William Pack Jolley


William was born in 1873. He was the last surviving son of Charles and Susan Jolly. He was given the name Pack in remembrance of his grandmother. He was sent to the local grammar school, along with his brother Arthur.

Like his elder brother James, William went into the Boot and Shoe industry and initially owned a factory in Spring Gardens in Higham Ferrers.

His brother James died when William was only 24. James had been a very successful Boot and Shoe manufacturer in Kettering but his early death left the factory without leadership and it was decided that William would take over the firm. He did so in October 1898 in partnership with Rowland Mullis and they traded under the name of Jolley and Mullis.

Managing his own firm and James’ one in Kettering proved challenging. William was described as a ‘practical man’, but his business acumen (and that of his partner) was in doubt. By December 1900 the firm Jolley and Mullis was in trouble. The liabilities totalled £320,100.00 ** the assets were £56,600.00 ** leaving unsecured debts of £263,500.00**. The reasons given for the collapse of the business were other competitors undercutting their prices, and bad debts. However, as it was pointed out, the firm was not sensible when deciding to whom they gave credit. There were £42,010.00** of bad debts and although the owners had made enquiries when giving credit they still gave credit to people even though they had information to the effect that these individuals were unlikely to repay the loan.

(William, third from the left, aged about 11, photographed outside the Grammar School building. The school closed in 1906 and the building is now the Chantry Chapel.)

In 1901 Mrs Mullins, who had loaned the firm £93,490.00** in the previous years provided the court with evidence of that loan when the Official Receivers questioned why she had been issued with a promissory note for £37,890.00** in May of that year, given the dire state of affairs of the company. William Jolley initially said that both himself and Rowland Mullis had signed the note on 11 January that year, but Mr. Mullis could not remember when it was signed, either the day or even the month. Following that response William Jolley said he could not remember when it was signed either.

It is very possible that Mr. Mullis no longer continued his partnership with William as by 1907 William was trading on his own under the name James Jolley. However the state of affairs was no better. By 1907 the debts for James Jolley Shoe Manufacturers were £307,800.00**. There were assets to be taken into account but the overall debt was £102,400.00**. An offer was made by James to repay creditors at an agreed amount in the pound, over four, eight and twelve months, but the Receiver stated that if the situation could not be redeemed the firm was to be wound up. The firm was closed and William went to work for William Green and Son, in Rushden.

His funeral

James, like all his brothers, was a good musician. He played the organ at St Peter’s Church in Rushden for over 30 years.

At his funeral all the local Church organists were present to pay their respects. He is buried in Higham Ferrers cemetery. He had married Kate Jolley but they did not have any children. His estate was worth just over £6,000** at his death.


** refers to the amounts in £sd being adjusted to show the broadly equivalent 2015 values, by multiplying the figures by the rise in the cost of living index.

St. Peter's Church, Rushden