Yeovil People

Frederick Foan

Wine & Spirits Merchant


There were two men called Frederick Foan born in Yeovil around 1832-3 - much to the consternation of a myriad of amateur genealogists who have completely confused the two.

This Frederick Foan, known as Fred, was born in Back Street (today's South Street) in February 1833 and was baptised at St John's church on 19 February 1833. He was the eldest of the ten children of licensee James Foan (1811-1864) and Rhoda née Prowles (1808-1870, also recorded as Prools) originally from Closworth. James and Rhoda's children were Fred, Thomas (b1835), Alfred (b1836), Mary Jane (b1838), Eliza (1840-1844), Eliza (b1845), Walter (b1848), Georgina (1850-1918), Edwin James (b1852) and William Henry (1854-1873).

James Foan was listed in Robson's Directory in 1839 as licensee of the Seven Stars Inn, a beerhouse in Bond Street and by 1841 was noted as licensee of the Full Moon, in Wine Street. In the 1841 census he was listed as an inn keeper, with his wife, Rhoda, and three young children; Fred, Mary and Eliza.


The animation at left shows the development of the Grope Lane / Wine Street premises from 1800 through 1880.

It is not known for sure if the Wine Vaults operated before the 1820's.



In June 1846 James purchased the premises and stock-in-trade of the late James Male, the Wine Vaults Tavern. In the 1851 census James Foan was described as a wine & spirit merchant living with Rhoda, five of their children (Fred, Mary, Eliza, Walter and Georgina) and three servants at the Wine Vaults.

In January 1858 James took his son Fred as a partner in the business which he announced in the 26 January 1858 edition of the Western Flying Press (see Gallery).

On 18 June 1859, at Milborne Port, Fred married Elizabeth Longman (1839-1877), the youngest daughter of yeoman Sylvanus Longman of Milborne Port, and they set up home in Peter Street, just around the corner from the Wine Vaults. In the 1861 census Fred and Elizabeth, together with baby daughter Helen, were listed in Peter Street and Fred gave his occupation as a Wine Merchant.

During the late 1850s and early 1860s, Fred was a member of the Sixteenth Somerset Rifles, more properly known as the 16th (Yeovil) Rifle Volunteer Corps, that was based at the Armoury in Park Road. In March 1863 he was promoted from Private to Corporal.

James Foan died on 14 February 1864 at home at the Wine Vaults and Fred took over the running of the business. He and Elizabeth moved into the Wine Vaults and were listed there in the 1871 census with their children; James Walter (1862-1893), Catherine E (b1865), Alice L (b1867) and Beatrice M (b1870). Also resident were a barmaid and a general servant. Fred gave his occupation as a Wine & Spirit Merchant.

Elizabeth died in Yeovil during the spring of 1877 aged 38. According to the 1911 census Fred and his wife Lavinia (born 1842, Banbury, Oxfordshire) had been married for 34 years - meaning they married in 1877 shortly after the death of Elizabeth. However I could not find the record of their marriage. It also noted that they had five children, one of whom died in infancy.

In the 1881 census Frederick, listed as a Wine Merchant, and his wife, Lavinia, were living with their three children Helen, James Walter and Beatrice, a nephew of Frederick's and a servant in 8 Wine Street (marked 'F' on the map above). 9 Wine Street was listed as Wine & Spirit Vaults as a separate property and was not occupied (it had been the Running Horse at one time, marked 'E' on the map) but a note was added indicating that the property 'belongs to above', that is, to No 8.

By 1891 Frederick, by now aged 58 and still a Wine Merchant, was living in a large house in Sherborne Road with Lavinia and daughter Alice. The Wine Vaults, although at this time still owned by Frederick, was being run by his son, James Walter Foan.

James Walter was born in Yeovil in the autumn of 1862. In 1888 he married Agnes Davis (1864-1920), probably at Agnes' parish church at Charlton Horethorne. She was the daughter of farmer John Davis (1828-1886) and Eliza née Stacey (1834-1899). James and Agnes lived in the accommodation over the Wine Vaults. In the 1891 census James and Agnes were listed there with one-month old son Wilfred Davis Foan, a monthly nurse, an assistant and a general domestic servant. James gave his occupation as a wine & spirit merchant.

Sadly, in June 1893 James Walter died at the age of just 31. Following the death of his son, Fred retired and sold the business to F Warren Smith in July 1893.

In the 1901 census Fred and Lavinia were living at Rose Bank, Preston Road, with two servants. Fred gave his occupation as 'Retired Wine Merchant'. The 1911 census listed them at Summerlands, Preston Road and again Fred listed his occupation as 'Retired Wine Merchant'.

Frederick Foan died in Yeovil during the spring of 1915 aged 81 and Lavinia died in Yeovil during the summer of 1918 aged 75.




The advertisement in the 26 January 1858 edition of the Western Flying Press in which James announced that his son Frederick was to become a partner in the business.


The notice of Fred and Elizabeth's wedding at Milborne Port in the 21 June 1859 edition of the Western Flying Post.


Courtesy of Chris Rendell

The Wine Vaults photographed in 1989.


A notice placed by Fred in the 2 October 1874 edition of the Western Gazette, notifying his customers of his move to the Wine Vaults. To be honest, I don't know where he moved from.


Courtesy of Tony Rendell

A cider jug from the time Frederick Foan had taken over his father's Wine & Spirit Merchant's business in the Wine Vaults, Wine Street.


The notice placed by Fred in the 14 July 1893 edition of the Western Gazette announcing the sale of the Wine Vaults and the wine merchant's business to Warren Smith.