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Thomas ADKINS, bap.27th April 1762

Thomas ADKINS led a very different life from that of his agricultural ancestors.

At the age of 16, on 12th November 1778, he was apprenticed for seven years (document) to Edward CONNARD tallow chandler and grocer of Birmingham. His grandfather, John BIRD paid a premium of £21 to CONNARD and guaranteed the "true performance" of Thomas ADKINS’s obligations. However, Thomas did not have to complete the seven years for on the 25th March 1783 he was "approved to be at liberty" after serving four years and four months of his apprenticeship.

Five years later, on 29th September 1788, Thomas married Elizabeth FIELD daughter of Richard and Isobel FIELD of Tanworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire. Richard FIELD was a farmer and wickyarn maker, so it is more than likely that Thomas met Elizabeth through conducting business with her father, buying wickyarn for his candle making. The FIELD family were an old and well established family with a long history (documented).

A document shows that Thomas was in partnership with Edward CONNARD’s widow Mary as on 12th August 1796 the partnership was dissolved, and Thomas bought the business outright. The premises and workshops were behind the messuage in Bull Street, Birmingham, once having been leased to Sadler & Flint. Whether Thomas remained there all his working life is uncertain as his address is also listed as in Livery Street from 1791-1815 and another address is Monmouth Street. Possibly he expanded his business interests.

Thomas and Elizabeth had three children, Elizabeth (not mentioned in Thomas’s Will so thought to have died young, Thomas and Sarah. Sadly, his wife Elizabeth died on 30th March 1797 aged only 28 leaving Thomas with a young family to bring up. He never remarried and had the help of his housekeeper Mary COLE and his servant Thomas BIRLEY the elder to bring up the children.

Thomas's Will Proved 8th October 1824 was sworn at under £10,000 in the Archbishop's Court having property "in divers Dioceses."

From his Will it seems likely that at the date of his death, his wife and mother both having pre-deceased him, and possibly his elder daughter Elizabeth having died also, he was being looked after by his housekeeper, Mary Cole, to whom he left an annuity of £20 a year. It is also likely that his daughter Sarah was living at home, as she was left all the personal chattels in the home. Daughter Sarah would then have been aged 30. Born in 1794, she would have been only 2½ when her mother died and 4½ when her grandmother died.

His son, Thomas, would have been aged 32 when the Tallow Chandler died.

There is a brief, incomplete, manuscript about this Thomas ADKINS, the Tallow Chandler set out as an appendix. It tells us, inter alia, "… meeting no encouragement from his uncle Caleb, [to whom the Tallow Chandler's grandfather had in 1777 made over the leases of certain farms at Weston held from the Duke of Dorset] he started in Birmingham as the assistant of a tallow chandler without so much as a shilling of his property that he could call his own." The document is reproduced at the bottom of this page.

The trade of tallow chandler consisted in rendering animal fat into a form in which it could be used for making candles - then the chief form of artificial light. The Tallow Chandler's father-in-law, Mr Richard FIELD of Tanworth [baptised 20 July 1732, married Isabel LEA, died 1791] was in business as a bleacher of candle wicks. So there may have been a business relationship, as well as the families living quite close at Stratford and Tanworth.

Thomas ADKINS's Will

Most of the details of the Will can be summarized as follows:

All debts and expenses to be paid.
All personal chattels to his daughter Sarah.
A legacy of £1,000 to his daughter Sarah.
His daughter Sarah to have the income for her life of the freehold property in Bull Street, Birmingham let to Arthur Lawrence. After her death the property was to go amongst her children [there were none, in fact] and subject to that it was to go outright to his son Thomas.
His daughter Sarah was also to have the income for her life from a sum of £4,000. After her death there were trusts for any children [there were none].
Subject to that, the sum was to be divided in half:
 - £2,000 was to go to his son Thomas outright;
 - £2,000 was to be held to provide the income to his son Thomas for his life and after his death that half was to go equally among his children.
The whole sum of £4,000 was charged with the payment of an annuity of £10 per year to "my old servant Thomas Birley the elder".
The income to arise from the freehold property in Bull Street, Birmingham let to Sutton & Durning was to be held for his son Thomas for his life and then outright to Thomas' children.
Residue was to go to his son Thomas outright, but it was charged with the provision of:
 a. An annuity of £20 per year to "my housekeeper Mary Cole."
 b. A legacy of £10 each to two of the Executors named in the Will, William Ingram [who in fact died before the Tallow Chandler and thus never became an Executor] and his nephew Thomas ADKINS of Milcote. That nephew was the eldest son of his brother, John ADKINS of Milcote who had died in 1810. This nephew was the elder brother of John Caleb ADKINS, about whom the much longer memoire was later written.

A method of giving good receipts is laid down.
The Executors are to be repaid out of pocket expenses and are not to be responsible for any loss to the estate unless through their wilful default or neglect.
There are appointed as Executors William Ingram, his nephew Thomas ADKINS, his son Thomas ADKINS, and as Executrix his daughter Sarah ADKINS.

Signed by Thomas ADKINS on 28 July 1818
Witnessed by Wm Squires, H Smith & Edwd Bower, Clerks with Smith & Arnold Solicitors, Birmingham.

Will proved in the Canterbury Prerogative Court by his cousin* Thomas ADKINS, his son Thomas ADKINS and his daughter Sarah ADKINS on 8 October 1824.

* I am confused as to why throughout the Will it refers to his nephew Thomas ADKINS, but the Will is proved by his cousin Thomas ADKINS! I thought the proof had to be carried out by Executors, in which case it is his nephew.

Memoire about Thomas ADKINS

We have a transcription of an incomplete memoire on the life of Thomas ADKINS. The author is unknown. The original amounts to a single page …

"Mary was born in 1758 and married a man named Lavender, and of her I can give no further account.

Thomas, the second son, was born in 1762 and meeting no encouragement from his uncle Caleb [1733 -1801, died unmarried at Weston Sands] he started in Birmingham as the assistant of a tallow chandler without so much as a shilling of property that could be called his own. By extreme industry and frugality, he became a tallow chandler with a considerable business in Bull Street.

He married the daughter of a person named [Richard] Field, a bleacher of candle wicks, at Tanworth [in Arden], and by her he had two children, a son and a daughter of whom more anon. I am unable to give the date of his death but believe that he lived to be an old man and very greatly respected for his stirling (sic) worth (c.1824, about 62, estate sworn at 'under £10,000').

He accumulated a good property, yet he was no niggard but was much delighted to have friends around him sharing with him such sort of living as were suitable to his mode of life and position. His only daughter Sarah married a Scotchman (sic), George Theophilus Washington Anderson who had spent a good deal of his time in the West Indies. They had no family.

Thomas, his son, was favoured by his father with a liberal education for those days, and as a finish, when a young man was sent to read for a time with Mr Homfray, the clergyman of Snitterfield (near Stratford-upon-Avon), and the author of a poem which went through more than one edition, called 'Thoughts on Happiness'.

While at Snitterfield he shewed himself to be possessed of such ability as to lead Mr Homfray to expostulate with his father against making him what he termed 'a tradesman'. He wished to have him educated for a learned profession in which his talents would find scope for their full development and suggested the Bar. However, the …"

Here the manuscript ends at the foot of the page, but with two blank pages following.

All of the information on this page has been researched over many years and written up by the late Evelyn Goodman née ADKINS.

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