Thomas Evans – Thomas Evans was a baker.  He bought the property at 51 High Street on 26th May 1825.  The 1809 Rent Roll shows that Thomas was living somewhere in Castle Street, in a house owned by James Allen.  

Thomas’s wife, Mary, died on 21st January 1816 aged 59.  Thomas died in November 1835 aged 78.  An indenture shows the date of his death as 2nd November 1835 but we read that gravestone inscription to show 14th November 1835.  Thomas and Ann are both buried in the churchyard of St Marys Church.

In his will dated 11th February 1832 he left the property where he lived, which he bought from Samuel Penduck, to his daughter, Ann.  He gave £200 to his daughter, Anna Maria, the wife of George Shepherd (a grocer who lived further down the High Street at the Post Office) and £20 each to daughters, Betty, wife of Thomas Tanner and Alice, wife of John Ricketts.  He left a silver watch for his grandson, Thomas Tanner and £1 to his grandson, Robert Tanner.

Thomas’s daughter, Ann, married Stephen Hignell in Bristol on 30th September 1832. (see below)

Stephen and Ann Hignell – Stephen and Ann took over the property left to Ann by her father, Thomas Evans (see above).  Stephen and Ann had one son, Thomas Evans Hignell, born on 28th July 1835.

Stephen was born in Thornbury about 1790.  He was the son of Mordecai Hignell, a butcher and his wife, Eleanor, who were married at Elberton on 12th May 1785.  They are buried in the same grave as Stephen and his family in the churchyard of the Congregational Chapel, Thornbury.

We understand from notes held by the Hignell family that in his early life Stephen lived in The Hackett, Pound House at Eastwood, Talbots End at Cromhall and then Crossways.  According to electoral registers Stephen’s parents were living at Crossways in the 1830’s.

The 1840 Tithe Survey describes the property as Plot 159, a house, bakehouse and garden owned and occupied by Stephen Hignell.  The 1841 census shows Stephen as a mealman aged 40 living with Ann aged 40, Thomas aged 6 and two servants, Samuel Spill aged 20 and Ann Machin aged 15.

Ann died on 2nd November 1849 aged 57.  She was buried in the churchyard of the Congregational Church.  Ann died intestate and left her husband seized of the property.

The 1851 census shows Stephen as a corn dealer.  He was living in the house with his son, Thomas who was assisting his father aged 15, a visitor, George Hignell a farmer aged 35 from Cromhall, an agricultural labourer, William Lansdown from Elberton aged 19 and a house servant, Charlotte Selman aged 24 from Charfield.

The 1861 census shows Stephen as a farmer of 40 acres employing one man.  He was living at the house with his unmarried sister, Eleanor, aged 67, his son, Thomas Evans Hignell, described as a farmer’s son aged 25 and an unmarried housekeeper, Mary Ford aged 57. 

The 1867 Rate Book shows Stephen had moved to live across the road at 50 High Street, a house he was renting from Elizabeth Ford.  The 1871 census shows he was still living there.  He was a retired farmer aged 81, his unmarried sister Eleanor Hignell an annuitant aged 77 and Mary Ford, an unmarried housekeeper aged 64 born in Iron Acton.  Eleanor was buried on 7th October 1874 at the Congregational Chapel.  The 1876 Rate Book shows Stephen still living at 50 High Street.  He died on 26th December 1876 and was buried in the churchyard of the Congregational Church aged 86.

Thomas Evans Hignell – we are grateful to Liz Smith a descendent of the Hignell family who provided us with the photo shown below.

Thomas Evans Hignell was born on 28th July 1835.  He was the son of Stephen Hignell and his wife, nee Ann Evans.  He was baptised in Thornbury on 17th September 1836 at the Independent Chapel.  The 1841 census shows him living with his parents in the High Street.  His father Stephen Hignell was a corn dealer or a “meal man.”  By 1851 Thomas was helping his father Stephen in the business.  Stephen had been widowed.

On 9th June 1866 Thomas married Elizabeth Knapp Jefferis the daughter of Thomas Jefferis and his wife Eliza (nee Whitfield) in Warmley.  Elizabeth was born on 5th October 1843.  Their family bible shows that their seven children were: Stephen Madgwick born on 5th April 1867, Ann Evans born 1st August 1868, Elizabeth Mary born 21st March 1871, Sidney Robert born 3rd June 1873, Thomas Jefferis born on 22nd September 1875, Harold born on 16th May 1879 and Roland George born on 2nd May 1881.


1872 bill paid by Mr Howard of Thornbury Castle to T E Hignell

The 1867 Rate Book and the 1871 census shows that Thomas’s father had retired and moved away from 51 High Street.  The 1871 census shows that Thomas Evans Hignell aged 35 was a farmer of 57 acres and corn factor living at at 51 High Street.  He employed two men and a boy.  He and his wife Elizabeth had three children; Stephen aged 4 Ann aged 2 and Elizabeth aged 2 months.  On the right we have a bill head from this period.

In 1878 the Bristol Mercury reported that Thomas Evans Hignell and Mark Savery were elected to be overseers for the Tithing of Moreton and Falfield.  This meant he was an official and would be keepings accounts of the money spent by the parish on the poor and on other services now taken on by a local council to do with sanitation etc in the area.  The meeting was said to have a very limited attendance and so perhaps there was not much competition for the job.  In June 1878 Edward Livall was committed for trial for stealing a scythe from Thomas Evans Hignell in Thornbury.

By 1881 Thomas aged 45 lived at Thornbury Farm where he farmed 90 acres and employing three men and a boy.  His wife Elizabeth aged 36 had had three more children as the family now had Robert aged 7 Thomas aged 5 and Harold aged 2. They had two servants to help in the household.  Thomas was then letting 51 High Street to Luke Cullimore (see below).

On the 3rd December 1881 the Bristol Mercury had an advertisement for a sale of 10 oaks, 97 elm, 27 ash and 9 beech.  It is interesting to reflect on the fact that Thornbury Farm was near the site of what is today an area owned by South Gloucestershire Council where they are attempting to replant the area as Filnore Wood.

On 13th October 1886 Thomas put up for auction four properties including the High Street shop then being let to Thomas Exell.  It was sold for £950.  The 1887 Rate Book shows the property was bought by John Taylor, although it was still being let to Thomas Exell.

The Hignells had a complete change of circumstances and they moved away from Thornbury.  According to the family this was caused by unwise investments in the corn market.  On February 29th 1888 ‘Mr & Mrs Thomas Hignell’ of Whitchurch formerly of Thornbury were reported to have been elected to the office of master and matron of the workhouse in Keynsham.

The 1891 census shows Thomas as Master of The Workhouse at Keynsham and Elizabeth was the Matron.  They were living there with their sons, Harold aged 11 and Roland aged 9.  The 1901 census shows they were still running the Workhouse at Keynsham.  Two of their sons, Thomas Jefferis and Roland George, were employed as drapers’ assistants.

This photo shows Thomas and Elizabeth sitting with their children outside Keynsham Workhouse.  Stephen Madgwick is sitting alongside his parents.  Standing (left to right) are Roland George, Annie, Thomas Jefferis, Sidney Robert (known as ‘Bob’), Elizabeth and Harold.  Click on the photo to see a larger image.

On March 27th 1891 the Bristol Mercury had an article to the effect that S R Hignell of Malvern College, formerly a pupil of Thornbury Grammar School and son of Mr. Thomas Evans Hignell had won a scholarship to Worcester College Oxford.

The 1901 census shows that Thomas and Elizabeth had stayed as master and matron of the workhouse.

Their son, Roland, was only 27 years old when he died very suddenly.  On September 12th 1908 the Gazette reported on the funeral of Roland George Hignell the youngest son of Thomas Hignell at the Congregational Chapel (now the United Reformed Church).  The newspaper commented on the fact that Roland’s family had been prominently associated with that church for 200 years.

Thomas Evans Hignell died on 27th April 1912 when his address was The Shrubbery, Downend.  Elizabeth died in 1916.  They were both buried in the family grave in the Congregation Church in Thornbury.

It is interesting to note that Roland Hignell, the son of Harold Hignell (and grandson of Thomas Evans Hignell) moved to live at 53 High Street in the 1940’s.  Click here to read more