This house is particularly confusing because the 1840 Tithe Survey and Rate Books from 1859 to 1900 suggested that there were two houses on the property we now know as 44 High Street. The second house was a one-up one down house. As can be seen from the photograph on the right below, the building is still standing and facing out across the back yard of the main house and facing the cul-de-sac now known as The Close.
Although the early records clearly distinguish it as a separate house, it was owned by the same person as the main house and in most of the records seen it was unoccupied. From about 1900 there is no mention of the second house and we know from Nancy Wilkinson who lived there in the late 30’s it was pretty run-down and not used apart from their dog which slept there. It is now used as extra office accommodation by Sims Cooks and Teague, the solicitors who own the property and whose main offices are on the opposite side of The Close at 40 High Street.
The earliest record we have relating to this property is the last will and testament of George Rolph written on 30th July 1792. George was an attorney who was living in the house on the other side of The Close (now known as 40 High Street). He owned a considerable amount of property in and around Thornbury. George left unto his son, George Rolph, this property then occupied by a person called ‘Churchill’ and included a garden, wash house and pig sty.
The 1809 Rent Roll shows that Luke Trayhurn had become the owner. We don’t know when he acquired it from George Rolph. Luke might be the same person who was later living at 15 St Mary Street. Read more about Luke Trayhurn
The last will and testament written in 1822 by Amelia Rolph shows that she had purchased two messuages from Luke Trayhurn and she left these to her nephew George Rolph. Amelia was a spinster and one of the daughters of George Rolph who had owned the property in 1792. At the time she wrote the will she was living at 40 High Street. She died in 1822 and was buried in Almondsbury on 5th December 1822.
The Rent Roll indicates that George Rolph took over the ownership of 44 High Street from Luke Trayhurn. The 1840 Tithe Survey confirms that George Rolph owned the property and lists William Burton and Joseph Lippiatt as the occupants. This George Rolph was the son of George Rolph, the Thornbury attorney and his wife, Sarah Delaroche, and grandson of the George Rolph who was the owner of the property in 1792. Click here to read about the Rolphs
It doesn’t appear that George never married. His home was also at 40 High Street. He died in 1841. In his will dated 10th July 1840 he left to his sister, Susanna Rolph, his house and other property including ‘a messuage or dwelling house and premises in the occupation of James Burton as my tenant situate in the said High Street also the cottage or tenement and premises adjoining to the last mentioned premises in the occupation of Mary Facey as tenant’.
We don’t know any more about William or James Burton. Mary Facey was probably the widow of Benjamin Facey – click here to read more
The Brutons – the 1841 census shows one house was occupied by James Bruton, a carpenter aged 40 and his wife, Mary, a straw bonnet maker aged 40 and their four children: Eli aged 15, Elizabeth aged 10, Sarah aged 6 and Emma aged 3. The other house is unoccupied.
James was born in Oldbury on 8th January 1800 and baptised there on 24th January 1802. He was the son of John and Mary Bruton. We are grateful to Heather Palmer, who after years of ‘digging’, found that James had married Mary Greenwood on 1st May 1824 at St James Church, Bristol. Mary was the daughter of John Greenwood and his wife Sarah (nee Lewis). Heather also told us that the London Gazette dated 21st October 1821 had a notice that Mary’s straw bonnet making business in partnership with E. Eley had been dissolved. We assume that this was Elizabeth Eley.
In 1851 they were still living there in the same house, except Sarah who was not at home. Eli had become a carpenter like his father and Elizabeth had become a straw bonnet maker like her mother. In 1853 Eli married Maria Wager in the Clifton area of Bristol and they settled to live in 40 Castle Street. Click here to read more about Eli
The 1859 Rate Book shows that James owned two houses which are now 44 High Street adjoining The Close, one of which he occupied, the other was vacant. The 1862 Rate Book shows the same situation. The 1861 census shows James was indeed living living in one of the houses. He was described as a carpenter and wheelwright with Mary and Elizabeth and Emma both straw bonnet makers. The second house was now occupied by Richard Ashford, a unmarried retired baker aged 36 from Stevenage.
The image on the left is a thumbnail image of a photograph held by Thornbury Museum. It is said to be of James Bruton and one of his daughters. If this is the case, it is probable that she made the straw bonnet she is holding. Please click on the image for a larger version.
James Bruton died in 1862. The 1867 Rate Book shows his widow Mary was owner of the two houses, and she was the occupant of one, the other being vacant.
The 1871 census shows Mary as a widow aged 72 living with her two spinster daughters, Elizabeth and Emma both milliners and straw bonnet makers. The second house was unoccupied. It was also unoccupied in the 1876 and 1879 Rate Books.
Elizabeth died aged 47 on 24th April 1878. The 1880 Rate Book shows Mary Bruton owning the two houses and occupying one; the other house appears to have been occupied by a person called ‘Ford’ but the name is crossed through which usually indicates that the person has moved away. In the 1881 census Mary was living in the one house with Emma a milliner and dressmaker. Mary died in 1883 aged 84.
In the 1891, 1901 and 1911 censuses Emma Bruton milliner and dressmaker lived there alone, although she had retired from her work by the 1911 census. It would seem that Emma continued living at the house until her death as she is listed in the High Street in the 1914, 1915 and 1916 Prewett’s Street Directories and the 1918 and 1921 electoral registers. Emma died on 4th July 1921 aged 84 and in reporting her death the Gazette referred to her as “of the High Street. ” She was buried in the Baptist Chapel graveyard.
Mr Gazzard – in November 1921 the Gazette reported that ‘a freehold dwelling house and outbuildings situated in the High Street, Thornbury and formerly occupied by the late Miss Emma Bruton produced spirited bidding. It was eventually bought by Mr Gazzard (with vacant possession) for £250’. We don’t know anything about Mr Gazzard, although we note that a John and Blanche Gazzard were living in Lower Morton in 1927.
Annie Maria Buchan – the 1927 Valuation List and 1926 Rate Book show that Annie Maria Buchan owned and occupied the property. The electoral registers suggest that she continued to live there until her death in March 1938.
Annie Maria Pain Nash was born in Bristol in 1864. She was the daughter of James Nash and his wife Christiana (nee Saunders). In 1891 James was a licensed victualler at the Upton Inn, Upton Cheney. His wife ‘Christia’ was born in India. In 1891 Annie married Henry John Buchan in the Keynsham area. The 1901 census shows Henry was a commercial traveller from Bristol. He was living with Annie and her widowed mother in 16 Surrey Road, Bristol. Henry and Annie must have moved to Thornbury by 1921. His death was registered there in 1921 aged 61. The Western Daily Press of March 21st 1938 reported that Annie died suddenly at her home in the High Street at the age of 73. Although her funeral service was at St Mary’s Church in Thornbury she as buried in Oldbury on Severn.
The Hutchins – we understand that the house was owned by Mrs Hutchins who was a hairdresser at 4 High Street. She apparently named 44 High Street ‘Nancy Cottage’ after her daughter. Click here to read more
The Wilkinsons – the 1938 electoral register lists William and Ada Wilkinson and their son, Raymond, were the next people to live in the house.
According to the special register compiled in 1939 in preparation for the war William was born on 21st February 1882. We know from the 1911 census that he was born in Lofthouse, Lincolnshire. Note the only Lofthouse we can find is in West Yorkshire. FreeBMDs shows the birth was registered in the Thorne registration district which borders the West Riding of Yorkshire.
William married Ada Mary Morgan in Bristol in 1914. Ada was born on 7th June 186 and baptised at St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol on 27th July 1886. She was the daughter of John William Henry Morgan and his wife, Ellen Jane. In 1911 census the Morgans were living at 8 Ellicott Road, Horfield. Ada was working as a nurse and her father was a builder.
William had been married previously. A family tree on Ancestry shows his first wife as Caroline Hatcher and he had had three children by his first marriage, Lesley born in Brislington in 1903, Dennis born in Swindon on 10th January 1905 and Cyril born in Bristol in 1910.
We have been unable to confirm this marriage to Caroline Hatcher and we think the most likely marriage was to Caroline Elizabeth Barrett in Bristol in 1902. Caroline died in Bristol in 1910 aged 31. The 1911 census shows the family were dispersed. William and his son, Lesley, were living at 24 Belmont Street, Bristol and William was a journeyman baker. Cyril was boarding with a family of Alfords at 84 Islington Road, Southville and Dennis was ‘a visitor’ with William and Caroline Hatcher at Brislington Bakery, Bath Road.
William and Ada had two children: Raymond Reginald born on 14th August 1914 and Nancy Jean born on 27th August 1924. William and Ada were living in 166 Cheltenham Place, Montpelier in Bristol when Nancy was born. They moved to Tockington some time later because Nancy suffered from ill health and the family were told that the country air would do her good. William worked for Spencer’s bakery there. It is worth mentioning that the family tree on Ancestry referred to above says that William and Ada had another child, Kathleen Ellen Wilkinson in 1916. She was born in the Birmingham area, but married Stanley G. Parker in Thornbury area in 1935.
When John Victor Spencer took over his bakery at 4 St John Street William moved to Thornbury to continue his work there. They moved into 44 High Street or Nancy Cottage as it was then called.
In 1941 Raymond married Peggy Vowles who came from Stone. On 1st January 1944 ‘Jean’ married Jeffrey Hawker. Jean’s marriage record shows that she was an aircraft worker living in the High Street. Jeffrey was an aircraft fitter.
The two thumbnail photographs left and below show Ada outside the house and Raymond (with Ada behind) on the doorstep of 44 High Street. Click on the photos to see a larger image.
We know that Ada worked as an usherette in the cinema and also worked as a domestic servant as The Close. We have been told by Nancy that during the War the house was one of the first in Thornbury to have soldiers billeted there. They were given four soldiers to accommodate
In 1944 William and Ada returned to live in Ashton, Bristol. We understand that William started working for his son, Cyril, who had a bakery in Bedminster Road. In 1947 Cyril took over the bakery in Thornbury. He also had another outlet at Hengrove in Bristol. Click here to read more about Cyril
Ada died in Bristol in 1957 aged 70.
Peggy Wilkinson is listed as living in Nancy Cottage in the 1946 electoral register, presumably Raymond was serving with the forces. Raymond and Peggy had twins: Lloyd and Prudence born in 1944, but unfortunately Prudence died aged 3. By 1950 the family had moved to Eastbury Close. We understand that Raymond worked for the County Council on highway maintenance. He died in 1976. Peggy died March 1991.
The Bevans – the 1946 electoral register shows that Albert W. C. Bevan and Thomas O. Bevan were occupying Nancy Cottage. We are not sure who Thomas was. Albert was the husband of Nancy Hutchins, who was living at 4 High Street in the 1946 electoral register. We think that Nancy was still he owner of the property following the death of her mother in 1941. Albert and Nancy married at some time in 1946. By 1950 there is no sign of Nancy, Albert or Thomas in Thornbury.
William Richardson Watson – we know from an extract of a deed that in William’s will dated 1961 included in the property he left was ‘All that messuage on High Street and adjoining on the north side thereof a roadway leading from High Street to the Mundy Playing fields all which said premises are known as Nancy Cottage or The Close Cottage’. William was a veterinary surgeon who had lived at Lower Marlwood Farm and then The Close. He also owned other property on the north side of The Close. He died on 1st October 1959 leaving his property to his son, William John Beverley Watson and daughter, Elizabeth Ann Hignell. Click here to read more
Since 1958 there have been several occupants, including Ronald and Ann Garland listed in the 1958 electoral register (by 1961 they had moved to 5 Eastland Road), the 1965 electoral register shows that William G. D. Craghill and Sheila A and Sarah A Craghill were living there, and the 1970 register shows the house was occupied by Margaret L Goodfield.
In recent years the property has been occupied as business premises including Harvey James the estate agents and the current occupants, Timbercraft. It is owned by Thornbury solicitors, Sims, Cook and Teague whose main office is at 40 High Street.