We are fortunate that the Mayors’ Accounts Books from 1609 provide a useful source of who lived at the property. We note that in the 1600s the property appears to have been divided between the shop used as a smithy and the house and each part had separate tenants.
So far we have traced the following occupants of the Shop:
The Purlyns (or Purlins) – the account books show that John Purlyn was the tenant of ‘the shoppe’ from 1616 paying 12s 0d per annum rent. According to the IGI, John Purlin married Agnes Champnies in Thornbury on 29th January 1617. An indenture dated 17th October 1638 confirms John was leasing the property. It describes John as a blacksmith and mentions he was using the messuage as a Smithy Shoppe and the adjoining ‘penthouse’. John must have died around 1640 because after that his widow, Agnes, took over as tenant. Agnes carried on as tenant until 1659.
The Gayners – the account books show that William Gayner took over the tenancy in 1660. This is confirmed in an indenture dated 10th October 1660. William’s rent was 14s 0d per annum and he continued paying this until 1681 when his son, John, took over as tenant until 1685. Click here to read about the Gayners
Thomas Pearce – the accounts books shows that the shop was taken over by Thomas Pearce in 1686. He was paying £1 6s 8d per annum in rent.
So far we have traced the following occupants of the House:
John Powell – John is mentioned as the tenant in an indenture referred to below when Thomas Russelll was taking over the lease. The accounts books shows John was the tenant there since 1651 paying 12s 0d per annum.
The Russells – we have a copy of an indenture dated 2nd February 1656 showing that Thomas Russell was given the lease of the house. The account books shows that Thomas Russell was paying 12s 0d per annum rent for the house from 1658 to 1678 when his wife, Joan took over the tenancy until 1689. The IGI shows an entry for the marriage of Thomas Russell to Joane Nicholls in St James Church, Bristol on 15th October 1648.
We suspect that the property was combined into a single unit in the early 1700’s. By 1738 the rent had increased to £2 10s 0d per annum.
The Hollisters – the Account Books show that Thomas Hollister was the tenant from 1738 to 1745 paying £2 10s 0d per annum in rent. Thomas was buried on 28th August 1746 at which time his widow, Mary, took over. Mary was buried on 8th November 1748. They appear to have had at least two children, a daughter, Sarah who was buried on 19th September 1726 and a son, Thomas, baptised on 4th July 1733.
Anthony Wisse – the Account Books show that Anthony Wisse was the tenant from 1747 to 1759 paying £2 10s 0d per annum in rent. We suspect Anthony was the same person connected with another property in St Mary Street – click here to read more.
The Walkers – the Accounts Book shows John Walker was the tenant of the property in 1760 and Thomas Walker from 1761 to 1764. Both paid the rent of £2 10s 0d per annum . We can’t be sure which John or Thomas Walker this refers to.
The Hendys – the Account books shows that Thomas Hendy was renting the property from 1767, paying £3 per annum in rent. In 1776 John Hendy took over the tenancy until 1788 when Thomas Hendy took over. There were several generations of Hendys around at the time and we cant be sure which Hendy these entries were referring to.
Elizabeth Wiltshire – 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 and butchers shop was then occupied by Elizabeth Wiltshire at a rent of six guineas per annum. The Mayors Account Books show Elizabeth, or Betty as she was called, was paying the 5 guineas per annum rent on the property from 1796. In 1804 the rent was increased to six guineas per annum in 1804.
Elizabeth was the Elizabeth Saunders who married Robert Wiltshire on 30th November 1784. They appear to have been living at 41 St Mary Street in 1785, but in 1790 Robert took over the shop at 8 St Mary Street paying £1 10s per annum in rent. (Note the property was then divided between the shop and the house, and the house was occupied by William Nelmes who was paying £2 per annum rent). Robert and Elizabeth had at least two children: Mary born on 29th February 1788 and baptised on 4th May 1788 and William born on 5th January 1793 and baptised on 8th May 1793.
In 1794 Robert took over the whole property, the shop and the house and was paying five guineas in rent. Robert was ‘accidently suffocated and drowned in Iron Acton’ in 1798. He was aged 41. Elizabeth continued living in the property until 1822 when she appears to have moved elsewhere. Elizabeth died aged 74 and was buried on 12th January 1834.
Joseph and Hester Walker – the Mayors Accounts Book shows that Joseph Walker was living in the house from 1822 onwards. Joseph’s rent was £8 8s per year which was considerably higher than the rent for the other houses owned by the Corporation in this street. This must have reflected the fact that there was a slaughterhouse attached at the rear and the premises was also used as a shop.
Although the 1840 Tithe Survey shows Joseph Walker was occupying the house, this information was slightly out of date as Joseph died in 1839. In the 1841 census, Joseph’s widow, Hester Walker was living there. She was a butcher aged 35 living with her children: Louisa a corsetmaker aged 15, Joseph a shoemaker’s apprentice aged 15, William aged 4, Ann aged 2 and three others who would appear lodgers: John Thatcher, a journeyman shoemaker aged 25, Charlotte Parsons, a charwoman aged 20 and her son, Enoch aged 5 months. Shortly after the census in 1841 Hester had moved away. Click here to read about Hester and the incident involving her son, Joseph
George and Sarah Walker – we have a copy of an agreement between the Mayor of Thornbury and George Walker, butcher dated 15th September 1841. This shows that George was taking over the messuage, shop and premises previously occupied by Joseph Walker deceased and since by his widow. The rent was £2 2 shillings per quarter.
The 1851 census shows George still living in the premises. George was described as a master butcher aged 49 living with his wife, Sarah aged 50 from Leatherhead in Surrey, and their children: George a journeyman butcher aged 21 and Elizabeth aged 13. The Mayors Accounts Book shows George as living in the house until 1854 when the family moved away. Click here to read about the Walkers
Henry Martin – in 1854 the Mayors Accounts Book show that Henry lived here for less than a year. Click here to read more about Henry
Hugh and Elizabeth Davis – Hugh and Elizabeth moved here from 57 St Mary Street in 1855. Click here to read about their earlier life. We have a copy of an agreement between the Mayor of Thornbury and Hugh Davis, shoemaker, dated 1st December 1855. This shows that Hugh took over the premises ‘without the slaughterhouse’ for a rent of two shillings per week. In the 1861 census the house was occupied by Hugh Davis a shoemaker aged 50, his wife, Elizabeth, a tailoress aged 50 and their children: George a journeyman tailor aged 23, Albert a journeyman shoemaker aged 21, Mary Ann a domestic servant aged 20, Henry a porter aged 17, Hester a domestic servant aged 15, John aged 13?, and Arthur William aged 6. We think that the son who appears as ‘Albert’ in the census was Alfred who was baptised on 29th May 1839.
Hugh died aged 57 and was buried on 24th July 1864. The Mayors Accounts Book show Elizabeth stayed on in the house until at least 1869. Then it seems that Reuben Greenman moved in with Elizabeth. The 1871 census suggests that Elizabeth, who is now aged 60, is the wife of Reuben Greenman, and Elizabeth’s son, Alfred Davis is described as Reuben’s stepson. However, we can find no record of the marriage and when Elizabeth dies in 1872 aged 62 her death is recorded under the name of ‘Davis’. Also when Reuben later married Maria Prewett in 1881 he is described as a ‘bachelor’. The 1871 census shows Reuben was a labourer and Alfred Davis was a shoemaker. There were two lodgers in the house, including John Mabbett a labourer from Thornbury aged 53.
Elizabeth Davis was buried on 22nd September 1872. Her son, Alfred died aged 28 and was buried on 17th December 1873. Click here to read about Reuben Greenman
Samuel and Grace Sims – the Mayors Accounts Book shows that in 1873 the house was taken over by Samuel Sims and they lived there until about 1878. The 1881 census shows Grace as a widowed laundress aged 61 living with her son, William George aged 14. She also had four lodgers living with her including two from Thornbury: John Pimm a widowed labourer aged 50 and Charlie Vizard, a labourer aged 18.
Grace England had been born in Frampton Cotterell about 1820. In 1846, Grace married Charles Power and the 1851 census shows them living in Olveston with their two sons, Charles aged 4 born in Henbury and George aged 1 born in Olveston. Grace’s first husband must have died because in 1861 she re-married, this time to Samuel Sims. Samuel had also been married before to a lady called Hannah. The 1851 shows them living in Kington with five of their children and one grand-daughter. In 1871 Samuel and Grace living in St Mary Street (we can’t be sure which house, but we think it was 35 St Mary Street). They were living with George Power and their two sons, Henry born about 1864 and William George who was baptised on 7th January 1866 when they living at Crossways. On 29th March 1873 Grace’s son from her first marriage, George Power, married Mary Skuse, the daughter of Thomas Skuse.
We know from the rate books that from 1876 to 1880 Samuel and Grace were living at 8 St Mary Street and that by the 1881 Samuel had died. The Corporation rent book shows that Grace had difficulty paying the £6 per annum rent and they distrained on her assets and they made 13 shilling from the sale of her effects after deducting the expenses of the sale. By 1883 Grace had moved to share 13 St Mary Street and in the 1885 and 1890 rate books she was at 33 St Mary Street. By 1891 she had moved again to live with her son, William Sims, now working as a dairyman and living at 41 St Mary Street. Grace died in 1898 aged 78.
Edward Gale – we have a copy of an agreement between the Mayor of Thornbury and Edward Gale, general dealer dated 29th March 1882. This shows that Edward took over the premises previously occupied by Grace Sims at a yearly rate of £7. We don’t know any more about Edward. He had left by 1883.
Thomas Alsop – the Mayors Accounts Book shows Thomas as occupying the house from 1883 to 1890. Thomas and his family moved around The town a lot. Click here to read about the family
William Curtis – the 1891 census and 1894 rate book show that the house was occupied by William Curtis. The census shows William was a general labourer aged 32 living with his wife, Eliza aged 38 and Frank Young, his wife’s son aged 19, their own son, Charles Curtis aged 5 and a lodger, William Cornock a general labourer aged 22. We have failed to find out anything about the family, except that Charles was baptised on 3rd October 1886. Although his parents moved away about 1897, Charles was shown as living in the house in 1901, when he was a mason’s labourer, lodging with William and Anna Maria Thorn.
William and Anna Maria Thorn – the 1899 rate book and the 1901 census shows the house was occupied by William Thorn. William was an agricultural labourer aged 43 living in their 3 roomed house with his wife, Ann M a charwoman aged 40 and their two children and three lodgers including Charles Curtis, a mason’s labourer aged 16 from Thornbury. Anna Maria died aged aged 45 and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 20th June 1907. The rate books shows that William was still in the same house in 1910. The 1911 census shows that they had moved to a house in Rock Street which we believe to have been later known as 4 Rock Street. William died aged 49 and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 21st September 1911. Click here to read more
George Henry Roberts – the Town Trust records show that he was occupying the house from 1911 to 1913. We don’t know anything about George except he died on 13th March 1955 aged 85.
George and Beatrice Smith – the Town Trust records show that George occupied the house from 1914 to 1937. George was baptised on 7th August 1881, the son of James Smith, shoemaker and his wife, Harriett . On 26th October 1907 George married Beatrice Alice Perkins shown in the photo on the right. Beatrice was born on 18th December 1888, the daughter of William James Perkins and his wife, Louisa. Her father was a corn porter when she was baptised on 8th February 1889 at Berkeley when the family’s address was at Newport. He was a lighthouse keeper when Beatrice and George married.
George and Beatrice had several children: Ruby Louise born on 4th March 1908, Amelia Alice born on 21st January 1910, William George born on 29th March 1913, Lucy born on 13th September 1914, Kathleen Primrose born on 19th April 1917, Arthur Donald born on 12th September 1919, Clifford John born on 3rd November 1921, Rowland C. born on 26th June 1923, Kenneth Percy born on 21st April 1925 and Norman Edward born on 17th September 1928.
The 1911 census shows that George and Beatrice were living in one of the houses on the corner of Silver Street and St Mary Street (part of the property later known as 7 Silver Street). George was a general labourer aged 28 living with his wife, Beatrice aged 23 from Woodford and their children, Ruby aged 3, Amelia aged 1 and an infant unnamed daughter aged 3 weeks. They were living in a three roomed house.
George was a labourer, but the baptism records of George’s children show that in 1914 he became a soldier and went to fight in the War. The baptism records also show the family were living in St Mary Street as early as 1908. We know from an amusing newspaper report of an incident in 1915 that George and Beatrice were living there then. The incident occurred when 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. In court, it was suggested that Harriett was ‘the worse for drink’ and witnesses, including Emily Poulton, another neighbour, detailed what insults Harriett had made. The judge upheld the complaint, but took into account the ill will felt between the two ladies and thought that Harriet ‘forgot herself on this occasion’. He fined her five shillings.
It appears that George and Beatrice separated around 1935. The electoral registers show that by 1938 Beatrice had moved to one of the new council houses at 13 Market Site. The documents relating to the building of these new houses includes a reference to some of the houses there being specially designed for large families to deal with the over-crowding problem in Thornbury. It lists the Smith family as one of the larger families as it comprised Beatrice and eight children. The special register compiled in 1939 in preparation for the war shows Beatrice was living in the Market site house with her sons, William G who was a radial driller, Clifford and ‘Roland’ who were coal haulier’s labourers, and David who was delivering newspapers. There was one other person whose name is blacked out living with Beatrice and a David R. Smith who was born on 8th October 1938.
We understand that George continued to live in the Thornbury area until he died on 23rd August 1949 and he was buried in Thornbury Cemetery.
The photograph on the right is taken from a newspaper report dated 1945. It shows the four of Beatrice’s sons who went off to War in the Second World War. Donald and Roland served as drivers, Kenneth served as a stoker in the Royal Navy and Clifford was serving as a Private in the Army. The report mentioned that Clifford was seriously ill in hospital in Italy with a fractured skull. He was lucky to survive and return to Thornbury. Another interesting fact mentioned in the newspaper report was that all four boys in turn, along with another brother, Norman, had had their first job with Len Smith, the newsagents on the High Street.
In 1946 Beatrice is still living at 13 Market Site with her son, Clifford and in 1950 she is listed as living there with sons, Clifford, Norman and Roland and her daughter, Kathleen. By 1954 Clifford had left home and was living at 17 St Mary Street. He married Eleanor Rose Cross who we understand came from the Oxfordshire area and was known by the name of Rose. They were living at 17 St Mary Street in 1965, just before the houses were pulled down.
The 1958 and 1965 electoral registers show Beatrice and Roland were living at 26 Eastland Avenue. Beatrice died on 11th October 1967 and was buried in the same grave as her husband in Thornbury Cemetery.
Graham and Minnie Taylor – the Town Trust records show that Graham was offered the tenancy of the house in December 1939 after it had been recently refurbished to make it habitable after proposals to demolish it and build a new house were turned down. Members of the family continued to live here until the 1960’s when it was again considered unsuitable for residential use. Click here to read more
In the late 1960′ the property was let to P.G. Hawkins for storage purposes before it was demolished as part of the town centre re-development.