45 47 & 49 SMSWe apologise for the poor quality of the photo on the left, but it is the only photo we have of the numbers 47 and 49 St Mary Street.  The house on the extreme left of the photo is part number 45. We believe number 51 was similar to numbers 47 and 49.  We would love to hear from anyone with any photos of this end of the street.

We are fortunate that South Gloucestershire Council have allowed us to see the deeds of this and several other adjoining houses.  They show that a house built in the early 1700’s in St Mary Street had been converted around 1800 into three houses which later became known as 47, 49 and 51 St Mary Street.

Three other houses were built at various times on the orchard at the eastward end of the garden, fronting Rock Street.  These later became 16, 18 and 20 Rock Street.  Click here to read more

The deeds show that the original house in St Mary Street and one of the houses in Rock Street (believed to be the one later known as 20 Rock Street) were built by Thomas Hulbert on an area of orchard.  Thomas was a carpenter of Thornbury when he bought the orchard from Andrew Buck on 21st July 1716.  On Thomas Hulbert’s death the properties descended to his eldest son, John Hulbert.

The properties descended through the Hulbert family and then in 1774 sold to John Rudge of Thornbury.  By 1783 the properties were bought by Thomas Hendy, a Thornbury butcher who converted the house on St Mary Street into three houses and built two more cottages on the land fronting Rock Street alongside the existing cottage.  The six houses were bought by William Hunt in 1801.  Following William’s death in 1842 the properties passed to his son-in-law, John Hall and from him to his second wife, Frances Kirk Hall and then their only son, John Augustus Hall.  It seems like the Hall family lived in Chepstow and John Augustus was a member of the Chepstow Urban District Council for many years.  The three houses were put up for sale at auction in 1921 but they failed to find a purchaser.

Following John’s death on the 7th December 1928, the properties on St Mary Street (numbers 47, 49 and 51 St Mary Street) were bought by Joseph Davis, a tinsmith of Thornbury.  The houses were all sold by Joseph’s widow, Sarah Annie Davis to Thornbury Rural District Council in 1963.  They were demolished and the land incorporated into the new St Mary Street Car Park.


In the 1840 Tithe Survey, the houses were located on Plot 142 which were described as houses and gardens owned by Thomas Hunt.  There were actually six houses on this plot, three houses fronting Rock Street and three fronting St Mary Street.  By using the 1841 census, we know that the three houses on St Mary Street were occupied by Giles Pritchard, Samuel Barge and Hester Birnall.

Hester Birnall – in the 1841 census Hester was described as being ‘Independent’ aged 85.  Fanny aged 14 was living with her.  We think Hester was Esther Powell who married Henry Burnell in Thornbury on 4th April 1782.  We know from the will of George Cossham dated 1789 that Henry was living in one of the houses which he owned in St Mary Street.  We suspect that this could be number 31 St Mary Street.  We know that Henry and Esther had a son, John, born on 16th February 1783 and baptised on 13th April 1783 and a daughter, Sarah, born on 24th August 1787 and baptised on 21st October 1787.   John married Maria Edmonds in Thornbury on 1st November 1829 and in the 1841 census they appear to be living in the same house as Henry was living in in 1789.  Hester meanwhile had moved to live in 51 St Mary Street, apparently being cared for by Fanny, presumably a daughter of John and Maria’s.

John Thomas – the 1851 census shows the house was occupied by John Thomas a gardener aged 58 from Bridgewater and his wife Sarah aged 53 from Thornbury.  The 1840 Tithe Survey shows John Thomas as being the occupant of one of the houses in the row of houses which later became 2 – 8 Rock Street.  We don’t know which house he was occupying.  The 1841 census also has him living in this area – he was an agricultural labourer aged 45 living with Sarah aged 40 and their children: James aged 13, Sarah aged 10, Charles aged 7 and Ann aged 3.  The baptism record of their son James shows his full name as ‘James Hopton Thomas’ which might suggest the maiden name of his mother.

John died aged 69 and was buried on 18th March 1860.   The 1861 census shows Sarah had moved to Silver Street where she was living with er daughter, Annie, and some lodgers.  This census notes Sarah was born in Slimbridge.  Annie married William Underhill in the Bristol area in 1866.  In the 1871 census Sarah’s house in Silver Street is being shared with William and Annie and their children William and Frederick, and James Saniger and his wife.  Sarah died aged 79 and was buried on 10th December 1871.

Samuel Haynes – the 1861 census shows Samuel was an agricultural labourer aged 52 from Glastonbury living with his wife, Caroline aged 57 from Thornbury and their daughters, Eliza aged 22 and Martha aged 17, both dressmakers born in Thornbury.  The family were still living here in the 1871 census.  Click here to read more

The 1876 rate book shows the occupants in the three houses in a different order as the 1881 census and later rate books.  It is possible that the families moved houses, but we suspect that the sequence of the people in the 1876 rate book is misleading.  We have therefore adjusted the sequence to reflect the position in other records.

William Ryan – the 1876 rate book shows William Ryan was living in the house which appears to be number 49 St Mary Street.  However we know from the 1885 rate book and 1881 census record that he was living in number 51 St Mary Street.

In the 1881 census William is shown as a hawker aged 50 from Cork in Ireland.  He was living there with Mary, his wife, aged 42 also from Cork and their children: Mary aged 13 born in Birmingham and John aged 6 who was born in Thornbury.   Click here to read more about the Ryans 

We are slightly confused about what happens next.  The 1887 rate book shows William Cornock as the tenant.  The 1890 rate book shows Maurice Poulton’s name against both number 49 and 51 St Mary Street.  We are not sure if this correct, or whether the house was taken over after William Ryan left by his daughter, Mary and her husband, Joseph Davis.

Joseph Davis – from about 1891 for the next 70 years the house was occupied by the family of Joseph Davis, a tinsmith.

Joseph was born in Lechlade about 1869.  The 1871 census shows he was living at Crossways with his parents, Joseph Davis a tinplate worker aged 30 from Cirencester and his wife, Mary Ann aged 31 from Witney (the 1911 census says she was born in Birmingham) and their children: Harriett aged 8, Roseana aged 6 and Joseph aged 2.  Mary Ann died aged 35 and was buried on 17th December 1876.  Joseph married for a second time on 19th May 1879.  His wife was Ellen Dixon, the daughter of Robert Dixon, a labourer and his wife, Jemima.

The 1876 and 1881 rate books show that Joseph was living in one of the three cottages in Chapel Street at the back of The Exchange.  In 1881 census Joseph was now aged 12 living there with his father, a hawker aged 40 and his step-mother, Ellen aged 26 and his sisters: Rebecca aged 10, Elizabeth aged 7 and Mary Jane aged 1.  Joseph and Ellen had one more child, which Scribes Alcove describes as being ‘Hammie Katie’ baptised on 13th June 1883.  Joseph died aged 44 and was buried on 4th July 1885.  In 1891 census the widowed Ellen was a hawker living with her parents and her daughter ‘Keeley’ in Chapel Street.  In 1899 we suspect she was living next door to Joseph at number 49 St Mary Street.  She died aged 41 and was buried on 28th September 1900.

On 19th October 1889 Joseph married Mary Ryan, the daughter of William Ryan, a hawker (see above).  We have a copy of a Bristol Times and Mercury newspaper report dated 1890 showing that Joseph was in trouble with the police.  Joseph and Luke Dixon, presumably his uncle, were described as gypsies who were charged with ‘encamping on the highway at Mumbleys Hill, Alveston’ and they were each fined 17 shillings including costs.  In 1891 census Joseph was a tinsmith aged 23 from Lechlade in Wiltshire living in 51 St Mary Street which had been the home of Mary’s parents.  It is interesting to note that in this census it was described  as being a ‘two roomed house.  Living with him were Mary aged 23 from Birmingham and their daughter, Mary Anne aged 6 months.

In the 1901 census Joseph Davis was a razor grinder aged 32 from Gloucester living in the same house at 51 St Mary Street which was then described as being a ‘three roomed house’.  Living with him were Mary aged 33 and their children: Mary Ann aged 10, Joseph aged 7, Ellen aged 4, Harriett aged 2 and Elizabeth aged 1 and John Pymm, a widower lodger aged 70 who was working as a gardener.

Joseph and Mary had a large number of children: Mary Ann baptised on 5th November 1890, Ellen Rosina baptised on 2nd November 1892 (she died as an infant), Joseph baptised on 6th December 1893, William baptised on 1st February 1896 (he died aged 16 months), Ellen baptised on 4th April 1897, Harriett  born on 4th November 1898 and baptised on 4th December 1898, Elizabeth May baptised on 10th August 1900, Rosina was baptised 17th September 1902, Bessie baptised on 10th August 1904, Reginald John born on 15th February 1906 and baptised on 23rd March 1906, Jessie baptised on 26th August 1908 and Primrose Florence baptised on 4th February 1911.  Primrose Florence died aged 9 months and was buried on 11th February 1911.  We also think that they had one other child, Dorothy born on 6th November 1899.  When she started at the Council School in 1906 she was known as ‘Dolly’ and her father was shown as Joseph Davis of St Mary Street.

Joseph Davis knife grinder2The baptism records show Joseph in a variety of different employments.  He was described as a hawker, labourer, tinker, grinder and knife grinder.  The photo on the right shows Joseph trading as a knife grinder in Olveston around 1900.

Joseph and Mary continued living in 51 St Mary Street.  He is listed in the 1909 Prewett’s Almanac as an umbrella repairer.  The 1911 census shows that he was a scissors grinder.  That census notes that Joseph, Mary and eight of their children were living in a 3 roomed house.

Joseph died aged 43 and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 17th February 1912.  During the First World War, Joseph (Junior) applied for exemption from serving in the Forces.  The record dated 20th June 1917 shows he was an unemployed tinsmith and grinder aged 22 at the time and he claimed that ‘my widowed mother and four sisters and brothers are dependent on him’.  We are not sure if the application was successful.  Mary died aged 53 and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 16th February 1922.

As far as we know the Davis’s continued to live in the same house.  On 18th April 1929 Joseph (jnr) bought three houses in St Mary Street for £110.  They included the house in which he was living (51 St Mary Street) as well as 47 and 49 St Mary Street.  The 1931 electoral register shows Bessie, Dorothy, Joseph and Reginald and Rose all living in St Mary Street.  Ellen was shown to have moved to 14 Upper Bath Road.  In the registers for 1935 and 1938 Dorothy, Joseph and Reginald all lived in St Mary Street.

The register compiled in 1939 in preparation for the War shows Joseph was living at 51 St Mary Street with his brother Reginald and sister Harriett.   Joseph was described as a tinsmith and Reginald was a road worker.

In 1942 Joseph married Sarah Annie Hindmarsh in the Bristol area.  The 1946 electoral register shows Joseph and Sarah Annie living there from then onwards.  From this time Reginald had moved to live with Ellen in Upper Bath Road.

Joseph died intestate on 1st September 1957 and the property passed to his widow Sarah Annie.  The 1961 electoral register shows only Sarah living at 51 St Mary Street.  On 13th March 1963 Sarah Annie sold the three properties to Thornbury Rural District Council for £500.  By 1965 Sarah had moved to live in 52 Stafford Crescent.