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Number 20 Gloucester Road in Thornbury was rented out to tenants during the time it was owned by John Hodges and the Williams family.  During this time we have traced some of the families who occupied the house:

Sophia Bennett (about 1860 – 1878) – our earliest information comes from the 1861 and 1871 censuses which show a Sophia Bennett occupying the property thought to be number 20.  This is confirmed by the 1862 and 1867 rate books.

We suspect that Sophia is the Sophia Bennett baptised on 10th March 1793 at Wotton Under Edge.  She was the daughter of Isaac and Sarah Bennett.  We can’t find Sophia in the 1841 Census, but by 1851 she was already living with a young servant girl to look after her in Thornbury, in the Morton tything.  That census shows she was then an annuitant aged 57 born in Wotton Under Edge.  By 1861 she had moved to live in 20 Gloucester Road, although she seems to have lost a few years of her age!  The census clearly shows her age as 59 born in Wortley which is near Wotton Under Edge.  She is described as a ‘fund holder’.

In the 1871 census she is recorded as an annuitant aged 75.

Sophia’s name appears in the Special Drainage Rate Book of 1876 and she continued to live in 20 Gloucester Road until her death aged 84 on 26th December 1877.  She was buried in Thornbury at St Mary’s Church on 2nd January 1878.  She made Elizabeth Wetherall of Plymouth, a widow, her sole executrix.

The Stone family (about 1878 – 1894)   Read more about them

James Pullen – the rate book of 1894 shows that the tenant was James Pullen.  There was a James Pullen who was living on Pullins Green and who went bankrupt in 1894.  It is just possible that he and his family came here when the business got into difficulties while the Official Receiver was sorting out the estate and selling their possessions.  If this is the same James Pullen, we know some more about this family.  Read about James and Eliza Pullen

George Ball (about 1896 – 1899) – in 1897 an indenture between Emma Williams and John Hodges Williams mentions that a John James Hookway Carey and a person called Ball were living in the two houses now known as 20/22 Gloucester Road.  The 1896 Voters List and the 1898 Wrights Directory both show that John James Hookway Carey and George Ball were living in Gloucester Road.  That didn’t help to identify which of them lived in number 20.  However, the 1899 Wrights Directory lists George Ball and the Rev A. O. Moore and we know from the 1901 Census that the Rev Moore was living at number 22.  Hence we have to assume to that George Ball was in number 20.

Unfortunately there was more than one George Ball with Thornbury connections and we can’t be sure which lived in Gloucester Road.  The 1890 Voters List shows one George Ball was living at Buckover, Milbury Heath.  The 1891 census shows him as George H Ball, a blacksmith aged 29 and living with his widowed mother, Sarah Ball.  George’s father, Thomas Ball, had also been a blacksmith and he had died on 19th December 1873 aged 43 years.  Originally Thomas and Sarah (nee Orpin) had come from Halmore near Berkeley.  Sarah died 6 September 1895 aged 62 years and this may have led to George’s move into Thornbury.  George seems to have moved to live near Cardiff in the 1901 and 1911 Censuses.  He was a general labourer in a quarry.

The Underhill family (about 1899 – 1904)  Read more about the Underhills

Ralph Boulton – the rate book of 1905 shows that Ralph Boulton was the tenant of the house and he was still living there at the time of the 1911 census.  Ralph was born on 31st May 1868, a son of Susannah and John Thomas Boulton, a butler.  Read more about the Boulton family

The 1871 and 1881 censuses show Ralph was brought up by his mother living in 38 Castle Street in Thornbury.  Ralph’s father, who was butler to the vicar of Thornbury, Maurice Fitzgerald Townsend, died in 1874.   Ralph became a pupil teacher in the National School in Thornbury.  When he left this post in May 1887 he was presented with a watch from the Master, the Mistress and the Managers.  The children gave him a watch stand.  He moved to take up a position of Assistant Master at Shipley Gate, Derbyshire.  The 1891 Census shows him living in Long Lane Lodge, Shipley and working as an assistant master in an elementary school.  It is possible that the Townsend family helped him with his first post because we have been told that this school was on an estate owned by General Mundy who was married to Geraldine Townsend, the vicar’s daughter.

Leah Boulton

Leah Boulton

In the December quarter of 1899, Ralph married Leah Knapp.  Leah was baptised in Oldbury on Severn on 14th December 1871.  She was the daughter of Decimus Knapp, a fisherman and his wife, Mary Link (nee Edwards).  By 1901 Ralph had moved to work as a schoolmaster in Norman Hill, Cam and the census shows he was living with his wife, Leah, and daughter, Mary Leah who was born in Cam on 30th December 1900.

Ralph and Leah moved to Thornbury in the early 1900’s when Ralph became an assistant master at the Council School.  We assume that they moved to live in 20 Gloucester Road which is where they were in the 1905 Rate Book.  We know that their son, Harry Dawson Boulton, was born on 11th May 1904 and his birth was registered in Thornbury in June quarter 1904.  The records of the Council School show that Mary Leah was known as ‘Molly’ and she moved from the Infants School to the Upper School in 1907.  She was a bright girl and left in 1912 because she had won a scholarship to the Grammar School on 18th September 1912.  She left the Grammar School on 26th October 1914 because the family had left the district.  The parish records of St Mary’s Church in Thornbury show they had two more children baptised there.  Ida Doreen was baptised 7th June 1908 and Ralph 30th March 1911.

We are puzzled about the 1910 rate book which shows Ralph’s name crossed out and replaced by Martha Saniger (see below) as the 1911 census shows Ralph and the family clearly living in the house at that time.  Ralph is also shown as living in Gloucester Road in 1913 directory although we don’t know in which house.

Council School 1905 with Ralph Boulton

Council School in 1905 with Ralph Boulton (2nd right)

Ralph was an assistant master at the Thornbury Council School until 21st July 1913 when he left.  A member of the Boulton family has suggested that Ralph was dismissed because he taught the children Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.  We are trying to confirm this story as it shows that Ralph was a highly principled teacher, ahead of his time.  We note that Ralph left the school at the same time as his son, Harry, was moved from the Council School to the National School (now called St Mary’s School).  We can understand that if he was dismissed it would have led Ralph to move Harry to a different school.

The Council School log book says that Ralph ‘terminated his employment on 1st August 1913’ which seems to imply that he resigned.  Fortunately Ralph got another teaching post as a master in a village school in Brislington and the family moved to live in Grove Park Avenue.  The school records of the National School in Thornbury show Harry left in 1914 because the family had ‘left town’.

Ralph died of a heart attack in 1929 whilst travelling on a tram into Bristol.  He was aged 61.  Leah (shown in the photo on the right) eventually returned to live at Oldbury.  She died of pneumonia in a nursing home in Clifton on 2nd March 1955.

Martha Sanigar (or Saniger) – the 1910 rate book shows that the tenant is Miss or Martha Sanigar (it is difficult to read).  We suspect that she had been living at 81 High Street as the same Rate Book has the name ‘Martha Saniger’ listed for that property, but the name is crossed out which normally means she had recently vacated that property.  The 1911 census shows Martha as living at 81 High Street so she must have moved after the census.   The 1916 Prewett’s Almanac also lists ‘Miss Saniger’ living in Gloucester Road.

We believe that all these entries relate to Martha Saniger (or Sanigar) whose name appears in the 1918 Electoral Register with the address of Gloucester Road.  Martha was a spinster baptised in Thornbury on 17th December 1856.  Her parents were Edward Saniger, a farmer and his wife, Susanna who lived at Shipperdine (aka Shepperdine) Farm near Oldbury on Severn.  The 1901 census shows Martha living with her brother, Octavius Saniger in Shipperdine.  We don’t know what happened to Martha, but she died in Wotton Under Edge on 9th October 1948 aged 91.  Her probate record shows that her address at the time of her death was Church Street Wotton under Edge.  Probate was granted to Frederick Henry Burchell and George Pearce.  She was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 14th October 1948.  Her brother, Edward Bartlett Saniger was living at 5 Gloucester Road when he died in 1945.

Mary Ann Sainsbury – the 1925 Valuation List and 1926 rate book show that the house was occupied by Mary Ann.  We suspect that Mary Ann was Mary Ann Cullimore who had married John Sainsbury in Clifton in 1880.  In 1881 John was a gas fitter and they were living at 35 Bellevue Crescent, Clifton.  They seem to have separated as in the 1891 and 1901 censuses Mary Ann was a married confectioner living alone at 3 High Street.  The 1911 census shows Mary Ann was a widow aged 65.  She had had one child who had died.  She was living in the property with her sister, Elizabeth Cullimore who was single aged 55 born in Tytherington.  Mary Ann died on 25th March 1928 aged 82.  The report on her death says that she had been running a business in the High Street for many years.  She was buried in the Baptist Burial Ground.

The Beard family (about 1928 – 1983)  Read more about George & Gertrude Beard

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