Yeovil people

Ebenezer Whitby

Bookseller, Printer & Stationer


Ebenezer Whitby was born in 1815 in Yeovil, the fourth son of Elias Whitby Snr and his wife Hannah née Hooper and he was the younger brother of Elias Whitby Jnr.

On 8 June 1848 in Yeovil Ebenezer married Mary Ann Kirby Beavis, the daughter of Abraham Beavis of Sidmouth, Devon and his wife Harriet née Kirby. In the 1851 census Ebenezer and Mary were living at 10 Peter Street with their baby son John and a house servant. 35-year-old Ebenezer gave his occupation as 'bookseller, firm of 2 employing 3 men and 5 boys'.

In 1847 Whitby was in partnership with Benjamin Trenchard and the firm of Trenchard & Whitby traded as 'Stationers, Booksellers and Printers' at 8 Princes Street where Trenchard and his wife lived above the shop premises with an apprentice, William Guppy, and a house servant. The partnership was dissolved by mutual consent in May 1854 after which Ebenezer traded on his own account. The dissolution of the partnership was listed in the London Gazette.

As a sidenote; After the termination of the partnership, Benjamin Trenchard and his wife Charlotte moved to London, first living in Uxbridge and then in Lambeth where he died in 1887. Charlotte moved to Bournemouth for a few years but died in Croydon in 1904.

By the time of the 1861 census Ebenezer had moved his own family to the 8 Princes Street premises, known as Albion House, and was living above his bookshop (see photograph below) with Mary, their four children John, Lucy, George and Frederick and a domestic servant. He stated his occupation in the census as 'Bookseller employing 1 man and 3 boys'. He was the owner-occupier of Albion House from 1854 until 1888. In the 1871 census he described his occupation as 'Bookseller, Printer & Stationer, Master, employing 2 men and 4 boys'. By this time Ebenezer was aged 55 and his 21-year-old son John was assisting him in the business, now known as E Whitby & Sons.

In the 1881 census Ebenezer and Mary were still living at 8 Princes Street above the bookshop with sons John who was a bookseller and Frederick who was a printer and both working in the family business. Also living with them was son George, a wool merchant, and a domestic servant. Ebenezer gave his occupation as 'Bookseller & Printer, employing 2 men and 5 boys'.

Ebenezer Whitby died in the summer of 1889 but his business was carried on as Whitby & Sons by John and Frederick well into the twentieth century and became famous for producing their Yeovil Almanack Advertiser as well as postcard views of Yeovil and illustrated books about Yeovil. His business survived for more than a century, finally closing in the 1960s.


For the Whitby family tree - click here.


This photograph of Princes Street dates to around 1875 and is one half of a stereoscopic pair. It was taken at the time Ebenezer Whitby was running his bookshop / printer's / stationers which was situated in the distance behind the cart in the photograph.


Whitby's advertisement in his own Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1888.


Ebenezer Whitby & Sons' bookshop, printers and stationers in Albion House, 8 Princes Street with a pair of single Sugg lamps outside. This photograph was taken about 1900.


A photograph of the southern end of Princes Street, looking towards High Street, and dating to around 1900. All the buildings in this photograph survive to this day - the planners and developers must be holding their breath waiting to destroy these buildings like they've done to much of the rest of the town!


A photograph of the northern end of Princes Street dating to around 1900. At right, at this time the Assembly Rooms were known as the 'Palace of Varieties' as indicated by the vertical sign attached to it. The three impressive three-storey residences at left, beyond Whitby's ivy-clad shop, Albion House, are Bryndene, Wyndham House and Old Sarum House.


Same view, slightly different viewpoint, photographed around 1910.


From my collection  -  This photograph features in my book 'Yeovil From Old Photographs'.

A head-on photograph of Whitby & Son's premises from the 1906 edition of the Homeland Handbook.


A 1920s postcard of the same view. Wyndham House retains its small front garden and young tree, but notice how part of the pavement of the previous photograph has been whittled away in front of Whitby's shop premises.


Ebenezer Whitby's obituary from the Western Gazette.