Yeovil People

William Henry Sime

Jewellers & Watchmakers of Middle Street


William Henry Sime was born in Weymouth, Dorset, in 1846 and baptised at Melcombe Regis on 12 August 1846. He was the son of newspaper reporter and tutor Hugh David Sime (1819-1906) and Louisa née Adey (1820-1893). In the 1861 census Hugh and Louisa were listed living at 31 Spring Gardens, Wyke Regis, Weymouth, with their children; 14-year old William and his younger brothers John Alfred (1848-1912) and George Frederick (1850-1889) together with a general domestic servant. In the following 1871 census William and his brother John were still at the same address but his parents had moved and his uncle and aunt, Walter and Rosaline Thistleton, were in residence. William, by now aged 24, gave his occupation as a jeweller while 22-year old John was a gas collector.

On 28 October 1876 William married Mary Jane Dale, originally from London, at Holt, Dorset. William and Mary set up home in Yeovil where both their two sons were born; Henry James (1877-1928) and William John (1880-1947). In the 1881 census William and Mary, together with their two sons and a domestic servant were living at 91 Huish - this seems to have been directly opposite the Heart of Oak pub (now the Westminster), on the corner of Waterloo Lane (roughly where the pasty shop is today). William gave his occupation as a watch jobber. The only difference in the following 1891 census (apart from everyone being ten years older) is that William now described his occupation as a watchmaker. His premises were at 5 Middle Street. In 1896 William moved his premises to the other side of Middle Street, exactly opposite his former premises.

In fact he established his jewellery and watch making business before 1889 at 5 Middle Street. He was listed as a jeweller there in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1898 and again in 1903. By the time of the 1901 census William and Mary, together with their son Henry, were living above the Middle Street shop premises. William gave his occupation as a watch and clock repairer and dealer, while 23-year old Henry listed his as a watchmaker's assistant.

During the next few years Henry gradually assumed more responsibility in the business which became known as Sime & Son, as listed in the 1907 edition of Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser. By 1911 William had retired and he and Mary had moved out of the shop and were living at 4 The Avenue (later moving to 54 The Avenue) where William listed his occupation as a retired jeweller. In the meantime Henry had married Emily Edith Crockett (1882-1971) in 1905 at Yeovil. They lived above the Middle Street shop and were to have four children; Edith Mary (1906-1995), William Richard, known as Dick, (1908-1996), Marjorie (1911-2012) and Evelyn (1914-1987). Henry took over the running of the business, using the name WH Sime & Son.

WH Sime & Son were listed as watch and clock makers in Kelly's Directory of 1919.

On 9 January 1928 Henry died in Yeovil Hospital. His will was proved in March and his effects valued at £6,441 5s 4d (around £1.8 million at today's value). On 31 March the same year his mother Mary died. Her will was proved in June and her effects valued at £2,388 8s (around £680,000 at today's value). William Sime died in Yeovil on 13 February 1929. His will was proved in April and his effects valued at £8,320 14s (around £2.3 million at today's value).

Following Henry's death in 1928, the business was run by his widow Emily. 

On 18 September 1933 Dick married Edna Elliott and this same year he took over the running of the family business. During the Second World War, while Dick was away serving in the army, Emily ran the business again, assisted by Edna.

Henry and Emily's second daughter Marjorie married Edmund Burgess, also a jeweller, and they opened a branch of WH Sime in Gillingham, Dorset, as well as another shop in East Reach, Taunton, in the 1960s.

In 1963 Dick, Edna and Emily moved to Penn Hill Park when the property in Middle Street was sold for development to Marks & Spencer. However the premises containing the shop was not after all demolished and Dick was able to continue trading by renting the ground floor from Marks & Spencer until his retirement ten years later. The business of WH Sime & Son was listed in Foord's Directory of 1964.


Many thanks to Mary Davies, John Gillard, Judith Moreton and Robert Gillard, the grandchildren of Henry James Sime, for additional information.




An notice placed in the Western Gazette throughout December 1896 informing the public of the opening of William's new premises in Middle Street.


A key for a pocket watch made, or at least sold by, WH Sime & Son.


A report from the 18 November 1927 edition of the Western Gazette describing an attempt to steal rings from WH Sime & Son.


An advertisement in the 11 December 1931 edition of the Western Gazette.


... and an advertisement in the 27 November 1936 edition of the Western Gazette.


... and this one is from the 1 July 1949 edition of the Western Gazette - after all the Sime family were dead. So, who minded the store?