The history of yeovil

The municipal borough of yeovil 

The end of medieval administration


"The Special Commissioners for improving the town of Yeovil became fidgetty; the Town Commissioners of Yeovil were either careless or not perfectly satisfied with their position, and, as their clerk stated, did not many of them attend to their duties, so that the ancient corporation of Portreeve and Burgesses became almost a myth, and its various bodies of Town Commissioners and Special Commissioners a confusion. Our friends the lawyers began to say something ought to be done, and that was enough forsooth to get rid, once and for ever, of all these separate and sometimes conflicting bodies." (Vickery, 1856)

In truth, while progress in the town seemed steady, if somewhat slow, the powers of the Town Commissioners were still not adequate for a modern, growing town. Consequently they sought to present a Bill to Parliament in order to create a municipal borough. The Act was passed on 3 July 1854 and as a result a burgess roll was drawn up by John Ryall Mayo of householders rated for three years for the relief of the poor. There were only 261 people eligible to vote in this first municipal election in Yeovil, of whom 178 voted for the 88 standing candidates and elected the following Councillors -

Name Occupation Votes
W Bide Glove Manufacturer 168
JR Mayo Gentleman 155
HB Phelps Glove Manufacturer 136
E Whitby Jr. Glove Manufacturer 125
F Greenham Gentleman 107
J Hannam Ironmonger 103
T Dampier Gentleman 72
G Wadman Draper 68
J Glyde Jr. Gentleman 67
G Edwards Draper 58
T Fooks Glove Manufacturer 54
E Raymond Glove Manufacturer 54

Of these new Councillors, seven had been Improvement Commissioners and one was a former member of the old Corporation. John Ryall Mayo was elected as the town's first Mayor and John Batten was appointed Town Clerk. The town's last Portreeve, draper Benjamin Ryall, handed over the Corporation seal and mace thereby ending over eight hundred years of medieval government.