Yeovil People

John James Henning

Brewer of Hendford


John James Henning was born in Bradford Peverel, Dorset, and baptised there on 26 January 1826. He was the son of brewer Edmund Henning (1786-1861) and his wife (also his cousin) Ann Masterman née Henning (1783-1851). Edmund and Ann's three children were; Edmund Robert (1824-1839), John James and Harriett Ann (1828-1840).

Certainly by 1839, Edmund had moved his family to Yeovil where their son Edmund Robert died. In the Somerset Gazette Directory of 1840 Edmund was listed as a Maltster of Hendford and in the 1841 census he was listed in Hendford with Ann, John, Harriott and a domestic servant. Edmund gave his occupation as a brewer. His brewery, known as the 'Yeovil Old Brewery', was immediately opposite Hendford House (today's Hendford Manor) on the site now occupied by the Masonic Hall. He was listed as a 'Brewer & Maltster' of Hendford in Hunt & Co's Directory of 1850, with a similar listing in Slater's Directory of 1852. 

On 17 January 1851, at St Alphege's church, Greenwich, 24-year old John married 26-year old Emma Sophia Hewlett (1824-1856) of Yeovil. John and Emma were to have seven children, all born in Yeovil; Emma (b1848), Louisa (b1848), Ann Sophia (1848-1935), John George (1849-1933), Edmund Charles (1851-1937), Elizabeth Mary (1853-1929) and Robert William (1855-1875).

In the 1851 census, John and Emma were listed in Brunswick Street with their children Louisa, John and Edmund, together with two domestic servants. 25-year old John gave his occupation as a common brewer.  A 'common brewer' was usually a relatively large brewing concern, producing beer at a central brewery for distribution to a number of public houses, usually attached to the brewery by tie or direct ownership (as opposed to a 'brewing victualler' who was a publican ('licensed victualler') who brews his or her own beer, for consumption on the premises. Yeovil hostelries known to have been tied to Henning's brewery included the George Inn in Middle Street and the Pall Tavern in Silver Street.

On 30 March 1856, at the age of 31, Emma died. She was buried on 5 April 1856, although where she is buried is not clear; she was recorded as being buried in Yeovil St John but this is thought to be the parish rather than the churchyard of St John's church (the last burial there was in 1850 and the new cemetery in Preston Road was not consecrated until 1860.

In the 1861 census, 35-year old widower John was living in Hendford with five of his children, a housekeeper, a housemaid and a maltster, Philip Chant, and his wife Sarah. John gave his occupation as 'Maltster & Brewer employing 3 men'.

For unknown reasons, in February 1861 John left the Old Brewery in Hendford and put it up to let (see Gallery).

In 1865, presumably in search of a living, John applied to the Town Council's Market Committee for the position of market toll collector. This post became vacant following the death of Humphrey Jeans. At the time of his death, John was living in Huish and was employed as a commission agent.

John James Henning 'of Huish' died in Yeovil on 30 August 1870. He was aged 44. His will was proved at Taunton on 9 November 1870 by his sole executor, jeweller William Cox of Yeovil. John's estate was valued at 'less than £100' (around £10,000 at today's value).



This is a portion of the 1842 Tithe Map showing West Hendford running along the top and joining Hendford which comes up from bottom left. Hendford House is today's Manor Hotel and the Yeovil Old Brewery is shown at centre and marked as Parcel 369.




The entry of John's baptism in the Bradford Peverell parish register.


The notice of letting of the Old Brewery in Hendford from the 2 March 1861 edition of the Salisbury and Winchester Journal.


... and the entry of his death of 1870, in St John's parish register.


The notice of John's death in the 2 September 1870 edition of the Western Gazette. He was actually 44 years and 7 months old.


From the 2 December 1870 edition of the Western Gazette.