Yeovil Trades & Traders

Charles Cowle

Chemist of Middle Street


Charles Cowle was born on 6 October 1875 at Winkleigh, Devon, one of the fifteen children of farmer John Cowle (1832-1889) and Mary Grace née Hellyar (1839-1924). John and Mary's children were; Louisa (1860-1936), John (1862-1924), Clara (b1865), William (b1866), Herbert (b1867), Ella (b1868), Selina (b1869), Florence (b1870), Madeline (b1871), Simon (b1873), Cecilia (b1875), Charles, Dora (b1877), Ernest (b1879), Eleanor (b1880), Evelyn and Rosamond Edith (b1883).

The 1881 census recorded the family at Higher Bransgrove, Winkleigh. John gave his occupation as a farmer of 400 acres employing five agricultural labourers. Five-year old Charles was recorded as a scholar. The 1891 census recorded Charles as a 14-year old boarder at the Rock Hill Academy, Chulmleigh, Devon.

By 1901, Charles had moved to Broad Street, Seaford, Sussex, where he was boarding with his employer, pharmaceutical chemist Lauchlan Cameron. Charles gave his occupation as a chemist's assistant.

By the time of the 1911 census, taken on the night of 2-3 April, Charles had returned to Winkleigh, where he briefly stayed with his widowed mother and his 28-year old sister Rosamond. Charles, now aged 35, gave his occupation as a chemist's shop assistant. He became a member of the Pharmaceutical Society (which didn't become the Royal Pharmaceutical Society until 1988).

By June 1911, Charles had moved to Yeovil where he bought the shop of chemist James Francis at 26 Middle Street at the beginning of June (see notice below).

In 1912, at Otterton, Deon, Charles married Maud Sellick (1881-1961). Maud was the daughter of farmer William Sellick and his wife Sarah, of South Farm, Otterton. Charles and Maud lived above the shop premises. They were not to have children.

The 1939 England and Wales Register, a kind of census leading up to the Second World War, noted that 64-year old Charles was a retail chemist and was living with Maud at 3 The Park. Charles died in Yeovil in 1944. He was 68 years old. Maud died in 1961, aged 80.




Charles Cowle's notice placed in the 2 June 1911 edition of the Western Gazette, informing the public of his purchase of James Francis' chemists business in Middle Street.


Charles' advertisement for 'Effervescent Grape Saline' from the Western Chronicle's edition of 23 August 1912.


Charles' advertisement for 'Ammoniated Essence of Cinnamon and Quinine' from the Western Chronicle's edition of 4 December 1914.


From my collection

A Kodak film wallet, dating to around 1915 and featuring 'the Kodak Girl'. As snapshot photography became more popular, people began to take their film to photo finishers, such as the local photographer or local chemist, for developing and printing rather than sending it away to Kodak or doing it themselves. Film wallets were the most popular receptacle for delivering and storing prints and negatives.


Charles' advertisement from the Western Chronicle's edition of 2 March 1923.