1903 THE PLAIN C 1895 FIXEDWe have presented the history of these three shops in one page because for much of the time they were owned by the same persons and it seems that they may have been a single property in the earlier days.  Click on the buttons on the bottom of the page to read about the OCCUPANTS of the houses.

The photograph on the left was taken in the 1880s.  The three shops are tucked away between the gabled ended shop on the corner of the High Street and The Plain (now known as 1 The Plain) and the larger three story on the High Street.  The photograph on the right below taken in 2013 clearly shows the three shops.

The photo on the right shows that the roofline of 1 High Street is higher than that of 3 and 3a.  This might suggest that this property was separate from the other two.  We know that the last will and testament of John Edmonds dated 1808 mentions he had converted his property into two messuages.  We are not sure if this relates to the division of number 3 and 3A, or the separation of number 1 from 3.  By the time of the 1840 Tithe Survey all three properties were on Plot 200 then described as a house owned and occupied by Hannah Lucas.

1&3 high streetWe haven’t seen the deeds for this property, but we’ve been able to build up a reasonable picture of its history from a few indentures associated either with this building or its neighbours.  We can only find references to one property between the Corner House on The Plain and the property which became number 5 High Street.  The Overseers Account books have enabled us to trace its history to when it seems to have been associated with Samuel Mallett and Joseph Canning in the period from 1665 to 1678.  We are not sure which of these persons owned the property and which one was the tenant.  We believe that Samuel Mallett was probably occupying this house during the 1665 to 1678 period as the 1670 Rent Roll seems to show that Joseph Cannings lived near the corner of Chapel Street in a property described as ‘late Martens’.  We are unsure of the ownership from that time until the mid 1760’s as there were several generations of Joseph Cannings and at least one of them appears to be the owner of a property thought to be 30 Castle Street.

Samuel Mallett – this may be the person referred to in the monumental inscription in Rockhampton Church which includes an entry ‘Margaret Mallett wife of Samuel Mallett of this parish yeoman died 1674.’  The IGI shows that Samuel and Margaret had a daughter also called Margaret who was baptised on 11th April 1664 in Rockhampton.  The Malletts of Rockhampton appear to be related to the Thayer family of Kington.  The will of ‘Sara Thayer of Keynton, Thornbury widow dated 20th January 1670 mentions her brothers Nathaniel and Samuel Mallett and appoints them overseers of her will.

Thomas Clark(e) – the next owner of the property that we know about was Thomas Clark.  We do not know when or how Thomas acquired the property.  Certainly from the early 1720’s the Overseers Accounts show Thomas was paying the poor rate ‘ for Cannings’.  We think however that this refers to a property at 30 Castle Street.-

Thomas Clark was a tallow chandler.  He and his wife, Sarah, had two children: Thomas baptised on 30th September 1731 and Sarah baptised on 18th July 1733.  Thomas’s wife Sarah died aged 53 and was buried on 9th December 1749.   The following year, Thomas wrote his last will dated 16th June 1750 in which he left all his property to be shared between his two children, Thomas and Sarah.  Thomas senior was buried on 10th May 1761 and the will was proved in 1762.

An indenture dated 20th March 1767 between Thomas Clark of Thornbury tallow chandler, only son and heir of Thomas Clark late of the same place tallow chandler, his late father deceased conveyed his moeity or half part of the property to George Rolph of Thornbury gentleman.  The property was described ‘All that messuage or tenement wherein the said Thomas Clark doth now inhabit with the backside garden and appurts thereunto belonging adjoining to the High Street otherwise the Fore Street of the Borough of Thornbury on the west part and to a messuage belonging to Mr John Rudge and wherein he now inhabits on the southward part thereof’.

On 31st May 1767 Thomas’s sister, Sarah Clark, married George Rolph in Thornbury.  Thus Thomas was allowing Sarah and her husband George Rolph to have the full ownership of the property in which Thomas was then living.  George was a widower and an attorney.

It appears that Thomas continued living at the High Street property even after it was sold to George Rolph as another source (the last will of John Rudge who owned the adjoining property on the south side) shows that Thomas Clark tallow chandler was living in this property on 22nd February 1777.  We also know from land tax records that he was the tenant of George Rolph senior from 1781 to 1783.

George Rolph – George appears to have acquired the property on 20th March 1767 from Thomas Clark, tallow chandler, the son and heir of Thomas Clark. George presumably acquired the property as a result of his future marriage to Sarah Clark in May 1767.  The land tax records of 1781 to 1783 indicate that Thomas Clark was occupying the property owned by George Rolph, senior.

We know from George’s will dated 1792 that he had left his son, Thomas Rolph, surgeon ‘all that messuage or tenement wherein Thomas Clarke and Thomas Hulbert tallow chandler did then and do now dwell with the back side etc belonging and adjoining to the High Street of Thornbury’.  Click here to read about George

Thomas Rolph – Thomas was a surgeon who lived away from Thornbury.  He owned several properties in Thornbury and unfortunately we are unable to identify the property and who was occupying it in the 1796, 1797 and 1800 land tax records.  We do know that at some time before 1808 Thomas sold the property to John Edmonds (see below).  Click here to read about Thomas Rolph

John and Mary Edmonds – according to the last will and testament of John Edmonds dated 1808, John had ‘lately contracted and agreed with Thomas Rolph for the purchase of the Inheritance in fee simple of and in a messuage or tenement outhouse garden and hereditaments in the Borough of Thornbury aforesaid in a certain street there called the High Street alias the Fore Street adjoining on the southside to the messuage wherein I now dwell at the sum of three hundred pounds which I paid and secured to be paid to the said Thomas Rolph. And said Thomas Rolph thereupon entered into a Bond or obligation to me for conveying such messuage or tenement outhouse garden and hereditaments to me or such person or persons use or uses and in such manner as I should appoint within seven years next after the date of the said Bond.  And whereas since the making such contract I have converted the same purchased messuage into two messuages or tenements which are now in the several occupations of John Barnett and Obed Pitcher and I have added the said garden to the messuage wherein I now dwell and which belongs to Mary Edmonds my wife.  Now I do hereby order and direct the said Thomas Rolph and all persons interested in the said messuage or tenement now in two messuages or tenements and the outhouse garden and hereditaments so contracted for as aforesaid to grant release and convey the same to the use of the several persons in the proportions and manner following that is to say as to the said messuage or tenement now in two messuages or tenements and the said outhouse hereditaments and appurtenances thereto belonging same and except the said garden.  To the use of and I accordingly give and devise the same to the said Mary Edmonds my wife for and during the term of her natural life and from and immediately after her decease to the use of my eldest son Thomas Edmonds and his heirs for ever and as to the said garden to the use of and I hereby give and devise the same to my said wife Mary Edmonds her heirs and assigns for ever’.

This shows that it was John Edmonds who divided the building into the two shops which he let out to tenants.  The division into two shops continued and is visible in the two photos taken at the top of this page – on taken in the late 1800’s the other in 2013 when the two shops were run as ‘Gems’ and ‘Craig Sysum’s barbershop’.

John was a cooper who married Mary Child on 15th April 1792.  It appears from John’s last will dated 1808 that he and Mary were living at 5 High Street, a property she owned.  Click here to read more

Hannah Lucas – the 1824 land tax record shows Hannah Lucas was a tenant of Mary Edmonds in her property valued at 2 shillings 8 pence.  The 1825 land tax record shows Hannah was now owner and occupier of the same property and she continued there for many years.  She is listed as owner and occupier in the 1840 Tithe Survey when it was Plot 200, a house.  It is interesting that the Tithe Map appears to suggest the plot covered what is now numbers, 1, 3 and 3A High Street yet only one house is indicated.  The 1841 census suggest that there were at least two properties here, the one we assume to be number 1 High Street occupied by James Bevan and the other by Hannah.  Hannah was shown to be a grocer aged 55 living with Mary Purnell a dressmaker aged 45.

Hannah was listed as a grocer and dealer in sundries in Thornbury trade directories from 1830 to 1856.

The 1851 census shows Hannah was unmarried.  She was described as a shopkeeper aged 67 born in Gloucester.  Mary Purnell was still lodging with Hannah.  She was a dressmaker aged 58 born in Lower Stone.  Hannah died in 1858.  Her probate record shows that she was a spinster who died on 24th October 1858.  Her executors were Henry Knapp and Ursula Chitts.

On 11th December 1858 there was an auction of the property belonging to Hannah Lucas.  It described it as ‘a dwelling house and shop comprising a shop, front sitting room, back kitchen, two bedrooms and two attics with store room or loft, court yard and two good rainwater cisterns, late in the occupation of Mrs Hannah Lucas, deceased. Also the adjoining dwelling house and shop in the occupation of Mrs Cook, confectioner, and comprising shop sitting room, two bedrooms and attic with good underground cellar.  A very successful business was carried on for many years in the above premises by the late proprietor.  They are situate in the most central and business part of the town, have extensive frontage to the street and may be easily converted into one house at a small outlay’.  

The first of the properties (the house and shop) described above relates to 3 and 3A High Street, the second (occupied by Mrs Cook) was 1 High Street.

Aaron Tidman – he bought the properties previously owned by Hannah Lucas and described above.

According to family trees posted on ancestry website Aaron was born in North Nibley about 1797, the son of Thomas Riddiford Tidman and his wife Sarah (nee Williams).  Aaron went on to marry three times and have a large family.  His first marriage was to Esther Harvey whom he married in Holy Trinity Church, Frome in 1817.  Aaron and Esther had six children, Susan in 1817, Esau in 1822, Thomas in 1829 and Joseph in 1829, all born in Frome and Charles in 1833 and Mary in 1835, both born in Chippenham.  We don’t know when Esther died, but by the 1841 census Aaron is being listed alone with his children.  Aaron was a cloth draper aged 40 living there with all his children except for Esau who was not listed there.

We understand from the family tree on Ancestry website that Aaron married Elizabeth Freeth in Chippenham in 1846.  The 1851 census shows Aaron was a cloth manufacturer aged 50 living in Water Lane, Wotton Under Edge with his wife, Elizabeth who appears to be aged 50 born in Potterton, Wilts, and their children: Charles aged 14 and Mary aged 15 both born in Chippenham.

It appears from that Aaron’s second wife died.  The family tree referred to above shows Aaron married Elizabeth Gibbs in St Phillip and St Jacob, Bristol in 1854.

At some time during the 1850’s the Tidmans moved to Thornbury.  We suspect that they had moved by 1856 as there is the death of unnamed baby daughter ‘Tidman’ in Thornbury in 1856 and the birth and death of a son, Jonathan Gibbs Tidman in 1859.  We know from the sale of 4 St John Street in 1859 that Aaron was living in that property in 1859.  He must have moved from that property at the time of the sale as the 1859 Rate Book lists him as owning and occupying a property at 3 High Street.

On 5th May 1860 he was charged with having defective weights in his grocer’s shop in Thornbury.  The 1861 census shows Aaron Tidman was a grocer aged 60 born in North Nibley living with his wife Elizabeth aged 43 from Chippenham.  On 19th October 1869 Aaron’s youngest son, Charles, married Harriett, the daughter of James Parsons of Bath.  The marriage took place at St Judes Church.  The 1862 Rate Book makes it clear that Aaron owned the three properties, now known as 1, 3 and 3A High Street.  We assume he was occupying 3 High Street and letting the others out to tenants.

The 1871 census shows them still living in the same place.  Aaron was listed as a butcher and grocer aged 70 from North Nibley living with Elizabeth aged 52 from Chippenham.  The Trade Directory for 1877 describes Aaron as a provision dealer in the High Street.

At some time between 1867 and 1876 Aaron Tidman sold 1 High Street to John Williams Jnr.

Aaron died on 4th August 1879 aged 81.  Probate was granted to Esau Tidman grocer of High Street, Thornbury and Joseph Tidman, of 2 Serjeant Street, Bedminster, Bristol, engineer who were Aaron’s sons.

On 8th September 1880 there was an auction of Aaron’s property.  It was described as ‘all those very desirable freehold business premises with dwelling house adjoining, situate in the centre and best part of the town of Thornbury and comprising on the ground floor, double-fronted shop (one part being used as a grocer’s shop and the other as a shoe shop), kitchen with side entrance, store room, and yard; on the first floor, sitting room and two bedrooms, and two attics and a boxroom over.  The property has a frontage of 28 feet to the High Street and extends backwards about 75 feet.  A ready made business has been successfully carried on for the past 50 years and the premises are to be sold in consequence of the death of the late owner, Mr Aaron Tidman’.

The Bristol Mercury of 10th September 1880 reported that the freehold dwelling house and business premises of Aaron Tidman had been sold to Mr Thurston for £395.  We are not sure which Mr Thurston this would be.  By 1885 the property belonged to John Hodges Williams.

John Hodges Williams – the 1885 Rate Book shows that John became the owner of Tidman’s property.  He appears to have used 3a High Street for his own purposes, at least for some of the time.  We have a copy of a plan of John’s property in this part of the High Street dated 1911.  He owned all the properties from an including 1 The Plain to 7 High Street.  It shows that 3A High Street was being used by John under the trading name ‘The Bazaar‘.  John continued to own the property and it has descended through his family and is still owned by the descendents of the Williams family.  Click here to read about John Hodges Williams