Our knowledge of the early history of the property relies heavily on a packet of documents in Gloucester Records Office. We have supplemented this with the information from our other sources such as census records and notes about the history of the property given to us by Meg Wise of Thornbury Museum.
An indenture dated 1850 provides a lot of useful information about previous owners and occupants. It describes the property as:
‘All that messuage wherein one John Clark formerly dwelt and afterwards Bovey Clark tallow chandler deceased and wherein John Bevan shopkeeper afterwards dwelt and afterwards rebuilt by Thomas Rolph since deceased and wherein sometime since dwelt and John Delaroche afterwards inhabited and Mrs Young widow lately dwelt and since in occupation of William Williams chemist and druggist afterwards Francis Gilman and now Edwin Knapp adjoining to the High Street on the westward part, to a former? Garden formerly of Robert Thurston gent deceased since of John Thurston his son and afterwards of Robert Boy and Richard Gwynn and now George Shepherd on the north, and to a messuage formerly called the Tigers Head formerly in occupation of John Wade blacksmith but now Stephen Hignell on south, together with outhouses passages etc to (blank) Knapp and in trust for said Edwin Knapp’.
Bovey Clarke – the land tax records from 1775 to 1782 show Boyey Clarke as the tenant of Thomas Clarke. We haven’t seen any earlier land tax records so he may have been living there earlier than this. We are not sure of how Bovey is related to the Clarkes mentioned as being the owners of the property – click here to read more
John Bevan – John is listed as an earlier occupant in the 1850 indenture quoted above. That document calls him a ‘shopkeeper’. The only other facts we know for sure is that he was listed as occupant of the property in the 1783 and 1784 land tax records. It seems likely that John then moved to live in another of Thomas Rolph’s properties, as yet unidentified. He is listed in this property in 1796, 1797 and 1800 land tax records. From 1809 to 1832 he was living as a tenant of another Rolph property thought to be 38 High Street.
We are guessing that John may have been the John Bevan who was a cooper. He married Hester Wither in Thornbury on 30th September 1782. John and Hester had children: Mary born on 7th January 1790 and baptised on 28th July 1793, twins Susannah and John Withers Bevan born 9th January 1793 and baptised along with Mary on 28th July 1793 and James born on 5th May 1801 and baptised on 5th May 1801.
It is possible that John might have been the person mentioned as postmaster in the 1797 directory. John and his son, John Withers Bevan were involved in the building of several properties in St John Street (specifically 11, 13 and 15 St John Street. John died aged 85 and was buried on 22nd November 1840.
John Delaroche – the 1800 Rent Roll shows that John is the tenant of Thomas Rolph at that time. He is also listed in the 1850 indenture as an occupant of the property after it had been re-built by Thomas Rolph. Read more about the Delaroche family
John Barnett – the 1809 Land Tax record shows John Barnett was living at the property. We suspect he was the John Barnett who was baptised on 16th August 1777, the son of Benjamin Barnett and his wife, Anne (nee Lippiatt). On 19th November 1798 John married Sarah Sampson in Thornbury. They had several children: James born on 25th August 1799 and baptised on 29th September 1799, Ann born on 31st October 1800 and baptised on 17th December 1800, Helen baptised on 4th January 1803, Mary baptised on 18th January 1803, Thomas Lippiatt Barnett born on 17th February 1805 and baptised on 13th March 1805, Jane born on 12th November 1806 and baptised on 11th December 1806 and Emma born on 25th January 1809 and baptised on 15th February 1809. All these children were born when John was working as a glover or breeches maker.
We note that the following children were baptised as children of John and Sarah Barnett when John was working as a coachman or carrier. It is possible, bearing in mind the change of occupation and the sheer number of children, that they were born to a different John and Sarah Barnett. The children were: Susanna born on 7th May 1810 and baptised on 23rd December 1810, Sarah Berkeley Barnett born on 1st March 1812 and baptised on 9th December 1812, Mary Ann baptised on 29th May 1814, Matilda baptised on 29th May 1816, Emma baptised on 24th January 1819 and another Emma baptised on 8th October 1820.
Of these children, Emma died aged 8 and was buried on 16th May 1817, Matilda died aged 4 and was buried on 17th December 1820 and Eliza died aged 1 year 5 months and was buried on 21st August 1821. We suspect that the records relating to Emma born in 1819 and Eliza who died in 1821 are for the same person and the one of the records has been transcribed incorrectly.
After fathering all these children, John died aged 45 and was buried on 15th January 1823. The 1841 census shows Sarah as being ‘Independent’ living at 19 High Street with her daughter, Emma, a dressmaker aged 20. By the 1851 she had moved to live at Almondsbury Hill. This census shows here as being formerly a dressmaker aged 76 and born in Chelsea, Middlesex. She was living there with her unmarried daughter, Sarah, who was a dressmaker aged 37. In the 1861 census she was still living there now aged 84. Her daughter, Sarah, at that time was married and called Sarah Simmonds.
Sarah died in 1866 aged 90. Of their children we have some knowledge of:
- James who married Sarah Thurston – click here to read more
- Mary Ann – was baptised in Thornbury on 29th May 1814 in Thornbury. We are indebted to a descendant of Mary Ann for the information that she married Charles Williams, the son of James Williams and his wife Celia nee Trotman. Charles was baptised in Winterbourne but it seems possible from family information that he farmed at Latteridge near Iron Acton. Charles Williams apparently died in 1865 and was buried in Almondsbury on 16th January 1865. Mary Ann Barnett emigrated to Australia aboard the Storm King on 1st February 1873. It seems that she and her children became the owners of a very interesting coaching inn “Stonehouse Inn” at Moore in Queeensland. This is a heritage listed former homestead and there are photographs and details of it with its connections to the Williams family posted on the Internet.
Mrs Young – listed in the 1850 indenture as being an occupant after John Delaroche and before William Williams so we guess she was there some time after 1800 and before 1819. We don’t know any more to identify Mrs Young.
William Williams – William is listed as a previous occupant in an 1850 indenture. He is listed in the land tax records as a tenant of James Ford from 1819 to 1832. In the 1850 indenture William is referred to as being a chemist and druggist.
We suspect that William may be the one baptised on 15th June 1766, the son of Reginald Williams, a labourer and his wife, Elizabeth. We note also that William Williams married Mary Cox in Thornbury on 30th May 1791 and that in 1800 land tax record he was living in a property he owned.
Frederick Robert Wright – at the time of the 1840 Tithe Survey Frederick was the tenant of Plot 160 and 161 a house and garden owned by James Ford. We don’t know any more about Frederick.
The 1841 census shows the property was unoccupied.
Francis Gillman – at the time the property was put up for sale in 1848 Francis was mentioned as the occupant. He was a leather cutter. Click here to read more
George Witts – rented the shop and premises from about 1885 to 1901. He was also a baker.
George was born in Wotton Under Edge in 1852. He was the son of Joseph Witts, a general provision dealer and his wife, Hannah. In the 1861 census the family were living in Long Street, Wotton Under Edge. We are not sure when George married. His wife was called Mary and she was born in Newent about 1846.
The 1881 census shows George was a baker and grocer at 45 Philip Street in Gloucester. He was living with Mary and their three children and a niece, Elizabeth Best aged 19 from London who was assisting in the shop. The three children were: Charles Francis born in Bristol in 1874, Florence Mary born in Gloucester in 1877 and George Albert born in Gloucester in 1879.
The 1891 census shows George and his family at 49 High Street. He was a grocer and baker aged 38 living with Mary aged 41 from Newent and the two boys. The 1901 census describes George as a baker and confectioner. All three children were now living with their parents and working in the bakery business.
Frederick Henry Burchell mentioned George Witts in his talk on old Thornbury made in 1948. He said ‘George Witts was a great character of his day. He devoted a good deal of time to his business but I don’t think he was ever absent from a game of cricket and he was also very keen on sports of all kinds’. We also understand that George was a voluntary fireman.
At the time of the sale in 1900 the property was described as ‘All that freehold messuage, dwelling house and shop, together with the bakehouse, stables, garden and yard adjoining thereto, now in the occupation of Mr George Witts, baker, situate in High Street. The house contains two sitting rooms, four bedrooms, two attics, boxroom, kitchen, large pantry, underground cellar, bakehouse, store-house, traphouse and good stabling. There is an entrance also from St Mary Street. The premises are admirably situated and adapted for the business of a baker or confectioner and have been used for such purposes during the last 40 years’.
William John Bennett – an indenture dated 18th December 1901 shows that the owner of the property, John Maurice Augustus Chambers agreed a five year lease with William John Bennett, a baker at the yearly rent of £28.
We are surprised by this agreement as he had in December 1899 taken out a lease on the bakery at 67 High Street. Click here to read more
Rosetta Champion – the 1905 Rate Book shows Rosetta was renting the property from Thomas Exell. Click here to read more
John Croome Cullimore – the 1907 Rate Book shows that John Croome Cullimore was now renting the property from Thomas Exell. The 1911 census shows John was a coal merchant (dealer) aged 54 born in Alveston living with his wife, Edith Sarah who was helping with the business aged 41 from Tytherington and their son, Dudley John aged 14. They had two servants Edith Liddiatt aged 20 from Oldbury and Minnie Cook aged 14 from Thornbury. John remained here until about 1925 when he moved to 34 High Street. Click here to read more
Note we have assumed for the purposes of the website that the later occupants of the property were also the owners – click here to read about the owners