John Mortimer (1669 – 1715)


   1. His childhood

John, son of Edward Mortimer and Katherine Houlton, was born 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 married Catherine NN and they had only one child together.4

2.2 Sarah NN

John married a second time to Sarah NN and they had nine children.4

   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. The home of Thomas Bailey, a clothier in the 16th century, stood on this site and the property was later owned by the Wallis family in the 17th century. It 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 until John’s grandson Edward Horlock (1752 – 1803) left it in 1798 to buy his own property called Bellefield House. John Mortimer’s house was sold in 1807 by the trustees of Edward Horlock.1,2,6,7

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.5,8,9

   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.10

   5. His children

John had a numerous family. His children were all born at Trowbridge.1,4 He had one son from his first marriage called Edward (≈1690 – 1744). The children from his second marriage were Catherine (*27 September 1690, ≈1691), Anne (? – 1756), Jane (≈1695), Eleanor (≈1701), John (* >1701), Nathaniel (>1701 – 1776), Joseph (1710 – 1776), Elizabeth, who died young, and Elizabeth who married Samuel of Devises.4

Three of his sons became clothiers.1,4 They were:

  • Edward, who married Ann Dampier of Tintenhall, Somerset, in ca 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 and was appointed Sheriff of Wiltshire in 1736 and 1740.1-4
  • Joseph became a very wealthy businessman and my husband’s great-grandfather 6x removed. READ MORE on Joseph Mortimer.
  • John jr., the third clothier among the siblings.1,4


  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. Trowbridge.
  6. 67-68 Fore Street.
  7. 68 Fore Street. A grade 1 listed building in Trowbridge, Wiltshire.
  8. Wiltshire community history.
  9. Trowbridge town centre.
  10. Edward Mortimer 17th century? August 2012.