|Administrative / biographical background:
The firm which became Beale & Co. appears to have been founded in the late 1820s by Thomas Colmore, who appears in an 1830 directory as an attorney at 41 New Street. Five years later he was working from 11 New Street and by 1842 he had taken into partnership William John Beale, to whom he may have been distantly related, and the firm was practising at 20 Waterloo Street. By 1845 the firm was at 30 Waterloo Street, and they remained at that address until 1881, when they moved to 3 Newhall Street. Thomas Colmore retired in the late 1850s and William Beale took into partnership James Marigold, the firm becoming Beale & Marigold, and by 1866, when the firm was known as Beale, Marigold & Beale, two of William Beale's sons, James Samuel and Charles Gabriel, had joined the practice. Another son, later Sir William Phipson Beale, bart., became a London Chancery barrister. In the 1870s the firm briefly maintained a London office at 28 Greet George Street, Westminster, but the last reference to this is in 1881. At about the same time William Beale retired, James Beale became the senior partner, and William Groves joined the practice, remaining in the firm until 1884.
At about the time of the move to 3 Newhall Street, James Marigold also retired, and the firm became Beale & Co., the name it retained for a century. In 1886 there were three partners: James and Charles being joined by their nephew Arthur Geach Beale, and this remained the composition of the firm until the late 1890s, when they moved to 12 Newhall Street and took Charles' son, Hubert Kenrick Beale into the partnership. In the early years of the 20th century, James and Arthur Beale retired and were replaced by another of Charles' sons, Edmund Phipson Beale. This was the heyday of the practice, and Charles Beale, who was also active in civic affairs, served four times as Lord Mayor of Birmingham, including three successive years, 1897-1900. Charles Beale himself remained in practice until about 1912, when the firm was reduced to a partnership of his two sons. About 1930, they were joined by Hubert's son, Malcolm Weatherley Beale, and just before the Second World War by Edmund's son, Charles Beale, who departed for active service almost immediately afterwards. At the end of the war he returned to the practice and Hubert Beale retired, after almost 50 years service. In the early 1950s Edmund Beale also retired, after a similar length of service, and the firm was once again reduced to two partners.
Charles and Malcolm Weatherley Beale remained in practice at 12 Newhall Street until 1959, when they moved to 39 Newhall Street, a move which occasioned the deposit of the records described below. Malcolm Beale retired between 1974 and 1990, by which time P R Lesser had joined the practice. They then moved first to Malcolm House, 581 Moseley Road, B12, and, perhaps at the time of Charles Beale's retirement, merged with the old established firm of Hadgkiss, Hughes & Clayton of Acocks Green [see MS1568]. In 1994 the firm, now know as Hadgkiss, Hughes & Beale, was established at 83 Alcester Road, Moseley, B13 8EB.
Throughout its existence, the firm undertook a mix of commercial and private work for Birmingham's middle class of small businessmen and their families. Some of the more notable private papers relate to families which were involved in the firms (the Colmores, Beales and Marigolds) or which he had links with it through the marriage and social connection of those families (eg the Smallbrooks and Vyses). The most notable exception to this is the papers of the Studley and Beoley estate of the Moilliet family of Birmingham bankers, who appear to have no such close relationship.