A Family Business

At the time that I did a bit of digging into the UK census archives the soonest that you could start from was the 1901 census, now I think the 1911 one is online too, I must invest some more time and money and have a look at that one for there is a question that I’ve been dying to answer properly – at what moment did The White Stag change hands ?

As we saw on Friday in 1901 George, my Great-Grandfather was 47 years old and he was owner and landlord of a large public house in an industrious and cosmopolitan district of Leeds along with his wife Mary (46) and his  family of ten children Minetta (25), Norah (23), Robert (21), Polly (19), George (17), William (15), Percy (13), Leonard (6), Elsie (4) and Dorothy (9 mnth).

Its fair to guess that a property and business of that size in that age would mean that George was reasonably well off, its fair to guess that the business was prosperous because one of my fathers uncles was still running the place in the 1960s, I only have one memory of it and that was attending a wedding of one of my fathers cousins where the reception was held in the concert room of the pub.

So the question is, given the substantial asset that the building and business would have represented, who of those ten children would old George hand the deeds over to when he departed of this life ?

Given that his daughters were not recorded in employment its unlikely that he would have offered them the opportunity, so maybe his eldest son Robert ?

Well if you recall, Robert was already established as an auctioneer and I suspect that he was quite successful at the job because one of his sons continued in the same line and became a director of one of Leeds’ largest auctioneers and property agents, so perhaps not Robert then.

Of the boys that leaves us George, William, Percy (my grandfather) and the youngest Leonard and its at this point that I wish I had to hand the 1911 census for that would confirm just how many of those young men, ranging in age from 27 to 16 years of age were still living at home, or indeed if they were still alive.

I know the story well, the story that my father told me many times of how the pub was handed down and the bit that still has no plausible explanation is why only two of them had a consideration in the matter, were the others dead, or had they moved away, I suspect that the 1911 census might not enlighten us too much because I suspect that the act was done sometime after that date, for who would hand such a large asset and business over to your youngest son when he is still only 16 years of age ?

Yes, Leonard got the business, the youngest son.

And while I don’t know the exact year and I don’t know if the First World War had any place to play in the saga for the boys would all have been eligible for call-up, but I do know the story very well.

There was a sum of money involved and the business and according to my father only my grandfather Percy and his younger brother Leonard were involved in the inheritance after old George had died – they played a card game to decide who should have the pub and who should take a cash settlement and in the words of my father, “If your grand-dad  had been any good at cards we’d be living in The Stag now…”

My dad’s Uncle Lenny took over the ownership of The Stag, Percy took his money and moved a couple of miles up the road to Meanwood where he rented a lock-up shop and set himself up in business as a watch and clock repairer, remember the old next door neighbours who were watchmakers, thats possibly why he moved far enough away not to encroach on their business.

My grandfather soon expanded the business into industrial timekeeping clocks, the old wood-cased “clocking-on clocks” that were present in every business premise and the oldest piece of paper relating to his business that I still have is a maintenance contract that he agreed with The Conqueror Typewriter Company of Hunslet Leeds to maintain their time clock for the sum of one guinea per annum, that contract is dated 1931 so we know he was well established then, the 1911 census will move me a bit closer to the asset split, a 1921 census would be great.

I love following this part of the family because I’m familiar with some of them from the tales my father told of his uncles and aunties and of The White Stag, my father lived in Meanwood during his youth and would have been a regular at the family pub even though it was a bus ride away, he worked in his fathers clock repairing business up until the start of World War Two, served in the Army Transport Corp through that interlude and when he returned home in 1945 found his father Percy dying at home from cancer and a business run-down through not having been tended for over a year, he disposed of the business and worked for a London based company in the same trade until the late 1970s when he left to trade on his own again – the business that he sold to me for £100,000 in 1988, the self same business that I sold 80% of in 2007 for the princely sum of £1 (yes, one) and then finally liquidated in last years recession – don’t you just love a success story ?

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3 thoughts on “A Family Business

  1. ~~LOL~~ There are bits and pieces over at TVM, which I am very careful to keep out of their realm of knowledge, even though my father has just been launched into cyberspace!

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