Jonah and Elizabeth Harris moved to Thornbury about 1865.  They moved here from Avening near Stroud where they were living in the 1861 Census.  Jonah had been born in the area of Rodborough or Minchinhampton near Stroud about 1832, the son of John and Martha Harris (nee Reeves).  In 1851 Jonah was a servant at Elmore Court Mansion where he worked for Lt. General Sir John Wright Guise.  Jonah was a stable boy, one of the sixteen servants who lived in the mansion.

Jonah married Elizabeth Rose in Tetbury on 8th August 1857.  Elizabeth was baptised in Tetbury on 16th June 1839, the daughter of William and Mary (or Maria) Rose.  In 1861 Jonah and Elizabeth were living on Stroud Road, Avening.  Jonah was employed as a coachman.  Living with them were their son, George, aged 2, a lodger Thomas Kimber, a colt breaker aged 25 and Jonah’s sister, Mary, a housemaid aged 20.  Another child, Anne, was born in 1862 before the family moved to Thornbury.  They then had other children: John Edward born in 1865, Martha Jane, Alfred James and Rose Elizabeth.  Of these children, Alfred was baptised in Thornbury on 19th April 1871, three of them (Martha Jane, John and Annie) were baptised on 18th December 1872 and Elizabeth Rose on 3rd August 1873.

The 1871 Census shows the family living in one of the two small cottages at the bottom of Gillingstool Hill.  These were demolished to provide space for the extension of the Council School in 1898.  At the time of the 1871 Census, Jonah was an ostler.  He was buried on 25th September 1874 aged 42.  The 1876 Rate Book shows Elizabeth (then referred to as ‘Widow Harris’) was living at one of the small cottages in Mutton Lane (now known as Crispin Lane). It appears she was renting the property on the end of the row adjoining 6 Crispin Lane.

In 1881 Elizabeth was living in Horseshoe Lane, one of the two houses which later became known as Marylands 8 Horseshoe Lane.  Elizabeth was working as a charwoman with George, Annie, Martha, Alfred and two new children, Elizabeth Rose baptised on August 3rd 1873, and Charlotte May born in 1878 and baptised on 21st July 1878.

The last child, Charlotte May, was obviously born too late to be the child of Jonah Harris.  The baptism record shows that she was the daughter of Elizabeth Harris.  A newspaper article of April 17th 1879 provides further information on her parentage.  It says that Elizabeth Harris applied for an order of affiliation against Charles Symes, the cooper, who she said was the father of her child, which was born on 4th May the previous year.  Elizabeth Harris claimed to have been intimate with Charles Symes for the past three years and he had been in the habit of visiting her at her own house.  She said that Charles Symes had given her four shillings for the support of her child but had recently married someone else.  Elizabeth Harris claimed that she had remained silent about the identity of the father of her child up to now because she had worked for Mrs Symes for eight years (we assume this refers to Charles’s mother) and did not like to upset the lady who she described as her benefactor.  Two neighbours were called as witnesses and they had seen Charles Symes visit Elizabeth Harriss’s house but could not be certain of the dates he had been there.

On 27th May 1882 Elizabeth re-married, this time to Francis George Driscoll.  Click here to read more

Of Jonah and Elizabeth’s children:

John Edward – John never married.  The 1881 Census shows he had left home and was working as a groom in Westbury on Trym.  On 9th May 188 he enlisted in the Gloucestershire Regiment.  He was a labourer aged 19 and 5 months and living in Crossways at the time.  He was described as being 5ft 3 and a half inches, 123lbs, chest 34 inches, blue eyes, fair complexion and light brown hair.  He served in East India from 1886 to 1893 and returned to serve another 4 years before transferring to the Army Reserve.  By 1901 he had returned to Thornbury and was a general labourer boarding with Harriett Smith in 7 Silver Street.  The 1911 Census shows John was lodging with Harriett Smith who had moved to live at 14 St Mary Street .  John was now working as a coal haulier.  The 1921 Electoral Register lists John under St Mary Street.  He died aged 60 and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 7th November 1925.  The burial record describes John as a gardener.

George – baptised as William George in Tetbury on 6th March 1859.  He settled in Thornbury with his wife, Ellen Derrick.  Click here to read more

Martha Jane – is a bit of a mystery as we can’t find her in the 1891 and 1901 Censuses.  We understand that Martha had four children: Lucy born 10th August 1902, Ellen Eliza born 13th March 1904, Harold Henry born 5th August 1906 and Percy John born 13th June 1909.

Alfred James Harris – married Julia Vizard in December qtr 1893.  Julia was the daughter of John and Sarah Vizard.  Julia had one child, Ernest Henry, before she married Alfred.  Ernest was baptised on 5th March 1893.  Alfred and Julia had 3 children of their own: Dorothy Amelia baptised 20th June 1894, Mabel born in September qtr 1895 but died the following year aged 1 and James Alfred born in 26th March 1898.  Julia died on 10th June 1898 aged 25.  We understand that Dorothy and ‘Alfred’ were brought up by their maternal grandmother, Sarah Vizard who lived at Raglan Castle, near Streamleaze.  However, the record showing young Alfred starting at the Council Upper School in 1905 shows he was living with ‘Mrs Driscoll’, his paternal grandmother.

James Harris & sister Dorothy

James Harris & sister Dorothy

The 1911 Census shows Alfred James Snr and his son, Alfred, were living in Silver Street in the home of Mary Elizabeth Sheppard  Alfred Snr married Mary in 1914.  We have a photograph of Alfred Jnr and his sister, Dorothy taken during the First World War when Alfred was serving as a soldier.

It is interesting and confusing that we have records of Alfred initially applying for exemption from military service whilst employed as a timber haulier at the Saw Mills.  The records show that he was granted exemption, but that it was withdrawn because he had joined up.  The confusion arises because an also identical application was made under the name of Jonah Alfred Harris who we find was born in the same period as Alfred jnr.  We assume that although his birth was registered as ‘Alfred Jonah’ he used various other names at different times.  The 1925 Valuation List and 1926 Rate Book show that ‘J. Harris’ was living at 2 St Mary Street.  This could be either of the two Alfred (father and son) who both used the name ‘James’ at times.  The 1927 electoral register shows Alfred James and Mary Elizabeth Harris living in St Mary Street so it is likely to be them.  Mary died in February 1932 aged 65 and she was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 24th February 1932.  We know that Alfred snr died in Thornbury in 1950 aged 79.

Rose Elizabeth – married Charles Bollen on 6th January 1900.  Charles was a farm worker and in 1901 they were living at Shellards Lane, Alveston.  It is interesting to see that the census recorded they had a son, as yet unnamed, who was only 12 hours old!  Charles and Rose had 6 children.  Charles died on 31st August 1953 aged 80 and Rose died 11th February 1964 also aged 80.

Charlotte May – born in 1878, the illegitimate daughter of Elizabeth Harris.  In 1891 census sh was a domestic servant working for William Yarnold in the High Street aged 12 years. In the 1901 Census Charlotte May was a servant in Berkeley House in Stone outside of Thornbury.  She appears to have been married in Bristol in the June quarter of 1910.