Luke Withers, a beer house keeper, acquired the property now known as Crispin House in 1838. The new building had been built by James Hodges and we believe Luke probably acquired it because Job Hodges was unable to make the mortgage repayments. The deed of January 1838 refers to a messuage and a cottage so it would appear that at that time there were still two dwellings on the property.
We don’t believe that Luke ever lived in this house. The deeds say he was ‘in possession’ of what is now Crispin House, but by 1840 the Tithe Survey, Luke was living in St John’s Street and what is now Crispin House was occupied, but not owned, by James Cullimore. However the Tithe Map shows an area next to and adjoining the house which is given the hatching that indicates a non-occupied building. This could be the first indication of the house becoming ‘The Crispin’ beer house.
The 1841 census gives us more details of James Cullimore who was living here with his wife, Hester. The census says they were running it as a beer house.
James Cullimore was baptised on 31st July 1814. He was the son of Joseph Cullimore a labourer of Whitfield and his wife Martha (see Luke Withers). It seems likely that James’s father, Joseph, was buried on 5th August 1831 aged 63 years.
James Cullimore married Hester Smart in the September quarter of 1840. The marriage was registered in Bristol. Hester Smart was baptised 24th January 1821 in Thornbury and she was the daughter of James and Mary Smart (nee Sheppard) who farmed in Oldbury. Hester had a sister Sarah who married Samuel Wells (the son of James Wells and Betty Withers).
We know how The Crispin got its name. A beer house normally had insufficient trade to support a family and the man had to supplement his income with another trade. Although the censuses only describe James as a beer house keeper, we have discovered that when he baptised his children he described himself as a shoemaker or cordwainer. In the 1842 and 1844 Thornbury trade directories James Cullimore was listed under both shoemaker and beer house keeper. St Crispin is the Patron Saint of shoemakers.
The first son of Hester and James Cullimore did not live very long. James junior was baptised on 9th June 1841 in Thornbury. Sadly he was buried on 13th July 1841 aged only one month. They had a second son William who was baptised on 12th June 1842. Their third child was a daughter, Mary who was baptised 3rd April 1844. Mary too failed to live very long and was buried on 6th November 1844 aged eight months. Luke Cullimore was baptised on 6th September 1846. In the record of this baptism at St Mary’s Church in Thornbury Hester’s name is given its alternative spelling of “Esther.”
A second daughter Laura Cullimore was baptised 27th August 1848.
The Crispin was to be occupied by the Cullimore family for more than 70 years.
In 1851 the census shows that James was aged 35 and was still a beer house keeper, and his wife Hester was aged 28. They now had a family of three children; William aged 8, Luke aged 6, and Laura aged 2.
The 1861 census shows that the family remained in the house. Their son, William, was now working as a carpenter’s apprentice and Luke was a cooper’s apprentice.
Luke Withers, the owner of the property, died on 25th March 1868 aged 91, apparently having never married. In his will, Luke bequeathed the Crispin to William and Luke, the sons of James and Hester Cullimore on the condition that their parents James and Hester could continue to live in the house until their deaths. In the event of James dying first, that Hester could continue to live there until she died or re-married. He also arranged for an annuity of £15 12s to be paid to Laura, James and Hester’s daughter. A reference was also made to another annuity of £10 8s 0d paid to Hannah Greenman up to the date of her death “long since.” It seems likely, although we have not seen the deeds of the other houses that Hester Cullimore came to own that Crispin House was not the only property Hester Cullimore obtained from Luke Withers. She was also later described as the owner of properties formerly owned by Luke Withers at 11, 13 and 15 St John Street.
We have been unable to determine the exact relationship between James Cullimore and Luke Withers who was to give the property to the Cullimores in his Will. In fact, in an Inland Revenue document dated May 1900 William Cullimore, the son of James Cullimore made a signed statement that he was “a stranger in blood to Luke Withers.” We have taken this to mean that there is no close family relationship between the Withers and the Cullimores, although it seems that James’s mother, Martha, was Luke Wither’s housekeeper in the 1841 and 1851 censuses.
James Cullimore, the beer house keeper died on 19th July 1869 aged 54 years. His will was proved at Gloucester on 1st January 1875 by James Smart of Great Hoggins Farm in St Briavels who was a farmer.
The 1871 census shows that Hester continued to run the beer house which in this census is referred to as ‘The Jolly Crispin.’ The children have all left home. Hester has Matilda Symes, a visitor aged 15 living with her.
In 1873 a record of property shows Mrs Cullimore owns four acres one rod and eleven perches of land in Thornbury. The rate books of 1876 to 1899 also show that Hester Cullimore owned 11, 13, 15 and 17 St John Street. It seems likely that Hester inherited 11, 13 and 15 St John Street from their former owner Luke Withers and 17 St John Street from Hugh Smart who was her brother.
In the 1881 census Hester was still running The Crispin, but she now had her son William and his wife, Eliza and their family living with her.
In March 1883 The Bristol Mercury reported that Mrs Hester Cullimore the owner of a number of houses in Thornbury was summoned for not converting the cesspool of a cottage in John Street Thornbury occupied by Joseph Ball into an ash closet. The report said that the case was considered important as a large number of the houses in Thornbury were provided with covered cesspools. It seems there was a great reluctance in Thornbury to alter the existing arrangements. Dr Bond the medical officer of health said his attention was directed to the house in question during the existence of an outbreak of Scarlet Fever. He felt that “all cesspools were a nuisance and injurious to health.” The jury ruled that the nuisance must be abated.
In 1891, Hester aged 70, was still running the pub. She had the four youngest of William’s children living with her. Mrs “Esther” Cullimore was a beer retailer at Pullins Green in the 1894 and 1897 Kelly’s Trade Directories.
Hester died in 1899 aged 77. We are not sure when the property stopped being run as a beer house. The 1901 census shows the house was occupied by Hester’s son, William Cullimore, a retired carpenter aged 58, Frances his new wife also aged 58 born in Mardon, Herefordshire and his son, Austin who was a tailor. The 1904 Trade Directory however includes the name of William Cullimore as publican of The Crispin in Mutton Lane. The property was owned by William until the death of Frances in 1917. In 1919 it was sold to John Taylor a butcher.
The Children of Hester and James Cullimore
Luke Cullimore born in 1846 followed his parents into the licensed trade and became publican at the Plough in St Mary Street. He later farmed at Sibland Farm. Click here to read more
William Cullimore born in 1842. He was living with his parents in the 1851 and 1861 censuses, the latter of which shows that he became a carpenter’s apprentice. By 1871 he was still a carpenter but he and his wife Eliza were also running a public house in Gillingstool which became the Black Horse. In 1881 he and Eliza had moved back into the Crispin with Hester Cullimore. Read more
Laura Cullimore born in 1848 married Samuel Young Sainsbury a guard on the railway on 12th February 1870. Samuel was born in 1849 and was the son of a farmer John Sainsbury. Click here to read about the early Sainsburys who had moved from Tisbury in Wiltshire to farm in Tytherington.
Samuel was born in Tytherington and was the brother of William Young Sainsbury who became the Relieving Officer in Thornbury and for a time lived in 15 St John Street, one of the houses owned by the Cullimores. Laura was gifted an annuity of £15 12s in the will of Luke Withers. By 1871 Laura and Samuel were in Lincolnshire. In 1901 Laura and Samuel were in Great Grimbsby Lincolnshire.