Yeovil people

William cayme

Glover and Sail-Cloth Maker


William Cayme was born around 1750, probably the son of glove manufacturer George Cayme of Kingston who was mentioned in a lease dated 1753. In 1762 William was apprenticed to William Brett, a dowlas maker of Nether Compton. Later Brett moved to Yeovil where he was in partnership with a member of the Daniell family. The Brett / Daniell partnership was dissolved in 1778 at which time William Brett and William Cayme became partners, trading as Brett & Cayme.

On 1 June 1780, at St John's church, William married Mary Ann Brett, the daughter of his partner William Brett. William and Mary were to have three sons: Robert, Giles and Samuel

Although it is not known whereabouts in Kingston William Cayme actually lived, on 6 March 1793 he took out fire insurance with the Sun Fire Office on the Red Lion Inn - he was presumably the owner but it is not possible to tell if he lived there. He had earlier, on 9 January 1789, taken out fire insurance with the same company for a property in Thorne Coffin as well as for the Middle Street premises of 'William Brett and William Cayme, sail cloth and dowlas makers'.

In 1781 a deed recorded William Cayme as a sailcloth maker and the Universal British Directory of 1790 recorded his as a Sailcloth, Dowlas & Tick Manufacturer.

In the Land Tax Redemption Register of 1798 for the Tithing of Hendford, William Cayme, as the occupier of a property, was recorded as paying 1s 2¼d to the 'late' George Cayme, the owner of the property. William was also recorded on the same page as a proprietor of lands in the occupation of Widow Rodber (£1 0s 1d) and John Godsal (15s 1d).

William's brother was probably James Cayme the Elder, dowlas and ticking manufacturer of Grope Lane (today's Wine Street).

William later lived at Hendford Lodge in Hendford and is known to have had two sons, Robert and Giles (see below), who would take over their father's sailcloth business on his retirement.

Brett & Cayme, the partnership of William Brett and William Cayme, was a sailcloth manufacturing business trading in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In the same Land Tax Redemption Register of 1798 in the Borough of Yeovil William Cayme, as the occupier of a property, is recorded as paying £2 3s 2½d to William Brett, the property owner. William was also recorded paying 4s 6½d to Attkins's for another Yeovil Borough property and £2 1s 0d to Gabriel Baker for a third property. In 1799, in the same register, William, as occupier, was also recorded as paying 1s 4d to property owner Charles Trustrice. Both William Brett and William Cayme owned, at different times, the South Street property known as The Mill House.


This is a scarce copper halfpenny token from my collection issued in 1797 during the French Wars when another national shortage of currency occurred. It was produced for late eighteenth century sailcloth manufacturers Brett & Cayme of Yeovil. The obverse has script 'B&C' over 'YEOVIL' over 1797. The reverse featured a man working a large box weaving loom. It is 29mm in diameter and has a smooth edge.


William Cayme had married Mary Ann, one of the daughters of William Brett, and in his will dated 19 February 1799 William Brett left the bulk of his personal estate ".... unto my Son in Law William Cayme of Yeovill in the County of Somerset Lincloth Manufacturer....". By this time William Brett was aged 69 and had retired to Warminster, Wiltshire. He died shortly after writing his will (which was proved on 6 July 1799) and William Cayme became sole owner of the business at which time he took on his sons Robert and Giles as partners. William retired in 1811, leaving the business to be run by his sons.

In the edition of 8 June 1812 the Salisbury & Winchester Journal reported “The Society of Arts, &c. has been pleased to adjudge to Messrs Robert and Giles Cayme, (late Brett and Cayme, of Yeovil, Somersetshire,) their gold medal, for the manufacture of sail cloth, proper for the Royal Navy, and superior to the best Dutch.” The gold medal was presented by the Duke of York. Also in 1812 Robert and Giles were listed as Sailcloth Manufacturers in the Western Flying Post.

The brothers' partnership was dissolved in December 1813 as noted in the 11 January 1814 edition of the London Times.

Always a very religious man, in 1814 William  presided at first general meeting of the Somerset Auxiliary of the (London) Missionary Society in South Petherton. However in 1823 he became bankrupt.

William Cayme died on 28 September 1833, aged about 83. His obituary in the local press read as follows - "On Tuesday, Sept. the 28th, died William Cayme, Esq. of Yeovil. He was a man of intrinsic characteristic excellence, well known throughout the county in which he lived, and highly esteemed by a very extensive circle of Christian friends. Incorruptible integrity formed a prominent feature in his character; his disposition was frank, generous and kind; few men have equaled him in the discharge of relative obligations; he was a most sincere friend and a deckled Christian. For a long period he had been the respected Treasurer of the County Association (since its foundation) of the Somerset Missionary Society the duties of which offices be invariably discharged with fidelity and precision. His death is a public loss. He survived his partner only four months, and after an illness of five days terminated his mortal career, in the pleasing anticipation of being glorified together with Christ."



Samuel Cayme (bc 1779) was most likely a son of William Cayme although very little is known about him. He was initiated into the Yeovil Freemasonry Lodge of Brotherly Love in September 1818 at which time he stated his age as 39 and his occupation as a Sailcloth Manufacturer of Yeovil. His brother (?) Robert was the next initiate in the lodge on 30 September 1819, stating his age as 38 and his occupation as a Sailcloth Manufacturer of Yeovil.


Robert Cayme was born about 1780 in Yeovil. He married Abigail Glyde in Exeter, Devon in 1808. Abigail was born in Exeter in 1783, the daughter of Jonathan and Ann Glyde. Robert and Abigail's children's dates of birth and baptisms were all recorded in the Yeovil Nonconformist's Register of Births - Robert William (b 2 Apr 1812, bap 15 Nov), Ann (b 23 Jul 1813, bap 22 Aug), Elizabeth (b 12 Jul 1815, bap 8 Oct), William Glyde (b 4 Oct 1819, bap 2 Jun 1820) and Samuel George (b 26 Aug 1823, bap 26 Oct).

After the dissolution of his partnership with his brother Giles, by 1817 Robert had become a partner in the Ilchester Flax Mill Company. However Robert Cayme was declared a bankrupt in 1828 and the following year the Ilchester Flax Mill Company were unsuccessful in attempting to sell his share resulting in the sale of machinery the following year in order to clear his debt. It is possible that Robert Cayme spent some time in the Fleet Debtors' Prison since, according to the Fleet Prison Discharge Book, a prisoner named Robert Cayme was released on 7 June 1837.

In the 1841 census Robert and Abigail were listed living in Middle Street. Robert moved his family to Brixham, Devon, in the 1840s and by the 1860s was described as a railway proprietor. All three of his sons owned property in Pookmoor, Yeovil, where Thomas Horsey was tenant. Robert Cayme died in Totnes, Devon, in 1862, aged 82.


Very little is known about Giles Cayme but his children by his wife Mary Ann had their births and baptisms recorded in the Yeovil Nonconformist's Register of Births - Sarah (b 5 Jul 1807, bap 23 Aug), Emma (b 22 Mar 1812, bap 15 Nov), Lucy (b 8 Mar 1815, bap 6 Dec) and William (b 16 Sep 1820, bap 9 Nov). Giles Cayme died in 1831.


See Cayme Family Tree





The entry of Fryday 8 October 1762 in the Register of Duties Paid for Apprentices' Indentures listing William Cayme apprenticed to William Brett of Nether Compton, Dorsett, Dowlas Maker.


Hendford Lodge was was probably built for the Cayme family, certainly William Cayme was living there in 1807. It was demolished in 1973.


1832 Will of William Cayme


I William Cayme of Yeovil in the County of Somerset Glover being of sound and disposing mind memory and understanding do make publish and declare this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following that is to say I give devise and bequeath unto my mother Mary Ann Cayme All my real and personal estate whatsoever and wheresoever to hold to her and her heirs and assigns for ever subject to payment of my just debts funeral expenses and the charges for proving this my will whereof I appoint my said Mother sole Executrix In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this sixteenth day of October 1832

William Cayme

Signed sealed published and declared by the said William Cayme as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence of us who at his request in his presence and in the presence of each other have subscribed our names as witnesses thereto

Edwin Tomkins Sol(icitor) Yeovil      Joel Hardy      John Turner


Proved at London 20th April 1833 before the Judge by the Oath of Mary Ann Cayme Widow the Mother the sole Executrix to whom Admin(istration) was granted having been first sworn by Commission duly to administer.


Transcribed by Bob Osborn