Wednesday, 3 October 2012

From White To Proffitt White.

 (Continued from previous blog):-We presume that Elizabeth's surname was Profitt since, as described in the next paragraph, many of Thomas and Elizabeth's children were given the added name of Profitt (with spelling variants, usually Proffitt) and later the name was double-barelled with White.

  The Family of Thomas and Elizabeth (Proffitt) White

  Thomas and Elizabeth (Proffitt) White had a large number of children in keeping with the rest of the White family at that time:- Mary (born 1838), Hannah (born 1842), Thomas (1843), William Proffitt White (born 1845), Betsy Proffitt White (baptised at St. Laurence Church on 7 April 1846), Henry John Proffitt White (baptised in Shotteswell on 3 April 1849), Francis Proffitt White (baptised 23 May 1851), Fred Proffitt White (baptised 18 July 1852), Laura Proffitt White (baptised 3 July 1854), Ben John Proffitt White (baptised 22 May 1857) and Septimus Proffitt White (baptised 14 October 1860). The 1841 census finds Thomas and Elizabeth living in Shotteswell and Thomas working as a farmer. In their household they had four servants and a woman called Sarah Gardner, age 19 and "independent", living with them. The 1851 census finds them still living in Shotteswell and Thomas is recorded as a farmer of a magnificent total of 540 acres employing 11 men and 7 boys in the fields. I suspect that they were the grandest people in the village at that time, short of the lord of the manor. I have not been able to locate an "Elizabeth Profitt" living in the general area before the marriage of Thomas and Elizabeth and it may be that her surname was not Profitt. Perhaps Sarah Gardner's presence in the 1841 census is significant and that she was Elizabeth's sister meaning that Elizabeth's maiden name was Gardner. In the 1841 census we find that there are numerous members of the Gardner family living in Hornton, Sarah was almost certainly visiting from her home there though whether as a friend or a relative I can not yet say. But, as mentioned below, "Gardner" was to be used in a later generation as a middle name which may imply that the Gardners were related by marriage to the Whites although there is an item in the London Gazette of 1 April 1864 which details a petition submitted to Chancery by William Proffitt White, "gentleman",  together with a number of Gardners - of Balscott - which may suggest a more recent connection between the Profitt-Whites and the Gardners but the fact that the connection is with the village of Balscott, William P-W's mother's birth place, may suggest that the connection goes back further and that Elizabeth was Elizabeth Gardner rather than Elizabeth Profitt.. 
 Although Profitt is a name that can be found in censuses in this period in Oxfordshire, it is found a distance away around Woodstock rather than in northern Oxfordshire around Banbury. However a single Profitt  - William - is found in the 1841 census living at nearby Hornton. He was then aged 70 and described as "independent". Hornton is about 3 miles north of Balscott/Balscote, where the censuses record that Elizabeth was born and Hornton is only a couple of miles east of Shotteswell, so there is no reason to doubt that the Whites would have known William Profitt and given their ability to marry into money, if Elizabeth were William Profitt's daughter - she would have been a highly suitable heiress for one of them to marry. William Profitt probably died in Warwick in 1862 but for some reason Thomas and Elizabeth White began to use "Profitt" as a middle name for their children from 1845, perhaps to honour her father whose wealth enriched the family. It may be that William was related in some other way to Elizabeth, perhaps an uncle or cousin, or perhaps he was a close friend of the family who was expected to leave his wealth to the Whites, not having heirs from his own family, and the Whites wanted to honour him by giving his name to all the children born from 1845 as a way of binding him closer to them and ensuring a tighter grip on a future bequeathment.
  1861 provides us with an interesting entry. Thomas' land was then recorded as just 200 acres, perhaps the economic climate was biting at his farming business as well as poor old William White who seemed to have lost everything, but he was still employing 12 men and 4 boys. Among the long list of his children's names in the household are those of their servants including Jane White, then aged 17 and born in Shotteswell. The only person who fits that description is Judith Jane White, daughter of "Gentleman" Richard and his wife Jane, and the fact that his daughter was working in his cousin's household as a servant backs up the impression that he had lost his fortune (although still a gentleman) and must have been rather demeaning to him. The "Proffitt" Whites did not even have the good grace to describe Jane as a cousin, she is firmly listed as a servant. Perhaps the "Proffitt" Whites were rather pleased at the bringing down of a preening, if poorer, relative - a case of schaudenfreude
  Thomas White died on 15 March 1866 and was buried at St. Laurence Churchyard on 21 March 1866 in a large tomb very close to the church itself. The tomb reflected his wealth in death as in life and the following year his son, Thomas, was also buried in it having died at the age of 24 on 19 June 1867 and been buried a day later. This tomb is now a listed "building" as are a number of other monuments in the graveyard. Thomas' will, with two codicils, was proved on 26 December 1866 at The Principal Registry by three executors: his sons Thomas and William Proffit White and Thomas Robert Page of Adderbury, his son-in-law, who had married his eldest daughter, Mary, at St. Laurence Church in 1857. The effects were valued at "under  £8,000", (the modern equivalent being about £700,000).
  Elizabeth took over as the head of the family and in the 1871 census she is recorded as a 48 year old widow who is "retired". Living with her are Henry (recorded as "Harry", aged 22 - "farmer's son"), Laura (15), Benjohn (13) and Septimus (10). They have just one servant in the household and in 1881 she retains her title as "head" of the family, now described as "independent",  and the household has shrunk to include Benjohn (farmer of 269 acres employing 2 men and 3 boys) and Septimus (farmer of 196 acres employing 3 men and 1 boy) as well as Laura and one male servant. 
 Elizabeth White died on 30 December 1887 and was buried at St. Laurence Church on 6 January 1888. I suspect that she was quite a matriarch having reached the age of 69 and that her passing was probably a notable event in the history of Shotteswell village. Her son, Francis Proffitt White, died the following year and was buried on 6 January in St. Laurence Churchyard (bizarrely 6 January seems to have been the date for burying Whites since William White was also buried on that date in 1872). Another of Elizabeth's sons, Henry John had also died at a young age, 26 - on 3 January 1876 but his burial was on 10 January 1876.
  Benjohn Proffitt White and Septimus Proffitt White were the only two sons who were left alive to inherit the wealth of the "Proffitt" Whites and as we saw in the 1881 census, it appears to have been divided between them so that each had a considerable amount of land to farm. Benjohn's appearance in the 1891 census is therefore surprising as he was then living in the hamlet of Williamscote in the parish of Wardington where he was living with his wife and family and was employed as a "Cattle Dealer". Benjohn's marriage took place at Foleshill in Warwickshire and is registered in the final quarter of 1881. He had married Caroline Clarke Hazlewood who was born In Cloudsley in 1854 and on 23 August 1882, their first child, Thomas Henry Proffitt White, was baptised at St. Laurence Church in Shotteswell. Subsequent children were:- Mary Hazlewood Proffitt White (baptised 26 October 1883), Ben John Proffitt White (9 May 1886) and Elizabeth Gardner Proffitt White (10 May 1887) - the name of Gardner is interesting and harks back to the presence of Sarah Gardner in the 1841 census. (see above). By the 1901 census, the family had left the vicinity of Shotteswell and was living in Holly Lane in Sutton Coldfield where Benjohn was employed as a "foreman on farm". The census calls him "Benjamin J.P. White" and Caroline is misrecorded as Catherine C. White while Ben John Junior is "Benjamin J.P. White" and Elizabeth is "Elizabeth J. P." Clearly accurate records were not a priority in Sutton Coldfield in 1901.
  The 1911 census finds Ben John (there are varying versions of his name in official documents throughout his life), then aged 51, still living in Sutton Coldfield, this time at Brook Farm in Lindridge Road. He is described as a farm bailiff in this census and still living with him are Caroline, Ben John Junior (aged 24, employed as a "milkman on farm") and Elizabeth (23, a "book keeper" both children being still unmarried). Ben John died on 4 April 1917 at Brook Farm. Administration of his will took place in London on 18 May 1917 to "Caroline Proffitt-White" (note that the family had by then begun to fully "double-barrel" their name so that appeared in this form in official documents, perhaps it was to compensate for the reduction in their financial status since, considering Benjohn had once been a farmer of about 300 acres, his effects amounted to a rather modest sum of £68 19s 10d). Caroline died some years later on 31 January 1930, her home then being Berryfields, Hollyfield Road in Sutton Coldfield. Probate of her will was completed on 15 September 1930 in Birmingham, her effects totaling a rather larger sum of £780 19s 5d which was left to her son Thomas Henry Proffitt-White, then an auctioneer (died in the second quarter of 1949 in Lewes in Sussex) and "Mary Haslewood Proffitt White Spinster" (she remained a spinster throughout her life and died in Sutton Coldfield at the age of 76 in the last quarter of 1960). Ben John Junior married Mary Hipkiss in Tamworth in Staffordshire in the last quarter of December 1912 and eventually died in Sutton Coldfield at the age of 76 in the last quarter of 1962.
  Unlike Benjohn Senior, his younger brother, Septimus, seems to have held on to a considerable wealth until his death. The reason for calling him Septimus is something of a puzzle for he was his parents' eleventh, and not seventh, child. We have seen above how he was described in the 1881 census as a "farmer of 196 acres" and the 1888 Warwickshire Directory he was described along with James Hawtin White as a farmer in Shotteswell. In the second quarter of 1890 he had married Victoria Annie Edwards (born 1864 in Ramsden in Oxfordshire) in Witney and they had moved to live in the Manor House at Bourton in Oxfordshire where they are found to be in the 1891 census and Septimus is described as a farmer. On the night of the census they are recorded as having two visitors - Ellen Edwards, age 20, a teacher of painting - apparently Victoria's sister - and Lily Wyatt, 21, a teacher of music. They also had two servants in their household, Annie Bosberry, a domestic servant from Hook Norton, and the intriguingly named Hawtin Washbook, the 34 year old groom, whose birthplace, even if it were not recorded, would clearly have originated in Shotteswell with a name like that.
  The couple soon moved on to Steane in Northamptonshire where their only child, Tom W. Proffitt White, was born in the following year, 1892. The 1901 census records that they were living in the Steane Grounds at Steane and with them was 22 year old J. Evelyn Mackarness, described as a "pupil to farming". In the 1907 Kelly's Directory for Warwickshire, Septimus is listed twice as a farmer in Bloxham and also Sydenham, Adderbury East, Banbury. Septimus seems to have had his finger in more than one pie. By the 1911 census, his address is recorded as being 41 to 43 Landsdowne Crescent, Willes Road in Leamington. Apart from Victoria, who is now described as boarding house keeper, the household includes three domestic servants whose employment is related to the boarding house (a cook and two housemaids). Apparently Victoria had found herself something to occupy herself while Septimus was involved with his farming. This boarding house may have been "La Plaisance First Class Hotel" where Septimus' sister, Laura, lived until her death in 1909 (see below).
  Septimus died on 8 May 1936 at The Tracey Nursing Home, West Bar in Banbury and was buried in St. Laurence churchyard on 12 May 1936. Probate was granted on his will on 12 August 1936 and gave his address as 57 Bath Road in Banbury. Probate was granted to "Victoria Ann White widow" and "Charles Norman Bradshaw farmer", the total effects being £3958 1s 10d. Victoria herself died on 8 October 1952 and was buried with her husband in St. Laurence graveyard on 11 October 1952.
  Laura Proffitt White, the sister of Septimus and Benjohn, became involved in a mild scandal at the age of 21 when she lent £200 (modern day equivalent being £10000) in 1876 and 1877 to a Joseph Malings to enable him to purchase Deddington Mission Hall. This act may imply that Laura was a Methodist or perhaps she had developed a personal attachment to Malings but in all events, Malings failed to repay the debt and together with her solicitor, Harry Kilby, who had also made a loan, though smaller, to Malings and with other creditors, Laura forced the sale of the Mission Hall and eventually Malings was declared bankrupt. A sum of £147 was restored to Laura but the rest was lost. Perhaps Laura's trust in men was destroyed as a result of her dealings with Joseph Malings - she may have felt that if any took an interest in her they were really only interested in her money, but she never married and became a resident at "La Plaisance" and indeed a contemporary postcard depicting the hotel shows three ladies standing outside with one identified in an inscription "Lady Resident, Miss Profitt White". Laura remained a spinster throughout her life till she died on 29 January 1909 at the age of 54. One imagines she had become a formidable figure in the society of "La Plaisance" and when probate of her will was passed in London on 27 April 1909 to her brother Septimus, her effects totaled the not inconsiderable sum of £1928 11s.
  As mentioned above, the 1911 census recorded only two people with the surname "White" to still be living in Shotteswell - Tom and Florence White who were both recorded as being farmers. They were the children of William Proffitt (son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Proffitt/Gardner) White) and Hannah Eliza White. Hannah was born in the village of Shenington in Oxfordshire in 1831 and the couple had four children:- Elizabeth Marian, baptised 5 January 1870 at St. Laurence Church, Louisa Proffitt, baptised 8 January 1871, Tom, born 1873 and Florence, born 1875 posthumously as her father had died, aged 30, on 29 August 1874 and been buried at St Laurence Churchyard on 3 September 1874. The 1901 census records Hannah as being a farmer and with her are her three children apart from Elizabeth Marian who had married her cousin, John Ledbrook White (James Hawtin and Annie White's son), who was a farmer in Wigginton (their marriage was registered at Banbury in the fourth quarter of 1893). Hannah died on 27 February 1909 in Shotteswell and probate was granted to Elizabeth and Louisa at Birmingham on 12 June 1909 with effects totaling £1100 2s 6d and on reswearing, the sum of £1334 16s 3d. Louisa apparently experienced some mental illness subsequently and died in Hatton Asylum in Warwickshire on 3 October 1918, the administration of her will taking place in Birmingham on 28 April 1919 to her brother, Tom, and effects totaled £293 10s 11d.
  Elizabeth Marian & John Ledbrook White had a number of children whose baptisms are recorded in the Shotteswell parish records:- Cyril John, born 15 June 1895, baptised 2 September 1894, Norman Oliver, born 5 January 1897 and baptised 21 February 1897, Arthur William, baptised 3 July 1897 and Lilian Kate, baptised 3 November 1907. In the 1901 census, two other children are recorded who do not appear in the Shotteswell baptism records:- James Arthur, age 5, and Gladys, 1. John Ledbrook is described as a farmer in the census record of 1901 as is also the case in the 1911 census, By then, he and Elizabeth Marian had had more children:- Eric Ledbrook White (born 1901), Constance Alice (1902) and George (1903). Also in their household was a general domestic servant and Cyril and James, then aged 16 and 15 respectively, were described as "farmer son working on farm". A seventh child's birth, aptly named Septimus Thomas, was registered at Banbury in 1912. John Ledbrook White remained in Wigginton until his death on 16 January 1941 and probate was granted to Norman, George, Cyril and Septimus on 7 July 1941 when the total effects amounted to £4847 16s 7d. Elizabeth had previously died on 26 October 1931 at Wigginton, probate of her will being granted to Gladys Broughton, her daughter then married, and a farmer called Albert Tustian, the total effects being £211 2s 3d.
  Tom W. Proffitt White, by then a farmer, son of Septimus and Victoria Proffitt White, and his wife Mary Elizabeth were living at The Mount in Shotteswell when their first child, Tom Proffitt, was born on 2 November 1915 and he was baptised at St. Laurence Church on 17 November 1915. Subsequently the couple had Lionel Tom, born 23 February 1917 and baptised 8 April 1917 and William Proffitt (baptised 2 January 1921). Of the brother and sister couple who were the only Whites recorded in Shotteswell in the 1911 census, Florence Emily, still a spinster and a farmer at Church Farm in Shotteswell, died at Horton General Hospital in Banbury on 11 April 1939 and probate was granted on 16 June 1939, once more, to Gladys Broughton and Albert Tustian, the total effects amounting to £529 5s 10d. Presumably, her brother, Tom had died by then but I have not identified when that occured.


  1. Hello, My name is Timothy Proffitt-White. My father was Christopher Proffitt-White, son of Thomas Proffitt-White, whose father was Septimus, (7th son) My Great Grandfather. I grew up in Shotteswell as did my sister and we are both very keen to correspond with you about our family history!

    1. Dear Timothy

      I was wondering if I could contact you regarding your family history as I have some information you may be interested in.

      Kind Regards

      Nicola Nash

  2. Hi Timothy,

    If you wish to contact me regarding our families I would be pleased to hear from you.


    John Proffitt