final note on this case. The appendix which tallies the cost of various ship repairs in those days should be of great interest to maritime history buffs.
For Shipwrights Caulkers and Joiners work on Brig Priscilla laying Blocks Docking and Shoring and Caulking Lengthening Keel, breadthening Stern Post Trimming bringing too and bolting bridge Strakes Sheathing bottom Trimming Dowelling and bolting shelf pieces to Upper Deck beam and breadthening the channel and Sundries
1816 April 30
|To rough Timber Slabs and Stakes laying blocks||——-||2||5||–||22 feet ¾ in Do [Elm] @ 4 ½ Knees Cross pieces and steps to Davits||@ 5||–||13||3|
|27 feet Oak Timber Stern post||@ 5/-||6||15||–||17 feet 2 in Deal @ 1/- 52 feet ½ ins Do [Deal]||@ 9d||2||16||–|
|4 feet Do [Oak] boats Davit @ 4/6 – 5 feet Elm Timber Keel||@ 4/-||1||18||–||170/5/2 feet 1 in Do [Deal] @ 6d 34 feet 3 ¼ in Do [Deal]||@ 4 ½||43||6||–|
|33 ½ feet fir Timber Shelf-pieces under Beams||@ 4/-||6||14||–||43 feet ½ in Do [Deal] @ 3d 40 feet mould stuff||@ 3 ½||1||2||5|
|37 ½ feet 3 In: Oak Plank Upper Deck||@ 2/-||3||15||–||5 feet 4 ½ ins Oak 2 ~ @ 1/- 12 feet 3 ins fir 2 –||@ 4 ½||9||6|
|18 feet 2 ½ In: Do [Oak] building pieces to post and Keel||@ 1/8||1||10||–||11 feet 2 ½ ins fir 2 ~ @ 4d 102 feet of inferior deal||@ 5d||2||6||2|
|3 feet 2 In: Do [Oak] Bars &c. to Posts||@ 1/4||–||4||–||7 cwt 3 gr 18 lb of Pitch @ 30/- 4 cwt 2 gr 23 lb Oakum @ 30/-||18||18||6|
|4 ½ feet 1 ½ In: Do [Oak] Tong pieces to Rudder case||@ 1/-||–||4||6||Shores used and cut Docking lengthening Keel &c||3||2||–|
|2 feet 4 In: Elm plank @ 2/- 68 feet 3 Ins. Do [Elm] bridge Strakes||@ 1/6||5||6||–||6 ½ Barrels Tar @ 35/- 3 ½ Dozen Brooms @ 3/- 10 ¾ Gallons Oil 5/||14||3||–|
|40 ½ feet 2 In: Do [Elm] channels and Sundries||@ 1/3||2||10||7 ½||Caps and Block split Scarpling Keel
Caulking garboard and seams next to garboard
|1670 feet 1 In: Elm board Sheathing repairing Boat &c.||@ 6d||41||15||–||12 lbs white Oakum @ 6d 68 lb hair||5/||1||14||4|
|15 dozen wedges @ 3/- 3 dozen slices @ 6/- 6 lb Thrums||13d||3||9||6||Sawing 4 ½ hd @ 4/6 – 1 hd @ 4/- 1 ¼ hd @ 3/-||17||10 ½|
|Staging horses spauls &c||2||17||–||Foreman’s attendance||8||15||–|
|Use of steam kiln 10/ 10 cwt firewood heating Do [steam kiln]||@ 2/||1||10||–|
|1 cwt 1 gr 14 lb Spike Nails @ 5d 1 cwt 0 gr 13 lb bolts||@ 4/2||5||11||½|
|8 cwt firewood heating stuff @ 2/ graving gin 10/6||1||6||6||Cash Paid Beer to Workmen||7||–|
|Hold Ladder 15/||–||15||–||Opening Dock Gates||1/1||}11||1||–|
|1 ½ hd 2/ nails 4 ½ hd 1/6 – 3 ¾ hd 10d – 2 ½ hd 6d – 3 ½ hd 4d – 1 hd 3d – 4 ½ hd 12d||–||19||10||Use of Drydock||10/-||}|
|3 cwt 3 gr 15 lb of best sheathing paper||50/||9||14||2||____||___||__||____|
|9 cwt 0 gr 18 lb Sheathing Drawing and Scupper nails||@46/8||21||7||6||£||311||16||1 ½|
|To 29 ½ days work @ 4/- 268 ¼ Do [days work] @ 3/6||52||16||9|
|109 ½ Do [days work] @ 2/6 – 55 ½ Do [days work] @ 2/- – 100 ½ Do [days work] @ 1/6||26||15||6|
 A term used in shipbuilding pertaining to fitting of timber
Note that neither the search conducted by Susan Moore in April 2016 nor my own on-site scrutiny of the High Court of Chancery indexes to Decrees and Orders in April 2017 turned up any evidence of a resolution or a judgement in either of these cases taken by Matthew Morry against Robert Newman and Walter Prideaux and his two grandsons. But in the related case taking place in the Court of King’s Bench in which Robert Newman was suing Matthew Morry and (ostensibly, but not in fact) his partner, Walter Prideaux, judgement was found for the plaintiff. But only Matthew Morry’s property was seized for partial payment of the claim and court costs and Walter Prideaux got off Scot free because the Sheriff of Devon claimed that he could not find him to take him in charge! Prideaux was a well known (and apparently highly respected) Attorney and Banker with residences and businesses in Dartmouth and Kingsbridge. it defies belief that the Sheriff could not locate him. Clearly, this was one more instance of the “old boys network” favouring Prideaux over Morry.
3. Morry v Newman: C 13/2148/32. 30th June 1819. Plaintiff: Matthew Morry. Defendants: Robert Newman, Walter Prideaux, Walter Were Prideaux and Robert Were Prideaux. Bill and Answer.
Here we have another Complaint, issued on the same date, involving the same group of players, but a slightly different issue. In this case, Matthew Morry has once again run afoul of the Shipwright, Robert Newman. Only this time the circumstances are even more complicated. At some stage, recognising that the game was up and that Matthew Morry really did intend to terminate their partnership, Walter Prideaux, sly dog that he seems to have been, “innocently” made a gift of his half share in the Brig PRISCILLA to his two grandsons, the principals in the Kingsbridge Bank (along with a third partner, John Square). So now the vessel belonged to Matthew Morry, Walter Were Prideaux and Robert Were Prideaux. Matthew began to make plans to send the PRISCILLA on another voyage, hiring a captain and crew, and provisioning the vessel. Smelling a rat, and fearing (probably wisely) that if the PRISCILLA left Dartmouth under the current animosity that existed between Walter Prideaux and Matthew Morry, she would never return, the two younger Prideaux men, quite plausibly under the direction of their Grandfather, took matters into their own hands. They enlisted a crew and boarded the vessel before dawn one morning and sailed it into Robert Newman’s dry dock, from which Matthew could not possibly rescue it. It remained there for over a year, and when it was taken out, most likely to make room for a vessel that really did need work done on it, it was only moved a few meters to a tidal slip, also owned by Robert Newman, where it was kept under close guard by a man hired by the Prideauxs.
Then, as if to add insult to injury, Robert Newman presented Matthew Morry and Company, which after all this time had not yet been legally dissolved due to foot dragging by Walter Prideaux, who refused to provide a final accounting of the assets, according to Matthew Morry, with a huge bill for use of the dry dock and slip. The total amounted to £499, 6 Shillings and 9 Pence, more than the cost of the extensive repairs made in 1816, and quite likely more than the vessel was worth by this time in its life. One wonders if it entered the minds of those hearing the case that perhaps it was not a coincidence that this bill was only 13 Shillings and 3 Pence short of a nice round figure of £500!
Once again, Robert Newman had Matthew Morry arrested, and once again Matthew had to post bail in order to be released. So again, sensing a conspiracy in the works, Matthew posted his Complaint to the Court of Chancery, claiming that Robert Morry, being indebted to the Prideauxs (for which no evidence was ever presented), was being manipulated by them. In Matthew’s view of how this conspiracy would work, the case would go the Court of Kings Bench, Walter Prideaux would admit the debt, Matthew would be forced to pay his share out of his own funds, on behalf of the Company, whose assets were at this time unavailable to him, and then Robert Newman would turn over the proceeds of the case to Walter Prideaux, who would deduct it from Robert’s indebtedness to him. Was this pure paranoia on Matthews part? Most likely we will never know for sure.
In this case, as in the previous one, the only Answer on file is that of Robert Newman. Unfortunately we never hear Walter Prideaux’s side of the story. Robert Newman of course denies ever having been indebted to any of the Prideaux family and portrays himself as the innocent dupe of the two younger Prideaux men, who never told him that they were hijacking the PRISCILLA without Matthew’s permission. This seems hard to swallow. They all lived in the same small town together, and everyone would have known what was going on between Matthew Morry and Walter Prideaux. But indeed Newman does have a point that, in the almost two years that the PRISCILLA was left in his charge, only at the very end of that time did Matthew ever approach him officially and in writing requesting that he release the vessel into his custody, which Newman refused to do without the authorisation of the two Prideaux men, who put the vessel in his care in the first place.
Conspiracy theories aside, there was obviously a great deal of conniving going on here, probably on both sides. Alas, once again, we have no idea how this drama unfolded and concluded, because of the absence of the Answer from Prideaux and the Judgement of the Court, if there ever was one.
Robert Newman also provided a schedule of costs (possibly inflated under the circumstances) for dry docking and mooring the vessel, and routine maintenance, which will be of interest to the marine historians:
|10 5/2 days work @ 3/6 – 5 days @ 2 /6||1||11||9|
|2 dozen Slices @ 6/ – 1 dozen wedges 3/||“||15||“|
|1818 April 23||1 day 3/- 1 day 2/ -12 lb pitch @ 3d||“||8||“|
|6 lb Oakum @ 3d||“||1||6|
|June 12th||2 days work @ 3/ – 6 lb Oakum @ 3d||“||7||6|
|12 lb pitch @ 3d – ¼ cwt firewood @ 1d||“||3||6|
|“ 13||2 days @ 3/ – 14 lb pitch @ 3d ¼ cwt firewood 6d||“||10||“|
|“15||2 do. [days] @ 3/ – 12 lb pitch @ 3d ¼ cwt firewood 6d||“||9||6|
|To use of dry dock 44 springs||495|
John Foale Morry’s Efforts to Regain and Restore his Rightful Inheritance Taken from Him by Walter Prideaux and Matthew Morry
The next three cases (4, 5 and 6 below) are essentially part and parcel of one another, and all form part of a very sad and tawdry tale of misuse (quite possibly criminally) of the inheritance of John Foale Morry, Matthew Morry’s grandson. The parties in this act seem to be Walter Prideaux and Matthew himself. Whether with deliberate intent to defraud the poor lad, or in the mistaken belief that, by using his inheritance for running their business, they were following the intent of the Trusts emanating from his parents’ estates, his Maintenance and Education was being paid for out of Company funds. I tend not to be of the view that this was all very innocent. I think that Walter Prideaux did deliberately run off with the inheritance, but that he involved Matthew in this by leaving a portion of the money in his hands, knowing they would be used for the benefit of their Co-partnership. Whether Matthew knew he was being used, or whether he was in fact a party to the fraud, is unknown, and the facts can be interpreted both ways, from the documents presented to the court.
A little background before getting into the cases themselves. John Morry senior was a Privateer for a number of years. We don’t presently have the year that he was first given Letters of Marque to act for the Crown in intercepting foreign shipping, but it would appear that this was his principal career and source of income from the time that he earned his Masters ticket. Assuming he became a Master in his early twenties, as did his father, then he would have been a Privateer for almost a decade, until his death in February 1807. During that time he managed to salt away a fair bit of his Prize money in what were called Three per Cent Consolidated Bank Annuities, much like Canada Savings Bonds. In these cases, a great deal is made of these Annuities, and the Dividends and Interest that would have accrued on them after his death. But the strange thing is that there is almost no mention made of cash on hand or continuing income from the sale of Prizes after he died. The Joshua Rowe case above is the one exception, but there were quite a few other Prizes being managed out of Portsmouth by Rowe’s colleague, another agent named Thomas Dunsterville. We never learn what became of that Prize money. Again, my suspicions are aroused by all of this easy money falling into the hands of Matthew Morry, as Executor, at the time that his business was falling apart. These are only suspicions, but the failure to even mention what should have been large amounts of money belonging rightfully to young John is curious, to say the least.
Note that neither the search conducted by Susan Moore in April 2016 nor my own on-site scrutiny of the High Court of Chancery indexes to Decrees and Orders in April 2017 turned up any evidence of a resolution or a judgement in either of these cases taken by Matthew Morry against Robert Newman and Walter Prideaux and his two grandsons. But in the related case taking place in the Court of King’s Bench in which Robert Newman was suing Matthew Morry and (ostensibly but not in fact) his partner, Walter Prideaux, judgement was found for the plaintiff but only Matthew Morry’s property was seized for partial payment and Walter Prideaux got off Scot free.
4.Morry v Hunt: C 13/2148/39. 30th April 1819. Plaintiff: John Morry. Defendants: Walter Prideaux, Matthew Morry and William Cholwich Hunt. Bill and Three Answers.
It should be noted that the National Archives points out, somewhat apologetically, that the titles of these High Court of Chancery Cases are deficient in a number of respects. They point out that, as the cases unfolded in real time, the Clerks at the Court would often change the title from one document to the next, based upon a quick scan of the latest document to come before them and requiring accessing into their filing system. So it is with this case. The official title is Morry v Hunt. Not only does that leave one in wonder of which Morry and which Hunt was involved, but it also begs the question of why one of three Defendants eventually named in the Bill of Complaint was chosen to be the lead in naming the file. In this instance one might be excused for assuming that the Morry in the title was Matthew, since he was the Complainant in all earlier Bills. But in fact, this time the Complainant is his grandson, John Foale Morry and Matthew Morry is one of three Defendants named in the Bill.
John, being a minor, or “Infant” in the terminology of the Court, could not represent himself, and was represented by Nicholas Brand, his so-called “Next Friend”. Nicholas had for some time been a resident of Ferryland, though he had now retired back to England,. It is quite likely that Matthew Morry suggested him to his grandson to act as his representative in Court. This, despite the fact that Matthew himself was one of the named Defendants.
As we read the documents we realise that William Cholwich Hunt played only a minor role in the proceedings, and that the action was largely being mounted against Walter Prideaux, and only secondarily against Matthew Morry. In fact, in the Commission given to the worthy gentlemen who were to take testimony, only Walter Prideaux was named as a Defendant. But, for now at least, the case remains named as Morry v Hunt.
Another apparent error seemed to exist in the naming of the file. It is suggested that it includes the Bill of Complaint and Three Answers. When I paid the Archives to do a page count on this file and then paid them again a much larger amount to make a digital copy of the entire file they only sent me one Answer, that of Walter Prideaux. I subsequently discovered that an error made in the copy process failed to provide me with the Answers of Matthew Morry and William Cholwich Hunt. I have photographs of these documents which I made in 2008 when I visited Kew but the photos are blurry and incomplete not adequate for making accurate transcripts so I was forced to write to the Archives seeking the missing critical Answers. In the end, they found the missing pages but charged me an additional £50 for the high resolution scans of these five additional large scale A3+ pages
I also ordered digital copies of that case (C 13/2155/2), which includes two related Complaints lodged by Matthew Morry against Walter Prideaux and one of the principals of the Kingsbridge Bank, John Square. It is interesting to see where Matthew was headed with that Complaint. In that bundle there are two Bills and one Answer, but that one Answer consists of some 40 pages, most of which is a summary account of the affairs of Matthew Morry and Company from the day the partnership was formed until it was dissolved. There will be much of interest to be found there.
Finally, it is noteworthy that the summaries of these case files mention what Bills and Answers are included but fail to mention if the other elements of the normal documentation are present or absent, especially the names of the Commissioners, and the lists of Interrogatories, and any Depositions related to them. These are all very important elements in fully understanding the proceedings and outcome. In most cases some or all of them are absent.
Just one example of this is worthy of mention here. In this case, the names of the Commissioners chosen were “Nicholas Brooking the younger, Thomas Harris, William Were Prideaux and John Doe, Gentlemen“. Surely it could not have escaped the notice of the officers of the Court who selected this list of worthy gentlemen to hear testimony and report back to the Lord High Chancellor that one of them (William Were Prideaux) was a relative of one of the Defendants (Walter Prideaux)! His grandson, to be precise. And another of them, Nicholas Brooking the younger, was a Barrister and partner of one of the Defendants, again, Walter Prideaux! John Foale Morry and his “next friend” representing him in this action, Nicholas Brand, must have choked when they saw that! What hope they may have had for a fair hearing, keeping in mind that they were challenging two pillars of Dartmouth society, must have vanished completely with the naming of the members of the Commission. Hard to believe that such an obvious conflict of interest would have been tolerated in the Courts of that day.
Commission from the High Court of Chancery in the Case Morry v Hunt
This case, and to a certain extent the two that follow, revolve around the question of what became of John Foale Morry’s inheritance from his father and mother, both of whom died in 1807.
We learn that John Morry senior had a Will at the time of his death and that his widow was named as his sole heir and executrix. However, Mary only survived her husband by five months, a fact that I for one find very curious and suspicious. And she died intestate. At this point, Matthew Morry stepped in to obtain Letters of Administration and other legal authorities to act as the Representative and Guardian of his grandson, John, who was only 7 at the time. In fact, as it transpired, he and another man, William Cholwich Hunt, about whom only a little is known, were appointed as Joint Trustees of the estate and the inheritance to which John was solely entitled. William Cholwich Hunt was the son of William Hunt and Mary Holdsworth, the latter a familiar name to the Morry family, since John Henry Morry, Matthew’s grandson, acquire the Holdsworth lands in Ferryland some years later. William’s wife was Mary Brooking and the Brooking family were pillars of Dartmouth society. In fact, Nicholas Brooking the younger, her brother, was one of the Commissioners assigned to this case, as well as the business partner of Walter Prideaux. All of these family and business associations should have set off alarm bells in the High Court of Chancery when choosing appropriate Commissioners, but did not. As an aside of interest, William Cholwich Hunt’s brother was Arthur Hunt, after whom Arthur Hunt O’Brien Carter, the son of the Judge of the Vice-Admiralty Court in Ferryland for 52 years, William Carter, was named. And of course, William’s sister was Anne Carter, who later became Matthew Morry’s second wife. Strange how all these pieces come together.
This is when things begin to get fuzzy. The Probate documents pertaining to the Intestate estate of the late Mary Foale Morry fail to show an accurate accounting of the value of the estate of John Morry senior, and hence that of his widow, Mary Foale Morry. No cash on hand or money in the bank is mentioned, if there was any, and it seems likely that there would have been. While the major element of these estates is given as the 3% Consolidated Bank Annuities amounting in value to over £1400, we later learn that these were never cashed out by Mary and the Dividends never claimed. Therefore we have to assume that she had other resources at her disposal, either of her own or left to her by her husband, that are not accounted for here. The Probate documents do mention the Prize money awaiting liquidation by Joshua Rowe, but fail to mention other Prizes which were then being advertised for auction by another agent, Thomas Dunsterville of Plymouth. And in John Foale Morry’s Complaint now, some dozen years after the death of his parents, it is quite clear that he is attempting to nail down what happened to the 3% Consolidated Bank Annuities and is apparently unaware of the fact that these may have constituted only one part, possibly the least part, of the inheritance to which he was entitled. The remainder seems to have vanished into thin air, and is never mentioned again in any Complaint or Answer, by either he or his grandfather, Matthew Morry. For me at least, this raises suspicions that the funds related to Prize money and other funds on hand at the time of the death of Mary Foale Morry may have wound up forming a part of Matthew Morry’s general revenues, rather than being exclusively included with the Trust money belonging to John Morry. This could have been entirely innocent on Matthew’s part, as he was John’s legal Guardian and may have thought it was his right to hold those funds and use them for John’s “Maintenance and Education”. He does not appear to have had any kind of understanding of bookkeeping, having allowed his business partner, Walter Prideaux, to keep the books for their company. But if so, he seems to have avoided every opportunity offered in his testimony to mention the existence of these funds as a part of the estate now in question.
The problem of accounting for the funds due to John Foale Morry began, in fact, before the Probate of his mother’s intestate estate. According to John’s testimony in his Complaint, though we do not have the supporting documentation, on May 8, 1807, two months before she died, Mary Foale Morry signed away her entire estate in Trust to Matthew Morry and William Cholwich Hunt in an Indenture made out by Walter Prideaux. The purpose of the Indenture was to ensure that her interests were looked after in her lifetime, and those of her son were taken care of after her death, if he was still a minor at the time, and in fact survived her. The exact wording of the Indenture is unknown, because the copy presented to court (if it was indeed presented to the court) no longer remains amongst the papers in this bundle. But, based once again on John’s testimony, the aim was for the 3% Annuities and all other funds that formed a part of the estate, including anything that would or should have been obtained from Joshua Rowe as Prize money, was to be liquidated and reinvested in proper secure investments in the name of the Trust. Quite obviously, this never transpired, and John was, at the time of this Bill, becoming aware of the fact that his inheritance had one way or the other entirely disappeared.
What we now learn happened instead is that, in 2009, during a visit to Dartmouth by Matthew Morry, Walter Prideaux made out a Power of Attorney to a businessman named John Yarde Fownes, with the cooperation of Matthew Morry, though perhaps not with the full comprehension of the intent of the Power of Attorney, to liquidate the 3% Annuities and the Dividends still unclaimed since the death of John Morry. The “produce” of this sale was then moved around to settle a variety of accounts in arrears, none of which seem, on the surface, to have had anything to do with a debt associated with the Trust for John Foale Morry, but rather debts associated with Walter Prideaux himself, or with Matthew Morry and Company. It appears that the residue of the sale, after these accounts were settled, an amount of only £300, was turned over to Matthew Morry, but were never invested in the name of the Trust. Matthew claims in his Answer that these funds were needed to pay Funerary, Testamentary and Administratory expenses associated with settling the estates of John Morry Senior and his widow, Mary Foale Morry.
From that day forward, though he of course did not know it at the time, John Foale Morry was apparently being clothed, housed and educated with funds coming from the general revenue of Matthew Morry and Company, and not from the interest on the investment of the Trust monies that were his by inheritance. In fact, there was no interest to be used for such purposes, because those Trust monies no longer existed as such. They were rather used to pay off various debts of Walter Prideaux and Matthew Morry and Company, in exchange, one might say, for the Company taking care of his needs from that point forward. That was not, of course, the intent of the Trust under which Matthew Morry and William Cholwich Hunt operated as Trustees and they, as well as the author of those Trusts, Walter Prideaux, knew that full well. Matthew Morry claimed in his Answer to his grandson’s complaint that he was completely ignorant of the fact that Walter Prideaux had not invested the proceeds of the sale of the Stocks in a security as they had apparently agreed. In fact, he claimed that Walter Prideaux told him he had invested these funds in a very safe mortgage on a property in Cumberland County owned by a man named Thomas Leigh, about whom we are told nothing in the Answer. Matthew goes on to say that he only found out the truth years later when the estate was sold and Prideaux was forced to admit that there was no mortgage on the property after all.
Through all of this William Cholwich Hunt, according to his Answer at least, appears to have been completely kept in the dark, and in no way benefited from this questionably legal process, though he obviously failed miserably in his legal role as a Trustee of the estate. For this reason it is a bit ironic that it should be his name, and not that of Walter Prideaux or Matthew Morry, that is used as the Defendant named in the title of the Cause.
Walter Prideaux’s Answer is an excellent example of the prevarication and diversionary response to a simply question that only highly trained and experienced lawyers are capable of. Reading it alone, one might assume that Walter Prideaux was the injured party, and not the young John Foale Morry. Everyone except Walter Prideaux, and especially Matthew Morry, is guilty of some form of malfeasance here, according to this Answer. He admits to everything — and he admits to nothing! His testimony confirms the existence of the 3% Annuities in the estate of John Morry senior; that he was involved in the preparation of the Indenture that conferred Trustee status on behalf of Mary Foale Morry and her infant son John Foale Morry on Matthew Morry and William Cholwich Hunt; that these investments were transferred to the Intestate estate of Mary Foale Morry at the time of her death; that he assisted with the Probate of that estate; and that he was the author of the Power of Attorney that saw those investments sold and liquidated in 1809. Notwithstanding all of that, he was guiltless in any misuse or appropriation of these funds, which he guilelessly suggests must have been all consumed in paying off the funerary and administrative debts of John Morry senior, and Mary Foale Morry, as well as the maintenance of the young John Morry over the intervening years. He does pause long enough in the process of exonerating himself and holding himself blameless to cast suspicion on his former partner, Matthew Morry, with whom he is presently involved in a very acrimonious dissolution of partnership. He suggests that, despite all of his admissions of prior involvement with these investments, he was not aware that the assets Matthew Morry agreed to liquidate in 1809 were the same Annuities, even though they had John Morry senior’s name clearly written on them. He also suggests that it was Matthew Morry’s idea to liquidate these assets and use them to pay off their respective debts, though it isn’t clear why Matthew would have seen it to be a reasonable use of these funds to pay off debts that were solely in the name of Walter Prideaux.
Two of John Morry’s 3% Consolidated Bank Annuity Certificates
Without explaining the relevance of the exposition, Walter Prideaux then uses about half of the space in his Answer to challenge his ex-partner, Matthew Morry concerning the process they were then involved in to have the books of their partnership finalised and audited. This has only of peripheral relevance to the questions raised in John Foale Morry’s Complaint and seem to be simply used as smoke to cloud the issue of his own involvement and blame in the misappropriation of John Foale Morry’s inheritance. The only connection appears to be that he is claiming, probably rightly so, that Matthew Morry was taking funds from the Company account to pay for the “Maintenance and Education” of young John Morry. This seems plausible since there was no other source of such funds, once the 3% Annuities had been liquidated to the mutual advantage of Walter Prideaux and the Company. That said, if any of it can be believed, it does not shine a very glowing light on Matthew Morry’s role in settling the accounts of the now defunct Matthew Morry and Company. This exposition is perhaps more relevant in the following two cases, which were dealt with at almost the same time before the High Court of Chancery.
One small aside before moving on to the next case in this tawdry affair. Walter Prideaux does do us one favour in preparing his Answer to John Foale Morry’s Complaint. He informs us that some of the misappropriated funds from the Trust of John Foale Morry were used to settle, not only his parents’ estates, but also that of his uncle, Thomas Graham Morry. Prior to this time we knew nothing about when Thomas Graham Morry died. We still do not know how he died. Was he perhaps a crewman on board the ALEXANDER, and were he and his brother John both killed in the same skirmish? This is pure speculation on my part, but it does seem plausible, considering the timing, and the fact that Prideaux associated the settling of the two estates with one another in this manner. Interestingly, Matthew Morry makes no mention whatsoever of his other son, Thomas Graham Morry, in his Answer, and certainly does not admit to using funds from the inheritance of his grandson, John Foale Morry, to settle the estate of Thomas Graham Morry.
Matthew Morry’s Answer is the longest of the three, taking up three entire sheets of parchment (roughly 36″x 36″ each in small hand writing). For the most part, Matthew’s Answer supports the salient facts as laid out by his grandson’s Complaint, but without accepting much personal blame for the disappearance of virtually all of his inheritance. Like Walter Prideaux, he makes it seem that the almost the entire inheritance was spent on settling the estates of John’s late mother and father, with some of the residue being used to support John Junior’s maintenance and education, as the Trusts laid out. But he also supports John’s contention that some of the funds were used to settle the personal accounts of Walter Prideaux and those of their joint partnership, Matthew Morry and Company, though evidently casting the blame for these transactions entirely on his partner, Walter Prideaux. We are left to imagine that, as the Trustee of these funds, Matthew had been kept completely in the dark by his partner, Walter Prideaux, over the use of the funds realised from the sale of the 3% Consolidated Bank Annuities, which Matthew himself approved.
One curious and disturbing aspect of Matthew’s testimony is the fact that he accounts for what funds and assets should have been in John Junior’s inheritance without once mentioning the proceeds of the Prize or Prizes that were still for sale at the time of the death of John Morry Senior. Indeed, the outcome of Matthew Morry’s Complaint against the Auctioneer (Joshua Rowe) of one such Prize, the ALEXANDER, is never learned from this Answer. Surely, some funds must have eventually been turned over to the estate of John Morry, Senior, after this, and possibly other Prizes, were sold. But, if so, those funds are completely ignored in Matthew Morry’s testimony. John Morry, Junior, raised the matter of the existence of these Bounties or proceeds from the sale of Prizes in his Complaint. But all three Answers, including that of Matthew Morry, who had himself pursued the securing of these debts through the courts, are completely silent on this matter. This serves to support suspicions that Matthew was not being entirely honest about his dealings with his grandson’s inheritance and that he might have been more complicit in the use of these resources for personal gain than he lets on.
At the end of his Answer, Matthew includes a Schedule purporting to represent a balance sheet of funds expended as a direct result of the Trusts pertaining to the estate of his son, John Morry, and the limited income he, Matthew Morry, and others received from Walter Prideaux to effect the carrying out of those Trusts from the proceeds of the sale of the 3% Consolidated Bank Annuities. This table is remarkable for a number of reasons. The first thing one notices is that, in the first few months following the deaths of John Morry and Mary Foale Morry, the itemised expenses are extremely modest. In fact, during the entire year of their deaths (1807), only around £50 in expenses can be accounted for and some of these are either obtuse or questionable. Beginning in 1808, it almost seems as if Matthew realised his accounting was not going to add up to anywhere near the amount he had intimated in his Answer he had expended and thus the amounts recorded begin to increase for seemingly very minor expenses. For example, Mr. Bond’s charges for schooling young John each half year range from a low of £13, more or less, to a high of around £18. That was an extremely large amount of money for such an expense in those years. In March of 1809, two years after her death, Matthew records a series of entries for charges he indicates were pertaining to the settling of her estate. Collectively these add up to about £50, which is the equivalent to all of the expenses in 1807 pertaining to the settling of the accounts of both John Morry and Mary Foale Morry in the year of their deaths. This is curious to say the least. There are also expenses recorded to individuals named but for purposes not given. It is assumed these are the people who were providing lodgings for John during this period when he was not living in Caplin Bay with his grandfather. These amounts started out being relatively modest (e.g. £2 or £3 in July 1807 following the death of Mary Foale Morry), but increase dramatically in 1809 to sums adding up to £40 or more even though there is no indication of the period covered by these expenses. Once again, it takes on the appearance of stacking the books towards the end to render the cumulative total somewhat closer to the amount of the missing funds from the sale of the Stocks in John Morry, Junior’s, estate. Finally, we have the accounting of what funds Matthew and others ostensibly received directly from Walter Prideaux, ostensibly from that sale of Stock and the interest accruing to the Dividends on the investments made with the proceeds of that sale. First we have the lump sum of £300 which Matthew Claimed he needed to settle the estates of John Morry and Mary Foale Morry, and then for each year from 1810 to 1814 we have an exactly identical amount of £26 pounds going to the person who was apparently caring for John at that time (Matthew’s two daughters, Mrs. Kemp — Priscilla; Mrs. Sweetland — Anne; and Matthew himself in the final year). This payment, according to Matthew, was actually a ruse on the part of Walter Prideaux to cover up the fact that he had not invested the residue of the funds realised from the sale but had in fact used them to pay down his own personal debts and those of their partnership, once again without Matthew’s knowledge or approval, if we are to believe his testimony. But why would Walter Prideaux have paid off the debts of their Co-partnership using these funds without informing Matthew of his intention to do so? After all, they would both benefit equally from the use of the funds in this manner. That is the loose end that Matthew never attempts to tie up.
In the end, reading these court papers, one is left with the uncomfortable feeling that what we are seeing here is a conspiracy of thieves involving Walter Prideaux first and foremost but also Matthew Morry, who has been kindly left the grounds for a sort of plausible denial by his business partner, who actually did all of the dirty work.
5. Morry v Prideaux: C 13/2350/8. 2nd June 1820. Plaintiff: John Morry. Defendants: Walter Prideaux, Matthew Morry and William Cholwich Hunt. Two Interrogatories and three Depositions
NOTE: There is an error in the naming of this file which I have brought to the attention of the National Archives. They have it as Morry v Prideaux alright, but have Matthew Morry as the Complainant, when in fact he is one of the Defendants. This is easily explained, because the Bill itself is missing from the bundle, and the Commission, while giving the correct name of the Complainant, only gives Walter Prideaux’s name as a Defendant (et. al.). The names of all of the Defendants are found eventually in the lead in paragraphs on the Interrogatories.
Apparently what we have here are two cases joined together, one brought at Easter 1819 and the other in June 1820. The Court appears to have considered that the two cases were too close to one another to deal with separately, and therefore had two sets of Interrogatories drawn up and witnesses to the two Bills (neither of which is found in the bundle) interrogated at the same time in October of 1820.
In the absence of the two Bills, we have to draw strongly upon the tenor of the Interrogatories to determine what the substance of the Complaints must have been. From these questions we learn that the cases here represented pertain to a further attempt on the part of John Foale Morry to get to the root of what happened to the 3% Consolidated Bank Annuities that belonged to his father and that should have formed the mainstay of a Trust fund in his name. Had these funds continued to remain in his favour, he could have lived comfortably on the Dividends. Had they and the Dividends that had already accumulated since the time of his father’s death, been liquidated and safely and securely invested on the open market, he could have depended on the interest for a comfortable living. As it was, neither was the case as the Annuities were sold and the “produce” of that sale was not reinvested in Trust for his benefit. John Foale Morry wanted to know why, and who was to blame.
The Interrogatories crafted by his lawyers for John Foale Morry clearly show that he was beginning to form the opinion that his grandfather was not an innocent bystander duped by the clever lawyer, Walter Prideaux and his sharp business tactics.
Walter Prideaux’s Interrogatories, on the other hand, seem to avoid the subject of the 3 % Annuities altogether and focus specifically on how Matthew Morry failed to cooperate with the auditors selected to arbitrate on the closing of the books and the dissolution of their partnership in Matthew Morry and Company, as if this was the crux of the matter. Once again, as enlightening as this line of questioning may be for those of us who have an interest in Matthew Morry’s business affairs, this seems entirely diversionary, intended to draw attention away from Walter Prideaux’s culpability in mismanaging, and possibly fraudulently misappropriating a portion of the inheritance of John Foale Morry. Getting back on topic momentarily, he asks the question of where it was that young John Foale Morry was housed during the years after his parents’ deaths, and who was responsible for his maintenance during that time.
The first deponent, John Brown Smith, was the witness to the Indenture by which Mary Foale Morry signed over all of her finances to the care of Matthew Morry and William Cholwich Hunt. Other than attesting to this fact and that he knew all of those involved for various lengths of time prior to signing the document, we are not enlightened by his testimony.
The second deponent, John Yarde Fownes, was the man to whom a Power of Attorney was issued by Matthew Morry, having been crafted by Walter Prideaux, and coming with a covering letter from the latter in his own hand writing, telling Fownes what to do with the proceeds of the sale of the 3% Annuities. He attests that he has known both Matthew Morry and Walter Prideaux for thirty years, almost as long as we have previously learned that they were co-partners in Matthew Morry and Company. Though it is a relatively minor point, but one for which no answer was formerly forthcoming, he also attests that he received as part of the sale two years of Dividends on the Annuities worth eighty pounds, eighteen shillings and eight pence. He deposes that he deposited the proceeds of the sale to his account to cover the debts of Matthew Morry and Company, and of the private debts of Walter Prideaux, and that he was so instructed to do by the letter from Walter Prideaux, and that he had never received any instructions in this regard from Matthew Morry. Its hard to know what to make of this testimony. We can assume that everyone who submitted a deposition in the case was inclined to tell more or less the truth, but probably coloured their testimony in favour of one or the other of the defendants, according to their relationships with them. In this case, the testimony seems to almost exonerate Matthew Morry of responsibility for how the proceeds of the sale of the investments were used, but Matthew was well aware that these Annuities were not his to use as he saw fit, and that he was meant to reinvest them for the sole benefit of his grandson. In this regard, he failed totally in his role as Trustee and Guardian, whether through ignorance of financial proceedings or self-interest, we may never know.
The final deponent was John Richards, and he was produced as a witness at the exclusive request of Walter Prideaux. His testimony, like the Interrogatory crafted by Walter Prideaux to which it responded, had virtually nothing to do with the Complaint of John Foale Morry and everything to do with exonerating Walter Prideaux for not having produced a proper accounting of the books of Matthew Morry and Company prior to this late date, though requested to do so constantly for several years whilst these cases were unfolding. The testimony of John Richards supports that of Walter Prideaux in suggesting that every effort had been made to have a proper accounting of the books take place, but that Matthew Morry had stonewalled those efforts and prevented their successful completion. The fact remains, however, that it was Walter Prideaux, or staff under his employ, who had kept, by his own admission, detailed books of the accounts of over thirty years of business of Matthew Morry and Company, and yet he contended that he had no idea whether the company was solvent or not at the time that Matthew Morry called for the dissolution of the partnership. He claimed to be a simple Barrister and Solicitor unfamiliar with the complex dealings of business, and therefore unable to state with any certainty what the status of the accounts was at that time. That simply defies credibility, and in any event is irrelevant to the case at hand. John Richards also responded to Walter Prideaux’s final Interrogatory, which was to know where John Foale Morry had resided over the years since his parents’ deaths, and what the cost of his maintenance during that period might have been. He suggested that he believed that John had resided in the house in Newfoundland paid for by Company funds, and that his maintenance might have cost £30 a year. This question was introduced by Prideaux more for his own purposes than to assist in determining what became of John Foale Morry’s inheritance. He wanted to establish that, if John had been looked after using Company resources, it would not have cost anywhere near what Matthew Morry claimed he had withdrawn from the Company accounts for that purpose. This was a little like walking on thin ice for Walter Prideaux to introduce this line of questioning, because it meant that he knew all along that John Foale Morry was not being supported from the interest on his inherited investments, as he should have been, according to the Indenture drawn up by Walter Prideaux for Mary Foale Morry’s signature, but rather from whatever remained of the proceeds of the sale of the 3% Annuities, which had been turned over to the general Company accounts, a company in which he was a co-partner, and therefore a beneficiary of what was quite likely an illegal alienation of Trust funds.
6. Morry v Prideaux: C 13/1441/6. 22nd December 1820. Plaintiff: John Morry. Defendants: Matthew Morry and Walter Prideaux. Two sets of Depositions
Once again, it should be noted that there are errors in the indexing and naming of this case in the National Archives system. They show the case as being Morry v Prideaux, which is correct, but in the details they show Matthew Morry as the Complainant when it should once again be his grandson, John Foale Morry. Matthew Morry is one of the two Defendants along with Walter Prideaux. John Square is named as a defendant in the National Archives summation but is not named as a Defendant in the Commission or the Interrogatories. In fact, this file as provided to me was also deficient as I discovered because the copies I was given did not include a second set of documents which form an integral component of this Cause. These documents, which fortunately I had copies of from 2007, include a second Commissions and Oaths, as second set of Interrogatories by Walter Prideaux and a Second set of Depositions in response to those Interrogatories. Above and beyond the content of those Depositions, it is interesting to not that one of the Commissioners appointed to oversee this second set of hearings was none other than John Square, Walter Prideaux’s banking partner!
The Bill or Complaint is once again missing from the bundle, as are any Answers.
In the First Commission statement we see that “William Lamb Hockin, Thomas Wyse, George Farwell and John Vere Cole, Gentlemen“ are named as the Commissioners. At least in this case there is no obvious conflict of interest, as there was in Morry v Hunt. Hockin was a well respected Attorney in Dartmouth. Thomas Wyse, later Sir Thomas Wyse, KCB, was an Anglo-Irish politician and diplomat descended from a Devon Squire. Many of his relatives had been mayors of Waterford and other Irish cities and towns. His only failing was that he was an RC, but that would not have disqualified him in a role as a Chancery Commissioner. George Farwell was a member of a respectable family from Totnes, where his ancestor, by the same name, had been Town Clerk. Of John Vere Cole nothing is known, but the De Vere family is an ancient Norman English aristocrat family, and it is assumed he had a connection to them. As mentioned above, the Commission names only “Walter Prideaux et al” as the Defendants.
In the first set of Interrogatories, which were submitted by Walter Prideaux, both he and Matthew Morry are named as Defendants. It is interesting that the only Interrogatories that remain in the collection, as well as all of the Depositions which respond to the case, relate to Walter Prideaux’s defence. Nothing in this file has anything to do with either the Bill from John Foale Morry or the Interrogatories, Answers or Depositions that should have resulted from the Complaint. So we are only getting one side of the story.
Prideaux’s angle in submitting these Interrogatories and calling five friends to respond to them was to show that Matthew Morry had been regularly dipping his hand into the pot of the Co-partnership account of Matthew Morry and Company during the years 1811-1813, at which time the company was either going broke, or was at least in dispute between the two partners. At the same time it was Prideaux’s intention to show that he had never done likewise in terms of helping himself to the resources of the company. But since he was the keeper of the books, which constituted the evidence presented, we can be forgiven for being a little dubious concerning this line of questioning. Once again, the only faint connection between this line of questioning and the cause of the Complaint by John Foale Morry is found in the fourth Interrogatory, when Prideaux asks the deponents to state where John Morry had resided since his parents passed away, who paid for his Maintenance and Support, and how much was a reasonable amount for such costs. Here we see once again Walter Prideaux aiming directly at Matthew Morry for paying for John’s board and keep out of company funds, and then alleging that he overcharged the account for these expenses. But once again, Walter Prideaux was the keeper of the books in this partnership, as well as the author of the Power of Attorney and accompanying letter that authorised the sale of the 3% Annuities that belonged to John Morry’s Trust and dictated that the residue of the sale, after payment of Walter Prideaux’s personal debts, and those of Matthew Morry and Company, should be turned over to the account of Matthew Morry and Company. So in a sense, this line of questioning constituted a sort of self-incrimination.
The five Depositions respond to these First Interrogatories submitted by Walter Prideaux’s lawyer. There are none representing any Interrogatories on behalf of the Complainant. There must have been others for the Plaintiff, but those are missing. Thee first Depositions were taken on Friday, January 19, 1821, at the “house of David Donovan called or known by the Name of the Castle Inn in Dartmouth”. An interesting choice of location and timing — TGIF! But since earlier depositions of this kind had been taken at the house of one of Walter Prideaux’s sons in Kingsbridge, this at least lent an air of impartiality to the proceedings. That said, it must be remembered that Walter Prideaux was a part of the same social circle as all of the Commissioners and Deponents, and Matthew Morry (the focus of attack in these Depositions) was not.
Henry Newman, of the famed Merchant family associated with Newfoundland, was the first to give his deposition. He admitted knowing both Defendants for twenty years or more. Henry Newman was not an auditor; he was a merchant, and therefore would have been familiar with bookkeeping practices. But to show him three of well over thirty annual record books of Matthew Morry and Company, which had been kept by Walter Prideaux and never previously shown to Matthew Morry, and to specifically point out to him the Balances showing as having been the amounts taken out of the company by Matthew Morry in each of the three years (1810-1813), and ask him to tell the court what he saw there, would have been ruled inadmissible in any modern court of law. He had no specific expertise, no prior personal knowledge of these accounts, and no way of knowing whether the accounts had been fudged in Prideaux’s favour or were an accurate and complete account of the business transactions. Despite all of that, the deposition was allowed. He told the Commissioners that, from what he saw in these books, Matthew Morry had taken from the company six hundred and thirty pounds, seven shillings and nine pence in 1811, two hundred and twenty eight pounds and three shillings in 1812, and one hundred and twenty eight pounds fourteen shillings and three pence in 1813, for his own personal use. Then we are led to believe that, all of a sudden, without ever having seen these books previously, Henry Newman discovered an error in the bookkeeping which showed another four hundred and forty nine pounds, thirteen shillings and one penny which Matthew had taken for his own personal use. The man must have been a financial genius! It all defies belief, and fairly shouts collusion with Walter Prideaux. He goes on to note that his examination of these books fails to show in whose favour, that of Walter Prideaux or Matthew Morry, the final Balance belongs. But at the end, when asked if there are any further matters he can mention that are germane to the defence of Walter Prideaux, Henry Newman admits that he had been coached for all intents and purposes. He states that, outside of the evidence submitted in the form of the three annual ledgers for 1811-1813, he had also had the opportunity outside of Court to examine the books for 1814 to 1816, and found a further withdrawal of funds for the personal use of Matthew Morry in the amount of “Nine hundred pounds and upwards”. A modern court of law would have thrown out such testimony, in as much as it was allegedly based upon evidence not submitted to the Court. But it must be remembered that the High Court of Chancery operated on totally different rules of evidence than other courts of the day, precisely because it was there to settle issues for which those rules were not in general applicable or helpful in determining equity.
The second deponent, William Richards, was a Master Mariner. He stated that he had known John Morry for eight years and both Defendants for “upwards of twenty years”. His testimony as to the amounts taken from the company by Matthew Morry in each of the three years 1811-1813 was identical to the farthing as the testimony in that regard given by Henry Newman. This amazing agreement is made all the more remarkable because, as a Master Mariner, he would have neither the education nor the experience to be able to read complex ledgers. On top of that, quite amazingly, he managed to find the same error in accounts that had previously been “discovered” by Henry Newman. This testimony too defies credulity, but was allowed to stand. When asked to comment on the living arrangements made for John Morry after the death of his mother, Richards could only state that he knew he lived in the Company house in Newfoundland in 1814 and 1815, and that, from his own experience staying in such accommodation in Newfoundland, the costs would have amounted to about one pound and five shillings per week. In other words, only a small fraction of what Matthew Morry had been shown, from the evidence of the Company ledgers, to have withdrawn annually from the Company accounts for personal use.
Nicholas Brooking the younger of Dartmouth was the third deponent. This is of special interest because we have seen his name before in these proceedings. He was one of those named as a Commissioner in the case of Morry v Hunt, a case so close to this one as to be virtually indistinguishable! For one man to act as Commissioner and Deponent on matters of concern to both cases constitutes a conflict of interest of the first magnitude. As if that is not bad enough, we learned in Morry v Newman that Nicholas Brooking the younger was a Barrister and the partner in law with Walter Prideaux. In that case, it was admitted by Robert Newman that he was from time to time indebted, albeit in small amounts, to both Walter Prideaux and Nicholas Brooking the younger. Matthew Morry’s conspiracy theories and apparent paranoid delusions begin to look almost credible, as all the pieces begin to emerge. Brooking was brought to testify on different matters than the company ledgers. He testified that he was well familiar with Matthew Morry’s signature and that it was indeed his signature that appeared on two Bills of Exchange honoured out of the Company accounts, one for five hundred and fifty pounds, made out to William Teague, dated in Ferryland on November 13, 1811; and the other for one thousand pounds, made out by Matthew Morry himself, in Dartmouth, on March 5, 1815, and honoured by Walter Prideaux. Since there is no cross-examination in such Depositions, we have no idea what Walter Prideaux was driving at here, except to show that Matthew Morry was in receipt of Company money on these two occasions. But as a business partner, that should not come as a surprise or be thought of as unusual.
John Jennings of Dartmouth, the clerk in the firm of Harris and Company Bankers, was the fourth deponent. He testified that he had known Walter Prideaux for fifteen years and Matthew Morry for eight to ten years. At least he had common sense enough to deny any special knowledge of bookkeeping or to dare to testify in regard to the company books brought as evidence by Walter Prideaux. This is a bit strange, since, as a bank clerk, he would more likely have had such experience than the other two witnesses who did testify as to what they saw in the company ledgers. Like Brooking, he was brought to testify in regard to the Bills of Exchange presented by Walter Prideaux in evidence. Evidence of what is hard to say, since it was clearly irrelevant to the case at hand, or the Complaint of John Foale Morry against Walter Prideaux. Jennings was able to shed light on the acceptance of the Bill of Exchange from William Teague by Messieurs Newman Hunt and Lyon, Merchants, London, the proceeds of which were deposited in the private account of Matthew Morry at the Banking House of Messieurs Harris Langhorne and Company in Dartmouth, and from which sums were taken by Matthew Morry from time to time thereafter. Nowadays that testimony, unless subpoenaed by a specific court order, would be considered a serious breach of banker/client privilege. Evidently Jennings felt free to divulge such private information in this instance at the call of Walter Prideaux, not the Court. He provided similar testimony in regard to the deposit of the thousand pounds from Company assets authorised by Walter Prideaux, and deposited into the same bank for Matthew’s personal use. Again, we have no follow up information by which to determine if this was an unusual transaction or one that fell into the category of normal give and take in this co-partnership.
The final Deponent was Robert Harris the younger of Dartmouth, one of the Bankers in the firm mentioned previously by John Jennings, their clerk. He had known the two defendants for about twenty years. It is not clear why his testimony was needed, since he only repeated what had already been said by John Jennings, and with less credibility, since he was not personally familiar with Matthew Morry’s signature, as was Jennings.
Noted above, due to a clerical error at the National Archives, I was not provided with a full set of the documents in this case bundle. There was a second set of related documents which consisted of a second Commission, a second set of the Oaths, a second notice of Execution of the Commission, a second set of Interrogatories (once again solely to the benefit of Walter Prideaux) and a second set of Depositions responding to those Interrogatories. Also as mentioned above, one of the Commissioners in this later set of hearings (held on October 30th 1822 at the house of Nicholas Brooking the Younger) was Walter Prideaux’s business partner in banking, John Square. Another was Robert Ilbert Prideaux. Yes, that’s right, another kinsman of the Defendant Walter Prideaux. The collusion and conflict of interest in these cases before the High Court of Chancery is mind boggling in today’s terms. The other twp presumably more neutral Commissioners were William Lamb Hockin and Thomas Harris.
These second hearings were called at the insistence of Walter Prideaux to get support for some of the answers he has given in regard to how he handled John Morry’s money and again to point the finger at Matthew Morry as the miscreant. The two people called to act as Deponents in this second round were William Wogan, an Accountant, who seemed to contribute very little to the proceedings from either side and, Walter Prideaux! Wait, that can’t be right, can it. Oh, yes, it is Walter Prideaux Junior who is called to testify! And needless to say to support in every manner the things that his illustrious Papa has stated! What more can one say about this farce?
Decrees and Orders on the Cases of John Foale Morry vs Walter Prideaux, Matthew Morry and William Cholwich Hunt
It is an idiosyncrasy of the filing system used at the National Archives that the various components of a Chancery Court case are not filed together. Whilst the pleadings themselves, including the Complaint, the Answer and Depositions, if any, may well be filed together in the C 13 Series of files, any Decrees and Orders issued during the course of the court case are found in the C 33 Series of files. Not only that, but the two Series are not connected with one another in the sense that there is a numeric cross-referencing system. Only the names of the Plaintiff (s) and Defendant (s) give a clue to the relationship of the Pleadings file to the Decrees and Orders files. And even then, the names of the Plaintiff and Defendant used to describe the case can vary between the two Series of files if there were multiple Plaintiffs and or Defendants. In this instance, John Foale Luke is the sole Plaintiff so it is possible to find all Decrees and Orders issued during the time in question that pertain to cases brought forward by him, but it is not possible to tell from the title, and sometimes even from the content, of the Decree and Order to which Chancery Case they specifically refer when there was more than one case going forward at the same time.
So I have listed in chronological order (or as filed, as some where not in chronological order) all the Decrees and Orders, ten that have been found, others may have been missed, on which John Foale Morry’s name is found as Plaintiff, regardless of which of the three cases above that Decree or Order may most likely apply, because there is no way of knowing for certain which of those cases is the one referenced in the Decrees and Orders.
|IND 1-10699-36 C 33-663 folio 1406 Morry v Morry et al 22 June 1819|
The first of many delaying tactics, this one designed to give more time for the preparation of the initial response to the charges. This may have been a legitimate need since the details of the case were quit complex.
|IND 1-10699-40 C 33-684 folio 24 Morry v Prideaux et al 13 Nov 1820 and 20 Nov 1820|
Two Orders to Produce, indicating that the defendants in the case have yet to respond to the Complaint sic months after the case was brought before the Court.
|IND 1-10699-40 C 33-684 folio 81 Morry v Prideaux et al ca Dec 1820|
Now the Court is ordering the two sides to name Commissioners to look into the allegations and answers and to take depositions early in the new year. Slow progress on the case.
|IND 1-10699-40 C 33-687 folio 1196 Morry v Prideaux et al 20 June 1821|
This Decree and Order refers to the judgement reached in the case on 4 May 1821, which is in fact the date of the following Decree and Order. In other words, the two Decrees and Orders have gotten misfiled in the system and are out of order. Nevertheless, what this indicates is that the Court has found in favour of the Plaintiff and has ordered Walter Prideaux and Matthew Morry to pay back the funds that they have jointly removed from his inheritance. William Cholwich Hunt is no longer a defendant, having been exonerated through the process of the review of the facts in the case. He was only a middle man in these financial transactions and stood to benefit nothing, though he did have a bounden duty as a Trustee to defend the rights of John Foale Luke and he failed miserably in that respect. This Decree and Order specifically has to do with Prideaux and Morry requesting the Master assigned to calculate the amount of the pay back to use a different formula for the calculation of their respective debts to John Foale Morry.
|IND 1-10699-40 C 33-687 folio 1345-1349 Morry v Prideaux et al 4 May 1821|
Here we have the longest Decree and Order I have ever seen. It essentially repeats in abbreviated for the entire Complaint, Answer and Depositions in the case as well as the deliberations which have gone into the Court giving its verdict and the instructions given to the Master to determine what recompense is owed to the Plaintiff and who should pay what. If only all Chancery and Court of King’s Bench cases were this well summarised!
|IND 1-10699-44 C 33-711 folio 1188d Morry vs Prideaux et al 7 June 1823|
By this time, the Master has submitted his report to the Court and the outcome of the case should be open and shut, with John Foale Morry receiving fair recompense for the money unlawfully taken from him by Walter Prideaux and Matthew Morry. However as this Decree and Order shows, the Court offers the defendants one last chance to appeal the verdict before ordering that it be carried out.
|IND 1-10699-44 C 33-711 folio 1288 Morry vs Prideaux et al 5 July 1823|
And of course, given an open door and an opportunity to delay further the repayment of this debt, Walter Prideaux seizes that opportunity and appeals, as we see in this Decree and Order issued the following month. Note that he is not joined in this appeal by Matthew Morry, who must by now realise that he has wronged his grandson and wishes to see proper restitution by both Prideaux and himself.
|IND 1-10699-46 C 33-720 folio 26 Morry vs Prideaux 18 Nov 1823|
Following an agonizingly slow process of actions and counteractions, the Court is finally ordering the whole matter be examined for the determination of final costs, as previously reserved in judgement.
|IND 1-10699-47 C 33-734 folio 1027-1028 Morry vs Prideaux 8 Mar 1825|
Now, nearly six years after the case was originally heard, an attempt is being made by the Court to do the final accounting based upon the detailed financial review of the facts by the assigned Master. Mr. Stephens. What is troubling about this lengthy Decree and Order is that there are a number of clear errors in the court transcript that favour Walter Prideaux. For example, whereas it has been repeatedly stated from the beginning that he was entitled to have claimed £300 from the inheritance money for his expenses (though this is dubious at best), here the clerk has made this amount to be £3000, not once, but twice. This error could not have formed a part of the final calculation of the money owed to John Foale Morry, but nevertheless it does seem to indicate an almost subliminal bias toward Prideaux in the Court of which he is a lawyer at the bar.
|IND 1-10699-48 C 33-736 folio 1530-1531 Morry vs Prideaux 26 Jul 1825|
In this second Decree and Order issued by the Court and demanding the two defendants pay into court within one month the sums assessed against each of them individually, we also see that a result of the method of calculating interest on the £300 supposedly correctly taken from these funds by Walter Prideaux for his legal services in relation to the estates of John Foale Morry’s parents, sees him being credited with almost twice that amount as a deduction from what he now is being ordered to pay into the Court Bank.
In as much as no further Decrees or Orders have been found pertaining to this case, we have to assume that compensation was eventually made to John Foale Morry by the Court from funds it received from Walter Prideaux and Matthew Morry. Though in the latter case at least, it is hard to imagine how Matthew could have afforded to make such a payment in view of how he had been victimised in England and Newfoundland in cases pertaining to the collapse of his partnership with Walter Prideaux.
7. Morry v Prideaux: C 13/2155/2 1818-1819. Plaintiff: Matthew Morry. Defendants: Walter Prideaux and John Square. Two Bills and One Answer
The title of this case gives a somewhat simplistic underestimation of its contents. In fact, including the Commissioner’s and Clerks Oaths, The Commissioner’s Appointment, the Commissioner’s Executions (2), and the two Bills of Complaint and one joint Answer, which are all several pages in length, there is an appendix attached representing the financial books of the entire history of the partnership for some thirty years. The appendix alone fills 29 large sized sheepskins. More information is contained here on the partnership than in all other sources available, though how credible this information may is open to judgement. Obviously, for example, the appendix is comprised of financial records which were compiled by Walter Prideaux and in the completion of which Matthew Morry played no part. We can therefore surmise that these “facts” will have been carefully laid out to support the allegations made by Walter Prideaux and his banking partner, John Square.
In the simplest of terms, this case was brought by Matthew Morry against Walter Prideaux and John Square because they had conspired to take legal action against him in both the Court of King’s Bench in England and the Supreme Court in Newfoundland which, if fully successful, would bankrupt and ruin him. We do not know the outcome of the case before the Court of King’s Bench, because no record of it can be found at the National Archives where it should be available. However, we do know that John Square was successful in convincing the Supreme Court of Newfoundland that Matthew Morry was heavily indebted to him and was given authorisation to seize and sell much of Matthew Morry’s property in Newfoundland whilst he was in England defending himself against other legal challenges.
Unfortunately, despite the remarkable amount of information accompanying this Pleading, this is just one more of many Chancery cases for which an outcome or judgement cannot be found. A search of the indexes to the Chancery Entries of Decrees and Orders in April 2017 failed to yield any additional information on this case, though these indexes were searched as far forward in time as 1825.
Decrees and Orders on the Case
As in the case of Morry vs Rowe above, there were a number of Decrees and Orders filed in relation to this case. And just as in the case of Morry vs Rowe, these additional Court records are sadly unenlightening. All that they really show is that it was commonplace for Defendants, as special ones as gifted in the law as Walter Prideaux, to use the law to delay, perhaps forever, a verdict in a case against them.
|IND 1-10699-34 C 33-651 folio 1067 Morry v Prideaux & Square June 18, 1818|
An order is issued by the court to attach Walter Prideaux and John Square for not having responded to Matthew Morry’s complaint but giving them four months in which to do so.
|IND 1-10699-34 C 33-651 folio 1228 Morry v Prideaux & Square July 1, 1818|
Matthew Morry attempts to get the Court to defend its injunction preventing John Square from suing Matthew Morry in the Court of King’s Bench until Prideaux and Square have first given him evidence of the debts supposedly owing to Square. Apparently, despite an injunction being issued by the High Court of Chancery, the case before the Court of King’s Bench was proceeding.
|IND 1-10699-36 C 33-663 folio 1246 Merry v Prideaux & Square June 15 1819|
Prideaux and Square have yet to answer Matthew Morry’s complaint despite the earlier Order from the Court issued the previous June and are nevertheless given a further 6 weeks to submit their answer.
|IND 1-10699-36 C 33-663 folio 1406 Morry v Prideaux et al June 25, 1819|
And a further delay of six weeks granted by the Court to the defendants in which time to submit their answer to Matthew Morry’s complaint. It is almost comical how easily Walter Prideaux was able to game the system in his favour.
What Lessons can we take from the Cases Which Involve Matthew and John Morry?
How to summarise all of the above? With so many missing pieces to these puzzles, we are left to speculate about the meaning of it all. Some things are obvious, and some things could be interpreted in more than one way.
Was Matthew Morry a Crook, a Dupe to a Sharp Lawyer and Business Partner, or Simply a Lousy Businessman?
One thing is certain: we know that Matthew Morry was a self-made man, having risen from the lowest of ranks, most likely a cabin boy in service as apprentice at the age of 14 or so, through active service as a Seaman in 1770, then a Mate in 1772, and then First Mate, going on to receiving his Masters ticket in 1774 covering a span of only four years, and then acquiring his own vessel (the MARY) at the age of 25 and starting his own company (Matthew Morry and Company) that year, 1775.
What we don’t know is why he chose to partner with Walter Prideaux in the first place. This apparently took place in about 1785, so he had managed to make it on his own for five years, though he may have had other business partners we do not know about in those intervening years.
It seems obvious that, as a person who made his life at sea from the earliest years, he was not a highly educated man, though he was literate. His signature is smooth and certain and bears none of the hesitancy that one normally sees in an illiterate person. So as his fortunes began to improve, it only seems logical that he would have sought to partner with a better educated man, especially one who was familiar with the law and was a pillar of Dartmouth society. Enter Walter Prideaux.
We know from testimony given in these cases that the partnership lasted close to thirty five years from about 1780 to 1815 and that, during almost all of that time, Matthew Morry resided in Caplin Bay, managing the fishing and shipping enterprises from there, and Walter Prideaux stayed in Dartmouth, and managed the day to day business transactions, including the keeping of the company ledgers, from there.
We also learn from the testimony that, in many of these years. the company was netting £5000 or more, a huge sum of money in those days. So why did the partnership turn sour?
Matthew’s testimony is that his business partner and that partner’s grandsons (principals of the Kingsbridge Bank) and other confederates, such as the Shipbuilder, Robert Newman, were engaged in a massive conspiracy to rob him of his just share of the Company capital and assets at the time that he called for a dissolution of the partnership. Even if that were true, however, it does not answer the question of why Matthew felt it was time to dissolve the partnership.
Here we are stepping out onto thin ice, because we have to rely on the evidence of the Company ledgers maintained by Walter Prideaux, and there is every reason to believe, from the give and take in these cases, that he was not a scrupulously honest businessman, and most likely did cook the books in his favour. But lacking other evidence, this is all we have to go by. And what it appears to show is that the company’s income was progressively shrinking during the years after 1810. Whether this was due to a downturn in the fishery, increased competition in the shipping trade, or other external causes, or whether it was, as Walter Prideaux has tried to convince the Court, because Matthew Morry was systematically milking the company for his own personal gain, we will likely never know with any certainty. The extensive collection of Company Ledgers and Day Books that Walter Prideaux held onto probably no longer exists or, if they do, they are probably buried in some family attic in Dartmouth, where there significance is unknown.
I am personally of the belief that the failure of the company came about as a result of all of these causes, with the principal cause most likely being both partners dipping too often into the cookie jar.
But a contributing cause of the failure was Matthew’s complete reliance on his business partner’s honesty in keeping the books. He clearly had not the least idea how much should have been in the company account at the time that he decided it was time to end the partnership. It is difficult to believe that a person who had been in business in the same trade for over forty years would be so out of touch with the financial status of his company. But that does appear to be the case. We know with certainty that no books from this business came down to us through the generations, and it therefore seems almost certain that no such books were held by Matthew as a backup to the “official” company ledgers that he allowed Walter Prideaux to manage without supervision. It was only in the final three or four years of the partnership that Matthew began to sense that all was not well, and began to ask Walter Prideaux to provide a statement of the accounts, which we understand from the testimony of both men, Walter Prideaux never did provide to him. Does that mean that Walter Prideaux had been cooking the books and was afraid of being exposed? Probably. But that does not forgive Matthew for not keeping even a back of the envelope record of major transactions, so that he would have a rough idea of where things stood, or should have stood, at any one time.
So in answer to the question posed above, Matthew Morry appears to have been a little of all of these things, though, and this may be somewhat self-serving, since he was my ancestor, I believe the crooked part was a minor factor in the demise of the business.
Was there ever such a bank as Morry, Prideaux and Le Messurier?
This is an ancient myth handed down from generation to generation in the Morry family: that Matthew Morry was a business partner with two men named Prideaux and Le Messurier in a banking firm named Morry, Prideaux and Le Messurier, operating out of the Channel Islands, and that Prideaux made off with the company assets, leaving Matthew and Le Messurier to pick up the pieces. The story goes that it was this incident that caused Matthew to finally decide to move to Newfoundland permanently.
As with all such myths, there are some elements of truth, some embellishments of the truths, and some outright untruths in this family myth. No such banking company ever existed.
Matthew, or at least his son and grandson, were involved in business with members of the Le Messurier family from St. Peter Port in Guernsey, but that took place much later in Newfoundland, and had nothing at all to do with banking, but rather the fishing and shipping trade.
Obviously, Matthew was a partner to a man named Walter Prideaux for 35 years or more. But that too was in the fishing and shipping trade, not the banking business.
In fact, Matthew Morry seemed to have been confused over the degree to which his partner was involved in the banking trade. Walter Prideaux was a Barrister and Solicitor and had no interests in the bank in question, the Kingsbridge Bank. This was solely owned and operated by three partners, two of Walter Prideaux’s grandsons, Walter Were Prideaux and Robert Were Prideaux, and one other, a man named John Square.
We can conclude, for Matthew’s sake, that he was indeed swindled by Walter Prideaux and that Prideaux’s grandsons may have played a part in that. But it cannot be proven and may not be true.
Did this lead to him leaving England forever and coming to Newfoundland for his remaining years?
Yes, probably so. This, along with the notoriety he would have gained from all of these interconnected law suits and others that we have heard were brought before other courts of law, but for which we do not yet have the proceedings, would have ruined his reputation in Dartmouth and forced him to set up his business and residence elsewhere. And where else to do that than in Newfoundland, where he had resided (most of the time) and carried on business for at least forty years at the time of the demise of his partnership.
Exoneration in the Court of King’s Bench
There is a partial denouement to the story of Walter Prideaux and the Machiavellian plot that Matthew Morry accused him of, in consort with Robert Newman and others. This post script comes in the form of a newspaper article in the Newfoundland Mercantile Journal on September 2, 1819. The sharp eyes of Nimshi Crewe, the Provincial Archivist at the time, spotted this article in 1965 and brought it to the attention of Dad Morry as being of possible interest to the family. I found Nimshi’s letter to Dad Morry amongst the Nimshi Carew Papers (MG 281) in The Rooms during my annual research visit in 2015. At the time it didn’t really mean anything to me, but as I was mulling over these Chancery Court cases and their meaning, I suddenly thought of that newspaper article.
It was a current account of an interesting court case that had just happened in England and that would be of interest to Newfoundland readers because of the fact that one of the people involved was a Newfoundlander, Matthew Morry. This case, unlike the others above, but in much the same context as the two suits by Robert Newman, was being pursued through the conventional Common Law route of a suit in the Court of Kings Bench, in this instance at the Guildhall in London. The judge hearing the case was a highly respected justice, Lord Chief Justice Abbott, who had risen by dint of his intellect and wisdom from a barbers son to appointment by the King as a Baron. The newspaper account of the case (attached to the same file in which Nimshi’s letter appears) certainly strikes a familiar bell. Matthew Morry and Company are being sued for an unpaid debt. Matthew tries to get information about the debt but the Plaintiff’s and his own partner Walter Prideaux refuse to give it to him. In correspondence as the case is about to go to court, Walter Prideaux admits to the debt, meaning that the outcome of the case should have been an open and shut case, with Matthew Morry and Company on the hook for the demand of £976, which Matthew says would have ruined him if he had to pay it all by himself. But the judge has reservations about how the case has been presented. The agent and lawyer for the Plaintiffs, Olive and Britten underwriters, a firm associated with Lloyd’s of London, turns out to have formerly been an employee of Walter Prideaux and had never previously worked with Olive and Britten. It is this lawyer who is largely leading the case, providing documents on the debt that he obtained from Walter Prideaux, not from his ostensible employers, Olive and Britten. The judge smells a rat and suggests to the jury that there are two possible verdicts: either Olive and Britten really are the initiators of this suit and are entitled to the £976; or Walter Prideaux is playing games with the court in order to pauper Matthew Morry and make him pay for a debt which had already been paid out of Company funds. Apparently the jury took no time at all to come to the conclusion that the latter was the case, and Matthew Morry was set free with charges to pay.
This case, in its skeletal form, is so similar to what Matthew was saying was taking place with Robert Newman and Walter Prideaux that it sheds new credibility upon his formerly bizarre accusations of a conspiracy orchestrated by Prideaux. We still don’t know, and may never know, if Matthew’s cases were upheld in Chancery and Newman made to withdraw his suits in the Court of Kings Bench. But if that was not the case with this precedent fresh in the minds of the justices of the two Courts, it is hard to fathom why the same outcome should not have resulted.
Did Walter Prideaux, or Matthew Morry, or Both, Rob John Foale Morry of his Rightful Inheritance?
This is a very complicated and touchy subject. The evidence clearly shows that one very large portion of John’s inheritance, his father’s 3% Consolidated Bank Annuities, were indeed sold by Matthew Morry and Walter Prideaux. And the funds, after expenses, did not get reinvested in Trust for him, as they were supposed to have been, according to the Indenture written by Walter Prideaux and signed by Mary Foale Morry, with Matthew Morry and John Cholwich Hunt as Trustees. In fact, the Annuities, and the Dividends that had accumulated since the death of John Senior, were sold at a considerable loss in value (from around £1500 to £1000 pounds), presumably because they had not reached maturity. The broker took a small fee of around £7 and all the rest was used to pay down debts belonging to Walter Prideaux and Matthew Morry and Company, according to hand written instructions from Walter Prideaux to the broker. Matthew Morry had nothing to do with the writing of that letter and did not give the broker any instructions of his own. But when the residue, somewhere around £500 was turned back to him by Walter Prideaux, apparently he did not squawk about where the rest went. Nor did he take that amount and invest it in Trust in John’s name. We are led to believe that he may have deposited it in the Company account, or he may have simply deposited it in his own account.
Matthew’s apparent rationale for not following the instructions of the Indenture, which Walter Prideaux hints may not have ever been executed and therefore come into force, seems to be that he intended to take full personal responsibility for the maintenance of his grandson, as his Guardian. But that did not happen either. Apparently, all of John’s living expenses, after the time of his mother’s death, were paid for out of the common assets of Matthew Morry and Company, not by Matthew Morry himself. And it is very doubtful that those expenses, in total, amounted to anywhere near the initial value of the Annuities, or even their reduced value upon being prematurely sold.
So what really became of all that money? We have only hints in that regard, and self-serving hints at that. Walter Prideaux implies that estate duties for John Morry Senior, Mary Foale Morry and even Matthew’s other son, Thomas Graham Morry, as well as the legal costs of their respective Probates, accounted for the lion’s share of the funds realised from the sale of the Annuities. Forgetting for a moment that the funerary expenses of Thomas Graham Morry had nothing to do with John Foale Morry and should not have been a charge on his assets, this is still patent nonsense. All of these costs together could not have amounted to more than £100, let alone £500. And we also have testimony from the person who sold the Annuities that at least some of the funds went to pay off some of Walter Prideaux’s personal debts, which had nothing to do with John Foale Morry once again.
So it would seem on the evidence that Walter Prideaux and Matthew Morry, whether through a deliberate decision to make personal use of these funds, or, in the case of Matthew Morry at least, possibly thinking he was doing the best thing for his grandson (take that with a large grain of salt if you must!), did in fact make off with the entire proceeds of the sale of the Annuities and the Dividends that had accumulated on them. I personally believed that they each willfully turned a blind eye to the larceny of the other party, since they both stood to gain something out of it. And only John was left to suffer the consequences of these actions.
But there is even more damaging information in regard to Matthew Morry’s use of his grandson’s inheritance. Matthew was the sole Executor of the estates of John Morry and Mary Foale Morry as well as being the Court appointed Guardian, if not the Trustee, for his grandson. As such, any cash on hand or rightful debts owed to either John Morry senior or to Mary Foale Morry would have come to Matthew for Administration. The inventory he submitted to Probate makes no mention of large sums of cash or other income. It does mention the possible share of the Prize associated with one vessel then in the hands of Joshua Rowe for auction. And we have seen copies of Matthew’s Complaint concerning Rowe not turning over that share of the Prize money. But from that point forward the matter seems to disappear. There is never any mention in all of the other case materials of a large sum of money having come to John Foale Morry’s Trust as a result of their being cash on hand at the time of his mother’s death or the auction of the vessel in Joshua Rowe’s care, nor of other vessels taken as Prizes by John Morry Senior that were also being advertised for auction after the date of John’s death in both Portsmouth and Torpoint. It defies belief that these auctioneers would have absconded with John’s legal share of the Prize money. So we must assume that it came to Matthew Morry, as Executor and Administrator, and that he never included these large amounts in the documents which detail the inheritance of his grandson John Morry.
Did Matthew Morry and his Grandson, John Foale Morry, Ever Reconcile Their Differences?
So what to conclude about Matthew Morry in all of this? It seems clear that he played loose and free with his grandson’s inheritance prior to the time that he turned 21. Did he ever admit to this or did he ever make good on the debt. Two pieces of evidence suggest that he did, at least to some extent.
First, during the course of all of these court cases proceeding in England, as we know, Matthew’s business in Newfoundland was suffering and was on shaky ground. in 1816/1817 Matthew therefore took the expedient of taking out an Indenture in his grandson’s name to “borrow” what must have been a sizeable portion of the missing cash in at least a quasi-legal manner. The evidence is in the form of a document in the so-called Morry Papers at The Rooms: MG237 Box 2 File 13. Deed of Loan to Matthew Morry & Co. (Dartmouth& Caplin Bay) by John Morry (Dartmouth) 20 Aug 1816.
Matthew Morry’s Deed of Loan from his Grandson, John Morry
Now clearly, despite this document being legally registered with the Surrogate Court in Ferryland, it was of questionably legal standing. John Foale Morry was still a minor at the time and could not, in law, approve of such a loan. Matthew Morry acted as both the Guardian of the lender, and the person to whom the money was being lent. No court today would sanction such a cozy deal. But, we must assume that, being a legal document, and witnessed by three influential Ferryland businessmen, William Sweetland (Matthew’s son-in-law), Noah Clift, and Robert Carter (Matthew’s brother-in-law by his second marriage) he must have been held to account and must have returned these funds to his grandson on time before his entire business holdings fell into default. Especially since it was enrolled in the Surrogate Court records AFTER the due date. This seems to imply that the whole thing was in the past and the money had been returned. It also shows that Matthew Morry acknowledged that some of the funds that he had at his disposal were not his free and clear, but were rather his in trust, of a sort, for his grandson’s inheritance.
The second piece of evidence that we have that somehow John Foale Morry’s inheritance, or some part of it, was restored to him, was what passes for John Foale Morry’s Intestate Will. In fact the document in question was never recognised by the Probate Court as a legitimate Will but, even so, the administration of the estate of the late John Foale Morry was given to his uncle, Matthew Morry junior, the son of Matthew Morry the immigrant. What is more important, the details of the contested Will show that John had regained his financial status and was a businessman in his own right, quite capable of giving orders to his uncle, Matthew Morry. But above and beyond that, to show that all grievances had been forgotten, in this document he chooses to leave all his worldly goods to Matthew Morry junior and Matthew Morry junior’s son, James. The latter bequest has been a matter of some consternation, since this document was unearthed, because, as far as we know, Matthew Morry junior did not have a son named James. The assumption is that this was a nickname for one of Matthew Morry junior’s sons, but we don’t know which one. Regardless, it would take a very magnanimous man indeed to leave all of his belongings to the son and grandson of an enemy, so I assume that John Foale Morry and his grandfather made up at some point, and that there was at least a partial return of his inheritance.
Finally, though no one can dictate what happens after one’s death, we have the added fact that Matthew Morry senior and his grandson, John Foale Morry are either both buried in the same plot or are at least memorialised on the same gravestone in Forge Hill Cemetery in Ferryland, there to spend eternity together.
Matthew Morry and Grandson John Morry’s Gravestone in Forge Hill Cemetery, Ferryland
Did Matthew Morry Ever Receive Any Form of Justice in this Dispute with Walter Prideaux?
Unable to find any references online to the Judgements pertaining to these Chancery cases, I nevertheless did come upon some information that, in a manner, seems to indicate that fate played a hand in offering Matthew a sort of justice.
The London Gazette, going back centuries, is available online. The Gazette serves the same function in Britain as it does in Canada, that is, to serve as a forum for public notices from the government, including the courts.
A search on Morry showed nothing, to my surprise, But when I searched on Prideaux there were hundreds of entries. The problem was that this family was in business for generations, as both lawyers and bankers, so it is no wonder there were so many entries concerning the family.
So I narrowed down to “Walter Prideaux”, and even with that I got scores of entries, many of which were irrelevant, because there were so many of these people named Walter, including as I found out by reviewing all the hits, Matthew’s partner, the father of Matthew’s partner, the son of Matthew’s partner, the grandson of Matthews Partner (who took the middle name Were to distinguish himself) and even a great grandson and probably a great, great grandson. All lawyers and/or bankers.
By focussing more finely on the proper time period, I was able to isolate the notices of greatest interest down to a manageable number (London Gazette References to Prideaux). The notices did not directly relate to the Chancery Court decisions. But what they did show is most edifying and even more satisfying nevertheless! All of these notices pertained to the bankruptcy of the banking company that was implicated in the Chancery Cases and several related Prideaux family enterprises.
These notices clearly show that Walter Prideaux lied bare-faced in his testimony to the Lord High Chancellor when he said that he was not a partner in the Kingsbridge bank known as the firm of Prideaux, Square and Prideaux. He was!
Apparently he had been using the name of another Grandson (real or fictitious?), Robert Were Prideaux, as a shill, covering for the fact that it was actually Walter Prideaux senior himself who was a partner in the firm of Prideaux, Square and Prideaux, along with his son, Walter Prideaux, the younger, and John Square. There was a second, closely related banking company called Square, Prideaux and Prideaux, in which the partners were Walter Prideaux, the younger, John Square and Walter Were Prideaux (the grandson), and they too went bankrupt at the same time. Not only that, but there were two other banks with which Walter senior was partnered: Hingston, Prideaux and Fox, from which the last partner, Robert Were Fox retired in 1818, leaving just Walter Prideaux senior and Joseph Hingston as partners; and Prideaux, Bentall and Farwell, from which George Farwell retired in 1818 also, leaving Walter Prideaux senior and Thornton Bentall as partners. These two latter banks operated at Plymouth and Totnes, respectively, so with the other two Prideaux family enterprises in Kingsbridge/Dartmouth, they pretty well had the entire area of South Hams, Devon, covered by their greedy little hands. I do not know if these latter two firms survived the crash that decimated most Country Banks at this time.
Note the name of the retiring partner: Robert Were Fox. The grandson of Walter Prideaux senior who he claimed was a partner in the Kingsbridge bank (of which he was shown in these notices in the Gazette to be the true partner), was supposed to be named Robert Were Prideaux. Coincidence? I now wonder if this person was entirely a fabrication, because Robert Newman testifies that no one of that name had anything to do with the seizing and impounding of the PRISCILLA. It was all undertaken by Walter Were Prideaux, with some involvement by his grandfather, Walter Prideaux senior.
Note also that the Prideaux family was up to its old tricks even during bankruptcy. The name of the lawyer to whom debtors were referred to in order to recover whatever they could from the bankrupt companies was J. E. Fox, a partner in the firm of Fox and Prideaux, Solicitors, of which the second partner was Walter Prideaux, Junior, one of the bankrupts! So much for conflict of interest in the justice system of the day once again.
I doubt that the bankruptcy of these banks was to Matthew Morry’s advantage, because he had already returned to Newfoundland by 1825, when the bankruptcies occurred. He may not have even known about it in order to submit his claim as a debtor in time. But if he did know, it must have given him some personal satisfaction at least. In order to settle with his debtors for his part of the bankruptcies, Walter Prideaux senior had to give up for sale two of his (how many?) country properties. That said, I have no doubt all the Prideauxs involved were shrewd enough to have squirreled away the lion’s share of their fortunes. And it is a fact that Walter Prideaux the younger continued to function as a lawyer, even whilst these bankruptcies were taking place. Ironically, he even acted on other bankruptcies at the same time that his bankruptcy was going through the courts!
But, nevertheless, it does represent some form of just desserts, and probably all that Matthew Morry would get.