There were several branches of the Honeyborne family living in the Thornbury area.  We have concentrated on that of John Honeyborne, baptised in Rockhampton on 29th May 1830, the son of John Honeyborne, a mason, and his wife, Sophia (nee Watkins).

John Honeyborne – in the 1841 census John’s parents, John and Sophia, were living at Morton, just outside Thornbury.

In the 1851 census John jnr was living at 52 York Crescent, Bristol where he was employed as a porter to a chemist.  On 9th May 1858 John married Emma Baylis in St Augustine’s Church in Bristol.  Emma was baptised on 2nd October 1831, the daughter of Walwin Baylis a carrier and his wife, Hannah.  John and Emma had three children: Austin John born on 30th December 1858, Walwin born on 3rd September 1862 and Clara Hannah born in 1866.

The 1861 census shows John Honeyborne was a grocer aged 32 from Thornbury and that he and Emma were living in St Mary Street with their son, Austin John aged 2.  We think their shop was in the old buildings which were at the back of the Exchange pub (now known as The Knot of Rope).

On 25th March 1862 John bought several properties in Thornbury from William Parker for £400.  They were described as being:

‘All that messuage or tenement with garden and appurts wherein Benjamin Leach formerly and Thomas Moxham and William Herbert since dwelt and Thomas Winstone at the time of his death dwelt afterwards inhabited by Martha Cullimore and lately used as a beerhouse and known by the name of the Rose and Crown and occupied by William Cullimore situate and being in Thornbury in a street there called the back street otherwise St Mary Street between the messuage or tenement formerly in the occupation of John Hulbert baker afterwards Thomas Whitfield …since of Phillip Thomas and others since of Sarah Webb widow and Charles Woodward and now of (blank ) on the south part and by the tenement lastly hereinafter described as being in the occupation of Robert Sargent on the north part (This property is thought to have been later known as 43 and 45 St Mary Street).

And also all that messuage with the malt house and brewhouse garden hereditaments and premises thereto adjoining and belonging and known by the name of the Brewery situate in a street called St John Street (we think that this a mistake) and fronting the street or lane leading to the Bath bounded on the north side thereof by a messuage or tenement hereinafter described as being in the occupation of Thomas Smith (This property became the house known as 14 Rock Street)

And also all that piece or parcel of ground on part of which a barn formerly stood and since demolished situate and lying on the east side of the garden formerly belonging to John Mills since of Richard Williams afterwards of Mary Williams and Richard Williams late of Elizabeth Johnston but now of Betty Binden and on the north side of the late Presbyterian meeting house now a brewery late in the occupation of James Sly but now of Mark Williams as tenant thereof to the said William Packer part hereto and facing or adjoining to a street or lane called Trumpleton Street and the lane called Bullwell street lane containing by a late admeasurement thereof 4 perches (This property, together with the next mentioned property, was the land on which 12 Rock Street was later built)

And also all that piece or parcel of ground whereon the Vestry Room of ( late a porch or entrance to ) the Presbyterian meeting house formerly stood which said vestry room hath been sometime since taken down and removed and the ground whereon the same stood laid open to the last mentioned piece of land

And also all that messuage or tenement lately erected and built on the said piece or parcel of land and wherein Thomas Savery lately dwelt afterwards in the occupation of George Excell and now of Thomas Smith as tenement thereof to William Packer party hereto’ (This property became known as 10 Rock Street).

John and Emma’s son, Walwin died on 26th February 1865 aged 2.  John died on 29th December 1867 aged 38 and was buried in the burial ground of the Congregational Church.  In his will he left all his property to his wife, Emma, in trust for her lifetime and after her death, the property was to be shared between his children.

The 1871 census shows Emma as a widow living in St Mary Street – she was a grocer living with Austin aged 12 and Clara aged 4, a niece, Sophia aged 22 who was an assistant to a grocer and Sarah Curtis a domestic servant aged 18 from Olveston.  The grocer’s shop was located in the building where Shellys Cafe now stands at 32 St Mary Street.

John and Emma Stevens – Emma Honeyborne re-married in St Paul’s Parish Church in Bristol on 15th May 1875.  Her new husband was John Stevens.  John was born in Broadclist in Devon about 1836 and he doesn’t appear to have any Thornbury connection until he married Emma.  Although Emma inherited all her late husband’s property in trust for her children in the Rate Books from this time John Stevens is shown as the owner.  

The 1876 rate book shows John as owner and occupier of 56 High Street.  The 1881 Census John was a grocer and seed dealer living there with Emma and with Clara Honeyborne a stepdaughter age 14 and Jane Boulton a visitor a widow aged 60 from Wellington in Somerset and Elizabeth Dimond a domestic servant aged 14 from Weston in Devon.  Emma’s daughter, Clara, died on 21st September 1882 aged 16.  John Stevens died in 1884 aged 49 and Emma died on 8th April 1885 aged 53 and buried at the Congregational Chapel burying ground.  The ownership of their various properties transferred to Emma’s son, Austin John Honeyborne.  The list of these properties includes those purchased by John Honeyborne in 1862 listed above, but has in addition, two cottages, large garden and adjoining stable and shed in Bath Road later known as 2 and 4 Bath Road and a leasehold cottage in St Mary Street later known as 57 St Mary Street.

Austin John and Maria Honeyborne – Austin was born in 1859, the son of John and Emma Honeyborne.  In the 1861 and 1871 Censuses the family was living at the Back of The Exchange in St Mary Street.  By the 1881 census Austin Honeyborne had left home and moved to St Phillips in Bristol.  In this census he was aged 21 and living as a lodger with Joseph and Priscilla Headford.  At this time Austin was a grocer’s assistant.

Austin married Maria Land, the daughter of James and Elizabeth Land on 1st June 1884 at Stapleton Road Chapel, Bristol.  His address at the time was 61 Martin Street, Bristol and Maria was living at Stokes Croft.  Maria’s father, James Land, was a farmer who had 50 acres in Withypool.  Maria was born about 1861.  Austin and Maria had four children: Austin Walwin born in 1885, James Percy born in 1887, Reginald William born in 1889 who died in infancy, and Arthur Land born in 1890.

At the time of his mother’s death in 1885, Austin was a grocer living at 41 Alma Street, Stapleton.  Austin continued to own and acquire property in Thornbury even though he was living and working in Bristol.  The 1885 rate book for Thornbury shows that Austin Honeyborne owned three houses and a stable in Rock Street (numbers 10 – 14), two houses in Bullseye Lane (numbers 2 & 4) and one house in the High Street (number 56).  By the 1890 special drainage rate book shows that he owned a house in the High Street, four houses in St Mary Street (numbers 41 – 45 and 57), three houses and a stable in Rock Street and two houses in Bullseye Lane.

In 1891 Austin and Maria were living in 1 Albert Place, St Phillips in Bristol where Austin was a grocer.  They had three children at that time: Austin Walwin aged 5, James Percy aged 3, and Arthur Land aged less than one year (born 23rd May 1890).

The special drainage book of 1894 shows that the family returned to live in Thornbury and that Austin owned and occupied 56 High Street.  He also continued to own the other properties in St Mary Street, Rock Street and Bullseye Lane.  Austin was shown in the 1897 and 1899 Trade Directories as a grocer and tea dealer in the High Street.

On 7th June 1899 he was returning from Bristol with his trap loaded with groceries when his horse bolted at the top of Thornbury Hill.  Eye-witnesses said said Austin was standing next to the horse when it seemed to get frightened.  Austin tried to hang on but was knocked down and run over by the trap.  He died a couple of hours later suffering from internal injuries.  He was aged 40.  He was buried in the Congregational Burial Ground on 11th June 1899.  The minutes of the meeting of what is now the United Reformed Church on June 28th 1899 agreed to send a message of sympathy to his widow and family “in the great loss they have sustained by his terribly sudden and lamented death and to express our own appreciation of his Christian life and usefulness in the Sunday School as a faithful and zealous teacher for nearly eight years.”

In 1899 Maria Honeyborne occupied number 6 Castle Street which she was renting from Dr Lionel Williams.  The 1901 Census describes Maria as a widow aged 38 who was a retired grocer born in Withypool in Somerset.  She had three sons living with her.  Austin aged aged 15 was a solicitor’s clerk born in Bristol. James aged 13 and Arthur aged 10, also born in Bristol, were still at school.  In the Rate Books of 1899 Austin’s properties were said to be owned by his representatives.

In 1899 George Whitfield and Edgar Walter Pitcher became trustees of the properties for the Honeyborne estate.  At that time they were described as:

“A freehold dwelling house (in two tenements) situate in Bulseys Lane ….in occupation of Messrs Pritchard and Ford.” (This property was numbers 2 and 4 Bath Road)

“A freehold traphouse and stable situate in Bulseys Lane…in occupation of a Bagg” (This property was adjoining 2 and 4 Bath Road).

and “a leasehold dwelling house and garden situate in St Mary’s Street … in the occupation of Thomas Powell.” (This was 57 St Mary Street).

Ownership of all Austin’s property was transferred to his wife, Maria and she was still shown as the owner in the 1905 and 1910 rate books.  The 1910 rate book also shows that Maria no longer lived at 6 Castle Street but she owned the premises at 56 High Street which was used by the “Honeyborne Brothers.”  The same rate book also shows that Maria had sold two of her houses in St Mary Street to Mrs Stutchbury.  In the 1911 Census Maria is listed as living at the property now known as 56 High Street.  She is described here as having ‘Private Means’.  Her three sons are still living with her.  Austin Walwin was a law clerk aged 25, James Percy was a grocer aged 23 and Arthur Land was a grocer’s assistant aged 20.  Maria died on 3rd January 1914 aged 52 and was buried in the Congregational Chapel.

Following Maria’s death, the Honeyborne property was divided between the 3 sons: Austin Walwin acquired the 3 houses in St Mary Street occupied by Albert Bagg, William Cook and William Liddiatt, the 3 properties in Rock Street occupied by William Harris, Frederick Walker and George Horseman and the adjoining coach-house, stable and pig-stye occupied by James Ford and Henry Baylis.  James Percy Honeyborne acquired the house and shop in the High Street in which he lived.  Arthur Land Honeyborne acquired a house in Bath Road occupied by Sherborne and Maggs, a trap-house in Bath Road occupied by Albert Bagg and a leasehold house in St Mary Street occupied by John Radford.  Austin had to pay his brothers £33 each to equalise the division of property.

Austin Walwyn married Ethel May Horler in the Wells area on 5th June 1913.  Ethel was born in 1882.  Austin enlisted in the Army Reserve in November 1915 and joined the R.A. S. C. in September 1916.  He was sent to Mesopotamia in June 1917 and stayed there until December 1919.  He was demobbed in November 1920.

James Percy married Florence Annie Dayman at the Independent Chapel on 1st November 1914.  He joined the Army Reserve in December 1915 and became a Gunner in the Royal Garrison Artillery in April 1917.  He was sent to France to join the fighting in May 1917 and was demobbed in April 1919.

The photo on the right above is a copy of one which hangs in the Vestry of the United Reformed Church.  The caption under the photo shows that it was ‘Mr Honeyborne, Sunday School’.  We understand that it was Austin Walwin who was noted as being the Sunday School Secretary in 1927.

Of these properties we know that 12 Rock Street was sold by Austin Walwin Honeyborne in 1923.

Austin continued to live in Thornbury all his life.  When he joined the Army in 1916 he was living at ‘2 High Street’ which is now known as 79 High Street and he continued to live there until at least 1926.  By 1931 he had moved to live at Penlee, 9 Church Road.  Austin died on 26th February 1964 aged 78.  Ethel died in 1970 aged 88.  Click here to read more about Austin

Arthur didn’t live in the Town.  He married to Gladys Salmon in Bristol in 1918.  In 1930 he was living in Herbert Street, Eastville in Bristol.  The 1939 register taken in preparation for the War shows Arthur and Gladys living at 23 Bedford Crescent, Horfield, Bristol with their two sons, Reginald J, a window dresser and Arthur L., an engineer’s correspondence clerk.  Arthur was described as a ‘commercial traveller disengaged’ at that time.  Gladys died in 1956 aged 65.  In 1962 Arthur married again – this time to Hilda Wells.  He died whilst still living at 23 Bedford Crescent on 29th March 1966 aged 75.  He was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 4th April.  We think James Percy died in Somerset in 1964.