yeovil trades & traders

Henry Francis Edgar

Engineer and Iron Founder

 

Henry Francis Edgar, known as Frank, was born in Sherborne, Dorset, in 1835 and baptised in Sherborne on 30 December 1835. He was one of the ten children of tailor and draper Robert Edgar (1792-1861) and his wife Ann née Babstock (1801-1855). Robert and Ann's children were: Martha (1801-1855), Robert Austin, known as Austin (1824-1876), Richard Augustus, known as Augustus (1826-1864), Worthington (1828-1883), Emily Ann (1831-1833), Wyndham (1832-1898), Francis Henry (1834-1835), Henry Francis 'Frank', Emily Ann (1837-1840) and Frances Eunice (1839-1840).

In the 1841 census Robert and Ann were listed in Half Moon Street, Sherborne, with six of their surviving children. Robert gave his occupation as a draper. The family were still at Half Moon Street in the 1851 census; Robert was listed as 'Draper &c Employing 6 Men' while 15-year old Frank, listed as Henry F, gave his occupation as an upholsterer's apprentice.

By 1861 Frank had moved to Yeovil and was lodging at Victoria Place - which would later become known as 1 and 2 Clarence Street (see Gallery) - on the corner of today's Clarence Street and Huish. 25-year old Frank gave his occupation as 'Manager of Iron Foundry'. The foundry, immediately next door to Frank's lodgings (and now the site of Tesco's car park), had been established certainly by 1831 when it was shown an Madeley's map of Yeovil. Originally owned by Sansbury & Savory, the foundry was bought around 1855 by William Rowe who was advertised as an 'Iron Founder of Victoria Place' in the 1866 edition of the Post Office Directory.

On 2 February 1864 Frank married Maria Walter (b1839) of Kingston, at St John's church. They were to have three children; Florence Maria, known as Florrie (b1867), Henry Frank (1870-1886) and Robert Wyndham (b1874).

In the 1871 census Frank and Maria were listed in Huish with their children Florence and Henry. 35-year old Frank gave his occupation as 'Manager of Iron Foundry'.

In the autumn of 1870 James Bazeley Petter married Charlotte Waddams Branscombe of Bristol. His father, John Petter, gave James the ironmongery business of Hannam & Gillet in the Borough as a wedding present. By 1872 James Petter, still only aged 25, had acquired the Yeovil Foundry and Engineering Works owned by William Rowe. At this time the works was primarily making and repairing agricultural machinery. James Petter took the manager, Frank, as a partner in the business. James Petter concentrated his efforts, as he would always do, on his ironmongery store in the Borough while Frank Edgar managed the foundry side of the partnership.

Petter & Edgar advertised their new business in the Somerset & Bristol Directory of 1872 and the advertisement from Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1878, shown below, testifies to the large range of products and services they offered.

In the 1881 census Frank and Maria were still listed in their house on the corner of Huish and Clarence Street, with children Henry and Robert. Frank gave his occupation as 'Firm of Petter & Edgar, Iron Founders &c Employing 14 Men, 8 Boys'.

In Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1882, the firm of Petter & Edgar was listed as 'Engineers & Ironfounders of Clarence Street'. In Whitby's edition of 1889 the firm was listed as 'Iron & Brass Founders, Yeovil Iron Works'.

On 1 January 1889 Frank, together with his two children (his son Henry had died a couple of years earlier) and a niece, had a serious accident in Princes Street described in full by his neighbour Louisa Harris - see below. Frank died as a result of the accident on 4 January and he was buried on 7 January. He was aged 54.

 

From the diary of Louisa Harris ....

1 Jan 1889:  "This day, about 3pm, our dear friend and respected neighbour, Mr Edgar drove from his home in company with his son and daughter and a niece. They had not proceeded farther that Princes Street when the horse became restive, and presently before Mr E had gained anything like control over the animal, the vehicle came into collision with some trucks that were obstructing the way. The occupants were all thrown out and Mr E was picked up unconscious; he was brought home on a stretcher; the others, whose injuries are slighter, followed walking. Three doctors are in attendance on Mr E and it is found he has sustained concussion of the brain and fracture of the skull; the worst is feared.

Mamma and Bessie [Louisa's sister] went to do what they could to help, staying for a couple of hours. Emmie [another sister] went in again later.

They have only just come away although it is past midnight. They spent a portion of the time ministering to the requirements of the two girls, but for the most part were mounted guard over Mrs E who alas, has been all day in a deplorable condition of drunkenness. I am shocked to say, no uncommon occurrence.... That shortly after her poor husband was brought home she should snatch a bottle of gin from a table on which Ma had placed it, after pouring out a small quantity of the liquid for the purpose of bathing his head, then take it to the kitchen and there swallow the whole of the remaining contents, shows us how completely all natural solicitude, all feelings of humanity have been quenched by the cruel infatuation which has so long held her enslaved."

2 Jan 1889: "Mr E lies in a very critical state. Doctors give no hope. Trained nurse telegraphed for."

4 Jan 1889: "Alas, that I should have to write it, Mr Edgar passed away at about 2am."

7 Jan 1889: "This afternoon, the remains of poor Mr Edgar were consigned to their last resting place.... Papa and Herbert [Louisa's brother], with most of the respectable inhabitants of the town testified their respect for the departed by following his corpse to the grave, likewise all the employees of the firm. Mrs Edgar was said to be too ill to attend. Since the death of her husband she has been for the most part closely immured with the trained nurse."

22 Jan 1889: "Miss Edgar [Mr E's sister who had been living with the family] called this morning to bid us farewell, ere leaving for Sherborne. She cannot longer remain with the cruel intemperate Mrs E who treats her shamefully.... Such a change has come over our street corner since Mr Edgar's death Such an air of desolation and gloom to have gathered over the house where he lived. As regards Mrs E, I do not think I do her a very serious injustice in stating it as my candid opinion that years of intemperance have rendered her almost morally dead - of the common feelings of humanity she seems to have grown unsusceptible."

 

 

Frank's will was published in the following September and his personal estate was valued at £2,303 0s 5d (around £1.6 million at 2017's value).

The intemperate Maria Edgar died in Yeovil in the spring of 1893, aged 54.

 

Map

 

This is a portion of Madeley's 1831 map of Yeovil showing the nascent Yeovil Foundry, noted as Parcel 657, in what was to become Clarence Street. On the very corner, marked as Parcels 58 and 59, was Victoria Place. No 1 Victoria Place (Parcel 59) was to become Frank Edgar's home.

 

A section of the 1886 Ordnance Survey showing the Yeovil Iron & Brass Foundry on the corner or Huish and Clarence Street (now under Tesco's car park) that had belonged to Sansbury & Savery and then William Rowe. By 1886 it belonged to James Petter and Frank Edgar.

 

gallery

 

The record of Frank's baptism from the Sherborne parish register.

 

The record of the marriage of Frank and Maria from St John's parish register. 

 

No 2 Clarence Street, formerly Victoria Place, the Harris family home. Frank Edgar and his family lived at No 1 Clarence Street immediately off-photo at left. 

 

Petter & Edgar advertised their new business in the 7 June 1872  edition of the Western Gazette.

 

James B Petter & Henry Edgar's advertisement in the 1878 edition of Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser extolling their large and diverse range of products and services.

 

A two-page spread from Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1883 showing at left an advertisement for Petter's domestic ironmongery business in the Borough and at right the Iron Foundry and Engineering business in partnership with Henry Edgar.

 

As far as I'm aware, this cast iron bollard in Waterloo Lane is the last survivor in Yeovil from Petter & Edgar's Iron & Brass Foundry. Photographed in 2013.

 

This gully-grating (opposite the Butchers Arms), made at the Petters & Edgar Yeovil Foundry is also a lone survivor. Photographed in 2014.