frederick george noble wellington

This post is follow-up research on Frederick George Noble WELLINGTON (1824-1887), Chemist of South Petherton. You may like to read some of my earlier posts:

Frederick George Noble WELLINGTON (1824-1887). Chemist of South Petherton, Somerset, England

Frederick George Noble WELLINGTON (1824-1887). Chemist of South Petherton, Somerset, England

As Susanah WELLINGTON notes in her journal, her younger brother Frederick went to boarding school at Sherborne in July 1836, a few months before his 12th birthday.

Frederick was 15 years old when he left school in 1839 and went to work as a chemist’s apprentice. Frederick took over the chemist business in St. James Street, South Petherton after his half-brother William Edwards WELLINGTON‘s death in 1850.

Frederick married Mary ADAMS in 1850 and he became an active and valued member of the South Petherton community. He sat on many parish committees and was a churchwarden for many years.

I made contact with Liz Randall of the South Petherton Local History Group which holds the archive of White’s pharmacy and general store. Liz was very helpful and sent me a copy of a bill of sale which dates back to the 1880s then Frederick WELLINGTON owned the business.

The old stationery appears to have been reused as scrap paper or as a sales journal by the White family in September 1918, during WWI, when paper was scarce in England.

Invoice stationery of FGN Wellington, Chemist of South Petherton between 1850 and 1887.

Bill of Sale header of FGN Wellington, Pharmaceutical Chemist of South Petherton between 1850 and 1887. [photo source South Petherton Local History Group]

Frederick WELLINGTON sold the business to William Charles WHITE in late 1886 or early 1887. I found a news article dated April 1887 which mentioned Frederick had recently left South Petherton so they held an election for a new churchwarden.

News report from the South Petherton Church vestry meeting notes that Frederick Welligntong had recently left town. [Western Gazette, 22 April 1887]

News report from the South Petherton Church vestry meeting notes that Frederick Wellignton had recently left the town. [Western Gazette, 22 April 1887]

Declining health may have been the reason Frederick retired and sold the business. The Western Gazette reported the sudden death of FGN Wellington on Wednesday 25 May 1887 at the age of 62, in Bristol.

Notice of the sudden death of Frederick GN Wellington in Bristol. [Western Gazette, 27 May 1887]

Notice of the sudden death of Frederick GN Wellington in Bristol. [Western Gazette, 27 May 1887]

The following article is a very detailed account of the funeral of Mr WELLINGTON in South Petherton. It appears he was very well respected and much loved by the people of the town. Among the family mourners were his children: Louisa Mary WELLINGTON (1851); Rev George WELLINGTON (1852), Assistant Curate of Whitechurch Canonicorum, Dorset; and Frederick WELLINGTON (1857), Chemist of Taunton, Somerset.

1887-06-03_Western Flying Post_Wellington FGN_Funeral

Account of the funeral of Frederick George Noble Wellington held in South Petherton on Saturday 28 May 1887. [Western Flying Post, 3 June, 1887]

The report mentions that Frederick was buried in the grounds at the north-east side of the chapel, close to his wife Mary who died 6 June 1884. Frederick George Noble WELLINGTON has a memorial in one of the beautiful stained glass windows of South Petherton Church, Somerset, England.

Thank you to Liz Randall and the South Petherton Local History Group for the wonderful work you are doing to bring the history and heritage of your town to life.

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Sources: http://www.southpethertoninformation.org.ukSouth Petherton Local History GroupBritish Newspaper ArchiveWellingtonia, The History of the Wellington Family, by John Evelyn; GRO Indexes and documents, Pigot’s Directories of Somerset and Dorset 1830 to 1885.

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the chemist shop that time forgot

There has been a chemist shop at South Petherton, Somerset since the early 1800s. It belonged to an apothecary and grocer named John Wellington (1774-1845), son of John WELLINGTON (1747-1827), chemist of Chard, and a brother of my great-great-great-grandfather George WELLINGTON (1781-1847), chemist of Yeovil.

John WELLINGTON Jnr married Ann MARTIN in 1807 and had four children. Their three daughters Mary, Sarah Jane and Ann; and a son George William who also became a chemist in Taunton. John was a member of the South Petherton town council and ran a successful business until his death in 1845 at the age of 71.

The business in St. James Street, South Petherton passed to John’s brother George’s son William Edwards WELLINGTON (1813-1850) and then to another son Frederick George Noble WELLINGTON (1824-1887). They were qualified druggists and apothecaries and also sold groceries, tea, wine and spirits in their shop. They had a second business in the nearby town of Martock.

Frederick George Noble WELLINGTON (1824-1887). Chemist of South Petherton, Somerset, England

Frederick George Noble WELLINGTON (1824-1887). Chemist of South Petherton, Somerset, England

When Frederick retired he sold the shop and all its stock to William Charles WHITE in about 1887. W. C. WHITE practiced as a chemist until 1909 and when he died the business passed to his son Charles Edger who was a grocer but not qualified to dispense medicines. The chemist department was abandoned and boarded up behind a locked door, complete with the dispensary and its contents.

Charles WHITE continued as a grocer for several decades, the business then passed to his unmarried daughters Margaret and Eveline who, with the change to decimal currency in 1971, gave up the struggle and upon the death of the surviving sister in 1987 the whole shop came up for sale.

When the door was unlocked an amazing time capsule was discovered. The dispensary, complete with its old balances and scales, medicine jars, bottles and ancient cures, gave a unique glimpse into the life of a Victorian pharmacy.

Mr White's chemist shop as it was found when the door was unlocked in 1987.

White’s chemist shop in South Petherton, as it was found when the door was unlocked in 1987.

The complete contents and fittings of the apothecaries shop was purchased at auction by Flambards Amusement Park in Cornwall and re-assembled in their Victorian Village as close as possible to how it appeared 70 years earlier – with the dust and cobwebs, but without the poisons and more dangerous compounds which were confiscated by the British Home Office.

W. C. Whites Chemist Shop recreated in the Victorian Village at Fambard's Amusement Park in Cornwall.

W. C. White’s chemist shop recreated in the Victorian Village at Flambards Amusement Park in Helston, Cornwall. Photo by John King on http://www.flickr.com

The South Petherton Local History Group owns the archive of accounts and records of White’s pharmacy and general store. I have written to the group asking if they have any documents dating back to when the WELLINGTON family owned the business.

ADDENDUM: I have made contact with the South Petherton Local History Group – you can read more about the life of chemist Frederick George Noble WELLINGTON here.

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Notes: William Edwards WELLINGTON and Frederick George Noble WELLINGTON were the sons of George WELLINGTON, chemist of Yeovil; and brothers to Jane and Susanah WELLINGTON.

Sources: http://www.southpethertoninformation.org.uk, South Petherton Local History Group, Wellingtonia, The History of the Wellington Family, by John Evelyn; GRO Indexes and documents, Pigot’s Directories of Somerset and Dorset 1830 to 1885. Flambards Amusement Park. You can see and listen to the story of apothecary William White’s lost time capsule at Flambards at this Youtube link.

the runaway apprentice

Sherborne and Yeovil Mercury, dated 14 June 1773.

Richard Wellington - runaway apprentice

Ran away last Monday, from his master, Francis Pyle, of Tallerton, in the county of Devon, Richard Wellington, his apprentice. About nineteen years of age, five feet eight or ten inches high, in his walk stoops a little forward, and bends his knees inwards; straight black hair, and is of a tawney complexion. Carried off with him a light coloured drab coat, let out by the sides, very short, with yellow metal buttons, an old scarlet waistcoat, and a dark colour’d coat and waistcoat, with yellow buttons, figur’d; had in his shoes, when he went off, a pair of double ring’d brass buckles. – Whoever harbours or employs the said apprentice after this notice, shall be prosecuted as the law directs. Or whoever shall bring him to his said master, shall receive a Guinea reward.

Well I’m intrigued, and I bet you’re wondering where the rebellious, raven-haired and pigeon-toed Richard WELLINGTON fits into the family tree.

Richard’s parents were John WELLINGTON (1727-1759) and Sarah LEY (1729-?) who lived in Talaton, Devon in England. I don’t know what John did for a living, he may have been a farmer at Talaton – a small rural town about 20 kms north-east of the port of Exeter and approximately 10 kms west of Honiton.

John and Sarah WELLINGTON had 4 boys (John 12, William 10, Richard 5 and Simon 3) and Sarah was again “with child” when her husband died in early November 1759 at the age of 32. His death must have been a devastating blow to Sarah who gave birth to another son Michael in April 1760. With a family to support she would have found life difficult even if they had freehold land and John provided for her and the children in his will.

Their eldest son John was 12 and probably still at school. As first-born he may have been received a sum of money in his father’s will to secure an apprenticeship with an apothecary in one of the larger towns in Devon or Somerset.

Craftsmen usually took on apprentices at about 13 or 14 years of age, although it was not uncommon for children as young as 10 to be indentured in some trades and the term of the apprenticeship was commonly 7 years or until the child reached the age of 21. Masters required a premium to be paid by parents for securing their child’s livelihood. A father’s early death could mean a low premium and poor trade for a child of prosperous parents if provision was not made in the man’s will.

Premiums paid in trades in the mid 18th century varied greatly depending on where the business was – boys bound to London apothecaries had premiums of between £150 and £200 while provincial masters took £50 on average.
Examples of the range of premiums paid to various trades circa 1750:

  • £10-£100 – stationer, printer, bookmaker
  • £20-£200 – apothecary, attorney, hosier, jeweller, draper
  • £30-£100 – Ironmonger
  • £50-£100 – artist, coachmaker, conveyancer, sugar baker, timber merchant.

A high premium did not ensure comfortable living conditions for the child. It compensated the master for an apprentice’s errors made as a novice; it provided a child with food, room and basic board in the master’s house or workshop, instruction in a profitable livelihood, and established him in a prosperous career with appropriate marriage and social prospects. Apprentices weren’t paid for their work, except occasionally in the last years of their apprenticeship.

The following is an extract from a parish apprenticeship indenture dated 1 October 1694, at Stockleigh English, Devon. The apprentice could well be an earlier ancestor:

Between Richard Moorish, Churchwarden, Thomasine Bradford, Widow, and William Quicke, Overseer, of the one part, and Henry Bellow, Gent, of the other – binding Susannah Wellington apprentice to Henry Bellew to the age of twenty-one years, to be brought up in housewifry & found in meat, drink, apparel, lodging, hose, shooes & all things fit and necessary & at the end of term to discharge her well apparelled.

An indenture in the early 1700s had the Churchwarden Thomas WELLINGTON binding a poor parish apprentice until the age of twenty-one:

Indenture made on 6th June, eighth year of Queen Anne, A.D. 1709, between Thomas Wellington, Churchwarden, and Henry Bellow and William Morish, Overseers for Stockleigh English Parish, and Mary Pope, Widdow, have bound Joan Drew to Mary Pope till the age of twenty-one years to be brought up in huswifry.

Another indenture two years later, had Thomas WELLINGTON taking on a parish apprentice until the age of twenty-four. Joan and Elias DREW may have been from the same family and fell on hard times due to the death of a parent:

Indenture made 4th April 1711, tenth year of Queen Anne, A.D. 1711, between John Brown, Churchwarden, and John Bradford and William Blackmore, Overseers, Stockley English, and Thomas Wellington, Yeoman, of the said Parish and County (of Devon) have bound Elias Drew, Parish Apprentice, till the age of fower and twenty years in husbandry, Thomas Wellington providing for him and to discharge him at the end of term well apparelled.

Still another contract in 1742, had a James WELLINGTON taking on an apprentice for the parsonage. This one was quite firm in its conditions that the poor lad should no longer be a financial burden on the parish:

Indenture made sixteenth day of September, sixteenth year of George II., King, etc., A.D. 1742, between William Wyat, Churchwarden of Stockley English, County Devon, and William Wyat, and Robert Avary, Overseers, etc., bound John Pomeroy, Apprentice to James Wellington, for the Parsonage, until the age of twenty four years, the Apprentice to do as Statute requires. James Wellington to instruct or cause to be instructed in Husbandry work, and find him the said Apprentice, competent and sufficient meat, drink and apparel, lodging, washing, and all other things necessary and fit for an Apprentice, he not to be any way a charge to said Parish, or Parishoners of the same, and to save the aforesaid harmless and indemnified during the said term. At the end of term to provide the said Apprentice double apparel of all sorts, good and new, one for the holy days and another for the working days.

We know that our John WELLINGTON from Talaton completed his apprenticeship and became a qualified apothecary and druggist. He set up a chemist shop in Chard in Somerset and married Molly BOWDEN in 1772 at the age of 25 years.

He appears to have over-extended himself, as I found a notice in the Sherborne and Yeovil Mercury of 10 May 1773. John WELLINGTON, druggist of Chard – bankrupt. This turn of events may have been a contributing factor in his younger brother Richard’s elopement from his master one month later.

From my research at Devon Records Office I found Francis PYLE was a gentleman freehold farmer in Talaton. He held deeds for land and estates within the Hayridge Hundred during the late 1700s. Richard WELLINGTON would have been apprenticed in a trade on the estate or farm such as blacksmithing or husbandry.

Richard was totally reliant on the good will of his master. Fellow workers or members of the master’s family may have bullied the young man. He could have been mistreated, become very unhappy or homesick and have only one means of escape which was to run away.

The Runaway Apprentice - copyright Susan Buck 2012

At the age of 19, Richard was not the only apprentice to feel the need to spread his wings and experience some of life’s temptations. The Sherborne and Yeovil Mercury was a regional newspaper published in Dorset whose readership also included the counties of Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall. During 1773 there were at least 40 notices posted by masters whose apprentices had eloped or run away.

By 1773, Richard had already worked at least 5 or 6 years as a farm apprentice with still another 2 years left to serve. He would have toiled long hours and resented his lack of leisure and personal freedom. He probably read about his eldest brother’s bankruptcy and set off to walk the 30 km to Chard to visit him. Or Richard might have longed for more excitement in his life and headed to the busy port of Exeter in the hope of gaining paid employment on a ship or by joining the navy.

If Richard did run away to sea (which is the most likely scenario) he made sure he was going to be “well apparelled”. I can find no further records on Richard WELLINGTON’s life after this notice so I don’t know if he ended up a sailor or returned to farming.

There is better news on his brother John WELLINGTON, the apothecary and druggist of Chard. It appears he traded his way out of bankruptcy, as a notice in the Sherborne and Yeovil Mercury on 26 September 1774 announced payment of a dividend to his creditors.

In 1777, after 5 years as a bankrupt, John was expanding his business and advertising for journeyman coopers and cabinet makers. It appears he learned from his early mistakes and went on to become very successful. He was the founder of a family dynasty of pioneering chemists in Devon and Somerset.

John WELLINGTON died in Chard in 1827, at the age of 79. Three of his children (John, George and William) were druggists and grocers in South Petherton, Yeovil and Chard. They were also respectable civic leaders, each holding office on their town councils.

[Sources: www.familysearch.org/Apprenticeship_in_EnglandApprenticeship in England, 1600-1914, Joan Lane;  Sherborne and Yeovil Mercury or Western Flying Post 1773-1778; index of adverts at this link]; Erskine-Risk, J. Apprenticeship indentures from Stockleigh English Parish Church. Trans. Devon. Assoc. vol. 33 (1901) pp.484-494. [Index].