The following appears in the marriage register of the Plymouth church of St. Andrew:


“15 Apr 1807 John Tapsoa of this Parish & Elizabeth Coram of this Parish by Banns in the presence of Ebsworthy Tapson, Ann Tapson & James Boulter.”


The wedding was soon followed by a baptism at Marystow:


“19 Jul 1807 Jane Coram dau of John Tapson & Elizabeth”


Two more children of John and Elizabeth were baptized at the church of Charles the Martyr, Plymouth:


“6 Jun 1813 Mary Ann dau of John & Elizabeth Tapson, Tavistock Street, Wheelwright


S Nov 1817 John son of John & Etiz^ Tapson, Tavistock Street, Wheelwright”


The THREE TOWNS’ DIRECTORY for 1822 and that for 1823 have the entry under Plymouth:


“Tapson, John, Wheelwright, Old-town-without”


In 1824 John took on an apprentice. The apprenticeship indenture, dated only by the year, illustrates the difference between a Trade and a Poor Apprentice:


“This Indenture Witnesseth that James Roberts now aged about fourteen years or thereabouts Son of Thomas Roberts of Plymouth . Doth put himself an Apprentice unto John Tapson of Plymouth aforesaid Wheelwright and Smith to learn his Art, and with him after the manner of an Apprentice, to serve from the day of the date of these presents for and during and unto the full End and Term of Seven Years, during which Term the said Apprentice his said Master faithfully shall and will serve, his Secrets keep, and all his lawful Commandments every where shall gladly do. Shall do no damage to his said Master nor see it be done of Others, but to his Power shall let or forthwith give Notice to bis said Master of the same. The Goods of his said Master he shall not Waste, nor lend them unlawfully to any. Hurt to lus said Master he shall not do nor cause to procure to be done; He shall neither Buy nor Sell without his said Masters Leave. Taverns, Inns or Alehouses he shall not Haunt. At Cards, Dice, or Tables, or any other unlawful Game he shall not Play; Matrimony he shall not contract nor from the Service of his said Master Day and Night shall absent himself; but in all Things, as an honest and faithful Apprentice, shall and will demean and behave himself towards his said Master and all Persons during all the said Term And the said John Tapson the Master for and in Consideration of the Covenants and Agreements hereinbefore and hereinafter contained Doth hereby covenant promise and agree with and to the said James Roberts and Thomas Roberts that he the said John Tapson his said Apprentice in the Art Trade or Mystery of a Wheelwright which he now usetb shall Teach and Instruct, or cause to be Taught and Instructed, the best Way and Manner that he can; he also shall and will pay and allow unto his said Apprentice the sum of one shilling weekly and every week during the first and second years of the said Term the sum of two shillings weekly and every week during the third year of the said Term the sum of three shillings weekly and every week during the fourth year of the said Term the sum of four shillings weekly and every week during the fifth year of the said Term the sum of live shillings weekly and eveiy week during the sixth year of the said Term and the sum of six shillings weekly and every week during the seventh or last year of the said Term and the said Thomas Roberts the Father Doth hereby covenant promise and agree with and to the said John Tapson in manner following that he the said James Roberts the apprentice shall and will well and faithfully and honestly serve and obey the said John Tapson as a true faithful and honest apprentice during the said Term and also that be the said Thomas Roberts shall and will find provide and allow for and to his said Son sufficient Meat Drink Washing Lodging Cloathes and wearing apparel1 and also Physick and necessary attendance in case of sickness for and during all the said Term.”


A new address is listed under Wheelwrights, in Pigot’s 1830 directory for Devonshire:

Tapson John, 8 Saltash St


This address appears in the burial entry for John’s wife in the Ebenezer Wesleyan Burial Ground:


“16 Nov 1831 Elizabeth Tapson Saltash Street, Plymouth 47”


Just under two years later John remarried at East Stonehouse: “23 Jun 1833 John Tapson of this Parish a widower & Mary Ann Johnson of this Parish a widow by Banns in the presence of John Sunmers & Elizabeth Bickford”


John was back in Saltash Street, with his second wife, for the 1841 census, when they appear in the return for the parish of St. Andrew, Plymouth:


“Saltash Street


John Tapson 54 Wheelwright Born in Devonshire


Mary Tapson 45 Not born in Devonshire


Johanna Tapson 20 Born in Devonshire”



Until a baptismal entry can be found for her it remains uncertain whether Johanna, who would have been about 13 years old at the time of the 1833 wedding, was a daughter of John and his first wife, or of Mary Ann and her first husband, since a child sometimes adopts the stepfather’s surname.


John’s Saltash Street address is given again both in Pigot’s 1844 directory and in White’s 1850 directory; and John and Mary Ann are found there in the 1851 census return for Plymouth, St. Andrew:


“8 Saltash Street John Tapson Head Mar 66 Wheelwright employing 3 men , born Devon, Bridestowe


Mary A. Tapson Wife Mar 54 born Cornwall, Penzance” together with two lodgers.


John’s place of birth and age confirm that he would have been 65 at the time of the census.


Slater’s directory of about 1852/3 lists John at 8 Saltash Street under Wheelwrights, but Billings 1857 Directory of Devon has the following entry under Plymouth:


“Tapson John, beer retailer and wheelwright, “Royal Oak’’, 8 Saltash St”


John bequeaths both businesses in his will:

“The Will of John Tapson dated 17 January 1858


I John Tapson being in ill health but of sound mind do make this as my last Will and Testament namelyI give and bequeath to my Wife Mary Ann Tapson and to my Son John Tapson my Dwelling House situate in Saltash Street and Mill Lane jointly for their use and benifit the rents and profits thereof (after paying all just claims on the same) to be divided equally between the said Mar}’ Ann and John Tapson And I give and bequeath to my said Son John my bussiness as a Wheelwright carried on in the said Premises with the use of the Workshops et. also the Timber and Tools therein for his use and benifit he paying the debts due on the said Trade or Business And I give and bequeath to my said Wife Mary Ann Tapson the beer Business now carried on in the said Premises together with the stock in trade and Utensils of the said Beer Trade for her Use and Benifit And I give and bequeath all my Household Furniture Plate and Clothes et. to my said Wife for her Use and Benifit And I hereby propose and direct that the necessary expences of my funeral shall be paid jointly by the said Mary Ann & John Tapson from the first proceeds of the Rents of the said House & Premises And I hereby appoint M r Joseph Pearse of New Passage and M r William Bickford as my Trustees and Executors of this my last Will and Testament . This Seventeenth day of January One Thousand Eight Hundred and Fifty Eight. And I hereby appoint my said Wife Mary Ann the Administratrix to this my will to let the Apartments to receive the Rents thereof to pay all just demands on the same and to divide the overplus thereof equall between herself & my Son John every Half Year under the sanction of one of the Trustees Signed and delivered by me John Tapson.”


The will was witnessed by William Bickford, Robt Besley and Elizabeth Bickford (who made her mark); the third of these witnesses was perhaps the Elizabeth Bickford who had been a witness at John’s marriage to Mary Ann in 1833.


John died on 16 March 1858, just two months after drawing up his will; he was buried at the Ebenezer Wesleyan Burial Ground, Plymouth, where his first wife had been buried:


“20 Mar 1858 John Tapson Saltash St, Plymouth 72”


His will was proved on 20 December 1858, the first Tapson will to be proved in the civil probate court.


The 1851 census return for Stoke Damerel shows John’s eldest daughter staying with her aunt:


“No 2 Brunswick Cottages


Ann Coram Head 59 House Property Cornwall, Saltash


Jane C. Tapson Niece Un 43 Devon, Marystow”


Jane Coram was also buried at the Ebenezer Wesleyan Burial Ground:


“27 Nov 1879 Jane Coram Tapson Plympton St 72”


Accurate ages were recorded for Jane Coram and her father, who were both 72 years old


The 1881 census return for Pennycross in  the northern part of Plymouth formerly the parish of Weston Peverell, has the entry:


“Peverell Terrace


Elizabeth Harvey Head Un 58 Devon, Plymstock


Mary A. Tapson Visitor Un 64 Devon, Plymouth”


Mary Ann would have been 67 years old. She was still at this address when she made her will:


“The Will of Mary Ann Tapson dated 22 April 1886


The last Will and Testament of Mary Ann Tapson Spinster of 10 Peverill Terrace in the Tything of Pennycross County of Devon I give devise and bequeath to my Nephew John Tapson only Son of my dear and beloved Brother deceased John Tapson of Plymouth. I devise to my Nephew the said John Tapson belonging at present to H.M. Coastguard ail my freehold property situate 8 Saltash Street and 1 Mill Street in the Borough of Plymouth County of Devon with all priveliges pertaining thereto for his especial use and benefit during his life and at his decease the said property to descend to his Sons as tenants in common, if no Sons living to inherit the said property to descend to his Daughters as tenants in common independent of marital controul I direct that the property is not to be sold or mortgaged I also bequeath the family walled grave in Ebenezer Wesleyan Burying Ground Saltash Street to the said John Tapson and direct that it be kept in repair I also appoint the said John Tapson whole and sole Executor to this my last Will and Testament Mary Ann Tapson”


Mary Ann would have been 76 years old when she died on 16 October 1889 at Pennycross; she was buried in the Ebenezer Wesleyan Burial Ground:


“19 Oct 1889 Mary Ann Tapson 10 Peverell Terrace, Plympton, Plymouth 74”


Probate of her will was granted on 3 March 1896 at Exeter to John Tapson, the Nephew. Her brother, John, had already been buried in the family grave at the Ebenezer Wesleyan Burial Ground, which was opened in 1817, but destroyed by bombing during World War II. The only other Tapson burial there was the earliest, that of Ann Tapson in May 1831, six months before the burial of John’s first wife; this suggests that she was the mother of John.

churches-methodist-ebenezer SALTASH STREET PLYMOUTH