yeovil people

Thomas John 'Tom' Symes

Veterinary Surgeon


Thomas John Symes, known as Tom, was born in the spring of 1845 at Bower Hinton and baptised at Martock on 17 September 1845. He was the eldest of the five children of veterinary surgeon Thomas Symes (1812-1866) and Sarah née Pearce (1828-1874). Thomas and Sarah's children were Tom, Francis Pierce, known as Frank, (1848-1899), Harriett Anne (b1850), Henry George (1857-1932) and Clara Caroline (b1858).

At the time of the 1851 census, Thomas Snr had his practice in North Street, Martock, where he also lived with his family. Tom Jnr, at this time, was aged five. By 1861, 15-year old Tom was apprenticed to his father in Martock. During the early 1860s, Tom Snr moved his family to Yeovil. Sadly he died in Yeovil on 22 November 1866.

It would appear that on his father's death, the veterinary practice at 2 West Hendford (which also included a farrier's business) was run by Sarah and her two sons, Tom and Frank. Tom was recorded as a veterinary surgeon of West Hendford in the Post Office Directory of 1866, and Miss Sarah Symes was recorded as the same in the Post Office Directory of 1875. From 1882 onwards, Frank was recorded variously as a veterinary surgeon and/or farrier and shoeing smith until the 1907 edition of Collins' Yeovil Directory. In 1903 Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser listed 'Mrs Symes, Farrier, 2 West Hendford'.

In the 1871 census Tom, with his widowed mother and siblings, was listed living in Horsey's Lane (today's West Hendford). 45-year old Sarah have her occupation as 'Veterinary Infirmary' while both 25-year old Tom and his younger brother Francis were listed as 'Veterinary Surgeons, Royal Veterinary College, London'.

Later that year, on 30 September, at the church of St John, Waltham Green, Fulham, Middlesex, Tom married Yeovil-born Harriett Elizabeth Fudge (b1845), the daughter of licensed victualler William Fudge. Tom and Harriett were to have six children, all born in Yeovil; Tom John (b1874), Emily J (b 1876), Ada Evelyn (b1877), Eva (b1879), Sally (b1881) and Horace W (b1885).

In the Post Office Directory of 1875, Tom was recorded as a veterinary surgeon of Peter Street, but in the 1881 census Tom and his family were recorded living at 13 Silver Street (see Gallery). Tom gave his occupation simply as a veterinary surgeon. Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser, from its 1882 edition until its 1903 edition, listed Tom as a veterinary surgeon of 13 Silver Street, as did the 1901 census.

Tom Symes died in Yeovil on 26 September 1904, aged 59. His effects were valued at £270 9s 3d (around £29,000 at today's value). Following his death, his son Tom John appears to have taken over the veterinary practice in Silver Street and, indeed, opened new premises just around the corner in Market Street where he had a farrier's business. The 1907 edition of Collins' Yeovil Directory listed Tom Jnr as a veterinary surgeon of Silver Street and also, in a separate listing, as a farrier and shoeing smith of Market Street. These two entries were repeated in the 1919 edition of Kelly's Directory.




Tom and Harriett's certificate of marriage of 30 September 1871, from the register of St John's church, Fulham.


Tom Symes advertisement in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1886.


This colourised postcard features in my book 'Yeovil - The Postcard Collection'.

This postcard dates to around 1900. The two-storey white building at centre, was the home and veterinary practice of Tom Symes.