yeovil people

William Cole

Monumental Mason and Mayor of Yeovil


William Cole was born in 1852 at Stourton Caundle, Dorset. He was the eldest of the four children of marble and stone mason William Cole (1825-1901) and Emily née Barrett (b1825). William and Emily's children were William, Elizabeth Emily (b1853), Henrietta B (b1861) and Samuel Barrett (b1864).

Before William's first birthday the family had moved to Yeovil and in the 1861 census they were listed in Vicarage Street. William Snr gave his occupation as a marble and stone mason while Emily gave hers as a milliner and dressmaker. William Jnr was a scholar at Yeovil County School.

By the time of the 1871 census the family were living in Sherborne Road. William Snr gave his occupation as a statuary mason employing 3 men and 1 boy. William Jnr gave his occupation as a statuary mason. Both Emily and Elizabeth worked as dressmakers.

On the retirement of monumental mason John Swatridge, his statuary and monumental masons business was taken over by Cole & Son as early as 1875. Swatridge's photographic studio was still on the premises, since Cole & Son were listed in the Post Office Directory of 1875 as 'Mason & Photographer'. Cole & Son were advertising in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser from 1875 as 'late Swatridge'.

The 1881 census records that William Snr had moved his family to accommodation above his premises at 4 Princes Street (see Gallery). William Snr gave his occupation as 'Marble Mason employing 4 men & 1 boy'. William Jnr had actually changed occupations, and now declared himself to be a picture frame maker.

Between 1875 and 1907, Cole & Son were listed in a number of local trade directories as monumental masons or marble masons. There was also one listing as sculptors and the final listing in 1907 as picture frame makers.

In the autumn of 1881 William Jnr married Emily Mary Taber (b1856, Frome) at Frome. They were to have a son, Frederick W, born in Yeovil in 1883.

By 1891 William Snr and Emily had moved to 8 The Park, where they lived with their granddaughter Ida Willy and a general servant. William Jnr and his Emily, together with their son Frederick and a general servant remained at 4 Princes Street. It appears that William Snr had retired and William Jnr had taken over his father's business, Cole & Son, returning to his former occupation of monumental mason. Emily gave her occupation as a fancy goods dealer.


From the 1891 edition of 'Where to Buy at Yeovil' ...
(The stone mason side of the business)

Messrs. Cole and Son, Marble and Stone Masons,
Princes Street.

Messrs. Cole and Son's large and well stocked showrooms in Princes Street are a standing testimony to the fact that the inhabitants of Yeovil have no necessity to go far afield for the highest products of the artist's chisel.

These works were established in 1829, and during the period that has since elapsed, have gained a very wide reputation, have been steadily pushing to the front, and gaining daily in popularity. The proprietors are highly skilled, practical men, and with a staff of competent workmen, give the most assiduous care to every detail of the business.

Their works and showrooms contain quantities of granite, marble, and other stones in various stages of manufacture, from the rough block to the beautifully-proportioned and highly-polished column, cross, or headstone. Tombs and monuments, head and foot stones, and tablets, finished in the best manner, besides other branches of the trade, are turned out in large numbers, and at exceedingly moderate prices, consistent with high-class workmanship.

The firm are well known in Yeovil and district for miles around, their connection extending even to the Colonies and India, and they are prepared to send estimates and designs on application, also to send experienced men to the most distant parts of the country to carry out the reinstating and repair of monuments, renewing inscriptions, or similar work. They have a variety of headstones always in stock, so that all orders entrusted to them are promptly executed. The work done is altogether of the highest order, and we cannot do better than recommend our readers, should they require similar services, to pay a visit to the yard and showrooms of Messrs. Cole and Son, in Princes Street.

From the 1891 edition of 'Where to Buy at Yeovil' ...
(Emily's fancy goods side of the business)

Messrs. Cole and Son,
Picture Frame Makers, and Dealers in Fancy Goods, Princes Street.

Fancy and art work is carried to a high degree of perfection in modern times, and the goods at 'The Bazaar', the well-known shop of Messrs. Cole and Son, of Princes Street, well illustrates some of the best descriptions of artistic work at the present day. The firm are well known as picture frame makers, and in this department are some very fine examples of tasteful handiwork. Frames in all descriptions of wood, beautifully carved and designed, are offered at very moderate prices, and Messrs. Cole and Son give special attention to the mounting and framing of water colour and other drawings. In addition to this class of goods, they have an extensive assortment of art needlework, cosies, slippers, antimacassars, etc., executed in a very superior style, besides baskets, brushes, card cases, purses, writing desks, work boxes, and similar fancy wares, and one of the most attractive branches is that devoted to Berlin and other fancy wools, yarns, etc. The firm have been established many years, and have gained a well merited repute in South Somerset and Dorset.


Around the year 1900 William became involved in local politics, setting up the Yeovil Ratepayers' Association and, as its first representative, joined the Council. He also became a member of the Board of Guardians, a Trustee of Woborn's Almshouse and the Chairman of the Governors of Yeovil County School.

William Snr died in the early spring of 1901, aged 76, and in the following census William Jnr was listed in Princes Street with his family as well as his newly-widowed mother. Now aged 49, William gave his occupation as a monumental stonemason while Emily was a ladies' outfitter.

In 1906, William became an Alderman and the new Chief Magistrate of Yeovil and this same year, after only six years serving on the Corporation, he was elected Mayor of Yeovil - a position he was re-elected to in 1907 and 1908.

Emily died in Yeovil during the summer of 1906, aged 50. William Cole died in Yeovil during the winter of 1910. He was aged 58.

In the 1911 census, 4 Princes Street was occupied by William and Emily's son Frederick who was running his own business as a draper. He lived on the premises with two female draper's assistants and a general servant.




This photo dates to around 1895 and shows Cole & Son's establishment in Princes Street.


A postcard of Princes Street, dating to around 1905, published by printer William Beale Collins and showing his premises at left. The premises had earlier been those of Cole & Son and, prior to that, of John Swatridge.


This photograph was taken by Yeovil Photographer Jarratt Beckett and published in his 1897 book  "Somerset viewed through a Camera". William was educated here and was to become its Chairman of the Governors. 


One of Cole & Sons' first advertisements in 1875 - before mentioning photography.


From my collection

A carte de visite by Cole & Son of the mid- to late-1870s. The actual photographer being Mr Higgins, the manager of Cole's photographic studio.


From “Secure the Shadow, Somerset Photographers 1839-1949“
courtesy of Robin Ansell , Allan Collier and Phil Nichols.


One of several advertisements placed in the Western Gazette during 1875, informing the public that Cole & Son had acquired the business of John Swatridge - including his photographic studio. It is thought that the photographic side of the business didn't last too long.


Cole & Son's advertisement in the 27 December 1878 edition of the Western Gazette.


An advertisement placed by Cole & Son in the 1882 edition of Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser.


A report from the 16 November 1906 edition of the Western Chronicle at the time of William being elected Mayor of Yeovil.


William Cole's mayoral photograph. He was Mayor of Yeovil during 1906 - 1909.