Yeovil people

Frederick Whitby

Bookseller, Printer & Stationer


Frederick Whitby was born in 1857 in Yeovil, the youngest of the four children of  Ebenezer Whitby (1815-1889) and Mary Ann Kirby née Beavis (1820-1884). The family had been living at 10 Peter Street but by the time of the 1861 census Ebenezer had moved his 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 Ebenezer described his occupation as 'Bookseller, Printer & Stationer, Master, employing 2 men and 4 boys'. By this time he was aged 55 and his 21-year-old son John was assisting him in the business, now known as E Whitby & Sons. 14-year old Frederick was listed as a scholar.

In the 1881 census Ebenezer and Mary were still living at 8 Princes Street above the bookshop with sons 31-year old John who was a bookseller and 24-year old 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'.

In the spring of 1891, at Yeovil, Frederick married Ann Cradock (1862-1918). They were not to have children..


In the 1891 edition of 'Where to Buy' (by which time Ebenezer Whitby had died and the  business was being run by Frederick) was given the following description -

Messrs E Whitby and Son,
ooksellers, Printers and Stationers, Princes Street

One of the handsomest shops in the town is undoubtedly that of Messrs E Whitby and Son, the booksellers and stationers, Princes Street, with its four fine plate glass windows, always dressed with consummate taste. These spacious premises have been occupied since 1844, prior to which the business was carried on upon the opposite side of the road.

The admirably appointed shop contains a fine stock of photographs and views of interesting places in the surrounding district. The selection of fancy goods and stationery is a comprehensive one, embracing all the leading manufacturers; the latest things in plain and fancy stationery are on hand, in addition to the leading games, etc. The stock of books on sale is unusually extensive, and of a varied and attractive kind, it includes the works of all the best authors, in travel, biography, history and fiction, the poets not being forgotten. Newspapers and periodicals are supplied and delivered on the arrival of the early morning train. There is also a circulating library here, in connection with Mudie's, all the latest works being added every week.

This is also the depot for the British and Foreign Bible Society, the Christian Knowledge Society, and the Church of England Sunday School Institute. A fine stock of handsomely and plainly bound bibles, prayer books, etc. is always on hand.

A considerable business is done in bookbinding, in which the best material and workmanship is employed. Messrs Whitby and Son have extensive printing works at the rear, where constant employment is found for a number of first-class hands - this branch is replete with perfect machinery and modern type, for the execution of the highest class of work. The Yeovil Almanack and Trade Directory, a most useful work, which has now reached its 13th year of issue, is published here.

Here, also are the offices of the Yeovil and Sherborne Permanent Benefit Building Society, of which Messrs Whitby and Son are secretaries; they are also agents for the Sun Fire and Life Office.


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.

In the 1901 census, Frederick and Ann were listed living in The Park. 44-year old Frederick gave his occupation as 'Bookseller, Stationer &C'. Frederick Whitby died in Yeovil on 6 December 1908. He was 52 years old. Ann died in Yeovil during the spring of 1918, aged 56 - possibly a victim of the 1918 influenza pandemic..

The Whitby family business survived for more than a century, finally closing in the 1960s.


For the Whitby family tree - click here.


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


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!


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.


Courtesy of Tracey Williams

Whitby's bookshop, photographed in the 1960s.