Yeovil People

The Geake Family

A Family of Cabinet Makers & Upholsterers


It appears that the Geake family, originally from Launceston, Cornwall, were mostly either cabinet makers or upholsterers or both. Thomas Geake (1771-1852) was a cabinet maker and upholsterer of High Street, Launceston. Thomas and his wife Mary née Lane (1770-1850) had six sons and two daughters, most of whom appear to have moved to Yeovil, as follows:

William Geake (1795-1861) was a cabinet maker of Launceston. He married Amelia Brookman (1796-1861) in Camden, Middlesex, in 1820. They were to have three sons and three daughters. Their eldest son, William Henry Geake, was born in Holborn, Middlesex, in 1822. Certainly by the time of the 1851 census, William Henry and his first wife Jane née Handover (1825, Ilchester -1851) were living in Middle Street and William gave his occupation as a cabinet maker. Sadly, Jane died in 1851, aged just 25, and in 1853 William married her elder sister Elizabeth (1823, Ilchester - 1872). In the 1861 census William and Elizabeth were listed in Back Kingston (today's Higher Kingston) and again William gave his occupation as a cabinet maker. William Henry Geake died in Yeovil in 1869, aged 46. William and Amelia's second son, Thomas Robert Geake was born in Launceston in 1832. He worked as a cabinet maker in Yeovil. He married Sarah West and, after her death, his second wife was Mary Anne. After Thomas' death in Yeovil in 1880, Mary Anne Geake worked as an upholsterer.

Thomas Geake (1797-1861) was a cabinet maker of Launceston but had moved to Yeovil by 1828 when his son died in Yeovil. The Western Times, in its edition of 23 May 1829, reported "A man named Wm Normacott... was killed at Yeovil on Wednesday last, by the breaking of a beam over a workshop, in which he, with 7 other men were at work, in the employ of Mr Geake, cabinet maker." Thomas was soon working with his brother Robert, initially in the Borough in premises described in the Western Flying Post as one of "Two messuages or dwellinghouses, situate in the Market Place (that is, the Borough) of Yeovil, with the Offices, Stables and gardens thereto belonging... in the occupation of Messrs R and T Geake". They then worked in Hendford in the firm of 'Robert Geake and Thomas Geake' and Pigot's Directory of 1930 listed 'Robert & Thomas Geake, upholsterers of Hendford'. In the 12 February 1838 edition of the Western Flying Post, it was announced that firm of 'Robert Geake and Thomas Geake' was dissolved by mutual consent, and that the businesses would be carried on separately in Yeovil.

Thomas had married Mary Horwell (bc1801), they were both non-conformists and had at least two sons; Thomas (b1823, Tavistock) and a son known only by the initials H.W.H. (b1828) who died in Yeovil "after a long and painful illness, aged 15" in February 1843. Thomas and Mary also had two daughters; Mary Ann (b1829) and Jane (b1831).

It would appear that Thomas's premises were in the 'newly-built' Waterloo Road (today's Waterloo Lane). From a notice of property sales listed in the 2 March 1839 edition of the Somerset County Gazette, one of the properties for sale was in Waterloo Road and was listed as "and the premises of Mr Thomas Geake on the other side".  'Thomas Geake & Co (of Yeovil)' advertised the opening of a new branch shop at Greenhill, Sherborne, in the 15 April 1839 edition of the Western Flying Post. Thomas was recorded in the Somerset Gazette Directory of 1841 as an upholsterer of Middle Street. In November 1841, the Middle Street premises in which he was a tenant were offered for sale and described as "Dwelling house with Front Shop, Court, large Workshop and other Outhouses thereto adjoining and belonging, situate in Middle Street, in Yeovil, and occupied by Mr Thomas Geake, cabinet maker." With the success of his Sherborne premises in Greenhill, Thomas sold up in Yeovil and moved permanently to premises in Cheap Street, Sherborne in 1843, where he continued working as an upholsterer and died there in 1861.

Robert Geake (c1802-1877) was born in Launceston around 1802 but was living in Yeovil before 1827, when he married Mary Ann Goodland in Yeovil. Robert was working with his brother Thomas as an upholsterer in the Borough and then in Hendford (see above). However, Robert's home and premises were actually in today's Princes Street, on the western side opposite Church Street, since at this time the western side of Princes Street from the corner of today's Westminster Street as far as Park Road, was in the manor of Hendford and therefore went by that name. After the split from his brother, he was recorded in the Somerset Gazette Directory of 1840 as an upholsterer of Cattle Market (today's Princes Street) but he was recorded as an upholsterer of Hendford in the 1841 census, together with his wife Mary, sister Mary and Henry Bracher - his 11-year-old nephew. During the late 1840s Robert was the local agent for the Royal Victoria Felt Carpeting Company. Robert was listed as an upholsterer and cabinet maker of Princes Street in the Post Office Directory editions of both 1866 and 1875. On 1 June 1869, at St James' church, Southampton, Robert married his niece Anne Bracher (b1833) - Henry Bracher's younger sister and only daughter of Henry Bracher Snr. In the 1871 census 67-year-old Robert was living in Princes Street with his 38-year-old wife Anne (Robert's premises were demolished in 1887 and replaced by the new Assembly Rooms). Robert gave his occupation as 'Upholsterer & Cabinet Maker employing 16 men and 6 boys". Robert died in Yeovil in 1877, and his business was taken over by Henry Bracher - who had been the 11-year-old living with the Geakes in 1841. Although in his advert of 1882 Lewis Geake (see below) stated he was the 'nephew of the late R Geake' I couldn't link Lewis' father Edward to Robert.

The next brother, Edward (b1801), was recorded as a farmer in St Germans, Cornwall in the 1841 census. Since Lewis Geake's father Edward was recorded living in Preston Road, Yeovil, in 1841, there were clearly two Edwards. However, I couldn't find another Robert, so it remains a mystery.

Nothing is known of the next brother Henry (b1804), and there were two sisters, Honor (b1808) and Mary (1811-1872).


Lewis Edward Geake was born in Yeovil during the summer of 1846 and baptised at Holy Trinity on 21 March 1847. He was the son of cabinet maker Edward Geake (c1810-1849) and Anna née Lewis (1817-1896) of Preston Road, Yeovil. Although Edward was not born in Somerset, he and Anna were married in Yeovil in January 1840 and were to have four children, all born in Yeovil; Mary (1841, Kingston -1915), Anna Maria (1843-1848), Honor (b1845, Belmont) and Lewis. When Lewis was aged three, his father died in Yeovil and from this time Lewis, who remained unmarried, lived with his mother. Both mother and son worked as upholsterers.

In the 1851 census, Anna and her three surviving children were listed living in Belmont (where Honor had been born in 1845), together with five lodgers. 32-year-old widowed Anna gave her occupation as an upholsterer. The details of the family recorded in the 1861 census were almost identical; Anna and 19-year-old Mary were both listed as upholsterers, 15-year-old Honor was a leather glove sewer and 14-year-old Lewis was a scholar. Also living with them was Anne's 14-year-old niece, Maria. By the time of the 1871 census, the daughters had left home and Lewis and his mother Anne had moved to Kingston. Both gave their occupations as upholsterers. During the late 1870s, Lewis and his mother moved to 10 South Street (next door, to the east, of the Greyhound Hotel - see Gallery). Anna died in Yeovil in 1896, and in the 1901 census 55-year-old Lewis was listed as an upholsterer at 10 South Street and living with him was his 57-year-old widowed sister Mary Hamblen and her four children. Lewis Edward Geake died in Yeovil during the late summer of 1919. He was aged 72.


For the Geake family tree - click here




An advertisement for staff placed in the 20 August1830 edition of the Western Flying Post by Robert and Thomas Geake.


The notice of the dissolution of the partnership between Robert and Thomas Geake, placed in the 12 February 1838 edition of the Western Flying Post.


Following the break-up of the partnership with his brother, Thomas opened new branch premises in Sherborne, as advertised in this notice placed in the 15 April 1839 edition of the  Western Flying Post.


With the success of his Sherborne branch premises, Thomas decided to sell up in Waterloo Road, Yeovil, and move permanently to Sherborne. This notice was placed in the 26 August 1843 edition of the Western Flying Post.


Robert Geake's advertisement in the 20 March 1860 edition of the Western Flying Post.


... and a Robert Geake advertisement from 1875.


The record of Lewis Geake's baptism of 21 March 1847 at Holy Trinity.


Lewis Geake's advertisement in the 1882 edition of Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser.


A 1928 aerial photograph showing the spanking new King George Street. At top left is the old Cheese Market, converted in 1913 to the fire engine house and next to it the Council offices facing the new road - note the absence of the post office, bank, etc. on the other side though! The old thatched Greyhound Inn building still stood at this time and, next to it, the western half of the tiny building was the home and premises of Lewis Geake from the late 1870s.