Edwin Boyes Lonnen was born in Poole in Dorset in 1841 and was baptised on 25th August 1841, the son of John and Elizabeth Lonnen.

By the 1861 census Edwin had left home and he was lodging in Poole.  Then aged 22, he was a printer and compositor.

He married Ann Elizabeth Dodd in Thornbury in the December quarter of 1861.  Ann was the daughter of Henry James Dodd a shopkeeper from Norfolk and his wife Hester (nee Wilcox) who was from Alveston.  Thus Hester was the brother of William Radford Wilcox who had run a grocer’s shop at 43 High Street.

In the 1851 census the Dodd family was living in Olveston and Henry Dodd was a shopkeeper.  By 1861 Henry was a grocer, draper and outfitter in the bottom of the High Street just a little down from The Swan.

In the 1861 census Ann Dodd was helping her brother Thomas Henry Dodd to run a draper’s shop in Poole.  Ann and Edwin must have met in Poole but married in Thornbury where they made their home.

On 10th November 1862 their first child Hester Kate Elizabeth was born.  She was baptised in what is now known as the United Reformed Church on 22nd March 1863.  On 13th February 1864 Thomas Henry Dodd Lonnen, the first son of Edwin Boyes and Anne Elizabeth Lonnen was also baptised at the United Reformed Church in Thornbury.

On 22nd of October 1865 another daughter, Hannah Dodd Lonnen was born.  She was to die aged only 11 on 6th November 1876 after “three years patient suffering.

It seems likely that Edwin was quickly involved in the family business as by 1865 he was advertising in local newspapers for a respectable assistant for a grocery and drapery shop.  The 1867 rate book shows that Edwin had taken over the shop in the High Street previously occupied by his father-in-law.  This shop later became known as 9 High Street, presently occupied by the Co-op Store.

A newspaper advertisement of 1868 announced that Edwin Lonnen was offering a suite of three room to let in a farmhouse near Thornbury.  We do not know how he came to own so much property and wonder whether the farmhouse was a Dodd family property in Olveston.

Edwin and Ann Lonnen were members of what is now the United Reformed Church when they married and some of their children were baptised there.  On 13 March 1868 a son, Ernest Edwin Lonnen was born and baptised in that church.  Two more children were also baptised there; Emma Frances Lonnen on 18 August 1869 and Frederick John Lonnen on 10th January 1871.

In the 1871 census Edwin Boyes Lonnen was living at 9 High Street.  Edwin was a draper and grocer.  He was aged 32, as was his wife Ann Elizabeth.  At this time they had Esther aged 8 who was said to have been born in Wickwar as were their other children Thomas Henry Dodd Lonnen aged seven, Hannah Dodd Lonnnen aged five, Ernest Edwin Lonnen aged three, Frances Emma Lonnen aged one and a half and Frederick John Lonnen aged three months.  They had a governess Martha Edwards aged 19 from Dorset and two assistants for the shop.  Edwin had taken over  the drapery and grocery business originally owned by Henry James Dodd.  The 1871 rate book confirms that Edwin was occupying two properties that we believe later became 9 and 11 High Street.

The 1871 census shows that Mr and Mrs Dodd had retired and were living at 22 High Street.  Hester Dodd was possibly already in poor health as she died of apoplexy that year.

Edwin and Ann’s next baby, Arthur Lonnen, died aged three weeks on 7th January 1874.  The family seem to have moved from the United Reformed Church as Arthur Lonnen had been baptised by St Mary’s Church in Thornbury on the day he died as was Walter Lonnen on the 10th March 1875 who also died.

By an indenture of 11th September 1875 John Crowther Gwynn leased a property now called Porch House in Castle Street, Thornbury to Edwin Boyes Lonnen for eight years at £45 a year.

According to an indenture dated 11th September 1875 Edwin and his family moved into Porch House, 11 Castle Street as tenants.  Under the terms of the tenancy Edwin rented the house called Porch House, the orchard and the close called Latteridge Close, all of which had previously been in the occupation of John Crowther Gwynn of the City of Bristol.  The 1876 rate book shows that H. J. Dodd owned what is now number 9 High Street and Edwin Lonnen owned number 11 High Street.  Edwin Lonnnen was using both premises.

Two more  children, William Hugh Lonnen and Edith Mary Lonnen were both on baptised 10th September 1876.

In 1877 the trade directory shows that Edwin Boyes Lonnen was living in Porch House in Thornbury and that he also traded as a linen and woollen draper, hosier, boot and shoe dealer and grocer in the High Street.  In that year Edward Lonnen was also Mayor of Thornbury.  The 1877 rate book also shows that Edwin Lonnen owned another property near The Plain that was occupied by Mr Randall.  We believe that this house to have been on the site of the Methodist Chapel.

The Lonnen family continued to show signs of prosperity.  In 1878 Edwin advertised that was selling nearly new plate glass sashes suitable for a shop window which implies he was renovating property in Thornbury.  His wife Ann Lonnen was also able to hire help for her growing family and in 1879 she was advertising for a nursery governess also a general servant.

By an indenture of 16th December 1879 Edwin Boyes Lonnen handed back all the land he had leased from John Crowther Gwynn including Porch House.  We believe that Edwin and Ann moved at this time to Dorset, although they continued to own property in Thornbury.

By 1876 the two houses which know to be 3 and 4 The Plain had been built.  Both houses were owned by  William Bevan and the one nearest St Mary Street was occupied by William himself.  The 1880 and 1885 rate book shows that ‘E.B. Lonnen’ became the owner.  The 1880 rate book shows us that the Edwin Lonnen owned another shop, number 11 the High Street which was occupied by John Buckley.   His father in law Henry James Dodd owned number 9 High Street which was next door and was occupied by Thomas Pearson.

The 1885 rate book shows Henry James Dodd’s property had been acquired by Charles Hill Wilkins, but that Edwin still owned number 11 High Street as well as his other properties on The Plain and on the west side of the High Street.

By the census of 1881 the widowed Henry James Dodd had re-married in 1872 and he and his new wife, Jemima had gone to live with her sister Mary Strange Roach in Clevedon.  In the same census Edwin and Ann Lonnen were living in the High Street in Poole in Dorset.

Edwin Lonnen’s father in law, Henry James Dodd died in 1885 aged 71.  Although he died in Clevedon he was buried at what is now the United Reformed Church in Thornbury.  He was buried with Thomas Henry Dodd who was born March 1842 and died July 1867.

By 1890 Edwin no longer had properties in Thornbury.  We are grateful to Alison Jessup who sent us a copy of a letter that Edwin sent to his brother on March 3rd 1897.  The address on the letter was Glen Osmond, Prince of Wales Road in Bournemouth.  The letter explained that “my dear wife has been very ill for 12 weeks, she was taken with paralysis.” Edwin went on to say that his wife was critically ill, not able to open one eye and very confused but despite his obvious anxiety he still showed care and concern for his brother.  The letter ends “I enclose you a trifle, thinking perhaps even a few shillings may be useful. I wish I could do more.”  We have been told that the letter contained £5.

His wife Ann Elizabeth Lonnen died in Christ Church in Hampshire in 1897 aged 58.  By 1901 the widowed Edwin had retired and was living with his three daughters in Glen Osmond in Bournemouth.  Edwin Lonnen died in 1917 aged 79 and his death was also registered in Christ Church.

Read more about the other owners and occupants of Porch House