Messrs Challinor & Co., Solicitors of
Leek Staffordshire 1780 to 1995
The Bednall Archive

Last updated: 24/06/2013


The Bednall Collection forms an important part of the Bednall Archive and much of original material (books, documents, ledgers etc) came from the dispersed archives of a firm of solicitors that had practiced in Leek, Staffordshire for many centuries. Although the Staffordshire Record Office has a substantial holding of this material, much has been sold by dealers, either directly to customers or indirectly though auctions in this country and abroad.  In some respects, the small portion of the original archive in the Bednall Collection represents the inferior portion of the solicitors' archive but it is, nevertheless, potentially useful to local and family historians.  The documents, Copy Letter Books etc, are briefly described elsewhere and these descriptions will be improved when time permits. However, we felt that it was important  to say something about the firm of solicitors, concentrating, in the first instance, on the period in the firm's history for which most information is available (1780 to 1995). Sadly we can't do justice to the clerks and other people employed by the firms whose efforts, before the age of the modern pen, the typewriter, pc and laser printer produced the vast quantities of written material, in deed boxes, boxes and wrapping paper, that solidly filled rooms, the attic, cellar and a large safe in the principal part of No. 10 Derby Street, Leek and the whole of a two storey building in the yard behind.

A History of The Practice & The Partners

The Challinor firm of solicitors and conveyancers began in 18th century Leek when William Challinor (I) of Pickwood (1752-1800) was articled to John Davenport of Ball Haye (1730-1786). Challinor later became Davenport’s partner and subsequently took over his practice. After Davenport’s death, Challinor entered into partnership with George Ridgway Killmister who, some years after Challinor’s death, took Challinor’s eldest son William ( -1839) into the partnership. The location of the firm’s office in the 18th century is unknown but from the early 19th century until the 1990s, the Challinor office was at No. 10 Derby Street, Leek, for some years the home of William Challinor (II). The partnership of Killmister and Challinor continued until September 1836 when it was dissolved by mutual consent. Challinor’s eldest son William (1821-1896) took over the family business when his father died and later entered into a partnership with George Sawkins. The Challinor & Sawkins partnership was dissolved by mutual consent in July 1843 and sometime later Challinor’s younger brother Joseph (1828-1910) entered the family firm. Shortly afterwards, in April 1850, William and Joseph formed a new partnership with William Beaumont Badnall trading as Challinor, Badnall & Challinor.

William Challinor of Leek 
Born 10 March 1821
Died 21 March 1896


Amalgamation with the Cruso practice : Challinor, Badnall & Challinor
The Challinor’s new partner was well known to them for not only had he been a partner in a competing firm of solicitors but was also indirectly related to them. The new partnership united two of the oldest legal practices in Leek, both family businesses the Challinor’s and the Cruso’s. In 1850, the Challinor’s practice, long established though it was, was not the oldest firm of attorneys in Leek, the Cruso firm held that honour. The history of the Cruso firm in Leek, can be traced back to at least 1654 when
George Parker (d. 1675) of Park Hall in Caverswall was practising law at Leek and there is evidence to suggest that other members of this family, including the father of the infamous Lord Chancellor and Earl of Macclesfield, Thomas Parker, were practicing in the time in the latter half of the 17th century.

The Mills family are believed to have taken over the Parker family business and they were acting professionally for the earls of Macclesfield in the 18th century. By the middle of the century they had become the town's leading lawyers. William Mills (d. 1695), who was probably in practice their by 1687 was followed by his eldest son, another William (1689– 1749), who on or about 1738 was joined by his own son Thomas (1717–1802).[1] The family practice seems to have passed to another Thomas Mills (1752–1821) who sometime prior to 1783, took London solicitor, John Cruso, into partnership. Some years later their clerk, Henry Jones, became a junior partner.

In December 1806 the partnership with Mills was dissolved, Cruso bought out Mills’ interest in the firm and Sinckler Porter of Lichfield joined Cruso and Jones in forming a new partnership. This was short lived and was dissolved by mutual consent on 31 August 1810 with each of them agreeing thereafter to “carry on the said Profession of an Attorney and Solicitor for his own separate Benefit and Advantage [2]. By 1817, Cruso had taken his son John into partnership and later that year his son-in-law, Charles Coupland, joined the partnership. This partnership last until 5 April 1825 with the business subsequently being carried on by John Cruso the elder and John Cruso the younger, on their joint account, and by Charles Coupland on separate account.[3] On 14 September 1827, the partnership between the two Cruso’s was dissolved[4] with John Cruso the elder, carrying on the business on his own account and receiving all debts due to and discharging all debts due from, the former partnership. Why they did this is not known but it seems likely have been to avoid any involvement of the family firm in the bankruptcy of John Cruso the younger’s brother Henry and their brother-in-law Richard Badnall junior. Whatever the reason for the formal separation John Cruso the younger remained active as an attorney in the firm and was, with regard to most matters, it’s principal. However his father retained a strong and overriding interest in the firm until his death in 1841. Quite when John’s brother Frank took over the day to day running of the Cruso practice but probably in 1845 for the earliest of Frank Cruso’s copy letter books in the Bednall Archive is numbered “1”.   

John Cruso of Leek 1860-65 William Beaumont Badnall 1860s


William Beaumont Badnall (WBB) was the son of a Leek silk merchant and a nephew of John Cruso the younger. William’s uncle John had taken him into the family legal practice as a clerk some years prior to 1845 and he remained with the firm when John Cruso retired from active involvement in the business and John’s brother Frank took over, in 1845/46. Four years later, William became a partner in the firm but the partnership was short lived for Frank Cruso retired “from the profession and the practice”, a month after his wife’s death, in April 1850.

With the agreement of his Uncle John, WBB immediately formed a partnership with William and Joseph Challinor of Leek, solicitors,[5] taking with him much, if not all, of the Cruso family business and thus effectively merging the two largest, old established, practices in Leek. They informed their customers stating that the firm would henceforth be known as Challinor Badnall & Challinor. Five years later in 1854, WBB married Sarah Jane, daughter and heir of his uncle Frank Cruso.

 Challinor & Co.
In 1861 William decided to become a barrister and in November 1862 was admitted to Middle Temple. He was called to the Bar three years later and subsequently developed a London based practice as a conveyancing barrister, from rooms in Lincolns Inn. Badnall’s decision to become a barrister naturally involved some changes in the firm, which henceforth traded as Challinor & Challinor and after 1868, as Challinors & Co. with Badnall remaining a partner.  


Sometime before 1881, possibly in 1878-79, Thomas Shaw (possibly Frank Cruso’s former clerk) was taken into partnership[6],[7] but it was not until the end of December 1888 that the practice assumed its best-known name “Challinor & Shaw”[8]. This pattern of Challinor (and Shaw) family members following their fathers into the practice continued for many years but others, such as C. J. Gwynne ( ), Thomas Robinson and J. Wardle (1920 onwards), entered the partnership from time to time. The period from 1896 to 1915 saw many changes in the firm’s “active” partners with the deaths of William Challinor (1896), Joseph Challinor (1910), Edward Challinor (1906), Thomas Shaw (1913) and C. J. Gwynne (~1912) and a similar number of new partnerships. However, the shares of the Challinors who died remained in the business for some considerable time with their profits being paid to their trustees.

The direct involvement of the Challinor’s in the day-to-day business of the firm seems to have ended with the death of William Francis Challinor in and by 1925 the principal partners were Arthur Hugh Shaw and John Wardle. The practice continued to carry the Challinor & Shaw name until the 1990s when the firm’s archives were sold off.

Challinor & Co’s Staff

The Challinor practice could not have functioned efficiently without a team of well-trained staff to prepare and engross drafts, deal with correspondence, prepare bills, keep ledgers, open and maintain files and carry out a thousand and one other tasks. Usually their names are unknown but the Bednall Archive is fortunate in also possessing some of Challinor & Shaw’s salary ledgers and three photographs of the firm’s staff.

The earliest of the photographs (below) shows Challinors & Co’s Office Group“ in or about 1860. Most of those shown appear to be articled clerks, such as T. D. Goodman, later a solicitor in Buxton, and Thomas Robinson or senior clerks like Thomas Shaw.

A further staff photograph (immediately below) was taken sometime in or about 1890 and this time William Challinor and Thomas Shaw joined their staff and can be seen in the centre of the photograph. Only a few names are listed on the original photo i.e. E. Harrison (In hat, far left-standing) with next to him J. Wardle; Mr Robinson (Seated on chair, 2nd from LHS), followed by Shaw and Challinor. Mr C. Gwynne sits at the extreme RH end of the seated row, next to A. H. Shaw (2nd from RH end). Of those sitting cross-legged on the carpet, only Mr Quinn (seated RH end of that row) is named. It might be possible to identify others by referring to the other staff photographs.

The third staff photograph (below) was taken some 50 years later and shows 16 people of whom 11 are named. In 1910 the firm employed a staff of 19 only one of whom was a woman, Miss Sylvester (married name Mrs Rigby) with an annual wages bill of £1269-11s-7d equivalent to £411,000 in 2005.[9] The annual salaries of individual members of staff are given in the table 1 below.


Staff Member

Annual Salaries for 1895
£ - s - d

Staff Member

Annual Salaries for 1910
£ - s - d

Mr C. J. Gwynne


Mr John Wardle


Mr A. H. Shaw


Mr Howard


Mr Wm. Howard


Mr Newall


Mr Wm Newall


A. E. Quinn


Mr H. W. Campling


Mr S. Mottershead


Mr Rowland Hill


Mr J. R. Clark


Mr James Newall


Mr Edward Harrison


Mr Samuel Mottershead


Mr Cannings


Mr Edward Harrison


Mr Sam. Smith


Mr William Cannings


Mr H. E. Rendell


Mr Henry. Hudson


Mr James Newall


Mr A. E. Quinn


Mr Campling


Mr Samuel Smith


Mr E. W. Clark


Mr Edgar Vigars


Miss Sylvester


Mr Frederick D. Wardle`


Mr W. J. Price


Mr Edward Clowes


Mr H. Mottershead


Mr H. E. Rendell


C. Powner


E. W. Harrison


H. Williamson


A later salary ledger, that for January 1913 to January 1919, shows that in January 1913 the firm’s salaried staff then numbered 18 most of whom were paid salaries of from £1-3s to £12-10s monthly. One, John Wardle, who was later to become a partner, received £30 every 3 months. Four of Challinor’s staff were weekly paid receiving wages of between 19s 8d to £1-14s-8d. See Table 2 below:

Staff Member

Monthly (M)
or Weekly (W) Pay

Salary week ending
4th January 1913

Mr Howard



Mr Harry. E. Rendell



Mr W. J. Price



Mr J. R. Clark



Mr S. Smith



Mr E. Harrison



A. E. Quinn



H. Williamson



R. N. Bishop



S. Mottershead



E. W. Harrison



A. Halton



H. Mottershead



J. Wardle

3 months


J. Hawksworth



Miss Rigby



Dick Wallis



J. F. White




During the 1st World War the firm lost a number of their younger staff and by August 1917 staff numbers had fallen to 11. Over the following year they were gradually able to recruit new staff so that by September 1918 staff numbers had risen to 14. Of these only 6 or 7 were amongst those on the 1913 salary list. The newcomers included William Reginald Howard (commenced April 1918), P.V. Cabell, Fred Allen, H. Harvey Gray (commenced 6 Sept 1916) and Miss Gwynne (commenced 15 July 1918) one of only two women on the staff list the other being Mrs Rigby.[10]


[1] From: 'Leek: Leek and Lowe', A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 7: Leek and the Moorlands (1996), pp. 84-169. URL: Date accessed: 16 August 2010.

[2] Gazette Issue 16404 published on the 11 September 1810. Page 1413

[3] Gazette Issue 18125 published on the 9 April 1825. Page 612

[4] Gazette Issue 18399 published on the 25 September 1827. Page 2000

[5] Trading as Challinor, Badnall & Challinor from May 1850. Partnership Ledger 1, BC Bednall Collection, Macclesfield.

[6] Challinor & Co., Interest Ledger January 1878 to 31 December 1902 page 64.

[7]From: 'Leek: Leek and Lowe', A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 7: Leek and the Moorlands (1996), pp. 84-169. URL: Date accessed: 16 August 2010.

[8] Challinor & Co., Copy Letter Book 4th December 1888 to 31 January 1889. Firm’s title prior to 18th December 1888 always Challinors & Co but after that date -Challinor & Shaw.

[9] Based on changes in average earnings .Lawrence H. Officer, "Five Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a UK Pound Amount, 1830 to Present," MeasuringWorth, 2010. URL

[10] Challinor & Shaw, Leek, Staffordshire Salaries Ledger January 1913 to December 1918.

To be completed

©A. W. Bednall,macclesfield 2000