Yeovil People

Frederick John Hicks

Jewellers & Watchmakers of Middle Street


Frederick John Hicks was born in Yeovil in 1865, the son and one of the eight children of Boot and Shoe Maker James Horace Hicks (1825-1901), originally from Weymouth, Dorset, and glover Ann née Salisbury (b1839). In the 1871 census the family were living at Rustywell.
In the summer of 1874 Ann Hicks died, aged 57, and James apparently (I could find no record) remarried. In the 1881 census James, his new wife Sarah and their family were listed at "Hendford Station Road" apparently next to Rustywell, so this may have been the same residence as in 1871 or even an alternative name for Hendford Hill. 16-year old Frederick gave his occupation as a Clock & Watch Maker's Apprentice.

In June 1889, Frederick opened his own shop at 33 Middle Street.

In 1890, at the age of 25, Frederick married Ellen Elizabeth Pierce (b1867), originally from Pegham, Sussex. They were to have nine children; Frederick James (b1891), Walter Charles (1892-1981), Florence Annie (b1895), Elizabeth Mary (b1897), Arthur Robert (b1900), Edward Samuel (b1902), Minnie Ellen (b1904), Lavinia Agnes (b1906) and Harold Ernest (b1908).
In the 1891 census Frederick, Ellen and 2-month old Frederick Jnr were listed at 33 Middle Street - noted in the census as a Watchmaker's Shop.


In the 1891 edition of 'Where to Buy' Fred Hick's business was given the following description -

Mr Fred J Hicks,
Practical Watch and Clock Maker, &c ,
33, Middle Street

This is a young establishment, having been started only in June 1889, and Mr Hicks has a small but well-selected stock of watches, clocks, jewellery, and optical goods, the quality and price of which will compare favourably with any house in the line. His watches are reliable timekeepers; he gives a written guarantee with each, keeps them in repair for two years, and cleans them once free of charge. He has clocks suitable for drawing room, dining room, bedroom, and kitchen, and undertakes yearly contracts for winding and repairing these useful time measurers.

Mr Hicks has a good selection of spectacles, eye glasses, &c, and anyone requiring these useful aids to nature can rely upon being suited at a reasonable price. Repairs of all kinds are undertaken, but his speciality is watch repairing, and although he has only been in business a short time, has already gained a reputation for good workmanship.


During his career Frederick seems to have had a surprising number of addresses in Middle Street including 11a, 22, 22a, 33, 39 and 53 - the most consistent being 22a (George Axe was actually in No 22 from 1901 until the 1930s) from 1895 until 1935 when the shop was run by Frederick Jnr. I'm guessing that the other addresses are incorrect.

In the 1895 edition of What to Buy, Frederick was listed as "Fred J Hicks, Practical Clock & Watch Maker of 53 Middle Street". Whereas Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser from 1890 onwards listed him as "Fred J Hicks, Watch & Clock Maker, Jeweller & Optician of 22 Middle Street" (see advertisements below). The Western Gazette Advertiser of 1896 had yet another listing - "Practical Watch Maker & Jeweller of 22 Middle Street".

In the 1901 census Frederick, Ellen and their first four children were listed at 22a Middle Street, next door to confectioner George Axe at No 22. Frederick listed his occupation as "Watch & Clock Repairer (Shopkeeper)".

Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1903 gave Frederick two listings, both as a Jeweller but with two different addresses - 11a and 22 Middle Street.

In the 1911 census the family were still resident at 22a Middle Street and Frederick gave his occupation as "Jeweller & Optician (Shopkeeper)". In Kelly's Directory of 1919 he was listed as "Frederick John Hicks, Watch & Clock Maker of 39 Middle Street.

Frederick John Hicks died in Yeovil in the summer of 1922, aged 57. Following his death the business was run by his son Frederick James who was listed at the family home in Kelly's Directory of 1935 "Frederick James Hicks, Watch & Clock Maker of 22a Middle Street".




Fred J Hicks' advertisement placed in the 1890 edition of Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser.


.... and a variation from the 1891 edition of Whitby's, repeated with further variations in 1892.


Courtesy of Jack Sweet

George Axe and his daughter Lily standing by their shop at 22 Middle Street in 1907. At right is 22a Middle Street (shown enlarged below) - the home and shop premises of Frederick Hicks.


Courtesy of Jack Sweet

Frederick Hicks' home and shop premises, 22a Middle Street, enlarged from the previous photograph, and clearly showing the watches and jewellery in the window.