HC Deb 06 June 1817 vol 36 cc914-5
Mr. W. Smith

stated, that he held in his hand a Petition which appeared to him to be of a most extraordinary nature. It was signed by Thomas Evennett, formerly a farmer of Waltham-Abbey, in the county of Essex, and had been sent to him by a barrister, who, he apprehended, had been employed by the petitioner in the course of the transactions of which it complained. The cause of complaint was the process, and execution upon an Extent in Aid; and he would venture to say that a greater complication of injuries had never been committed upon an individual, than in the present instance, in the course of what was called law and justice. About 60 weeks ago the whole of this person's property of every kind had been seized, and he himself had laid in gaol ever since. He could not obtain his discharge either by the insolvent act or a commission of bankruptcy, because his creditor was nominally a debtor to the Crown. The prosecution was at the suit of a Mr. Bignold, a banker at Norwich, and secretary to the Norwich Insurance company, and he had succeeded in obtaining this extent from the court of Exchequer, although the debt in question was due to him in his capacity of a private banker, by representing himself to be liable to government for the securities furnished by the Insurance company for the satisfaction of the claims of the revenue. It was quite clear, however, that he was no more liable, though he might be the person sued on the part of the society, than any other subscriber or proprietor; and if he had employed the funds of the society in his banking concerns, that was his own fault, and what indeed he had no right to do; it being in his power, and it being his duty at the same time, to keep these funds in a separate chest. This, however, was the only possible view in, which he could be indirectly regarded as a debtor to the Crown, and of course entitled to sue out this sort of execution against his own private debtors; and a more scandalous or fraudulent pretence, applied to more oppressive purposes, he had never known. This poor man, who was sixty years of age, had been afflicted since his confinement with a paralytic stroke; he had been compelled to depend for sustenance on the charity of his neighbours; the creditor, under this species of execution, not being obliged to contribute to his support; and he now prayed for such relief, as the House in its wisdom might think proper to afford him.

After a few words from Mr. Protheroe, sir J. Newport, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Mr. Barclay, the Petition was read, and ordered to be printed.