The Thornbury Wesleyan Chapel opened in the High Street about 1877, replacing the old building in Chapel Street which was adapted for use as a community hall and became known as The Cossham Hall. Click here to read about the history of the Methodist Chapel
The Chapel was built on the site of an old property which had to be demolished to make way for the new building. We don’t know a great deal about the building. We haven’t seen many deeds for this property so have to base our findings on other sources. The 1840 Tithe Survey shows the property as two plots, 48 and 50, a house and garden owned by Elizabeth Knapp and occupied by Daniel Pitcher. Thus we have established that it was the home of William Knapp, a blacksmith and this enabled us to trace an agreement made in 1805 between William Knapp and William Osborne.
James Knapp – an agreement made between William Knapp and William Osborne on 24th January 1805 shows that the property had been previously occupied by James Knapp. James was a blacksmith and we assume that he was the father of the William Knapp who bought the property in 1805. If this assumption is correct then it would mean that as James died in 1785 aged 65, William would have occupied the property for over 20 years before he bought it in 1805.
According to his age at his death, James would have been born bout 1720. On 30th August 1747 James married Elizabeth Hobby and they subsequently had seven children: Mary born on 7th May 1750 and baptised on 6th June 1750, Elizabeth born on 4th July 1752 and baptised on 18th August 1752, Sarah born on 4th September 1754 and baptised on 1st October 1755, James baptised on 30th October 1757, William born on 29th October 1761 and baptised on 25th November 1761, Anna Maria born on 3rd March 1763 and baptised on 15th May 1764 and Sukey born on 26th January 1766 and baptised on 24th February 1766.
James’s wife, Elizabeth, died of smallpox and died on 16th April 1771 aged 46 years. Elizabeth, their daughter died aged 22 years and was buried on 3rd November 1773. James died aged 65 and was buried on 18th May 1785. We note that when his daughter Elizabeth died in 1773 James was described as a farmer so he may have had more than one occupation. Click here to read about James’s son, James jnr.
William Knapp, the elder – William Knapp was born on 29th October 1761 and baptised on 25th November 1761. He was the son of James Knapp, a blacksmith and his wife, Elizabeth (nee Hobby). We are grateful to Robert Moody for supplying the notes of his research into the Knapp family.
William became a blacksmith like his father. On 26th February 1786, he married Flora Child, the daughter of Thomas Child and his wife, Anne. William and Flora had several children, Martha born on 6th September 1786 (she later married Thomas Mason of Olveston) and died in 1830), Mary born in 1788 but died aged 5, Hester died in 1795 aged 4, Frances born in 1795 and died in 1856, William Knapp born in 1797, Hester died in 1797 aged 2, Mary born in 1803 and died in 1845 and Flora born in 1805 and died in infancy. Flora died aged 45 and was buried on 25th March 1807.
On 24th January 1805 William agreed to pay William Osborne £240 for the property which had previously been occupied by his father, James Knapp.
William Knapp married again in 1811. He married his second wife at St James’s Church in Bath. She was Elizabeth Pitcher, the daughter of Daniel Pitcher who was a clerk when Elizabeth was baptised on 29th July 1782. William and Elizabeth had several more children of their own: Daniel Pitcher Knapp baptised on 10th January 1813, Phoebe Elizabeth baptised on 28th September 1814 (Phoebe Knapp married Thomas Ricketts), Edwin born on 29th April 1817 and baptised on 28th May 1817 and Henry baptised on 1st March 1820.
The accounts of the Churchwardens of St Marys Church include the following examples of work undertaken by William in 1805 he was paid £1 4s 2d for iron for the stocks and in 1811 £1 3s 0d for locks etc for the parish chest and for the Vestry doors.
William and Elizabeth lived in the High Street in a house on the site of where the Methodist Church now stands. The records of the Church show that William raised £300 by yielding the tenancy of the land to Thomas Pearce of Hamin 1811 and in 1817 he raised a further £100 with the property as surety. Eventually he transferred the property and the debt to Elizabeth’s brother, Daniel Pitcher.
William died aged 59 in 1821 and was buried on 22nd August 1821. Elizabeth carried on living in the same house and took over the blacksmith’s business from her dead husband. On 22nd December 1834 she appeared at the Thornbury Petty Sessional Court charged with possessing four defective weights in her shop.
The 1840 Tithe Survey shows that this property was owned by Daniel Pitcher and occupied by Elizabeth Knapp. In the 1841 census Elizabeth is listed there as a blacksmith with sons, Daniel and Henry, who were also both blacksmiths. The 1851 census shows Elizabeth, now an ironmonger living at the same place in the High Street with her son, Henry, a blacksmith. Click here for more information about the Knapp family
William Knapp and the Meredith’s – in 1859 Elizabeth’s stepson, William Knapp, (another blacksmith) discharged the debt for £600 owed to Daniel Pitcher and took over as owner of the property.
The 1861 census shows Elizabeth now aged 68 had given up her business and moved to live with her daughter, Phoebe and her husband Thomas Ricketts on the east side of the High Street, two houses down from the Swan Hotel. She was still living there in 1871 when she was aged 88. She died later that year – the Scribes Alcove Website says her age was 78, FreeBMD website says it was 91.
William Knapp died on 4th April 1862 aged 65. This property in the High Street became owned by Mark Crossman Meredith and his wife, Mary Ann who was William Knapp’s daughter. She had married Mark in Thornbury on 8th May 1851. Mark was the son of Edward Meredith, farmer from Alveston. Click here to read about the Merediths
Angelina Philpot – the 1861 census and 1862 Rate Book shows the property occupied by Angelina Philpot. Click here to read about Angelina’s earlier life
The 1861 census shows us that Angelina was a basketmaker, a widow aged 31 born in Kingswood. She was living there with her children: Elizabeth aged 7, Ann aged 4 and William aged 2 and a journeyman basketmaker Samuel Amos aged 34 from Thornbury. Angelina was sharing the house with Thomas French, a police constable aged 25 born in Uley, his wife, Amelia aged 19 from Bitton and a niece, Alice Jarrett aged 8 from Bitton.
We are grateful to Richard Barton for sending us a copy of the photo on the left. It was given to him by a family member who thought that it might be Angelina and her children.
It seems that Angelina moved to Bridgewater. She married a police officer James Francis Hitchens there in 1865. James was born in Truro in Cornwall. The Scribes Alcove’s website shows us that Elizabeth Ellen Cook Philpot died in Bridgewater aged 11 years, but she was buried in Thornbury on 27th November 1865. The 1871 census shows that James then aged 27 and Angelina then aged 33 had moved again. They were living in London at London Wall in a district called St Michael Bassishaw. They had Angelina’s two remaining children by her first marriage Anne aged 14 and 12 year old William. Angelina also had three children by her second marriage; Elizabeth aged four years, George aged two and Alfred aged seven months.
Her son William continued to live in London where he married Isabella Doming at St George in the East on 18th November 1883. The 1891, 1901 and 1911 censuses shows that William and his wife Isabella lived in Walthamstow.
George Poole – the 1867 Rate Book and the 1871 census shows the property was occupied by George Poole. In the census George was a basket maker aged 43 living with his wife, Ann aged 39 from Olveston and their children: Minnie aged 5, Selina aged 2,two lodgers, Richard Browning a journeyman basketmaker aged 21 from Cromhall, Thomas Baylis a labourer aged 15 from Thornbury and a visitor William Browning a tailor aged 26 from Cromhall.
George was still occupying the house at the time of the 1876 Rate Book. Click here to read more
Edwin Boyes Lonnen – We understand that Mark Crossman Meredith and his wife Mary Ann sold the property to Edwin Boyes Lonnen in 1874. The 1876 Rate Book confirms that Edwin had taken over as owner of the property replacing the Merediths. Click here for more
We understand from Paul Wildgoose’s notes on the subject that the property was sold some time in 1876 for £400 to W. H. Councell for the purpose of building a Wesleyan Chapel and School. The building was then demolished to make way for the erection of the new chapel. Click here to read about the new Chapel