yeovil people

thomas jesty

Undertaker & General Furnisher

 

John Jesty was a carpenter, born in Yeovil in 1826. In 1847 he married Mary Ann Burge, some four years his senior, at Yeovil and they were to have at least six children; John (b 1847), Sarah (b 1850), Thomas (1852-1904), Henry (b 1854), Caroline (b1857) and Herbert (1859-1896). In the 1851 census John and Mary were listed living in Park Street, he as a carpenter, she as a glover, with three-year old John and 4-month old Sarah. In the 1861 census the family, with all six children, was living at Coalpaxy Lane which was the name for Sparrow Lane at the time. However, although 36-year old John is listed as married, there is no sign of Mary. I couldn't find a death record for her either. Nevertheless, in the winter of 1861 John married Jane Mutter at Yeovil.

John and Mary's son, Thomas, was only aged 7 and was listed as a scholar in the 1861 census. In the autumn of 1877 Thomas married Sarah Stevens of Wiltshire, nine years his senior, at Yeovil. Thomas had clearly acquired some of his father's carpentry skills since in the 1881 census he was listed as an 'Undertaker & Furniture Dealer'. Thomas and Sarah were listed at 88 Middle Street and living with them was 19-year old Benjamin Stevens, a Printer's Compositor, listed as Thomas' son-in-law but most likely actually his stepson. They also had a general domestic servant. In the 1891 census Thomas and Sarah had 19-year old William Stevens living with them as a boarder as well as a general domestic servant.

Thomas placed advertisements in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser from 1889 onwards. He had two separate listings in the 1895 edition; one as an Undertaker of Middle Street and the other as a Cabinet Maker of Middle Street. His last listing was as "T Jesty, House Furnishers of Middle Street" in Whitby's 1903 edition.

In the 1901 census Thomas and Sarah were listed living above the "Furniture Warehouse" in Middle Street with their grandson William Stevens and a general domestic servant. Thomas' occupation was listed as "Cabinet Manufacturer".

Thomas died early in 1904 in Yeovil and the business was renamed Jesty & Co after his death - it was then run by his wife Sarah and her son by her first marriage, William Stevens who was to run the business until at least 1965.

In Collins Yeovil Directory of 1907 Jesty's had no less than four separate listings: as Furniture Dealers, as Undertakers, as Cabinet Makers and as Picture Frame makers, all of Middle Street. In 1901 the manufacture of coffins and the undertaking side of the business was discontinued.  Kelly's Directory of 1919 listed the company as Upholsterers and Kelly's 1935 edition listed Jesty & Co as House Furnishers with a separate listing as Upholsterers. Edwin Snell's Directory of 1954 gave three listings; as House Furnishers, as Cabinet Makers & Upholsterers and finally as Undertakers. There were no further listings after this date and at some time after 1965 the furniture store was sold to the Yeovil & District Co-operative Society as their furniture and bedding department. The store was demolished around 1980 and the site is now occupied by Poundland.

 

gallery

 

The earliest photograph I've found of this part of Middle Street, photographed around 1890 from the Triangle. Thomas Jesty's furniture emporium is at extreme right and in the distance is seen the offices of the gasworks (now premises of St Margaret's Hospice). At extreme left the cottage with a small front garden was soon to be demolished and replaced with the block of shops surmounted by a series of small domes seen in a photograph lower down this page.

 

Another early photograph, this probably dating to about 1900, of Thomas Jesty's newly-built premises, often known as "Jesty's Corner".

 

Thomas Jesty's advertisement in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1889. This advert ran in Whitby's for most of the 1890s.

 

From this notice placed in the 12 April 1901 edition of the Western Gazette, the manufacture of coffins and the undertaking side of the business was discontinued.

 

Possibly made by Thomas Jesty himself, a late Victorian stained softwood chiffonier base, by Jesty & Co, Yeovil, the moulded top above a pair of drawers and a double cupboard, on a plinth base, width approximately 107cm.

 


Courtesy of the Western Gazette

The workshop end of Thomas Jesty's store, photographed around 1905. At this time the premises were probably less that ten years old.

 


Courtesy of Jack Sweet

An interior photograph of Jesty's furniture emporium, taken in 1906.

 


Courtesy of Jack Sweet

Another interior photograph of Jesty's furniture emporium, taken in 1906.

 

An advertisement in the 1906 edition of "Homeland Handbooks".

 

An advertisement on Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1910 - clearly based on the photograph in the advertisement above and clearly at a time when Yeovil was populated by very small people.

 

An advertisement for Jesty & Co in the Western Gazette Almanac of 1913. By this time Thomas Jesty had been dead for nearly ten years.

 

Thomas Jesty's premises featured in this postcard of Middle Street, postmarked 1914.

 


From my collection

A Jesty's of Yeovil advertisement in a Yeovil Guide of the late 1920s. 

 


From my collection

Jesty's advertisement in the 1950 Yeovil Guide.

 


From my collection

A Jesty's receipt dated 13 August 1965 showing that Thomas Jesty's wife's son, William Stevens, was still running the business. The company ceased trading shortly after this and the premises were taken over by the Yeovil & District Co-operative Society.

 

Thomas Jesty's furniture emporium photographed around 1950.

 


Courtesy of Jack Sweet

The Triangle photographed in the early 1950s. By this time Jesty's had sold off the right-hand part of their premises which was now occupied by the Yeovil & District Co-operative Society. Within a couple of years Jesty's had closed and the Co-op occupied all the former Jesty premises.

 

Looking down Lower Middle Street, remarkably traffic-free in the late 1960s. At right is Jesty's store, by this time Yeovil & District Co-operative Society's furniture branch store  At the far end is the office building of the Town Gas Works.

 

A more direct view of the store that was originally Thomas Jesty's furniture store, with the old Methodist chapel at centre. This was all demolished around 1980 and the site is now occupied by Poundland.