Yeovil people

william hooper masters

Glove Manufacturer


William Hooper Masters was born in Yeovil on 24 January 1804, the son of a merchant, also named William Hooper Masters, and Elizabeth née Anstice. His baptism on 29 February 1804 was recorded in the Yeovil Non-Conformist Register of Births. Edward Bullock Watts' map of 1806 shows that William and Elizabeth were living at South Street House (albeit not named as such on the map, although Masters' name is inscribed against the house and orchard behind it).

By the time of the Jury List in 1827 he was being described as a glover of Back Street (today's South Street). He was listed in the poll books of 1832, 1834 and 1846 as living in South Street and being listed by virtue of owning a freehold property in South Street. In Pigot's Directory of 1830 William was listed as a glove manufacturer of South Street and was similarly listed in the Somerset Gazette Directory of 1840 and Slater's Directory of 1852. He was also a member of Yeovil's Vestry.

In 1837 William Hooper Masters, Glove Manufacturer, was listed in a House of Commons Private Bill concerning Railway Subscription Projects, as an investor in the 'South Western, or Kingsworthy & West Monkton Railway', subscribing £3,500 (about £375,000 at today's value using the 'historic opportunity cost' of an investment project).

In the 1841 census William and his wife Ann, originally from Martock, were living in South Street They were recorded with their 10-year-old son listed as Lilly, but in fact was John Lilly, five-year-old Emily, three-year-old William and a female servant. William described his occupation as glove manufacturer.

The 1846 Tithe Apportionment noted that a 'House & Garden' (Parcel 374) and The Orchard (Parcel 375) - South Street House and the orchard behind it - were both owned and occupied by William. The house and garden measured 0a 2r 10p and the orchard measured 3a 0r 0p. He also owned Parcel 371, comprising the whole of the properties on the corner at the junction of Hendford and South Street including the Butcher's Arms. The Apportionment also noted that William owned and occupied a 'Gloving Yard & Garden' (Parcel 461). This was located in Frog Street (today's Addlewell Lane) on the corner of the lane leading to Victoria Buildings and shown on Watts' map of 1831 shown below. The 'Gloving Yard & Garden' measured 0a 1r 39p (for details on historic land measurement - ie acres, roods and perches - click here).

In 1851, William was noted as an investor in the South Western Railway Company.

William gave his occupation as 'Glove Manufacturer, employing 12 men & 4 boys' in the census of 1851. He was still living in South Street with Ann and their three sons; John aged 20 who described his occupation as 'Assistant in Manufactory' and the two younger sons William age 13 and Frederick age 6, both scholars, together with a house servant.

The 1861 census listed William and Ann in South Street with their two sons John and Frederick and a general servant. William listed his occupation as retired glove manufacturer while John, aged 30, listed his as 'late assistant to above' (ie his father) and Frederick, aged 16, was an attorney's clerk. The 1871 census listed just William and Ann, together with a general servant, in South Street. By this time William, who listed his occupation as retired glove manufacturer, was aged 67 and Ann was 66.

William Hooper Masters died at the age of 68 in the spring of 1872.


William Hooper Masters' signature against the Vestry minutes of 3 March 1831. 




Part of Edward Bullock Watts' map of 1831 showing Park Street running vertically down the centre of the map with Frog Street (Addlewell Lane) running parallel to it. At centre a lane turns towards Victoria Buildings at bottom right. William Hooper Masters' 'Gloving Yard & Garden' (here marked as Parcel 438) is at centre.


The 1886 Ordnance Survey map shows the extensive orchards owned by William, now covered by Petters Way and the car park. At this time access to the orchards was via a narrow track between South Street House, William's Home, and the Baptist chapel.


Land Holdings


These are the land holdings of William Hooper Masters as listed in the 1846 Tithe Apportionment. Parcel 371 'House & Garden' was the corner plot at the junction of South Street and Hendford and included all the buildings including the Butcher's Arms.






Masters, William Hooper

Hill, Robert


House, Garden & Orchard

Masters, William Hooper

Raymond, George


House & Garden (Butcher's Arms)

Masters, William Hooper

Masters, William Hooper


House & Garden (South St Ho)

Masters, William Hooper

Masters, William Hooper


The Orchard

Masters, William Hooper

Masters, William Hooper


Gloving Yard & Garden

Masters, William Hooper

Barrett, John


Rustywell Close

Masters, William Hooper

Squire, James


Under Gage Hill





William's home, South Street House at 79 South Street. The site is now occupied by the entrance to Petters Way and the Petters Way car park adjoining South Street. The railings at left belong to the Baptist Church and at the time of this photograph a narrow lane ran between South Street House and the church, leading originally to William's extensive orchards.