In recent times, this distinctive building has been a shop selling high quality gifts and crafts under the name of Heritage. We haven’t seen the deeds of this house, which is obviously very old and built in the centre of the High Street near the old Market Place.
We have a copy of a damaged indenture referring to the property next door (26 High Street) dated 23rd September 1730. This describes the properties on both sides of that property, but frustratingly the key words ‘north’ and ‘south’ are missing! We are guessing that 24 High Street was the one described as ‘a messuage or tenement late in the possession of one Hezekiah Hewett deceased and now of one Thomas Cox on the …. side’ because the property on the other side was connected with the Thurstons who owned several other adjoining properties on that side. There were at least four Hezekiah Hewetts in Thornbury in the late 1600s and early 1700s. We can’t identify which one was associated with this property. Read about the Hewetts
We are fortunate to have a copy of an abstract of title for the property next door (number 26) written in 1887. This document refers to number 24 as ‘formerly of John Powell, then Daniel Pitcher, saddler, late of Ann Ford and now of Thomas Anstey’. This shows us that the property has had three distinct uses in the last 200 years – as a saddlery, a china and glass shop and a wine and spirit merchants.
One interesting feature of the property is the little alleyway running through the building to the garden at the rear. This is clearly visible on the right of the photograph shown above. We know from a sales notice printed in 1854 that this was a rope walk, a straight narrow passageway along which long strands of material were laid before they were twisted into rope. The trade directories show that Daniel Pitcher whose main trade was as a saddler and harness maker was also listed as a manufacturer of rope and twine. The passageway was also used to access the two stalled stables, rear workshops, sheds, yard, dressing pits, oil house and garden which were all located at the back.
John Powell – we don’t know exactly when the John Powell referred to in the abstract lived there.There were several John Powells who lived in Thornbury. Judging from the names of the previous owners or occupiers associated with numbers 26 and 28, it might be as early as the 1760’s and 1770’s. This is interesting because the lists for the assessment of the rate for poor relief in 1769 and 1770 include a property described as ‘Daniel Pitcher for late Powells 3d’.
Daniel Pitcher Snr – based on the poor relief assessment documents referred to above, we suspect that this is where Daniel Pitcher was living in 1769 and 1770. If so, then it means that the house was in the possession of the Pitcher family for more than 80 years.
Daniel Pitcher was a saddler and he was also the Parish Clerk. On 16th February 1762 Daniel married Elizabeth James at Thornbury. They had at least four children: George who was born in 1768 and buried aged just 6 weeks on 30th April 1768, Daniel who appears to have been baptised at the Presbyterian Old Town Meeting House in Wotton Under Edge on 22nd February 1775, Obed born on 11th July 1777 and baptised on 21st May 1778 at Thornbury and Elizabeth born on 14th June 1782 and baptised on 29th July 1782. Both Obed and Elizabeth were noted as being very ill at the time of their baptisms.
The last will and testament of Jonathan Barton dated 1769 shows that Daniel was living in one of Jonathan’s properties (39 High Street) as tenant.
Daniel and Elizabeth Pitcher were witnesses at the wedding of William Williams and Mary Cox on 30th May 1791.
Daniel died aged 72 and was buried on 8th January 1807. The death duty records show that he left his property to his wife, Elizabeth, for her lifetime but after her death, it was left to his son, Daniel with the provision that he should make a bequest of £20 to Daniel’s siblings, Obed, Celia and Elizabeth. Elizabeth died later in the same year as Daniel aged 71 years. She was buried on 16th October 1807.
We have written about Daniel Junior below as he took over the family business and the property in the High Street. Of the other two children of Daniel and Elizabeth Pitcher:
Elizabeth Pitcher – born on 14th June 1782. She became the second wife of William Knapp, the blacksmith, in 1811. Click here to read more
Obed Pitcher – born on 11th July 1777. Obed married Hannah Binden on 21st July 1803 and they had several children: George born on 29th March 1805, Ursula born on 11th February 1807 who died as an infant and was buried on 27th October 1807, a son, Obed who died as an infant and was buried on 30th April 1809, Harriett born on 1st September 1810, another Obed born on 27th August 1812 and Hannah Binden baptised on 28th September 1814. Obed’s first wife, Hannah, died on 17th June 1814 aged 28.
Obed married again on 17th November 1814 at St Phillip and St Jacob Church in Bristol – his second wife was Mary Nelms. Obed and Mary had at least two children: Hester Nelms baptised on 28th September 1815 and Jane baptised on 21st December 1817. Mary died on 8th August 1821 aged 32 and Obed quickly married for a third time. He married Hannah Thomas who was a widow on 30th July 1822. They also had two children: Daniel baptised on 9th January 1824 and Celia baptised on 6th May 1827, but she died aged 16 months and was buried on 18th August 1828.
All the baptism records of the children show Obed as a saddler like his father. We assume he assisted his brother, Daniel, who took over 24 High Street. He also took over as Parish Clerk. We think we have identified three other places where Obed lived. The 1809 Rent Roll shows him at 1 or 3 High Street (on the eastward side of the street), an indenture dated 1820 for 4 High Street lists Obed as a previous occupant of the house, and an abstract of title for 2 High Street lists Obed as an occupant of the property which was located in the vacant plot between 2 High Street and the NatWest Bank (where the bus shelter is now). Obed died on 11th July 1827 aged 50. Obed’s son, Obed died aged 22 and was buried on 15th March 1835. Obed’s third wife, Hannah, died aged 57 and was buried on 26th March 1839. Obed’s son, George, died on 31st May 1839 aged 34. Daniel the son of Obed and Hannah (nee Thomas) became a Trumpet Major in the Light Dragoons and died in Bengal in 1848. His death is commemorated in St Mary’s Church in Thornbury.
Daniel Pitcher Jnr – the 1840 Tithe Survey shows Daniel was the owner and occupier of Plots 66 and 67, a house and garden in the High Street.
Daniel was born about 1775, the son of Daniel Pitcher, a saddler and his wife, Elizabeth (see above). We suspect he may have been baptised at the Presbyterian Old Town Meeting House in Wotton Under Edge on 22nd February 1775.
We know from the sale notice put into the Bristol Mercury in 1854 following Daniel’s death that he had been trading as a saddler in the property in the High Street for over 40 years. This seems to coincide with the time his father died or when Daniel married Mary Forest from Olveston on 14th November 1811 so we assume that it is the same property left to him by his father in his will proved in 1807.
Mary died on 27th July 1822. His second wife was Bethia Taylor whom he married on 1st December 1822. She was the daughter of Joseph and Aurelia Taylor born on 30th July 1791 and according to a newspaper report of the marriage in the Bristol Mercury, the niece of Mrs B. Thurston of Thornbury.
We know from a collection of legal documents relating to the Exchange (now called the Knot of Rope) and the properties to the rear of that building that Daniel owned some of the premises in this area around 1820. We hope to sort out more when we focus on the history of the Exchange. We also know that Daniel bought a group of properties in Rock Street and Bath Road including The Brewery. These properties appear to be have been let out to tenants.
Daniel was a deacon of the Congregational Church and in 1825 he provided the Church with land on the junction of what is now called Chapel Street and Rock Street to enable them to erect a new church. The land, then in the occupation of Simon Slade and John Nelmes, had been bought by Daniel from the Edmunds family for £100. He paid a further £45 to Mary Edmunds in September 1825 to compensate for her life expectancy on the property following the death of her husband, Thomas Edmunds. Daniel exchanged this plot of land for the old chapel located at 14 Rock Street and he was also paid £100 by the Trustees.
In 1831 Daniel became the Mayor of Thornbury. On 22 December 1834 Daniel Pitcher of Thornbury, saddler was one of many of Thornbury’s traders who was fined for possessing defective weights used by his business.
The 1840 Tithe Survey shows that Daniel owned other property in addition to his home and business premises at 24 High Street. There was:
- Plots 49 and 50, a house and garden at the bottom of the High Street which were later demolished to make way for the building of the Methodist Chapel. This was occupied by his sister, Elizabeth Knapp, (the widow of William Knapp, the blacksmith who died in 1821). This property was the subject of legal action in 1842. Daniel was forced to remove the window on the southwest side of the building overlooking a garden owned by Hector Maclaine in accordance with a covenant made between the previous owners of the two properties, William Knapp and William Osborne. The window opening had to be ‘walled up and kept walled up with stone or brick and mortar and not to open or use the same hereafter as a window or light or look out place’. Click here to about this property
- Plot 140, a house and brewery in Rock Street occupied by James Sly at the time of the survey, but later known as 14 Rock Street.
- Plot 141, a house and garden occupied by Jacob Withers which later became known as 43 and 45 St Mary Street.
- Plot 325 – two houses and gardens in Bath Road, where Daniel was shown as both owner and occupant. These later became known as 2 and 4 Bath Road.
The 1841 Census shows Daniel Pitcher living at 24 High Street with his wife, Bethia. They were still there in the 1851 Census which shows Daniel was aged 77 and Bethia aged 56. Daniel was described as a saddler and harness maker. He died on July 19th 1852 aged 77 and was buried on 26th July 1852. When he died the newspaper described him as an Alderman. In his will he left everything to Bethia. Following his death Bethia put up the building for sale at auction on 25th February 1854. The advert shown on the right mentions that Daniel had been trading there for over 40 years and provides a useful description of the property at that time.
The 1859 Rate Book shows ‘Mrs Pitcher’ as the owner and occupant of the premises in ‘Bulls Lane’. The 1861 Census shows that Bethia was now living the house which later became known as 2 Bath Road and that she was described as a ‘landed proprietor’.
Bethia died aged 72 and was buried on 12th January 1864. She died intestate and the records show she had had no children so administration of her affairs was granted to John Trotman who was described as ‘the natural and lawful brother by the half blood and one of the next of kin of the said deceased’.
THE CHINA SHOP
Thomas and Elizabeth Ford – the 1859 Rate Book shows Thomas Ford as owner and occupier of the property. We suspect that the reference to ‘Ann Ford’ as being an owner of the property in the abstract mentioned at the top of this page must refer to Thomas’s sister, Ann.
Ann Ford was born on 1st March 1801 and baptised on 28th April 1801. She was the daughter of William Ford, a saddler and harness maker and his wife, Ann (nee Limbrick). Thomas Limbrick Ford was born on 11th February 1804 and baptised in Thornbury on 16th January 1805. Another brother, named Joseph, was born on 9th December 1809 and baptised on 10th January 1810.
The 1841 Census shows Thomas was living at 21 High Street, two doors up from the Swan. Thomas was a saddler aged 30 living with his brother, Joseph Ford, a carpenter aged 25 and their mother, Ann aged 60 of independent means and their sister, also Ann a dressmaker aged 35. We suspect this was the shop in which their father, William, was listed in the 1830 and 1839 trade directories as a saddler and harness maker.
Thomas took over his father’s business near the Swan when he died in 1839. We believe that Thomas’s mother died aged 67 and was buried on 26th October 1847. In 1851 Thomas was still there, unmarried a saddler aged 43 living with his brother, Joseph, now also a saddler aged 36, and their sister, Ann then running a fancy depository aged 47.
By 1859 Thomas was shown as owning and occupying 24 High Street and it is possible he bought it from Bethia Pitcher at the auction in 1852 referred to above, although it may have been 1854 when it was advertised again. The 1861 Census shows Thomas was a glass and china dealer aged 54 from Thornbury. He was living there with his wife, Elizabeth, aged 49 born in Wickwar. We are not sure when or where Thomas married. We believe that Elizabeth was born Elizabeth Tanner (see Jane Tanner below). It is therefore likely that they married in Bristol area in 1852 when FreeBMDs shows Thomas Webb Ford marrying Elizabeth Tanner.
The trade directory shows Ann as running the Berlin Wool and Fancy Repository in 1849 through to 1877. Berlin wool work was kind of embroidery that became very fashionable between about 1830 and 1870.
On 2nd February 1864 Thomas bought a property further up the High Street (now known as 50 High Street). He paid £240 to the Trustees of the will of Thomas Winstone. It doesn’t appear that Thomas or Elizabeth ever lived in 50 High Street. The 1861 and 1871 Census shows Ann was living with her brother, Joseph, at the shop two doors up from the Swan. Joseph was a saddler and Ann was running her Berlin Repository.
Thomas Ford died on 4th April 1872 aged 68 years. Under the terms of his will dated 21st July 1865 which was proved 9th May 1875 at Gloucester the property was left to his wife, Elizabeth. Elizabeth is listed in the 1877 trade directory as being a Glass & China Dealer in the High Street. Thomas’s sister, Ann Ford, died aged 79 and was buried on 3rd September 1879.
In the 1881 Census Elizabeth was living at 24 High Street and she was continuing the business of china dealer. Elizabeth’s niece, Emily, was also living there with her husband, Thomas Anstey. Elizabeth died on 15th June 1887 aged 78 years. In her will written on 5th January 1887 Elizabeth had left the property to her niece, Emily Anstey. This included 24 High Street as well as her other property at 50 High Street. We have written more about the Ansteys in the later history of the property.