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John Watts


John Watts

Who was John Watts and who were his family?

There are various John Watts in the Hampshire area born in the second half of the 1700s and the first half of 1800s.

This is an attempt to sort out the various families associated with John Watts so as to establish the father and grandfather of Louisa Watts.

As the research progresses various potential family groups appear.

The result, a rearrangement of the article to aid clarity.



{slider-groups title="John Watts, father of Lady Eleanor Wigram." class="blue" class="icon"}


John Watts, father of Lady Eleanor Wigram.

Let's start with a John Watts that has a mention in Wikipedia and Sotonopedia, albeit as part of Frederic Edward Wigram, and his wife Eleanor Wigram nee Watts, daughter of John Watts. This John was secretary to the victualling office of Southampton. His wife and Eleanor's mother was also Eleanor (born Wyatt).

Lady Eleanor Wigram was born in 1767. Robert Wigram was not her second husband according to the Parish record below.

The next stage for me is to build a research tree starting with Robert Wigram and his marriage to Eleanor Watts on 23 Jun 1787 at St. Botolph Aldgate, London, England

Marriage Robert Wigram and Eleanor WattsThe image is the top half of page 288 of the parish churches marriage register. The name of the parish church is St Botolph without Aldgate. The year is 1787.

Item number 312, Robert Wigram of St Helen (Bishopsgate) London, Widower, and Eleanor Watts of this Parish, (St Botolph without Aldgate) Spinster a Minor, were Married in this Church by Licence with the consent of John Watts the natural and lawful Father of the said Minor this Twenty Third day of June in the Year One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty Seven by me Austin Bushby Curate. This Marriage was solemnized between us Robert Wigram Eleanor Watts.

In the Presence of C Bignell, J Watts, John Watts

The age of majority in 1787 was, as it had been from Norman times until the Family Law Reform Act 1969, 21 years of age, after this age is often referred to as of full age.

Both Robert and Eleanor have signed their own names, and presumably could read and write.

The witnesses are interesting as there is a J Watts and a John Watts, both with different handwriting. Perhaps the third signature, that of John Watts, is as the Father signifying consent to the marriage. J Watts could be a brother of Eleanor. Also of note is that the surname Bignell appears in a number of Family Trees in this area of my Tree.

If Eleanor was born in 1767, she would have been about 20 years old at the time of the marriage.

The two parishes are probably adjacent to one another, with Bishopsgate only half a mile from the Church, which in turn was half a mile from the Bank of England. So very much in the City of London. The link is for Maps of London Parishes but does not include these parishes. British History Online has a sketch map that fills in the gaps and confirms that the parishes were adjacent.


An extract from Sotonopedia,

The Reverend Frederic Edward Wigram was perpetual curate of Christ Church, Portswood (aliter Highfield Church) between 1864 and 1880. He was immeasurably well connected. His paternal grandfather was Sir Robert Wigram, Bart (1744-1830), merchant and shipbuilder with a personal fortune estimated in 1809 at over £500,000. With his second wife Eleanor (daughter of John Watts of Southampton, sometime secretary to the victualling office), Robert had 17 children, including 12 surviving sons. Edward Wigram - Sir Robert's 18th child and later Treasurer of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge - was father of Frederic Edward, born on 1 June 1834 in the 'Wigram enclave' in Walthamstow.

Key here is Eleanor (daughter of John Watts of Southampton, sometime secretary to the victualling office).

Robert Wigram Freedom City of LondonRobert Wigram was given the Freedom of the City of London on 5th May 1795, eight years after his marriage to Eleanor.

Robert was a member of the Company of Merchant Taylors.

Looking again at the extract from Sotonopedia above, in 2021, the relative value of £500,000 0s 0d from 1809 ranges from £38,520,000.00 to £2,747,000,000.00, using

Marriage Frederic Edward Wigram and Frances Wright SM

The article in Sotonopedia refers to the Reverend Frederic Edward Wigram. This parish record, probably from St Martins Parish Church at Osmaston in Derbyshire. His wife to be is Frances Wrigth, whose father was Francis Wright Esq., of Osmaston Manor.

St Martins Parish Church was built in 1845 to replace the an earlier building and has many tributes to its benefactors, the Wright family. The register of the church dates back to 1606 and the more modern building was designed by H.I.Stevens.

Frederic Edward Wigram was a son of Edward Wigram, the 18th child of Robert Wigram, hence a grandchild. The marriage is what would probably be called in the day, a good, well founded, marriage, between two children of Gentlemen, Esquires.

Suggesting that the wealth and influence was spread around the family of Robert Wigram and not just given to the eldest male issue.


According to Wikipedia, Sir Robert Wigram, 1st Baronet;

Following Catherine's death, in 1787, he married Eleanor (born Watts), widow of Captain Agnew and daughter of John Watts, secretary to the victualling office of Southampton. They had thirteen sons and four daughters.

However, the Eleanor above was a spinster and not a widow of Captain Agnew. Either the Parish record is for a different set of Robert Wigram, Eleanor Watts, and John Watts, or Wikipedia is in this instance incorrect in respect of Captain Agnew.

This was a very wealthy and influential family. It is in this context that we should consider other family links.


Back to searching records pertaining to John Watts of Hampshire

{slider-groups title="John Watts and Sarah his Wife nee Bunn" class="green" class="icon"}


Transcribed records from FindMyPast

John Watts born 1805, Baptised 25 Nov 1805 to John Watts and Sarah Bunn


First name(s) John
Last name Watts
Gender Male
Birth year 1805
Birth place -
Baptism year 1805
Baptism date 25 Nov 1805
Place Southampton
County Hampshire
Country England
Father's first name(s) John
Father's last name Watts
Mother's first name(s) Sarah
Mother's last name Bunn
Record set England Births & Baptisms 1538-1975
Category Birth, Marriage, Death & Parish Records
Subcategory Parish Baptisms
Collections from England, Great Britain

First name(s) John
Last name Watts
Birth year 1805
Birth date 26 Oct 1805
Baptism year 1805
Baptism date 25 Nov 1805
Place Southampton
Denomination Independent
Father's first name(s) John
Mother's first name(s) Sarah
County Hampshire
Country England
Archive reference TNA/RG/4/610
Piece description HAMPSHIRE: Southampton, Above-Bar Chapel (Independent): Births & Baptisms
Record set England & Wales Non-Conformist Births And Baptisms
Category Birth, Marriage, Death & Parish Records
Subcategory Parish Baptisms
Collections from Great Britain, England

Both records are for the same event but came from different sources and have slight but interesting differences. Record set England Births & Baptisms 1538-1975 contains Mother's maiden name, and Record set England & Wales Non-Conformist Births And Baptisms contains Denomination Independent and Piece description HAMPSHIRE: Southampton, Above-Bar Chapel (Independent): Births & Baptisms.


Images of entries of the Baptism register of the Above Bar Independent Church from Ancestry

Found by searching the indexes.

 A normal Ancestry search for John Watts.

John Watts


John Watts b. 26 Oct 1805  

Baptised John Watts 26 Nov 1805


John the Son of John Watts, and Sarah his Wife, (late Bunn) of the Parish of Holy Rood was born Oct 26 1805,  and baptised Nov 25 1805 by me H Lacey

Image and transcript of Non-Conformist Births And Baptisms register.

The Parish of Holy Rood was in the town of Southampton,

 This matches the FindMyPast transcription records above.





Two finds by searching indexes, but now turning digital pages of the Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial Births and Baptisms register, starting in 1795.


Baptisms Register Meeting House Above Bar Southampton

 A Register of BAPTISMS kept in the Meeting House Above Bar in the Town and County of Southampton after Licence duly obtained according to Act of Parliament 1783 by William Kingsbury.

Martha Watts


Martha Watts b. 9 Oct 1799 

Baptised Martha Watts 7 Nov 1799


Martha, Dt (Daughter) of John Watts, and Sarah, his Wife, late Bunn of the Parish of St Michael's was born October 9 1799 and baptised Nov 7 1799 by me W Kingsbury.

Presumably, Martha died young as there is a later Martha baptism, in 1808.

The Parish of St Michael's was in the town of Southampton.







{slider-groups title="Above Bar Congregational Chapel and Sir Isaac Watts" class="red" class="icon"}


Above Bar Congregational Chapel

AboveBarCongregationalChurch1An engraved view from Above Bar Street of the front elevation of the church, 1819 --


Isaac Watts (17 July 1674 – 25 November 1748) was an English Congregational minister, hymn writer, theologian, and logician. He was a prolific and popular hymn writer and is credited with some 750 hymns. His works include "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross", "Joy to the World", and "Our God, Our Help in Ages Past". He is recognized as the "Godfather of English Hymnody"; many of his hymns remain in use today and have been translated into numerous languages.

Dr. Isaac Watts, Congregationalist minister and noted hymn writer, was born in Southampton in 1674, the eldest of nine children. His father, also called Isaac, was a schoolteacher and a man of deep religious principles. The family home was at Hampton Court, a large house on the east side of French Street now destroyed. Hampton Court is often cited as Isaac junior's birthplace, but it is more likely that he was born in Above Bar Street, the family moving to the French Street house soon after his birth. In the 1660s Isaac Watts senior was involved in setting up the first nonconformist congregation in the town. It was known as the Southampton Independent society and met in a house in Above Bar Street. Its members opened the Above Bar Street chapel on the same site. This later became the Above Bar Congregational Church.






{slider-groups title="William Watts and Mary his Wife nee Larmitte" class="orange" class="icon"}


William Watts and Mary Watts; letter from John Watts


Towards the end of the Above Bar Church register there is a letter from a John Watts about the family of William and Mary Watts, image below.

There is a possibility that William and Mary may me the parents of the John Watts who married Sarah Bunn above.

Baptised family of William and Mary Watts letter B

 Rev Sir,

          Shall take it as a great favour if you will be pleased to make the above Certificates in three or four Days in so doing you will greatly oblige.

                                                                                          Your Most Obedient and Humble Servant

                                                                                                                    John Watts


Feb 18: 1805

The signature on this letter appears to be different to either of the J Watts or John Watts signatures on the Marriage record of Robert Wigram to Eleanor Watts above.



Collection WMW

 Initially, a collection for the letter, but latterly with additional information as found.


Children of William Watts and Mary Watts nee Larmitte Baptised at the Above Bar Congregational Chapel
Date of BirthDate BaptisedGiven Nameof ParishInterval between births
May 1776   William Henry    
Sept 1777   John    
March 1781   Isaac    
5 Sept 1785 17 Oct 1785  Harriett St Michael's   
17 Aug 1787 24 Sep 1787  Thomas St Michael's   
11 Apr 1791 17 May 1791 Maria St Michael's   

None of the intervals between births are impossible, which is good news as it does not suggest that there are two William Watts and Mary Watts nee Larmitte attending the same church.

If the letter was written by the same John Watts as listed in the letter as born 1777, he would be about 27 years of age.


Using the letter for the basis of the first three names, from 1776 to 1781, with the latter three having been found in the registers, with the details shown below.


{slider-groups title="Totton Independent Church" class="icon"}


A new independent church at Totton, Hampshire, 1818.

Baptisms Register Meeting House Totton Hampshire A

 Baptisms Register Meeting House Totton Hampshire B

 Baptisms Register Meeting House Totton Hampshire C

 Baptisms Register Meeting House Totton Hampshire CL A

Baptisms Register Meeting House Totton Hampshire CL BBaptisms Register Meeting House Totton Hampshire Cert A

 Baptisms Register Meeting House Totton Hampshire Cert B


{slider-groups title="Records from Totton" class="icon"}


On to the baptisms carried out at the Independent Church, Totton, Hampshire regarding the Watts family.

Given that the last baptism recorded for John and Sarah Watts at the Above Bar Church, of 'Martha, Daughter of John Watts and Sarah, his Wife, (late Bunn) of the Parish of Millbrook, was born on the twenty seventh of May 1807 and baptised on the tenth of June 1808 being above one year old' was both in the Parish of Millbrook and was usually late, it is conceivable that the same John Watts and Sarah Watts nee Bunn have moved to Millbrook and once the new Church was established, were among the first to have their children baptised there.

Dependant on where in the Parish of Millbrook they lived, it could be that the journey was shorter and or easier to travel to Totton than to the Above Bar Church. If they lived in the village of Millbrook, it was about a mile shorter, which is significant if you are walking. It could also be due to a falling out with the Above Bar Church, or an attempt to spread the word from the Above Bar Church to the newly formed Totton Church.


Sarah, Isaac, and Phillip Watts

Baptised Sarah and Isaac Watts 18 Nov 1818


 These entries will be added to the children of John and Sarah Watts table above.


Sarah Daughter of John Watts and Sarah Bunn his Wife of the Parish of Millbrook in the County of Hants born the 9th of March 1809 Baptised the 18th Novr 1818 by me Robt Davis Pastor Dissent Minister.


Isaac Son of John Watts and Sarah Bunn his Wife of the Parish of Millbrook in the County of Hants born the 29th of Novr 1810 Baptised the 18th Novr 1818 by me Robt Davis Pastor Dissent Minister.


Baptised Phillip Watts 18 Nov 1818 


Phillip Son of John Watts and Sarah Bunn his Wife of the Parish of Millbrook in the County of Hants born the 17th of January 1818 Baptised the 18th Novr 1818 by me Robt Davis Pastor Dissent Minister.


 Three children of the same family baptised together, aged 9, 7, and approaching 1 years of age.

Names and details carried into the collection table for children of John Watts and Sarah Watts nee Bunn, above.





To be Continued in John Watts B











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