The first owner of Wigmore House in Castle Street, Thornbury that we have found so far is Richard Wilkins the elder who was the owner of a considerable amount of property in Thornbury (including what became 4 Castle Street and 10 Castle Street) and in Kingswood near Wotton under Edge. The will of Richard Green of 1713 makes reference to Richard Wilkins, chandler of Thornbury as do a series of other documents, culminating in the will Richard Wilkins made in 1753. It seems possible that Richard Wilkins actually lived in Wigmore House, although not at the time he wrote his will.
Richard and his wife Sarah Wilkins were Quakers and the births of their children were all recorded at Frenchay Meeting House. These were; Jane Wilkins born on 19th October 1707, Mary Wilkins 17th June 1709, Sarah Wilkins 19th January 1715/16, Richard Wilkins 3rd October 1717, Anna (or Hannah) Wilkins 10th July 1722.
It seems that we can be sure that Richard Wilkins was a tallow chandler as that is how he is regularly described in the documents we have seen so far.
We know a little more about the couple’s eldest daughter Jane because Burke’s Commoners of Britain shows the lineage of the Lloyd family of of Dolobran. It says that on 14th April 1723 Charles Lloyd (who was born 1697 and died 3rd November 1767), married Jane who was the daughter of Richard and Sarah Wilkins of Thornbury. The Family Search Website says that Jane Wilkins was born 19th August 1707. It is not clear whether this discrepancy is an error or whether it shows the difference between when Jane was born and when it was recorded at Frenchay Meeting House.
A book called “Quaker Lloyds in the Industrial Revolution 1660-1860” by Humphrey Lloyd gives a full account of the courtship and marriage of Charles Lloyd and Jane Wilkins.
“during the winter of 1721 to 1722 Charles junior then about twenty three was occupied over intentions of marriage with the daughter of an Uxbridge Quaker who had interests at Llanwrst in North Wales. But when the negotiations were in an advanced stage doubts began to appear not as to the excellence of the lady but as to the substance of the lady’s father…….the next year there were negotiations from another quarter, this time for the hand of Jane Wilkins from a Quaker family at Thornbury Gloucestershire who however was residing with her uncle and aunt Exton at Burghill near Hereford.
Between February and June 1723 Kelsall (a relation) was employed as a go-between both in Gloucestershire and Burghill and it was only after some uncomfortable even acrimonious differences at the parents’ level that on 18th June at the meeting house at Ross the marriage took place. The couple started married life at the Extons who had a fruit farming and cider business.”
It is interesting to note how much more like a business merger than a romance the serious business of marriage was at that time.
The story did not end happily because the iron foundry that Charles owned fell into difficulties and was bought by a relation of Abraham Darby who probably made a better job of it. Charles was disowned by the Quakers and the Exton uncle did not pay over the inheritance that the marriage agreement included.
Kent’s Directory of 1753 also shows that a man called Richard Wilkins traded as a tallow factor making soap, candles and glue in Tooly Street Southwark. We do not know whether this is connected in any way to Richard Wilkins of Thornbury.
Richard Wilkins certainly owned other property in Thornbury. The documents that relate to what is now known as the Georgian House which lies at the junction of The Plain and St John Street in Thornbury refer to property:
“adjoining on the westward part thereof to a lane or highway called Collwell Street Lane and on the north unto the lands late of Richard Wilkins deceased and also of and in all that messuage or tenement wherein Joseph Wilkins wheelwright doth now inhabit with the work shops Backside Garden and orchard thereunto belonging situate and being in a street called St John Street all which said messuages or tenements tofts must mill gardens orchards premises above mentioned are situate lying and being in or near the borough of Thornbury ”
The will of Richard Wilkins the elder dated February 1753 gives a clearer idea of the amount of property that he owned. It also explains in detail how this property was to be distributed amongst his children after his death. The property includes a long stretch of Castle Street and runs on the eastward side from The Plain down to what is now number 26 Castle Street. We have quoted this in small sections to explain what we know so far about who these children are and where the property is.
The will begins; “I give and devise unto my son Richard Wilkins all that my messuage or tenement lands and hereditaments situate lying and being in the parish of Kingswood in the county of Wilts now in the occupation of Thomas Tyndale Also all that my messuage or tenement with its appurtenances situate lying and being with the Burrough (sic) of Thornbury called Mabbots now void to hold to my son Richard and his heirs for ever.”
It would appear possible that “Mabbots” is the name given to Wigmore House at this time. This would be logical in as much as the Abstract clearly shows two Indentures between Jno (John) Mabbott and Richard Wilkins. One is dated 25th March 1712 and the other 29th and 30th Sep 1713. As these were leases and releases between the two men, it would appear possible that Richard Wilkins the elder bought “Wigmore House” from John Mabbott at that time.
Richard Wilkins’s will continues;
“I give an devise unto my daughter Sarah Budding all that my copyhold messuage or tenement with the out houses gardens orchards several closes of land and and hereditaments situate lying and being within the parish and manor of Thornbury which I some time since bought and purchased of and from Hester Tayor and Thomas Harvest and now in the occupation of Simeon Tompkins.
“I also give unto her my said daughter the messuage or tenement wherein she now dwells together with the garden orchard and appurtenances thereunto belonging to hold unto my said daughter Sarah for all the estate term and interest therein.”
The properties, which included two houses, were left for her life time and then were to go to her son James. At this stage we do not know where these properties were. We also have a record of the tenant, Simeon Tompkins who married Sara Thurston 6th April 1729. Read more about Simeon Tomkins
The parish records show that George Budding married Richard’s daughter, Sarah Wilkins, on 30th December 1740 in Newington – Bagpath in Gloucester. It seems that George Budding had an interesting sounding home. We have a copy of the will of John Rudge dated 1777 that relates to a property near the junction of what is now Rock Street and Chapel Street and which was once part of the Paddock. It refers to this property as “that messuage or tenement commonly called the Pest House wherein George Budding formerly dwelt adjoining to the foot way leading from Thornbury to Tytherington on the southward side thereof with the garden and orchard thereto adjoining and belonging and also one orchard called Gromage containing three quarters“.
Sarah later remarried on 18 Sep 1754 at Thornbury to William Kent of Horseley.
The will continues;
“I give unto my daughter Hannah Putley all that my copyhold close of land commonly called or known by the names of Lanes End Leaze lying and being within the parish and manor of Thornbury aforesaid now in the occupation of (space) Fowler to hold unto my said daughter Hannah for the term of her natural life and from and immediately after her decease I give and devise the same unto Hannah her daughter and the heirs of her body lawfully issuing and for default of such issue I give and devise the said close of land unto the right heirs of my said daughter Hannah forever”
There is a record of a marriage between Hannah Wilkins and John Putley on 21st August 1741 in Bath Abbey. John Putley became the owner of the neighbouring property. We do not know for certain at this point how it was the John Putley came to own a neighbouring property but in view of the other information we have of the nature of the marriage settlements between such families at this time it is possible that this could have been part of John and Hannah’s marriage settlement. The earliest document we have that confirms that the neighbouring land was owned by John Putley was dated 1758 (after their marriage and before the death of Hannah’s father) and is in the deeds that relate to Wigmores and describes
“All that messuage or tenement with the appurts commonly called Wigmore house situate lying & being in the Town & Borough of Thornbury in ye said County of Gloucester together the Barn or Workhouse & Garden thereunto adjoining & belonging and also all that Close or Leaze of arable or pasture ground to ye said messuage or tenement belonging Commonly called or known by the name of Mondays otherwise Mondays land containing by estimation four acres (be the same now or less) and also all that other Close of arable or pasture ground containing by estimation two acres (be the same now or less) adjoining to a house belonging to one John Putley & some time since planted with fruit trees & now called the Orchard.”
There is a memorial in St Mary’s Churchyard in Thornbury, which shows that although her name may have changed slightly, Anna or Hannah remained a Quaker;
“In memory of JOHN PUTLEY of this Town who died January 18th 1771 aged 64 years and lies interred in this Church Yard. Also ANNE wife of the above John who died March 3rd 1794 aged 72 years, interred in the Quaker’s Meeting House Yard in this Town”
Richard Wilkins’s will goes on to say
“I give and devise unto my said daughter Mary Bingham all those several closes of land and hereditments lying and being within the Manor of Thornbury aforesaid commonly called or known by the several names of the Grove Broadleaze and the little paddock now occupied by the the said Simon Tompkins and sometime since purchased by me of and from Hopeful Vokins and Anna his wife to hold unto my said daughter Mary for the term of her natural life and from and immediately after her decease I give and devise the same unto Thomas her son and the heirs of his body lawfully issuing and in default of such issue I give and devise the same closes and hereditaments unto the rightful heirs of my said daughter Mary for ever.”
The 1809 Land Tax Records show that what is now number 2 Castle Street was owned and occupied by Henry Bingham. Henry was a son of Thomas Bingham a butcher and Mary Bingham nee Wilkins. He was born 9th October 1749 but not baptised until 1770. This may have been an indication that the Bingham’s were also Quakers and so Henry was not baptised when he was born. Henry’s will of 1831 refers to
“my freehold messuages tenements or dwellinghouses situate in the borough of Thornbury aforesaid and in the respective occupations of myself and of Mrs Elizabeth and Mrs Ann Hodges and also that my small orchard situate in the parish of Thornbury aforesaid and called or known by the name of Spur” also “copyhold lands situate and being at Crossways called the Long Leaze and the Broad Leaze and the orchard now in the respective occupations of Stephen Hignell, John Iles and James Sayse as tenants,”
It would appear therefore that the closes and hereditaments, including the lands at Crossways called Broad Leaze were inherited by Henry from his parents and that these were inherited by them from Richard Wilkins.
Richard Wilkins was buried in the Quaker Burial Ground in Thornbury on 10th February 1753. His will was proved in London on 31st December 1753.
Richard Wilkins the younger
We know from the will of Richard Wilkins the elder that Richard Wilkins inherited property in Kingswood and in Thornbury from his father and that this property included what is now Wigmore House. Richard Wilkins senior made this will in February 1753. It is possible that the will was made as part of the marriage settlement of Richard Wilkins junior as there is a marriage in Bristol on 10th May 1753 of Richard Wilkins and Sarah Mead. However we have found no supporting evidence for this theory.
The earliest Indentures describing this property that we have found so far lie in the Gloucester Records Office in the collection donated by the Harwood Family of Alveston and Thornbury. This is because Richard Wilkins the younger used Wigmore House and other properties as security for a loan, initially of £100, from a member of the Harwood family.
The first of these indentures was made on the 22nd day of August 1754 between Richard Wilkins of Thornbury in the County of Gloucestershire, yeoman and John Harwood of Grovesend in the parish of Alveston also a yeoman. It is a mortgage for £100 paid to Richard Wilkins, the security being his property, some of which were fields and closes in Kingswood and some of which lay in Thornbury.
By the second Indenture in this series the sum in question is £200 and the property in Thornbury is described as
“All that messuage or tenement with the appurtenances commonly called Wigmore House situate lying & being in the Town & Borough of Thornbury in the said County of Gloucester together with the Barn or Workhouse & Garden thereunto adjoining & belonging and also all that Close or Leaze of arable or pasture ground to the said messuage or tenement belonging Commonly called or known by the name of Mondays otherwise Mondays land containing by estimation four acres (be the same now or less) and also all that other Close of arable or pasture ground containing by estimation two acres (be the same now or less) adjoining to a house belonging to one John Putley & some time since planted with fruit trees & now called the Orchard ……..then last in the tenure or occupation of Richard Wilkins deceased father of the said Richard Wilkins …. but then of the said Richard Wilkins… his tenants or undertenants & to be then lastly purchased by the said Richard Wilkins. ”
The last document in this series was made on the 19th day of September 1761 between Hester Harwood of Itchington in the Parish of Tytherington in the County of Gloucester widow of the one part and Daniel Holbrow of Itchington aforesaid yeoman nephew of the said Hester Harwood of the other part.
Although Richard Wilkins raised money against this house there seems to be no evidence that he lived here.