Yeovil people

Mary Miriam Bowditch

Landlady of the Royal Marine for over 50 years


Mary Miriam Bowditch was born on 10 August 1856, at Shadwell, London, and baptised on 24 April 1859 at St Mary's, the parish church of Beaminster, Dorset, aged two years and eight months. She was the eldest of the eight children of shoemaker Daniel Bowditch (1833-1905) of Beaminster and Emily née Newport (1833-1905). Daniel and Emily's children were; Mary, William (1856-1930), Emily (1861-1954), Sarah (1863-1924), Daniel (1866-1933), Elizabeth (1868-1868), Bennett (1869-1935) and Rosa (1873-1936).

In the 1861 census, Daniel, Emily and their three eldest children were living with Daniel's parents, labourer Michael Bowditch and his wife Mary, at East Street, Beaminster. 28-year old Daniel gave his occupation as a shoemaker. In the following 1871 census, 15-year old Mary was lodging in East Street with cordwainer Bennett Mills and his wife Elizabeth.

In the summer of 1876, Mary had a daughter that she named Alice Priestly Bowditch. Alice was baptised at Holy Trinity, Beaminster, on 6 August 1876. The name of the father is unknown. Alice, known as Ada, married George Shorthouse (1871-1927) at St John's church in 1897. They had two children; Mary (1898-1924) and Harry (1905-1980). Alice/Ada died in Basford, Nottinghamshire in 1946.

On 13 March 1881, at Allington, Dorset, (just north of Bridport), Mary married labourer George Forsey (1852-1894). George was a nephew of Bennett Mills with whom Mary had been lodging and, following their marriage, Mary and George continued to live in East Street, Beaminster, with Bennett and Elizabeth Mills. They were recorded there in the 1881 census together with Mary's daughter, listed as Ada Bowditch. George Forsey was born about 1853 in Stoke Abbott, Dorset, the son of Job Forsey, an agricultural labourer, and his wife, Eliza. By 1881 he was living with his uncle Bennett in Beaminster, Dorset, and was working as a labourer on the railway.

By the time of the 1891 census, Mary and George had moved to Yeovil where they became the landlord and landlady of the Royal Marine. The census described George as a 'Landlord of a Public House' with Mary described as a landlady. The Royal Marine Inn was built to serve the area known as Goar Knap, which is that area containing Great Western Terrace and New Prospect Place (see map below). The name comes from the Anglo-Saxon gora, a gore, or triangular-shaped piece of land, and hnaep, for rising ground or the crest of a hill.

In 1896, during George and Mary's tenancy, the original fabric of the Royal Marine was demolished and the present building was erected - the date 1896 above the corner entrance indicates the rebuild. The rebuilt was, presumably, carried out by the brewery. The Royal Marine was, technically, a beerhouse and didn't obtain a full public house license until 1935

George Forsey died in 1894 and Mary continued as licensee in her own right for a couple of years after his death - it was quite common for a widow to carry on as licensee after the death of her husband. In October 1900, at St John's church, she married widower George Talbot (1845-1921) and he is listed as licensee from then.

George was born around 1845 at North Cadbury, the son of George Talbott, a miller and baker, and his wife Anne. By 1861, at the age of 16, George was still living with his parents and described his occupation as a blacksmith. By 1881 George, still a blacksmith, was living at 66 South Street, Yeovil, with his wife, Mary, a dress and mantle maker. Mary died around 1895 and George married Mary Forsey in 1900. 

In the 1901 census, 56-year old George Talbot was recorded as the innkeeper at the Royal Marine. 44-year old Mary did not list an occupation. The 1911 census was almost identical.

George Talbot, last recorded as the landlord of the Royal Marine in 1919, died in 1921 but was probably landlord until his death.

Mary, first as Mrs Forsey and later as Mrs Talbot, completed 50 years as landlady of the Royal Marine. She probably relinquished the title of landlady after the death of George and she moved to Brooklyn, Lyde Road.

Mary died in Yeovil on 7 May 1936, aged 79. Her will was proved in Bristol the following June and her effects were valued at £995 4s (around £66,000 at today's value).




The 1901 Ordnance Survey highlighting the location of the Royal Marine.




The record of Mary's baptism of 24 April 1859 at St Mary's, the parish church of Beaminster.


The record of Mary's daughter's baptism at Holy Trinity, Beaminster, on 6 August 1876.


The record of Mary's marriage to George Forsey of 13 March 1881, at Allington, Dorset.


Courtesy of Elaine Old

Mary Miriam Bowditch


The notice of banns published during September 1900 for Mary and George Talbot, from St John's register. They were married in October 1900.


Courtesy of Chris Rendell

The Royal Marine photographed in 1985. (The sheltered housing scheme at far left was designed by me in the mid-1970s).


The Royal Marine photographed in 2012.