Thomas Manley Wescott
A native of Bradninch in Devonshire, Thomas was a miller and timber merchant. His father Thomas Westcott, a paper manufacturer, and his mother, Mary Ann, née Manley, resided at Spread Eagles Farm.
Thomas married Mary Fry (1823-1888) and, in the 1850s, they moved to Wokingham. Before coming to Wokingham Thomas had dropped the middle ‘t’ in his surname. He purchased a company in Peach Street, known as The Saw Mills and took up residence at the same address. Living with the Wescotts was Mary Ann Shorter, a daughter of Mary’s sister, Lucy, and Sarah Chisholm, a lodger.
Thomas’s brothers and sisters, William, John, Mary Ann and Elizabeth, also moved to Wokingham. They acquired Embrook Mill on the Reading Road, near the present Woosehill Roundabout.
A popular and active man, in addition to his civic duties, Thomas was chairman and trustee of Wokingham Investment Society; chairman of the Wokingham Agricultural Association; a director of Wokingham Gas & Coke Company; a trustee of the First Wokingham & Bracknell No. 541 Starr-Bowkett Building Society; a governor of the Palmer Schools; a member of the Old Age Pensions Committee; vice-chairman and managing director of the Wokingham District Water Company; trustee of Wokingham Savings Bank and president of Wokingham Excelsior Cricket Club.
By 1881 the Wescotts had moved to East Heath Villa on the Finchampstead Road. Mary never recovered from the fright she received upon seeing the fire which entirely destroyed the Peach Street Sawmills in 1872. For the last few years of her life she was an invalid and unable to support her husband as Mayoress. She died on the 24th of July 1888 and was buried in All Saints’ Churchyard.
Two years later Thomas married Susan Maria Shorter (b. 1850) another daughter of Mary’s sister Lucy. On the following year she gave birth to Dorothy (1891-1966) who later served Wokingham as a Councillor.
Wescott Road was named after Thomas as was Wescott Road School, which was opened on January 8, 1906 and catered for 222 children aged between five and 14 years. The School cost £6,500 and was Wokingham’s first council school.
Thomas died on the 18th of June 1916 at the age of 87, three days after the marriage of his niece, Charlotte May Elizabeth Wescott (1875-1961), to Frank Charles Heelas (b. 1874). He was buried in All Saints’ Churchyard beside Mary, His first wife.
In 1919 Mrs. Wescott donated an oil painting of Thomas to be hung in the Council Chamber.