Scottish shale Scottish shale

Charles Humfrey & Son.

Mid 1850's
Bankrupt 1861
Registered office:

18, Suffolk St., Southwark, London

Oil works:

A partnerhip of Charles Humfrey and Charles Humfrey the younger; experienced oil merchants and refiners, who for a short period were proprietors of Wareham oil works.

Charles Humfrey was born c. 1808 in Cambridge and in partnership with his father, (also Charles Humfrey) was proprietor of the Cambridge Bank. Charles Humfrey the elder died in 1848 and shortly afterwards his son was declared bankrupt. Charles Humfrey then moved to Camberwell in Surrey, where he traded in fats and oils. He is described in the 1851 census as a "candle manufacturer" and in 1861 as a "merchant - dealer in oils and candles".

His son Charles Humfrey (c.1835-1900) also entered the oil trade, described in the 1861 census as an "oil refiner" employing 10 hands at Newington, Surrey. Both father and son were involved in various business partnerships associated with the oil trade in the London area, including a controversial refinery at Suffolk Grove in Southwark. Both authored various patents.

The partnership of Charles Humfrey and Charles Humfrey the younger, trading as Charles Humfrey & Son, acquired the Wareham oil works and the other shale interests of Wanostrocht & Co. early in 1860, presumably either unaware that James Young had threatened to take action for infringement of patent, or confident that no action would be taken. Young was preparing to take legal action when, in August 1861,the firm of Charles Humfrey & Co was declared bankrupt. The hearings that followed revealed a complicated ownership arrangement and the presence of a new firm known as the Wareham Oil Company

By 1863 Charles Humfrey the younger had been appointed manager of St. David's oil works in Saltney, and gave evidence at the 1864 Young v. Fernie trial. he became partner in the Dee Oil Company until retirement in 1889. In the 1881 census he is listed as and oil merchant resident in Chester employing 78 men and boys, in 1891 he is listed as a retired chemist.

  • Newspaper references
    • We, the undersigned, two of Her Majesty's Commissioners of Stamps and Taxes, in pursuance of the Act 7th and 8th Victoria, cap. 32, do hereby certify,1 that we have ascertained that the average amount of bank notes of Charles Humfrey and Charles Humfrey, junr. carrying on the business of bankers at Cambridge, under the name or title of the Cambridge Bank, in circulation during a period of twelve weeks preceding the 27th day of April 1844, according to the returns made by such bankers, in pursuance of the Act, passed in the 4th and 5th years of the reign of Her present Majesty, An Act to make further provision relative to the returns to be made by banks of the amount of their notes in circulation,is two thousand six hundred and fifteen pounds.—

      Dated this 12th day of September 1844. - JOHN THORNTON. H. SEYMOUR MONTAGU. To Messrs. Humfrey  

      The London Gazette, 13 September 1844


      Bankrupcy Charles Humfrey, the younger, late of Cambridge, banker, and of Manor Street, Saint Giles, Camberwell, Surrey, merchant

      The London Gazette, 4th August 1848


      Orders of the said Court.' to a Decree of the High Court of Chancery, SI made in a cause Prescott against Humfrey,the creditors of Charles Humfrey the elder, 'late of the borough of Cambridge, Banker, deceased (who died on or about the 11th day of March 1848), are forth-with to come in and prove their debts before Richard -Richards, Esq. one of the Masters of the said Court, at- his chambers, in Southamptonbuildings, Chancery-lane,- London, or in default thereof they will be exclud'ed the benefit of the said Decree

      The London Gazette, 5th December 1848


      NOTICE is hereby given, that the Partnership subsisting between the undersigned, Charles Humfrey and William Hurt Sitwell, of Farnham-place, Gravel-lane, Southwark,, in the county of Surrey, Refiners of Tallow and Oil and Candle Manufacturers, carrying on business under the style or firm of Humfrey and Co., is this day dissolved by mutual consent. All debts areto be received arid paid and accounts stated and settled by the undersigned, William Hurt Sitwell, who is the continuing partner.— Dated this 6th day of December, 1855.

      The London Gazette, 7th December 1855


      John Lyon Field, of Lambeth, and Charles Humfrey the younger, of Camberwell, both in the county of Surrey, Candle Makers, have given the like notice in respect of the invention of " improvements in the manufacture of candles."

      The London Gazette 3rd November 1857


      Charles Humfrey, of No. 14, the Terrace, Camberwell, in the county of Surrey -Improvements in the manufacture of grease for lubricating railway axles and other machinery.

      The London Gazette 24th January 1860


      2875. To Charles Humfrey and Charles Humfrey the younger, both of Wareham, in the county of Dorset, Oil and Candle Manufacturers, for the invention of " improvements in distilling coal and peat, and bituminous and coaly minerals, and in the treatment of the products therefrom."

      London Gazette, 7th December 1860


      Whereas a Petition for adjudication of Bankruptcy was, on the 12th day of August, 1861, filed in Her Majesty's Court of Bankruptcy in London, against Charles Humfrey and Charles Humfrey the younger, of No. 18, Suffolk-grove, Great Suffolk-street, Southwark, in the county of Surrey, Oil Refiners and Candle Manufacturers, and they having been declared bankrupts, are hereby required to surrender themselves to Robert George Cecil Fane, Esq., one of Her Majesty's Commissioners of the Court of Bankruptcy, on the 24th day of A ugust instant, and on the 27th day of September next, at twelve of the clock at noon precisely, on each of the said days, at the Court of Bankruptcy, Basinghall-street, in the city of London, and make a full discovery and disclosure of their estate and effects; when and where the creditors are to come prepared to prove -their debts, and at the first sitting to choose assignees, and at the last, sitting the said bankrupts are required to finish their examination, AH per sons indebted to the said bankrupts, or that have anj' of their effects, are not to pay or deliver the same but to Mr. H. H. Cannan, of No. 36, Basinghall-street, London, the Official Assignee, whom the Commissioner has appointed, and give notice to Mr. John Combs, Solicitor, of No. 25, Bucklersbury.

      The London Gazette 13th August 1861


      Bankruptcy Court, December 19th

      Re: C. AND C. HUMFREY.

      This was a meeting for the last examination of the bankrupts, who had traded as oil refiners and candle manufacturers at 18, Suffolk-grove, Suffolk-street, Southwark. Mr. Bagley appeared for the assignees, Mr. Robertson Griffiths for opposing creditors, and Mr. Doria for the bankrupts. The accounts show that on the 1st July, 1860, they were in a deficiency of 1028l, and that on the 12th August, 1861, they came to this court subject to a total indebtedness and liability of 15,496l., and producing assets, consisting of the bankrupts' interest in the firm of Humfrey, Yool, and Co. 224l.; property held by creditors, 8889l ; and property held as collateral security upon bills receivable, 1714l ; making a total of 10,827l

      Mr. Bagley applied for further accounts under the following circumstances: —

      The bankrupts having been in partnership by themselves dissolved partnership, and then joined two other gentlemen, named Yool and Flanigan, taking into the new firm all their old estate. He therefore required an account of what the four partners had done with the old estate of the two Humfreys.

      Mr. Doria said that the bankrupts had already accounted for the disposal of their old estate. Up to the 30th of June last they had carried on business in partnership; at that date they had dissolved partnership, and making out a balance-sheet for the purpose of ascertaining what they owed and what they were owed, they found they possessed a surplus of 224l., provided all their debts were good.

      Having done so, they entered into partnership with Messrs. Yool and Flanigan, bringing into the new firm their joint surplus as their capital. For this 224l they accounted in their present balance-sheet, stating it as an asset. The Commissioner asked how it was the Humfreys alone had been made bankrupt — why not the four partners. Mr. Bagley replied that the new partnership of the four owed nothing. But the bankrupts had dealt with their old estate in conjunction with their new partners, and should therefore give an account of what they had done with it.

      The Commissioner thought it a very complicated affair, and ordered an adjournment, so that he might make himself thoroughly acquainted with the details from the proceedings. Mr. Robertson Griffiths has yet to open his case of opposition on behalf of a creditor, who alleges that the bankrupts were in partnership with a firm trading as the "Wareham Oil Company", and that his debt was incurred for goods supplied to the company.

      The London Evening Standard, 20th December 1861


      2502. To Charles Humfrey the younger, of Saint David's Works, Saltney, in the county of Flint, for the invention of " improvements in the means and method of purifying hydro-carbons."

      The London Gazette 20th November 1863


      While the Plaintiffs were prosecuting inquiries for the purpose of of procuring evidence against the said Clydesdale Chemical Company, they became aware that Charles Humfrey and Charles Humfrey the Younger had for some time past manufactured, or caused to be manufactured at Wareham in Dorsetshire, or elsewhere in England, and had sold for their private profit and emolument, Paraffine Oil, or an oil containing Paraffine, and Paraffine, manufactured in violation of the rights and privileges granted by the said Letters Patent of the 17th day of October, 1850. Thereupon in the month of February, 1861, the Respondents caused a Bill of Complaint, in which they were Plaintiffs and the said Charles Humfrey and Charles Humfrey the Younger were Defendants, to be prepared, and the Respondents by such proposed Bill prayed for an injunction to restrain the Defendants thereto from infringing the said Letters Patent of the 17th day of October, 1850; but in the month of February, 1861, the Respondents discovered, and it was the fact, that the said Charles Humfrey and Charles Humfrey the Younger had some time previously thereto executed a mortgage of their plant and works to a person named Wills, and he had filed a Bill of Foreclosure against them in the High Court of Chancery, and that such suit was pending. The said Charles Humfrey and Charles Humfrey the Younger subsequently became bankrupt, and under these circumstances it became useless to prosecute the intended suit against them, and the proposed Bill was for this reason never filed.

      Young v. Fernie, 1864, The respondents case and separate appendix. (BP collection 215315)


      1953. To Charles Humfrey, of Suffolk-grove, Southwark, in the county of Surrey, Oil Manufacturer, and William Shakespear Webster, of- 9, Brunswick-square, in the county of Middlesex, Gentleman, for the invention of " improvements in waterproofing paper,- and in the machinery or apparatus employed therein."

      The London Gazette 3rd July 1868