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Bennett's and the Potteries

People in Bennett's novels

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Mr Duncalf


Enoch Bennett "after studying law with Mr. Arthur Ellis (Mr. Duncalf of the novels) one time Town Clerk of Burslem who had an office in the Market Place, set up in practice as a solicitor.

Bennett's offices were on the ground floor of the Old Town Hall of Hanley, which later became Lloyds Bank and on which site the present bank was erected."

In Bennett's writings:

"Darius nodded, quite benevolently. He seemed to have forgotten his deep grievance against Edwin in the matter of cheque-signing.
"Duncalf's got it [the will]," he murmured after a moment. Duncalf was the town clerk and a solicitor."

Bennett: Clayhanger

"Another silence fell, and then Josiah, feeling himself unable to bear any further suspense as to his wife's real mood and temper, suddenly determined to tell her all about the geese, and know the worst. And precisely at the instant that he opened his mouth, the maid opened the door and announced:

'Mr. Duncalf wishes to see you at once, sir. He won't keep you a minute.'

'Ask him in here, Mary,' said the Deputy-Mayoress sweetly; 'and bring another cup and saucer.'

Mr. Duncalf was the Town Clerk of Bursley: legal, portly, dry, and a little shy......

'Your husband,' said Mr. Duncalf impressively to Clara, 'will, of course, have to step into the Mayor's shoes, and you'll have to fill the place of the Countess.' He paused, and added: 'And very well you'll do it, too--very well. Nobody better.'

The Town Clerk frankly admired Clara.

'Mr. Duncalf--Mr. Duncalf!' She raised a finger at him. 'You are the most shameless flatterer in the town.'

The flatterer was flattered. Having delivered the weighty news, he had leisure to savour his own importance as the bearer of it. He drank a cup of tea. Josiah was thoughtful, but Clara brimmed over with a fascinating loquacity. Then Mr. Duncalf said that he must really be going, and, having arranged with the Mayor-elect to call a special meeting on the Council at once, he did go, all the while wishing he had the enterprise to stay."

Bennett: His worship the goosedriver

"Mr Duncalf was town Clerk of Bursley, and a solicitor. It is well known that all bureaucracies are honey-combed with intrigue. Denry Machin left school to be clerk to Mr Duncalf, on the condition that within a year he should be able to write shorthand at the rate of a hundred and fifty words a minute."

"Denry Machin was seated one Monday alone in Mr Duncalf's private offices in Duck Square (where he carried on his practice as a solicitor)"

Bennett: The Card



Actual person:

Mr Duncalf of Bennett's writings was based on Arthur Ellis (b.1849-d.1941), who was a solicitor and the town clerk for Burslem. Enoch Bennett (Arnold's father) studied law with Arthur Ellis before setting up business on his own.

Arthur Ellis was born in 1849 at Longport, Burslem, the son of the Revd. Phillip Brabazon Ellis the Vicar of St. Paul's, Dalehall.

Ellis was educated at King William College, Isle of Man and at Liverpool College. He began working in an office in Liverpool but returned to Burslem as an articled clerk in his brother Brabazon Wood Ellis's practice at Overhouse (formerly that of W. E. Twigg).

He qualified in 1875 and on the death of his brother in the same year, Arthur took over the practice.

In 1891 he became town clerk of Burslem and served until 1910. He prepared the case for Burslem's opposition to the federation of the six towns and he was personally opposed to federation - one councillor accused him of being prejudiced and implied that he had influenced the decision by counsel for Burslem to withdraw from the Inquiry in January 1908. He dismissed similar criticism by declaring that he was used to being slandered by councillors.

He was clerk to the Burslem and Tunstall justices from 1901 to 1923 when he retired from that post and from his practice.

from: People of The Potteries


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