We are grateful to the present owners of the property for their help with researching the history of 21 St John Street in Thornbury. We have also seen documents relating to this house in Thornbury Museum and in Gloucester Records Office. From these we have been able to trace some information about the owners and occupiers of this house.
Mark Williams – an indenture dated 25th March 1812 in the deeds of 21 St John Street mentions that the house was previously occupied by Mark Williams. We suspect this Mark Williams might have been a blacksmith, the father of the Mark Williams who later operated the forge and lived in the house now known as 13 Pullins Green. Mark senior would only have been aged about 23 years at this time, so we cannot be sure. Click here to read about Mark Williams senior
Isaac Pullen – was an occupant of this house according to the indenture of 1812 that is in the deeds of the house.
We are not sure when nor where Isaac was born. We know from the Baileys British Directory for 1784 that Isaac Pullen was a leather worker or currier was living and working in Thornbury. The Land Tax Records indicate that he was then living at what became 31 High Street in Thornbury. The evidence of the Land Tax records is supported by the will of George Cossham written in 1785 which describes the property adjoining 31 High Street as being next to a property occupied by Isaac Pullen.
He then seems to have moved into St John Street. In George Rolph’s last will and testament written in 1792 he mentions that Isaac was living in this house which George had already conveyed to his son, Thomas. The Land Tax records from 1796 to at least 1810 show Isaac as a tenant of Thomas Rolph and an indenture involving Thomas’s widow, Frances Rolph, in 1818 refers to Isaac having lived earlier in what we believe to be 5 St John Street.
We know little about Isaac Pullen (sometimes Pullin) himself other than the fact that he was a currier or leatherworker. We have noted that records in the IGI show Isaac and Ann Pullin were the parents of children baptised in the Chipping Sodbury area in the 1790s. It is not impossible that Isaac and his wife were Non-Conformists of some description and did not use the parish church in Thornbury but one in the Tytherington or Chipping Sodbury area.Charles Hopton – we know that when Charles Hopton bought the house in 1834 he was already occupying it and that he seemed to be using the house as a beerhouse. Although he is shown as living elsewhere in the 1840 Tithe Map (when William Cullimore is shown as living in the house) Charles and his family were living in number 21 St John Street at the time of the 1841 census. They sold the property shortly after in August 1841. Read more about Charles and his family
William Cullimore – is shown as living in the house on 1840 Tithe Map. We cannot be sure but the only William Cullimore listed in the 1841 census was a beer retailer aged 30 who was living in St Mary Street. He later became beerhouse keeper in what became known as the Horse Shoe in St Mary Street. It looks likely that William is the brother of James Cullimore, the beerhouse keeper at the Crispin. It is possible that William was carrying on this trade in number 21 St John Street in view of Charles Hopton’s association with the trade.
Lewis Davis – Lewis was born in Wickwar about 1817. The 1841 census shows him living in the High Street, Wickwar. He appears to be lodging with Sarah Millard, a schoolmistress with his wife, Mary Ann. It is possible that this Mary Ann is Lewis’s sister, not his wife, but she was born outside Gloucestershire unlike Lewis. We have also found that there is a record of Mary Ann Lewis Davis born 1818 being sentenced to four months in prison on 12th July 1841 for issuing counterfeit coin. There is also a record of a Mary Ann Davis dying in Thornbury in September quarter 1842.
We do know that Lewis married in Clifton in March quarter 1843 – when his wife was Eliza Maggs. The 1851 census shows Lewis and Eliza living in 21 St John Street, Thornbury. Lewis is shown as a master plasterer and tiler aged 34. Eliza is aged 36 from Winterborne. Also living there are Hannah Lewis, a visitor aged 56 presumably Lewis’ mother (who was described as an owner of houses from Wickwar), Lewis’s son, Walter aged 3 and brothers, Albert, a plasterer and tiler aged 22, and Worthy, an apprentice plaster and tiler aged 16.
An Indenture dated 26 August 1851 also mentions that Lewis is occupying the house. By 1861 they had moved to one of the Stokefield Cottages in Castle Street. Lewis was now a painter aged 43, and Eliza was aged 44. Walter was aged 13, a scholar. Anna Franklin, a widow aged 64 was visiting them who was born in Wickwar. Eliza died in 1864 and Lewis died in 1870 aged 54.
George Wiltshire – bought the house in August 1851 and was still living there in the 1861 census. He sold the property in 1865. Click here to read more
George Walker – in 1871 the house was occupied by George Walker, a butcher aged 41 from Thornbury and his wife, Elizabeth, aged 38 who was shown as being ‘blind’. Click here to read more
Joseph Stevens – the 1876 and 1880 Rate Books show that Joseph Stevens rented the property from Thomas Watson. The 1881 census gives more details about Joseph who is occupying the house with his family. Joseph was an engine driver aged 58 from Spongon in Derbyshire. His wife was Caroline aged 61 from Warwick. They had a daughter Sarah A aged 19 born in Birmingham living with them. The railway had come to Thornbury in 1872.
Caroline died aged 66 years and was buried on 16 February 1886. Joseph was still living in the house in the 1891 census. This shows he was now a widower aged 69, but still working as railway engine driver. His daughter had married Alfred Gill, a railway engine stoker aged 29 and they were living with Joseph in the house, together with their children: Bessie aged 2, Alfred aged 1 and Stella aged 7 months and Alice Newman shown as Joseph’s grand-daughter aged 13 born in Thornbury.
Joseph died aged 74 years and was buried on 21 January 1896. Alfred Gill and Sarah Ann continued to live in the house for a short time following the death of her father. The notice of sale for the house printed on 15th February 1895 shows Alfred Gill as the occupant and the indenture relating to the sale of the property by Thomas Honeyborne to Albert Edward Bevan mentions that the house is being occupied by the ‘Representatives of the late Joseph Stevens’. By the 1901 census, Alfred and Sarah Ann Gill were living in Jubilee House, Gillingstool. Click here to read more about the Gills
William Richard Shipton – in the 1899 Rate book and 1901 census, the house was occupied by William Richard Shipton, a wheelwright aged 37 from Bishops Cleeve, and his wife, Sarah aged 37 from Itchington. Mary A Perry, Sarah’s widowed mother aged 76 from Whitfield was also living with them.
The 1871 census shows him as aged 8, living in Oldbury with his step-father, Hubert Brewer, a 24 year old sailor from Weymouth and his wife, Anna, aged 30 from Oldbury. Also living there were Frances aged 6 and Elizabeth aged 4, also described as Hubert’s step children. Hubert had married Anna Shipton in Bristol in March quarter 1871. In 1881 William had been an apprentice carpenter living with, and presumably working for, Matthew Cullimore in his place at Grovesend Lane, Tytherington.
William had married Sarah in June quarter 1887. In 1891 they were living in Itchington Lane, Tytherington where William was working as a wheelwright.
The 1896 voters List shows that the Shiptons moved from Tytherington to St John Street in that year. They were to remain in the house until at least 1925 as they are listed in electoral registers until that date. We do not know what happened to them after that time.
A daughter, Winnie Shipton, was born on 27 December 1904 – she went to the Council School and then to the Grammar School. Winnie later married Cyril Smith in Bristol when Nellie Pullen from Pullins Green was a bridesmaid.
The Rate Books of 1905 and 1910 and the 1925 Valuation List show that William Shipton is still the tenant. The 1911 census shows William as a wheelwright for a coachbuilder. He was living with Sarah and Frances and they had one boarder, a William Brealey, a postman aged 23 from Bristol.
William Brealey – the 1901 census says that the Shipton family had a lodger called William James Brealey. William was born in Bristol on 8th January 1888 and was the son of a plumber, James Brealey and his wife Rosa (nee Clarke). The 1891 Census shows that William’s father James was away from the family and was lodging in Luccombe in Somerset. Presumably this was part of his job as plumber.
The 1901 Census shows that William grew up in St Pauls in Bristol. At the time of the 1911 Census when William was boarding with William and Sarah Shipton the 23 year old from Bristol was working as a postman. According to his army record it was on 6th September 1915 he married Bertha Mills at St Mary’s Church in Thornbury. Bertha was born on 3rd March 1895, the daughter of a coal miner and she came from Ynyshir near Pontypridd.
We have written about William’s time in World War I as a postman in our section on soldiers. Click here to read about it.
When William was discharged from the army in 1919 his address was Hill View Thornbury. Although his wife Bertha was initially still living at Duckhole in Lower Morton, it seems from the army application forms that she went back to live near her family whilst her husband was away at war. Her daughter Phyllis Irene, born on 14 March 1918 was born in Ynyshir.
When William and Bertha returned to Thornbury to live, they lived in Eastland Avenue where more children were born; Pauline Joyce on 28th August 1920, Vivian Desmond on 28th November 1921, Douglas Anthony on 14th August 1923, Adrienne Constance on 28 January 1925, Raymond Barrington on 14th August 1927, Gladys May on 27th July 1930 and Terence in 1936. The photo on the right shows William and his family about that time.
A report in the Western Daily Press dated 14th July 1945 shows William was awarded with the Imperial Service Medal for having served in the Civil Service for over 25 years.
The family seems to have continued its links to the Post Office. Gladys followed her father and worked first in the Post Office in the High St Thornbury and then in the sorting office on the industrial estate here. Pauline’s daughter also seems to have worked for the Post Office. William Brealey died on 20th January 1955 and was buried in Thornbury. His wife Bertha died on 7th December 1977 and was buried with him.
Charles Staite – Charles was a carter employed by Edmund Cullimore, working at the Saw Mills where he drove the horse-drawn wagons hauling timber to the yard. We understand from Bill Lenham who lived in St John Street as a child that Charles also used to collect and deliver parcels. He was described as one of the original “white van men”. Charles was said to be very attached to the horse which actually died whilst pulling his cart. Charles apparently pushed his cap to the back of his head and said “I never knowed ‘ee do that before!”
Charles was born in 1877, the son of Stanley Staite, a miller and farmer’s carter and his wife, Prudence. They were living in Upton St Leonards in the 1881 census. Charles married Dorothy Harriett Fowles in the Gloucester area in 1912. Dorothy was born in Avening on 23rd December 1882, the daughter of Edward Fowles, a watchman for a bacon company and his wife, Rosina.
Charles and Dorothy had three children: Dorothy born in the Wheatenhurst area of Gloucestershire on 17 December 1914, Irene May born in the Thornbury area on 15 April 1922, and Stanley Edwin born in the Thornbury area on 21 November 1923.
They moved from Olveston to Morton and then on to 21 St John Street. Although they don’t appear in the 1927 electoral register or street directory, they are shown as living in St John Street when their daughter, Dorothy, started at the Council School in 1926.
The local Gazette reported that their daughter, Irene, got in trouble with the police in 1942 when she was caught riding with an unauthorised light, presumably at the time of the blackout. For this offence she was fined five shillings. In 1943 Irene married Leonard Davies, an engineer from Dursley. The photo on the right was taken at the wedding and it shows Leonard and Irene with Charles in the background. Leonard and Irene continued to live at number 21 St John Street for several years during which time they had children: Michael Leonard in 1943, Terence in 1945, and Daniel in 1948. The baptism records of these children show Leonard as a bricklayer, a builder and a labourer.
In 1949 there are two Gazette reports involving Stanley Edwin. In August he was involved in an accident at the junction of Chapel Street and the High Street when a motor cycle he was riding collided with a pedal cycle ridden by Willie Baber of Rudgeway. In September he married Dorothy Elsie Bellamy, daughter of Mr & Mrs S. G. Bellamy of Field House, Acton Road, Rudgeway.
By 1950 the family had moved to Eastland Avenue. Charles and Dorothy continued to live together at the house until at least 1957. Charles died in Thornbury Hospital on 25th March 1958 aged 82. He was buried in Nibley. In 1965 electoral register only Dorothy is listed as living in St John Street and she is not shown on the 1970 register.