William Summerland came from a family of graziers and butchers. His parents, Joseph (1738–1808) – see separate entry – and Hannah of Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, had at least six children of whom William was the eldest. Nominally, the Summerlands were Quakers, but several birth and death certificates note they were ‘not in unity’ or ‘not members’.
At some point William joined his father in the butchery trade, but in January 1798 the Derby Mercury carried the following announcement: ‘Joseph Summerland and his son William both of Uttoxeter, mutually agree to continue all business separately and without interference with each other.’ The same announcement was made in the Staffordshire Advertiser. The wording does not follow the more usual statements regarding the dissolution of a business partnership where either or both partners were to continue. The phrase ‘without interference’ perhaps suggests a less amicable split. Whatever the cause of the break-up, however, it was not sufficient for Joseph to disinherit his son or to prevent his son from being an executor of his father’s will.
After various bequests and legacies, Joseph left his property in High Wood, late the estate of Thomas Pitts, to William, and all remaining real and personal estate.
William married Mary. They had at least six children: Hannah (1788), Joseph (1789), Ann Marie (1790), William (1791), Mary (1792), Richard Ecroyd (1793–1824). William and Richard followed their father into the butchery business.
William Summerland of Carter Street is listed in the 1818 A New General and Commercial Directory of Staffordshire as a butcher, grazier and mule dealer, and also in White’s 1834 History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire. William was a frequent supplier of meat to the workhouse. Between 26 March and 28 May 1831, he supplied beef on four occasions to the value of £4 17s 7d.
Like his father, William took an active interest in the welfare of his brother John (b.1767) – see separate entry – who in 1802 spent four months as a patient of William Tuke in the Quaker Retreat in York for mental illness.
William died intestate in November 1834 aged 70, having outlived his wife Mary who died aged 78 in January 1834. The Wolverhampton Chronicle and Staffordshire Advertiser declared ‘His death was awfully sudden. His servant man called him early … in order to prepare to attend a fair; and a short time afterwards the same servant found him in the room a corpse!’ Letters of Administration were granted to William’s ‘natural and lawful daughter’ Hannah, the wife of John French of the Heath, Uttoxeter. French (yeoman), Joseph Newton (butcher) and Hannah Gammage (widow) entered into a bond to the value of £2,000 to ensure that William’s estate (sworn value £1,000) was administered in accordance with the law.
The appointment of Joseph Newton as an executor is not surprising. A Joseph Newton signed a receipt on behalf of William Summerland in 1832. It was common for people in the same or similar lines of business as the deceased to assist a widow when it came to administering, managing or settling an estate as they knew how local businesses and their networks operated. The people agreeing to be guarantors, trustees and executors knew that they had legal responsibilities to fulfil. There was evidently some dispute over William’s estate. In 1842 the London Gazette reported that pursuant to a decree in Chancery, made in a cause Clough versus French, the creditors of William Summerland, late of Uttoxeter … Butcher, Grazier and Farmer deceased, were to leave their claims before Nassau William Senior, esq. If they failed to do so, they would be excluded the benefits of the decree. Quite what the dispute centred on is not yet known.
Borthwick Institute, University of York, Retreat Archives, RET 1/5/1/7 Correspondence.
Peter Collinge, ‘Gentility, status and influence in late-Georgian Ashbourne c.1780–1820: Barbara Ford and her circle’ (unpublished MRes Dissertation, Keele University, 2011).
Derby Mercury, 25 January 1798.
Lichfield Record Office, B/C 11, Will of Joseph Summerland, 29 April 1808; B/C 11, Letters of Administration for William Summerland, Uttoxeter, 13 January 1835.
London Gazette, 1842.
Jon Mitchell www.blog.wellcomelibrary.org/2015/03/setting-the-record-straight-mania-or-sick-man? accessed 10/07/2016.
www.quakersintheworld.org/quakers-in-action/92 accessed 11/07/2016.
W. Parson and T. Bradshaw, Staffordshire General and Commercial Directory presenting an Alphabetical Arrangement of the Names and Residences of the Nobility, Gentry, Merchants and Inhabitants in General (Manchester: 1818).
Staffordshire Advertiser, 13 January 1798.
Staffordshire Record Office, D3891/6/37/1/2; D3891/6/37/1/5; D3891/6/37/1/7; D3891/6/37/2/9.
TNA, RG 6/218, 6/650, 6/256, 6/288, England and Wales Quaker Birth, Marriage and Death Index, 1578–1837.
TNA, England and Wales Quaker Birth, Marriage and Death Index, 1578–1837.
William White, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire (1834).
Wolverhampton Chronicle and Staffordshire Advertiser, 12 November 1834.
N.B. This biography is a work in progress and will probably be amended as further information from vouchers and other sources becomes available.