We are grateful to Barrie and Ann Marie Dagless for allowing us to see her large collection of deeds that relate to number 69 High Street and the adjoining houses in the High Street in Thornbury.  These include references to the history of the neighbouring house, now known as ‘Miss Saise’s Cottage’ but which doesn’t have a house number.  This cottage was the home had connections with four generations of the Cossham family which made an important contribution to life in Thornbury.  Click here to read about Miss Saises Cottage

We have two very useful sources of information about the early history of this cottage and the plot of land which adjoined it which at one time was called The Town Orchard.

One source was an old handwritten note found in Gloucester Records Office.  The note was written in the early 1800’s and it appears to be an attempt to create an early abstract of title for what it calls ‘the house occupied by Richard Cossham’.  Another important source is the Mayors Accounts Books which has enabled us to trace back the owners of the property from Richard Cossham to the early 1600’s.  It show us that the property was part of a larger property called The Fraternity and Town Orchard whose history goes way back before the periods we have so far investigated.

We don’t know a great deal about the Fraternity.  The earliest references to it in Thornbury is found in the notes of the historian William Caffall.  He says that in 1478 there was an “Indenture of demise by John Hylpe and William Wayte, proctors of the Fraternity of the Assumption of Blessed Mary of Thornbury, with consent of the brethren and sisters of the fraternity, to John Kynworth, and Christiana his wife, for their lives, of a burgage in the High Street, Thornbury. 20 November, 18 Edward IV. ”

The full title of The Fraternity was probably the “Fraternity of the Assumption of Blessed Mary the Virgin of the Art or Mystery of Clothworkers.”   We have found that this was an ancient guild eventually incorporated in 1482 and given its Royal Charter in 1528.  This charter confirmed that the Fraternity could have officials and “they should be called by the name of the Master and Wardens of the Fraternity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and by the same name might be perpetual and able and capable to sue for, receive and procure lands and tenements annuities rents services and emoluments.”  We do not know exactly what the nature, nor the size of the property in Thornbury referred to above but it would seem that as early as 1479 the Fraternity had acquired a property or properties in the borough and this gave it an income to use for the benefit of its members.

The Mayors Accounts for 1790 provides the clearest record linking the Fraternity to the property we have called Miss Saises Cottage.  The accounts in that year were written by the Mayor George Rolph, a solicitor, who efficiently described each property in detail for which he was receiving a rent charge.  George wrote:

Of Robert Facey – Out of premises in the High Street formerly called the Fraternity occupied by one John Baineham, butcher, and since belonging to John Hughes and now to devisee of George Cossham deceased…….. 2 shillings.

The annuity Granted and Issuable out of these premises was 10s and that appears to be paid till about the year 1626 from which time to 1650 it was carried on in arrear when it is supposed the premises fell down and continued in that state till 1700 when a lease thereof was granted by the feoffees of the Corporation Lands to Robert Thurston Senior for 99 years at 2s a year and which term expires the 3rd August old stile 1799, and which 2s has been constantly paid since the making of the lease‘.

We have confirmed from the Mayors Accounts that John Bainham (or Bayneham) appears regularly in the books between 1611 and 1658.  In some of the entries it includes reference to the property having been gifted by John Hylpe and that 10s was payable by John ‘for one years rent for ye house wherein he now liveth called The Fraternity’.  In 1627 it was noted that John was given money for the relief of his wife and children and from that time onwards to 1658 it appears John was always in arrears for one years rent at 10s.

According to what George Rolph said the original house fell down and it was only from around 1700 that rents payable to the Mayor were re-introduced.  The handwritten note confirms that on 3rd August 1700 the Feoffees of the Corporation Lands leased the property to Robert Thurston for 99 years.  The Mayors Accounts for 1700/1701 show Robert was paying 2s for the ‘poor rent late Bainehams’.  On 22nd March 1704 Robert devised his interest to his son, Robert Thurston jnr for the remainder of the term.

On 16th/17th August 1706 Robert Thurston, mercer of Thornbury assigned the property to Richard Archard, a yeoman of Ham near Berkeley.  It was described as ‘all that one place parcel of ground or orchard with appurts being or reputed to be one burgage in the borough of Thornbury and adjoining to the lands of formerly of Edward Thurston gent deceased formerly the lands of Robert Note on the south side and adjoining to the other lands of said Edward Thurston formerly the lands of one James Eddis on the north side which adjacent tenements were formerly in the tenure of Henry Cheesman and contained by estimation ½ acre or less and also that one parrock backside close plot or parcel of ground adjoining to a garden formerly of Thomas Webb at the north end and leading or abutting to the garden(s) or backsides formerly of William Search and Richard Hillbery the lands of John Bird, John Baynham and Arthur Aylworth and also formerly the lands of Edward Thurston aforesaid deceased on the west side and adjoining or abutting on the east side thereof to the copyhold or customary lands there which one James Wintle formerly held or enjoyed in the right of Elizabeth his wife and abutting on the lands formerly of George Morse gent and of James Eddis at the south end thereof and contained by estimation ½ acre with appurts etc to the said orchard parrock close and premises all within the borough of Thornbury and do contain, lie or are esteemed or reputed to be two several burgages in the whole and are now in possession of Robert Thurston his tenants or assigns and were formerly purchased by Robert Thurston mercer late of Thornbury deceased father to the Robert Thurston party to this indenture from Thomas Thurston late of Thornbury gent deceased and by the said Robert Thurston the father given to Robert Thurston the younger in the will of Robert Thurston (elder)‘.

This transaction included two plots, one of which was the orchard which was included in the following transactions.  On 2nd April 1709 Richard sold the property to John Hughes. Richard’s address at that time was ‘of Green Street, Berkeley’.

John Hughes – we know from the Mayors Accounts books that John owned the property known as The Fraternity and the handwritten note referring to this house includes several references to John Hughes.

On 1st/2nd April 1709 the property was bought by John Hughes, a Thornbury victualler from Richard Archard.  We are not sure as to the nature of the property at this time.  We know that the old building had fallen down at some time prior to 1700.  The notes referring to John Hughes include a set of indentures dated 9th/10th April 1733, part of a marriage settlement for John Hughes’s son, also called John Hughes.  These documents refer to two properties: one of which had a house on it which had burnt down at some time before this date.  This plot was described as ‘all that messuage or tenement being formerly burnt down with the garden backside and appurts situate in the borough of Thornbury and was heretobefore in the possession of Anthony Search and was afterwards purchased by Samuel Gee of and from Sarah White spinster and hath since been sold by said Samuel Gee to the said John Hughes and his heirs’.  The other plot was ‘all that parcel of ground or orchard being or reputed to be one burgage within the Borough of Thornbury and adjoining to the lands formerly of Edward Thurston gent deceased formerly the lands of Robert Note on the south side and adjoining to other lands of said Edward Thurston formerly the lands of James Eddis on the north side which adjacent tenements were in the tenure or occupation of Henry Cheesman and contained by estimation ½ acre‘.

The reference to ‘the messuage or tenement being formerly burnt down’ might relate to the property which had been on the site of the Fraternity, but none of the names of the owners or occupants are mentioned elsewhere in relation to the Fraternity.

The marriage settlement indicates that the two properties now in the occupation of John Hughes, the elder, are after his death to be used by his wife, Joan for her lifetime and then to be used by his son, John Hughes Jnr and then to the children of his wife, Sarah.  Sarah was the daughter of Thomas Parker late of Westerleigh yeoman by Ann his wife (nee Ann Hathaway) both deceased.

In his Will, John Hughes of Almondsbury the elder, butcher dated 22nd October 1763 gave ‘to my lovely wife Betty Hughes all that messuage or tenement and houses wherein John Denning now dwelleth and the barn stables and slaughter house orchard and garden and the paddock ground called the Town Orchard and all other appurts and likewise to my wife the house wherein John Taylor now dwelleth and the garden and appurts, the houses both adjoining together lying and being on the east side in the fore street in the Borough of Thornbury all which said premises before mentioned I give to my wife during her natural life and after her decease I give all the premises herein before mentioned to my son John Hughes and his heirs‘.

In addition to some small monetary legacies he left: ‘I give to my daughter June Hughes £10 (after my wife’s decease) and my best bed bolster bedstead curtains and vallions and all other things thereunto belonging and one chest of drawers and one large looking glass after my wife’s decease’.  He gave to his son, John Hughes ‘after my wife’s decease my cart and dung pott and clock and leathern jack and inominate chuse‘.

Thus we can see that by 1763 there has been considerable building on the site – not only a house but barn, stables and a slaughter house.  Also John seems to have a new wife, Betty.

John, the elder must have died before 1764 because on 22nd February 1764 John Hughes of Almondsbury yeoman only son and heir and devisee in the will of John Hughes late of the same place butcher deceased arranged a mortgage on the property with John Hignell.  The property was then described as: ‘All that messuage wherein John Denning now dwelleth together with barn stable slaughterhouse gardens and orchard and all that paddock called Town Orchard about ½ acre adjoining to said orchard and next to the highway there all which premises are in the possession of said John Denning as tenant.  And also all that other messuage adjoining to the beforementioned messuage with the backside and garden and adjoining and now in the occupation of John Taylor as tenant‘.

By the 9th August 1771 John Hughes had moved to Henbury and by 28th July 1772 John had moved again to the Parish of Lanbaddoth in Monmouthshire when he sold the property in Thornbury sold the property to James Tyler.

The Tylers – on 28th July 1772 James Tyler acquired the property in Thornbury from John Hughes, a butcher, late of Henbury but now of Lanbaddoth, Monmouthshire and his wife, Betty.  James Tyler was a grocer from Bristol.  The property was described ‘all that messuage wherein John Denning sometime dwelled together with barn stable slaughter house garden and orchard and all that paddock of ground called the Town Orchard by estimation ½ acre adjoining to the orchard and next to the highway there – sometime since in the possession of John Denning as tenant and all that other messuage adjoining to the before mentioned messuage with backside and garden sometime since in the occupation of John Taylor as tenant‘. The 1775 land tax shows the property rented by Joseph Taylor for late Hughs’s’.

James Tyler was living at Hempton in Almondsbury when he sold the property to George Cossham on 1st/2nd October 1782.  It was described as ‘all that messuage wherein John Denny sometime since inhabited and one Robert Facey butcher doth now dwell with barn stable slaughterhouse garden and orchard and all that paddock called the Town Orchard by estimation 1 acre adjoining to said orchard and next to the highway there‘.

Note – it is interesting to note that the Mayors Accounts clearly show that from 1778 it was a person called Edward Tyler who was the owner of the property.  In 1781 the entry changed to Edward Tyler’s heirs so presumably Edward died.  In 1783 the entry changed to ‘George Cossham’.  The land tax records however clearly show it was ‘Richard Tyler‘ who was the owner of the property in 1780 to 1782.

George Cossham – George acquired the property on 1st/2nd October 1782.  Click here to read about George

Although George only has the property for a few years before his death, in his will dated 1785, he divides this property between two of his sons.  His son Richard Cossham is left ‘the messuage wherein Robert Facey doth now dwell with garden and orchard in the High Street which I purchased (with other premises hereinafter devised to my son Jesse) of James Tyler’.  (We think this property became the house often referred to as ‘Miss Saise’s cottage located between 67 and 69 High Street).  Click here to read about the cottage since it was acquired by George Cossham in 1782

George left to his son, Jesse, amongst other property, all that close or paddock called the Town Orchard, one acre with barn stable slaughterhouse and buildings thereto adjoining – the residue of premises by me lately purchased of James Tyler. (We think that this property was used for construction of what became 73 – 81 High Street).