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

16, 17 and 18 Townsend

These three Townsend properties were part of the same small estate in 1932 along with two bits of land on the opposite side of the road. They were owned by Francis George Perrett who ran a General Stores from number 17. Now, number 16 is owned separately and number 18 has become part of Number 17. How come?

Townsend early 1900s with Elizabeth Smith peering from the doorway of the Stores, William Bartlett standing outside number 16 opposite the bakehouse (with chimney) on the left

Jacob Smith, a carpenter and farmer, who came to Chitterne as a young man and married the school assistant Elizabeth Holloway, acquired 16 and 17 and the two bits of land opposite. By 1888 he had the General Stores built at number 17 and a bakehouse built on one of the bits of land over the road on the site of an old pigsty. Number 16 was used to store the shop goods. Elizabeth ran the shop and bakery with two of their sons, while Jacob worked with wood; he made the funeral bier commissioned by Nathaniel Gibbs, and farmed at Glebe Farm. Jacob died in 1899 and Elizabeth in 1917.

The property passed down to their children, and their second son Henry John Smith, a farmer like his father, bought out the lot in 1918 and leased out the stores. His tenant at the stores was Charles Frederick Farnden, shopkeeper. Meanwhile in 1905 a little cottage, number 18 alongside the stores, came up for sale and was purchased by Willie Chant, who was married to Margaret Smith, H J Smith’s sister.

The Stores at Townsend early 1930s with possibly Margaret Chant behind the counter

By all accounts the shop became run down in the early 1930s under the Farndens and Willie and Margaret Chant moved in and built up the trade again, using number 18 as their storage area. In 1932 Francis Perrett bought the shop, bakehouse and number 16 from H J Smith and also number 18 from Willie Chant. Willie and Margaret went on to run the stores in Tilshead High Street for many years.

Number 16 remained a part of the estate until 1967 when the owners Ernest John Brown & his wife Eileen sold the shop, but kept number 16 for themselves. John Brown was a carpenter and Eileen ran the shop from 1954 to 1967. John Brown made the church notice board and the model galleon sometimes used in Flower Festivals. They renovated number 16 for their retirement. The site of the bakehouse across the road had been sold off some time before, but the small piece of land opposite the shop remained a part of that property and is now used as private parking.

The Post Office Stores in 1988 incorporating previous number 18 in the foreground, with renovated number 16 beyond the shop

From about 1967 the shop became the post office after the earlier post office at 65 Bidden Lane closed. The Stevenson/Purle family ran the Post Office Stores at number 17 from 1974 to 2000 when it closed for the last time.

Grateful thanks to EE for the chance to look at the deeds relating to these properties.



16, 17 and 18 Townsend