The Watchmaker

Teft was my second great grand uncle. He was the fifth child and fourth son of Tom, my fourth great grandfather. He was baptised 17 September 1822, in Louth.
Tom, his father, was a Clerk to the Navigation. This was the Louth Navigation, a body of water used for the transport of goods like coal and corn from Louth to Hull and other ports down the East Coast. Tom would have worked for the Chaplin family who were the owners of the lease. At the time of Teft’s birth there is a record that Tom paid for a house, probably close to the Riverhead, where the warehouses loaded goods on to the sloops that worked the canal.
Teft’s father organized an apprenticeship for him and we find him in the 1841 census as an apprentice silversmith and clockmaker. (We do not know to whom he was apprenticed.) In 1842, he was also one of two secretaries for the Louth Mechanics Institute.
By October 1847, he was established in Louth as a clock and watchmaker  and advertised for an apprentice in the Stamford Mercury . He made further adverts in 1852 and 1855.
In the 1851 census ( 30 Mar 1851) he was living, along with his parents, in the home of John & Mary Ann Evison at Quarry Lane, Louth, and working as a watchmaker. Mary Ann was Teft’s  sister (and Tom and Mary’s only daughter.
On March 4th 1852, Teft married Ellen ( born in Louth in 1832), fourth daughter of the late William Portas, of the Rising Sun Inn, Louth. They had eleven known children, two of whom died in infancy; the 11th was born posthumously in 1866.


8 Day Longcase, dial clocks, and watches. The wooden cases would probably have been made by a local carpenter. By the 1840s/50s many Lincolnshire clocks were factory made in Birmingham. Local clock sellers would buy in the movements, and perhaps add their trade names to the clock face, and fit them into cases of different qualitie
Whilst living in Louth, Teft had a variety of brushes with the law:

-in September 1855, he was convicted in the penalty of 20s, and 8s. 6d, costs; for a trespass in search of game on lands at Raithby cum Maltby.

– in January 1857, he was taken to court by an apprentice. He appeared in court to answer a summons against him obtained by John Thompson, his apprentice, for discharging him and refusing to teach him his trade. The case occupied the court some considerable time, and eventually, he was prevailed upon to take the boy again, and teach him his trade.

– In 1861 whilst running his clockmaker’s business Teft and his wife also continued running their pub, The Rising Sun, which Rebecca had inherited from her parents. This led to a further court appearance in June 1859 in which he was reprimanded for serving alcohol to minors.
William Hutton (10), and Hy-Jarvis (12), both of this borough, were charged with stealing 3s from the shop of Ellis Housman, in Maiden Row. It appeared that Hutton stole the money during Mrs. Housmans absence. He gave Jarvis 1s. of it, that they then went to the dram-shop of the Rising Sun tavern in Walker-gate, kept by Teft Lawrence, where to his shame these two children , one 10 and the other 12 years old, were supplied each with three squibs of gin, which Hutton drank neat, but the other diluted, and that the result if the money was spent in pies and other things. Hutton to be imprisoned for one month and once whipped, and the evidence not quite so clear against Jarvis he was cautioned and discharged. At a licensing session later in the year Teft was cautioned for this offence by the licencing courts.

– And in June 1864, Teft again found himself in Court before J.G. Teed, Esq. Judge. There was a claim for £1.19s for washing done by plaintiffs wife who had been defendant’s washerwoman for about ten years. In the first instance she had arranged to wash the family at the rate of 2s 6d. per week. This was increased to 3s when the number of children had increased from two to seven. According to the plaintiffs statement, 3d. per week extra was agreed to be paid for washing for Mr. Lawrence (Sen.) and the agreement was made on 19th of March, 1861. The additional 3d. had been allowed to run on for three years until it amounted to the sum now sued for. Mr. Wood, who appeared for defendant, attempted to show that if there was a debt it was old Mr. Lawrence’s, but plaintiff strongly asserted that an arrangement was made between Mrs. Lawrence and herself, which if true, clearly proved that the former had linked the two washings together, being answerable for both. She said Mrs Laurence wished the old gentlemans washing to go on for a year, when it would amount to a nice round sum – Mr. Laurence altogether repudiated this liability, and said no claim had been made upon him until the plaintiffs wife was discharged from washing on the 10th of May last. When she owed defendant for a watch her husband had purchased of him, and considered the arrears would pay for it. Defendant had demanded cash for the watch under the threat of a county summons. She therefore paid for it, and now sued him for what he owed her. – Verdict for the Plaintiff.

In April 1861, Teft Lawrence, watchmaker, applied to the magistrates for a transfer of the licence of the Rising Sun public-house, lately kept by Mrs. Portas, deceased. Application granted. (In 1820 William Odling was landlord of the Rising Sun and at some point the licence passed to William Portas, who died in 1846, at which point his widow Rebekah became licensee.)
Teft did not enjoy the job of landlord for long as in November of that year the Rising Sun was sold to Mr. Connor for £850. In 1859, Ellen’s mother, Rebekah died.
In the census dated 7 Apr 1861 Teft is living at 3, Aswell Lane, Louth along with Ellen and five children; he was working as a watchmaker employing 2 apprentices.
Also in 1861, Teft was involved in a complicated court case involving his brother-in-law John Evison . (John, who was a butcher, seemed to have been caught up in a number of financial issues, leading to his becoming bankrupt.) He we can read of the matter in the London Gazette.
“Notice is hereby given, that by an indenture bearing date the 21st day of May, 1861, John Evison, of Louth, in the county of Lincoln, Butcher and Farmer, duly assigned all his estate and effects, as therein mentioned, unto Teft Laurence, of Louth aforesaid, Watchmaker, Thomas Smith Welch, of Louth aforesaid, Farmer, and William Thompson Phillips, of Utterby, in the said county of Lincoln, Farmer, in trust, for the equal benefit of themselves, and all other creditors of him the said John Evison, who should execute the said indenture within three calendar months from the date thereof, and that the said indenture was executed by the said John Evison, Teft Laurence, and William Thompson Phillips, on the said 21st day of May, 1861, and by the said Thomas Smith Welch, on the 22nd day of May, 1861, in the presence of, and attested by, John Hyde Bell, of Louth, aforesaid, Solicitor. And notice is hereby also given, that the said indenture now lies at our office, in Louth aforesaid, for inspection and execution by the creditors of the said John Evison.-Dated this 22nd day of May, 1861.
By order, INGOLDBY and BELL, Solicitors to the Assignees. “
But this same indenture then became the matter of litigation, involving not only Evison and Teft but also William Laurence (Teft’s older brother and a Liverpool hotelier).  The court action which took place in March 1862 is described as follows:
Lawrence v. Walmsley (John Walmsley was a Manure and bone merchant)
Mr. Macaulay, Q.C., and Mr. Willis were for the plaintiff, and Mr. Field and Mr. Bealey for the defendant.
This was an action on a promissary note for £200 given by defendant. The defendant pleaded that he did not make the note, that he made it as a surety, that the amount should have been called in within three years, and that as it was not called in within that time the power of recovering was lost. He also pleaded that the words of the memorandum at the back of the note were a mistake of the parties. For the rest he pleaded that he was never indebted.
Mr. Macaulay, Q. C., then opened the case at considerable length, and  called the following witnesses: –
Wm Michael Lawrence, deposed: I am Innkeeper at Liverpool. My brother is a shopkeeper at Louth. Evison is a butcher and farmer, and also lives at Louth. In January, 1858, Evison applied time for £600, in addition to £100 he had previously. Previous to that I received this letter (produced) and met my brother, Mr. Evison, and Mr. Walmsley. The note was drawn up, and Evison received from me £600. The note is as follows: “£200 sterling, on demand, with interest at £6 per cent.”  The note was signed by both parties. At the back is a memorandum about the money being paid in three years. After the note was signed, I asked Evison how he would be able to pay the money. His reply was that he should be able to pay yearly. I told him he had better pay nothing for the first year, as he might be pressed for money. Mr. Walmsley said that was,a very important question, as he should not like to be called upon for the money immediately, even if Evison could not pay. I told him he need not be afraid, as I would endorse the back of the note with a memorandum to the effect that I would not take any proceedings within three years. I wrote the memorandum, read it out loud, and Evison signed it. In May last year I saw the defendant again at my brother’s shop. I said to him that I had come over to look into the affairs of John Evison, hearing that they were in a bad state. He advised me to serve Evison with a writ to save himself as well as myself. I said I would do so. He said nothing to me then about  about my having allowed three years to pass by. On the following morning I ordered a writ to be served.
Cross-examined by Mr. Field: I am brother-in-law to Mr. Evison, and some years ago I lent him £100 on a note of his own. On this occasion he was about taking a farm, and had not enough money for the inventory, and advanced it to him. When I went to Louth about lending the money, I did not see Evison before the bill was drawn up. Evison never told me that Mr. Walmsley was willing to become surety for three years. I have received nothing from Evison on account of the bill excepting the interest.
Teft Lawrence deposed: I am a watchmaker at Louth, and am brother to the plaintiff. I was present at the signing of the note: Evison and Walmsley were also present. After the note was signed my brother asked Evison how he could repay the money, and he replied that he could do it at the rate of £100 a-year. My brother said, “Well, John, as you may be short of cash the first year or two, I’d give you three years to pay the bill.” Walmsley said, “Thank you: Will you put that at the back of the note.”  My brother wrote it and Evison signed. The £200 were to be paid off before the £500: Walmsley requested this, and my brother agreed to it. Nothing was said about Walmsley had a conversation in my presence. Walmsley begged my brother to sue Evison for his sake: he said nothing about his liability being only for three years.
Cross-examined by Mr. Field: Walmsley never said anything about the £200 being paid within three years. I believe my brother came to Louth the day previous to the meeting, when Walmsley asked him to sue Evison. This was the case for the plaintiff.
Mr. Field, for the defendant, said that the case had previously been before the Court of Common Pleas in the shape of a demarrer. It was then doubted whether the plea, that the memorandum at the back of the note was a mistake, was good, and it was held that if it could be satisfactorily shown that the defendant expressly stipulated with Lawrence that his liability should only be for three years, the latter of course could not now recover the money.
His Lordship said the memorandum at the back of the note was concurred in by all parties, and he thought the plea of mistake was now excluded. The matter now rested on the legal effect of the memorandum.
His Lordship: But you must show that the other parties were also mistaken.
Mr. Field then proceeded to address the jury with respect to the memorandum, maintaining that it was binding upon Evison or the defendant to pay off the £200 within three years. He then called.
John Walmsley, the defendant, who deposed: In the month of January, 1858, I was present with the plaintiff and his brother-in-law about a loan. Before the note was signed I said that I would become surety if the amount should be paid off within three year, by three equal yearly installments. Plaintiff, in reply, said, “Evison can you do that,” and he answered” I can.” Lawrence then said, ” On these conditions, then, I’d lend the money.” I said that in order to make myself safe that note must be endorsed at the back: the plaintiff wrote it, and Evison signed it. About two years after it was signed I saw the plaintiff at Louth, and asked him how Evison was going on about that matter of mine, and he said “All right.” In May of last year I did not beg of Lawrence to sue for the note for his own sake as well as mine.
John Evison deposed:  In 1858 I applied to my brother-in-law, Mr. Lawrence, to lend me some money, and he was willing to do so on security. I applied to Mr. Millson to be security: he refused and I afterwards applied to Walmsley, who consented. I wrote to Mr. Lawrence, or my wife wrote, on the 24th of January, telling him that Walmsley would be the security. The plaintiff accordingly came over to Louth, and we had a meeting. Walmsley said that he would be my security for £400 to be paid back within three years: this was in the hearing of the plaintiff or his brother. After the note was drawn up and signed, the plaintiff said to me, “John shall you be able to do this,” and I replied that I thought I should be able to discharge it within three years. The memorandum was written upon the note at the request of Mr. Walmsley, and I signed it.
This was the case for the defendant.
After some discussion between the counsel for both parties, Mr. Field obtained leave to amend the plea, and at the dictation of the Judge the plea  was thus altered, “That defendant agreed as surety, and that, in conformity with the agreement between the parties, a memorandum was endorsed on the note in the following terms:-Memorandum: This note is to be paid off within three years  from date: notwithstanding such agreement, plaintiff did not within the three years obtain payment of the amount due on the note.”
His Lordship: I construe the plea as altered as supported by the memorandum. It is for the Court to say whether the plea is good, and bears the construction put upon it by me. The verdict will be for the defendant, with leave to plaintiff to move for £200 and interest. Replication and demurrer to the amended plea to be added to the record.”
Teft died on August 28 1865, aged 42, at his home and workplace, 3, Aswell Lane, aged 42, of ‘Otitis’, Typhoid Fever. It was witnessed by a Charlotte Skipworth, was their house servant. (Edward Skipworth had married Mary Teft’s sister Charlotte in the 1820s.) Tom had lost his second son.
His probate was issued on 8 Sep 1865 Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England ( Estate under £1,500). His will gave the house and contents to Ellen, leaving the rest to trustees, his brother William Michael and John Cotton Portas, a Draper of Hull.
Ellen carried on the watchmakers business and she appears in the 1871 census taken on 2 Apr 1871, living at 3 Aswell Lane, as a widowed watchmaker. In Mar 1877 she married Richard Boyall but he died shortly thereafter.
In the census taken 3 Apr 1881 she still lives at 3 Aswell Lane,  describing herself as a widowed watchmaker.
In the census taken 5 Apr 1891, she has moved to 11 George Street, Louth, and is living on own means. Her son, Edward Cotton had now taken over the watchmakers shop at 3, Aswell lane. In the census taken 31 Mar 1901 she is still living in Louth, and living on own means). She died in  1907 age 75
As a couple they had eleven known children.
They first had a daughter whom they named Mary Portas. She was born 31 Dec 1852 in  Louth, and baptised 21 Jan 1853. She died 9 Aug 1855 in Louth, Lincolnshire, England. The second was a son,  John LAURENCE, born 9 Feb 1854 and baptised 3 Mar 1854. He died 7 Jan 1858 Louth. The third was another son, Teft LAURENCE, born 22 Apr 1855 and baptised 13 May 1855; he died near Derby in 1888. The fourth was a daughter, Emily Eva, born Christmas Eve 24 Dec 1856 and baptised 14 Jan 1857  (died in Louth in 1948).Their fifth was also a daughter,  Ellen, born 6 May 1858 and baptised 28 May 1858 (died in Hull in 1947). The sixth, also a daughter Rebecca, born 1859 Louth, Lincolnshire, England (died 1925 in Spilsby).  The seventh was John William, born 1860 Louth ( died in Hull in 1947).The eighth George Thomas, born 1862 (died 1944 in Louth).In the census dated 5 Apr 1891 with mother at 11 George Street, Louth, Lincolnshire, England (coach painter). In the census dated 31 Mar 1901 with mother at Louth as a coach painter. The ninth was  Henry Michael Portas, born 1863 and died in Louth in 1935.  Their tenth was Edward Cotton born 1865 Louth. In the census dated 3 Apr 1881 with his mother at 3 Aswell Lane as an apprentice watchmaker. In Dec 1888 he married Rose HALL (b. 1871, d. ?). In 1889 they had a son, Frank and in 1890 a daughter, Nellie. In 1892, another son, George and another daughter in 1895. In 1897 a son, Harold  and 1899 Reginald LAURENCE. Another son in 1901 Walter. In the census dated 31 Dec 1901 he was living at 3 Aswell Street, Louth, Lincolnshire, England as a watchmaker. Edward died in Louth in 1948.
The eleventh child of Teft and Ellen was Walter Allen Ernest, born posthumously in Mar 1866 in Louth. About Mar 1887 he married Elizabeth Short JACKSON (b. 1869,d. 1893) at Thorpe St Peter, Lincolnshire. They had a daughter Ellen E. born 1888 at Thorpe St Peter. Another, in 1890 called Minnie, born in Runcorn, Cheshire. In the census dated 5 Apr 1891 they are living at 20 Portland Street, Runcorn, Cheshire and Walter is a carpenter’s labourer. In 1893 they had another daughter Maud Edith in Runcorn. Walter remarried in June 1897. His wife was called Mary Alice LAYLAND (b. 1873,d. ? ) from Lancashire. They had a son in 1899 called Emil A. And a daughter in Dec 1900 called Ethel. By the census dated 31 Mar 1901 they had moved to 49 Suffolk Street, Runcorn,  and Walter is a chemical works labourer. He died in Runcorn in 1943.

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