Northampton

Errol Flynn had 'unpaid debt' to Northampton menswear shop

Errol Flynn and letter he wrote to Montague Jeffery
Image caption Errol Flynn acknowledged his debt to the menswear shop in a letter, but said he was "unable" to pay it

Details of a debt owed by Errol Flynn to a Northampton menswear shop have emerged, 53 years after his death.

The Hollywood star became a regular customer at Montague Jeffery while acting in the town in the mid-1950s.

Manager Jonathan Williams unearthed a letter from detectives hired to track down Flynn, and one from the star acknowledging he owed the shop money.

Flynn's letter said he was "unable", not "disinclined" to pay, but there are no known records to show he did pay.

Flynn started his acting career in Northampton after leaving his native Australia, before shooting to stardom in Hollywood in the 1930s and 40s.

However, while back in England in the 1950s he worked in the theatre there, and became a regular at the Montague Jeffery shop.

'Quirky history'

"He used to drink at the pub opposite the shop, which was next to the theatre, so [it was] very handy," Mr Williams said.

The letters, showing Flynn was not the ideal customer, were found when Mr Williams decided to search through the shop's archives.

"The new cinema, named after Flynn, has just opened in Northampton and we knew we had connections to him too," he said.

One letter shows Montague Jeffery, Mr Williams's great grandfather, hired a firm of detectives to track down Flynn.

"Flynn had moved to London by then, and an agency called MacCormack's was asked to find him and issue a summons for the debt," Mr Williams said.

However, the agency was unsuccessful and wrote to the shop saying access to the studio where he was working was "absolutely out of the question".

Image caption A detective agency was hired to track down Flynn and recover the debt

Flynn acknowledged his debt in a letter to the agency, saying: "If you would care to wait about a week longer I will be able to pay your account in full.

"The only reason it has not been settled previously is inability, not disinclination.

"Yours etc, Errol Flynn."

Mr Jeffery had handwritten the date January 1955 at the top of the letter.

"My grandfather - who also managed the shop - showed me the letter when I was very young, and said, 'Don't ever get rid of this'," Mr Williams said.

"We have no idea what Flynn purchased to run up a debt, and unfortunately we don't know how much it was. We don't have anything to show he paid it, either.

"It's just rather nice to have this quirky piece of history linking us with him."

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