Thomas Nelmes – we know from the Tithe Survey and other documents that Thomas Nelmes owned the property and ran a pig butchering business from here. Click here to read more
Ezra Amos – the 1840 Tithe Survey shows that the property was occupied by Ezra Amos. Although we haven’t found any other reference in the census to show Ezra living in Thornbury, we do know that he baptised three of his children here: Edward baptised on 3rd January 1836, Julia baptised on 4th February 1838 and Emily baptised on 1st March 1840. All three records show that Ezra was a cooper and his wife was called Mary. The 1839 Thornbury directory lists Ezra as a cooper and beer retailer.
Mark Smith – an 1856 trade directory shows that Mark Smith became beerhouse keeper in St Mary Street and the 1861 census shows him as a beerhouse keeper and journeyman shoemaker at the place which was later to be called the Plough Inn. He was living with his wife, Mary Ann.
Mark was a shoemaker who was born in Olveston about 1811. In the 1841 census Mark Smith was living at 13 St John Street with his new wife, Mary Ann. We believe that Mary Ann might be the daughter of Joseph and Martha Cullimore. It was this Martha Cullimore who was living next door as the housekeeper of Luke Withers, the owner of number 13. In 1851 Mark and Mary Ann were still living in the house. Mark was described as a master cordwainer (an alternative name for a shoemaker). Mark died in 1865 aged 52 years. Following his death, Mary Ann moved to 11 St John Street, another of the houses owned by Luke Withers. Mary Ann died in 1874 aged 69 years.
Luke Cullimore – the 1871 census shows the Plough Inn was occupied by Luke Cullimore, a publican aged 25, his wife, Amy Lucy aged 31 from Stapleton. Click here to read more about Luke and his family
George Hughes – the rate books show George had taken over at the Plough by 1880. The 1881 census shows George as the beerhouse keeper. Living with him were his wife, Susan and George’s father, Samuel Hughes aged 80, a retired blacksmith. George was up before the Petty Sessional Court in 1881 charged with selling beer to John Burchell during prohibited hours on 15th September 1881. He was sentenced to a fine of 5/- with 12/- costs. When the pub was put up for sale on 1st September 1886 following the death of the owner Abraham Cole, George bought it.He was shown as the owner and occupier of the premises in the 1890 rate book, but by the time of the 1891 census, he had given up as beerhouse keeper, although he was still boarding in the place. ‘Daniel Sykes and Co’, a Bristol Brewery company based in Redcliffe, became the owners. Click here to read more about Samuel and George Hughes
Edward Purnell – the 1891 census shows Edward Purnell was the innkeeper at the Plough. He was aged 26 from Crossways and living with his wife, Hester aged 24 from Berkeley.
Edward was baptised on 1st February 1863, the son of Alfred Purnell, a carpenter and his wife, Sarah (nee Osborne) who lived at Crossways. We understand that Edward’s brother was Stephen Purnell who became innkeeper at the Black Horse beerhouse in Gillingstool in 1894. In 1886 Edward was listed as a member of the Thornbury Detachment of the 1st Volunteer Battalion of the Gloucester Regiment in 1886. We are not sure how long he served with the unit as he was not listed in 1888 but there is a Private Purnell from Crossways in the 1891 listing.
Early in 1891 Edward married Hester Morgan in the Bristol area. We think Hester was baptised on 7th July 1867, the daughter of Ephraim Morgan, a labourer from Bevington and his wife, Elizabeth. Edward and Hester had three daughters: Ella baptised on 6th March 1892, Florence Elizabeth baptised on 5th November 1893 and Ada Hester baptised on 7th June 1896.
Edward died aged only 37 and he was buried on 18th April 1900. He was still the publican at the Plough at that time. In the 1901 census ‘Esther’ is shown as living at 49 St Mary Street with her three daughters. Understandingly, Hester had a very difficult time following Edward’s death. There is a newspaper report dated 18th April 1901 which shows that she was charged with abandoning her three children at Thornbury on 21st March. The Police Court didn’t appear to show much sympathy and sent Hester to prison for one month with hard labour and ordered to pay the costs of £1 12s 6d. Following all these troubles we can find no other mention of Hester or her children in Thornbury.
The Cripps – the 1901 census shows that Arthur Cripps had taken over from Edward Purnell. He was living at the Plough with his wife, Maria and their children.
Arthur was the son of Henry Cripps, a farm bailiff and his wife, Susannah. Arthur was born in Duns Abbotts near Cirencester in 1866. In 1881 the family were living at Spring farm, Frocester on a farm of 100 acres. In June quarter 1889 Arthur married Maria Moore in the Barton Regis district of Bristol. Maria had been born in Knowle near Bridgewater in Somerset in 1865. Arthur and Maria had three children whilst living in Bristol: Alice Eveline born in Westbury Park on 22nd November 1889, Dorothy Mabel born in Redland on 27th April 1891 and Emily Norah born in Redland on 1st May 1892.
The family moved to Rockhampton about 1893 where Arthur was a market gardener. Two more children were born here: Arthur Charles born in Rockhampton on 4th March 1894 and Ethel Maggie born in Rockhampton on 4th September 1896. The family appears to have moved from Rockhampton to Thornbury around January 1899 when the children started at the National School (now St Mary’s Primary). Their address at that time was 32 High Street, which they were renting from Samuel Pegg, but they had moved to run The Plough Inn in St Mary Street by the census of 1901.
Arthur died on 11 March 1905 aged 38 years so perhaps he had been in ill health for some time. Some of Arthur’s siblings seemed to help in running the pub and bringing up the children. In 1903 when Maggie started at the Council Upper School, Charles Cripps, presumably Arthur’s older brother, was shown as being her guardian.
On 4th July 1911 Dorothy Mabel Cripps married Sidney George Gordon Wilkins son of Mr and Mrs S G Wilkins of Tockington.
Following Arthur’s death, the trade directories show that The Plough was taken over by Escott Frederick Cripps, one of Arthur’s younger brothers. Escott is shown in the Plough in 1910 and 1918 electoral registers and the 1914 trade directory. The 1911 census shows that Escott is the licensee of The Plough, but he is sharing the running of the property with his widowed sister-in-law, Maria and her daughters, Dorothy and Ethel.
In 1915 when Escott joined the Army reserve he was still shown as a licensee. He was described as being 5ft 7 inches, 38 inch chest with 2 inch range, weight 156/158 lbs, Church of England, born in Nympsfield. His next of kin was noted as being Maria Cripps, sister in law. On 23rd February 1916 Escott applied for exemption from military service on the basis that he was needed to run the business. He was granted temporary exemption until 30th June 1916. On 6th September 1916 he joined the Durham Light Infantry and transferred to 29th London Regiment on 24th November 1917. He was demobbed on 23rd February 1919.
The electoral registers of 1923 onwards until 1935 show Mrs Maria Cripps as running the Plough. She had been running the pub since Escott joined the Army and in 1918 he informed the licensing authorities that he did not intend to return to the pub. Although the authorities had a policy of not allowing women to have a license to run a pub, the police confirmed that Maria had run the pub very well in Escott’s absence and they agreed to her taking over formally.
The 1935 electoral register show that Maria moved from The Plough to number 3 St John Street where she was living with her daughter, Ethel Maria. We know that one of her other daughters, Dorothy Mabel, married in 1911. Her husband was Sidney George Gordon Wilkins, assistant innkeeper of Tockington. Maria and Ethel continued to live in the house. They were there in 1939 electoral register. Maria died on March 5th 1945 aged 79 years. Ethel moved away. In 1950 she is shown as living in Yew Tree Cottage, The Knapp. Ethel died on 18th March 1975 aged 79 years.
Following the Cripps, we only know the names of a few of the landlords and landladies of the Plough from the electoral registers.
Ernest and Lilian Howe – the 1931 electoral register show that the Plough was occupied by Ernest and Lilian Grace Howe. We don’t know much about the Howes except that in 1929 Ernest had married Lilian Grace Harvey in the Bristol area. She was the daughter of Herbert William Harvey.
The Western Daily Press reported on 28th May 1935 that Ernest had been involved in a road accident. It had happened on 21st May 1935 when he was returning from Bath Races with a friend, William Howell of Oldbury. He had been lent the car by Norman Tucker who was unaware that there was a fault with a broken spring. It was thought that the car went over a hump in the road in the vicinity of Goss Lane, Cold Ashton and this caused the spring to dislodge and interfere with the steering. The car went off the road and overturned. Ernest was killed and William Howell was admitted to hospital with leg injuries. An inquest was held which concluded that death was accidental and no fault of Norman Tucker.
The 1935 electoral register only shows Lilian as living there so it appears that she carried on running the pub on her own. On May 15th 1937 the Gazette noted that the licence had been transferred from Lilian Grace Howe to Samuel Shield.
John and Alice Emily Walsh – the 1938 electoral register shows John and Emily living at the Plough. The register compiled in 1939 in preparation for the War shows John as licencee. He was born on 11th February 1905 and was also working in the auxiliary fire service. Alice was born on 25th September 1909.
Enoch and Ethel J Jefferies – the 1946 electoral register shows them at the Plough
William G and May G Balson – the 1955, 1958 and 1961 electoral registers show them at the Plough, and in 1955 Dennis B Balson was also listed as living there. In 1955, their son, Dennis Balson married Vera M Ricketts of Knowle, Bristol.
Mr Couling – the 1967 programme for the Flower Show lists Mr Couling as landlord of the Plough.
Francis, Lawrence and Joan Gunn – the 1970 electoral register shows them at the Plough, together with Suzanne J. Browning.