yeovil people

The beare family

An extended Yeovil Family


Lawrence Beer was born in Barwick, just south of Yeovil, in 1764. He was baptised in Barwick on 13 August 1764. He was the middle of the five sons of Lawrence Beer (b1736) and Joan née Hazard (b1742). The Beer family originated in Highampton, Devon. At the age of 25, on 18 May 1789 at Yeovil, he married Elizabeth Harris, also of Barwick.

In the 1841 census he was recorded as an 80-year old carpenter (he was actually 77 but the 1841 census rounded ages of adults to the nearest 5 years) living with Elizabeth in a house in South Street almost next to Bond Street, probably in one of the cottages later known as Woborn Terrace. They had six children; James (b1788), Rose (b1792), Charles (b1794), Charles (b1798), Mark (b1803) and George (b1806).

Their son James was born in 1789 and baptised at Barwick on 6 September 1789. His trade was that of a carpenter like his father and he married Joanna, or Johanna, Chamberlain on 18 May 1808 at South Cadbury. They were to have twelve children: George (1808-1882), Mark (1810-1877), Edmund (1813-1892), Harriet (1815-1882), Mary (1817-1876), Charles (1819-1893), Eliza (b1822), Alfred (1824-1903), Nolton (b1826), Emma (1829-1871), Amelia (b1831) and Hubert (1832-1901).

James became one of Yeovil's early police constables, known in the 1830s as a Watchman, and was based at the Tolle Hall in the Borough. The town's Watch-House or lock-up was in cellars of the building and there are payments recorded in the Portreeve's Accounts for supplying clean straw for the gaol. It was also known as the ‘Blindhouse’ because the room used for the gaol, being in the cellars, had no windows. Other local names for the lock-up were Hell's Gate and the Stockhouse because felons might be taken from the lock-up to the stocks outside in the Borough or vice versa. On 8 January 1838 a drunken beggar was thrown in the cells but left there without food of heat for two days, resulting in his death. Consequently James, and co-Watchman George Hill, were charged and tried for manslaughter at the County Assizes. The Court Register noted "Discharged on Sureties to appear etc" - that is, released on bail. To read the full details of the case as reported in the press click here.

The Description Book of Ilchester Gaol noted James as 47 years old, 6' 1" (1.85m) tall, of stout build, flush complexion, with a long face, brown hair, grey eyes and scars on his right cheek. He was listed as married with 11 children and able to read and write.

Although I discovered all the details of the case, including the guilty verdict, the only thing I couldn't discover was the sentence which was not given by the judge at the time but held back for deliberation and consultation. However, it must be presumed that the case against James was ultimately dismissed although he almost certainly lost his job as a Watchman since, immediately after the case he became a beerhouse keeper. James was recorded in the 1841 census as a Beer Seller in Hewish. This was the fledgling Beehive Inn in Huish and he was living there with Johanna and their children Charles, a glover, daughters Eliza, Emma and Amelia who were all glove sewers and 8-year old Hubert. It is most likely that Johanna ran the pub during the day and James took over in the evening, as was the usual practice.

James died on 4 July 1849 aged 60 in Yeovil of 'diseased heart 2 years' and was interred in St John's churchyard. The Stamp Office copy of James’ will stated that his executors were George Beare of Yeovil, glover, & Edmund Beare of Yeovil, yeoman. James described both of them as his sons. In his will, James requested that his son George assume the management of letting his premises and collecting the rents. James' widow, Johanna, is seen to have taken over the license by 1851. She was born about 1791 and in the 1851 census was listed as a widowed inn keeper living in Huish with two daughters, Emma and Amelia (both glove sewers), son Hubert (a carpenter like his father and grandfather) and grandson Sidney (the illegitimate child of Emma). By 1861 Joanna was living on her own and listed in the census as a beer house keeper. She was listed as a Beer Retailer in a number of local trade directories from Slater's Directory of 1851 until Harrison, Hodder & Co's Directory of 1859. She was recorded as a Beerhouse Keeper at the Beehive Inn in the 1861 census. Joanna died on 28 November 1862 of apoplexy and was buried at North Cadbury, she was 72.

Of James and Johanna's children....

George was baptised on 18 November 1808 at St John's church and is said to have been born at South Cadbury, his mother’s home village. His occupation was given as glover. He had five children, Matilda (who died aged 5), Ellen, Sophia Jane, George Hockey and another Matilda. In 1837 George was listed in a House of Commons Private Bill concerning Railway Subscription Projects, as an investor in the 'South Western, or Kingsworthy & West Monkton Railway'. He was listed as a glover, subscribing £250 (about £27,000 at today's value using the 'historic opportunity cost' of an investment project). He died on 17 August 1882 in Yeovil at which time he was living in South Street.

Mark Beare was a glover and in 1841 was listed at Townsend with his wife Maria née Bragg, also a glover, and their three young sons; Henry (1836-1861), Frederick (1831-post 1881) and Alfred (1840-1881) - a daughter, Louisa (b1833) had probably died in infancy. By 1851 Mark had moved his family to Worcester, where he died in 1877.

Edmund was listed as a House Agent in the 1861 census, living at his late grandparents old house in South Street, close to Bond Street, with his wife Margaret, daughter Agness and grandson Lyndell. He was recorded as a Yeoman in 1871 and as a House Agent again in 1881. By 1891 he was a widowed House Agent, aged 78, living in Bond Street with his daughter Elizabeth and a housekeeper. Edmund died in 1892.

Charles was a glove cutter and lived with his wife Ann née Dyke and their children, Thomas, Edmund and Sarah, in Wellington Street, close to West Hendford. Charles and Ann had six children; Charles Dyke (bc1840), Thomas Charles (b1845), Edmund (b1851), Eliza Ann (1855-1858) and Sarah (b1858).

Alfred was a professional soldier, a musician in the 8th Regiment of Foot (the King's Regiment), and consequently moved around a lot during his service. He was discharged from the army in Gosport, Hampshire on 25 February 1861, after completing 21 years service, more than thirteen years of which were in India and several years in Longford, Ireland, where he was a Staff Sergeant in the Royal Longford Militia.

His intended place of residence on discharge was Bee Hive Inn, Yeovil, Somerset. This was, presumably, a short visit home to see his mother, possibly whilst looking for somewhere to live since by 7 Apr 1861, census night, he was living at Old Tan Yard. Old Tan Yard was in Wellington Street and it is most likely that this was the row of cottages later known as Picketty Row.

Alfred had clearly been married while in the army but had lost his first wife, Alice Thornton, and had remarried in Medway, Kent, on 3 September 1860 to Catherine Mary O'Neill, some 19 years his junior and the daughter of soldier John O'Neill. In total Alfred had 17 children by his two wives. His children by Alice were James (b1844), Mark (b1847), Alfred (1848-1848), George (b1850) and Fanny Johanna (b1853). The last four children were all born in India. Catherine bore him Ellen (b1861), Agnes Augusta (b1864, Ireland), Rose Emily (b1866, Ireland), Georgina Francis (b 1868 Ireland, d1871 Yeovil), Albert Henry (b1871), Frederick William (b1873), Roland Mark (b1875), Kate Adeline (b1878), Sidney Charles (b1880), Walter Henry (b1882), Alice Rose (b1885) and Lionel Alfred (b1887, d1914, France).

 In the 1861 census 39 year-old Alfred listed his occupation as a pensioner and was living in Old Tan Yard with his 20 year-old Dublin-born wife (listed as Mary), 16 year-old glove cutter son James who had been born in Bolton, Lancashire and 7 year-old daughter Fanny who had been born in India. In the 1871 census Alfred gave his occupation as Band Master. Alfred was in charge of the Yeovil Volunteer Band, officially the band of Yeovil F Company, 2nd Battalion, Prince Albert's Somerset Light Infantry from when it was reformed in 1870 until he retired some 26 years later. The band was based at the Armoury in Park Road, now the Armoury public house. He still lived in Queen Street with Catherine and their children but had clearly spent several of the intervening years living in Ireland as witness by the birthplace of his children as follows; 21-year-old leather parer son George who had been born in India, 10 year-old daughter was Ellen born in Yeovil, but the three youngest daughters Agnes, Rose and Georgina, aged 7, 4 and 2 respectively, had all been born in Longford, Ireland. However, it appears that from this point onwards Alfred was settled back in Yeovil.

The 1881 census listed Alfred and his family living in what had been his father's pub, the Beehive Inn in Huish, although his brother Hubert (see below) was actually the licensee. Alfred gave his occupation as Band Master and was living there with Catherine and the children; box-maker Ellen, dressmaker Agnes, glover Rose and the younger children Albert, Frederick, Roland, Kate and Sidney. By the time of the 1891 census the family were living in Queen Street and included three new children, Walter, Alice and Lionel. Alfred now gave his occupation as a painter. By 1901 Alfred and Catherine had retired to Bournemouth and were living in Spring Road with Kate and Walter. Alfred died in 1903, aged 79. 

Hubert, was listed as a foreman in a coal yard in 1861 but listed as a coal and salt merchant by 1866 as well as being licensee of the Beehive Inn after the death of his mother in 1862. In 1871 he, his wife, Elizabeth née Chaffey, and their family were in residence at the Beehive. Altogether Hubert and Elizabeth had 14 children. It appears that Hubert's main occupation was as a coal merchant with running pubs as a sideline. Elizabeth died in 1874 and in the spring of 1875 Hubert married Ann Passmore at Yeovil. By 1881 Hubert, Ann and their family were living in Kingston where Hubert's coal merchant business was carried out but, as evidenced by various trade directories, he remained licensee of the Beehive. Around 1881, I believe, is when the old Beehive building was replaced by the current one and a new public house license obtained. Hubert was listed as a Beer Retailer in the Post Office Directory of 1866 and several other trade directories into the 1870s. By 1895 Hubert was listed in Kelly's directory as running the Anchor Inn in Vicarage Street. Three years later he was licensee of the Albion Inn in Vicarage Street. Hubert Beare’s son James (1857-1931) was the licensee of the Quicksilver Mail Hotel, Hendford Hill, Yeovil from 1900 to 1917. When he retired his daughter, Laura, and her husband Frederick Braine took over the licence.

Many thanks to both Margaret Wilkinson and Michael Beare for providing much of the above genealogical information.




Bandmaster Alfred Bear with the Yeovil Volunteer Band - the band of Yeovil F Company, 2nd Battalion, Prince Albert's Somerset Light Infantry, photographed around 1880. Standing, left to right, Alfred Dunn, Ebenezer Giles, Harry Pomeroy, Walter Bond, Herbert Jenner, Alfred Beare, William Fort, Jack Fort, Charles Lane, EJ Lucas. Seated; George Larcombe, Walter Creese, Albert Ostler, Herbert Slade, unknown.



A nice sepia photograph of the Yeovil Military Band in 1892. At centre, with the beribboned tunic and holding the baton is band master Alfred Beare. Officially this was the band of Yeovil F Company, 2nd Battalion, Prince Albert's Somerset Light Infantry. 


The Yeovil Military Band, in yet another uniform, with Band Master Alfred Beare at centre.


Hubert Beare's advertisement in the 1881 edition of Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser.