Draper and three-times Mayor of Yeovil
Edmund Damon was born in 1843 at Fordington, Dorset, the third son of Robert Damon and his wife Jane. Robert Damon was a farmer of 160 acres employing 6 men, 2 boys and 2 women at his farm, Near Court House, at Fordington, Dorset. Edmund had two older brothers, Robert and Henry, and two younger sisters, Nancy and Ellen.
Edmund was educated at Watson's Private Academy at Dorchester but by 1861 he was living in the draper's shop of AnnaMaria Good at 55 High Street, Leamington, Hampshire. This was a large establishment, since apart from Mrs Good and her three daughters there were five drapers assistants and apprentices, including Edmund, and two domestic servants.
By the time of the 1871 census both Robert and Edmund had moved to Yeovil where they had set up, in partnership, a draper's business in the High Street. By this time Robert was aged 30 and Edmund was 27. Living with them at the draper's shop were five draper's assistants, a draper's apprentice and two general domestic servants.
For many years Edmund and his eldest brother Robert ran the Cooperative Outfitting Stores, later R&E Damon, Drapers, Clothiers, and Outfitters, in the Borough at 16 and 17 High Street, seen in the photographs and advertisement below. Before this the premises had been Frederick Cooper's outfitters in 1882 and in 1889 was the premises of the Co-operative Outfitting Stores. Before this, in the 1850s, it was the premises of James Curtis Snr and in the 1860s of his son, James Curtis Jnr. The site of their premises is where Superdrug is today. Robert managed the drapery side of the business and Edmund ran the clothing and outfitting side. Edmund's tailoring department was able to supply trousers for between 10/6d to 25/-, suits for between 40/- and 80/- and overcoats from 30/- to 75/- or in today's terms 55p to £1.25, £2 and £4 and £1.50 to £3.75. The business partnership was dissolved in January 1901 but Edmund carried on the business until he retired in 1908.
In the summer of 1880 Edmund married Anne Elisheba Warren, known as Annie, at Charleton Horethorne and in the 1881 census Edmund and Annie, together with their daughter Ethel and a domestic servant, were living in a house in Preston Road next door to the Somerset Inn. Edmund, albeit called Edward in the census, was listed as a draper.
The 1891 census listed Edmund as a 'draper and outfitter' at 16 High Street where his shop was sandwiched between that of James B Petter on one side and his brother Robert's on the other. Edmund and Annie were living above the shop with four children, a servant and two outfitter's shopmen. By 1901 little had changed, three daughters were living at home with Edmund and Annie as well as a domestic servant and a draper's assistant.
By the time of the 1911 census Edmund was recording his occupation as 'retired draper ', and was living at Summerlands, Preston road, with Annie, his three unmarried daughters and a domestic servant.
Both Robert and Edmund served as Captains of the Yeovil Volunteer Fire Brigade. Robert died in 1905 and in 1906 Edmund, always keenly interested in local affairs, was elected to serve on the Town Council. He served three terms as mayor of Yeovil, from 1909 until 1911 and again from 1916 to 1917 following the death of Norman Buchanan. In 1917 Edmund proposed that a war memorial be erected to honour the many Yeovilians who died in the First World War.
Edmund Damon died on 8 November 1921. His estate was left to his widow Annie, unmarried daughter Gytha, Frank Skevington (civil servant) and Percy Francis Warren (architect). His estate was valued at £11,086 6d 9d (about £460,000 in 2017's value).
Edmund Damon's signature on the 1911 census
The Damon Brothers' store in High Street. This photograph was taken around 1900 and the business partnership between the two brothers was dissolved in January 1901. Edmund ran the clothiers and outfitters at left (and clearly doing a nice line in pith helmets) while his brother Robert ran the drapery and haberdashery at right.
The Damon Brothers' advertisement in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1892.
From my collection
This postcard of the Borough dates to about 1905 and shows the premises of the Damon Brothers as the first two of the three buildings at left.
From my collection
A postcard of about 1905 (this one was posted in 1911) showing the Town Hall beyond the weekly market in the Borough that extended along High Street. Damon Brothers' stores are festooned with hats and coats.
A closer view of the Damon brothers' store (well, half of it) on a busy market day around 1908, the year Edmund retired. By this time his brother Robert had been dead for three years.
A Damon Brothers advertisement from Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1897.