yeovil people

edward samuel 'sam' ewens

Glove Manufacturer

 

Edward Samuel Ewens, known as Samuel or simply Sam, was born in Yeovil in 1854, the middle son of glove cutter Edward Ewens of Yeovil and Sarah née Pardy. Both Sam and his older brother Frederick were to become influential glove manufacturers. The photograph at left dates to the 1930s.

In the 1861 census Sam was living with his parents and siblings in Park Street and listed as a scholar. In the 1871 census, still living in Park Street with his parents, he was listed as Samuel and gave his occupation as a glover.

In 1873, at Yeovil, he married Sarah Annie Hull, known as Annie, the daughter of Yeovil gardener John Hull and his wife Eliza, at Yeovil. Sam and Sarah were to have eleven children, three of whom died in infancy. By the time of the 1881 census Sam and Sarah were living in Woborn Terrace, in South Street immediately next to the Woborn Almshouse, with their five-year old son Edward and three month-old daughter Ethel. Also living with them were Sam's brother Frederick and Sarah's sister Minnie. Sam listed his occupation as a glove cutter while Sarah listed hers as a glover.

In the early 1870s Sam entered into a business partnership with Stanley Johnson who was a benefactor donating land to the people of Yeovil and is remembered with Johnson Park and Johnson Hall, the earlier name of the Octagon Theatre. The new partnership of Ewens, Johnson & Co Ltd was to be a long-lasting and successful venture that lasted into the 1930s. They built a new factory at the bottom of Stars Lane which still stands today, now known as Foundry House, and had a leather dressing yard in Addlewell Lane. The company was listed many times in Yeovil trade directories between 1883 and 1935. They survived the devastating loss of their Mill Lane premises in the Chapman & Co fire of 1909 but total cost of the damage was estimated at £10,000 (nearly £8 million at 2017's value) with £7,000 of that being Ewens & Johnson's loss. In addition some thirty men were made unemployed by the fire.

Sam was also involved in another gloving partnership at the same time as his partnership with Stanley Johnson in Ewens, Johnson & Co Ltd. This was the glove manufacturing company of Ewens, Gould & Allen; the three partners being Edward Samuel Ewens, George Henry Gould & George Richard Allen. In its edition of 19 April 1895 the Western Gazette reported the dissolution of the partnership, the business to be thereafter known as Ewens & Gould.

By 1891 Sam and Sarah (listed in this census as Annie), together with four of their children, Sarah's sister Minnie and a servant were still living in South Street but had moved to a larger house situated between Penn Hill and the South Street National School opposite Union Street. Edward now listed his occupation as glove manufacturer.

Sam went into partnership with his brother-in-law Alexander Henry Cobb in 1898, forming the company Ewens & Cobb. Sam then moved his family to a more 'upmarket' residence at Summerlands and was listed as a glove manufacturer there in the 1901 census, together with Sarah/Annie and six of their children.

Unfortunately the Ewens-Cobb partnership ended in a civil action which Sam lost, forcing him to sell his home 'Summerlands' in Preston Road. For details of the law suit - see here.

After losing the Cobb case, Sam went into business with his sons Edward and Percival Charles as Ewens & Sons, which became Ewens & Co when Charles Thristle Pitcher, the son of Charles Pitcher, became a partner. In 1915 Sam's son Percival would marry Charles' daughter Edith (see last photo below).The last photograph below shows Sam with his staff, and was taken in 1904. Ewens & Co were listed in Kelly's Directory of 1931 as glove manufacturers of South Street and Bridge Street, Taunton.

In the 1911 census they were listed as living at 24 Kingston where both 56 year-old Sam and his 28 year-old son Percival were listed as leather glove manufacturers.

Edward Samuel 'Sam' Ewens died in Yeovil on 2 January 1944, aged 89. The company of Ewens & Co closed in 1974.

 

See Family Tree

 

gallery

 


Courtesy of Chris Rendell

Foundry House photographed in 1985 with what became known at the Foundry House Trading Estate running off to the right along Summerhouse Terrace.

 

The glove factory now known as Foundry House, built by Ewens, Johnson & Co Ltd in the 1870s. Photographed in 2014.

 


Courtesy of Olly Ewens

Staff of the Richard Ewens manufactory and Ewens family members, most likely at the Mill Lane site, gather for a group photograph about 1878. Those whose names are known are highlighted in the following photo. Sam Ewens is number 14.

 

1 = G Arnold Jnr, 2 = W Cox, 3 = G Arnold Snr, 4 = J Swetman, 5 = W Swetman, 6 = L Hicks,
7 = J Hillard, 8 = J Hillard, 9 = S Tavener, 10 = J Young, 11 = H A'Court, 12 = I Gear,
13 = Frederick Ewens, 14 = Edward Samuel Ewens, 15 = W Johnson, 16 = Richard Ewens,
17 = L Masters, 18 = F Clothier, 19 = J Gould, 20 = F Collins, 21 = W Fone, 22 = EM Ewens,
23 = Ellen Ewens, 24 = Sophia Ewens, 25 = Annie Ewens, 26 = L Grey, 27 = W Tavener,
28 = Edward William Ewens, 29 = F Batty, 30 = F Bicknell.

 


Courtesy of Ted Ewens

This photograph is of Ewens & Sons and the original was presented to Sam Ewens (Ted's great grandfather), at centre, on his 50th Birthday in 1904 by his employees. The original large framed photograph presented to Sam was hanging in the office of Ewens & Co in Taunton until the firm closed in 1974.

 


Courtesy of Ted Ewens

Wedding photograph at The Mermaid Hotel on 27 December 1915. The bride is Edith Mary née Pitcher. Her mother Ada is seated to her left. Her father Charles is standing behind her mother.
The groom is Percival Charles Ewens, Sergeant 5th Somerset Light Infantry, and later to run the Taunton branch of Ewens & Co with Ada's brother Charles. His mother Sarah Annie née Hull is seated to his right. His father Edward Samuel 'Sam' Ewens is standing behind his mother. The soldier behind the groom is his brother Lionel Richard Ewens (1891-1917) in the uniform of the 9th Canadian Machine Gun Company. He died at Passchendale on 26 October 1917. His name is on the Yeovil War Memorial.

 

A full page advertisement from the June 1924 edition of "The Glover" listing those companies taking part in the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley - including Ewens Johnson & Co.