John Fletcher was the second son of Isaac Fletcher and his wife Charlotte. He was born on 5 October 1804 and christened a few days later at Above Bar Independent (Congregational) Chapel.

He initially joined, with his elder brother Thomas, his father's printing firm. The December 1832 electoral register sees each claiming a vote for their works at 143 High Street. He is specifically named as one of the printers of a lecture by John Bullar printed by Fletcher and Sons in 1832.

John appears to have left the family business by 1834. He set up as a wine importer, ale and porter merchant and sharebroker, first at 16 West Street, later at 97 High Street and in October 1845, as a sharebroker only, at 17 Carlton Place. His father had, in his pre-printshop days, been a wine and porter merchant.

A series of temporary jobs and failed applications in the 1850s suggests that he had by then left the trade. He applied, unsuccessfully, for the posts of additional collector to the Board of Health in August 1852 and for the post of schoolmaster of the Southampton Board of Guardians in May 1856.

A year earlier he had been appointed assistant to the Reverend Edward Edmunds in the compilation of the first catalogue to Southampton Free Library. As completed, the catalogue was essentially Fletcher's work. He saw the catalogue through the press in 1856 for a "paltry" fee of 2 guineas. Following his comments on the very damp and bad state of the books in the collection, he was given £10 to repair the books and to "polish and give [them] a new appearance". He presented a subscriber's copy of John Cary's Atlas, formerly in the possession of Edward Horne Hulton of Bevois Mount, to the Free Library Committee in August 1859. In February 1858 the Hartley Bequest Committee of the Town Council employed Fletcher to inspect the books which were part of the bequest.

By 1861 Fletcher had set himself up as a second-hand bookseller, first at 30 Hanover Buildings (next to the Polytechnic Institution) and from c.1869, as second-hand bookseller and stationer, at 111 High Street, strategically situated close to the Hartley Institution. John Fletcher retired in August 1870 owing to ill health. The stock-in-trade, consisting of "a large number of volumes on Divinity, Classic, Voyages and Travels, and general Literature", was sold at auction. He died, aged 67, in Winchester on 17 May 1872, having been elected a Brother of the Hospital of St Cross in July 1871. The burial service was held at St Faith's Church, Winchester, on 23 May. He was unmarried.

John Fletcher had been an active supporter both of the Southampton Literary and Philosophical Institution and the Southampton Mechanics' Institution. He was librarian to the former and a lecturer for both bodies. The Hampshire Advertiser, 26 March 1831, gave a synopsis of a lecture on the history of printing he gave to the Literary Institution.


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