Charles Hopton

of Thornbury

Charles Hopton 2016-10-25T14:26:34+00:00

Charles Hopton was born in Slimbridge around 1798.  He was the son of John Hopton and his wife, Sarah.   Click here to read more

Charles married Hannah Redman on 9th August 1818.  Hannah was baptised in Rockhampton on 30 July 1797, the daughter of Joseph and Prudence Redman.  Charles and Hannah had a large number of children, mostly girls: Mary Ann baptised on 10th January 1819, Jane baptised on 27th March 1821, Hannah baptised October 1823, Emma baptised on 5th February 1826, Maria, baptised in September 1828, Fanny baptised October 1830, Charles baptised on 28th November 1832, Sarah baptised February 1835, Celia baptised on 7th January 1838 and Ellen baptised on 31st October 1841.

An indenture dated 1824 shows Charles and his mother were living in 7 Horseshoe Lane, and the Land Tax records shows that they were still there up to 1832.  By 1834 when Charles bought 21 St John Street, he was already occupying the house.  The 1840 Tithe Map whose details are probably taken one or two years earlier, shows number 21 was owned by Charles Hopton and occupied by William Cullimore.  Charles was shown as living in one of the two houses on the opposite side of St John Street which were replaced when 6 and 8 St John Street were built. (Plot 217 on the Tithe Map).

The 1841 census shows him and his family living back in number 21 St John Street.  They had four daughters living with them at this time; Hannah, Fanny, Sarah and Ellen.  Elizabeth, who was baptised on 10th September 1837 the daughter of Mary Ann Hopton was also living there aged 4.  Charles and Hannah’s only son, Charles, appears to be living with his widowed grandmother, Sarah Hopton in the house which became known as 7 Horseshoe Lane.

In 1835 when Sarah was baptised, her father was shown as a keeper of a beer house.  This suggests that 21 St John Street, bought by 1834, was a beerhouse.  When Ellen was baptised in October 1841 Charles was shown as a labourer.  This coincides with the fact that he had sold the house in August 1841 and so no longer owned the beerhouse.  It is possible that Charles did both these jobs at the same time however.  It was normal practice at the time to have another occupation alongside keeping a beerhouse as there would not be enough custom for it to be a living on its own.  Charles probably held a two guinea beerhouse licence which enabled him to sell beer to customers in his own house.  This was not a pub as we would understand it, just the family’s front room or kitchen.  If anyone came into the house during the day it was normal for the wife to serve beer but the licence would almost always be in the husband’s name.

On 30th August 1841 Charles, described in the indenture as an alehouse keeper, sold the property to Luke Prosser.  In January 1838 Charles had raised a loan of £140 from Luke Prosser, a labourer from Buckover, using the house as a security, and when it became due it would appear that Charles was not able to pay the sum of £151 including interest and legal expenses, so that property became owned by Luke Prosser.

We have another example of the fact that Charles Hopton and his family were in dire financial straits from a copy of the court records sent to us by Lorraine Sturgeon a descendant of this family.  The records show that Charles was tried on May 29th 1845 for the theft of half a bushel of potatoes from Edward Bartlett Sanigar.  Edward Bartlett Sanigar was a farmer at Shepperdine (also spelt Shipperdine).  The trial happened only three days after the theft which took place on the 26th so he was the obvious suspect for the crime and justice was swift in those days.  The record confirms that Charles was no longer a beerhouse keeper as it describes him only as a farm labourer.  The record also describes Charles in some detail.  He was five feet seven and a half inches.  He had a long face with a fresh complexion, dark hair and grey eyes.  We even know that he had a “red wart on the let side of the nose.”  He was found guilty and sentenced to three calendar months of hard labour in the House of Correction in Horsley, despite the fact that he had ten children to feed and he had never been in gaol before.  His previously known character was that he was “conscientious” and “respectable” but that “his habits bad.”  We do not know what this means but the suspicion must be that he drank.  He claimed that he went to church.  His behaviour in prison was “orderly” and this could be why he was released by order of the court on July 8th having served about half his sentence.

The 1851 census shows that Charles and his family had moved to 57 St Mary Street.  Living with Hannah and Charles in this census are their daughters Celia and Ellen.  A widower called Luke Morgan with three children was lodging with them.

By 1861 they had moved to Ragland Road, the house later known as 14 Upper Bath Road.  Hannah and Charles’s family had left home but they had another lodger, Anselm Thurston, a 70 year old widower.  The 1871 census shows them still living there.  They have another lodger, Henry Clark a mason.  Charles died of cancer on 24th August 1873 aged 75 years.  On his death certificate he was described as a labourer.  Hannah appears to have moved to 7 Rock Street.  She was living here in the 1881 census where she was shown as being a charwoman aged 85 and noted as being deaf.  She died in October 1883 aged 87.

Of their other children
Mary Ann – had a daughter Elizabeth baptised on 10th September 1837.  Mary Ann married a labourer called John Jarrett from Bristol on 13th April 1840.

Jane – died in the poor house aged 30 and was buried on 19th December 1850.

Hannah – had a daughter Matilda baptised on 10th February 1843.  Matilda died aged four months.
Emma – married a coal miner called William Squires in Monmouthshire in 1847.  According to a family tree on Ancestry she seems to have lived to be 78 and died in 1903.

Maria married first Frederick Williams on 23rd January 1850.  Frederick was described as a pensioner at the time of their marriage and he was the son of George Williams, a beerhouse keeper.  In 1864, she re-married to Charles Prewett and then in 1881 she married Reuben Greenman.  Her last husband, Reuben Greenman died in 1896.

Fanny – was baptised 31st October 1830 in St Mary’s Church in Thornbury.  She married Charles Stephens on 13th July 1851 in Thornbury and the witnesses were her sister Maria and Maria’s first husband Frederic Williams.  Charles was a labourer and the son of John Stevens a labourer.  Their first child Alfred was born in 1852 and was buried in Thornbury on 22nd August 1852 aged one month.  Their next son Henry was born in Alveston in 1853 and he appears to have died very young.  The births of Ellen and Emily were both registered in Thornbury in the March quarter of 1855.  Emily was actually born 24th January 1855 in Alveston.  We have been told by Lorraine Sturgeon that Fanny and her husband emigrated to Australia with their two surviving children Emily and Ellen and that they arrived there in 1857.  Apparently Fanny had two more daughters in Australia; Hannah in 1858 and Fanny in 1861.  We believe that at some time between 1858 and 1861 Charles deserted Fanny who died by drowning on October 7th 1872 aged 42.  We are able to provide more details about Fanny and her family to those who are researching the family further.  Please email us at thornbury.roots@virginmedia.com

Charles – sadly we have no record of Charles.

Sarah  – married Francis Hookway Facey.  The 1861 census shows that Francis was a carrier aged 27 and from Thornbury and Sarah was aged 26.  Sarah died in Bristol aged 56 in 1891.

Celia – became a servant and married Frederic Hughes from Clapton near Berkeley on 18th February 1857.

Ellen Matilda – was born in Thornbury and baptised on 31 October 1841.  We have been told by a local researcher Rosemary King that Ellen Matilda Hopton aged only 18 arrived as an assisted immigrant in Australia in 1857 on the ‘Undaunted’.  There were 33 people on board who gave their birthplace as Bristol so she possibly came with friends.  She was engaged by William Wilson of East Prahan as a servant at £18 pa for one month.  She had an illegitimate son Hector who died shortly after his birth in 1860.  She married Robert Foster in 1861.  Robert had been born in Wigan in Lancashire about 1837.  Robert and Ellen went to New Zealand and were some of the original settlers of Thornbury, in the South of South Island.  They called the town Thornbury after Ellen’s hometown.  Robert and Ellen had four children; Charles Robert, Susan, Ellen Matilda and Hannah.

Thornbury Junction, New Zealand

Thornbury Junction, New Zealand

Robert Foster was granted license to build a hotel on the junction of five roads and this was completed in 1879. We have a photograph here on the left of the hotel which is part of an illustration in the book “The Junction a brief history of the Thornbury District” by Sheila Cavanagh.

Ellen died in Thornbury NZ in 1904 and is buried in Riverton Cemetery. Robert Foster died in May 1918 and was buried with his wife.  The story of the Foster family is also told on a webpage by Keith Johnson.  There is a photograph of Ellen and her family on this page.

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