Jacob Smith – entrepreneur

Jacob Smith, centre, threshing with some of his sons in 1897, said to be at Glebe Farm. Arthur Smith extreme left, Jack Smith third from left with jacket and cap, Sidney Smith extreme right.

Jacob Smith, the man behind the shop at 17 Townsend, arrived in Chitterne with 16 shillings in his pocket, a basket of carpenter’s tools and an ambition to better himself. This is how he worked his way towards his goal.

He was born in 1837 at Bushton, north Wiltshire, and came to Chitterne sometime before 1860, because that’s when he married assistant school mistress Elizabeth Holloway at her home village of Erlestoke.

In 1861 Jacob and Elizabeth were living in Bidden Lane, Chitterne St Mary, next door to James Polden, a mason and the Parish Clerk. Jacob was working as a carpenter, so he may have been working with James Polden on the new church. We know that Jacob helped install the church clock in the tower. Elizabeth was a new mother to one-month-old baby Herbert at the time of the census.

By the 1871 census Jacob and Elizabeth had moved to Flint House in Chitterne All Saints, and Jacob had taken over the carpenter and wheelwright’s business from the Abery family.¬† This business was later run by the family of Jacob’s daughter Alice’s husband, Frederick Carter, and then by Polden and Feltham. The Smiths established a grocer’s shop at Flint House and Elizabeth was listed as a shopkeeper. The couple had their four children and an apprentice carpenter living with them.

10 years later in 1881 the Smith family have moved up again and are living at number 17 Townsend with seven of their eight children. Jacob, 43, is a wheelwright and grocer, Elizabeth, 44, is a ‘grocer’s wife’ and their second son John, or H J Smith later known as Jack Smith, 17, is a baker. Jack Smith, as we saw in the last blog, went on to own the shop and bakehouse after his parents’ deaths. The two cottages next door, on the site of number 16 Townsend, are listed as uninhabited in 1881. The couple’s eldest son Herbert was apprenticed to a grocer at Maldon in Essex and later emigrated to British Columbia, Canada.

In the 1891 census Jacob is said to be a wheelwright, grocer, baker and farmer, so he has added yet another string to his bow, farming. He may have been leasing Glebe Farm from the church by this time, as we are told he did by the time our photo was taken in 1897, but he was still living at Townsend with Elizabeth in the Grocer’s Shop, though by this time his children were helping out. Two daughters, Jeanette and Margaret, were shop assistants and son Sidney was assistant¬† wheelwright, whereas son Jack had branched out on his own as a carrier and dealer.

Jacob seems to have been able to create businesses at the drop of a hat. He and Elizabeth bred a family of entrepreneurs, to start with anyway. Son Herbert became a grocer in a new land, daughter Alice married a wheelwright and was set up at Flint House, son Jack became a dealer, a carrier and later a farmer, and daughter Margaret married and ran a grocer’s shop in Tilshead. The only children who didn’t follow this trend were the youngest two unmarried sons, Sidney and Arthur, who were left running the shop and bakery business. According to Jacob’s great grandson PD, Sidney fell in with a bad crowd and lost the lot. Is this when Jack Smith stepped in, bought the business and paid off the mortgage? We may never know.


Jacob Smith – entrepreneur

Harry Potter of Salisbury Plain part 2

To find a Chitterne connection to Harry Potter of Salisbury Plain we must look among the six Potter cousins who lived and worked in Chitterne. Most likely are the two who married Chitterne girls. Jesse Potter who married Jane Whatley in 1842, and Leonard Potter who married Jane’s sister Ann Whatley in 1846.

Drawing of Two Barns by the late Ernie George
Drawing of Two Barns by the late Ernie George

Jesse and Jane lived at Two Barns. By 1861 Jesse was a shepherd and he and Jane had two children, George in 1846 and Maria in 1851, but no Harry. Jesse, Jane, George and Maria must have left Chitterne because after 1861 we hear no more of them.

What about Leonard Potter? Leonard we have no exact date of birth for, but he was baptised at Imber in 1825 and married Ann Whatley in Chitterne. Ann and Leonard had three children born in Chitterne All Saints, Mary Jane in 1847, John in 1849 and James in 1851. Sadly, John and James died in infancy before the family moved to Tilshead around 1854. At Down Farm in Tilshead Leonard and Ann had six more children: George 1854, Arthur 1857, Harry 1859, James 1963, Albert 1866 and Maria 1871, and here is our Harry Potter of Salisbury Plain! Born in Tilshead in 1859 to Leonard and Ann Potter. So we can stop our search for Harry right here, but in order to find his connection to our local Potters we must carry on a bit further.

Harry never lives in Chitterne himself. The only one of his siblings born in Chitterne, his sister Mary Jane, also never returns to live in the village, although her son Henry and his wife Laura Maria are living here with their son Percy Hubert in 1911, but they don’t provide the connection we need. So where to go next? What of Harry’s other siblings?

To cut a long story short we should take a look at Harry’s brother, Albert Potter, born in Tilshead in 1866, for it is he who provides the answer. Albert marries Jane Plank at West Lavington in 1890 and together they have six sons and two daughters. The couple live at West Lavington, not Chitterne, but one of their sons, Clifford, born in 1902, marries Rose Mundy from Maddington, just down the road towards Shrewton. So we are getting closer, but still not close enough.

Albert Potter and Jane Plank have another son, Percy John Potter, born in 1908. He looks more promising. In 1934 Percy marries Chitterne girl Evelyn Mabel Mundy. Even I remember Percy and Mabel who produced six children, one of whom still lives in the village. At last we have found our connection! So Harry Potter was Percy John’s great uncle.

With thanks to H & W for a great piece of research. A full account of their research can be found on the Chitterne village website by clicking on Village History/People and Places.

  • Tuesday 3 May 2016 Correction: Percy and Mabel Potter did not live at Down Barn, it was Mabel’s parents, Charles Mundy and family who lived there. Thanks to AC for this update.
Harry Potter of Salisbury Plain part 2