We have a schedule of the deeds for 28 and 28A Castle Street in Thornbury that states “30th Sept 1788 Mr Mark Nash to Abraham Riddiford conveyance in fee.”  The will that Abraham Riddiford made in 1827 in which he describes the property left to his daughter Ann confirms that he bought part of this property from Mark Nash.  Mark Nash seems to have acquired it in September 1786 if our interpretation of the schedule is correct (click here to see these early owners).  We have been unable to find any details at all about Mark Nash so far.

The owner of the garden was William Taylor of Almondsbury.  An indenture of 28th June 1766 refers to “that piece or parcel of ground whereon the wall lately stood which parted the backside or garden of William Tayler (sic) of Almondsbury yeoman and Sarah his wife”.

Abraham Riddiford.  According to a family tree on the Ancestry website Abraham was the son of Abraham Riddiford and his wife, Ann nee Hooper.  The Scribes Alcove website shows the birth of ‘Abraham Ridiford’ on 13th June 1765 at Cowhill.  According to the entry he was the sixth child of Abraham and Ann.

We know that on 2nd November 1794 Abraham Riddiford married Hester Child, the daughter of a butcher Thomas and Ann Child (nee Ann Grove).   Hester was the fourth child of Thomas and Ann and was born on 1st December 1764.  The witnesses at the wedding of Abraham and Hester were Abraham Riddiford and Ann Luce.  We do not at this stage know much about Abraham Riddiford (Jnr).  In his will he described himself a shopkeeper.  We also know that at earlier in his career he was a cordwainer (shoemaker).  The apprenticeship records for February 1790 show that Abraham Riddiford was a cordwainer who employed an apprentice by the name of Josh. Arters.

Hester and Abraham had at least five children.  Three of these were baptised in St Mary’s in Thornbury; Alfred born 27th June 1798, Emma born 18th May 1800 and Eliza born 15th July 1804.  Two other children died as infants; Maria born in 1806 and Charlotte born in 1808.

The will of Abraham’s wife Hester Riddiford proved on 22nd March 1831 refers to indentures tripartite made shortly before their marriage and dated 30 and 31st of October 1794.  They were made between Hester Child and her future husband Abraham Riddiford and George Rolph.  The indentures appointed George Rolph and William Riddiford as trustees and referred to properties including a messuage inhabited by George Thomas and then Betty Thomas and two acres of land called Hobbs Leaze and property called the Little Orchard all in the tithing of Morton at or near Crossways and a messuage or tenement with two gardens in the High Street of Thornbury on the west side leased by John Cook to Samuel Vowles for 2000 years.  These premises were said to be “then in my (that is, Hester’s) possession.”  The trustees were to hold the properties in trust for any sons or daughters of Abraham and Hester Riddiford.

The land tax records from 1796 onwards indicate that Abraham Riddiford owned and occupied the property in the High Street which later became known as 31 High Street.  It appears from these records that Abraham used this property as his home and shop.  He was a grocer.  He let out his other properties in Castle Street and later Silver Street to tenants.

The land tax Record for 1800 shows that Abraham Riddiford was the owner of what we believe to be the smaller of the two houses that now form 28 and 28A Castle Street.  The tenant of the house was Ann Reed. It appears from documents which show the earlier history of the house that Abraham Riddiford actually acquired the house in 1788.  The next land tax Record we have is that of 1809 and this shows that Abraham Riddiford owned the two houses; one tenanted by Ann Reed and the other by George Longden.  Again it appears from the deeds that Abraham Riddiford actually acquired the second house before this date, probably in 1802.

In 1803 Abraham Riddiford was a Mayor of Thornbury.

Abraham’s wife Esther (or Hester) died December 8th 1813 aged only 48 and was buried with two of their daughters, Maria and Charlotte, who died as infants.  Abraham and Hester’s only son son, Alfred died in October 1818 aged 20 and was buried with them.

Eliza Riddiford married John Hopkins on 23rd January 1822 and Emma married William Mawley in Bristol on 7th July 1833

By 1830 the trade directory described Abraham Riddiford as a grocer and linen draper.  There was an advertisement in July 1835 (after the death of Abraham Riddiford) for the sale of the stock in trade and the fittings of the business of Abraham’s son in law William Mawley which consisted of linen and Woollen drapery, hosiery, haberdashery and groceries.  The advertisement said:

The Business has been established upwards of fifty years, having been carried on by the late Mr Riddiford and subsequently by his daughter, who is also deceased.  The situation is the best in the pleasant and respectable town of Thornbury; the house and premises good with detached garden and the rent low.

It would seem that this meant that Abraham Riddiford had rented a premises in Thornbury for many years which he used as his shop and this would have been taken on by his daughter.  The advertisement says that this daughter was dead.  Eliza Hopkins died in 1842 and Ann Freem died in 1831 so the business must have been run by the third and eldest daughter Emma.

Abraham Riddiford died aged 66 and was buried on the 27th January 1831.

Eliza Riddiford married John Hopkins on 23rd January 1822.  Eliza and John Hopkins later inherited land and property from Abraham Riddiford which included the Tiltfield at Eastlands in Thornbury.  Scribes Alcove website shows the baptism of Hester Eliza Hopkins the daughter of John and Eliza Hopkins on 27th March 1831.  If this is the same couple, John Hopkins was described as a farmer.

Emma Riddiford married William Mawley in Bristol on 7th July 1833.  Emma inherited the three houses in Silver Street and the house and shop at 31 High Street.  Sadly the marriage did not last very long as Emma Mawley died in September 1834 and was buried in Thornbury.  Click here to read more about the Mawleys

The will of Abraham Riddiford had divided all his property messuages and estate equally between two of his daughters; Emma Hopkins and Eliza Mawley except the properties specifically left to the other daughter Ann Child Freem.

Ann Child Riddiford born 1802 married Thomas Freem, a carpenter who was born in Olveston.  The Bristol Times and Mirror of 2nd February 1822 reported this marriage and said it took place on January 25th between Ann Riddiford the second daughter of Abraham Riddiford of Thornbury and Thomas Freem of Kingsdown in Bristol.  The spelling of this surname also appears as Freeme or Freame in different records, we have used this spelling for simplicity.

By his will, made 13th November 1827 and proved in London on 18th March 1831, Abraham Riddiford left what is now 28 and 28A Castle Street in trust to his daughter, now called Ann Child Freem, and her children. The will describes the property as :

three tenements in the several occupations of William Liddiatt, John Longden and Mary Hopkins widow as my tenants thereof with the gardens and appurtenances thereto adjoining and belonging and which said I bought and purchased of Mark Nash and also all that messuage or dwelling house in two tenements in the several occupations of Nicholas Lansborow and …(left blank) Carter as my tenants thereof with the garden and appurtenances thereto adjoining and belonging which I bought and purchased of William Taylor all which said messuages tenements or dwellinghouses gardens and premises are lying and adjoining on the East side of the … street of the town and borough of Thornbury aforesaid“.

The land tax records of 1831 show that Thomas Freem now owned the houses which had two tenants listed William Liddiard and Thomas Landsdown.  We know from Abraham Riddiford’s will that by this time the two houses in Castle Street were subdivided, one being three households and the other two.  The Land Tax Records show no sign of this.  This could be explained – either the other households were subtenants which might not need to be shown or there was simply not enough room on the form to list them all.

The Tithe Map drawn up between 1838 and 1840 confirms that the properties marked 277 and 278 were owned by Thomas Freame (sic).  The property was at that time occupied by five tenants; Joseph Carter and Edward Trayherne in one (plot 277) and Sarah Webb, William Liddiard and Joseph Birt in the other (plot 278).

The census of 1841 shows that Ann and Thomas Freem lived in Olveston and that Thomas was a carpenter.  They had seven children living with them; Julia aged 18, Alfred aged 16, Eliza aged 13, Hannah aged 8, John aged 6, Emma aged 4 and Elizabeth aged 1.

On 29th December 1849 a newspaper reported that a petition for insolvency had been filed by Thomas Freem.  The petition said that Thomas had been living in Tockington for twelve months and had lived at Riberton in Gloucestershire for three years and before that that he had lived for nineteen years in Olveston where he carried on a business as a carpenter.  The interim order had been filed in January 1850 at the White Hart in Thornbury and now anyone in debt to Thomas Freem should pay it back to the Clerk of the Court at Crossman and Lloyd solicitors in Thornbury.

The 1851 census appears to show that they were living in Olveston.

We know that one way Ann and Thomas Freem had raised money was by a mortgage of £250 by mortgage using the properties at 28 and 28A Castle Street as security.  An indenture made on 27th January 1852 between Joseph, Richard and Henry Williams of Llanthony Vach in Monmouthshire and William Turner a tinner of Bristol refers to this arrangement and passes the mortgage on from trustees of the original lender Hannah Williams (then deceased) to William Turner.

On 28th June 1856 Thomas Freem died insolvent – presumably this is why the mortgage remained unpaid.

The 1871 census showed that Ann was living with her daughter Emma and Emma’s husband Mark Curtis.  She was 69 years old and a widow, receiving parish relief.  Ann Child Freem died aged 79 in the June quarter of 1881.