Thomas Rossell Potter

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Thomas Rossell Potter
The Hermitage in Wymeswold [1]
Born7 January 1799 [2]
Died19 April 1873 (1873-04-20) (aged 74)
EducationRisley and Wirksworth grammar schools
OccupationTeacher and antiquary
Spouse(s)Frances Fosbrooke of Shardlow
Parent(s)John and Mary (nee Rossell)

Thomas Rossell Potter (7 January 1799 19 April 1873) was a British antiquary. He started a school in Leicestershire, but he is known for his publications about the history and geology of Leicestershire. He was the editor of a number of local newspapers.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea separates Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Leicestershire County of England

Leicestershire is a landlocked county in the English Midlands. The county borders Nottinghamshire to the north, Lincolnshire to the north-east, Rutland to the east, Northamptonshire to the south-east, Warwickshire to the south-west, Staffordshire to the west, and Derbyshire to the north-west. The border with most of Warwickshire is Watling Street.


Born at West Hallam, Derbyshire to John and Mary Potter, he went to Risley grammar school, and later to the grammar school at Wirksworth. When he was fifteen his parents removed to Wymeswold in Leicestershire, and there he resided until his death. [2]

West Hallam village in Erewash district, Derbyshire, England

West Hallam is a large village and civil parish close to Ilkeston in the county of Derbyshire in the East Midlands region of England. West Hallam has had its own parish council since 1894 and, since 1974, has been part of the Erewash borough. The population of the civil parish was 4,829 at the 2001 census reducing to 4,686 at the 2011 census.

Derbyshire ceremonial county in East Midlands, England

Derbyshire is a county in the East Midlands of England. A substantial portion of the Peak District National Park lies within Derbyshire, containing the southern extremity of the Pennine range of hills which extend into the north of the county. The county contains part of the National Forest, and borders on Greater Manchester to the northwest, West Yorkshire to the north, South Yorkshire to the northeast, Nottinghamshire to the east, Leicestershire to the southeast, Staffordshire to the west and southwest and Cheshire also to the west. Kinder Scout, at 636 metres (2,087 ft), is the highest point in the county, whilst Trent Meadows, where the River Trent leaves Derbyshire, is its lowest point at 27 metres (89 ft). The River Derwent is the county's longest river at 66 miles (106 km), and runs roughly north to south through the county. In 2003 the Ordnance Survey placed Church Flatts Farm at Coton in the Elms as the furthest point from the sea in Great Britain.

Wirksworth town and civil parish in Derbyshire Dales district, Derbyshire, England

Wirksworth is a market town in the Derbyshire Dales district of Derbyshire, England, with a population recorded as 5,038 in the 2011 census. It contains the source of the River Ecclesbourne. The town was granted a market charter by Edward I in 1306. The market is held today on Tuesdays in the Memorial Gardens. The parish church of St Mary's is thought to date from 653. Wirksworth developed as a centre for lead mining and later stone quarrying. Many lead mines in the area were owned by the Gell family of nearby Hopton Hall.

Potter's intention of entering the church was frustrated by his father's death, and Potter accordingly started a school on Elm Street in Wymeswold called "The Hermitage" (pictured). [1] The school proved successful, and, with the exception of a few years devoted entirely to literary work, he spent the remainder of his days in tuition. The account below is taken from a schoolbook by Thomas Wamer Lacey which was rediscovered in a record office in 1999. [1] He wrote:

"... I then came to Mr Potters of Wymeswould, he is a very kind master, and Mrs Potter is a kind mistress, and was like a mother to us all, and will always be remembered by us. Mr Potter takes us a fishing, and bathing, and we have delightful walks, a pleasant playground, pretty little gardens, rabbithouses, &c. furnish amusements for us in the Summer evenings. In Winter we have a Library of Books to run to, a magic lantern to amuse us, and many a long hour do we spend in listening to Mr P~s tales round the cheerful fire..." [1]

A notable student of his was the antiquarian John Joseph Briggs. [3]

John Joseph Briggs British naturalist

John Joseph Briggs, naturalist and topographer, was born in the village of Kings Newton, Derbyshire on 6 March 1819. His father, John Briggs, who married his cousin, Mary Briggs, was born and resided for 88 years on the same farm, at Kings Newton, which had been the freehold of his ancestors for three centuries.

Potter had developed a taste for literature, and especially for antiquities and geology. In 1841/42 [1] he temporarily removed from Wymeswold to a house in Charnwood Forest, and while there he collected notes about the history, antiquities, natural history, and geology of the area. This became The History and Antiquities of Charnwood Forest. [2] [4] [5]

Charnwood Forest picturesque upland area in north-western Leicestershire, England

Charnwood Forest is an upland tract in north-western Leicestershire, England, bounded by Leicester, Loughborough and Coalville. The area is undulating, rocky and picturesque, with barren areas. It also has some extensive tracts of woodland; its elevation is generally 600 feet (180 m) and upwards, the area exceeding this height being about 6,100 acres (25 km2). The highest point, Bardon Hill, is 912 feet (278 m). On its western flank lies an abandoned coalfield, with Coalville and other former mining villages, now being regenerated and replanted as part of the National Forest. The M1 motorway, between junctions 22 and 23, cuts through Charnwood Forest.

Potter attempted a reissue of the History of Leicestershire by John Nichols, but his effort proved abortive, and, though much was written, only the Physical Geography and Geology of Leicestershire was printed (in 1866).

Potter was fond of field sports, was a regular attender at meets of the Quorn Hunt, and contributed a series of papers and poems for the Sporting Magazine from 1827 until 1840, under the pseudonym of Old Grey. He afterwards wrote for the Sporting Review. He became editor of the Leicester Advertiser in 1849, of the Ilkeston Pioneer in 1856, and of the Leicester Guardian in 1858. In 1865 he was editor of the Loughborough Monitor (later the Loughborough Monitor and News).

Potter married, on 14 January 1836, Frances Sarah Fosbrooke of Shardlow Hall, Derbyshire. They had five sons and four daughters. Potter predeceased his wife, dying in Wymeswold. [2]

Besides the works mentioned, he published:

  1. Walks round Loughborough , 1840.
  2. The Genius of Nottinghamshire , 1849.
  3. Rambles round Loughborough, reprinted from The Loughborough News, 1868.
  4. Poems, 1881 [6]

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Loughborough town within the Charnwood borough of Leicestershire, England

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "A Boy's Life", by Carl Harrison accessed 4 November 2007
  2. 1 2 3 4 Fletcher, William George Dimock (1896). "Potter, Thomas Rossell"  . In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography . 46. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  3. John Joseph Briggs in Dictionary of National Biography , now in the public domain
  4. Potter, T. R. (1842). The history and antiquities of Charnwood Forest. London: Hamilton, Adams, and Co.
  5. "Review: The History and Antiquities of Charnwood Forest by T. R. Potter". The Gentleman's Magazine. 174: 611–614. June 1843.
  6. Some lyrical ballads, in which local legends were incorporated, were collected after his death by his son, Charles Neville Potter