• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • You already know Dokkio is an AI-powered assistant to organize & manage your digital files & messages. Very soon, Dokkio will support Outlook as well as One Drive. Check it out today!



Page history last edited by Peter Tipton 13 years, 8 months ago

Who inherited Herman Reynolds' pottery business?

page prepared by Peter Tipton 5 Jan 2008


Borderware Potteries continued to expand in the 17th century

For the past year I have been mulling over who might have inherited Herman Reynolds' pottery business when he died in 1609. The borderware potteries had expanded in the last quarter of the 1500s both in volume of output and in variety of products and designs, and continued to grow in output for at least the next half century. From the documentary records it seems that production continued in Farnborough, continued to expand in Cove, but also spread eastwards into Surrey, reaching as far as Addlestone. In 1609 the wool trade in Farnham was collapsing, so more people were likely to want to join the expanding Borderware potteries as a secure source of income. A family with a key position in the pottery business would not have thought it a good time to have relinquished control.


Herman Reynolds' heirs

It appears that Herman Reynolds had no sons but had two daughters named in his will . Alice and Grace were married to two different men named Nicholas Watts. Grace was married to Nicholas Watts of Bramshott who named himself a yeoman and appeared to have been involved only in husbandry in his will in 1636. In his own will Herman Reynolds mentioned that he had nine grandchildren. Thomas Reynolds ran a pottery in Cove but I have as yet no firm proof that Herman and Thomas were related.


Passing on the Pottery Business

There are four other ways in which Herman Reynolds could have passed on his business. He could have:

  • passed skills and customers to Thomas Reynolds who set up in Cove;
  • sold his busines for cash to distribute the cash to his daughters and grandchildren;
  • passed it to his wife Margaret, who could have carried on the business, and perhaps married again;
  • given the business (before Herman died)  to one of his male grandchildren, or in trust for them in order that the grandson could carried it on thereafter.

The actual succession of the pottery business might have been any combination of any of the above. What is the evidence?


Herman's circumstances when he died

When he died Herman was cash-rich, but not overly so. He left no goods or property and, if an inventory was ever taken, it has not survived. He had already purchased lands worth £50 for his wife Margaret.  He had £44 in the hands of Henry Booke of Chertsey. Herman had another £5 in the hands of Robert Puttock of Hawley, in Yateley parish. This could be ready money or could represent a debtor for finished goods. His daughter Alice's eldest girl Elizabeth received £5 and her other five children received £3 each, but Herman's daughter Grace received £5 for herself and her children received only £1 each. Alice was appointed executor and received the residue. The business does not figure in Harman Reynold's will. This leaves it open as to which daughter is the key to the succession of the business?  Alice received no cash for herself, but he children benefitted greater than Grace's children


Herman Reynolds was an Alien

Herman Reynolds was a foreigner who paid the subsidy in 1585 as an alien. In 1598 he was still paying tax as an alien. As an alien he was not allowed by law to purchase or bequeath property. Herman Reynolds may have become a denizen - ie become a naturalised citizen after 1598, but as a denizen he would have paid double the tax rate of his tax assessment of a native born person, whether he was assessed on goods or land. We need to check whether he applied for naturalisation since, if he could not own property, he could not own the land on which a pottery was situated. Until 1598 and even after that date Herman Reynolds was likely to have been an employee working in someone else‘s pottery, rather than an entrepreneur owning his own pottery. Herman Reynolds could have worked for either of the other two known potteries: those of Richard Dee and Robert Wright, or someone else we do not yet know about. But the longer he stayed in Farnborough, and the greater the success of his designs, Herman Reynolds probably hankered to set up his own business. The question is whether he became naturalised and set up business in his own right, perhaps on his own land, or whether he set up business in the name of his relations. Since he purchased property in his second wife's name, and his will included only cash payments and there was no inventory, the present evidence points to Herman being an alien until the end of his life. If so his pottery business must have been in someone else's name


Was Herman's business passed to Thomas Reynolds?

I have no proof yet that Thomas Reynolds was any relation of Herman. Thomas Reynolds appears to be a generation younger than Herman, and Thomas appears to have been a British citizen. Children of immigrants became full citizens at birth. It is possible that Thomas was Herman‘s nephew and that Thomas' father had been the first immigrant and had encouraged Herman to come to England when he saw the new developments in the Borderware potteries. It is possible then that Herman took on Thomas as his apprentice. But all this is conjecture.


It would be relatively easy to set up a new pottery kiln in Cove, a different village in a different manor, and for Thomas to transfer customers to the new business. It would be even easier to relocate a potter's wheel if Herman was only involved in designing and throwing the pottery, and not the firing. So the continuation of Herman‘s Farnborough business as Thomas‘ business in Cove is feasible. Richard Wright's Farnborough business was continued as his son Robert Wright's business in Cove - even within the father's own lifetime. But this hypothesis of transferring Herman's business in Farnborough to Thomas's on Cove depends on Thomas Reynolds being closely related to Herman.  It also depends on Herman giving preference to Thomas over his wife, his own children and grandchildren. So more research must be carried out to establish if there was a relationship between Herman and Thomas. At present I think this hypothesis is not likely to be true.


Did Herman Reynolds sell his business for cash?

The £44 owed to Herman Reynolds by Henry Brooke may have been payment for finished goods sold to Brookes acting as a merchant based in Chertsey. On the other hand this money could represent the value of Herman's business which he had already sold and which Henry Brooke intended to run using other potters.


We have recently learned from the Addlestone Historical Society that a Borderware pottery existed in Addlestone in the early 17th century. The West Surrey FHS have provided details of the will of John Watts of Chertsey, potter, dated 9 Oct 1682. David Barker of the Addlestone Historical Society has also found references to another branch of the Watts family operating as potters in Pirbright:


JOHN WATTS son of JOHN WATTS, potter of PIRBRIGHT apprenticed to ANTHONY WATTS 16th April 1685 (Basket Makers Company). Source: London Apprentice lists compiled by Cliff Webb.

This John Watts of Pirbright is the brother of Thomas Watts, the potter of Ash, who made his will 9 Apr 1676. Potteries existed in Ash before Herman Reynolds arrived in Farnborough, and there is as yet no evidence for a close family relationship between the branches of the Watts families of Farnborough, Ash and Chertsey. So the evidence to support the hypothesis that Herman Reynolds sold his business to Henry Brookes is very flimsy. It is more likely that Brookes was a merchant intermediary for sales of Borderware to the London Market. The evidence that members of the Watts family were potters in Addlestone, Pirbright and Ash suggests a connection between Herman's business and the family his two daughters married into.


Did Herman's second wife Margaret take over the business?

Gillian (orginal sp: Julyan) was buried in Farnborough on 1 Aug 1595. This could have been death of Herman‘s first wife (the mother of Alice and Grace) or it could have been the burial of a fourth daughter. Judith, daughter of 'Harmon Rinalds' had been baptised on 27 Apr 1586 and buried on 6 May 1587. So Margaret, Herman‘s wife when he died could have been his second wife, and a younger women. There is plenty of evidence in the literature of younger widows carrying on their dead husband‘s business, and some widows married apprentices who, by marriage, then took title to the businesses. In order to find out whether Margaret Reynolds remarried, and if so to whom, a thorough search of the Farnborough registers is required.



Did Herman Reynolds leave the business to the Watts family?

None of Herman‘s grandchildren were older than 10 when he died. Any desire on his part to leave his business to his male grandchildren would have necessitated an interim arrangement, which might even have been a continuation of an existing situation. We know that the Watts family owned property in Farnborough, and perhaps they owned the land on which Herman Reynolds operated the pottery. Herman‘s is son-in-law, Alice's husband Nicholas Watts, owned property at Hooke in Farnborough.


The earliest record of Hook in the Hampshire Record Office CALM database is a copy of a court roll (18M67/279) being the surrender of a messuage and land by Henry Rogers alias Marner (one of our potters). This land included a meadow called Hook Mead, and land on the west of Hook Lane. There appears to be no Hook Lane in Farnborough today. But it seems likely that Henry Rogers and Nicholas Watts were near neighbours. More research may determine the exact location of each copyholding.


A Nicholas Watts had a son named William baptised in Farnborough on 20 April 1600. Was this the William Watts who was apprenticed to Thomas Brown, the stoneware manufacturer of Queenhythe in 1614? The dates are right for the 14 year old to start his apprenticeship. However William Watts the apprentice came not from Farnborough but from Yateley parish, which then included Cove and Hawley. There are therefore several William Watts to choose from. There is another problem in linking the apprentice to Herman‘s son-in-law. There were two Watts children baptised in 1600: William in April and Elizabeth Watts on 13 Jul 1600. William is recorded as the son of Nicholas Watts of Southwood, and Elizabeth was daughter of Nicholas Watts of Farnborough parish. So including Nicholas Watts of Bramshott there were at least three comtemporary Nicholas Watts living within a few miles of each other. An Elizabeth Watts is mentioned in Herman Reynolds‘ will as being the daughter of his daughter Alice Watts of Farnborough. So although William Watts the apprentice at Queenhythe was not Herman‘s grandson he may have been baptised in Farnborough.


CONCLUSION (7 Jan 2008)

There is as yet not enough evidence to support any of my four hypothesis as to what became of Herman Reynolds‘ pottery business in Farnborough. Of course there is always the fifth possibility that he had not business, that Herman was a pottery designer, only owned a potter‘s wheel, worked for someone else‘s business and perhaps amassed about £100 at the time of his death from his artisan income and from being a master of apprentices. This seems to me unlikely. But, to track the onward progression of the Borderware technology in Farnborough, and across the subregion, we need to find much more evidence to determine what did happen to Herman Reynold‘s business.


Key questions for the archaeologists is (a) whether the rheinish style of pottery persisted in Farnborough after 1609 and (b) did this style migrate to Cove and elsewhere and if so, from what date did it commence and finish at each location?


Back to biography of Herman Reynolds


Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.