THE BIG RED BOOK 7

THE RIGHT WORSHIPFULL JOHN TAPSON OF PLYMOUTH, GROCER

This marriage occurred 17 June 1718:
John Tapson of Plymouth, Grocer, & Agnes Battishill of Ilsington, Spinster.

However, the marriage was to be short-lived, for only nine months after the issue of the marriage licence a burial was recorded in the Ilsington register: 10 Mar 1718 Agnes Tapson wife of John Tapson Gent

The original meaning of the word grocer implied a wholesale merchant and not, as nowadays, the owner of a small retail outlet, so it seems probable that John was an importer of foodstuffs and probably had warehouses on the quayside at Plymouth. In the Sessions Book of the Borough of Plymouth a list of jurors for the year 1711 includes the name John Tapson Grocer, which probably implies that John was a freeman of the Borough. Subsequently John’s name occurs several times in this context — certainly in 1724, 1726, 1727, 1729 and 1730.

John, as a master grocer, took on apprentices in 1712 and 1717.

The Receiver of Plymouth was a member of the Corporation appointed to the post for one year. The Receivers’ Book of Accounts IV gives the incomings and outgoings for each year; the list of receipts for the mayoral year 1719-20 begins:

Here followeth the acd of Mr John Tapson Receiver of the buri° of Plym. from the nine and twentieth day of September ….1719 to the nine and twentieth day of September …. 1720 in the Mayoralty of the R { Worshipfull W 771 Bartlett Gould This is followed by the fist of items received, totalling £1000 – 07 – 03%. The expenditure for the same year is headed:
Here followeth an acd of such charges as have been disbursed and laid out by the said Receiver Mr John Tapson for the said year….
The items listed total £874 – 01 – 03%; this left a balance of £126 – 06 – 00% to be paid by Mr John Tapson the late Receiver to MT Matthew Roe the present Receiver
Subsequently, in 1721, 1724 and 1736, John Tapson was one of the auditors. And the accounts for 1730-31 are introduced thus:
Here follows the Account of M r Michael Nicolls Receiver of the Burrough of Plymouth from the nine and twentieth day of September …. 1730 to the nine and twentieth day of September …. 1731 in the Mayoralty of the Rl Worshipfull John Tapson Grocer
So John had been elected First Citizen of the Borough.
The year after his mayoralty John bought a lease on land in the parish of Bickleigh, which is immediately to the south-east of Buckland Monachorum parish; the conveyancing indenture is dated 12 June 1732:

Assignment of Lease dated 12 June 1732
This indenture made the Twelth Day of June …. 1732 Between Madam Mary Dean of Maristow in the County of Devon Widow of the One part And John Tapson of Plymouth in the County aforesaid Grocer of the other partt Witnesseth thatt the said Madam Maiy Dean for and in consideracon of the sum of One Hundred and Eighty pounds of lav/full Brittish money to her in hand paid by the said
John Tapson …. Doth Demise Lease grant and to faim sett and left unto the said John Tapson his Executors and Assigns the Reversion of All thatt Messuage and Tenement with the Appurtenances comonly called …. Bickleigh town and Halshill situate lying and being within the Mannor and parish of Bickleigh …. and now in the possession of the said John Tapson …. And all Orchards gardens Meadows pastures feedings underwoods and other Appurtenances …. Together with common of pasture upon Roborough down and Woollwell down belonging to the said Mannor of Bickleigh for soe many Beasts Cattle and Sheep as the said premisses can keep in winter Excepting and always reserving outt of this demise and Lease unto the said Madam Mary Dean her heirs and Assigns all Timbertrees of Oake ash and Elm and all coppice woods now growing or hereafter to grow in and upon the premisses with free liberty to her and them att all times to …. fell down work up and carry’ away the same att all times. To lease …. unto the said John Tapson ….for and during the full term and time of Ninety Nine Years ….

Presumably John had bought the lease on the property at Bickleigh in preparation for his retirement.
Then, less than two years later, he remarried; the marriage entry in the parish register of Pitminster, near Taunton, Somersetshire, reads:

11 Feb 1734 Mr John Tapson & Mrs Hannah Webb of Bickleigh, by licence.

John’s burial is recorded in the register of Plymouth St. Andrew:

29 Jul 1738 M T John Tapson

Possibly because he had no children, John had failed to make a will. Administration of his estate was granted by the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PRO PROB6/114 Fo. 124) on 18 August 1738 to his widow:

THE OLD PLYMOUTH GUILDHALL

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