We are grateful to Jane Willson for allowing us to see her large collection of deeds that relate to this and the adjoining houses in the High Street in Thornbury. They indicate that for most of the time since being built the row of five houses (73 to 81) were owned by Cossham family and were probably built by them.
We can’t say for sure when each house was built. All five were listed in the 1840 Tithe Survey. The deeds of the property show that the five houses were erected on a large piece of property fronting the High Street and extending from Chapel Street to the area where the Railway Station was later built. Click here to read about the early history of this plot
This plot comprising a messuage, barn, stable, slaughterhouse, garden, orchard and paddock known as the Town Orchard was bought by George Cossham on 1st/2nd October 1782. It seems unlikely that George Cossham developed this property in his life time as his will of 1785 shows that he left it to be divided into two parts and shared by his sons Richard and Jesse.
We believe that the part George gave to Jesse was used by him, (or his son, George Cossham who inherited the property from Jesse in 1797), to build the houses now known as 73 – 81 High Street. We don’t know if the original house was used in this development or whether it was demolished. From George Cossham the houses were passed to his nephew, Edward Wise (alias Wisse) in 1876 and then to Edward’s daughters, Charlotte and Ann Wise (alias Wisse). Thus the house was owned by the Cosshams or their descendents up to 1938. Click here to read about the Cosshams associated with the house
For most of this time the house was rented out to tenants. We are fortunate that the rate books, census records and electoral registers give us a good idea of who lived in the house.
Our earliest knowledge of who lived in the house comes from the 1840 Tithe Survey. This shows the house was occupied by James Tanner.
James Tanner – the 1841 Census shows the house was occupied by James Tanner. He was a tailor aged 25. The 1842 Trade directory also shows that James Tanner was a tailor and draper in the High Street.
In the 1841 Census family relationships are not shown and so we only know that James was living with Elizabeth a milliner aged 30 and Jane a milliner aged 20 and Emma aged 12. They also had what seemed to be two lodgers; Nathaniel Williams an apprentice tailor aged 20 and Thomas Cowmeadow an independent person aged 60. If the ages given in census are correct (allowing for the rounding down) then it is possible that James, Elizabeth and Jane might be siblings, the children of James Tanner, a tailor of Wickwar.
Jane Tanner married William Eddington in Thornbury in 1843 and the marriage record shows Jane’s father was James Tanner, a tailor and Jane came from Wickwar. It is likely that the parents of James, Jane and Emma were James Tanner and Elizabeth (nee Watts) who married in Wickwar on 5th April 1807, but we don’t want to speculate further at this stage.
Emma Riddiford – Emma is another mystery. The 1851 Census shows Emma was living in the house with George A Isles, a nephew aged 8. Emma is described as unmarried aged 28 and a proprietor of houses who was born in Thornbury. We understand from a member of the Riddiford clan in Thornbury that Emma appears to be the daughter of William and Dinah Riddiford who was born about 1821 and baptised aged three on 27th June 1824. If this is the case, Emma’s father appears to have died aged 68 in May 1821 about the time of her birth. William and Dinah Riddiford were married 9th June 1806.
John Shepherd – the 1859 rate book shows the house was occupied by John Shepherd. We don’t have enough information from this source to identify John. He could be the John G. Shepherd, a pig butcher living in St John Street in the 1861 Census. He was a widower aged 24 and he appears to have been married in 1858. He married again in 1861 and his second wife was Mary Churchill of Olveston, a vet’s daughter. The 1868 trade directory shows that John G Shepherd was a grocer and pork butcher living in John Street. His shop appears to be the one on the corner of The Plain and St Mary Street. Click here to read more about this property
It is possible that John was the subject of a local scandal. A newspaper report of November 1865 records a very lively scene that took place to celebrate bonfire night. This is celebrated on November 5th which in that year fell on a Sunday and so had to be celebrated on either the Saturday before or the Monday after. The newspaper tells us that ” rumours….had been about the town for some days previously that the effigy of a certain pig-butcher, living on St Marys Plain would be burnt either on Saturday or Monday, on account of his immoral conduct with a certain young lady of the county, together with that of a well-known publican for a similar misdemeanour.” Several hundred people appear to have gathered outside the pork butcher’s house for an hour or two “bellowing lustily” and firing a cannon and letting off fireworks. The crowd eventually paraded between the butcher’s house and the publican’s. A bonfire was then lit on nearby Pullin’s Green and after parading it up and down St John Street between the butcher’s house and the fire, the effigy of a man and a baby was burned.
John and Mary moved away from Thornbury. By the time of the 1871 Census they were living in Bromley, Kent where John was still working as a pork butcher. In 1881 they were near Plymouth where John was a coachman. They now had six children, Mary, William, Louisa, Edward, Walter and Albert. In 1891 they were in Reading where John was a commercial traveller and there is no sign of any of their children. In 1901 Census they were still in Reading and there is no note of any occupation. John died in Reading in 1905 aged 65. Mary died there in 1915 aged 82.
John Brown – the 1861 Census shows the house was occupied by John Brown, a coachman aged 44 from Nether Compton, Dorset. He was living there with his wife, Caroline aged 36 from Berkeley and their daughters, Mary Sophia aged 5 born in Alveston and Caroline Elizabeth aged 7 months born in Thornbury (baptised on 5th May 1861). Sarah Davis is also listed as an occupant of the house under the status of ‘Head’ but shown as a servant. She was a widow aged 55 born in Bristol.
It is possible that John married Caroline Hobby in Bristol 1853. John’s wife, Caroline, died aged 46 and was buried on 29th June 1870. In the 1871 Census John was still living in the house. He was described as a widowed coachman aged 52 living with 3 daughters: Mary Sophia aged 15, Caroline Elizabeth aged 10, and Sarah Ann aged 8 (baptised on 1st October 1865). He is sharing the house with Thomas Powell and his family (see below). John Brown died aged 61 and was buried on 19th November 1878.
Thomas Powell – the 1871 Census shows Thomas and his family were sharing the house with John Brown and his young family (see above). Thomas was a stonemason aged 23 living with his wife, Charlotte aged 22 and their 2 daughters: Elizabeth Sarah aged 2 (baptised on 4th April 1869) and Ophelia Bertha aged 5 months (baptised on 5th February 1871).
Thomas William Powell was baptised 4th May 1848, the son of Thomas Powell a monumental mason and his wife, Eliza. Thomas married Charlotte Watts in Bristol area in 1868. Charlotte was born in Alveston about 1848. On 2nd March 1873 Thomas and Charlotte baptised a third daughter: Florence Minnie.
The 1881 Census shows that the family then moved to Wales – they were living at 61 Ruby Street, Roath, Glamorgan. The 1891 Census shows Thomas and Charlotte now living in Daniel Street, Roath and the 1901 Census shows them at 19 Robert Street, Roath. Thomas died in 1914 aged 67.
George Mills – the 1876 rate book shows George Mills was living there. We can’t be sure just from the information given in the rate book but it is likely that George is related to Robert Mills who was later living in 28 Castle Street.
George Edwards – the 1880 rate book shows George Edwards as the occupant. In the 1881 Census Ann Edwards was described as a sailor’s wife, aged 39, but the description was crossed through. Ann was living there with her children: Austin George aged 6 (baptised on 13th June 1875) at which time his father was described as a sailor by profession, Maud Mary aged 4 (baptised on 3rd December 1876) at which time her father was described as a ship’s officer and Amy Florence aged 6 months (baptised on 7th November 1880) and a visitor Fanny M Chambers aged 9 from Alveston. In 1883 Ann purchased the house at 69 High Street and she and the children went to live there. Click here to read more
John Stevens – the 1885 rate book shows that John Stevens was occupying the house. We are not sure about John. A person whom we believe to be this John Stevens had been living further down the High Street at number 56. However he died in 1884 and his wife Emma died the following year. Click here to read more
Thomas Bradley – the 1890 rate book shows the house was occupied by Thomas Bradley. Thomas Bradley appears in the Trade Directory as a manager of the Singer Manufacturing Company.
Walter Conduit – the 1891 Census shows that the house was occupied by Walter Conduit. Now here is an interesting character, at least he gave his children interesting names!
Walter James Banfield Conduit was born in Chedzoy in Somerset in 1854. He was the son of James Banfield Conduit, an agricultural labourer and his wife, Matilda. In 1871 the family were living in Enmore and Walter had started working as a carpenter. In 1879 Walter married Mary Morris Halford in the Chepstow area. Mary was born in St Briavels in 1860. The 1881 Census shows Walter and Mary living in Drybrook and Walter was now working as a police constable. They had three children in Drybrook: Hubert Walter in 1880, Bryce Halford in 1881 and Francis Mortimer in 1883. The births of more children show they moved around: Elsie Matilda M. was born in Tidenham in 1885 and Arthur Victor J. born in Cheltenham in 1887 and Reginald born in 1891 in Thornbury.
We note that the Bristol Mercury reported in April 1890 that Walter was a second class constable aged 36 who had joined the force on 18th August 1879 and had served 16 years 7 months and 21 days. He had been suffering from severe rheumatic attacks and been in Bath Hospital for 5 weeks. He was granted a temporary police pension in the hope that he might recover. A year later it was reported that he was still suffering from a large double hernia and impaired action of the heart, the result of repeated attacks of acute rheumatism and the pension was made permanent.
By the 1891 Census Walter had become an agent for Singer’s Sewing Machines. The family were living at 75 High Street and they had one boarder, a Clara Stinchcombe aged 10 born in Thornbury. They must have moved on from Thornbury fairly quickly. Another son, Dennis Alphonso was born in Cirencester area in 1892, Laura was born in the Stroud area in 1895 and their last child, Leslie Banfield born in Wolverhampton in 1897.
Walter died in Wolverhampton in 1899 aged 45. The 1901 Census shows Mary as a newsagent in Wolverhampton and seven of her children were still at home.
Alfred Williams – the 1894 rate book shows the house was occupied by Alfred Williams. We can’t be sure from just his name, but we believe it likely that this is Alfred Williams who also lived for a short time on Gillingstool Hill, and later at 13 Castle Street before settling in at 52 High Street. Click here to read more
Frank Cullimore Poole – the 1899 rate book shows that Frank Poole was now occupying 75 High Street. Frank became Thornbury’s leading photographer. At some time between 1907 and 1910 he moved with his family to 71 High Street. Click here to read more
Louisa Ann Long – the 1911 Census shows the house was occupied by Louisa and we know from the 1926 rate book that she was still there.
Louisa Ann Johnson was born in Bristol on 14th December 1851. In 1869 Louisa married William Henry Long in the Bristol area. In 1891 they were living in Park View, St Pauls, Bristol with their six children. William Henry was an accountant and commercial agent. They also had one other child who died as an infant. We understand from a family member that William and Louisa separated and Louisa moved out to live in 75 High Street, Thornbury. The 1911 Census shows she was living of ‘Private Means’ and living with her daughter, Mabel, an assistant teacher aged 25 and a boarder, Ethel M Hosler an assistant teacher aged 28 from Chewton Mendip. William died in Bristol in 1912 aged 63.
Mabel Beatrice Long was born in Bristolon 5th June 1886. Although Mabel moved to live with her mother in Thornbury we know from the school records that she took time off work in February 1923 because two of her siblings, a brother and sister, were returning to South Africa and she wanted to see them off. Mabel had joined the staff of the Council School as a teacher on 20th July 1908. Mabel, who was known in the family as ‘Dolly’, married Arthur Allen in Thornbury in 1916. It was usual at that time for female teachers to resign when they married, but Mabel carried on working at the school under her name of ‘Mrs Allen’. She was still there in 1926. Click here to read more about the Allens
Louisa is listed as living in the High Street in the electoral registers from 1918 to 1938. The special register compiled in 1939 in preparation for the war shows that at 69 High Street with the Allens. We suspect she lived there until her death in 1942 aged 90.
Verona Ursula Amelia Knapp – we know from sale documents that Verona was the occupant of the house in 1938. She is listed as living in the High Street in the electoral register of 1935 so she was probably living there at that time, sharing it with Louisa Long (see above).
In 1938 when the house was put up for auction it was described as a house similar to the one next door (73 High Street) ‘with small garden in the occupation of Mrs Knapp at a rental of £6 per quarter, tenant paying the rates. The house contains two front sitting rooms, kitchen, wash-house with boiler and three bedrooms with attic over. Outside W.C. Electric light, gas and Company’s water’.
Verona was baptised in Magor near Newport, Monmouthshire on 10th May 1877. She was the daughter of James William Cullimore and his wife, Sarah Cox (nee Knapp). In 1881 James was a farmer and fisherman living at Goldcliff near Newport. In 1900 Verona married William Neal Knapp in Paddington area of London. The 1901 Census shows them living at 85 Goldborne Road, Kensington. William was a Metropolitan Police Constable aged 22 born in Oldbury.
William and Verona must have returned to Thornbury as William died here in 1935 aged 55. The electoral registers of 1935 and 1938 show Verona was living in the High Street, Thornbury with her son, James William. Click here to read more
We know that the ownership of the properties changed hands following the death of Ann Wise (alias Wisse) in 1938. We are not sure who acquired number 75.
Ernest & Nellie Sherman – the special register compiled in 1939 in preparation for the war shows that Ernest and Nellie lived here. They carried on livingthere until there deaths in 1962 and 1960 respectively. Click here to read more
Anthony & Jean Brown – the 1965 electoral register shows Anthony and Jean Brown living there. They were still there in the 1970 register. Click here to read more