James Singleton was born in Winsham around 1801 and the earliest record I could find was his marriage at St John's church, Yeovil, on 14 August 1832 to Jane Peach, ten years his junior and originally from East Coker. They were to have seven children; Jane (b1834), Emily (b1835), Mary Ann (b1838), James (b1840), Martha (b1850), Christiana (b1852) and Margaret Amelia (b1856).
James was a Cordwainer, that is, someone who makes new boots and shoes (as opposed to a cobbler, who repairs them) and was listed as such in the 1841 census which listed him living in Hendford, directly opposite the Three Choughs Hotel, with Jane and their four eldest children. James, Jane, their six children and a servant were at the same address in the 1851 census in which James gave his occupation as "Cordwainer employing 13 persons".
In February 1859 James Jnr was arrested for attempting "to injure the dresses of several women, by throwing deleterious matter over them, at Yeovil, on the 10th of February". The 'deleterious matter' was vitriol (sulphuric acid) and the report of his trial at the Somerset Assizes in August 1859 is told here.
During the 1850s James Snr moved his business to 1 Silver Street, next door to London House which stood on the corner of Silver Street and Middle Street (see Gallery below). Sale details shown in the Gallery below give a good description of the property which contained a large front shop 16ft by 16ft with plate glass windows, show room behind, large dining room, 5 good bedrooms, bathroom, WC. side and back entrance, kitchen, workshop and capital cellar. James was listed at this address in the 1861 census with Jane, children Emily, James Jnr, Martha and Christiana as well as a domestic servant. Both 61-year old James Snr and 19-year old James Jnr gave their occupations as Boot Manufacturers.
James Singleton Snr died in Yeovil in the winter of 1864 aged 63 and his wife Jane died in Yeovil in the autumn of 1867, aged 56.
After his father's death, the business was run by James Jnr. and in the 1871 census James was listed as the head of his household - sisters Margaret, Martha and Christiana together with a domestic servant - living above the business premises at 1 Silver Street. James gave his occupation as "Boot Maker, Master employing 7 men, 1 boy".
By the time of the 1881 census 35-year old James was living at 1 Silver Street with his wife, 26-year old Augusta (although I could find no record of their marriage and her entry in the 'Where Born' column was a suspicious 'n/k' for not known) and a general domestic servant. James gave his occupation simply as Boot Maker. His sisters Margaret, Martha and Christiana meanwhile had all moved to 5 The Mall, Clifton, Bristol, where all three sisters gave their occupations as Boot & Shoe Dealers.
In 1885 James' premises at 1 Silver Street were auctioned and he left Yeovil and in the following 1891 census 48-year old James was lodging in Jubilee Terrace, Dorking, Surrey, where he was listed as unmarried but still working as a Boot Maker. It appears, however, that his sisters (well, at least Margaret and Martha) were the purchasers, for in June 1886 they announced in the press the re-opening of the business under the name M&M Singleton, Bootmakers (see Gallery below) while at the same time retaining the business at Clifton. In the 1891 census 35-year old Margaret was listed at 1 Silver Street with a boarder and a servant. She gave her occupation as a Boot & Shoe Maker. I could find no trace of Martha or Christiana in this census but they presumably stayed in Clifton although I found no further trace of Christiana.
The 1889 edition of Kelly's Directory listed "Singleton, Margaret Amelia & Martha (Misses), boot warehouse, 1 Silver Street". They were in local directories throughout the 1890s, often taking full-page advertisements in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser.
Singleton's had been run by the Misses Margaret Amelia and Martha Singleton as a 'Boot Warehouse' but it became the footwear department of William Redwood's growing enterprise, certainly by 1901 when E & W Redwood were advertising their new stock in the local press (see Gallery below) and also advertising for boot repairers to work at 'Singleton Boot Stores'.
The 1901 census listed William Redwood, his wife Carrie together with daughter Evelyn May and Carrie's sister Eva living above Singleton's Boot Stores. William gave his occupation as 'Boot & Outfitting Shopkeeper'. There were also a Boot Saleswoman, an apprentice and a domestic servant living above the premises. William Redwood retained the name 'Singleton Boot Stores' at least until 1916.
I found no further trace of the Singleton sisters in the records.
From my collection
A hand-coloured postcard of the northern end of Hendford dating to about 1905. At right is the Three Choughs Hotel and at extreme left is the early premises of James Singleton during the 1840s and 1850s. It later became the ironmonger's shop of Henry James Sercombe who was listed as a 'tinman' in trade directories between 1903 and 1923.
James Singleton's advertisement in the 1 June 1877 edition of the Western Gazette.
James Singleton's full-page advertisement in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1881. Similar full paged advertisements were placed in editions of Whitby's up to, and including, 1885.
5 The Mall, Clifton, Bristol, where Margaret, Martha and Christiana Singleton lived and ran their Shoe & Boot dealership in the early 1880s.
.... and an advertisement in the Western Gazette's edition of 4 May 1883.
In 1885 James' premises at 1 Silver Street were auctioned and he left Yeovil. It appears from the following, however, that his sisters were the purchasers.
The announcement in the 25 June 1886 edition of the Western Gazette that Margaret and Martha were re-opening their father's, and later brother's, Silver Street premises and also retaining their Clifton business.
Margaret and Martha' advertisement in the 1889 edition of Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser.
This notice, placed in the 12 April 1901 edition of the Western Gazette confirms that the Redwood brothers were using the former Singleton's Boot Depot by this date. In fact they kept the name of Singleton's for many years on the premises.
From my collection
The Borough seen in a postcard dated 1908. At the centre is London House with Singleton's Boot Stores next door in Silver Street to its left and Middle Street to its right. At right is the Medical Hall with Wine Street off to the right.
From my collection
A section of the above 1906 postcard enlarged to show Singleton's premises right of centre. Although the Singletony the time of this photograph Singleton's Boot Stores had been acquired by William Redwood as a second outlet specialising in footwear (he retained the name of Singleton's Boot Stores for a number of years) and he and his family lived above the ex-Singleton premises, certainly from 1901.