yeovil people

Silas & Hannah Hedditch

Umbrella Makers


Silas Hedditch, the son of Thomas and Sarah Hedditch, was born in Gillingham, Dorset, in 1796 and baptised there on 18 September 1796. Sadly nothing is known of his early life. He married Jane (1795-1873) of Bishop's Caundle, just southeast of Sherborne, and they lived in Charminster, just north of Dorchester, Dorset, where their children were born; Henry (b1831), Sarah (b1832), Caroline (b1834) and Hannah (b1835).

It is not known when Silas moved his family to Yeovil but Hunt & Co's Directory of 1850 listed him as an 'Umbrella Maker of Hannam's Lane' (today's Tabernacle Lane). In the 1851 census Silas, Jane and their four children were listed living in Hannam's Lane. Silas gave his occupation as an umbrella maker, Henry was a journeyman painter while all three daughters were glove sewers. Slater's Directory of 1852 listed him as 'Silas Hedditch, Umbrella Manufacturer of South Street' (Tabernacle Lane dwellings were often referred to as being in South Street).

In October 1860 Silas placed an advertisement in the Western Flying Post thanking his customers for their support "for many years while residing in Tabernacle Lane" as he moved to premises in Middle Street. In fact he didn't just make and sell umbrellas since his advertisements indicate he sold a range of other items including bags, purses, walking sticks, fishing rods and tackle, combs, brushes, fancy goods and so on.

In the 1861 census Silas, Jane and Hannah were listed at Middle Street. Silas gave his occupation as an umbrella maker and Hannah gave hers as his assistant. Silas regularly placed advertisements in local newspapers - a couple of examples are shown in the Gallery below. The 1866 and 1875 editions of the Post Office Directory listed Silas Hedditch as an 'Umbrella Maker of Middle Street'.

Silas, Jane and Hannah were still at their 11 Middle Street premises at the time of the 1871 census. 70-year old Silas was still working as an umbrella maker and Hannah, now aged 29, was listed as a shop woman. Just a few weeks after the census Jane died in Yeovil, aged 79. Following her death an £8 headstone (around £700 at today's value) was ordered from John Swatridge, marble mason and photographer of Princes Street. The bill, however, remained unpaid and Silas was taken to court by John Swatridge - the report of the case is shown below.

Silas Hedditch died in Yeovil on 9 March 1878, aged 82. His will was proved by Hannah in November 1878 and Silas' effects were estimated at 'Under £300' (around £250,000 at today's value). Following Silas' death Hannah took over the umbrella business.

In the 1881 census 37-year old Hannah, who remained unmarried, was still at 11 Middle Street and gave her occupation as an umbrella repairer. Living with her was her 18-year old nephew Arthur Hedditch, who worked as her assistant. Hannah was listed in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1882 as 'Miss H Hedditch, Umbrella Maker of 11 Middle Street'. From the advertisement of 1883 placed by 'H&A Hedditch, Umbrella Makers', shown below, it appears that Hannah and Arthur entered a partnership. However, by the following year Hannah was placing her advertisements under just her own name of H Hedditch.

Hannah kept the shop premises for a while but by the time of the 1891 census she was living in Market Street with her nephew, 28-year old Arthur Hayward, a leather glove manufacturer. Hannah gave her occupation as "Living on own means".

Hannah Hedditch died in Yeovil in the spring of 1897, aged 61.




The entry of Silas' baptism at Gillingham, Dorset, in 1796.


Silas Hedditch's advertisement (one of many) in the 23 October 1860 edition of the Western Flying Post informing his customers of his move of premises to Middle Street.


This photograph features in my book 'Secret Yeovil'.

Using the same umbrella graphic, this advertisement (again, one of many) is from the 28 March 1865 edition of the Western Flying Post. 


An advertisement placed by Silas in the Western Gazette's edition of 22 January 1869 extolling his wares - much more than just umbrellas.


Courtesy of Jack Sweet

The entrance to Middle Street seen from the Borough and photographed in the 1880s. At left is London House and at right is the Medical Hall. Silas Hedditch's home and umbrella shop was two doors down from the Medical Hall.


This photograph features in my book 'Secret Yeovil'.

The view looking towards the Borough from Middle Street around 1900. Silas Hedditch's shop is at extreme left. 


In August 1873 Silas was taken to court by John Swatridge, marble mason and photographer, for non-payment of his bill for his wife's headstone. This report is from the 8 August 1873 edition of the Western Gazette.


An advertisement placed in the 13 April 1883 edition of the Western Gazette by H&A Hedditch.


By 1884 Hannah was placing advertisement under her own name.