A House History from Yeovil: Part Two

Welcome to the next instalment of my series of blog posts about the history of my own house in Yeovil, Somerset. In the previous post I discovered more about the Wey family who lived in my house in the late 1930s and most of the 1940s. You may remember that the story of Barton Wey ended quite unhappily, but the records found show that Barton was well respected as an accountant. He worked for the Yeovil firm of solicitors Newman & Paynter and he was also involved with his community. This next instalment goes back in time even further- before Barton Wey bought my house. This is the story of Albert Bollen.

Humble beginnings

Albert Bollen was born on 13 January 1840 in Yeovil.[1] His parents were Thomas and Elizabeth Bollen (formerly Elizabeth Roscilly) and he also had a sister named Frances. Albert seems to have lived in Yeovil all his life, specifically in the Kingston area. From the census records available, it is often difficult to pinpoint exactly where Albert lived. But on the 1891 census, Albert is living at 13 Kingston.[2] This is next to Kingston House on the census, which later became part of the Park School.[3] This is the area of Yeovil near where the hospital is now located. Today, it is about a 20 minute walk from where my house now stands.

A House History from Yeovil, Part 2_Shersca Genealogy_Partial view of Kingston, Yeovil
A view of part of Kingston in Yeovil. Now occupied largely by Yeovil Hospital, Albert Bollen lived in this area for a large part of his life. © 2020 Shersca Genealogy.

On the 1841 census,[4] both of Albert’s parents have recorded their occupations as servants. It is not really clear what their occupation was or who they worked for from this, but on Albert’s birth certificate Thomas states his occupation as a leather dresser. This was someone who dressed and finished leather hides after the tanning process.[5] Not a surprising occupation given the long history of the leather and gloving industries in Yeovil and the surrounding area. But by 1861 Albert’s father Thomas was a private lodging house keeper.[6] This is again in the Kingston area. From looking at some of the surrounding families in the census records for Albert, it is clear that Kingston was a mixed area. Some households were in the gloving trade, there were others who were tailors and yet others who were solicitors. Perhaps this last trade influenced Albert or perhaps solicitors in the area were looking for employees. By 1861, Albert had become a solicitor’s clerk and this was an area of work he pursued until his death in 1895.

A social climb

Before Albert’s marriage in 1867, there is evidence of him working as the local agent for an Assurance Society. In 1859 (aged only 19!), Albert was the Yeovil agent for the Wesleyan and General Assurance Society, whose head office was in Birmingham.[7] They placed an advert in the Sherborne Mercury, in which they were offering good rates for life and sickness assurance.[8] Albert was working out of the Emigration Office and was also the agent for the Cattle and Fire Insurance Offices too. Then, throughout 1861 and 1862 he acted in a similar capacity for the Indisputable Life Assurance Company of Scotland. The first reference found was an advert (again in the Sherborne Mercury) on 17 December 1861.[9]

Only a few years later in 1865, Albert appears in the newspapers again. This was only the beginning of many appearances in the local newspapers. In 1865 however, Albert was reported to have been first on the scene of an accident on the road between Sherborne and Yeovil.[10] I particularly enjoyed reading this article for all of the period references! Apparently Albert (now aged 25) and some companions had been to see a performance of ‘The Creation’ by Handel in Sherborne. This of course would have been very ‘high-brow’ and gives an indication of the sort of circles that Albert moved in [Note: this reference also appeals to my musician side, as I once played in a performance of ‘The Creation’ many years ago!]. To come from a family of humble origins (servants and leather workers), to being able to afford to see an opera was quite a social leap.

On the return journey from Sherborne, a horseman passed the opera-goers on the wrong side of the road, travelling at a furious speed. Albert remarked that they might have to ‘pick him up’ before too long and he was proven correct. They found the man (later named as Mr. Knott of Lyde Farm), lying in the road between Sherborne and Halfway House. Albert lifted the man into his own ‘conveyance’ and, on the advice of a Dr. Garland that the party met on the way to Sherborne, took the man home. The article finishes by saying that Mr. Knott was recovering. Sometimes when researching, I forget that Victorian travel was largely by horse and carriage (at least for those who could afford it). Articles like this really bring the era to life!

Sadness and sucess

The next stage in Albert’s life was likely a rollercoaster of emotions. He was married to Mary Anne Jessop on 29 August 1867, not in Yeovil, but in Radipole Church, in Dorset.[11] The couple did not have any children and a mere ten years later, Mary Anne sadly died. Her death was announced in the Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser on 10 October 1877. She had died on 30 September.[12] Albert never remarried, perhaps due to his grief or perhaps he never met another woman that he wanted to marry. We will likely never know his reasons.

A House History from Yeovil, Part 2_Shersca Genealogy_Current view of 75 South Street, Yeovil
A current view of what was Albert’s office in 75 South Street, Yeovil. The Globe and Crown (a pub and hotel) now takes up 73-74 and 75 would have been next door, in what is now retirement apartments. © 2020 Shersca Genealogy.

Despite the sadness of his wife’s death, the decade after his marriage was also when his working career really took off. He made a fair number of appearances in the Western Gazette (a local Yeovil paper), as an executor or administrator involved with various probate cases. A notice from 1870 for those claiming debts against Richard Gale (deceased) is one such notice. Administration of Richard’s estate was granted to his brother Henry Gale of Ilminster and Albert Bollen of Yeovil on 19 October 1870.[13] In 1872, Albert makes the paper again, when the Western Gazette published a notice of his success in passing the preliminary examinations of the Incorporated Law Society that November.[14] A further notice was published in May 1876, stating that Albert had passed the final examination at the hall of the Incorporated Law Society in London. He was only waiting upon receipt of his certificate to practice as a Solicitor. This notice also says that Albert had been a clerk to Mr. W. Glyde.[15] William Glyde was one of various solicitors that practised in Victorian Yeovil,[16] although I do not yet know how long Albert worked for him.

Albert’s own premises were located at 75 South Street, Yeovil[17] and he was also included as a private resident, living at 13 Kingston in the 1889 Directory of Somerset.[18] His practice (according to the 1889 directory) was specifically as a ‘solicitor & commissioner to administer oaths in the Supreme court of judicature.’ There were various divisions of the Supreme Court of Judicature, which had been created between 1873-1875 after a reorganisation of the higher court system. It is not certain exactly what role Albert held from looking at the Directory entry, but it could be that he was involved with cases for the new Probate, Divorce and Admiralty division.[19] Many of his newspaper appearances are concerned with probate cases.

My connection to Albert

Albert lived at 13 Kingston until the end of his life, although on the 1891 Census, his sister Frances was also in the same household.[20] Albert had lived with Frances and her farmer husband George Wills for part of 1881, at Combe Farm, Crewkerne.[21] You may also be wondering how all of this relates to my house? The connection came late in Albert’s life, as the land which would later become my house was conveyed from George Willey Vincent and James Bernard Paynter to Albert Bollen on 31 December 1894.[22] This was a mere six months before Albert’s death on 10 June 1895 at his home of 13 Kingston in Yeovil. He was relatively young, aged only 55.[23] What happened to the land after Albert’s death is still a point that needs further investigation. From my last post, we know that by 1937, brothers Reginald Henry Ralph Lucas and Clifford Neatham William Thomas Lucas sold the house (as it had been built by then) to Barton William Henry Wey.

Whatever happened to the land after Albert’s death, my research into Albert and his life has discovered a man who rose up the ranks from working class leather workers, to the higher rank of solicitor. His personal life (perhaps like Barton Wey’s) may have been unfulfilled and tinged with sadness, but Albert’s career seems to have been very successful. He may not have been a part of any of the large ‘solicitor dynasties’ of Yeovil, but his story is still an impressive one.

Join me next time for the final post in this series. Going further back in time again, we meet a Mayor and a farmer.

© 2020 Shersca Genealogy.



[1] Births (CR) England. Yeovil, Somerset. 13 January 1840. BOLLEN, Albert. Entry no. 211.

[2] Census. 1891. England. Yeovil, Somerset. PN: RG12/1898. FL 30. ED 2. p. 5. http://www.ancestry.co.uk : accessed 09 July 2020.

[3] Osborn, Bob. Kingston House, Kingston. http://www.yeovilhistory.info/kingstonhouse.htm : accessed 10 November 2020.

[4] Census. 1841. England. Yeovil, Somerset. PN: HO107/958. FL 35. BN 10. p. 26. http://www.ancestry.co.uk : accessed 09 July 2020.

[5] International Institute of Social History: HISCO database. Leather currier [inclu. Leather dresser], no. 76150. https://historyofwork.iisg.nl/list_micro.php?keywords=76150&keywords_qt=lstrict : accessed 05 November 2020.

[6] Census. 1861. England. Yeovil, Somerset. PN: RG9/1643. FL 30. SN 51. ED 2. p. 10. http://www.ancestry.co.uk : accessed 09 July 2020.

[7] Wesleyan Assurance Society. Wesleyan’s history – 1841 to today. https://www.wesleyan.co.uk/about-us/history : accessed 10 November 2020.

[8] Sherborne Mercury. (1859) The Wesleyan and General Assurance Society. Sherborne Mercury. 19 April. p. 4c. Collection: British Newspapers. www.findmypast.co.uk : accessed 01 October 2020.

[9] Sherborne Mercury. (1861) Indisputable Life Assurance Company of Scotland. Sherborne Mercury. 17 December. p. 1d. Collection: British Newspapers. www.findmypast.co.uk : accessed 01 October 2020.

[10] Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser. (1865) Sherborne; Serious Accident. Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser. 27 December. p. 3b. Collection: British Newspapers. www.findmypast.co.uk : accessed 01 October 2020.

[11] Marriages (PR) England. Radipole, Dorset. 29 August 1867. BOLLEN, Albert and JESSOP, Mary Anne. Collection: Dorset, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1813-1921. http://www.ancestry.co.uk : accessed 09 July 2020.

[12] Death announcements. England. 1877. Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser. 10 October. BOLLEN, Mrs. p.4e. Collection: British Newspapers. www.findmypast.co.uk : accessed 01 October 2020.

[13] Western Gazette. (1870) Re Richard Gale, Deceased. Western Gazette. 09 December. p. 4e. Collection: British Newspapers. www.findmypast.co.uk : accessed 01 October 2020.

[14] Western Gazette. (1872) Yeovil. Western Gazette. 29 November. p. 7b. Collection: British Newspapers. www.findmypast.co.uk : accessed 01 October 2020.

[15] Western Gazette. (1876) Miscellanceous District News; Yeovil; Success. Western Gazette. 12 May. p. 5d. Collection: British Newspapers. www.findmypast.co.uk : accessed 01 October 2020.

[16] Osborn, Bob. John Glyde & Family. http://www.yeovilhistory.info/glyde-john.htm : accessed 05 November 2020.

[17] Directories. England. Yeovil, Somerset. 1889. BOLLEN, Albert. Kelly’s Directory of Somerset, 1889. London: Kelly and Co. p. 443. Collection: Historical Directories of England & Wales. https://leicester.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p16445coll4/id/124601 : accessed 10 November 2020.

[18] Ibid., p. 442.

[19] UK Parliament. The Judicature Acts of 1873 and 1875. https://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/laworder/court/overview/judicatureacts/ : accessed 10 November 2020.

[20] Census. 1891. England. Yeovil, Somerset. PN: RG12/1898. FL 30. ED 2. p. 5. http://www.ancestry.co.uk : accessed 09 July 2020.

[21] Census. 1881. England. Crewkerne, Somerset. PN: RG11/2387. FL 125. ED 8. p. 4. http://www.ancestry.co.uk : accessed 09 July 2020.

[22] Land Registry, UK. Register Entry. 111 Preston Grove, Yeovil, Somerset. Title no. ST110662. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/land-registry : accessed 15 January 2018.

[23] Deaths (CR) England. Yeovil, Somerset. 10 June 1895. BOLLEN, Albert. Entry no. 75.

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