Bankruptcy and insolvency

This guide was last updated in 2012

During his episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, Nigel Havers learned about the life of his 3x great paternal grandfather, Henry Hamblion, and his financial fortunes. If you want to find out more about an ancestor who also fell on hard times, follow Sara Khan's expert guide to bankruptcy and insolvency records...

Henry lived in Colchester, Essex, and established a Hackney carriage business with his brother Jeremiah. The business prospered in the 1840s and 1850s with the pair owning a number of carriages. The success was particularly striking given the fact that the brothers came from relatively humble beginnings as their father worked simply as a colt breaker.

However, this success was not to last. Nigel was shocked to discover that by 1866 the situation had changed dramatically and Henry declared his own bankruptcy. Part of the reason for this reversal of fortune lay in the fact that Henry had been a guarantor for his son-in-law, John Hum, in order to help him in his precarious financial situation.

John’s circumstances were so bad, though, that he ended up in debtor’s prison due to the amount of money he owed and he was treated as an insolvent debtor. Henry was unable to protect him and subsequently suffered his own financial demise, too.

If your ancestor also fell on hard economic times, then you may also be able to find out more about them using bankruptcy or insolvent debtor records.

Photo: Alamy

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