John Lyne Merritt was born on 29th Nov. 1841 (bapt. 26th Dec.) in Market Lavington, Wilts., son of Robert Merritt and Ann Lemon. John married Azubah Cox Varney, of Keevil, Wilts. in 1863, registered in Frome. In the 1871 census John was an Iron chandler at 7 Long Street, Devizes. Azubah died in 1883 not long after they had taken over the Unicorn. John married again in 1884 to Alice Brown in Devizes. In 1889 Francis Holland, mineral water manufacturer of Chippenham was taking legal action against John for payment for goods supplied.

    Up until 1889 John had been innkeeper at the Unicorn, Sidmouth Street, Devizes, complete with four quarter brewery plant with an annual capacity of about 600 barrels and a storeroom that had been converted into an aerated water manufactory.

    The story of how John Merritt came to Chippenham can best be described by the court case concerning his bankruptcy whilst being landlord of the Unicorn Inn, Devizes. The extract is from the Bath Chronicle, Thursday August 21st 1890, p.2.:

    "re. J. Merritt. - A motion was made on behalf of the trustee in the bankruptcy of John Merritt, innkeeper, of Devizes, that Messrs. Chandler & Co., maltsters, be ordered to pay to the trustee the sum of 118 5s. 8d., being the sums of 42 9s. and 215 16s. 5d., less 146 19s. 9d. - Mr. Bullen (instructed by Mr. Cannings Collins for Norris and Hancock, Devizes) anf Mr. Fleming (instructed by Mr. Marshall, of Devizes) was for the trustee for Messrs. Chandler. - Mr. Bullen said they had been paid 146 19s. 9d., and such sums as they were now seeking to recover were paid or received by the mortgagees in respect to certain fixtures, &c., which were the property of the bankrupt.
    In the year 1880 Mr. Merritt, the bankrupt, bought the Unicorn Inn, at Devizes. On the 20th of November, he mortgaged the premises to Messrs. Chandler for 1000, and upon that mortgage being accomplished, the bankrupt became tenant to Messrs. Chandler. On the 10th October, 1889, there was another charge of 200, and on the 6th November, another charge of 100. Neither of these three charges was registered as a bill of sale. If his learned friend did not assent to his contention that they ought to have been registered there would be a further argument that the first came within the clauses of the Bills of Sale Act, 1878, and the other two within the clauses of the Act of 1882. After these bills of sale had been given the debtor was in difficulties and on the 8th of January, a sale with his assent was advertised, but this was withdrawn. Prior to the notice of sale a writ had been issued by Messrs. Chandler. That writ was for the 200 and the 100, the second and third charges, and for 36 9s. in respect of goods supplied. They omitted to deal in that writ with the charge made in 1880. Beside that there were several writs out against him. On the 17th of January, Messrs. Chandler took possession under the powers they said had been conferred upon them by the various deeds he had mentioned. On the same day the Sherrif's officer took possession under a judgement by default on a writ of 6th of January.Upon that day a memorandum was signed by Merritt for the sale of the Unicorn for 1600 and a valuation of the inside effects. Up to that time, Mr. Marshall, of Devizes, has been acting both for the mortgagee and the mortgager, and Mr. Marshall issued writs and sent judgements on behalf of the mortgagee against the mortgager. Mr. Merritt though it best to consult Messrs. Norris and Hancock, of Devizes. Thereupon they advised him to put the whole matter in bankruptcy. On the 20th January he signed his petition, on the 21st he filed it, and was adjudicated a bankrupt, and on the 22nd of January the Official Receiver took possession. After that arose the difficulties which came before his Honour. The question was whether in taking all these facts into consideration, dealing with the forms of these various charges, the trustee in bankruptcy was not entitled to have paid over to him by Messrs. Chandler's representatives and Mr. Marshall the amount which had been realised by the fixtures and stock. There was no question as to the house and premises. They were sold, together with the goodwill and business, and Mr. Wild had paid over the money under an agreement made between himself and Messrs. Chandler, to which Merritt was no party. Why he was not made a party he could not understand, considering that Mr. Marshall acted for him on the valuation effected. The sums they claimed were 215 16s. 5d., which was the result of the sale, and the stock of furniture, and a further sum of 42 9s., which was said to be the value of what might be called trade fixtures. That sum was reduced by 146 9s. 9d., which they tendered, and it was accepted as payment on account.- Affidavits were put in on either side. - Mr. Fleming contended that there was no necessity to register the bills of sale. It was used by every solicitor throughout the country. If an order were made it would only be in respect of 70. And so far from going to liquidate the debts, the result would be that the long appointments before the Registrar it would be swallowed up and not much of the estate would remain. He therefore asked His Honour to dismiss the application.
    His Honour made an order in accordance with the terms of the motion."

    Mr. Marshall was moved to write to the paper explaining his side of the above affair and published a letter to that effect.

    There was another writ against John Merritt of Chippenham and Robert Merritt of Devizes in August 1892 for 32 10s.

    John Merritt may have, upon moving to River Street, Chippenham, stepped into the Mineral Water Manufacturer vacancy left by the death of Stephen Smart in October 1891. Stephen was at 32b River Street, but the buildings were renumbered during this decade so it is difficult to tell. John Merritt is at 8 River Street in 1903 and Kelly's list him as simply "River Street" in 1898. John already had the know-how from his time in Devizes. It mentioned in a report upon the previous legal proceedings that John could not appear one day because he was suffering from bad bronchitis. It is possible that this condition did not improve because John died in Chippenham in the last quarter of 1907.

10oz Bullet Stopper Merritt1.jpg

No glassmakers name.

10oz Codd Bottle Merritt2.jpgMerritt3.jpg
Embossed: J. MERRITT / BREWER / CHIPPENHAM . No glassmakers name. (Painting from fragment only). Artist: D. J. Slater.

Glassworks: "N" on base, no other mark.

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