Obituary notices: John Roberts Chanter [1816-1895]

Trans. Devon Assoc. vol. 27 (1895), pp. 34-35


W. Harpley

Prepared by Michael Steer

John Roberts Chanter (1816-1895), was the son of Bideford banker Mr John Chanter. His son, John Roberts Chanter was a Barnstaple solicitor and author who became Mayor of Barnstaple in 1859. He was a prolific contributor to the Transactions. Among his major works was the History of Lundy Island that appeared in the Association's 1871 issue. Google with the Archive Organization has sponsored the digitisation of books from several libraries. The Internet Archive makes available, in its Community Texts Collection (originally known as Open Source Books), books that have been digitised by Google from a number of libraries. These are books on which copyright has expired, and are available free for educational and research use. This rare book was produced from a copy held by University of Michigan Library, and is available from the Internet Archive.


Obituary Notice compiled by

The Rev W Harpley MA, Hon Secretary of the Association

John Roberts Chanter was born at Bideford, January 5th 1816, being the son of Mr John Chanter, banker of that town. During his early childhood his father removed to London, and he was left in the care of his uncle, the Rev William Chanter, vicar of Hartland, and later was taken charge of by his maternal uncles Messrs Edward and Charles Roberts, solicitors, of Barnstaple. After completing his education at Exeter Grammar School, he was articled to his uncle, Mr Charles Roberts, and ultimately became a partner in the firm of Roberts, Carter, and Chanter, solicitors. Soon after the death of these partners, Mr Chanter was joined by Mr J B Ffinch, and a few years later retired from his practice into private, but ever active and useful life. A man of excellent ability, great energy, and a public spirited citizen, Mr Chanter threw himself eagerly into public life, and soon exercised great influence in municipal affairs. He was for many years a member of the Town Council, occupying a seat on the alderman's bench for a long time and serving the office of Mayor with dignity and success. But it was in scientific and literary pursuits that he took his greatest delight, especially those of an antiquarian character. His publications include:

Incidents in Barnstaple (1865)

A Literary History of Barnstaple (1866)

Lundy Island, a Monograph (1877)

Memorials of St Peter's Church Barnstaple (1882);

While by him and Mr Wainwright, headmaster of the Grammar School, the Barnstaple Borough Records were calendared and described, Mr Wainwright translating and editing the early documents, and Mr Chanter undertaking those of later date. These valuable contributions to local history were published in the North Devon Herald, and North Devon Journal weekly for about three years.

Mr Chanter became a member of the Association in 1866. In the following year the annual meeting was held at Barnstaple, and he was elected one of the Vice-Presidents. The success of that meeting was largely due to his energy, activity and hospitality. He came a member of the Council and continued so until his decease. He also served on the Committee on Devonshire Records, a committee that was formed at his recommendation. For many years he was a regular attendant at the annual meetings and frequently contributed papers. In the Transactions will be found papers by him on the following subjects:

North Devon Customs and Superstitions, 1867

The Early History of North Devon and Site of the Supposed Cimbric Town, Artavia, 1867

A History of Lundy Island, 1871

On Devonshire Lanes, 1873

The Early Poetry and Poets of Devon, 1874

Tawton, The First Saxon Bishopric of Devonshire, 1875

Vestiges of an Early Guild of St Nicholas at Barnstaple, AD 1303, 1879

An Exchequer Tally, a Barnstaple Record of 1622, 1880,

Cluniac Houses in Devon, 1888.

On the second Barnstaple meeting in 1890, Mr Chanter was again a Vice-President. Although his advancing years and failing strength prevented him taking a very active part in the proceedings, yet he most freely dispensed hospitality, and contributed largely to the enjoyment of those who attended the meeting. He died at his residence, Fort Hill, Barnstaple, July, 1895, aged 83 years.