John Puxley White

J. P. White came from London as chief clerk to George Vaughan who was managing the Snibston Mines on behalf of George Stephenson. White soon became involved in the wider development of the local coal industry and by 1890 was more or less in control of the whole of it in partnership with Thomas Henry Gray and Richard Turner.

White was baptised at St. Mary’s Islington in about 1830, son of a solicitor, James Thomas Westbrook White and his wife Mary. Little is known of his childhood and early career, but he qualified as an accountant before he married Mary Anne Hedderley at Vernhams Dean, Hants. in 1850. They lived in Hoxton, where their first two children were born. After moving to take up his position at Snibston and by the time of the 1861 census his family had settled in Donington le Heath at ‘The Meddows’ (sic). They had seven children and all but two were baptised at Hugglescote Parish Church.

After his arrival in the district he soon became highly respected and was elected Waywarden (someone elected to take care of the highways in a village) of Hugglescote and Donnington in 1863. By 1871 the family had moved to Mount Pleasant Farm in the village of Osgathorpe where J.P. had a farm of 70 acres but they returned to Coalville before 1881, which is when he had built “Scotlands House” on Forest Road.

He owned land in the area around Scotlands House and in due course the area came to be known as ‘The Scotlands’.

He seems to have been something of a local benefactor for in the severe winter of 1880 the Loughborough Advertiser reported him giving 15cwts. of coal to local widows and the poor of the district. His concern for the poor was recognised publicly when he was provided with a complimentary banquet in his honour in 1886 on being elected to the Board of Guardians of the Poor. He later became involved in local government and was the first Chairman of the new Coalville Local Board, retaining that position from 1892 until the Urban District Council was formed. At Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee he led the Civic Parade. His portrait was at one time displayed in the Council Chambers but was subsequently lost in a move to new premises.

He became very involved in support of Hugglescote Parish Church and became secretary of the Building Fund when the second phase of St. Johns Church was built in 1888. He was also much involved in the planning for and building of the National School.

J. P. White was very influential in the development of Coalville and district and he became a major landowner there. He eventually became managing director and chairman of the South Leicester Coal Company, which was established in 1875 by a syndicate of industrialists and merchants with a share capital of £100,000. The Company later also took control of the Snibston Colliery with J.P. White as managing director and his son Jason as Mining engineer.

White’s influence could be seen in many developments and in 1892 he was called to give evidence to a Royal Commission on Labour at which time he was described as Secretary of the Derbyshire; Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire Coal Owners’ Association.

His wife died at Scotlands House on February 26 1885, aged 63, followed by his daughter, aged 20, on July 4 1889. John Puxley White died, aged 70, on June 27 1900 in Brighton having left Coalville for reasons of health. He was reported to have suffered from “gout and complications” but his death certificate notes “cirrhosis and senility”. All three are buried together in the old Graveyard in Dennis Street. A gravestone records:

“In loving memory of Mary Anne, the dearly beloved daughter of John Puxley and Mary Anne White of the Scotlands, Coalville who departed this life on the 1st. day of June 1881, aged 20 years. Also of Mary Anne, the dearly beloved wife of John Puxley White who departed this life February 23rd. 1885, aged 63 years. Also of John Puxley White, JP, who died June 27th.1890, aged 70 years.”

He left 3 sons and 3 daughters.

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