The Wroes’ windfall

When ‘Prophet’ John Wroe’s bachelor nephew Peter died in 1893, a dispute over his will ensued. The retired farmer was the son of Wroe’s younger brother Joseph. Much light was made in the press about how Peter Wroe supposedly began his working life ‘hauling coals’. Far from the truth of course, as his father had farming and mining business interests and he was favoured over his elder notorious brother. In the late 19th century Peter was living off his investments at a farm in Methley with his spinster sister who died a couple of years before him.

Norwich Mercury
Saturday 6 July 1895


Deceased, was a good example of the cobbler who sticks to his last. He began life by hauling coals. He saved money at this invested it in coal-mines, and his colliery shares are now worth £20,000. But there are relatives who declare that Mr Peter Wroe was of unsound testamentary capacity, whilst others who were “remembered” attest his perfect soundness. Thus some of the money made by hauling coals is on its way to the gentlemen who practise the Probate Division.

The Sheffield evening paper gets straight to the point, explaining how the estate is to be shared out.

Sheffield Evening Telegraph
Saturday 6 July 1895


The agreement come to in the High Court of Chancery to the wills of the late Mr Peter Wroe, of Methley, was that the claimant under the first will should withdraw his opposition on payment of £1,400, and that the second or last will of the deceased should hold good. The result of this will be that the sum of about £20,000 will be divided into four shares, as follows:- One-fourth to Mrs Sarai Teale widow, daughter of the late Prophet Wroe, formerly of the Carr Gate Mansion; one-fourth to the executors the late Susanna Wilson, of Ash Villa, St John’s, Wakefield: one-fourth to the three children of Mr Benjamin Wroe, namely, Mr James Wroe (Carr Gate), Mrs Brine (formerly of Brighton, now of St John’s, Wakefield), and Mr Joseph Wroe (Manchester); and the last fourth to the three children of Maria Tempest, of Low Moor. We understand, however, it will be necessary to take the opinion the Court as to whether the second will, worded, will include the children of Benjamin Wroe and Maria Tempest, and if the Court decides the negative the whole estate will then divided between Mrs Teale and the representatives of Mrs Wilson in equal shares, as they are the only two children of the testator’s brothers and sisters now living. The beneficiaries under the will are all people in humble circumstances, and regard the legacies as windfalls.

One thing’s for sure, most of these people were not ‘in humble circumstances’.