A FLASH COVE

The Times Law Report of May 26, 1797 reads:
 
“BAZALGETTE v. CARTWRIGHT
This was an action in which the Plaintiff, who is taylor to his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, brought against the Defendant, to recover the sum of 700l., which he had lent him.
The Defendant said, this money had been lent him on an Usurious Contract, he having engaged to pay interest at the rate of 12 per cent for it, and that consequently it could not be recovered.
In answer to that Plea, the Plaintiff said, this 12 per cent was not received as interest for the loan of this money, but as a rent-charge, in the nature of an annuity, issuing out of certain Premises belonging to the Defendant, and which it was perfectly lawful for him to receive.
After all the evidence was heard on both sides, and an excellent summing-up by his Lordship, the Jury gave the Plaintiff a Verdict to the amount of his demand.
–   Verdict for Plaintiff 700l.”
 
This confirms that Louis was still ‘taylor to his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales’ at the time.   A more detailed version of the proceedings between Louis and James Lock(e) Cartwright appeared in the Morning Chronicle:
 
“It appeared that the Defendant applied to the Plaintiff, and represented he had agreed to purchase Fozard’s Riding Stables, in Park Lane, and to enable him to compleat such purchase, it was necessary for him to raise the sum of 700l. to pay off a mortgage which the premises were subject to, and to induce the Plaintiff to advance him such 700l. proposed to grant a rent-charge issueing out of the premises; but as it was necessary to have the money to pay off the mortgage before the Defendant could make title to the premises, he requested the Plaintiff would advance the same upon his assurance that he would then go and pay the mortgagee, and on the next day deposit the title deeds in the hands of Mr. Dawson, Plaintiff’s Attorney, to prepare the deed for securing the rent-charge, this the Defendant did not do, but the Plaintiff’s Attorney prepared the necessary deed, which was approved of by the Defendant’s Attorney, and although repeated applications were made, the Defendant evaded executing the deed, and after near three months delay, the Defendant called on the Plaintiff, representing that he had executed the deed, and everything was settled and in the hands of his Attorney; and that as three months rent-charge, amounting to 21l. was then due, and having received a quarter’s rent from Mr. Fozard, the tenant, he would pay the same; the Plaintiff, believing this statement, and being a foreigner, desired the Defendant to give him the form of a receipt, which the Defendant did, but instead of expressing 21l. to be for a quarter’s rent-charge, he stated it to be for one quarter’s interest on 700l.  This the Plaintiff copied and gave the Defendant, but the Plaintiff calling on his Attorney, and not finding the deeds in his possession, and executed as so stated, and although the deed was repeatedly tendered to the Defendant, yet he refused to execute it, and in consequence thereof, brought the action against the Defendant to recover back the money so advanced; but the Defendant resisted, upon the grounds of the contract being usurious, and to support such defence, produced the receipts so obtained from the Plaintiff; but the form of the receipt being given in the Defendant’s own hand writing, and the circumstances of the case fully proved, and an excellent summing up by his Lordship, the Jury gave the Plaintiff a verdict to the amount of his demand.  Verdict for Plaintiff 700l. – Counsel for the Plaintiff, Messrs Garrow and Marryat;  for the defendant, Messrs. Erskine and Gibbs.”
 
Whether Louis in fact made some of his loans at illegal interest rates is not clear, but it is unlikely since the top rate that could be charged was 5% at that time.  Cartwright agreed when requesting the loan that, as Louis was to hold the title deed as security, he (Louis) should also receive the rent from Fozard. Cartwright did not deliver the deed, so effectively had free title to the property, and was in a position to give the deed to another party as a means to raise a further loan or mortgage.  He was quite crafty in attempting to pass off the rent payment as interest, because ₤21 per quarter on ₤700 equates to over twice the legally permitted rate of interest.  Following judgement against him, Cartwright would have needed to sell the property or raise another loan to pay Louis back.  If he could not, he would have had to spend some time in a ‘sponging house’ or debtor’s prison, but he was fortunate not to be charged with deception.  The Old Bailey proceedings in 1830 mention a James Lock Cartwright, though as a plaintiff, describing himself as a ‘cabriolet proprietor’, which is probably the same man, given the connection with the horse trade.  However, despite his apparent propensity for sharp practice, James was from a good family – the Cartwrights of Marnham, Nottinghamshire, which means he was related to Edmund Cartwright, the well-meaning vicar who invented the power loom and unwittingly put many thousands of hand-loom workers on parish relief.  James married well too – Marianna Elizabeth Strombom, who was the daughter of Isaac Strombom, a wealthy merchant of Cape Town.

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