|Administrative / biographical background:
The predecessors of the present firm of Addison, Jesson and Cooper appear to have been established in Walsall by 1818 when Richard Jesson, attorney, is recorded at Digbeth. By the end of the 19th century, there appear to have been two distinct firms, that of Marten, Marlow and Jesson in Bridge Street, and of Addison and Cooper also in Bridge Street. In 1940, these two firms were still separate, and it is assumed that any partnership must have taken place after this date.
The collection is useful for a number of aspects of the history of Walsall and its surrounding area. Among the clients of the firm were the Tongues of Aldridge Manor, (D1317/1/15), the Clarks of Aldridge Lodge, (D1317/1/4), David Rose, ironmaster of Darlaston, (D1317/1/11), Richard Haines of West Bromwich, coalmaster, (D1317/1/5), the Hills of Walsall, (D1317/1/6), and the Middletons and Stubbs of Hammerwich, (D1317/1/9 and D1317/1/14). The business, personal and industrial interests of these clients are well represented in the collection.
The collection also contains the papers of the Estate of Crowther Smith of Wolverhampton, one of the first developers of middle class housing in the area around the park at the end of the 19th century. The papers do contain specifications of some of the houses built, as well as details of eventual sales. The Tongue family papers reflect the interests of a small landed family in an area, Aldridge, which was becoming industrialised and who took advantage of the developments of the coal industry by leasing mines to colliery companies. In addition, the involvement of this family in local parish affairs has led to the survival in this collection of a number of Aldridge parish papers including an 18th century tithe and Easter offerings book, faculties for the rebuilding and restoration of the parish church, churchwardens' accounts, 1762-1859, vestry minutes, 1828-1837, overseers of the poor accounts, 1765-1786 and trustees' minutes for Aldridge Free School.
Industrial development is reflected by a number of mining leases in which various clients were involved, but more particularly by the surviving papers of the Blacklees Company of Cannock, Shareshill and Cheslyn Hay (D1317/2/1). This company was formed in 1895 for the purpose of acquiring lands by purchase or lease for the purpose of mining. The title deeds for the Rugeley rolling mill and forge from 1718 are included with papers relating to Cheshire, Manners and Company, tinplate manufacturers of Rugeley (D1317/2/5).