The Webb and White families of Thornbury were connected by Jane Bailey who married first Henry Arthur Webb and then Henry White.
Henry Arthur Webb was born in June qtr 1883. His birth was registered in Cheltenham, but we understand his home was at Swindon Village near Cheltenham Racecourse. His parents were James Webb, a general labourer and his wife, Ellen born in Arle. In 1891 James was aged 45 and Ellen aged 43. They were living in Swindon with Henry and his siblings: Alfred, a general labourer aged 21, Albert Henry aged 6 and Emily aged 4. James and Ellen were still living in Swindon in the 1901 census, but we can find no trace of Henry anywhere in the Country so perhaps he was away fighting in South Africa?
Henry married Jane Bailey. We don’t know where or when they got married. Jane was born in Bristol on 24th April 1894. Apparently her father was a quarryman and they moved about to different places including Banwell and Winscombe. Henry worked as a navvy and Jane was ‘in service’. We are not sure when they moved to settle in Thornbury. We understand that Henry was lodging in Len Smith’s lodging house in Rock Street before their marriage. Their first child, Arthur James born on 4th November 1918 and his birth was registered in Thornbury. Their second child, Albert Henry born on 16th September 1920 was registered in Thornbury. Henry and Jane had six other children: William George born 27th May 1923, Ellen Muriel born 14th March 1923, Eric Sydney born 9th August 1927, Mabel Ruth born on 30th January 1929, Winifred Kate born on 25th June 1931 and Hilda Annie born on 16th November 1932.
We know from the 1926 Rate Book and 1931 electoral register that Henry and Jane were then living in Horseshoe Lane, in the house which later became known as number 15. In 1933, Henry died aged 50. He was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 24th October. Jane re-married in December quarter 1937. Her second husband was Henry George White. Henry was born in Rockhampton and baptised on 12th March 1882. His mother was a single woman, Laura White. Shortly after Henry’s birth, Laura applied for an affiliation order against Henry Hatcher. She stated whilst in service at Mr Tanner’s of Lower Marlwood Farm she and Henry Hatcher had ‘kept company for about 18 months before intimacy took place and the defendant frequently came to see her’. The case was dismissed, like so many similar cases at that time where the courts appeared to favour the men.
Henry White was a confirmed bachelor before he met Jane. He had previously worked as a groom but was working in the quarries and lodging with the Bennetts further down the street. He came to see Jane to arrange for her to do some sewing for him and he ended up marrying her and taking on her eight children! He was much appreciated, especially by the younger children.
We have traced a newspaper article dated 13th January 1898 showing Henry got into a little trouble as a youngster. When still only 16 years old, he stole a hat, coat, trousers and two shirts from William Charles Underhill at the Horseshoe beerhouse and wore these clothes when he went to Horfield Barracks to enlist in the Militia. We don’t understand why Henry who was already serving on the HMS Black Prince would want to enlist in the Militia. He was sentenced to one month’s hard labour in prison.
There were now eight children living in the one very small house. Space was so tight that some of the boys slept next door where William Rugman was living on his own. Jane had been doing washing, cooking and cleaning for Bill and he repaid her by letting the ‘excess’ kids sleep in his place. When Bill Rugman died, Henry and Jane took over the rent of number 17 and the family occupied both houses (numbers 15 and 17).
In spite of the families’ difficulties, the children were given a very good start in life. Arthur went to agricultural College, three of them, Bert, Win, Hilda, went on to Thornbury Grammar School and Ellen got a scholarship to Lord Wandsworth College for Girls which was set up to provide education to orphaned girls who needed the support of a boarding environment. Ellen married Douglas Bernard Hillier on 10th November 1945 and settled in Bath. William George became a career soldier with R.E.M.E and then on his retirement settled in Leicester. Mabel married a farmer, Charles Walter Barton on 17th May 1949 and settled in Littleton. Eric worked on the railways as a linesman and settled in Patchway. Albert went to France with the British Expeditionary Force, was badly injured in the retreat at Dunkirk, was invalidated out of the Army and then worked for the BAC. In 1944 Albert married May Evelyn Moore. Hilda joined the WRAF, married another serviceman and settled in County Durham where they had four children. She married again after her first husband died and had a further two children. Win married Ron Jenkins and has been a great help to us in sharing her extensive knowledge of Thornbury.
Henry and Jane White continued to live in Horseshoe Lane until the late 50’s. Henry died in 1957 aged 75 and Jane carried on living there alone. She had wanted a council house with modern amenities but the Council had constantly turned down her requests. The family thought this was because she always ‘spoke her mind’ and upset all the local councillors.
Jane is remembered as being very hard working and she did her best to bring up her family well. One local remembers Jane waiting patiently in her yard each afternoon carrying a bucket. She was waiting to collect the droppings from the sawmill horses on their way back to the mill. She used everything she could to make her garden grow!
Finally in the early 60’s the houses were condemned for demolition and the Council had no option but provide Jane with a council house in Stafford Crescent. She carried on living there until her death in December 1991 aged 98!