William Merritt

This photo of William Merritt comes as a result of the visit of Peter from Leicestershire the other day but it is, actually, a photo that was held in Market Lavington. It shows William Merritt.

William Merritt - 1850 to 1892. Blacksmith of Market Lavington

William Merritt – 1850 to 1892. Blacksmith of Market Lavington

So, once again we look into the Merritt family history.

William was born in 1850 and was the son of John Hampton Merritt and his wife Mary Ann. John was the blacksmith based at Broadwell.

After the 1861 census we lose track of William. Our photo shows a young man in military uniform so perhaps he was overseas. But when we find him on the 1891 census he was married (to a Littleton girl called Elizabeth) and children up to the age of 15 were all shown as born in Market Lavington.

That 1891 census shows William as a blacksmith on White Street. It seems likely he had taken over the premises formerly occupied by his father. It is also probable that the census enumerator made a mistake, for William married Emily Jane Lye in 1874.

William died in 1892 and is buried in the churchyard at Market Lavington. Emily followed him in 1914.

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4 Responses to “William Merritt”

  1. Pam Ley Says:

    I have this photo in my collection as well. It’s definitely according to my mother, as explained below my Great Grandfather William, (father of among others James Merritt, who was mine and Liz Francis grandfather)
    William in this photo married Emily Jane Lye, written on the back by my mother who was born in 1910. My mum moved to Devon at 14 yrs and spent most family time working and living with one of William’s older children Kate. Mum inherited photos and a lot of information from her, and of course often saw Kate’s photo of her father.
    We believe he died quite young not long after James was born but don’t know what the cause was.

  2. John Rogers Says:


    Just found this family in the 1881 census – see copy attached, he’s in as Merrett rather than Merritt. Hope this helps. I’ve had a look through military records, but there are quite a few with this name in the army around the 1860s/1870s, and I couldn’t seem to get a good enough match to say which, if any, is the right person.

    Regarding his wife being named as Elizabeth on the 1891 census, as you say, this appears to be a mistake, as Emily Jane Merritt appears on the 1901 census as a widow.

    I think you might find there is ample scope for confusion with William, as there seem to be more than one person with this name and born around 1850 in the area – I found another one on the 1911 census, married to a Sarah Ann, also a blacksmith, but he is a different man of course!


    John Rogers

    • marketlavingtonmuseum Says:

      Thanks yet again, John.

      Yes, I found two Williams of the same age, but as this photo came from descendants I’m confident we have the right one – confirmed by the comment from another descendant.
      Your thoughts and ideas are much appreciated.


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