Potter, Thomas Rossell (DNB00)

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POTTER, THOMAS ROSSELL (1799–1873), antiquary, son of John Potter of West Hallam, Derbyshire, by his wife Mary Rossell, was born at West Hallam on 7 Jan. 1799. He was educated first at the Risley grammar school, and afterwards at the grammar school at Wirksworth. When he was fifteen his parents removed to Wymeswold in Leicestershire, and there he resided until his death.

His intention of taking orders was frustrated by his father's death, and Potter accordingly started a school at Wymeswold. 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. From his schooldays he had developed a taste for literature, and especially for antiquities and geology. In 1842 he temporarily removed from Wymeswold to a house on Charnwood Forest, and while living here employed his leisure in collecting notes upon the history, antiquities, natural history, and geology of that district, which he worked up into a volume, entitled ‘The History and Antiquities of Charnwood Forest.’ This, the largest and best of his works, shows considerable depth of research and sound judgment in the choice of facts. Encouraged by the reception of this book, Potter attempted the reissue of Nichols's ‘History of Leicestershire,’ revised and brought down to the present time; but his effort proved abortive, and, though much was written, no portion found its way into print except the ‘Physical Geography and Geology of Leicestershire’ (1866), which Professor Ansted wrote for the enterprise.

Potter was fond of field sports, and a regular attendant at the meets of the Quorn hunt, and he contributed a series of racy and pungent papers and poems to the ‘Sporting Magazine’ from 1827 until 1840, under the nom de guerre of ‘Old Grey.’ He afterwards wrote for the ‘Sporting Review.’ One of the best of his sporting effusions was a witty poem entitled ‘The Meltonians,’ in 1835. 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,’ which, on its subsequent amalgamation with another paper, was styled the ‘Loughborough Monitor and News.’ Some lyrical ballads by him, in which local legends were incorporated, were collected in a volume of ‘Poems’ after his death by his son, Charles Neville Potter, in 1881.

Potter died on 19 April 1873, at Wymeswold, and was buried there on the 23rd. He had married, on 14 Jan. 1836, Frances Sarah, daughter of Leonard Fosbrooke of Shardlow Hall, Derbyshire, and of Ravenstone Hall, Leicestershire, and by her, who survived him, he had five sons and four daughters.

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.

[‘Thomas Rossell Potter: a Memory,’ by Llewellynn Jewitt, F.S.A., in the Reliquary, vol. xiv. July 1873; Fletcher's Leicestershire Pedigrees and Royal Descents, p. 156, s.v. Fosbrooke; Antiquary, 10 May 1873; information kindly communicated by his sons.]

W. G. D. F.