Yeovil People

Joseph Penny

Draper, Wine Merchant & Farmer of Brimsmore Tree Farm

 

Joseph Penny was born in West Coker in 1822 and baptised in the church of St Martin of Tours, West Coker, on 17 March 1822. He was the son of inn keeper of the New Inn, West Coker, John Penny (1795-1827) and his wife Ann née Beer (m1816, Hardington Mandeville). John and Ann had at least one other son, John Dunn Penny (1817-1856).

Very little is known of Joseph's early life but he was soon living in Yeovil and working as a draper's shopman for George Wadman. The Somerset Gazette Directory of 1840 listed George Wadman as a draper of Silver Street. However, George's business establishment was soon transferred to Middle Street, at the junction with Vicarage Street - albeit not in the present building. In the 1841 census George and his wife Mary were listed at the property with their four children, three draper's shopmen - including 20-year old Joseph Penny - together with an assistant, three draper's apprentices (including one female) and two domestic servants.

On 12 August 1845 Joseph applied for a marriage license. At St James' church, Preston Plucknett, he married Mary Dunn (1822-1898) of Preston Plucknett, although born in Powerstock, Dorset. They were not to have children.

From 1845, Joseph became a draper in his own right. Hunt & Co's Directory of 1850 listed him as a 'Linen & Wool Draper of the Borough' and Slater's Directory of 1852 noted him as a 'Tailor & Draper of High Street' (not forgetting, of course, that the Borough is technically part of High Street).

Joseph was running a drapery at Alma House in High Street. Alma House, to the immediate east of the Mermaid Hotel, was, most likely, originally built in the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century as a private town house of two storeys and three bays. Certainly by the early part of the nineteenth century it had been converted into shop premises. Joseph ran a draper's shop at Alma House from 1845 for eleven years, before selling his business to Albert Edwards in May 1856. Albert Edwards ran his drapery business from Alma House for the next twenty years or so before moving his business into 8 High Street (today the premises of Clement White) in 1873. The likelihood that the freehold of Alma House had remained with Joseph Penny during Albert Edward's tenure is, perhaps, reinforced by the fact that the next occupant was draper and outfitter Benjamin Penny - the nephew of Joseph Penny.

An agreement of 1853 in my collection (see below) notes that Joseph owned at least one property in Peter Street.

Having sold his drapery business, Joseph became a wine merchant operating from Kingston. The 1861 census listed Joseph and Mary living in Kingston, together with two nieces - Mary and Peninonah Read, aged 19 and 11 respectively, and a domestic servant. Joseph, now aged 40, described his occupation as 'Wine Merchant & Town Councillor'. The entry in the 1871 census was all but identical except there were Joseph and Mary, 15-year old niece Fanny Clarke, together with a domestic servant and a laundress. The Post Office Directory of 1875 listed Joseph as a wine merchant of Kingston.

During the next decade, Joseph had yet another change of address and a change of occupation. Although still operating his wine business from Kingston, Joseph and Mary had moved to Brimsmore Tree Farm. The 1881 census listed 60-year old Joseph and 58-year old Mary living in the farmhouse with a domestic servant and a dairymaid. Another niece, Alice Dowlish, was visiting. Joseph gave his occupation as wine merchant and farmer. Joseph had two entries in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1882; as a wine merchant of Kingston and as a wine merchant of Brimsmore Tree Farm.

The 1891 census listed Joseph and Mary at the farm, this time with 13-year old great-niece Fanny Davey and a domestic servant. Joseph gave his occupation as 'Yeoman and Wine Merchant'.

Joseph again had two entries in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1898; as a wine merchant of Kingston and as a wine merchant of Brimsmore Tree Farm.

Mary died in 1898 and 80-year old Joseph was listed as a widower in the 1901 census. Still at Brimsmore Tree Farm, he had a housekeeper and a domestic servant living in. Joseph described his occupation simply as a farmer.

Joseph Penny died at Brimsmore Tree Farm on 20 October 1904. His will was proven the following November and his effects valued at £14,839 6s 8d (around £1.6 million at today's value).

 

Gallery

 

The record of Joseph's baptism at West Coker on 17 March 1722.

 

Joseph Penny's application of 12 August 1845 for a marriage license.

 

An Edwardian postcard showing Alma House at centre, next door to the Mermaid Hotel..>

 

A double notice placed in the 13 May 1856 edition of the Western Flying Post by both the outgoing Joseph Penny and the incoming Albert Edwards.

 

Articles of Agreement

 

These Articles of Agreement were made after disputes between Joseph Penny and William Patch, a builder of Ilminster. The disputes refer to adjoining properties in Peter Street but the most interesting snippet is that the party wall was only 4½" (half a brick) thick.

 


From my collection

Articles of Agreement made the thirteenth day of January one thousand eight hundred and fifty three Between William Patch of Ilminster in the County of Somerset Builder of the one part and Joseph Penny of Yeovil in the said County Draper of the other part. Whereas the said William Patch is the Mortgagee in possession of the Freehold Dwellinghouse and Premises situate in Peter Street in Yeovil aforesaid and now in the occupation of his tenant Jeremiah Worner and the said Joseph Penny is the Owner of the Freehold Dwellinghouse and Premises also situate in Peter Street aforesaid and now in the occupation of his Tenant Miss Sarah London Hewlett which adjoin the said Dwellinghouse and Premises of the said William Patch And whereas the Eastern Pinion and Wall of the said Dwellinghouse of the said William Patch belongs to him as such Mortgagee exclusively And whereas the Western Pinion and Wall of the said Dwellinghouse of the said Joseph Penney is only the thickness of Four Inches and a half and is built up to the Joists of and supports the first floor thereof only And whereas the Western end of the Lintel over the Front Door of the said Dwellinghouse of the said Joseph Penny is fixed into and bears upon the said Eastern Pinion end Wall of the said Dwellinghouse of the said William Patch and there are also Joists and other Timbers and Materials of or belonging to the said Dwellinghouse of the said Joseph Penny bearing in upon or against the same Wall and the Eastern side of such Wall has been Plastered, Papered, Colored and Painted by the former Owner of the said last mentioned Dwellinghouse And whereas disputes have arisen between the said William Patch and Joseph Penny as to such bearings in upon or against such Wall and the Plastering Papering Coloring and Painting thereof but for terminating all such disputes it hath been agreed that the said William Patch and Joseph Penny respectively should enter into the Agreements hereinafter contained Now these present witness that in consideration of the Premises and of the Agreement hereinafter contained on the part of the said Joseph Penny he the said William Patch for himself his heirs executors administrators and assigns doth hereby agree to permit and suffer all and singular the said Lintel Joists and other Timbers and Materials of or belonging to the said Dwellinghouse of the said Joseph Penny now bearing in upon or against the said Wall of the said Dwellinghouse of the said William Patch at all times hereafter to remain so bearing as aforesaid and also to permit and suffer the Eastern side of the said last mentioned Wall at all times hereafter to remain so plastered papered colored and painted as aforesaid and also to permit and suffer the said Joseph Penny at all reasonable times hereafter to remain so plastered papered colored and painted as a foresaid and also to permit and suffer the said Joseph Penny his heirs and assigns or other the Owner or Owners Tenant or Tenants for the time being of the said Dwellinghouse of the said Joseph Penny at all reasonable times hereafter to Plaster Paper color and Paint the Eastern side of the said last mentioned Wall an the said Joseph Penny his heirs of assigns or other the Owner or Owners Tenant or Tenants aforesaid paying unto the said William Patch his heirs or assigns or other the Owner or Owners Tenant or Tenants for the time being the said Dwellinghouse of the said William Patch the sum of Five Shillings on or before the twenty ninth day of September in every year as a full and sufficient compensation for such bearings Plastering Papering Coloring and Painting as aforesaid And these presents further witness that in consideration of the Premises and of the Agreement hereinbefore contained on the part and behalf of the said William Patch he the said Joseph Penny for himself his heirs executors administrators and assigns Doth hereby agree with the said William Patch his heirs and assigns that he the said Joseph Penny his heirs and assigns or other the Owner or Owners Tenant or Tenants for the time being of the said Dwellinghouse of the said Joseph Penny shall and will on or before the twenty ninth day of September in every year so long as such bearings Plastering Papering Coloring and Painting as aforesaid or any part thereof shall so remain as aforesaid well and truly pay or cause to be paid unto the said William Patch his heirs heirs or assigns or other the Owner or Owners Tenant or Tenants for the time being the said Dwellinghouse of the said William Patch the sum of Five Shillings as a full and sufficient compensation for such such bearings Plastering Papering Coloring and Painting as aforesaid As witness the hands of the said parties the day and year first above written.

 

Transcribed by Bob Osborn