Several of the owners lived in the property. The following people were known to have rented the property:
Richard Bailey – Richard’s name appears as tenant in the Land Tax records of 1831 and 1832.
Alfred Collings – the 1841 census shows property occupied by Alfred Collings a watchmaker aged 20 and his wife, Sarah aged 20. In 1844 he moved to take over the house previously occupied by his father at 29 High Street. Click here to read more
Samuel Mills – the 1851 census shows the property was occupied by Samuel, an unmarried hairdresser aged 43 from Thornbury. Samuel was listed as a hairdresser in the High Street from at least 1849. He continued living there until his death in 1869.
The Bristol Mercury dated 9th January 1869 published a report on the ‘Sad Case of Sudden Death’. It reported that Samuel had been aged 61 years and been a barber in Thornbury for previous 25 years. He was a bachelor and lived alone. He had been in the habit of going to the Union Workhouse each week to shave inmates and afterwards to Morton to shave an old man who lived there. Samuel had complained about pains in his side for 10 years, more so during the previous month, and was ‘not equal to much exertion’. On the last occasion that Samuel went to visit the man in Morton he found that he had died the previous night. Samuel set out on his return to Thornbury on a Coburg belonging to Alfred Colllings which as being driven by James Wetmore, but he collapsed and died. He was taken to Dr Edward Long who pronounced him ‘dead from disease of the heart’. A coroner’s inquest found his death was caused by ‘a visitation from God’.
Elizabeth Poole – the 1871 census shows the property was occupied by Elizabeth Poole, a shopkeeper aged 57 from Wellington in Somerset and a visitor Gertrude Payne aged 11 from Bristol. We can’t say for sure but she was possibly the widow of William Poole who had been an innkeeper at Hotwell Road, Clifton in the 1861 census. (she may have briefly lived at 1 Castle Street)
Hester Ann Sweatman – the 1876 Rate Book shows that the property was occupied by Hester Sweatman. A trade directory shows that Hester was a confectioner in the High Street. On 29th August 1876 Hester married George Wetmore, a tailor at St Mary’s Church, Thornbury. The marriage record shows Hester was the daughter of William Sweatman, a baker. George was the son of Thomas Wetmore, another tailor. Click here to read about George and Hester
Francis Williams – the 1880 Rate Book shows Francis William was renting the property from John Williams. As far as we know there was no close family connection between Francis and John.
The 1881 census shows Francis was at 33 High Street. He was a brushmaker aged 31, living there with his wife, Charlotte aged 27 who was born in Dunkerton in Somerset and their children Charlotte G aged 3 and Francis J aged 9 months and Charlotte’s mother, Charlotte Golding aged 58 from Bath.
Francis is shown in the photo on the right. He was born about 1850, the son of James Williams, a brushmaker and his wife, Sarah. In 1877 Francis married Charlotte Golding in Thornbury. Their daughter, Charlotte Golding Williams, was born on 24th January 1878 and baptised at St Marys Church on 3rd March 1878. Their son, Francis James born on 12th June 1880 and was baptised at the Congregational Chapel on 14th July 1880. Another son, Herbert, was baptised there on 15th March 1882. The baptism record shows his name as William Herbert, but the registration documents, census records and monumental inscriptions indicate that he was Herbert Frederick.
By the 1885 Rate Book the shop at 33 High Street was listed as being vacant. The Williams family had moved to 21 High Street. The 1891 census shows Francis was trading there as a brushmaker and seedsman. Francis appears to have concentrated on being a seedsman and the shop at 21 High Street became known as The Seed Supply. Francis kept himself busy in lots of other ways. The trade directories show he was also an Assistant Overseer, deputy registrar of marriages, correspondent to the Western Daily Press, Secretary for the Cossham Hall and Parish Clerk for 33 years from 1894 to 1927.
On 16th May 1907 Francis Williams purchased the property at 25 St Mary Street which had previously been the Horseshoe Inn. The price appeared to be £205. We think Francis let the property out to tenants. On 29th September 1920 he sold the property to George Hill for £480.
Francis and Charlotte lost both their sons early in life. Herbert Frederick died on 16th January 1900 aged 17. The burial register shows that he was a solicitors clerk. His brother, Francis James jnr died in Palestine on September 9th 1918 aged 38 years. He was serving as a Private with the Army Service Corps 1073rd Mechanical Transport Company and was a heavy lorry driver. The cause of death was malaria and he was interred in Ramleh Cemetery. In 1916 Francis had applied for exemption from military service. He described himself as a ‘nurseryman and seedsman – 20 years’ working for his father at the ‘The Seed Supply’. The basis of his application was that he was needed to maintain the business whilst his father is fully occupied as overseer for the parish. The record shows he won a delay and was not to be called up until 30th March 1917. Tragically the delay did not save Francis. Click here to read more
It was left to Francis and Charlotte’s daughter to produce family to take over the business. In 1904 Charlotte Golding Williams married Reginald Arthur H Champion in Thornbury. Charlotte and Reg had two children, Francis Arthur born on 18th April 1905 and Herbert Reginald born on 30th July 1909. We can’t trace the family in the 1911 census. The school records show that they returned from living in Cheltenham in 1917. After he left school Francis Champion joined his grandfather in running The Seed Supply and he took over the running of the shop as Francis became ill in his later life. He was joined many years later by his brother, Reg. Read more about the Champions
Francis died on 29th April 1927 aged 77. Charlotte died on 23rd May 1939 aged 85.
Catherine Fry – the 1890 Rate Book shows the property was occupied by Catherine Fry. The 1891 census also shows Catherine living there. She was a tobacconist unmarried aged 26 and born in Thornbury. She was living there with her niece, Mary A Chandler a dressmaker aged 22 born in Bristol. The census shows that the house only had four rooms.
Catherine Grace Fry was baptised on 25th December 1864, the daughter of George Fry, a tailor and Elizabeth. By 1894 Catherine had moved away. She died aged 30 and was buried in Thornbury on 19th January 1895.
Susan Birt – the 1894 Rate Book shows that the property was occupied by Susan Birt. Susan was baptised on 30 April 1845. She was the daughter of George Birt, a labourer and his wife, Harriett (nee Gough).
A family member thinks the photo on the right is Susan. She never married and started her working life in domestic service. In 1871 she was in 37 Mecklenburg Square, St Pancras working as a domestic servant for a German who was a merchant in dry goods. The 1881 census shows she returned to Thornbury and she was a domestic servant working for the William J Salmon in Silver Street. The 1890 rate book shows Susan still living in Silver Street, but by the 1891 census she was a general shopkeeper at 2 High Street, just up from the Bank on The Plain. She had a visitor Harriet E Davies from Redwick and a lodger Minnie Lane a semptress aged 36 born in Thornbury.
By 1894 she had moved to 33 High Street. Trade directories describe Susan as a confectioner and tobacconist. In 1901 she was a newsagent and shopkeeper there. She had moved away by the 1905 Rate Book. She died aged 61 in Hackney in 1906.
Eliza Ann Smith and George O’Reilly – the 1911 census shows Eliza Ann was running the newsagents shop in the High Street on the corner of Silver Street. She was a widow aged 45 born in Thornbury. Her son, Sidney Arthur Smith aged 14 born in Sheffield was living with her. Also there were her father, Daniel Raggett a widowed wheelwright aged 71, born in Yate who had been married 50 years and had eight children, seven of them still surviving. A niece, Lilly Raggett aged 17 born in Newport, Wales, was acting as domestic servant.
Eliza Ann Raggatt was baptised in Thornbury on 7th March 1869. She was the daughter of Daniel Raggatt, wheelwright and his wife, Elizabeth Jane. In the 1891 census she was a general domestic servant working for Strode Smith at The Bank on The Plain. In 1892 Eliza married Fred William Smith, a railway guard, in Thornbury. Their son, Sidney Arthur, was baptised in Thornbury on 13th November 1896, although the baptism record shows the family’s address was St John’s, Sheffield and the census records confirm he was born there.
The 1901 census shows Eliza was aged 34 living with Fred Smith, a railway passenger guard aged 37 at 16 Hampton Road, Sheffield. Sydney their son was aged 4. Eliza’s husband, Fred William, died in Sheffield in 1902 aged 38. He was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 9th June 1902. When Sidney started at Council Upper School in Thornbury in 1904, Elizabeth Smith was given as the parent. Her address at that time was the High Street. The 1905 and 1910 Rate Books show that she was living at the property owned by John Hodges Williams on the corner of the High Street and Silver Street.
In 1914 Eliza married George O’Reilly who appears to have joined Eliza with the newsagents business. George was the son of Simon O’Reilly and his wife, Elizabeth. He joined the Royal Navy (Labour) on 19th September 1862. He was described as being 4ft 8 inches, light hair, blue eyes and ruddy complexion. He joined the HMS St Vincent as a ‘Boy 2nd Class’. He signed on for 10 years from the date he became 18 years old. The records show he only served until November 1871. During this time he served on HMS Edgar, HMS Pigmy, HMS Duke of …… and HMS Volage. His character was generally regarded as very good and he had worked himself up to become an Ordinary Seaman. We are unable to be sure as to the cause of discharge, but he may have been invalided in some way.
We are not sure what George did between 1871 and 1914 and would love to hear from anyone with further information. An article of May 18th 1918 relates a dispute at the allotments between Mr Roberts of Milbury Heath and George O’Reilly newsagent of the High Street. Mr Roberts was bound over to keep the peace having been found guilty of bad language and threatening behaviour.
On 17th of October 1920 Elizabeth Ann and George O’Reilly bought the two cottages later known as 7 and 9 Bath Road, for £100. They don’t seem to have lived there, continuing to let the cottages out to tenants. Things seemed to go sour for Eliza and George from that time onwards. On 4th May 1922 Mrs Elizabeth Ann O’Reilly sold her half share of the two cottages in Bath Road to her husband George O’Reilly for £50. On 22nd July 1922 the Gazette reported that Mrs O’Reilly and her son Mr Sidney Smith had left Thornbury to sail for Australia. The article described Mrs O’Reilly as a old resident of Thornbury with a newsagent’s business in the High Street. By 1925 this newsagent’s shop on the corner of High Street and Silver Street had been taken over by Leonard Smith (see owners).
It may have been from around 1922 when George moved out of the newsagents and into his own house in Bulls Lane. The 1925 Valuation List and 1926 Rate Book confirm this. They show that George O’Reilly owned the two houses in Bulls Eye Lane (later 7 and 9 Bath Road), one of which he occupied in 1925. George’s name is crossed though in the 1926 entry. He died aged 78 on 23rd November 1926. The probate record shows his address as Bulls Eye Lane.
The shop was taken over by Len smith. We can’t find any family connection between Eliza and Leonard Smith.
Click here to read about the owners of 33 High Street