High St Wilkins later part of International 1969

The photo on the left shows the property now known as 9 High Street, Thornbury in 1968.  It was then a draper’s shop run by the Wilkins family.  It is now a convenience store run by the Co-operative Society which incorporates the Town’s Post Office.

We haven’t seen the deeds for this property, but we’ve been able to build up a reasonable picture of its history from a few indentures identified as being for this property or for the neighbouring ones.

Our best source of information about the early history of this property is an indenture made the 14th April 1750 in which John Horwood sells a property in the High Street to Matthew Meredith.  The property is described as:

all that part of one messuage or tenement formerly of Phillip Mansell deceased situate lying and being in the borough of Thornbury in a street there called the High Street containing such and so many rooms and places as herein after are particularly mentioned and expressed (that is to say) one room called the Shop adjoining to the street called High Street one other room called the passage lying behind the shop one other room called the hall lying behind the shop and passage together with the entry to the shop passage and hall adjoining one other room called the cellar lying under the shop, also all those four chambers lying over the shop passage hall and entry or some or one of them and also all those three cocklofts as they are now divided two whereof are lying on the northward part of the said messuage and the other on the eastward part thereof together also with that parcel of the back side and garden ground lying next the said messuage containing in length 64 feet or near thereabouts from the back door of the aforesaid entry and also the outhouse adjoining to the poynend of the other part of the said messuage on the eastward part thereof and also a way through the garden formerly of Phillip Mansell into a street in the borough called St Mary Street otherwise the back street, all which said part of the said messuage and premises adjoin to the messuage and lands formerly of one Sarah Thurston widow but now of John Rudge on the northward part thereof’ and to the other part of the said messuage and the messuage and lands formerly of one William Ogborne deceased but now of William Greenwood on the southward part thereof and were lately purchased by said John Harwood to him and his heirs in fee simple of and from Sarah Barton widow and John Barton yeoman (both deceased ) and now in the tenure or occupation of John Lippiatt tailor as tenant to said John Harwood‘.

The detailed description of the properties on either side have enabled us to identify this property as 9 High Street.  Based upon the Overseers of the Poor account books we believe that it had previously been part of a larger property which was divided into what we now know as 9 and 11 High Street.  The earliest record showing the owner of the property was a borough rent roll suspected to have been prepared in the 1660’s.  This appears to show the property as being owned by ‘Widow Bingham‘.

The Overseers account records have enabled us to trace the ownership of this larger property back to 1668 when it was owned by William Smith.  He was paying two and a half pence a month as poor rate from 1668 until 1683.  In 1684 Margaret Smyth widow who was presumably William’s wife, paid the poor rate.  Read more about William Smith 

In 1685 Phillip Mansell had taken over paying the rate of two and a half pence ‘for Smyths’.  Click here to read about the Mansells

By 1686 the property appears to have been divided into two separate units (presumably corresponding to what we now know as 9 and 11 High Street).  Phillip Mansell was paying one and a quarter pence per month ‘for Smyths’.  Jonathan Barton was also paying one and a quarter pence for part of the property.  In 1688 to 1690 the proportions each person paid changed slightly: Phillip was paying one and a half pence and Jonathan paying one pence.  We believe that Phillip’s property was 11 High Street and Jonathan Barton’s became 9 High Street.

The Bartons – in 1686 Jonathan Barton took over one part of the property owned by Phillip Mansell.  At that time he was paying one and a quarter pence for his part.  There appears to have been a slight adjustment of the property as in 1688 to 1690 as Jonathan was paying one pence per month in poor rate.

We are grateful to Richard Barton, a researcher of the Barton family in Thornbury.  Richard tells us that Jonathan was the son of Robert Barton and his wife Susannah (nee Holway).  He was probably born on 24th June 1652 at Thornbury but no names of parents are given in the register.  He was a Butcher of Thornbury.  He first married Ann Croome at Thornbury on 6th April 1681.  Anne was buried at Thornbury on 5th November 1688.  Jonathan went on to marry Sarah Chew at North Nibley on 27th February 1700.  He was probably buried at Thornbury on 28th September 1726.  Jonathan died intestate, but his son, John Barton was granted the administration of his property.  From the indenture quoted above it appears that John and his mother, Sarah, retained the property, letting it out to tenants (see below) until they sold it to John Horwood about 1733.

John Mansell – the account books show John Mansell was paying the poor rate on the property described as ‘for Bartons’.  From 1722 to 1728 John was paying 1d per month.  We note that John Mansell died and was buried on 9th May 1729.  We suspect that John was the son of Phillip Mansell who had owned the property earlier.  Read more about the Mansells

John Harwood (or Horwood) – using the Overseers Accounts we have been able to trace John as owning the property from 1733 to 1749.  He was paying 1d per month in poor rate. ‘for Mansells’.  When John sold this property to Matthew Meredith on 14th April 1750 for £80 he was described as a yeoman living at Grovesend with his wife, Hester.

We have references in a notebook in the Gloucester Records Office written by the vicar, William Holwell.  These show accounts transactions detailing expenses of the Attwells School from a lot earlier than 1796.  In 1754 John Horwood was paid £1 15s, ‘half a yeare’s rent for the school howse’.  Similar payment continue until 1758 when the rent starts being paid to Mrs Horwood, then in April 1760 ‘Paid Mrs Horwood for ye purchase of the schoole howse late West £63 0 0’.  We have no way of being sure that this is the same person.  Inscriptions in the graveyard of St James Church, Tytherington show John Horwood died 11th August 1758 aged 82, Sarah Horwood died 1st September 1758 aged 29 and Hester relict of John died 28th March 1765 aged 78.

Matthew Meredith – bought the property from John Horwood and his wife, Hester by indentures of lease and release dated 13th and 14th April 1750.  Matthew had already purchased the adjoining property (11 High Street) purchased in 1744.  When Matthew arranged a mortgage on both properties with Nicholas Sweet on 2nd October 1759, he was a grocer living at 11 High Street.  The indenture describes the property at 9 High Street as:

also all that messuage or tenement (formerly only part of a messuage) together with an outhouse garden and backside thereunto belonging situate lying and being in the said street called the High Street adjoining to the before mentioned messuage or tenement in the occupation of the said Matthew Meredith on the southward part thereof and was by him the said Matthew Meredith by indentures of lease and release bearing the date respectively the 13th and 14th April 1750 bought and purchased to him and his heirs in fee of and from the said John Horwood and Hester his wife and now are in the tenure of occupation of Mary Clark widow.

The reference to ‘formerly only part of a messuage’ suggests that 9 and 11 High Street were probably at one time one property.  This was probably at the time it was owned by Phillip Mansell or the Barton family which might explain why it is difficult to identify the property in the account records.

The Overseers Accounts show Matthew Meredith as landlord of The Swan in 1762.  He was also listed as being there in the poor assessment records of 1769 and 1770.  In 1769 Matthew sold 9 and 11 High Street properties to George Rolph.  Matthew was then living at The Swan.  Read more about Matthew Meredith

John Lippiatt – the 1750 indenture referred to above mentions that the property was then occupied by John Lippiatt tailor.  Click here to read more

The Rolphs – according to his will dated 1792 George Rolph bought the two properties (9 & 11 High Street) and in the rear, the Malthouse facing St Mary Street from Matthew Meredith.  It is interesting that an indenture dated 1st November 1769 shows Matthew selling the properties to Thomas Clark a tallow chandler.  However another indenture dated 18th December 1769 shows Thomas Clark conveying the properties to George Rolph.  It clarifies the situation by saying:

Thomas Clark doth hereby acknowledge testify and declare that the said sum of £130 purchase money paid to the said Matthew Meredith and Lucy Maria his wife as a foresaid was the sole proper money of the said George Rolph and that the name of him the said Thomas Clark was made use of in the first mentioned and recited indenture of lease and release only in trust and to and for the only benefit of the said George Rolph his heirs and assigns and to be granted and conveyed to the said George Rolph his heirs and assigns or such other person or persons a she or they should direct or appoint and to and for no other use intent or purpose whatsoever“.

Note the Overseers Accounts refer to Thomas Clark as owning the two properties in 1770 to 1773 and the Land Tax records up to 1782 are still showing Thomas Clark as the owner.  The paragraph above shows that George Rolph was the actual owner of both properties.  In 1770 the property at 9 High Street was still being occupied by Mrs Clark.

In his will dated 1792 George Rolph left to ‘daughters Susannah and Hester by the said Susannah my former wife ‘all that messuage or tenement wherein Robert Pountney deceased heretofore inhabited and Sarah Peters widow doth now dwell with the garden and appurtenances thereunto belonging which said garden is now occupied by my said daughters and also all that messuage or tenement adjoining to the northward part of that last mentioned and where in Mary Clarke widow lately inhabited and my said daughters do now dwell both adjoining to the Fore Street of the said borough on the eastward side of that street with all out houses …..etc together with the malt house thereto or near thereto adjoining situate in the Back Street of the said borough and now rented of me by Mary Greenwood widow which said two several messuages or tenements malt house and premises last mentioned are all adjoining together and were by me purchased in fee simple (with other hereditaments ) of the said Mathew Meredith‘. The first property mentioned refers to 11 High Street, the second to 9 High Street.

Although the property was left to sisters, Susannah and Hester Rolph, only Susannah’s name is shown on the land tax records.  The will referred to above suggest that they were both living in the property in 1792.  In 1792 Hester married Joseph Hughes.  The 1796 land 1797 and tax record shows that ‘Miss Rolph’ was occupying the property so we assume that this referred to Susannah.  Click here to read about the Rolph family

Mary Clarke – Mary was occupying the property at the time of the 1759 mortgage document and was referred to as a previous occupant in the last will of George Rolph written in 1792.  She was already a widow by 1759 but we don’t know who she was married to.  Mary died ‘quite suddenly’ aged 61 and was buried on 30th October 1781.

Joseph Laver – the 1800 Land Tax record shows Joseph renting a property from Susannah Rolph which is suspect to be 9 High Street.  Joseph and his wife Louisa appeared to have settled in Thornbury, presumably following their marriage.  The 1809 and 1810 Land Tax records show Joseph was occupying two adjoining properties belonging to Susannah Rolph. We suspect one of these may have been the Thornbury Bank (at 11 High Street) in which Joseph worked from about 1808.  By 1812 Joseph was shown as the owner of 9 High Street and by 1814 he had also acquired the property next door (7 High Street).

The land tax records from 1828 to 1831 appear to show that William Grove was renting 9 High Street from Joseph Laver.  We are not sure where Joseph and his family were living at this time.  The 1832 land tax record shows Joseph Laver had replaced ‘late William Grove’.

The 1840 Tithe Survey shows the property as Plot 195, a house and garden owned and occupied by Joseph Laver.  At this time Joseph owned three adjoining properties in this part of the town and the Survey shows he was occupying two of them (9 High Street and 2 St Mary Street) and his brother, George Laver, was occupying the third (7 High Street).

We are a little confused as to where Joseph and the family were living around this time.  The 1841 census suggests Joseph’s sister-in-law, Temperance Willis was living at 9 High Street.  She was described as being ‘Independent’ aged 74 living with a female servant Ann Jenkins aged 24.  The 1841 census suggests that Joseph and the family were living next door at the Bank, 11 High Street.  Joseph is described as a clerk at the Bank.

The 1851 census suggests that 9 High Street was occupied by Joseph Laver and his family.  Both Joseph and Louisa died in the 1850s.   In Joseph Laver’s will made 15th October 1856 he gave his daughter, Maria Louisa Laver his current residence, the freehold house called the ‘Bank House’ which we believe to have been at 9 High Street.  It is slightly strange that it was called the Bank House as we are fairly sure that the actual bank that was owned by Harwood & Co was next door at 11 High Street.  Click here to read about Joseph 

Henry James Dodd – the 1859 Rate Book shows Henry had become the owner and occupant of the property.  Henry was a a grocer, draper and outfitter.  By 1867 Henry’s son-in-law, Edwin Boyes Lonnen had taken over the occupancy of the property.  Henry and his wife moved to 22 High Street, but they continued to own 9 High Street.  Click here to read more

Edwin Boyes Lonnen – the 1876 Rate Book suggests that Edwin was running the shop at 9 High Street in addition to the one at 11 High Street.  Both shops were owned by Henry James Dodd.  By the 1880 Rate Book Edwin had given up both shops, although he continued to own 11 High Street.  Click here to read more

Thomas Jennett Pearson – the 1880 Rate Book suggests that Thomas was the tenant of Henry James Dodd at 9 High Street.  The 1881 census also puts Thomas living at 9 High Street.  In the census, Thomas was a linen draper aged 41 from Thorpe le Soken, Essex living with his wife, Marian aged 37 from Spalding in Lincolnshire and their children: Thomas J aged 13, Alice G. M. aged 12 and Walter W. aged 11, all born in Yarmouth, Norfolk and Kate aged 10 and Ernest E aged 9, both born in Gorleston, Suffolk.

The family appeared to move to Thornbury in early 1880.  On 13th January 1880 Thomas’s son, Thomas Jennett Pearson born on 25th September 1867 was admitted to Thornbury Grammar School.

We initially had trouble tracing Thomas’s early days.  The middle name of ‘Jennett’ finally enabled us to track him down in the 1841 census.  Thomas Jennett aged 2 was living with his parents, Thomas and Mary both aged 34.  Mary Alice aged 1 was also living with them in Landemere Loading, Thorpe le Soken, Essex.  We don’t know what happened to his parents as we can’t find them in any later census.  The 1861 census shows Thomas as a draper’s assistant aged 21 living in Great Yarmouth.  There was a report in the London Gazette 1869 showing that Thomas had gone bankrupt as a draper.  In 1867 Thomas married Alice Rope in the Yarmouth area.  In 1871 the family were living at Gorleston in Suffolk in the High Street where Thomas was a draper.  He and his wife Alice (then aged 27) had four young children and a housemaid and nursemaid in their household.  In 1874 Alice died aged 31.

In 1877 Thomas re-married in the Hackney area of London.  His wife was Marianne Albin.

Thomas and Marianne didn’t stay in Thornbury very long.  The records of the Canadian Census show that they emigrated to Canada arriving there in 1882.  They are listed as living in Whitewood, Assiniboia, Saskatchewan in the 1900 and 1910 censuses.  Thomas was a farmer.  His birth date is shown as 30th April 1839.  Marian was born on 14th April 1833.

Wilkins the drapers – we think that the Wilkins family took over the property in 1883 following their move from Bristol.  The head of the family at that time was Charles Hill Wilkins who was a draper.  The shop was to continue  being run by the Wilkins family for the next 80 years or so. Click here to read about the Wilkins family

Following Arthur Wilkins death in 1949 Manchester House was put up for sale.  It was described as comprising large double fronted shop with show room, side entrance, large sitting room, pantry, kitchen, scullery and W. C.  On the first floor there were a lounge, three bedrooms and two boxrooms and on the second floor two bedrooms and workroom.  It doesn’t appear that the shop was sold at this time as the electoral registers show that Arthur’s daughter, Mildred Laura Cullimore and her family continued living there. Mildred took over the running of her father’s shop and she was joined in this enterprise by her husband, Dudley John Cullimore, and they were followed by their son, John Cullimore.   More information about these family members is included on the Wilkins family page.  Click here to read more

We are not sure what happened to the property when Wilkins moved away in 1969 and would be grateful if anyone could tell us.  We do know that by 1981 the International Stores had extended their shop at 11 High Street into 9 High Street.  It is possible that this happened in the 1970’s.

International Stores – by 1981 extended from 11 High Street to create Thornbury’s first large supermarket.  We are not sure when the International Stores closed.  Click here to read more 

In more recent years, the shop has been used by convenience stores, Circle K, Alldays, and more recently by the Co-op.  During this period these stores have also accommodated the town’s Post Office.