yeovil people

james bernard paynter

Solicitor of Hendford Manor


James Bernard Paynter was born on 28 December 1850 at Penzance, Cornwall. He was the son of solicitor Francis 'Frank' Paynter of Clarence House, Penzance, and his wife Catherine Augusta née Coleman. The photograph at left shows James aged about 26, circa 1876. Like his father and brothers, James was a solicitor.

The 1881 Yeovil census shows James as a lodger at 32 Hendford, and employed as a solicitor. Indeed it seems likely that he became a partner in Edwin Newman's law firm that same year. Five years previously, he had become Edwin's step-son when his widowed mother Catherine Augusta Paynter married the recently widowed Edwin. The firm was renamed Newman Jeans Paynter Newman and Gould, being listed in 1883. The partners were Edwin Newman, by this time aged 80, John Locke Jeans, James Bernard Paynter, Charles Octavius Newman (Edwin's son) and Frederick JM Gould, aged 26.

Following Edwin Newman's death in 1885 Hendford Manor was bought by James (who, being the son of Newman's second wife, was also Newman's son-in-law) and the solicitors practice continued operating from there. He was one of the executors of Edwin's will (along with his brother Henry Augustus Paynter and Edwin's eldest surviving son, Walter), one provision of which empowered James Bernard Paynter to purchase "any part of Edwin's real and personal estate at any sale or sales thereof at public auction or by private contract ….".

The law practice was now called Newman, Paynter, Gould & Williams - the Newman being Charles Newman, Edwin Newman's son, who had become the senior partner. This partnership lasted until at least 1901 by which time Edwin's grandson, Walter Newman, had joined the firm.

James Bernard Paynter of Hendford Manor, provided the installation of electricity in St John's church in the early part of 1925.

The Paynter arms were azure, three blocks argent each charged with an annulet sable (on a blue field, three silver rectangles - in this instance a slightly widened version of a billet - each with a small black ring).

The extensive land holdings of Frederick Greenham were sold off following the death of Frederick's widow Mary in 1889 and at the sale James bought Hendford House (today's Manor Hotel). The sale description in the Western Gazette edition of 10 May 1889 read "Lot 1 consisted of Hendford House, standing in its own private grounds, close to the centre of the town, situate in Hendford, and comprising the usual offices, a conservatory adjoining, pleasure grounds, tennis lawn, kitchen gardens and hothouses, stabling, &c; also farm buildings, two closes of rich pasture land, and every other necessary suitable to a gentleman's residence, the whole being of the extent of 7a 22r 13p. Bidding was started at £3,000 and ultimately reached £4,100 (about £400,000 at today's value), at which figure it was knocked down to Mr JB Paynter." At the end of the report of the sale, the Western Gazette added "In regard to Hendford House and grounds, Mr Paynter, the purchaser of the lot, expressed to the Mayor (Dr Colmer), who was present, his willingness to sell the property to the Corporation at the same price for which he purchased it, provided it was used for public purposes and bought at once." Apparently the Corporation declined this offer and James soon sold the property on.

In the 1891 census 40-year old James was listed living alone in Hendford Manor (apart from an articled clerk and visitors) with three servants, a housekeeper, cook and a general servant. There was also the gardener, James Foot, who lived in Manor Lodge.

For many years, certainly between 1890 and 1898, James was listed in the Electoral Registers of St Clement Danes, Strand, London, by virtue of owning joint chambers at 1 Clement's Inn. Between 1912 and 1915 he was similarly listed in the Electoral Registers of Kinson, Dorset, by virtue on owning a property called 'Melville' in Great Canford.

James was very successful in real estate and was very wealthy. It is entirely probable that he became involved, on the financing side, in the speculative housing development of Camborne Grove, Camborne Place and Camborne Street of the mid-1880s. Later he even named one of his sons William Bernard Camborne Paynter, who was known throughout his life as Camborne.

James married late in life. In 1900, at the age of 50, he married 25-year old Maud Josephine Beckton (1867-1942) of Manchester and in the 1901 census they were listed living at Hendford Manor  together with six servants - a housekeeper, cook, lady's maid, parlourmaid housemaid and kitchen maid. James and Maud were to have three children; William Bernard Camborne, known as Camborne (1901-1978), Edwin Pendarvis, known as Pendarvis (1903-c1990) and Margaret Catherine Amelia, known as Peggy (c1908-c1990).

The 1911 census record shows James living in Hendford Manor with Maud, son Pendarvis aged 7 and Peggy aged 2. His eldest son Camborne had by then been sent off to boarding school. There were no less than eight servants: a cook, lady’s maid, parlour maid, upper housemaid, kitchen maid, house maid and a mother and daughter who were a trained domestic nurse and an undernurse.

On 20 April 1912 James lent the sum of £400 at an interest rate of £6 per annum to a builder, William James Lucas of Dunedin, Birchwood Road, Parkstone, in order for him to build a house in Grove Avenue on the land he purchased from James and George Vincent for £125. This sum to be paid back in October, presumably on completion of the house. The sum of £400 was never repaid so in December 1912 James took possession and completed the build. The house was formally transferred to him in June 1913. (Many thanks to Richard Rigby for supplying this information).

When James died in 1927, he left Hendford Manor to his eldest son Camborne, who sold it to Yeovil Borough Council in 1935. James' wife, Maud, was still living in Yeovil at The Grove House, Preston Road, in 1939 but she died in the autumn of 1941, aged 65.


See Jekyll - Newman - Paynter - Moore Family Relationships Tree

See Yeovil Solicitors



Hendford Manor, photographed around 1960.


This photograph, taken in the grounds of Hendford Manor around 1885, shows the staff of the household together the new owner of the house, James Bernard Paynter, seated at left.


Again taken in the grounds of Hendford Manor, this photograph dates to about 1890. Standing, left to right, are - unknown, Eva Paynter, unknown, Lilian Paynter, Dr Paynter, Miss Aldridge. Seated, left to right, are - Miss Aldridge, Dr Beeber, Mrs Eastlake, unknown. At front, lying, is James Bernard Paynter.


This cabinet card of 1901 shows James Bernard Paynter, his wife Maud and their first-born child William Bernard Camborne Paynter in the conservatory of Hendford Manor.


From my collection

A personal cheque to James (who clearly banked at Stuckey's) from his brother Henry Augustus. (£10 14s 9d is around £1,000 at today's value).


This photograph dates to about 1920 and shows James and Maud with their three children; Edwin Pendarvis (known as Pendarvis), William Camborne (known as Camborne) and Margaret Catherine Amelia (known as Peggy).


The 1889 sale documents of Hendford House when James Bernard Paynter of Hendford Manor purchased the property and its grounds.