"Some research via James Hall
pointed me to William Sprout who, it appears, was a Wright's Trustee,
elected in 1817. Apparently, he was a generous benefactor to Sir Edmund
Wright's charities, namely the almshouses, hence the presence of his
portrait in the Beam Street almshouses, although technically it is incorrect
as it is hanging in the Sir John Crewe part of the combined centre.
"What interested me was that in
1803 he was listed as Captain, and his brother, Peter, as Lieutenant in the
Company of Nantwich Volunteers, formed in 1797 during the Napoleonic Wars.
The 400 men used to meet for drill after church service on Volunteer Fields
(which of course is just opposite the almshouses, so in a way it's like
William Sprout has come to a familiar area!). I would have thought you would
need a hard surface for drill, but I could be wrong.
"It was William Sprout's name that was signed at the bottom of the note.
Hall says that William Sprout was a co-owner of the Nantwich Bank in High
Street, founded in 1808. He was a co-founder with Charles Delves Broughton
and John Garnett.
"In 1826, Messrs Broughton and
Garnett, bankers, became bankrupt in the general economic depression of
that year. It may be that William Sprout had withdrawn from the
partnership some time before, because in 1829 he could afford to give a
sizeable sum - £6,000 - to several charities (including St Mary's
Church,) which then came under the umbrella of the Wright's Trustees. He
may well at this time still have been a Wright's Trustee.
"According to Hall, the
Wright's pensioners were very poor, and some even left the almshouses
for the workhouse, but with the generous donation of this man their
annual pay was increased by £10 per year, helping to improve their lot.
"I have also some information
on the tokens issued by the same bank. There are some in Nantwich
Museum and you can even purchase them on line."