Poultry Brook (sometimes Poulterbrook and other spellings) from top of High Street

The Baylis family of Thornbury is best known for providing Thornbury with a carrier service for more than 100 years.  We are not sure how far back in time they started this service.  We have a collection of photographs of the Baylis family.  Click here to see them

The earliest record we have seen so far mentions Walwin Baylis as a carrier when his daughter Emma was baptized in 1831.  We know from other records that there was a Robert Baylis who was also a haulier and carrier – he is shown as living in Poultry Brook (the house shown above which was below Daggs allotments).  We assume this may have been Walwin’s brother and that Walwin and Robert were both sons of Benjamin Baylis, a tailor.

Benjamin Baylis was a tailor who had been born in Clifford in Herefordshire about 1775.  There was a large branch of the Baylis family living in Clifford.  Benjamin may have been the boy christened at Clifford in January 1775/6.  He was the son of Benjamin and Mary Baylis.  We do not know when he came to Thornbury but the Gloucester Journal of March 19 1798 shows the men serving in the Gloucestershire militia and one of these is listed as “Benjamin Bailis alias Green of Thornbury, staymaker.”

We know that Benjamin’s first wife was called Elizabeth.  Their son, Walwyn (or Walwin) was baptized in Thornbury on 7th February 1800, having been born on 24th December 1799.  We suspect therefore that the marriage may have been on 11th October 1797 when a Benjamin Baylis married Elizabeth Ford in St Michaels Church in Bristol.  Although we haven’t found any birth or baptism record, they must have had another son, Robert, as along with Walwyn, Robert is later referred to in correspondence relating to Benjamin.

Benjamin was shown as owning a property in Thornbury in the 1800 land tax record.

We know from the account books of the Feoffees of the Grammar School (as the trustees of that charity were called at that time) that Benjamin rented a property from them at least from 1808.  We believe that it was the property later known as 4 Chapel Street.  From about 1827 the rent of this property went up from £2 12s 6d to £5.  It is difficult to account for this big increase, although we note that Benjamin’s son was reimbursed 18s 9d for work done on the property about this period.

It seems possible that Benjamin and Elizabeth had another child Elwin who died aged 16 weeks and was buried at the Baptist burial ground on 1st June 1815.  Elizabeth Baylis died aged 40 on 8th August 1817 in Thornbury and was buried in the yard of the Baptist Meeting House.

We know that Benjamin lived in the property in Chapel Street until 1830 as the accounts book shows that Walwin Baylis had become the official tenant of the property “formerly occupied by Benjamin Baylis”.  After this time we believe that Benjamin lived in one of the almshouses at 15 St Mary Street.

In October 1833 a number of leading citizens of Thornbury signed a ‘memorial’ or petition to Lord Melbourne concerning the conviction of Charity Hogg for receiving stolen goods.  The name of Benjamin Baylis appears on this memorial and his occupation was given as ‘confectioner’.

The 1841 census shows Benjamin had a very different occupation and that he was a tailor aged 66.  He was living in 15 St Mary Street with Martha aged 53, Elizabeth aged 19, Ruth aged 13 and Fanny aged 9.  This implies that Benjamin may have married for a second time.  We understand, from the marriage record of their daughter, Fanny, in New York in 1870) that Benjamin’s second wife was Martha Mills, but we haven’t been able to trace any record of their marriage.  Based on the age of their daughter, Elizabeth, it is likely to have been between 1817 (when his first wife died ) and 1822.

It appears that Benjamin and Martha lived in Thornbury during the 1820s and 1830s as later censuses show that their daughters, Elizabeth and Fanny, were born in Thornbury about 1822 and about 1828 respectively.  Martha was listed as one of the local ‘poor’ ladies given a coat and gown at Christmas by the Mayor in 1830 and 1839.

We believe that Benjamin had another daughter, Ann, who was born in Thornbury about 1813 (according to later census records).  We don’t know where Ann was in the 1841 census, but she married Charles Wheeler in Bristol in 1844.  When she died in 1891 she left some shares in the Bristol Flour and Bread Concern to Albert and George Baylis, both carriers of Thornbury.  The two Baylis were the sons of Ann’s brother, Henry Baylis.  Ann was living at 2 Cornwallis Place, near Stapleton Road, Bristol when she wrote her will in 1886.

Martha Baylis died in 1849.  We understand from an agreement dated 2nd October 1850 that Benjamin was paying rent of 10d per week.  In support of this agreement Benjamin’s sons, Walwin and Robert, both hauliers, agreed to be sureties for their father.  The 1851 census shows that Benjamin was still living at 15 St Mary Street and working as a journeyman tailor aged 76.  He was now living with two of his daughters, Betty a charwoman aged 31 and Fanny a seamstress aged 20. Benjamin was given a coat in the Mayor Christmas gifts in 1855.  He died in 1858.

Of Benjamin’s children:
Robert Baylis – was born in Thornbury about 1804.  Although he appears to be the younger son of Benjamin Baylis we have very few records of him and would like to learn more about him.  Like Walwin, Robert was a carrier and haulier.  Click here to read more

Walwin Baylis – “Wallwynn” Baylis was born on 24th December 1799 and baptized in Thornbury on 7th February 1800 the son of Benjamin and Elizabeth Baylis.

The IGI seems to indicate that “Walwyn Bayliss” married Hannah Alway on 28th September 1825 in Southampton in Hampshire.  We do not know why Walwin was in Southampton at this time but we assume he was working there as a servant.  “Walwyn” and Hannah Baylis appeared to be still living in Southampton in 1826 as their son George was baptized there on 16th September 1826.

On 15th November 1829 when their son Edwin was baptized in Thornbury Walwin Baylis was a servant.  The accounts of the Feoffees (trustees) of the Grammar School show that Walwin took over the tenancy of his father’s property in Chapel Street in 1830.  By 1831 when his daughter, Emma was baptized on 2nd October 1831 Walwin was described as a carrier.

We know that Benjamin Baylis rented a property in Chapel Street from the Feoffees of the Grammar School and we know that 4 Chapel Street was owned by the Feoffees.  There is a small discrepancy here that we cannot explain at present.  The Tithe Apportionment drawn up by 1840 shows that Walwin was living on Plot 105 and renting from the Feoffees of Thornbury a property described as house and stable behind what may then have been the New Inn, near the corner of Chapel Street and High Street.  The census of 1841 places Walwin’s property between that of John Williams at the Wheatsheaf and John Virgo in Chapel Street.  This means Walwin should have been living at 4 Chapel Street, a property known to have been owned by the Feoffees.  This property later became Thornbury and District Museum.  We cannot explain the difference between the Tithe Map of 1840 and the census of 1841.  The accounts book of the Feoffees record that Walwin was paying rent for what appears to be the same property with a house and a stable from 1830 to at least 1839 when he paid a year’s rent and there are no notes about a change of address.

The 1841 census shows that Walwin was living in Chapel Street with his family.  Walwin was a carrier aged 40 living with his wife, Hannah aged 40 and their children: George aged 16, Mary Ann aged 12, Edwin aged 11, Emma aged nine, Henry aged seven, Robert aged five, Ann aged three and Jane aged one.  At this time he was advertising a carrier service between his house in Thornbury and Bristol every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

In 1848 Walwin’s wife Hannah died.  On 2nd October 1850 Walwin and his brother Robert, both hauliers agreed to stand surety for their father Benjamin’s rent of 15 St Mary Street.   In 1851 Walwin was still living in Chapel Street with his children: Mary Ann, Edwin now also working as a carrier, Emma, Henry, Robert, Anne and three extra children born since last census: Jane, Elizabeth and Walter.

The 1852 trade directory shows that Walwin had joined with Thomas Greenman to operate the carrier service to Bristol on the same three days.

In the 1861 census Walwin continued to be a carrier then aged 61 and living with his son, Walter aged 16 and daughter, Elizabeth a housekeeper aged 18 and ‘a nephew’ George Hodges aged five born in London.  It appears that George was in fact Walwin’s grandson, the son of Walwin’s daughter, Mary Ann.

The 1871 census shows that he is still working as a carrier, now aged 71 and that he was still living at what became 4 Chapel Street.  At this time he had just his daughter, Elizabeth living with him as housekeeper.  Walwin died in the Bristol area on 4th February 1872 aged 72.  One of the executors of his will was John Spicer Binder of Thornbury the “Dissenting minister.”

Of Walwin and Hannah’s children;

George Baylis was born in 1826 in Southampton.  The Bristol Mercury reported the death of George, the eldest son of Walwin Baylis of Thornbury on 21st June 1850 aged 24.

Mary Ann Baylis was born in Milbrook in Hampshire and baptized on 15th June 1828.  Mary Ann was aged 23 and living with her father in Thornbury in the 1851 Census.  On 23rd October 1854 she married Henry Hodges in Southwark in London.  They had a son, George, born in 1855.  In the 1861 Census George was staying with his grandfather, Walwin, whilst his parents remained in London.  Henry was a porter and they were living at 32 New Union Street, St Giles Without in Cripplegate, London.  They were still living there in the 1871 Census when Henry was working as a warehouseman.

Emma Baylis was baptized in Thornbury on 2nd October 1831.  Emma then aged 26 married John Honeyborne aged 28 on 9th May 1858.  John died in 1867 and Emma married again.  Her second husband was John Stevens.

Jane Baylis was born on 6th May 1840.  She married Captain Hans Torjussen at St John’s Church, Bedminster, Bristol on 19th September 1859.  According to their great grandson, she and Hans lived at Kragero, in Norway, and had four children.  Jane was baptized as an adult on 12th February 1864 in the Lutheran Church and she may have taken the name Johanna then.  She died aged 31.  The children were split up into two pairs and cared for by relations.

The Bristol Mercury reported that she died in Norway on 6th February 1871 and that she was the wife of ‘Captain Hans Torjuson’ and the fourth daughter of Mr Walwin Baylis of Thornbury.  We have been sent photographs of this family and have included them in our album of  Baylis family photographs

Edwin Baylis was baptized 15th November 1829.  He married Emma Ransom on 20th July 1856 in St Marylebone in Westminster.  In 1861 Edwin was living in 3 Stafford Place, Richmond in London where he was working as a coachman with his wife, Emma from Warminster in Wiltshire.  He died in Childown Chertsey aged 54 on 24th June 1883.

Henry Baylis was born on October 30th 1834.  Henry became a carrier like his father and settled to live at 1 Bath Road.  Click here to read about Henry

Robert Baylis married Anna Calway in West London on 28th February 1858.  In the 1871 and 1881 censuses Robert was living in 62 Dorchester Gardens, Paddington in London where he was employed as a coachman.  They don’t appear to have had any children.

Ann (“Annie”) Baylis.  Her birth was registered in the Thornbury area in the first quarter of 1839.  Ann married a railway policeman, John Abel Jelf in the Bedminster area of Bristol on 22nd December 1860.  The 1861 Census describes John as a policeman and shows that at that time they lived in the St Paul’s area of Bristol.  John was born in Ashelworth or Ashleworth in Gloucestershire and his family were associated with The Boat Inn there.

Elizabeth Baylis was born in the December quarter of 1841.  In 1881 after the death of her father Elizabeth was a lodger in the High Street with the widowed Jane Ellis.  Elizabeth was living on “interest from money”.  Elizabeth died in 1885.

Walter Baylis was born in 1844.  He married Anne Morley in what became the United Reformed Church on December 25th 1865.  In the 1871 census Walter was living with his wife, Anne, at 12 Rock Street.

Following the death of Walwin in 1872 Walter took over his father’s house at Chapel Street.  The 1876 rate book confirms that Walter was living in what became 4 Chapel Street (a building that later became the Thornbury and District Museum).  In 1877 and 1889 he was listed in the trade directories as being a carrier, haulier and coal merchant.

We know from the rate books that Walter left this property by 1880 and operated instead from the larger premises on the corner of Chapel Street in a property that became 16 Chapel Street.  In the 1881 census Walter was 37 years old and a coal agent and haulier.  His wife Annie was 42 years old.  She was born in Chipping Sodbury.  They were living with their son Howard aged three and Elizabeth Arthur aged 16 who was described as an adopted daughter.

The will of Jesse Cossham proved July 1887 left bequests to the Baylis family.  Jesse left nineteen guineas each to Walter Baylis and his wife Anne.  He left the same sum to their children; Elizabeth Mary and Howard Walter.  As well as what must have been a considerable windfall to the family, Jesse directed that Walter Baylis was to be offered a property for the price of £100.  This property was described as a copyhold messuage yard and premises now in the occupation of Thomas Morgan.  This was what later became known as 2 Chapel Street.

By 1890 the rate books indicate that Walter now lived at 2 Chapel Street. By the 1891 census, he was described as ‘fly proprietor’ so he was offering specialised form of transport for hire which we understand is a one horse two wheeled light carriage.  We have found a couple of notices in the Bristol Mercury which show that Walter was leaving town in 1891 and was selling his house, a 4 bedroomed dwelling with large coach-house and a ‘never-failing supply of water’.  In the second auction he put up for sale ‘a portion of his household furniture, poultry and other effects’.  From the description of the house which also mentions two front sitting rooms, and a quarter acre of capital warm early garden’ we are fairly confident that this was the house to the right of the present Thornbury Museum which was pulled down and was then demolished to build the Armstrong Hall.

In the 1891 census Walter and Annie were living with their daughter Elizabeth aged 21 and a music teacher and their son Howard aged 12.  They had a lodger William Robson a grocer’s assistant.

In 1897 Howard Walter Baylis married Sarah Blackford in Keynsham.  Walter Baylis died in 1900 aged 55.  In 1901 Ann and Walter’s step-daughter Elizabeth Mary Baylis married George William Tucker in Bristol.   In the 1911 census Anne Baylis then aged 75 and a widow was living with her son in law George William Tucker a blacksmith aged 48 and his wife Elizabeth aged 42.  George and Elizabeth had been married for ten years and had one child a son called Walter.  The family lived in Horfield in Bristol.  They had a lodger 22 year old Percy Thorne.  Howard and Sarah Baylis also lived in Horfield in the 1911 census.

See also our photograph album for the Baylis family