Thornbury has a number of these ancient charities which came to be administered by the Corporation of Thornbury and which were eventually incorporated into a single charitable trust, Thornbury Town Trust.  This is now a Registered Charity with seven trustees, three nominated by the Town Council.  It helps organisations, groups and individuals in Thornbury.

The Hylpe (or Hilpe) family was associated with one of these ancient trusts as early as the fifteenth century and this appears to have continued for over 140 years.

Meg Wise and Roger Howell of Thornbury Museum have considerable experience in researching the history of Thornbury.  One of the earliest references to the name Hylpe that they have found in the notes of the historian William Caffall relates to “The Fraternity.”  William Caffall 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. ”

As John Hylpe was described as a proctor for the Fraternity it must mean that at that time at least the family was probably connected with cloth making.  The full title of the Fraternity was  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 property in Thornbury is referred to above as a burgage in the High Street 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.

An indenture dated 1st June 1604 between John Hylpe the elder of Thornbury and John Hylpe of Little St Bartholomews in London and others lists properties in the Borough of Thornbury from which “rents” were to be paid in accordance with the trust.  These “rents” were a sort of extra tax which was payable by the owners of the properties to the charitable trusts and it was a condition that each subsequent owner of these properties had to agree to.

These properties were; a house in the High Street in the tenure of John Dorney (10/-) a house in the High Street in the occupation of Jane Brewton a widow (4/4), a house in the High Street in the occupation of William Smithe (4/4), a house in the High Street in the occupation of James Eddys (4/4), a house in High Street in the tenure of John Jones of the Greene House (4/4), another house called a corner house at the lower end of St Mary Street with a barn and brewhouse late in the tenure of Katherine Rippe (4/4), a house in Chipping Street in the occupation of William Jones (4/4) and “out of my house in the High Street now in the occupation of John Richards (16s).”

We have a copy of another document dated 1815 and held by Thornbury Town Trust that lists the properties from which the charities of the Corporation of Thornbury (now called the Thornbury Town Trust) gained an income to help the poor.  One of these was the bequest of John Hylpe which was said to have been made in 1620.   The list includes the following properties associated with the Hylpe bequest showing their owners or occupants as they were in 1815;

“1620 John Hylpe gave an annuity of £2.12s per annum to the poor of the Borough of Thornbury out of the following premises, viz out of a house called the Fraternity formerly occupied by George Bainham, since by John Hughes, now belonging to Ann Cossham, 10/- ; out of a house belonging to William Clark, 2/- ; out of a house belonging to Grace Wade 2/4; out of a house belonging to Richard Gwynn, 4/4; out of a house belonging to Thomas Grove 4/4; out of a house belonging to Mr Joseph Laver 16/-; out of a house formerly Hawksworth since Ann Stones 4/4; out of a house called the Green House 4/4.

By this time (1620) the money from the rent charge was said not to be going to pay a priest but to trustees “to be distributed by them in weekly bread among the poorest people resident in the Town and Borough of Thornbury at the discretion of the Mayor of the said Borough.

We have not been able to confirm a connection between the Thornbury Town Trust charities and the Fraternity.  It is not impossible that various members of the Fraternity left bequests out of rents on the properties they owned and that this was first for the benefit of clothworkers in times of need and then for the poor generally.  The properties listed above however all appear to have had a connection with the Hylpe family.  We have been able to trace the present location of many of these and learned a little about their history.

By comparing the two lists above with what we know of the history of the houses in Thornbury we have able to identify many of the properties named in the trust.

They are as follows;

“The Fraternity” was at the top of the High Street on the eastern side and near the area of 67 High Street.  The Mayor’s Accounts of 1789 to 1790 describe a payment of 2/- from Robert Facey in connection with “Premises in the High Street formerly called the Fraternity occupied by one George Bainham, butcher, and since belonging to John Hughes and now to the devisees of George Cossham deceased. ”

The house in Chipping Street occupied by William Jones and later owned by Thomas Grove relate to a property later known as 5 Silver Street.

Richard Gwynn was associated with several properties but the premises owned by him that was referred to in 1815 was where he carried on his business as a soap maker and is now known as 45 High Street.

The property referred to in the first list as occupied by a widow Jane Brewton was later two properties belonging to Grace Wade and William Clark and were the ones respectively known as 51 High Street and its neighbour 53 High Street.

The Green House was what is now called “Clematis Cottage” at 15 Castle Street.

The house described as “Hawksworths since Ann Stone’s” no longer exists as a single property but appears to have been a malt house a barn and a dwellinghouse that became numbers 32 to 42 Castle Street.

The property in the High Street occupied in 1604 by James Eddys became 25 High Street.

The property described as occupied by John Richards in the first list and later owned by Joseph Laver was the property which became 7 High Street. 

The Hylpe Family

There is a problem in identifying which John Hylpe was responsible for the bequests.  There were several persons called John Hylpe in Thornbury during the 15th, 16th and 17th Centuries.  We have listed below the various references to John Hylpe which we have found during our research:

Thomas Hylpe married Cicely Hickes the daughter of Thomas Hickes.  It appears that they had at least two children – John Hylpe born about 1520 and Thomas Hylpe.  We believe that Thomas Hylpe senior died about January 7th in the year 1549/1550 and that his widow Cicely then married Richard Hampden.  We understand that there is a record of Chancery proceedings (Ref PRO C1/528/2 21531 by corr James Butler-Schloss, London 1996) brought by Richard Hampden and his wife Cicely alleging that they had been deprived of their rightful legacy by Ellen Hickes, the widow of Cicely’s father Thomas Hickes.

Richard Hampden, a landowner, was associated with at least one of the two Chantry buildings that make up the present Chantry in Thornbury.  Richard was buried on 25th January 1551.  His will written on 7th January 1550/51 (proved 22 January 1551/52) left “To Ciceleye my wife all that my Chauntrey lyeing in Thornbury called Our Lady Chauntrey and after her decease to remain to mine heir Edmund Hampden.  Also my leases called Collyns and Mortons.”  A grant by John Daggs dated 1546 held in the Town Trust documents show that Richard Hampden’s land also included a burgage next to Daggs (the allotments on the South West of the town). Ciceley’s sons John and Thomas Hylpe were also provided for in Richard’s will.

It is possible that Ciceley’s son John Hylpe was the young man who was a student of Oxford University for six years, gaining his BA on 10th October 1539 and his MA on 10th June 1540.  He was described as a secular chaplain, that is a member of the clergy attached to a private chapel.

We do not know the name of the wife of Cicely’s son John Hylpe or when he married.  However we do know that he had a daughter also called Cicely who was born about 1545.  This may rule out the idea that this John Hylpe was or had been a secular chaplain as Anglican priests were not allowed to marry until after 1547.  John Hylpe was Mayor of Thornbury in the year 1553/4.  John’s daughter, Cicely married James Lawrence on 5th September 1569 and they had two children Joane Lawrence baptised on 25th October 1570 and William Lawrence baptised on 2nd November 1572.

We have found a record of a John Hylpe who was born September 1563 and baptised in the October of that year.  The Alumni Oxoniensis website tells us that a John Hylpe of Thornbury of the County of Gloucestershire, gentleman was a student of Magdalen Hall who entered the University aged 16 on April 9th 1579.  He was admitted to the Inner Temple in London on 26th April 1584.

Two addresses are given for him on the Inner Temple database; one was Thornbury in Gloucestershire, the other was Clifford’s Inn in the City of London.  We do not know the father of this John Hylpe.  It is probable that he was a descendant of Cicely and Thomas Hylpe.

We know that there were at least two and probably three John Hylpes in Thornbury by 1573.  In this year a man described as “John Hylpe Senior” was mentioned as an attorney in a feoffment by John Jones the elder, mayor of Thornbury, to a group of gentlemen that included “John Hylpe Junior” to a tenement in Thornbury next to a property owned by John Hylpe Senior.  This implies that there were two John Hylpes, presumably father and son, who were both adults in 1573 (and therefore unlikely to include the one mentioned above who was born in 1563).

The Rent Roll for the burgage of Thornbury drawn up in 1602 has John Hylpe paying tax on a property called “his Groat house and Latteridge Close now in the possession of Anthony Braston (Braxton??) gent” . “The same John” as it says in the roll has to pay tax on 24 other properties only one of which is specifically said to be in the occupation of John Hilpe.  Other properties including the “Wyne Tavern” and the property that “John Tayer shoemaker possesseth” are definitely known to have been owned and occupied by people other than John Hylpe by 1602.  We suspect therefore that in at least some of these cases the John Hylpe that was named was listed because he was responsible for administering the charitable trust.

It is possible that the John Hylpe born in 1563 retained his connection to London and the Inner Temple there.   We have a copy of an indenture dated 1st June 1604 between John Hylpe the elder of Thornbury and John Hylpe of Little St Bartholomews in London, Thomas Wysse of Hope in Gloucestershire, Peter Myrick and Samuel Neale.  In this indenture John Hylpe is granting the second group of men a charge out of property he appears to own.  We believe that this is another indenture about a trust and that the second group are trustees of a charity.  Because of the nature of this and other indentures relating to these charities we feel we cannot say whether John Hylpe is the actual owner of the properties referred to in the accepted sense or whether he is the survivor of an earlier group of trustees.

Gloucester Records Office also has an indenture described as “Deeds: Bargain and Sale; 1606 May 5 John Hylpe of the Inner Temple, London, Gent, Thomas Jones, the younger, of Thornbury, Gloucestershire; messuage or barn, with garden and backside, containing half a burgage with appurtenances in St John’s Street, Thornbury; John Barlow, weaver and James Eddne, tanner, both of Thornbury appointed attorneys by John Hylpe to take possession Consideration £5.”

By 1608 a muster of men between the ages of 20 and 60 capable of bearing arms refers to only one John Hylpe gent.  He was said to be “about 40 years of age (and) hath two corslets with furnishings and a subsidy man.” This seems to mean that there was only one John Hylpe of substance in that age group at the time in Thornbury.  A “subsidy man” in this context was a man contributing directly towards the subsidy of the King and this implies he was a man of means.  The age of this man suggests he was born about 1568 rather than 1563 (see the above mentioned John Hylpe who attended Oxford University) but the reference does say “about 40.”

It is difficult to say where the John Hylpe who was recorded in the muster roll of 1608 might have lived as we have no tax or rent record after 1602 that indicates a property occupied by a member of the Hylpe family.  The only known addresses are in London, that is, the John Hylpe of the Inner Temple or Little St Bartholomews.

It would seem that the Hylpe family ceased to live in Thornbury from about this time.