The Copy Letter Books Of Messrs Challinor & Co.

The Bednall Archive


Last updated 19/08/2010


Please note these pages are still under development


Throughout its history the staff of this provincial legal practice copied all outgoing correspondence and occasionally they would also have had to copy the incoming letters and documents. Sometimes  multiple copies of other document were required, further adding to their work load    Before the invention of easier methods, copying was carried out laboriously, by hand and how welcome to solicitor's clerks (and others) must  the invention of the first effective alternative method of copying .have been. The first copying press to have any significant impact of the copying clerks' burden was that invented by James Watt in 1780 which was soon produced in both stationary and portable forms. This method was refined over the next 60 or 70 years until, with the invention, development and subsequent marketing of typewriting systems, its use began to decline. This decline is evident in the copy letter books of Messrs Challinor & Shaw where a few copies of typed letters appear in the 1890s and in increasing numbers through the first decade of the 20th century. The 1st World War may have provided the stimulus for the very rapid increase in the proportion of typed to hand-written copy letters in Challinor & Shaw's letter books and from 1920 onwards almost all the letters copied were typed. 


The copying process used by the Challinor practice is specified in the instructions issued by the producers of the books of the very thin copy paper on which letters were copied.

19th century letter copying process used in Messrs Challinor & Co, solicitors, Leek, Staffordshire


The firm (Messrs Love & Barton, Wholesale Stationers, 70 Market Street, Manchester) also recommended



For further information on copying processes see The Early Office Museum, The Typewriter and The History of Carbon Paper



The Content of the Copy Letter Books



To a large extent the Challinor & Co., copy letter books are concerned the traditional matters dealt with solicitors throughout the ages, drafting and proving wills, conveyancing, drafting marriage settlements, contracts etc,  managing  trusts and estates, providing legal representation in civil and criminal cases and acting as clerks/ secretaries to various public and other bodies, etc, etc.  In the case of Challinor & Co., their work also included the drafting of parliamentary bills and petitions operating an insurance agency.

Their principal clients were the more important local gentry including the Mills of Barlaston; the Fitzherberts of Tissington; Gell of Hopton; Chandos-Pole-Gell;  Daintry of North Rode; Pegge-Burnell of Winkburn ,  the Milne-Smiths of Dunston near Chesterfield and the litigatious Sneyd family who appear frequently in the Letter Books throughout the later half of the 19th century and seem likely to have made a significant contribution to the firm's income during that the period. 

Various Lords and Peers were clients from time to time but one, the Earl of Macclesfield, was of particular importance as a major land-owner and source of patronage in the Leek area.  Prior to 1850, the old established, Leek firm of solicitors, the Crusos,  held the stewardship of  the Earl's Manor of Leek & Fryth and acted as his attorney and land agent. However, his business was brought to the Challinor firm by William Beaumont Badnall, nephew of  John Cruso the younger, the principal partner in the Cruso firm. Badnall had trained with and worked for, his uncles prior to his marriage to Frank Cruso's only daughter and heiress. On Frank Cruso's withdrawal from the firm and subsequent death,  Badnall effectively inherited the Cruso business and entered into partnership with Joseph and William Challinor.  

Each of the partners brought the interests and estates of relatives and friends to the partnership. Joseph & William Challinor brought, amongst others,  the accounts of relatives such as  Edward & Charles Challinor; Charles Bower May and Joshua Bulkeley May  and the Lewthwaites of Millom, Cumbria.  Badnall brought the accounts of Cruso relatives such as the Gally-Knight family of Warsop, the Daintry and Ryles families of North Rode and Macclesfield, the Milnes-Smith of Dunston;  the Broughton,  Hopkins and Piercy families,  Sir John Cave-Brown-Cave and others..

Major Themes

Railways are a major theme particularly in the earlier letter books and amongst the prospectuses/ lines dealt with are the North Staffordshire Railway; the Leek and Stoke line; the Leek, Caulden Low, Hartington Light Railway, the Great Grimsby Sheffield, Potteries and Grand Junction Railway; the Disley Loop, the Hull, Barnsley & West etc Railway,  the London & North Western Railway and the Nottingham & Ambergate Railway.
Many of the letters relate to negotiations with landowners affected by proposals for new lines -people like the Fitzherberts of Tissington, Sir John C. Harpur-Crewe,  Daintry of North Road and others to investors including the Challinors themselves. Others to the problems that occurred from time to time e.g. claim for compensation for damage caused by surveyors for the proposed Great Grimsby, Sheffield, Potteries and Grand JunctionRailway -1846.

Collieries, Copper Mines and Quarries are also the subject of many letters written to  owners and investors such Charles Binns,  the Earl of Macclesfield, Lord Harrowby, William Tellright  and members of the Rickman, Walmsley, Carrington, May and Challinor families. One colliery example  is the West Moira Mining Company whose founding and subsequent operation is the subject of many letters, others are the Oldfield Colliery, the Tunstall Colliery Company and the Newhouse Mining Company.  One of the several collieries that created much work for the Challinor practice was Sneyd Colliery near Burslem which at one time was leased to Charles Bower May and his brother Joshua. The firm were afflicted with a number of problems requiring legal intervention including the problem created when the North Staffs Railway laid their line through the May's "valuable marl pit". Later the letter books record the May company's  liquidation.   As regards copper mines and quarries, letters relating  the Cumbrian Mill Hawes copper mine, the Conniston mines, the  Mixon Mining Company, Caulden Low limeworks, the Stragdale Mining Company, the Hopton stone quarry (Derbyshire) and the Whittington ironstone mine are amongst those to be found in the pages of these books.

Canals and Turnpikes. Although by the time the earliest of the surviving letter books came into use, the heyday of turnpikes was past and even the canals were beginning to feel the impact of competition from the railways ( in 1845 for example, a Captain Goodwin of Wirksworth who was considering the provision of basins on the Cromford Canal to conserve water, wrote to Frank Cruso that he was "sadly tormented with railways")  these two means of transport continued to feature in their pages for many years.

Turnpike related letters are concerned with turnpike trusts to which Challinors acted as clerks or of which they ,or others that they represented, were members' The latter included the Congleton to Buxton turnpike, the Cromford Road(1850), the Sandon Road (1848) and the .  Matters dealt with include the appointment of trustees, the leasing of the various gates; evasion of tolls e.g." John Oldcott of Burslem was convicted by Mr Rose at his sitting at Hanley yesterday in a penalty of 41/- for passing along a certain road with an ass and a cart with intent to evade the toll at a certain toll gate " -on the Leek and Newcastle turnpike road -Oldcott intended to appeal. (August 1854);


Many of the Challinors'  relatives were involved in the pottery business, not only as investors but also as manufacturers and landlords.  Earthenware manufacturer, Edward Challinor 1792 to 1879, operated at the Pinnox Works
at Tunstall, employing about 3,000 people (1842-1860) and later (from about 1862-67) at the  Unicorn Works, Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent, using a variety of marks such as "E C." and "E. Challinor" [See The A to Z of Stoke-on-Trent Potters]

Edward & Charles Challinor were operating from the Fenton Pottery between 1862 and 1891. Charles Challinor was brother of the two Leek solicitors, Joseph and William Challinor, and developed numerous business interests included involvement in not only the Fenton and Pinnox Potteries but also in  Baker and Co., earthenware manufacturers, Gimson and Co., Fenton, Stilt and Spur Works, Wallace and Co., Railway Stilt Works, Charles Challinor, Fenton Tileries and E. and C. Challinor, Stoke upon Trent, flint and stone mills. As the A to Z of Stoke-on-Trent Potters relates, Charles died on 13 February 1893 as a result of an accident involving the engine at the Glebe Colliery. 

The Challinor & Co copy letter books not only record aspects of the business activities of the potter Challinors but also of their family lives and in particular the tragic death of Charles Challinor - a death that may not have been simply an accident.


Other Topics/Types of Document



Building Societies

Building society affairs including changes to their constitutions, applications for mortgages, dealing with debtors, 


The Leek Town Lands; Badnall Charity e.g. appointment of Joseph Challinor, John Brealey and new trustees in place of Hugh Sleigh who was ill (1891); Naylor's Charity; the Condliffe Charity;



Church Affairs

Vestry; advowsons e.g. the Ipstones advowson (1852); charities; Congregational Church Cheadle; alterations and repairs to churches; stained glass windows by Morris and others; correspondence with architects such as Shaw;

Civil Court Cases

Actions for assault, nuisance e.g. from ironstone burning 1872; slander etc, paternity suits; Chancery cases such as Shipton v Shipton 1882; Libel & slander cases; actions for debt e.g. "Taylor -pitiably poor-wife doing what she can with a cow or two and five little children". Rights of way; Rights of light, water etc. e,g, claim for right to water -William Young v Staffordshire Potteries Waterworks Company (1891) -Young, owner of  the Hope Mill immediately below the old corn mill at the bottom of Mill Street, Leek complained of "serious injury and damage recently sustained  first by being flooded and secondly by an insufficiency of water to fill his well -for both of which causes has has had to close his mill on several occasions". See also Letter from Challinors to Sir Thomas Wardle (18 May 1905) re his water rights as owner of the Hencroft Works.  Other cases such as Swindels v Fitzherbert,  Stott v Tellwright; Wardle v Brassington; Sir Thomas Gresley v the Coton Park Colliery Company (1867);
Encroachments on property; Noise complaints;
Claims for heriot e.g. the case of Sneyd v Carr 5 December 1896 re  a heriot of 10 to be paid with respect; to Onecote Lane Head Farm, Staffordshire.


Articles of association; articles of partnership; dissolution of partnership e.g. that of Wm Davenport Adams & Herbert Sleigh -earthenware manufacturers, Burslem;  bankruptcies e.g. that of Walmsley, Hammersley & Co., 1860; Breach of contract e.g. Leek Silk Manufacturing Company v Noble Hartley of Brazenose Street, Manchester re 1700 lbs of cotton to be delivered to Mitchell Mills Dyeworks, Greenfield, Yorkshire (1917).  Trade mark disputes; Legal action over debts;

Estate management

Leasing of estates such as Highfield; collection of rents; management and sales of estates e. g. the Daintry North Rode (Cheshire) Estate; Valuation of estates e.g. the Loxley Estate, Uttoxeter -valuation (1859) 137,185, annual value 4330  -debts 62500; the Galley-Knight-Cruso Warsop Estate;


Personal information about the their lives and those of the relatives and friends can be gleaned from the correspondence of William & Joseph Challinor and Thomas Shaw.   A few volumes of personal copy letter books have survived.





Law & Order

Societies for the "Prosecution of Felons";  Court of Petty sessions; Magisterial work by individual partners; Cases of murder, fraud, theft  and of prostitution. One case of theft was that of Eliza Ann Fisher (1883) who was sent for trial at Stafford after having been summarily convicted of theft who had "been tried once before at Stafford and had escaped".  Crown cases such as  Regina v Martha Wardle 1860 -"told the female searcher that she (the prisoner) is a prostitute and that she received half a crown from a gentleman yesterday and it turned out to be bad". Rewards to 

Local Government

 The Leek Improvement Bill October 1854; Purchase of Leek Market Tolls from Mrs Grosvenor who had "recently contracted for the sale of the moiety to the Leek Commissioners for 2070 on 23 years purchase"(1859).Erection of new police station (1889).



Loans & Mortgages


Marriage Settlements



Leek & Moorlands district involvement in the yeomanry/militia, e.g. Letter from Challinors to Grindley of Liverpool re the hire of 4 horses for the Leek Troop of Yeomanry's exercises at Lichfield on 30 September 1854 The cost of hiring them was 7/- per horse per day and the hirer ahd to send the horses to Leek and fetch them back again. Letters concerning the 28 Company Leek Rifle Volunteers commanded by William Beaumont Badnall 1860s;  Dissent from enlistment, (1854)


Petition against the Poor Law Bill 1860; 


North Staffs Conservative Association 1847; Involvement of the Challinors in; 




Advertising; leasing and sale e.g. Sale of Thomas Wardle's property including the "house and shop at 56 St. Edward Street, Leek now used as the offices of the Leek Embroidery Society" (1890).

Poor Law

Settlement cases e.g. Draycott in the Moors v Grindon re George Chadwick of Draycott in the Moors who was "chargeable to Grindon" 1855; Removal orders; Poor rates;


St. Luke's School Trust;  Establishment of the Nicholson Institute, Leek; 

Town Planning & Development



Crompton's Trust; Mrs Kynnersley's Trust; 

War Tribunal Appeals

Appeals by you men from the Leek & Moorlands are of Staffordshire against call up during the 1st World War. e.g The case of Phuilip Beresford of Moorside Farm, Oakamoor  and that of a market gardener Mellor (1917).



  Copyright A.W. Bednall, Macclesfield, UK2009-2010