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date, a portion being let as a smithy to Edward Mullard, the rest was left to fall into decay. The Brymbo, Hadley, and other Works were carried on by the executors for a while, though afterwards, in the general confusion produced by the prolonged legal proceedings, of which I shall presently have to speak, it was thought better to let them. Thus, in 1828, the Brymbo Works were let to Messrs. John and James Thompson at a rent of nearly £1500 a year.
The value of Mr. Wilkinson's estates and other property when he died was immense. Even in 1824, when things were falling into confusion, the Brymbo estate yielded, with the rent of the ironworks, £2829 1s. 6d. yearly; the Bersham estate, without the works, but with the rent of the Felen Buleston property, £577 10s.; the Llyn y pandy property yielded £120 13s. yearly; the Maes y grug property £44; the Bradley estate £3953 4s.; the Hadley estate £1585 9s. 4d.; and the Castlehead estate £648 18s. 10d., in all £9758 16s. 8d. of gross annual receipts. These rents afford but little index to the value of the property when Mr. Wilkinson died. In 1824 the master directing mind was long gone. Some of the managers were demoralized by the manifest ruin which impended over the estate; others looked only after their own interests; a few were loyal. But the demands of the lawyers swallowed up all profits, and remained still unsatisfied. Mr. James Adam received, in 1815, after the peace with France, an enormous sum of money, representing Mr. John Wilkinson's share in the Paris Waterworks. But all went in the same way. Mr. Adam died July 1823, and in 1824 Thomas Turner, Esq., was appointed receiver, and upon his death, in 1826, James Kyrke, Esq., of Ffrith Lodge, became receiver in his stead. Ultimately, nothing was left to be received.
Before, however, I enter into the details of the final break-up of this fine property, it will be necessary to set forth specifically the cause of that break-up. Mr. Thomas Jones Wilkinson, John Wilkinson's nephew and residuary legatee, relying upon the illegitimacy of his uncle's children, and upon the fact that they were not mentioned by name in his will, laid claim to the whole property. The case dragged on for seven years and was taken from court to court until it came before the Lord Chancellor. Up to this point the decision was in every case given in favour of the plaintiff. But Lord Eldon, who was Lord Chancellor, is said to have sent for the plaintiff before he gave judgment, and asked him what provision he intended to make, in the event of a decision being given in his favour, for the defendants-his uncle's children. On his replying that he intended to make no provision, Lord Eldon's mind was made up. At all events, he gave judgment for the defendants. Mr. Jones Wilkinson then filed a bill in Chancery to restrain Mr. James Adam from further interfering in the management of the estate, but this demand also, after a long hearing was refused. Mr. Thomas Jones Wilkinson became bankrupt, as also did Mr. Samuel Fereday (one of the trustees named in Mr. John Wilkinson's will) who had backed him up, and other persons who had lent him money lost it.
The Wilkinson estate also became hopelessly involved, and by a decree of Chancery in 1828, the greater part was ordered to be sold in order to meet the claims upon it. It could only be disposed of piecemeal. The Rotherhithe property was sold in 1829, by private treaty, for £3400. By public auction, held at the Wynnstay Arms, Wrexham, in April of the same year, the Ffrith farm in Brymbo was knocked down for £2500 to Serjeant David Francis Jones, afterwards Serjeant Atcherley, who wanted it to enlarge
the Cymmau Hall estate. Mr. James Kyrke and others bought other farms added by Mr. Wilkinson to the Brymbo Hall estate, which was now brought down again to what I take to have been its original limits of about 500 acres, so as to include only the Hall itself, the demesne farm, and the farms called Mount Sion, Mount Pleasant, and Pen Rhos Ucha. The leasehold property at Bersham containing the Bersham Works, was sold to Thomas Fitzhugh, Esq., of Plas Power.
And so this strange but true history shows us that whatever John Wilkinson did which was fitted to help and improve his fellow creatures remained, but that what he did unrighteously, and for merely selfish ends, had in it no root of permanence.
This paper is not intended to be exhaustive of its subject, but only to supplement, by the results of my own researches, Randall's Life of John Wilkinson, and Stockdale's Annales Carmoelenses, to both of which books I have been greatly indebted for the knowledge of various facts necessary to weave my notes into a connected narrative.
Just as I was about to send the foregoing paper to the printers, I received from Mr. Wm. Gregory Norris, of Coalbrookdale, a mass of extracts from old letters and from the diaries of John Kelsall (clerk to Mr. Charles Lloyd, of Dolobran), throwing a flood of light on the early history of Bersham Furnace. These details confirm all the statements made in the first part of my paper. But they also supplement my own account, and give precise and full particulars, where the materials to which I had access were only sufficient to afford a general sketch. At this juncture,
when the printers are clamouring for "copy," I do not propose to re-write the first few pages of the manuscript, and yet I cannot let the latter go without adding a short appendix, expressing at the same time my hope that Mr. Norris will publish in full the important facts of which he has cognizance.
In the first place, my conviction that the Mr. Charles Lloyd, who had a lease of Bersham Furnace in 1724, was Mr. Lloyd' of Dolobran, the well-known Quaker, is shown to be well-founded, but Mr. Norris is able to carry the existence of the Furnace, and its rental by Mr. Lloyd from John Roberts, Esq., four years further back—to 1720, namely. And here I may re-iterate my belief, not yet confirmed, that the Furnace was built even earlier than that date.
Mr. Lloyd carried on a Forge (rebuilt in 1719) at Dolobran itself as well as at Bersham, and was possibly interested in the Forge at Llansantffraid near Aberystwyth. He had business connections with Abraham Darby of Coalbrookdale and with many other of the old Shropshire and Worcester iron-masters. Mr. Darby had commenced a Furnace at Dolgûn, near Dolgelley, which was afterwards worked for some years "by acquaintances of the Lloyds, resident near Dudley."
In 1720, Daniel Brown was founder" at Bersham, and Edward Davies, "clerk," and in the year following the use of charcoal was discontinued there for smelting and coal employed instead, the fuel being obtained from pits at The Rhos (Rhosllanerchrugog) belonging Thomas Meredith, Esq., of Pentrebychan.
About 1726, Mr. Lloyd began to be involved in financial
1 Charles Lloyd, the son of Charles Lloyd, the first of that name, of Dolobran, who joined the "Friends" in 1662 (see Richard Davies' Autobiography).
troubles, and Edward Davies, his Bersham clerk, thereupon erected a forge in Abenbury Fechan, near the King's Mill, Wrexham.' Thomas Astley was the new clerk at Bersham, and in the year that followed Mr. Lloyd was obliged to make a composition with his creditors, his share in the Works being disposed of to Mr. John Hawkins. This Mr. Hawkins was a son-in-law of Abraham Darby, but not himself a Quaker, for I find that a child of his was baptized at Wrexham Church.' He himself had his pecuniary difficulties to contend with, but apparently surmounted them, evidently through the assistance of his brother-in-law, Mr. Richard Ford, of Coalbrookdale, and in 1733 was turning out nearly five tons of "pigs" a week! After his death, in 1739, the business was, as I have already said, carried on by his widow, helped, I now learn, by her son, John Hawkins, junior.
The "Mr. Ivy" mentioned in the footnote to page 4, was probably Daniel Ivy, or Ivie, who in 1732 was working Ruabon Furnace, but was afterwards (by the year 1735) compelled to relinquish it, being unable to produce more than three tons a week of iron, and "that as white as silver," so that he "can scarce get it out of the hearth."
The successful smelting of iron-stone with coke, and afterwards with uncoked coal, was only achieved after
1 Edward Davies became insolvent in 1837, but his forge continued to be worked by himself and others, and ultimately came under the control of the Wilkinsons, as already related (see p. 10).
2 I may as well copy here, out of the Wrexham Parish Registers, all the entries referring to Mr. Hawkins:—
Aug. 15, 1733-Abraham, son of Mr. John Hawkins, of Bersham,
born ye 26th; bap. ye 15th.
Dec. 3, 1736- Abraham, son of Mr. Hawkins, of Bersham, buried.
Nov. 14, 1739-Mr. Hawkins, of Bersham Furnace, buried.
Nov. 28, 1739-Sarah, dau. of Mr. Hawkins, of ye Furnace, born 24
[? bapt. or buried].