Yeovil Trades & Traders

Frederick Warren Smith

Chemist, Wine Merchant and Grocer of High Street


Frederick Warren Smith, known as Warren, was born in Market Drayton, Shropshire, in 1844. Unfortunately we don't know the names of his parents since the first record concerning him is the 1851 census in which seven-year old Warren and his eight-year old brother William Elwood (b1843) were, amongst many others, boarding scholars at Drayton in Hales, Shropshire.

We next find Warren in the 1861 census as a seventeen-year old apprentice to, and living with the family of, chemist and brickmaker Samuel Hughes at 154 High Street, Stourbridge, Worcestershire.

Warren, having finished his apprenticeship, moved to London and on 15 April 1868, at Christ Church, Southwark, Surrey, he married Henrietta Packer (1848-1886). Warren and Henrietta initially settled in Brixton where the first of their seven children, Henrietta Mary (1868-1905) was born.

They then moved to Warren's home town of Market Drayton where their second daughter, Frederica Frances (1870-1926) was born. The 1871 census recorded Warren and Henrietta, together with their two daughters, an assistant, an apprentice, a general servant and a nurse living in High Street, Market Drayton. 27-year old Warren, recorded as Frederick W, gave his occupation as 'Chemist & Druggist'. Warren and Henrietta's next three daughters were all born at Market Drayton; Ellen Elizabeth (b1872), Adeline (b1874) and Lillie (b1876).

Around 1879 Warren moved his family to Yeovil where the next three children were born; Frederick Bedford (1879-1957), Alice Rose (b1880) and Loxdale W (b1883). In August 1880 Warren applied for, and was granted, an Excise License "to sell by retail Beer, Ale and Porter, to be consumed off the premises, at a shop situate at No 7 in High Street."

In the 1881 census the family were listed at 7 High Street where Warren gave his occupation as 'Chemist & Grocer'. Living with the family, in the accommodation above the shop premises, were a pharmaceutical chemist, a chemist's assistant, two grocer's assistants,  a cook, housemaid and nurse. Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser listed him as 'Frederick W Smith, Chemist & Grocer of 7 High Street'.

Henrietta died in Yeovil in January 1886 and on 5 October 1886, at Melcombe Regis, Weymouth, Dorset, Warren married Mary Carter (b1849), of Weymouth. Warren and Mary were to have two children, both born in Yeovil; Ermyngarde W (b1888) and Egerton W (b1890).

In the 1891 census Warren and Mary, together with their children Mary, Frederick, Alice, Loxdale, Ermyngarde and Egerton were still listed at 7 High Street together with two grocer's assistants, a cook, nurse and housemaid. Warren gave his occupation as 'Chemist & Druggist'.


In the 1891 edition of 'Where to Buy' Warren Smith's business was given the following description - somewhat flowery but interestingly descriptive nonetheless -

Mr Warren Smith, Chemist, Grocer, Wine and Spirit Merchant,
7 High Street and North Lane

In Mr Smith's establishment we have a good example of that combination of businesses so frequently met with in provincial towns - three distinct branches of trade are carried on. To the department allotted to Chemistry priority of position may be allowed on account of the superior skill that it demands; prescriptions are accurately dispensed from the purest and best chemicals, every patent medicine and proprietary article of repute is kept, together with the usual et ceteras of a chemist's stock - perfumery, toilet requisites and mineral waters forming an important branch of this department.

In the wine and spirit department a large number of distillers and importers are represented, whose names are a sufficient guarantee of the quality of the goods. Mr Smith ships all wines direct from the best foreign houses, and in the cellars we noticed numerous bins of Cockburn's, Sandeman's, Dows' and other ports; Domecq's, D'Gonis and Cosen's sherries; Blandy's Madeiras; Rosenheim's and Johnston's Clarets; Ingham's Marsala; together with a large assortment of Australian and Hungarian wines, champagnes, choice liqueurs, etc. Messrs Bass and Co's, Ind. Coope and Co's, and the Anglo-Bavarian ales, and Guinness's stout, are sold in cask or bottle. Mr Smith also ships Lager Beer from Bremen. We may here remark that all wines, spirits, ales, etc., are bottled on the premises by the most modern machinery.

The stock in the grocery and Italian department is complete, and so large as to forbid detail, but all that comes under the heading may be had here in a variety of good and useful qualities. Special attention is given to the tasting and blending of teas and coffees, Mr Smith's practical knowledge of chemistry and botany rendering him good service in this and other departments.

The shop is large and handsomely-fitted, but the frontage gives no adequate idea of the extent of these very large, old-established business premises, covering 12,000 feet, the cellars underneath which are most extensive. Families are waited upon for orders in town and country - goods being delivered by Mr Smith's own vans.



By the time of the 1901 census Warren and Mary were living at 6 Clarence Buildings, Melcombe Regis, with their son Egerton. By now Warren was 57 years old and still gave his occupation as a chemist and druggist. He was winding down his business interests in Yeovil; firstly selling off the stock of his wine and spirits department in December 1891, including 'several thousand dozens' of bottles. This was followed by the sale of his grocery stock in May 1892 to Charles Hook, proprietor of the Golden Canister Stores in Middle Street. On 29 May 1892 Warren closed his premises at 7 High Street.

Although now living at Melcombe Regis, Warren maintained business interests in Yeovil. In July 1893 he bought the Wine Vaults and the wine merchant's business in Wine Street from Frederick Foan. Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1898 listed him as 'Frederick Warren Smith, Wine Merchant of 9 Wine Street'.

What transpired in Warren's life after this is something of a mystery; in the 1911 census 67-year old Warren was boarding at the home of widow Elizabeth Gibby and her daughter above the chemist's shop at Green Street, Sittingbourne, Teynham, Kent. Warren gave his occupation as 'Chemist's Manager' and, although he described himself as married, there was no sign of Mary or his family.

In December 1916, Warren died at Christchurch, Hampshire. He was 72 years old.




An illustration of Warren Smith from the 1891 edition of 'Where to Buy'.


Notice of Warren's intention to apply for an Excise License from the 20 August 1880 edition of the Western Gazette.

7 High Street, originally built as the Deposit Bank, it was occupied by Warren Smith from 1879 until 29 May 1892. Photographed on a quiet Sunday morning in 2013. 


Warren ran this advertisement every week in the Western Chronicle during the first quarter of 1890.


In the 18 December 1891 edition of the Western Gazette Warren advertised the fact that he was selling off his stock of wines and spirits.


.... and the following year Warren sold off his grocery stock to Charles Hook of Middle Street as witness by this advertisement in the Western Gazette's edition of 13 May 1892.


The notice placed by Frederick Foan in the 14 July 1893 edition of the Western Gazette announcing the sale of the Wine Vaults and the wine merchant's business to Warren Smith.


Courtesy of Chris Rendell

The Wine Vaults photographed in 1989.


A notice placed in the Western Gazette's edition of 29 November 1895.