Charles King was baptised on 10th February 1828. He was the son of Nicholas King, a baker and his wife, Sarah (nee Britton), who lived at Crossways. Nicholas King and his family had moved to Sibland near Thornbury by August 1840 when his young son William died aged only 16. The 1841 and 1851 census shows the Kings continued to live at Sibland. By 1851 Charles had become a journeyman tinman aged 23. We believe Charles married Anne Jenkins in the Bristol area in 1851. There is some confusion over where Ann was born. In the 1861 census it indicates that her birthplace was unknown, but in England. The 1871 census say she was born in Thornbury and the 1881 census says she was born in either Thorncombe, Devon or Bath in Somerset.
They settled to live in Thornbury had two daughters: Selina Ann born on 25th September 1852 and Clara Mary born on 10th September 1859. Both girls were baptised in the Congregational Chapel at Thornbury on 22nd March 1863.
The 1861 census shows Charles was living at 23 High Street. He was an iron and tinplate worker aged 33 employing one boy. He was living with his wife, Anne aged 34 whose birthplace was not known and their two daughters: Selina Ann aged 8 and Clara Mary aged 1. They had a nurse maid, Mary Hinder aged 14. By the 1862 rate book Charles had become the owner as well as the occupant of 23 High Street. He continued to occupy the property until about 1909.
Charles was one of the founding trustees of the British School when it was opened in 1863.
By the time of the 1871 census their daughter, Selina, was a teacher. They had a retired tinplate worker, Daniel Palser a widower aged 82 and born in Wotton Under Edge living with the family. By the time of the 1881 census both daughters had become schoolmistresses and were still living at home.
The photo on the right is assumed to show Charles standing in the road outside his shop at 23 High Street. Click on the photo to see a larger image.
Ann died aged 62 and was buried on 22nd December 1887. The 1891 census shows Charles still living in the High Street with the two daughters: Selina was now described as ‘School mistress’ and Clara as a ‘teacher’. The trade directories show that Selina was running a Preparatory School and the census indicates that the school was in her home. Charles’s widowed sister, Ann Davis, was also living with them. She was aged 69 and living on her own means.
On 7th January 1892 Charles’s daughter, Clara, married John Joseph Hookway Carey of Pill at the Thornbury Congregation Chapel. John was a ship’s captain. The Thornbury Family Friend Magazine of 1892 reported that Miss King received a wedding present of a “handsome timepiece” engraved “presented to Miss Clara King on her marriage by the teachers, choir and friends of the Congregational Church as a token of loving esteem.” Read more about John and Clara
The 1901 census shows Charles still living at 23 High Street. He was a tinplate worker aged 73 living with his unmarried daughter, Selina a schoolmistress aged 48 and a grandson, Charles H Carey aged 8 born in Thornbury. There were still there in the 1905 Rate Book.
On 11th October 1909 Charles King, ironmonger sold 23 High Street to Francis Gayner, draper for £650. At the time of the purchase, Francis was already occupying the property next door at 25 High Street. In 1909 Charles was listed as a member of the Thornbury Town Trust.
The 1910 rate book shows that Charles King had been renting a house and yard in the High Street from Ellen Jones. This property is assumed to be 46 High Street. His name was crossed through and Selina King was shown as the tenant. Charles died on 29th March 1911. He had been heavily involved with the Congregational Church. Following his death, members of the Church and his friends erected a memorial to him in the Chapel which noted that he had been a Sunday School Superintendent for 59 years and a Deacon of the Church for 53 years.
The photo on the right shows Selina. In the 1911 census Selina was visiting The Chalet at Alveston, the home of Samuel Mullett Wilmot and his wife, Mary Ann. Selina appears to have continued to live at 46 High Street. She is listed as running her preparatory school in the High Street in the 1914 trade directory, although her school is not included in the list of schools in the 1916 Prewett’s Almanac. As well as running the school, Selina was also involved with local groups associated with the Congregational Church. The 1909 Prewett’s Almanac mentions her involvement as Secretary for the Christian Endeavour Society and the 1916 Almanac shows her as Vice President of the Young People’s Society. She is listed in the 1918 electoral register as living in the High Street.
King’s Preparatory School
Peggy Spencer Palmer, one of Selina’s pupils, wrote of her memories of attending Miss King’s school, as a child. She said:
“Being the youngest, I was the last to go to school, and went first, as my elders had done, to a small “Dame’s School” run by a certain Miss King, who somehow managed to control a room full of little girls and boys and give them a grounding in “the three R’s” and some simple reading and writing, using slates; I can still hear the squeak of our slate pencils. She also gave “ersatz” music lessons in the same room and at the same time (believe it or not) on an instrument called a piano (of the old school, definitely), keeping a wary eye on the rest of us as best she could. Inevitably she was not always a hundred per cent successful in these combined efforts, and the lively scholars were prone to indulge in what Papa used to say were “indications of the natural depravity of the human heart”.
Lucy told me, in her nineties, that she remembered playing noughts and crosses with her neighbour while Miss King was attending to a small boy at the piano, when Lucy and her friend were seized by the hair and their heads knocked together, while her playmate’s brother was knocked off the piano stool. He later became a bank manager, and they all three survived, Lucy the longest.
There was a cane, which the redoubtable lady did not hesitate to use on the palms of the hands of wrong-doers, and for some offences the culprit was made to stand in a corner, some having to wear the dunce’s conical cap – a great disgrace. I remember quarrelling with a small boy who gave me a bite on the arm, at which I cried and for which he was made to stand in the corner, which I hoped would shame him. Not a bit of it; he just grinned at me. Later on he went to Oxford and was ordained in the Church of England
Miss King was no chicken and no fairy. I used to watch in wonder and admiration while she ruled our slates in straight lines, freehand, for us to write on, her ample bosom heaving gently as we queued up to ask in turn, “Please, Miss King, will you rule my slate?” A damp rag was provided for wiping off our efforts before the next lesson. We certainly stood in awe of our school-mistress, who seemed to me quite old, so it was a great surprise to many people when she later became the second wife of a well-to-do widower who sang out of the same hymn-book at the Congregational Church (now the United Reformed Church).
And so that little educational establishment came to an end. I must have been about six when Miss King’s school closed for good.”
Trade Directories from 1897 onwards list Miss King’s Preparatory School as being in the High Street. We can’t be sure but we suspect that Selina’s school was located in her home, initially at 23 High Street and later at 46 High Street.
In 1919 Selina married Samuel Mullett Wilmot whose wife had died in 1917. Samuel was a successful local business man who was living at The Chalet, the impressive house he had built at the top of Alveston Hill. He was also a member of the Congregational Church. Samuel died in 1924 and Selina died in 1933 aged 80. Read more about Selina and Samuel Wilmot