The photograph above shows part of Pullins Green in Thornbury. There is a terrace of six small cottages on the left of the photo each with one window upstairs and one downstairs. They each have a front door under a porch shared by the neighbouring cottage. It is difficult to see number 4 Pullins Green in this photograph but there is man with a bicycle outside the gates for the pair of cottages that are numbers 2 and 4. The upstairs window of number 4 is visible second from the end of the terrace furthest from the foreground.
We had heard that the six cottages were built in the early 19th century for quarry workers, but we have not yet found any evidence to support this theory. They were built by Daniel Burchell on land he had bought in 1823. The land was part of a burgage plot bordered by St Mary Street, Horseshoe Lane and Pullins Green. Click here to read about the early history of that land
The Burchells – the cottages were listed in the 1840 Tithe Survey when they were owned by Daniel Burchell, a carpenter who was then living in St Mary Street. The cottages were owned by the Burchell family for a long time. Daniel Burchell died on 16th September 1866 and after a period when they were administered by his Trustees, Jane Burchell, one of Daniel’s children, exercised her right given to the children in his will and bought the six houses from the Trustees for £565. Jane died on 9th January 1903 aged 78 and her will directed that the properties be passed to her brother, Frederick Burchell. Frederick died in 1905 and the houses were put up for auction in 1907. On 9th January 1908 Frederick’s son, Frederick Henry Burchell, bought the six properties, paying £730 for the six properties. We know that in 1909/10 rents of about three shillings per week (£8 per year) were being paid to Frederick Henry Burchell. In 1918 the houses were put up for sale at auction as three separate lots of two houses.
Number 4 Pullins Green was not sold and continued in the ownership of Frederick Henry Burchell until 8th May 1951 when he sold the property to Mabel Victoria Spill. Click here to read more
Although the Tithe Survey lists the occupiers of the six houses in 1840, it does not make it clear who is living in each house. The six people were: John Screen, Charles Owen Pearce (a cordwainer), Mary Jackson, Mary Langobeare, Mary Olive and John Birt. In many cases like this, we can link people to houses by using the 1841 Census. However in this case it is difficult to link the names in the census to any of these houses and none of the people listed in this census (or the 1851 Census) are the same as those listed in the Tithe Survey.
We have gathered some information about the other families who lived in this house.
James Bevan – in the 1851 Census the house that is now known as 4 Pullins Green in Thornbury appears to be occupied by James and Elizabeth Bevan. Click here to read more
Thomas Vowles – the 1859 Rate Book and the 1861 Census show the house was occupied by Thomas Vowles, a journeyman plasterer aged 50 years. Thomas was married but his wife was not at home at the time of the census. He was aged 50 born in Wickwar. Also living there were a visitor, Hannah Franklin, a sempstress aged 68 from Wickwar and two boarders, Robert and Mary Weeks aged 10 and 8 respectively.
It would seem that Thomas and his wife had lived in this house for a little while before the 1859 Rate Book. The Bristol Mercury and Times of 1858 reported that a respectable seeming lady had rented a furnished apartment in the home of Mr and Mrs Thomas Vowles of John Street (as Pullins Green was then known) and had spent a few days there during which time she visited her neighbours. Then she arranged for a horse and cart to collect her luggage from her previous lodging. The lady set out with the horse and cart but then found an excuse to send the driver on while she remained in Thornbury. The lady was never seen again. Meanwhile it was found that Mr and Mrs Vowles and their neighbours had all has small items stolen. This seemed to be a regular ploy by the lady as very shortly afterwards a cart arrived from Berkeley to collect her luggage and it turned out that she had done the same thing in Berkeley.
The 1871 Census shows that Thomas’s wife was called Jane and she was then aged 70 and born in Yate. She and Thomas (then aged 60) were living in the house on their own. Jane probably died in Thornbury in 1873. The 1876 and 1880 Rate Book show that Thomas was still living in 4 Pullins Green.
In the 1881 Census he had moved to Bulls Lane and aged 70 and said to be a widower, he was living in the house of James Moxham, an agricultural labourer aged 65.
We have been unable to trace Thomas Vowles in any earlier Census or in any marriage or death records. We would very much like to learn more.
John Roberts – the 1881 Census shows that John Roberts, a fireman on the Midland Railway, aged 26 was living in the house on his own. John was described as a ‘British Subject born in France”. The 1891 Census shows John was now living in 24 Back Cooper Street, Runcorn in Cheshire. He was still unmarried, but now working as a sailor.
George Longden – the indenture dated 2nd June 1883 (when the six properties were transferred to Jane Burchell) shows that George Longden was occupying this house. The 1885 Rate Book lists James Longden as the occupant. We are not sure which family these two Longden belong to.
‘Dann’ – the 1887 Rate Book shows a person called ‘Dann’ was the occupant of the house. We have been unable to identify this person.
Joseph Underhill – the 1890 and 1894 Rate Books and the 1891 Census show the house in Pullins Green was occupied by Joseph Underhill, a coachman aged 50 and his wife, Elizabeth aged 39. Joseph was the son of Joseph Underhill, who had also been a coachman and his wife, Hester.
We are indebted to Janice Jackson of Thornbury for some of the following details of the Underhill family. Joseph was baptised in Thornbury St Marys Church on 19th June 1839. He was the son of Joseph Underhill, a servant and his wife, Hester. In the Censuses of 1841 and 1851 he had been living with his parents in 1 Saw Mill Lane, Thornbury.
Unfortunately we can’t find any sign of him in the Censuses of 1861 and 1871. We believe that this is because he enlisted in the army on 21st January 1858 aged 20 years. At that time he was five feet and eight and a quarter inches tall. He had brown hair and blue eyes. He was a groom by trade. Joseph served in the 2nd Dragoons and saw service in Ireland. Whilst in the army his conduct was good and he was awarded three good conduct medals. He suffered from rheumatic fever in 1861 on two occasions and this was said to be as a result of being exposed to extreme cold whilst at the Curragh in County Kildare in Ireland but he was re-engaged while serving in Dublin in 1867. A medical report of May 1872 signed in Edinburgh decided that he was permanently unfit for army service. Ten months previously he had become aware of shortness of breath and chest pain. This appears to have been caused by a disease of his heart valve brought on by the rheumatic fever.
Joseph married Elizabeth Gosling in the December quarter of 1870. Elizabeth had been born about 1854 in Sundays Hill. The 1881 Census shows Joseph as a groom living with his wife, Elizabeth, in Bagstone and their one year old son, Joseph who appears to have been born in Bagstone. Joseph junior’s birth was registered in the Chipping Sodbury district in the March quarter of 1880.
We suspect that Joseph was the person listed as the tenant at 5 Horseshoe Lane in the 1887 Rate Book. By 1891 Joseph and Elizabeth had three children living with them: Joseph aged 11, George Donald R aged 9 and a daughter, Evia aged 2. The FreeBMD website says that she was registered as Vevia Margaret in Chipping Sodbury in the Sept quarter of 1884. They had another child shortly after the census, Dora Edith Maud born in December 1891; another Jessie Elizabeth Underhill had been born in 1886 but she died as a baby aged only ten months and was buried on 18th December 1886.
The children seem to have attended the National School, which is now called St Mary’s School. Our records show that Dora Underhill started the school in March 1898 and that the family’s address at that time was Upper Bath Road. She left the school in 1899. It is also noticeable that one of Joseph Underhill junior’s references when he joined the police force came from the former headmaster, Thomas Fill who was said to have known Joseph for six years. This may indicate the length of time Joseph was at the National School.
By 1901 the Underhill family had moved to Castle Street, Thornbury, old Joseph, still a coachman, was then 61. Joseph Underhill died aged 65 and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 27th April 1907. The burial record shows he died at Crossways. The 1911 Census shows that Elizabeth went to live in 9 Horseshoe Lane which she was sharing with two young boarders called ‘Alves’. Elizabeth died October 23rd 1929 aged 75 years. According to the Cemetery burial record she died at 27 Shadwell Road, Ashley in Bristol. Their tombstone in Thornbury Cemetery also mentions George Donald Underhill their son who died in Montreal on March 16th 1926 aged 44 years and was buried at Montreal Royal Cemetery Montreal Canada. There is also an inscription to Vevia Underhill their eldest daughter who was cremated at Guildford on June 1st 1969 aged 84 years.
Of their children;
Joseph Underhill junior who was born in 1880 was a boarder at 14 Ellenborough Place, Bristol in the 1901 Census. He was a baker by trade. He joined the 1st Royal Dragoons when he was about 21 years old. The first Royal Dragoon Guards were stationed in Lucknow in India from about 1904. The police record of Joseph Underhill says he served last in Lucknow and left in 1909. He must have left the army about the time his regiment was transferred to Muttra.
Joseph appears to have returned to Thornbury. His record on entering the police force in December 1909 shows that his address was Laburnum Cottage. This may have been in Gloucester Road as what is now number 8 was called Laburnum Cottage about that time. At the time Joseph Underhill became a policeman he was said to be aged 29 and five feet and nine and a half inches tall. He had a chest measurement of thirty seven and a half inches. He seems to have left Thornbury on 2nd May 1910 and gone to Ebbw Vale. He was transferred to Cwm on 1st November 1910 and then to Tredegar in December 1910. He returned to Cwm in July 1911. Here he married Agnes Jane Craig on 19 August 1915 at St Paul’s Church, Cwm, Ebbw Vale. At that time Joseph was 34 and a police constable living at The Police Station, Cwm. Joseph was promoted to police sergeant in September 1925 and remained in the Monmouthshire Constabulary until his retirement on 31 March 1943.
Jessie Elizabeth Underhill was baptised 4th April 1886. She died aged ten months.
Dora Edith Maud Underhill was baptised on 6th December 1891 at St Mary’s Church in Thornbury. Although we have not traced her in the Census of 1911 it appears she married Samuel Lovegrove in the Chelsea District of London in the March quarter of 1921.
Frederick John Holley – the 1899 Rate Book and the 1901 Census shows the house was occupied by Frederick John Holley and his wife, Hannah. Click here to read more
James English – an indenture dated 15th May 1903 shows the house is occupied by James English and the 1905 and 1910 Rate Books and the 1911 Census also show him living there. James was still listed as livng there in the 1915 Prewett’s Directory but had moved away by the 1916 directory. Click here to read more
The Spills – the next family we know to have lived there is that of Samuel Spill. He is listed as living there in the 1916 Prewett’s Directory. We suspect that they took over the house which his sister and her husband James English moved away in 1915. Samuel had been living with the Englishs at the time of the 1911 Census. Click here to read more
By the 1960s, the six houses had fallen into disrepair and lacked modern amenities. They were at one stage condemned by the Council. They were however saved when the Council chose to renovate and modernise them as part of the town centre development which took place in the 70’s. On 6th December 1973 Hubert Spill sold the property to Thornbury Rural District Council for £5000.
In more recent times, the house has been occupied by Arthur Hill and then Jenny Evans.