yeovil people

richard ewens

Glove Manufacturer


Richard Ewens was born in Langport in 1816. The first record he appears in is the 1841 census. By this time 25-year-old Richard and his 23-year-old Yeovil-born wife Mary, together with their two-year-old daughter Emily and two week old son Ebenezer, were living in Yeovil. They were recorded living in Ebenezer Row, approximately where Poundland is today. Richard gave his occupation as a glover and Mary gave hers as a glove sewer. Sadly, Ebenezer died in the winter of 1843 and his sister Emily died aged 10 in the autumn of 1844.

By the time of the 1851 census Richard and Mary, together with their seven-year-old daughter Juliana and a 14-year-old domestic servant, were living in London Road (today's Sherborne Road) at its junction with Towns End. The actual limits of Towns End were always somewhat vague and variable, however their house would appear to have been one of those shown in the first photograph below. As before, Richard gave his occupation as a glover.

During the next ten years Richard gradually built up his own glove manufacturing business. In the 1861 census gave his occupation as 'Leather Glove Manufacturer employing 20 men and 112 boys'. In 1866 he was listed as a glove manufacturer of Addlewell Lane in the Post Office Directory of that year. By this time Richard and Mary, together with their daughter Juliana and a female servant had moved to South Street House, being more salubrious accommodation in South Street, as shown in the photograph below.

In the spring of 1870 Mary died in Yeovil at the age of 53. Richard moved out of the large house in South Street and by 1871 was living in Reckleford House, on the north side between today's Avenue and Goldcroft. He was listed as a widower aged 55 with a domestic servant. Living in the same house was 34-year-old Frederick W Allen with his wife, simply listed in the census as 'JSE', three children and a servant. Richard gave his occupation as a 'Glove Manufacturer, firm of Ewens & Allen, employing 60 hands' while Frederick Allen listed his occupation as 'Glove Manufacturer, firm of Ewens & Allen'. In fact Frederick Allen was married to Richard's daughter Juliana and before their marriage Richard's glove manufacturing company was simply known as Ewens & Co. Sadly Frederick Allen died on the 23 September 1872 at the age of 35. His estate was valued at £4,000 (roughly £2 million at today's value). After Frederick's death, Richard's company was known as R Ewens & Co and was listed as such, of Middle Street, in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser as late as 1882 - the year following Richard's death.

In January 1871 Yeovil's first School Board was elected. It was chaired by Wesleyan Minister Richard Thomas and Richard Ewens was elected as one of the other six members.

During the autumn of 1872 Richard married Sophia Septima Chapman, 21 years his junior, at Yeovil. The Post Office Directory of 1875 listed Richard as a glove manufacturer three times; at Mill Lane, at Bond Street and at South Street. It is most likely that his main glove manufactory and dressing yard were at the Mill Lane address and it is probable that the large group photograph, below, was taken there in 1878. The photograph of Richard, above, is an enlargement from this group photograph.

The 1881 census recorded Richard and Sophia living at Reckleford (actually in Reckleford House albeit un-named in the census return) with a live-in nurse and two domestic servants. Richard was by now aged 65 and listed his occupation as a glove manufacturer. The fact that a nurse was in residence is an indication of how poor Richard's health was and, indeed, he died on 22 April, just a couple of weeks after the census was taken. His will was proved at the end of May and his estate was valued at just under £25,000 (just over £11 million at today's value). Sophia continued to live in Reckleford House until at least 1919.

A brass, or bronze, tablet with ornate decoration of architectural arches and columns in black inlay, with lettering in black inlay with red inlay capital letters, 52cm wide x 53.5cm high, was originally affixed to the wall of the Baptist church in South Street. The inscription was as follows -


In loving memory of
who died April 22, 1881, aged 65 years
for 47 years he was a member of this
Church, and for 17 years held the office
of Deacon, as an employer he was held.
in high estimation by those he employed,
As a member & Deacon of the Church, he
was sympathetic and generous, as a husband
& father he was loving and beloved
He died “Looking for the mercy of our
Lord Jesus Christ unto Eternal Life.”




This is probably the earliest photograph of this area of Yeovil and dates to about 1890. It is taken from Sherborne Road with that part of the old London Road, known as Townsend, running off to the left and Reckleford runs off to the right. In 1851 Richard and Mary Ewens were living in one of the houses at left - from their relative position in the census, most likely the white house at extreme left of the photograph.


From their relative position in the 1861 census it would appear that Richard and Mary Ewens were living at South Street House, 79 South Street. The site is now occupied by the entrance to Petters Way and the Petters Way car park adjoining South Street. The railings at left belong to the Baptist Church and at the time of this photograph a narrow lane ran between the house and the church, leading originally to extensive orchards. By 1881 79 South Street had become Dr Ptolemy Colmer's house and surgery.


Courtesy of Olly Ewens

Staff of the Richard Ewens manufactory together with Ewens family members gather for a group photograph, most likely at the Mill Lane site, about 1878. Those whose names are known are highlighted in the following photo. Richard Ewens is number 16.


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.


The area known as Reckleford Cross photographed in the 1960s from Market Street looking towards Reckleford. Palmer's fish restaurant is on the right and directly ahead Market Street joins Reckleford with Reckleford House, Richard and Sophia's home, at centre.


An enlargement of the previous photograph to give a better view of Reckleford House.