yeovil people

henry jesty

Town Crier, Bill Poster, Hall Keeper & Mace Bearer


John Jesty was a carpenter, born in Yeovil in 1826. In 1847 he married Mary Hannah Saint, some four years his senior, at Yeovil and they were to have at least six children; John (b 1847), Sarah (b 1850), Thomas (1852-1904), Henry (b 1854), Caroline (b1857) and Herbert (1859-1896).

In the 1851 census John and Mary were listed living in Park Street, he as a carpenter, she as a glover, with three-year old John and 4-month old Sarah.

In the 1861 census the family, with all six children, was living at Coalpaxy Lane which was the name for Sparrow Lane at the time. However, although 36-year old John is listed as married, there is no sign of Mary. I couldn't find a death record for her either.

Nevertheless, in the winter of 1861 John married Jane Mutter at Yeovil.

John and Mary's son, Henry, in the meantime had got a job as the hall-keeper of the Town Hall that had opened in 1849. Henry was also the keeper of the Corn Exchange, the Meat Market and the Cheese Market behind the Town Hall, the whole complex extending from High Street all the way to South Street.

In the summer of 1876 Henry married Eliza Ann Brooks at Yeovil and in the 1881 census Henry and Eliza, together with 4-year old Ada and 10-month old John, were living at 45 Queen Street. Henry listed his occupation as Hall Keeper. His advertisement in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of this year, shown below, also listed him as Town Crier and a Bill Poster. In his role as Town Crier he was also the Town's official Mace Bearer and as such attended almost all official functions in Yeovil from this time onwards. He is shown in his official role in several photographs below.

In 1883 Henry and Eliza had a daughter Florence Elizabeth, but sadly Eliza died in the summer of 1886, aged just 36. In the summer of 1888 Henry married Mary Elizabeth Dominey of East Coker, at Yeovil. The 1891 census listed Henry, Mary and the three children at 4 South Street - this was purchased by the Town Council as the official residence of the Hall Keeper and is photographed below. In this census Henry listed his occupation as 'Hall Keeper & Bill Poster'.

The 1901 census listed just Henry and Mary at 4 South Street and Henry gave his occupation as 'Hall keeper for Corporation'. In the 1911 census Henry, Mary and Henry's 28-year old daughter Florence were still living at the Hall Keeper's house at 4 South Street. Henry again listed his occupation as 'Hall Keeper (for Corporation)'.

Mary died in Yeovil in the autumn of 1921 aged 61 and Henry died in Yeovil in the autumn of 1927, aged 73, sadly by committing suicide. He was found in an ante-room of the Town Hall with a length of rubber tubing in his mouth, and this was connected with a gas jet fully turned on - full report in the Gallery below (thanks to Mary Dominey for informing me)..




Henry Jesty's advertisement in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1881.


Henry Jesty's advertisement in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1882.


This photograph of the 1960s shows the Cheese Market building as converted to Yeovil's fire station at right. The house at left had been the Hall Keeper's house. The Hall Keeper was responsible for the Town Hall, Cheese Market, the Meat Market and the Corn Exchange. From the 1880s until his death in 1927 this was the residence of Henry Jesty - Hall Keeper, Town Crier, Mace Bearer and Bill Poster.


Henry Jesty's advertisement in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1886.


Henry Jesty's advertisement in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1888.


Courtesy of Olly Ewens

This photograph is from a 1952 newspaper article and was taken on the occasion of the opening of Sidney Gardens in June 1898. The group, photographed with the Mayor, Mr John Vincent, has as its background the thatched bandstand given by Mr James Bazeley Petter to mark the opening. Standing (left to right) are: - E Benson, W Summers, J Kerby Whitby, Mr Brown, William Maynard, GH Gould, Edward Samuel Ewens, Henry Jesty (mace-bearer), William W Johnson, Charles J Hook, John Bazeley Petter (donor), W Armitage (Borough Surveyor), John Howe Farley, Walter J Nosworthy, William Beale Collins, Charles Fox. Sitting - Levi Beer, CW Pittard, Sidney Watts, Mrs Vincent, John Vincent (Mayor), Joseph Chaffey Moore, William Cox.


A colourised photograph of the presentation of the Sidney Gardens fountain on 24 May 1899. You'd have thought at least one of 'em could have raised a slight smile. Henry Jesty is No 8 on the sketch below.

So, who was who? Unfortunately only some of the gathering are known, these are as follows -
1 Cllr GH Gould, 2 Cllr Edward Samuel Ewens, 4 Cllr WW Johnson, 5 G Gawler, 6 Cllr James Bazeley Petter, 7 WG Armytage (Borough Surveyor), 8 Henry Jesty (Mace Bearer), 9 Cllr Charles Hook, 10 JK Whitby, 11 Cllr HF Raymond, 14 William Maynard, 15 Alderman Sidney Watts, 16 Miss Watts, 17 Miss Vincent, 18 Mrs Vincent, 20 Alderman W Cox, 22 Mayor John Vincent, 23 Alderman Joseph Chaffey Moore, 24 Cllr Charles Wreford Pittard, 25 Henry Butler Batten (Town Clerk), 26 JH Farley (who donated the fountain), 27 Ebenezer Pittard, 29 WB Collins.


John Burns MP (centre) performing the opening ceremony of Yeovil's first 50 council houses at New Town in January 1912. John Boll, in his role as mayor, is at right and mace-bearer Henry Jesty at left.


Photographed on 19 July 1919, designated 'Peace Day' throughout Britain and the Empire, Yeovil's thanksgiving service was held in Wyndham Fields. At centre, in his canonicals, is Rev Herbert Cecil Sydenham, the Vicar of Yeovil, next to him in mayoral regalia is mayor William RE Mitchelmore, dubbed the 'Peace Mayor', and at far right is Mace Bearer Henry Jesty. In the foreground, facing the camera, is Salvation Army Band Master WH Bicknell (thanks to Ron Hilborne for identifying him).


The report on Henry Jesty's suicide in the 30 September 1927 edition of the Western Gazette.