John Hearfield (1832-1882)

John Hearfield acted as solicitor to William Hutchinson HEARFIELD, his uncle. When in 1864 WHH decided to buy part of the Humber foreshore, to make it easier to move his limestone out to the ships, there was a certain amount of correspondence as to whether this would impede navigation along the river. At the time, WHH was 54 and John was 31. I rather like the way WHH starts each new line with a capital letter. It makes his letter of complaint almost lyrical.
[The original documents are held by the PRO, at Kew.]

THE CLIFF Hessle, 23 Aug 1864
To Charles Gore Esq Office of Works
I have received your
No.3308/64 and have duly noted
Its contents. I bought the ground
Named in yours of Alderman
Thompson supposing it to be
Clean of all incumberance.
He bought of Mr Broadley
Who had a stone quarry and
Jetty there nearly as far out
As the present one with a garden
By the side of it which has
Been washed away since I can
Remember, if the landowners
Would be at the expence of making

Similar Jetties it would very
Much improve the river this
Opinion I have also heard expressed
By the conservitor of the Humber
Some years ago as I have purch'd
The jetty at such a very high rate
In order that I might be enabled
To deliver the lime stone at the
Back to vessels supposing there
Was no other charge upon it.
I hope you will not press this
Sum upon me.
I am Sir
Your Obdt. Servant

W H Hearfield

The solicitor's letter is more straightforward and business-like:

JOHN HEARFIELD _ _ _ Solicitor & Notary Public _ _ _ HULL
Hull 13th March 1865

Mr. Hearfield of Hessle has placed in my hands your letter to him of the 13th inst declaring to dispense with his Covenant not to impede navigation over certain land arranged to be purchased by him -Mr. H Had previously shown to me the Draft Conveyance & I feel bound to tell him the effect of his covenant and the great responsibility he might incur thereunder. You are no doubt aware that a considerable portion of the land purchased (the whole was covered by water) was reclaimed from the River Humber by Mr. Thompson from whom my Client purchased & who was duly paid therefor -Mr. H's object in purchasing & again paying your Clients for the land was partly to avoid litigation and partly that he might be enabled to continue the line of Reclamation in front of other land belonging to him and adjoining that purchased of Mr Thompson. Except for the purpose of Reclamation the land purchased would not be worth one penny as the River water flows over it at high water. Navigation would not be at all impeded by the Reclamation but rather improved nevertheless it would be unsafe for Mr H to covenant not to impede when the reclamation would prevent boats etc navigating or rather floating over it. I wish therefore you will excuse the intention of the covenant or if you are unable to do that you will give an assurance that you will not consider the simple act of reclamation an obstruction to navigation.
I am Sir
Your obt. Servant
Jno Hearfield Jr.

Horace Watson Esq
Office of Works
Whitehall Place

Mr Watson evidently felt disinclined to agree ...

JOHN HEARFIELD _ _ _ Solicitor & Notary Public _ _ _ HULL
Hull 17th Mar 1865

I would much sooner the covenant were omitted altogether from the conveyance or at most limited to obstructing the navigation over any portion of the river adjacent to the ground sold. It would be difficult & expensive to get the sanction of the Board of Trade & plans would have to be prepared & sent.
I am Sir
Your obt. Servt
Jno Hearfield Jr

Horace Watson Esq
Office of Works
Whitehall Place

... but eventually the matter was resolved, and WHH paid the Office of Works for the conveyance.

MEMORANDUM _ _ _ 24 July 1865
From W.H.HEARFIELD _ _ _ _ _ _ _ To
THE CLIFF, HESSLE _ _ _ _ _ Hon Charles Gore
Hon Sir
I have to day enclosed cheque value
Two pounds 2/- being amount of charge for conveying
Piece of Foreshore at Hessle
Yours Obedy
W H Hearfield

John Hearfield was a successful solicitor in Hull. When he died in 1882 at the age of 49, the newspaper account of his funeral was suitably respectful.


We regret to announce the death of Mr John Hearfield, the senior partner in the firm of Messrs T. & T.W. Hearfield, solicitors, of Hull. Mr Hearfield, who died at his residence, in Hessle, on Saturday, had been suffering for a considerable time, but great doubt has existed as to the precise nature of his illness. After being unwell for several weeks, the deceased, accompanied by Dr Lamb, his medical attendant, consulted some eminent physicians in London and elsewhere, but opinions differed as to the nature of the disorder, which, by Sir William Jenner, was, however, attributed to a clot of blood having lodged in the region of the heart. So serious did the disorder become before death that the deceased lay for some days insensible, and, of course, incapable of nourishment. His death will be a source of great grief to a numerous circle of friends, and will cause a large gap in the profession to which Mr Hearfield belonged, and in which he devoted himself to shipping and commercial matters almost as a speciality. As regards general public affairs he was not habitually active, but it has been truly said that there was rarely a movement of real public importance in which he did not ultimately appear in a leading part. He acted on two or three occasions as election agent for Mr Norwood, and has also acted on behalf of Mr Wilson. He was a member of the Humber Conservancy Board, a position which he largely owed to the universal recognition of his ability in matters of legal and commercial law. He was solicitor to the Hull Steamship Owners' Association till the close of its existence, and up to the time of his death was solicitor to the Hull Mutual and Protective Association, and was also Under-Sheriff of Hull.

The funeral took place last Wednesday in the Springbank Cemetery. The cortege arrived from Hessle at the cemetery about half-past twelve. It consisted of hearse, seven mourning coaches, and numerous private carriages and cabs. The coffin, which was profusely covered with wreaths, was of polished oak, with massive brass mountings. A brass plate bore the inscription:- "John Hearfield, born Dec.30th, 1832, died Sept. 9th, 1882."

The first coach was occupied by Mr. T.W. Hearfield and Mrs Walker ;
(Thomas Ward Hearfield was his brother, and Ann Elizabeth Walker was his sister)
2nd, Mr J. Walker, Mrs Beet, Mr C. Walker, and Mrs Bee ;
(John Hearfield Walker [b.1843] and Charles Edmund Walker [b.1857] were nephews; Elizabeth Beet and Eleanor Bee were his sisters)
3rd, Mr J. Bee, Miss Hearfield, Mr Beet, and Miss Julia Hearfield ;
(Joseph Hearfield Bee [b.1860] was a nephew; 'Miss Hearfield' was presumably his sister Charlotte; Julia was his sister; 'Mr Beet' was presumably his brother-in-law Matthew Beet)
4th, Mr Walter Beet, Mrs Pridgen, Mr J. Beet, and Miss Walker ;
(Walter Beet [b.1878] and John Hearfield Beet [b.1866] were nephews; 'Miss Walker' was probably his niece Edith Hearfield Walker [b.1852]; I have no idea who the Pridgens were)
5th, Mr Garniss Hearfield, Miss Beet, Mr. D. Hearfield, and Mrs Walker ;
('Mr Garniss' must have been John Garniss Hearfield, and 'Mr D', David, his cousins; 'Miss Beet' could have been any of the daughters of Matthew and Elizabeth; 'Mrs Walker' could have been Alice, Charles Edmund's wife)
6th, Mr Wriglesworth, Mr Shaw, and Mr McKinna ;
7th, Mr Lambert, Mr Alfred Beet, and Mr Pridgen.

Mr C.M. Norwood, M.P., travelled from London to be present, and amongst those occupying private carriages there were the Mayor (Alderman Leak), the Sheriff (Mr H. Briggs), Mr Briggs, jun., Ald. Witty, Mr Jus. Reckitt, Dr Lamb, Mr J.R. Ringrose (Deputy-Chairman Hull Dock Company), Mr Grotrian, J.P., Mr M. Samuelson, Dr Macmillan, Dr J. Gibson, &c. Amongst the gentlemen present there were several who were more or less intimately connected with shipping. Messrs Thomas Wilson, Sons, and Co. were represented by Mr C.J. Newbald, general manager, and Captain Rutter, marine superintendent ; Messrs. Jackson and Beaumont, Captain Hill, Captain Cator, Captain King, Captain Maycock, and Mr W.R. Johnson. There was a large attendance of members of the legal profession, amongst whom we noticed Mr T. Holden (solicitor Hull Dock Company), Mr W.J. Reed (clerk Hull Board of Guardians), Alderman Summers, Mr F. Lowe, Mr J.T. Woodhouse, Mr H. Birks, Mr G. Eaton, Mr A.M. Jackson, Mr Priestman, Mr Laverack, Mr Till (Leak, Till, and Stephenson), Mr Middlemiss, Mr A. Rollit, Mr Cooper, Mr Barker, Mr A. Salmon, Mr Boden, Mr Johnson, and others. Dr Rollit, whose carriage was in the procession, was unable to be present owing to absence from Hull. The burial service was read by the Rev. G. Lamb, Primitive Methodist. The undertaker was Mr Nicholson, Cogan-street, and the hearse and coaches were supplied by Mr T.D. Wing, St. Stephen-street.
[The Hull Packet and East Riding Times, Friday, September 15, 1882]

Copyright © John Hearfield 2009