The Crowther family owned considerable property in the area in and around Thornbury.
We are indebted to Joanne Gwynn for sharing with us her notes on the Crowther family of Thornbury and to Alison Bagnall who is a local historian and has done so much research on Porch House and the Green House which were both owned by the Crowther family. Roger Howell an archaeologist and local historian has also been kind enough to give us notes on the Crowther family which have been a major source of our information about the early history, especially the Iron Acton connections of the Crowthers.
We have learned from Roger Howell that the Crowther family had lived in Chillwood Farm now known as Algar’s Manor in Iron Acton since the beginning of the seventeenth century. John Crowther purchased it from Dame Anne Poyntz in 1682. Although the Crowther family seemed to have lived at other addresses over the succeeding generations, it seems probable that they maintained their connection with Algar’s Manor as we know that as late as 1909 when John Crowther Gwynn junior, a descendant of this family sold Wigmore House in Thornbury he was described as “of Algar’s Manor.” Indeed we have been told by the current owner of Algars Manor that the Crowther Gwynn connection with the property continued into the mid 1920s.
The Crowther family came to own several substantial properties in Thornbury, mainly in what is now known as Castle Street and it is in regard to these properties, rather than with Iron Acton that we have looked at the history of the Crowthers. The properties in Thornbury included Porch House, ‘The Green House‘ (now Clematis Cottage and The Priory) and the closes of land adjoining them. By 1687 if not before, all this property was owned by Richard Attwells.
Anne Attwells, the daughter of Richard Attwells and his wife Mary married John Crowther about 1670. Anne’s brother Richard Attwells died in 1728 and his only surviving son John died in 1729/30. The estate of the Attwells family therefore passed to the descendants of Anne Crowther.
John Crowther and his wife Ann nee Attwells. Ann died in Iron Acton in 1686 after bearing five children: Samuel, Mary who was born in 1674 but who died in 1676, John born in Iron Acton, another Mary who was born in 1679 and Anne born 1684. When John died in 1717, his property appears to have been passed to his son John.
John Crowther and his wife Elizabeth had eight children, most of whom died young. We know from the will of John Attwells that John Crowther was a clothier who lived in Cromhall. Roger Howell has told us that John and Elizabeth appear to have remained in Cromhall for some time as some of their children were baptised there and three of them were buried there, William on the 20th April 1726, Elizabeth on the 14th July 1729 and Samuel on the 25th January 1730. The three youngest children were baptised in Thornbury, Elizabeth on the 18th December 1730, Nathaniel on the 5th September 1732 and John on the 9th August 1734, so it seems reasonable to assume that he had moved to Thornbury by 1730.
John Crowther died the 10th June 1744 aged 64.
John’s wife Elizabeth appears in the Land Tax records of 1780 as owning a substantial property in Castle Street for which she paid £1 4s tax. We believe that this property may have been the Green House with its associated lands.
There was no occupant listed. In 1781 her name still appears as the owner of the property for which the tax was £1 4s but the occupier was now said to be William Jones. At present we know no more about William Jones.
By 1783 the Misses Wagstaff were renting the same property from Elizabeth Crowther. This is hard to explain as she died on February 23rd 1777. For the moment we are assuming that either the authorities took a long time to update their records or that the estate of her and her husband took a long time to wind up. The Bath Chronicle of 28th September 1786 shows that the premises had been used as a school and Miss Wagstaff begged leave to inform her friends and public that she had moved from Thornbury to Mrs Pulleine’s in Trim Street in Bath.
We do not have any evidence to show which house if any Elizabeth Crowther occupied in Castle Street. The property for which she is paying tax is so much more expensive than nearly all the other properties in the town that it is possible the tax is for more than one dwelling. From the order of the names on the list the property the family lived in appears to be in the area of the Porch House and the Green House and may include them both.
Of the eight children born to John and Elizabeth Crowther;
Samuel Crowther was named as the heir of John Atwells in John’s will of 1729 because he was the eldest child of John Crowther. We believe he died in 1730.
Richard Crowther was born in 1721 and died in 1744. He did not marry and had no heirs. He was named in the will of John Attwells as the next heir should Samuel die without issue as he indeed did.
Anne Crowther baptised 22nd April 1723 at Cromhall.
William Crowther was baptised 23rd March 1724 in Cromhall. He was buried in Cromhall 20th April 1726.
Elizabeth Crowther baptised 2nd July 1727 at Cromhall. She died 14th July 1729 and was buried in Cromhall.
Elizabeth Crowther born 1730 and baptised 18th December 1730. She married Edward Thurston, the son of John and Ursula Thurston on 25th December 1751. Elizabeth died in 1801 aged 70. Edward Thurston died on 20th April 1806 aged 78. His tombstone with that of his wife Elizabeth is in the middle aisle of St Mary’s Church in Thornbury.
Nathaniel Crowther was baptised in Thornbury on the 5th September 1732. He married Ann Marsh but he seems to have died without issue on January 5th 1797. Ann had died in August 1796 aged 65. The deeds of Lion House which is number 9 Castle Street refer to the fact that in 1818 when James Bevan bought the Lion House and its stable the premises adjoining (now known as Porch House) was formerly owned by Nathaniel Crowther. This supports the theory that Nathaniel Crowther as the eldest surviving son inherited the Crowther estate, including Porch House, after the death of his brother Richard in 1744.
We have learned from Roger Howell that Nathaniel seems not to have been living in Thornbury at the time of his death. The parish register says he was brought from Grovening (Grovesend) for burial on the 9th January 1797 aged 65. Four months earlier his wife, Ann (nee Marsh) had been brought from Alveston for burial on the 4th September 1796. Nathaniel seems to have been childless so presumably his brother John became the heir after 1795.
John Crowther born 1734, married Mary Hewett. After the death of his brother Nathaniel, we believe that John Crowther became the heir to John Atwell’s estate, including Porch House and the Green House.
The land tax records of Thornbury for 1800, 1809 and even 1810 show that Richard Gwynn occupied a substantial property owned by John Crowther for which the land tax payable was £1 2s. We believe this included Porch House and probably some neighbouring properties.
Mary Crowther, John’s wife, died in August 1808 aged 53. John Crowther was buried on 28th April 1809 aged 75. The will of John Crowther was made on 11th January 1808 and so before the death of his wife, Mary. He left the house which believe is the Green House (now The Priory and Clematis Cottage) and adjoining properties called the upper and lower closes and the lower orchard in the occupation of Henry Baker to his sister’s daughter Betty Smith and after her lifetime to her sons James and Alexander Smith. We believe that Latteridge Close also in the occupation of Henry Baker and what are now Porch House and what later became 13 Castle Street were part of the property that he left to his sister’s other daughter, Ann Gwynn.
Ann Crowther the sister of John Crowther married Thomas Tombes on 8th June 1741. They had four children; Betty Tombes was born 1745, Jane Tombes was born 1746, Thomas Tombes was born 1748 and Ann Tombes was baptised 19th November 1755. We do not know when Thomas Tombes died but his wife Ann Tombes died January 11th 1789 aged 66 years. Jane Tombes married Joseph Allen on 30th October 1791 but she died in 1802.
The surviving children of Ann and Thomas Tombes became heirs to their uncle, John Crowther.
Betty Tombes married Benjamin Smith by whom she had at least six children, Alexander, Elizabeth, Benjamin, Thomas, John and James. Betty died in 1819. The will of John Crowther left the Green House (Clematis Cottage and The Priory), and some property in Yate to Betty Smith and after her death to her sons James and Alexander Smith. Benjamin Smith died 1st January 1816. Betty Smith died 5th April 1819. Read about Clematis Cottage (part of the Green House).
Ann Tombes who was born in 1755 married Richard Gwynn on 8th May 1788. Richard was the son of Thomas Gwynn and his wife, Martha. Read more about Richard and Ann Gwynn to whom John Crowther left his property in Thornbury, including Porch House