Victorian newspaper proprietor,
publisher and entrepreneur
Will (transcript, with paragraphs)
The will is a horrible document, written over seven pages in copperplate with no punctuation, sentences or paragraphs. Moreover, it is so ambiguous in parts that his heirs had to get legal advice after Edward's death, then after Maria's death, and then again when the trust was wound up in 1911. From the last episode it is possible to discern some friction among the heirs.
Before he died, Edward set up a trust independent of his will. We have not seen the document but have evidence of its existence. Slightly more than half the shares in Edward Lloyd Ltd were held by four of his sons in trust for the grandchildren, with the children entitled only to a life interest.
The will provided generously for Maria, giving her all personal and household effects and the right to live in or receive the rent from three of Edward's properties. In addition to receiving an income equal to the sons' shares, she received an annuity of £1,000.
Edward was anxious to protect his daughters from fortune hunters, reserving the benefits "given to females … for their sole and separate use independently of their husbands and without power of anticipation". As this clearly refers to the daughters while alive, the Rev Coggin, whose wife died in 1905 after bearing four children, was entitled to succeed, although the clause about surviving spouses is a masterpiece of poor drafting.
While Maria lived, Edward ordained a curiously sexist disposition. Sons received 10% of the income from the estate while daughters received only 2.5%, although the four unmarried daughters could ask their mother to let them live with her. Why he made this arrangement cannot be guessed at.
In the event, this discriminatory regime only lasted for three years. After Maria's death, the four sons who had helped their father build up the business received large shares (18% to Frank, 12% to Frederick and 10% each to Herbert and Arthur). Harry, who was also active in the business, was not so singled out. Most of the other sons and all the daughters received 5% (about £28,000 or nearly £3m now).
The legitimate sons by Isabella, Edward and Charles, were not included in the residual estate. Instead, they each received fixed gifts of £6,000 (£650,000) and an annuity of £400 (£43,500). It is not known why they were treated so unequally. Both married late in life and were childless, but both had started out working for their father.
Of Maria's children, annuities were to be paid to Ernest, a proven profligate, and Thomas, who suffered from a disability of some sort. Annuities were paid to Maria's sister and Edward's nephew Charles, who was an executor, and smaller gifts were made to another nephew, two named employees and all staff of more than 20 years' standing.
In a cruel turn of fate, this last group would not have included another Edward, son of Evan – Edward's nephew through his middle brother William. The great-nephew worked at the Sittingbourne mill, but only from 1871.
None of the heirs were to receive their share of the estate's capital for 21 years, i.e. 1911. After that, the trust had to continue for the payment of various annuities, but the bulk of the capital could be distributed.
Release was delayed, however, suggesting a degree of discord. A letter dated 16 June 1913 from the will trust's solicitors to Rosalie McRae urged her to sign the deed of release from the trust, noting that "each of the beneficiaries has received his or her full share of the estate exclusive of the securities and balance of cash retained by the executors to meet the annuities." Percy had commissioned an audit of the trust accounts. This having been achieved, Rosalie was still reluctant to sign the deed. It is not known why.
The will trust was finally wound up in 1926 following the death of all the annuitants. An estate account drawn up in 1926 is rather confusing.
It is as well that Edward survived his illness in 1889. It is not known whether he had written an earlier will but, had he died intestate, his whole estate would have gone to his two eldest sons – Edward and Charles – and to the four youngest by Maria – Florence, Percy, Rosalie and Laura. Only they were legitimate.
The family trust
Edward's grandchildren benefited from another family trust, separate from the will. It postponed transfer of the property until the death of the children and their surviving spouses, who had a life interest in the income. They could choose how to allocate the property among their own children.
We have not seen a copy of the trust document, but there can be no doubt about its existence. When Lloyd George acquired the Daily Chronicle, he bought it from the "family trust". More tangibly, the Tower Hamlets archive contains the records of Edward's first industrial site at Bow Bridge – the leases had continued in family ownership, albeit as a relatively minor asset. Some of the documents recorded changes of trustee.
A 1942 document noted the death of Edward's son Harry that year. Arthur had died childless in 1910, so his portion of the family trust would have reverted to his brothers' and sisters' families in 1942 when his widow Bertha died. Walter survived until 1951, Alice until 1952 and Florence until 1954. The longest living surviving spouse of whom we have heard, Walter’s second wife Jessica, died in September 1967. Assuming that no others outlived her, the trust would have been wound up then.
The effect of this trust is confirmed in a letter dated 28 August 1912 from Frank Lloyd, a trustee, about his elder sister Annie Bullen who had recently been widowed. He wrote: "Mr Bullen's death does not make any difference to the Trust as the income has to be paid to my sister for life and the capital divided as she may by her will decide between the children who may survive her." This only makes sense in the context of a trust additional to the will trust. The family trust in which she had no interest also makes sense of the exceptionally lavish provision that Edward made for Maria in his will.
A statement of shareholdings in Edward Lloyd Ltd, drawn up in January 1890 when the company was set up, shows that the nominal capital of £250,000 consisted of 2,500 £100 shares. Ownership was split roughly 48:52% between Edward and his four trustee sons, an arrangement designed to give the family trust a guaranteed majority vote in the business. He added a codicil to the will clarifying his definitive intention to transfer the property in the shares to his sons.
On Edward’s death, his own shares were transferred to his executors – Frank, Maria and nephew Charles – and it was those that were distributed to the children in 1911. We do not know how great a part of the value of the estate (£563,743, £64.7m) these shares represented, making guesswork of any attempt to assess the growth in the value of the business between 1890 and 1911.
The value of the shares that Edward left in his will is shown in the estate account drawn up in 1911 as £513,600 (£54m now). Adjusted for inflation, this was only 10% less than the value of the entire estate 21 years earlier. That had included four prime properties, three in London. This means that the combined value of the two trusts’ holdings, and so of the business, had roughly doubled in value.
At some time before 1911, the business had been divided between Edward Lloyd Ltd and United Newspapers Ltd. This was probably done to segregate the paper mills, which went to the first, from the publishing business, which went to the second. In 1911, they were each worth about a quarter of a million.
Lloyd George bought United Newspapers in 1918. Given 20% annual inflation during the war years, Frank Lloyd valued the company, quite realistically, at £1.1m (£55.8m now). Lloyd George paid £1.6m (£81m) – a 40% premium, probably for a quick sale.
At that time, the family trust was the only owner. Since nearly half the value of the business was distributed to Edward’s children in 1911, any who had been minded to sell their inheritance had most probably sold their United shares to the family trust.
Edward Lloyd Ltd became a public company in 1911. The family still had substantial shareholdings in 1927 when the company was sold following Frank’s death. The list does not include Edward’s two sons by Isabella, Edward and Charles, or the two sons by Maria, Thomas and Ernest, who were treated differentially in the will. Only one of these, Ernest, would have been eligible as a beneficiary under the family trust since he was the only one known to have had children.
These days, Edward's family trust might not have removed the money from his estate for tax purposes since the transfer of shares into a trust for the children's benefit would have ranked as a recent gift to be included in the value of the estate. In 1890, "succession duty" was minimal within a family and would not have warranted any avoidance measures, had such a thing been conscionable in that era.
This would have placed Edward and the Lloyd family as a whole among the "super-rich" of today. Hence the surprise of the clergyman at St Margaret's Westminster who found that Edward bore "no spice of egotism or pride".