George Charles Cook was born in December quarter 1878, the son of William Olive Cook, a labourer, and his wife, Eliza. He was baptised in Thornbury St Mary’s on 4th September 1881. The 1881 census shows George and his mother living in Gillingstool with his mother’s sister. We don’t know where his father was at the time. The 1885 rate book shows William Cook was living in Gillingstool Hill and the 1890 rate book shows him having moved to St Mary Street.
In 1891 George was living with his mother at 43 St Mary Street. Eliza was then aged 38 and working as a laundress. George was aged 13, and he had three sisters, Mary Jane aged 11, Kate aged 9 and Dora aged 3. We don’t know where his father was at the time of the census.
On 21st August 1900 George married Dorcas Smith at Thornbury St Mary’s Church. At the time of the marriage George was a labourer living in St Mary Street and Dorcas was living at the Post Office. Dorcas was born on 18th April 1879 and baptised in Thornbury St Mary’s on 1st June 1879. She was the daughter of James Smith, a shoemaker and his wife, Harriet (nee Parsons). James and Harriet Smith lived a colourful life .
George and Dorcas lived in 6 Pullins Green from the early 1900’s until 1957. George is listed as the occupant of the house when the six houses belonging to the estate of Frederick Burchell were put up for auction in 1907.
George and Dorcas had three children: Linda Amelia Victoria born on 21st February 1901, Ethel Prudence on 30th June 1902, and Basil Charles on 24th March 1909. The 1911 census shows George, Dorcas and the three children living at 6 Pullins Green. George was described as a gardener. The census shows that they had had three children all still living and had been married nine years. This latter statement seems to be an error in view of the fact that they married in 1900.
In the First World War George was working as a gardener for Richard Bennett at Thornbury Parks. He also worked on electric light plant there. In 1916 Richard Bennett applied for George to be exempted from military service on the grounds that he was needed to maintain his gardens. He was granted a temporary exemption until 30th December 1916. George was called up to the Royal Engineers (Inland Water Transport Section) on 1st January 1917. He was aged 37 years 8 months when he enlisted. His service records show he was 5ft 7 inches with a chest of 36 inches when fully expanded. His occupation at the time was noted as gardener and electrical plant overseer. He embarked for France on 6th April 1917 as a Sapper. He was demobbed and transferred to the Army Reserve on 2nd March 1919 with a disability shown to be myalgia.
George worked as a mason for Tucker Brothers, the builders, for many years before setting up in business on his own. The special register compiled in 1939 in preparation for the war describes George as a mason’s labourer. We understand that he was known by the nickname ‘Dawdy’. He also served in the Thornbury Fire Brigade for 40 years.
George died in April 1949 aged 70. His coffin was borne to the funeral on the Thornbury fire engine and four old comrades from the service acted as bearers. Dorcas’s death was recorded in the Bristol area in 1958 aged 78.
Of their children, Linda married Cyril Acaster in 1924. Their other daughter, Ethel, married Charles F. A. Adams in the same year. We have been told by a family member that their son Charles Donald Adams was a member of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company from 1951 to 1969. Please see the D’Oyly Carte Opera web page for details.
In the 1961 electoral register the house at 6 Pullins Green was occupied by Basil and Allan C. Cook. Basil died in 1962 aged 53.