The Potter family

After Adcock’s Yard, we pause to examine the Potter family.

As we set off on our journey around Ilkeston, it was pointed out that sections of Ilkeston’s population in the 1850’s were very closely linked. If we examine the members of the Potter family we can see an example of this interconnected relationship.

Brothers Samuel and Thomas Potter of the Ilkeston Baths were members of this extensive family of Ilkeston and Greasley (and elsewhere). Both had interests in coal — Samuel in Greasley, before his marriage, and Thomas, on Ilkeston Common, as well as his interest in farming and the wine trade.

Their father James Potter was born in Trowell and baptised there in August 1738, the son of Joseph and Mary (nee Dickinson).
At the time of his marriage — at Cotgrave on October 13th 1768, to Mary Richards — he was living at Ilkeston, a farmer and miller. Mary was probably the daughter of Samuel and Margaret Richards (nee James) of Cotgrave, and had been born in that place and baptised there on February 26th, 1750.


James was the principal legatee of Thomas Potter (1687-1765), his grandfather. You can read, below, a transcription of the will of Thomas in which James is mentioned on several occasions (kindly supplied by a contributor in New Zealand)

Probate and Will of Thomas Potter of Ilkeston who died 1765

Thomas Potter In the name of God Amen
Thomas Potter of Ilkeston in the County of Derby yeoman being weak of body but of sound mind and memory do this 28 Day of May in (the) year 1765 do make and ordain this present writing to be my last Will and Testament in the following manner
First of all I commit my soul to God that gave it and as for my body I commit to the earth to be buried in a Christian like manner by my Executor hereafter named and as for my Worldly Estate as God hath blessed me with
I give and devise as followeth
Imprimis I give and bequeath to my grandson James Potter all those Houses and Lands at Crasoark* Lane End to him and his heirs and assigns forever upon this Condition that he pay to his father and mother Joseph and Mary Potter the sums of seven pounds and ten shillings a year for their natural lives at two equal payments and likewise to my son Joseph one guinea
also I give and bequeath to my son Joseph Potter’s four children Joseph Mary Hannah and Grace Potter each of them twenty pounds apiece at the age of twenty years old
Item I give and bequeath to my son Thomas Potter all that Close called the Common Close to him and his heirs and assigns forever at the death of my wife Mary Potter
and further I give and bequeath to my grandchildren William Thomas Henry and Phebe sons and daughters of my son Thomas Potter likewise to Ann Sills one hundred pounds which I put into the Turnpikes betwixt Nottingham and Werkworth share and share alike
also I give and bequeath to my son John Potter all those houses of mine now in the possession of Jonathan Bostart and Thomas Smith and three Buts of Land in the North Field at the death of my wife Mary Potter for him and his wife Sarah Potter for their natural life then to their son Thomas Potter’s heirs and assigns for ever
and further I give and bequeath to my grandson John Potter one fourth part of the windmill at Strelley
and also to my grand daughter Sarah and Elizabeth Potter daughters of my son John Potter each of them twenty pounds at the age abovesaid
Item I give and bequeath to my son Benjamin Potter all those _____ Rents in Heanor Parish at the death of my wife Mary Potter then to give his heirs and assigns for ever also I give and bequeath to his son Benjamin Potter twenty pounds to be paid abovesaid
Item I give and bequeath to my daughter Hannah wife of William Maltby One guinea in full and likewise to her two children Thomas and Ann each of them twenty pounds each as aforesaid
Item I give and bequeath to Michael Skevington and Elizabeth his wife the nether part of the Cort? Close which is mine and the middle slade to them and their heirs and assigns for ever at the death of my wife Mary Potter afterwise  I give and bequeath to Henry Sills and Mary Sills twenty pounds each to be paid as aforesaid
Item I give and bequeath to my wife Mary Potter five pounds a year for her natural life and likewise I give her twenty pounds to be paid her at my death and further it is my will that my Grandson James Potter shall collect and gather the several annuitys and pay my wife the whole sum of twenty pounds a year
Item Further all the Rest of Goodes and Chattels Bills Bonds Mortgages or Whatsoever of mine that I have not before disposed of I give and bequeath to my Grandson to him and heirs and assigns for ever ____
I nominate constitute and appoint James Potter to be my Executor to pay all my legacy in the time limited this I appoint to be my last Will and Testament to which I have set my Hand Seal this day and year first above written
Thomas Potter his mark and Seal 
Signed sealed published and declared to be the last Will and Testament of the Testator Thomas Potter before us as witnesses to the same the _____ James Potter being _____ before signed or sealed. (Signatures follow)
[This Will was proved at London the eleventh day of March in the Year of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred and sixty six before His Worshipful George Davis (or Harris) Doctor of Laws surrogate of The Right Worshipful George Day Doctor of Laws Master Keeper or Commissary of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury lawfully constituted by the Oath of James Potter the sole Executor named in the said Will to whom Administration was granted of all and singular the Goods Chattels and Credits of the deceased having been first sworn duly to administer. Exd]

*Crassart or Crassark Lane End (Line 4 below) may be Hassock Lane End.


Later, in 1773, James came into possession of a piece of land in Town Street, (Bath Street), later the site of the Poplar Inn plus the area between the Inn and what is now Pelham Street.
James died on May 11th, 1806, at Greasley, aged 69; his wife Mary had died there, in September 1797, aged 48.
At his death this Town Street property passed into the hands of his son, James junior, and thence to other members of the family. Eventually, in 1851, when in the possession of another James Potter (the nephew of James junior), it was sold to Francis Ebbern, a West Hallam farmer. At that time the site included a beerhouse and a brewery, as well as a dwelling, a stable and a garden. If you look on the 1851 census you will see that these premises were occupied by George Riley and Matthew Elliott, the later being listed as a ‘Beer House Keeper’.

James and Mary Potter had at least 11 children.

Their oldest child was daughter Mary, born at Ilkeston Mill, on the Erewash, in 1769 … we shall come back to her shortly (below).

James junior, born and baptised at Ilkeston on June 9th, 1771, was the oldest son and another ‘coal merchant’. With Sarah Phillips, he had two illegitimate children — Frederick Potter Phillips, born in August 1816 but who died in October of that year, aged 16 weeks, and Betty Phillips, baptised April 30th 1817.
James junior died in Ilkeston, aged 51, on September 24th 1822. He was then living at Ilkeston Park, about 100 yards from the Erewash Canal, and at his death all his household and farm effects and livestock were sold by auction

James’s daughter Betty went on to marry Dublin-born Francis Nathaniel Greene, a surgeon, on May 19th 1842, at Ilkeston. They had two surviving children, Frank Nathaniel (1842) and Joseph James (1844), before Betty died at Bernard St., Russell Square in London, in October 1847. Eleven months later her widower married Caroline Ebsworth, the younger sister of the Rev. George Searl Ebsworth, Vicar at St. Mary’s Church.

Samuel, also born at Ilkeston Mill, was baptised at Ilkeston on April 19th 1773, and married Sarah East of Lowdham, Nottinghamshire, at that place, on May 8th 1821. The couple had at least five children …
…. eldest child Sarah (born 1822) married surgeon George Blake Norman in 1841
…. son Samuel junior (1824) married Ann Streets of Stapleford in 1850.
…. and Samuel’s younger brother, Alfred (1828), married Ann Street’s younger sister, Catherine, in 1852
…. youngest son Phillip (1831) married Emma Parsons of Nottingham in 1855.
…. Rebecca (1835) died in February 1836, aged 4 months.

Sarah Potter (nee East) died at Ilkeston Park house on December 15th 1853, aged 58, and her widower died there on November 30th 1855, aged 82.

Elizabeth, born also at Ilkeston Mill, and baptised on April 23rd 1775, married Alexander Mellor Barker on April 18th 1801, and in nine years of marriage the couple had at least seven children ….
…. James Alexander (1801) who married Elizabeth Copeman of Blyborough, Lincolnshire, on April 4th 1826. They had three children before Elizabeth died at Ilkeston in 1834, aged 27. James Alexander then remarried, to Matilda Ball on January 1st 1841. There were at least six further children. James traded as a butcher in Ilkeston.
…. Elizabeth (1803) who married George Pickering, February 12th 1821, and thereafter lived and died at Eastwood.
…. John (1803), born at Trowell, married Sarah Smallwood on April 27th 1830, and raised six children, trading as an innkeeper, for most of the time at the Bridge Inn on Awsworth Road.
….Mary, who with a certain Thomas Potter, had her illegitimate son John Potter Barker about 1834, The son died in Greasley in 1854, several years after his parents.
…. twins Ann Mellor and Henry Mellor (1807), and Emanuel (1810) all died in infancy.

Elizabeth Barker (nee Potter) died in October 1810 and three years later her widower married his second wife who was his dead wife’s elder sister, Mary (above). They married on December 11th 1813 at St. John the Evangelist Church, Westminster, where the groom declared himself as a bachelor !! A mistake ? Was it because Alexander was marrying his dead wife’s sister, a marriage which was, in law, forbidden ?
Mary died at Ilkeston on May 22nd 1825, aged 55, and this time it was ten years before Alexander married again, this time to Susannah (nee Child) born in Oxton, Nottinghamshire, in 1789 (— she had been married twice previously, to framework knitter William Bennett, who was the widower of Susannah’s sister Elizabeth, and then to cattle dealer William Bower, the latter dying at Trowell, in March 1827, aged 70)

Thomas the First was born in 1777 and died  less than a year later in 1778.

Thomas the Second was born in Ilkeston and baptised there on December 17th 1778. On October 19th 1814, at Lowdham, he married Elizabeth East, sister of Sarah, later the wife of his brother Samuel. In the will of his father, Thomas was bequeathed the’brick wind mill’ in Lawn Close, and he later traded as a coal master and liquor merchant in Ilkeston and subsequently as a farmer in Cotmanhay.
Thomas died at Cotmanhay on September 13th 1849 and his wife on June 22nd 1850.
There were at least seven children, one of whom — John Potter (1828) — married his cousin Ann (daughter of George Potter)

John Richards Potter baptised on June 2nd 1781 at Ilkeston.

George Potter was baptised in Ilkeston on November 4th 1783. Also a farmer and liquor merchant, he married Ann East, elder sister of Elizabeth and Sarah, on January 1st 1811, at Lowdham.

There were at least seven children of this marriage though three of them died in infancy. Samuel (1811) was the oldest and he married Elizabeth Bailey of Saxilby, Lincolnshire on July 18th 1845. He was a farmer in the Mansfield area for the rest of his life.
Son Francis (1821) married Mary Ann Newton Blount, October 3rd 1848, at Ilkeston, and thereafter spent some time in London, Lincolnshire, Ilkeston (Awsworth Road), before the family finally settled in Nottingham.
Daughter Ann (abt 1823) married her cousin John Potter, son of Thomas and Elizabeth … thus her father and father-in-law were brothers while her mother and mother-in-law were sisters.
And youngest child Mary (1825) married George Potter at Christ Church, Cotmanhay, on April 15th 1858. He was the son of Lincolnshire famer James and Maria (Copeman); his mother was the sister of Elizabeth Copeman who was the first wife of James Alexander Barker, mentioned above.

Henry Potter was born in 1787 and died in the following year. And Ann Potter (1791) was also only a few months old when she died.

Henry Potter the second was baptised on April 7th 1793 and buried on April 11th.

(To be continued … possibly)

Forbidden Marriages

These were drawn up by the Church of England in 1560.

This reminder (left) came too late for Alexander Mellor Barker (above).

Fortunately there were no children from his second marriage.

But he wasn’t the only man in Ilkeston to commit this ‘offence’.

Can you find others

The 1907 Marriages Act removed the dead wife’s sister from the list.

Let us examine this Poplar Inn site in a little more detail