yeovil people

Adolphus Linnett

Solicitor's Clerk


Born in Yeovil in the summer of 1855, Adolphus Linnett was the eldest of the six children of domestic gardener William Linnett (1832-1881), originally from Kibworth, Leicestershire, and Emma née Hodder (1832-1903) a dressmaker of Yeovil. William had moved to Yeovil in his early twenties and married Emma at St John's church in July 1854.

Their children, all born in Yeovil, were Adolphus, Emma (1857-1868), Henry William (1862-1864), Annie (b1866), Louisa (1868-1932) and Arthur Lydiatt (1870-1902).

William and Emma, together with their family, lived in Wellington Street, and Adolphus was undoubtedly born here. The 1871 census recorded the family in Wellington Street. William gave his occupation as a domestic gardener, Emma gave hers as a dress maker and 15-year-old Adolphus was listed as a solicitor's general clerk.

In the late summer of 1880, at Taunton, Adolphus married Esther Griffin Edmonds (1852-1940), the fourth of the six children of Edmond Robert Johns Edmonds (1816-1878) and Mary Ann née Mead (1819-1891). Adolphus and Esther were to have four daughters; Frances Gertrude (1883-1973), Laura Adeline (1884-1964), Hilda Mary (1886-1955) and Winifred Kate (1888-1973).

In 1886, Adolphus joined the office staff of Henry Butler Batten who, in addition to his legal practice, was town clerk, the clerk to the education committee and clerk to the burial board, and Adolphus was engaged primarily to work for the borough council and other public bodies. For many years he held the post of deputy town clerk and on the death of Henry Batten in February 1912, Adolphus became temporary town clerk pending the appointment of a successor

In the 1891 census, Adolphus was listed at his home (see Gallery) Sunny Bank, Sherborne Road, with his four daughters (Esther was visiting in Wellington on the night of the census), together with his mother-in-law Mary Ann Edmonds, and his sister-in-law Annie Edmonds. 35-year-old Adolphus gave his occupation as a solicitor's clerk. (Coincidentally, he was living next door to artist and photographer William Sherrell, although the photograph of him here is by John Chaffin & Sons of Hendford).

The 1901 census listed Adolphus, Esther and their four daughters at the house on Sherborne Road, as did the 1911 census - although by that time school teacher Frances was the only daughter still living at home.

Early in the morning of Thursday 13 June 1912, Adolphus was cycling along Lower Middle Street on his way home to Sherborne Road, when a cat jumped down from the railings in front of Frederick Christopher's photographic studio, and dashed across the road into the path of the approaching cyclist. Adolphus swerved, and his front wheel hit the cat and the unfortunate Adolphus went over the handlebars to land head first on the road. (The condition of the cat remains unknown). Standing outside his shop, Herbie Higdon witnessed everything and with several passers-by ran to the aid of the crumpled figure lying in the road. They found Adolphus unconscious and carried him to Herbie's shop.

When Dr Ptolemy Colmer arrived, he found the unconscious Adolphus to be suffering from a severe blow to the forehead. Adolphus was taken to his home where his condition began to deteriorate. A specialist surgeon was brought down from London, but on examination he could only pronounce that Adolphus' condition was far too grave for an operation and the case was hopeless.

Adolphus never regained consciousness, and died aged 57 at 3am on Saturday 15 June 1912, leaving Esther and their four grown-up daughters. During his last days, bulletins on Adolphus' condition were published outside the Town Hall in High Street and he was mourned greatly by the townspeople as a popular and well-liked resident. The inquest found that Adolphus had died from extensive fractures of the skull caused by the "unfortunate meanderings of a cat".

On Wednesday 19 June, Adolphus was buried in Yeovil Cemetery and the Western Gazette reported: "The occasion of a demonstration of affection and esteem on the part of the townspeople. Hundreds of windows were shuttered and the blinds of residences on the route of the cortege drawn."

In addition to his many public duties, Adolphus had been an active member of the Methodist church, superintendent of Pen Mill Sunday School and worked closely with the Band of Hope Union, the Sunday School Union and the Free Church Council. After the service in the packed Wesleyan church in Vicarage Street, the large funeral procession, led by family mourners and the mayor and corporation, wound its way up Middle Street, along Princes Street and Kingston to the cemetery.

Esther died in Yeovil during 1940, aged 87.




From my collection

Adolphus Linnett, photographed by John Chaffin & Sons in late 1879, when he was 24, and produced as a carte de visite (dated from the back design).


Wellington Street with the National Day School in Huish at the end. Photographed in 1957. The Linnett family lived here for decades and Adolphus was almost certainly born here.


The house on Sherborne Road where Adolphus spent his entire married life.