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A Grandfather's Tale: Chapter 10, MERCHANT DECEASED

A GRANDFATHER'S TALE: LIVERPOOL SLAVE MERCHANT WILLIAM BOLDEN 1730-1800


Chapter Ten:  MERCHANT DECEASED

A hard man, my father. A Lancashire man. No fool.
When Uncle Edward died in 1750, my mother expected us to move back to the Ellel farm. Father would have none of it. He scorned grandfather Edward, and great-grandfather Edward before him. They were "soft in t' heed" for grafting hard all their lives and nothing to show for it at the end. Only a couple of skinny cows "'n brokit spade".
The Ellel tenancy was not really a farm at all in father's mind. Just a lifetime of unrewarding toil that was passed on to the next of kin. A poor thing, of mud and muck and rotten mortar. 
He was William Bolden, Freeman and Master Tanner of the Borough of Lancaster. He had made something of himself and he wasn't about to go backwards.

Father stayed silent before my mother's chatter for weeks. Finally, when he'd had enough of her asking, he spoke his mind.

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A Grandfather's Tale: Chapter 9, THE GRAVEYARD

A GRANDFATHER'S TALE: LIVERPOOL SLAVE MERCHANT WILLIAM BOLDEN 1730-1800


Chapter Nine: THE GRAVEYARD

William Bolden's last decade was spent in withdrawing from the business partnership of Sparling and Bolden. It was a period of realising his assets and planning their destination after his death. Overshadowing this was depression. Not the economic recession of the early 1790s, but his own mental health.

The partners' last letter book, the subject of MM Schofield's invaluable study in 1964, is the best available source for describing this difficult time for the old merchant. Schofield writes that in 1793 "William Bolden decided to retire". In a letter dated 10 October 1797, John Lawrence received final notice "to close down the [Virginian] business as soon as possible". (1)

It is in another of those letters, dated 22 July 1793, that the extent of Bolden's personal struggle becomes apparent. Sparling in Liverpool writes to Lawrence in Virginia that,
...i…