yeovil people

John nossiter & Family

Tales of bankrupt carpenters


A John Nossiter was born in 'Henford', Yeovil in 1737. A carpenter by trade, John and his wife Mary (1745-1829) had at least three children; Richard, Charles and Thomas - and probably a fourth son, John (see below).

John Nossiter Jnr

A lease in my collection, dated 4 September 1794, for the lease of a Quedam Street (later Vicarage Street) "ruinous and decayed" property owned by the Corporation. The lease is between the Portreeve (book seller John King) and Burgesses of Yeovil on the one part and carpenter John Nossiter on the other part. The annual rent was 4d. At this time, according to the lease, "the said John Nossiter aged twenty one years Mary his wife aged twenty six years" - meaning this John Nossiter was born around 1773 and was probably the son of John Nossiter mentioned above.

It was recorded on 26 May 1801 that John Nossiter, carpenter of Yeovil had five tenements in Vicarage Street insured against fire to the value of £300 (around £300,000 at today's value). In 1806, and again in 1811, the Churchwardens' Accounts for St John's church record that 'Nositer' was paid for bell maintenance at St John's church.

The 1793 Universal British Directory listed Mary Nossiter as a victualler of the Sun Inn in Grope Lane, today's Wine Street. Although Mary was listed as the licensee of the Sun Inn it is almost certain, as was normal practice, that she would run the pub during the day while John worked and then he would take over in the evenings.

A vellum indenture in my collection, being a "lease for a year of a messuage or tenement burgage and Inn called The Sun situate in the parish of Yeovil in the County of Somerset dated 23 December 1840, Messrs Thomas Lemon, Mason of Stalbridge, Dorset, and Samuel Dean blacksmith of Yeovil and occupant of property to Mr William Bide, glove manufacturer of Yeovil." On this lease the first named occupant of The Sun was Lionel Farley, then Sarah Leverage, then Mary Nossiter, then Henry Lillington, then Edmund Batten, then John Batten, then Samuel Dean. Of these, certainly Edmund and John Batten were the owners of the property rather than occupiers and it may be, therefore, that John and Mary Nossiter were the owners of the inn during their period of association.

However John Nossitter went bankrupt and was ultimately confined in the debtors prison at Fleet, London. It was considered morally wrong, and always had been, to promise to pay and then not deliver, but the Lord Chancellor knew that locking a man up meant he could never work to pay off his debts. A loophole arose if the man could be said to be a trader or chapman, a scrivener or banker, in which case the Lord Chancellor could secure, if the debtor came clean, a specially empowered local commission which would allow the debtor his freedom and provide a certificate of discharge (this is how the attorneys and the bankers got off).

On 21 February 1815 the London Gazette reported "By order of the Court for Relief of Insolvent Debtors; the matter of the petition of Richard Nossitter (sued by mistake in the name of Richard Nossiter), late of Yeovil, Somerset, carpenter, now confined in the Fleet prison in the city of London, will be heard in this Court to be holden at the Guildhall of the city of Westminster, on the 15th day of March next, at the hour of Nine in the morning.

List of the Creditors of the said Richard Nossitter with respect to whom this Court has order notice by advertisement - Thomas Thomins, Aulden Farm, Yeovil, Somersetshire, Esq.; ------- Banger, Stafford, Somersetshire, Esq.; William Row, Lyde Farm, near Yeovil, Somersetshire, Esq.; Arthur Johnstone, Yeovil, Somersetshire, victualler; Mr. Blake, Sherbourne, Dorsetshire, brewer; Mr. Garland, Bath, Somersetshire, coach-maker; Mr. Rock, Beck, Bristol, spirit-merchant; Messrs Thomas and Co. Saint Thomas-street, Bristol, spirit-merchants; William Rickard, Bradford, Dorsetshire, yeoman; Mr. Heath, Shepton Mallet, Somersetshire, clothier; Richard Raymond, Yeovil, Somersetshire, blacksmith; Thomas Plowman, Yeovil, Somersetshire, saddler; Mr. Oupstill, Bohinton, Somersetshire, maltster; Messrs. Oupstill and Braine, Bohinton, Somersetshire, maltsters; William Edwards, Yeovil, Somersetshire, cutler; Nathaniel Sydenham Snr and Thomas Sydenham Jnr both of Yeovil, Somersetshire, boot and shoe-makers; Mr. Searle, Yeovil, Somersetshire, cooper; Messrs. Watts, Marsh, Bullick and Co. Yeovil, Somersetshire, bankers; Messrs. Bullick, Watts and Cayme, Yeovil, Somersetshire, merchants; John How, Yeovil, Somersetshire, painter; Peter Daniell, Yeovil, Somersetshire, haberdasher; William Lawrence, Yeovil, Somersetshire, joiner."

With two spirits merchants, two maltsters, a cooper, a victualler and the Yeovil brandy merchants, Bullock, Watts & Cayme the Younger, amongst his creditors there seems little doubt that John Nossiter was running the inn even though his wife held the licence. In any event, by 1822 Pigot's Directory listed Thomas Colborne as licensee of the Sun Inn.

John Nossiter died in Yeovil in 1825 aged 88, Mary died in 1829 aged 84.


Of John and Mary's children;

Thomas Nossiter was a Yeovil glover and married Elizabeth Gillard at Muchelney, Somerset, on 6 August 1799. They had at least three children who were all born and baptised in Yeovil; Marianne (b 1806), William (b 1809) and Elizabeth (b 1810).

Charles Nossiter married Mary Lodge at Yeovil in 1799. As far as I am aware, they had no children. There is a record that Mary Nossiter died in 1829 but I couldn't determine if it was Charles' wife.

Richard Nossiter was, like his father, a carpenter. He married Elizabeth Lodge at St John's church, Yeovil, in 1800. Elizabeth Lodge was born in 1777 at Bath, whether or not she was the sister of Mary Lodge who married her brother-in-law Charles Nossiter above, is not known. Richard and Elizabeth had at least four children, all born and baptised in Yeovil; Mary (b 1802), Richard (b 1803), Charles (b 1804) and John (b 1805). Richard was in partnership with a Mr Bennett and the Churchwarden's Accounts of 1830 record a payment of £5 19s 2d to "Nossiter & Bennett (Carpenters)" for work carried out during that year. Very mysteriously indeed both Elizabeth Nossiter and her husband Richard Nossiter died in the winter of 1838 and are adjoining entries in the parish register's burials - coincidence? foul play? suicide? joint accident?


Of Richard and Elizabeth's children;

Mary was baptised at St John's, Yeovil, on 18 March 1802 and on 14 August 1823 married George Bennett at Yeovil.

Richard was was baptised at St John's, Yeovil, on 18 August 1803 and in 1838 married Maria Ross at Yeovil. They had one daughter, Maria Elizabeth (1838-1838) who died as a baby.

Charles was born in 1804 or 1805 and, it would appear, was a bit of a tearaway. A glover and labourer Charles had several run-ins with the law, eventually leading to him being transported for life to Van Diemen's Land (today's Tasmania). For his story click here.

John was was baptised at St John's, Yeovil, on 1 August 1806 and in 1825 married Judith Pike.

Richard and John were both builders and on 21 April 1824 at the Castle Inn, Ivelchester, "John Nossiter, late of Yeovil, Somersetshire, Builder and Richard Nossiter, late of Yeovil, Somersetshire, Builder" were both declared bankrupt. Perhaps the 'late of Yeovil' for both of them was that they too, like their granddad, ended up in the Fleet Debtors Prison?