The Stuarts (Part II)

Charles the Second returned to the throne in 1660, and though the Rev. Henry Butler remained as vicar of St. John’s for the next two years, he refused to accept the terms of the Act of Uniformity. He left with several of his congregation to found an independent body at Compton that later built a chapel in Vicarage Street.

The Society of Friends, or Quakers, were meeting in Yeovil in 1654 and established a burial ground in Preston Road in 1669. The Baptists are first recorded in Yeovil in 1656 when they met in private houses, this was followed by a barn in South Street which was acquired in 1717 and converted into a meeting house.

At St. John the Baptist church Henry Butler was followed by Rev. John Beale, a well-known scientific writer who was an early member and then Fellow of the Royal Society. He was appointed chaplain to Charles the Second, by whom he was highly regarded, in 1665.

There was an acute shortage of change in the second half of the seventeenth century and several Yeovil traders issued farthing tokens. A town piece was struck for the Portreeve in 1668 and again in 1669. One of the tokens shows a pipe and tobacco roll - an early example of a tobacconist in Yeovil. In 1664 the Rev. John Beale had produced skins of parchment at a meeting of the Royal Society, which had been made by Matthew Wills of Yeovil ‘esteemed by many to be the best parchment maker in England’.

Charles the Second died in 1685. His brother, James the Second’s attempt to reintroduce Roman Catholicism giving much concern to Western Protestants who flocked to join the Duke of Monmouth when he landed at Lyme Regis. His defeat at Sedgemoor was followed by Jeffreys’ assizes and eight Yeovil men were among those hanged at Sherborne. Otherwise Yeovil seems to have maintained a low profile, but when William of Orange made his way to London from Brixham in 1688, he is stated to have been warmly acclaimed as he rode through the town ‘clothed in a red cloak and mounted on a white horse’.
Stuarts II