James Willshen – the 1841 Census shows the house was occupied by James Willshen, an attorney’s clerk aged 32 and his wife, Catherine aged 40. They had two daughters, Mary Ann aged 9 and Sophia aged 5. It is possible that James was working for Thomas Crossman, the solicitor, who was shown as owning the property in the 1840 Tithe Survey.
The 1851 and 1861 Censuses show James and Catherine had moved to live at 58 High Street. James was a solicitor’s managing clerk born in Marylebone London. Catherine was born in Sutton Benger, Wiltshire. On 13th October 1855 Mary Ann married William Embley, a saddler. On 1st November 1860, Sophia married John Griffiths Hughes, a chemist who lived next door at 56 High Street.
The Rate Books of 1859, 1862 and 1867 show that James was renting the property at 58 High Street from the Feoffees. Interestingly James was also listed as owning a nearby property called Polterbrook which was being let to Robert Baylis. This was a small house at the bottom of what is now known as Daggs Allotments.
James is listed in various trade directories from 1849 to 1856 as a Fire and Life Insurance Agent for the Atlas Insurance Company. His two daughters were listed as trading in a Berlin Repository in 1856. Berlin wool work is a style of embroidery. Typically it is executed with tapestry wool on canvas, in petit point stitch only. It was traditionally executed in many colours and hues producing intricate three-dimensional looks by careful shading. The design of such embroidery was made possible by the great progresses made in dyeing in the 1830’s and made very popular by the Great Exhibition of 1851.
James was also heavily involved with the church and the Bristol Times and Mercury reported in 1864 that he had been elected as churchwarden for the tenth time. It was in this capacity that James gained notoriety in newspapers throughout the country in 1858 for his actions in trying to resolve a dispute in the church. It started when two local people, Joseph Williams and Miss Elizabeth Sly were requested by James to move from their seats in a church pew on which they had used regularly for almost five years. At that time several of the pews in the church were ‘reserved’ for eminent landowners and associated with the ownership or occupation of certain houses in the town. The pew in question had been allocated for the use of Sir John Key. Because Thornbury Cottage, a cottage owned by Sir John, had been void for some time he had allowed Joseph Williams and Elizabeth Fry to use the pew. However, now that the cottage had been occupied by Mr John Watson Dalby and his family they had begun to use the pew alongside Joseph and Elizabeth. The problem arose when Mr Dalby’s daughter opened a little school and arranged for the boarders there to join them in the pew making it necessary for Joseph and Elizabeth to move elsewhere. They refused and as a result the problems escalated over several weeks and affected both of the Sunday services. Initially only reported locally, the interest in the case grew and went nationwide. James was reported as being the main churchwarden who on several occasions dealt rather roughly with both Joseph and Elizabeth dragging them from the pews. It ended when Joseph and Elizabeth were warned that further disturbances would result in them being taken to court with the threat of heavy fines. On the final occasion when both Joseph and Elizabeth were evicted with the help of two policeman, between 150 and 200 other churchgoers also chose to leave the church in sympathy, and it was reported that a great many avowed that they would not return. We don’t know what happened to Joseph, but Elizabeth’s case was heard at the local petty sessions court at which James presented his own case against Elizabeth. Being unable to make a judgement the magistrates were able to obtain a promise that she would not cause any further disturbance in the future.
Catherine died 8th July 1867 aged 70 and James died 20th September 1871 aged 62. Both are buried in St Mary’s Churchyard. In James’s will dated 24th August 1871 he left the property at Poultry Brook which he had purchased from Mrs Caruck? and the freehold cottages in Gillingstool which he had purchased from Anselm Harvey to his married daughter, Sophia Hughes for her lifetime. Following Sophia’s death the property at Poultry Brook was left to her daughter, Gertrude Mary Powell Hughes, and the cottages in Gilingstool to Catherine Sophia Hughes.
John Eyres – in 1851 John lived in the house with his wife, Sarah. John was a Baptist Minister of Thornbury Chapel aged 47 born in Westbury Leigh, Wiltshire. Sarah was aged 36 born in London. They had three children: John aged 11, Sarah Eliza aged 12 both born in Otley, Suffolk, and Edwin J aged 9 born in Uley, Gloucestershire.
Nicholas Cornock – the 1859 Rate Book shows that house was occupied by Nicholas Cornock. In the 1861 census Nicholas was described as a landed proprietor aged 83 born in Thornbury. He had three unmarried daughters living with him: Ellen aged 48, Mary aged 45 and Anne Frances aged 33, all born in Thornbury.
Nicholas had been born in Thornbury about 1778. He married Mary Comely in Thornbury on 4 June 1801. They had several children: Nicholas Comely Cornock born on 17 April 1802 and baptised at Oldbury on 31 May 1802, Ellen born on 4 September 1807 and baptised at Oldbury on 27 December 1807, Mary born on 21 March 1810 and baptised at Oldbury on 23 June 1811, Henry baptised at Oldbury on 14 March 1813, James Comely baptised at Oldbury on 27 April 1817 and Anna Frances baptised at Oldbury on 1st April 1820. The baptism records show Nicholas as a ‘Gentleman’ living in Oldbury.
Nicholas’s wife, Mary, died on 6 October 1850 aged 69. Nicholas died on 25 February 1865 aged 88. Both are buried at Oldbury. Ellen died 20 January 1898 aged 90 and Mary on 16th June 1903 aged 93. A son, Henry, had died on 16th May 1850 aged 43.
John Matthews – in 1871 John was living in the house with his wife Ann Elizabeth. John was a Minister of the Baptist Church aged 55 born in Oxford. Ann was aged 45 born in Norwich. John had married Ann Elizabeth Bowles in Norwich in December quarter 1854. At the time of the 1861 census John and Ann were living at The Coombe in Gloucester Road.
Francis James Williams – the 1876 Rate Book and the 1881 census shows the house occupied by Francis J. Williams, a surveyor and sanitary inspector, and his family. We spent a lot of time trying to unravel the confusion caused by the fact that there were two Francis James Williams living in Thornbury in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, both born around the same time. One of these was a sanitary inspector and surveyor, the other a seedsman and assistant overseer. To make matters worse, one of them was a registrar of marriages and the other the deputy registrar of marriages! Click here to read more
George Mansell and Sarah Williams – the 1885 Rate Book shows that George Mansell Williams is now occupying the house. George and his wife, Sarah, were living in the house in the 1891 and 1901 censuses and continued there until at least 1921, in the case of George, and 1935, in the case of Sarah. There is no apparent connection between George and the Francis Williams who had lived in the house before George. Click here to read more
In April 1936 the property was put up for sale at auction. It was described as being ‘lately in the occupation of Mrs G.M. Williams and containing small entrance hall, 2 front sitting rooms, kitchen with range, larder, scullery with sink and soft water pump, 3 bedrooms, box room, underground cellar and usual offices. Garden at the rear with tool house thereon approached from Blakes Avenue over adjoining property’.
Edith Carver – Edith was the widow of Morley Carver and lived in 9 Pullins Green from about 1930 to about 1950. For some of this time, she shared the house with their married daughter, Frances Lillian Trotman and her husband, Rupert. Click here to read more about the Carvers and Trotmans
Florence Lavinia Hall – Florence lived in the house from about 1954 until her death in 1972 aged 72. Florence’s background presented quite a challenge! We eventually discovered she was Florence Lavinia Pegley, born in the September quarter 1890 in Berkeley. She was the daughter of a dock labourer, Henry and his wife, Beatrice who were living in Hinton, near Berkeley at the time of the 1901 census.
In December quarter 1914 Florence married Charles Henry Wilcox in the area of Tendring in Essex. Charles was a crewman in the Royal Navy which might explain the location of their marriage, which was so far away from both their homes. He was born in Dorset in 1884, the son of Charles Wilcox, a woodman from Mannington in Dorset and his wife, Fanny. Another branch of the same family lived at Park Lodge and then in Crispin Lane. They were descended from one of Charles Henry’s brothers, a John Robert Wilcox, a soldier whose wife, Sarah, was from Londonderry. Click here to read about this branch
Charles and Florence had one daughter, May Elizabeth, known as Betty, who was born in the Portsmouth area on 17 May 1918. When Betty started at Thornbury St Mary’s School in 1926 the records show that the family had moved to Thornbury from Standish. Charles must have died before 1926 because in the school records it gives only Florence’s name as her parent/guardian. She and Betty were living in St Mary Street at this time.
Florence married again in Bristol in 1928. Her second husband was George Herbert Hall, a widower. George’s first wife, Frances Elizabeth, had died in 1924 aged 55 years. George was a plumber who lived in Castle Street where he was in business with his son, Thurburn. After George died in 1946 aged 77 years, Florence continued to live in Castle Street. She is listed as living in Castle Street in the 1950 electoral register. We assume that she continued to live at 22 Castle Street.
We understand that the house may have been divided into flats around this time.
The other people living there included Miss Rita Bintcliffe, an English teacher who started at the Thornbury Grammar School in 1962 and a policeman, Mr Pocket and his wife. There was another teacher, Miss Elizabeth Jane Dyer shown in the electoral rolls as living in the house. She taught German at the Grammar School. She gave the address of 9 Pullins Green when she married Austin John Seely, another teacher at the school. This has been a slight puzzle to us as Florence Hall, who must have been her landlady, was only listed in the 1954 and 1957 electoral registers of the ones we have seen. It seems possible that the “lodger” was there after Florence had died.
Arthur T and Gillian T Wilks – the 1961 electoral register shows Arthur and Gillian living with Florence Hall. We do not know any more about them.
John and June England – in the late 1960/70’s’s the house was occupied for some time by Alexander John and Dorothy June England. They had moved to the area from Tunbridge Wells and lived for a short time in ‘Greenstede’ in Crispin Lane. They left the house and district in 1975 to move to Coleford. Both John and June were members of the URC Church and John had served as Treasurer from 1972 – 75.