We are grateful to South Gloucestershire Council for allowing us access to the deeds and documents that relate to the property that became 1 Bath Road in Thornbury. These documents confirm the origins of this house and give us a detailed history from the Eighteenth Century and suggest the property was used an orchard and cider mill for many years before that.
On this page we attempt to record people who lived in this property, rather than those who owned it. Read more about the owners.
In 1770 when the property was transferred from John King to Thomas Grove it was described in different documents as a cider mill or mill house. In an indenture of 17th January 1787 Thomas Grove butcher and Anne his wife sold to Hester Wetmore a spinster for £150 “all that mill house, cider mill, cider press and orchard .. containing by estimation one acre.” It is difficult to interpret these early documents and although it is clear that there are buildings on the land it is by no means clear that someone lived in it, although it is not unlikely.
Between 1770 and 1807 there were changes made to the mill house. The indenture of 24th June 1807 between William and Hester Scott and Thomas Wetmore specifically says that the mill house had been
“converted into and used as a messuage or dwellinghouse in two apartments and wherein Joseph Mills and Thomas Ford do now dwell with the court garden and orchard thereto adjoining and belonging and containing by estimate one acre now in the said several occupations of the said Joseph Mills and Thomas Ford as tenants.”
Joseph Mills. We are unable to confirm who Joseph Mills was but a Joseph Mills married Hannah Thorn in 1798 and they had a daughter called Eliza baptised in 1805. This family may have occupied this property but we have found no proof either way.
Thomas Ford. In 1783 and 1784 the Land Tax records show that a person called Thomas Ford was renting a different property from George Rolph. The 1800 Land Tax record shows Thomas was renting the property that later became 28 High Street from Betty Lippiatt. The abstract of title for the property next door to 28 refers to Thomas being a horse breaker.
In 1809 and 1810 the Land Tax clearly indicate that Thomas Ford was renting “the Millhouse” from William Scott, the owner of what later became 1 Bath Road. We do not know whether Thomas Ford of the Millhouse was a horse breaker. By 1812 the Land Tax appears to indicate that only Thomas Ford occupied this property. Thomas Ford continued to occupy this property until 1822. We are not sure who occupied the house between this time and when it was tenanted by Joseph Williams.
Joseph Williams. The 1840 Tithe Apportionment shows that this property was Plot 121 and it was a house and garden owned by Thomas Osborne Wetmore and occupied by Joseph Williams. In the 1841 Census Joseph was a blacksmith aged 47 living with his wife Ann aged 44 and their children: Elizabeth aged 13, Thomas aged 11, Rebecca aged 9, Sydney aged 7 and Fanny aged 4.
Joseph was born in Olveston about 1792. While Williams is not an uncommon name, Olveston is a small place and we have a record of another blacksmith called Mark Williams who lived at 8 Horse Shoe Lane who was also born in Olveston about 1788. It seems likely they were brothers. Click here to read about Mark Williams
Joseph’s wife, wife, Ann was born in Wickwar about 1794. Joseph Williams married Ann Oldland Daniell in Thornbury on 23rd October 1824. Their daughter Mary Williams was baptised 9th October 1825 in Thornbury at which time Joseph was said to be a blacksmith. Thomas Oldland Williams was baptised 24th October 1829. Rebecca Williams was baptised on 15th October 1834, with Thomas Holden Williams and Sydney Williams were all baptised the same day. Alfred Williams was baptised 18 September 1836.
The 1851 Census shows that they had moved away from Bath Road and were living in Morton with their two children: Thomas, a blacksmith aged 21 and Frances aged 14, both born in Thornbury.
Thomas attempted to sell off several of his properties in 1855, including the one in Bath Road – it was described as ‘a roomy and well-built freehold cottage with walled garden, blacksmith’s sheds and other outbuildings adjoining, situate in Back Street for many years in the occupation of Mr Joseph Williams’.
In 1858 Joseph was involved in dispute which was reported widely in newspapers throughout the country. Click here to read about John Watson Dalby and the church pews. At the time of this dispute it was said that Joseph Williams was ‘a respectable local person residing at Moreton (who had for many years carried on a smith’s business in the town, and who had been a staunch attendant at church for upwards of 50 years having married his wife and had twelve children baptised there).’
The 1861 Census shows their address as ‘Gloucester Road, Morton’. James was still a blacksmith and their unmarried daughter, Ann aged 30 was living with them. There is a report in The Argus, a newspaper printed in Melbourne on 9th October 1869 which said that their son, Sydney had arrived in Australia in 1863 and had worked on the construction of the Echuca railway line and then joined a party to go well-sinking in the interior. His parents were concerned as to his whereabouts. We don’t know what happened to Sydney.
Joseph and Ann had moved to Almondsbury by the 1871 Census where Joseph then aged 78 was the publican at The Blue Bowl, a public house. Their 33 year old daughter Fanny was living with them and working as a dresmaker.
Joseph died on 1st February 1872 aged 79 at the Blue Bowl.
Ephraim Wilson. In 1851 Ephraim was a “potato hallier” aged 25 living with his wife, Charlotte, aged 28 from Cheddar and Henry Parsons aged 11, a son of Charlotte’s from before her marriage. Also in the household were; Ephraim’s sister, Hannah Wilson aged 13, a visitor Lucy Ashwell aged 23 from Bristol and her son, Edwin aged 2 and lodgers, Martha Cullimore unmarried laundress aged 60, Thomas Savery a journeyman clock and watchmaker aged 57, his wife, Elizabeth aged 60, and their son, Robert an agricultural labourer aged 19. Ephraim was a licensee of The Horseshoe Inn. Read more about Ephraim Wilson
John Goodman. In 1861 John Goodman was a potato dealer aged 34 living with his wife, Ann aged 40. John lived in several different addresses in Thornbury. Click here to read more
It seems that the property failed to sell as following Thomas’s death in 1868, the property was put up sale at auction again – it was then described as ‘all that freehold dwelling house with large walled garden, blacksmith’s shop, storehouses etc, situate and being at Back Street and Balseys Lane in the occupation of Mr Hignell or his under-tenant’.
We think that the house was vacant at the time of the 1871 Census.
William White. On 19th November 1873 “George Werrett of Oldbury on Severn yeoman sold to Henry Baylis carrier for £190 “all that messuage or dwellinghouse with the garden, blacksmith’s shop, storehouses and buildings ……………..formerly in the occupation of Joseph Mills and Thomas Ford late of Thomas Evans Hignell and now of William White as tenant”
We cannot be certain who William White was.
George Parnell. The 1876 Rate Book shows that the house was occupied by George Parnell. We assume this was the George Parnell who married Louisa Withers in Thornbury in 1867. George and Louisa both came from Olveston and they had a son, George H born whilst living there. We haven’t been able to trace them in the 1871 Census, but they came to Thornbury shortly after and it was here that their second son, John Charles was baptised on 4th August 1872.
The Bristol Mercury of 1872 includes a little article reporting on the problems with George and Louisa’s marriage. Louisa applied to the Court for George to be ‘bound over to keep the peace’. George pleaded that he had just taken steps to prevent Louisa eloping with a lodger, a young man aged 20. Louisa claimed that they had lived together very unhappily, that George was very jealous and had accused her of intimacy with various persons. George said that she had been ‘harbouring the young man for seven weeks and that she had been sitting up in his company after he had gone to bed. He believed that she was making preparations to elope and had prevented her escape. The court dismissed the case saying that George had committed no offence. The case caused some sensation in the town and a crowd of people followed Louisa when she came out of the Court and she ultimately found refuge in her husband’s home.
In spite of the trouble reported above, George and Louisa patched things up and they had two more children: Lena Louisa baptised on 10th October 1875 and Ella baptised on 7th March 1879. The 1881 Census shows George and Louisa were living in Castle Street. George was a general labourer aged 38, Louisa was aged 30 and their children were George H aged 11, John Charles aged 8, Lena A aged 5 and Ella 2.
The 1891 Census shows George was lodging in Thelwall in Cheshire where he was working as a general labourer on the Manchester Ship Canal. He was shown as married. We cannot trace Louisa and the children.
Henry Baylis. The 1880 Rate Book shows the house was occupied by Henry Baylis, local carrier, haulier and coal merchant. His family were to occupy the house for more than 70 years. Click here to read more about his family
Francis Hopkins. On October 8th, 1957, Francis Hopkins, a prominent Thornbury trader moved to the house from their shop in the High Street with his wife, Gwendoline and daughter, Pat. After a major renovation of the house and conversion of the outbuildings to provide garage and storage facilities for his mobile grocery business he re-named the house ‘The Coach House’ to reflect its previous use. Click here to read more about Francis