The photograph above shows the distinctive brick building towards the top of the High Street in Thornbury. Just below the roof-line it has a white plaque which has the date 1897 and shows the profile of Queen Victoria surrounded by an inscription ‘Victoria 60 years Queen of Great Britain and Ireland’ and with ‘Empress of India’ written across. Around the edge of the plaque it reads ‘Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Burmah, Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus, Egypt, Africa, W. Indies.’ We believe that this shows that the building was extensively renovated around 1897 but the history of the property can be traced a great deal further back in time.
We are very grateful to Chris and Helen Milne for allowing us to see their wonderful set of deeds which cover the little group of properties in this part of the town. The earliest record bears the date of 12th October 1576 between Thomas Martyn, butcher and Thomas Holbroke, shoemaker but we are not sure which property it relates to. However we have an almost complete set of deeds from the late seventeenth century which provides a clear image of how the three properties now known as 36, 38 and 40 High Street have developed.
We will start this history with:
Anthony Horsley – Anthony’s will dated 27th March 1690 (and proved 17th June 1690) shows he was an innholder of Thornbury. Anthony was the son of James and Cecily Horsley who had run the Mermaid on the other side of High Street. James left two properties to Anthony: a messuage or tenement and lands situated in the Burrough of Thornbury and which he had bought from ‘Thomas Smith (late Thomas Legge)’ and the lease of a messuage or tenement with orchard, and garden situated in the Borough which he had bought from William Stafford Esq and his son, John Stafford Esq and other Feoffees ‘known and called by the name of ‘Crockers’.
We believe that Anthony married Sarah Thurston. They had a daughter, Elizabeth baptised in St Mary’s Church on 10th May 1685, and a son, James baptised on 20th March 1686, although James died on 24th March 1686. Another son, John, was born in 1688 but he did not survive.
In 1686 Anthony Horsley was Mayor of Thornbury. In his will, Anthony refers to his ‘two properties within the Borough wherein John Clarke and John Cooke do now inhabit’. We assume, from the descriptions and family connections given below, that these two properties later became known as 38 and 40 High Street). In his will, Anthony’s goods and chattels etc were to be shared by his wife, Sarah and daughter, Elizabeth, but he left the two properties to his daughter, Elizabeth. At the time of Anthony’s death, Elizabeth was still ‘in her minority’ and her uncle, Robert Thurston, was appointed as her guardian together with John Wilkins of Rockhampton. We note that John Thurston was a witness to Anthony’s will and John also seems to be Sarah’s brother as in John’s will dated 1690 Anthony is referred to as John’s brother in law. John left Anthony a rapier and a belt and made him an overseer of the will. John Thurston owned the property later to become 36 High Street. In Robert Thurston’s will dated 1703 he left Elizabeth ten pounds and ‘one feather bed and bolster in his little chamber over the warehouse’.
On 14th August 1704 Elizabeth Horsley married Phillip Mansell at St Mary’s Church and presumably Phillip then became the owner of the two properties.
Phillip Mansell Jnr – Phillip was a victualler of Thornbury. He is referred to in several indentures as owning the two properties later known as 38 and 40 High Street. Phillip born on 15th April 1681, the son of Phillip Mansell and his first wife, Dorothy Stiff. Read more about the Mansell family
In the case of 38 High Street, Phillip sells the property to John Hewett the Younger in a deed of lease and release dated 18th/19th February 1706. In the case of 40 High Street, Phillip sold it to William Green before July 1706 when Phillip’s wife, Elizabeth, died.
John Hewett Jnr – John bought the property from Philip Mansell jnr in a deed of lease and release dated 18th/19th February 1706. John Hewett was a butcher. We know he was the son of John Hewett the Elder so he is likely to be the John ‘ Huet’ baptised in Thornbury on 9th February 1682 who was the son of John Huet. Read about the Hewett family
An indenture of 1716 refers to a stable and slaughterhouse, (presumably to the rear of this property) which was owned by John Hewett Jnr which was being used by Thomas Allway who lived next door at 40 High Street.
On 25th October 1731 John conveyed 38 High Street to Thomas Alway. The property was described as ‘All that messuage wherein Phillip Mansell the younger victualler deceased in his lifetime dwelt & wherein one William Pearce blacksmith inhabiteth situate in the burrough of Thornbury and adjoining to a house late of William Green deceased and now of the said Thomas Allway on the Southside thereof and to a house of John Thurston gent on or nigh the Northside formerly purchased by the said John Hewett of the said Phillip Mansell junior ‘.
Thomas Allway – Thomas was a merchant and a Quaker. He lived next door at 40 High Street, but on 26th October 1731 he bought 38 High Street from John Hewett, a butcher.
Thomas had married Rebecca Thurston in Thornbury on 19th October 1698. His will written on 28th May 1746 and proved on 9th September 1748 shows Thomas owned several properties in Thornbury. He was still living in 40 High Street at the time of his death. Number 38 was occupied by Elizabeth Williams as a tenant of Thomas’s for some years prior to 1736.
Thomas left his property to his wife, Rebecca, during her natural life. After her death, 40 High Street and the land and outbuildings behind were left to Robert Wallington, the son of Thomas’s sister, Rebecca Wallington. Number 38 High Street he left to Susannah Smith and Ann Birt, the daughters of his sister, Rebecca Wallington, for them to dispose of as they wished. He also gave them the furnace and great water butt standing in that property. He gave Rebecca Wallington the sum of £100 to be at her disposing by will or otherwise without consent or hindrance of her husband. He gave the sums of £10 each to Susannah and Ann on the same basis. He also made several other bequests to kinsmen and servants.
The Wallingtons – the two daughters of Robert Wallington and his wife, Rebecca inherited the property in 1748 from their uncle, Thomas Allway. Both daughters had married by the time of their inheritance. Susannah had married Joseph Smith, a cordwainer in Chipping Sodbury on 2nd December 1740. According to the IGI the marriage took place at Chipping Sodbury or Hawksbury. Ann married Henry Bick, a tailor, also from Chipping Sodbury.
We suspect that the ladies let the house out to tenants for a few years. We know that their husbands took out a couple of mortgages in which they used the property as a security. The two families seemed to remain in Chipping Sodbury based on their addresses shown on the mortgage documents.
Joseph and Rachel Symmonds – on 24th October 1755 Joseph and Susanna Smith and Henry Bick and Ann his wife sold the property to Joseph Symmonds and his wife, Rachel for £40. Joseph Symmonds was a schoolmaster. At the time of the sale the property was occupied by an officer of the excise called ‘Ward‘.
On 19th February 1756 Joseph arranged a mortgage of £62 with Mrs Sarah Harris of Frenchay. In his last will and testament dated 26th March 1764 Joseph left to his wife, Rachel Symmonds, all that messuage or tenement wherein he dwelling and all his goods and chattels. Rachel was listed as living there in the 1770 Assessment of Poor Relief.
Solomon Smith – on 1st June 1772 there was a Deed of Gift of a messuage from Mrs Rachael Symmonds to Mr Solomon Smith Jnr. Solomon was another schoolmaster and Rachel’s nephew.
The messuage was described as ‘wherein Solomon Smith doth now inhabit in High Street adjoyneth to a house lately in possession of Rebecca Allway deceased but now of George Rolph on South side and to a house formerly of John Thurston deceased but now of Ann Caddy on or nigh the North side’. At the time of the conveyance there was £40 plus interest still outstanding on a loan from Sarah Harris who had since deceased. In 1772 this mortgage was transferred to Miss Hester Hollester, spinster of Henbury who paid £46 (capital and interest) to Sarah Harris’s executor, Webb Davis, a wine cooper from Bristol. Solomon Smith borrowed a further £24 from Hester Hollester.
We know from other indentures dated 1773 that Solomon Smith Junior was the son of Solomon Smith the Elder, a yeoman. These deeds related to a piece of land known as the Burnthouse Orchard.
The messuage was insured against loss, damage and fire with the Sun Fire Office. The details show that the dwelling house of stone and tiles was insured up to a maximum claim of £100, household goods up to a maximum claim of £60, wearing apparel up to a maximum of £20 and plate up to a maximum of £20.
The Rolphs – on 28th & 29th September 1774 there was a Lease and Release in which Solomon Smith the younger schoolmaster which conveyed the property to George Rolph the younger, gentleman. The messuage described as ‘wherein Solomon Smith lately inhabited & wherein Mary Trayhurn widow doth now dwell adjacent to a house since of Thomas Allway but now of George Rolph the Elder (father of George Rolph the younger) on South side and to a house formerly of John Thurston but now of Ann Caddy on North side Part of which tenement is now used by Solomon Smith for a schoolroom.’ Release £18 15s paid to Solomon Smith. We were thrilled to find this set of documents included a plan showing the extent of the purchase with details of who owned the adjoining properties. Click on the thumbnail on the right to see this plan.
At the time of the conveyance in 1774 there was £76 8s outstanding on the loan from Hester Hollester and this was paid off by George Rolph.
On 16th December 1785 George Rolph the younger conveyed the property to his father, George Rolph the elder who was living next door at 40 High Street. George the elder died on 30th August 1792 and in his will dated 30th July 1792 he devised this property to his son who had been George the Younger.
The house became the home of Sarah Rolph, the wife of the late George Rolph the Elder. She died on 21st February 1823, but she appears to have moved elsewhere by some time before the time of the 1809 Rent Roll, when John Bevan is said to have been living there. John is still shown as living there in the 1830 Rent Roll.
At the time of the 1840 Tithe Survey the property was owned by George Rolph and occupied by John Smith.
According to George’s will dated 10th July 1840 John was a plaster and tiler. George died on 23rd April 1841. At the time of his death he was living at 40 High Street and he left that house and 38 High Street to his sister, Susannah. In the 1841 census Susannah is shown as living at 40 High Street. She didn’t remain long. A legal notice following her death mentioned that she had lived at 20 Hemus Terrace, Chelsea. The 1851 census shows her visiting Thornbury and staying with Charles White, a plumber and glazier who living at 26 High Street. Click here to read more about the Rolph family
The Rolphs let 38 High Street to tenants including:
- Mary Trayhurn – according to an indenture in 1892 Mary Trayhurn, widow had lived in the property after Solomon Smith. The ‘Widow Trayhurn’ was listed as living there in the 1775 Land Tax record.
- Thomas Lewis – according to an indenture in 1892 Thomas Lewis lived in the property after Mary Trayhurn. The 1780 Land Tax record shows Thomas was living there at that time.
- Elizabeth Prim – the 1781 Land Tax record shows Elizabeth was the owner for a short time. She had left by 1782.
- John Bevan – referred to as living in the house in the 1809 Rent Roll and later land tax records up to at least 1832. John signed Ann Caddy’s will in 1782 as a witness. We suspect that his was the John Bevan who died aged 85 and was buried on 22nd November 1840. It is possible that John was the same person as shown as the postmaster in the 1797 directory and/or the person who living earlier as a tenant in 49 High Street. Read more about John Bevan
- Elizabeth Collings – she was the widow of Joseph Collings, the clockmaker who had died in 1846. The 1851 census shows Elizabeth living here. She was a milliner aged 39 living there with her daughter, Louisa, aged 14 and her widowed mother, Sarah Virgo aged 77 from Itchington. Louisa died in 1856 and Elizabeth died in 1858. Read more about the Collings
- Emily Thorne – the 1859 Rate Book shows Emily had been living in the property but her name is crossed through which normally means that she has moved elsewhere. We suspect that Emily was the daughter of Alexander Thorne and the grand-daughter of Sarah Virgo who had been living here previously. It is possible that she had moved to live in the house following the death of Elizabeth Collings (see above), but she moved away when she got married a little later.
- Thomas Gully Latter – the 1861 census shows the house was occupied by Thomas Latter, a domestic servant aged 33 born in Alveston. He was living with his wife, Mary Ann aged 32 from Berkeley and their children: Archibald aged 6, Katherine aged 5 and Emily aged 1, all born in Thornbury. In 1851 Thomas was a footman working for William Osborne Maclaine at Kyneton House in Kington. Thomas became a butler living in rented accommodation elsewhere in the Town. He may have worked for the Maclaines for the rest of his working life as in writing his last will and testament in 1892 William had made a bequest to Thomas Gully Latter. However Thomas was unable to benefit from the bequest as he died on 24th May 1905 pre-deceasing William. Click here to read more
On 15th October 1862 Susannah Rolph sold her two properties in the High Street (38 and 40 High Street) to Mr Obed Edward Thurston including the garden and outbuildings at the rear. The indenture shows Susannah was living now at 8 Pembroke Place, Clifton. She died on 28th May 1866 whilst living at 9 Victoria Place South, Clifton.
The Thurstons – Obed Edward Thurston bought 38 High Street from Susannah Rolph in 1862. He was living next door at 40 High Street but had been renting number 38 from Susannah for a few years before he bought it. Read more about Obed Edward Thurston and his family
We are not sure how soon Obed developed 38 High Street for use as offices for his solicitor’s business. The 1867 and 1871 Rate Books show it was occupied by Thomas Morgan and the 1876 and 1879 Rate Books show it was occupied by George Morgan. By 1880 Obed is using it, presumably as his office. In 1893 Obed took out mortgage on his two properties and we suspect that this was to fund the re-building of number 38 High Street into a modern office building. The plaque on the front shows that this work was done in 1897.
The property continued being used as the office for the solicitors until the 1950’s, maybe even longer, operating under various names including Thurston & Jolly, Thurston, Jolly and Burbridge, Thurston Burbridge and Mills and and Thurstons & Co. We ‘re not sure what connection there was between the firm and the Thurston family following the death of Henry Privett Thurston in 1918. His brother, Lawrence Thurston Thurston is listed as a solicitor in 1897 trade directory but after that he is listed as a farmer or just as living in Kington House. In the 1960’s the Thurston firm went into partnership with Crossmans based in their office at 12 The Plain.
We do not know when the Thurstons office at 38 High Street closed and who occupied the property after that time. The next business we can remember is ‘J.L. Bureau’ a secretarial bureau. They were there in 2000. Len Smith the insurance agent was also based here for a while and the Redcliffe Removal Company also show this as their address. The offices are now occupied by Acorn Recruitment Agency.