These extracts are taken from the diaries of Godfrey Tallents, who worked for Tallents in the 19th Century. They offer a fascinating insight into the life of a Newark solicitor during this time.
These extracts are reproduced here with the kind permission of Dr. Richard A. Gaunt.
"Politics, Law and Society in Nottinghamshire. The Diaries of Godfrey Tallents, 1829-39", edited by Dr. Richard A. Gaunt (Nottinghamshire County Council 2010) is available to buy from Nottingshamshire Archives, Newark Library, Newark Millgate Museum and Nottinghamshire libraries for £7.50.
If you would like to buy the book by post, please send a cheque for £10.50 (which includes £3 for postage and packaging) made payable to 'Nottinghamshire County Council' to Libraries, Archives and Information, Communities Department, 4th Floor, County Hall, West Bridgford, NG2 7QP.
Mr R & Mrs E Shanahan have kindly shared their research on a letter sent to Godfrey Tallents by Sir William Welby in June 1834.
The extracts from the diaries below relate to Godfrey Tallents’s legal work as a solicitor in Newark.
POLITICS, LAW AND SOCIETY IN NOTTINGHAMSHIRE: THE DIARIES OF GODFREY TALLENTS OF NEWARK, 1829 – 1839
Edited by Dr. Richard A. Gaunt, reproduced here with his kind permission.
31 December 1831. Nothing but briefs, depositions, Indictments and other legal instruments and lawyers in the face all day. Craddock went off by the early coach to Derby and on to Matlock to subpoena a witness.
6 January 1832. This day I completed my twentieth year, but, as was the case last year, a Special Commission kept me from home; we went into court at 8½ and began business about 9, taking the Beeston Case first, and out of that Case, Beck separately, his trial lasted the whole of the day, and ending in his conviction with a recommendation to mercy, for which the Jury, who seemed excessively dull, could give no sufficient grounds. It was then 3 and it was determined to take no more Crown Cases, but 6 other Cases were tried, what they were or what the results of them, I did not hear.
7 January 1832. We went into court this morning at 8½; about 9½ I had to go and fetch Colonel Thackwell of the 15th Hussars. I first went to the Barracks, but having waited half an hour, and the Colonel not making his appearance, I walked on to Old Lenton where he lives and saw him, where he said he should be at the court very shortly. I then went to the court, where I remained, with the exception of a few minutes, till 9 o’clock at night, the trial of 3 men Shelton, Armstrong and Hearson having occupied 12 hours. Hearson brought six or seven witnesses to prove an alibi; the witnesses all stuck to each other and nothing was drawn from them, there was however no doubt as to his guilt, and the Jury returned a verdict of guilty against all 3. We dined at 9 o’clock, my father dined with Mr Lowdham. Burnaby came over for a short time and returned
9 January 1832. We went in court this morning soon after 8½ and commenced business by 9. It was a continuation of the Beeston Case and the prisoners were Forman, Kitchen, Linley and Thurman. The trial was very long and lasted from 9 o’clock until 10 at night when the Jury retired and brought a verdict of guilty against Kitchen and Thurman and acquitted Forman and Linley. We did not get to dinner till 11½ o’clock. I received a letter from my mother with a parcel for Mills. Clarke opened the Case and Littledale summed up, which took him three hours. Day tolerably fine, though damp in the afternoon.
10 January 1832. We went into court this morning at 9 o’clock, we took the remaining four prisoners in the Beeston Case, viz, Wagstaff, King, Hitchcock and Grundy. We had an infamous Jury and after a trial and summing up which lasted from 9 o’clock in the morning till past 8 o’clock in the evening, when we came home and Gell, Collinson, Lewis, and Craddock, who had arrived, dined with us. The result of the trial was the acquittal, by a most horrible Jury, of the whole of the prisoners…Consultation at 9½. Day middling.
11 January 1832. We went into court this morning at 9 o’clock and the Colwick prisoners were put up and all pleaded Not Guilty, part were ordered down and Berkins, Marshall and Whitaker took their trials, the first prisoner was proved to have taken off his shirt, lit it and thrown it under Mr Musters’ bed, which was consumed. The two others were also proved to have taken an active part, they all three brought forward alibis but they were also all three blown up in cross examination and a regular system of perjury found out; the prisoners at 9 o’clock were all three brought in Guilty. We had a consultation at night and before dinner at which Counsel determined in what order they would try the prisoners. We did not dine till after 1 o’clock. The day was an unpleasant one.
12 January 1832. Into court at 9 o’clock. The rest of the Colwick prisoners were brought up, when no evidence being offered against Freeman, Harrison and 2 others, a verdict of Acquittal was taken. Thomas Smith and Henry King were then left at the Bar and took their trials. Tom Smith is a notoriously bad fellow, but unfortunately we were only able to get one distinct testimony, as to having seen him engaged in the destruction at Colwick. I, Craddock and his brother came away from Nottingham in a chaise at 2 o’clock. The trial had then got as far as the 3rd witness for Smith’s Alibi. Both prisoners were subsequently acquitted. Smith called 22 witnesses to his alibi all of whom are well known to have perjured themselves. We got to Newark by 5 o’clock.
14 January 1832. …In the evening about 9 my father came from Nottingham. The sentences are passed and the result is that for the Beeston Case, Shelton, Beck, Armstrong and Hearson are to be hanged, and Berkins to be hung for the Colwick Case, the rest are to be transported for life. The Castle Case went off without any evidence being offered as did the Wollaton Riot Case.
6 April 1832. …It was our Newark Sessions, we had 2 appeals, but only one was tried, and that one we won. The other was respited, several Bastards motions, only 1 or two prisoners who pleaded guilty. Nothing particular afterwards.
2 July 1832. Office work. Burnaby was at the Nottingham Sessions, where we had 1 appeal as to a pauper, one against 6 July 1832. Newark Sessions were held this morning; we had 2 or 3 motion papers and one appeal, which we won subject to a case in the King’s Bench. There were only two prisoners for trial.
14 July 1832. We went over to Carlton today to examine some old books etc in Sutton’s affairs for the Kelham Bridge Trial and also to examine some deeds with an abstract.
25 July 1832. This morning we breakfasted at ¼ 8 and at 9 or 9½ we went up to the Court to be in readiness for the coming on of the Kelham Bridge cause which was tried today before Justice Parke, it came on about 12 o’clock; our counsel (for the County) were Balguy, Clarke and Waddington, Mr Sutton had Adams, Clinton, and Goulburn. It occupied about 4 hours and ended in a verdict for the Defendants, but it is very likely that it will not rest here but that a new trial or something else will come on about it. We dined at 5½, paid our witnesses and left Lincoln at ¼ 10 and reached home at ¼ 12. I went to bed soon after. The day was fine.
20 March 1833. In the office all day. The weather was very raw. Nothing particular. A man was found guilty of a murder near Retford today at Nottingham.
11 November 1834. At home all day. Drew out my affidavits and certificates for admission as an attorney.
21 November 1834. I went down to Westminster this morning and was admitted as an attorney of the King’s Bench, after which I got my certificate signed by Sir William Horne and Mr Nathaniel Clarke. From the King’s Bench I went into the Court of Chancery where, after waiting two hours and being about squeezed to death, Lord Brougham made his farewell speech
25 November 1834. I made several affidavits regarding my admission and was running about all day.
25 November 1834. I made several affidavits regarding my admission and was running about all day.
26 November 1834. I was this morning sworn in a solicitor in Chancery before Sir Charles Pepys the Master of the Rolls and afterwards signed the roll etc.
24 December 1834. At home. Xmas Eve. My appointment
27 February 1835. I attended a meeting of the Leadenham Road Trustees.
4 March 1835. At home all day. A parcel of 20 Draft Conveyances came from
9 March 1835. Mr Cross a new clerk came for the first time to the office.
4 April 1835. This day the Borough Sessions were held before Nathaniel Clarke the Recorder and the Aldermen. I had all the business. 7 felonies, one case of embezzlement and 2 bastardy motions. 3 pleaded guilty, 3 were found guilty and 2 acquitted. The bastards were sworn to fathers and orders made. I dined at Moore’s with the Recorder, Aldermen and Jury and got home at 9 o’clock.
2 July 1835. I rode from Nottingham to Bingham to attend the magistrates meeting and got home at 2½ o’clock.
8 July 1835. Mr Thompson and my father went up to London together, my father to see the Duke of Newcastle about establishing an office in London.
17 July 1835. My father came down from London. The Southwell cricket was finished today, Southwell second innings 204, Louth 73. The Southwell winning by 120 notches. My father made a number of calls on the subject of his establishing an office in London, amongst others, the Duke of Newcastle, Lords Lincoln and Hatherton, Under Secretary Phillips and Drummond, Sir William Horne. All very kind about it. We propose fixing upon chambers in the Albany.
18 July 1835. Borough Sessions. I conducted the whole of the prosecutions, 9 felonies, only one not guilty and he had been out on bail. The Mayor for the ensuing year
13 August 1835. I went to the magistrates meeting at Bingham…My father went up to town unexpectedly to see the Duke of Newcastle.
15 August 1835. I acted as Coroner to an inquest held this morning at Spreckley’s on the body of Master Robert Kirk son of the late Colonel Kirk who was thrown over the Mill Bridge by a boat rope. Verdict accidental death. I was in the office all day.
20 August 1835. I attended the Town Hall and at 1½ held an inquest on the body of Robert Wilson a child of 4 years old, who rumour said had come by his end unfairly. The verdict however was “Died by the visitation of God”. Excessively close and hot.
24 August 1835. At home all day and busy in the office.
8 September 1835. …My father received a very handsome present from the Duke of Newcastle and Mr Gladstone our member, it is two silver wine coolers, beautifully wrought, with his arms on one side and an inscription on the other with the words “To W E Tallents a tribute to commemorate the esteem and regard of Henry Pelham Duke of Newcastle and W E Gladstone Esq MP for Newark August 1835”.
30 September 1835. I went to the Revising Barristers Court for an hour or two. My father on one side and Mr Wilde on the other.
17 October 1835. I was in the office till 1 o’clock when our Borough Sessions were held. I held all the prosecutions (3) and 3 bastardy cases. One prisoner was defended and got off.
19 October 1835. Burnaby went today to see his father
2 January 1836. Newark Borough Sessions. I had 9 prosecutions and transported for 7 years in two cases. In one case also for representing a voter at the Election of Common Council the prisoner pleaded guilty. We dined at Gilstrap’s with the Recorder (Clarke), Mayor etc.
7 January 1836. I attended the
25 January 1836. I attended a consultation at Dr Lushington’s Chambers on Lord Scarborough’s Will Case.
26 January 1836. I was in Doctors Common Court all day attending the argument on Lord Scarborough’s Will Case. The present Lord Scarborough was next to me in Court. Dr Lushington, Adams and Haggard spoke on one side and Sir J Dodson on the other. I came home at 4½.
29 January 1836. I went down to Doctors Commons this morning to hear the arguments concluded on Lord Scarborough’s Case. Dr Phillimore spoke. The Court allowed the allegations to go to proof.
15 February 1836. I went to Colonel Lumley’s of Cocklage
18 February 1836. Having had a circular printed I rode round with it
7 March 1836. I went to a meeting at Claypole at 11 o’clock of the Guardians of the different
14 March 1836. Went into Court and heard a case of Rape tried before Justice Bosanquet, a very bad case the man is left for execution. I left Nottingham by the 4 o’clock coach and came home. Burnaby had a son born
23 March 1836.
30 March 1836. In the office all day. My father got home from Warwick having lost the Kelham Bridge Cause.
2 April 1836. Newark Borough Sessions. I prosecuted them all, one for assault with intent to commit a rape and 3 or 4 felonies. I afterwards dined with the Recorder (Clarke) at Lawton’s, my father and six or seven others were there.
8 April 1836. In the office all day, excepting an hour or two at the County Sessions where we had three appeals, of which we won two and lost one.
11 April 1836. Meeting of the Board of Guardians at Newark after which I was in the office till dinner.
20 April 1836.
23 April 1836. A meeting of the Foston Road Trustees at the Town Hall. Charles Burnaby came in the evening to examine some abstract of Pocklington’s.
25 April 1836. A meeting of the Poor Law Union Guardians at Newark. Engaged in the evening with abstract.
29 April 1836.
25 May 1836. I was in the office most of the day. Attended the Town Hall as Clerk to the magistrates for the last time. Robert Caparn is appointed Clerk and Burnaby Clerk of the Peace for the Borough.
16 June 1836. I went to Bingham to attend the magistrates meeting. Got back to dinner at 6.
4 July 1836. I attended a Council meeting for Burnaby where he was Elected Coroner. I afterwards went to the Union meeting and dined at Beaconfield.
16 July 1836. Borough Sessions. I had all the Prosecutions. 2 were defended, one by Lee and the other by Bowley of Nottingham.
18 July 1836. Union meeting at Newark, after which I went to Bottesford to prove Miss Isabel Sutton’s Will. Dined with Mr Charles Thoroton.
22 July 1836. At Nottingham all day we had 8 or 9 witnesses in attendance in the case of Doe dem Roberts vs Tallents.
23 July 1836. This morning fortunately we got our Trial on before Baron Parke. Never was a more complete case made out. Mrs Roberts had declared every transaction with respect to the sale was without her knowledge and that the deeds were forgeries. We proved most distinctly the handwriting of Mrs Roberts and actually produced letters from her speaking of the sale of the property and ordering the preparation of the deeds. The Jury by the direction of the Judge instantly gave a verdict for the defendant (my father). Our witnesses Messrs Faithful, Hardisty and Sabine, attornies from London, Mr Layard, Mr Abotson and Mr Edwards with Mr Kelham Roberts the Plaintiff’s own son.
28 July 1836. I attended the magistrates Meeting at Bingham and afterwards a meeting at the Town Hall in Newark to take into consideration the formation of a Mechanics Institution…Palesworth, Tom Godfrey, Simpson and several others spoke. I proposed thanks to the Mayor
15 October 1836. Newark Borough Sessions. I had all the prosecutions, 7 in number. Six guilty, one not guilty. I dined with the Recorder and Mayor
13 December 1836. In the office all morning. In the afternoon I was obliged to go in a fly to Beckingham to make the Will of a man named Jeffery Wadeson. I had a bad cold and sore throat and excused myself from going to an evening party in North Gate.
31 December 1836. In the house all day. It was to have been the Borough Sessions but the Recorder could not get here and it was put off.
16 January 1837. Union meeting at Claypole. A motion made by Mr Dalby and seconded by Sir Robert Heron was carried to increase my salary from £80 to £100 from the 25 March next, by a majority of 21-10. Edward Fane moved the amendment.
25 March 1837. I attended two tithe commutation meetings, one at Girton and the other at Besthorpe.
1 April 1837. …The Borough Sessions were held. I conducted all the Prosecutions, six in number, of which Mr Lee defended one. We afterwards dined with the Recorder, George Hutton, I, Tom Godfrey, Huddlestone, Nicholson and several of the Grand Jury. My father came by the 12½ o’clock coach. I got to bed at 1½.
7 April 1837. I attended a Sewers meeting. It was the County Sessions. Mr Thirkill brought over his son from Burton, he is to be articled to me in a short time. They both dined with us as did Jessop and Oliver.
11 May 1837. I and Palethorpe drove over to Edwinstowe where we held Lord Manvers’ Court Baron and Leet. Dined with the Jury at 2 o’clock.
17 May 1837. Mr Thirkill was articled to me today and goes in the morning to get his father’s execution of the articles. He, Burnaby and Oliver dined with me and Anders came in.
15 June 1837. I attended the magistrates meeting at Bingham. The Archery day. George Hodgkinson dined with me and I drove him over to the Southwell Ball which was small.
21 June 1837. The Queen Victoria was proclaimed in London.
24 June 1837. Newark Borough Sessions, the first held I believe under the new reign. I had all the prosecutions of which there were three. Lee defended one.
11 November 1837. In the office all day or at Lawton’s attending the Duke of Newcastle’s rent day.
5 January 1838. Newark County Sessions. In the office all day. Canvassed a few people for the Assessors Tax place.
7 January 1838. …I forgot to observe that on the 5th I received a most handsome note from the Duke of Newcastle in which he appointed me the Steward of his Newark Estates and left it to me to say whether I would wish myself or Burnaby to be appointed to the Clerkship of Lieutenancy.
10 January 1838. I had a very handsome letter from Lord Worsley in which he states that Lord Yarborough will continue to me the Auditorship of his Estates. I was at home all day.
17 January 1838. I did not go out anywhere. I had a letter from Mr Thompson now at Clumber with very handsome expressions from the Duke of Newcastle as to the continuance of his business and appointments to me. I sat half an hour with Mr Parkinson in the evening.
21 January 1838. I heard that Mr Godfrey had procured for Burnaby the deputy Clerkship of the Peace. I consider that he has throughout acted most unfeelingly and unkindly towards me. God forbid that I may ever be under any obligation to him. He expressed (I hear) to the Duke of
25 January 1838. I attended the meeting of magistrates at Bingham, having previously had an interview with Mr Gardiner, one of the Solicitors of the Woods and Forests, with reference to the Manor of Newark for the Stewardship of which it appears there are innumerable applicants.
30 January 1838. A most wretched day, thaw, fog and everything disagreeable. I rode over to Stubton to Sir Robert Heron who promised to write to Lord Duncannon for me about the Newark Manor.
5 February 1838.
3 March 1838.
6 April 1838. Lady Day and the Newark County Sessions. I proved my fathers’ Will before Dr Staunton in the Province of Canterbury by a requisition.
10 April 1838. I attended tithe meetings at Girton and Besthorpe. The Duke
19 April 1838. I rode to Carlton on Trent at 10½, settled some purchases and at 12 o’clock attended a meeting of the Foston Road, at which the feeling seemed to be to appoint a second clerk, the decision however was adjourned to another meeting. I lunched at John Becher’s and at 3½ o’clock started to Mansfield by Eakring, Kneesall etc over the Forest. I reached Mansfield at 5½ o’clock, got a sandwich and at 6 started in my gig, which George had brought up, for Butterley where I arrived at 8 o’clock.
3 May 1838. I attended the Newark Navigation Meeting at the Town Hall at 11, dined at 3 at Lawton’s about 15 of us. Sat till 8 o’clock then had tea at Aunt Susan’s. I was sent for by the Duke of Newcastle when in bed and by hurrying just saw him before leaving Lawton’s.
19 May 1838. I attended tithes meeting at Besthorpe to commute the tithes of Girton and Besthorpe.
7 June 1838. This day the remains of the Crown property
9 June 1838. …Will came up after post time and brought me a letter from the Duke of Newcastle in which he gave me the Stewardship of the Manor of Newark. My mother came home by the 7 o’clock coach from Ireland.
25 June 1838. Attended
27 July 1838. I got up at 5 o’clock and breakfasted at 5½. At 6 o’clock I drove Thirkill over to Nottingham and arrived at 8½. I found Huckerby and we then went with the witnesses to the Clerk of Indictments and everything being prepared we went into Court. The Judges were Tindal and Bosanquet. The former tried prisoners. We have five prosecutions. 4 pleaded guilty and one was acquitted. The whole of the prisoners except one or two were for trifling offences. The causes too were equally small. I and Thirkill dined at the “White Lion”.
28 July 1838. We went into Court this morning at 10. In the Nisi Prius Court we heard an action for defamation, Mettam the Constable against the “Mercury” newspaper. After a long trial and the jury going out to consider etc they (radicals) returned a verdict for the defandant, though they did not pretend to assert the truth of what was charged as a libel. At 4 o’clock I left Nottingham.
11 October 1838. The Borough Sessions. I had all the prosecutions, 4 in number. Dined at Lawton’s at 5, about 20 of us. Came away at 9½.
29 December 1838. Borough Sessions. I had the only 3 prosecutions there were and one appeal was respited. Mr Clarke, the Recorder, Burnaby and Robert Caparn dined with me. Chawner and Anders came in afterwards and we sat till past 12 o’clock.
13 February 1839. There was a great corn law meeting held at Newark in the Town Hall, a great lot of the mob were hissing, groaning and all sorts of hisses. All the resolutions however in favor of the Corn Laws were carried.
23 February 1839. I went to Nottingham by the 7½ o’clock coach to settle a mortgage for Mr Neale. Returned by the afternoon coach.
5 March 1839. I attended a Trent Navigation meeting with Mr Godfrey at Lawton’s. We had only a small party of 8 or 9. Dined at 3 o’clock. Whist and a barrel of oysters.
7 March 1839. …I rode through a snow storm to Carlton upon Trent to attend a sale for Mr Parkinson.
9 March 1839. I went by the early coach to Nottingham where I held a Sewers meeting and afterwards dined at the “White Lion”. Returned by the afternoon coach to Newark.
15 March 1839. Newark Fair. In the afternoon I, Baines, Townsend and Thirkill posted to Nottingham for the assizes. Had a consultation in two cases in the evening.
16 March 1839. Gave instructions for an indictment for sheep stealing. Lord Denman here presides and the sheepstealer got off. We lost the cause for Gilbert. I was unwell in the afternoon. Bosanquet heard Causes.
18 March 1839.Attended
24 May 1839. I was at Lawton’s all day collecting the Duke of Newcastle’s rents. Dined there.
25 May 1839. Again at Lawton’s all day collecting the Duke of Newcastle’s rents and dined there at 4 o’clock.