We are fortunate that the Mayors Accounts Books from 1609 provide a useful source of who lived at the property. So far we have traced the following occupants:
Thomas Lydiatt (or Liddiatt) – an indenture dated 2nd February 1656 relating to the property next door mentions that Thomas Lydiatt was living here. The accounts books have several references to Thomas being a tenant and initially paying 10s per annum, although this was increased to 12s in 1642. We suspect that Thomas was not a regular payer as his name is often missing from the accounts. In 1662 it was the ‘Widow Lydiatt’ who was owing 12s.
Thomas Smith – the accounts books shows that Thomas smith was paying a rent of £1 7s 0d per annum on the property from 1699 to 1732.
Betty Bell – the Account Books show that Betty Bell was tenant of the property from 1740 to 1750 paying £1 7s 0d per annum as rent.
Arthur Neale – the Accounts Books show that Arthur Neale the Younger was renting the property from 1754 onwards. He was initially paying £1 7s 0d per annum in rent, but in 1780 this was increased to £1 10s 0d per annum. He carried on living there until 1793.
We think Arthur was likely to be the one born on 25th September 1753 and baptised on 14th February 1770. He was the son of Arthur Neale and his wife, Mary (nee Cullimore). Arthur jnr married Sarah Seymour in Thornbury on 13th September 1775. We note that Arthur’s mother was buried on 19th May 1793 aged 78 and his father was buried on 1th May 1793 aged 78. We do not know any more about Arthur and Sarah.
William Nelmes – we have a copy of the document summarising the ‘Charities vested in and under the Management of the Corporation’. This shows that in 1815 the house was then occupied by William Nelmes at a rent of £2 10 shillings per annum. The Mayors Accounts Book shows that William Nelmes occupied the house from 1794 to 1826. He had previously been renting the house next door (8 St Mary Street) from 1790 to 1793 paying £2 per annum in rent. When he moved to 10 St Mary Street his rent was reduced to £1 10s per annum, but this was increased to £2 10s per annum in 1804.
William Minnott – the Mayors Accounts Book shows William took over from William Nelmes in 1827 paying £2 10s per year in rent. It seems as if William died because Mrs Mary Minnott took over as tenant. In 1835 the account book seems to indicate that Mary Minnott and Benjamin English were sharing the house as it says ‘Received from Mary Minnott for Benjamin English and Self’. After that time only Benjamin English is shown in the Accounts Book.
Benjamin English (sometimes Inglish) – the 1840 Tithe Survey shows number 10 was Plot 165 occupied by Benjamin English. The Mayors’ Accounts Book seems to show that Benjamin was living in the house from 1835. He was paying £3 per year in rent right up to his death in 1868. The 1841 census shows Benjamin was an agricultural labourer living with his wife, Elizabeth and their children: Ann aged 15, James a blacksmith aged 15, Eliza aged 13, Sarah aged 9 and Benjamin aged 5. We know from later censuses that Benjamin was born about 1790. Elizabeth was born on 26th January 1796, the daughter George and Elizabeth Minnett.
The 1840 Tithe survey shows that Benjamin owned and occupied a cottage and garden in Mutton Lane (now Crispin Lane) which was shown as Plot 228 on the Tithe Map.
Benjamin and Elizabeth were to stay in 10 St Mary Street for a long time. The 1851 census shows Benjamin was a coal seller and that he and Elizabeth only had their son, Benjamin at home with them at that time. The 1861 census shows Benjamin as an agricultural labourer still living there with Elizabeth and their son, Benjamin, who was also an agricultural labourer.
Benjamin died aged 78 and was buried on 15th November 1868. His wife, Elizabeth takes over the tenancy of the house still paying £3 per year. The 1871 census shows that Elizabeth carried on living in the house with her son, Benjamin who was now a labourer aged 35. Elizabeth was buried on 19th January 1880. The 1881 census shows just Benjamin living in the house. In 1883 Benjamin appeared at the Petty Sessional Courts charged with ‘cruelly ill-treating a horse’. He was fined 2/6 and 8/6 costs. Benjamin died aged 52 and was buried on 20th October 1885.
Of Benjamin’s children, Sarah emigrated to Australia aboard the ‘Busorah Merchant’ which sailed from Plymouth in January 1853. Sarah was accompanied by at least one other Thornbury person, Mary Ann Iles, the daughter of Daniel and Mary Iles who were living in St Mary Street opposite the English family. Sarah and Mary Ann arrived in Sydney on 19th March 1853. The Busorah Merchant was carrying 293 bounty immigrants, more than half of which were young single females. We have been told that Sarah married Benjamin Costelo in 1854. Sara’s sister, Eliza, was to follow her out to Australia in 1855. She was on the ‘Blenheim’ which arrived in Australia on 5th July 1855. Eliza married Robert Wilson, had seven children and lived on a farm near Brisbane. After returning briefly to England in 1886 Robert and Eliza were passengers on a steamship, Keilawarra, which was in collision with another ship. Forty people lost their lives – a report says that ‘Alice’ Wilson was the only adult woman to survive. Waves knocked her and Robert overboard. She attempted to hold her injured husband above water, but had to let him go and he drowned. She managed to reach to a floating box.
Thomas Adams – we are puzzled by Thomas. The Mayors’ Accounts Book clearly shows that Thomas Adams took over the house which was described as ‘late English’ paying £3 per year in rent. He was still shown as the tenant in the 1881 accounts book (although the rent had gone up to £4 per year) and he paid for the first quarter of 1882 before moving elsewhere. However the 1881 census shows the house was still occupied by Benjamin English (see above). Thomas and his wife Ann were living at Waterloo Cottage near Marlwood Grange. Thomas was an agricultural labourer aged 48 from Olveston, Ann was aged 56 from Thornbury. In the 1887 Rate Book Thomas is listed as the tenant of 6 Bath Road.
George James – George took over the tenancy of the house in 1884 and Town Trust records show that the family continued living here until about 1914. The 1891 census shows that George was a general labourer aged 47 from Oldbury. He was living in the house with his wife, Sarah aged 49 from Olveston and their children: Charles aged 24 from Oldbury, William aged 19 from Thornbury, Frederick aged 18 from Littleton, Thomas aged 13 from Oldbury, Robert aged 7 from Thornbury, a nurse child, Emily Dutton aged 2, two lodgers, William Cook aged 30 and George Woodward aged 52, both from Thornbury. Charles, William and Frederick and the two lodgers were all general labourers.
The 1901 census shows George was a labourer at the Saw Mill. George and Sarah still had three children at home: Charles was a builder’s labourer aged 34, Fred another labourer at the Saw Mill aged 24, and Robert a grocer’s labourer aged 16. There were two nurse children living with the family: Henry Allen aged 5 and George Allen aged 2. One lodger, James Clutterbuck, a widower aged 76 was also living in the house.
George died early in 1910 aged 66. The 1910 rate book shows ‘Mrs James’ was living in the house. The 1911 census shows Sarah aged 69 living with her son, Tom aged 30 and they had five lodgers.
We think Sarah died in 1915 aged 72. Of their sons, we think Fred died aged 26 in 1905 and that Charles died the same year aged 37. We know that son Robert joined the Royal Navy on 31st July 1901 when he was described as a labourer 5ft 6 1/2 inches, light brown hair, grey eyes and fresh complexion. He signed on 12 years, but only served until 1903, sailing on HMS Vivid II, HMS Duke of William II and HMS Russell. Robert in 1911 aged 27.
Mrs Hill – the Town Trust records show that Mrs Hill took over the house in October 1915 and she was paying 2/6 per week. She seemed to leave after September 1917. We were initially unable to identify this person until we found a newspaper report dated 1915 which referred to an incident involving George and Beatrice Smith who were know to live at 8 St Mary Street. George was walking up St Mary Street with his wife and mother, Harriett. On his way into his house, a group of neighbours were standing opposite, including Rachel Hill and her husband, George. Rachel accused Harriett Smith of using bad language towards her as he entered his house and the police were called when a family quarrel was heard inside the house. Thus we discovered that Mrs Hill referred to Rachel Hill, the wife of George Hill.
George was born on 2nd October 1869. Rachel was born on 12th March 1881.
The 1911 census showed that George was a licensed hawker aged 41 born in Bristol. Rachel was assisting in George’s business aged 30 and had been born in Wales. At the time of the 1911 census they were living in St John Street, possibly sharing the house at 1 St John Street with the Collins family or living in the Court Houe at 2 St John Street. George’s father, William Hill, was also living with them. He was a general dealer aged 69 from Bristol.
On 29th September 1920 George Hill bought the property at 25 St Mary Street from Francis Williams. The price was £480. At the time of the sale George’s address was in Crossways. George was a china and earthenware dealer and he called his shop ‘Eclipse Stores’. There is an advert in the Thornbury Town guide of the 1930’s in which George claims that ‘For 30 years the vans of George Hill have been noted throughout South Gloucestershire. A postcard to the Eclipse Stores, Thornbury will ensure a call. George Hill, the noted Hardware Dealer’. By 1939 the Hills were listed as living at 5 Thornbury road, Alveston and George was described as a hardware shopkeeper.
Mrs Cassaretto – the Town Trust records show she took over the house in December 1917 paying 2/6 per week. She left in April 1918. We know nothing more about Mrs Cassaretto.
James Weare – the Town Trust records show that James took over the house in 1918 paying 2/6 per week. The 1921 electoral register shows James Weare was living there in 1921 with his wife, Matilda. James and Matilda moved to Thornbury from Congresbury in Somerset. James had married Matilda Ann Ogborn in that area in June quarter 1894. They had a daughter, Alice Mabel born in 1899. The 1901 census shows the family living in Wrington Road, Congresbury. James was an agricultural labourer and Matilda was born in Redhill in Somerset.
We know from the electoral registers that the family had moved to the Thornbury area by 1913 when they were living in Upper Lodge, presumably on the Marlwood Estate. They were still living there in 1918. By 1920 the family had moved to St Mary Street. By then Alice Mabel had had two children, Olive born on 22nd April 1917 and Lilian Lois born in 1919 and died aged 8 months and was buried on 24th January 1920. Alice married Charles S Pawley in 1921.
The Gazette of 1929 reported on the theft of ten sovereigns from the wardrobe of Dorothy Alice Parsons of High Street. A sovereign was a two shilling piece and the theft amounted to one pound. Alice Pawley described as a married woman of St Mary Street had been employed there in February and March and had been left alone in the bedroom. She was very contrite about the theft and obviously made a good impression on the magistrates. She told the arresting officer how she had spent the coins and arranged to pay back the money. She had already paid back half of it and would pay back the other half the next week. She was bound over for two years.
James continued living in 10 St Mary Street until at least 1938. Matilda had died in 1925 aged 51. Alice Mabel Pawley was listed as living in St Mary Street in 1931 electoral register so it is possible that she was living with her father.
We know from the Town Trust records that the house required major refurbishment after it became vacant. There was consideration of demolishing the property and rebuilding it, but this idea was rejected because of the cost.
William Charles and Violet Stewart – the Town Trust records show that William Stewart took over from James Weare in this house in 1940 and the electoral registers show that Bill and Violet lived here from 1946 to at least 1961. By 1965 they had moved to 54 Streamleaze. Click here to read more
John and Mary Richards – the 1965 electoral register shows John and Mary Richards living in the house. From 1946 onwards they had been living in the Gas Works Cottage on Park Road.
According to Town Trust Account Book in 1967 the house was let to ‘Lyons Maid Ltd’. On 19th December 1969, it was acquired by Thornbury Rural District Council for re-development of the Town Centre.