The house on the left in this photograph became number 1 Rock Street when house numbering was introduced in the 1950s.
We don’t know when the house was built. It was there at the time of the 1840 Tithe Survey when it was Plot 123 a house and garden owned by the Feoffees of Thornbury and occupied by Joel Wathen. An attached orchard, Plot 124 was also owned by the Feoffees and occupied by Joel. The Feoffees were a group of trustees who were responsible for administering the income from several properties for the benefit of the poor in Thornbury and the grammar school. This particular property and the adjoining garden were left by William Edwards under his will of 10th June 1648. An indenture dated 1700 relating to the adjoining property on the north side (5 Horseshoe Lane) shows that the property on 1 Rock Street was ‘a tenement or cottage heretofore being the lands of Richard Hoye?? deceased and since that of one James Horsley and now of (blank).
The account books of the Feoffees show that Joel Wathen had been occupying the property since 1808. It had previously been occupied by William Taylor in 1798 and then George Taylor from 1800 to 1806.
The rate books show that it was owned by the Feoffees of Thornbury Charities in 1876, the Trustees of Jones Edwards and Whites Charities in 1880, the Governors of the Grammar School in 1885 to 1899. On 20th August 1901 the Charity Commissioners and the Governors of the Grammar School sold the property to George Henry Baylis.
The house had a very large rear garden and orchard. It must have been very fertile ground as several of the families living in the house were frequent winners at the local horticultural shows.
The Taylors – it is difficult to be sure with so little to go on and with so many local people with the name of Taylor. However we believe that William Taylor may be the father of George Taylor. A George Taylor was born on 5th August 1776, the son of William Taylor and his wife, Esther (nee Taylor). William died aged 66 and was buried on 19th November 1799 which would explain why George took over as tenant from his father. George married Ann Grove on 7th April 1803. They had a son George born on 16th July 1807 and baptised on 19th August 1807. The baptism record shows that George was a Yeoman and they had moved to live in Sibland. Another son, William, was born on 8th March 1809 and baptised on 3rd May 1809. George died aged 37 and was buried on 6th September 1814.
Joel Wathen – according to the account books of the Feoffees, Joel had been occupying the property since 1808. The 1841 census shows that Joel was a gardener aged 75 living with his wife, Flora who was aged 74 and Hannah Woodward aged 50 who was of independent means. The Tithe Survey shows that Joel was renting the property from the Feoffees of Thornbury.
The International Genealogical Index seems to indicate that Joel may have been baptised in Cromhall on 19th April 1767. Flora was born in Wickwar. We know that Joel and Flora had a large family: Elizabeth born 20th April 1795, Hannah born 25th April 1797, William born on 20th October 1799 who died in 1803 aged 3, John born on 17th March 1802, another William born on 18th April 1804, Jabez born on 18th February 1807, Prudence born on 23rd December 1808, Phoebe born on 28th October 1812, Julia baptised on 10th October 1813 and Enoch baptised on 18th September 1814.
The baptism records show that Joel was working as a labourer at the time and all the records show Flora’s name as ‘Flower’.
Joel died on 26th April 1845 and was buried in Thornbury St Mary’s. He was aged 80 years. Flora, or Flower as she was called in the 1851 census, went to live in an Alms House in St Mary Street. She was buried on 18th December 1853 aged 86 years. Their son, William Wathen, settled in the house later known as The Cottage, 1 Horseshoe Lane. Click here to read about William Wathen
Joseph and Elizabeth Pym – the 1871 census shows the house was occupied by Joseph, a labourer aged 50 and his wife, Elizabeth aged 47 from Chepstow. Elizabeth is shown as being deaf.
This Joseph was the son of Joseph and Hester who had lived here previously (see above). In June 1853 Joseph married Elizabeth Ellis at St Matthias on the Weir Church, Bristol. Elizabeth was the daughter of Luke Mitchell and had been born about 1823 in Poole in Monmouthshire. She had married an Irishman, William Small Ellis, at Hewelsfield in 1843. They moved to Thornbury where their son, Charles Small Ellis, was born in 1844. In the 1851 they were living in Crossways Lane and William was working as a journeyman nailer. William died aged 33 and was buried on 4th December 1851.
The 1859, 1862 and 1867 rate books show Joseph Pymm was living in a house situated in the field behind Thornbury House in Castle Street. In the 1861 census Elizabeth Pym is shown as a gardener’s wife living with her son, Charles Ellis, an apprentice tinman. They are listed as living at the end of the High Street, but we suspect that the enumerator had tagged their entry in at the end of his route. A sales advert dated 1868 shows that they were then living in the same property, a small labourer’s cottage off Castle Street (on Tithe plot 346) which we believe to be the same property that Joseph was occupying in 1859. We had difficulty in tracing Joseph, until Chris Maddocks kindly advised us that Joseph was listed as a gardener at 11 Castle Street where he was working for Thomas Gwynn. In 1866 Charles Ellis married Isabella Allen in Oldbury and they had a son, William Charles Ellis.
On 25th March 1868 Joseph Pymm jnr took over the tenancy of 1 Rock Street from his father. By 29th May 1871 Joseph Pym junior was in arrears with rent. George Hodges the agent for the trustees of the Grammar School reported that Joseph owed £4 for a half year’s rent. Joseph Pym was told that he had to pay within 14 days of distress would be levied on his goods (the bailiff would be sent in).
In 1881 they were still in 1 Rock Street – Joseph was described as a gardener. The accounts for Thornbury Grammar School for the year ending December 1883 have a note “the arrears of rent due from Joseph Pym, 25th March 1883, £16, were forgiven him on condition that he quitted the premises without notice.”
The Rate Book of 1885 shows they moved to a house in Mutton Lane (aka Crispin Lane) owned by R Sargent. By 1891 they had moved to a small three-roomed house in Mutton Lane. Joseph was still working as a gardener, although he was now aged 68. His wife Elizabeth was aged 66. Elizabeth was buried on 2nd November 1892 aged 69 years and Joseph died in Thornbury Union Workhouse on 27th December 1899 aged 77 years.
William Stinchcombe – in 1885 rate book the house was occupied by William Stinchcombe. Click here to read about the family
John and Lydia English – in 1891 census the house appears to be occupied by John English, a baker aged 27 from Malmesbury, his wife, Lydia aged 26 and their children: Wesley John aged 2, and Charles Elton Victor aged 10 months. Click here to read more about the English family
Sidney Tyler – in 1894 rate book shows that Sidney Tyler was living in the house. We do not know anything about Sidney.
George Henry Baylis – on 20th August 1901 the Charity Commissioners and the Governors of the Grammar School sold the property to George Henry Baylis for £270. George was a carrier who was already occupying the property at the time of the sale. George acquired the house, the orchard to the rear and the adjoining garden plot (no. 131 on the Tithe Survey).
The 1901 census shows the house is occupied by George Henry Baylis, a carrier aged 42, his wife, Louisa aged 40 from Taunton, and their children: Dora G aged 13, Robert B aged 11, Mabel E aged 8 and Reginald G. H. aged 6. The Rate Books show that George was occupying the adjoining agricultural land in 1899.
George was baptised on 6th February 1859, the son of Henry and Amelia Baylis. Henry Baylis was a carrier and the family lived in St Mary Street during George’s early years. By the 1881 census George had joined his father in the carrier business and they had moved to a house on the junction of Lower Bath Road/Bulls Lane later known as 1 Bath Road. This house became the family home/business for many years.
In 1887 George married Louisa Dollin in Taunton. Their son, Bertram Robert was born in Thornbury in 1889. By the 1891 census shows they moved in to 51 High Street. In 1894 they were renting the house which became known as 4 Horseshoe Lane.
By 1901 George had moved into the house behind his parents house which later became 1 Rock Street. He bought the property and the adjoining garden land for £270 with the help of a mortgage he obtained from his mother, Amelia Baylis. The 1911 census shows George and Louisa living there with son, Robert Bertram a solicitor’s clerk aged 21 and Reginald George Henry aged 16, a mason’s labourer.
George was unable to repay the money owned to his mother and on 7th November 1913 his property was conveyed to her. Amelia died on 29th January 1914. We are not sure what happened to George Henry. He appears to have died at 101 Greenwood Road, Dalston Hackney in 1924 aged 64. He was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 1st March 1924. The burial record describes George Henry as a clerk.
On 26th June 1914 the property was put up for sale at auction, as part of the estate of Mrs Amelia Baylis. It was described in two lots:
Lot 1 was ‘a substantially built residence and large size garden situate in Rock Street, numbered 123 and 124 on the Thornbury Tithe Map, the whole containing 1 rood and 25 perches. The house contains two bedrooms, two front sitting rooms and kitchen. There is an excellent garden running from the back of the house and a pig-stye. This lot has an excellent frontage to Rock Street and is in the occupation of Mr George Henry Baylis’. Lot 2 was ‘a piece of accommodation garden or building land situate adjoining the former lot, plot 131 on the Thornbury Tithe Map and containing about 14 perches. This lot has an excellent frontage to Rock street and forms an advantageous building site’.
By 1918 Louisa Baylis was living in 75 High Street and she continued living there until her death in 1933 aged 74.
Joseph and Emily Tuck – on 29th September 1914 Joseph bought the property for £255 from the trustees of Amelia Baylis. The indenture describes Joseph as a market gardener living at Crossways.
From the 1918 electoral registers onwards the house appears occupied by Joseph and Emily Tuck.
William Joseph Tuck was born in Hawkesbury Upton in 1852. He was the son of Robert Tuck, a farmer and his wife, Harriett. In 1861 the family were living in Back Street, Hawkesbury Upton. By 1881, Joseph had moved to the Thornbury area. He was living in Mumbleys Lodge and working as a mason. He was now married to Amelia Meredith who was born in Alveston about 1853. They had 3 children: William J born in Hawkesbury Upton about 1875, Harriett E born in Alveston about 1876 and Kate born in Alveston about 1879.
Amelia Meredith died and was buried on 21st April 1886 aged 33 years. Joseph re-married in 1887. His new wife was a widow, Elizabeth Coates born in Wotton Under Edge about 1856. The 1891 census shows Joseph and Elizabeth living at Mumbleys Lodge with children: William J, now a mason’s labourer aged 16, Harriett E a domestic servant aged 15, Kate aged 12, Vashti Edith aged 8 and Amelia Winifred aged 4 months, and two of Elizabeth’s children: Frederick and Arthur Coates aged 10 and 5 respectively.
In 1901 Joseph and Elizabeth were still living in Mumbleys Lodge. They had had one more child: Doris Annie baptised on 26th June 1895. Elizabeth died aged 55 when they were living in Crossways. She was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 26th October 1911. By 1913 the trade directories show that Joseph has moved to Crossways and become a market gardener. In 1916, Joseph re-married yet again – this time to Emily Stinchcombe. Emily was born in Aust in 1860. She was the daughter of William Stinchcombe, an agricultural labourer and his wife, Hannah, who was a charwoman when they were living in Mutton Lane (now called Crispin Lane) in 1871. William later lived at 19 St John Street between about 1918 and 1925.
The 1918 electoral register shows Joseph and Emily living in Outer Back Street (which is now called Rock Street) and we were told that they lived in the house which later became number 4 Rock Street. They continued to live here throughout the 1920’s and early 30’s, last appearing in the electoral registers we have seen, in 1935.
We know that in 1924 Joseph bought the pair of houses on the junction of Rock Street and Horseshoe Lane (which later became known as numbers 9 and 11). He paid £300 for these houses.
We were told by Miss Higgins that a Mr Stinchcombe moved in with the Tucks ‘when he was getting old’. It is possible that it could have been Emily’s father who was listed as living in St John Street in the street directory 1926/27. Alternatively, there was a Charles Stinchcombe living in Horseshoe Lane in 1927 but we don’t know his connection to Emily’s family.
Joseph died aged 84 on 11th January 1937 and he was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 14th January 1937. Joseph had made his will on 18th September 1925 appointing Edwin Franks Baker and Edwin William Savery as his trustees. The will refers to Joseph Tuck as a retired mason. Emily died on 24th November 1937 aged 77 and her funeral was held at Thornbury Methodist Church. She was also buried in Thornbury Cemetery. We note that Joseph and Emily are buried in separate graves and can only assume that Joseph was buried in the same grave as one of his earlier wives.
On 18th December 1937 there was a sale of the property at auction described as ‘the estate of Joseph and Emily Tuck deceased’. It is interesting to see that the sale was to take place at ‘Rock Cottage’ so we assume that this was the name by which the house was known at this time. On 7th February 1944 Joseph’s surviving trustee, Edwin Franks Baker, finally sold his property to William George Stafford for £625.
Of Joseph’s children, we know of only one with a Thornbury connection. His daughter, Harriett, married William J Garrett in 1915. Her sister Kate had married Edwin F. Baker of Knowle at Totterdown Baptist Chapel in Bristol on 6th September 1919.
Ernest Joseph Pearce – the 1938 electoral register shows the house occupied by Ernest ‘John’ Pearce and his family. The register compiled in 1939 in preparation for the war shows however that it was ‘Joseph E. Pearce’ who was living here with his wife, Elizabeth Alice. Click here to read more
On 12th November 1943 the house was put up for sale at auction. It was described as a ‘Valuable Freehold Dwelling House in Rock Street with large garden, let to Mr W. Stafford at a rental of 12s 6d per week, tenant paying rates. The house, which is detached, is stone-built with pantile roof and the accommodation includes two bedrooms, two sitting rooms, kitchen with sink, w.c. and underground cellar. Company’s gas and water and main drainage. The large productive garden which is partly walled in, is well stocked with fruit trees and there is a side entrance. There two greenhouses and a potting shed thereon and a brick-built coal house, tool shed etc at the rear of house. The whole is No. 1042 on the O.S. Map and comprises 1 rood 37 perches’.
The Staffords – on 7th February 1944 William George Stafford bought the property from the trustee of Joseph Tuck for £625. The 1946 and 1950 electoral registers show the property occupied by William George and Marian Amy Stafford. They named the house ‘Benford House’ during the time they were there – a name made up from parts of William’s surname and Marian’s maiden name. Click here to read about the Staffords
Leonard Smith – on 10th August 1953 Leonard Smith bought the property from William George Stafford for £1250. Leonard Smith, the carrier and his wife, Mary Louise (nee Clutterbuck) moved here from 16 Gloucester Road. They were still there when the house was earmarked for demolition as part of the town’s re-development. On 7th October 1968 Leonard sold the property to Thornbury Rural District Council for £8500. Click here to read more about Smiths, the carriers