Many people may associate the wonderful aroma of roasting coffee with Carwardines of Bristol. They might not know that Edmund Carwardine who started the business in 1866 was born in Thornbury in 1842 into a family that followed a very different trade with a very different smell.
Edmund was the son of John Carwardine and his wife Charlotte. John had moved to Thornbury about 1830 to take over the tallow chandlery business run by his uncle, also called John Carwardine, who had moved into Bristol, presumably to expand his trade. He ran a tallow chandler’s business in Thornbury for at least ten years
There were two John Carwardines associated with Thornbury. We had initially thought that they were father and son, but we discovered an indenture calling the younger John Carwardine the ‘nephew’ of the older man. For the purposes of distinguishing them on this website we have called them John Carwardine the elder and John Carwardine the younger.
John Carwardine the elder – according to later census records, John was born in Upton St Leonards about 1781. We believe that he was the John Carwardine who was baptised on 3rd June 1781 at St Leonard’s Church, Upton St Leonards. He was the son of Thomas Carwardine and his wife, Sarah. We note that a brother, Thomas Marston Carwardine was baptised on the same date but we don’t know if they were twins.
By 1794 John had come to Thornbury where on 6th September he became apprenticed to a soap boiler, Richard Gwynn. John married Rebecca Freeman, the eldest daughter of the Reverend Anthony Freeman. Rebecca was born in Cheltenham about 1783. John and Rebecca had at least three children all baptised in Thornbury: Eliza baptised on 12th June 1818 and she was buried on 25th August 1818, Julia baptised on 13th October 1819 and John Austin baptised on 5th August 1821.
We know from references on the deeds of 43 High Street that John Carwardine initially rented the adjoining property, 45 High Street, from Richard Gwynn and that when he moved away his nephew, John Carwardine, took over the occupancy. The name of John Carwardine appears in the Thornbury Land Tax records of 1819 as a tenant of Richard Gwynn and the name appears in all subsequent records up to 1832 (the latest year for which we have records). We know from other sources that John the elder moved to Bristol by about 1828, so it is likely that the later records refer to John Carwardine the younger.
The 1840 Tithe Survey shows that 45 High Street was owned and occupied by ‘John Carwardine’. We had initially assumed that this referred solely to John Carwardine the younger as the 1841 census confirms that the younger John Carwardine occupied the property. However it was John Carwardine the elder who actually owned it. The rate books of 1867 and 1876 say that the owner was ‘late John Carwardine’ and it was the elder John Carwardine who had died by this time. Similarly “John Carwardine” was a tenant to John Williams in the Tithe Apportionment of 1840. He appeared to be renting a coal yard, which was presumably run alongside his soap making business. It is likely that this is also John Carwardine the elder.
The image on the right shows an extract from the 1840 Tithe Map with the street on the left being High Street and the street on the right being St Mary Street. The property at 45 High Street was then referred to as Plot 163 and you can clearly see on the plan that there was a large building separate from but close to the premises fronting the High Street. We assume that the house and/or shop fronted the High Street, whereas the manufacturing process took place in the building behind it. Based on its appearance today the building fronting St Mary Street was a coach-house.
It appears that John Carwardine the elder was trading as a soap and candle maker in Thornbury in partnership with Joseph Woodward. The London Gazette of 15th July 1828 gave notice that “the Partnership heretofore subsisting between us the undersigned, under the firm of Carwardine and Woodward, in the business of Soap and Candle Manufacturers, and carried out in the Town of Thornbury, in the County of Gloucester, has been this day dissolved by mutual consent; and all debts to the said Partnership concern are to be paid to Mr John Carwardine, Christmas Street, Bristol, by whom all debts due from the same concern will be paid. Dated this 8th day of July 1828. Signed John Carwardine & Joseph Woodward.”
The London Gazette printed on 16th March 1832 shows John didn’t have much luck following his move to Bristol. It reported that William Woodman (or Bodman) and John Carwardine, soap manufacturers had become bankrupt. However his financial situation seems to have recovered quickly as on the 4th of December 1834 ‘John Carwardine of Bristol’ lent Thomas Smith of Thornbury £150 with Thomas’s property, 59 and 61 St Mary Street, put up as security. By the 17th April 1837 this sum remained unpaid and an indenture of this date confirms that a mortgage was held by John Carwardine against these properties. On the 23rd February 1842 because of the then bankruptcy of Thomas Smith the property was transferred to John Carwardine.
By the time of the 1841 census John and Rebecca were living at Clarence Place, Westbury on Trym with their daughter, Julia aged 24 and a servant, Kezia Morris aged 25. On 17th September 1842 Julia married Nicholas Grove at Westbury on Trym. Click here to read about Julia and Nicholas
We have an indenture whereby John Carwardine loaned Thomas Morgan £400 on 28th July 1850 against property in St Mary Street behind what is now the Knot of Rope pub in the High Street. In this indenture John was described as a “gentleman” and his address was in Clarence Place in Kingsdown in Bristol. We know from the census that this was John Carwardine senior. The 1851 census shows John as aged 69 and Rebecca was aged 67. John was described as a proprietor of houses and land and they were living at 15 Clarence Place.
John’s name appears as a soap manufacturer in the 1851 Mathews Directory of Bristol. His home address is given as 15 Clarence Place, so we assume the other address given, that of 21 Christmas Street, was the address of his soap-making business. This was also the address of his nephew, John Carwardine the younger (see below) who had lately moved from Thornbury to Bristol so it is possible that the uncle and son were partners in the soap making business at that time.
John Carwardine senior died in Bristol on 9th May 1863. He was still living at 15 Clarence Place at the time of his death. In his will dated 22nd August 1861 he left his property in trust to Rebecca during her lifetime and then the three properties in St Mary Street were left to his daughter, Julia Grove (the wife of Nicholas Grove) ‘for her sole and separate use independently of her present and any future husband’. An indenture dated 16th November 1863 shows Rebecca purchased the moiety on Thornbury Farm and other copyhold properties in the Manor of Thornbury from Mary Haynes. John Crowther Gwynn gentleman of Bristol and James Freeman M.D. of Birmingham were parties to the transaction acting as trustees of the estate of Rebecca’s late husband. The transaction was funded from the sales of properties in Christmas Street and Cornwallis Place in Bristol.
Thornbury Farm was the home of Rebecca’s daughter, Julia and her husband Nicholas Cornock Grove and the property was left to Julia in Rebecca’s will. Rebecca died in Thornbury on 4th July 1865 so we assume that she had moved there to live with her daughter, Julia Grove. John’s son, John Austin, became a farmer living at Llan House, Dorstone in Dorset. He never married. He died on 6th August 1879 and was buried at Thornbury.
John Carwardine the younger – John was baptised at Down Hatherley near Gloucester on 9th October 1808. He was the son of Thomas Carwardine and his wife, Elizabeth (nee Brunsden). Thomas was the brother (possibly twin brother) of the John Carwardine who had become a soap boiler in Thornbury from 1794 onwards (see above).
We are not sure why nor when John came to join his uncle in Thornbury and become a soap maker and a tallow chandler. John Carwardine was listed in the 1830 Thornbury Trade Directory as a soap and candle maker. We suspect that this must be John the younger, as his uncle had moved to Bristol by this time. John married Charlotte Wilcox in Alveston on 6th May 1833. Their first child, Walter Henry, was baptised at St Helen’s Church, Alveston on 20th April 1834. They went on to have seven children baptised in Thornbury: John Austin was baptised on 4th September 1836, Thomas baptised on 7th June 1837, Mary Charlotte baptised on 2nd September 1838, Edward Henry baptised on 2nd February 1840, Edmund baptised on 27th July 1842, Elizabeth Wilcox born in early 1840 and was buried on 21st September 1841 aged 5 months and Anne Wilson baptised on 27th December 1843.
The 1840 Tithe Survey shows John Carwardine as the owner and occupant of Plot 163, a house and garden. This property was later to become known as 45 High Street and this is the same property previously occupied by Richard Gwynn, the soap boiler and John’s uncle, John Carwardine the elder. The 1841 census shows John was living with Charlotte and their children: Walter aged 9, Mary aged 5, Edward aged 3 and Elizabeth aged 1 and a servant Elizabeth Hodges aged 20. It is interesting to note that although the Tithe Survey shows John as the owner, the Mayors Account show that Mary Long was paying the Hylpe Charity charge from 1843 and against her name is noted ‘late John Carwardine’. We believe this means that Mary had taken over the payment from John, not that he had died (as he didn’t die until 1863). Mary carried on paying the charge until 1847. Mary Long’s last will and testament dated 23rd October 1848 shows she was a widow of Thornbury and she left the property to John Carwardine the younger. The property is described as being ‘all that dwelling house, soap house, yard, stable and all buildings thereto belonging situate in the High Street of Thornbury’.
In March 1844 John junior advertised that he was moving his soap business into Bristol (in the yard of the Red Lion Inn in Redcliffe Street). The advertisement said that “the candle-making business at Thornbury will be continued as usual, in connexion with the Soap and Candle Manufactory, Bristol under the firm of ‘John Carwardine & Co’.” Although the Carwardines moved to Bristol they retained ownership of the property at 45 High Street until at least 1880 according to the rate books.
The 1851 census shows John and Charlotte living at 20 Christmas Street in the parish of St John the Baptist, Bristol. (Note – this area of Bristol is now known as Christmas Steps). John was described as a soap manufacturer employing 5 labourers. Charlotte was described as being aged 43 and born in Pucklechurch. They had nine of their children living with them: William Henry aged 17 who was ’employed at home’, John A aged 15, Thomas aged 14, Mary aged 12, ‘Eusteus’ aged 11, Edward aged 9, Ann aged 7, Joseph aged 5 and Julia Rebecca aged 6.
Note – of these children, we suspect that William Henry was the same son referred to as Walter in the 1841 Census. We cannot find any other record of ‘Eusteus’ and two of the children, Joseph and Julia Rebecca were born after the family had moved to Bristol. Joseph born in 1845 and Julia Rebecca born in 1846.
By the 1861 census John had moved to live in 15 Hotwells Road, Clifton. John was described as a soap boiler. Of their children, only Ann, a hosier’s apprentice aged 17, Edmund, a shopkeeper (tea dealer) aged 19 and Julia a scholar aged 15 were living with their parents.
A site found on the internet which is listing information about Bristol people www.bristolinformation.co.uk has John Carwardine
“A tallow melter at Dock Gate, Hotwells he was summoned to Bristol Police Court in September 1857 in answer to information laid by the Local Board of Health under the act for the removal of nuisances. Mr Carwardine’s premises had a 200 gallon boiler erected without a cover on the ground floor. In this some very offensive fat was being melted the stench escaping into the open air in several ways, apart from through the doors, and windows. Immediately over the boiler was an aperture into the loft over. A great proportion of the steam ascended through there and when it reached the upper floor it had yet more ways of escaping. The health man said that he had visited the premises several times.
On the 8th August he cautioned Mr Carwardine about the matter and recommended him to put a cover with a flue as he had seen at other places. These recommendations had not been adopted and the smell was now worse than ever. He thought there was now as much fat two tons weight of putrid fat waiting to be melted. It was spread all about the place and not covered up. The effluvium reached the distance of more than 300 yards into the cottages and houses. Three or four of the inhabitants gave testimony with regard to the extent of the nuisance. Mr Carwardine was called on to give his defence and he said he had come there alone and was not prepared with any defence. He had been a tallow melter for 34 years and had carried on business in various parts of the city. No complaint had ever before been made against him and the process he pursued was that adopted at other businesses in the city.
He asked for an adjournment but the magistrates said that there was injury to the health of his neighbours and they could not allow it. The magistrates said that if he had come with anyone legal it would not have done his case much good. However sorry they might be to interfere with the trade of anyone, the health of the public must be their first care and this was a case that they could not overlook. They inflicted a £5 penalty. It was stated that the other houses to which Mr Carwardine had alluded should be looked into by the Inspectors of the Board. Mr Carwardine gave notice of appeal against this at the next Quarter Sessions. He was told that though he could appeal, he could be brought up again if he did not rectify the nuisance and the next time the penalty would be double.”
The 1871 census shows John and Charlotte still in Hotwells Road. He is now described as a tallow chandler. Of his children, Annie, Joseph and Julia were still at home. Joseph had become a tallow chandler like his father.
By the 1881 census shows John and Charlotte has moved to 1 St Johns Villas, Bedminster. John had retired. Their two unmarried daughters, Ann and Julia were living them and they now had a nurse living there. John died on 11th April 1881 and Charlotte died a few months later in the September quarter 1881.
It was John’s son, Edmund, who made the name of Carwardine famous in Bristol area. Edmund was born in Thornbury on 29th June 1842. He was apprenticed in the tea trade at a time when Bristol was a flourishing commercial port, with tea clippers returning from plantations in India, Ceylon and the Far East. The 1861 census shows him as a shopkeeper (tea dealer) living with his parents at 15 Hotwells Road, although the website of Martin Carwardine, a direct descendent and still trading in coffee, says that Edmund commenced trading in tea in 1866.
By 1871 Edmund Carwardine was a grocer/draper in Wickwar High Street. In 1881 and 1891 he was living in Clifton and described himself as a commercial traveller/annuitant. His son Stephen Ernest became a tea dealer and grocer’s manager. He took in coffee as well as tea and opened the first of the family’s tea rooms. Eventually he took over the city tea and coffee merchants Philip Lloyd (with whom he had been apprenticed) and the rest is history…