The surnames Potts and Pott have three possible origins:
1. A patronymic surname - from the name Philipot: "little Philip"
2. An occupational surname - a maker of pots
3. A locational surname - someone who lived in or near a hollow or dip in the ground ("pott(e)" in Old English)
The form Potts was concentrated in in the North-East of England and more generally along the Scottish border, and was possibly taken to Ireland at the beginning of the 17th century, when Randall McDonnell, the newly created Earl of Antrim, promoted the settlement of Lowland Scots on his estates.
The starting point of our Potts line at present is Alexander Potts, a weaver, who lived in County Down in the second half of the 18th century. Nothing more is known about him, except that he had at least one child.
The name of Alexander's wife is unknown, as are any other children of the couple.
Robert Potts, only known child of Alexander Potts, was born in Moira, County Down on 25 March 1796. He worked as a weaver as a young man before enlisting in the 64th (2nd Staffordshire) Regiment of Foot on 2 June 1815 aged 17. The regiment was posted to France that year as part of the Army of Occupation after the Battle of Waterloo, then after a short spell in England had a long posting in Gibraltar on garrison duty. Robert was in Gibraltar when he was discharged on medical grounds on 25 June 1828.
While he was in the army he married Mary Quinn, who (as was common at the time) accompanied him to Gibraltar, where two of their known children were born. A third was born in Jersey, possibly as they made their way home after Robert's discharge, and at least two more in Belfast where they settled on their return.
m. Fortescue Adams
m. Violet Mercer, 1851
m. Jane Nesbitt, 1868
m. Jane McWilliams, 1864
Robert returned to weaving after leaving the army, and as he is referred to at times as a "mechanic", he was probably a semi-skilled machinery operator in one of the local mills.
Mary died at some point in the 1840s and Robert then married Mary Ferris in Belfast on 9 September 1850. Both he and his second wife appear to have died before the beginning of civil registration of deaths in 1864.
Elizabeth Potts, oldest known child of Robert Potts and Mary Quinn, was born in Gibraltar in about 1822 while her father was stationed there on garrison duty. The family was living in Belfast by the early 1830s, and it was probably there that she married Fortescue Adams, a flax dresser. The Potts family were Protestants, but Fortescue was a Catholic, so Elizabeth must have converted to marry him: thei children were all baptised in the Catholic Church.
Fortescue and Elizabeth had five children.
m. Margaret McAloran, 1870
m. Maria Gibson, 1876
m. Sarah Gibson, 1876
The family migrated to Scotland in the late 1850s, living in Neilston, Renfrewshire for several years before emigrating to the US, where they settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Elizabeth died there on 7 January 1897 and Fortescue on 3 March 1898.
One record gives Elizabeth's name as "Rosy" - either an error, or possibly a nickname.
John Potts, son of Robert Potts and Mary Quinn, was born in Gibraltar in about 1825 during his father's time in the army, but moved to Belfast while he was still a young child. He was working as a weaver when he married Violet Mercer (or Marshall) there on 6 October 1851.
The couple spent the early years of their marriage in Belfast, where at least one child was born, before moving to Glasgow. They had four known children in all, but at least one more died young.
Violet died in Glasgow on 14 December 1859 and John then married Jane Hayburn there on 14 January 1863. Jane was a widow, with children from her two previous marriages. John died in Glasgow on 30 December 1883 and Jane returned to her native Ayrshire where she married for a fourth time before her death in 1906.
Henry Potts, youngest known child of Robert Potts and Mary Quinn, was born in Belfast in about 1839 and worked as a flax dresser. He married Jane McWilliams on 29 October 1864 in Newtown Breda, County Down, and the couple had nine children, all born in Belfast, although only four survived to adulthood.
William Henry Potts
m. James Beattie, 1898
m. James Magee, 1907
m. Helena McCourt, 1907
m. Sidney Eric Palmer, 1924
Later records show Henry working as a shopkeeper or grocer.
Henry died in Belfast on 19 October 1891 and Jane on 23 June 1920.
David Adams, oldest child of Fortescue Adams and Elizabeth Potts, was baptised in Belfast on 14 May 1849 and worked in the weaving industry as a hackler - someone who separated the coarse part of fax or hemp using a comb or board with long steel teeth known as a hackle. When his parents emigrated, David remained initially in Belfast, where he married Margaret McAloran on 18 April 1870.
David and Margaret had eight children.
Mary Ann Adams
m. Catherine Murray, 1895
m. James McAvoy, 1899
m. Gilbert Napoléon Brunette, 1893
m. James Galligan, 1905
m. Mary Ellen Sheehan, 1914
m.Max Windelck, 1905
m. Frank Martin Frates, 1909
The couple's first child was born in Belfast, and they then spent a short time in New Monkland, Lanarkshire before emigrating in late 1873 and joining David's parents in Massachusetts.
Margaret died in New Bedford on 28 August 1901 and David on 10 December 1927.
John Adams, son of Fortescue Adams and Elizabeth Potts, was born in Belfast on 27 March 1853 and emigrated to Massachusetts with his parents in 1868 or1869 - the date varies on different records. He worked in a cotton mill in New Bedford and married Maria Gibson (another Irish immigrant) there on 23 June 1876.
John and Maria had a large family of fifteen children, including two sets of twins.
William H Adams
Agnes V Adams
Michael H Adams
Mary J Adams
Charles Francis Adams
Maria Florence Adams
m. Frank J Robinson, 1907
m. Honoria O'Connell, 1906
m. Raymond Hamersley, 1911
m. Amy Chadderton, 1913
m. Oscar Ulric Dionne, 1925
John died in New Bedford in 1925 and Maria in 1938.
William Adams, son of Fortescue Adams and Elizabeth Potts, was baptised in Belfast on 7 October 1855 and emigrated to Massachusetts with his parents as a child. He was working in a cotton mill when he married Sarah Gibson in New Bedford on 31 August 1876, but he later became a plasterer. Sarah was the sister of Maria Gibson who married William's brother John.
William and Sarah had nine children, all born in new Bedford.
Mary Gertrude Adams
Sarah Jane Adams
James Joseph Adams
Lillian Veronica Adams
Robert Hamilton Adams
m. James H Aspinwall
m. Harry J Wagner, 1910
m. William Thompson, 1901
m. Benjamin Ralph Luscomb, 1915
m. Eva Knowles, 1919
Sarah died in New Bedford on 16 June 1930 and William on 17 September 1945.
Mary Jane Potts
Mary Jane Potts, oldest surviving child of Henry Potts and Jane McWilliams, was born in Belfast on 28 August 1873 and married James Beattie in St Andrew's Church there on 29 September 1898. James was born in Castlereagh, County Down on 15 August 1875: he is described simply as a clerk on the marriage record, but by 1911 he was a solicitor's managing clerk, and his probate record states that he was a civil servant.
James and Mary had two children, both born in Belfast.
Norah Eileen Beattie
m. Elizabeth Hall Price, 1926
m. ? Clarke
James died in Dunmurry on 21 March 1932 and Mary on 14 August 1953.
Eliza Potts, daughter of Henry Potts and Jane McWilliams, was born in Belfast on 11 January 1876 and married James Magee in St Andrew's Church there on 10 September 1907. James was born in Belfast in about 1881 and worked as a cloth cutter in the weaving industry.
James and Eliza had four children.
Nora Isabella Magee
Arthur Cyril Magee
Phyllis Maureen Magee
Coralie Vivienne Magee
m. Hector Charles Coombes, 1933
m. Phyllis Robin Biddulph, 1937
m. Leslie Taylor, 1940
m. Neville George Tull, 1948
In 1912 James and Eliza emigrated to Australia with their first two children, arriving in Sydney on 20 May 1912: two more daughters were born in Australia.
Eliza died in Sydney on 3 April 1949 and James on 7 April 1951. They are buried together in Waverley Cemetery.
Alexander Potts, son of Henry Potts and Jane McWilliams, was born in Belfast on 17 May 1881 and worked as a packing case maker. He married Helena ("Lena") McCourt in St John's Church, Belfast on 20 January 1907 and had four sons.
George Alexander Potts
William John Potts
Cecil Victor Potts
m. Margaret Donney, 1932
m. Amy Elizabeth Fatzeus, 1932
m. Ellen Margaret Finlay
m. Ellen Grace Lane, 1942
Soon after the outbreak of World War I, Alexander joined the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. His full service record has not survived, but he must have been an early volunteer as he had completed his training in time to be drafted to France on 5 October 1915. Sadly Alexander was killed in action on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme and the single deadliest day of the war for British forces. Like so many others killed that day (and throughout the Somme offensive) he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Lena and the children emigrated to Australia in 1926, joining Alexander's sisters Eliza and Henrietta in Sydney. She died in Sydney on 24 September 1960.
John Adams, oldest child of David Adams and Margaret McAloran, was born in Belfast on 30 May 1871 and emigrated to Massachusetts with his family as a small child. After leaving school he worked in a cotton mill and married Catherine Murray in New Bedford on 2 October 1895.
John was the oldest of eight children and he had nine children of his own with Margaret.
Francis Harold Adams
Mary Irene Adams
Henry Francis Adams
Walter Joseph Thomas Adams
Stephen Joseph Adams
John Norman Adams
Arnold James Adams
m. Elizabeth Veronica Fredette, 1922
m. Salvatore Richard Ricupero, 1934
m. James McAvoy, 1899
m. Mary Setera, 1941
m. Pearl Henrietta Lafountaine, 1932
John died in New Bedford on 2 February 1928.
Theresa Adams, daughter of David Adams and Margaret McAloran, was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts on 16 March 1877 and married Gilbert Napoléon Brunette there on 14 November 1893 at the age of 16. Gilbert was only a little older: he was born in Quebec on 9 December 1874.
The couple had thirteen children..
Ethel May Brunette
Edward Albert Brunette
John Joseph Brunette
Nector Joseph Brunette
Margaret M Brunette
Theresa Ellen Brunette
Gibert A Brunette
Marie Dorothy Basilia Brunette
Gilbert D Brunette
William Lawrence Brunette
Francis Roy Brunette
Mildred Rita Brunette
m. Archibald Franklin Brazie, 1920
m. Mary Ruth Dutra, 1916
m. Agnes Leona Benoit, 1919
m. Elsie Bates, 1927
m. Vern Clifton Gilmore, 1926
m. Joseph Byron Lafferty, 1941
m. Ruth Elizabeth Marshall, 1936
m. Estelle Caton, 1941
Gilbert died in New Bedford on 22 March 1936 and Theresa on 17 July 1950.
David Forescue Adams
David Fortescue Adams, son of David Adams and Margaret McAloran, was born in Boston, Massachusetts on 26 July 1884 and was named after his father and grandfather. He was working as a fireman when he married Mary Ellen Sheehan, a laundress, in Taunton, Massachusetts on 6 August 1914.
The couple's only child was stilllborn on January 1917.
[Stillborn girl] Adams
Mary died the same day, and six months later David enlisted in the army on 25 July 1917. He became a sergeant in the 101st Ammunition Train, but would never return home: he died of illness in a base hospital at Le Mans on 3 March 1919.
Mary Helen Adams
Mary Helen Adams (known as Helen), daughter of David Adams and Margaret McAloran, was born in Boston, Massachusetts on 23 October 1888 and married Frank Martin Frates in New Bedford on 23 January 1909.
The couple had five children
William Anthony Frates
Helen V Frates
Margaret Mary Frates
Bernard Aloysius Frates
Frank Joseph Frates
m. Urania Medeiros
m. Raymond Enos Sylvia, 1938
m. Dona Til Morgado
Helen died in New Bedford on 4 November 1962 and Frank on 12 December 1966.
James Aloysius Adams
James Aloysius Adams, son of John Adams and Maria Gibson, was born in Boston, Massachusetts on 18 September 1882. After leaving school he worked as a doffer in a cotton mill, removing full bobbins of spun thread from the looms and replacing them with empty ones, but by 1910 he had risen to become a mill superintendent, and later manager.
James married Honoria O'Connell in New Bedford on 27 February 1906 and had four children, all born in New Bedford.
James H Adams
Ruth C Adams
Grace Josepha Adams
Shirley May Adams
m. Rachel Elenor ?
m. Edmond L Hanrihan
m. justin Howard Egerton, 1933
Andrew Joseph Adams
Andrew Joseph Adams, son of John Adams and Maria Gibson, was born in New Bedford on 29 November 1888. Like several of his relatives he worked in a cotton mill after leaving school, and married Amy Chadderton in New Bedford on 29 October 1913. Amy was born in Oldham, Lancashire in 1892 and emigrated to the US with her family as a teenager.
Andrew and Amy had three children, all born in New Bedford.
Andrew Chadderton Adams
Gertrude Alice Adams
Carol Kay Adams
m. Theodore Burnett Taylor
Andrew died in New Bedford on 10 January 1978 and Amy on 4 April 1894.