Thomas Underhill was born in 1844, the son of John Underhill and Louisa Hopkins of Kington. He was baptised in Thornbury St Marys Church on 22nd June 1851 aged 7.
In the 1851 census the family lived in Kington. John was an agricultural labourer. Elizabeth Hopkins, his grandmother was living next door. She was a gardener’s assistant aged 69 years! Ten years later they were still in Kington. The 1861 Census shows Thomas had moved to the house next door to live with his grandmother, Elizabeth Hopkins. He was a carpenter aged 16. His parents were still living in the same house.
When their son John was baptised on May 8th 1867 Thomas and his wife Ann lived in Thornbury. Lily was baptised on 7th June 1868 and a third child Elizabeth was baptised on 13th October 1869. The Census of 1871 shows that the family lived in Pullins Green, Thornbury. We know from the birth certificate of their daughter Rosina that Thomas’s wife was Ann Poole. In the Census Ann Underhill was aged 24 and born in Bridgend, Wales. (It is interesting to see that in the later censuses she gave her birthplace as Thornbury). We believe that she was the daughter of Isaac and Ann Poole.
The 1871 Census shows that Thomas and his family occupied 10 Pullins Green. Thomas and Anne had three children: John aged 4, Lily aged 2, and Elizabeth aged 1, all baptised in Thornbury. Eventually the family grew to a total of eleven children. The 1881 Census shows them still living in 10 Pullins Green: Florence aged 8 years, Rosina aged 6 years, Frederick James aged 4 years, Matilda aged 3 years, and Kate aged 1 year in addition to John, Lily and Elizabeth. Later they had two more children Alice born in 1881 and Louisa born 1882. Despite the cramped conditions (the house only had four rooms altogether) the children seemed to thrive. They only lost two children: Henry James, who had been born in 1875 and died after 10 weeks and Alice born in 1881 and died after 4 months.
We were unable to trace Thomas and Ann’s marriage, but it seems that they married in the Bedminster District in 1885. The IGI has a record of the marriage of a Thomas Underhill son of John Underhill to Ann Poole daughter of Isaac Poole on 13th July 1885.
In 1891, Thomas and Anne were still living in Pullins Green. By this time only four children were living at home. These were; Frederick, an errand boy, Matilda, Kate and Louisa. In 1901, Thomas and Anne were living with Kate, a dressmaker aged 22 and Louisa who was described as ‘at home’ aged 18.
Thomas died aged 66 years and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 18th March 1911. He was described as a carpenter in the burial register. The 1911 census shows Ann as a widow aged 64 living in 10 Pullins Green with her daughter, Kate, aged 29 and a grand-daughter whose surname was Allen (sorry we can’t read forename) who was aged 14 and born in Bristol.
Ann died in 1920 aged 73 years. She was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 15th May 1920. Following their deaths, their daughter continued living in the house for a short time.
Of the other children, we know that:
Frederick James – moved to Horninglow near Burton on Trent where he worked as a railway brakeman. In 1907 he married Alice Buckle at Holy Trinity Church, Burton and they went on to have 4 sons and 6 daughters. Frederick died in Burton in 1939 aged 63 years.
John – was a signalman on the railway and in 1897 he married Jessie Lamont, daughter of blacksmith John Lamont. They moved to Leicestershire where they had one son, Angus John, in 1904.
Jessie – was a domestic servant working for Mrs Geraldine Mundy at Thornbury House and Mrs Mundy attended the wedding service. In 1901 they were living in Great Oakley, Northamptonshire.
Rosina (Rose) – was born in Thornbury on 20th May 1873. She was baptised on 6th July 1873. On 23rd November 1895, she married Alfred Thomas Harvey. Alfred was a blacksmith, the son of mason Henry Harvey from Old Down. By 1901 they were living in Cheltenham. We understand that Rosina became known as ‘Granny Chicken’ by younger members of the family. The couple lived at 19 Fairfield Parade in Cheltenham. Alfred died in Cheltenham General Hospital on 6th September 1941. We are grateful to Ken Harvey in Australia for sending us an extract from The Cheltenham Chronicle and Gloucestershire Graphic of September 27th 1941 with the sad story of Alfred’s death. The newspaper explains that Alfred was suffering from severe heart attacks and was confined to his bed with no prospect of recovery. Understandably he had become depressed and decided to try and take his own life. Rosina smelled gas on returning from getting medicine for him and managed to force her way into the house through a window. She found her husband standing by the gas stove with the gas full on. Alfred was taken to hospital but the strain on his heart caused by the gas poisoning was too much and he died later that day. Rosina died in Cheltenham in 1955. The photo on the right is of Rosina.
Lily – married a groom by the name of John Thorne who was born in Neath, Glamorgan. By 1901 they were living in Basingstoke where John was recorded as a coachman.
Matilda – married Horatio James Stephens in Bristol in 1900. Their family continue to live in this area.
Kate – remained a spinster until 1922 when she married William Robert Dowden in Thornbury. William had been the husband of Kate’s sister, Louisa, until her death in 1921.
Louisa – married William Robert Dowden in Bristol in 1907. She died in Bedwellty in 1921 and William married Louisa’s sister, Kate, in Thornbury in 1922.