The name of the Wither (or Withers) family crops up in relation to several houses in the area of St John Street and Crispin Lane.
James Wither (or James Withers) – James was a carpenter from Thornbury. He was baptised on 27th September 1747, the son of John and Sarah Wither. On 29th September 1774 James married Mary Nicholas who came from Olveston. They had a son, Luke Nicholas Withers, born 12 May 1777 and baptised in St Marys on 5 November 1777.
In 1781 James is listed as living as a tenant of George Rolph’s at 5 St John Street. He was still living there in the 1784 Land Tax record. He is noted in the apprentice records of 1788 as being a master carpenter and taking on Samuel Parmiter as an apprentice.
An indenture dated 22nd March 1788 shows James bought the property now known as 11 St John Street from Joseph Isles. An indenture dated 23rd September 1807 (for the property next door) refers to number 11 as ‘a new-built messuage or tenement of James Wither carpenter’.
In 1796 James bought some land and garden ground of about 21 perches in St John Street which he purchased from Thomas Rolph. James built two houses on this land which were later known as 19 and 21 St John Street. James was living in 19 St John Street in 1812 when he sold 21 St John Street to John Niblett.
Mary died on 29th March 1823 aged 77 years and James died on 15th March 1828 aged 80. They were both buried in St Mary’s Churchyard.
Before his death, in 1827 James made a loan of £250 to Job Hodges living in a property in Crispin Lane. When Job failed to repay the loan the property passed to James’s son, Luke in 1838. This property became known as The Crispin and later 2 Crispin Lane.
In 1827, James Wither also acquired an interest in other properties in St John Street. An indenture dated 1827 suggests that there were four houses built by James Withers Bevan on a plot previously a garden. Another identure dated 1833 suggest that three houses were built there, which we assume to be the properties now known as 13, 15 and 17 St John Street. We are not sure whether James purchased these properties or whether he was a mortgagee and the mortgagor defaulted on the repayments. Luke was listed as owning these three properties in the 1859 Rate Book.
Luke Withers – Luke inherited his father’s property. Luke was a beerhouse keeper. At the time of the 1840 Tithe Survey and the 1841 census, he was living at what we now know as 15 St John Street. Martha Cullimore was living with him. She was described as a female servant. Luke and Martha were also shown as living there in the 1851 census when she is described as a widowed housekeeper aged 73. Martha died on 12 October 1852 aged 74 years.
We have been told by local pub historian, George Ford, that the beerhouse was known as the Star.
Luke continued to live there until his death in 1868 when he was aged 90. It doesn’t appear that he ever married and he left no children. His property (at least the property we know of) was passed on to the family of James Cullimore who was occupying the property at 2 Crispin Lane.
We have been unable to confirm the connection between the Withers and Cullimore families. We suspect that Martha Cullimore who had been sharing a house with Luke in 1841 and 1851 was the mother of James Cullimore who inherited Luke’s property. Click here to read about this Cullimore family