John Mortimer (1669 – 1715)


   1. His childhood

John, son of Edward Mortimer and Katherine Houlton, was christened at Trowbridge on 29 May 1669. He was the second of six consecutive generations that lived at Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England. He inherited his father’s dwelling house situated in Trowbridge as well as Week Farm near Norton St Phillips.1-5   2. His wife

2.1 Catherine NN

John was about 20 year old when he married his first wife in ca 1689. Together they had four children.4,5

2.2 Sarah Hayward

John, aged 29, married a second time on 4 November 1697 in Devizes, a town that lies 19 km east of Trowbridge. He and Sarah Hayward (? – Ω1 June 1750, Trowbridge) had seven children.4,5

   3. His career

John Mortimer continued in the woollen cloth manufacturing business like his father, and by 1713 he was a prominent figure and clothier in the community.1,2 He ensured the continuation of the legacy of the prosperous Mortimers of Trowbridge.

In 1700, the 31 year-old John Mortimer bought a large house on two stands in Fore Street at Trowbridge (now located on 67 and 68 Fore Street). Originally, the home of Thomas Bailey, a clothier in the 16th century, stood on this site. The property was later owned by the Wallis family in the 17th century. It also seems to be the same site where John’s maternal grandfather, Robert Houlton, previously lived.1,2 Internally some vestiges of the original timber-frames house still remained but soon after John bought it appears to have it refronted in stone. Behind the house was John’s clothier’s workshop, and to this day remains an excellent example of the workplace of an 18th century clothier. This house was occupied by the Mortimer family for almost 100 years until 1798, when John’s grandson Edward Horlock Mortimer (1752 – 1803) moved out after he bought a new property called Bellefield House. The house was sold in 1807 by the trustees of Edward Horlock Mortimer.1,2,6-8

From the 14th century onward, Trowbridge developed into a centre for woollen cloth production, and the trade continued to expand as exports further afield began. The signs of increasing wealth and prosperity were evident at Trowbridge and surrounding towns such as Bradford-on-Avon and North Bradley. During the 17th century, the production of woollen cloth became increasingly mechanised, much to the dismay of many workers in traditional trades. By the late 18th to early 19th century, the town was foremost producer of contemporary clothing and blankets. The Mortimers were part of those affluent families that made their fortune in the clothier business. By 1820, there were more than 20 woollen cloth producing factories in the Trowbridge area, but by the late 19th century and during the 20th century the industry steadily declined. Nowadays frozen food production is a major focus in Trowbridge.6,9,10

   4. His death

John Mortimer died at the age of 46 years old in 1715 at Trowbridge, when his youngest child, Joseph was only five years old. He was buried on 16 September 1715 at Trowbridge.5,11

   5. His children

John had a large family. His children were all born at Trowbridge.1,4 The four children from his first marriage were:

5.1 Edward

Edward was christened on 2 September 1690. He married Ann Smith on 27 February 1711 at Frome St John. They had one daughter, called Ann (*12 December 1712, Trowbridge – Ω22 January 1799, Clifton, Bristol; she remained unmarried). She was mentioned in the will of her younger half-sister Mary, dated 1782.5,12

Edward remarried Ann Dampier of Tintenhall, Somerset, on 1 January 1716. As part of the marriage settlement, dated 24 December 1716, Edward committed to pay William Dampier, presumably his brother-in-law, and Samuel Farthing, a clerk, the amount of 1 500 pounds within three weeks after his marriage. What the money was for is not exactly certain, but it is related to the house and stand that his uncle Edward Mortimer (1677 – 1743) owned. On 20 October 1719, Edward entered into a contract with his uncle Edward to ‘lease for a year to release’ the plot of ground where his uncle lived in Trowbridge. He lived at Weeke Manor in Trowbridge as a notable clothier and was later appointed Sheriff of Wiltshire in 1736 and 1740. He passed away in 1744.1-4

One daughter and two sons were born from his second marriage. Mary (≈3 September 1718, Trowbridge – 1785, Clifton, Bristol) married Isaac Elton (1700 – 1776) on 20 February 1734 at Trowbridge and together they had nine children who were all christened in the Unitarian Church in Bristol. The second child and first son called Edward jnr., named after his grandfather, was born in 1719, but died as a infant and was buried on 25 Augustus 1720. The second son, also called Edward (ca 1720 – Ω26 February 1755, Trowbridge) married twice, first to Anne Gibbs on 23 August 1744 and later after he was widowed to Hannah Deadman on 13 June 1753.5,12

5.2 Catherine

She was born on 27 September 1690 and christened on 18 March 1691. She married Edward Coles on 28 May 1713 at Corsham.5

5.3 Anne

Anne was born in ca 1693 and lived in Trowbridge her whole life. She died in 1757 at the age of 64 years.5

5.4 Jane

Jane was christened on 18 August 1695.5 Nothing more about her life is known.

Seven children, three daughters and four sons, were born from his second marriage:

5.5 Sarah

She was born on 25 March 1689 and later married Benjamin Horlock (1699 – 1731). They had one son, Isaac, born in 1728.5

5.6 Elizabeth

All that is known about Elizabeth is that she was born 30 July 1699.5 She presumably died young.

5.7 Eleanor

Eleanor came into this world on 28 July 1701 at Trowbridge. She married John Temple on 26 October 1738 in her hometown. Her will was dated 24 November 1781 at Trowbridge and was proved in 1783.5

5.8 John jr.

John jr. was christened on 16 Jan 1703. He was apprenticed to his uncle, Edward Mortimer (1677 – 1743), a Trowbridge clothier, on 5 Feb 1717. John died at the age of 34 years without issue and was buried on 16 February 1737.5

5.9 Nathaniel

He was christened on 26 February 1705. He was apprenticed on 8 Feb 1719 to John Jacobs, an apothecary (pharmacist) of Bristol, where he trained to also become an apothecary. He remained in Bristol where he married Esther Taylor on 20 Feb 1727 in St Nicholas Church. The couple had no known issue. Nathaniel passed away in 1776 at the age of 71.5

5.10 Samuel

Samuel was baptized on 19 August 1708 at Trowbridge. On 4 February 1722, he also started his apprentaship with Robert Cloper, a wool stapler of Devizes. By 1739, he is refered to as a wool comber. At the age of 21 years, Samuel married Elizabeth Still on 26 September 1729 at Devizes. They had two sons, namely John (2 September 1730 – ?) and Samuel (ca 1733 – ?). Samuel remarried to Susanna NN in ca 1736 and together they had one daughter, Susanna Mary (1739 – ?).5

5.11 Joseph

Joseph was born on 21 September 1710 at Trowbridge.5 He became a very wealthy businessman and my husband’s great-grandfather 6x removed. READ MORE on Joseph Mortimer.


  1. Textile history and economic history. Essays in honour of Miss Julie de Lacy Mann. 1973. 1st Harte, N.B. & Ponting, K.G., Eds. Manchester University Press: Manchester, p 145-148. htpps://
  2. H F Chettle, W R Powell, P A Spalding and P M Tillott, ‘Parishes: Trowbridge’, in A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 7, ed. R B Pugh and Elizabeth Crittall (London, 1953), pp. 125-171. British History Online
  3. Edward Mortimer, 1677 – 1743.
  4. Information received electronically in February 2018 from Kenneth Joseph Mortimer of Lebanon, the great-great-great-great-grandson of Edward Horlock Mortimer
  5. The Mortimers of Trowbridge.
  6. Trowbridge.
  7. 67-68 Fore Street.
  8. 68 Fore Street. A grade 1 listed building in Trowbridge, Wiltshire.
  9. Wiltshire community history.
  10. Trowbridge town centre.
  11. Edward Mortimer 17th century? August 2012.
  12. Mary Mortimer (1708 – 1785).