John Wicker

John Wicker was probably the most famous of all the old-time British ‘National’ Agents. He joined J.W.Allinson in 1892, later taking over the Midlands Area.

In 1896, when Patterson incorporated the National Cash Register Company in Great Britain, Wicker was already established as a top salesman.

The following newspaper report of an interview with Sales Agent John Wicker at the National Trades Exhibition, Bingley Hall appeared in the Birmingham Post of 1899.

"Yesterday afternoon I passed happily among the many varied exhibits at the National Trades Exhibition in Bingley Hall Quite suddenly I stopped before No 93 and was arrested by the sound of the voice of my dear old friend Mr John Wicker Ah thought I, this is the very man I have been waiting for Here goes to interview him.' 'Tis easy to speak, but harder to do, for Mr Wicker was up to his ears in work when I bashfully entered the domains of the National Cash Register Stand and tendered my card. It must have been the magic word 'Press' which within two minutes brought our friend to his senses (and to me) - -
Fifteen years ago Cash Registers were unknown. Tradesmen went on in the old slipshod unsystematic style -with no care or watch over their daily takings. All at once from the land of the Star Spangled Banner - there came an invention which has revolutionised the commercial world.. 

In 1885 what we now sneeringly call the old mahogany case detail adder came into use in the chief cities of the States, and found its way across 'the pond' to the American Bar, Lorne Street, Liverpool From here Mr John Wicker took up the sole Sales Agency in the Midlands and during the thirteen years he has been at his post he has sent up so many orders that he now proudly wears the badge as Banner Agent"

The National Trades Exhibition, Bingley Hall, Birmingham 1898.

"Many and varied are the styles one can see at Stall 93 and indeed the enterprising American firm deserve all credit for their ‘go’ in inventive genius. To see their latest machine which registers each separate purchase, and delivers a receipt ticket for the customer, beggars description. It is a kind of typewriter linotype and register all in one, which totalises details and receipts far better than many cashiers in this or other cities
"Since the institution of these Cash Registers over 150,000 of them have been sold in Great Britain, and with a dozen men as energetic and farsighted as Mr. John Wicker, the Cash Register Co. should soon gain admittance to the counting-house, shop, bar, or warehouse in every town throughout the land. Up to the present, the Stall at the Exhibition has well paid its way, and I may mention among others
Messrs. Mitchell & Butlers (20),
Messrs. Barrows, Ltd. (6),
Messrs. Magors, Ltd.,
Messrs. Grigg & Brettell,; - - -
Messrs. Butlers, Wolverhampton (30), - -
The Acorn, Temple Street,
as proofs of the great trust the chief commercial houses of Great Britain place in this handy and useful article.
"The manufactory at Dayton, Ohio (U.S.A.), finds- employment for about 2,000 hands, and they are indeed well looked after, 'a la Bournville.' In the last three years the working hours of the females have been reduced one hour, and those of the men three-quarters of an hour, without any reduction in wages.

Half an hour per week is allowed all employees for a hot or cold bath, while the younger generations are catered for by a well-appointed kindergarten school.

"The prices of these valuable machines, of course, vary considerably, from £4 to £75 being the limit margins. They are undoubtedly useful, being a check for the employer, a friend to the assistant, and a source of satisfaction to the customers, and the time will soon come when no business will be without them. 

"Naturally such enterprise as this should lead to good-business, for already there are over 3,000 of the famous - Registers at work in Birmingham and the Midlands, and Mr. Wicker particularly prides himself upon the fact that during his thirteen years of Birmingham life he has never once had a serious complaint.

"Those of my readers who cannot find time to see the exhibition should drop a post-card to Mr. Wicker, at No.2, New Street, when he is only too ready to wait upon would-be customers,-'and thoroughly explain the many and varied advantages the National Cash Register has over its weak and puny rivals."


Mr. WICKER gave the following advice in 1898
-Sometimes you meet a man who says to you: "I am not buying a Register. I am not in for buying anything. I am too busy to listen to you-"I reply: "If you will spare me to minutes, at the end of that time you think your time has been wasted, I will pay you for it, but I am sure you will be pleased with the Register and what it does if you will allow me to show it to you." Some-times this will cause a man to listen to you.


Another argument I use in talking to a publican who has an interest in the house, lease, goodwill, freehold, or whatever it may be I try to prove to him that a National Cash Register will at any time double, treble, or quadruple the value of his house in 12 months. Take the little payments that are made -6d. for lemons, 1d. for a time table, drink for brewer's dray-men - what is done with these transactions? Are they booked? No. A National Cash Register system, properly worked and looked after, would increase the value of your house by £1,000 or £1,500, because these payments of which no record is kept reduce your profits, and you have to take over the counter two or three times that amount to make up the various sixpences you have paid out to some purpose. Thus a National Cash Register system increases the value of your house. This argument I have often used, and thereby won the attention of a PP.

1898 while many Agents used the train and hired a horse and trap from the inns of the district or a cab from the railway station Mr.Wicker drove a trap and kept two horses so that he "does not wear one out"


1900 John Wicker and his wife visited Dayton to attend the Convention on the 2nd July, sailing on the "Kaiser William Der Grosse"

In 1903 things began to go badly for John, money problems, commission claimed from the National Cash Register Company for sales he had not made and illness led to him becoming bankrupt. 


A Court case alleging theft by one of his employees was dismissed and by 1906 business had gone so badly for John he was declared bankrupt.

Birmingham Mail - Thursday 05 April 1906


BIRMINGHAM BANKRUPTCY COURT. the Birmingham Court Bankruptcy, to-day, upon the application the Official Receiver, John Wicker, of 3, North Street Quadrant, Brighton, patent Register till agent, lately residing Chantry Road, Moseley, was adjudicated bankrupt Mr. Registrar Whitelock. 


Birmingham Mail - Tuesday 27 March 1906

BIRMINGHAM BANKRUPTCY COURT. In the Birmingham Court Bankruptcy, to-day, Mr. Registrar made a receiving order the matter of John Wicker, 3, North Street Quadrant. Brighton, patent register till agent, lately residing Chantry Road, Moseley. .

Birmingham Mail - Friday 28 July 1905

Claim by Insurance Brokers

Messrs. Matthew Jones and Co., insurance brokers. Cherry Street, Birmingham, brought action against John Wicker, for the National Till Register Co and his wife Ellen Wicker, to recover various sums money alleged have been Vent promissory notes and paid in respect of premium* policies the defendants’ life. Mr. and Mr. Joy appeared for the plaintiffs, and Mr. Stangcr, K.C. and Mr. Norris roster for the defendants. In their pleadings defendants denied that the money on the promissory notes was owing, and contended that the sums paid in premiums were not paid at their request. Mr. McCardao said that case was unusual, inasmuch as the defendants had set up a defence which, as far as he knew, had not been raised before. Up 1901 the defendant paid on the promissory notes, but he then got into low water, and. as he was being pressed by some of bis creditors, obtained several loans. Sums were also paid to keep up premiums on life policies at the request of defendants. The defendants now pleaded the Money Lenders Act. alleging that the terms were extortionate and unconscionable. Mr McCardio urged that plaintiffs were well-known insurance brokers, and could not be described as 'money lenders.—His Lordship was of opinion that a close investigation of accounts necessary to point, and referred the matter to the official referee. 



In 1901 John, who was born in London about 1852, and his family were living at 100 Pershore Road Birmingham.

His family was comprised of his wife Ellen, three children and they had two servants, a housemaid and a cook.

Birmingham Mail - Thursday 26 May 1904

 DISCHARGED. case which Arthur Bond was charged with embezzling four small sums of money from his employer, John Wicker, who is the local agent of  National Cash Register Company, having offices in Worcester Street, came before the Stipendiary at the Birmingham Police Court to-day.—Mr. Willison, for the defence, contended that the cash at  Mr. Wicker’s office was badly kept, while it was suggested that the cheques, the private property the prosecutor, alleged have been appropriated, were paid into bank the account the company.—Accused was discharged. 

Birmingham Mail - Tuesday 16 January 1906



BIRMINGHAM ACTION. Interesting action, referred from the Birmingham Assizes Mr. Justice Darling, was heard to-day before Mr. Official Referee Vesey, the Victoria Courts, in which Matthew Jones and Co., insurance brokers, of Cherry Street, sought to recover the sum of £1,065. 6s. 4d from John Wicker and wife, Ellen Wicker, of Chantry Road, Moseley, makers of a joint and several promissory notes for £1,069. 18s., dated 12th November, 1903, in favour of the plaintiffs, payable 152 consecutive weekly payments of £7. each, and one of £5. 18s. The first of such payments was to become due and payable on November 30, 1903, and in the event of default of the first any succeeding payment the whole the amount or tile balance unpaid should become due and payable. Default, according to the plaintiffs, had been made. Ellen Wicker was sued respect of the separate property possessed by her time she made the promissory note. The principal was £1,089. 18s.

£70. had been paid by weekly installments, leaving a balance of £999 18s., interest on this at £5 rate per cent, per annum making up the claim £1,063. 6s. 4d. An amendment had been made to the claim since the service of the writ by adding two premiums on a life policy, thus bringing the total up to £1,109. Mr. H. H. Joy (instructed by Philip Cohen and Slater) was for the plaintiffs. There was a counter claim against Jones and Co., and in support of this Mr. Norris Foster (instructed by East and Smith) stated that the plaintiffs were moneylenders, but were not registered as such. All the transactions that had taken place between the plaintiffs and the male defendant had been in their capacities as money-lender and borrower. Mr. Wicker admitted the making of the promissory note which was the subject of the action, and said it was given by him as the last of a number which had been renewed from time to time for loan incurred in 1901. On March 21st that year defendant gave a promissory note for £360., for which received a cheque for £217. only. The defendant repaid £182., and October 19, 1901, th© note was renewed for another note of £350., defendant receiving a cheque for £300. In December he repaid to the plaintiffs £200. and later borrowed two further sums £l00. each on the same conditions, and on May 8th, 1902, signed third note for £450. Of this amount £133. was repaid, and then a fresh note was signed for £415. It was stated by Mr. Joy that a new note being signed the old one was given up.


Proceeding. Mr. Foster the bill showed that £154. was repaid, but a sum of £29. was not credited. In March, 1903, another promissory note was given for £994., which the defendant's wife was a joined party, and on that the defendant was paid £206. That note was renewed on November 11 for one of £1,069. 18s. In 1901 the plaintiffs demanded further security, and there was deposited with them a life policy in the Rock Insurance Company on Mr. Wicker’s life £2,000.


In October, 1904, plaintiffs sold the policy for £315., after writing to defendants. Mr. Joy said his clients were willing to give credit for that £315. or, if the defendants preferred it. to treat the policy on the old footing of security, and charge premiums on that amount.

Mr. Wicker having given evidence, Mr. Joy submitted that Messrs, Jones did not carry on the business of money-lending at all. They effected insurance for the defendant, and the amounts advanced to him were for the payment of the premium.

Mr. Norris Foster: The notes show we have received £1,518. 10s. 5d, have repaid £1,252. 5s. 11d, and still owe £1,159. 5s 11d.  Mr. Joy said did not accept that, and it was not shown in evidence.


The Referee having listened to further legal arguments, said there was no evidence on which find as a fact that plaintiffs carried business as moneylenders. It was not suggested that they advertised or announced and held out in any way that they were carrying on such business. On the contrary, they were described at the office as insurance brokers and were proved in evidence to have insurance brokers. The defendant was clear that his first connection with the plaintiffs was as insurance agents, and that they effected an insurance on his life; that his premiums got behindhand, and they found him money to keep them going. Since October 1902, defendant had had detailed accounts as to how matters stood, it was clear that the defendant could not claim remedy under the Act, the plaintiffs were not money lenders. Eventually, Mr. Norris Foster agreed give the policy, and take credit for £315. for it. and also asked for credit for two premiums cf £31 19s. 7d. The Referee gave judgment tor the plaintiffs for £789 5s 11d, with costs, and tor the defendant in the counter-claim. 

Birmingham Mail - Wednesday 02 May 1906


ILLNESS AND BORROWED MONEY. A meeting of the creditors of John Wicker, 3, North Street, Brighton, a patent register till agent, who formerly resided in Chantry Road, Moseley, was held this morning at the Board of Trade Offices, Corporation Street. The statement of affairs showed liabilities amounting to £1,997., and assets £3. 13s. 9d., leaving a deficiency of £1,993. The debtor attributed his failure to heavy interest on money borrowed, illness during the past three years, and consequent loss of income. In his observations, the Official Receiver (Mr. Luke J. Sharp) stated that at a preliminary examination the debtor stated that for the past twenty years be bad been engaged a commission agent for a cash register company. He resided in this city until December last when removed to Brighton. In 1901 he began borrowing money from the petitioning creditor.the transactions continued, and action was recently commenced against the debtor and judgment obtained against him for £750. in January last. During the past three years the debtor’s earnings bad been small consequence of illness and owed his employers £838 in respect of commission overdrawn.

The furniture at Chantry Road was sold by auction on the 17th January 1906 and realised £156. 12s. 9d. After payment of the gas and expenses, the debtor received £131. 6s. 8d., which he stated he had expended in household and trade expenses. The unsecured liabilities include £858. commission overdrawn, £885. money borrowed, £lOO. law charges, and £153. 12s. domestic debts.—The case is a summary one. and the Official Receiver is the trustee. 

Birmingham Daily Gazette - Thursday 03 May 1906


DEFICIENCY NEARLY £2,000, "Heavy interest on money borrowed, illness during the past three years and consequent loss of income " were the causes of failure given by John Wicker, now of Brighton, late of Moseley. at the meeting of his creditors in..Birmingham yesterday. He was agent for the patent register till, and had conducted his business in Birmingham for twenty years. Some three years ago debtor had a complete breakdown in his. health. As he described it yorterday_" he went away to Brighton to die." But he has lived to face a deficiency is his accounts of £1,9113. The Official Receiver is trustee of the estate. Debtor came up for his public examination in the afternoon before Mr. Registrar Whitelock, who considered that the way in which he answered questions putt to him was most unsatisfactory. The Registrar adjourned the examination and ordered the debtor to furnish an account of receipts and payments since December 1. Should that account not be satisfactory, he should require the debtor to attend at the court again before the examination was closed.

Birmingham Daily Gazette - Monday 12 November 1906

Appointment in Bankruptcy This Day.

In the Birmingham Court of Bankruptcy, before Mr. Registrar Whitelock: Re John Wicker, adjourned public examination until two o'clock. 


He was reputed to have gone to visit one of the directors of Mathew and Butler several times without success and after one visit saw the director and asked he could have a few minutes of his time. The director refused and said “ Don’t you know my time is worth £5 an hour” to which Wicker pulled out a £5 note and gave it to him saying “I will have an hour of your time please”

Wicker subsequently got a very large order from the Mitchel & Butler Brewery.


Birmingham Daily Gazette - Thursday 29 August 1907

At the funeral of Mr W Butler (Mitchell & Butlers brewers) was S. Jarots (for Mr. John Wicker„ of National Cash Till Register.



It is believed that John Wicker died in Fulham in 1908