Yeovil Trades & Traders

The milborne Family

Five Generations of Tailors


John Milborne (2) (1755-1827) was a tailor of Yeovil - the first of five generations of Yeovil tailors. He was the only known child of John Milborne (1) of Horsington (b1736) and Susanna née Clements (b1830) of Wincanton. John and Susannah were married in Wincanton in 1754.

John (2) married Yeovil-born Betty Taylor (1757-1837) and they were to have eight children; John (b1776), Robert (b1780), William (1) (1793, Frome -1863), Hannah (b1798, Bradford Abbas) and four other daughters whose dates are unknown - Betty, Mary, Susanna and Sarah. Certainly John (2) was a tailor in Wincanton in 1782 when he took on George Hurman (alias Ridout) as an apprentice and was still in Wincanton in 1804, when he took on William Hansford as an apprentice. However, it appears that John had also lived in Frome where his son William (1) was born and Bradford Abbas, Dorset, where his daughter Hannah was born. Finally he moved to Yeovil where he died in 1827. Betty died in 1837.

John and Betty's son, William Milborne (1) (1793-1863), was the third generation of the family to become a tailor, and was listed as such "of Vicarage Street" in Pigot's Directory of 1830. Born in Frome in 1793, he married Hannah Creese (1795-1860) in St John's church on 25 December 1813 and they set up home in Yeovil, where all seven of their children were born; John (3) (1815-1877), Elizabeth (1817-1867), Henry Creese (1825-1869), Jane (1829-1880), Sarah (b1831), William (1834-1915) and James (1837-1892).

John Milborne (3) was the fourth generation tailor of the Milborne family. He was born in 1815 in Yeovil. He was the eldest of the seven children of Yeovil tailor William and Hannah. In the spring of 1838, at St John's church, John married Elizabeth Bidder, who was born in Moreton Hamstead, Devon, around 1816. They were to have seven children, all born in Yeovil: Augusta (1839-1909), Sophia (b1840), William Bidder (1843-1907), Mary Jane (b1844), John (1846-1887), George Edward (b1850) and James Alfred (b1854). Their daughter Sophia was to marry John Hill, later coach builder of Hill's Coach Works.

In the Somerset Gazette Directory of 1840 John Milborne was listed as a tailor in Cattle Market (the early name for Princes Street) but by the 1841 census 26-year old John was listed as a tailor in Kingston, the census placing him several houses before the Duke of York. Living with him were Elizabeth, Augusta and Sophia, his sister Mary and a female domestic servant.

Hunt & Co's Directory of 1840 listed him as a tailor in the Borough which was confirmed by the 1851 census where he was listed as living in the Borough with Elizabeth and their first five children and a housemaid. In the census he described his occupation as "Tailor & Woollen Draper employing 8 men and 4 boys".

At this time however, Hendford continued along the western side of today's Princes Street as far as Park Road and the eastern side of today's Princes street was known as Borough as far as Church Street after which the eastern side became Kingston. Previously, of course, the whole of today's Princes Street was called Cattle Market - confused? So am I, but in general I think it's safe to say that Milborne's premises were in today's Princes Street close to High Street but it's difficult to say which side of the road. By 1852 Slater's Directory was listing John as a tailor and draper in Hendford.

However, the 1861 census made it clear for the first time where properties were located in Princes Street since the enumerator clearly listed from Park Street, down the western side of Princes Street to today's Westminster Street then returning back up the eastern side of Princes Street. Milborne's premises were next to the rear entrance of the Mermaid Hotel as seen in the photograph below. The census listed John as "Tailor &c employing 14 men and 2 boys". He lived in the accommodation above his shop with Elizabeth and five of their children. Son William, aged 18, was listed as a tailor.

The 1866 Post Office Directory listed John as a tailor and merchant in Princes Street and in the 1871 census John was listed as "Woolen Draper, Master, employing 15 men and 1 boy". He was living above his shop premises with Elizabeth, 18-year old James Alfred who was listed as a hosier, and a domestic servant. By 1875 the Post Office Directory was listing the business as John Milborne & Son, tailors, in Princes Street.

John Milborne 'late of Yeovil' died in Bath on 10 June 1877 and his will was proved at Taunton the following September. His effects were valued at 'less than £6,000' (around £560,000 at today's value). His widow, Elizabeth, stated on the 1881 census that she "derived her income from houses".

John's tailoring business was continued by his son, James Alfred Milborne, the fifth generation tailor of the Milborne family, who kept the name Milborne & Son as seen in his advertisement of 1878 below. It is likely that James, who preferred to be known as a 'Professor of Music' was not greatly concerned with the family business and, certainly by 1890, his older brother William Bidder Milborne, the second fifth generation tailor of the Milborne family, was advertising the business under his own name (see Gallery). Milborne & Son were listed as "Tailors and Breeches Makers" of 6 Princes Street in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser  of 1903. William died in Yeovil in 1907, the last of the family firm of Yeovil tailors.




This very early photograph, half of a stereoscopic picture, was taken about 1875 and looks along Princes Street from its junction with High Street. Just right of centre is seen the rear entrance to the Mermaid Hotel and Milborne's premises was the building between the Mermaid's porte cochére and the large, impressive Savings Bank building at right (somewhat less impressive today with its unsympathetic ground floor elevation and appalling pink paintwork). 


This advertisement was placed in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1878 by James Alfred Milborne following the death of his father, John.


This advertisement is from Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1890, showing that by this time the family business was being run by James.


Also from Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1890, this advertisement shows that James' elder brother William Bidder Milborne had an outlet further along Princes Street..