Two documents dated 5th and 6th August in the 17th year of the reign of George ll (1743) show that the property now called Crispin House had been in the hands of the Gayner family since John Gayner acquired it in 1684. Read how the Gayners acquired the property
The key facts here seem to be that in 1684 the blacksmith, John Gayner bought “a messuage or tenement wherein the said George Pearce now inhabits“; the property that his grandsons John Gayner, a surgeon of Thornbury, and William Gayner, a grocer of Bristol, sold in 1743 was “an orchard commonly called the Burnthouse Orchard“. There is no house mentioned at this time and we feel that the name of the orchard tells its own story – a blacksmith’s job seems to have had certain risks! The grandsons seem to have learned this lesson and taken to different occupations to that of their grandfather.
In 1743, the purchasers were Sarah Sparkes wife of Thomas Sparkes of Thornbury pigdriver, Solomon Smith of Thornbury carrier, son of the said Sarah, and a third person, John Hopkins of the city of Bristol, Innholder. The purchase price was 6 guineas. This document is a tripartite agreement. We believe that these agreements were made when the property was bought by means of a mortgage and that John Hopkins was providing the money which made him the legal owner until Sarah and Solomon paid off the mortgage.
The orchard is described as being bounded by a paddock belonging to Mrs Hester Raymond (formerly Mrs Hester Tayer) on one side, by a garden or orchard belonging to George Cossham on another side, by a lane leading to Hester Raymond’s paddock on another side and by another lane leading to Mr Parnell’s ground called Blakes on the other side.
The garden or orchard belonging to George Cossham appears to be the land on which numbers four and six Crispin Lane now stand because in the tithe survey of 1840 this plot was owned by John Cossham. We believe that the first of the two lanes referred to is at the back of the property and is now part of the garden of number 17 Pullins Green, the size and shape of which makes it clearly part of this ancient lane. The second lane is probably what is now called Crispin Lane.
There are a series of transactions dated 15th-18th March in the thirteenth year of the Reign of George the third (1773). Solomon Smith the elder, now described as a yeoman, sold the orchard to Solomon Smith the younger, described as a schoolmaster, for £20. Solomon Smith the younger then immediately sold the orchard on to Hester Bagnell spinster of Thornbury, for the sum of £21. It is interesting to see that Solomon pledges himself in the sum of £40 to uphold the sale agreement with Hester, and particularly that part of it which extinguishes the dower rights of his wife, Jenny, and Hannah, the wife of the Solomon Smith the elder.
An agreement dated 20th June 1774 shows that Hester Bagnell leased the orchard back to Solomon Smith the younger for a term of six years at an annual rent of 1 guinea.
We cannot understand why Solomon should sell the property only to lease it back again. It would seem that either he just needed the money or it was another way of mortgaging the property which he intended at some point to redeem. If this was his intention, he must have defaulted in his payments as the next document shows that it was Hester Bagnell who was selling the property.
Hester Bagnell died in 1808 at the age of 91 and was buried at Tortworth.