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Matlock: John Allen Potter & family
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Photograph of the Potter family of Wensley.
Charles and his son John were wheelwrights

Potter family
Standing : Catherine, Fred, George, Herbert
Seated Charles, Hetty, Kate, John (Denis's grandfather)
On the grass : May
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Past Matlock & Matlock Bath photographers




The Staff of All Saints' School, 1903



Denis Potter, whose collection of family memorabilia has been stored in a box for almost 100 years, has very kindly allowed the use of this original photograph of his Potter relatives (above), which was taken by the Matlock Bath photographer John Hilder[1]. The family group were probably photographed in their own garden. Denis's great grandfather was Charles Potter, the son of John and Mary Potter, who was born at Darley Bridge on 28 Nov 1830 and baptised at Darley on 1 Sep 1833. He was a Coach Builder and Wheelwright by trade[2]. Charles married Catherine Elliott[3] at St. Mary's, Wensley in 1861 and the couple had seven children. Kate was born in 1862, John Allen in 1864, George in 1867, Charles Herbert (Herbert) in 1870, Henrietta Elizabeth M (Hetty) in 1871, Frederic in 1874 and Annie Marion (May) in 1879[4]. They lived at Mill House, Darley Bridge, Bridgetown[5] and it was John who was Denis's grandfather.

Below are some more photographs found in the box.


John and George Potter
Denis's grandfather, John A Potter (left) and one of his brothers (George), circa 1890.
They were photographed with their penny farthing bicycles by W. N. Statham.


When he was a teenager John Potter was apprenticed to his father, Charles, as a wheelwright[6]. The family's business premises were next to their home and "the machinery was all operated by water power drawn from the millpond"[7]. By the time of the 1891 census three of Charles' sons were working alongside their father. John and Herbert were described as a coach builders whilst their brother George worked as a coach painter. Ten years later, in 1901, John told the Enumerator that they were "Builders of Carriages, Carts, Etc." George had moved away by then, and was living at Crutchfield Road, Walton on Thames, Surrey in 1901; he was still building coaches. He and his family returned to Derbyshire and lived at Highfield on Cavendish Road, Matlock for a time[8].

John remained in Derbyshire at this time, living at Holmefield, Oaker Side after he married Marie Jane Bower. Although born at South Wingfield, Marie had been brought up by her grandmother at Sabine Hay, Birchover. The couple had two children; Leonard Charles Frederic (born 25 Dec 1899) and Kathleen Gertrude Jane (born 24 Mar 1902) were both born at Oaker, in the house below One Tree Hill[9]. The family moved to 6 Malpas Road in Matlock when Kathleen was still an infant, as shown in the charming photograph of the two children in their pony and trap (below) which was taken outside their new home[10].


Kathleen and Leonard Potter
Kathleen and Leonard Potter, taken outside the family home in Malpas Road, 1904.
They were photographed by J. Mills of Matlock Bank


Kathleen Potter, taken in the Summer of 1904
W. N. Statham's lovely photograph of Kathleen Potter, taken in the Summer of 1904, when she was 2½ years old.
The picture shows us just how exceptional Statham's portraits of children were.
Another child, May Slater, was photographed on the same seat (scroll down to the image 4th from the bottom).


Leonard and Kathleen attended All Saints' School. The photograph of them (below) is in the form of a postcard. It was taken about 1908 so they would both have been of school age. However, the family must have had a spell living in Sheffield as the 1910 Admissions Register for All Saints' shows them joining the school on 14 March, having previously attended a school at Sheffield (Malin Bridge County). The school's Log Book shows that on April 11th 1910, just a few days after he had started, Leonard advanced to Standard 4. They left All Saints' on 21 Feb 1913, shortly before emigrating to Canada[11].
About All Saints' School


Leonard and Kathleen Potter, ca. 1908
Leonard and Kathleen Potter, ca. 1908


Charles Potter died in 1906 and Catherine died in 1912 and the "Mill House" at Darley Bridge was sold in 1912 to settle the estate[12]. John Allen Potter emigrated to Canada with his wife and children shortly afterwards, taking family photographs with him to remind him of home. The family travelled to Canada on the "Grampian" of the Allan Line; the ship sailed from Liverpool on 7 March 1913 for Halifax St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. Listed as being on board were J. A. Potter, a farmer aged 47, Mrs. Potter aged 38, Leonard Potter aged 11 and Kathleen Potter aged 10. Their ticket number was 1460. They settled in Calgary, Alberta for several years, and John continued to work as a carriage builder and a wheelwright. Several of his old planes, and other tools of the wheelwright trade stamped with " J A Potter", are still owned by his descendants.

The final photographs from the box are of Catherine Potter. The first was taken much earlier than any of the others. The original is very dark, with some damage to the print, but has been enhanced to bring out the colour and detail. From the dress and the age of the image it shows us Catherine Potter, John Allen Potter's mother, shortly after her engagement. It is not easy to tell, but the ring she is wearing looks more like an engagement ring than a wedding ring. It must date from about 1860 or thereabouts.


Catherine Potter, nee Elliott?



Catherine Potter, photographed by W. N. Statham.
This probably dates from the 1890s.


Images and some Potter family information kindly donated by Denis Potter of British Columbia, Canada © 2004.
These were originally included on the Photographers web page
Further information researched and written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured links are to information elsewhere on this website):

[1] There is more information about John Hilder on the Photographers page.
[2] Charles Potter, John Allen Potter's father, is listed in Kelly's Directory 1891 for Wensley. Jonathan Potter, also listed in 1891, was Charles' elder brother and lived next door at that time. Charles was apprenticed to his father, also John, (1851 census) and ten years later he was working as a Carpenter (1861 census). The 1871 census for Wensley tells us that he employed three men and three boys in his coach building business at Darley Bridge.
[3] Catherine Potter was the daughter of James Elliott, a Carrier, and his wife Anne and was born in Derby (the family lived in Saddler Gate). Catherine moved to Wensley as a young girl to be brought up by her uncle and aunt, James and Sarah Allen, who farmed and ran the Red Lion Inn at Wensley.
[4] Checked against UK BMD records.
[5] This address first appears in the 1891 census for Wensley.
[6] From the 1881 census.
[7] Description of the way the machinery operated is from notes of his boyhood memories made by Leonard Potter, aged 74, owned by Denis Potter. The trade directories for Charles Potter only refer to him as a wheelwright, so it is difficult to say when he and his sons began to build coaches and we have to largely rely on the information from the census returns although Leonard's notes do mention that they were cart and carriage builders.
[8] See Kelly's 1908 Directory, Matlock. George also was listed in Kelly's 1912 Directory but not in 1916 (see online transcripts).
[9] See the view of Oaker Hill, part of a multi view card, which almost certainly shows the children and their pony and trap. Also see Darley Dale, Oaker Hill (One Tree Hill), 1900-10 (in another section of this web site).
[10] The houses on the northern side of Malpas Road are above the road, as shown in the picture. The family were still living at this address in 1911. The 1911 census is available on FindMyPast (see Links).
[11] School Admission Registers & Log-books, Derbyshire Record Office. There are some extracts from these - see Nineteenth Century Lists: All Saints' School.
[12] The will of Charles Potter was proved at Derby in 1907. The information about the sale of the Mill House has been extracted from the Trustee's Statement, a copy of which is owned by Denis Potter. Catherine Potter, Charles Potter's widow, was living at Mill House in 1911 (from the census).