The Dampier and Bide Families
Many Yeovilians regret the loss of Bide's Garden through the
building of Reckleford dual carriageway in the early 1960's.
In 1916 Thomas William Dampier-Bide bequeathed to the town a large
part of the grounds of Kingston Manor, lying between Court Ash and
Red Lion Lane. The house itself, a Georgian Mansion, which soon
after his death became a Nursing Home attached to the new Hospital,
was finally demolished to make way for the large District Hospital
of the present day.
Dampier-Bide's father was Thomas Dampier, born at Kingsdon in
1801 and becoming a well-to-do glover in Yeovil with a factory in
Reckleford. Dampier Street probably indicates its position.
He married Elizabeth Bide, sister of another glover, in 1822 and
was living as a retired gentleman of independent means at Kingsdon
Manor according to the 1851 census.
He played little part in public life and though nominated as a
Town Commissioner in 1837, he attended few meetings. Indeed, he was
one of the early objectors in 1831 to the rates levied by the
commission. Yet he lent St. John's churchwardens £500 at 5%
interest to meet the cost of extending the burial ground to North
Lane. He was elected to the town council in 1854 but played little
part in its proceedings; he died in 1876. Portraits in oils of
himself and his wife Elizabeth are in the Heritage Access
His brother -in-law, William Bide, was born in1809 and entered
his father's leather dressing and gloving business in Lower
Reckleford. The 1851 census returns show that his was the largest
factory in Yeovil, employing 260 male and female workers as well as
2000 outworkers. The latter, usually women, undertook sewing in
their own homes, collecting and returning their bundles each week.
Bide built a three-storey leather-dressing warehouse in 1850 at the
foot of Eastland Road, still in use for the same purpose.
His business papers survive in Dorset Record Office. They
indicate the scale of his enterprise: in 1851 his stock included
33,000 skins and finished gloves worth £15,500. He imported leather
from Italy, and his sales extended into the Midlands and the North
of England. He had an interest in a brewery at Shepton Mallet, and
owned a good deal of property in Yeovil. He built stone cottages
for his employees at the foot of Reckleford, providing pumps for a
water supply. His cashbook shows that he was interested in music
and hunting, and records a monthly allowance of £1 to Mrs.Bide "for
Like his father, William Bide held office, as churchwarden at
St. John's and in 1846 became an Improvement Commissioner and a
Special Commissioner. He topped the poll in the first election for
Town Councillors in 1854,and was chosen Mayor four times. He had a
brother Louis who carried on a gloving business in Brunswick
The choir-vestry and heating apparatus in St. John's Church
were added in 1915 by public subscription, and the debt remaining
was paid by Thomas William Dampier-Bide of Kingsdon Manor in memory
of his sister Elizabeth, a life-long worshipper in the church.
family histories ...