Number 13 Pullins Green in Thonbury is on the corner of Crispin Lane (which has previously been known as Mutton Lane and Blakes Avenue).
For one hundred and twenty five years the house was associated with Oliver Higgins the blacksmith and his family. We were fortunate enough to know Miss Joan Higgins who, although she was not able to show us the deeds as they were held by her representatives, was very supportive of Thornbury Museum. She had an extensive memory of Thornbury and its people and was delighted to share it and so she was able to give a great deal of information to Thornbury Roots. After her death in 2008 we were grateful to Terry Wicks and Tim Hodsman who made the deeds available to us and this gave us a more precise picture of the history of the house.
The deeds show that the house and the neighbouring one (number 11) were built as two substantial houses in the early 1820’s on the site of two earlier tenements owned by Joseph Ford a carpenter. Joseph’s property also included the site of the cottage later known as 1 Crispin Lane. Initially this was a stable at the end of the garden of the two tenements. Later it was converted into a blacksmith’s shop and then replaced by a cottage, separated from the tenements by a stone wall. Joseph passed the properties to James Ford, whom we assume to be his son, and 11 and 13 Pullins Green were then passed to Charles Ford whom we assume to be to be James’s son. Click here to read about the early history of the property
In 1837 the Fords sold 11 and 13 Pullins Green to Thomas Crossman, a solicitor and by then 13 Pullins Green had become the home of a blacksmith, John King. In the 1840 Tithe Survey the property was owned by Thomas Crossman and occupied by John King. It notes that the property was being used as a house, blacksmith’s shop and garden. The map accompanying the survey shows that a new building for the blacksmith’s forge had been built adjoining the rear of the house and facing directly on to Crispin Lane.
John King – John King was born in Thornbury on 7th July 1799 and baptised on 4th August 1799. He was the son of John King and his wife, Martha (nee Smart). On 28th July 1822 John married Susannah Povey at Thornbury.
We think Susannah was born on 14th February 1793 and baptised on 17th December 1794, the daughter of William Povey and his wife, Hannah.
The baptism records of their children show that John was working as a blacksmith and that they were living in the ‘Borough’. We are not sure where they were living at the time although the Land Tax records show that they were renting a property from Thomas Wetmore and it appears that it was in the area of St Mary Street or Rock Street. Their children were: Susannah baptised on 11th June 1823, John baptised on 28th December 1825 who died aged 8 and was buried on 26th January 1834, Harriett Hannah baptised on 3rd November 1828 and Horatio John baptised on 13th January 1836.
By 1837 John had moved to 13 Pullins Green. He died aged 40 and was buried on 5th August 1839. The 1841 Census shows 13 Pullins Green occupied by Susannah King, who was described as a “blacksmith”. The census shows their children, Susannah aged 15 and Horatio John aged 5 are sharing the home. There were also several other people sharing the house: Hannah Higgs aged 30 the wife of a baker, Rebecca Brewton aged 20, a seamstress, Eliza Brewton age 19, also a seamstress and Thomas Lovesey aged 56 a pensioner.
Susannah died aged 50 and was buried on 22nd July 1846. Her daughter, Susannah had a daughter, John Penduck King baptised on 5th May 1845. On 11th May 1845, Susannah appears to have married the father, John Penduck, a policeman living in Leigh and the son of William Penduck, a carpenter.
The property continued to used as blacksmith’s house and forge for a long time with Mark Williams taking over from John King.
Mark Williams – in 1851 the house was occupied by Mark Williams, a blacksmith employing one man and a boy. Mark was aged 34, living in the house with his wife, Harriet, aged 33 and their daughter, Sarah Ann aged 6. The apprentice Horatio John King, aged 15, the son of the previous blacksmith in the house, was also living with the family. All of them were born in Thornbury.
Mark’s father was also called Mark and was also a blacksmith. The 1841 shows the family living in the High Street before young Mark was married. Mark’s mother was called Mehitabel. She was a Thornbury girl and Mark Williams senior was from Olveston. Click here to read about Mark Williams Snr and Mehitabel
We have not found where young Mark married Harriet but their daughter, Sarah Ann was baptised at St Mary’s in Thornbury in September 1844. Mark and his family were still in Pullins Green in the 1861 Census and 1862 Rate Book. Horatio King had presumably completed his apprenticeship and become a blacksmith. However, he had moved off to live in Olveston and he later settled in Elberton where he had his own blacksmith’s forge.
In 1871 Mark and Harriet were still living at Pullins Green. By this time they were 54 and 51 respectively and they had another apprentice, a nephew called Thomas Taylor aged 17. A 75 year old annuitant called Samuel Davis also lived there. Thomas had been born in “Clays Lane End”
In 1881 Mark and his wife Harriet were living in the house alone. Despite his advancing years, Mark was still a blacksmith. But we understand he finally gave up the work in 1885 when the business and the house were taken over by Oliver Higgins.
By 1891, Harriet and Mark moved to live at The Abbey, Grovesend. He had retired from being a blacksmith and was described as a “farmer” despite his age, which was 74 by this time. By the time of the 1894 Rate Book, Mark was listed as the tenant of 54 High Street. Mark died on 30th August 1899 aged 83 and was buried in the Cemetery. The 1901 Census showed Harriett was still living at the house. She died aged 88 and was buried in the same grave as her husband on 5th December 1906. The gravestone inscription and the burial record suggest she died at Grovesend Farm.
When the owner of the property, Thomas Crossman, died in 1873, his son, George Danvers Crossman sold the property to Henry William John Carter and George Mansell Williams, two accountants who had decided to go into the property business as partners. This partnership was broken up in 1883 with Henry William John Carter becoming sole owner of 13 Pullins Green.
In 1885, the house and blacksmith business were taken over by the Higgins family, and Oliver Higgins bought the property on 29th September 1890. It continued to be the family home for the next 118 years. Oliver retired from being a blacksmith in the late 1930’s and although the Higgins family continued to live in the house, Oliver’s assistant, Fred Pearce took over the business. Fred was there up to the late 1960’s and his son, Douglas, was also involved. Click here to read about Oliver Higgins and his family
The house and the forge building lay empty for several years following the death of Joan Higgins in March 2008 until about 2013 when it was bought and occupied again.