William Porter

Spirit Merchant


    William Porter was born in Trowbridge about 1829, son of William Porter, a grocer, and Sarah Cray, who had married in Trowbridge on 4th Aug. 1825.
    In the 1841 census, William Porter senior and Sarah appear in the "Street", Seend near Melksham. William is a grocer and they have children Sarah, age 5 and John age 7 living with them. William, age 13, is a pupil at Bidwell's school on the London Road, Melksham.
    In the 1851 census William is a 22 year old Tea Dealer and Grocer, in Bank Street, Melksham, with his 16 year old schoolboy brother John who was born in Seend.
    William married Elizabeth Anne Bryan of Deptford St. Paul, by license at the parish church of St. Paul Deptford on 1st Dec. 1857. his marriage certificate says his profession is Wine and Spirit Merchant and that of his father, a grocer. Elizabeth's father Francis is a market gardener. William and Elizabeth had daughters: Amelia & Sarah Matilda (twins both b.1858, bapt. 21st Aug. at Melksham); Elizabeth Anne (b.1861 bapt. 5th Apr. 1863 at Seend); Eleanor Jane (b.1864, Seend) and Rose Alice (b.1865, Seend). Not long after his marriage William junior's business in Bank street, Melksham, was struggling:
From the Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette - Thursday 27 June 1861:

    NOTICE is hereby given, that WILLIAM PORTER of Melksham, in the county of Wilts, grocer, hath (by INDENTURE, dated the 12th day of June, 1861, made between the said WILLIAM PORTER of the first part, THOMAS TAYLOR of Bradford, in the said county of Wilts, wine-merchant, and THOMAS NEWMAN of Cray's Marsh, in the parish of Melksham aforesaid, yeoman, trustees for themselves and the rest of the creditors of the said William Porter. parties thereto, of the second part, and the several other persons whose names and seals are thereunto subscribed and set, being respectively creditors of the said William Porter of the third part); ASSIGNED all and every the STOCK-IN-TRADE, GOODS, WARES, MERCHANDIZES, HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE, Pictures, Plate, Linen, China, Books of Accounts, Debts, Sum and Sums of Money, and all Securities for Money, and all other his personal ESTATE and EFFECTS, to the said Thomas Taylor and Thomas Newman, their Executors, Administrators, and Assigns, UPON TRUST, for the equal benefit of such of the said creditors as shall assent to and execute the said Indenture as therein mentioned, which said Indenture was duly executed by the said William Porter and the said Thomas Taylor and Thos. Newman on the said 12th day of June instant, in the presence of , and their respective executions are attested by, ARTHUR GORE, of Melksham aforesaid, solicitor; and the said Indenture now lies in the office of MESSRS. MOULE and GORE, Melksham, solicitors, for execution by the creditors.

    Dated the 26th of June, 1861.

    From the Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette - Thursday 5th September 1861 p2.: Advertisment for the sale of William Porter's goods. TOMORROW - MELKSHAM. To Grocers, Spirit Merchants, and Others.  MR. HINDER has received instructions to SELL by AUCTION, on the Premises, Bank-street, on FRIDAY and SATURDAY next, the 6th and 7th days of September, 1861, the STOCK-IN-TRADE Of GROCERY, WINES and SPIRITS, and HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE, and other EFFECTS, of Mr. William Porter, grocer, wine and spirit merchant, under a deed of assignment for the benefit of creditors.
    The Grocery, Cheese, and Shop Fittings, will be sold on Friday, and the Wines, Spirits, and Furniture, on Saturday.
    Catalogues may be had of the Auctioneer, Melksham, and Mt. S. Hinder, Auctioneer, Trowbridge.
    Sale at 11 o'clock punctually each day.

    After the failure of William Porter junior's business he moves with his family to his father William's property at Seend, Wilts. next door to Joseph Porter, a grocer. William finds employment as a commercial traveller for the wine and spirit trade. Another William Porter, gentleman and widower of Seend Row died 27th April 1868 age 75, leaving his estate to son William, these are two separate Williams who may be related but not directly to our family. William Porter the father, grocer,  died at Seend on the 11th Nov. 1869 age 65, leaving his estate to son Joseph, brother and neighbour of William junior.

    In April 1869 William Porter of Seend Row was elected Waywarden, a parish officer, for Seend. Whether this was father or son is unclear.

    In 1871 William Porter junior is living in Seend with his wife and daughters, next door to his grocer brother Joseph, who was also born in Trowbridge, and is 44 and unmarried. Joseph had been a draper's assistant in Long Street, Atherstone, Warwickshire until his father's retirement from the trade, whence he took over the business in Seend. In 1875 William and Elizabeth have a son, Francis William Porter, who is born in Bradford-on-Avon. Their mother Sarah lives with Joseph, she is now 75. Sarah dies in 1877 just before the sale of the property as shown below.

From the Bristol Mercury - Thursday 14 March 1878 p.1.: THIS DAY. - SEEND, Three Miles from the Melksham Railway-station.  SALE of a SHOP, DWELLING-HOUSE, and BUSINESS PREMISES, and a convenient DWELLING-HOUSE and GARDEN, late the Property of Mr. William Porter, deceased.

MR. GEORGE SNAILUM is instructed to SELL by AUCTION, at the BELL INN, SEEND, THIS DAY (THURSDAY), March 14th, at Six o'clock in the Evening (subject to Conditions), The undermentioned desirable and centrally situated FREEHOLD PROPERTY, namely:
    A Brick and Stone-built SHOP, with DWELLING-HOUSE, Cellar, Killing-house, Coach-house, Stable, Gardens, and Yard, adjoining the HIGH-STREET, SEEND, occupied by Mr. Joseph Porter, Grocer and Draper (business established 50 years).
    Also, the convenient DWELLING-HOUSE, with the enclosed Gardens adjoining, occupied by Mr. Joseph Lampard, at 10 per annum. There is a separate entrance to these Properties from the High-street, Seend, and the premises have an excellent supply of water.
    To view, apply on the premises; and any further particulars may be obtained of the Auctioneer, Market-house; or of Messrs. RODWAY, MANN, & RODWAY, Solicitors, Union-street, Trowbridge.

    In 1881 Joseph is still at the grocer's and draper's in Seend, with nieces Sarah and Rose. By 1891 he is still unmarried, age 64, manager of a grocer and draper's shop on the west side of Corsham High Street, near the Gable House. He died on 4th Feb. 1901 back in Seend aged 73. He left his estate to William's daughter Sarah Matilda who had been his housekeeper there. In 1881 Elizabeth and their son Francis were lodging with the Wilkins family at 14 Church Walk, Devizes. It seems that sadly by this date William is an inmate at the County Lunatic Asylum in Devizes where he dies in 1882.

1/2 Gallon Stone Jar Porter1.jpgPorter2.jpg
Impressed: Wm. PORTER / Spirit Merchant / MELKSHAM.




Potter: C. & J. R. Price, Manufacturer, Bristol.
Image right courtesy R. Tucker.

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