Thomas Gwynn was born 18th March 1790 in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire.  He was the son  of Richard Gwynn and his wife Ann .  He was also heir not only to his parents but also to his great uncle Thomas Crowther.  Thomas’s mother Ann Gwynn was one of the two heirs of Thomas Crowther and it seems that this property was left in trust for Thomas Gwynn..

On 13th May 1819 he married Margaret Thurston at St Mary’s Church in Thornbury.  Margaret was the daughter of Obed Thurston and Martha (nee Grove).  Margaret was born on 20th February 1788.

As explained on the page relating to Richard Gwynn,  Thomas proceeded to add to the property he had inherited and in indentures of 4 February 1828 and 14th May 1830 Alexander and James Smith sold to Thomas Gwynn for £840 — ‘All that messuage or tenement called Greenhouse (where Ann Thurston lived, afterwards in the possession of Jane Bridges since John Crowther, afterwards Christopher Young since Richard Gwynn and late of James Ford as tenant) with the garden, orchard thereto adjoining 3 roods and 15 perches. Also all that close of meadow known as Lower Orchard (1 acre 2 roods 21 perches) behind and adjoining said garden orchard.

We know that this document transferred the ownership of what is now Clematis Cottage and 13 Castle Street from the Smiths to Thomas Gwynn.  In the 1830 Trade Directory Thomas Gwynn was described as a cheese factor but by 1849 the directory says he was a “private resident,” which suggests he was no longer directly involved in trade.

Thomas and Margaret Gwynn appear to have been living at Porch House in Castle Street in Thornbury.  The photograph below on the right shows the present day Porch House which is partly the church hall of Christ the King RC Church in Thornbury.

Porch house webThomas and Margaret Gwynn had several children;

  • Martha Ann Gwynn was baptised 19th July 1820.
  • Elizabeth Gwynn was baptised while her father was Mayor of Thornbury on 26th September 1821.
  • Ursula Maria Gwynn was baptised 10 December 1822,and died aged one year five months in March 1824.
  • Richard Gwynn was baptised 18th December 1823, and died aged seven months in May 1824.
  • John Crowther Gwynn was baptised August 27th 1828.
  • Margaret Thurston Gwynn was baptised 15th June 1832, and died aged one year and five months in September 1833.
  • Margaret Sophia Gwynn was baptised on 1st January 1834 and died aged two years and five months in April 1836.

We are indebted to Alison Bagnall for the information that on 26th September 1831 Edward Trayhurn a tailor was accused of stealing apples from an orchard belonging to Thomas Gwynn.  Alison tells us that Edward Trayhurn was living opposite at the time and so the orchard was likely to be one attached to Porch House.  Edward was tried by Mr W M Tonge at Alveston and given a month’s hard labour at Lawford’s Gate House of Correction in Bristol.  It is an interesting example of the swift justice of the time.  Edward was accused of stealing the apples on the Saturday night of 24th September and appeared in court and was sentenced on Monday 26th September.  The courts would not be operating on a Sunday so the punishment could not have been much quicker.

The 1841 Census appears to show them at Porch House which seems to have two separate households.  Thomas appeared to have a larger household next to his father Richard who was 88 and a “cheese factor.”  Thomas and Margaret Gwynn were said to be “of Independent Means.”  They had two daughters, Martha Gwynn aged 21 and Elizabeth Gwynn aged 19, and a son, John Gwynn aged 12 living with them.  They also had two servants; Elizabeth Roach 21 and Eliza Taylor 18.

The 1851 Census describes Thomas Gwynn as a “landed proprietor” aged 61 living with his wife Margaret aged 62.  They had three house servants now and their grown up children were also living with them.  These were Martha aged 31, Elizabeth aged 29 and John aged 22.  John was a solicitor.

In the 1861 Census Thomas and Margaret then aged 71 and 73 respectively appeared to be still at Porch House where they had quite a large household.  Their eldest daughter Martha was now 41 and her sister Elizabeth was 39.  They had a grandson Humphrey Gwynn staying with them and three servants Mary Ann Hiberd, Helen Gibbons and Joseph Pym who was their gardener.

For much of its history it seems clear that there was at least one other household on the same site as Porch House.  We have found a reference to a cottage adjoining Porch house and a later reference in 1915 to a house “now taken down.”  In 1861 the house was occupied by William Smith aged 64, a paperhanger and his wife Sarah aged 52.

William Smith was obviously still living in this separate house owned by Thomas Gwynn because it was specifically referred to at a meeting of the Guardians of Thornbury Union (the body responsible for many of the duties late taken on by local government).  The minutes of 28th September 1866 say there was a notice of a nuisance existing on the dwelling occupied by William Smith situate in Castle Street Thornbury belonging to Thomas Gwynn caused by want of privy accommodation and means of drainage – and by an accumulation of ashes and filth.

In 1865 the Voters’ List says Thomas was the owner of a freehold house and land and gives his address as ‘The Green House’.  We cannot explain this as the Green House is a term appears to refer to Clematis Cottage.  Thomas Gwynn owned the Green House but we do not believe that he lived in that house, which he sold in January 1869.  Thomas’s

wife Margaret died in January 1869 aged 80 and Thomas himself died in the same year on October 22nd aged 79.

The two surviving daughters never married.  Martha Ann the eldest daughter died aged 48 on September 12th 1868 at her brother’s house Westfield House in Redland.  Elizabeth died March 7th 1895 aged 73.  Elizabeth was living in Clifton, initially in Brighton Road, then in Merchants Road.  In 1881 Elizabeth had purchased ‘The Farm‘ a large property on outskirts of Thornbury but she never lived there.

John Crowther Gwynn the only surviving son of Thomas and Margaret Gwynn was born on 23rd June 1828 and baptised in Thornbury.  He was admitted to St John’s College Cambridge on June 30th 1851.  He married Maria Brookes, daughter of Thomas Brooks a solicitor in Tewkesbury on 28th April 1852.  Thomas Gwynn’s address at the time of this wedding was described as “The Porch” Thornbury, but John Crowther Gwynn’s address was given as Falfield.

John and Margaret’s son, Humphrey Thomas Martin Crowther Gwynn was born on November 9th 1853 and baptised on 1st December 1853.  Their daughter, Margaret Brookes Gwynn was baptised in April 1855.

His entry in the Alumni of Cambridge shows that John Crowther Gwynn practised as a solicitor in Bristol, where he was also Superintendent Registrar.  John’s office was at 5 Clare Street in Bristol.

When Richard Atwell Gwynn was baptised, the family lived in Kingsdown in Bristol.  Annie Elizabeth was baptised in 1859 and John Crowther Gwynn was baptised 1st January 1861.  The address given in the birth announcement in this last instance was Cheddar Villa in Cotham.  In January 1863 when Kingsmill Thurston Gwynn was baptised the family’s address was Westfield House, Redland.

On the death of his father Thomas, John Crowther Gwynn inherited amongst other properties, Porch House which his father had occupied for many years, and Latteridge Close.

The Thornbury Trade Directories show that John Crowther Gwynn also had a solicitor’s office in the High Street in Thornbury.  In the 1871 Census the family were living in Westfield Park in Westbury on Trym.  John Crowther Gwynn was aged 42 and a solicitor and of their 14 children, his son Humphrey aged 17 was articled to be a solicitor’s clerk.  The others were all listed as scholars, all being 16 years or younger.

On 6th May 1871 there was a newspaper report of an accident.  John Crowther Gwynn and his family were staying for a time in Thornbury and Mr Gwynn was driving his eldest son Humphrey from Bristol to Thornbury.  As they were going down a hill near Almondsbury the pony bolted.  Mr Gwynn tried to stop the progress of the pony and carriage by steering it into a hedge.  The carriage overturned and the passengers were thrown out.  Mr Gwynn was unharmed but Humphrey who may have jumped out pitched forward onto his head and received severe concussion.  He was taken into a nearby farmhouse where he was attended by Mr Salmon, a well known surgeon of Thornbury.  For some days Humphrey was considered to be in a hopeless state but the newspaper was later able to report that he was somewhat better.

On 5th May 1877 there was better news of Humphrey in an announcement of a marriage in the Bristol Mercury “on the 28th April at Emmanuel Church Clifton by the Rev T G Luckock, Humphrey Thomas Martin Gwynn of Ozleworth, Clifton solicitor to Harriet Mary Ann, daughter of the late Richard Snow of Dean Court near Taunton and step-daughter of George Squier Bryant of Adderley Villa, Clifton.

On 11th September 1875 John Crowther Gwynn leased “all the premises” which we believe to be Porch House to Edwin Boyes Lonnen (grocer and draper of Thornbury) for eight years at the sum of £45 a year.

By indentures of 17th December 1879 and 12th June 1880 John Crowther Gwynn of Clifton sold to Henry Craven St John for £1650 “All that messuage or dwellinghouse called The Porch situate in the High Street with the stable, yard, orchard and close of land thereto adjoining” to Henry Craven St John of Stokefield House (a captain in the Royal Navy).  This property also included the land known as Latteridge.

In 1881 on the 18th June John Crowther Gwynn made a will appointing his sons Humphrey Thomas Martin Crowther Gwynn, John Crowther Gwynn and Kingsmill Thurston Gwynn to be trustees (later Richard Attwells Gwynn) and Executors in trust until the youngest child became 21 years of age or until the hereditaments devised by John Crowther Gwynn’s father to John’s sister, Elizabeth, should fall into his possession, whichever was the later.  His will referred to his considerable amount of property.  On 15th March 1883 John Crowther Gwynn died and his will was proved in 1884.

The Bristol Mercury and Evening Post carried his obituary;
our obituary records the death of Mr John Crowther Gwynn, the superintendent registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages for Bristol and head of the legal firm of Gwynn and Gwynn, All Saints Court, Bristol and Scarlett and Gwynn, Thornbury.  The sad event took place at his residence at Ozleworth, Apsley Road at about 10 o’clock on Thursday night at the comparatively early age of 54 years.  Mr Gwynn has been in seriously shattered health for so long a period that intelligence of the fatal result can hardly take anyone by surprise.  It will, nevertheless, we feel assured, be heard of with deep regret throughout a very wide circle.  The deceased gentleman was thoughtful and painstaking as a lawyer and as a consequence he was very successful in practice.  His urbane and courteous manners too won him the respect of all with whom he was brought into contact whilst in the relations of private life his kindly and affectionate disposition was ever manifest.  Mr Gwynn left a widow and numerous family to mourn their, to them, irreparable loss.”

In 1899 the estate of John Crowther Gwynn was put up for sale.  The Bristol Mercury and Evening Post carried the details of the sale of the Crowther Gwynn estate in an advertisement on 13th October 1899.  The list is very lengthy and contains a substantial amount of property in and around Thornbury.  Click on the thumbnail image of the article to see the article more clearly.

Lot 2 in the sale was the property now known as 3 Castle Street which was then described as ‘a house and garden in the occupation of E Pitcher as yearly tenant at a rent of £15 per annum and land tax of 3s 6d. Borough rent 8d.  It has front and back sitting rooms, kitchen, back kitchen, pantry, cellar and 4 bedrooms‘.

The Children of John Crowther Gwynn and his wife Maria

Kingsmill Thurston Crowther Gwynn, was baptised on 7th January 1853 in Thornbury, although the family’s residence was said to be in Bristol.  He married Adeline Mary nee Hoseason, the widow of Major General Benjamin John Chauvel Prior, who was born in Hyderabad.  Kingsmill served in the RMC South Wales Borders, later becoming manager of the National Provincial Bank, Baker Street, London.

One of their sons Kingsmill Douglas Hoseason Gwynn (born 8th March 1888) attended Haileybury School and it is from their website of military honours that we learn that he Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Fusiliers and was was awarded the DSO and bar “For conspicuous gallantry and able leadership.  He commanded his battalion in the difficult operation of crossing a river in the face of determined opposition from the enemy, who were holding the opposite bank in strength.  All the bridges were broken, and the enemy had inundated a great portion of the valley by damming the stream.  He himself was suffering from severe gassing, but he overcame all difficulties and, inspiring his men with his own determination and fine example of courage, he effected the crossing and established the battalion on the opposite bank.  He rendered most valuable service. (D.S.O gazetted Nov. 4, 1915).”  He died 23rd August 1955.

Humphrey Thomas Martin Crowther Gwynn was born 1st December 1853.  He married Harriet Muriel Mary Ann Snow in the June quarter of 1877.  They had four children.

In 1916 on 26th March the Gazette newspaper carried a report of the D.S.O. which was awarded to two members of the Gwynn family. One of these was Lieutenant – Colonel Reginald S Gwynn of the 1st and 2nd Battalion South Wales Borderers, second son of the late Mr H. T. M. C. Gwynn, solicitor of Thornbury.  The other was a son of Kingsmill Thurston Crowther Gwynn (see above).

Margaret Brookes Gwynn was baptised in Thornbury on 5th April 1855.  We have been told that Margaret went to Mauritius in 1899 and spent the rest of her life there as a missionary.  She was buried in Vacoas.

Richard Atwell Gwynn was born on 28th December 1856.  He was baptised in Thornbury on 1st April 1857.  The Bristol Mercury and Evening Post of 4th April 1892 had the announcement of the death on April 2nd at 72 Victoria Square Clifton of Richard Attwells Gwynn Lieutenant R. N. the second son of the late John Crowther Gwynn aged 35 years.  

Annie Elizabeth Gwynn was baptised in Thornbury on 15th June 1859, although the family’s residence at that time was said to be Cotham which is part of Bristol.  Her marriage to Cyril Lavington was in the September quarter of 1879.

John Crowther Gwynn (Junior)  was baptised on 1st January 1861 in Thornbury.
An announcement in the Bristol Mercury of December 3rd 1881 showed that another Gwynn had become a solicitor -“Mr J Crowther Gwynn junior of Ozleworth Clifton was articled to Messrs Gwynn and Nunneley solicitors of this city, having successfully passed his final examination of the Incorporated Law Society has been admitted a solicitor of the High Court of Justice.”

The young John Crowther Gwynn married Eliza Caroline Macleod, the daughter of Alexander Macleod MD, on 11th December 1884.  Eliza was born on 2oth October 1856 at Joalach, India.  Apparently John and Eliza met on board ship returning from India.

By 1889 John and Eliza Gwynn had acquired a property in Thornbury on the Bristol Road that was sometimes known as the Villa or The Cedars but which they called Dunvegan.  The 1890 rate book shows that they were renting this property from Francis William Yates.

At the time of the 1891 Census Dunvegan was only occupied by three of their staff.  John and Eliza were actually in Victoria Square Clifton in Bristol with John’s widowed mother Maria Gwynn, then aged 58.  The household also included John’s older sister Mary who was then aged 36 and their three brothers (Neville aged 22, William aged 20 and Gwynn aged 10) and two sisters (Edith 23 and Gertrude 21).  At that time John Crowther Gwynn was a solicitor.

We have records to show that the younger J C Gwynn continued to add to the property portfolio.  In 1883 a newspaper report shows that he bought “a house in the Back Street and three cottages in Mutton Lane” for what seems to have been a bargain price of £320 (They had failed to make the reserve of £345 at the auction).  John C Gwynn junior also bought the Castle Coffee Tavern – the old building which stands in St Mary Street which became known as the Church Institute and is now called Ronnies – for £332.

From 1891 to 1900 John Crowther Gwynn was a partner in the partnership of Crossman and Lloyd the solicitor’s firm in Thornbury.

On the 25th June 1894 the trustees of the estate of Susanna Cornock conveyed Wigmore House in Castle Street to John Crowther Gwynn.  This would account for the advertisement in the newspaper of 29th September 1894 which announces that Mr Gwynn was changing his residence at the Villa and selling household effects as a consequence.

We have noted that this article refers to Mr Gwynn as “T C Gwynn” rather than J C Gwynn but we have provisionally assumed that this is a mistake.  It is noteworthy that the Crowther Gwynns were maintaining substantial homes in Thornbury as well as in Bristol.

On 26th June 1894 there was an indenture now contained in the deeds of 14 Castle Street by which John Crowther Gwynn bought the yard which ran behind 14 Castle Street ( Bank Cottage) and 12 Castle Street (Epworth House) from William Cullimore who then owned it as a representative of Susannah Cornock then deceased.  This gave access to the rear of Wigmore House to the lane which ran into Castle Street and which would allow a stable to be used at the rear of Wigmore House.

We haven’t traced the Gwynns in the 1901 census, but by 1911 they were living in Algars Manor, Iron Acton.

On 18th May 1917 the South Gloucestershire Chronicle reported the appointment by the Government of British Columbia of John Crowther Gwynn JP formerly of Thornbury and now of Iron Acton and of the Inner Temple barrister at law and of Canadian Bar to be Registrar General of Titles.  He was to reside in Victoria, Vancouver Island.  In 1920 he presented a petition to the Senate of Canada.

They appear to have continued their wanderings.  In 1935 they were listed as passengers returning to London from Genoa.  Eliza (or Kitty as she was known) was staying at the Hotel d’Angleterre in Vevey, Switzerland when she died on 2nd November 1942.   John was staying at the Hotel Helvetie in Montreux when he died in a hospital in Vevey, Switzerland on 16th March 1947.

Ethel Gwendoline Gwynn’s birth was registered in Clifton in Bristol in the September quarter of 1863.  We understand that she married a Dr John Frederick Wright in 1887.

Gronow Gaches Gwynn was born in the December quarter of 1864 in Clifton.  A notice appeared in the Daily Colonist, a newspaper printed in Victoria, British Columbia on 12th December 1890.  This shows Gronow as ‘Solicitor of the Supreme Court of British Columbia to be appointed as Deputy Attorney General for the Province‘.

The Bristol Evening Post and Mercury of 24th September 1892 announced the death on August 28th in Cape Colony of Gronow Gaches Gwynn solicitor (sometime of Victoria British Colombia), the fifth son of the late John Crowther Gwynn.

Graham Samuel Philpot Gwynn was born on 25th December 1865 and his birth was registered in the March quarter of 1866.  He married Annie Swan on February 4th 1902 in London.  His address at that time was 16 The Boltons.  The marriage certificate shows that his father John Crowther Gwynn was deceased.

Editha Martha Gwynn, the fourth daughter of John Crowther Gwynn was born in the June quarter of 1867.  She married Thomas Norman Arkell M.A. of Oxford a solicitor on July 1st 1891 at Emmanuel Church Clifton.  The service was taken by the groom’s father Rev John Arkell M.A.  Rector of of St Ebbe’s Oxford and Rev T. G. Luckock.

Neville Claude Gwynn was born in the March quarter of 1869.  He married Mary Maud Saville in the September quarter of 1906

Gertrude Agnese Gwynn was born on 1st December 1869 and her birth was registered in the March quarter of 1870.  She married Alfred Craven Hargrove in Hampstead in 1904.

William Purnell Gwynn was born 6th March 1871.  We have been told by Alison and Neil Fagan that he trained as a surgeon at Guy’s Hospital and joined the Royal Army Medical Corps serving in England, Somaliland, India, Ceylon and Burma.  He married Harriet Margaret Hutchinson in Ceylon in 1912 (while on leave from Burma).  He later served in Ireland and during WW1 as Lt Colonel in command of the 39th Field Ambulance in Gallipoli and Egypt.

After the war he served in England and Malta being promoted to the rank of full Colonel in 1924.  He died in 1940.  He was mentioned in dispatches on several occasions and was awarded the CMG in 1919.

Gwyn Ivor Gwynn was born in the June quarter of 1872.  On July 14th 1916 the South Gloucestershire Chronicle reported that Gwynn Ivor Gwynn the youngest son of John Crowther Gwynn of Clifton and Thornbury and then a Captain in the 72nd Seaforth Highlanders had been awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry at the battle of St Elois.  St Eloi is principally remembered today for its wartime history of underground mine warfare.

Within the small confines of the area some 30 mines were detonated by both British and German forces.  The British exploded six of these at one time on 27 March 1916.

Read about the other owners and occupants of Porch House