The occupants of the house now known as 7 St John Street in Thornbury can probably be traced back to the mid 1700s;

Peter Park – an indenture dated 23 September 1807 refers to: “All those two messuages or tenements hereto before in one messuage or tenement wherein Peter Park, carpenter deceased then and for many years previous to and at the time of his death inhabited and John Mabbett and Jane Davis single woman afterwards dwellt and wherein the said John Mabbett and John Simons do now dwell”.

From this we know that Peter had died before 1807, that he had lived in the property for ‘many years’ up until his death, and probably when it was a single house.  We do know that a man called Peter Park died in Thornbury in February 1783 aged 70 years.  Obviously we have no way of knowing whether it is the same man as the one who lived in St John Street, but if it were the case it would mean that the houses had their origins back in the mid 1700s or earlier.

John Mabbett – John occupied the house at some time after Peter Park.  We know he was there in 1807 because he is mentioned in an indenture of that date.  We don’t know anything about John – although there was a death of a John Mabbett in Thornbury in 1846 which might be him.  It seems likely that this is the father of Joseph Mabbott who lived in John Street and Sawmill Lane areas and who is dealt with on this website 7 Horseshoe Lane.  However at this time we have no confirmation of this.

William Liddiard – we know that William was occupying one of the two houses (7 & 9) at the time of 1840 Tithe survey.  We have assumed that it was William occupying number 9, because the other other tenant, George Walker, was also occupying number 7 in 1841.  Unfortunately we don’t know any more about William.

Mary Olive – the deeds of the house show Mary was living there in 1850.  The 1841 and 1851 censuses show she was living there throughout this period.  Mary was born in Thornbury about 1796.   She married Robert Olive, the son of John Olive, an innholder from Tortworth and his wife, Elizabeth.   Robert and Mary were married at some time before 1818 when their first child, Celia, was baptised.

Robert was a butcher in his younger years, although the baptism records also mention he was a farmer and a tallow chandler.  In the 1830 Trade Directory he is listed as a grocer. In the later census records,  Mary also referred to herself as a tallow chandler’s wife.  Robert and Mary went on to have seven more daughters: Elizabeth, Ann, Sally, Fanny, Mary and Esther. Finally in 1833, they were blessed with a son, Robert, but tragically his father died before he was baptised.  Robert died aged 40 years and was buried on 15 May 1833.

In the 1840 Tithe Survey, Mary was living in one of the 6 cottages on Pullins Green (numbers 2 – 12).  In the 1841 Census, Mary was living at 7 St John Street.  She was a semptress aged 44 living with her son, Robert aged 8.  She was still living in the house in 1851 which describes her as semptress aged 55 living with her son Robert, a solicitors general clerk aged 17 and a lodger, James Screen, a journeyman tallow chandler aged 24.  It was pleasing to see that in 1859 James Screen married Mary’s daughter, Mary.  She had been living away from home in 1851 working as a housemaid for the Lloyd family in Castle Street.

By 1861 Mary (Snr) had moved to what is now 7 Castle Street where she was living on her own aged 65 years.  By 1871 she had moved to a different house across the road at 15 The Plain to live with her daughter, Sarah, and Sarah’s husband, Joseph Smith, a saddler.  Mary Olive died on 2 September 1873 aged 78 years.

Of their other children

Ann died in Thornbury in the December quarter of 1907.  The Gazette of April 1908 reported that Ann had left £5 to the parish church.

Robert.  The Gazette of 24th April 1915 carried an article about Mary’s son Robert Olive who had then recently celebrated his 82nd birthday.  He had been appointed Registrar of Marriages in Bristol in December 1863 and had so far worked there more than 51 years.  He was said to have officiated at 9,347 marriages. He was said to be a leading member of the Freemasons.

Sarah Hawtin – Sarah was living in the house in the 1861 and 1871 Censuses.  The 1859 Rate Book also puts her in this house at that time.  In 1861 the Census describes Sarah as a schoolmaster’s widow aged 64.  We have found no sign of Robert’s death.   Living with Sarah was Julia Hawtin, unmarried daughter aged 32 working as a dressmaker, and Elizabeth Woodland, a widowed daughter aged 29, described as a schoolmaster’s widow, and granddaughters, Olivia Julia Woodland aged five and Olympia Maria aged four both born in Clifton and Ada aged 2 born in Australia.  Elizabeth had been married to William Woodland, a widower who was born in Exeter but was working in Hay on Wye as a clerk at the time of their marriage in 1848.  They had one other daughter, Ophelia Elizabeth Woodland was living with her aunt and uncle, Alfred and Sarah Collings in the High Street.  In 1871 Sarah was living in 7 St John Street on her own.  She appears in the 1876 Rate Book but she actually died aged 79 years and was buried on 24 January 1876.  Click here to read more about Sarah’s family

Joseph Davis – the 1880 Rate Book shows the tenant renting the house from Mark Crossman Meredith is Joseph Davis.  This likely to be Joseph Davis who by the 1881 Census was a hawker living with his wife Ellen and their four children Joseph, Rebecca Elizabeth and Mary Jane.  The Davis family continued to live in different areas of Thornbury and we have written about them on this site on the page for 14 Upper Bath Road.

John Thatcher – in 1881 he was living in the house a widowed cordwainer (shoemaker) aged 62 from Minehead.  His unmarried daughter, Mary, a domestic aged 26 from Thornbury was living with him.  Click here to read more

Charles Putley – the 1885 and 1887 Rate Books show the next tenant was Charles Putley and the 1891 Census shows Charles was still occupying the property.  He is described as a widowed retired bus proprietor aged 76 years from Monmouth.  Read more

Vizard – the 1894 Rate Book shows only that the tenant is called “Vizard”.

The Driscolls and the Vizards – the Rate Book of 1899 shows that Elizabeth Harris was renting the property from Mary Ponting.  In fact the Elizabeth Harris referred to was actually Elizabeth Driscoll, because Elizabeth Harris had married her second husband, Frank Driscoll in 1882.  This is supported by the fact the 1901 Census shows the occupant was Elizabeth Driscoll.  In 1901 the house was occupied by Elizabeth Driscoll, a married charwoman aged 61 from Tedbury with her son from her first marriage, James Harris, a widower aged 30 who was working as a general labourer, her son from her second marriage, Frank Driscoll, another general labourer aged 17, and Dorothy Harris aged 6.  James Alfred Harris was recently widowed and had four young children.  His wife was Julia (nee Vizard) and it is possible that the house was lived in by James and Julia Vizard and this would explain the ‘Vizard’ entry in the Rate Book of 1894.

Elizabeth continued living in the house for many years, together with her son, Frank and his wife, May Sophia.  They were all there in the 1911 Census.  Frank was killed in the First World War.  Elizabeth died in 1926 aged 86.  After Frank’s death, May Sophia married Frederick Vizard and they continued living in the house with their children.  Frank was still listed as living here in the 1925 Valuation List.  Read more about the Driscoll and Vizard families

George Smart – the 1926 Rate book shows the house was occupied by George Smart.  Click here to read more

Walter Williams – the deeds of the property show that when the house was sold in 1941 it was described as ‘formerly in the occupation of W. H. Williams.  We also know that there was a record of a Walter Williams living in St John Street in 1927 when his daughter, Joyce, started at the Council School.  We believe therefore that Walter must have occupied number 7 after the Vizards left.  The school records indicate that the family have however left the district in 1928, so they didn’t stay too long!

The Rugmans – the next record we have of a family living there was in 1937 when William George and Lilian Margaret Rugman baptised their son, Ernest William.  They gave their address as 4 St John Street which under the old house numbering system was what we now know as number 7.

The 1939 register compiled in preparation for the war lists William and Lilian and three others living in the house.  William was a cowman born on 16th May 1902.  Lilian was born on 18th November 1902.  The details of two of the persons were ‘blacked out’.  The third was Charles Sloates, a stone quarry worker and groom born on 10th March 1875.

William was a farm labourer.  In December quarter 1932 William George Rugman had married Lilian Margaret Long.  The report of the wedding in the Gazette of 24th December 1932 said that Lilian (known as Maggie) was given away by her uncle, Harold Long.  Her bridesmaids were her cousins Joyce, Amy and Rosemary Poole and Doreen Long.  The report said that the couple would live in Kington.  In 1935 the Electoral Roll confirms that they lived in Kington.

Their first daughter, Jean Marguerite was born on 28 October 1933 and when she was admitted to the Council Upper School in 1938 the family address was 4 St John Street.  They were listed in the 1939 electoral register but the school records show that they left the district in 1941.

The Saunders – the house was next occupied by Frederick Charles Saunders and his wife Kathleen Irene (nee Skinner).  A conveyance dated 6 May 1941 shows that Kathleen Irene Saunders bought the house from Mary Bell.  Kathleen and Frederick were living there in 1944 when their daughter, Judith Margaret was born and in 1947 when their son, Paul Frederick was baptised.  Frederick was a transport driver employed by Tills Transport Company.  The Electoral Roll of 1946 show only Kathleen Saunders (this could be because Frederick was away from home at the time of registration during the early post war period).  The Electoral Roll of 1950 shows Kathleen and Frederick Saunders living at 4 St John Street which was presumably the address of number 7 before the renumbering in the mid 1950s.  By 1954 they had moved to Severnview Road.

The Wardens – the 1954 Electoral Register shows the house was occupied by Howard and Selina Warden.  They were still there in the 1965 Electoral Register.

The Hopkins – the 1970 electoral register shows the house is occupied by Gordon E and Christine A Hopkins.  They were not listed as living in Thornbury in the 1965 electoral register.