Political Biographies of the Mayors of Portsmouth (1836-1900)

MAYORALTY:- November 9th 1854-1855.
PROFESSION:- Farmer, Railway Carrier, Company Director
WARD:- All Saints
FIRST ELECTED ALDERMAN:- February 9th 1852.
OTHER CIVIC POSITIONS HELD:- Magistrate. Poor Law Guardian.
RESIDENCE:- Oatlands, Kingston Crescent.
DECEASED:- 24th December 1877 aged 67.
BURIED:- Milton Churchyard.
Andrew Nance Jnr was born in Portsmouth on the 4th April 1810 at the Fountain Hotel, High Street - which, with the Crown Inn and the Blue Posts, were owned simultaneously by his father. Businessman par excellence Andrew junior also developed a love of horses. W.G. Gates relates that in his early years he drove the famous Tantivy coach between London & Portsmouth and, claims Gates, he holds the record of five hours and forty-two minutes for the journey. (1) He was first elected to the council in 1839 but lost his seat in 1844 for supporting the introduction of the railway to Portsmouth. Nevertheless, he was re-elected in 1846 representing St Mary Ward. In February 1852 in a three-way contest between Charles Smithers and Edwin Galt, Nance was elected alderman on the casting vote of mayor Bramble after he levelled at the top of the poll with Smithers on 22 votes each with Galt gaining just six.
On the divisive issue of the PHA Nance was initially in favour of its adoption but slowly altered his mind. However, on this topic he was never outspoken and was generally regarded as being politically neutral. Thus when proposed in November 1854 by Cllr C.B. Smith he was elected to the chair without opposition.
The Crimean War was in progress so perhaps the civic high spot was the visit of French Emperor Napoleon 3rd to England which promoted an Address from the Corporation. It was also concluded that the only means of securing a reliable supply of fresh water to the borough was for the Corporation to take the responsibility upon themselves. However, a final decision was put off yet again possibly because Nance had become a principal director of the old Water Company. He was accorded the usual vote of thanks but declined to stand for a further term which allowed George Stigant to return to the chair. Nevertheless, Alderman Nance remained a member of the Council till his death in 1877.
Nance was noted for his genial personality and his punctuality. He was an outstanding entrepreneur holding numerous directorships. For many years he lived and farmed at Baffins and at one time cultivated some 1,000 acres on Portsea Island. (2) Left a fortune by his father he shrewdly bought shares at a low price in the unpopular Floating Bridge Company. The business eventually boomed making Nance a sizeable sum. He was also a large shareholder in the Portsea Island Gas Company. Additionally, he was a director of the Southsea Esplanade Pier Company and the Landport - Southsea Tramway Coy. During the Crimean War he contracted with the Government to supply corn, coal etc. After the war his tender to service the baggage of the returning troops was accepted.
In the end it was his love of horses which was his undoing. In December 1876 he was kicked by a horse just above the knee. The wound refused to heal and the doctors advised against amputation. He succumbed a year later. On his death he left a widow and ten children - three sons and seven daughters. He was buried in the family vault in Milton Churchyard.
Norman Gordon
1. W.G. Gates Records of the Corporation 1835-1927.
2 Obituary Portsmouth Times 29th December 1877.
N.B. Andrew Nance snr, a native of Folkestone, was one of the original members of the Borough Council being elected in 1835 (St Thos Ward) and elected Alderman in October 1851. He was a wealthy man being listed as innkeeper and property owner with financial interests in the Water Company. Nance (snr) died in 1853 leaving Nance (jnr) a considerable fortune.
[See also the article on the Nance Family]