yeovil people

William Fancourt tomkins



William Fancourt Tomkins was born in Yeovil on 17 July 1825, the eldest of the seven children of Yeovil surgeon William Tomkins (1799-1855) and Hannah née Holland (1799-1871). He was baptised on 10 September 1824 in St John's church, Yeovil. Bought up in the family home of Magnolia House in Hendford (today's Princes Street), in the 1841 census he was listed there (as Fancourt Tomkins) with his parents and siblings.

William qualified as a Doctor of Medicine and was noted as such in the 17 September 1846 edition of the London Medical Gazette. He was admitted to the Royal College of Surgeons in January 1847.

In the 1851 census William and Hannah were still at Magnolia House with four of their children, a medical pupil and three servants. William gave his occupation as "M.D. London College Consulting Physician" and his eldest son, 26-year old William Fancourt, gave his occupation as a practising Surgeon.

In August 1852 William was a key witness in the trial of Joseph Mitchell who attempted to rape 11-year old Lucy Frampton in a field off Vagg Lane. (Mitchell got six months hard labour for the 'attempt', since rape could not be proved).

On 30 October 1855 at All Saints' church, Piddletrenthide, Dorchester, William married 34-year old widow Sarah Palmer, formerly Sarah Flower (b1821, Chickerell, Dorset). William and Sarah set up home at Borough House in High Street, which also served as William's medical practice (see Gallery below). They were listed at Borough House in the 1861 census with four visitors; Reginald Smith, Rector of Stafford, Dorset, Ann Flower (Sarah's 74-year old widowed mother described as a 'Lady'), Sarah's sister Matilda Ann Flower (also described as a 'Lady') and 5-year old John Walter Flower, presumably a nephew. There were also a cook and a housemaid.

William and Sarah were still at Borough House in 1871, together with a cook, general domestic servant and a 13-year old page boy. In 1871 he was appointed as a Borough Magistrate.

During the 1870s Sarah died and William retired to Charminster, Dorchester. In the 1881 census he was listed as a 56-year old widower and retired surgeon living in Alley Lane, Charminster, with his two nieces (on his wife's side); 26-year old Emily Anne Flower and 19-year old Matilda Florence Flower, both described as 'Gentlewoman', together with a cook and a general domestic servant.

By 1891 William had moved to London and was living with his sister, now widowed, Marianne Goodfellow and her son George at 102 Lewisham High Road, St Paul, Deptford, London. He gave his occupation as a retired doctor and Marianne was 'Living on her own means'.

On 10 July 1892, at St Mary's, Paddington Green, London, 66-year old William married 49-year old Elizabeth Marian Margaret Thomas (1843-1921).

William Fancourt Tomkins died at his home at 16 West Hill, St Leonards-on-Sea, on 24 March 1899. He was aged 73. His will was published in London in July 1899 and his effects were valued at £143 13s 1d (around £90,000 at today's value).




From my collection. This photograph features in my book 'Secret Yeovil'

A carte de visite by John Chaffin & Sons, photographers of Hendford of the marvelously moustachioed Dr William Fancourt Tomkins. From the style of the carte de visite the photograph would have been taken around 1870.


The 10 September 1824 baptism entry for William in St John's church register.


Photograph by Trevor Hussey, courtesy of Mrs Anne Hussey

Mansion House and MagMagnolia House, photographed in 1990. Magnolia House (at centre and on the corner of North Lane) was the childhood home of William Fancourt Tomkins.


This photograph features in my book 'Secret Yeovil'

Magnolia House, Kingston (now Princes Street), somewhat dwarfed by the Magnolia tree from which the house derives its modern name. Photographed in 2013.


The entry in the marriage register of All Saints' church, Piddletrenthide, Dorset, for the marriage of William and Sarah on 30 October 1855.


This colourised photograph of about 1915 shows Borough House, at left, set well back from High Street. The building had earlier been the Bell Inn and by the time of this photograph the building was called Borough House and was used as municipal offices. The tree and shop at centre are in the position of where King George Street now joins High Street and the tall building at right is the old Town Hall (built in 1849) with its tower and gas-illuminated clock, installed in 1912.


A photograph of the Borough House taken about 1880 showing the fine Corinthian columns supporting the porch and the bow-headed window above - a nice architectural touch.


The banns of the marriage of William Fancourt Tomkins and Elizabeth Marian Margaret Thomas from the Banns Book of St Mary's church, Paddington Green. The date of the marriage was entered at the left side - 20 July 1892.