Yeovil people

elias whitby snr

Glove Manufacturer & Wool Dealer


Elias Whitby was born in Yeovil in 1783, the son of John Whitby, or Whibby, (1755-1799) and Hannah née Taylor. He was baptised at St John's church on 25 October 1783. However, Elias Whitby became a Baptist and was baptised in 1805, at the age of 22, and became a Deacon in 1808. On 2 April 1809 he married Anna, or Hannah, Hooper and they were to have six children; Elias Jnr born 1810, John born 1811, James Hooper born 1813, Ebenezer born 1815, Joseph born 1817 and a daughter born 1819.

In 1827, while building work on the new Baptist Chapel was in progress, the church congregation gathered for worship in a building owned by Messrs W & E Whitby in Frost's Yard at the corner of Vicarage Street and Middle Street. Monthly church meetings took place as usual in Elias Whitby's kitchen in Middle Street. In 1834 Messrs W & E Whitby were listed as subscribers to William Hull’s “History of the Glove Trade”.

He became a successful Baptist preacher and and preached the Gospel in neighbouring villages. He was a member of Yeovil's Vestry and became a Town Commissioner in 1830 as did his brother John in 1846. Elias and Hannah lived at Townsend, or London Road, and Elias is listed in the 1832 and 1834 Poll Books by virtue of owning freehold house in Vicarage Street.

During 1837 Elias was one of the founders of the "Yeovil Coal and Potatoe Charity" with the intention of aiding the second poor of Yeovil.

In 1837 the minutes of the Baptist Chapel of 16 August state "An Act having been passed enabling Dissenters to celebrate marriages in their own places of worship, the chapel having been duly licensed according to law - On this day the first marriage was performed by our pastor between Thomas Lye and Rebecca Munford of Martock, in the presence of our brother, Elias Whitby Superintendent Registrar, brother Porter Registrar of Marriages and several hundred persons. It is also gratefully recorded that our brother Whitby granted the Certificate of License for the Chapel without receiving the Fee of Three Pounds to which he was a legally entitled." This was the first marriage to take place in a dissenting place of worship in Yeovil.

In the 1841 census they are listed at Townsend where Elias gave his occupation as wool stapler. He gradually prospered and became a glove manufacturer and wool dealer and his glove factory was sited where the Glovers Walk shopping precinct now stands. He was later in partnership with his sons Elias Whitby the younger and James Hooper Whitby. This partnership was dissolved by mutual consent in February 1849 and the notice was published in the London Gazette.

Anna died in 1847 and in the 1851 census he was listed as a 67-year old widower living with a housekeeper at 14 Peter Street. He described his occupation as ‘Clerk of Union & Superintendent Registrar’.

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

Elias died on 13 September 1869 at his home in Peter Street in Yeovil aged 86. A white marble memorial stone with black inlaid lettering, 30.75cm high x 61.75cm wide, was originally affixed to the wall of the Baptist church in South Street. The inscription was as follows -

who died September 13th 1869, Aged 86 years
and was interred in Yeovil Cemetery
He was baptized June 30 1805. Chosen as deacon in 1808
and faithfully discharged the duties of this office
for more than 60 years.
He was also for many years
A successful preacher of the Gospel
in the neighbouring villages.
This tablet is erected by the Church and congregation in loving memory of
his long life of devotion to their spiritual. welfare.


For the Whitby family tree - click here.




A sketch map based on Edward Bullock Watts' 1827 map of Yeovil. Elias Whitby's home is seen at the bottom left with his factory to its right - roughly in the location of where today's Central Road joins Middle Street.




The record of Elias' 25 October 1783 baptism from St John's parish register.


Elias Whitby's signature against the Vestry minutes of 31 December 1833.


The Whitby partnership was dissolved by mutual consent in February 1849 and the notice was published in the London Gazette.


Peter Street photographed in the 1980s from the Union Street (western) end. Elias Whitby lived and died here.