The Banks, Mountfield and the other freehold and leasehold property.

MOUNTFIELDThis is a précis of the Chancery documents which outline the reasons for the firesale of the Bennett property in Blackheath . And what follows is the pared back detail from all 15 plus pages of Chancery evidence . The nub of the case is that although John Bennett 1786-1829 left a will , he left all his possessions to his wife Elizabeth in trust for his 4 children . So she was tenant for life of all the leasehold and freehold property . This seems to have worked well until the late 1850s . Maybe times were hard in the mid to late 1850s , but George Weedon Bennett was regularly borrowing money . His father`s will seems almost to have anticipated this . “and further to borrow money of security of my freehold and leasehold property to pay any portion to secure the payment of any of debts I may owe at my decease but not to borrow money on the said freehold and leasehold properties for no other purpose than to pay the said debts. ” So wrote John Bennett senr in 1828 .

Chancery case . Freeholds : Sussex . A farm lands and hereditaments known as Banks Farm with the lands belonging thereto or held therewith consisting of about 146 acres of land situate at Mountfield in the county of Sussex. A messuage and hereditaments situate on the west side of High Street, St Clements , Hastings in the county of Sussex. Two messuages and hereditaments situate on the east side of High Street, St Clements, Hastings in the county of Sussex with a carpenter`s shop formerly a schoolroom in the rear. Freeholds : Kent . Two messuages and hereditaments situate on the south side of London Street in the parish of Greenwich in the county of Kent. Leaseholds : Blackheath , Kent. An estate consisting of several messuages and buildings and about 12 acres of land situate at Blackheath in the parishes of Lewisham and Charlton in the county of Kent held under a lease dated the 1st day of November 1787 and granted by John Cator , esq , to Thomas Larkin for a term of 90 years from Midsummer Day 1797 ( with power of renewal ) at the yearly rent of £83.10s. Leaseholds : Greenwich , Kent. A messuage and premises known as Thames Cottage situate on the south side of Thames Street, Greenwich aforesaid held under a lease dated 3rd day of May 1823 and granted by William Henry Skinner to James Oliver for 58 3/4 years wanting 15 days from Lady Day 1823 at the yearly rent of £2 . Five messuages and premises situate in Providence Row ( near “The Ship and Billet ” ) Woolwich Road , Greenwich aforesaid held under a lease dated 25th day of March 1820 and granted by Thomas Suter to John Christopher Daycock for 51 years wanting 15 days from Lady Day 1820 at the yearly rent of £7. Leaseholds : Brighton , Sussex. Six messuages and premises situate on the west side of Barrowclift Street, Brighton , in the said county of Sussex held under a lease dated the 10th day of December 1819 and granted by William Cook to James Kenlock Clemont for 80 years wanting 25 days from Michaelmas 1819 at a peppercorn .

This seems to limit the reason for borrowing against these properties to the properties and debts raised on the properties. So assuming that Elizabeth Sinnock Bennett as the trustee agrees to the borrowing , then this must be regarded as legitimate. In 1854 a small portion of leasehold land in Blackheath was sold to the South Eastern Railway company , and it seems the rest of that part of the leasehold was surrendered to Albemarle Cator, the owner of the reversion, who then devised it plus another piece of land to Elizabeth Sinnock Bennett as trustee for 99 years from June 1860 for a yearly rent of £156 . In 1858 by indenture George Weedon Bennett borrowed from Julia Collins, spinster of South Vale Cottage , Blackheath , the sum of £700 in exchange for one equal undivided fourth part of the leaseholds in Blackheath at a rate of 5 1/2% pa. He borrowed a further £400 from Henry Sale Goode against the equal undivided fourth part of the freehold and leasehold properties except that which was mortgaged to Julia Collins in 1859. But catastrophe struck when George Weedon Bennett died suddenly in September 1861 . He died intestate leaving Sarah Ann his widow to make the best of what he had left which included the repayment of the two sums of money and who knows what other debts. Then in January 1864 the lynch pin and tenant for life of all this estate, Elizabeth Sinnock Bennett died at the Circus, Greenwich . Her will was dated 1855 and her two sons George Weedon and William Cox Bennett were appointed executors. Of course by 1864 George was dead and so William probated her will . Within weeks of Elizabeth Sinnock Bennett`s death Julia Collins also died. Her estate was administered by her solicitor Robert Parker and her nephew in law Cecil and she left almost £7,000. ( she was bapt St Alphage Greenwich in 1780 the daughter of John and Mary Collins, he was a carpenter.) In order to safeguard the Banks at Mountfield, the ancestral home, John Bennett now tried to buy up the other three legatees. He paid Alfred William Gilbert son of his late sister Elizabeth , £750 for his equal and undivided fourth part of the Banks, he paid the same amount to his own brother William Bennett , for his equal and undivided fourth part of the Banks . This would undoubtedly have helped William Cox Bennett although by 1868 despite having borrowed £2,500 against his inheritance from William Quilter, by October of that year, he is adjudged bankrupt and all his real personal estate is ordered to be sold to convert to money to pay debts due to his creditors. The final fourth share should have been shared by the three sons of George Weedon Bennett, but that was not how things worked out. John Bennett paid to George Williams Bennett eldest son of George Weedon Bennett, £1,187 10s.and in that way John Bennett acquired the whole of the Banks freehold estate. Perhaps George junr got his share because he would have been 18yrs old whereas his two brothers were only 14 and 9 yrs old . Evan Vaughan of Moorgate St in London was an auctioneer , surveyor and land agent and appointed to sort out the whole Bennett estate . William Cox Bennett also submits to Chancery the Master of the Rolls an affidavit . He says that he believes no settlement was made between George Weedon Bennett and Sarah Ann previous to or during their marriage ; he believes that administration of the estate was granted to Sarah Ann in Oct 1861 and that she and Henry Jenkins married in 1865. However and crucially , John Bennett steps in on the day before Sarah Ann married Henry Jenkins, he says to safeguard the interests of her three sons, and gets her to sign over to him all the administration of her late husband`s estate . This is in the days before the Women`s Property Act , and probably John Bennett saw Henry Jenkins taking over the whole Bennett estate . The manner in which  List of properties drawn up and added to the will of John Bennett d 1829 and which forms a part  of the Chancery case Jenkins v Bennett .

Right up to the beginning of the 20th C the residue of the money from the sale of the freehold and leasehold properties was still in Chancery waiting to be collected by John Sydenham Bennett and Leonard Willmott Bennett .  The officials of the Chancery dept are clearly not aware that John Sydenham died in 1903 and I would guess these residues are long gone back to the Treasury as unclaimed .


This is a page from the London Gazette 12 March 1928 .  Interestingly the date of the original order is 2 December 1870 which is three weeks before the marriage of George Williams and Eliza Bennett at St James Bermondsey .