The above photograph shows a terrace of houses now called 21 to 31 Gloucester Road in Thornbury. The house known as 29 Gloucester Road in Thornbury was once called Greystones and the name is still just visible on the left gate post in 2016. It has the second front door from the right in this photograph.
Planning permission for the houses that became 25 and 27 Gloucester Road was submitted in 1920 by the brothers William Valentine and Charley Davis. The plans indicated that they anticipated two more being added at a later date. William Davis died in 1922 so the actual work of building the last two houses fell to Charley Davis with help from his youngest brother, Jim. We are not sure when this house was built but the earliest occupants that we can identify appeared in the 1935 electoral register.
Alice, Hetty and Mary Ann Selvey – the three ladies appeared in the 1935 register and were listed at Greystones.
Alice Selvey was born Alice Winter in Publow Somerset on 18th July 1872. She was the daughter of George and Maria Winter and the 1881 Census shows that they lived on the farm of George’s father Abraham Winter in Somerset. The 1891 census shows that Alice was visiting at Hagloe House, Awre Road, Blakeney in Gloucestershire, the home of her future in-laws James and Mary Selvey. James Selvey appears to have been a tenant farmer there and his son Frank assisted him on the farm. Alice and her future husband Frank Selvey were both only 19. Alice married Frank Selvey in the district of Clutton in Somerset in 1891.
The end of the nineteenth century was an interesting time in Blakeney as there was a struggle by what became known as “the Blakeney Gang. ” This group of men were opposed to the enclosures of land in the nearby Forest of Dean. The Selvey family played some role in the events which took place when matters came to a head about 1895. In November 1895 two colliers, Moses Virgo and Joseph James both of Blakeney were charged with poaching on the grounds of a local JP, Russell James Kerr of Newnham on Severn and the prisoners were remanded in custody. The next day two policemen had patrolled Viney Hill and were standing by All Saints burial ground. A group of men, singing and shouting approached the policemen and an affray broke out and Police Sergeant Morris was killed. According to the Bristol Mercury and Daily Post the atmosphere in Blakeney had been charged. People had come into the town from the neighbouring area and the matter was addressed in sermons preached in both churches in Blakeney at the morning and evening services. The newspaper report refers to one J.N Selvey of Hogloe “holding forth” at the Congregational Chapel. We believe that this may have been a reference to Frank’s father James North Selvey.
Problems in Blakeney continued over the next few years and a series of explosions occurred, at least two on a house owned by a Mr Davies and one at a sawmill.
The Bristol Mercury and Evening Post of September 30th 1899 shows that Frank Selvey himself appeared in court charged with trespass on the railway. This seems to have been part of a dispute about a right of way across a railway line which must also have had a connection with enclosure. The article refers to the fact that Frank was farming in Blakeney and we believe that it was at Hagloe because the lands of the Hagloe estate adjoined Awre station which was on the South Wales line. It seems that the extension of the railway in that area had caused further ill feeling.
The family seems to have left Blakeney about this time. Frank and Alice appear to have moved to Lydney where they appear in the 1901 census with two of their children Ernest aged 9 and May aged 6. In the same census their third child, Francis Selvey, was visiting his grandparents who had moved to Herefordshire.
Frank Selvey died on 25th April 1910 at Woodford Farm in Berkeley and was buried in Berkeley. The Cheltenham Chronicle and Gloucester Graphic of May 7th 1910 reported that he “was a popular young man of sunny temperament who always had a kind word for everybody and his death is much regretted by a wide circle of friends.”
Probate was granted to his widow Alice. The 1911 census shows that Alice Selvey was a widow aged only 38 farming at Woodford, near Berkeley. She was sharing her home with her children, Ernest aged 18, Francis aged 17, May aged 15 and Hetty aged 8. She was also living with her parents in law James and Mary Selvey both aged 60.
Alice must have moved to Thornbury before 1935 as her daughter Hetty sailed to America in March of that year and she gave her residence as Thornbury. It seems that the Mary Ann listed in the 1935 electoral register was Alice’s mother in law. The 1939 record of inhabitants taken at the outbreak of war shows that “Polly” Selvey was also in the property at that time. The records gave her date of birth as 2nd January 1849. It seems that ‘Mary Ann’ was Mary A.P. Selvey, Alice’s mother in law. Mary Selvey died in Thornbury in 1940 aged 92.
Alice Selvey died at Greystones on April 22nd 1940. The Gazette reported that her funeral was at Woodford. The mourners included her daughters Mrs H M Staley and Miss H M Selvey, her brother Mr C Winter and his wife, and her son in law Mr H M Staley. Various cousins nephews and nieces also attended.
Of Alice’s children:
- May Alice Selvey was born on 12th May 1895. She married Howard Marcus Staley in 1929. They lived at Elmin in Kington. May died in 1970.
- Ernest Frank Selvey was born in the September quarter of 1892 in Blakeney and his birth was registered in Westbury on Severn. On December 21st 1916 Ernest, described as a farmer in Woodford married Cicely Laura Cullimore, the daughter of Leonard Cullimore a farmer in Lower Stone. Cicely was born in 1888 in Berkeley. The marriage took place at All Saints in Stone. In 1922 a newspaper article explains that he lived at Velt House Farm in Hardwicke. By 1925 he was in Red Bungalow Leckhampton Lane but by 1926 he was living in the High Street in Leckhampton where he traded as a provision merchant. He appeared in the bankruptcy court in 1926. They emigrated to Nova Scotia in 1930 with their son Donald aged ten on the S S Megantic as £10 passengers.
- Francis Selvey was born in the December quarter of 1893. He emigrated to Nova Scotia and married Mabel Clara Gould on 30th April 1931.
- Gertrude Mary was born September quarter 1896. Gertrude became a governess in America although the records appear to indicate that she travelled back to England at least once. We believe that she died in Santa Barbara in California in 1989.
- Hetty Mildred Selvey was born 3rd December 1902. On 20th July 1942 she married Samson Horace Willis in Mount Pleasant Chapel. She died in 1992. See below
Hetty and Samson Willis occupied Greystones according to the electoral register of 1946. In the same year the records of the National School now St Mary’s school in Thornbury show that Patricia Willis was transferred from Wycliffe in Clevedon to the school. Patricia was born in 1936 and the School records show her father as “John Willis” of Gloucester Road.
For some time we thought that Samson Willis and John Willis were relations living in the same property. However the records of deaths registered in 1974 show that John Samson Willis and Samson Anasuerus Willis both died in the Bath area in 1974. Both had the same date of birth, 20th October 1892, and both had the same reference number for the registration of the death. Both in fact seem to be the same person. For convenience we will refer to him as Samson.
Samson was born on 20th October 1892 in South Stoneham, South Hampshire near Southampton. His birth was registered as Samson Anasuerus Willis in the South Stoneham district in December quarter of 1892. At the age of ten the 1901 Census shows him as Samson Willis living with his widowed father John A Willis at 3 West Butts Street, in the St James District of Poole in East Dorset. Samson had four siblings living in the family with him; Sarah aged 18, Ruth aged 12, James aged 11 and rather confusingly a brother called John aged 14. In this census Samson was said to have been born in Woolaston near Southampton.
Samson appears to have joined the navy. The 1911 census may show him at Portsmouth Royal Naval Gunnery School where he is a steward to the officers. If this is the same person he was listed as Horace A Willis aged 18.
According to family trees on the Ancestry website, Hetty Selvey married Samson Ahasuerus “Horace” Willis at the Mount Pleasant Chapel on 20th July 1942. We don’t understand why but his marriage was registered under the name of ‘John C. Willis’
According to a family tree on the Ancestry website, Samson had been married before. He may have married Emma Naomi Taylor in 1914 and Edith Marjorie Kiddle in 1917. Samson and Edith appear to have had five children, Jack in 1923, Robert in 1926, Joan in 1928, Valerie in 1934, and their last child, Patricia in 1936. Jack and Joan may have died young. Edith Willis died 30th November 1936. Samson then married Edith Mildred Champion in 1938. In 1939 Samson and Edith were living in Bristol. Edith died in 1941.
Hetty and Samson seem to have had a daughter Mary whose birth was registered in Bristol in 1945, but it seems she didn’t survive. The family last appeared at this property in the electoral registers of 1960. Samson died in 1974 in the Bath area. Hetty Mildred Willis died in 1992 in Rodway Road, Patchway Bristol.
We know that the Selvey and Willis families appeared to have other people lodging in their house at different times. We have written below about Bertha Sparrow who was listed as living there in 1939. The electoral registers from 1948 to 1952 show that Austin T. Brook was living with the Willlis’s. We don’t know any more about Austin.
Bertha Sparrow. By 1939 the electoral registers show that Bertha Sparrow also lived in this property with the Willis’s. We believe that Bertha was born Bertha Morley in 1888 and that she was the daughter of a china dealer Rowland Morley and his wife Ellen who lived at Potters Pond in Wotton under Edge. Bertha was probably born in Wotton under Edge and she was baptised there on May 21st 1888, although her birth was registered in the district of Dursley. Bertha Morley married Joseph Sparrow who was a butcher in Wotton under Edge. Joseph was the son of Jonas and Jane Sparrow and he was born in 1892 and his birth was registered in the Tetbury district. The 1911 census shows that Joseph was an assistant butcher in Cheltenham but by the time the couple married on 26th March 1916 in St Mary the Virgin church in Wotton under Edge he was living and working in Wotton.
The couple had three children, Gladys, Beryl and Bernard. It is possible that Joseph and Bertha separated as the most likely death of Joseph Sparrow is registered in the Stroud area in 1954 when he was aged 62. We think that Bertha moved to Thornbury around 1936 when her daughter, Beryl, was appointed as teacher in St Marys School. Beryl left the school in 1942 to marry Norman Reynolds. By 1946 Bertha had moved to Spar Cottage in Crossways.
Bertha’s address was in Ellerncroft Road Wotton under Edge when she died in Corsham Hospital on 8th August 1955, aged 66. Probate was granted to Gladys Richings the wife of Richard Richings and Beryl Reynolds the wife of Norman Sidney Reynolds.
We believe that there may have been a family connection between the Sparrow and the Davis families. We note that a Beatrice Sparrow was godmother to the daughter of Arthur Basil Davis in 1943.
Ian and Anita Abrahams. The 1965 Electoral Register shows that Edgar Ian and Anita J. Abrahams were living in this property for a short time. ‘Ian’ had married Anita J. Clark in 1964. He was the son of Edgar Maurice Abrahams (known as Pat), the publican at The Anchor pub at Morton. Click here to read more
We have been told by Anita Abrahams that at the time of their marriage Ian was working at the garage owned by Dick Shipp towards the top of Gloucester Road. Charley Davis the owner of 29 Gloucester Road amongst other properties was a regular visitor to the garage. On asking Ian if he had a house ready for when he was married, Charley said that 29 was about to become vacant and that Ian was to go to the agents Crossman & Co and say that Charley Davis said they could let the house. A few days later Charley asked Ian about it and on being told the house had already been let to someone else he made in clear in no uncertain terms that Ian should go back to Crossmans and tell them that Ian and his new wife were going to be the tenants. Ian and Anita remained in the house until 1967 when they moved to Woodleigh.
Ian later worked for Riddifords Coaches before becoming an AA patrolman which he did for 20 years. When he died in 2018, seventeen years after his retirement from the AA, his widow Anita was overwhelmed by the attendance of so many representatives of the AA complete with several vehicles from the period when Ian worked for the organization. Anita herself worked for many years at the National Westminster Bank on The Plain.
Marion and Ronald Taylor. The house was next occupied by Marion and Ronald Taylor who were living there when their son David John was baptised in 1967. They had previously been living in 9 Bath Road.
We would be happy to learn any more about this property and the families associated with it.