This page covers the early history of the property which became known as 57 High Street. Click here to read about the other history of the property.
Our information on this property has come from a variety of sources. In addition to our normal collection of census records, rate books, newspaper reports etc, we were fortunate to trace an indenture dated 30th April 1739 giving us the names of early owners and occupants.
The conveyance describes the property being conveyed as ‘between a messuage or tenement late of John Fowler on or near the northward part thereof and a messuage or Inn late in the tenure of Cicely Horsely widow and now of Sarah Wetmore widow on or near the southward part thereof’. The conveyance agreed was between Roger Jacob of Wortley clothier of the one part and William Grove of Thornbury apothecary of the other part. The property was described as ‘all that messuage or tenement and dwelling house wherein one Thomas Lideat heretofore dwelt and in which one Robert Walker some time lived and which was since in the tenure of Mary Lawrence widow and wherein John Niblett lately inhabited with the stable garden and backside thereunto adjoining and belonging which said messuage or tenement do contain or are reputed or esteemed to be half of one burgage and are situate lying and being in the Town and Borough of Thornbury in a street there called the High Street and were formerly the lands of the said Mary Lawrence and by her or in her life time by good and sufficient conveyance in the law granted and conveyed as to one moiety of the said premises to the use of her son John Russell and his heirs and as to the other moiety thereof to the use of her son William Russell the elder and William Russell the younger son of the said William Russell the elder and heirs and assigns of the survivor of them for ever who sold the enfeoffment and inheritance thereof to one Richard Scott and his heirs which said Richard Scott gave the same in and by his last will and testament in writing unto one Charles Pontin deceased and his heirs who gave the same in and by his last will and testament in writing unto Charles Pontin and Sarah Pontin son and daughter of the said Charles Pontin deceased their heirs and assigns as tenants in common not as joint tenants and were by the said Roger Jacob lately purchased to him and his heirs in fee simple of and from them the said Charles Pontin the son and Sarah Pontin‘.
The first owner mentioned was Mary Lawrence, a widow, who divided the property in her lifetime and conveyed one part to her son John Russell and the other to another son, William Russell. Although we don’t have any details of the division we suspect that it involved the partition of one burgage plot running from the High Street through to St Mary Street into two plots each of half a burgage. An entry on the 1670 Rent Roll for Thornbury lists ‘Henry Lawrence’ as owning a property of 3 burgages on this part of the High Street (and next to the property owned by Cicely Horsley). Another document dated June 1670 refers to a list of copyholders signing an ‘Article of Agreement’ with the Lord of the Manor and this list includes Henry Lawrence and Mary his wife and the next name in the list is William Russell. This appears to confirm that Henry was the husband of Mary. Henry’s name appears in various court documents. He was an ale taster in 1644, although this may be an early generation. A court document dated 23rd September 1641 shows that a Henry Lawrence had inherited a property of half a burgage in the High Street which his father, Thomas Lawrence had bought from John Clark. We don’t know where this property was nor whether this Henry was the same Henry Lawrence who was married to Mary. Mary Lawrence was buried on 26th July 1706.
The indenture dated 30th April 1739 relates to the part fronting the High Street which was conveyed to William Russell the elder and his son, William Russell the younger. It is possible that William Russell was the same person as the one who was occupying a house in St Mary Street in 1697 and other documents show that William was a shoemaker.
The two William Russells sold their inheritance to Richard Scott who in his last will and testament left it to Charles Pontin. In his will Charles left the property to his children, Charles and Sarah Pontin. An indenture dated 5th May 1739 refers to the fact that the elder Charles Pontin had died and Charles Pontin (the son of Charles Pontin deceased) and his eldest son Thomas Pontin took out a mortgage with Thomas Smith on the property for £40 on 7th June 1728. The indenture shows that the Pontins were all yeomen in Ham near Berkeley. A family tree on the Ancestry website says that Charles Pontin was born 11th May 1679 and he was the son of Charles Pontin and Sarah Scott. Charles jnr’s spouse is not shown on the family tree but they had four children: Thomas 1703-1739, William 1705 to 1744, Charles 1707 to 1738 and Sarah 1711 to 1768. Charles Pontin (father of Thomas) died July 1728 which would have been right after taking out the mortgage.
It appears that the Pontins had trouble repaying the mortgage and on 28th April 1732 the mortgage was transferred to Roger Jacob clothier of Wortley and John Jacob of Boxwell Esq. By 5th May 1739, Roger Jacob and his wife, Martha, had acquired the ownership presumably because the Pontins had failed to pay off the mortgage. According to a record on the IGI on 26th May 1719 Roger married ‘Mrs Martha Bayly’ in Newton Bagpath which is near Wortley. However it seems as if the Jacobs were themselves in debt. We have a copy of a document showing that Roger Jacob is ‘held and firmly bound to William Grove, an apothecary of Thornbury, in one hundred pounds’ and makes the condition that if the property is sold to William then the obligation will be void.
Thus, the 1739 indicates that they were several owners of the property before 1739 and in some cases there were more than one generation of the same family listed. So it seems likely that this information shows the ownership from the seventeenth century.
William Grove – William bought the property from Roger Jacob on 5th May 1739 for £50.
William was baptised on 5th April 1706, the son of the Ralph Grove, the vicar of Thornbury, and his wife, Mary (nee Glover). William married Margaret Thurston, the daughter of John Thurston and his wife, Ursula (nee Parnell). William and Margaret Grove had 12 children, all of whom were baptised in Thornbury; Mary Grove (who died in 1737), Ursula Grove (born 1732), William Grove, Ralph Grove (1733), Joseph Grove (1736), John Grove (1737), Mary Grove (1739), Joseph Grove (1740), Margaret Grove (1741), Kingsmill Grove (1743), Decimus Grove (1745) and Martha (1750).
William was an apothecary and surgeon in Thornbury. He died intestate on 3rd January 1749 aged 41. His property was granted to his widow, Margaret on 12th July 1750. Margaret died on 24th July 1768 aged 57. We assume that the property was left to Ralph Grove whose name appears in several documents relating to the property.
Ralph Grove – Ralph was baptised on 10th October 1733 the son of William Grove, the apothecary and surgeon, and his wife, Margaret (nee Thurston). On 10th October 1756 Ralph married Elizabeth Raymond, the eldest daughter of William Raymond of Sibland and his wife, Mary (nee Vanderesch). Ralph and Elizabeth had one son, William Grove born on 28th December 1757 who died 5th September 1759. Ralph was a surgeon and apothecary like his father.
In the 1769 Assessment for the Relief of the Poor, Ralph Grove was listed in a property described as ‘late Jacobs’ which we assume to be 57 High Street. He is also shown as living here in the land tax records between 1780 and 1784.
We know from an indenture dated 1813 that the property at 59 High Street was described as ‘All that messuages or tenement and dwellinghouse wherein John Niblett long since deceased formerly inhabited and the aforesaid Ralph Grove for many years afterwards dwelt and which he some years ago partly took down and rebuilt and wherein Thomas Rolph surgeon afterwards dwelt and Elizabeth Grove widow of the said Ralph Grove afterwards to and at the time of her death dwelt and Mary Ann Moore spinster doth now dwell with the stable garden and backside and also the plot or piece of ground some time since purchased by the said Ralph Grove of William Clark deceased and laid open to such garden and appurts thereto belonging which said messuage garden and premises (exclusive of the said plot of ground) contain or are reputed or esteemed to be half one burgage and are situate lying and being in the Town and borough of Thornbury in and on the eastward side of a street there called the High Street‘. Click here to read about Mary Ann Moore
Ralph’s will shows that he owned several other properties in Thornbury including the property next door (55 High Street) which he purchased from Henry Ryal), the Cock Inn (67 High Street) which had been owned by Ralph’s brother in law, William Cowley and a group of two gardens and orchard called Blayes near the corner of Rock Street and Bath Road.
In his will dated 6th November 1790 Ralph left his property for the use of his wife, Elizabeth during her lifetime. After her death the Cock was left for Ralph’s nephew, William Cowley (the son of his sister Mary and her husband, William Cowley). After Elizabeth’s death, Ralph left the properties at 55 and 57 High Street and Blayes to his nephew, Kingsmill Grove, the son of his late brother William Grove. He made a condition that Susannah Day, a widow should be allowed to use 55 High Street for her life time and that she should be paid an annuity of £10 per annum out of the rental income of 57 High Street. We don’t know what connection there was between Ralph and Susannah.
The will particularly describes 57 High Street as ‘all that messuage or tenement wherein I lately dwelt and Thomas Rolph surgeon doth now dwell with the stable garden and appurtenances thereto adjoining and belonging situate in the Town and Borough of Thornbury aforesaid in the said County in a certain street there called the Fore Street alias the High Street‘.
It is not clear from his will where Ralph was living at the time of his death. A speech which Handel Cossham made in 1888 referred to the fact that John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church used to stay with Ralph Grove. Handel referred to Ralph’s home as being the ‘now’ Coffee Tavern building which was later known as 11 St Mary Street. The Land Tax records from 1824 to 1832 also show this property in St Mary Street as being owned by ‘late R. Grove’.
Ralph died on 14th June 1793 aged 60. Elizabeth died on 2nd May 1811 aged 84. According to the indenture dated 1813 Elizabeth had occupied the property since Thomas Rolph and up to the time of her death on 2nd May 1811. She was listed as being there in the land tax records of 1800 and 1809. Ralph and Elizabeth’s tomb lies in St Mary’s Church in Thornbury.
Kingsmill Grove – an indenture made 29th May 1813 shows that Kingsmill had inherited the property at 57 High Street. The indenture was ‘between Kingsmill Grove the younger late of Whitebrook in the County of Monmouth papermaker and since of Moorfields in the parish of St George in County of Gloucester pasteboardmaker and now St Briavels in the said County of Gloucester gentleman (nephew and heir at law and also devisee of the hereditaments hereinafter mentioned and described named in the last will and testament of Ralph Grove late of Thornbury in the said County apothecary deceased) and Mary wife of the said Kingsmill Grove of the one part and Joseph Longman of Thornbury yeoman of the other part’. The content of the indenture is unusual in that it relates to the ‘the barring destroying and extinguishing of all estate tail’ which we understand to mean that Kingsmill is assuring his legal right to inherit the property.
The property was then described as ‘All that messuages or tenement and dwellinghouse wherein John Niblett long since deceased formerly inhabited and the aforesaid Ralph Grove for many years afterwards dwelt and which he some years ago partly took down and rebuilt and wherein Thomas Rolph surgeon afterwards dwelt and Elizabeth Grove widow of the said Ralph Grove afterwards to and at the time of her death dwelt and Mary Ann Moore spinster doth now dwell with the stable garden and backside and also the plot or piece of ground some time since purchased by the said Ralph Grove of William Clark deceased and laid open to such garden and appurts thereto belonging which said messuage garden and premises (exclusive of the said plot of ground) contain or are reputed or esteemed to be half one burgage and are situate lying and being in the Town and borough of Thornbury in and on the eastward side of a street there called the High Street between a messuage or tenement formerly of John Fowler afterwards of Betty Ricketts since of the said Ralph Grove and now of Elizabeth Johnson spinster on the northward part thereof and a messuage (formerly an Inn) late of Sarah Wetmore widow and since of Thomas Wetmore deceased and now of Thomas Wetmore his son on the southward part thereof and extending backwards by means of the said plot of ground to a street there called St Mary Street otherwise the Back Street on the eastward part‘.
We suspect that the plot of land which Ralph Grove bought from William Clark reinstated the original burgage plot divided by Mary Lawrence (see above). Mary Ann Moore is shown as the tenant of the house in the 1812 and 1814 Land Tax records. Click here to read about Kingsmill and his family
Kingsmill died aged 70 and was buried on 15th February 1814. He had written his will dated 7th October 1811 which was before he had officially inherited 57 High Street so this property was not specifically mentioned in the will. We note however that Kingsmill left several of his other properties to his nephew, John Thurston, the son of Kingsmill’s sister, Martha and her husband Obed Thurston so we assume that this one was added to John’s inheritance. The 1819 and 1824 Land Tax records show that Martha Thurston was living in 57 High Street. She died and was buried on 1st November 1826 after which John Thurston took over the ownership and occupancy of the house.