James Reeve (1840 to 1916)

This is a watch wrapper paper by James Reeve of Martham. It is part of the collection of the British Museum wrapped around a gold watch they hold. It is described as a small white printed paper glued to a larger cut up bill. Inscribed REEVE Watch & Clock Maker MARTHAM.

James Reeve was born on 4th April 1840 in Martham as the sixth child of Robert Reeve & Ann, nee Webster. He had five siblings, namely: Robert, William, John, Henry Webster and Mary Ann.

The census of 1841 tells us that he lived at Clarkes Farm, Staithe Road, as a baby, with his family and that by 1851 they had moved to Cess. By 1861 he was already a watch and clock maker but he was lodging at Acle. He married his first wife on 22nd July 1865; she was Sarah Punt from Kenninghall, Norfolk and they had two children who were:-

  1. Harriet Lucy Reeve who was born in 1866 at Martham but died soon after she was born.
  2. James John Reeve who was born on 4th June 1868 in Martham. He lived a full life and died in 1946 in Norwich, age 78.

James’ first wife Sarah died in 1871 and within a few months he had married Martha Ann Fox from Great Ellingham, Norfolk. In 1871 they lived together with James’ son, from his first marriage, at The Green in Martham where he ran his watch and clockmaking business and employed an apprentice. James & Martha went on to have two children who were:-

  1. Ada Amelia Reeve who was born in 1873 at Martham.
  2. Annie Reeve who was born on 1st June 1875 at Martham. She grew to become and adult and did not die until 4th July 1946 when she lived at 22 Trinity Street, Norwich.

James and his family continued to live and trade from their cottage on the east side of the Green and appeared in the 1881, 1891 and 1901 census returns that recorded him as a self-employed master watch & clock maker working from home. Martha died in September 1902 and we see that by 1911 James was still doing the same thing but had moved to the centre of the village at Timber Hill on The Green.

The gravestone of James & Martha Reeve in the graveyard at St Mary the Virgin, Martham

James died on 15th February 1916 in Martham, aged 76, and was buried on 21st February at St Mary’s graveyard section F, plot J2. His estate was probated on 11th March 1916 in Norwich with Probate to Ada Amelia Reeve and Annie Reeve his daughters.

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