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Ask Joan
Joan Leach is a local historian, a volunteer at the Heritage Centre, a founder of The Gaskell Society, and much more besides.

Dear Joan.

I was delighted to find your web site and even more so when I saw your name is Leach.

My gr gr grandmother was Martha Leach. Martha was born in Knutsford and baptised on 26 July 1837. Her father was Thomas Leach a butcher but I do not know where he worked or if indeed he had a shop. I know he died before the 1851 census. I do not yet have any other information about him but wonder if we are in any way related and if you have more on the Leach or Leech family in Knutsford. Do you know of a Leach butcher in the area?

Martha's mother was Ann Potts and she was the daughter of John Potts and Mary. I know John was a gardener as on the 1851 census return the enumerator had very kindly written by Mary's name "widow of John Potts gardener." I don't know why he would have done this as he had not made any other entries like this. Perhaps John had only recently died or perhaps he was a well known character or just known to the enumerator.

Mary was 80 in 1851 and gives her place of birth as Biddulph.

Thomas and Ann Leach had four daughters that I have found Jane c1833, Martha 1837, Margaret c 1840 and Emma c 1844. I do not know of any sons.

Martha married Thomas Bennett a farmer's son from Bostock near Davenham . They lived in Ardwick Manchester where Thomas worked as a railway porter. He died young of consumption as did their son Robert my gr grandfather .

I have found another Potts gardener, Matthew he was married in 1855. Perhaps he was John's grandson. I also have a John Potts from Over Peover married in 1816.

Family tradition has it that there was a link with Peover Hall and I wonder if you could advise me if there are any records of staff at Peover in the early 1800's. It seems possible that more than one generation of Potts worked there as gardeners or alternatively of course at Tatton, do records exist for there?

I am intrigued by the name Molly Potts Moor, can you tell me the origin of the name. Who was Molly Potts?

I was born in Manchester and lived in Styal. I married a pilot and we eventually moved to Singapore and now live in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand. How I wish I had begun my family history when we lived in Cheshire!

I am afraid I have asked rather a lot of questions. I do hope you will find time to reply.
Thank you so much for putting together the web site I will be a regular visitor from now on.
Kindest regards Jill Brown

Joan answers:

Dear Jill,
I am sorry but my Leach family is London based. I can't find any Leach butcher in the 1829 or 1850 Knutsford Trade directories. The only Leech Samuel is a leather worker so probably not your family. You seem to have checked census and parish records already. Peover Hall records are not very extensive as the Mainwaring family died out. Have you tried grave yard lists? I can look at Knutsford and I expect Peover ones will be on fiche. I'll look up Molly Potts as I did have something on her. I like to think of you reading about Knutsford over there in NZ
Best wishes

My husband is a cockney so our Leaches were not local to Knutsford. I am not sure if you have traced your Leach/Potts family back to the 1841 census?

John Potts , gardener, aged 70, was living in Over Knutsford next door to his daughter Ann Leech ( as spelt in census) She was 27 and no husband is listed. Your gt gt grandmother Martha was 5 and there were sisters Jane(9) and Mgt 17 months.

Mrs Mary Potts living with John is also 70 and not born in Cheshire; living with them was Mary Leech aged 5 obviously a grand-daughter.

As the Potts were in Over Knutsford it is almost certain they would have been employed at Caldwells nurseries. 1841 census, Matthew Potts gardener aged 42 was actually living next door to William Caldwell. (still there in 1861 census as retired gardener 63) Think he must have been son of Thomas? wife was 50 and son John 22 also a gardener.

I have borrowed an account book of the overseers of the poor for Over Knutsford where there are 40 householders listed but not in the years after 1832 then they ceased to list them so I failed to find John Potts etc but Matthew arrrived there in 1830

I will check on Molly Potts- have read something and think I know where to find it. I wonder is she was,Mary the wife of Thomas, as Molly is a variation of Mary.?

Hope this is helpful

Joan Leach 18.4.02