Joseph Chapman (senior)

Joseph Chapman (senior) the son of John and Mary Chapman (nee Debnam) was born in 1784. His mother having been born in Warminster, and baptised there in December 1755. Joseph's parents already had two daughters, Betty (b.1776), Anne (b.1781) and a son Thomas (b.1783) who had been baptised in St.John's Church, Frome. No record of Joseph's baptism has been found. It is possible that Joseph had brothers Jacob and Isaac. While no baptism have been found for Jacob, Isaac was baptised at St.John's Church in 1802, aged somewhere between 8 & 10.

Mary Chapman (nee Collier)

Joseph Chapman married Mary Collier at St.John's, Frome in August 1805. The couple had seven daughters born between 1806 and 1816, before Joseph was born on 29th August 1818. His parents were living in Bell Lane when Battle & Creese conducted their survey of Frome in 1785. By the time that their daughter, Sabina, was baptised in 1814 the family were living in Welsh Mill Lane, and Joseph's occupation was described as "Freestone Mason". By 1816, when Matilda was baptised the family were living in Bridge Street and Joseph was described as a "stonemason".

By 1822 he was described as a "stone mason & statuary", and as a "marble & stone mason" in 1830, both in North Parade. Joseph does not appear on electoral rolls between 1832 & 1834, but from 1835 to 1844 is included by virtue of ownership of freehold houses at Waterloo Place in Frome.

Joseph's wife, Mary (nee Collier) died in Bridport, and was buried there in 1838. Why Bridport is not clear, but she may have been there for health reasons.

The Tithe map, in about 1840, shows Joseph as occupier of tenements at Waterloo Place. By 1841 he was living "Behind Town" with his mother and daughter Sabina. Between 1845 and 1848 Joseph appears on the electoral roll by virtue of freehold property at Waterloo Place, but with an address given as Westgate Street in Bath.

At about this time. Joseph's wife had died, Joseph, his son, had come of age, had married Jane Gregory in 1842, and became more involved in running the family business. Robson's Directory of 1839 lists "Joseph Chapman & Son, Statuary & Stone Masons, Behind Town, Frome".

The Chapman family had connections with other stone masons & statuaries. Joseph's daughter Lucy had married, John Wilkins, a stone mason & sculptor in 1831. The Wilkins lived in Beaminster until about 1841, when they moved to Bridport, where Lucy died 1844. John Wilkins later married his first wife's sister-in-law, Lucy Gregory, in January 1847 at the Zion Chapel in Frome. The Wilkins emigrated to America in about 1848 and lived at Allegheney and Sewickley, near Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. The Wilkins kept in touch with the Chapmans, and made several visits to Frome and Europe, before the families lost contact with each other early this century.

Chapman Family Memorial

At the time of the 1851 census Joseph (senior) was in lodgings in Wilton, and described as a "freestone mason". His work as a sculptor is recorded by Gunnis (1953) in his "Directory of British Sculptors" as "flourishing" between 1806 and 1832. Joseph died in May 1853 and was first of the family to be buried in the Chapman tomb in the nonconformist cemetery at Vallis Road, Frome.


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Page last revised 20th July 1999.

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