[Sir Humphry Mackworth, politician, and industrial entrepreneur.] Manuscript Draft Petition from Mackworth's partners to the Lord Chancellor, claiming that 'mismanagement' of interests in Neath (Wales), and New York, will leave them 'entirely ruined'

Sir Humphry Mackworth [Sir Humphrey Mackworth], Tory politician and dubious industrial entrepreneur in Neath, Wales, and New York [Company of Mine Adventurers of England]
Publication details: 
[High Court of Chancery, London.] Circa 1721.
SKU: 22592

Mackworth was a flamboyant character, but whatever his flaws he played a major and innovative role in energising Welsh industry in the late Stuart period. For information on him and his dubious ventures, see his entries in the Oxford DNB (where his first name is spelt 'Humphry') and the Dictionary of Welsh Biography (where it is spelt 'Humphrey'). With reference to the present item, the Oxford DNB states that (after previous activities bordering on the fradulent), 'In 1713 Mackworth organized a new joint-stock company, the Mineral Manufacturers of Neath, with himself as cashier-general, and by concentrating on brass production he built a prosperous undertaking. Supporters within the Mine Adventurers tried to restore his membership in 1720, exonerating him from past accusations, but Mackworth overextended his hand by attempting to influence the election of a new governor. A shareholders' petition to parliament led to further censure. By then Mackworth's Neath operation was also in difficulties. The final years saw him embroiled in a court action over the fraudulent sealing of a document and a customs' investigation into the importation of contraband. His personal finances were such that, at his death, his debts and legal costs exceeded his credits by as much as £2657 15s. 2d.' The present item, which casts light on Mackworth's later financial activities, is 3pp, folio. On watermarked laid paper. Undated. Aged and worn, but complete and entirely legible. Folded three times into the customary packet, with the otherwise-blank reverse of second leaf endorsed with the names (in Latin) of the parties in the suit, and 'Dr[af]t. Partn[er]s Petition'.Addressed 'To the Rt. Honble The Lord High Chanc[ello]r of Great Britain', i.e. Thomas Parker, 1st Earl of Macclesfield (1666-1732). The plaintiffs are Sir William Stuart, Sir John Wallis and Robert Knapp; and the defendants Humphry Mackworth, his son Herbert Mackworth and Thomas Mather. The petition is set out in the customary fashion. To begin with, it 'Sheweth | That your Pet[itione]rs. in the year 1720 became partners with the Plts & Defts. in an undertaking carryed [sic] on at Neath for making & manufacturing Copper, Brass, Lead, and Iron, pursuant to certain Articles of Agreemt., bearing date the 1st. day of May 1713, - and have advanced and payd in Several very considerable Summs to be Employed as Stock therein; and from ye nature of the undertaking (wch was to carry on several manufactures wth one and the Same Joynt Stock) and the profits, they have been credibly informed, have been made from each of the said Manufactures at other Workhouses, not so, not so conveniently situated as Your Petrs are at Neath, Yr Petrs. expected & well hoped, that they might have recd considerable Annual Dividends out of the Profits arising thereby, and also out of the profits of their Mines at New Yorke'. The document proceeds to describe in detail the plaintiffs' case, from non-payment of dividends to 'Differences arising between the Plts. Stuart Wallis & Knapp and Sr. Humphrey Mackworth in relation to the Direct[i]on of the Governmt. of the said undertaking'. A Chancery suit is described, with the decision of the Lord Chancellor. 'Your Petrs, are credibly informed, That the sd Partners Works at Neath and New York have, since the said Order, been entirely under the Direct[i]on of the said Stuart, Wallis, Knapp and Officers appointed by them, and that they have recd Considerable Quantitys of Goods from Neath and New York and several sums of Money arising by Sale thereof, And that no Receiver hath been hitherto appointed to take any Acct. thereof nor any care taken that the sd. Goods have been Disposed of to the best Advantage or the Money arising thereby applyed in Discharge of the sd Partners Debts to their Workmen & others at Neath & Elsewhere'. The petitioners conclude that 'the Said Undertaking will be entirely ruined, unless some Speedy Method is taken to prevent the same [...] And Your Petrs. Fortunes & Propertys are like to suffer by the said Mismanagement & by the Differences above mentioned'. They conclude by asking that 'it may be referred to the sd. Master to Examine into the State of Your Petrs. Affayrs both at Neath and New York And the Disposition of their Money Goods and Effects, And that a Receiver may be speedily appointed and the Managemt vested in Such Hands & put under such Methods & Regulations as may be likely to terminate in the Genll Good of the sd Partnrs'.