Jesse Cossham was a member of a family who played a significant role in Thornbury life.  He was baptised on 27th February 1756, the ninth son of George Cossham and his wife, Elizabeth (nee Witchell).  Click here to read more about George and his family

Jesse became a carpenter, like his father.  Note – he should not be confused with the other Jesse Cossham, the son of Richard Cossham and father of the famous Handel Cossham.

In his will dated 21st October 1785 Jesse’s father, George, left Jesse ‘the messuage that I now dwell in with garden orchard and appurts which I purchased of ……. Bennett and also all that close or paddock called the Town Orchard 1 acre with barn stable slaughterhouse and buildings thereto adjoining – the residue of premises by me lately purchased of James Tyler – yearly sum of £10 to his (Jesse’s) brother Richard for 5 years‘.  We believe that Jesse, (or his son, George Cossham who inherited the property from Jesse), used this property to build the houses now known as 73 – 81 High Street.  We don’t know if the original house was used in this development or whether it was demolished.

On 6th March 1791 Jesse married Anne Child and they had at least three children: Ann Child Cossham born about 1791, George born in 1794 and Charlotte born in 1798.  They appear to have had another son, Jesse, who according to the Baptist Church’s records died aged 8 months on 30th April 1797 and was buried in the same grave as Jesse and Anne.

Jesse died intestate on 25th December 1797 aged 41 years.  He was buried in the graveyard of the Thornbury Baptist Church.  The land tax records suggest that Jesse’s property was passed to his widow, Ann.  The deeds of 73 High Street include a document dated 5th November 1810 showing that Anne Cossham widow had paid off a mortgage owing on some land (12 x 20 yards) and Anne was expressing the wish that this property should be used by her daughter Charlotte Cossham, but they should pass to Anne’s daughter, Ann, if Charlotte died without issue.

Anne died on 4th July 1824 aged 64 and was buried in the Baptist Church graveyard.  The land tax records from 1825 onwards that Anne’s property became owned by Jesse and Anne’s son, George Cossham (see below) even though both of his sisters (Ann and Charlotte) were still living.

Of Jesse and Anne’s children: 

Ann Child Cossham born about 1791.  On 22nd June 1816, Ann Child Cossham married Thomas Wise.  They were both said to be living in Thornbury at that time.  The witnesses at the marriage were Ann’s siblings, George and Charlotte Cossham.  Click here to read about Ann and Thomas Wise

George Cossham – George was born about 1794, the son of Jesse Cossham, a carpenter and his wife, Ann (nee Child).  We know that George acquired several of the properties owned by his father in the High Street.  In addition to the five properties on the High Street, the 1840 Tithe Survey shows George also owned the house in which he was living at 60 High Street and three houses in St Mary Street where numbers 33 and 35 once stood.

According to the Scribes Alcove website George Cossham married Mary Sperrin on 13th March 1834 in Thornbury.  Mary was a widow, her first husband, Thomas Sperrin had died about 1822.  In the 1841 census George and Mary were living at 60 High Street – he was a grocer aged 45 and Mary was aged 44.  There was also Elizabeth Hollister a female servant aged 14.  The 1851 census shows them in the same house – George is described as a landed proprietor aged 46 from Thornbury, Mary a provision agent aged 55 from Nailsea.  Esther Bishop is also living in the house and working as an assistant in the shop.  She is described as ‘niece of wife’ aged 12 born in Bristol Cathay.

In 1861 Mary Cossham was living at 60 High Street – she is described as a retired shopkeeper born in Dundry living with a house servant, Andrew Knight aged 13 from Berkeley.  The 1871 census shows Mary as a retired shopkeeper aged 76 born in Dundry living with Agnes Sargent a domestic servant aged 13 from Thornbury and a lodger, Harriett Harvey an unmarried dressmaker aged 54 from Banwell in Somerset.  A newspaper report dated 17th April 1871 possibly explains George’s absence.  It reports on his death in 1871 saying that George was a retired carpenter who had for many years been confined in Gloucester Lunatic Asylum.  Several years before his death, in pursuance with his wife’s wishes, a coffin had been made for George and this had been lying in the undertaker’s awaiting the time it was needed.  The grave was also prepared in advance of his death.  George was buried in the Baptist Burial Ground.  We believe that his wife Mary died aged 81 in the September quarter of 1876.

We haven’t seen George’s will, but an abstract of title shows that in his will dated 1857 George was described as a yeoman.  He appointed as Trustees his nephews, Jesse Wise of Bristol cooper and Edward Wise of Blackburn cordwainer.  George left his five properties on the east side of the High Street to his sisters, Charlotte Cossham and Ann Child Wise.  A piece of ground behind the houses called ‘The Town Orchard’ was also part of George’s estate.  When George died on 9th April 1871 aged 76 the heirs named in his will had already died.  Charlotte Cossham had died on 12th October 1868 aged 70 and she was buried in the Thornbury Baptist Chapel burial ground.  Ann Child Wise had died on 2nd October 1869 aged 76 and was buried in the same place.  The properties descended to Edward Wise as George’s heir at law (as he was the elder of George’s two nephews).  Thus on 27th November 1873 the properties were conveyed to Edward Wise.  Click here to read about Edward Wise

We know from the rate books that George’s house at 60 High Street was passed to Fanny Wise following the death of George’s wife, Mary in 1876.  Fanny was the widow of George’s nephew, Jesse Wise, who had died in 1875.  Click here to read about Jesse and Fanny

Charlotte Cossham – Charlotte was born in 1798, the daughter of Jesse Cossham and his wife, Ann (nee Child).  In the 1841 census Charlotte was listed as living in the house which later became known as 73 High Street and she appears to be running it as a private school.  She was described as a schoolmistress and there were six children listed as living in the house.  At the time of the 1851 census Charlotte has only three pupils living there.  The 1861 census shows Charlotte had retired from being a schoolmistress.  She was now sharing the house with Edwin Wathen, a baker aged 23.  Charlotte died on 12th October 1868 aged 70.  The minute book of the Thornbury Baptist Church shows Charlotte had attended services there and that ‘she had been greatly afflicted’.