It was in about the year 1766 that a Mr. Edmund Bott built for himself a small mansion, which he named Stourfield House, situated on a pleasant site at the brow of the hill, overlooking the Stour Valley, with extensive views towards the New Forest.
Edmund Bott was born in 1740 at Spixworth, near Norwich, where his father the Rev, Thomas Bott was the rector: he was educated at Norwich School, from which he matriculated in Easter 1756. Bott entered Trinity College, Cambridge, on 6th April 1756, where he graduated B.A. in 1760. In the meantime he had been admitted to the Inner Temple on 2nd December 1758, and was called to the Bar in November 1765. For a while he practised at the Bar from offices in Bedford Row, but is believed to have given up the Bar on account of poor health.
It has not been possible to discover why Bott chose to settle in this district, as there do not seem to be any connections with Hampshire. It may be that his wife, about whom nothing at all has been discovered, had local connections. Bott settled down to the life of a country gentleman, and seems to have been a man of pans. He retained an interest in the law, for in 1771 he published "A Collection of Decisions of the Court of King's Bench upon the Poor Laws", which became a standard reference work, running into six editions by 1833, being revised with the addition of supplements contributed by other writers. He was elected a member of the Society of Antiquaries of London on 25th March 1773, following a testimonial presented to the Society on 18th February which stated that "Edward Bott, Barrister at Law, is certified to be a gentleman particularly conversant with the original languages of Europe."
Living at Stourfield House, Bott became a Justice of the Peace for Hants County, was appointed a Trustee of Clingan's Charity in 1776, and in 1788 became a Trustee of the Christchurch Organist's Fund. Of cheerful disposition, he is said to have entertained some of the best men of the neighbourhood in a more intellectual fashion than was usual at the time. He died on 31st May 1788 at the relatively early age of forty eight. His grave is in Christchurch Priory, where a large stone in the floor near the Lady Chapel can still be seen inscribed to his memory.
Mr. and Mrs. Bott did not have any children, so that on his death the house and the estate of several hundred acres were inherited by his three cousins, the daughters of his uncle Isaac Bott. These were Esther Bott and Mrs. Abigail Harvey, both of Kirton in Lincolnshire, and Mrs. Elizabeth Kippis, wife of the Rev. A. Kippis of Warminster in Wiltshire. There is no information as to whether Mrs. Bott survived her husband, and if so what provision was made for her.
Reproduced with permisson of the Author.
© J. A. Young