The above photo shows a steam lorry parked outside of the two houses, 62 & 64 High Street.

The deeds which we have seen of these houses only go back to 1978, so our knowledge of the early history starts with the Rent Rolls and Land Tax records from the early 1800’s.  In the early 1800’s the records appear to show that the property may have been only one house as there is only one owner and occupier in each of the early records.  By the time of the 1840 Tithe Survey there were two separate houses, Plots 91 and 92, both owned by Elizabeth Cole.  They continued to be owned by a single owner until at least 1926.

The Images of Britain website notes that the houses were built late 18th Century.

Isaac Burge – the earliest person we have been able to link to this property was Isaac Burge who is shown as owner in the Land Tax records of 1800 and in the 1809 Rent Roll.  At this stage, we don’t know any more about Isaac.  In the 1800 Land Tax record Betty Webb was the only tenant of Isaac Burge in his property in the High Street.  We do not know what this implies and whether it indicates that the house had not yet been divided into two.

Thomas Cole – the Rent Roll from 1807 to 1809 shows that Thomas Cole was the tenant of Isaac Burge.  Again he was the only tenant named.  The Land Tax record of 1810 seems to show about this time Thomas Cole acquired the property from Isaac Burge and he was now both owner and occupier.  The Land Tax records appear to confirm that Thomas Cole occupied and owned the house until 1829.  Thomas’s last will and testament dated 5th October 1825 shows that he left the two houses to his wife, Martha, during her life time and then they were left to their children, George and Elizabeth.  

Thomas had been living in one of the houses at the time he wrote the will and the other house was occupied by someone called ‘Pullin’.  The will also refers to Thomas as being a pastry cook.

It would appear that Elizabeth Cole was baptised in Frenchay on 1st July 1791 and George Cole was baptised in Frenchay on 17th December 1798.

George and Elizabeth Cole –  George and Elizabeth Cole were siblings, the children of Thomas Cole and his wife, Martha (see above).  The Land Tax record of 1829 shows that George Cole has become the owner of the property with Mary Young as his tenant.  However the Rent Roll of 1830 shows that George and Elizabeth Cole were owners of a property that now appeared to have two separate tenants.  This is an indication that the property may have been divided.  The Tithe Apportionment which accompanies the Tithe Map drawn up between 1837 and 1840 shows that Elizabeth Cole is the owner and this confirms that there were two tenants.  The 1859 Rate Book shows that Elizabeth Cole owns these two houses and another property in Castle Street occupied by Richard Salmon.  The 1867 Rate Book shows that George and Elizabeth Cole jointly owned the properties in the High Street, although Elizabeth Cole owned a property in Castle Street.  It would appear that George and Elizabeth were joint owners of the properties in the High Street as the records in these case are often a little inaccurate.

The 1841 Census shows that George and his wife Celia were farming in Tockington.  In this census George was a farmer aged 40 living in Tockington with his wife, Celia, aged 35 and children: George aged 7, Albert aged 6, Mary aged 4 and Fanny aged 2.  Elizabeth is also living there described as being ‘Independent’ aged 45.  Celia died in 1845.  In 1850 George re-married in Oxford.  His second wife was Lucy Jalland who was born in Stapleford, Lincolnshire about 1802.  The 1851 census shows George was born in Thornbury.  He was now a coal merchant living in Lower Cheltenham Place, Bristol with Lucy.  Living with them were Emma, George’s daughter from his first marriage aged 8 and born in Tockington and George’s sister, Elizabeth aged 59 and born in Thornbury.

The 1861 census shows George, described as a retired farmer, and Lucy living in James Street, Bristol.  The Bristol Mercury reported the death on 24th February 1868 at James as Street, Ashley Road, Bristol of George Cole late of Tockington. He aged 69.

We noted that the Thornbury Voters List 1865 shows George Cole was entitled to vote in Thornbury elections because he had ‘an interest in freehold house and land in the High Street’.  George’s home address at that time was Kings Square, Bristol.  We suspect that this is George’s son, as on October 20th 1868 George Cole of 18 King Square wrote a letter published in the Bristol Mercury saying that in consequence of the retirement of Richard Fry from that ward he (George Cole) was unanimously voted by the burgesses of the ward to fill the vacancy.  Consequently he attended the quarterly meeting of the Bristol Council in November 1868.  There were other reports that he had attended meetings of the Caledonian Society in 1868 and 1870 so it can’t have been the same George Cole.

The 1871 census shows Lucy was lodging in Devonshire Terrace, St Barnabus, Bristol.  In the 1881 census she was living at Pembroke Villa, Hill Road, Clevedon.  It was from this record we were able to deduce Lucy’s maiden name as she was described as the ‘aunt’ of Edward Sturge, the head of the household.  Looking further back to the 1851 census we found that Edward’s mother, Sarah, was born in Stapleford, Lincolnshire the same place as Lucy and we found that Edward’s father, Young Sturge, had married Sarah Jalland in Brant Broughton, Lincolnshire in 1815.  Lucy’s death was registered in Bedminster in 1885. She was aged 81.

The two houses were put up for sale in October 1870.  It is interesting that the two properties were described as ‘those two freehold messuages or dwelling houses and premises in the several occupations of James Williams, brushmaker and John Saniger, confectioner, and comprising front shops, bakehouse and outbuildings’.  It emphasises that they are very desirably situated as they are about 65 yards from the site of the Railway Station proposed to be erected on the opposite side of the street.

The Williams – the 1876 Rate Book shows both houses were now owned by John Williams.  At the time he would have bought them, number 62 was occupied by John’s brother, James Williams, a brushmaker.

John was baptised on 4th July 1824 at Thornbury.  He was the son of John Williams and his wife, Hannah.  The 1841 census shows the Williams family in Chapel Street.  John senior was a beer retailer in the place now known as The Wheatsheaf.  John junior was working as an apprentice tailor.  In 1851 John married Emma Hodges, the daughter of John Hodges and his wife, Sarah and they settled to live in Gloucester Road where they had three children: John Hodges Williams baptised on 31st October 1852, Sarah Hodges Williams baptised on 4th June 1854 and James Hodges Williams baptised on 24th July 1859.  Click here to read about John and Emma

The houses continued to be owned by John until his death on 3rd April 1897 when they were passed to his son, John Hodges Williams.  The 1926 Rate Book shows that he continued to own them, along with a great many other houses in the town which he had acquired.  Click here to read about John Hodges Williams

The two houses continued to be owned by the Williams family until 1979.  On 8th March 1979 John Merrick Williams (grandson of John Hodges Williams) and his wife, Frances Teresa Williams, sold number 64 to Bernard Hones.  We are not sure when number 62 was sold by the Williams family.

Click here to read more about the OCCUPANTS of 62 High Street
Click here to read more about the OCCUPANTS of 64 High Street