George Mansell Williams was born in Thornbury in 1850. The 1851 census shows that his family lived in a house which later became known as 52 High Street. His parents were James Williams, a cordwainer, and his wife, Elizabeth. George’s grandfather, Thomas, a retired farmer, lived with the family at this time. In 1861 the family were still in the High Street and the father’s business was doing well enough for him to employ someone. There were still only two children, George born in 1850 and his older sister, Emily Hester born in 1844. By 1871 George at that time aged 20, had become apprenticed to his father.
On 19th April 1875 George married Adelaide Screen at the Congregational Church, Thornbury. The Church records show Adelaide was ‘of Tockington’, but she must only have been working there. She was born in 1847, the daughter of Arthur Screen, a farmer and his wife, Caroline who were living in Morton in 1851. The 1861 census shows them living on a farm of 95 acres in Duckhole Lane. It is interesting to note that Adelaide’s father was 55 when she was born. By 1871 Adelaide had become a dairy woman in Cromhall.
George must have been studying alongside his bootmaking as his career took a very different turn. By 1874 when George and Henry William John Carter bought the two properties at 11 and 13 Pullins Green, the two of them were described as accountants of Thornbury. We assume that George and Henry worked together and decided to go into the property business as partners.
By 1881 George and Adelaide were living in Grovesend Lane and had four children aged 5, 3, 1 and 11 months and George was an accountant. George was also listed as an accountant in the Thornbury Trade Directories of 1899 and 1904. His activities extended beyond being just an accountant. The Directories of 1897 and 1902 show him as ‘Correspondent to the Bristol Mercury’. The 1901 census show him as ‘Clerk to the County Court Registration and Magistrates’. The 1914 Directory gives more detail showing him as ‘Registrar’s Clerk & Bailiff to County Court & Secretary to Thornbury Permanent Benefit Approved Society’.
On 1st November 1883 there was a deed of partition in which George and Henry agreed to split the two properties that they had jointly owned. George kept 11 Pullins Green, then occupied by Ann Carter, widow and Henry kept 13 Pullins Green, then occupied by Mark Williams. To balance out the division Henry paid George £40.
George also acquired other properties in Thornbury – we know he owned the house which became 27 St Mary Street, acquired we think in 1890 when the properties previously owned by Mary Wilkes were put up for sale. We suspect he also acquired the Horseshoe Inn at 25 St Mary Street, although the 1910 Rate Book only shows the name of ‘Williams’. He also owned 52 High Street (which he had inherited from his father) and another in Mutton Lane (later known as 1 Crispin Lane).
By the 1885 rate book George and Adelaide were living in 9 Pullins Green. Interestingly George didn’t own this property, the property where he lived for so many years. It was owned initially by his sister, Emily Hester, who in 1883 had married Albert Edward Evans. Emily had inherited it from her father. George eventually acquired the ownership at some time between 1899 and 1905.
The 1891 census shows their four children children were George Mansell, a tailor’s apprentice aged 15 (born on 31st March 1876), Violet Adelaide Sarah aged 13, and Florence aged 11, and Agnes Frances aged 10. The United Reformed Church records show that George Mansell Junior and his sister Violet Adelaide were both baptised in November 1877. The family’s address when the children were baptised is shown as Crossways.
The records of the United Reformed Church show that Adelaide died in June 1895 aged 47 and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery. George married again in 1897, this time to Sarah Stagg. Sarah was born in Rockhampton in 1850, the daughter of James Stagg, an agricultural labourer and his wife, Charlotte. By 1891 she was still unmarried and living with the family of her brother, Thomas, in Lower Morton.
George and Sarah continued living at 9 Pullins Green for many years. We have been told by Miss Higgins, that George was the Honorary Secretary of the Thornbury Institution for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. This organisation was founded in London in 1828 with the objective of publishing information to people who were unable to obtain formal teaching or those who preferred self education.
George died aged 71 on 6th June 1922. His obituary in the Gazette mentioned that he had been the local reporter for the Bristol Mercury ‘for upwards of 40 years’ and that for 50 years he had been Clerk to the Registrar of the County Court. It added that ‘although he was a strict disciplinarian and methodical to a degree he had never had an enemy’. Sarah continued to live at 9 Pullins Green until she died aged 86 on 4th February 1936. In April 1937 the representatives of G. M. Williams put the three properties, 7, 9 and 11 Pullins Green up for sale at auction.