1781-?1794 ROBERTS Thomas (of Lower Bridge St)
1805-7 ROBERTS John
1805-7 ROBERTS William & Edward


1755-64 WILSON Benjamin, HINCKS John, MANESTY Joseph
1764-67 WILSON Benjamin, HINCKS John
1767-72 HINCKS John
1772-77 HINCKS Arbella, HINCKS Robert
1777-78 HINCKS Arbella, BOULT William


1745 ??
1781-9 HESKETH Robert & KENNERLEY John

On the 1745 map only the building on Weavers Lane is shown, however on the 1789 map there is a further building on Common Hall Lane.



CLICK the for sugar houses in that street.

(For local directory of sugar houses, click here.)

(For national directory of sugar houses, click here.)





The width of this map represents 0.53ml / 0.85km.

Read the History of Cuppins Lane Sugar House

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To Be Sold
A new erected and completely furnished Sugar House in Cuppins Lane in the City of Chester late the property of John Hincks Esq dec'd with three pans for refining sugar and all other necessary utensils for that business which has been and may be carried on to considerable extent and advantage in the City of Chester and its neighbourhood.
There is a very good garden and spacious yard with warehouses stables and other suitable conveniences adjoining to the house intended to be sold therewith. The whole premises are freehold land of [ ] , and a part of the conveyance money may remain in the purchasers hands upon proper surety if desired.
Any persons desirous of purchasing may apply to Mr Potts in Chester who is authorized to master the sale of the above premises or Mr _ in London or Mr _ in Bristol with whom a list of utensils and further particulars of these are left.

An undated draft of an advertisement to sell the Sugar House, drawn up by Mr Potts, Attorney at Law of Chester, probably in 1777 (27).
It may or may not have been used, however I can find no evidence yet that the Sugar House was sold as a going concern.

  Sugar prices, 1753-58.
  Broker's bills, 1757-66.
  Sugar goods prices, 1764-6.
  Brief accounts and 'extra materials' expenditure, 1774-5.
  [Go to Map of Chester.]


History ...
For some 160 yrs sugar was refined in Chester, though on quite a small scale and probably for local consumption. Giles Vanbrugh, the father of Sir John, and John & Samuel Henthorne refined in Chester in the late 17thC, and there was a sugar house in Weavers Lane in 1745 (1745 map), which in the 1780s was run by Robert Hesketh & John Kennerly (Dir & 1789 Hunter map) . Also in the 1780s there was a sugar house in Skinners Lane on the banks of the River Dee, possibly run by Thomas Roberts (1789 Hunter map). There is little known of these businesses, but considerable information is to be found under references CCALS D/HINCKS & CCALS D 5879 at the Record Office in Chester regarding the rather short-lived sugar house in Cuppins Lane.

On the south side of Cuppins Lane once stood five cottages (5) which by 1740 had been demolished, and the land, in the ownership of Geo Hope and already used as a timber yard by Thomas Hincks, was let to John Kelsall (18), and then in early 1741 sold to Geo Prescott (2). Over the next decade or so the land was variously let to Wm Buckley and later his widow & Mr Linney, and Tho Adams coal merchants (3)(4)(5), before Thomas Prescott, son, heir and executor of the late George, sold it to Benjamin Wilson a sugarbaker from Liverpool in 1752/3 (5).

The building of the three pan sugar house in Cuppins Lane was probably begun in early 1755, as a covenant to the sale of the land, dated 26 April 1753, stated that if any building be erected for the purpose of refining sugar within 3 yrs of 20 July 1752, then Benjamin Wilson should pay Thomas Prescott 50 within one month of building commencing ... Thomas Prescott's receipt for the 50 was dated 15 Feb 1755 (5). Whether Wilson began the sugar house by himself is not known, but in 1756 he and his wife made an agreement between themselves and John Hincks of Chester and Joseph Manesty of Liverpool for the running of the business (9), and on 21 Mar 1757 Articles of Co-partnership were signed by Wilson, Hincks and Manesty to carry out the trade of sugar refining in premises purchased by them in the name of Benjamin Wilson from Thomas Prescott. Manesty had a share, with Hincks and Wilson taking shares, but at that time they were still short of some 16,000 funds for joint stock (16)(10).

We know Wilson, married to Elizabeth, was from Liverpool, as was Manesty. Hincks was a local man, aged 41, who married Arbella Cowper, a lady seemingly from a moneyed family (19), in 1759. Wilson was the refiner working the sugar house, Manesty in Liverpool was purchasing the raw sugar, and Hincks, a merchant and later refered to as banker, appears to have been brokering business for the concern (1). The partnership does not appear to have got off to a good start, for by the beginning of 1758 questions were being asked by Hincks of Manesty's methods of buying sugar (22), and when in March a large bill for 55 hogsheads of raw sugar valued at 1343. 9s. 8d was presented by Francis Perkins of Liverpool (24), Wilson accused Manesty of paying too high a price for sugar, and Manesty complained that there was no money available to pay the "Excise Man" for an earlier 50 hogshead order (23). On 16 Oct 1758 a document was drawn up dissolving the partnership ! (6)

It's doubtful that the partnership was ever dissolved ... perhaps they all had too much invested and too much to lose ... for in 1764 the business was still running with the same partners and the same shares, however Joseph Manesty wished to be released from the partnership (7), and by the end of that same year bankruptcy had been filed against him by his creditors in Liverpool (15).

Benjamin Wilson died mid-1760s, having signed his will on 21 May 1765 and it being proven on 5 May 1767. He left his estate to his wife including his interest in the sugar house, leaving instructions that after her death it should be valued and sold. The accounts at the time showed that after all bills and bonds had been paid there was just 1461 9s 11d to be shared equally between Hincks and Benjamin Wilson's executors (1). John Hincks, now the sole survivor of the original partnership, in September 1767 made a new arrangement with Nathaniel Bishop the Clerk of the sugar house, paying him 84 pa + 1/16th share of the clear profits (26), though we shall see that Hincks never paid that 1/16th share in his lifetime.

John Hincks signed his will on 19 Mar 1768 and he died abt 1 June 1772. His share in the sugar house at that time was shown to have been worth 5727 2s 6d, being made up of 1500 his original capital, 2100 premises & utensils, 198 3s 8d original stock, and 1928 18s 10d profits owed him (1). There was a double probate of his will dated 5 Sep 1777 & 13 June 1778, leaving his estate to his wife Arbella, and the running of the sugar house in the hands of his brother Robert for a 1/4 share in the clear profits (1)(14). Robert Hincks, who had been part of the business since at least 1764 (1), does not appear to have done this alone, for apart from the clerk Nathaniel Bishop, there is also later evidence of a John Wilson (28), though there is no mention of children in Benjamin's will. In early 1773 Arbella and Robert Hincks drew up an agreement for the running of the sugar house (17), even though it appears to have had debts of over 16,000 (25). In April of that year, Nathaniel Bishop had had enough of seeing the profits of the sugar house in his ledgers but not receiving a penny of his share in them. He wrote that he had not been paid his share from Sep 1767 to Apr 1773, and demanded 2538 16s 3d, which implies the sugar house made a clear profit of 40,621 in those 5 years (26).

On 11 January 1777, an indenture between Robert Hincks executor to the late John Hincks and Arbella Hincks widow of John Hincks, shows us that John Hincks sugar refiner of Cuppins Lane in a document of 1768 agreed for Robert Hincks to carry on the business for a share of clear profits as both sugar refiner and banker. However, no clear profits had been made since Robert took over ... in fact there were considerable losses as a large part of the stock/capital was still owing to the executors of the late Benjamin Wilson. Robert Hincks stated that he would not pay what was owed, nor would he carry on the business, and relinquished all claim, leaving everything to Arbella Hincks in trust to her two children Thomas Cowper Hincks & Esther Hincks for the sum of 10s (11)(12), though Robert did pay Arbella 627 12s 0d on account of that which he had received from the business to date (14).

Arbella Hincks was now in a quandary ... should she sell the sugar house and pay all it owed, or should she continue the business somehow until her son was of age to take it over. She appears to have sought the help of her solicitor, Mr Potts, for not only do we have the draft of an advert offering the sugar house for sale (at top of page), but he also wrote to a sugar refiner in Manchester, Mr Sam Norcot, asking his advice on the prospects of making a success of the Cuppins Lane refinery. Norcot's reply is very illuminating, for not only does he answer the question of whether she should continue, but also offers advice on the running-down of the sugar house (29) ...

Addressed to "Mr Potts, Attorney, Chester".
Manchester 16 April 1777
My friend in Liverpool thinks there's not the least prospect of beginning a Sugar House with success in all this year, and consequently not of upwards of 12 months, and as such he would not engage in anything of the sort, and for my part I would not encourage Mrs Hincks unless I saw a very clear prospect of success, which at present I do not.
There's an old cockle and old iron bars which might as well be sold and made into money, and several other things which will be useful provided the House was to begin soon to work again. The horse might be sent to work for his keep, blue paper grows worse by keeping long, and twine, and Mr Hesketh will I dare say give prime cost for 'em, and hoops, stelks and many other little things which the Boiler may point out to you - old casks will be falling to pieces and staves and headings rotting, the Coopers will now give good prices for them.
I would recommend it to the Boiler to turn off all his men with the promise that if he wants 'em again they shall have some consideration for their ready coming back, but not to mention any particular sum for if the House stands long it may amount to more than they are worth, and if they are paid less than they understand they was to expect they may think they have a right to pay themselves, and that might bring on a train of bad consequences.
As Boiler has so little to do, him and the Clerk may very well do all there is if it could be conveniently managed. They should have less wages after a quarters notice if there's no particular agreement, though this may bring on the ill consequences I hinted above.
But your best way would be to weigh up all the sugar in the House immediately before you tell 'em your mind, and keep that list of the weights and qualities, and make a memorandum in the Day Book that the sales after that may tally with the Accounts of Stock. Coals take hurt with keeping, some will be wanted but not all of what there is. These are things which occur to me at present and recommend 'em to you, and if in future my advice is thought necessary you may very freely command it.
I have heard nothing of the Loaf Sugar I wrote for.
I think Mr Wilson may very safely advance the goods 2s per cwt more than he sold for when I was at Chester and the candy to 88s or 90s, and desire him to strive to sell the goods, Sugar don't go better by keeping too long, but worse.
I am very respectfully
Your most humble servant
Sam Norcot

... (29).


Arbella Hincks took no notice! On 9 Aug 1777 she proposed a partnership to carry on the trade at Cuppins Lane. She invested 5000 in the name of her son Thomas Cowper Hincks, whilst a William Boult invested a like sum, for a term of 21 years (30). Just how much was still owing to the estates of Benjamin Wilson and Joseph Manesty we don't know, but within months Arbella had managed to rid herself of those problems, for on 6 Nov 1777, for a peppercorn rent, all interest in "that messuage dwelling house workhouse for the refining of sugar warehouses stable and garden piece or parcel of land with this and every of their appurtenances there unto belonging situate lying and being in a certain lane commonly called or known by the name of Cuppins Lane on the south side of the said lane within the parish of St Martin in the said City of Chester and County of the said City all which said premises are now in the tenure or possession of the said Arbella Hincks her under-tenants or assigns with their and every their appurtenances together with all and singular houses outhouses edifices buildings garden yard backsides ways waters watercourses pipes lights cisterns stoves furnaces boilers easements profits commodities advantages emoluments hereditaments and appurtenances" were granted to her by the trustees of the estates of Joseph Manesty & Benjamin Wilson dec'd (20)(21).

There is, however, little further evidence of the sugar house. Bills were still in the names of John Wilson & Robert Hincks late 1778 (32), though in 1781 Robert Hincks was declared bankrupt (31). The Hunter map of 1789 at the Record Office shows sugar houses in Weavers Lane and Skinners Lane, but not the one in Cuppins Lane, and the Cowdroy Directory of the same year makes no mention of it. By 1795 there were no references to the trade in the Chester Guide, nor were there any in the later Pigot's Directory of 1818.



Sugar prices ...
Found in the accounts of Joseph Manesty (8), this little list of purchases (and by no means all that Manesty bought) shows the huge investment he undertook.
[A hogshead varied from 13 to 16 cwt.(33)]

  Quantity of Raw Sugarsd
1753Dec 1123 hhds547310
1755Nov 1758 casks99607
1756Aug 6129 hhds33151010
 Nov 1151 hhds1162144
1757Oct 746 casks9741211
1758Mar 147 hhds187186
  55 hhds134558
1758Mar 141 sugar pan351410


Broker's bills ...
John Hincks was the broker for the concern. He regularly presented bills/money to Wilson for deals he had brokered on behalf of the sugar house.
Some examples (1) are given here ...

1757 sd
Jan 28Rec. Mr John Hincks two bills two hundred and sixty five pounds ten shillings & seven pence. Benj Wilson.   
 Tarleton on Mollineaux165107
 Tarleton on Robinson10000
1759 sd
Jan 27Rec. Mr John Hincks three bills as under value one thousand & six pounds 16/11 which I promise to be accountable for. Benj Wilson.   
 Mr Hincks on Mr Manesty39850
 Tarleton on Manesty60000
 Ryan on Seel & Co81111
1759 sd
Feb 3Rec. Mr John Hincks three bills as under value one hundred seventy one pounds three shillings on account of the sugar house. Benj Wilson.   
 Bayley on Moore & Strange10000
 Hibbert & Co on Jecs & Dunn1880
 Pedder & Sons on Richards52150
1760 sd
Jan 30Rec. Mr John Hincks three hundred and sixty three pounds six shillings on account in four bills on Liverpool. Benj Wilson & Co. Signed Nathaniel Bishop.   
 Newport on Heywoods10000
 Tarleton on Manesty20000
 Jackson on Byron6000
 Tarleton on Holland360
1763 sd
Nov 17Rec. Mr John Hincks three bills on London value two hundred and sixty pounds on account of the sugar house. Benj Wilson.26000
1764 sd
Oct 1Rec. John Hincks Esq Roberts bill on Messrs Young value two hundred pounds which I shall be accountable for on demand of Coy & self. Benj Wilson.20000


Sugar goods prices ...
... and this would also account for these small quantities of sugar goods leaving the sugar house in his name ... they were most probably his samples. Jottings in the margin show the initials of not only John Hincks but also RH, SF, & DS; I suggest RH is Robert Hincks, showing he had worked in the business since at least 1764 (1).

 John Hincks Esq   
 To Benjamin Wilson & Co   
 for sundry parcels of sugar as under   
Aug 204 boxes 97lb @ 34/-195
Sep 5suppose treacle note missing031
Oct 29 178
Nov 76 table loaves 0:1:18 @46/-222
Jan 153 lumps 0:2:13 @ 70/-231
Mar 185 lumps 0:3:9 @ 60/- - 2.16.6   
 fine bast 0:1:5 @ 54/- - 15.113125
Apr 212 molasses 0:1:6   
 24 bast 11:60130
Apr 20 031
May 116 table 0:1:12 @ 10/- 1150
May 296 lumps 1:1:4 @ 60/-475
Jun 312 lb molasses016
Jun 2424 lb molasses030
Aug 2411 lb molasses014
Aug 3113 lb molasses017
Sep 2110 lb fine bast - 5.0   
 6 lumps 1:1:14 @ 72/- - 4.19.0540
Nov 2930 lb molasses @ 14/-044
Jan 22raw sugar 0:1:17 @ 42/-01610


Brief accounts and 'extra materials' expenditure ...

A summary of the accounts for a 14 month period late in the life of the sugar house. I have not found the other materials necessary for the process priced before (13).

5 Aug 1774 to 28 Oct 1775sd
Goods sold11216110
Sugar remaining6096190
Coals remaining9000
Blood bought2553
Lime bought600
Clay bought8116
Cooperage from Liverpool   

[A search of both CCALS D/HINCKS & CCALS D 5879 would probably produce full accounts for most years, though my own understanding of balance sheets is not good enough for me to comment on them here.]



CCALS. Cheshire and Chester Archives & Local Studies.
1. CCALS D 5879.
33. "How heavy, how much and how long?" by Colin R Chapman, Lochin Publishing 1995.

I am most grateful for the time and assistance given me by the staff of Cheshire Record Office during my visits, and those records used from the Cheshire Record Office are reproduced with the permission of Cheshire County Council and the owner/depositor to whom copyright is reserved.


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