An Auctioneer's Case: Some of the Fallout from Stephen Kinsey's Bankruptcy

News of Stephen Wilson Kinsey bankruptcy re-emerged a few years back.  The London Gazette states that he entered into bankruptcy on 24 March 1866.  However, the entry in the Gazette is short on details.

However, a recent discovery of an article from the 12 January 1867 Chester Observer has shed some light on some of the fallout of his bankruptcy:
Portmote and Pentice Business. - An Auctioneer’s Case
The case of Okell v. Halford was then tried.  The plaintiff was a farmer at Halsby, Cheshire, but formerly living near Newtown, Montgomeryshire.  Being about to leave that neighbourhood he gave instructions to the defendant, an auctioneer, to sell his stock for him on terms of three months’ credit upon approved security.  The defendant’s posting-bill of the sale was given in as evidence; it stated “three months’ credit will be given upon sums of £5 and upwards, on approved security.”  It appeared that stock to the value of £17 12s. 9. was sold to a Mr. Kinsey upon the terms of three months credit, but no security was taken.  Afterwards Kinsey became bankrupt, and defendant wished to throw off the onus of the debt on to the plaintiff.  Hereupon the parties joined issue.  Evidence was given by plaintiff that other parties who bought stock at the sale gave security for the payment of their amounts, and the defendant paid those amounts in the usual manner.

Mr. Ffoulkes appeared for the plaintiff and Mr. Brandt for the defendant.

Plaintiff having given evidence, which was corroborated by his son, Mr. Brandt addressed the jury for the defendant, and then called Thomas Halford, who said he lived near Newtown and had a farm of about 200 acres, and was also an auctioneer.  On 11th December, 1865, was consulted by plaintiff about a sale.  Plaintiff had lost by death his wife and one child, and he told witness he intended having a sale.  He wanted to have a credit sale, as he thought it would be the means of bringing more purchasers together.  Witness dissuaded him from  having a credit sale, as it would bring bad customers and keep good ones away. In order to induce him to have cash sale witness told him that he would not take the risk of a credit sale unless he got something like 10 per cent.  Plaintiff then gave way, and witness made this entry in a book: - “Okell’s sale.  First Thursday in new year.  Terms 3 guineas.  Okell pay expenses.  Cash.”  After the posters calling the sale had gone out saw Okell, and he never said anything about the credit.  The sale took place as announced.  Okell took the part of a porter or man to show things about.  He said “I am very well satisfied with everything, but there is one man with whom I am dissatisfied,” meaning a person named Williams.  From the commencement until  now the plaintiff had never told the defendant that he held him responsible.  The first thing he knew of it was a letter from Mr. Royle, a solicitor in Chester.  Never entered into such an agreement as that stated by plaintiff.  Would not be such a fool as to do so.  Williams was payable to witness, who received the amount to be paid over to plaintiff.

Re-examined - Had not charged plaintiff for making out accounts or anything above two guineas.  Was actually a loser by the transaction.

The court adjourned for half an hour.

Upon re-assemblng of the Court, Mr. Brandt called Henry Williams, brother-in-law and clerk to Mr. Halford.  Witness said that upon his going to plaintiff’s to take an inventory of the sale he met plaintiff, who told him that he had no need to do so, and gave him an inventory which plaintiff had made.  Witness had heard from Mr. Halford that it was to be a cash sale, and went there to take an inventory accordingly.  Plaintiff told witness that he had determined on having a credit sale as times were very bad then, to which witness rejoined that they would be as bad or worse at the beginning of April.  Remembered being at the Bear’s Paw on the 3rd April, which would be the day on which three months’ credit expired.  Okell was there, and he and witness were conversing about different things on good terms.  Okell said that Kinsey’s assignment was a bad job, and that he never suspected Kinsey, in whom he had every confidence, but that he had suspected George Williams.

The Recorder having summed up, the jury retired, and were locked up from half-past four until ten o’clock, wen they were discharged, being unable to agree upon a verdict.

The Court rose at 6:20.


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