William was baptised in Alveston on 27th December 1807.  He was one of the four sons of William John Chambers and his wife, Sarah (nee Taylor).  The others were called John, George and Edward.  When William’s father died before 1822 his widow married Samuel Matthews.

William married Elizabeth Prewett on 16th December 1836 in St Michaels, Bath.  Elizabeth was born in 1809 and was the daughter of James and Hester Prewett.

William and Elizabeth settled in Thornbury.  The 1840 Tithe Survey shows they were living in the High Street in a shop which later became known as 41 High Street (now Barclays Bank) which was then owned by William Jones.  The 1841 census shows them living there.  William was a shoemaker aged 33 living with Elizabeth a staymaker aged 31, their children, William and George, another staymaker Harriett Tanner aged 29 and a servant Ellen Biddle aged 15.

They had four sons baptised on 19th November 1848.  These were: William Oliver born in Thornbury in 1838, George Edward born on 16th February 1840, Charles born in 1842 and John Taylor born in 1844.  Two further sons were baptised on 18th March 1849: James Prewett born in 1846 and Henry born on 23rd March 1848.  A daughter, Sarah Ann was born in 1851 and baptised on 14th December 1851.

By the 1851 census they had moved to 71 High Street.  In the census William was a master shoemaker aged 43 from Alveston.  He was living with his wife, Elizabeth a staymaker aged 41 from Thornbury and their children: William O a pupil teacher aged 13, George E aged 11, Charles aged 9, John T aged 7, James P aged 5 and Henry aged 3.

Following this move, three of the children died in the space of a few months.  Sarah Ann died aged 3 months and was buried on 8th February 1852, James Prewett died aged 6 and was buried on 19th December 1852 and Henry died aged 5 and was buried on 19th May 1853.

In 1861 just William and Elizabeth were living there.  William was now shown as employing one man.  By 1871 they were sharing the house with their son, John Taylor Chambers a music seller aged 27, a grandson, Arthur Chester Chambers aged 7 born in St Andrews, Bristol and a boarder William Frederick Nalder a solicitor’s general clerk aged 25 from Downington, Berks.

In 1881 just William and Elizabeth (now shown as a corsetmaker) were there.  Elizabeth died aged 78 on 13th February 1888.  William died on 8th January 1891 aged 83.

In his will dated 21st February 1867 William left his property in trust to his brother, George Chambers, grocer and his son, William Oliver Chambers, a schoolmaster in Wrington for the use of his wife, Elizabeth during her lifetime.  After her decease, the property was to be sold and all proceeds to be divided between his four sons, William Oliver, George Edward (a clerk in the Bristol Post Office), Charles (a professor of music living in South Shields) and John Taylor (an accountant).

Of their children:

William Oliver Chambers – at the time of the 1851 census William was living at home with his parents in the High Street.  He was a pupil teacher.  We understand that he attended the College of St Mark and St John in Chelsea and was one of John Hullah’s ‘young men who were inspired to bring music wherever they went’.

In early 1861 William married Sarah Ann Marshall in Wrington.  She was the daughter of a grocer.  The 1861 census shows William and Sarah living in the School House in Wrington, Somerset.  William was the Principal, schoolmaster and organist.  The school was the Wrington Academy, a day and boarding school preparing pupils for ‘professional, commercial and agricultural pursuits’.  The Bristol Mercury dated 6th July 1861 reported Sarah’s success at the summer fete of the Chew Decanal Schoolmasters Union.  She got second prize for needlework (prize 10s), second prize for darning socks (prize 5s) and second prize for flannel work (prize 5s).

By 1869 they had moved back to live in Alveston.  William had purchased Alveston House, not to be mistaken for the Alveston House Hotel, and from where he ran a school and a farm of 39 acres.  The 1871 census shows that at this time they had five daughters, all born in Wrington: Rosalinda, Annie Kate, Alice Beatrice, Mary and Clara.  The school at Alveston House was a music school and dancing academy.  We understand William rode out on horseback to visit various pupils.  The 1881 census shows that they had two further children, another daughter, Lucy E, and finally a son, Arthur Oliver.

When the new Alveston Church was given a proper pipe organ by the Bush family, instead of the harmonium which had been brought from the old church, William became organist.  We have also been told that William led the Alveston band down Thornbury High Street on occasion.  Sarah Ann died in 1911 aged 72.  William died in 1916 aged 77.

John Taylor Chambers – became a professor of music.  He married a cousin, Lucy Chambers, the daughter of George Chambers, grocer on 1st January 1872.  In 1875 they bought ‘Rosemount’ and this became the family home in Thornbury.  Click here to read more

George Edward Chambers – on 6th April 1861 George married Margaret Rodden in Wrington, Somerset.  She was born about 1830 in Liverpool, the daughter of Jonathan Rodden, a grocer and provision dealer and his wife, Ann.  The 1861 census shows George was a missionary student and Margaret was a schoolmistress.  They were living with his wife’s parents in Monks Coppenhall near Crewe.

George and Ada

George and Ada

By 1871 they were living in 12 Richmond Place, Richmond Road, Montpelier in Bristol.  At the time of the census they had four children, Harry, Allen Mary & Kate, but George and Margaret had three more children: Frank, Beatrice and Adelaide before Margaret died of typhoid on 25th August 1878 aged 39.  On 21st July 1880 George re-married in the Registry Office in Bath – his second wife was Ada Emma Prewett, the daughter of Charles and Emma Prewett of Thornbury.  The small photo of George and Ada above on the left was taken about 1890.  The photo of George on the right was taken about 1910.

By 1881 George had become a clerk in the Bristol Post Office.  In 1891 he was living at 77 Richmond Road, Montpelier, Bristol.  There were now four more children: Theodora, Edgar, Ada and Amy.  The 1901 census shows that two more children had been born to them: Norman and George and they had adopted their niece, Kate.

George Edward Chambers

George Edward Chambers

We have been told that George and Margaret had eight children and George and Ada had another nine children.  George was a singer and both he and his son Frank were members of Bristol Madrigal Society.  George died on 14th January 1915 aged 74.  His obituary mentions that he had retired from his job as Superintendent of the Bristol General Post Office for 12 years and had completed 40 years service with the Post Service.  One peculiar aspect of his death mentioned in the obituary is that he was one of four people with the same name who died in Bristol on the same day.

Following George’s death, Ada re-married in 1917.  Her new husband was John Hingley who had property in Pilning.  He died in 1936.  Ada died on 5th November 1950 aged 90.  Her address was Homeleigh, Marsh Common, Pilning.

Charles Chambers – we don’t know so much about Charles.  He married Elizabeth Hutchinson from Percy Main, Northumberland in the Scarborough area in 1878.  In the 1881 census they were living at 86 Rye Hill, Elswick, Newcastle upon Tyne.  Charles was described as a professor of music.  He was living there with Elizabeth and her mother, Jane Waddle and two nieces, Fanny and Hannah Waddle.  By 1891 Charles had become a widow.  He was still living in the same house with his mother-in-law and a niece, Beatrice M Chambers was also living with him who was aged 15 and born in Bristol.  In 1901 just Charles and Beatrice were living there and he was working as an organist and musician.  Charles died in 1907 aged 59.

The obituary of Charles’s brother, George, mentioned that the late Charles was a musician of much repute who was much in request as an adjudicator in both band and vocal contests in the north of England.  In 1895 there was a report in the Western Mail that Doctor Charles Chambers of Newcastle, who was instrumental in producing Dr Parry’s oratorio ‘Saul of Tarsus’ last February made a special journey from Newcastle to Cardiff to be present for Thursday night’s presentation of ‘Sylvia’.

See also our album of Chambers family photographs