Abraham Cole was born in Olveston about 1810. We haven’t traced his marriage to Elizabeth so we can’t be sure about her maiden name. It may have been ‘Sainsbury’ as they named their first child, John Sainsbury Cole’ baptised in Thornbury on 6th August 1834. At that time Abraham was described as a victualler so he may have been publican at the New Inn at that time. When his second child, William Abraham, was baptised on 21st October 1835 Abraham was described as an innkeeper.
Later baptism and census records show that Abraham became a maltster. Eight further children were baptised: George Stephen baptised on 12th July 1837, Julia Anne baptised on 27th February 1839, Mark Thomas baptised on 4th November 1840, Emily Elizabeth baptised on 6th August 1843, Harriett baptised on 26th November 1845, Oliver baptised on 28th November 1847, Frances baptised on 20th April 1851 and Sarah Ann baptised on 9th October 1853.
An 1839 indenture shows that Abraham Cole had been the tenant of the New Inn for some time after George Williams who died about 1831.
At the time of the 1840 Tithe Survey Abraham is shown as being the tenant of a Malthouse at the bottom of St Mary Street on the western side, the house and garden on the site of the property now known as The Royal George and the adjoining yard and schoolroom (which he owned jointly with Dr J William Cross).
The 1841 census shows Abraham was a maltster living in St John Street with his wife, Elizabeth and their children. We suspect that he was living in the house he had recently bought from the Guardians of the Thornbury Union. On 4th December 1840 the Guardians sold to Abraham Cole ‘All that large house lately used as a Workhouse with outhouse yard and garden adjoining’. This purchase included the house later known as The Court House and its outbuildings with access from St John Street and the building he used as a Malt House fronting St Mary Street.
The 1851 census shows he was a maltster employing two men and that Elizabeth was aged 38 and born in Tytherington. He continued to live and trade from the same premises and he appears to have made full use of the buildings he acquired. The 1859 Rate Book shows that Abraham owned a ‘Brewery’ in St John Street (which we assume to be somewhere on the site he had acquired in 1840. The Brewery was being occupied in 1859 by John Shepherd.
In 1855 when his son, John Sainsbury, died, Abraham was described as ‘a maltster of Thornbury and Olveston Court’. In 1859 Abraham acquired two other properties at the bottom end of St Mary Street. One of these was the beerhouse which became The Plough, the other was the butcher’s shop and house on the corner of St Mary Street and St John Street.
Although most of the records during this period show that Abraham was a maltster, he did have other interests, primarily property and farming. As well as his own property in St John Street, he also owned the adjoining property which became the butcher’s run by William Cole. This William was presumably related to Abraham, but he was not his son, William Abraham, who died on 4th January 1871 aged 35 (when he was described as Abraham’s only surviving son at that time). Although he only rented the Malthouse on the west side of St Mary Street, he owned another malthouse on the east side, next to The Plough. He also owned the Plough Inn and the Seven Stars beerhouse in Rock Street.
Abraham’s other great interest was farming. He rented two large fields, one of them Ten Acres Field adjoining Gloucester Road and the other next to the Gas Works. He used these field for rearing cattle. There are several newspaper reports throughout the period from the 1850’s onwards which show Abraham was selling his cattle at market. One of these reports published in 1880 refers to Abraham as ‘a well known local grazier’ and that he had nineteen prime fat steers at market.
Elizabeth died on 16th July 1874 aged 62. The 1881 census shows Abraham still in St John Street, now described as a widowed farmer aged 65. Abraham died in 1883 aged 73.
Of his 10 children, Julia died in 1843 aged about 4, John Sainsbury died on 27th October 1855 aged 21 and Sarah died on 27th March 1858 aged four and a half. Emily Elizabeth married John Churchill Millard in Olveston on 11th May 1871. By the time Abraham died in 1883 he owned a considerable of property in the town. On 1st September 1886 the inn was put up for sale by his trustees. They held on to a lot of other properties and these were finally put up for sale at auction in 1910. There were 16 separate lots of properties for sale over two days at auctions in Olveston and Thornbury. These included the Seven Stars beerhouse as well as the other properties in St Mary Street and St John Street.