yeovil people

james tally vining



James Tally Vining was born in Yeovil in early 1809 and baptised at St John's church on 4 April 1809. He was the eldest son of mason and master builder Charles Vining (1780-1855) and Sophia née Hobbs (1783-1847).

In 1825 James entered Articles of Clerkship with attorney John Frampton of Cerne Abbas for a period of five years. Frampton was one of the attorneys of His Majesty's Court of King's Bench at Westminster and Solicitor of the High Court of Chancery.

On 8 May 1833, at the age of 24, he married Mary Webb Wellington the daughter of druggist and Burgess George Wellington who had served as Portreeve. James and Mary were to have five children; James Wellington born 1834, George Charles born 1836, Mary Matilda born 1838, William Richard born 1840 and Charles Henry born 1841. Unfortunately Mary died in childbirth in 1841 and was commemorated by James with a tombstone comprising a pedestal surmounted by an obelisk on the north side of St John's church, by Church Terrace, and seen in the photograph below. The inscription on the west panel reads "This monument was erected by James Tally Vining, of this town in memory of his wife, Mary Webb Vining, daughter of George Wellington, of this town. She died 21 August 1842, aged 33 years. In the same vault are deposited the remains of Mary Matilda and William Richard, the infant children of James Tally and Mary Wellington."

In 1834 he was listed as a subscriber to William Hull’s “History of the Glove Trade”. James was also involved with local charities and in 1835 he was a trustee, along with bookseller William Porter and draper Benjamin Ryall, of the newly-formed Female Guardian Friendly Society.

In the 1841 census James, by now a solicitor in partnership with John Slade of Penn House in the firm of Slade & Vining of Church Street, was living in Kingston House with a clerk and two female servants. There was no sign of his children who were presumably living with relatives at this time. Kingston House, photographed below, was built by Charles Vining and his son James Tally Vining was living there by 1842. It later became part of the Park School.

On 5 August 1843 James married Emma Mayo, ten years his junior, the daughter of George Mayo (1788-1852) and his wife Jane née Randall (1792-1877). James and Emma were to have 10 children; Reginald Maline born 1844, Emma Sophia born 1846, John Randall born 1848, Annie Jane born 1851, Robert Willoughby born 1854, Mary Elizabeth Maline born 1856, Georgina Agnes born 1857, Katherine Drury born 1860, Albert Frederick Hall born 1862 and William Graham Malone born 1865.

James was very active in local affairs having been one of three trustees of the Female Guardian Friendly Society as early as 1835 and he was clerk to the Special Commissioners - formed to take over control of markets and fairs from the Phelips family - when they were set up in 1846 (at an annual salary of £30 - in excess of £20,000 at today's value) and also acted as the Corporation's solicitor. He played a very active and significant part in the campaign for municipal reform in Yeovil which was, of course, eventually successful.

He was heavily involved with the founding of the new National School in Huish in 1845 and also played a significant part in the affairs of St John's church. He was a member of the Vestry for many years and regularly attended the Vestry meetings. He was twice elected Churchwarden; in  April 1846 and then for a two-year period of 1853 and 1854 alongside fellow-solicitor Thomas Lyon. In 1854 he bought land in Church Street for a Sunday School for St John's parish.

He was the owner of eighteen seats in the church and was heavily involved in the 1850 controversy over pew rents. Although he was in favour of this practice and defended it vociferously, he did offer to give up his seats in the church "but not to take a gallery or back seat if his servants or the poor had a front seat." He also donated a building in Church Street to the Mutual Improvement Society and gave them the sum of £100 for furniture and books. As Clerk to the Special Commissioners he was a special guest at the opening on 19 June 1849 of the new Town Hall in High Street at which function he was one of the speech makers.

In 1851, James was noted as an investor in the South Western Railway Company.

In the 1851 census James and Emma were listed at Kingston House with five of the children and four house servants. James listed his occupation as 'Attorney & Solicitor'. However on 19 October 1857 the London Gazette announced the bankruptcy of the firm of Slade & Vining, attorneys and money scriveners, and in 1859 and 1860 there were announcements of 'dividends' of 4s 7d in the pound in 1859 and 2s 5¾d in 1860. The movement of the Vining family to London involved push and pull factors reminiscent of what happened earlier to solicitors Samuel Watts the younger and his brother Thomas Bullock Watts.

By 1857 James was District Auditor of the West Somersetshire Audit District of the Yeovil Union, Dorchester Union, a position he held until his death.

It appears that James was in partnership with glove manufacturer Cuthbert Raymond and trading as glove manufacturers although almost certainly Vining was a sleeping partner. Nevertheless the partnership was dissolved in February 1858.

By the time of the 1861 census James was listed with his family in London. The census listed Emma and the children at 4 Camden Crescent, St Pancras, with three servants although on the night of the census James was visiting Blandford Forum. By 1871 the family had moved again, living on the outskirts of London in Forest Hill, Lewisham, Kent. James listed his occupation as 'Attorney & Solicitor & Auditor of the Somerset Poor Law District'. James and Emma were living at 15 Prospect Villas with their children Emma, Robert, Georgina, Catherine, Fred and William together with five servants; a cook, two housemaids and two nurses.

James Tally Vining died on 16 October 1871 at his home in Forest Hill, Kent, aged 62. Emma died in 1895. 


James Tally Vining's signature against the Vestry minutes of 10 May 1832.



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The obelisk tombstone of Mary Vining, first wife of James Tally Vining who died in childbirth. It was erected by him on the north side of St John's church by Church Terrace. Photographed in 2013.


Sadly, Mary Vining's tombstone was allowed to become overgrown with ivy. Photographed in November 2016.


... and with the ivy trimmed back a bit in May 2023.


This Regency house, Kingston House, was built by Charles Vining and was the home of his son James Tally Vining. It later became part of the Park School.