The Cabinet Maker of Norwich

Joseph Scotter was born the eighth son of a Brewer, John, and his wife Sarah (nee Wilde) on 7th March 1800 at Norwich; baptised on 6th April 1800 at St George’s Church, Colegate.

He was named after two older brothers that died in 1794 and 1796 respectively and grew up in the Courts and slums of Norwich with his nine brothers and one solitary sister, also called Mary Ann.  Of 10 children of John and Sarah, only five are known to have lived beyond the age of 6 years.

Joseph apprenticed as a Chair Maker initially and on 5 March 1821, at the age of 20, he married eighteen-year-old Mary Ann Lilley at St Andrew’s Church, Hingham.  Mary Ann was born in Hingham in 1802 from a family of Thatchers and turned 19 that following July; already 7 or so months pregnant with their first child when they married.

Joseph and Mary did not remain in Hingham long.  A daughter Louisa was born just over 2 months after their marriage on 10 June 1821.  Baby Louisa was baptised at the age of 3 days at St Andrew’s and tragically died the following July, aged just shy of 6 weeks, soon after the family returned to Norwich.

They also lost a 3 year old daughter, called Hannah, in 1828.

The family first appear on a census in 1841 living at Dutton Court, Elm Park, Norwich.  Joseph was now working as a Cabinet Maker and the family had grown to add several more children – Joseph Jnr, Louisa (named after her sister), Elizabeth, William, Robert, Edwin, Charles, Hannah (my great great grandmother and named after her deceased sister), Amelia and George.

Later that year, however, the growing family were under significant financial strain.   On 21 October 1841, the families’ goods were sold ‘under distress’ by a Mr. Harper.  By the end of November 1841, Joseph was in the Debtor’s prison at Norwich Gaol, taking his wife and younger children with him.

By March 1842 Joseph was discharged from his Bankruptcy and this was perhaps the tipping point where he decided to take his family from Norwich to what he may have hoped were better fortunes elsewhere.

Between 1843 and 1847 three more children – Sarah, Mary Ann and James – were born in the small village of Holt, about 23 miles from Norwich.

By now his oldest son, Joseph Jnr (a bricklayer’s labourer) had left Norfolk to go to Hull, East Yorkshire and between 1847 and 1851, the entire family moved to join him.  It is likely, again, that in the more industrial area, Joseph intended to provide his family with more secure environment.

It would seem, however, that this was where and when the vast gulf between the siblings began to form……





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