The only reference we have yet found to the early history of number 7 Castle Street in Thornbury lies in the deeds of the house next door – 5 Castle Street. Here what is now number 5 Castle Street is said to “lie between lands formerly of Richard Atwells gent and Absalom Pullin (Pullen) deceased.” This is far from clear but it is possible that Richard Atwells owned the land that number 7 was built on.
Richard Attwells died in 1728 aged 69 years. We have tried to trace the early ownership of the land on this part of Castle Street and the information we have so far is that it was part of the Latteridge and Greenhouse closes owned by the Attwells. Read more about this property
Benjamin and Sarah Pearce. The owners of what is now called Dot Cottage (7 Castle Street) have a deed dated 13th May 1768 showing that Benjamin Pearce a perukemaker and his wife Sarah Pearce owned the property which was then occupied by John Wakefield. Click here to read more about Benjamin and Sarah
Another indenture dated 15th August 1771 shows that Benjamin and Sarah sold the property to William Greenwood the younger, a baker for £20. At that time the property was described as being void.
The Assessment for the Relief of the Poor (a tax record which was drawn up in 1770) shows that “Benjamin Pierce” was living in this house, next door to William Pitcher, and paying one half of an old penny in tax. Interestingly the house is described as “late Swanleys.”
This usually indicates that the previous owner was surnamed “Swanley”. We will have to look for further evidence but it is interesting that the churchyard of St Mary’s Church in Thornbury has a grave for a Swanley family and William Swanley died on 18th May 1755.
William and Mary Greenwood. The next owner after Benjamin Pearce was William Greenwood, the son of William and Mary Greenwood. He was married to Mary Taylor, the daughter of James Taylor of Oldbury and Mary Bradby of Elberton.
The 1775 land tax record shows William jnr as living at 7 Castle Street. By 1780 William junior appears to be living in 13 High Street, a property owned by his father. William died aged 46 in April 1783.
In 1804 the will of his widow, Mary Greenwood, left her daughter Elizabeth Eley the wife of James Eley and Mary Shepherd the wife of John Shepherd £70 each. She also left property to be shared equally amongst her children William, Hannah and Sarah Greenwood. There was also a reference to property which would have been left to their children Martha and Richard who had since died. We are not sure when the Greenwoods disposed of 7 Castle Street. Click here to read more about the Greenwoods
James Bevan – Roger Howell, an archaeologist and local historian, has researched the deeds of the Lion House, the large property next to number 7. He has provided the next clue to the history of both houses. He believes that number 7 had once belonged to George Rolph but some time after his death in 1792 it had been purchased by James Bevan Senior. The land tax records list James Bevan as a tenant of Thomas Rolph as late as 1800 but it is not clear that these records were always up to date or to which property it refers.
The Rent Roll of Borough Rents paid by freeholders to the Mayor of Thornbury which was drawn up between 1807 and 1810 shows that James Bevan junior both owned and occupied 7 Castle Street and he was listed in the land tax records for this house up to 1825. James Junior was born in 1782 and by 1800 he was a Collector for the Land Taxes. He married Ann Lippiatt Thomas in 1804 and they were to have at least 15 children. Read about their family
George Motley. The notes on the deeds of the Lion House also show a later owner of number 7 – George Motley. George Motley’s name does not appear in the land tax records for Thornbury in the 1825, 26 or 27 years but appears in the records of 1828 as the owner and occupier of a house, which appears to be this one.
We are more able to trace a continuous history of the house from the time of the Tithe Map of 1840 which shows the house as plot number 39 owned and occupied by George Motley. The 1841 census provides the further information that George Motley was at that time aged 65 and was living with Hannah Motley aged 68 living in Castle Street. George is described as a shopkeeper.
The records of St Mary’s Church in Thornbury have an entry for the marriage of George Motley to a widow Hannah Nelmes on 28 March 1826. It is possible that this is a second marriage for both of them. There is an earlier marriage of a George Motley on 4th July 1811 to Sarah Greenwood. Sarah Greenwood was the daughter of William Greenwood the baker who owned the house from 1771.
George’s second wife Hannah was the widow of John Nelmes and the mother of Thomas Nelmes who was born in 1805.
The Gloucester Records Office has evidence that George was trading in Thornbury for some time before the Tithe record. George Motley of Thornbury grocer was charged with possessing four defective weights. He had to forfeit the weights and was fined 10/- and 8/- costs. The crime was committed 11th December 1834 (GRO Reference Q/PC/2/54/A 22/12/1834).
In the last Will and Testament of George Motley pig butcher of Thornbury, proved on 23rd May 1853, he declared
“I give my messuage with outlet in the High Street and Fore Street now in my occupation to George Pritchard my nephew living now in Swansea and other personal estate to his sister Ann Hurd and also on the death of my wife Hannah Motley about £160 on the Independent Chapel Thornbury …. And the remainder to my son-in-law Thomas Nelmes whatever may be due to me for books and stock in trade. I make Thomas Nelmes Thornbury pig butcher my sole executor.”
According to the records of the United Reformed Church George Motley died on 4th March 1853. Hannah Motley died at Thornbury on March 18th 1859 aged 88 years. The Minutes of the Meetings of the United Reformed Church for July 18th 1859 show that the legacy left to his wife by Mr W Motley “entirely removed the debt which for many years had been standing in the chapel.”
The documents which relate to the sale of Henry Knapp’s estate in 1883 say “The summary of title which accompanied the sale catalogue said lot three commenced with an indenture of 31 March 1854 and made between George Pritchard of the first part, Henry Knapp of the second and Thomas Ricketts of the third part.”
At this stage we know very little about George Pritchard. The 1851 census shows one possibility. George Pritchard a 23 year old agricultural labourer was living with his widowed father William in Gillingstool a journey man butcher. By 1861 34 year old George had married Jane aged 30 and was a butcher with his 52 year old father in Crossways.
We have not yet been able to confirm that the George Pritchard who was named in a newspaper article of 12th November 1864 is the same George Pritchard but it seems likely as the article described him as a cattle dealer of Thornbury. The article in question said that George Pritchard had appeared before the magistrates at a special session in Berkeley on a charge of having been drunk and of violently assaulting Sergeant Mason and Constable French in the execution of their duty. It seems that George had been found lying drunk at nine in the evening on the turnpike road leading through Pedington with his horse by his side. The police helped him back onto his horse whereupon he became very violent and kicked the policemen. He was fined 5s and 2s 6d costs for being drunk and £2 and 15s 6d costs for assaulting the police officers.