Felix Drake Webbing Manufacturer & Arthur Green Holcombe Brewery

UPDATE June 2019 from Hugh Drake: “I have just picked up a link to your page about the Drake Family of East Coker. A few of the details are new to me but the relationships are correct as it was my father who put all the family tree in good order-he went back as far as he could before he ran into the fact that ancient Church records were stored for safe-keeping in Exeter Cathedral which was badly bombed in 1939-45 War. Donald Drake the last surviving son of Felix and Edith was my Grandfather and I knew both Great Uncles Jack and Bernard and Cecil all of whom lived at some time in Devonshire Cottage. This was built by great Uncle Jack and is made from Ham Hill Stone in the 1930’s, using no doubt his skills sharpened by his involvement in the building of New Delhi under Lutyens. It is all a very well documented history and I would love to have copies of the correspondence that you have of the Drake Family. I seem to be the family archivist now! Sadly the last of the Drakes died in the early part of this century-Sheila, Betty and Francis, children of Cecil and Joan, all of whom along with many other Drakes including my father and mother and an uncle who died at Blundells School in Tiverton are buried in the extension Churchyard in East Coker. Betty was a very generous supporter of East Coker Church. Many old letters are held here as the family archive. Best wishes and keep looking! Hugh Drake.”


Original Blog : On a stall for sale at the end of last year, I saw displayed in a cellophane sleeve an old letter, while I was looking & trying to read it the seller said ‘If you’re interested I have some more of those’ So I ended up buying all six letters for £1 each. This is the first three…


Number one, not too exciting & can’t read all the words, but Mr W Buckley is obviously in need of some cash !!  🙂 Dated January 19.1865.

‘Pall Mall, London SW. Dear Ralph Leaders? If matters … get in a sufficiently forward state for you to expect an opinion it would be a past? convenience to me to learn about what time the Executors will be able to pay the legacies under my fathers will. An answer on return of post to me at the Gt Western Hotel, Paddington will catch me in Saturday morning before I have London. Please excuse this trouble that I am giving you & …. me…. Yours faithfully W. Buckley.’


Number two….There are such a lot of words I cannot decipher ! But getting the gist, it is to assure Mr Felix Drake’s security with documents, I am unable to read signature either..It may relate to this 3rd letter below, as the dates are very close…These letters are to/from a solicitors it seems, the language of the law & how they wrote is not something I’m too familiar with, which makes it hard even to guess at some words !

Number three letter..Mr Felix Drake related, is much more interesting..Concerning our Mr Felix Drake & a Mr Arthur Green.


‘Page 1….Red Lion Square.23 June 1867.  Dear Sirs.   Felix Drake…Referring to my letter of the 1st April*********** I shall feel much obliged by your sending me by registered book post tomorrow the two parchment deeds of mortgage A.Green to Drake in order that I may have the ******* indorsed on them. I have written Mr Drake to meet me soon after 3 on Friday at *** Bank & will then make final arrangements. The £3000 I shall receive as arranged on the 1st July **** shall pay it on the sameday in reduction of Drakes adoeuee? ********** Deaclieu Yours Faithfully WFH Sawtree’

Page 2…. ‘Mr Arthur Green to Mr Felix Drake. Dated 5 April 1867. Mortgage of certain Leasehold premises situate at Holcombe and elseware on Co of Som (Somerset) as Col (Collateral) security for £1992.12. and int(interest) embyed? gprion? (prior?)securities’

‘Mr Arthur Green to Mr Felix Drake. Dated 5 April 1867. Mortgage of certain Freehold Estate situate at Holcombe and elseware in Co of Som (Somerset) for security £1992.12.0 & int (interest)obliged to prior charges.

Sent to WFH Sawtree **** June 1868′

If I understand this correctly Mr Felix Drake has lent Mr Arthur Green £3000 and Mr Arthur Green has used his properties etc at Holcombe as security for the loan (Probably the Brewery? etc)

I shall start with Felix Drake, what a great name ! He was born on January 13th 1845 & baptized with two of his brothers on 29 April 1846 at Christ Church, St Marylebone, Westminster, London.drake born

His parents were John Collard Drake (b1801 Charmouth,Dorset) & Mary Ann Green(b c1810, Holcombe, Somerset) who had married on 23 Apr 1835 in Holcombe, Somerset, where Mary Ann was born.  ( So when I found this marriage on Find My Past I thought ah ha I bet Mary Ann Green is related in some way to Mr Arthur Green ?? I wonder ?) On the marriage details the Groom’s Parish was listed as Basingstoke, Hampshire.

Frustratingly I couldn’t find them in the 1841 census, but the Westminster Rate Books on Ancestry came to the rescue, for in 1840 they lived at 19 Elm Tree Road, Marylebone, London. Close to where Felix was baptized in 1846. By 1851 C the family had moved to Kingston, Somerset. John Collard was an Estate Agent & Annuitant. They had six children that I can find, William b 1837, Sarah Mary Ann b 1838, Francis b 1839, Agnes b 1841, Collard Augustus b 1843 & Felix b 1845. John Collard & family had moved to Tiverton, Devon by 1861 C he was described as an Estate Agent & Surveyor, he died in 1862 in Tiverton not leaving much money. JCDrakeWill

In the 1861 C Felix was at age 16 a boarder at Grammar School at Herongate Rd, Brentwood, Essex. In the 1871C it was a job to find Felix on Ancestry, so once again I went to Find My Past & found him easily with new wife Edith (Lloyd) They had married on the 23 June 1870 at St Mary de Lode, Gloucester (‘The word Lode is derived from an old English word meaning a water course or ferry. In this case it refers to a ferry that once crossed the river. At the time of building, there was a branch of the river to the west of the church, which no longer exists’ info from Church of England)

1871 FelixTo find them on Ancestry, assuming Drake had been misspelt, I put in details of servant Caroline Halsom & found them ! He was wrongly transcribed as Filex Darke, so have now corrected on site:) He was now a Manufacturer of Hair/Cloth Webbing.

I found this info on  Visitor Info Yeovil History   a little information concerning Felix Drake’s company…‘Three mills operated from the same stream at Holywell (Hew Hill), East Coker Mill and Paviott’s Mill. Flax was grown in many areas until the late 1800s. Nearly every cottage had its looms for the weaving of Coker cloth. The Twine and Webbing Mills were founded by Mr Felix Drake in 1872 using local skills and continued for over 100 years. Ropes and webbing from Messrs Drake & Co were used in the ascent of Mt Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and also to lower Sir Winston Churchill’s coffin at his interment.’ The site has great Visitor info for lots places.

The couple went on to have nine children that I have found: Blanche Gertrude Bap 7 July 1873, William Bernard Bap 28 Oct 1874, Felix Cecil Francis Bap 26 Apr 1876, Glady’s Bap 13 Jun 1877 these 4 all in Hendford, Yeovil. Last 5 all in North/East Coker, Elsie Dora b 5 Mar 1879 Bap 18 Jun 1879, Muriel Bap 9 Jul 1880, Lorna Dorothy Bap 17 Aug 1881, John Collard Bernard b 7 Mar 1884 Bap 17 Apr 1884 d Dec 1975 Bath. Donald Henry Charles Bap 3 Oct 1887. I could write about all of them as found so much info on this family ! But will just share a bit…Glady’s married Henry Roche on 30 Aug 1905 in India(she was nursing). Donald Henry Charles married Dorothy Kathleen Walker on 10 April 1915 also in India.

John Collard Bernard Drake awarded in 1926 an OBE for Indian Civil Service, Secretary to the High Commissioner for India. Then he also in 1933 was awarded CIE CBE Indian Civil Service, Secretary to the Government of India, Commerce Department. A super interesting family if they are your ancestors !!

Felix Drake himself died in Jan 1914 in Yeovil, Somerset. His wife Edith had died previously, on 13 March 1888, their youngest child Donald being just a few months old, very sad with all her children being so young. The family only had two servants in the 1891C so I am assuming the older children helped to look after the younger ones 🙂

FelixDrake1891CIn the 1901C the children that were still living at home were very well occupied 🙂 Two of them working in their fathers company….


I wrote on blog below, when I published this a week ago ! I was talking about East Coker & where the Drake family lived…So on Sunday after the car boot sale at Yeovil, we went & had a wander round East Coker & found Devonshire Cottage..Was very tempted to go in drive & knock the door !! But I didn’t ! It’s rather a large place & worth over a £1,000,000 now..Is it the original though?..The outbuildings seem to be (Top Pic) but honestly not sure of the house (bottom left) Side & back of outbuildings (bottom middle) Also as we were coming out of the village, we noticed this (bottom right) Drakes Meadow..newer houses..Wonder if its named after the Drake family?? Does anyone know?

“I’d love to go & take a look, which I shall do the next time we go up to Yeovil :)” 


This is Felix Drake’s will below……..drake 1

Now lets turn to Mr Arthur Green..not such a prosperus story I am afraid… He was born in 1837 to parents Robert Ashman Green b1797 d1858 & Anne Whitaker b abt 1807, On Robert Ashman’s death in 1858 Anne became proprietor of the Brewery, with Arthur on the 1861C as the Brewer employing 41 Men & 2 Boys. Arthur was one of 4? children I think, Emma Whitaker b1830, Arthur b 1837, Edward Whitaker b1839(Was an articled Clerk age 21 in the 1861C & became a Clerk in the Brewery), Rosalie Ann b1844 (she married a Vicar…George A Mahon, who was Vicar of Leigh On Mendip, Somerset & they had 10 children) …Before the next census in 1871, he had borrowed £3000 from Felix Drake (letter 1867)…who I found turned out to be his Aunt’s Husband, my suspicion was correct !…(Mary Ann Green was Robert Ashton Green’s sister) & mortgaged his properties…Who else in the family knew I wonder, that he had done that ? In the 1871C Arthur is described as a ‘Lieut in North Somerset Yeomanry, a Brewer & Maltster employing 2 clerks, 2 travellers, 30 men & 2 boys’ …He was aged 34 & unmarried…. but in 1873 things changed….Arthur Green was married to Annie Sophia Edith Harston (aged 20, b1853 in Tamworth, Staffordshire) Annie’s father Edward was a Priest/Vicar & had been vicar of Sherbourne in the 1861 C, so I wonder if that’s how they had met? (abt 30 mls away) or through the Church? & although Annie’s family had moved to Paignton, Devon by the 1871C, the Green family may have kept in touch with the Harston’s.                   Athur & Annie (often known as Edith) went on to have 7 children Arthur Harston b abt 1875, Robert Harston b abt 1879, Margaret Anne b 1880, Laurence Harston b1882 (An Engineer in a Motor Works), Edith M b1888, Evelyn C b1890, Agatha b1895.    I believe this house below to be Holcombe House/Manor..


Image below...This is Arthur Green & family, living at Holcombe House in 1881C.


On the 21 November 1888 this was reported in the press throughout the Country.. Mr Arthur Green, Proprietor of Holcombe Brewery in Somerset has filed for Bankruptcy in Bristol Bankruptcy Court. Gross liabilities are over £47,000 and the deficiency is over £9,000. A falling off in trade & working with reduced capital were given as the reasons. On 14 December 1888.  Official Receiver said that it had been decided the creditors that this case should removed to Bristol for convenience, and he made a formal application to that effect. 1 February 1889. At the Bristol County Court, on Friday, the following case came before the Registrar. Mr Arthur Green, Holcombe Brewery, Holcombe. Somerset. —Mr. Dunn, Frome, appeared for creditors to the amount of £18,000…etc….There are lots of articles in the papers, but this one below sums it up really…The Holcombe Brewery was lost to the Green family…

IMG_8465I have found these articles written about the Brewery...’One more brewery entered the Wells market in 1862 when Arthur Green, common brewer of Holcombe, leased the Christopher or New Inn, 35 High Street, from the Vicars Choral. Arthur was a member of the family firm John Ashman Green and Brothers that operated the Holcombe Brewery. Earlier, in the 1840s they had operated as Emanuel Green and Sons but this had been updated by 1859. In 1888 Holcombe Brewery Ltd had been registered. It did not last long after this, it went into liquidation & was purchased in 1893 George Henry Thatcher, the owner of the North Brewery, Welton.’ Most of this Info found on Google Books..The Brewing Industry, A guide to Historical Records.

This next info written by Tony Scrace in THE RISE AND FALL OF THE BREWING INDUSTRY IN THE WELLS AREA: 18TH–20TH CENTURY In 1901 Thatcher’s took over Welton Old Brewery. The company name changed to Welton Breweries Ltd and the Holcombe operation was closed’

By the time of the 1891C Arthur Green & his family had moved to the Bath area..Living on own means.Looking for a job ?

1891 green

Then in the 1901C they have moved to Wales …..I am unable to read totally clearly, but it seems Arthur is working as, or for a Magistrate for a Somerset Accountant? & his wife is a Manageress of a Steam Laundry…So they are trying to get back on their feet..

green 1901Wales

Then the 1911C they are back living in Bath at 3 Clarendon Villas, Widcombe Hill & obviously a bit better financially now, as Edith is not working, they just have one daughter at home who is working in Nursing & Arthur is an examiner of County Records.

Green 1911

I have found a death record for Arthur Green in December 1926 aged 89, in Kensington, London & also an Annie SEE Green death in Kensington, London for June 1927, age 74.

Below is a Google image from Brewery Lane, Holcombe of Holcombe Brewery that was..the large building & the ones behind..



The Brewery looks very swish now its all residential dwellings 🙂

This is a link to a superb blog by Brian Tomkins about his ancestors stories, this one is the story about Emmanuel Green b abt 1761 & the beginning of Holcombe Brewery, he was Arthur Green’s Grandfather.. Holcombe Brewery beginnings & family

Holcombe Brewery & village also has another claim to fame ! There is a memorial to Robert Falcon Scott – Scott of the Antarctic ! Scott’s father worked for a very short time as manager of the Holcombe Brewery after Arthur Green’s time. This is an excellent write up of their time in Holcombe by RadstockJeff on a forum that I found, with pictures too 🙂   Click on link… ! Robert Falcon Scott info..Holcombe

If either of these two families are your ancestors, there is so much information about them online it is overwhelming ! Once again I could have written a book ! Below are some snapshots of pages of Kelly’s & other Directories as examples for you to see……………….    If you have never looked through them, then do! They have so much local information, not just businesses, but local residents of villages, lots of info about the Churches in the village, memorials & repairs etc. They are invaluable if you are building up a picture of where your ancestors lived & worked. These below are concerning the Drake family, several mentions & the villages they lived…




Thanks so much to David Walsh @DW_Walsh  or @fh_data_project and his comment..see below, I now have a bit more info about the beginning of Holcombe Brewery and the Green Family, love the elopement !!!!… See scanned page below..


Till next time then…………………


  1. Gosh that’s detailed. I recognised the name and Captain Scott reference. My 3xgreat grandfather Benjamin Padfield of Holcombe wrote a journal in the 1860s and I’m pretty sure the Greens get a mention. It’s on my site. Best wishes, David @fh_data_project

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s such a wonderful tale about the beginning of the Brewery and Arthur Green’s ancestors ! Thank you David, shall add the page to this blog…Kind Regards, Lynn


  3. Hi I have some documents also regarding Felix Drake .. The Rev Ambrose W Hall ..Rev Henry J Tebbutt ..And others …draw up by solicitors Dated 1867 written on parchment wonderful writing .

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh Lynn what a superb story. Every detail is so meticulously documented and you make it so interesting to read. You must spend hours and hours researching you subject. I really admire your dedication. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you Lynn for this wonderful research and for sharing it.
    I am related to the Greens. Arthur and Annie (known as Edith) Green are my great grandparents. Unfortunately I don’t know either how they and can only speculate. Edith’s father the Rev Edward Harston was surrogate rural dean of Holcombe from about 1869 to 1873 though he lived in Devon until he died. So maybe Arthur and Edith met during that time. They married 23 Jun 1873 at Paignton, Devon. Arthur was running the brewery then.
    Hugh Drake – Emanuel Green and Ann Ashman are my 3 x great grandparents and parents of Mary Ann Green who married John Collard Drake.. What are they to you? We are related I presume.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Barbara, thanks so much for getting in touch.
      No I am not related to the families that I research, I am a collector of old photos mainly but sometimes buy old letters or wills & indentures.
      So that’s how come I bought these, they looking interesting!
      Glad you enjoyed reading about your family, I remember thinking at the time that there was a lot of information mentioning them online.
      Kind Regards Lynn


      • We live in a barn conversion which was once the barn where the horses were stabled for the webbing factory. This is adjacent to Cross Cottages. We always thought the lane going past was still owned by the Drake family but others will tell us different.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Christine, Thanks so much for getting in touch. Interesting to hear all the different bits of information about the house and area. Lots of the villages have great history don’t they. Thank you 👍


  6. Thanks Lynn. I delved a little further and discovered the Hugh Drake you have been in touch with is my 4th cousin!
    Yes there is certainly a lot online and the British Newspaper Archives about the Holcombe Brewery. My mother was GREEN so I feel somewhat protective towards them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would too! Different times back then though! So pleased you have found lots more information, the newspaper archives are wonderful arent they. I’m in hospital this week, new knee, but will chat when I get home. Lynn x


  7. Thank you Lynn.
    I delved further and discovered that Hugh Drake and I are fourth cousins!
    Yes there is a great deal online and in the British Newspaper Archive about Holcombe Brewery. I’ve tried to put some of it together but haven’t been too successful so far.

    Liked by 1 person

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