The first shop on the Island, opposite 'Top Chapel' in Mill Road. Photo from Tony Saye
William White came to West Mersea from Dedham in the 1840s. He is recorded in the 1851 census returns as a 36 year old grocer with a shop near the mill. This would almost certainly be the shop shown in the first photograph. At the time the proprietor was his son Samuel Cant White. The man with the pony and cart on the right is Frank Rust who ran the butchery department. By the time of the 1861 census William White is listed as grocer and draper and by 1871 he was a grocer and farmer of 63 acres and employing 4 men. His 19 year old son Samuel is a grocer's assistant, no doubt learning the trade for later. In 1881, 66 year old William is a farmer and grocer.
By 1901 Samuel C White is a 49 year old widower with a grocers and drapers business in Church Road, on the corner of Churchfield, his daughter Katie and son Frederick were working as assistants. Samuel went on to have shops in Peldon, Abberton, Tollesbury, Tiptree and Maldon.
Samuel Cant's eldest daughter Grace married Edgar Dansie, they ran the shop in Tollesbury and then moved on to run the shop in Peldon, shown here. Their son Leonard Dansie went to Colchester to work for Reeman's auctioneers - and made his mark as the firm later became Reeman and Dansie. Leonard was also Mayor of Colchester.
Clifford Manning White was another of Samuel Cant White's sons. He went on to build an empire on Mersea - builder, builders' merchant, timber merchant, brick manufacturer, coal merchant, undertaker, estate agent, insurance agent.
Article published in Mersea Life May 2019, page 19