One of the earliest schools in Carmarthen was established by Mr. John White who also founded a well-known family printing business together with his wife Hannah. Born in 1762 at Knowstone, Devon, John White was appointed Headmaster of The Great House School, Chard in Somerset in 1787. He came to Carmarthen at the close of 1803 and on March 31st 1804 he went to live in 44 Priory Street. A cultured and educated man, he became a noted schoolmaster in the town. Mr. John White’s School, Priory Street gave instruction in English Grammar; useful and ornamental penmanship; arithmetic; fractions; decimals; extraction of roots; logarithms; geometry; trigonometry; land surveying; navigation; the use of globes and other sciences. The strictest attention was also paid to the ‘morals and improvement of the pupils committed to his care. Subsequently he moved to King Street where he kept a school called “The Writing, Commercial and Mathematical School”, which gave instruction in the same subjects as previously mentioned. Strict rules on behaviour, dress, cleanliness, tidiness and discipline were laid down and had to be observed. In 1796, even before his arrival in Carmarthen, John White produced a new Ciphering Book called “The Teacher’s Ease and The Scholar’s Help”, containing a great variety of instructive and amusing sums and questions, together with a complete set of Arithmetical Tables. It was for use in Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Schools and private families. In 1809 he produced the second edition which was printed at Carmarthen. Advertisements for his school showing the subjects taught, together with the financial terms were printed by J. White and Sons at the Commercial printing Office, Carmarthen. According to one advertisement, the rapid progress pupils make under his care is a convincing proof of the attention paid to their learning, many of whom have far exceeded the expectations of their parents.”

The blue plaque
The premises in King Street where Hannah lived and worked

Until her husband’s death in 1818, Hannah White traded on her own, employing a number of individuals. From 1818-1860 she traded as ‘H. White and Sons’ printers; booksellers, stationers etc. Two of their sons, George (Henry Brunel’s father) and Isaac were later partners in the printing business with their mother at Carmarthen. Another son Henry was a master printer in Merthyr and in 1850 was High Constable of Merthyr. John White, Hannah’s Husband was buried in St. Peter’s churchyard Carmarthen, and  Hannah rather mysteriously was buried in St. David’s cemetery in June 1861 together with two of her sons. The business was sold at auction in 1861 following the death of Hannah, and the retirement of her sons George and Isaac.

An engraving by Hannah White from copperplate of St Peters Church Carmarthen 1859

It was one of the most successful publishing dynasties ever produced anywhere in the country, and many of the publications are still in existence today, of exceptional quality. Any Carmarthenshire Antiquarian will know of the name of Hannah White, who for half a century, and indeed uniquely as a businesswoman in Georgian and Victorian Britain ran a hugely successful business and rather appropriately she is buried next to another great antiquary and indeed neighbour – William Spurrell.





To the Memory of


who departed this life

the 25th day of July 1854

aged 38 years

Sincerely beloved and regretted


Also of


Mother of the above


who departed this life

The 22nd day of June 1861

Aged 80 years


Also of


Son of the above


Who departed this life

The 25th day of June 1866

Aged 54 years


Alderman Henry Brunel White – Hannah’s grandson in the Robes of Mayor of Carmarthen (1894-1898)
The box tomb of Hannah White and her two sons. In the background is William Spurrell’s memorial
The inscription on the box tomb
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