Chattertons History

The story so far...

The Chattertons name has been associated with legal services in Lincolnshire from as early as 1856 when Frederick William Tweed began his practice in Horncastle (later acquired by his Articled Clerk, Richard Chatterton). However, the firm can trace its roots back to 1758 through the firm of B Smith & Co, one of the oldest established law firms in the country, whose Donington office was merged into Chattertons in 2002.

Law in Horncastle revolved around three families: the Clitherows, who practised for five generations from the late 18th Century until the 1930's, the Tweeds, who began to practise in 1856 and continued until 1971, and the Chattertons.

Richard Chatterton was the second son of John Elsey Chatterton who, although not a lawyer himself, had very strong connections with the profession. His three sons were destined to be soldiers although only Richard and John Arthur, who was to practise in the Midlands, continued after the First World War.

John Elsey Chatterton started his career in Horncastle sometime between 1892 and 1896, when he was in his mid-20's. He specialised in accumulating local government offices and, by 1896 had become Clerk to the Rural District Council, Clerk to the Guardians and Assessment Committee (presumably for the relief of the poor), Secretary to the School Attendance Committee, registration sub-agent for the parliamentary district and deputy-registrar for births, deaths and marriages in Tetford. If this was not enough, he also acted as agent for the Royal Insurance Company.

By 1910, he was a well-established figure in town and he was able to arrange for his two elder sons to be articled to Henry Tweed. However, like many of their generation, these career plans were interrupted by the outbreak of hostilities in 1914.

By 1916 Richard Chatterton had received a commission in the Royal Artillery and later went on to follow in the footsteps of his elder brother being awarded the Military Cross as well as the French Croix de Guerre.

At the end of the war, Richard went to Brighton to complete his articles with T MacDonald Eggar OBE of Thos. Eggar & Son (now Irwin Mitchell). He became an assistant solicitor in London and Brighton until in 1922 when he returned to Horncastle as Clerk to the District Council. As well as his duties to the local district council, Chatterton also became Secretary to the Horncastle Water Board in 1930.

As the practices of Clitherow and Tweed declined in Horncastle, Chatterton's position became increasingly important and acquired positions almost by default. In 1933 he became the Clerk to the Bain Drainage Board and to the Kirkstead Drainage Board. Upon the death of his father in 1941, he replaced him as Clerk to the Magistrates, a position he held until 1966.

During the Second World War, Richard Chatterton became Controller of Civil Defence in the area and also worked for the Ministry of Food. After the war, he continued where he had left off in 1939 building up his practice. In addition to his duties at the Magistrates Court, he also became a Trustee and Chairman of the Midlands Trustees Savings Bank and Vice-Chairman of the Lindsey Executive Council. In a more philanthropic role, he became one of the management committee of the Horncastle Memorial Hospital.

By the early 60's, Chatterton had been in practice in Horncastle for 40 years and at the age of 64 began succession planning for his clients by recruiting new Partners.

In 1971 the first acquisition took place when he absorbed Tweed and Peacock into his business and made way that year for a new generation of solicitors to run the business. Chatterton continued as a consultant until his death at the age of 84 on 26th March 1981.

Following the amalgamation of Tweed & Peacock, the name 'Chatterton, Moran, Popple, Tweed & Peacock was deemed too lengthy and so the firm became simply 'Chattertons'.

One of the young solicitors joining the business in November 1971 was Frank Cammack who in October 1972 was given the opportunity to move from Horncastle to set up a new office in Boston situated at 16B Main Ridge. The success of the office meant that Frank was made a Partner of Chattertons in 1972 until his retirement in 1993 when he became a Consultant.

In 1973 Frank was approached by Peter Lawson who was looking to gain experience during his gap year prior to commencing university. Peter came back to Chattertons after he finished university and remained with the Firm throughout his career. He was made a Partner in 1983 and was Senior Partner for six years until his retirement at the end of April 2016.

The strategy of acquisition and merger adopted by Richard Chatterton has remained a part of the growth strategy of the firm to this day.

In 1978 Chattertons merged with the Boston firm ‘Millington Simpson and Giles’ and the Chattertons staff joined their new colleagues at 28 Wide Bargate which had been the home of Millington Simpson & Giles since 1895.

Peter Cropley joined Chattertons at their Skegness office in November 1975 becoming a Partner on 1 January 1977 and moved to Chattertons in Boston when they took over Millington, Simpson and Giles.  

At that time Chattertons closed the old Boston office in Main Ridge and Frank moved up to the Millington office in Wide Bargate to work with Peter Cropley.

The building at Wide Bargate was extended in 1984 making room for the firm to grow.  However, due to the Wide Bargate office splitting at the seams some of the staff moved to a new office in New Street, headed by Peter Lawson. The firm remained in New Street until 1 March 1992, when it moved to South Square due to expansion. 

Stuart Cox and Peter Cropley were appointed Joint Managing Partners in 1993 and Peter Cropley became Senior Partner of Chattertons in 1996, whilst remaining Joint Managing Partner with Stuart, until they both retired in 2010.

1997 saw the first merger activity for nineteen years when Chattertons merged the Sleaford firm of Peake, Snow and Jeudwine into the business.

In 2002, Chattertons acquired the Grantham office of Nelsons Solicitors which had followed the acquisition of the Boston based firm Mossop & Bowser some years previous.

Building on our Horncastle, Boston and Grantham network of branches, the Lincoln firm of Wellman Brown was acquired in October 2003 and in May 2004 the Newark based law firm of Pease Barnard was merged into the business.

The well-established Spalding firm of solicitors 'Crusts' was acquired in October 2006 before Chattertons returned to Lincoln for its next acquisition of Miller, Mockford and Winkworth in January 2007.

Later in 2007 the Stamford firm of Kelhams was brought into the Chattertons name with a further merger then taking place in Sleaford with Arnold, Deacon and Greene becoming Chattertons in August 2010.

The Spalding office received further investment through the merger of Knipe Miller LLP in January 2011 and the Boston office acquired the firm of Graham England in October 2012.

In December 2013 the Lincoln based firm of McKinnells joined the Chattertons network of offices and became 'Chattertons McKinnells' until the firm reverted back to the established Lincolnshire law firm name of 'Chattertons' in 2016, the same year as Chattertons acquired the Grantham based law firm, Henry Thompson & Sons LLP.