Charles Potts

Charles Potts was born in Belfast in about 1835, the son of a mechanic named Robert Potts.  He was an Orangeman, and at some point in his youth made the move from Ireland to England, apparently to join the army.  He is not recorded on any census before 1871, but soldiers serving abroad were not included.


Family tradition tells us that Charles served in the Cheshire Regiment, and fought at Sebastopol during the Crimean War  (1854-55).  However, by the time of his marriage (1868) he had left the army.  His death certificate describes him as an "army pensioner", so he may have been invalided out.


Jane Nesbit was born in Carrickfergus, Antrim in about 1842, the daughter of a seaman named Samuel Nesbit.  There were several Nesbit families living in the Carrickfergus area at that time, notably in the parishes of Ballynure and Carnmoney, but we know nothing more about Jane's parents at present.  She came to England some time during the 1860s, and seems to have come alone - either to look for work or possibly to join her future husband.


Jane was living at 15 Sovereign Street, Pendleton in October 1867, but on the marriage certificate a few months later, both she and Charles give their address as 9 Turner Street, Manchester, which according to contemporary street directories consisted mainly of shops and warehouses, and was probably a “convenience” address, used to establish residence in the parish while the banns were called.  At this time, Manchester Cathedral charged a fee for all marriages performed in the diocese, in addition to the fee charged by the local parish church, so like many poorer couples, Charles and Jane arranged to have a temporary address in the central Manchester parish served by the Cathedral itself, and were married there on 12 January 1868. 


On the marriage certificate, Charles is described as a hackle-maker.  (Hackles were steel flax combs used in the textile industry.)  Jane was unable to sign her name on the certificate, which like the birth certificates of all their children bears her "mark".


Charles and Jane had at least eight children, all born in Pendleton:


1.  Charles Potts Nesbit

2.  Mary Ann Potts

3.  Eliza Jane Potts

4.  Charles Henry Potts

5.  Robert Potts

6.  James Potts

7.  Sarah Ellen Potts 

8.  Jane Potts 









m. Joseph Jackson, 1889

m. Mary Laffin, 1893

m. Emily Ellis, 1901

m. Robert Charles James, 1907

m. William Beckett, 1905

The family lived in Pendleton for about 15 years, and for at least part of this time, they occupied one of Salford's notorious cellar dwellings at "Under 44, Sovereign Street".  In these damp and unsanitary conditions, they lost two young children to typhoid and bronchial pneumonia - diseases which were all too common at that time. 


By 1873 Charles had started working in Macintosh’s India rubber works, where he would remain for the rest of his working life, and in the second half of the 1880s the family moved from Pendleton to Hulme in Manchester.  The older children had reached working age, and were now able to contribute financially.  Unfortunately, the harsh conditions of her early married life may have weakened Jane's health, and she died of peritonitis on 15 June 1890 at the age of 48.  Charles was left with five children aged between 7 and 14 still at home, and it must have been very difficult for him to bring them up alone: we know that one of the younger children lived for a time with her older married sister.


In 1901, Charles was living in Hulme with his married son Charles Henry and family, but in later life he went to live with his youngest daughter Jane and her husband William Beckett.  He died at their home in Hulme on 15 November 1922 at the age of 87.



Mary Ann Potts married Joseph Jackson at Holy Trinity, Hulme on 9 June 1889.  Joe was a house painter and decorator born in Liverpool in 1864, the son of a bricklayer from London also named Joseph Jackson and his Cumbrian wife Ann Walker. 


They had 9 children:

1.  Ethel Jackson

2.  Edith Jackson

3.  Minnie Jackson

4.  David Jackson

5.  James Jackson

6.  George Jackson

7.  Annie Jackson

8.  Doris Jackson

9.  Joseph Jackson







m. Edward Harry Lambourne, 1909

m. Harry Moseley, 1913

m. Howard Stanton, 1916

m. Alice Maud Jennings, 1921

m. Annie Clark, 1920

m. Joseph W Palmer, 1920

m. William Williamson

m. Phyllis

The Jacksons spent most of their married life in Hulme, and from the early 1900s, Joe had a shop and business in King Street, Stretford.  Besides their own children, the warm-hearted couple regularly opened their home to other family members in times of need, even though they were never very well-off.


Joe was a sergeant in the Rifle Brigade during WW1, and died in about 1940.  Mary Ann died in May 1944.


When Charles Henry Potts was born, he was given the same name as his older brother who had died a few weeks previously.  This probably seems a morbid idea to us today, but in an age where infant mortality was high, it was a very common practice.  At the age of 16, Charles was a cotton cloth finisher, but within a couple of years he had joined his father in the Macintosh rubber factory, where he would make tyres for most of his working life. 


Charles married Mary Laffin at Holy Trinity Church, Hulme on 21 December 1893.   He gave his age as 20, but was actually only 19, while his bride was just 18 years old.  At the time of their marriage, they were living with Joe and Mary Ann Jackson (Charles' sister) at 15 Athol St, Hulme, and Joe and Mary Ann were the witnesses on the marriage certificate.  Mary Laffin was born in Chester in 1875, the daughter of a tailor named Patrick Laffin (born in Manchester in 1847) and his wife Catherine Stapleton (born in Manchester in about 1853).  Both the Laffin and the Stapleton families were recent immigrants from Ireland.


Charles and Mary lived in Hulme, Manchester, and had at least 4 children:


1.  Annie Potts 

2.  James Potts

3.  Robert Potts

4.  Margaret Potts 





In 1905, Mary contracted typhoid fever, and died in Withington Union Workhouse on 21 December 1905.  The workhouse hospital was the only option for most working-class families, especially those suffering from infectious diseases, and Mary's death was registered by the workhouse master.


Charles apparently lost touch with the family to some extent after his wife's death, and his children possibly went to live with other family members.  His son James, who emigrated to Canada as a teenager, certainly seems to have regarded his aunt Mary Ann Jackson as a second mother, assigning her his army pay, and making a will in her favour, while simply asking that his father be informed of his death. 


By World War 1, Charles was living in Harold Street, Pendleton, but we do not know whether he served in the armed forces.  He died at home in Harold Street on 13 July 1931, and an inquest concluded that he had committed suicide by coal gas poisoning.


On the 1891 UK census, Robert Potts is listed as a printer's apprentice, but as he later became a house painter, like several others of the Potts-Jackson clan, I wonder whether this was a copying error?


He died on 10 July 1898, aged just 21, at “Meadowcroft”, Dane Road, Sale, the home of George Jackson (brother of Joseph Jackson who married Robert’s sister Mary Ann), and his death was registered by George’s wife Harriet Ann.  Robert was a journeyman house painter, working in the same trade as George, and quite likely with or for him, as they were living in the same house.


Robert’s death certificate gives the cause of death as uraemia coma.  Uraemia is a term used loosely to describe the illness accompanying kidney failure, where urea and other waste products, which are normally excreted into the urine, are retained in the blood. Early symptoms include anorexia and lethargy, followed by decreased mental acuity and eventually coma.  There are various possible causes, including diabetes, hypotension and chronic kidney infection, many of which would be treatable today. 


On the 1901 UK census, James Potts and his sister Jane are listed as boarders in the household of Arthur and Fanny Lea at 8 Poole Street, Hulme.  James is a house painter and Arthur Lea a paper hanger, so they may have been professional colleagues.


James married Emily Ellis at St Philip, Hulme on 19 October 1901.  Emily was born  in Manchester on 2 November 1878, the daughter of painter George Ellis and his wife, Fanny Morris.


At the outbreak of World War 1, James joined the Border Regiment, but was disfigured by a bullet wound to his face, and later became something of a recluse.  When his niece Edith went to Jackson Street Elementary School, she met his children, and discovered cousins she had never previously known. 


James and Emily had five children, all born in Manchester:


1.  James Potts

2.  Nellie Potts

3.  Agnes Potts

4.  Isabella Potts

5.  Edna Potts        






m. Robert Samuel Lyons, 1934

James died at home in Stowe St, Chorlton-on-Medlock, on 19 March 1932 of acute pulmonary tuberculosis: the secondary cause of death is given on the death certificate as “gunshot wound of mouth and nose (war wound)”.  Emily died in 1937, and like her husband was buried in Southern Cemetery.


Sarah was only 9 years old when her mother died, and for some time lived with her older married sister, Mary Ann Jackson.  By 1901 she had left home, and was "in service" with a grocer's family named Hey in Renshaw Street, Hulme.  Although Sarah hated being in service, she apparently became friendly with the daughter of the family, who was only five years younger than herself. 


Like her future husband, Sarah was active in the Methodist church and belonged the Wilmott Street Mission.  She was also in the Band of Hope, and on one occasion was cheered to the echo for singing "Little Brown Jug" at a Band of Hope concert!  She apparently failed to realise that singing about beer in front of more - or less - committed teetotallers was hardly wise, and never understood why she was refused an encore... 


Sarah married Robert Charles James on 15 January 1907.


Before her marriage, Jane (known as Jinnie) worked for a shipping company and in 1901 is recorded with her brother James as a lodger at 8 Poole Street, Hulme.


She married William Beckett at Holy Trinity Church, Hulme on 3 September 1905.  William was born in Shawbury, Shropshire in 1878, the son of house painter John Beckett and his wife Adaliza Corfield.  In the early 1880's, the family came to live in Manchester, where William and his younger brother Albert worked in the rubber industry.


William and Jinnie had four daughters, all born in Manchester:


1.  Florence Beckett

2.  Lily Beckett 

3.  Elsie Beckett 

4.  Hilda Beckett 





m. John O'Hare, 1949

m. Charles P Smith, 1933

Jinnie's father Charles lived with the family towards the end of his life.


After William’s death, Jinnie married his brother James Henry Beckett (b. Manchester, 1888) in 1948.  James was a widower with three adult sons, who served in the Manchester Regiment during World War 1.  His right ear was perforated while on active service in France, and he was transferred to the Labour Corps in 1916.  James died in Fallowfield in 1961, and Jinnie died in Manchester in 1963.

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