Hebrew meaning ‘favoured of God’. The male form of Jane (his wife’s name). An all-time favourite name and one that had appeared from time to time in the family earlier in their history. It is also most probably his maternal grandfather’s name which may well be why it was chosen, as his twin had his paternal grandfather’s (and father’s) name.
Jon, Jonathan, Johan, Jean
Johnny, Jack, Johnno to the Australians
b 3 December 1804, Smithfield
c 30 December 1804, St. Sepulchre
24 December, 1830
d 17 December 1869, Gold Hill, Chalfont St. Peter, Bucks.
bu 23 December 1869 Norwood Cemetery, Lambeth
John William (1834-?)
Mary Anne Fanny (1836-?)
Harry Pittard (1837-1840)
Lewis Charles (1838-1863)
Katherine Lucy (1840-1915)
Edward Alexander (1842-1900)
Jessie Gertrude (1844-1882)
Arthur Robert (1844-1922)
Frederick Herbert (1846-1911)
William Henri Colchester (1848-1903)
Marriage to Jane Beckwith - image
Census records for 1841-1861
Various items in newspapers
John Mollett must have been a quite remarkable man. He grew up in relative poverty in Smithfield, but somehow managed to accumulate a small fortune, leaving around £1 million in today’s terms when he died. The more I have delved into his history, the more I have been intrigued and impressed. And at last we have a portrait of him - as a young man on the cusp of his career I would think. The portrait I originally chose, shown below his 'real' portrait is of one Thomas William Guest - an innkeeper, though he looks rather more impressive than that. A businessman anyway, and he also seems a kindly man, which I think John was too. At least all the evidence points that way. And then one of those cousins you come across when doing all this came up with the lovely portrait at left, which is of John himself - as a young man. I do not know who drew it - one of the Tophams maybe (his uncle-in-law or cousin). At this point in time I have none of him at the same age as my original portrait. In this portrait he looks a little like his son William Henri Colchester, my great grandfather.
John made his money as a Russia merchant and broker, as a director of insurance companies and maybe even as a banker. There is quite a lot of evidence about his business life, and even a little about his family life, via the writings of his granddaughter Lina, but of his youth I know little, and therefore, rather crucially, I do not know how he came to be in the profession he chose and how he made his money. But, of course, I can speculate and indeed, I shall. I even sought professional help and although they did find a little more they did not find conclusive evidence of how he began his professional life.
This is the ancestor who enabled the subsequent two generations to get a good start in life, although that honour could equally well be given to his father. In many ways he embodies the spirit of the Victorian age - an entrepreneur with an expansive, cultured and philanthropic outlook. A motherless infant growing up in one of London’s least desirous neighbourhoods, surrounded by filth, cruelty and crime, who somehow rose above it all to become a pillar of society. He deserves a whole book just for he and his family really - for somehow I have come to see everyone in this family as real people, all of whom were remarkable in their different ways - maybe more than any others of my ancestors - maybe because of the few more personal anecdotes we have.
And here’s a bit of trivial coincidence. All the major events in his life - birth, marriage, death, took place in December.
Holborn and Skinner Street