We are grateful to Jane Willson for allowing us to see her large collection of deeds that relate to the five adjoining houses in the High Street in Thornbury. They indicate that for most of the time since they were 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 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. Click here to read about the Cosshams associated with the house
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 Edward Wise and his daughters.
The deeds of number 79 High Street indicate that in 1952 number 77 was owned by Kate Sainsbury. This is interesting because Kate’s cousins, Clifford Allen Wall and Ronald Francis Wall, had purchased 79 and 81 High Street in 1938. Click here to read more
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 Matilda and Priscilla Sperrin
The Sperrins – the 1840 Tithe Survey shows the house was occupied by Matilda and Priscilla Sperrin. The 1841 census shows they had moved to live at 14 The Plain. Click here to read more
James Bartholomew – the 1841 census shows that the house appears occupied by James Bartholomew. He was a Wesleyan minister aged 35 and he was living there with his wife, Eleanor aged 25 their son, also called James who was aged 3, a daughter, Margaret aged 6 months and a female servant, Elizabeth Spill aged 18. In 1837 James married Eleanor Cornock in Dursley area. The birth of their son, James Cornock Bartholomew was registered in Shepton Mallett in 1838 and their daughter, Margaret, was registered in Thornbury in 1840.
In August 1841 he was one of the three ministers who represented the Downend circuit at the Wesleyan Conference in Manchester. By 1842 he was representing the Newport area, which suggests that he had already moved away from Thornbury. In 1858 he appears to have been given a “station” in Gloucester.
We don’t know for sure what happened to this family and can’t find any trace of any of them in the UK. There is a chance that they might have moved to the South Africa as we did notice a reference to some notes written by a James Bartholomew in connection to Methodist Church in Transkei in the 1850’s and 1860’s.
Mark Williams and Sarah Hawtin – the 1851 census shows that the house was shared between Mark Williams and Sarah Hawtin. Mark was a master tailor unmarried aged 40 from Almondsbury living with his sister Mary aged 35 who was described as a ‘pauper lunatic’. They were sharing the house with Sarah Hawtin, a married schoolmistress aged 55 from Berkeley with her two daughters, Julia a dressmaker aged 25 and Catharine aged 17 who was described as ‘At Home’.
We don’t know much about Mark Williams and his sister. The 1861 census shows them living in 14 Rock Street. Mark was described as a master tailor aged 47 from Thornbury. He was living with his sister, Ann aged 54 from Alveston, but he was sharing the property with the families of George Blake and Francis Stinchcombe. It looks as if Ann died aged 64 and was buried on 17th January 1870. The 1871 census shows Mark still living at 14 Rock Street which he is sharing a property with Francis Stinchcombe. Mark was aged 57 from Almondsbury.
Sarah Hawtin was married to Robert Hawtin, the schoolmaster at Attwells Free School. We don’t know what happened to Robert – click here to read more
George White – the 1859 and 1862 rate books show the house was occupied by George White.
George was born about 1820. In the 1841 census he was a plumber living at the property now known as 39 High Street. He was living with his brother, Charles, a plumber aged 20 and his wife, Sarah aged 30. In 1846 George married Frances Mary Russell in the Bristol area. The 1851 census shows the Whites were living at 61 High Street. George was a plumber and glazier aged 31 born in Tytherington and his wife, Frances 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.
The 1861 census shows George was a plumber and glazier aged 41 born in Tytherington living with his wife, Frances Mary aged 42 from Frampton on Severn and their son, Edward Russell White aged 4 born in Thornbury. There were also two boarders called Caise from Almondsbury. In 1871 Frances’s widowed mother, Mary Russell, a former farmer’s wife aged 84 from Tytherington and her married sister, Elizabeth S Tyler, a housekeeper aged 44 were living with George and Frances. There was also a boarder, Ann Walker an unmarried seamstress aged 62.
Frederick Golding – the 1890 rate book shows Frederick was the tenant of the house. We suspect that he was Frederick James Golding – click here to read more
Henry James Abbott – the 1891 census Henry was living with his family at 77 High Street.
Henry was born in 1852 in Milborne Port, near Sherborne in Somerset. We think he was the son of John Abbott, a glover cutter and his wife, Mary, who was a grocer, but we can’t be sure because there was more than one person with same name born there around that time. In 1879 Henry married Louisa Jane Wells in the Devizes area. Louisa was born in 1859 Chirton (alias Cherington), Wiltshire. She was the daughter of Edmund Wells and Susanna (nee Drake). In the 1861 and 1871 censuses Edmund was the licensed victualler at the New Inn, Chirton.
The 1881 census shows that Henry and Louisa were living in Cypress Cottage, Corsham. Henry was described as a certified teacher aged 27. Louisa was aged 22 born in Cherrington, Wiltshire. Their daughter, Muriel Blanche was born in Corsham in 1883.
On 15th October 1883 Henry became the master at the Thornbury Council School. He didn’t immediately get on with the position and he submitted his resignation on 9th April 1884 intending to quit on 2nd July, but he must have withdrawn his resignation because he remained at the school until 1903. The school records show that in 1898 Henry’s salary was increased from £110 per annum to £130 per annum.
From 1887, or earlier, the Abbotts lived at 81 High Street. They had four more children in Thornbury – a daughter, Vere Hugoline, born in 1886, Cyril Claude Wells Abbott born in 1887, Adele Doreen born in 1889 and Dulcie Gwendoline born in 1891. By 1891 census the Abbotts had moved to 77 High Street and they were still living there in the 1901 census. By the 1901 census Muriel had become a milliner and Vere a draper’s apprentice.
We are grateful to Tony Cherry for additional information about Henry extracted from his book ‘The History of a School’. He noted an entry of 27th June 1888 which read: “The school left in charge of pupil teacher from 11 to 12 as I have been summonsed to attend the Petty Sessions for not complying with Vaccination order. Having had one child almost killed by it. I refuse to allow second to be mutilated and tormented”. A Vaccination Act was first passed in 1853 requiring all children to be vaccinated against smallpox. The 1867 Vaccination Act increased the penalties for failure to vaccinate infants. At the time of the log entry Abbott was refusing to have Vere vaccinated as a result of the experiences when Muriel was vaccinated. This summons did not bring Abbott to heel because the log records that he was prosecuted again in fairly quick succession on 5th September 1888, 25th September 1889 and 20th November 1889. He was also summoned by the “Thornbury Guardians” on 21st June 1893.
The summons would have placed him in a difficult position. He was a pillar of the community and expected to observe the law. Furthermore, he was instrumental in using the law to prosecute parents who did not send their children to school. The school managers tolerated this situation. It was probably not so much because they were sympathetic to Abbott’s plight but more likely that it was proving difficult to retain a Master. Abbott himself had tendered his resignation within six months of taking the post and his three predecessors had all lasted only a year. This is probably an indication of how tough the job was with the lack of school accommodation, constant threat of having the grant cut because of low standards and weak staff.
We also noticed a reference in the minutes of the School Board in 1898 in which Henry had asked for a school gong and some stationery. His request for the stationary was accepted, but the decision over the gong was postponed until the headmaster could justify the need for it!
Henry died in January 1903 in the County Asylum at Gloucester and he was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 31st January 1903. He was aged 49.
Frank Hugo Harry Cresswell – Frank and his wife, Alice, were living here from 1903. Frank was born in Church Lench in Worcestershire on 19th July 1871. He was the son of John Cresswell, a farmer and carrier and his wife, Emma. In the 1881 the Cresswells were living at Church Farm, Flyford Flavell. By the 1891 census Frank had become a pupil teacher at Flyford Flavell.
In 1899 Frank married Alice Abigail Ewins in the Pershore area, presumably at Flyford Flavell. Alice was born in 1869, the daughter of Edwin George Ewin, a cordwainer and his wife, Mary (nee Sherwood). The 1901 census shows Frank and Alice living in Devon where Frank was a schoolmaster at the National School in Merton near Torrington.
In 1903 they moved to Thornbury when Frank succeeded Henry Abbott as headmaster of the Council School. The 1904 Brown’s Almanac shows that Frank was initially living in Gloucester Road, but by 1905 the Cresswells had taken over the house in which the Abbotts had lived at 77 High Street and they stayed here until January 1914.
During the period he was at the school he was successful in achieving good reports from the school inspectors. In 1910 for example they said: “this is in all respects a very good school. The headmaster supervises work in a thoughtful and earnest manner; the teachers take much pains with their lessons and the children are orderly industrious and responsive.”
In January 1914 Frank moved to take up a position at Cirencester Council School for Boys. At some stage they both moved back to the Midlands. Alice’s death is registered in Rowley Regis in 1938 when she was aged 61. Frank’s death was registered in Evesham in 1944 aged 72.
Louisa Baylis – the house was occupied by Louisa from about 1918 onwards until she died in 1933. Louisa was the widow of George Henry Baylis, a carrier. Click here to read more
William and Bessie Livall – when the house was put up for sale in 1938 (following the death of Charlotte and Ann Wise) it was occupied by William and Bessie Livall.
William was born in Tytherington in 1895. He appears to have been the son of William Henry Livall and his wife, Louisa (nee Pritchard). They had married in 1893 and had two children, Florence May born in late 1893 and William Henry in 1895, before Louisa died aged only 22 and she was buried on 28th January 1897. The family had been living at The Hackett at the time of Louisa’s death.
Life must have been very hard for young William. The 1901 census shows that his widowed father then aged 31 was working as a labourer at the quarry and looking after his two young children. They were sharing the house in Tytherington with his older widowed sister, Mary Smith.
On 16th October 1915 William married Bessie White at Thornbury Register Office. Bessie had been born on 29th May 1895 and baptised on 16th February 1898, the daughter of Charles White, a labourer and his wife, Harriett. They had at least two children: Lily Mary born on 20th April 1916, Violet Joan born on 30th July 1920.
During the War William joined the Army Reserve in December 191 but was not posted into the Army Service Corp until May 1918. His record describes him as being 5ft 5 inches with 36 inch chest. He was demobilised in November 1919.
The Livalls were living in St Mary Street when Lily was baptised on 7th November 1917 at which time William was described as being a blacksmith. We assume that they were living with Bessie’s parents who were living at 27 St Mary Street. The 1927 electoral register lists William Livall as living with Charles White in St Mary Street and later registers up to 1935 show that they continued to live in St Mary Street.
By 1938 William and Bessie were at 77 High Street. Their daughter, Lily May married Leslie George Thomas Stephens of Alveston in 1938. They moved to live in Lower Almondsbury.
The special register compiled in 1939 in preparation for the war shows William was employed as a blacksmith and fitter in the quarry.
William and Bessie carried on living at 77 High Street until their deaths. William died on 9th April 1954 aged 59. Bessie died on 22nd February 1955 aged 59.
Reg and Edith Pearce – the house was occupied by the Pearce family for about 50 years. They are listed as living there in the 1958 electoral register. Reg died in 1995 aged 83. Edith died about 2009. Click here to read more