yeovil people

Henry Penny

Glove Manufacturer, Banker, Landowner & Town Commissioner


Henry Penny was born in Yeovil on 5 November 1778, the son of Glove Manufacturer Henry Penny (1746-1796) and Drusilla née Chalkley (1746-1822). He was baptised at St John's church on 30 December 1788. His parents had lived briefly in London, where they had two children who both died in infancy, before returning to live in Yeovil. Henry Jnr had one surviving sister, Elizabeth (who married John Highmore).

Henry became a Glove Manufacturer, presumably working with his father and taking over the running of the business on his father's death in 1796. He also inherited land from his father as well as the advowson of West Coker.

He bore the arms granted to the family in the sixteenth century. His memorial on the west wall of the north aisle of St John's church bears the arms.

The arms were gules, six fleurs-de-lys or, 3, 2, 1 (on a red field, six golden fleurs-de-lys, three over two, over one).

A serious fire occurred in 1802 in which many houses were destroyed. The following is an extract of a letter from Henry Penny to Mr R Donn of Exeter dated 1 October 1802 ".... it brake out last Thursday morning about 5 o'clock in a narrow lane called Little Lane (today's Tabernacle Lane) just behind Mr Edwards' house - it has destroyed 13 dwellings besides outhouses. Our family and Mrs Donn were greatly frightened, as might be expected, but however I have the happiness to acquaint you that they are all as well as can be expected and that the damage sustained by me is very little. I had no other prospect when I first discovered it but having my house burnt down about my ears and nothing but the very greatest exertions of those employed saved me. Mrs Donn has lost 4 tenements in Back Street (today's South Street) amongst which is Jno Hodges' - her own house is not the least damaged...."

In his will he described himself as a Banker but there is no corroborating evidence for this. Around 1808 Henry married Elizabeth Gould, who was born 24 July 1782 at Hendford, Yeovil. They were to have at least nine children, three of whom died in infancy and only one reached the age of forty; Ann (1809-1826), Henry (1810-1838), Frances Churchman (1815-1839, first wife of John Noake Highmore), Charles (1815-1884), Eliza (b1816), Maria (1817-1817), Jane Farrington (1818-1820), George Henry (1821-1857) and Mary Anne (1823-1824). Henry was in partnership with John Noake Highmore 'of Preston Bermondsey' as woolstaplers until the partnership was dissolved in December 1829.

Henry Penny clearly had a status and played a role in the Yeovil community; he served as a member of the Vestry from 1813 and was elected Churchwarden in 1808 and again from 1816 to 1818. (His father had been a Churchwarden in 1776 and 1777).

In 1830 he became a Town Commissioner. In 1831, the 26 October 1831 edition of the Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser noted his property in the Borough "suffered" during the Reform Riot of 21 October.

In 1832 Henry was included in the Voters List by virtue of owning a freehold property in the Borough - this was, almost certainly, the Rose & Crown Inn which had been the property of his father and grandfather before him.

In 1833 he purchased Hendford House (today's Manor Hotel) from Rev. Arthur Johnson of Rampisham, Dorset. Johnson was the husband of Elizabeth Clark Daniell, who had inherited Hendford House from her father John Daniell the Elder, who had built the house in 1766.

Henry, his wife Elizabeth and daughter Eliza, were all listed living at Hendford House in the 1841 census. Henry was described as of independent means. On 11 April 1844, Eliza married Rev William Nicholson, MA, Rector of Corscombe, Dorest, at St John's church.

He was included in the 1841 Voters List by virtue of owning a freehold property in Hendford and this same year he was Custos of the Woborn Almshouse in Rackleford (today's Market Street). He served as Warden of the Woborn Almshouse between 1842 and 1844. In 1845 he was a member of the Committee of the National Day School in Huish. Between 1846 and 1849 Henry served as a Special Commissioner for the town.

In 1851, Henry was noted as an investor in the South Western Railway Company.

In 1850 Hunt's Directory listed him with an address in Hendford and he was also listed in the 1854 Burgess Roll. Henry retired from business in 1851 and died in Yeovil on 2 December 1855 aged 77. His remains were interred in a vault in the aisle of St John's church and his memorial in the church is shown below.


Henry Penny's signature against the Vestry minutes of 3 March 1831. 


For the Penny Family Tree - click here


Land Holdings


In the 1846 Tithe Apportionment Henry Penny was listed as the owner of the following properties and parcels of land.


Owner Occupier No Name
Penny, Henry Buck, William 1466 In West Field
Penny, Henry Penny, Henry 341 House & Garden
Penny, Henry Penny, Henry 400 Garden Ground
Penny, Henry Penny, Henry 402 Garden Ground
Penny, Henry Penny, Henry 403 Garden Ground
Penny, Henry Penny, Henry 562 Kingstone Orchard
Penny, Henry Tucker, James 931 Lower Loydes
Penny, Henry Tucker, James 950 Higher Loydes




The memorial to Henry Penny on the west wall of the north aisle of St John's church. Photographed 2015. The inscription reads -

In memory of
Henry Penny of this Town
who was Born 5 Nov 1778
and Died 2 Dec 1855
His mortal remains were interred
in a Vault in this Aisle
with those of his undermentioned Children

Maria who died 16 April 1817 Aged 7 Weeks
Jane Farrington 20 May 1820 Aged 2 Years
Mary Anne 11 Feb 1824 Aged 8 Months
Anne 3 Jun 1826 Aged 17 Years
Henry 9 January 1838 Aged 27 Years
George John 10 April 1857 Aged 26 Years

His third Daughter Frances Churchman
wife of John Noake Highmore Esq
died 24 January 1839 Aged 24 Years
and was buried at Preston Plucknett

Elizabeth. Relict of the above named Henry Penny
was Born 24 July 1782 and died at West Coker
where also she was buried 14 May 1869.

John II.26.


The 1846 Will of Henry Penny



This is the last Will and Testament of me Henry Penny of Yeovil in the County of Somerset Banker I give and bequeath unto my wife Elizabeth Penny an annuity of one hundred pounds a year during so long time as she shall continue my widow to be paid half yearly with a proportion of all part thereof up to the day of the decease or second marriage of my said wife first payment to be made in six Calendar months next after my decease and to be in lieu of (word illegible) but in addition to the annuity of one hundred pounds secured to her by our marriage settlement which I hereby confirm I give and devise the dwellinghouse in which I reside with the outhouses stables garden and all other the rights (word illegible) and Attainments is to the same belonging or appertaining situate in Hendford in Yeovil aforesaid onto my said wife Elizabeth Penny and her assigns for her life in case she shall so long continue a widow and after her decease or second marriage and to my son George John Penny his heirs and assigns for ever I give and devise all that my advowson or right of patronage and presentation of or to the Rectory or Parish Church of West Coker in the said County of Somerset with the appurtenances to the same belonging and also the cottage opposite the entrance to the Rectory House with the gardens and other appurtenances to the same belonging unto and to the use of my son Charles Penny his heirs and assigns for ever I give and devise (word illegible) and other estate rights and interest in and to my late great aunt (word illegible) lands hereditaments and premises at Sutton Montis in the said County of Somerset and which I claim under her will unto and equally between all such of my children as shall survive me to hold to them their heirs and assigns as tenants in common and not as joint tenants I bequeath the wines liquors fuel and other consumables (word illegible) stores and provisions of which I shall die possessed to my said wife Elizabeth Penny I give and bequeath to my said wife the use and enjoyment of all my household goods and furniture implements of household plate linen pictures and china during her life in case she shall so long continue a widow and after her decease or second marriage I bequeath the same unto my said son George John Penny his executors administrators and assigns I give and bequeath to George Harbin of Yeovil aforesaid Esquire and my son in law John Noake Highmore of Preston Plucknet in this said County Woolstapler their executors administrators and assigns the sum of six thousand pounds upon trust to invest the same in government or real securities with power to alter the securities as they shall think fit and I direct that the said George Harbin and John Noake Highmore their executives and administrators shall stand (word illegible) of the said sum of six thousand pounds and the stock funds or securities in or upon which the same shall be laid out or invested and the dividends and annual income thereof in trust to pay the said annuities of one hundred pounds and one hundred pounds as and when the same shall respectively become due and so long as they shall respectively be payable and subject to the said annuities upon trust as to their parts of the said trust fund and the annual income thereof for my said son Charles Penny and as to the remaining third part thereof in trust for my said son George John Penny and I declare that the receipts of my said trustees for such monies stock funds and securities as shall be paid or transferred to them by virtue of my will shall effectively discharge paying or transferring the same from liability to see to the application thereof and I declare that my said trustees shall be answerable for their respective acts receipts and defaults only and shall be at liberty to retain and to allow to each other out of monies coming to their hands by virtue of my will all expenses incurred in executing the trusts thereof and I declare that on the death refusal or incapacity of the said trustees or either of them or of any trustee to be appointed under this clause it shall be lawful for my said wife to appoint a fit person or persons to supply the place of the deceased refusing or incapacitated trustees or trustee and that every appointed trustee shall have and arise all the authorities and discretions given or expressed to be given to such deceased refusing or incapacitated trustee I give and devise all real estates vested in me by way of mortgage with their appurtenances unto and to the use of the said Charles Penny and George John Penny their heirs and assigns upon trust upon payment or transfer for the benefit of my estate of the money or stock secured on mortgage of the same to convey the said mortgages estates unto the person or persons entitled thereto I devise and bequeath the residue of my real and personal estate and to my said son George John Penny his heirs executors administrators and assigns for his and their own use and benefit and I appoint my said sons Charles Penny and George John Penny joint executors of my will and I hereby revoke all other wills by me at any time heretofore made by me and do declare this present writing to be my last will and testament in witness whereof I the said Henry Penny to this my last will and testament contained in three sheets have set my hand that is to say at the foot of each of the first two sheets thereof and at the end of this last sheet this fourth day of June one thousand eight hundred and forty six

Hy Penny

signed by the above named Henry Penny in the presence of us present at the said time who in his presents have here subscribed our names as attesting witnesses

John Slade solicitor Yeovil       J H Hammond his Clerk


Proved at London 29th Dec[embe]r 1855 before the Judge by the oaths of Tho[mas] [Roouons?] Charles Penny Clerk and George John Penny the Sons the Ex[ecut]ors to whom adm[inistrati]on was granted having been first sworn by Com[missi]on duly to administer



Transcribed by Bob Osborn