Various records show different spellings of the surname of James and Phoebe Telling who lived at what later came to be 28 Castle Street in Thornbury. The name can be shown as either Tilling or Telling. Purely for convenience, we have opted here for the spelling of Telling.
The 1881 census shows us that a property on the site of what is now 28 Castle Street in Thornbury was occupied by James and Phoebe Telling. It is not clear whether the house was divided into two or whether the Tellings lived in one of the buildings at the back of the house. James Telling was described as being born in Ashton Keynes in Wiltshire aged 52. It also says that he worked as a general labourer. Phoebe Telling was a 59 year old cook from Cumberland.
We know from the entry in the parish records of St Mary’s Church in Thornbury that James Telling was the son of a stone mason called Henry Telling. However the 1841 Census show James Telling with his family and in that Census Henry was an agricultural labourer living with his wife Mary, also a labourer and their four children,
James the eldest shown as 15, William 13, Ellin 11 and Elizabeth 7.
The 1851 census shows that James had left Ashton Keynes and moved to Malmsbury. Here he is said to be 23 years old and lodging at an inn called “The Horse and Jockey”. In this census he is a groom, but not an employee of the Inn. By the 1861 census James was shown as a groom at Thornbury Castle.
On 21st April 1868 James Telling married Phoebe Stubbs daughter of Charles Stubbs a farmer. Please note that this record showed James as ‘James Tilling’
By the 1871 census James and Phoebe Telling were living in Oldbury Naite. James was a farmer and they had a lodger, William Woodward Cullimore.
This occupation did not appear to last very long, as by the 1881 census they were living in Castle Street and James was a general labourer.
James must either have been doing general labouring on Thornbury Castle Estate or he returned to work for Thornbury Castle soon after the Census because the photograph of Castle servants dated 1882 in Thornbury Museum shows James Telling amongst the members of staff. An extract of this is shown above with what is believed to be James Telling.
The rate book of 1885 confirms that James was living in a property owned by T Eddington.
The memorial inscription shows:
“PHOEBE wife of James Telling who was for many years a faithful and valued servant in family of Henry Howard of Greystoke and Thornbury Castle died December 20th 1888 aged 67 years. …. Also of JAMES TELLING died November 2nd 1907 aged 81 years. Peace Perfect Peace“.
After the death of his wife, James continued to live at what is now 28 Castle Street and to rent it from the Eddington family. By the 1891 census James was aged 63 years and described as a coachman and groom. He was said to be a widower from Charlton in Wiltshire. The electoral rolls and rate books confirm that he continued to live in this house but by the 1901 census he had retired because the census of that year describes him as a ” retired coachman and groom”.
By the 1905 special drainage book James Telling was living in a property owned by Eddington with Edwin John Salmon.
James died on November 2nd 1907.