William Knapp of the Georgian House was a blacksmith like his father and grandfather before him. We don’t know when the younger William actually became a blacksmith but he is listed in a trade directory as early as 1830 when he was described simply as a “blacksmith and ironmonger”. This seems to understate the many talents of William Knapp which are more thoroughly described on the stationary heading above which refers to his making of gunpowder and shot as well as being a cutler, ironmonger and nail manufacturer.
William Knapp was baptised at St Mary’s Church in Thornbury on 24th September 1797, the son of William and Flora Knapp (nee Child). Click here to read about the Knapp family
He married Ann Harding on 31st May 1827. Ann signed with a cross which indicates that she was not able to write her name. They baptised their daughter, Mary-Anne Harding Knapp, on 2nd December 1829. They had three other children who died in infancy. The parish records show a William Harding Knapp baptised on May 14th 1828. The grave of their parents also refers to a daughter called Hannah Knapp. Anna was baptised on August 21st 1833 appears to have died the same year.
We know that in 1837 William was mentioned in an indenture as occupying the property which later became known as 2 St Mary Street. This property was described as ‘a messuage or dwelling house, brew house and blacksmith’s shop now in the occupation of William Knapp blacksmith’.
William bought the property now known The Georgian House on the junction of Gloucester Road and St John Street in 1839, although he seem to have been renting the property and living there before that date. According to the purchase agreement William Knapp even seems to have built the forge there before he bought the premises.
He actually became the owner of The Georgian House on February 12th 1839. The whole property was bought for a total of £800. The sum of £300 was to be paid immediately and the balance, plus interest, within twelve months. This agreement described the property as
“All that messuage or dwellinghouse with the small garden in front thereof situate in the town of Thornbury aforesaid at the corner of the High Road leading from that place to Gloucester and known by the name of Colewell Street Lane or Collisters Lane abutting on and bounded in front by the said High Road. And also all that garden enclosed within and bounded by a high stone wall situate in part behind and adjoining to the said dwellinghouse (except for the wall on the north and West sides thereof which is to remain and be considered as the property of the said James Ford his heirs and assigns). All which said premises were lately in the occupation of Mrs Cooke as tenant to the said James Ford and are now in the occupation of the said William Knapp. And also all that building lately used as a must mill and stable but now converted by the said William Knapp into a blacksmith’s shop adjoining the said dwellinghouse and premises fronting Southwards to a street called St John street and abutting Eastward on a building of the said James Ford formerly used as a flax shop but now converted into a stable together with the use of the well under or on the outside of the north wall of the said last mentioned garden.”
William had to share access to a well with his neighbours as the document refers to the
“the use of the well under or on the outside of the north wall of the said last mentioned garden in common with the said James Ford his heirs or assigns or the owner or occupier for the time being of the adjoining premises on which the said well is situate (excepting and always reserving to the said James Ford a way or passage five feet wide taken from the said last mentioned garden and divided by a stone wall seven feet high or thereabouts leading from the said flax shop or stable to the entrance of an orchard belonging to the said James Ford at the bottom of premises of John Powell mason”
The 1841 Census shows that William, Ann and their daughter Mary Ann aged 10 lived in the Georgian House with a young servant girl, Ellen Savery. The business seems to have thrived because it continued to appear in trade directories and by 1851 William Knapp was shown as employing two men.
On 21 March 1850 William bought two properties, now numbers 7 and 9 St John Street. They were bought from the devisees of John Powell. He appears never to have lived in either of these house, but let them out to tenants.
We also know that the Knapp family owned property in the High Street on the site which later became the Methodist Church. The records of the church show that this William’s father William Knapp senior, raised £300 by yielding the tenancy of the land in 1811 and in 1817 he raised a further £100 with the property as surety. Eventually he transferred the property and the debt to Daniel Pitcher. In 1859 William Knapp junior bought it all back and discharged the debt for £600.
On 23rd March 1861, Ann Knapp had died aged 71 years. As can be seen on the left, in May 1861 William tried to sell his ironmongery and smithing business and his house . We don’t know what happened as a result of this advert, but he advertised the business ‘of nearly 40 years standing’ as being available to let with immediate possession in August 1861 (see below right).
We believe that the house was available with vacant possession is that William had gone to live with his married daughter Mary Ann and her husband Mark Crossman Meredith. Certainly William Knapp was living in Iron Acton when he died aged 65 and was buried on April 10th 1862
Mark Crossman Meredith & Mary Ann. On 15th July 1861 William Knapp sold various properties, including the two houses, 7 and 9 St John Street, to Mark Crossman Meredith and his wife, Mary Anne Harding. Mary Ann was William Knapp’s daughter. She had married Mark in Thornbury on 8th May 1851. Mark was the son of Edward Meredith, a farmer from Alveston.
In the Census of 1851 Mark was farming 85 acres at Latteridge which is a small hamlet on the road between Alveston and Iron Acton.
At the time of the 1861 Census Mark was continuing to farm in Latteridge but the farm was said to be 120 acres. He was living in Latteridge with two sons, Edward and Thomas, and his daughter, Mary. His wife, Mary Ann, was visiting her father, William Knapp, after the recent death of her mother, Ann. She had Hannah and Ann, two of her daughters with her. William died shortly afterwards on 4th April 1862 aged 65.
Mark and Mary Ann went on to have a very large family – we have found mention of 11 children. The 1891 Census shows Mark and Mary living apart – Mary was still in Latteridge with her son, Mark now aged 23. Mark was running Harrowfield Farm at Kingswood near Dursley.
Mark Crossman Meredith and Ann Meredith nee Knapp became owners of all of the properties of William Knapp. This included the land on which the Methodist Church was built in the High Street, 7 and 9 St John Street, The Georgian House and adjoining properties which Mark converted into houses later known as 1 St John Street and 3 St John Street
Mark Crossman Meredith died on 5th January 1894. Probate was granted to Edward Meredith, a farmer,
The Rate Books of 1894 shows that ‘Mrs Meredith’ was the owner of the properties in Thornbury. Mary Anne Harding Meredith died intestate exactly one year later on 5th January 1895. Her children who inherited the property were: Hannah Harding Crossman Meredith of Kingswood, Edward William Meredith of Mill Farm, Tytherington, Thomas Meredith farmer of Latteridge, Mary Ponting, wife of Edward Ponting, Thornbury plumber and glazier, Annie Knapp Taylor, wife of Joseph Taylor of Home Farm, Littleton on Severn, William Knapp Meredith of Gloucester Road Farm, Frampton Cotterell, Emily Louisa Young, wife of Herbert Young of Court Farm, Winterbourne, Mark Crossman Meredith, farmer of Latteridge, Ernest Richard Meredith of Kingswood and Frederick John Meredith, formerly of Kingswood, now of the Exchange Hotel, William Street, Melbourne, Australia, farmer.
In August 1895 there was a newspaper advertisement for the sale of what was was described as Gloucester Villa (now the Georgian House) and the other properties in St John Street that were inherited from William Knapp. They agreed to sell 7 and 9 St John Street to one of them, Mary Ponting, for £140 on 21st February 1896.