Three Early Victorian Legal Manuscript Indentures, Relating To John Smyth


Origin: English
Period: Victorian
Provenance: Unknown
Date: 1838-1839
Width: 30 inches
Height: 25 inches

Three framed, attractively calligraphic, indentures; written in black ink on vellum, in a neat secretarial hand, two with wax seals of the witnesses or executers below the text. There is some slight creasing to the vellum in a few small areas but this could easily be flattened out.The first indenture, dated the 30th of July 1838, is a contractual agreement between John Smyth and Messrs Fossey, for Smyth to borrow £2400 (approximately £75,000 today). Smyth was obviously in real need of the sum, as the loan was against Smyth's estates, his land and buildings. Unfortunate John Smyth was clearly not a provident fellow, as the following two documents prove.

The second document, dated the 10th of July 1839, is an insolvency petition to the courts for the recovery of the debt, nominating Messrs Fossey to be the executors of John Smyth's insolvent estate.

The third document, also of the 10th July 1839, is a notice that the insolvency petition has been acknowledged, and that Messrs Fossey are permitted to take poor John Smyth's land and buildings in lieu of the debt. Little else is known of John Smyth and his doomed finances, but ever the champion of the underdog, we hope that he managed to get along without too much further hindrance, and that in the 1840s, things looked up for him. If ever a cautionary tale was needed for borrowing beyond one's means, this must surely be it – and it is all the more pertinent today.