Perfumer, Hair Dresser, Toy & Fancy Goods Dealer
Ince Gamis was born in Axminster, Devon, around 1795 but little is known of his early life. At the age of 25, on 19 October 1820, he was initiated into the Yeovil Freemasonry Lodge of Brotherly Love, describing himself as a Printer of Yeovil.
On 5 March 1822 he married Hester Baker at St John's church, Yeovil. In 1828 Ince Gamis established his shop and in 1830 Pigot's Directory listed him as a 'Perfumer, Hairdresser & Toy Dealer' of the Borough. He also had a separate listing in the same directory as a Toy Dealer.
In 1840 the Somerset Gazette Directory listed him as a Toy Dealer in Hendford. This was almost certainly the building shown in the first photograph in the gallery below which was, in the 1840s, widely advertised as Ince Gamis' 'Medicine Warehouse'.
The 1841 census records Ince and Hester living in Hendford above the shop premises with Martha Baker, of independent means, and two domestic servants.
Interestingly, the 1846 Tithe Apportionment shows that Ince owned two fields (one with a couple of cottages) that occupied three-quarters of the western side of Hendford Hill - see map below. At some time during the next decade he must have sold the two fields (presumably for a handsome profit) and the land was used to build the substantial properties we see today and, at the time, the residences of the more affluent members of Yeovil society.
Hunt & Co's Directory of 1850 lists him as a Toy Dealer in the Borough again, although it is not known if Ince had two shop premises or not. His business, in its various guises, remained in the Hendford premises long after his death - indeed until at least 1911. However, that he was fairly affluent is shown in the 1846 Tithe Apportionment in which he is listed as the owner of three parcels of land (Parcel 596, a field called 'In Hewish Field', Parcel 686 'Gardens' and Parcel 687 'Cottages & Gardens') all occupied, and presumably sub-let, by John Hockey. The 1846 Register of Voters lists Ince Gamis by virtue of his owning freehold land in Huish.
In the 1851 census Ince and Hester were living in a house in South Street, close to Peter Street. At the time of the census they had two visitors and a live-in domestic servant. Ince gave his occupation as a Hardwareman.
By 1860 it appears that Ince Gamis went into partnership with Henry Hunt and/or his sister Martha Hunt, both originally from Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, and the firm of Gamis & Hunt was advertised widely throughout the next decade as purveyors of "Du Barry's delicious Health Restoring Revalenta Arabica food" for the cure of "Constipation, Indigestion (Dyspepsia), Nervous, Bilious and Liver Complaints, Cough, Asthma, Consumption and Debility". The Post Office Directory of 1866 listed Gamis & Hunt as 'Stationers & Toy Dealers' of Hendford.
By the time of the 1861 census Ince and Hester, now aged 64 and 63 respectively, had moved to a house in Horsey's Lane (today's West Hendford) close to its junction with Hendford. Living with them was Ince's 68-year old sister Deborah and a domestic servant. Ince gave his occupation as 'Retired Shopkeeper (Toy)'. At the same time 33-year old Henry Hunt was living above the shop premises in Hendford with his wife Emily and their three young children; William Henry, Mary Eliza and Ince Harry. Also living with them was Martha Hunt, listed as a visitor but actually Henry's sister, and two domestic servants. Henry gave his occupation as a Stationer and Martha gave hers as a Fancy Dealer. Henry Hunt died in Yeovil during the summer of 1862 and it would therefore appear that the partners of Gamis & Hunt were Ince Gamis and Martha Hunt.
In the summer of 1867 Hester died at the age of 69. It may have been after her death that Ince came out of retirement. In any event, during the summer of 1869 Ince married Henry Hunt's sister Martha at Weymouth. Although she was his partner in business, and now in life, she was 32 years his junior.
By 1871 Ince and Martha were living above the shop premises in Hendford with a general servant. Ince gave his occupation as 'Stationer, tc'. The Post Office Directory of 1875 listed 'Ince Gamis, Fancy Goods Dealer' of Hendford and also gave him a separate listing as a Stationer.
Ince Gamis died in Yeovil on 28 March 1879. His will was proved in May of that year and his estate was valued at 'under £3,000' (around £2.5 million at 2017's value). Martha continued running the business with her niece Mary Hunt as an assistant and in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1882 it was listed as 'Gamis & Hunt, Toy & Stationery Warehouse' of Hendford. Between 1898 and 1903 Whitby's listed the business as 'Gamis & Co, Toy & Stationery Warehouse' of Hendford.
By the time of the 1901 census Martha had retired and was 'living on own means' in Union Street with a domestic servant. Martha died in Yeovil in the summer of 1901. She was aged 71.
Gamis & Co's Toy & Stationery Warehouse was listed for the final time at the Hendford premises in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1911 and by the time of the 1914 edition the company had moved to 6 High Street, where it remained until the 1970s. The final directory listing for the company was as Gamis Stores Ltd, Fancy Goods Dealer 0f 6 High Street in Kelly's 1935 Directory.
The High Street premises were later occupied by Dingles, then by Denner's. Today it is occupied by Beale's department store.
Parcels 686 (listed as 'Gardens') and 687 (listed as 'Cottages and Gardens') were both owned by fancy goods dealer Ince Gamis.
This photograph, one half of a stereoscopic pair, was taken around 1870 and looks down Hendford with High Street and the shop of Linsey Denner at extreme left. The impressive building at right is Stuckey's Bank, facing High Street, and demolished in 1918. Ince Gamis' shop (see photo below) was immediately next door to Stuckey's bank.
A notice placed in newspapers across the country during the 1840s advertising Ince Gamis as the agent for "Dr Locock's Pulmonic Wafers" - available from his Medicine Warehouse.
Gamis & Hunt's advertisement in the 1878 edition of Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser.
A full-page advertisement for Gamis & Co in Jarratt Beckett's 1897 book "Somerset Viewed through a Camera". At this time the business was being run by Ince Gamis' widow, Martha.
An enlargement of the 1897 photograph in the above advertisement showing Gamis & Co's premises in Hendford. Stuckey's bank would have been to the immediate right.
Courtesy of Jack Sweet
Gamis & Co's premises in High Street, photographed around 1910.
A postcard of High Street looking west of around 1915 (certainly taken before Stuckey's Bank in Hendford was demolished) with Ince Gamis' shop at right, now reduced to having just two large lamps. The building was to be rebuilt in 1932.
An advertisement in the Western Gazette's edition of 15 July 1932 for the Re-building Sale.
A quarter-page advertisement in the 30 September 1932 edition of the Western Gazette.
Courtesy of Jack Sweet
Photographed in 1934 in the forecourt of Yeovil Town railway station, four well-laden horse-drawn carts have just collected boxes of toys for Gamis' stores from the goods yard off-picture to the right.
Courtesy of Jack Sweet
The 'new' shop front, probably photographed in the 1960s.
From my collection
Looking west along High Street from the junction with King George Street (on the left) in this postcard of the 1970s. Right of centre is Gamis's Stores sandwiched between Moffat's and Lennard's. Gamis' premises were rebuilt in 1932.