yeovil people

nathaniel sydenham

Cordwainer who died in his hundredth year


Nathaniel Sydenham, known as Nathan, was born in Honiton, Devon, in May 1760. He was the son (and sixth of eight children) of Hugh Sydenham (1732-1793) and Mary née Moore (1732-1788).

Little is known of Nathan's early life other than he was a cordwainer, or shoemaker. He had moved to Yeovil by 1796 when he was recorded in the 'Register of Duties Paid for Apprentice's Indentures', as a cordwainer 'of Yeovill' when he took on Hugh Sydenham as his apprentice.

Nathan had married Hannah Shene (1763-1805) on 17 July 1785 in Devon and they were to have nine children; Thomas (1786-1847), Joseph Moore (1788-1818), Elizabeth (1791-1863), Nathan (1793-1855), William (b1794), James (1796-1884), Mary (1797-1884), George (1800-1881) and John (1801-1802). The portrait below is inscribed on the reverse “N. Sydenham, Yeovil, aged 66: drawn at Poole for his son James, August 1826”.

Nathan was in partnership with his son Thomas but, as published in the London Gazette of 15 May 1813, the partnership was 'dissolved by mutual consent'. Pigot's Directory of 1822 listed Nathan as a Boot & Shoe Maker of Middle Street and his son Thomas was listed as a Boot & Shoe Maker in the Borough. Pigot's Directory of 1830 repeated the listings although by this time Thomas was listed in Hendford.

E Watts' map of 1829 shows Nathaniel Sydenham as the occupier (if not the owner) of the property to the immediate east of the George Inn in Middle Street.

Robson's Directory of 1839 listed Nathan as a Boot & Shoe Maker of Middle Street again but Thomas was not listed, however another son, James Sydenham, was listed as a Boot & Shoe Maker of Belmont. Pigot's Directory of 1842 only listed Nathan. Nathan was also a member of Yeovil's Vestry.

His wife Hannah had died in 1805 and on 12 October 1828, at the age of 68, he married Susannah Marsh, originally from West Milton, Dorset, at St John's church, Yeovil. Susannah, known as Susan, had been married before and was 23 years younger than Nathan. In the 1841 census Nathan and Susan were recorded living in Middle Street, immediately next door to the George Hotel. Living with them was Frances Marsh, a 25-year old dressmaker who was Susan's daughter, born at Bridport, from her first marriage. Nathan gave his occupation as Boot Maker.

A vellum Indenture being a Transfer of Trust Land dated 10 November 1843, refers to Nathan Sydenham as "Cordwainer of Yeovil in the county of Somerset. Owner of property in Yeovil."

In the 1851 census the family were still living in Middle Street next door to the George. Nathan, by this time aged 89, listed his occupation as 'Retired Cordwainer'. Susan was aged 66 and her daughter Frances, now aged 35, was listed as a Straw Bonnet Maker.

Nathan Sydenham died in Yeovil on 29 April 1860 of 'natural decay', about a month short of reaching his 100th birthday (despite what his death certificate below says).


Nathan Sydenham's signature against the Vestry minutes of 6 August 1832.




This portrait of Nathaniel is inscribed on the reverse “N. Sydenham, Yeovil, aged 66: drawn at Poole for his son James, August 1826”.


At left, next to the George Inn, is Nathaniel's shop, workshop and home in Middle Street. This photograph dates to between 1885 and 1891.


A copy of Nathaniel Sydenham's death certificate.