The Cock Inn

67 High Street

The Cock Inn – 67 High Street 2017-10-05T09:54:20+00:00

We don’t know when the property that originally occupied the site of what is now 67 High Street was first built.  We are fortunate to have copies of an abstract of title which shows that in the 1700’s it was a public house known as ‘The Cock.’  The earliest reference to the property shows that in 1739 it was owned and occupied by Richard Powell.

Richard and Rebecca Powell – Richard’s last will and testament dated 30th July 1739 shows he was a licensed victualler.  In his will he refers to this property as having been bought from Elias Player.  At this time we know nothing about Elias Player.  There are records at Bristol Records Office and on the “Ancestry” website which relate to a Bristol distiller called Elias Player and his wife Mary (nee Hort) who owned property around the Thornbury area.  Elias Player who was a Quaker was born in 1717 and so would have been a very young man when/if he sold the property.  The property may have belonged to an earlier generation of this family.

In his will Richard left his wife, Rebecca, the property where they lived and which he had bought from Elias Player.  This was left to her for her natural life and then it would be given to his nephew, Edward Morgan the Younger.  He also arranged for an annuity of £2 per annum to be paid to Edward Morgan the Elder and Margaret his wife.

Richard also owned another property on the east side of the Back Street which he had bought from George Osland and Charity his wife.  An indenture of lease and release dated 19th and 20th February 1747 shows this property was then occupied by Edward Morgan (previously occupied by someone called Hudd, then George and Charity Osland or their tenants and then Richard Powell or his tenants) was sold by Edward Morgan to Henry Harford.
It seems possible that Richard lived for a while after he made his will.  The records show that Richard Powell was Mayor of Thornbury from 1740 to 1741.

By 20th October 1742 Rebecca was referred to as a widow and Richard’s relict when she and Edward Morgan the Younger were parties to an agreement over The Cock. At this time they arranged a mortgage of £30 from John Summers, a maltster of Wickwar.  The property was then  described as:

All that messuage or tenement situate in the Borough of Thornbury formerly in the possession of one William Bartlett afterwards of one John Curthoys since of the said Richard Powell and then of the said Rebecca his widow and the said Edward Morgan the Younger both or one of them together with all houses outhouses bakehouses edifices etc … which said premises are situate lying and being in the Borough of Thornbury and adjoining to the High Street on the westward part thereof and containing by estimation one third part of a burgage (more or less) and were purchased by the said Richard Powell of and from one Elias Player to him the said Richard Powell and his heirs for ever and were by the said Richard Powell in and by his last will and testament in writing duly published given and bequeathed (amongst other lands) to the said Rebecca his wife during her natural life and after her decease to his nephew the said Edward Morgan the Younger his heirs and assigns for ever‘.

By 1747 Rebecca had died and John Summers was owed £43 5s 0d for the principal, interests and costs on the loan and another £25 16s 0d for malt and the costs of recovering this debt.  It appears that Edward Morgan the Younger was unable to settle the debt and Henry Harford, a blacksmith of Wickwar was appointed in the role of trustee.  Henry was a party to an indenture of lease and release dated 19th and 20th February 1747 which also involved Rebecca Powell and Edward Morgan the Younger of the first part and John Summers of the second part.  As a result of this indenture the property was transferred to John Summers.  At this time the property was occupied by William Taylor.  William was still being shown as licensee of The Cock in a list of licensed victuallers in Thornbury in 1755.

John and Hannah Summers – John was a maltster from Wickwar.  He sold malt to Richard Powell when he owned the property and in 1742 lent Richard’s widow, Rebecca, and his nephew Edward Morgan the Younger £30 with property put up as security.  When Rebecca died and Edward was unable to settle the debt the property appears to have been transferred to John in satisfaction of the £69 1s 0d then owing.

When John died leaving a will dated 23rd December 1760 he appointed his wife, Hannah, as his sole executrix and universal devisee.  She was left all estate including properties in Wickwar, Yate and Thornbury.  When Hannah died a few years later her will dated 15th October 1768 made William Canter yeoman of Wickwar her sole executor.  She devised ‘unto Thomas Shell, tyler of Little Sodbury all my messuage tenement or Inn called or known by the sign of Cock situate lying and being in Thornbury ……. with stables, gardens, orchards, courts, yards, backsides and appurtenances thereto belonging (subject to payment of such annuity or yearly rent charge as Mrs Margaret Morgan claims therein for her life‘.

Thomas Shell (or Shield) – Thomas inherited the property from Hannah Summers in her will dated 15th October 1768.  We don’t know what relationship Thomas had to Hannah.  Thomas was a tyler or pargeter from Little Sodbury.  On 3rd April 1751 he married Martha Rice at Hawksbury.  On 6th and 7th January 1773 Thomas and Martha agreed to sell the property to William Cowley for £78.  We don’t know if there is any connection between Thomas and John Shill who was the publican here in the 1760s/70s.  We do not know that John had a half brother called Thomas).

William Cowley – on 6th & 7th January 1773 William bought the property from Thomas Shell and his wife, Martha, for £78.  William was described as a wheelwright from Thornbury.  Hester Bagnell of Thornbury spinster and William Osborne of Kington gentleman were also parties to the agreement.  The deeds show that William was not able to raise the whole sum and had prevailed upon Hester Bagnell to lend him the sum of £50 and to accept of an assignment of the premises for the remainder of the said term of 1000 years as a security for the repayment with interest.

William was born about 1738.  On 15th March 1763 William married Mary Grove, the daughter of William Grove and his wife, Mary.  They had eight children: Sarah who died in 1772, Hester born on 4th April 1765, Mary born on 31st December 1766, William born on 8th June 1768, Martha born on 6th March 1770, Lydia whose birth date we do not know, another Sarah born on 6th March 1774 and Joseph born on 24th August 1776.

On 26th April 1779 William also acquired the property next door to the Cock.  He bought this property for £20 10s 0d from James Tyler of St James, Bristol, grocer.  At the time of this purchase, the Cock appears to have been occupied by John Shill  The newly acquired property contained on the front or west end from north to south about 16 feet and at the back or east end about 28 feet and in depth from east to west about 72 feet.  At the time of the purchase it was occupied by John Walker, butcher as tenant.  It had been bought by James Tyler together with other premises of much greater value from John Hughes of Almondsbury butcher and Sarah his wife.

An indenture dated 24th and 25th March 1788 mentions that before his death in 1784 William Cowley had taken down the newly bought property and erected a new building which he combined with the Cock.  The area of the total property was estimated to be about one third of a burgage.

William died on 2nd May 1784.  In his last will, dated 16th March 1784, he appointed his brothers in law, Ralph Grove of Thornbury, apothecary and Kingsmill Grove of Bristol paper maker as Trustees.  He instructed them to sell his ‘messuage or tenement called or known by the name or sign of the Cock situate in the said Town of Thornbury’ where he was living when he wrote the will.  He also included the ‘newly erected addition thereunto adjoining’.  Proceeds of the sale were to be given to his wife, Mary after settling any debts and expenses.

At the time of his death William owed Hester Bagnell £90 for the loans she had given him including interest.  On 24th and 25th March 1788 William’s trustees sold the property to Samuel Lewis for £160.  They repaid Hester the £90 and paid the remaining sum of £70 to William’s widow, Mary.  

About six months after William’s death, on 9th November 1784 Mary married James Ford in St James, Bristol.  James was a barber from Thornbury.  The 1788 indenture shows that the proceeds from the sale of the property were insufficient to repay all William Cowley’s debts and an arrangement had to be made with Mary and James Ford about the settlement of the remainder out of the other assets she was left.  Mary died on 2nd May 1788 aged 49.

Samuel Lewis – Samuel was a linen draper from Thornbury.  He was the son of Theophilus Lewis, who appears to have been a Quaker and the Mayor of Thornbury in 1756.  An indenture of lease and release dated 24th and 25th March 1788 shows that Samuel Lewis bought the property for £160 from the Trustees of William Cowley, Ralph Grove and Kingsmill Grove.  Within a few weeks (on 30th April 1788) he had sold it to Ralph Grove for the same price so we suspect Samuel had made an arrangement with Ralph Grove before he bought it that he would sell it to Ralph.  

At the time of his death in 1808 Samuel was living in a house on the west side of the High Street.  In his will he left this property to his servant, Bethia Thurston for her natural life and after her death the property was given his Samuel’s kinsman, Thomas Hulbert of Thornbury, yeoman.  The Quaker Library at Friends’ House in London has a journal written in 1809 describing a holiday which Bethia took with her friend, the daughter of a Betty Bishop.  The two young ladies spent the week in Bristol, and the diary describes in considerable detail the places they went and the friends they visited there.  The Library allows copies or digital photographs to be taken of the journal and this would be a wonderful source for anyone researching Bethia’s family.

At the time of the sale to Samuel Lewis the Cock was occupied by James Roach

Ralph Grove – Ralph was baptised on 10th October 1733, the son of William Grove, an 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.

Ralph died on 14th June 1793 aged 60.  Elizabeth died on 2nd May 1811 aged 84.  Their tomb lies in St Mary’s Church in Thornbury.

In Ralph’s will dated 6th November 1790 he left the Cock which was then inhabited by James Roach for the use of his wife, Elizabeth, during her natural life and after her death he left the Cock to his nephew, William Cowley, the son of his sister, Mary and her husband, William Cowley (see above).  The 1800 land tax record shows Mrs Grove as being the owner of The Cock and James Roach as the occupant.  The 1809 shows Mrs Grove as the owner and Matthew Mills as the occupant.

Ralph also owned other property in and around Thornbury.  Two of the properties adjoined each other on the east side of the High Street.  One of these properties then occupied by Thomas Rolph he left to for the use of his wife and then to his nephew, Kingsmill Grove, the son of Ralph’s late brother, William Grove.  The other property then occupied by Betty Denning he left to the use of Susannah Day, a widow and then to Kingsmill Grove.

He also owned two gardens and an orchard adjoining called ‘Blayes’ which were also left to Kingsmill Grove.  We believe this plot of land was bordered by what is now Bath Road on the north and Rock Street on the west.

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 in his home in St Mary Street.  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 of 1831 and 1832 also show this property in St Mary Street as being owned by ‘late R. Grove’.

The land tax record of 1810 shows that even before the death of Elizabeth Grove in 1811 the Cock had become the property of her nephew, William Cowley.  The notes on the land tax record say “late cock rebuilding”.  When completed the pub was given the name of The New Inn.

Read more about the licensees of The Cock
Read about The New Inn and Beaufort Arms

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