JOHN THOMAS PROCTOR (1846-1932)
Born 24 August 1846 in New Sleaford, Lincolnshire, son of Thomas Proctor, stonemason, and Eliza (née Cox). Married Harriet Copeland at Sleaford Wesleyan Chapel in 1867, and had two children. Harriet died in 1907, and Proctor married Ethel May Dunkley in 1921 at Wigston Independent Chapel, Long Street. He died on 9 Feb. 1932, age 85 at his home in Burgess Street,
Wigston Magna, and is buried in Wigston Cemetery.
Proctor worked as a solicitor’s clerk in Lincolnshire. He moved to Leicester in 1871 when he was employed by Alfred Howard Burgess, solicitor, in Friar Lane, and came to live in Wigston c.1872. For part of his working life, he was an accountant and estate agent in Friar Lane, but seems to have retained contacts with the firm later known as Burgess and Williams, solicitors.
Proctor was a talented amateur artist in oil and watercolour. He is best known for his landscapes, and exquisite pictures of fruit, flowers and butterflies. He also had the ability to write in a tiny but legible hand within a circle the size of a coin. In the house where he settled permanently in c.1890, known as Sleaford Villa in Burgess Street, he painted every door panel with pictures. He taught art at his home to many pupils over the years.
From his 18th year, he was a Methodist lay preacher, and he was a member of Frederick Street Methodist Chapel in Wigston, holding all the main lay offices in that church. Some of his addresses were published as ‘Breezy Bits’ by ‘Father Sunshine’ (available in the Local Studies Collection at the Record Office). He kept a journal of his preaching appointments throughout his life, from which it is possible to calculate that his average number of sermons and addresses to a wide variety of groups was 44 per year for 50 years.
His other main interest was in education, and he was Clerk to the Managers of Wigston Board School in 1892 and one of the founders of Wigston Adult School.