Yeovil people

Francis Hubert Crocker

Carpenter, Joiner and Photographer



Francis Hubert Crocker was born in Yeovil on 23 February 1882 and baptised at Melcombe Regis, Dorset, on 11 October 1882 with his older brother William Henry Down (b1880). He was the son of Yeovil corn dealer (and money lender) William Henry Down Crocker (1830-1886) and herbalist Cleopatra Malvina Robina née Colmer (1846-1920).

Francis' grandfather was none other than Robert Slade Colmer (1816-1889) - herbalist, paedophile (got off on that one), back-street abortionist, tried for manslaughter, a bankrupt, an adulterer and - oh yes, a murderer! (an all-round 'bit of a lad') and his wife, herbalist and co-murderer Jane née Allen (1818-1891). Both Robert and Jane were found guilty of murder, sentenced to death, reprieved and imprisoned for life. Robert Colmer died in prison in 1889, when Francis was aged 7. Jane, however, was somewhat luckier than her husband and was released from prison. In the 1891 census she was 'living on her own means' at 5 Peter Street with her herbalist daughter, Cleopatra and grandson Francis. Jane died later that year, aged 76.

Francis Hubert Crocker was born in Yeovil in 1882, the son of corn merchant (and money lender - see Gallery) William Henry Down Crocker (1830-1886) and Cleopatra Malvina Robina née Colmer (1846-1920), the daughter of Robert and Jane Colmer, the infamous Yeovil murderers.

In any event, by 1891 Cleopatra was a widow of some five years and was listed in the census living at 5 Peter Street with her widowed mother, sister Amanda and two children; Francis aged 9 and 6-year-old Louise. Both Cleopatra and Amanda listed their occupation as herbalist while their mother, Jane, was living on her own means. In July 1891 Cleopatra, by now aged 44, married 66-year old Thomas Thorne.

In 1899 Thomas Thorne was listed as the licensee of the  Victoria Inn in Huish in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser. In the 1901 census ,at the age of 76, Thomas was listed as innkeeper. Living with him was Cleopatra, now aged 54, and her children were listed as Thomas' step-children - Francis, now aged 19, was a butter factor's clerk and his sister, 16-year old Louise, was a dressmaker's apprentice. Also resident was Amanda, the medicine vendor. Thomas died in the early spring of 1903 and Cleopatra became licensee of the Victoria Inn for a few years - she was listed as licensee in Whitby's 1904 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser. In the 1911 census Cleopatra was back at 5 Peter Street, which had presumably been owned by her mother and was now hers. She was living alone on 'private means'. Cleopatra later left Yeovil and she died in 1920 at Aston Warwickshire.

Meanwhile, on 1 November 1909, Francis married Mary Ann Pinney (1879-1941) at Holy Trinity church. They were to have two children; Blanche Evelyn (b1908) and William (b1914). By the time of the 1911 census he gave his occupation as a carpenter and joiner. In its edition of Friday 29 March 1912, the Western Gazette reported that Francis H Crocker, of 7 Peter Street, was summoned at a special sitting of the Borough Magistrates at the Police Court, for non-payment of rates amounting to £3 10s 6d (around £370 at today's value). It was reported that "In regard to to the case of Francis Crocker, defendant stated that trade had been so bad that he had been utterly unable to find the money".

Concerning Francis Crocker's photographic career
In his money lending advertisement of 1881, Francis' father William Crocker gave his address as 55 Middle Street. Now, it may just be a coincidence, but when William Sherrell opened his photographic studio at the Post Office at 55 Middle Street in 1894, he stated it was suitable for any weather, emphasising that the use of artificial lighting for studio portraits was almost unheard of at that time. Grace Cumming had taken over the studio, as early as 1907 as shown by a listing in Collins' Yeovil Directory. An advertisement in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1912 read - "The Studio, 55 Middle Street. Grace Cumming, Photographic Artist. Portraits in every size and process. Moderate charges. Children's portraits a Speciality". Grace left Yeovil and died in Reading in 1913, age 50. My conjecture is that after Grace left, Francis (bearing in mind his father's connection with 55 Middle Street) may have briefly dabbled with photography in this studio for a few months, before Walter Rendell moved in during 1913.

In any event, Francis was listed in Kelly's Directory of 1914 as a photographer of 7 Peter Street - his only listing. However, in November 1914 he ended his photography career when he enlisted and served throughout the Great War in the Royal Field Artillery as a driver, rising to the rank of Sergeant. He served in Egypt from 1914. He was then transferred to the Labour Corps.

Francis Crocker died of tuberculosis on 11 October 1921 in Birmingham, age 39.




This advertisement from the Western Gazette's edition of 8 July 1881, shows that as well as being a corn dealer, Francis' father William Crocker was a money lender.


The entries of the baptisms of brothers William Henry Down and Francis Hubert on 11 October 1882, from the parish register of Melcombe Regis, Dorset (although their place of residence was given as Yeovil).


One of the very few known photographs by Francis Crocker, produced as a postcard.