William Atyeo was a stonemason who left his mark – literally – on Bow Street. Three adjacent properties, Blake House, Arlington House and the Silver Workshop appear to have been built by him, as the stone plaque on the middle one, Arlington House, is engraved ‘Atyeo Mason & Bricklayer’.
William was born in January 1810 in Huish Episcopi, the eldest boy of five children. His parents were William Atyeo and Sarah (nee Cullen). He married Jane Small in 1836, and by 1840 he owned a house on Bow Street with a long strip of land at the back that stretched down to the Back River. Street directories of the time describe him as a stonemason.
At the census in 1851 he and his wife Jane had four children: Frederick (aged 14), George (12), Francis (8), Samuel (6) and Mary Jane (2). Frederick and George had emigrated to Australia in 1857 and 1858 respectively, so by the time of the next census, in 1861, Francis was the eldest child left at home. His siblings were four brothers, Samuel (16), Alfred (9), Vincent William (5) and William John (1), and a sister, Mary Jane (12). William had obviously branched out, describing himself as a mason, tea dealer and grocer.
William’s first wife, Jane, died in 1868 and two years later he married Elizabeth Pike. She died in 1886, and the following year he married his third wife, Elizabeth Holloway. Between them they had eight children. Their only daughter, Mary Jane, died aged 18. Of the 7 sons, only two, Samuel and Vincent William, stayed in Langport. Frederick and Francis settled near Melbourne, Australia, where Francis died in 1882 and Frederick in 1911. George, Alfred and William John settled in Christchurch, New Zealand. George died there in 1912, Alfred in 1924 and William John in 1940.
Samuel became a grocer and wine merchant, probably in the family premises in Bow Street. There are several accounts in local papers of his shop being broken into. Vincent William trained as a shoemaker, but later became an ironmonger. He was a greatly respected member of the community, much mourned when he died of consumption at the early age of 35. According to the account of his funeral in the Taunton Courier of 23 April 1890, ‘Profession with him meant action, and he always grasped every opportunity he could of doing good’. His wife Charlotte carried on the ironmongery business after his death.
William’s work as a mason could be hazardous at times. In July 1873, for example, he was working on a wall in Bow Street when it fell on him and broke his leg. At the age of 62, this must have put him out of action for quite a while.
At the census of 1891 William is described as a retired bricklayer, still living in Bow Street. He died on 16 September 1897 and is buried in Langport Cemetery alongside his sons Samuel and Vincent William, who pre-deceased him.
Several years ago, a correspondent asked whether there was any family connection between our William Atyeo (1810-1897) and John Atyeo (1932-1993), Bristol City footballer and their all-time greatest goal scorer. After some research it was shown that John Atyeo’s great-great-great grandfather, also called John, was William Atyeo’s brother. This makes William Atyeo, the mason, the great-great grand uncle of John Atyeo the Bristol City footballer.
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