The Plain about 1912

In the above photograph taken about 1912 the house now known as 9 The Plain is the second house from the left between the Porch House and the ironmonger’s shop.  We have not seen any deeds for this property.

We believe that our earliest source of information are the land tax records of 1796 and 1797 which show that the owner James Joyce is renting the property, valued at 4 shillings to Henry Binden.  We don’t know any more about James Joyce.

Henry Binden – the 1796 and 1797 land tax records show that Henry lived at 9 The Plain, as the tenant of James Joyce.  Although the 1800 land tax record indicates that Henry was then the owner and occupier of the property, this could be a mistake as by the next records in 1809, 1810 and 1812 he was the tenant of Thomas Attwell at the same property.

We are not sure where or when Henry was born.  We are grateful to Peter Bentley, a descendant of Henry’s, for sharing details from a family bible.  This shows that ‘Henry married at Slimbridge Mary daughter and only child of James Hungerford Esq of the noble family in Berkshire’.  According to family trees posted on the Ancestry website, her mother was Martha Hungerford (nee Driver).

They appeared to have one child, James, whilst living in Bristol.  James was baptised at St Phillip and St Jacob Church in Bristol on 23rd May 1784.  We suspect that there was also a daughter, Hannah born in 1785 although we have not traced her baptism record.  (Hannah married Obed Pitcher in Thornbury on 21st July 1803 with Henry as one of the witnesses and she died aged 28 in 1814).

Henry and Mary had moved to Thornbury by 1788 when their daughter, Anne, was baptised on 15th June 1788 (she was born on 26th May 1788).  Ten other children followed: Mary born on 7th November 1789 and baptised on 13th December 1789, Henry born on 26th September 1791 and baptised on 23rd October 1791, Enoch born 20th August 1793 and baptised on 15th September 1793, John born on 6th June 1795 and baptised on 5th July 1795, another Anne born on 4th January 1797 and baptised on 29th January 1797, Thomas born on 9th January 1798 and baptised on 7th February 1798, Charles born on 27th January 1800 and baptised on 30th March 1800, George born on 28th March 1801 and baptised on 13th May 1801, Elizabeth baptised on 21st November 1802 and finally Martha born on 20th October 1803 and baptised on 7th December 1803.

Mary died a few days after the birth of Martha on 26th October 1803.  She was buried in St Mary’s Church in Thornbury on 30th October 1803 aged 40.  The family trees on Ancestry show that Henry married Elizabeth Collins in Iron Acton on 18th November 1804.  Henry and Elizabeth had several children of their own: Hester born on 9th September 1805 and baptised on 9th October 1805, Eliza born on 6th June 1807 and baptised on 26th July 1807, Alfred born on 27th March 1810 and baptised on 6th May 1810, another Hester born on 26th May 1812 and baptised on 13th July 1812 and James baptised on 3rd May 1818.

GJ 1807 30th March sale of Henry Binden propertyHenry was a “bacon – factor, dealer and chapman” in Thornbury.  A newspaper article of February 28th 1807 declared Henry was bankrupt.  The fact that he was bankrupt was very much confirmed by the Gloucester Journal of March 30th 1807 which announced the auction of Henry’s household effects, his stock of bacon and other goods and his house.  Please see the details of the advertisement here on the right by clicking on the thumbnail image.  It is also of interest that according to the advertisement there was a “small new built dwelling house” adjoining this property.

However the London Gazette on 17th July 1808 lists Henry as a bacon factor in Thornbury under the heading ‘Dividends’ which might suggest he continued trading.  We note that ‘Henry Binden’ was the tenant of Enoch Higgins in 1814 land tax record in his property at 41 High Street.

It is interesting to note that the family bible recorded that Henry had been ‘Mayor of the Borough’.  We can find no record to support this claim.

By 1826 Henry and Elizabeth had moved to live in London.  Their address was in Half Moon Alley in Bishopgate Without.  Presumably they went there to live near Henry’s son, Henry who was living in London.  Henry died in 1832 aged 73.  His address at the time was Lamb Street, Spittalfield.  Life must have been very difficult for the family following Henry’s death.  On 21st September 1835 Elizabeth appeared at the Old Bailey with two of her daughters, Hester and Hannah.  Hester and Hannah were charged with stealing a spoon valued at three shillings from their employer.  Hester was found guilty and confined for 3 months.  Hannah was found not guilty.  Elizabeth was charged with receiving a whistle valued at one shilling knowing it to be the property of Hester and Hannah’s employer.  It was recognised that she was a widow and that her husband had been a respectable man who had carried a business.  She was found not guilty.

Elizabeth died on 10th February 1837 aged 58.

Of the children: the first Anne died aged 2 years 6 months and was buried on 19th December 1790.  The second Anne died as an infant was buried on 1st March 1797, James died on 4th June 1801 aged 17 and Elizabeth was buried on 24th May 1805.  Henry and Mary’s son, Henry married Thirza Harper in St Marys Church, Newington, Southwark, London on 23rd April 1812.  Thirza died on 16th April 1814 and Henry married again on 15th June 1814 at St Giles in the Fields, Holborn, London.  His second wife was Mary Anne Burgess.  Another son, Enoch married Elizabeth Roberts on 18th April 1815.  Enoch became a cordwainer and remained living in Thornbury.  Enoch died aged 35 and was buried on 11th May 1828.   Click here to read more about Enoch  Another son, George married Ann Morgan in Thornbury on 17th April 1827.  Click here to read about George 

We are not sure who owned and occupied the property for a long period.  The 1840 Tithe Survey shows that the property, Plot 256 – house and garden, owned by Isaac Roberts and void.  It was also unoccupied at the time of the 1841 census.

Isaac Roberts – we don’t know anything about Isaac except that the 1840 Tithe Survey shows he also owned the property next door at 8 The Plain and a row of six old cottages in the Gloucester Road.  It says that Isaac was occupying one of the cottages, although it seems unlikely that he was actually living there.  There is an earlier reference to an Isaac Roberts having occupied the must mill which was located in St John Street but we don’t know if this is same person.  Isaac was also mentioned in various abstracts as being an occupant of 41 High Street.

The Hereford Journal of 4th March 1846 has an obituary which appears to relate to this Isaac Roberts.  It says “March 2nd at his lodgings in Eign street in the 84th year of his age Mr Isaac Roberts formerly road-surveyor of this district and landlord of the Grapes Tavern but for the last 30 years a resident at Thornbury Gloucestershire.”   The Edinburgh Gazette of January 7th 1817 may have an explanation of Isaac’s change of circumstances and abode as it announced the bankruptcy of Isaac Roberts late of Hereford brandy merchant.

A document headed ‘Charities vested in and under the Management of the Corporation’ written in about 1826 mentions that ‘Mr Isaac Roberts, an inhabitant of the parish to whom the management of the poor had been committed by the Vestry, converted the said two cottages into offices for the said Workhouse, which alteration appears to have been unwarranted, and in prejudice of Staffords Charity‘.  This refers to the two cottages at 7 and 9 St Mary Street.

George Watts – the 1859 rate book shows that George was the owner of the property.  He also owned the adjoining property at 8 The Plain, and the six old cottages in Gloucester Road.  George didn’t live in any of these properties and we don’t know any more about him.  The most likely George Watts was the grocer or butcher born in Wickwar in 1795 and he was living in Cromhall in the 1841 and 1851 censuses.

Charles Edwin Barker – the 1851 census shows the house was occupied by Charles E Barker.  Charles was described as a solicitor’s managing clerk, a widower aged 36 and born in Surrey.  He was living with his daughter, Margaret M described as a ‘scholar at home’ aged 10 and born in Bristol and Charles’ sister, Margaret, an annuitant aged 42 born in Portsmouth.

Charles is a bit of a mystery – whilst the 1851 census shows he was born in Surrey, the 1861 (when he was living with his uncle and aunt in Lambeth) gives his place of birth as not known, and the 1871 census shows it as Swansea.  In each of these censuses he is living with his sister, Margaret who is shown in the 1851 census to be 22 years older than Charles whilst in the 1861 and 1871 censuses she is shown to be only 6 years older than him.

Charles married Mary Morgan in the Bristol area on 11th May 1840.  Their daughter, Margaret Mary, was born in the Bristol area in September quarter 1840.  The 1841 census shows Charles was a scrivener and he was living with Mary and Margaret in St James & St Pauls area of Bristol.

On 14th April 1856 Charles married Eliza Bretton in the Bristol area.  In 1861 Charles and his sister, Margaret, were living with their uncle, John Barker, a retired mariner, and his wife, Sarah in Lambeth.  Charles was a solicitors clerk aged 42.  Charles’s wife, Eliza, was lodging in Clifton with their daughter Margaret.  She was a dressmaker aged 49 born in Bath.

In 1871 Charles and Eliza and Charles’ sister, Margaret, were all living in Marlborough Hill Place, Kingsdown in Bristol.  They were all living off ‘Ground Rents and Interest’.  Charles died in September quarter 1878.

Thomas Galsworthy – the 1859 rate book shows the property was occupied by Thomas.  Thomas was a minister of the Congregational Church (now The United Reformed Church).  Click here to read more

Charles Augustus Porter – the 1861 census shows the house was occupied by Charles Augustus Porter, an accountant and clerk.  He was living with his wife, Mary Ann, a schoolmistress aged 24 and their daughter, Ellen, aged 2 months.  Charles was born in Bath, Mary Ann was born in Street.  Click here to read about the Porters

Thomas Ann – the 1862 rate book shows that Thomas was the owner of the property.  The last will of Sarah Beard dated 2nd January 1867 mentions that she bought the property from Thomas Ann.  Click here to read more

Walter Ellis – the 1862 rate book shows that Walter had recently taken over the occupancy of the property.  Walter was the son of Richard Ellis, the Thornbury chemist and druggist and his wife, Jane.  We can’t be sure of this.  In 1861 Walter was an apprentice living with his parents in the High Street.  In early 1862 Walter had married Emma Mary Kingdon in Bristol and they were living in Totterdown in 1867 when their son, Walter Augustus, was baptised in Thornbury on 27th October 1867.  The baptism records shows that Walter had become a chemist.  Click here to read more

Sarah Beard – the 1867 and 1871 rate books show Sarah Beard as the occupant.  Sarah had moved there from 22 Gloucester Road where she was living in the 1862 Rate Book.  The 1871 census confirms Sarah is now at 9 The Plain and shows Sarah as a farmer’s widow aged 74 born in Littleton on Severn.  She is still listed as living in the house in the 1876, but now she is shown as owning the property as well as living there.  Sarah died in 1879 aged 83 years. Click here to read more

John Ford – the 1880 and 1885 rate books show that John Ford was the owner and occupant.  The 1881 census shows John was a maltster aged 29 from Rockhampton living with his wife, Annie aged 21 from Thornbury.  Click here to read more

Anna Weeks – the 1887 and 1890 rate books show that Anna Weeks as the occupant and Mark Savery as the owner.  The 1891 census shows Anna was a widow living on her own means aged 71 from Lansand? Monmouthshire.

Ann was born about 1820, the daughter of John Wetmore, a farmer.  In 1854 Anna married a farmer, Joseph Weeks who was a widower and the son of Edward Weeks, a farmer. Joseph and his first wife, Mary, had a daughter, Louisa Augusta baptised on 1st December 1846.  Mary had died on 24th July 1850 aged 24.

Joseph and Anna had several children: Mary Elizabeth baptised on 3rd November 1845 and died after only 3 weeks, John Edward baptised on 10th April 1857 and died after 3 months, Alice Weeks baptised on 3rd June 1855 and Mary baptised on 22nd February 1860.  The 1861 census shows Joseph and Anna living in Kington.  Joseph was described as a farmer of 40 acres employing one man.  Their two daughters, Alice and Mary were living with them.  The 1881 census shows the family living at St Arilds Farm, Kington.  This comprised 123 acres and involved Joseph employing two men and one boy.  As well as Joseph and Anna, Joseph’s daughter, Augusta was there aged 36, and their daughter, Alice, and her husband, Thomas Ponting and their young daughter, Ellen aged 1.

Joseph died on 17th March 1884 aged 68 and this must have caused Anna to move into town.  Anna died on 14th December 1893 aged 74.

Mark Savery – the 1887 and 1890 rate books show that Mark was owner of the property, but it was let out to Anna Weeks.  The 1894 and 1899 rate books show Mark Savery as the owner and occupant of number 9.  The 1901 census shows Mark Savery was living here.  He was an ironmonger aged 70 from Alveston living with his wife, Louisa aged 64 from Oldbury and a widowed boarder, Celia Letts aged 82 from Thornbury.  Click here to read more

In 1905 Rate Book the property is now void.

Thomas Llewellyn Davies – we have a copy of a plan showing building alterations dated 1909.  At that time the property was owned by Thomas Llewellyn Davies.  Interestingly the property was then called Wesley House (even though we know from rate books that the property next door (10 The Plain) was the Wesleyan Manse during this period).  The name of ‘Wesley House‘ stuck and it was still being used as the postal address of Luce Panes the estate agents in the mid 1950’s.

The 1909 Prewett’s Almanac also lists Miss Phipps as living in Wesley House, so presumably she was the housekeeper.  The 1910 rate book shows the property owned and occupied by Thomas Llewellyn Davies.  Thomas was born in Liverpool about 1866.  He qualified as a medical practitioner (physician and surgeon) in 1893 after studying at Glasgow and Edinburgh.  In 1881 he was living with his widowed mother, Mary in Llandudno – he was an undergraduate of medicine.  In 1891 he was listed as a registered practitioner (general medicine) still living with his mother and siblings in Llandudno.

In 1899 Thomas is listed in the Medical Register as living at 103 Cathedral Road, Cardiff.  By 1906 he is is listed in the Thornbury Trade Directory.  The 1911 census shows he was living in the house as an unmarried surgeon aged 45, with just a housekeeper, Frances Look aged 48.  Thomas is still listed here in the 1914 directory and the 1916 Prewetts Street Directory.  Thomas is not listed in the 1918 directory, nor in any later electoral registers for Thornbury.  However he continues to be listed in the Medical Register up to 1931 giving his address as Thornbury so we suspect he was living outside of the town.  The 1926 rate book shows that Thomas was still owner of the property, but it was then occupied by Mrs Honeyborne.

Luces – we are not sure who occupied the premises immediately after Thomas Davies.  We know that from as early as 1931 and, may be earlier, it was taken over by a firm of auctioneers and estate agents.  The name of the firm has changed many times since that time, usually involving a member of the Luce family in partnership with one or more others (eg Moses Smith, Luce & Davies, Luce, Young and Alpass, Howse, Luce, Williams and Panes).  The building retained its appearance throughout this period with only one display board to the right of the door and a simple wooden name board across the frontage.

Percy Luce 1896It was Edward Luce who had started the firm.  As early as 1871 he is shown as being innkeeper and auctioneer at the Beaufort Arms in the High Street and listed as such in the 1877 trade directory.  In 1901 he was a farmer and auctioneer living at Grovesend Farm.  From 1889 he seems to have moved to live at Grovesend, but continued to operate from the High Street.  He died on 20th September 1907 aged 66 after a protracted illness.  The business was taken over by his son, Percy and then by Roy Luce.  Roy whose full name was Samuel Roy, was born in Suffolk in 1902, the son of Percy’s elder brother, Nimrod Robert and his wife, Ellen Mary (nee Bryant) who were married in Wandsworth in 1898.  In 1911 Roy and his parents were living in Strood in Kent.

Luce PanesThis little photograph above shows Percy Luce.  It was extracted from a photograph of Thornbury Gleemen taken in 1896.  The Gleemen were a singing group who sang in and around Thornbury for many years.

The mid 1960’s was a time of the big expansion of Thornbury with new houses being built to the North and the East of the town.  In order to take advantage of the increased demand for houses Luce Panes ripped out ground level frontage and put in the large modern display window seen today with a large name board above the window.

The property is still today used by an estate agents, although now as R.A. Bennetts.

Lodgers – the 1939 register compiled in preparation for the War shows that five people were living in the accommodation, presumably on the upper floors.  These were:

  • Mary E. Pitt – a caretaker, who was a widow born on 21st February 1863.
  • Lucy Burrows – an unpaid domestic servant, married and born on 18th December 1904.
  • Francis J. Pitt– a lorry driver, unmarried and born on 18th December 1914.
  • Gerald Septimus Money – a retired African farmer and civil servant, unmarried and born on 7th June 1880.
  • Donald W. Hillman – butcher’s assistant, slaughterman and driver, unmarried and born on 7th August 1909.