Yeovil Trades & Traders

henry charles little

Gunsmith of Silver Street


Henry Charles Little was born in Chilthorne Domer, just north of Yeovil, in 1835. He was the son of shop-keeper Charles Little (1808-1893) and his wife Rebecca (1806-1889).

Henry was an apprentice of, or an assistant to, blacksmith Isaac Harding of Church Street, Ilchester and in the summer of 1859 Henry married Isaac's daughter Susan, who was born at Ilchester in 1836. Henry and Susan were to have four children; Susan (b 1860), Bessie Augusta (b 1861), Alicia K (b 1862) and Ernest Henry (b 1879).

In 1850 Henry established his business making and selling guns and in the 1861 census he was listed living in Chilthorne Street, Chilthorne Domer, with Susan and their 7-month old daughter Bessie Augusta. 25-year old Henry listed his occupation as "Black and Gun Smith".

By 1871 he had relocated his business to the house in Silver Street next door to the Pall Inn where he also lived with Susan and their daughters Bessie aged 10 and 8-year old Alicia Kate. Henry's occupation was given as "Gunsmith employing 2 boys". The Post Office Directory of 1875 listed Henry as a 'Gunsmith & Ironmonger of Silver Street'.

In the 1881 census Henry and Susan were living in the same house with their three children, Bessie, Alicia and Ernest and a general domestic servant. Henry gave his occupation as "Gunsmith employing 1 man and 2 boys". Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1882 listed Henry as a Gunsmith and in the same edition Henry also placed the advertisement illustrated below. He was also listed in Whitby's editions of 1889 and 1895 but in the 1898 edition of Whitby's the entry read 'HC Little & Son, 14 Silver Street'. Henry and his son Ernest were partners in the business from this point onwards.

By 1891 Bessie had moved out and Henry and Susan were living with Alicia, Ernest and a domestic servant. Henry's occupation was given as Gunmaker.

In the 1901 census Henry listed his occupation as "Gunsmith & Ironmonger". He and Susan were still living at the same address with Alicia, now aged 38 and still single, and Henry's cousin Sarah Hollgrove. Henry was also listed in 1901 and 1903 as the caretaker of the Corporation Weighing Machine in Silver Street. In the 1901 census Ernest, together with his wife Eva, was listed at 9 South Western Terrace. Ernest gave his occupation as Gunsmith and noted that he was a partner in the firm. Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1903 listed HC Little & Son not only as Gunmakers but also as Agents for the Allen Line - an early form of travel agent.

Whitby's edition of 1911 listed HC Little & Son as Gunmakers while Kelly's Directory of 1919 listed them simply as Ironmongers.

Henry died in 1924 aged 89. Clearly Ernest carried on the business on his own and Kelly's Directory of 1935 was the last listing for the business - 'Henry Charles Little & Son, Gunmakers of 14 Silver Street'.




Henry Little's advertisement in several editions of Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser.


Henry Little's advertisement in the 18 August 1893 edition of the Western Gazette.


This postcard dates to around 1900. Henry Little's gun shop cum ironmongery was the three-storey, single-bay bow fronted building adorned with buckets and other ironmongery paraphernalia, next to the Pall Tavern (in naked brickwork!).


Pretty much the same scene, photographed in 2013.


.... and not just guns. The head of a gloving donkey either made by, or sold by, Henry Little.


The following are three photographs of a shotgun made by Henry Little & Son. It is a 12-bore boxlock side-by-side shotgun with double triggers and a straight hand walnut stock with a grooved horn butt plate. The action, top lever, tang and trigger guard are decorated with acanthus scroll engraving. 30" nitro proof steel barrels with 2½" chambers.