yeovil people

Henry Cary Tomkins

Baker, Grocer and Mayor of Yeovil


Henry Cary Tomkins was born in 1824 in Castle Cary, Somerset, son of labourer John Tomkins and his wife Mary. In the 1841 census John and his family were living at Haysend (off Roping Path, close to Sparrow Road). John and Mary's family were Henry (aged 17, a Glover), William (aged 16, a Glover), George (aged 15, a Clerk?), Mary (aged 13, a Female Servant) and Elizabeth (aged 12, a Glove Sewer). Their eldest son, John, had already left home.

In the winter of 1848 Henry married Emily Hunt in Yeovil and in the 1851 census Henry and Emily were listed living in South Street, immediately next to Hawkin’s Court, a ‘court’ of low cost housing off South Street in the Wine Street / Peter Street area. 28-year old Henry gave his occupation as a Glove Cutter while 26-year old Emily gave hers as a Glove Sewer. Living with them were their two daughters; 2-year old Theresa Penelope and 6-month old Emily, as well as a visitor and a lodger. Sadly, in the autumn of 1851 Emily died.

In the 1861 census Henry was listed as a widower living in Higher Street, Stoke-sub-Hamdon, some half-dozen miles west of Yeovil. He gave his profession as 'Foreman in a Glove Factory'. Living with him (and this is where it becomes quite interesting) were his two daughters Theresa and Emily, and his two daughters Henryetta (b 1855) and Mary (b 1856) - both born after the death of his wife, but all four daughters born in Yeovil. Also living with him were his two nieces, Mary J Wheadon (aged 23 and a Grocer) and Elizabeth Wheadon (aged 19 and a Seamstress). Interestingly in the winter of 1863 Henry Cary Tomkins and Mary Jane Wheadon were married in Yeovil. Henry and (presumably) Mary already had another daughter, Matilda, born in Crewkerne in 1858.

The Post Office Directory of 1866 listed Henry as a 'Shopkeeper of Reckleford' and the 1871 census listed Henry, Mary and the four girls (Elizabeth was missing) in Reckleford and Henry gave his occupation as 'Baker & Grocer'. He was also listed as Henry Cary Tomkins 'Grocer & Baker of Reckleford' in the Post Office Directory of 1875.

It was most likely during the 1870s, if not earlier, that Henry entered local politics and certainly by the time of the 1881 census politics was coming to the fore in his life as he listed his occupation as 'Town Councilor & Baker' rather than listing his trade first. At this time he was 57 years old and living at 29 Reckleford, opposite Reckleford Terrace, with Mary (aged 42), Henrietta (aged 26) and his 58-year old brother John, a retired draper. Whitby's 1882 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser listed him as 'Henry Cary Tomkins, Baker & Grocer, 29 Reckleford' and he also placed an advertisement in this edition of Whitby's, shown below.

The 1891 census listed Henry, Mary and John still at 29 Reckleford plus a young baker named Walter Saint. Henry still listed his occupation as 'Baker & Grocer'. An Alderman of the Borough, Henry was elected Mayor of Yeovil and served in 1897-98 - the photograph of him above is his mayoral photograph of that year. Sadly Mary died in the summer of 1897, aged 59. In the winter of 1899, Henry Cary Tomkins died in Yeovil. He was aged 76.




Henry Tomkins' advertisement in the 1882 edition of Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser. Henry advertised in Whitby's almost every year until his death - all his adverts were slightly different fonts but none more adventurous or inspiring than this, his first.


Cottages on Reckleford by Goldcroft. Photographed in the early 1960s. These were demolished soon after this photograph was taken. One of them (not sure exactly which, but most likely the one at extreme left) was the grocery and bakery of Henry Cary Tomkins.