Although we have several old photographs of this part of the High Street, none of them show a clear view of this property. The photograph on the left was taken in 2012. It shows 61 High Street as the little building between the Knot of Rope and Castle Estate Agents.
Unfortunately we haven’t seen the deeds of this property and we’re not able to write about its early history.
Mary Wetmore – the earliest owner whom we know about was Mary Wetmore whose husband, Thomas Wetmore, had owned the adjoining the property (later known as The Exchange or 59 High Street). At some time in the 1820’s we believe Mary sold the two properties to Thomas Morgan who was acquiring adjoining properties around that period. Certainly in Thomas Morgan’s will dated 17th September 1869 he bequeathed to his daughter Charlotte, two freehold messuages occupied by Frederick Jones Taylor and John Hawkins which he many year ago purchased from Mary Wetmore’. Click here to read about Thomas and Mary Wetmore
Thomas Morgan – in the 1840 Tithe Survey the property was part of Plot 152, two houses and courts both owned by Thomas Morgan and occupied by George Bindon (we suspect this should be Binden) and Thomas Harris. Thomas owned a lot of property in this area of town. For the reasons explained above we know that Thomas acquired the two properties from Mary Wetmore, probably in the 1820’s. In his will dated 17th September 1869 Thomas left the properties to his daughter Charlotte.
We have no documents relating to Charlotte’s sale of these properties but we note that they were not mentioned in other documents relating to her property in 1871. We are guessing that she may have sold the two houses to Frederick Jones Taylor (see below) in 1871 to enable her to repay some of the money owed from her father’s debts. On 30th October 1871 Charlotte Morgan paid the executors of John Carwardine’s will the sum of £200 in part satisfaction of the £400 borrowed. Click here to read about the Morgans
Thomas Harris – Thomas Harris is shown as the occupant in the 1840 Tithe Survey, but by the 1841 census he was living in St Mary Street. He was described as a agricultural labourer aged 60 living with his daughter, Jane who was aged 30.
We know that Thomas’s wife was called Jane although we haven’t found the details of their marriage. They had at least two children: Sarah baptised in Thornbury on 2nd June 1811 and Jane baptised there on 25th December 1813. Thomas was noted as being a cattle drover in Kington in the baptism records. We don’t know when Thomas’s wife, Jane died but there is a Jane Harris buried in Thornbury on 17th May 1840 aged 67.
By the 1851 census Thomas was living in the Union workhouse. He is described as being ‘formerly a cattle dealer’ born in Almondsbury. He died in the Workhouse aged 74 and was buried on 8th April 1852. Thomas’s daughter, Jane, was still living in 4 St Mary Street in the 1861 census. She appeared to die aged 54 and was buried on 1st April 1866.
In the 1841 census the house appears to be unoccupied.
George White – the 1851 census shows the property was occupied by George White, a plumber and glazier aged 31 born in Tytherington and his wife, Frances who was aged 32 from Frampton on Severn. They seemed to be sharing the house with John Fisk, an unmarried officer of the inland revenue aged 33 from Southwold in Suffolk. Read more about George White
Harriett Prewett – the 1859 and 1862 Rate Books show the house occupied by Harriett. She was the widow of Henry Prewett, a cordwainer. The 1861 census shows Harriett was not at home but two of her children, Elizabeth a staymaker aged 22 and Ann a dressmaker aged 19 were living in the house. They had moved elsewhere by the 1867 Rate Book. Elizabeth went on to marry John Hawkins and they became occupants of the house later (see below). Click here to read about the Prewetts
Harriett’s daughter, Ann, also settled in Thornbury. We cannot find a record of her marriage but she became Ann Edwards. Read more about Ann Edwards
Henry Millard – the 1867 Rate Book shows Henry was the tenant of the property. We don’t know any more about Henry although we note that there was a Henry Millard aged 61 is in the Workhouse in 1881. He was born in Olveston and was a carpenter.
John Hawkins – John is mentioned in the last will and testament of Thomas Morgan as being an occupant of the house in 1869. We suspect he is the John Hawkins who married Elizabeth Prewett in Bristol in 1861. Elizabeth was the daughter of Harriett Prewett who had lived in the house previously (see above). John was a cooper in the Royal Navy which explains why he was absent from many of the census records.
By 1871 Elizabeth and the family had moved to Pullins Green (near the Crispin at what we assume to 15 Pullins Green). Elizabeth, a staymaker was living with her children: Henry Prewett aged 9, Annie Norah aged 5 (who was born in London, but baptised in Thornbury) and John Ernest aged 3. They had Elizabeth’s married sister, Ann Edwards a dressmaker living with them.
John Hawkins was a naval man and was presumably at sea. The 1881 census shows Elizabeth had moved to Frederick Street in Portsea, Hampshire. She had three more children: Charles Edward aged 7, Florence H aged 5 and Walter James aged 2, all born in Portsea.
The 1891 census shows John was a naval steam reserve man aged 54 from Pilning. He was living with Elizabeth in Portsea, Hampshire and with their children, John E aged 23 born in Thornbury, Florence aged 15 and James aged 12, both born in Portsea. By the 1901 census John had died but Elizabeth remained living in the area. She was also listed in the 1911 census, then living with her unmarried son, Charles, a crane driver in Itchen in Hampshire.
Gideon Little – the 1871 census shows Gideon was a journeyman baker aged 27 living with his wife Maria aged 25 born in Over and Oliver aged 5 born in Over and Margaret aged 2 born in Thornbury.
Gideon was born about 1844, the son of James Little a gardener and his wife, Ruth (Linzey) who lived in Hilpurton in Wiltshire. In 1866 Gideon married Maria Harvey in the Bristol area. Shortly after moving to Thornbury they had a son, Alvin Henry, baptised on 6th July 1868. Alvin died after only 3 months and was buried on 12th July 1868. We think that the family moved to Olveston about 1873 which is where they were living in the 1881 census. Ruth died in 1876 aged 30.
The Bristol Mercury printed on 12th February 1878 reported on a highway robbery at Over. Gideon Little a baker was returning from delivering bread to the Cattybrook Brick Works when he was stopped by a man with a bludgeon demanding Gideon’s money. Gideon refused and was badly beaten. He gave the man some cash from his pocket but the villain continued to beat Gideon until he got more money. He seems to have stolen 2s and 6d in all. Gideon seemed to manage to get back into his cart after the attack and went to a house on Almondsbury Hill where he was persuaded to go to the police station. It was reported at the time that “little hopes are entertained of his recovery”. A man was held in custody. Little was said to have seven or eight wounds on his head. When the case came to court in March 1878 Gideon still weak and he gave evidence with a handkerchief to cover his wounds. The accused was committed for trial at the assizes where he was found guilty and sentenced to ten years penal servitude.
The 1881 shows that Gideon was a widowed baker living next to the Wesleyan Chapel in Olveston with Oliver, a baker’s assistant aged 14, Margaret aged 12, Levi aged 10, Laura aged 8, Rhoda aged 7 and a niece, Frances who was a housekeeper aged 24 from Blagdon. We note that Rhoda was born in Almondsbury so assume that the family had moved from Thornbury by 1873. In the 1891 census Gideon was still there living then with Levi who was an assistant baker and Rhoda.
On October 26th 1895, along with lots of other local tradespeople, Gideon was accused of having unfair weights and fined 10 shillings and costs. Gideon died in 1901 aged 58.
Frederick Jones Taylor – the 1876 Rate Book confirms that Frederick was then the owner of the property, as well as being the owner and occupant of the property next door (63 High Street). Frederick Jones as he was also called continued to own the two properties which were eventually passed on to his daughter, Ellen Jones. Click here to read more
George Spill – the 1876 Rate Book shows that George Spill was the tenant. Click here to read more
The 1880 Rate Book shows that the house was void.
Celia Morgan – the 1881 census shows the house was occupied by Celia Morgan, an unmarried annuitant aged 59 who was born in Oldbury. Celia Ann Morgan was baptised on 26th August 1827, the daughter of James Morgan, a labourer and his wife Elizabeth (nee Hayward). In the 1841 census Celia had been a female servant at Mary Leaker’s private school at Morton House Academy. The 1851 census shows her as a house servant in 17 Portland Square, Bristol. In 1861 and 1871 census show she was a publican aged 49 at the Coffee Rooms in Tidenham. Celia died on 2nd January 1884 aged 66 and was buried on 7th January 1884.
Sophia Lovegrove – the 1885 Rate Book shows the house was occupied by Mrs Lovegrove. Click here to read more
Fanny Cann – the 1887 Rate Book shows the house was occupied by Mrs Cann and the 1890 Rate Books shows that it was Fanny Cann who was living there as the tenant. The 1891 census shows Fanny was a widowed housekeeper aged 61 born in Exeter. She was living in the house, described as having 4 rooms on her own. The 1901 census shows she is still living at the house. She is described as being ‘in receipt of Parish Relief aged 74. Click here to read more
The 1905 Rate Book shows the house was void.
John Radford – the 1910 Rate Book and 1911 census show John was then the tenant occupying the house. Click here to read more
Ellen Clare – on 22nd October 1919 Ellen Jones (see above) put both her houses up for sale at auction. The house at 61 High Street was described simply as ‘the cottage is in the occupation of Miss Clare at a weekly rental of 4 shillings, landlady paying the rates’. It appears that Ellen Jones sold the two houses (61 and 63 High Street) at the auction because in a 1920 document relating to the Exchange Hotel her name is crossed through and replaced by ‘W. H. Phillips’.
The 1921 electoral register lists Ellen Clare as living in the High Street. The burial Cemetery burial register shows that Ellen was a widow who was buried on 21st January 1921 aged 93.
Ellen Clark – the 1925 Valuation list shows that Ellen Clark was living in the house at the time. She was also shown as living in the High Street in the 1921 electoral register. We don’t know anything about Ellen, although we note that a Ellen B Clark is listed as having died in the Thornbury area in 1928 aged 50.
Harold Victor Pearce – the 1926 Rate Book shows that the house was occupied by Harold Pearce. The 1927 electoral register shows that Harold Victor and Cicely Elizabeth Ann Pearce were living in the High Street. Harold was born in Cromhall on 7th April 1902, one of the sons of Thomas Pearce and his wife, Sarah (nee Rodway). Click here to read about Thomas Pearce
Harold first attended Tortworth School, but in 1911 he transferred to the National School in Thornbury (now called St Marys School). He left school in 1915 to start work. In 1925 Harold married Cicely Elizabeth Ann Lippiatt in Thornbury. Cicely was born on 12th January 1901.
Harold and Cicely had two sons: Ronald Victor born on 26th March 1925 and Derrick Joseph born on 8th April 1929. The family didn’t stay in the High Street for long, by 1929 when Ron started at the National School they had moved to 16 Eastland Avenue. During the War Harold acted as a special constable.
By 1950 the Pearces had moved to 24 North Road and by 1958 they had again moved to 1 Hawthorn Crescent.
Harold is shown in the little photo on the left. We are grateful to our friend and fellow researcher, Tony Cherry, who interviewed Harold’s son, Ron in 2010. Ron told Tony that Harold was a baker’s rounds man with Thompson’s and his brother, Bill Pearce, also worked there as a rounds man. Harold worked at the bakery for 43 years and Bill worked there for 47 years.
Ron worked with his father on the rounds from the age of 11 and Ron decided he wanted to be a baker. When he left school Ron’s father said because the life was too hard – early mornings and long hours – he was not going to let him work in the bakery although that is what he wanted to do. So, reluctantly, Ron started work as a delivery boy making deliveries on a bike for the International Stores. War broke out five months later and Ron’s father relented and allowed him to join Thompson’s. For the first three months he learnt how to mould bread and nothing else. Everything he did was then remoulded by the bakers before it was proved and put in the ovens.
Despite wanting to join the Army, Ron was exempt from National Service as, from birth, he was blind in one eye. In 1945 he was directed to work in Blake’s bakery in Brislington, Bristol. Because there was a shortage of bakers in Bristol it was classed as a reserved occupation and he had to go. The manager at Parkers Bakery in Kingsdown Parade wanted Ron to work for them and managed to get his reserved status transferred. Parkers was a plant bakery producing rolls for the military camps around Bristol. Ron spent 9 months on the roll plant then a further 2 years on the bread plant, ending up as foreman. Ron married Joan E. Joint in Bristol in 1946. In 1951 Ron and Joan tried to find a house in Thornbury but were unsuccessful and had to wait until 1956 before they managed to get a council house in Eastlands Avenue. At that time Ron returned to Thompson’s as a confectioner. The business was sold to Christopher Bells and eventually the bakery closed. Ron and his father went to work at Wilkinsons in Johns Street but they were not happy there and left. Harold went to Berkeley Power Station and Ron went to work as a baker in Hortham Hospital from where he retired 30 years later.
Lois Cousins – the special register compiled in 1939 in preparation for the war shows Lois was living in the house. She was born on 17th October 1874. Lois died in Thornbury Infirmary an was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 17th April 1943. She was described as a widow aged 68. Lois Cole was born in Stoke Gifford, the daughter of Henry and Elizabeth Cole. Lois married Joseph Cousins in Tytherington on 21st August 1909. Joseph was a farm labourer from Itchington.
John and Mollie Blenkinsopp – the Blenkinsopps moved to live in 61 High Street about 1940. They are shown as still living here in the 1946 electoral register. Molly’s uncle, Harry Phillips, a painter and decorator lived next door at 63 High Street. In 1947 the family moved to 3 Upper Bath Road. Click here to read more
Joseph and Bessie Ashley – the electoral registers of 1954, 1958 and 1961 show Joseph Frederick Ashley and Bessie Ashley as living in the house. Bessie died in Thornbury in 1964 aged 90 and Joseph was living in 61 High Street on his own in 1965 and 1970.
We know that Joseph Frederick Ashley was born in Wrington in Somerset on 21st January 1890 (according to the details shown on the record of his death in FreeBMDs). He was the son of Oliver Ashley, a mason and his wife, Agnes. In 1917 Joseph married Bessie Day. Joseph and Bessie had three children of their own: Olive M born in Thornbury area in 1919, Walter R born in Thornbury area in 1920 and then Joseph Frederick born in Bedwellty area in 1923. They also adopted Leslie in 1946. We had no idea why they came to Thornbury, why they left after a few years and why they returned. We have been told by a family member that Joseph joined the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in World War One and later had a spell in the Navy when he was living in Wales. He was discharged in 1923.
The 1946 and 1950 registers list Joseph and Bessie as living at The Grange on the Bristol Road. This was the new name for the property previously called The Farm. We understand that Joseph was working as the bailiff at that property. Joseph died in the area of Stratford upon Avon in 1971.
In more recent times, the property was occupied by Norville the opticians for a few years and has been occupied for many years by Milburys, an estate agents.