John Boot was born in Radcliffe-On-Trent in 1815 and his early life was spent as an agricultural labourer on local farms. He travelled to attend services at the Wesleyan chapels in the Lace Market area of Nottingham and by the time of the 1851 Census had moved to Woolpack Lane in Hockley. It was a poor area and John Boot became involved in chapel affairs and local schemes to improve living conditions within his community.
Herbal remedies were popular with the labouring poor, who could not afford the services of a physician. John Boot’s mother had used herbs for healing and he may also have been familiar with remedies published in John Wesley’s herbal Primitive Physic. In 1849, with the assistance of his father-in-law and the support of the local Methodist community, John opened The British and American Botanic Establishment at 6 Goose Gate, hoping to provide physical comfort to the needy, as well as a reasonable living for his family.
In addition to giving consultations and serving in the shop, John and his wife, Mary, prepared many remedies themselves. However, after years of hard work and ill-health, John Boot died in 1860, at the age of 45. Mary took over management of the shop, with the help of her ten year-old son, Jesse, who gathered and prepared herbs as well as serving behind the counter. © 2006 Boots