1. His childhood
Joseph Mortimer was born on 21 September 1710 at Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England to John Mortimer (1669 – 1715) and Sarah Hayward (? – 1750), who aligned themselves with the non-conformist (or dissenter) religious movement in opposition to the state-ruled Church of England (Anglican Church).1,2 His level of schooling and education is not known, but being born into a very affluent family, the service of a governess or tutor most certainly could be afforded, or he may have attended a prestigious school in Oxford, Cambridge or elsewhere. He was the youngest of eleven children.
2. His wife
The 21 year-old Joseph married Anne Smith (1708 – >1752) on 27 July 1731 at Trowbridge. From their union seven children were born of whom four died in infancy.2-4 This must have been heartbreaking for their parents. Could a particular congenital disorder have been the cause of the infant deaths? At this point, no more information could be found on Anne Smith, her parents and her siblings.
3. His career
Joseph Mortimer continued in the woollen manufacturing and clothing business, like his grandfather, Edward Mortimer (1635 – 1704), his father, John Mortimer (1669 – 1715), his elder brother, Edward Mortimer (1690 – 1744), who was 20 years older than himself, and his uncle, Edward Mortimer (1677 – 1743). Apart from manufacturing clothes, the Mortimers in Trowbridge supplemented their income by leasing plots, and also built a fulling mill at a site in the Ladydown area of Trowbridge in the late 1720s.1,3
By 1773, Joseph was a gentleman landowner and the chief landlord in Trowbridge. He was, therefore, a prominent and influential member of the Trowbridge community, hence the title ‘Esquire’. He lived in the house of his grandfather Edward Horlock, and his own son Joseph jr. continued to stay there after his death. His residential estate in Trowbridge is clearly indicated on the map of Wiltshire that was drawn up in 1773, three years before his death in 1776.1,5-7 Joseph sr. also owned the farm Week Farm at Norton St Phillips near Telsford (now Tellisford), approximately 10 km west of Trowbridge, which previously belonged to his uncle Edward Mortimer (1677 – 1743). Joseph also bought the farm Norton Grange in 1760 for 6 260 pounds, a farm that bordered Week Farm.1Two other significant and wealthy community members of Trowbridge were Gabriel Still and Thomas Bythesea (spelled ‘Bithesea’ on the 1773 map). Their residential estates are also indicated on the old map.5,6 In 1783, Thomas Bythesea of Weeke/Wick House became the father-in-law of Joseph Mortimer’s youngest son, Edward Horlock Mortimer.1
During Joseph’s lifetime, Trowbridge was a thriving town due to its large-scale woollen manufacturing trade. The Mortimers were part of it as one of the very affluent and influential textile producers. The production of woollen cloth became increasingly industrialized during the 17th century8 and Joseph most likely also introduced mechanization into his factories in order to increase production and profits. Joseph lived during the reign of the Kings George I, George II and George III, who reigned from 1714 to 1727, from 1727 to 1760 and from 1760 to 1820, respectively.9-12
4. His death
Joseph Mortimer died a very prosperous man at the age of 66 years.1 His will was proved on 2 July 1776.13 He resided in Trowbridge his whole life. His two surviving sons followed in his footsteps as both also became very affluent clothiers in Trowbridge.
5. His children
Their firstborn arrived on 26 April 1733, but sadly died eight months later. He was buried on 30 December 1733 at Trowbridge.2
Ann was born on 14 October 1735 and 25 years later married James Dowding on 25 August 1760.2,4 They had four children namely Elizabeth (1761 – ?) Thomas (1763 – ?), John (1763 – 1828) (possibly twins) and Joseph Mortimer (ca 1765 – 1786). Ann passed away in ca 1765, aged 30.4
She was born on 13 June 1738 and buried on 1 February 1739, a mere seven and a half months old.2
5.4 Joseph jr.
Joseph jr. was born on 10 February 1740 at Trowbridge.1-3 He also became a clothier and represented the fifth generation of Mortimers in the woollen trade. He later also became a partner in the Bath & Somerset Bank as well as the Warminster & Wiltshire Bank. He was, indeed, a very prosperous and prominent resident in Trowbridge and also served as Justice of the Peace for Wiltshire and Somerset.1,3
Joseph Mortimer jr. continued living in the house on the property that his great-grandfather Edward Mortimer (1735 – 1704) bought in 1670, until his own death in 1789, aged 49, although he had also bought the Manor of Wingfield, a country estate 5 km west of Trowbridge, in 1784.1,14He married Frances Greene (? – 1799), daughter of Isaac Greene of Trowbridge on 30 June 1767 when he was 27 years old. They had seven children, all born at Trowbridge. They were Frances (*11 April 1768, ≈31 October 1769 – ?), Joseph (*7 August 1769, ≈31 October 1769, †<1776), Anna Maria (*23 April 1772, ≈21 October 1780, Ω3 October 1848, Westbury), Lucia (*16 September 1774, ≈21 October 1780, †1820), Joseph (*3 July 1776, ≈21 October 1780, Ω5 September 1833), Edward (*14 December 1779, ≈21 October 1780, †>1814) and Harriet (*22 August 1782, ≈27 September 1785 – ?).1-3
What is noticeable, are the baptismal dates of their children when infant baptism was the general practice in the Anglican Church as well as in most of the non-conformist congregations in the English society of that time. Their firstborn and second child was christened in 1769 when 18 months and two months old, respectively. Only eleven years later, in 1780, were the next four children baptized at the same event (then aged 8 years, 6 years, 4 years and 10 months, respectively). Their youngest child was christened in 1785 when she was three years old. One can only speculate about the possible reasons for this observation …. perhaps Joseph and Frances Mortimer were just not strongly religious people and hence, had a more relaxed attitude towards their children baptisms or did not have a very close connection with the Christian church in their town. Or perhaps there were other external circumstances that contributed to the christening of two or more children at the same time. One see this phenomenon also with children of his youngest brother, Edward Horlock Mortimer.
5.5 Edward (twin)
Edward and his twin sister, Elizabeth were born on 21 April 1747 at Trowbridge. He died ten months later and was buried on 18 January 1748.2
5.6 Elizabeth (twin)
She was born on 21 April 1747.2 No more information could be found on Elizabeth’s life. It is possible that she also died young like her twin brother.
5.7 Edward Horlock
My husband is a seventh generation descendant of Edward Horlock Mortimer (1752/1756 – 1803), who was likely a surprise addition to the family, with his mother then being 44/48 years old, and his closest living sibling, Joseph, already a 12/16 year-old teenager.1-3,15 READ MORE on Edward Horlock Mortimer.
- 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://books.google.co.za
- The Mortimers of Trowbridge. https://mortimerhistory.com/mortimer-family-tree/wiltshire/trowbridge/
- Information received electronically in February 2018 from Kenneth Joseph Mortimer of Lebanon, the great-great-great-great-grandson of Edward Horlock Mortimer
- Ann Mortimer. https://www.ancestry.com/genealogy/records/ann-mortimer-24-n6c6qs
- HF 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 http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/wilts/vol7/pp125-171
- Wiltshire community history. https://history.wiltshire.gov.uk/gallery/map/trowbridge_map.73.005
- Paterson, D. 1808 A new and accurate description of all the direct and principal cross roads in England and Wales and part of the roads of Scotland. 14th Ed. Cox, Son and Baylis: London. https://books.google.co.za/books
- Trowbridge. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trowbridge
- List of British monarchs. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_British_monarchs
- George I of Great Britain. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_I_of_Great_Britain
- George II of Great Britain. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_II_of_Great_Britain
- George III of Great Britain. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_III_of_Great_Britain
- Will of Joseph Mortimer https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D431772
- Wingfield House. Inigo Estate Agency. https://inigo.com/sales-list/wingfield-house
- Transcript of marriage record of Edward Horlock Mortimer. Sarum Marriage Licence Bonds, FindMyPast, https://www.findmypast.co.uk/transcript?id=GBPRS/M/98032221/3