John Divett. [Obituary]

Trans. Devon. Assoc., 1886, Vol XVIII, pp. 60-61.


Rev. W. Harpley

Prepared by Michael Steer

Mr Divett brought his family to Bridge House, Bovey Tracey, and assumed ownership of the Bovey Pottery with Thomas Wentworth Buller in about 1843. As well as co-owning the Bovey Tracey Pottery Company, he also owned the large Coal Pit in Bovey, later known as Blue Waters. Under Divett and Buller, Bovey Pottery became an important local employer. He soon became a local dignitary and was involved in the inauguration of the Moretonhampstead and South Devon Railway that opened in 1866. He was a J. P. and at the Devon County Sessions served with William Hole, an important Bovey Tracey landowner and resident of Parke. Divett was also Tithe Commissioner, and served as a County Magistrate for Teignbridge.  A great deal of information about him can be found in an article about the Divett family by local historian Dr Frances Billinge. The present article, from a copy of a rare and much sought-after journal can be downloaded from the Internet Archive. Google has sponsored the digitisation of books from several libraries. These books, on which copyright has expired, are available for free educational and research use, both as individual books and as full collections to aid researchers.

John Divett, second son of Edward Divett, of Bystock, Devon, and brother of the late Edward Divett, Member for Exeter, was born on April 28th, 1810; educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, and took his degree of B.A. in 1832. He was a justice of the peace for the county of Devon, and was senior member of the Newton bench of magistrates, having held the appointment for forty-seven years. He was a foundation member of this Association. In 1833 he married Henrietta Emma, second daughter of the late William Buller, of Maidwell Hall, Northamptonshire.

In February, 1843, he became partner with his brother-in-law, Captain W. Wentworth Buller, R.N., in the Pottery Works near Bovey Tracey, and soon afterwards came to reside at that town. He acquired a considerable estate in the neighbourhood, to the cultivation and improvement of which he devoted much of his time.

Mr. Symons speaks of his rainfall returns as being one of the best records in Devonshire. They were kept for several months in the years 1852 and 1853; the regular record was commenced in 1856, and was continued to 1884, and is perfect.

When the Teign Naturalists’ Field Club was instituted in 1856 he took great interest in the proceedings, and was President from the commencement until his retirement in 1870. To his strong common-sense and good advice much of the prosperity of that club may be attributed.

He was fond of outdoor pursuits and amusements, and during the season was rarely absent from the weekly meetings of the Teignbridge Cricket Club, of which he was from 1854 to 1873 one of the Honorary Secretaries. He and his colleague, the late Mr. H. Phillpotts, were on their retirement presented with testimonials. He continued an active member of the Committee to the time of his decease.

The energy of Mr. Divett raised the Bovey Potteries (of which he ultimately became sole proprietor) to the position they now hold. Combining great powers of mind and memory, with unswerving rectitude of purpose, he was universally respected, and by his death many will lose a kind and genial friend. One who knew him well writes, "His was indeed an active, useful life, for his generous heart and open hand never wearied of well-doing. His loss will be deeply and widely felt." Our esteemed and valued member, Mr. Pengelly, also writes,  “I received the most prompt and cordial co-operation from him when conducting investigations in his ‘coal pit' near Bovey Tracey in 1860, and he was so good as to place at my disposal all the valuable notes and memoranda he had made, during many years, on the well- known lignitiferous beds of that locality."

His death was very sudden. On the night of September 20th last, when retiring to his bedroom, he was heard to fall, having been seized with a fainting fit from which he never rallied.