The Salmon family was an important family in Thornbury for about 170 years owning property in Silver Street.
Several members of the family went to the West Indies to seek their fortune whilst retaining their family interest in Thornbury. Their wealth came from sugar plantations where they employed large numbers of slaves. It is interesting to see that from time to time some members of the family returned to live in the Thornbury area and that they brought with them several personal slaves.
The earliest member of family connected with Thornbury was John Salmon.
John Salmon – based on his age at his death, John Salmon, was born about 1714. We understand that John was the son of Edward Salmon of Bristol mercer and his wife Hester (nee Hollister) and grandson of Nathaniel Salmon of Bristol, a wine cooper and his wife Elizabeth Gayner of Olveston. It is not unlikely that Edward Salmon himself had a connection with Jamaica which his children inherited. Christies, the auction house, sold a painting inscribed “New Park Lodge, Richmond/ Edward Salmon 1744”. The painting is clearly in Jamaica and shows a very large estate and a family.
On 2nd February 1735/36 John married Ann Stokes, the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Stokes of Thornbury and grand-daughter of William Grove cordwainer and his wife, Hester. The marriage took place in Thornbury St Marys Church and at the time of the marriage John was described as a ‘Gentleman of Bristol’.
Following the marriage the Salmons appeared to settle to live in Thornbury where their children were baptised. John and Ann had a large family: John baptised on 5th August 1737, Thomas Stokes Salmon baptised on 26th May 1740 who died on 11th September 1740, William born on 1st August 1743 and baptised on 9th December 1743, Thomas Stokes Salmon baptised on 11th July 1744, Brice Webb baptised on 20th October 1745, Edward baptised on 26th June 1748, Charles baptised on 1st January 1750 who died on 3rd February 1754, Elizabeth baptised on 2nd May 1753 and Anne born on 2nd January 1756, baptised on 13th February and died on 7th June 1756. In addition, we note that there is a burial in Thornbury of Nathaniel Salmon aged 10 months on 9th January 1758 and we suspect he was another child whose baptism we have not found.
When Elizabeth Stokes (Ann’s mother) died in 1754, Ann inherited three adjoining properties in Silver Street, Thornbury and another property Ann’s father had bought from John Cook. However Ann’s husband, John Salmon, is shown as the owner of these properties in the land tax records. The three properties in Silver Street were later combined into one property later known as 3 Silver Street and this became the home of subsequent generations of the Salmon family. The 1775 land tax records shows that John had added to his property portfolio. In addition to the three properties known to have been in Silver Street there were two other properties. One was a large property previously owned by ‘Raymonds’ of which the tax rate was 6 shillings. This was the property that he bought from Samuel Molyneaux Lowder of Abergavenny on 29th September 1762. The tax rate for the other house was also larger (at 3s 9d) than the three houses in Silver Street (one of which was 9d, the other two were each 1s 6d). In this case there was no indication of previous owner. It is possible that this house was the one now known as 56 High Street as the will of Guy Hewett dated 1761 referred to the property next door to his property as belonging to John Salmon.
John Salmon was Mayor of Thornbury from 1756 to 1758 and again in 1766/67 (although it is possible that it was John Salmon jnr who was Mayor in 1766/67). On 27th September 1775 John Salmon sold the property known as Raymonds to Kingsmill Grove. Kingsmill pulled down the existing property and built Thornbury House on this site.
We are not sure where John and Ann lived in their earlier years in Thornbury. In their later years they were living in Alveston and their home was known as The Old Farmhouse, which later became known as The Firs, and is now the two properties opposite the Ship Inn. When “The Firs” was sold in 1919 it was described as a 10 bed roomed house with 5 acres of land complete with gardener’s and coachman’s cottages.
Ann died on 20th January 1789 aged 70. There is a memorial tablet in St Mary’s Church, Thornbury which bears the Salmon coat of arms. It was erected in accordance with the will of Thomas Stokes Salmon, the son of John and Anne who died in Jamaica on 15th October 1795 aged 51. At the time of her decease, Ann left the following children surviving: John, Thomas Stokes, William and Brice Webb. In accordance with the will of Ann’s father, Thomas Stokes, following her death, the property at 3 Silver Street and the unidentified property he had purchased from John Cook were left to Ann’s youngest son, Brice Webb Salmon.
The property which Thomas Stokes had purchased from the widow Harris had been left to Ann (following the death of her mother) and then following Ann’s death to Thomas’s second grandson, Thomas Stokes Salmon. The property which Thomas had purchased from Margaret Frampton had been left to his second grandson, Thomas Stokes Salmon, immediately following the death of Thomas’s wife.
John Salmon died on 8th May 1800 aged 83. In his will, he left his house at Alveston which he had purchased from Thomas and Hannah Hill to his grandson, John (the son of Brice Webb Salmon). John left his grandson Thomas Stokes Salmon M.D. ‘such of my books as he shall choose, his silver cased bowl, gold watch and two small enamelled pictures of Michael Beecher? and his late sister Mary Webb’. He left to Brice Vassall Salmon of Bristol brandy merchant his picture of his late son William Salmon. He left his friend George Rolph of Thornburg his repeating clock with its case. He left his tenant James Williams of Olveston all his wearing apparel of every description. He left to Anne Salmon late of the City of Bristol but then residing with him £50, Susan Salmon then also residing with him £19 19s and Edward Salmon surgeon £30. John left the Mayor of Thornbury and George Rolph and Kingsmill Grove the sum of nineteen pounds nineteen shillings upon trust that they dispose the same to such poor persons of the Town and Borough of Thornbury at such time times and-in such manner as they shall think fit. This sum was shared between 43 local people all receiving small amounts of money.
Of Thomas and Ann’s surviving children:
John Salmon jnr – John was baptised in 1737. He married Amelia Clark on 8th January 1770 at Olveston. They had one son, Thomas Stokes Salmon baptised in Thornbury on 13th March 1771 when it was noted that John was a maltster. John was listed in the 1769 and 1770 poor rate assessments as being the tenant of Nicholas Cornock in his house at 23 High Street. He was also at this property in the 1775 land tax record, but by 1780 he had moved into a property belonging to his father.
John continued to live in the Thornbury area. He died on 8th December 1795 aged 58. Amelia died aged 65 and was buried in Thornbury on 19th February 1806. Their son Thomas went on to study history at Bristol University, married Mary Pratt in Orpington in 1799 and was a doctor in Reading when he died in 1827 aged 56.
Thomas Stokes Salmon – baptised on 11th July 1744. Thomas moved to live in St Elizabeth, Jamaica where he worked as an assistant judge. He appears to have had seven children with Susannah Young who describes herself in her last will as being a ‘free woman of color’. These were William born in Jamaica, but baptised in Thornbury on 13th September 1773, Sarah Salmon born on 13th July 1775, Charles Salmon 1776, Edward Salmon 1777, Anne Salmon 1779, John Salmon 1786 and Susannah Young Salmon born on 26th June 1787. The children were described in the official language of that time as ‘quadroons’. A website called Jamaica General Information explains that in the case of such a woman and her children an Act of the Jamaican Assembly was necessary for them to be entitled ‘to the same Rights and Privileges with English subjects, with certain restrictions’. The act in this case was passed on 16th December 1791 and was referenced number CO/139/47 (818).
Thomas inherited some of the property which had belonged to his grandfather, Thomas Stokes (see above). He would have received one of these properties in 1754 following his grandmother’s death and the other in 1789 following his mother’s death. We are not sure what happened, but land tax records show these properties as belonging to John Salmon, either his father or his brother. Thomas died at Arraboldo in Jamaica on 15th October 1793 aged 51. In his will he arranged for the erection of the memorial tablet dedicated to his mother which is still on the wall of St Mary’s Church in Thornbury. It is interesting to note that when Thomas’s ‘widow’, Susannah Young, wrote her last will and testament on 22nd February 1797 she was living in Alveston with her daughter, Sarah, and her son, William was a soapboiler in Bristol and her daughter Ann was also living there. Susannah died aged 55 and was buried in Thornbury St Marys Church on 5th June 1797.
Brice Webb Salmon – Brice was baptised on 20th October 1745 and on 10th May 1769 he married Hannah Downes in Lacock in Wiltshire. They had William born 24th December 1770 who died 9th April 1771, Mary born 1771, William born in 1772, George born in 1773, John born in 1774 and Maria born in 1774. Brice is shown as a tanner in 1771 when his first son was baptised and we understand that their address at that time was given as Watsons Farm in Kingswood.
The Gentleman’s magazine of 1779 has Brice Webb Salmon a tanner “of Wollastone”. The London Gazette reported on the bankruptcy of Brice Webb Salmon, late of Wolaston a tanner dealer and chapman and that there would be a creditors meeting on 3rd September at the Bush Tavern in Corn Street Bristol to arrange payment of a dividend from his estate and effects to those not already paid.
In accordance with the will of his grandfather, Thomas Stokes, Brice had inherited Cobb Hall and the unidentified property Thomas had purchased from John Cook in 1789 (following the death of Brice’s mother). In his will dated 24th October 1794 he left all his property in Thornbury to his son, John Salmon. If John pre-deceased Brice it was left to his other son, George Salmon. Brice died aged 50 on 15th January 1796 on the Island of Cuba. He was noted to be a magistrate in St Elizabeth Jamaica in 1796 when he died.
William Salmon – William baptised on 1st August 1743. He moved to live in St Elizabeth, Jamaica where he was a coroner and magistrate, at least he was in 1790. He appears to have had one child, Susannah with a mixed race lady (then known as a mulatto) called Elizabeth Young and he had six more children with Mary Vassal, (who is referred to in William’s will as being a ‘free lady of colour’). They were called Brice Webb Salmon in 1773, Brice Vassall Salmon in 1775, Elizabeth in 1778, Thomas in 1780, Henry in 1782 and Lewis in 1784.
William died aged 50 on 15th August 1794 on his passage from Jamaica. He appears to have made his last will whilst on board the ship home as he refers to a pipe of Madeira wine, a puncheon of rum, and 12 bottles of Madeira wine which he left to be shared between his father and his executors. William left each of his sons, £700 of British money. He left Mary Vassall (described as ‘a free woman of colour’) his house and twelve acres of land and a sum of £300 of Jamaican money. He also left her a negro boy, Arthur, who was to be given his freedom after 10 years, given a chance of being an apprentice and an annuity of £10 each year for his life. William also left Mary a negro woman called Paibba?. William directed that his negro man named Barry Salmon be given his freedom and an annuity of £20 and another man, Thomas Salmon, already freed, an annuity of £20. William also left his half of a plantation called New Crawle and the slaves and stock thereon in the parish of St Eizabeth, Jamaica to his brother, Brice Webb Salmon.
William arranged for a monument to be created in the church at Black River to the memory of his brother Thomas Stokes Salmon with the following inscription: “To the memory of Thomas Stokes Salmon Esq of the parish of Thornbury in the County of Gloucester in the Kingdom of Great Britain many years a resident of this parish he died at Arraboldo on the fifteenth day of October 1793 universally regretted aged 51 years 11 months”.
John Salmon – born in Somerset in 1774, the son of Brice Webb Salmon and his wife, Hannah. John inherited the properties in Thornbury which had descended from Thomas Stokes through his wife, Ann. It looks likely that it was John who re-developed the properties in Silver Street. By the 1840 Tithe Survey the various separate properties which had been let out to tenants, had been combined into one larger property used as the home of Edward Salmon, the surgeon. This was described in the survey as being Plot 177, a house stable and yard owned by John Salmon and occupied by Edward Salmon.
John appears to have had children with two wives. With Rose, he had a daughter, Mary Ann, born in St Elizabeth in 1791 and, with Elizabeth, he had John born in St Elizabeth in 1797.
In the 1841 and 1851 censuses John was living in Alveston with his wife, Elizabeth. Presumably this was the house called The Old Farmhouse later known as The Firs. The 1851 census shows John was a landed proprietor aged 77 and Elizabeth was aged 72 born on Island of Jamaica.
John let out the property in Silver Street to his cousin, Edward. We know for certain Edward was there in 1840 Tithe Survey and later, but the land tax and rent roll records indicate that he was renting a property from John Salmon as early as 1809 and by the time of the 1830 rent roll he was renting both Cobb Hall in Silver Street and the adjoining larger property from John Salmon.
On 24th August 1852 John sold the house to Edward Salmon for £200. John died in St Elizabeth, Jamaica in 1857 aged 84. John’s will shows he had owned two estates in St Elizabeth (the Union Estate and the Vauxhall estate). He had previously employed large numbers of slaves on these estates, and as a result of the 1834 Abolition of Slavery and Subsequent Compensation Act he had received compensation of £6, 832 6s 11d for the 346 slaves which he owned at that time.
Edward Salmon – Edward was born in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica on 13th June 1777. He was the son of Thomas Stokes Salmon and Susannah (nee Young). He became a surgeon and an apothecary. He married Mary Ann Hodges in Thornbury on 26th February 1807. They had a large family: John Hodges Salmon born on 18th January 1808 and baptised on 9th March 1808, Edward Salmon born on 18th March 1809 and baptised on 26th April 1809, Stokes Salmon born on 2nd May 1810 and baptised on 15th June 1810, Thomas Salmon born on 12th July 1811 and baptised on 31st October 1811, Mary Salmon baptised on 19th March 1813, William Grove Salmon and Phillimore Salmon both baptised on 6th October 1815, George Salmon baptised on 5th March 1817, another Phillimore Salmon baptised on 10th March 1818, Martha Elizabeth baptised on 17th May 1819 and Martha baptised on 11th October 1820.
Many of these children died young: Phillimore was buried on 9th April 1816, Martha Elizabeth buried on 18th May 1819, John Hodges buried on 16th March 1824 aged 16, Thomas buried on 4th March 1825 aged 13 and Edward buried on 7th November 1833 aged 24.
The 1841 census shows them living in Silver Street. Edward was a surgeon aged 63 and Mary Ann was aged 61. They were living there with Mary aged 25, William a surgeon aged 27, George a solicitor aged 24, Phillimore aged 23 and Martha aged 18. Mary Ann died aged 65 and was buried on 11th February 1845.
The 1851 census shows Edward was a widowed general practitioner aged 73 and born in Jamaica. He was living at 3 Silver Street with his children: William, a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons and General Practitioner aged 37, George a solicitor aged 34, Phillimore aged 32, Mary aged 38 and Martha aged 30. All the sons and daughters were unmarried.
The trade directories show that Edward was also a Registrar of Births and Deaths.
On 24th August 1852 Edward Salmon purchased the house from John Salmon for £200. He intended it to be shared by himself and his children. It was described as being:
‘a messuage or dwelling house with yard or garden on the north side of the street formerly called Chipping Street, now Silver Street. It was bounded on the east by a messuage and premises now or late of blank Gayner and on the west by a messuage and premises now or late the property of blank Mawley. The property was and had been for many years occupied by Edward Salmon as tenant to the said John Salmon‘.
The 1859, 1862 and 1867 rate books indicate that Edward had made some arrangement for his sons, William Grove and Phillimore to take over ownership of the Silver Street property although Edward was still living there.
In the 1861 census, Edward was described as “surgeon not practising”. He was still living in Silver Street with his children: William Grove Salmon aged 47 and said to be qualified as G.P. at the University of London. His brother Phillimore was 43 and now said to be a deputy registrar of Births. Mary and Martha had no occupation. There were two servants Sarah Stephens aged 19 and Mary Hobbs aged 12 and a visitor Ann Lovesey a widowed sempstress.
Edward died aged 92 and was buried on 16th October 1869. His will was proved 9th March 1871 and his sons, William Grove Salmon surgeon and George Salmon solicitor of Cardiff were his executors.
William Grove Salmon was baptised on 6th October 1815, the son of a surgeon Edward Salmon and his wife Mary Ann nee Hodges.
William Grove Salmon gained his Licentiate of Society of Apothecaries from the Apothecaries’ Hall in London on May 25th 1837. He provided medical evidence at the Criminal Court in London as a pupil of the London Hospital as the result of an incident on 31st October that year. William was able to say that the damage to the victim’s lower jaw had been caused by a weapon rather than a fist. He became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1838.
The 1841 census shows William had returned to Thornbury to take up his profession. He was a surgeon living with, and presumably assisting, his father in Silver Street. He was still there in the 1851 census.
The Bristol Mercury of November 19th 1859 gave a report of what appeared to be an on going difficulty between William Grove Salmon and another practitioner in the town, Dr Edward Long. The report of the inquest on the body of Daniel Iles in that newspaper began with a letter from Edward Long which in very strong terms refuted the comments made by Dr Salmon “which were prejudicial to my character as a brother surgeon, offensive to my father as a gentleman and calculated to do me injury in my profession.” The details of the inquest included remarks that the Coroner thought were actionable and he hoped Dr Long would over look them. William made a statement to the effect that “I declined to meet him (Dr Long) because I consider he has acted unprofessionally … I should have declined to meet Dr Long if it had been a case of life or death. I had made up my mind that I would not meet him.” The argument in this case concerned the feeling that Dr Long had seen one of Dr Salmon’s patients without first consulting him and so acted unprofessionally, in William Salmon’s mind at least.
In the 1861 census William Grove Salmon still lived in Silver Street with his father Edward who was now described as “surgeon not practising.” William Grove aged 47 had said that he qualified as G.P. at the University of London. The 1859 rate book also shows that William had acquired The Chantry in Castle Street (described in the book as ‘Parslows’ after previous owner). This property had been put up for sale at auction on 29th August 1846 and it is possible that William acquired it at that time. William continued living at Silver Street and the 1851 census shows The Chantry property unoccupied. (NOTE: In 1947/8 Frederick Burchell commented that the Chantry had for very many years been uninhabited. He said it belonged to Dr W G Salmon who lived in Silver Street where he carried on a medical practice. William also did a bit of farming and farmed the land at the back of the Chantry and some other land near the Poor Law Institute and in Eastland Road). Click here to read about The Chantry
The 1859, 1862 and 1867 rate books indicate that Edward had made some arrangement for his sons, William Grove and Phillimore to take over ownership of the Silver Street property although Edward was still living there.
William’s father died on October 10th 1869 aged 92 years. The 1871 census William was described as head of the household of the family in Silver Street, although his sister Mary at age 59 and brother Phillimore aged 58 and said to be a landowner were both older. Martha aged 50 also lived there and their brother George, a solicitor aged 54 was visiting the family, presumably with his 10 month baby daughter Mary Ethel. They had a cook Ann Jones, a housemaid Charlotte Legge, a coachman Frederick Davis and a nursemaid called Fanny Gough for the baby.
In July 1876 William acted as trustee in the will of Thomas Hardwick with William Charles Fox and he sold land to Tytherington School Board for the purpose of setting up a school there. William’s sister Mary died June 25th aged 63. Phillimore died on March 9th 1880 aged 62. The 1881 census shows that William Grove Salmon continued to live in Silver Street. He was sharing his home with his brother Stokes Salmon aged 70 who was described as a planter, his sister Martha aged 60 and his 10 year old niece Mary Ethel. They had two servants Susan Birt aged 36 and Mary Blizzard aged 17.
William’s sister, Martha died aged 62 and was buried on 1st March 1883. By the 1887 rate book William had moved into the Chantry in Castle Street. In the 1891 census he was at The Chantry described as an unmarried surgeon aged 77 living with his niece Mary Ethel aged 20 Hannah Hobbs the cook age 30 and Mabel Gingell a servant aged 18. This might have coincided with William’s retirement from an active role as a surgeon as the obituary of Lionel Williams tells us that after qualifying as a doctor he was house surgeon at York for a time. He came from York to Thornbury in about 1890 on taking over the practice of the late Dr Salmon. The 1891 census shows that Lionel Williams is now living at 3 Silver Street and the 1894 rate book confirms that he is renting it from William.
William’s brother George died in Thornbury on 5th July 1894 aged 77.
The 1901 census shows William was aged 87 and a retired surgeon living in the Chantry with his niece Mary Salmon aged 30 and maid Hannah Hobbs aged 46 and housemaid Laura Hopkins. He died 6th March 1903 in Thornbury aged 89. Probate was granted on 22nd June. The probate showed that his estate amounted to £9902 0s 5d and that his executors were Frederick Churchward of Devon and H P Thurston. His will left most of his estate to his niece Mary Ethel Salmon and after her death to any child or children of Mary Ethel Salmon who reached the age of 21 or in the absence of such a child to his God-son Hugh Champneys Thurston. A codicil to his will dated 20th February 1903 allowed the trustees to sell his property in Silver Street to comply with various bequests and provisions. A sale of the furniture and other items from the Chantry was advertised on 13th and 14th July 1903. This included 1,100 gallons of cider.