William Thomas – according to the 1840 Tithe Survey William was the owner and occupant of the house. Click here to read about William Thomas and his family
John Luce – in 1851 the house was occupied by John Luce, a master butcher aged 42 born at Grovesend, his wife, Ellen aged 36 and their children. Click here to read more
James Powell – the 1859 Rate Book and the 1861 census show the house was occupied by the family of James Powell, a tailor. James was born in Kington in Wiltshire about 1820. In 1842 he married Eliza Gayner in Bristol. Eliza was baptised on 11th May 1823, the daughter of Charles Gayner, innkeeper and his wife, Frances.
James and Eliza must have spent some time in Canada as their first child, Frances Jane was born in Raleigh, Canada about 1845. The family moved to Thornbury shortly after as their second child, Thomas Ricketts Powell was born there in 1846, and he was followed by George Gayner Powell in 1848 and Alfred James Powell in 1850.
James is shown in the 1848 Thornbury Trade Directory as a grocer and tea dealer. The 1851 census shows the family living in Colwell Street (now called 12 The Plain). Further trade directories show James as a grocer and dealer in sundries in 1852 and a carrier in 1856. By 1861 the family had moved to 17 St John Street. There were two additions to the family: Flora born in 1856 and Elinor E born about 1859.
The photo on the right was sent to us by Henry T Ford, a great grandson of Susannah Powell. It was taken in the late 1860’s showing Susannah as a baby in the arms of her mother, possibly with other members of the family, outside of the Swan which was run by her grandmother, Frances Gayner. Click on the photo to see a larger image.
In 1862, James and Eliza’s daughter, Frances Jane married Thomas Henry Dodd in the Thornbury Congregational Church. In the next few years, Frances had two children, Henry and Annie, before Thomas died on 8th July 1867 aged 25. Frances later moved to live in Clevedon which is where she was living in 1881.
The 1871 census shows that James and Eliza moved to 6 St John Street. In 1871 James was still trading as a tailor and Eliza was now a dressmaker. Living with them were Flora aged 15, Ethel aged 10, Henry aged 8 and Susanna aged 5.
We know that Eliza died on 27th October 1872 aged 48 years. She is buried in the grave of her parents, Charles and Frances Gayner, in Thornbury St Mary’s churchyard. It is interesting to note that after this date we were unable to find any sign of James or his children in Thornbury or elsewhere in the UK – in any census records or death records. We are grateful to Jane Fitzgerald of Florida for telling us that James and the other nine of his children moved to Canada. We understand that the boys settled to live in Canada but the three daughters, Flora, Emily and Annie moved to New York to live with their uncle George Gayner and his wife Emma.
Tuckers – at the time William Thomas made his will in June 1870 the house was occupied by Thomas Tucker and his family. This is confirmed by the 1871 and 1881 censuses that both indicate that the Tucker family lived in this house. The 1876 Rate Book also confirms that Thomas Tucker at that time rented the property from Hugh Smart. Click here to read about this family
Salmons – the 1890 Rate Book says that Edwin Salmon was the tenant and the 1891 census shows the house was occupied by Edwin John Salmon and his family. Edwin was born in Thornbury on 17th December 1866, the son of Richard and Caroline Salmon. Click here to read about Richard and Caroline and Edwin’s early life
Edwin married Eliza Webb on July 27th 1889 at the United Reformed Church. Eliza was baptised on 6th May 1866, the daughter of William Webb, a labourer from Kington and his wife, Ellen. Edwin was a plumber and decorator. Eliza was a dressmaker. They had at least 3 children: Gladys born on 3rd June 1890, Arthur Edwin born in 1893, and Harold John born on 3rd July 1898. By the 1901 census, the family had moved to Castle Street where Edwin was now in business as a house decorator. They may have been in Castle Street as early as 1899 or before because they 1899 Rate Book shows the name of ‘Edward’ Salmon living in a property owned by E. Salmon. We think this was a mistake which should have read ‘Edwin’. Their young son, Harold died on 19th June 1905. Edwin died on November 19th 1914. The Gazette newspaper of 28th November reported his death and said that it took place in his office above his workshop. He had been unwell for some time but appeared better on tha day. He was actually giving instructions to one of his workmen when a violent fit of coughing suddenly led to his death.
John and Beatrice English – we think John English, the baker, and his wife, Beatrice, lived here from 1901 onwards. The 1905 and 1910 Rate Book shows John as living there. Beatrice was still shown as living there in the 1927 electoral register. Click here to read more
Edward Frank and Susan Rogers – they occupied the house from about 1930 to 1935. Edward was a miner from Midsomer Norton and the son of Frank Rogers, a motor engineer. On 29th October 1921 Edward married Susan Cole, the daughter of Goliath and Julia Cole of Rock Street. Francis White remembers that ‘Ted’ returned from the fighting in the First World War having lost an eye. This injury occurred during the 3rd Battle of Ypres. In spite of this he carried on serving and was discharged in 1919. He was employed by the Thornbury Public Assistance Institution before moving on to work for Tucker Brothers. The family were living at 17 St John Street from 1930 to 1935 and then they moved to 5 Eastland Road by 1939.They had a daughter, Margaret Irene born in 1922 who married Harry Barnsley in 1942 and another daughter, Diana Julie born about 1935. Edward died aged 49 on 27th October 1946 and less than a month later, his daughter, Diane Julie, died aged 11 on 26th November 1946. Susan later married again to Harold Elliott.
Alice Clark/Hughes/Peters – Alice occupied the house from about 1939 to the late 1960’s. We have been told by her grandson that Alice was born as Alice Clark and that she lived in Bristol. She went into service in Hill and there she met Charles Henry Hughes, the son of George Hughes, a labourer and his wife, Elizabeth.
Alice had one son, William Clark, born on 23rd October 1910 before her marriage to Charles. They had three children after their marriage: Leonard born on 9th January 1912, Frederick Henry born on 16th June 1916 and Elizabeth Alice born on 1st April 1919. Tragically, Charles was killed in France in 1918 whilst he was serving in the Gloucester Regiment 13th Battalion. His name is remembered on the Pozieres Memorial.
Alice and Charles had settled in Olveston and the children, William and Leonard started at Tockington Church of England School and Frederick started at Old Down School. In 1922, Alice moved her family to live in Thornbury at 11 Horseshoe Lane, one of the two houses on the corner of Rock Street. The children transferred to the Council School and Elizabeth started at that school. Alice later told her grandson that they had great trouble getting the cart with all their belongings up the hill from Olveston up to Old Down. They had to put two horses on the cart to pull it. The photo on the left shows Alice with her son, Bill.
We understand that in the late 20’s Alice moved to Pool Cottage, Milbury Heath where, as one of the rights of tenants of the cottage, she was allowed to sell the ducks on the pond opposite! Here she met Henry (Harry) Peters who lived next door and worked at the quarry in Tytherington. They were soon to marry. The photo on the left shows Alice and Harry at the time they were living at Milbury Heath.
Around 1939, Alice and Harry moved to live at 17 St John Street. Her daughter, Elizabeth Alice had just married John Henry (Jack) Curtis, another quarry worker. Although Jack and Elizabeth moved to live in 12 St Mary Street when they married, Elizabeth moved back home with her mother whilst Jack was away with the army, and both of them continued to live there on his return whilst their own house was let out. Jack and Elizabeth later moved to North East Road when the new council houses were built there.
Jack is an interesting local character – people still refer to him affectionately as ‘Barmy’ Curtis. After leaving the quarry, he had various jobs: working for the sawmill, the brickworks, Berkeley Power Station, various local farms and De Salis’s gardens before settling down to work for the Thornbury Rural District Council ‘on the bins’ as Jack would say. He enjoyed the active life and became the foreman of refuse collection for the whole district.
The 1939 register compiled in preparation for the war shows Henry was a road labourer born on 2nd June 1876 and Alice was born on 21st January 1887. There was one other person living with Henry and Alice – that was Winifred Parker, a married lady born on 1st January 1910. There were two other people living there but their details are ‘blacked out’.
Alice was a busy lady – she took in lodgers (including William Padfield who was known locally as ‘Popeye’ or ‘Paddy’, Elton Ford and Ivy Burrows) and, together with Ma Taylor from Saw Mill Lane, she worked as a ‘layer-out’ for Pitchers, Hawkins and Tuckers, all local undertakers. She also worked for Luce’s, the auctioneers, and her grandson remembers going round the auction room helping her to put the lot numbers on items to be sold and on occasions being offered things to put into his pocket if he liked them!
Harry died in Thornbury Hospital on 2nd January 1955 aged 78. Alice died on 25th April 1965 aged 78 years.
The Joyces – the 1970 electoral register shows that the house was shared by Robert Norman Joyce, a draughtsman and his wife, Judy Elizabeth, and Jack Scot. Robert Joyce married Judy Elizabeth Fudge in Thornbury in 1964. Judy was the daughter of Hubert (Bert) Fudge and his wife, Edna. They had two daughters, Adela and Anya. We understand that they lived in the house until early 1978 when they moved to Ireland.
We know very little about subsequent occupants. The house changed hands many times, and the occupants included the Endres, Meadowcrofts and Lessells. We would be grateful to hear any more information about them or any of the other people who lived at the house.