Joseph Prewett was born in Olveston and baptised on 14th November 1813. We understand that Joseph married Susannah Minett at St Pauls, Bristol on 23rd April 1835. Susannah was born on 5th June 1813, the daughter of George and Henrietta Minett who had moved to Thornbury from Coaley. It is thought that George was a sawyer. The Scribes Alcove website appears to indicate that Susannah was baptised twice at the same church, the second time on 17th April 1833 aged 21. In the second baptism record she is shown as “Susan.”
The 1840 Tithe Survey shows Joseph was renting the Toll House and the 1841 Census shows that he lived there. He was then described as a carter and labourer aged 28 living with Susannah aged 29 and George aged 4 and Charles aged 2.
When Joseph bought 10 Bath Road on 29th March 1851 Joseph was referred to as a servant to Mrs Frances Gayner. Although Joseph bought the house in Bath Road he never lived there and the 1851 Census shows Joseph was a newsagent aged 37 still living at the Toll House in the High Street with his wife, Susan who was aged 38. They had 5 children: George aged 13 (baptised on 11th June 1837), Charles aged 10 (baptised on 29th December 1839), Charlotte aged 7 (baptised on 25th January 1843), Walter aged 5 (baptised 6th April 1845) and Henry aged 2 (baptised on 20th October 1848), all born in Thornbury. Another son, Mark, was baptised on 15th June 1845, but he appears to have died very young as another Mark Prewett was baptised on 15th June 1851. The family suffered another loss; Walter Prewett was buried in Thornbury on 22nd February 1853 aged only 8 years.
We are not sure who Joseph’s parents were, but in 1841 and 1851 Censuses he was living next door to James and Hester Prewett who might have been his parents.
Joseph’s wife, Susan, died on 9th September 1858 and Joseph re-married on 15th September 1859 at St James Church, Bristol. His second wife was Emma Pavey Wood. The 1861 Census shows that Joseph was still living in the same house in the High Street, although he was now shown as working as an agricultural labourer. Emma was aged 30 from Bristol. They were living with 2 children from Joseph’s first marriage, Henry aged 11 and Mark aged 9 (baptised on 15th June 1851) and a daughter of their own, Emma aged 8 months. The 1871 Census shows Joseph had returned to being a ‘newsman’ and still living in the same place. They now had Emma aged 10, Mary Ann aged 9, Frederick aged 7 (born on 8th April 1863), Thomas Wood Prewett aged 5 (born 3rd September 1865), Albert aged 4 (born 4th November 1866) and Arthur Joseph aged 2 (born on 7th November 1869).
There appears to be a big mystery surrounding Joseph’s son, Mark Prewett. A naval record shows that Mark Prewett of Thornbury joined the Royal Navy on 5th December 1866. His birth date is noted as 1st May 1852. Mark was described as 4ft 10 inches, brown hair, blue eyes, fresh complexion and two small scars on left side of nose. Mark’s papers were signed by Charlotte Edwards (described as his nearest relative) which is a little surprising as his father was still alive at the time. He seems to have been apprenticed at the time to William Edwards.
We found no further record of him in UK census records. Various family trees show Mark as being in Australia from the early 1880s. The mystery relates to his name – the trees show his marriage to Mary Ann Godfrey in 1914 under the name of William Ebbs. The marriage certificate shows that ‘Williams’ father as Joseph Ebbs and his mother as Susan Minnett. Furthermore although not marrying until 1914, they seem to have had several children 1884 onwards, some of them bearing the Ebbs surname and some the Prewett surname. ‘William’ died in 1921. Various family members have been struggling to find an explanation of the change of name, but found nothing conclusive. They note that there is a family legend that Mark may have ‘jumped ship’. This seems to be confirmed by a record in the Police Gazette in 1871 listing Mark as one of two ordinary seamen who deserted from the Prince Consort on 9th July. He was described then as being 5ft 3 inches. A £3 reward was offered for his capture.
The 1876 Rate Book shows that Joseph had expanded his business. He was still listed as renting the Toll house, but he was also renting the Market House. The family continued renting both properties until Emma died in 1900.
By his Will and Testament dated 16th August 1879 Joseph Prewett appointed his wife, Emma Pavey Prewett and William Frederick Nalder to be his executors and trustees and devised all his real estate to them upon trust for his wife for her life and after her death upon trust for sale. Joseph Prewett died on 24th March 1885 aged 71 and probate granted on 4th August 1885. His estate was valued at £24 10s 6d.
The baptism records of Thomas and Albert in 1865 and 1866 show Joseph was working as an ostler. The 1881 Census shows they had had one more addition to the family, Rosetta born on 28th August 1873 and baptised on 7th December 1873. By the time of this Census their son, Frederick, had become a butcher’s apprentice. (Note – Frederick went on to become a butcher. He emigrated to New Zealand in 1892).
The 1891 Census shows Emma was carrying on the newsagent business, being helped by Albert who had become a stationer and news-vendor and Rosetta who had become a stationer’s assistant.
Emma Pavey Prewett died on 3rd May 1900 and was buried on 7th May 1900 aged 70 years. Albert carried on the business and moved to a shop further up the High Street. It became the well-established and popular printing, newsagents and stationers business, now known as Horders Thornbury Press.