yeovil people

John Howe Farley

Glove Manufacturer and Mayor of Yeovil


John Howe Farley was born in Yeovil in 1837. He was the son of corn merchant John Farley (1799-1870) and his wife Elizabeth née Howe (1801-1882). John and Elizabeth had four children; Richard (1835-pre1851), John, Elizabeth Howe (1839-1910) and Maria Howe (b1844).

In the 1841 census John Farley was listed with his family in Hendford. The enumerator's description of his area noted "... to John Farley's house, the corner of South Street" indicating the exact location. More recently this was Chudleigh's seed merchants (see Gallery). The family were at the same address in the 1851 census, John Snr gave his occupatio0n as a corn factor while 14-year old John Jnr was a student. In the 1861 census, still at the same address, 62-year old John Snr and 24-year old John Jnr both gave their occupations as corn factors.

In 1864, at the age of 27, John Jnr became a Yeovil freemason, joining the Lodge of Brotherly Love. He was made Master of the lodge in 1871.

In 1870 John Snr died and the corn merchant's business was carried on by John Jnr. In fact, judging by the receipt (see Gallery) dated 1868, John had taken over the business before his father died. In the 1871 census Elizabeth was listed as the head of the household. With her was John and his sister Elizabeth as well as a domestic servant. John gave his occupation as a corn merchant.

On 19 August 1873, John married Adelaide Arthur (1850-1879) at Holy Trinity church. She was the daughter of farmer Daniel Arthur and his wife Rosanna, of Yarlington. Sadly, in the autumn of 1879, Adelaide died in Yeovil. She was just 29 years old. In the 1881 census John was recorded as a 43-year old widower living with him was his 10-year old nephew Thomas Blake and a domestic servant. John gave his occupation as 'Corn Dealer employing 1 Porter'.


In the 1891 edition of 'Where to Buy' John Farley's business was given the following description -

Mr John H Farley
Wholesale and Retail Corn Merchant, &c,
Hendford and South Street.

There is a peculiar interest in describing an old established business that has survived generation after generation, and after experiencing all the vicissitudes of a hundred years, still maintains a leading position among its younger rivals. This has been the case with the important trade carried on by Mr John H. Farley, wholesale and retail corn merchant, &c, of Hendford and South Street, the business having been founded in the year 1785, and after a career of 15 years coming in the year 1800, into the hands of Mr Farley's grandfather, Mr Richard Howe, from whom it descended to his father, and, about 20 years since, to himself. During all these years it must have witnessed many changes and improvements in the ancient borough. Through every change, however, the
business has maintained its position, and since the present proprietor succeeded to it, it has advanced with renewed vigour.

The premises are well situated, and are arranged and fitted up with every requirement for an extensive trade. Mr Farley always retains a large stock of the best and most reliable corn for seed and feeding purposes. None but the best qualities are supplied, and the prices throughout are very moderate. Corn of all descriptions, poultry and seed, oil cake, and every kind of feeding stuff of superior quality is supplied, and Mr. Farley's large connection is as gratifying as it is well deserved.

In the 1891 census John was living on his own, with just a domestic servant. John had a similar entry in the 1901 census.

The fountain in Sidney Gardens (see Gallery), which hasn't seen water for many years, was presented to the town by John Farley on 24 May 1899 to commemorate Queen Victoria's 80th birthday.

John Farley died in Yeovil on 6 March 1906, aged 69.




A letterhead of John Farley Jnr. showing that by 1868 he had taken over his father's business at least two years before the death of his father. 


This colourised photograph features in my book "Lost Yeovil"

This photograph, probably taken in the 1960's, shows narrow South Street (with the car driving out of it) was at the time. The Three Choughs Hotel is at left. Chudleigh's seed merchants, formerly the premises of seed merchant John Farley and later his son John Howe Farley, was demolished in the 1960's to widen South Street along with the building next to it (with the BSA signs) which had earlier been John Chaffin's photographic studios between 1862 and 1919.


Courtesy of Olly Ewens

This photograph is from a 1952 newspaper article and was taken on the occasion of the opening of Sidney Gardens in June 1898. The group, photographed with the Mayor, Mr John Vincent, has as its background the thatched bandstand given by Mr James Bazeley Petter to mark the opening. Standing (left to right) are: - E Benson, W Summers, J Kerby Whitby, Mr Brown, William Maynard, GH Gould, Edward Samuel Ewens, Henry Jesty (mace-bearer), William W Johnson, Charles J Hook, John Bazeley Petter (donor), W Armitage (Borough Surveyor), John Howe Farley, Walter J Nosworthy, William Beale Collins, Charles Fox. Sitting - Levi Beer, CW Pittard, Sidney Watts, Mrs Vincent, John Vincent (Mayor), Joseph Chaffey Moore, William Cox.


A colourised photograph of the presentation of the Sidney Gardens fountain on 24 May 1899. You'd have thought at least one of 'em could have raised a slight smile. John Farley is No 26 on the drawing below.

So, who was who? Unfortunately only some of the gathering are known, these are as follows -
1 Cllr GH Gould, 2 Cllr Edward Samuel Ewens, 4 Cllr William W Johnson, 5 G Gawler, 6 Cllr James Bazeley Petter, 7 WG Armytage (Borough Surveyor), Henry Jesty (Mace Bearer), 9 Cllr Charles Hook, 10 JK Whitby, 11 Cllr HF Raymond, 14 William Maynard, 15 Alderman Sidney Watts, 16 Miss Watts, 17 Miss Vincent, 18 Mrs Vincent, 20 Alderman William Cox, 22 Mayor John Vincent, 23 Alderman Joseph Chaffey Moore, 24 Cllr Charles Wreford Pittard, 25 Henry Butler Batten (Town Clerk), 26 John Howe Farley (who donated the fountain), 27 Ebenezer Pittard, 29 William Beale Collins.


From my collection

A hand-coloured postcard sent in 1904, with John Farley's fountain full of water - a sight not seen for many years.


Courtesy of Betty Barber (née Bird)

John Farley's fountain in Sidney Gardens. Photographed in the 1960s.


The notice of John Farley's death in the 7 March 1906 edition of the Dundee Courier.


A notice of the sale of John Farley's shares from the 8 June 1906 edition of the Western Gazette.


Notice of John's estate from the 25 May 1906 edition of the Shepton Mallet Journal.