go to history of the house

Number 19 Horseshoe Lane was one of a block of four terraced cottages.  We have been frustrated by the difficulty in obtaining any photographs of these properties.  We have one small image on the page covering the history of the row – click on the link above to see this image.

We have been given a good description of the houses by Win Jenkins (nee Webb) who was brought up in one of them as a child.  Click here to read Win’s description

We don’t know when the houses were built.  In the 1840 Tithe Survey, the houses were part of Plot 133 which also included the four similar houses in Rock Street referred to above.  All these houses were owned by Mary Wilkes.  Number 19 was occupied by Thomas Smith.

Thomas Smith – the 1840 Tithe Survey map shows that Thomas Smith was one of the occupants of these houses by 1840.  The 1841 census provides some more details.  In 1841 Thomas Smith was an agricultural labourer aged 44, living with Mary, his wife aged 42, and children: Eliza aged 13 and Charles aged 6.

Thomas married Mary Hobbs on 16th May 1830.  Mary was born in Rangeworthy or Iron Acton.  We believe that she was a widow when she married Thomas, having previously been married to James Hobbs who had died.  Thomas and Mary had three children: Eliza born about 1828, Mary Anne baptised on 2nd December 1832 (she was buried on 9th January 1834 aged 1 year and 1 month) and Charles baptised on 22nd July 1835.  We believe that Eliza may have been Mary’s daughter by Eliza’s first husband James Hobbs.  Eliza was called Eliza Hobbs when she married John Stinchcombe on 28th September 1846.  Click here to read about the Stinchcombes 

By 1851 the family had moved to Back Street where they were living with their son, Charles who had become an errand boy.  In the 1861 Census Thomas and Mary were still living there.  Their son Charles was not in the household at that time for the excellent reasons that he had married and that he was in prison in Gloucester.  Charles had married  Hannah Hyde, the daughter of John Hyde on 22nd January 1860.  On 5th November 1860, and at the age of 25, he and a twelve year old Thomas Stinchcombe had committed crimes against John Williams the tailor.  Thomas Stinchcombe had stolen four scarfs, a cap,a shirt and other items from John Williams’ shop.  Charles Smith had received some of this stolen property.  Thomas Stinchcombe was sentenced to one month’s hard labour at the penitentiary at Gloucester and Charles was given a four month sentence at the same place, also ‘hard labour’.  By 1871 Charles and Hannah were living in Llantwit in Wales.

Thomas Smith died in unusual circumstances on 9th April 1868 aged 71 years.  The inquest found that Thomas had left Thornbury Market at 11.30 am on the previous day with some pigs he was taking to ‘Berrick’ in Almondsbury.  At 9 pm whilst on his way home he called on a ‘hawlier’, John Lansdown, at Elberton.  Thomas complained that he had fallen into a pool of water in crossing a field leading from Priestpool to Elberton and he had lost his hat.  Being wet through, the Lansdowns gave him warm broth and a glass of brandy and water and Thomas left them at 10.00 pm in the company of John Lansdown Junior to see him home safely.  After about half a mile, Thomas told young Lansdown to go home and that he could manage the remaining two miles on his own.  At 5.30 am on the 9th, Thomas’s body was found on side of Mumbleys Hill about a mile from Thornbury.  The inquest found that the cause of death was congestion of the brain and exposure to cold.

In 1871 Mary was living in one of Sir John Stafford’s almshouses in St Mary Street with her grand-daughter Hannah Stinchcombe aged 10.  In 1881 she was living there alone.  She died in 1883 aged 85.

George Riddiford (Longman) – in the 1851 census the house at 19 Horseshoe Lane appears to be occupied by George, an agricultural labourer aged 26 and his wife, Ellen aged 34 who was born in Henbury.

When George married Ellen, he did not give a name for his father.  This was because George was baptised on 29th March 1825, the son of Maria Riddiford of Sibland.  Maria did not marry until after George’s baptism.  The register of St Mary’s Church in Thornbury shows that Maria Riddiford married William Longman on 23rd November 1825.  Maria had two other children before this marriage.  William was born in 1819 (but not baptised until 18th June 1827 when he was baptised as William Longman) and Ann Riddiford baptised at St Mary’s Church in Thornbury on 12th November 1822.

In the 1861 and 1871 censuses, George appears under the name of George Longman which caused us some problems at first!  In 1861 he was an agricultural labourer aged 36, living with Ellen, aged 44 from Charlton (which adjoins Henbury) in the Back Street.  Ellen died on 1st March 1863 aged 47 and George moved to Bristol, where he re-married the same year, using the name of George Riddiford.  His second wife was Sarah Davis and at this marriage George gave his father’s name as William Riddiford.

By the 1871 census, he was known as George Longman, a farm labourer aged 46 living with his wife, Sarah aged 39 from Cowbridge and their children: Elizabeth aged 6 and Minnie aged 3.  They were living at 4 Upper Bath Road.  George is listed as George Longman living in this house in the 1876, 1880 and 1885 rate books.  In the 1890 rate book the name of ‘Riddiford’ is used.

The 1881 census shows that George Riddiford was a labourer aged 56 from Thornbury and his wife was Sarah aged 48 from Cowbridge in Glamorgan.  They were still living at 4 Upper Bath Road with their three children: Minnie aged 13, Ellen aged 9 and Morgan John aged 6, all born in Thornbury.  This George died on 20th July 1886 aged 61 years.  Sarah carried on living in the house in the 1891 Census which shows her as a widowed charwoman aged 54.

It is interesting to note that according to the Genes Reunited website, Morgan John Riddiford was the great great grandfather of Kylie Minogue!  In 2010 articles appeared in several newspapers referring to Kylie’s links to Thornbury.  They mentioned that Morgan was brought before the South Gloucestershire court when he was just 16 years old, along with 18-year-old co-defendant William Sainsbury.  Court records in the National Archives show the pair pleaded guilty to an indecent assault on 14-year-old Mary Ann Tandy.  They were charged with “beating, wounding, ill-treating and doing other wrongs to her.”  Morgan and William appeared at Gloucestershire Assizes in November 1890, and were sentenced to nine months’ hard labour in Gloucester prison.  The court was told that the pair had been out following a group of girls in Thornbury with a third boy, 14-year-old William Smart, one Sunday evening.  Mary, who was one of the three girls being followed, was in the service of local farmer John Clarke at Vilner Farm.  When the boys set upon Mary, her father Lewis heard the screams and ran to investigate.  William Smart fled the scene but later the court records show he gave evidence about his two friends.  After his release from prison, Morgan moved to Bristol to work as a tram inspector, and married Mary Ford whom we are told was born in Thornbury in 1821.  They later moved to Maestag in South Wales and from there their son emigrated to Australia.

Sarah Higgs – in 1861 the house appears occupied by Sarah Higgs, a widow aged 58 from Thornbury.  She had a lodger, George Pearce, an agricultural labourer aged 30 from Banwell, Somerset.  Sarah seems to be have been the wife of Thomas Higgs who were both listed in 1841 census as living in Grovesend Slade.  Thomas was an agricultural labourer aged 55, Sarah was shown as being aged 40.  They had children: George aged 12, Luke aged 6 and Emma aged 8.  There is a record of a death of Thomas Higgs registered in Thornbury in 1850.

It is intriguing to see that in the 1851 census George Pearce and Sarah are shown as husband and wife.  At least that is what is looks like to us.  George Pearce is an agricultural labourer aged 21 from Somerset, his wife is Sarah Pearce, age 53 from Falfield and there is a Sarah Ann Higgs, aged 16 born in Thornbury who is shown as being ‘Wife’s daughter’.

We don’t know where Sarah was in 1871, but by 1881 she was in the Thornbury Union workhouse as an ‘inmate.’  She died there and was buried on 1st December 1881 aged 83 years.

Hannah Harford – in the 1871 census the house appears to be occupied by Hannah Harford, a widowed pauper aged 60 from Cromhall.  Her son, George, a labourer aged 36 from Thornbury and grandson, Pierce aged 12, were living with her.

We are puzzled about Hannah.  By 1851 she was living in Kington with Robert Harford, her husband who is aged 48 and from Church Taunton, Devon.  Also living with them were their children: George, a labourer aged 15 and Celia Anna aged 12, both children were born in Thornbury.  In the 1861 census she is living in Morton Lane with her husband, Thomas Harford, an agricultural labourer aged 50 from Church Taunton, Devon and their children: George aged 22 and Celia aged 20 and a grandson, Pierce Harford aged 3.  The parish records show that ‘Pearce’ was the son of Sarah Harford.

It is possible that Hannah married two brothers, Robert and later Thomas, but we have found no death of a Robert Harford in the area.  The most likely explanation is that her husband used both names at different times, but that doesn’t explain the big difference in the ages quoted.  In the absence of any other information, we won’t speculate further.  Hannah died on 12th November 1871 aged 61 years.  Her son, George, carried on living in Thornbury and his death is registered there in 1905 aged 73 years.

Hannah Comeley – the 1876, 1880 and 1885 rate books show Hannah Comeley in this house.  The 1881 census shows Hannah was a widowed charwoman aged 42 from Ledbury.  Click here to read about Hannah

James Townsend – the 1887 rate book shows James had been living there, but his name is crossed through (which normally indicates he has just left) and he is replaced by William Thorn.

William Thorn – in the 1890 rate book and the 1891 census the house was occupied by William Thorn, a general labourer aged 32 and his wife, Anna Maria aged 29 and their daughter, Emily aged 3.  William was baptised on 1st April 1866, the son of Isaac Thorn, a labourer and his wife, Mary, who lived at Clay Lane, Crossways.  The parish suggests he may have been born on 18th December 1860.  On 5th April 1886 William married Ann Maria Longman. Anna Maria was born on 19th October 1861 and baptised on 17th June 1865.  She was the daughter of Thomas Longman, a labourer of Crossways and his wife, Maria.

William and Anna Maria had at least 3 children: Edith Eleanor was baptised on 11 October 1886, but she died after only 6 weeks and was buried on 19th November 1886.  Emily was baptised on 1st April 1888 and Isaac was baptised on 7th October 1894.  In 1886 when Edith was baptised the family were living at Gillingstool.  They were in 19 Horseshoe Lane in 1890.  The 1899 rate book and the 1901 census shows that they had moved to 8 St Mary Street, a property owned by the Town Trust.  The census shows William was an agricultural labourer and Anna was a charwoman and they were living there with Emily and Isaac and 3 lodgers.  Anna Maria died aged aged 45 and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 20th June 1907.  The rate books shows that William was still in the same house in 1910.  The 1911 census shows that they had moved to a house in Rock Street which we believe to have been later known as 4 Rock Street.  William died aged 49 and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 21st September 1911.

The Purnells – the Purnell family were associated with Horseshoe Lane for many years.  The 1899 rate book and the 1901 census show the house was occupied by Maria Purnell, a widowed seamstress aged 42 born in Berkeley, and her children: Edward Henry, a builder’s labourer aged 15, Levi aged 11, Austin aged 8, Mabel aged 6 and Ethel aged 3.  Click here to read more about the Purnells

The Coles – the 1911 census shows that the house was occupied by Ada Cole, a licenced hawker aged 35 from Woodford near Berkeley.  She was living with her children: Luke a labourer aged 15, Albert aged 12, Virginia aged 8 and Thomas Charles aged 4.  All the children were born in Thornbury.

Ada was the wife of Thomas Cole, although we don’t know where Thomas was in the 1911 census and can’t trace any of the family in the 1901 census.  We note that the Western Daily Press of 27th October 1904 says that Thomas Cole appeared in court for using obscene language in Horseshoe Lane.  However the article does not say that he actually lived in that street.  Similarly when he was summoned for assaulting Charles White in May 1905 he was merely said to be “of Thornbury”.

We know that when young Albert was baptised on 19th February 1899 Thomas was described as a labourer living at Crossways.  The Council Upper School records show that they were still in Crossways when their son Luke started school in 1903, but that they had moved to Horseshoe Lane by the time Albert started the Upper School in 1906.  Both boys left school in 1908 when the family left the district, but they returned in 1910 when Albert, Virginia, Susan and Gertrude all started the school with the records showing Thomas as parent or guardian and with his address as Horseshoe Lane.

Mary Ann White – we know from a sale of the property in 1924 that Mrs White was occupying the house and she was still living there at the time of the 1926 rate book.  Mary Ann White is listed in the 1918 and 1921 electoral registers as living in Horseshoe Lane.  We haven’t yet linked Mary Ann to any other family.  The burial register for the Cemetery shows the burial of Mary Ann White, a widow aged 82 on 30th March 1927.

Dick & Violet Lansdown – we were told by Win Webb who lived next door that in the 1930’s the house was occupied by Dick and Violet Lansdown.  We have not seen them listed as living there in any of the electoral registers which we have seen so it must have been only a short time they were there.  Click here to read more 

Henry and Sarah Mahagan – we know that the Mahagan family occupied 19 Horseshoe Lane from about 1938 until it was demolished in the early 1960’s.  Click here to read about the Mahagans