yeovil people

Albert Edwards

Draper of High Street


Albert Edwards was actually born Albert Edward Alcock in Preston Bissett, a small hamlet in Buckinghamshire, in October 1832 and baptised there on 9 October 1832. He was the son of farmer Arlent Allcock (b 1796) and his wife Sarah (b 1801). In the 1841 census Arlent and Sarah were listed living at Thornborough, Buckinghamshire with their children Arlent Jnr (b 1823), James (b 1826), Austin (b 1829), Sarah Ann (b 1830), 8-year old Albert, Charles (b 1835), Anne (b 1838) and 3-month old Hannah. By 1851 Albert had left home and was lodging in Wolverton, Buckinghamshire, but his trade is illegible in the census.

In the summer of 1855 Albert married Jane Lott (b 1834) probably at Stockland Bristol (a hamlet near Bridgwater), but certainly in the Bridgwater registration district. She was the daughter of fisherman Samuel Lott (b 1807) of Stockland Bristol and his wife Sarah (b 1811). At the time of his marriage Albert used his full name of Albert Edwards Alcock.

Albert and Jane moved to Yeovil where, in May 1856, Albert took over the draper's stock and business of Joseph Penny at Alma House, immediately next door to the Mermaid Hotel in High Street.

On the night of the 1861 census 28-year old Albert was visiting his widowed mother and siblings back at Thornborough, Buckinghamshire. Visiting with him was his father-in-law Samuel Lott and his 18-year old brother-in-law Isaak Lott. Both Albert and Isaak gave their occupations as drapers. For the first time (in the records at least) Albert gave his name as Albert Edwards rather than Albert Alcock - what caused the name change is unknown. Interestingly, Albert's mother was described as a "Farmer of  222 acres employing 6 men and 4 boys" obviously assisted by her sons Arlent and Charles. In the meantime Jane and baby daughter Emily were listed at Alma House, together with Jane's sister-in-law Ann who was an assistant in the shop. Also resident were two draper's apprentices, a further shop assistant and two domestic servants.

Albert was only listed twice in Yeovil trade directories, firstly as a Linen Draper of High Street in the 1866 Post Office Directory and secondly as a "Tailor & Linen & Woollen Draper of High Street" in the Post Office Directory of 1875.

By the time of the 1871 census Albert and Jane, aged 38 and 37 respectively, were living in Kingston, close to Fiveways, with their children Albert Lott (b 1856), Emily Lott (b 1860), Samuel W (b 1863), Frank F (b 1865), Jane G (b 1869) and one month-old Charles H. Also living with them were Albert's sister Annie, a monthly nurse and two domestic servants. Albert listed his occupation as "Draper employing 10 hands" one of whom would have been his 32-year old unmarried sister Annie who gave her occupation as a Draper's Assistant.

In October 1873 Albert moved his retail outlet by acquiring 8 High Street (today the premises of Clement White). These premises had been the drapery of Benjamin Ryall at least since 1831, and then run by his son John until the latter's retirement in 1873. It is most likely that at this time Alma House was taken over by draper Benjamin Penny.

In the summer of 1879 Jane died, aged 45, and in the 1881 census 48-year old Albert was living above the shop at 8 High Street with six of his children, a milliner, five draper's assistants, a cook, a nurse and a housemaid. Albert gave his occupation as 'Draper & Valuer' and his eldest son Albert was also listed as a draper.

Albert, a member of Yeovil Town Council, was a 'Licensed Valuer of Drapery Stocks' and consequently travelled a lot throughout the district valuing the stock of other drapers who might be going out of business, especially those who had experienced fires and their stock was consequently water-damaged. Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, Albert frequently purchased such stock from the insurers or the drapers themselves and he would then sell the stock at greatly reduced prices - many of his advertisements placed in local newspapers over a period of some twenty years were for the retail of such stock from his premises.

In Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1882 Albert Edwards & Co were also listed as Funeral Directors of High Street.

Albert Edwards committed suicide in Yeovil in September of 1886 aged 53. He left his house on Wednesday 15 September 1886, saying he was going out on a matter of business. When he did not return, a search of the local area was made with local pits and ponds in the area being dragged. Over week later, on Friday 24 September, a boat was put in a fenced-off pond in the field called Noble's Nap, off Marsh Lane, and the pond was dragged. Edward's body had been caught up in underwater brambles, but was brought to the surface. The inquest was carried out in the Mermaid Hotel on Saturday 25 September with the jury making a visit to the hospital to view the body, before returning to the Mermaid Hotel.

It seems that his children did not continue the business and in 1888 Benjamin Penny was advertising his 'New Combination Funeral Carriage' for hire from Alma House.




A double notice placed in the 13 May 1856 edition of the Western Flying Post by both the outgoing Joseph Penny and the incoming Albert Edwards.


A typical Albert Edward advertisement, placed in the 22 December 1857 edition of the Western Flying Post. Albert would advertise very regularly throughout his occupation of Alma House.


Albert Edward's advertisement in the 30 June 1865 edition of the Western Gazette.


An Edwardian postcard showing Alma House at centre, for many years the draper's shop of Albert Edwards.


This announcement in the Western Gazette's edition of 17 October 1873 records the transfer of John Ryall's premises (today's Clement White premises) to Albert Edwards as his new outlet in High Street.


This sketch, made by GE Madeley to illustrate his map of Yeovil of 1831, shows the Borough seen from High Street - roughly the view seen today from the north end of King George Street. The Shambles is to the left and the Market House is to the right. The buildings at far left still stand today, that to the left is Clement White's shop, today's 8 High Street, at this time occupied by draper Benjamin Ryall whose name appears above the door. This was Albert Edwards' second premises, acquired from Benjamin Ryall's son, John, in 1873.


Albert's advertisement in the 1878 edition of Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser.


.... and his advertisement from Whitby's 1882 edition.


.... and finally his advertisement from Whitby's edition of 1886 - the year of Albert's death.


The report of Albert Edward's suicide from the 1 October 1886 edition of the Western Gazette.