This house was in a row of four very small houses in Rock Street known locally as ‘The Oxhouses’. The plan on the left dated 1880 shows the area around the junction of Outer Back Street (now known as Rock Street) and Bath Road. There was a row of four houses on Rock Street, just to the south of the junction with Bath Road. When house numbering was introduced in the 1950’s, they became known as numbers 3 – 9 Rock Street and we have marked the numbers on the plan.
Unfortunately we have not found any photos of these houses. We understand they were very small with one room downstairs and one bedroom upstairs. There were no doors fronting Rock Street. Access was via the shared court at the rear, between the back of the houses and the gardens. The toilets were at the bottom of the garden (you can actually see the block of toilets in the plan above).
We have had great difficulty in identifying the occupants of each house in the 19th century census records and even with the Rate Books we found the sequence of occupants is inconsistent. We have therefore provided our best guess as to who was living in each of the Oxhouses.
George Ford – the 1876 and 1880 rate books show George Ford occupying this house. George was baptised on 5th March 1854, the son of Thomas Ford a labourer and his wife, Ann from Morton. On 18th September 1870 George married Ann Walker, the daughter of John Walker, a labourer and his wife Sophia. Ann was baptised on 27th August 1843. In the 1871 census George and Ann are shown in Upper Bath Road next door to George’s parents (and two doors away from his grandparents). We can’t be sure exactly where George and Ann were living but there is a chance that they had already settled in number 3 Rock Street.
The 1881 census shows George was an agricultural labourer aged 28 living with Ann aged 39. They do not seem to have had children. We are puzzled by the 1885 and 1890 rate books which show that George was now occupying both numbers 3 and 5 Rock Street. We can’t imagine why he needed two houses. George died aged 40 and was buried on 17th March 1892. The 1894 rate book shows Ann was occupying number 3 Rock Street and the 1901 census shows Ann living there as a widowed charwoman aged 57. She died in 1904 aged 61.
Thomas Hurn – the 1905 rate book shows that the house was occupied by Thomas Hurn. Various censuses show Thomas was born in Olveston/Rudgeway/Alveston about 1837 -1840. The 1881 census shows he was married to Hester who was a cook. Thomas was an agricultural labourer and they were living in Rudgeway with 4 daughters. The 1891 census he was still married, but now lodging in the White Horse Inn, Buckover, and in 1901 he was lodging with Thomas Powell in St Mary Street, Thornbury. We don’t know any more about Thomas.
In this case, there is a large gap in our knowledge of the occupants in the 1900’s:
Mrs Gough – an indenture dated 1913 when the cottages were bought by Albert Bevan shows that ‘Mrs Gough’ was the occupant of the house.
Tom Taylor – the 1925 valuation list and 1926 rate book show the house was then occupied by Tom. He is listed in the Prewetts 1916 Street Directory as living in Rock Street so he may have been in the same house. We don’t know anything more about Tom to identify him.
Mary Ann Burrows – an indenture dated 1931 when the cottages were bought by Frederick Bishop shows that this cottage was occupied at the time by Mrs Mary Ann Burrows. She was also listed as living in Rock Street in the 1927 and 1931 electoral registers. Mary Ann was the widow of John Burrows who had died in 1921 aged 74. We don’t know when they got married. John was a military man. The 1891 census shows them living at Horfield Barracks in Bristol. John was a colour sergeant aged 44 born in Petersfield in Hampshire. Mary Ann was aged 37 and had been born in Ireland. They had five children living them: Caroline aged 12 born in Malta, Albert Edward aged 7 born in Hyderabad, India, Harry Heather aged 4 born in Ahmednagar, East Indies, John aged 2 and Mary Elizabeth under six months, both born in Horfield.
By 1897 the Burrows had moved to Thornbury. On 19th April 1897 Caroline married William Stait, a widower aged 35 who was a sergeant and the son of John Stait, cordwainer. A 1899 trade directory shows John as a Retired Army Sergeant living at The Baths. The 1901 census shows John and Mary Ann living at Gillingstool. John was now working as an agricultural labourer. and Mary Ann is shown as a ‘Monthly Nurse’. Of their children, Harry and John were still at home. Harry was also an agricultural labourer.
The 1911 census shows that John and his family had moved to another house in Gillingstool. We believe that this was the house later known as The Dingle. In this census John aged 64 was an agricultural labourer who had been married 37 years. Mary Ann Burrows aged 58 is described as a certified midwife. The record shows that the couple had had nine children of whom only four were still living.
Both John and Mary Ann are listed at Gillingstool in the electoral registers.
During the War, three of their sons fought in the services. Albert Edward served with the R. F. A. and survived. Harry Heather served as Sergeant with the Gloucestershire Regiment and he was killed in action on 31st October 1914. It is thought that he was the first man from the area to be killed. His name is listed on Menin Gate. He was 28. Harry is shown here on the left. The photograph comes from the Thornbury Chronicle of 11th June 1915 which had a roll of honour. The newspaper reported that Harry had had 13 years service in the army, eight of which he served in India. The report also mentioned that the last time the late Sergeant Burrows had come home on leave he had performed a cornet solo with the Baptist Band.
Sadly the same newspaper article reported on the death of his brother Corporal John Burrows the youngest son of Sergeant John Burrows and his wife Mary Ann. John was killed in action at the second battle of Ypres on 10th May 1915. He is also listed on the Menin Gate. The report says he was home in the April after being on the front as he was recovering from frost bite. He had only been back a few weeks when he was killed. Young John had served 11 years in the army, three of which were in Malta. On the right we show an thumbnail image of John Burrows taken from the newspaper article. The remaining son of the Burrows family was serving in the Field Artillery with the British Expeditionary Force in France. Presumably this was Albert Edward.
John and Mary Ann continued to live in Gillingstool until 1920 when their house was advertised for sale as being “in the occupation of Mr Burrows.”
John died in 1921 aged 74. The report of his death on 30th July 1921 in the Gazette says “An old inhabitant of Thornbury has passed away this week in the person of ex-Colour Sergeant Burrows. Up to the time of his retirement from the army on pension the deceased served with the 61st Regiment now the 2nd Battalion Gloucesters. Two sons both promising soldiers and non-commissioned officers in the Gloucesters were killed in the Great War. The funeral took place on Wednesday last at Horfield.”
Mary Ann moved to live in Rock Street by 1921 as a trade directory shows her as a midwife there. In 1926 Mary Ann was a tenant of John Bartlett in a house in Chapel Street.
Frank Edward Neal – the electoral registers of 1938 through to 1950 suggest that Frank was living in 3 Rock Street. Click here to read more about Frank and his family
Frederick John & Amelia James – the electoral registers for 1954 and 1958 show the house was occupied by Frederick and Amelia. We have traced a marriage of a Frederick J James and Amelia Morris in the Merthyr area in 1919 which seems to be their marriage and the birth of a Frederick John James in Merthyr in 1896. Frederick was the son of John James a coal miner from Oldbury on Severn and his wife Emily Eliza from Hereford Madley. Amelia and Frederick had a son William Arthur James who was born in 1929 in Merthyr.
They seemed to move to the Thornbury area in 1932 when their daughter, Eunice, transferred to the National School from a place that appears to be Upper Albermoslas(?) in the school records but which we suspect was Abermarlais near Merthyr. The School records give the address as Castle Street. In 1933 Eunice moved to Oldbury School and the family were shown as living in St Arild’s Cottage, Kington in 1946 and 1940 electoral registers. There is a wedding in St Mary’s Church records record of William James and Irene Hughes in February 1951 which gives William the address of Blakes Avenue but obviously this might not be the address of the James family at that time. Many people give the address of where they intend to live after they are married. However it does tell us that Frederick’s occupation was a brickyard labourer. In the 1950’s the brickyard in question may have been Thornbury brickyard which was near the Baptist Church.
We are not sure when Frederick and Amelia moved into 3 Rock Street as the only information we have at this time is in the electoral records of the 1950’s. By 1961, the house at 3 Rock Street had been demolished and Fred and Amelia had been re-housed by the Council at 12 Buckingham Parade.