We are grateful to Sue Stead for telling us that John Luce was born at Grovesend in 1807, the son of William Luce and his wife, Ann (nee Alway). He was baptised at Tytherington on 29th March 1807. He married Ellen Sanigar at St James Church, Bristol on 24th October 1828.
By the 1841 Census they were living in the High Street, next door to the house of Ellen’s father, William Sanigar, an agricultural labourer. John was also an agricultural labourer. They had five children: Robert, born about 1831, George born about 1834, and both baptised January 1834, Job born about 1835, Jane baptised 29th December 1839, and John born in 1841 and baptised 25th January 1843.
In 1843 they had yet another child, Harriett, who was baptised on December 14th and who died as a young child. When their son, Henry was baptised on 18th April 1846, John had become a butcher. In 1849 he got into trouble. He was fined 20 shillings for ‘exposing unwholesome beef for sale in Union Street market’.
By 1851 the family were living in St John Street, in the house we now know as 17 St John Street.
John was described as a master butcher. They had had another daughter, Emma born on 18th March 1849. Ellen’s father, William Saniger was living with them. He was a widow aged 70 and described as a ‘pauper formerly farmer’.
The 1859 Rate Book and the 1861 Census show John was living in Silver Street. The census shows John Luce was a master butcher aged 51 living with Ellen aged 46 and their children: Jane a dressmaker aged 21, John a blacksmith aged 19, Henry a butcher aged 14, Emma aged 12 Harriett aged 10 and Ellen aged 5. We know that in 1869 Harriett became a pupil teacher at the National School and gained a first class Queen’s Scholarship at the normal training College, Cheltenham. This entitled her to two years training at the College.
On 28th March 1868 the Bristol Mercury newspaper reported that one of John’s young daughters was ‘disturbed in her slumbers by a painful sensation on her face and from severe wounds on her nose blood was flowing copiously’. Dr W. G. Salmon believed that the injuries were caused through bites by a rat.
In 1871 the family were still living in Silver Street. Of their children only John and Ellen are living at home; of the others, Job had moved to Toxteth Park in Liverpool where he was a publican.
By 1881 John and Ellen had moved to live in what we believe was 12 Pullins Green with only their son, John, a blacksmith, living with them.
Ellen died 28th April 1882 aged 69 and was buried in the churchyard of St Mary’s Thornbury. John died on January 4th 1884 aged 79 and was buried with his wife. The death of their son Robert is also commemorated on the same tomb stone. He died November 13th 1854 in the camp before Sebastopol aged 23 years. He was with 7th Royal Fusiliers under Sir G. Brown at battles of the Alma and Inkerman and also siege of Sebastopol for which honours were received. John and Ellen’s children Harriett, Jane and Job are also remembered on the tombstone.