UBR 2-8

The houses on the left in the above photograph were the row of houses known as 2 to 8 Upper Bath Road.

We are grateful to South Gloucestershire Council for allowing us access to the deeds and documents that relate to this house and its neighbours.  From these documents we have learned the details of some of the early owners and occupier of this property.

It is clear from the documents in the folder that numbers 2 to 8 Bath Road were built on what had once been a large close of ground called the Paddock.  Part at least of the Paddock was planted with fruit trees and became known as the Orchard.  Click here to see a plan of the original paddock and who bought the land

The information given to us by South Gloucestershire has also enabled us to trace the owners of the land from the early 1700’s.  Click here to read the early history

By lease and release 6th and 7th May 1833 William Ann of Cheltenham sold to Robert Ann an area of land on which this house and its neighbour (later numbers 6 and 8 Upper Bath Road) were built.  Click here to read about the OWNERS of the land and the houses.

William Walker – at the time of the 1840 Tithe Survey the house was occupied by William Walker.  The 1841 census shows William living there.  He was a thatcher aged 45 living with Sarah aged 40, William aged 15, Frederick aged 11, Orlando aged 8, Fanny aged 5 and Edwin aged 2.  Of the children: Frances Matilda was baptised in Thornbury on 6th September 1836 and Edwin Horatio was baptised there on 31st July 1839.

The 1851 census suggests that there might have been some marital problems between William and Sarah.  William is lodging in the beerhouse in St Mary Street run by William Cullimore and known as The Rose and Crown (see 43 St Mary Street).  Sarah is living nearby at 37 High Street. Her daughter, Frances, was living with her.

The 1861 census shows that William and Sarah were back together again and living in 14 St Mary Street.  Click here to read more

William Howard – the 1859 rate book and the 1861 census show that the house was occupied by William Howard, an agricultural labourer aged 74 and his wife, Hannah aged 66 and son, George an agricultural labourer aged 22.

We suspect that William was born on 18th September 1789 and baptised in Oldbury on 16th October.  His parents were Robert and Elizabeth Howard.  We don’t know when or where William and Hannah married, but we do know that they had several children including: Harriet baptised on 11th April 1844, John baptised on 4th August 1827, Robert baptised on 13th June 1830, Stephen baptised on 4th May 1834 and George baptised on 14th April 1839.

An indenture of 1852 that says that in 1843 William Howard lived “then or lately” in what later became 28 Castle Street.

William died aged 79 and was buried on 16th January 1869 at Oldbury.  In the 1871 census Hannah was living in one of the Sir John Stafford’s Almshouses in St Mary Street.  She died aged 83 and was buried at Thornbury on 4th December 1879.

Their son, George, joined the Grenadier Guards in October 1862.  He was a bricklayer aged 21, 5ft 9 and one half inches with brown eyes and dark hair.  He signed up for 21 years, but in 1879 he was listed as a deserter in the Police Gazette.  He must have returned to unit and served for another five years.  The 1891 census shows he was living in London and was now married to Emma and working as a dock constable.  She was a laundress.

Of William and Hannah’s other children, we know that Stephen married Ann Masters in Thornbury on 24th December 1854.  Ann was the daughter of Thomas Masters, a labourer.

Joanna Murphy – the 1871 census shows that the house was occupied by Joanna Murphy, a widowed hawker aged 50 from Skibbereen in County Cork in Ireland.  We understand that Joanna had been married twice before – we think her maiden name was O’Reilly and she had at some stage been married to a Mr McCarthy.  We don’t know when or where she married Daniel Murphy – they weren’t together in the 1841 census when Daniel appears to have been living in Newport, Gloucestershire and working as a pedler.

In the 1851 census Joanna was a matmaker aged 36 from Bantry in Ireland, living in a lodging house in Rock Street (then referred to as Back Street) with her husband, Daniel, a matmaker aged 54 from Bandon, Ireland and their children: Catherine a matmaker aged 18 also from Bandon and Timothy aged 1 born in Thornbury.  We understand that Daniel had been married before his marriage to Joanna.  He had had at least two children in his first marriage (Jeremiah born in Bandon about 1825 and Catherine born about 1832) and two or three with Joanna.

The 1861 census shows Joanna as a hawker aged 43 from Cork living with Daniel aged 64 and their children: Edwin aged 11 and Joanna aged 8, both born in Thornbury.  The census shows they were living in ‘Ragland Road’ which is another name used for what was later known as Upper Bath Road, but we are unable to identify which house they were living in.  We suspect that the Timothy shown in the 1851 census and the Edwin shown in the 1861 census are the same person.

Daniel died in 1864 and his death was the subject of an inquest.  The reference to this notes that Daniel was a ‘traveller’.  The notice to the coroner says that Daniel travelled “with fish and oranges” and was found in Filton by the side of the turnpike road leading from Bristol to Thornbury early on the morning of January 1st 1864.  He was last seen at the Anchor Inn in Filton at 6pm but did not seem the worst for drink, according to witnesses.  He appears to have died of natural causes.

We have discovered an interesting newspaper article dated 9th March 1867 which gives us a good picture of what Joanna must have been like.  It describes the family as ‘an Irish family named Murphy which formerly consisted of a man, his wife, his son and a deaf and dumb daughter’.  Following the death of Daniel, the report mentions that Joanna was employed on the premises of Mrs Rodney at Stokefield House (in Castle Street) and his son, Edwin, was also employed there, formerly as a page but then as a groom.  The article noted that ‘recently the son had become enamoured of his mistress’s cook whose age is about thirty, while that of her lover is said to be seventeen years and two months.  The difference in their age however seemed to be no obstacle to their union as man and wife – for about a month’s since the cook gave up her situation and went to her home near Bath, intending to be shortly married’.  It goes on to say that Joanna ‘did not altogether fall in with her son’s taste, and declared in true Irish style that he should never have the object of his choice, stating “that the crathur only wanted my dear Teddy for his money he had in the bank”.  In spite of this, the banns for the marriage of Edwin Murphy and Catherine Byfield were posted in St Marys Church.  Joanna attended the second Sunday that the banns were to be read and at the appropriate time she got up from her seat near the desk and said “Stop, sir, I forbid, I forbid that sir”.  Joanna was invited into the vestry where she explained that Teddy was only a minor and that she passed over a letter from a Roman Catholic priest as although Teddy had converted all the rest of the family were still Roman Catholic.  She was promised that the clergy would look into the case and she was given some hope that there were grounds for stopping the marriage.  History however shows us that Joanna’s efforts were in vain. Edwin and Catherine married on the 13th April 1867 at the Registry office in Bradford on Avon.  Both of them were listed as being full age!

Joanna’s daughter, Joanna, died of T.B. on 12th October 1868.  Joanna was still in the house in Upper Bath Road in the 1876 rate book.  By the 1880 rate book Joanna had moved to a house near the top of St Mary Street, one of the three houses in a court at the back of public house.  She is shown in the 1881 Census as being aged 72 from Castle Townsend, Cork, Ireland.  In 1881 she was also up before the Thornbury Petty Sessional Court.  She was charged with an assault, presumably on Hannah Smart who was the complainant.  Fortunately for her, the case was dismissed.  In 1891 she was a pauper inmate in the Thornbury Union Workhouse aged 78. She died there aged 80 and was buried on 17th February 1892.

Bethia Ball – in the 1881 census the house appears occupied by Bethia Ball a widowed seamstress aged 60.  Note her name is sometimes spelt as ‘Bathia’.  Bethia had had a difficult life.  Married at about 18, she had 3 children by the age of 21, her husband deserted her and died shortly afterwards, she was became dependant on parish relief and had to be ‘moved’ twice to the parish responsible for her care, two of her children had to be cared for by her parents, and she went on to marry twice more, only for both husbands to die within a year or so of the marriage.  Following the death of her third husband she spent almost 50 years as a widow.

Bethia was baptised on 29th November 1821, the daughter of George Gough, a labourer or a dealer and his wife, Jane.  Her first husband was a boatman called Ambrose Williams who was the son of a gardener, Abraham Williams and his wife Sarah who came from Frampton Cotterell.  Bethia and Ambrose married in Trevethin in Monmouthshire on 11th February 1840.  They appear to have had three children: Frederick and Sarah both baptised in Thornbury on 12th November 1843 and who were brought up by Bethia’s parents, and Abraham.  We have traced a document dated 18th March 1843 which shows that Bathia was residing in Trevethin with Abraham and had become chargeable to the parish for relief.  Bathia states that Abraham was aged one year and nine months at that time and she refers to the fact that whilst she had been visiting Thornbury in July 1842 her husband had abandoned her and had died recently in early March 1843.  Bathia and Abraham had been ‘removed’ to Frampton Cotterell, her husband’s parish so that they be responsible for her care.  The Parish of Trevethin took the same action, ‘removing’ her and Abraham back to Frampton Cotterell.  It is interesting to note that no mention is made by Bathia of her two other children, presumably because she didn’t want the authorities to know that they were being cared for by her parents.

Bethia got married again on 26th August 1850.  The marriage certificate shows she married Charles Reeves a labourer and shows that Bethia Williams was a widow and the daughter of George Gough.  It appears that Charles died shortly after the wedding.  His death is recorded in the September quarter 1850 in Bristol.  The 1851 census shows that Frederick Williams aged 10 and Sarah Williams aged 8 were living with their grandparents, George and Jane Gough in 3 Upper Bath Road.  We haven’t traced Bethia in that census and no knowledge of what happened to Abraham.

Bethia married for a third time – this time her husband was Samuel Ball whom she married in March quarter 1861 in Bristol.  Samuel also died shortly after the wedding in the June quarter 1862.  In the 1861 census Samuel and Bethia were living in Crossways where Samuel was an agricultural labourer aged 42 and ‘Bertha’ was aged 39.  Alice Reeves aged 8 was visiting the house.

In 1871 Bethia was a seamstress aged 48 living at 7 Silver Street near junction with St Mary Street.  She then moved to 6 Upper Bath Road where she appeared in the 1881 census.  In 1891 she was living in a 2 roomed dwelling near The Hill, Almondsbury.  She was a machinist aged 72.  In 1901 she was still living there, now in one room in the house of Mark Thomas, a brickyard foreman.  She died aged 91 years and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 14th October 1910.

William Bendall – the 1880 rate book shows the house occupied by William Bendall.  We are not sure which William Bendall – the one who had been living in 2 Upper Bath Road was living in 8 Rock Street in the 1880 rate book and 1881 census.

John Smith – the 1885 and 1887 rate books show the house occupied by John Smith.  The 1891 census shows John was still there.  He was a bill poster aged 51 living with his wife, Jane aged 44 from Tytherington and their children: Alfred H a bill poster aged 15, Alice a domestic servant aged 13, Elsie aged 11, Thomas aged 7, and Annie aged 1.

We have struggled to identify John’s parents.  We know from their marriage record that John was a butcher at the time and the son of John Smith, labourer.  We suspect that John was the son of John and Alice Smith who lived at 11 Upper Bath Road, the property known as ‘Raglan Castle’.  John and Alice had a son John, but according to his ages in the 1851, 1861 and 1871 Censuses, this John was born about 1843/1844, not 1840 as suggested by the 1891 Census.  We cannot find this John in any later census after 1871 so we feel it is likely that he is the same person who married Jane in 1874.  Click here to read more about John and Alice

Jane was the daughter of Thomas Skuse, labourer and his wife, Caroline (nee Bath) who lived in Tytherington.
John and Jane lived in Thornbury when they married on 29th December 1874.  We also know that John and Jane had several children baptised in Thornbury: Alfred Harry and Celia Alice both baptised on 9th June 1878, Catherine Elsie baptised on 10th September 1879, John Thomas baptised on 1st June 1884 and Clara Annie baptised on 6th April 1890.

It appears that John may have died aged 52 and was buried on 23rd January 1892 and that Jane died aged 45 and was buried on 28th July 1894.  The house at 6 Upper Bath Road was vacant in the 1896 rate book.

It is strange that all John and Jane’s children appeared to use their middle names – even Alfred Harry appears as Harry in 1901 census when he is living in St Mary Street as a bill poster with his wife, Alice from Swindon and their children: William aged 3 and Beatrice M aged 8 months.  They had married in Thornbury on 22nd June 1896.  Alice was the daughter of George Collins, a shepherd.

Henry William Bendall – the 1901 census shows that the house was occupied by Harry, a news carrier and general labourer aged 35 from Hotwells in Bristol and his wife, Sarah A aged 61 from Lower Cam.  Living with them was Thuriza Lacey, Sarah’s unmarried sister aged 70 also from Lower Cam.  Henry was born in Bristol about 1865.  He was the son of William and Mary Ann Bendall.   Click here to read about William and Mary Ann

On 1st August 1896 Henry William married Sarah Ann Lacey in St George Church in the Barton Regis area of Bristol.  Sarah Ann was born in Lower Cam about 1840.  She was the daughter of Henry Lacey, a master handloom weaver from Wotton Under Edge and his wife, Sarah from Cam.  In 1851 census Sarah Ann is living in Rowley, Cam with her parents, Henry Lacey aged 54 and Sarah aged 54.  The 1861 census shows Sarah has become a woollen cloth marker and that she is still living with her parents.

In 1862 Sarah Ann married Richard Lacey.  In 1871 Richard and Sarah Ann were living in Mary-Le-Port Street, Berkeley.  Richard was a fly driver aged 37 from Kingsstanley.  Richard died in 1873 aged 38.  In 1881 Sarah Ann was a widow visiting her brother, Henry Lacey in Trull, near Taunton.  He was a saddler aged 44 from Cam. S arah’s sister, Thuriza, is also visiting Henry and his family.  Thuriza Lacey died in 1910 and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery aged 80.  She is recorded in FreeBMDs as Theresa Lacy.

The trade directories show that Henry was a haulier.  The 1911 census describes Henry as a stonebreaker.  The 1918 electoral register shows Henry William and Sarah Ann still living in Upper Bath Road.  Sarah Ann died in 1920 aged 80.  Henry William continued living in the house and he is shown as living there in the 1926 rate book and the electoral registers until at least 1931.

Granny Billett

Granny Billett

Charlotte Elizabeth Billett – the house was occupied from about 1935 for many years by Charlotte Elizabeth Billett.  Charlotte was born on 16th June 1871 and baptised on 19th July 1871, the daughter of Thomas Godwin, a labourer and his wife, Charlotte (nee Howse) who lived at Crossways.  Charlotte’s mother died aged 38 within a few days of her baptism and her father married again on 30th September 1876 – his second wife was also a widow, Elizabeth Long (nee Derrick).  In 1891 Charlotte was a general domestic servant working for Alfred W Anstey at Buckover Farm.

On 14th October 1893 Charlotte married Henry James Billett, a carter and labourer and the son of Worthy Billett, a labourer from Milbury Heath.  Henry and Charlotte had at least five children: William Henry baptised on 28th October 1894, Lilian Annie baptised on 29th March 1896, Herbert Charles baptised on 29th August 1897, Edward Kitchener baptised on 15th April 1900, Elsie May born in 1902 and Gladys in 1904.  Edward’s baptism record shows Henry had become a waggoner.  In 1901 the Billett family was living in Buckover.  Edward Kitchener died aged only 15 months and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 4th July 1901.

Henry died in 1929 aged 58.  Charlotte Billett was known locally as “Granny Billett.”  We have been told that she was a regular in the Picture House in Thornbury.  She was said to have liked to sit in the second row from the front on the left.  Local children knew when she was going to go to a film and would wait to ask her to escort them into the cinema when the film was an “A” certificate.

William Henry Billett

William Henry Billett

Charlotte settled in Upper Bath Road.  The register compiled in 1939 in preparation for the war shows Charlotte living in 6 Upper Bath Road.  She was described as being a ‘Laundrywoman’.  She lived there until she died aged 84 about 1953.

Of their children:

  • Edward died in 1901.
  •  Lilian Annie married Albert Collins Austin Rogers in the September quarter of 1925.  Click here to read more
  • Herbert joined the 5th Gloucestershire Regiment and died on 29th September 1916 in the Brompton Hospital in London.  He was aged 19 and had been fighting in France.
  • In 1919 William Henry (pictured in the photo on the left) married Sarah Primrose Clutterbuck, the daughter of James and Florence Clutterbuck and they had several children including: Donald, Joan who died young, Royston Herbert, Anthony, Josephine Hand and Valerie Elizabeth.  William Henry used for work for Daniels at Whitfield and even in her old age, his mother, Charlotte used to walk all the way there from Thornbury to see him.  Sarah Primrose died in January 1982 aged 82.  
  • Elsie married Joseph H. Precious in 1925 and went to live in Rhodesia where she lived all her life.
  • Gladys became a nurse in Thornbury Hospital and she took over 6 Upper Bath Road after her mother’s death.  She was listed as living there in the 1958 electoral register.  When the house was demolished in the early 60’s she moved to Buckingham Parade in Thornbury.