Knight of Barrells
Preliminary report of Mr. Bircham on the result of his enquiry as to the Mold tithes in the form of a letter addressed to Edward Whitaker esq. and William Parke esq. Mr. Porter had been engaged during the past week in making enquiries at Mold, and the writer had succeeded in obtaining from the representatives of the late Mr. Mather, who was Robert Knight's receiver of tithes from 1806 to 1842, the annual accounts relating to the tithes between those dates. There was no reason to doubt that the tithes were more valuable before their commutation in 1839, both as a source of income and as an investment. According to the system followed at that time, the tithes were let annually by auction and in townships to the farmers in the neighbourhood, who collected the tithes in kind without any trouble or expense to the lay impropriator. The writer appended a Statement A compiled from Mr. Mather's accounts which showed in one column the sums at which the tithes were let from 1806 to 1830, and in another column the amounts remitted to Robert Knight or applied for his benefit. For 4 years prior to 1810 the tithes realised to Robert Knight a nett income of £1,574 per annum, and on an average of 21 years from 1810 to 1830, £1,467.10s.0d. per annum. The falling off was more distinct after 1831. On the figures for the 4 years prior to 1810 (say £1,500 per annum), the price given in 1810 was nearly £5,000 more than the value of the tithes at 30 years' purchase. It seemed probable therefore that no evidence was laid before the Court of Chancery as to the actual annual receipts from the tithes at that time, and that the Court was guided by the valuation of a surveyor. The Statement A would also show that in certain years (specified) the tithes did produce a larger sum than the average, and Mr. Porter was informed at Mold that at some time about 1810 some of the tithes were let on lease, and the lessees were said to have made large profits from having taken their leases at the low prices prevailing at the time. This may have influenced the valuer in his estimate. The accounts confirmed that in 1813 the tithes were let for £1,867, and in 1827 for £2,251.12s.0d. Whilst at Mold Mr. Porter saw the Dean of St. Asaph, who was formerly vicar of Mold, and gained the information that at some time immediately before their purchase for the trust estate, the tithes were offered for sale by Robert Knight to his (the Dean's) father at a price considerably less than £50,000, but that during the negotiations the offer was suddenly withdrawn. Signed: Francis T. Bircham. Undated.