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Ernest Terah Hooley (1859-1947) bought and then floated companies that went on to become great British names; towards the end of the 19th century he had a personal fortune of millions of pounds but was then to be declared bankrupt. He was a serial fraudster, a man who bought up promising companies and then resold them to the public at hugely inflated prices.
Once one of the most well-known men in Europe, the friend of kings and princes, he was declared bankrupt, served two prison sentences, and died, apparently penniless, at his Long Eaton home.
1859 February 5th. Hooley was born at a house in Beaumont Street, Sneinton, Nottinghamshire, the son of Terah Hooley (1839-1927), a lace manufacturer, and his wife Eliza Peach (1839-1882)
c.1878 Started in business with about £35,000 given to him by his father.
1881 Married Annie Maria Winlaw and had four daughters and three sons
1881 Living at North Villa, Long Eaton: Ernest Terah Hooley (age 22 born Sneiton), a Lace Manufacturer. With his wife Annie Maria (age 22 born Boston). In the adjourning North Villa are Terah Hooley (age 42 born Long Eaton), a Lace Manufacturer, with his wife Eliza (age 42 born Thrumpton, Notts). 
1882 Entered into partnership with his father as T. Hooley, lace manufacturers of Long Eaton.
1883 Birth of son Terah Franklin (1883-1952)
1883 August. In court charged with assaulting another lace maker. 'son of Terah Hooley, a large manufacturer'. Concerns a trade dispute where the Hooleys were not part of the Nottingham Lacemakers Union.
1884 Birth of daughter Eliza May Evelyn (1884- )
1886 Birth of daughter Grace Annie Mildred (1886-1978)
1887 Birth of daughter Violet Irene Constance (1887-1948)
1887 March. Summoned for assault on a man aged 73 at a political meeting.
1888 Bought Risley Hall in Derbyshire for £5,000, possibly with the assistance of an inheritance from his mother.
1889 Birth of daughter Dorothy Winlaw (1889-1964)
1889 Set himself up as a stockbroker in Nottingham
1890 Birth of daughter Marjorie Idonia (1890- )
1891 Living at Risley Hall, Derbyshire: Ernest Terah Hooley (age 32 born Nottingham), a Lace Manufacturer and Employer. With his wife Annie Maria Hooley (age 32 born Boston) and their children Terah Franklin Hooley (age 8 born Long Eaton), Eliza May Evelyn Hooley (age 7 born Long Eaton), Grace Annie Mildred Hooley (age 5 born Long Eaton), Violet Irene Constance Hooley (age 3 born Long Eaton), Dorothy Winlaw Hooley (age 2 born Long Eaton), Marjorie Idonia Hooley (age 8 months born Risley. Also his relative John Adam Wheatcraft (age 25 born Matlock) and six servants.
1892 The partnership was converted into a limited company. Started working as a stockbroker.
1892 Birth of half-brother Basil Terah.
1895 Concentrated on promotion of companies.
1895 Purchased Papworth Hall in Cambridgeshire
1896 Moved to London where he continued to work as a stockbroker. Involved in buying and selling on the Bovril Co, Coventry Machinists Co, Cycle Manufacturers Tube Co, Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Co and Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Co (France), various overseas subsidiaries of Humber, Raleigh Cycle Co, Schweppes Ltd, Singer Cycle Co, Swift Cycle Co and Trent Cycle Co.
1896 Of Risley Hall, near Derby. Stockbroker. Subscriber to shares in the Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Co at its formation. . Hooley bought the Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company for £3m and then floated Dunlop as a public company for £5m.
1896 Hooley created the Trafford Park estate in Manchester, the world’s first industrial park. Originally some 1,183 acres of parkland with deer, it was purchased by Hooley for £360,000 from Sir Humphrey Francis de Trafford, and he set about developing Old Trafford as an 'industrial estate' which was, at the time, a radically new concept.
1897 Appointed High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire.
1897 Ernest Terah Hooley, Esq., J.P., to be Deputy Lieutenant of Cambridge.
1897 Selected by the Conservative Party as their candidate to contest the parliamentary constituency of Ilkeston, Derbyshire at the next general election but his bankruptcy the following year made him ineligible to stand
1898 Ernest Terah Hooley, Esq., to be Deputy Lieutenant of Huntingdon.
1898 May. Buys the patronage of Risley. '...And whereas Ernest Terah Hooley of Risley Hall in the said county of Derby Esquire has paid over to us the said Ecclesiastical Commissioners a sum of five hundred pounds to be applied by us to the augmentation of the income of the said benefice of Risley upon the understanding and condition that the whole advowson or perpetual right of patronage of and presentation to the said benefice of Risley now vested in the said George Bishop of Southwell and his successors shall be transferred to him the said Ernest Terah Hooley and his heirs and assigns as is hereinafter recommended and proposed...'
1898 Declared bankrupt for the first time. The Official Receiver indicated that large disbursements had been made to various people in connection with the companies promoted but there were insufficient details recorded to know precisely what had been done. The Humber company closed down their overseas operations.
1901 Living at Papworth Hall: Ernest Terah Hooley (age 42 born Sneinton, Notts), a Company Promoter. With his children Terah Franklin Hooley (age 18 born Long Eaton), Grace Annie Hooley (age 15 born Long Eaton), Dorothy Hooley (age 12 born Long Eaton), Marjorie Hooley (age 10 born Risley), and Ernest Terah Hooley (age 8 born Risley Hall). Also two visitors and twelve servants).
1901 December. Removed from the list of Deputy Lieutenants for the County of Cambridge and Huntingdon.
1903 His wife gains £100,000 through an insurance policy on the life of Adolphus Drucker M.P. who was (possibly) murdered in New York.
1904 Harry Lawson and E. T. Hooley were tried in court for fraudulently obtaining money from Alfred John Paine and other shareholders in connection with the Electric Tramways Construction and Maintenance Co; Lawson, after representing himself in court, was found guilty and sentenced to one year's hard labour; Hooley was found not guilty.
1905 November. Summoned for assault. 'Mr. Ernest Terah Hooley, described as of 177 New Broad-street and the Great Northern Hotel, King's Cross, was summoned for haying committed an assault Mr James Gillespie, member of the Stock Exchange. When the case was called on the chief clerk announced that there were no parties, and magistrate's register was marked.'
1906 September. Struck off as a spectacle maker. 'At the City of London Registrar's Court, yesterday, Mr. Ernest Terah Hooley, who claimed as spectacle maker, was struck off the register. Three addresses were given for him, two in the West End and the Great Northern Hotel. King's Cross. A letter was sent by the landlord of one of the West End addresses, saying that Mr. Hooley had resided there'
1908 Risley Hall ownership is transferred to his four daughters
1909 August. His son purchases an estate. 'Whitlebury Lodge, Northamptonshire, with the estate of 2,623 acres, has been purchased by Mr. Terah Franklin Hooley, a twenty-five-year old eon of the well-known company promoter and financier, Mr. Ernest Terah Hooley, from Sir William Cooper.'
1911 October. His solicitor Arthur Thomas Ashwell having devoted all his time since 1909 to ETH is declared bankrupt having taken liabilities on his behalf.'
1912 February. 'The Risley Hall Estate, Derbyshire, for many years the property Mr. Ernest Terah Hooley, has, along with the whole the village of Risley, small holdings, and numerous farms, been purchased Mr. E. W. Kirk, Estate Office, Nottingham.'
1912 February. Convicted of fraud and sentenced to one year in gaol. 'Ernest Terah Hooley, the well-known financier, was sentenced at the Central Criminal Court, on Saturday, to twelve months' in the second division. The charge was that he obtained from George Leech Tweedale, young mechanical engineer, of Rochdale, six cheques for the payment of total of £2,000 by means of false pretences with intent to defraud. The defendant heard Mr. Justice Phillimore pronounce sentence apparently unmoved, except that he turned pale, he picked up his hat and walked briskly down from the dock on his way to the cells.'
1917 October. Charged with assaulting a Long Eaton solicitor but the charge later withdrawn.
1922 February. Declared bankrupt for the third time. Risley Hall is owned by his five daughters. Liabilities of £63,666 with assets of £25,000. 
1922 April. Convicted of fraud concerning Jubilee Cotton Mills and sentenced to three years in goal along with Thomas Fletcher, John Angus Macdonald, William Alfred Wallis, Bertram Breakspear and Thomas Llewellyn Damery. 
1922 June. Appeal against conviction and sentence dismissed.
1925 July 18th. Released from gaol. 'Ernest Terah Hooley was released from Parkhurst Prison, Isle of Wight, this morning. He had a taxi waiting for him which conveyed him to Yarmouth, where he caught the 8.30 Cross-Solent boat for route for Derby. He will reach his home at Risley this evening He was looking well. He was wearing a check cap, fawn overcoat, and tweed suit.'
1925 His memoirs. 'Most people have heard of Ernest Terah Hooley, many to their sorrow. An arch gambler, with both eyes on self-interest, he wrote his reminiscences upon release from Parkhurst Prison. These were published in a Sunday newspaper, and have now been issued in book form 2s 6d by Simpkin, Marshall, and Co. This company promoter, etc., etc., is still unrepentant. "If I had time to come over again, I would still live the same life," is his own declaration, and he adds a self-flattering note: "Conscious that if I had done a certain amount of harm to my fellow-beings, any rate I had also done a very considerable amount of good." This man of 65 years has mixed with Kings and nobles, been acclaimed "a pillar of the Church and a prince of sportsmen." Such is the power of wealth. Hooley was multimillionaire in his rosy days, hence he naturally had an army of spongers at his heels, hungry followers from every society. He once lent a Countess £30,000 to pay her debts, and she was distinctly annoyed with him when she discovered he expected her to repay him. Because he gave a Viscount £35,000 to save him from bankruptcy, it was arranged to give Hooley a Baronetcy. So far did the idea germinate that he actually received a card of invitation addressed Sir E. T. Hooley, Bart., to attend the Jubilee commemoration service in St. Paul's Cathedral from the late Queen Victoria. Before this, it was discovered Hooley's millions were vanishing, hence the baronetcy never matured. His golden years were 1896-7, and the average number of letters, mostly of the begging order, he received daily was 2,000. Many were from poverty-stricken society people, and several contained amazing ideas for promoting companies. At one time everything touched turned "lucky." He floated the Trafford Park estate, and made £640,000 out of it. When living in Cambridgeshire, where he was made High Sheriff, and also Deputy-Lieutenant, he spent £12,000 on wine and £2,500 for cigars. When he attended H.M. Judges the Cambridge Assizes as High Sheriff, he gave wonderful luncheons. Years after he faced one of H.M. Judges in the dock — the whirligig of fate. At Sandringham, where he went to a sale of Shire horses, he was invited to stay with the Prince of Wales (afterwards King Edward), and did so. In his flotation of cycle companies he made millions out of the boom. One the interesting incidents this volume of racy reminiscences is the recording of how was "turned down" by the late Queen Victoria. He had bought the Royal yacht "Britannia," and it annoyed the Queen, so much to that he had to remove a brass plate in the bow of the vessel showing where the Queen had stood when christening the yacht. He removed the plate, but Queen Victoria still let the purchase annoy her, for later an emissary went to Hooley, who re-sold the yacht to the Prince for the price he had paid for the ship. Always dealing in a mammoth way, carried out the Bovril deal, and netted half a million sterling. He once offered £80,000 for the purchase of the London "Daily Mail," but Lord Northcliffe declined it. Wherever he went he was honoured. At Monte Carlo the chef d'orchestre "had a distressing habit of putting special musical programme in honour of Madame 'Ooley." At Monte Carlo his hotel bill was never less than £1,000 a week. One can believe it when he says: "Seemingly all the English people on the Rivera lunched and dined my expense, and some of them even came to breakfast." Following his bankruptcy, he was eventually sentenced to twelve months in the second division for fraud, and he says, "I took the rough with the smooth." It is not surprising that prison life and fare, following years of luxury, upset his digestive faculties, and for a long period the sentence was mostly hospital. Hooley says there never was a bigger "mug" the world than himself. What he means is that though there was probably anyone more adept, at amassing wealth, there never was anyone who parted with it more foolishly. One of his foolish traits (be says) was to give the better part of a million pounds away to charities, churches, and other more or less needy institutions. Fifteen millions sterling he made during his career, and he avers, "If I should die the day this story is printed my will would not be worth proving." At Wormwood Scrubs Prison, just before his removal to Parkhurst, he was pushing a wheelbarrow with party of men going to work when he saw Bottomley, and in passing said sotto voce, "Buck up, B." Bottomley grunted and passed on. Two ex-millionaires, the kings of company promotion in prison the same time. What Hooley thinks about Horatio is, I" take off my hat to him as the cleverest fellow I have ever known." He deals briefly with his sentence of three years' penal servitude, along with some other colleagues in fraud, their sentences varying. He concludes by saying that 65 years of age he looks back on a forty years life of sorrow and splendour almost without, parallel in the history of Great Britain. During that time over £100,000,000 passed through his hands. And with all my vicissitudes, and with all the money that I "am still supposed to owe, my spirit still remains uncrushed." '
1925 September. Announces conversion to the Catholic faith.
1926 April. Alleges fraud against a solicitor but later withdraws the case.
1927 April. 'Sir Richard Muir, who has written a book of Reminiscences, sets down Ernest Terah Hooley as the most attractive personality he encountered in his professional career. "Neither Bottomley, Whitaker Wright, Bevan, nor anybody else could compare with Hooley in character. They were all children in his presence. Whitaker Wright certainly handled millions of money, but not on anything like the scale that Hooley did." Hooley's masterly revelations of finance taught Sir Richard Muir more in the Old Bailey trial of 1922 than he had known before, and he said after it was all over that Hooley had fascinated him. It will be recollected that in the trial in question Hooley was defended by Mr. Bendle Moore, who more than once bore testimony to the sang froid with which he discussed ugly eventualities. This was a sore point with some of his friends in the dock, but Hooley told them with a laugh that he would be all right as he expected, at his time of life they would set him to work in the laundry. This is, no doubt, what Sir Richard Muir refers to when he observes: "It is not everyone who knows he is going to penal servitude that can treat the matter as a huge joke. He might have made the greatest Chancellor of the Exchequer this country has ever known." "The Splendid Bankrupt" certainly had a wonderful way with him. There can have been few men whose domestic life was in every respect more admirable.'
1927 July. Brings legal case for commission.
1927 November. Received into the Roman Catholic Church at Derby.
1928 March. A witness in a legal case concerning some commissions. Admits to being the originator of the scheme.
1929 February. Wins legal action for unpaid commission of £2,200 for the sale of quarries.
1929 Risley Hall has been broken in to in the past so Hooley employs an ex-policeman and a large dog to patrol the grounds and they detain an intruder.
1929 Mentioned as a generous benefactor to the parish church of Risley in the past.
1931 June. ETH in court being sued for £5,000 damages.
1932 May. Concerning a gold plate he had presented to St. Paul's Cathedral 35 years ago and the church wants to melt down and produce other items.
1932 November. Sued for £46 6s for work at Risley Hall. Dispute over whether he or his wife ordered the work. Hooleys lose.
1934 June. Sued by jewellers for unpaid bill of £39 15s and he loses.
1935 March. Loses legal claim for damages. 
1935 April. Involvement in the case of Frederick William Kirkwood, an estate agent who went missing over debts.
1935 December. Involved in car crash but unhurt. The car was 'a big saloon model'.
1936 July. Settles claim for £750 against him by firm of solicitors in Derby.
1938 July. Loses claim of commission of £4,775 in court case.
1939 Declared bankrupt for the fourth time. Liabilities of £898 mostly to the tax man. States "I have gone blind in one eye, and nearly blind in the other. I cannot read I have been operated on five times in recent years." Risley Hall belongs to his four daughters.     
1939 July 28th. Death of his wife. 'Mrs. Annie Maria Hooley, wife of Mr. Ernest Terah Hooley, of Risley Hall, died this afternoon at the age of 80. She had been in indifferent health for some time, but the illness which resulted in her death had lasted only few days. Daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs Franklin Winlaw, Boston, Lines., she married Mr. Hooley in 1881, and lived in Park-street. Long Eaton, for some time before moving to Rislev Hall, which has been their home for the past 50 years. Mrs. Hooley took no part in public activity in recent years, and had led a quiet, homely life. She was patron of the living of All Saints' Rislev. The funeral will take place at Risley Church on Monday.'
1939 July. Funeral of his wife. 'Mrs. E. T. Hooley. Funeral Service at Risley. A five foot cross of deep red roses from Mr. E. Terah Hooley, her husband, covered the coffin the funeral of Mrs. Annie Maria Hooley, of Risley Hall, today. A short service was conducted at the Risley Parish Church, which she was the patron, by the Rector, the Rev. W. R. Minta, and the interment followed in the churchyard. The Coffin was wheeled upon a bier from the Hall the lodge gates and carried across the road into the church by four members of the outside Hall staff, Messrs. J. Smedley, L. Bardill, W. Coleman, and E. Daniel. The many wreaths included tributes from the Risley Parochial Church Council, the outside staff of Risley Hall, and the staff of Drydrayton, Cambridgeshire, the residence of Mr. Terah Hooley, the eldest son.'
1940 March. Takes legal action against an attack by a dog on his fowl-pen containing 18 Rhode Island red pullets. Ernest Terah Hooley, garage proprietor, of 207 Bypass Road, Chilwell.
1940 June. Bids £100,000 for the Bestwood Estate but not accepted.
1943 Sues for commission. Ernest Terah Hooley, 85-years-old licensed auctioneer and valuer of 197 College Street, Long Eaton. Judge congratulates him on his physical and mental capacity at 85-years old. States that his cousin Mrs Potts is worth £40,000 and lives off of the interest.  
1943 Advert. 'Mr Ernest Terah Hooley (late of Risley hall) wishes to sell his Teddy Bear Coat, worth £80, lowest price £50, no offers. Apply Longmoor, 197 College Street, Long Eaton.'
1944 June. Loses court case he brings to recover commission. Also concerns a painting and the recovery of it. Described as an Estate Agent of 197 College Street, Long Eaton, with his cousin Mrs Potts. Objects to people 'pulling faces at him in court'.  
1947 February 12th. Having returned to property dealing, he died, apparently penniless, from complications associated with acute bronchitis at 197 College Street, Long Eaton.
1947 February. Obituary. 'He Juggled With Millions. Ernest Terah Hooley, whose financial transactions some years ago were on an immense scale, has died, aged 88. His life was crowded with incidents. From earning 30s a week his father's lace mill in a Derbyshire village to became one of the most powerful financiers of the century. It was said he owned £10,000,000 worth of property. Hooley saw his fame and wealth totter when he was sentenced at the Old Bailey in 1922 to three years' penal servitude for frauds connection with the purchase of shares and debentures of Jubilee Cotton Mills Ltd. "Money not difficult to get hold of," said Hooley. "I have always found it harder to keep. I made millions and spent them. There are men whom I raised from nothing and made millionaires. The moment I was down they turned and kicked me. Well I have lived to see most of them under the sod."
1947 February. Obituary. 'Terah Hooley Played The Harmonium. Derbyshire has lost a colourful character in Terah Hooley. Though, after release from prison in 1924, he made no attempt to return to the limelight, we saw him occasionally in Derby - Edwardian to the last with grey bowler, buttonhole, cigar and a dog frisking at his heels. The stories of Terah Hooley are legion. He is supposed to have bought the Royal Yacht, Britannia, and when Queen Victoria made inquiries as to its whereabouts to have sold it back at purchase price. He was the first man to see the vast commercial prospects of the bicycle and his vast interests ranged from gold mines to mineral waters, from sheep farms to Chinese loans. His philanthropy, particularly locally, was as prodigious as his way of life. There was something very likeable about Terah Hooley — his cool courage, audacity perhaps. One of his most treasured possessions - it always had a prominent place at Risley Hall - was the timepiece presented to him by Long Eaton's Baptist Community for playing the harmonium.'
1947 February. Funeral. 'Former Risley Estate Workers At Funeral. Former employees of Risley Hall estate and other villagers attended the funeral at Risley Parish Church on Saturday of Mr. Ernest Terah Hooley, who died last Tuesday at "Longmoor," College-street, Long Eaton, at the age of 88. A millionaire financier in the early part of the century, Mr. Hooley lived for 50 years at Risley Hall. He was buried in the churchyard, next to the grave of his wife, who died in 1939. The service was conducted by the Rector (the Rev W. R. Minta). Family mourners were: Mr. T. F. Hooley and Mr. E. T. Hooley (sons); Mr. and Mrs. J. Hartopp-Holt, Commander and Mrs. L. Brewill, Dr. and Mrs. H. Vernon Taylor, Mr. and Mrs. H. A. Johnstone (sons-in-law and daughters); Miss M. I. Hooley (daughter); Mr. N. J. Hooley (step-brother); Mrs. Basil Hooley (sister-in-law); Captain J. Brewill, Mr. W. A. Johnstone and Mr. P. F. G. Johnstone (grandsons); Mrs. D. J. Price (granddaughter) Mr. and Mrs. E. Hooley and Mr. E. Victor Hooley (cousins).'