go to history of the house

The occupants of the house now known as 5 St John Street in Thornbury were;

Joseph Williams – an indenture dated 1767 refers to Joseph occupying the property when Thomas Clark was selling the property to George Rolph.  The 1770 poor rate assessment listing shows Joseph still as a tenant of George Rolph.

We suspect that Joseph was the person who married Anne Ford, a widow, in Thornbury on 12th May 1759.  They had a lot of children!  We have not got records of them all.  A daughter called Anne Williams was baptised on 8th August 1762, but when another child, Betty was born 1st June 1764 she was noted as being the eighth child of Joseph and Anne.  When Mary was born on 17th March 1767 she was noted as being the ninth child and Sarah born on 8th September 1769 was noted as being the 5th daughter and 10th child.  The baptism records mention that Joseph was a wheelwright of Thornbury.

We are not sure when Joseph and Anne died.  There is a burial of a Joseph Williams aged 47 on 19th June 1771, but he was described as a labourer.  There is also a burial of Anne Williams aged 66 on 4th January 1795, but we can’t be sure that either of these is the right person.

James Wither – in 1781 James Wither is listed as living as a tenant of George Rolph’s at 5 St John Street.  He was still living there in the 1784 Land Tax record.  James is noted as having lived in the house prior to George Rolph writing his last will and testament in 1792.  Click here to read more

Isaac Pullen – Isaac was a leather worker or currier.  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.  Click here to read more

Richard Putley – Richard is mentioned as living here in the last will and testament of George Rolph written in 1815.  He was still there when Frances Rolph was selling the property in 1818.  This indenture mentions that the property had been divided into two messuages and that Richard was sharing the property with George Gough.  Click here to read about Richard

George Gough – George was said to be living in 5 St John Street in 1818 when it had been divided into two messuages.  Richard Putley was living in the other part.  We assume George was the same person who later lived in 3 Upper Bath Road.  Click here to read more

Through the 19th century, our main source of the occupants is the census which was taken every 10 years from 1841 onwards.  The 1841 census is perhaps the most confusing of all as it seems that the census enumerator may have dodged around the area in an unsystematic way which is very difficult to follow.  Until we get more information, possibly from the deeds of the various houses in the street, one possibility is that the house is occupied by Daniel Hopton, a gardener aged 70 and Thomas Bezer, a blacksmith aged 22.

The Maishments  – In 1851 the house was occupied by the family of John Maishment.  This is confirmed by the deeds of the house.  Read more about the Maishments  

The Pontings – the 1859 Rate Book and the 1861 Census shows the house was occupied by George Ponting, a relieving officer and his wife, Marianne.  A conveyance between John and George Hodges dated 1857 found in the deeds of 19 Pullins Green refers to the fact that George Ponting was a tenant of John Hodges at that time.  Click here to read more

The Smiths – in 1871 the house was split into two households: one occupied by the family of John Smith, carpenter and the other by the family of his son, also John Smith, a tailor.  The 1876 Rate Book shows that John Smith was still the tenant of the house.  The deeds of the house that we have seen simply refer to the fact that the house was occupied by “John Smith”.

In the 1871 census John Smith (senior) was aged 58 and born in Bristol.  His family consisted of his wife, Eliza aged 50 from Thornbury and his children; Annie a dressmaker aged 16, James a carpenter aged 14 and Benjamin aged 12. A nephew, Thomas Slade, a blacksmith aged 17 was also living with them.  John Smith (junior) was aged 27 born in Thornbury.  His family comprised his wife, Mary Ann aged 29 born in Gnosall, Staffordshire, and Clara M aged 5, John William aged 3, both born in Walsall and Mary Ann aged 2 born in Gnosall.

The earlier censuses told us more about the origins of the Smith family.  The 1841 census shows John Smith (senior) as a young man of 28 with his wife Eliza aged 20.  They appear to be living in the cottages just up from Kington Lane on the west side of Castle Street (although in the census it was called High Street).  They were living there with John’s parents, Thomas a carpenter aged 61 and Mary aged 55.  John Smith had married Eliza Slade in Bristol on 27th January 1840 and they had a baby, Thomas, who was 7 months old at the time of the 1841 census.  Eliza was the daughter of Simon Slade.

In 1851 the Smiths were living in Castle Street near the Castle, presumably at Pound Cottage where they were living in 1861.  They had Thomas aged 10, Mary aged 8, John (junior) aged 7, Eliza aged 3, Harriet aged 1 and George aged 11 months.

In 1861 the Smiths were living at Pound Cottage near the Church.  John and Eliza had nine children there.  Thomas aged 20 was a carpenter like his father, Mary aged 18 was a dressmaker and John (junior) aged 17, was starting his life as a tailor.  The six other children were: Harriett and George both aged 12, Louisa aged 9, Anne aged 7, James aged 4, Benjamin aged 2. Nephew, Thomas Slade was also living there.

In 1881 John (senior) was living in number 6 Pullins Green.  Eliza seems to be working as a monthly nurse in Marylebone, London.  John had two grandchildren living there, George and Ellen Keniston.  John Smith (junior) had moved to live in Hockeys Lane, Stapleton, Bristol.  He and Mary were living there with five children and two nieces.

By 1891 John and Eliza were re-united, both living in number 2 Pullins Green with a grandson, Thomas Smith aged 13 who was born in Birmingham.  John (senior) died in Thornbury aged 88 years and was buried on 10th December 1900.  His address at that time was shown as St Mary Street.  Eliza had died in 1893 aged 73 years.

The Walkers – George and Elizabeth Walker were occupying the house in 1881.  There were two generations of the Walker family associated with at least three houses in St John Street, both of them were called George and both were butchers.

George Walker (senior) was born in Thornbury on 9 April 1801, the son of Benjamin and Frances Walker.  He married Sarah (maiden name unknown) who was born in Leatherhead, Surrey about 1800.  George (junior) was baptised in Thornbury on 27 December 1829.

In 1841 George and Sarah were living in 9 St John Street, with George (junior) and Elizabeth aged 4.  In 1851 the family had moved to 8 St Mary Street.  George (senior) was described as a master butcher and young George as a journeyman butcher aged 21.  George junior married Elizabeth from Alveston (maiden name unknown) at some time before the 1861 Census.  This shows that the two Walker families had both moved to 32 High Street, a property George snr bought in 1857 for £220.

The Bristol Times and Mercury reported in January 1867 that George had a particularly busy day.  He served four or five hundred poor people of Thornbury and Oldbury with pieces of good beef of various weights, according to families.  The whole amount given out during the day reached nearly 16 cwt.  The meat was paid for by the Stephens Charity whose proceeds had been allowed to accumulate in the bank for a long time.

The 1871 Census shows George (senior) and Sarah were still at 32 High Street, but the younger George and Elizabeth had been on the move again, back to 21 St John Street.  The elder George Walker died in September 1872 aged 71 years and although Sarah is still listed as owner and occupier in the 1876 Rate Book, by 1880 seems Sarah moved in with George (junior).

George Walker junior – The 1881 Census shows George junior had moved again, this time to 5 St John Street.  George was now a retired butcher aged 51.  Elizabeth was shown as being blind.  His widowed mother, Sarah Walker now aged 81 was also living with them.  The 1887 Rate Book shows that George had just vacated the St John Street house and moved to 2 High Street.

Elizabeth died in 1888 aged 54 years.  In the 1891 Census George Walker a retired butcher aged 61 was living in four rooms in a property later known as 10A Chapel Street.  Sarah died in 1893 aged 93 years.  The 1894 Rate Book shows occupying the house he owned at 33 St Mary Street.  He also owned 35 St Mary Street, both houses acquired at some time before 1885.  He was not shown as living there in the 1899 Rate Book.  This is because he had moved to Bristol.  We know that when he sold the properties that later became 35 St Mary Street and 16 Chapel Street in an indenture dated 24th June 1898 his address was given as Oakley House, Raleigh Road, Bedminster in Bristol.

By the 1901 Census George appears to have returned to 33 St Mary Street.  George died in 1905 aged 75.

The Balls   In 1890 the Rate Book shows that the tenant of the house was Daniel Ball.  The 1901 Census shows the family of Daniel Ball, an assurance agent aged 35 from Crossways, Thornbury.  Daniel and his wife, Esther aged 35 from Oldbury, had nine children at that time: Mary Louisa, a nursemaid aged 13, William Enos aged 12, John Daniel aged 11, Eleanor Maria aged 9, Martha aged 7, Amos Walter aged 5, Esther aged 3, George Henry aged 1, and Alice Ada aged 3 months.

Daniel Ball was the son of a labourer, Daniel Ball and his wife Ellin (or Eleanor) nee Howse. He was baptised in Thornbury on August 3rd 1856 when the family were living in Morton.

We understand from a newspaper article dated 1926 that Daniel Ball and Esther Bennett were married on December 21st 1876 at the Parish Church of St James in Bristol by the Rev J. P. Sainsbury.  The same article says that Daniel was appointed rural postman at Thornbury Post Office in April 1877.   He was a postman in Crossways when Mary and William were baptised in 1877/78.  In the 1881 Census he was a postman living in Naite Road Cottages, Oldbury.

In all we understand that Daniel was a postman for nine years.  His daily round included Kington, Cowhill, Oldbury on Severn, Shepperdine and Nupdown.  A newspaper article of 1934 quoted in ‘Aunt Bea’s Scrap Book’  (sold by Thornbury & District Museum) explains that Daniel used to deliver letters through Kington, Littleton and Aust in the mornings, stay the afternoon at Aust and then make the return journey at night collecting the post from houses en route.

When Amos was baptised in 1888, Daniel was an insurance agent living at Thornbury Baths.  Although the address was given as “Thornbury Baths”, we feel it is more likely to be a cottage in the road leading to the Bath.  A document signed by Austin Honeborne in April 1885 which detail the succession for tax purposes of properties owned by him refers to the “two cottages and large gardens adjoining each other situate in Bulls otherwise Bulleys Lane” on land numbered 325 in the Tithe Commutation Map.  These cottages were what became known as 2 and 4 Bath Road.  The document says that one of these cottages was let to Daniel Ball for £11 per annum and the other was empty but previously let at 2/9 per week.

Daniel & Esther Ball about 1926

By the 1901 Census, Daniel and Esther had moved to Bryant Hill, Two Mile Hill, Bristol.  He was working as a Prudential Insurance agent.  Despite the fact that four of their children had left home, they now had 10 children living with them, as five more children had been born since the last census: Kathleen, Emma, Eva Marian, Ruby and Hilda Alice.   This means that Daniel and Esther had 14 children!  The newspaper article of 1934 quoted earlier says that they could claim the Bristol record for the largest number of living descendants – 10 sons, four daughters, 40 grandchildren and 8 great-grand children.  They also had 13 sons and daughters in law. The couple lived at Kingswood in Bristol by this time.

Thomas Young – The Rate Book of 1894 shows that Thomas Young rented the house from George Hodges.

Robert Clark – the Rate Book of 1899 shows that Robert Clark rented the house from George Hodges. Robert Clark was the police sergeant in Thornbury. Click here to read more

The Reeves  In 1901 the house was occupied by Charles Reeves, a sawyer and his wife, Mary and their children.  Charles Edwin Reeves was baptised on 7th June 1863 at Oldbury.  His parents were William Reeves, a labourer from Oldbury and his wife, Martha (nee Parker).  In 1881 Charles was an agricultural labourer living with his parents at Naite Road cottages.  In the June quarter of 1885 Charles married Mary Savery.  Mary was born in 1865, the daughter of John Savery and his wife Annis (nee Phelps).  Mary had worked in service prior to her marriage.

They seemed to have lived in the High Street when they were first in Thornbury.  A newspaper article of 28th January 1890 had an account of a distressing accident to Charles Reeves.  The day before Charles then aged 27 and living in the High Street was working in the sawmill and his hand slipped and he lost four fingers.  He was taken to the Bristol Royal Infirmary for treatment.

The 1885 and 1887 Rate Book show Charles was living at 4 Bath Road.  The 1890 Rate Book and the 1891 Census shows that they lived at 1 Saw Mill Lane.  Charles was a sawyer aged 27 from Oldbury living with his wife, Mary aged 26 from Morton and their daughter, Annie Victoria aged 3 and Lily Louisa aged 10 months.

The 1894 and 1899 Rate Books show Charles Reeves had moved to 4 Saw Mill Lane, renting it from Edmund Cullimore.  By the 1901 Census they had moved again from Saw Mill Lane to 5 St John Street.  The house was occupied by Charles Reeves, a sawyer from Thornbury aged 37.  His wife, Mary A aged 35, Annie V. aged 13, Lily L. aged 10, Frederick Charles aged 7 and a boarder, George T. Bell, a wood box maker aged 33.  Young Frederick died shortly after the census on 19th August 1901.

The 1905 Rate Book shows that the family moved again, this time next door to number 3 St John Street. They didn’t stay there long as by 1907 they had moved elsewhere.

Charles died on 25th October 1909 aged 48.  The Western Daily Press of October 29th 1909 reported that Charles Edward Reeves died as a result of an accident in the saw mill. He had been in charge of the circular saw and was guiding timber into it when the wood jumped from the saw and struck him in the chest, knocking him backwards onto the ground.  The blow from the wood appears to have caused his lung to collapse and this together with a blood clot seems to have caused his death four days later.

The 1910 Rate Book and 1911 Census show that the widowed Mary Reeves and her daughter Annie had gone to live at 34 Castle Street.

Mary Ann was listed as living in Castle Street in the 1921 Electoral Register, but by 1927 she had moved to Kington.  She died on 28th November 1946 aged 81 years.  All are buried in Thornbury Cemetery.

William Luker – the Rate Books of 1905 and 1910 show that William Luker rented the house from the trustees of the Late George Hodges.  The 1911 Census shows that William Henry Luker was a baker aged 57 from Cheltenham.  In 1911 we think he was living at 2 St Mary Street with his wife, Jane aged 33 born in Caudle Green, Gloucestershire and their two children: William Henry Charles a baker aged 28 and Elizabeth aged 23, both born in Cheltenham.

Harry George Emery Parker – the 1911 Census shows that Harry was a coachman aged 43 from Wellls.  He was living here with his wife, Emily Jane aged 43 from Melksham and their children: Elsie May aged 12, Dorothy Victoria aged 10, Harold George aged 6 and Frederick aged 4.  All the children were born in Westbury on Trym.  The records of the Council Upper School show that Elsie and Dorothy transferred to the school in 1910 from a school in Stoke Bishop.  They left in 1911 because the family left the district. 

Jane Margaret Young – the 1925 Valuation list and 1926 Rate Book show the house was occupied by Jane, the daughter of David Cogswell Ovens and the wife of George Till Young, Parish Surveyor.  Click here to read more

The Greens – the house was occupied by the Green family from about 1935 to the late 1950’s.  Read more

The Eardley-Wilmots.  In 1959 the house was bought by Charles Vincent Burgoyne Eardley-Wilmot.   He bought it from the Hodges Estate for £450.

Charles married Sheila Muriel Broomfield on 26th August 1961.  Charles was born in the area of Uxbridge on 30th May 1932.  He was the son of Lambert and Angela Eardley-Wilmot.  Charles was educated at Wellington College, Berkshire.  Lambert and Charles had moved to Thornbury around 1958.  Charles was an executive with Bristol Siddeley aero-engines.  Sheila was the daughter of Frederick George and Elizabeth J. Broomfield.   We understand that Frederick was a master brickworker and he worked at the Brickworks in Gillingstool.

Charles and Sheila had two daughters, Jane Clark born in 1962 and Sarah Elizabeth in 1963.   They were both very active in the local community, serving as town councillors for the Conservative Party for many years and both of them became Town Mayor (Charles in 1979/81 and Sheila in 1984/86.  Since then they have continued their interest in the development of Thornbury by setting up and chairing the pressure group, Concern for Thornbury.

Charles and Sheila lived in the house for about 15 years, selling it in 1974 to Derek Allbon.

Derek Allbon – a German teacher at Marlwood School.  Derek stayed until 1980 when he moved to Clifton. He sold the house to two other teachers at Marlwood, Nigel and Barbara Davies.

Barbara and Nigel Davies – Barbara, better known locally as Barbie is a drama teacher and she was responsible for the presentation of the Community Play project in 2000.