yeovil people

Elias Barnes

Maltster of Yeovil


It is believed that Elias Barnes may have been born in 1640 in Thornford, Dorset - just a couple of miles southeast of Yeovil - and baptised there on 6 January 1641, the son of John and Martha Barnes. He certainly had very close connections with Thornford (see below), unfortunately nothing is known of his early life.

In 1661, Elias married Mary Pitman, the daughter of William Pitman of Sandford Orcas and Gertrude née Lavor. Mary's uncle, Henry Lavor, was one of Yeovil's first Quakers and was subsequently persecuted and imprisoned for his beliefs. Two of Mary's brothers, Henry and William, were involved in the Monmouth Rebellion. Both were tried and transported to Barbados. William died in Barbados in 1687, while Henry escaped and, eventually, returned to England.

A document in the Somerset Heritage Centre, dated 12 April 1661, records that Mary's father, William Pitman, in consideration for the intended marriage of his daughter Mary to Elias, gave Elias Barnes a property in Vicarage Street called Gaylands Higher House. Sadly there is no record of this house surviving today.

A deed of 1674 referred to Elias Barnes as a maltster.

In his will, dated 16 February 1683, Henry Lavor bequeathed £120 (around £19,000 at today's value) to his niece Mary Barnes.

Henry Butler MA (1624-1696) became Vicar of Yeovil during the Commonwealth, but was ejected at the Restoration in 1660. He founded the Congregational Church in Yeovil and was licensed on 23 May 1672 as a Congregational Teacher at the house of Elias Barnes, Gaylands Higher House in Vicarage Street.

The Quakers established a burial ground in Preston Road in 1669. In 1688 a house and garden in Kingston was purchased for use as a meeting house, on a site now occupied by Yeovil District Hospital. This, indeed, may have been the barn known to have been purchased by Elias Barnes, in 1674, for the use of his wife’s uncle, Henry Lavor. A document in the Somerset Heritage Centre, dated 11 January 1674, confirms that Elias Barnes purchased for £14 (around £2,000 at today's value) “...a Kingston juxta Yeovil, with a little plot of ground commonly called the Rick Barton.” The deed gave Henry Lavor, Thomas Browne and “their lawful attornies” the right to enter the premises.

As well as being a maltster, it appears that Elias was also intimately linked with the licensed trade being associated with, if not owning, at least one hostelry in the town. A document dated 10 February 1682, refers to the Bear Inn, probably a simple alehouse, whose location is unknown. The document refers to (the owners ?) Henry Lavor, Elias Barns and Thomas Goodfare.

To return to the Thornford connection - in the Thornford parish register there is an entry dated 9 December 1710 for the baptism of "Elias Barnes, the base born son of Bridgett Moor and the reputed bastard of Elias Barnes."

Elias Barnes died in Yeovil and the burial of "Mr Elias Barnes" at St John's church was recorded in St John's parish register on 18 December 1711. However, there is also an entry of the same date in the Thornford parish register noting "Elias Barnes of Yeovill was Buried".




The entry of Elias Barnes' burial in St John's parish register.


... and the entry of the same date in the Thornford parish register of Elias Barnes' burial.