This page covers the history of the occupants of the house which became 11 The Plain from 1851, the time that the single house was divided into two separate houses. Click here to read about the earlier history of the house
Edward Withy – the 1859 rate book shows that Edward Withy had been occupying the house. His name is crossed through which normally means he had recently vacated the property. The 1859 trade directory shows that he was a clerk.
Elizabeth Parmiter – the 1861 census shows Elizabeth was an unmarried fund holder aged 65 from Bristol with widowed house servant Hannah Pride aged 69 from Berkeley. In 1841 census Elizabeth had been living on St Michaels Hill in Bristol. She was shown as being ‘Independent’ aged about 45 living with Richard Parmiter an organist aged about 25. Both of them were said to be born outside of the Gloucestershire. In 1851 census Elizabeth was living in 10 Upper Cheltenham Place – she was described as an annuitant aged 54 born in Bristol. We don’t know why she came to move to Thornbury. She died there in 1868 aged 73 and was buried at the Quaker Burial ground in Thornbury.
James and Charlotte Jones – the 1869 rate book shows that the house was now occupied by James Jones. The 1871 census shows it occupied by Charlotte Jones, a surgeon’s widow aged 53 from Thornbury, her cousin, Jane Brooks, a governess aged 43 from Ross in Herefordshire and Eliza Gough a domestic servant aged 20 born in Thornbury. Click here to read about the Jones family
Maria Thurston – the 1876 rate book shows Maria living in the house. In 1879 she bought numbers 10 and 11 The Plain, although the 1881 census shows Maria living with her brother, Obed E Thurston in the High Street. Click here to read more
The 1881 census shows number 11 unoccupied
Henry Knight – the 1885 rate book shows that Henry Knight had taken over as owner of 11 The Plain and he was also living there. Henry was a shoemaker and his family continued living in the house for over 90 years.
The photograph on the right shows Henry Knight. Henry was born in Olveston on 3rd April 1841, the son of Henry Knight, a shoemaker from Langford, Somerset and his wife, Sarah (nee Pike). In 1851 the family had been living at the Hackett. Next door were the family of John Knight, formerly a tanner from Broad Henbury in Devon and his wife, Elizabeth. These appear to be Henry’s grandparents.
By 1861 the family had moved to Alderley in Gloucestershire. Henry’s father had died of apoplexy in 1855. Henry had taken up the family trade of shoemaker. His mother, Sarah and sister, Jane, were running a day school. Jane had been mistress of the Infants School in Thornbury according to the Trade Directory for 1856 and after their move she seems to have continued in the teaching profession. Her obituary printed in the Western Daily Press of March 29th 1922 says that ‘in the sixties she was governess at the Old National School’ and the logbook for Sopworth School an entry for 22nd July 1877 was written by ‘Jane Knight uncertified Teacher’. The article also mentions that she was born with only one arm. It suggested that a vicar in one of the parishes in which she taught challenged her ability to cut her fingernails, but his doubts were quickly dispelled. Jane must have been a well loved teacher as three of her former pupils attended her funeral – F Williams, G O’Reilly and J T Chambers. Jane died aged 84 and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 27th March 1922.
We have seen a voter’s list for 1865 and another for 1874 and they both show that Henry Knight was entitled to vote because he owned the freehold of a cottage and garden in Hackett Lane. This would imply that Henry inherited the property from his parents, although he may not have lived in it.
On 23rd May 1867 Henry married Louisa Twining in St Paul’s in Bristol. Louisa was born on 11th May 1843 and was the daughter of Isaac and Ann Twining. The 1851 census shows that the family lived for a time at the Hackett near Thornbury. This is presumably how she first knew her future husband, as the Knight family lived only a few houses away. Louisa was baptised at what is now known as the United Reformed Church in Thornbury in July 1859. Although she appears to have been born and baptised in Thornbury, the 1861 census shows that before her marriage Louisa was living with her family in St George in Bristol, where she was a dressmaker.
In 1870 Henry bought a house at 32 Castle Street for £124. We are not sure if Henry ever lived here. By the 1871 census Henry and the family were living at 14 Gloucester Road. The Castle Street house was occupied by Richard Salmon, a painter at the time of the purchase. The 1910 rate book shows Henry was still owning 32 Castle Street and renting it out to tenants.
By 1871 the house at 14 Gloucester Road was occupied by Henry Knight, a shoemaker aged 29 born in Olveston, his wife, Louisa aged 27 from Thornbury and their son, Austin Gilbert aged 3. Their second son, Howard Elwell was born on 12th May 1880. The family were still there in the 1881 census. Louisa was now working as a dressmaker and Howard Elwell aged 10 months and a servant, Clara Screen, a nurse girl aged 13 from Olds Croft, Gloucestershire.
The 1885 rate book shows Henry had just bought the house at 11 The Plain which had been put up for auction in 1884 following the death of the previous owner, Maria Thurston. At this time Henry moved from Gloucester Road to live on The Plain. Henry, Louisa and Howard were still there in the 1891 census and the 1901 census by which time, their son, Howard had become a carpenter.
At some stage, Henry and Louisa moved from the Congregational Church to become very active members of the Thornbury Baptist Church. Henry died aged 70 on April 20th 1911 and was buried in the Baptist churchyard on 25th April 1911. Louisa carried on living in the house on The Plain. She was joined by Howard and his wife after their marriage in 1921. Louisa died in February 1926.
Of their children, Austin Gilbert (always known as Gilbert) was born on 26 March 1868 and baptised at the Congregational Independent Chapel on 14th June 1868. We are told that the photo on the left is of Gilbert. He died at Dawlish on 7th August 1890 aged 22.
Howard Elwell Knight – born on 12th May 1880 and baptised at the Congregational Church on 21st July 1880. Howard trained to become a carpenter at Thornbury Castle and he joined the building firm of Bruton’s where amongst other jobs, he worked on Oldbury Church. On 7th May 1901 he purchased two houses in St Mary Street for £137. These houses which later became known as 29 & 31 St Mary Street were let out to tenants by Howard until 1964 when they were acquired by Thornbury District Council for the site of a new library. The Rate Book for 1934 also shows that he owned the property at 32 Castle St. We assume he inherited this from his father.
During the First World War, Howard served in the Royal Navy Air Service based at Flamborough Head. His naval record describes Howard as 5ft 7 inches, 34 inch chest, brown hair, blue eyes and fresh complexion. We understand that he worked on seaplanes which were at that time made out of wood. In 1921 he married Selina Kennedy in the Grimsby area, presumably they met when he was stationed in that area during the War. Selina was born on 11th December 1892. They settled to live in Thornbury with Howard’s mother at 11 The Plain in Thornbury.
Howard and Selina had several children: Henry Kennedy born 17th April 1922, Howard Ian James born 17th February 1924, Gilbert Ambrose born in 1926 and died the same year, Ernest born in 1927 and died the same year and Ruth Elizabeth born on 9th November 1928. All three of the children who survived went on to attend Thornbury Grammar School. We understand that Howard himself passed the scholarship for the Grammar School but was not allowed to go.
Howard, whose photo is shown on the right above sitting outside his house at 11 The Plain. Click on the photo to see a larger image. Howard became well known in Thornbury in lots of ways. He was a gifted musician. As a member of the Baptist Brass Band, where we believe he played both cornet and tenor horn and sometimes performed as a soloist. He was an organist at the Baptist Church and became an organ and piano tuner. He became a part time woodwork teacher at the Council School and he taught at evening classes. He also built the scenery for the school plays which were held at the Cossham Hall.
The electoral registers up to 1970 (the last we have seen) show Howard, Selina and their daughter, Ruth continued to live at 11 The Plain. Howard died in 1971 aged 91. Selina died in 1979 aged 87.
In more recent years the property at 11 The Plain has been used as commercial premises. We know that Alder King estate agents were there in 1995.