We are grateful to Richard Sims, a grandson of Thomas and Sarah Pearce, for allowing us to use the photos shown on this page and in a gallery of family photos (click here)
Thomas Pearce was born on 28th February 1868, the son of George Pearce a haulier and his wife Hannah. He was baptized in St Mary’s Church in Thornbury on 1st June 1873 with two of his sisters, Lily Hannah and Elizabeth. The 1871 and 1881 censuses show that they lived at Duckhole. The family believe that at that time the Pearces lived at Maypole but the census clearly shows that Thomas Till and his family lived at the large farm at Maypole. It is possible that either the area was also called Maypole or that Thomas Pearce worked for Maypole farm.
By 1891 Thomas Pearce was lodging at Hawkesbury and was an agricultural labourer. On the 13th April 1895 he married Sarah Rodway in St Gile’s Church in Hillesley. Sarah was the daughter of John Rodway from Hillesley. At the time of his marriage Thomas was living in Henbury. In 1901 Thomas and Sarah were shown to be living at Example Cottages in Cromhall. They were living there with their three sons, William aged 5 and Herbert aged 3, both born whilst the family was living in Shirehampton and Frederick aged 1 born in Pill. The 1911 census shows that Thomas Pearce and his family lived at Whitfield near Falfield and that he was a cowman. The family believes that Thomas was employed by the Tortworth estate.
The photograph on the right shows Thomas and Sarah with five children. Sarah is seated on the left and Thomas on the right. Fred is the eldest child in the photograph and he is standing next to his mother. Next to Fred is his brother Harold Victor who was on born 7th April 1902. The three girls are Fred’s little sisters; Winifred Lily born 1st September 1905, Phyllis Rose born 26th January 1910 and Mabel Edith born 27th December 1911.
In 1911 Frederick, Harold and Winifred, three of the children of Thomas and Sarah Pearce, were transferred from Tortworth School to St Mary’s School in Thornbury. At this time the family was said to be living in Kington. The Prewetts directories for 1915 and 1916 show that Thomas Pearce was trading in Castle Street as a greengrocer. We don’t know in which house he had this shop. The family was also noted to be in Castle Street in the records relating to the applications for William and Herbert to be exempted from military service in 1916.
In 1918 the electoral roll shows that Thomas and Sarah were living The Baths in Thornbury. The “Baths” or “Bathings” were a famous institution in Thornbury. The house where the Pearces lived was attached to an open air swimming pool in Thornbury. The pool was a basic arrangement with the water coming from a stream running down from Vilner. We have been told that there were also private bathrooms there at one time because so many Thornbury houses lacked this amenity. There was also a substantial piece of land here which was often used as market garden so it is no surprise to find in the trade directories from 1923 to 1938 that Thomas Pearce was also a market gardener. We know that Thomas’s son Herbert rented other fields and kept cows, pigs, chickens etc as well as some arable farming. It seems likely that haulier was just one of Thomas’s jobs and that even being a haulier may have included having a “honey cart” that went round collecting the night soil from those houses that did not have a cess pit.
Thomas and Sarah continued to live at The Baths. They were still living there according to the 1935 electoral register, but by 1938 they had moved to 46 Castle Street. The Baths were taken over by his son, Herbert Henry and his family (see below)
At the time of the marriage of his his daughter, Edith Mabel, to Richard Thorne Sims on 5th January 1938 Thomas described as a haulier. Her address at that time was The Baths.
The register compiled in 1939 in the advent of war shows that the house at 46 Castle Street was occupied by two couples. Thomas Pearce was a confectioner with his wife Sarah who was described as ‘semi invalid’. They were sharing their house with their daughter Edith and her husband, Richard Sims. Click here to read more about the Sims
Sarah Pearce died on 30th January 1942. Thomas Pearce died in Thornbury on 6th September 1947.
Of their children:
William Charles Pearce
He was born in Shirehampton in 1896. Before the First World War ‘Bill’ was a roundsman, delivering bread for local baker, Albert Edward Thompson. In June 1916 he applied for exemption from military service on the basis he was needed in the bakery. At that time he was living in Castle Street with his parents at an unknown address. The application was refused and Bill was enlisted. The records of the gifts sent at Christmas to Thornbury men serving in the forces show that Bill was in Maidstone in 1916 and in Mesopotamia in 1917. After the War he returned to the bakery where he worked for a total of 47 years
On 27th June 1920 Bill married Blanche May Webb at Oldbury. Click on the thumbnail photo on the right to see a photo of their marriage. They had two sons, Lionel Charles born on 11th May 1921 and John William born on 19th January 1924. They settled to live in Crossways until the late 1930s when they moved to Gillingstool. By 1950 they had moved to 6 North Road.
Blanche died on 19th September 1975 aged 80 years. Bill died on 18th February 1976 aged 80 years.
Herbert Henry Pearce
He was born in Shirehampton on 28th December 1898. By 1901 he was living with his family at Cromhall. During the First World War ‘Bert’ applied for exemption from military service in July 1916 on the basis that he was needed by his employer, John Nathaniel Bartlett. His appeal was withdrawn and he was enlisted in the Labour Corps on 5th August 1916. He was described as a butcher’s delivery boy from Castle Street, Thornbury. It was also noted that he was born in Westbury on Trym. He was aged 18 years 5 months, height 5ft 6.5 inches, weight 140lbs, chest 37.5 inches with 2.5 inch range. He was sent to France on 10th November 1916. When demobbed in 24th February 1919 his address was at his family’s home, The Baths, Thornbury.
Bert became a market gardener, presumably helping his father. On 30th October 1927 he married Kathleen Louise Willis in Thornbury. Kathleen came from Almondsbury. They continued to live at The Baths after the marriage and took over the property when Thomas and Sarah moved to Castle Street in the late 1930s. They had three children:
- Elizabeth Jean born in 1930 and married William Critchlow in Almondsbury in 1954.
- Raymond Henry born in 1934 and married Beryl Longden in Thornbury in 1956.
- Hilda Rose born in 1932 and married Douglas H Kendall in Thornbury in 1954. At that time Hilda’s home was The Baths.
Bert Pearce bought the property WITHOUT the swimming pool in 1949. The cost was £2550. The swimming pool had been bought by the Parish Council about the same time.
Bert and Kathleen carried on living at The Baths until at least 1970. They sold it to Thornbury Rural District Council in 1971 for £14,500. when they moved to Park Road. Bert died on 29th October 1981 aged 84
Frederick Thomas Pearce
Fred was born in Pill 12th October 1899. He became a blacksmith working with Oliver Higgins in Pullins Green. He continued to live at The Baths until his marriage. On 10th March 1928 he married Beatrice Maud Walker. The couple settled to live at 30 Castle Street. Click here to read more
Harold Victor Pearce
Harold was born in Cromhall on 7th April 1902. In 1925 he married Cecily Ann Elizabeth Lippiatt in Thornbury. They had two sons, Ronald Victor born in 1925 and Derrick J. in 1929. The 1926 Rate Book shows Harold was living in 61 High Street. Click here to read more
Winifred Lily Pearce
Win was born in Cromhall on 1 st September 1905. She married Henry Edward Pickford in Thornbury in 1927. They settled to live in Park Farm, Chipping Sodbury. They had four children, Bryan Edward born in 1930 , Rita D. W. born in 1938, Patricia K born in 1941 and Roger H born in 1945.
Phyllis Rose Pearce
She was born in Cromhall on 26th January 1910. She married postman Albert Cook in Thornbury on 1928. They had three children before Phyllis tragically died in 1934 aged 24. Click here to read more
Edith Mabel Pearce
‘Mabel,’ as she known, was born in Cromhall on 27th December 1911. She married Richard Thorne Sims in Thornbury on 5th January 1938. Richard was the grandson of William and Eleanor Sims. Richard was a grocer’s assistant living at 16 Chapel Street at the time of his marriage. The 1939 register prepared in anticipation for the war shows they were living with her parents at 46 Castle Street. By 1946 they had moved to The Bungalow, Castle Street. Richard and Edith had two children: Pauline Elizabeth born in 1940 and Richard Barry born in 1946. Richard continued to work in the grocery trade and drove a mobile grocery van for the Coop grocery. The family later moved to 38 North Road. Click here to read more