William Frederick Bennett was born in Haresfield, Gloucestershire about 1874, the son of Frederick Bennett, a butcher. He married Emily Mary Rugman in Thornbury on 25th April 1896. Emily was born on 6th November 1876 and baptised on 31 December 1876, the daughter of Tom Rugman, a labourer and his wife, Fanny, from Morton. The photos shown on the left shows William. The one on the right below shows Emily.
William and Emily had a daughter, Fanny Emily baptised on 1st November 1896. Fanny died in 1900 aged just three years. In 1901 William and Emily were living in Duckhole where William was working as an agricultural labourer. They had one daughter, Dorothy May born on 7th October 1899. Emily’s sister, Martha Rugman, aged 20, was also living with them.
William and Emily had a daughter, Edith Emma, born on 10th November 1901. They had another daughter, Clara Isabella, born in 1905, but she only survived for 5 months and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 14th March 1905. In 1906 when Dorothy started at the Council Upper School, the family were living at Crossways. William and Emily had one daughter, Winifred Eliza, born 30th January 1907 whilst the family were living at Hackett Lane which probably the same house as the one described as Crossways. They then seemed to move to Sawmill Lane for a short time as this was their address when their daughter, Kathleen Mary, was baptised on 2nd September 1907. Another six other children were born after the move to Horseshoe Lane: Charles Maurice born 27th November 1909, Albert William born early 1911, Margaret Mabel baptised on 7th April 1913, but died after only 21 days, Margaret born 10th August 1914, Frederick James born 21st November 1918 and William Sylvester born 17th October 1921.
Miss Higgins could recall the family living in number 5 so we are sure which house they lived in. She referred to Freddy Bennett playing in the open drain which ran outside of Oliver Higgins house on Pullins Green. ‘Freddy’ was born in 1918 so she must have been referring to the 1920s. The photograph on the left shows Freddy during the War when he was fighting in North Africa.
Several of William and Emily’s children suffered from ill health. Kathleen died aged only 15 months and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 13th November 1909. Dorothy died aged 16 and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 2nd May 1916 and Margaret died aged 11 years 11 months on 28th July 1926. Margaret must have been a sickly child as she left the infants school to go to convalescent home and Charles also left the infants school for convalescent home. We think that Emily’s father, Tom Rugman, was living with the family at the end of his life. He is listed as living in Horseshoe Lane in the 1927 electoral register and his address was given as Horseshoe Lane in the cemetery burial register. He was buried on 15th June 1929 aged 76.
In the Gazette of August 6th 1932 the wedding of Winifred Eliza Bennnett the youngest daughter of Mr and Mrs William Bennett of Pullin’s Green was announced. The electoral register describes their address as Horseshoe Lane and we can only conclude that the house was regarded as in either of these roads. Winifred married William Charles Stewart. Click on the thumbnail photograph on the right to see a larger photograph of that wedding.
The electoral registers show that William and Emily continued to live in Horseshoe Lane until at least 1935, when they appeared with their son Charles. William Bennett died aged 62 and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 16th September 1937. In the burial register he was described as a labourer living in Rock Street. By 1938 only Emily is listed there. We understand that Emily ran a small lodging house. One of her lodgers in the 1930’s was Harry White, who became the second husband of Jane Webb in 15 Horseshoe Lane.
The 1946 registers show Emily is still there, now living with Frederick James Bennett. Emily died on 28th December 1949 aged 73 years. The Gazette newspaper shows there was a sale of Emily’s household furniture and effects on 5th February 1950. We understand William, or Billy as he was called, moved to live with Mrs Skuse after his mother died. Billy worked in the Sawmills and he was killed in 1952 cycling back from Charfield Hill. He was aged 30 and buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 15th April 1952.