Non-Payment of Coaching Taxes


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[003514] [Coaching and Duty Evasion in Northumberland]. Collection of Letters Relating to a Stamp Office Case of Non-Payment of Coaching Taxes. Various: No Publisher, First Edition. Various. Unbound. Letters. Good.

Collection of letters and a couple of copy documents, dated between 1821 and 1824, (sixteen items in total), relating to a Stamp Office case against a coachman who wasn’t paying his taxes, and was therefore able to charge lower fares, possibly brought to light due to a complaint by Robert Pocock, a rival coachman.

All creased from folding, with a couple a little roughly opened and lightly browned, but generally in good order.

There are five letters and a draft letter from Stephen Wilkinson, writing from Morpeth to Robert Thorpe at the Stamp Office in Alnwick, six letters from Godfrey Sykes at the Stamp Office in London to Robert Thorpe, two letters from John Riddell to Robert Thorpe, promising to pay his debts, a copy of the ?summons of John Riddell and a copy of Robert Thorpe’s out of pocket expenses for the trial of Riddell (The King v. Riddell).

It appears that Riddell had been in financial trouble for some time, Wilkinson first mentions him in his first letter dated April 7th, 1821, noting that Riddell had “paid up the last, but is again in arrears £14, he has promised from time to time as usual, but has not paid anything up to this date”, a few weeks later on June 11th, 1821, Wilkinson notes that “with respect to Riddell’s Coach Duty, 13 weeks were due on Friday last”, and by December 1822, Wilkinson has got an affidavit against Riddell’s arrears, noting that he has “reason to think he is poor, altho’ he has had much the advantage of Peacock [probably Pocock] who has always paid his Coach Duty pretty regular, and who has told me that Riddell was carrying passengers for very low fares, which he has been enabled to do from paying so little Duty”. On January 3rd, 1823, Wilkinson informs Thorpe that Riddell “was arrested about 12 days ago, and is now in the Gaol – he did not pay any Duty subsequent to my making the affidavit and his being arrested”. Wilkinson’s final letter to Thorpe of September 22nd, 1823, tells Thorpe that Riddell has made no further payment, that Riddell is fifty years of age, with a wife and two children, “and no other person liable for the Duty as he has had no Bondsman for many years, nor do I think he will be able to find good security for the Debt – He was committed to prison on the 21st of December 1822 – This is the second time he has been imprisoned for nonpayment of Duty”. In a letter from Sykes, Riddell is calculated to owe nearly £82.

Godfrey Sykes was the Solicitor to the Stamp Office