Gayner story 1962We are fortunate to have a copy of a newspaper cutting taken from the Evening Post in 1962.  A whole page is given to the story of Sydney Gayner and his family.  It refers to the fact that his family had been in business in Thornbury since the reign of the first Elizabeth – over 400 years ago.  Click on the thumbnail to read this article.  His forbears were weavers in the Town.  Old records show that a tithe was paid to the Lord of the Manor at Thornbury Castle by Mychel Gayner, a weaver in 1523.

Without too much effort, we have been able to trace Sidney’s ancestors back over 200 years.  We also have copies of records back to the 1660’s which show how much property this well respected Quaker family held in the area around Thornbury.  Click here to read about the early Gayners

At this point we have not linked Sidney Gayner’s branch to the Gayner family who lived in Thornbury in the mid seventeenth Century.  We would be delighted to hear from anyone who can help us on this point.

The earliest members of Sidney Gayner’s branch of the Gayner family about whom we have detailed information are:

Charles and Ann Gayner – Charles was a baker, who married Ann Cullimore at Olveston on 8th April 1798.  They had several children born or baptised in Thornbury: Charles born on 1st November 1799, Ann baptised on 28th November 1802, Eliza born on 10th May 1805, Henry born on 6th March 1807, William born on 21st March 1809 (who died aged 3 and was buried on 10th September 1812), George born on 2nd September 1811, James Cullimore Gayner baptised on 15th May 1814 (who died aged 15 and was buried on 16th August 1829) and Emma baptised on 23rd April 1817.  Charles died aged 66 and was buried on 25th April 1832.

The 1809 land tax record shows Charles was renting a property in Silver Street from Thomas Grove.  By 1819 Charles had become the owner and occupant of the same property which later became known as 5 Silver Street.

His last will and testament written on 28th March 1832 refers to a number of properties in Thornbury which Charles owned.  These were left in trust for the use of his wife, Ann, and divided equally between his four children: Henry, Ann, George and Emma after taking into account any debts, mortgages and bequests already made:

All that my messuage or dwelling house wherein I now reside with the bakehouse stables yard and premises thereto adjoining and used therewith and also all that messuage or tenement situate in St Mary Street otherwise the Back Street of the Borough of Thornbury aforesaid late in the occupation of George Davis as my tenant thereof all which last mentioned messuage and other hereditaments I purchased of Thomas Grove‘. (The house with bakehouse was at 5 Silver Street, the other house was 4 St Mary Street).

And also all that messuage tenement or dwelling house heretobefore called by the name of the Red Hart but now converted into two messuages or dwellinghouses wherein George Minott and David Turner lately inhabited and wherein William Lippiatt and John Davis do now dwell with the garden outlet and premises thereto adjoining and belonging situate in the Borough of Thornbury aforesaid in or near a street there called Nelme Street alias Back Street all which said last devised hereditaments I lately purchased of William Lippiatt and the same are now in mortgage for securing to the Executors of James Tanner deceased the principal sum of five hundred and fifty pounds and interest‘. (We’re still trying to identify which property this refers to).

And also all that messuage tenement or Inn situate in the High Street of the Borough of Thornbury aforesaid called the Rose and Crown wherein my late son Charles lately dwelt and his widow doth now dwell with the stables outhouses garden and premises thereto adjoining and belonging and which are now in mortgage to William Stoner and Ambrose Lewis Stoner for securing to them certain principal monies and interests‘.  (See below under Charles and Frances Gayner).

And also all that garden or piece or parcel of ground which I lately purchased of Matthew Mills situate in the said Borough and now in my own occupation‘ (this was a large area of land called The Paddock situated on the corner of Upper Bath Road and Chapel Street) ‘and also all that piece or parcel of garden ground situate at or near the Market in the parish of Thornbury aforesaid formerly enclosed from the waste lands there and now in my own occupation‘.

There is a record that Ann was declared bankrupt at some stage between 1833 and 1844 and she is noted as being aged 56 and a baker and victualler.  In the 1841 census Ann was living at 46 High Street.  She was described as aged 69 and of independent means.  She was living with Ann Smith aged 11 in her household.  In the 1851 census she was living with her widowed son-in law, Samuel Smith further down the High Street.  Samuel had been married to Ann’s daughter, Ann who died aged 44 and was buried on 20th June 1847.  Ann was described as being a housekeeper aged 79 and born in Tytherington.  Ann died aged 85 and was buried on 11th May 1856.  

Of Charles and Ann’s children, we know:

  • Charles – married Frances Penduck in 1820 (see below)
  • Ann – married Samuel Court Smith, a tailor, on 10th September 1825 in Bristol.  She died in 1844.  Click here to read more 
  • Emma – married William Smith, a tailor at St Augustines the less Church, Bristol on 13th October 1835.  Click here to read more
  • Henry – mentioned in a document as one of the occupants of a house at 1 Silver Street in 1835.  He was a tailor at that time.  He died on 3rd June 1841 aged 34.  
  • George – emigrated to America after his marriage to Emma Stump on 28th March 1836 – they sailed to New York on the ‘King William’ in 1837.  In the 1850 US census they were living in the 16th Ward of New York.  George was working as a baker.  In 1869 he applied for naturalization.  By the 1870 US census they were living in Morrisania in Westchester County, New York State.  George is described as a manufacturer of soda water. Emma was ‘keeping house’.  In 1871 they returned for a visit to Thornbury – in the 1871 census they are visiting George’s sister-in-law, Frances at the Swan Hotel.  We understand that George’s nieces, Flora, Annie and Emily Powell moved to live with them in New York after having moved to Canada with their father, James Powell.  We have two photos of George and Emma provided by Henry T Ford.

George Gayner 1812 – 1890

Emma Gayner 1814 – 1896









Charles and Frances Gayner – in the Evening Post article referred to above, Sidney Gayner recalled that his grandmother was a corset maker and draper in Thornbury in 1824.  She sold clothes to girls going into domestic service with the gentry.  Later she bought the Swan, Thornbury for £1000 in June 1834.  Sidney was actually referring to his great grandmother, not his grandmother.  She was Frances Penduck, the daughter of Samuel Penduck and his wife, Fanny (nee Child).  Frances Penduck married Charles Gayner in Thornbury on 25th June 1820.  Charles had been born on 1st November 1799, the son of Charles Gayner, a baker and his wife, Ann (see above).

Charles and Frances had two children: Henry Penduck Gayner baptised on 25th February 1821 and Eliza baptised on 11th May 1821.  The baptism records show that Charles was a baker in 1821 and an innkeeper in 1823.  He died on 1st September 1828 aged 28.  We think Frances had another daughter, Frances, who was baptised on 26th November 1831.

We know from the last will and testament of Charles’s father written in 1832 that Charles (Jnr) and his wife, Frances, had lived in the Rose and Crown (otherwise known as The Crown) then at 25 High Street and Frances was still living there in 1832.  It is interesting to note that whilst Frances was running the pub it was connected with the local poaching affray which occurred in 1831.  Apparently there was an incident between a group of poachers and a gamekeeper which resulted in the gamekeeper being shot near Park Mill Farm, Kington.  The poachers had met to plan their evening at Frances’s inn.  The Rose and Crown was better known as the Crown and it continued as an inn until 1858 and it later became Councell’s grocery and provision store and later the Coop.  The 1840 Tithe Survey shows that Frances also owned 5 Silver Street and 6 St Mary Street which had been owned by her father-in-law.

We know from Sydney’s newspaper article that Frances bought the Swan Hotel in June 1834 for £1000.  The Bristol Mercury reporting on the local festivities associated with Victoria’s coronation in 1853 mentioned that ‘At 4 o’clock the gentlemen of the Committee sat down to a splendid dinner provided by Mrs Gayner, the spirited landlady of the Swan Inn’.  The 1841 census shows Frances as an innkeeper at The Swan in the High Street.  She is living there with Eliza, a draper and ‘Fanny’ aged 10, Thomas Penduck, her brother a carpenter aged 38 and two female servants, Jane Cross and Sarah Hall.  The 1851 census shows Frances still running the Swan.  She is living there with her daughter, Frances aged 19.  Frances’s son, Henry and his family are living next door to the Swan (see below).

Bill head 1, Gayner 1872An article published in the Bristol Times newspaper in 1845 provides a wonderful image of Frances’s hospitality.  It was a report of a visit by ‘the Bristol Churchgoer’ to Thornbury Church at Christmas.  He arrived at the Swan disappointed that not no-one in Thornbury had invited him to join them for Christmas dinner.  “Some luncheon, lady mine” said I, bustling into the warm bar.  A kind soul is mine hostess of the Swan.  “Do stay and ine with us, sir” said she, with the most good-natured expressement.  Thank Heaven, thought I, there is one hospitable heart in Thornbury; but stay I could not – I would not.  Dine at an hotel on Christmas Day!  that in my opinion was the acme of destitution; so I had some good brown bread, cheese, butter, and general gossip by the bar fire with my excellent friend (Mrs Gayner Frances) she’ll excuse me but I really forget her name, or rather I never knew it.  Reader, if ever you visit the Swan, there’s a wooden armchair in the bar with high back, I sat in that – respect it; and look at a large slate some four feet square behind the door; it is a monstrous piece of antiquity, and did good service before drib and day books were invented.  There are some ‘old scores’ on it still, which mine hostess said she eared would never be paid.  Under her guidance I made a visit to the Sessions-room, which is attached to the house and where the local magistrates dispense infinitesimal doses of law and justice to a grateful public.  It contained at the time an immense new Swan, carved out of wood – quite a Rara Avis I can assure you, and which my enterprising hostess informed me was in a few days to surmount the vestibule of her hostelry, to which the ‘silver cygnet’, I need not tell the reader, attached a title.  I expect there will be quite a sensation at Thornbury on the day of its elevation‘.

Swan Gayner BallThe Swan was the principal hotel in the Town and Frances earned a reputation for hospitality and the Hotel was the social centre of the Town with a full programme of events.  The County Court and Manor Courts were held there, also meetings of the Corporation, Charity Trusts, Tax Commissioners, Inland Revenue Officers, Pensioners etc and it had a large benefit club of 400 members.  A newspaper article dated 1859 shows that at the Annual Court Leet meeting seventy people ‘partook of dinner in Mrs Gayners well known style, after which songs and recitations were indulged in’.  Following the same event in 1862 the report said ‘The repast, which was of a substantial character, well sustained the reputation of the hostess, Mrs Gayner, as a caterer.  The newspaper advert on the right shows a public ball which Frances organised in 1853.  The report of the event shown below notes that the ball was one of a season of balls organised at the Swan after a lapse of sixteen years.  It adds ‘the refreshments were upon each occasion supplied with a very liberal hand by the worthy hostess, whose well-known catering is justly admired’.

Swan ball reportThe 1861 census shows Frances still innkeeper at the Swan.  She is there with her widowed daughter, Frances Barnes aged 29 who was assisting her mother and her daughter, Mary E Barnes aged 10 months.  Frances (Jnr) had married Alfred Barnes, a land surveyor, on 19th April 1855.

The 1871 census shows Frances as hotel keeper at the Swan.  She is living there with her daughter, Frances Barnes an assistant aged 39 and her grandson, Frances, a draper aged 20.  Also staying in the hotel as boarders were Frances’s brother-in-law, George Gayner aged 59 and his wife, Emma (nee Stump).

The Swan late 1860s

The Swan late 1860s

The photo on the right was sent to us by Henry T. Ford, a descendant of Frances Gayner.  It was taken in the late 1860’s as it shows Henry’s great grandmother,  Susannah Powell, as a baby in the arms of her mother? in the street outside of the Swan.  We can’t be sure but the lady on the left in the porch could be Frances.

Frances died on 29th September 1872 aged 72.  Her obituary published in the Bristol Mercury dated 5th October said: ‘The oldest innkeeper of the old town of Thornbury has passed to “that undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveller returns”.  On Saturday afternoon Mrs Frances Gayner of the Swan Hotel, after being for a long time in a feeble state from paralysis, suddenly expired, to the deep regret of her children, grand-children, a large circle of respectable neighbours and friends, many of whom in the town partially closed their shutters etc immediately on the event of her death becoming known.  The deceased was a most kind-hearted lady, and many “needy one” will mourn the loss of her unobtrusive deeds of kindness and charity.  On Wednesday the remains of the deceased were consigned to their last resting place in Thornbury Churchyard.  The funeral was a large one.  Most of the principal shopkeepers of the town had their shutters partially closed.

Of Charles and Frances’s children:

  • Henry Penduck Gayner – Henry started work as a saddler and harness worker, but following his marriage to Ann Penduck, he became a linen draper.  Click here to read more
  • Eliza Gayner – married James Powell, a shopkeeper in Thornbury.  She died a few weeks after Frances’s death.  She was aged 48 and was buried in the same grave as her mother on 27th October 1872.  Click here to read more