My great grandfather Stephen Bumstead 1844-1903

Stephen Bumstead copy
On 26th February 1843, Stephen Bumstead married Phoebe Ann Gait at St Mary’s Whitechapel in the east end of London. Stephen described himself as a plumber & glazier, and a widower, the son of another Stephen Bumstead, also a plumber & glazier. They both signed their names (Phoebe signed Phebe Ann Gaitt) and the witnesses were Mary Ann Bumstead and Henry Chapman. As we have seen (here) Stephen moved to London from Ipswich, where he was a Freeman and where his family had practiced the same trade for several generations. Mary Ann was his sister-in-law, wife of his brother William Wase Bumstead and a Henry Chapman appears in the 1841 census with the same occupation as Stephen, so he may be a colleague.

Prior to his marriage to Phoebe Stephen had been married to Elizabeth Kennedy who had died in 1838 and he seems to appear in the Census three years later where there is a Steven Bumstead, living at 57 Chiswell Street, Finsbury, sharing accomodation with Hannah Maguire. This Steven gave his occupation as “painter” and Hannah was a servant. The ages in that Census, unlike later ones were rounded down for adults to the nearest 5 years. Steven is shown as being 30, so he could have been 34, but he was in fact 39, if this is our Stephen. Hannah was 20. The next property listed on the Census is 95 Milton Street and interestingly our Stephen Bumstead gives his address as 96 Milton Street on the marriage certificate of 1843.

The first child of Stephen and Phoebe, a son also named Stephen was born on 14th January 1844 at 41 Betts Street, near St George’s Church in Stepney. Stephen’s occupation on the birth certificate is given as a painter.

Old Montague Street

Old Montague Street, Spitalfields

Stephen senior died on 31st May 1846 of Typhus Fever. His age is given as 46 and the family had moved north to Old Montague Street in Spitalfields. On the death certificate Stephen was given as a painter and glazier. He was buried in the churchyard of Christ Church, Spitalfields on June 3rd. Phoebe was by then expecting a second child; a daughter was born on September 28th and she was given the name Georgina Ellen Gait Bumstead at the registration of the birth the following month. Poor Phoebe was to suffer further grief as baby Georgina died at the age of 8 months on 22nd June 1847, and she too was buried at Christ Church. By then Phoebe appears to have remarried for she signed her daughter’s death certificate Pheby Ann Rogers.

Christ Church Spitalfields

Christ Church, Spitalfields

Although Phoebe still gave her Spitalfields address on Georgina’s death certificate, the baby actually died in Tranquil Vale, Blackheath. There is no obvious family connection to the area, but it is interesting that there was, at the time a family named Bumstead living in Blackheath Vale. The 1841 census shows a Mary Ann Bumstead and a daughter, Eliza and son Edward. Further searches have revealed that a Stephen Bumstead married Mary Ann Swain at St Margarets, Lee on 9th December 1811. Their children were baptised at St Alpheges in Greenwich in the succeeding years. This Stephen died in 1838.

Phoebe had not in fact remarried but had moved in with a George Rogers, who was almost certainly a cousin. He too had been in London for some time, although coming originally from Somerset, like Phoebe. His first wife had recently died, leaving him with a young son, another George. Although living together since 1847 and having several children, they did not finally marry until 1856. The story of Phoebe’s ancestors is told here and her personal story here.

George and Phoebe Rogers stayed in London for a short time, a daughter whom they also named Georgina Ellen Gait Rogers being born in the first half of 1848. By 1850 though, they had returned to Somerset, a second daughter, Lydia Ann being born in the village of Stanton Drew where the family was to stay for over forty years.

Rogers Family 1851 Census crop

Stanton Drew Census 1851

As can be seen Stephen now appears as Stephen Rogers, son of George and Phoebe. Besides the two girls there is George’s son, from his first marriage. By 1861 however a major development had taken place. The 1861 Census for Stanton Drew shows that the Rogers family had moved to the neighbouring village of Stowey (they were back in Stanton Drew by 1871) and grown with the addition of a son and two more daughters. Stephen was no longer with the family and had moved to Chew Magna, into the household of Samuel Gover, a blacksmith, whose apprentice he was. He had also reverted to the surname Bumstead (it appears as Bomsted in the 1861 Census).

We cannot know what happened to provoke this change – did Stephen fall out with his step-father or mother, or was he just asserting his independence. Interestingly he was baptised at Chew Magna (at the age of 16) on 18th March 1860, presumably whilst living there with the Gover family. He gives his father’s name as Stephen Bumstead, upholsterer. Was he only getting part of the story or perhaps guessing his father’s occupation? Later, on his marriage, he gave his father’s name as George Bumstead, Cabinet Maker – an interesting combination of the names of his biological & step fathers, although George Rogers was a carpenter rather than a cabinet maker.

By 1868 Stephen had moved to Bedminster and the next record we have of his life is the marriage to Louisa Peters who had also been living in Chew Magna. Louisa was a little older than Stephen (having been born on the 25th June 1842) and she was the mother of an illegitimate child. Her daughter had been born in Chew Magna in 1864 and registered under the name Rosina Fear Peters. It was common practice when a father would not (or could not) “do the decent thing” to give an illegitimate child the father’s surname as a middle name, and we can see that the father of Rosina was Samuel Fear (see here).

On the marriage certificate Stephen gave his address as North Street, Bedminster and Louisa was at West Street. Addresses at marriages are not always permanent residences – people used convenience addresses to be able for the Banns to be read – three weeks in a parish was enought for one to be considered a parish “member”. On the marriage certificate Stephen describes himself as a smith and on the Census of 1871, when the family were living at 29 Richmond Terrace, Bedminster he was still using the term Blacksmith. Rosina was given the surname Bumstead (or Bumpstead in the record).

A son, Frederick Walter, was born in 1879, and by the 1881 Census the family had moved to Canon’s Marsh. The address is difficult to read but appears to be “Offices, Heaven, John”. Stephen’s profession is now Engineer Driver for Saw Mills. A neighbour also worked in the timber trade and there were certainly timber yards on Canon’s Marsh in the nineteenth century, so it seems likely that the family lived “above the shop” in the company accomodation of John Heaven & Co. an established timber merchant in Canons Marsh. The progression to engineer was a natural one – many of the early journeyman engineers started their lives as blacksmiths, and Stephen seems to have stayed in the industry for the rest of his life, working on the stationary engines that powered the saws. On the census both Louisa and Rosina are recorded as Shirt Makers.

Canon's Marsh timber yard

One of the many timber yards on Canon’s Marsh

Not many records survive of Stephen’s life, but one that does concerns the drowning in Bristol Harbour, of a quay labourer, Peri Ryan who fell into the water between the mission ship Bethel and the quayside in December 1886. The newspaper report of the inquest tells how Stephen, the only witness, heard moans and saw the deceased wedged between the ship and the quay and tried to help him, but could not hold on. The coroner expressed his opinion that there should be some sort of protection between the quay and the ship. This was carried out afterwards as the photograph of the site of the accident below clearly shows.

Bethel Mission ship

Bethel Mission Ship, St Augustine’s Reach

Stephen’s step-sister Phoebe Isabella had drowned in a boating accident at Bath on July 6th 1888 (see here) and just twelve days later, her father George Rogers travelled to Bristol to make his will in the offices of the solicitor William Watts. His estate, which totalled £220 was left to his wife Phoebe and thereafter to his surviving children. However there is a special bequest of £2.10s to his stepson, “Steven Bumstead”.
On the 1891 Census the family are still living in Canon’s Marsh and another son, Albert (actually George Albert, born July 3rd 1888, although he always seems to have been known as Bert) is present. Rosina had left however, having recently married John Roberts. Stephen is a Stationary Engine Driver and no occupations are recorded for Louisa or Frederick.

George Albert Bumstead c 1898

George Albert Bumstead c1898

Next to Bristol Cathedral stood the Church of St Augustine the Less (the Cathedral was St Augustine the Greater) and family tradition records young Albert as a chorister there. This was presumably before 1900 when the family moved back to Bedminster. Kelly’s Bristol Directory for 1900 has Stephen Bumstead at 2 Sheene Road, Bedminster, and from 1902 onwards shows the family at 176 York Road. In between, the 1901 Census has them at 1 Diamond Street (just off West Street). Although Stephen’s occupation remains the same, both Louisa and Frederick are recorded as Machinists (Wood Cutting). They now have a much fuller household; as well as Stephen, Louisa and the two boys, Louisa’s widowed mother, Elizabeth Peters, a niece, Lilian Chapman and three other boarders are recorded. Lilian and the other girl boarder, Rose Kruse work as cigarette packers (no doubt at Wills factory, just a few hundred yards away), whilst one of the male boarders, George Chapman, who worked as a railway stoker on the GWR was born in Bermuda in the West Indies, where his father was stationed in the army.

1 Diamond Street crop

1 Diamond Street, Bedminster

The move to York Street, on the New Cut, facing the suburb of Redcliffe, was to be Stephen’s final one. He died on Christmas Day 1903 aged 59 of gastritis and was buried in a family plot in Arno’s Vale Cemetery. Louisa was to live on until 1923, when she too was buried in the grave. Their eldest son, Frederick was also buried there on his death in 1947.

Arnos Vale tombstone

Bumstead grave marker in Arnos Vale Cemetery



What I did on my holidays…..



Castle Street at junction with Peter Street c1900

Last week I spent several days in Bristol with my son and our time largely revolved around sporting events (football, rugby and golf); I did however, manage to squeeze in two days at Bristol Record Office, hoping to fill in gaps in my family history and several interesting facts were discovered. Here is a summary of what I found.

Drew and Horwood families of Bristol

The relationship between the early Drews was something I had conjectured, but much of it is now firmed up. I had seen the entry for the marriage of John Drew and Joan Gillson in 1603 before, but on a rather underpowered microfiche reader where much wasn’t clear. This time I used the BRO’s finest and largest reader and saw the entry (below) in better detail. Interestingly it shows Joan’s occupation, that of servant to Thomas Clement the elder. Several of the brides in this section of the register of St Phillip and St Jacob are identified by their fathers or employers, which is something I had not encountered before.



I had assumed from other parish register entries that Robert Drew (1607-81) the housecarpenter was the son of this marriage, and in the Apprenticeship Book of Bristol I found confirmation. The entry (below) is in latin but states that on February 27 1626 (old style 1625) Robert Drew son of John Drew husbandman, deceased, of Barton Regis bound himself apprentice to John Friend, carpenter and his wife Thomasine for a term of seven years. This corresponds to the information given when Robert was enrolled in the Book of Burgesses of Bristol in 1635.

I was aware of a lease granted to Robert’s eldest son, John of a piece of land named Gaunts Hammes which lay in Barton Regis in the eastern part of St Phillips and St Jacobs parish (now called Barton Hill) and I wondered if it was connected to the land that John’s grandfather farmed in the early part of the century. This plot was passed down in turn to John’s sons. On viewing the lease dated March 25, 1666, it appears that the land was previously leased on the lives of John’s wife Dorcas (nee Fussell) and her sister, Mary, so my theory was incorrect. There is still a public park in Barton Hill called Gaunts Ham Park.


I have found further leases granted to the Drews and their related families – Pages, Tylers and Shorts which help plot the fortunes of the various branches of the descendants of Robert Drew, one which is intriguing. A lease of 1723 grants a group of properties in Redcliffe Pit, which is close to the Quaker burial ground near St Mary Redcliffe, to Walton Short on condition that he repair them as they had fallen into ruin under the previous lesee. Now Walton was a cordwainer (shoemaker) by profession, so it may be that his brother-in-law, John Horwood the housecarpenter carried out the work. Also it could be possible that John began to reside in the the renovated properties after Walton died in 1728. He certainly appears to have left St James parish around this time and he doesn’t appear as a householder in any record after that date that I can find. Moreover at his death in 1744 he was living “at his house on Redcliffe Hill”.



John Horwood had been  granted a lease on a plot of land in Queen Square in 1709 on the condition that he build a “mansion house” there. The lease was to run until 1756, but is not mentioned in John’s will, so I assumed he assigned it elsewhere. In 1732 the leaseholders in the Square petitioned the Corporation of Bristol for new leases, which were granted over the next couple of years. John’s property (most likely no.19 or 20 in the current numbering) was, by this time, in the possession of John Brickdale Esq and no clue is given as to when the transaction took place. The new lease does record, however that John had built, in addition to the mansion house, “Warehouse, lofts, Coachhouse, stable and other necessary outbuildings” at the rear of the house and a yard or pavement between them. These outbuildings would have faced onto today’s Welsh Back.



John York of Chewton Mendip
John York of Chewton lived from 1732 to 1818 and farmed the York holding in the East End tything of the parish. Later in life he was the Lead Reeve for the Waldegrave manor of Chewton. I have often thought he might be the John York who acted as a clerk for the parish vestry and whose fine hand can be seen in many parish documents. There was another John York in Chewton, but his dates don’t fit the timescale of the vestry records. There is a mention that the John who was the clerk was also a schoolmaster and in the BRO I found an indenture dated 1780 relating to the estate of a Robert Bath of Compton Martin deceased, in which John York, schoolmaster of Chewton Mendip was named as the administrator of the said estate, Robert having died intestate. What clinches the identification of the schoolmaster with John York of East End is the fact that the indenture names him as the nephew of Robert Bath. John’s mother was Dorothy Bath and he may have been Robert’s heir although there were other relatives mentioned in the document. Finally, the fine signature on the indenture, although having a few minor differences, is otherwise identical to John’s signature on his marriage to Ann Board in 1759. The indenture records the selling of the lands mentioned to a Joseph Vowles for £119.


Signature of John York on his marriage 1759


Signature of John York on the 1780 Indenture


Documents by permission of the Bristol Record Office

Mean Streets

The nave of St Mary the Virgin. The Georgian rebuilding (1777-1781) created a remarkably airy and spacious interior. Note the oak box pews.
St Marys, Tetbury

A first blog

Until now I’ve used this site merely as a useful way of recording and broadcasting episodes in the lives of my ancestors; but today I shall embark on a genuine blog, if I understand the term correctly. What follows are the puzzled ramblings of a family historian on the main problem facing all genealogists: proof.

It has been stated that at least two independent sources for a fact are required to assume it is correct, and the more the better. When tracing a direct line I have always tried to stick with this, although the further back one progresses, the harder it is to find a second source for any relationship. If a baptism occurs in the right parish at the right time and there is no conflicting evidence – such as family with similar names in the same locality or surrounding parishes – then that is often as much as one can hope for, especially if one is dealing with a family that owned no property nor left any wills or other documentation.

When one comes against a genuine brick wall, where even an expected record is missing, the question is: how to proceed and what to accept as being the most probable fact. Can one indeed accept a theory because there is enough information that points to a likely outcome even though the evidence is not there?

George Street & Elizabeth Rousom marriage 1824
Which brings me to my ggg grandfather, George Street, who died in St James parish, Bristol in 1868. The earliest record I have found for George is this marriage, on January 28th 1824 to Elizabeth Rousom, which took place at the Church of St Philip & St Jacob, Bristol and both parties possessed fine, clear signatures. It would seem, by using the information they gave in later years in the various Censuses, that George was about 19 years old at the time of his marriage and Elizabeth possibly a year or so older. They also identify their respective places of birth in the same records. Elizabeth hailed from Dublin in Ireland, and George was born in Tetbury, Gloucestershire. Their union produced seven children, three girls and four sons who were duly baptised in the Catholic chapel of St Josephs in Trenchard Street.

Many years ago, having found most of this information, I visited the Record Office in Gloucester to continue my research on the Street family, and hopefully find a baptism for George. Despite discovering a good deal about the family, from the registers and other documentation, the expected baptism was not to be found. There was no George Street in either the baptismal register nor in the Bishops Transcripts – the copy that was sent to the Diocesan Office every year. There was however, a possible family for George.

John Street and his wife, Sarah (nee Cave) had married at St Marys, Tetbury (full name, the Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin and St Mary Magdalene) on 7th May 1799 and from then until Sarah’s untimely death in 1808, had seven children baptised there. The Cave family originated in Owlpen, a few miles to the northwest of Tetbury, but Sarah’s father John had taken on a farm in the village of Long Newnton, now in Gloucestershire, but then in Wiltshire, which lies just a mile to the east of the town. By contrast, John’s father Thomas (like John himself), was a cordwainer (shoemaker) living in Lacock, Wiltshire, although his mother, Martha Hawkes was born in Tetbury and had siblings still living there. John and Sarah’s seven children arrived (judging by their baptismal dates) with almost mathematical regularity, which was not uncommon at the time, beginning with Thomas (1800) and continuing with John (1801) Hannah (1802) William (1803); a break then occurs until the baptism of Philip Cave (1806) Robert (1807) and finally Sarah, whose birth in August 1808 probably led to the death of her mother Sarah in September; baby Sarah followed the following month and was buried with her mother in Long Newnton churchyard.

Cave & Street grave crop

At first, I found the gap in the baptisms of John and Sarah’s children significant. It could be, of course that Sarah had simply been ill or unwilling to have further children after William in 1803, but it seemed more likely to me that George had been born in the gap and either his baptism was missed from the register or that he had been baptised elsewhere. Baptisms were missed from registers (another ancestor, James Emery of Ashwick in Somerset was a parish clerk and on two occasions the vicar wrote in the registers admonishing James for his errors and omissions in the recording of entries) and the register at Tetbury shows clearly that it was not written up on a daily or even a weekly basis – as was common, it would have compiled, possibly once a year from notes made at the time of the various ceremonies; there was plenty of scope for an entry to be missed.

I searched further for a baptism for George, at first in the other parishes connected to the families, Owlpen, Long Newnton and Lacock, and then in the surrounding parishes to Tetbury; modern databases have enabled me to search Bristol and the whole of Gloucestershire, but to no avail. Assuming the period between the births and the baptisms of the Street children to be more or less uniform, we find the gaps between them to be 15, 14, 14, 33, 13 and 12 months. By analysing the ages given by George in the Census and the age on his death certificate, a birth date of April-June 1805 is arrive at. This fits almost exactly in the middle of the period of 33 months between William and Philip; this was the first coincidence that might justify assuming George belonged to the Tetbury Streets.

The second fact which reinforces the idea that George was the son of John and Sarah was discovered when researching Bristol marriage records. On 22nd May 1824, at the church of St James in Bristol, the eldest son of John and Sarah Street, Thomas, married Mary Stockham of Lea in Wiltshire.

Thomas Street Marriage 1824

This was four months after the wedding of George and Elizabeth, and it can clearly be seen that they witnessed this marriage. In addition the manner in which both George and Thomas formed the name “Street” is eerily similar. This must indicate that the two men were close, even if not brothers – but no other option seems likely. There were no other Street families in Tetbury (or nearby) at the time of George’s birth, and the name “George” itself was never used by the Lacock Streets, whereas it was regularly used in the Cave family. Thomas and Mary called their second son George and another brother used it for one of his children too. Furthermore, it is surely significant that George was, by trade a slipper maker. Of all of John and Sarah’s children, none followed their father and grandfather into the occupation of shoemaking and it would seem odd if at least one of the children was not apprenticed to their father at some stage.

Several members of the Street family moved to Bristol in the years following and most of them lived, at least for a time in St James, where George and Elizabeth appear to have spent their whole married lives. Another son of John and Sarah, Philip Cave Street lived in central Bristol, marrying twice and finally being buried at St James (although both his marriages and the baptism of a daughter took place in other churches). Again interestingly, Philip’s second wife was a widow, Jane Lee whose father’s name on the marriage certificate (1843) is given as Evan Francis. In the 1841 Census an Evan Francis is the next-door neighbour to George Street in Cannon Street, St James.

Well, this blog turned into an article after all, but have I convinced myself? Have I convinced you? Do I accept that George was a son of John and Sarah Street of Tetbury and amalgamate all the data into my tree? Does anyone else care?

John Horwood and the 1703 Indenture


I mentioned previously in my account of the Horwood family, an Indenture of 1703 which appears to be connected to the purchase of land and properties in the parish of St James. Investigating this document further, several questions arose and I shall try and map out my ideas concerning it here. A full transcription of the document is at the foot of this article.

1703 Indenture Angell House 1 copy

Left-hand side of the 1703 Indenture

There are two parties to the agreement, on the one side, Elizabeth Skinner, Elinor Wilkes and Anne Hawkridge, all described as widows, of Bristol; on the other side, John Harwood, House Carpenter and Rowland Thruppe, Gent., also both of Bristol. The indenture goes on to explain that its intent is for “the settling and assureing of the severall messuages, Tenements Lands and hereditaments hereinafter mentioned”. It is presuambly therefore some form of conveyance or related to such a transaction.

Before listing the properties concerned, the main purpose of the agreement is stated; that the three ladies concerned will, in the Court of Common Pleas “acknowledge and levy” a fine “Sur Conizance de droit come ceo etc.” relating to the properties to be named, and the sum of five shillings had changed hands for this benefit. Now this was no great sum even in 1703, and the whole transaction and phrasing took some time for me to fathom.

What is happening here is part of an obscure legal process of property sale, dating from the Middle Ages, whereby land was transferred from one party to another by means of a fake legal dispute. The two parties agreed the details of the sale between themselves (there is often an actual conveyance document which rarely survives) and them the selling party ask the Court via the “fine” or concord to agree that the buying party now own the property involved. The phrase (in legal French) “Sur Conizance de droit come ceo qu’il a de son done” is the surest form of fine and was often used to break an entail, if one existed on the property. A separate document would have been issued by the Court, known as a Final Concord which was in three parts, again indented, one part each for the parites and one (the “foot”) for the Court. These final concords were written in latin until 1733 and give very little detail compared to what is given in our indenture. Below is one such document, also involving John Harwood, dated 1719 and which relates to property in St Philips and St Peter parishes in Bristol.

1719 Deeds involving John Horwood (Latin)

Not only is it in latin (with many abbreviations), but it is written in an archaic legal hand which makes its reading very difficult. Final Concords also normally give very imprecise information on the property changing hands and the price paid, which is often impossible to ascertain.

To return to our indenture, which is known as a ”covenant to levy a fine” I was interested in the parties involved. John Harwood the house carpenter has been discussed at length in my article on the Horwood family; Rowland Thruppe was a wealthy Bristol gentleman, the eldest son of another Rowland Thruppe who had died in 1689. Documents at the National Archive and Bristol Record Office show him involved in many property dealings and investments, as well as disputes. One can probably assume that he and John acted together in this instance with Rowland providing the bulk of the money and John the expertise in building and development. The fact that they were buying several properties from three widows in one transaction was puzzling at first, but I assumed that the women were related. The indenture mentions two of the properties being previously owned by one Peter Hiley, and on checking the wills in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury probate records, there is one for a Peter Hiley of Bristol, whitetawer who died in 1675. A whitetawer (modern spelling whittawer) was a person who manufactured or dealt in “white” leather, using tawing rather than tanning, which involved curing the skin in various substances which produced a lighter, more flexible form of leather. It also came to be used of one who produced harness leather and saddlery.

Peter Hiley was a wealthy man, for he bequeathed four messuages in Merchant Street, as well as property in Poole, Dorset and his own house on the Weare (modern Broad Weir) to his eldest son, John; six further messuages and two gardens “att or neare the Barrs in the parish of Saint James” to his unmarried daughter Rachaell, and the remainder of his estate. including other messuages to his widow, Joan. In addition he left £400 to Rachaell and £200 to a grandson, but what is most interesting are the small cash bequests (of either £5 or 40 shillings) to his remaining children, amongst whom are Elizabeth Skinner, Ellinor Wilkes and Anne Hawkridge. So we can assume that the three widows of 1703 are selling property they inherited from another member of the family, possibly their mother Joan or sister Rachael, and the nature of the fine used to convey the properties points towards the latter, as Peter’s will directed that the bequest to Rachel should pass to the heirs of her body, ie. entailled to her line. Further research will be required to establish what happend to Rachel, and how the properties might have passed into the hands of her sisters.

Turning now to the location of the properties involved in the transaction, there appear to be four distinct entities:

1) Angell House lying east of the Horfield road (a continuation of Merchant Street, later Barrs Street)

2) Messuage to the west of the same

3) Upper Garden with a lodge, south of St James Barton, but east of the Horfield road

4) Messuage near Rosemary Lane (later Rosemary Street)

The last is the most difficult to place, yet the most interesting as the indenture suggests this was transferred from Elizabeth Skinner to John Harwood directly. The indenture reads: “all that Messuage Stable & Splott of garden grounds thereunto adjoining and belonging going out of Rosemary Lane extending backwards to a Lane called by the name of the Horse Church Yard”. The latter lane is difficult to place; at first I thought it might be conected to St James Churchyard which lay to the north side of the Horsefair, but an old lease in the BRO relates to “Horsechurchyard Lane, later Rosemary Lane” so it would seem to be a lost highway, possibly to the north of Rosemary Lane.

Millerd St James parish
St James parish from Millerd’s map 1677

Looking at the map, I would suggest that property no.1 was in Barrs Lane (the continuation north of Merchant Street which led to the Barton) on the east, no.2 on the west of the same stretch and no.3 possibly the property south of “Hobsons Garden”. It may be “Hobsons Garden” itself, as in 1642 Peter Hiley had purchased “the great messuage at the Barrs” from a William Hobson. No.4 must be off Rosemary Lane.

It is instructive to compare Millerd’s map which was drawn 25 years before the indenture, with that of Roque which is dated 1750, in order to see the nature of the expansion of development in the area.

170 Roque map St James
Roque’s map 1750

Nearly all the gardens have gone and there is some renaming of streets, for instance Newfoundland Lane has become Milk Street, and to the east of the Barton, St James Square has been built. John Horwood was involved in the construction of two houses on Queens Square just six years later, so it is quite possible that the two properties on the east of Barrs Lane (which leads south off the Barton ie. “the Horfield road”) were purchased with a view to this development which took place about this time. One further possibility is that John constructed his own dwelling house in this area, either on the site of the properties transferred in the indenture, or another purchase. He was certainly a freeholder in St James parish, appearing in the poll books for the 1720s and 1730s. The land and window tax records for the parish show him living at several addresses in the parish, but
largely, after 1720, in Milk Street.

1721 Poll Book John Horwood
1721 Poll book for St James parish

1828 Ashmead map St James

Another map (Ashmead, 1828) shows the same area, and lying between Barrs Lane and St James Square there is a timber yard. A house carpenter would certainly require a large stock of timber, so is it possible that this is the successor of John’s yard? It certainly lies adjacent to Milk Street, and John’s property there may be the one described in his will as his “ Messuage or Tenement …in St James Square”.

Barrs Street

Barrs Street, early 20th century, with St James Barton in the distance, and the entry to a timber yard on the east side

Transcription of the Indenture

This Indenture made the First day of May in the second year of our Sovereign Lady Anne by the grace of god of

England Scotland France & Ireland Queen, def of the faith … Between Elizabeth Skinner of the City of Bristoll widdow Elinor Wilkes of the same City widdow & Anne Hawkridge

of the same City widdow of the one part And John Harwood of the said City House Carpenter & Rowland Thruppe of the City aforesaid Gent of the other part Witnesseth That the said Elizabeth Skinner

Elinor Wilkes & Anne Hawkridge for the settling and assureing of the severall messuages Tenements Lands & hereditaments hereinafter mentioned To and for the severall uses intents and purposes

hereinafter limitted Expressed & declared And in consideration also of the sume of Five shillings of lawfull money of England to them in hand paid by the said John Harwood and Rowland Thruppe

The receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged They the said Elizabeth Skinner Elinor Wilkes & Anne Hawkridge Have Convenanted and granted And by those presents do for themselves

Covenant and grant to and with the said John Harwood and Rowland Thruppe their heirs & assignes That they the said Elizabeth Skinner Elinor Wilkes & Anne Hawkridge shall and will before

the end of this present Easter Terme or Trinity terme next coming before her Maties. {Majesty’s} Justices of her Court of Common Pleas at Westminster in due forme of law acknowledge and levy to the said John Harwood and Rowland Thruppe

& their heirs or to the heirs of one of them One Fine Sur Conizance de droit come ceo etc to be pursued with proclamation according to the forme of the statute in that case made and provided

of All that messuage or Tenemt heretofore commonly called or knowne by the name of the Angell House and of the garden grounds thereto adjoining and belonging with the Appurts.

heretofore in the tenure of one Richard Gernige as Tenant to Peter Hiley deceased and now of (gap with name filled in different hand) Duckett Victualler situate lying and being betweene the highway leading from the weare

towards Horfeild on or towards the East side thereof And a messuage of the said Peter Hiley heretofore in the possion of one John Duckett and now of (long gap) on or towards the

west side thereof And also of all that garden ground with a Lodge thereon heretofore built by Henry Gibbs Alderman commonly called the Upper garden situate lying and being on or towards

the South side of a place there called the Barton the said Highway leading from the Weare aforesaid towards Horfeild on or towards the east side thereof And also of all that Messuage Stable & Splott of

garden grounds thereunto adjoining and belonging going out of Rosemary Lane extending backwards to a Lane called by the name of the Horse Church Yard All which said Messuage & gardens

Lands Tenements and hereditaments are situate lying & being in the parish of St James within the Suburbs of the said City of Bristoll And of all Shops Cellars Halls Parlors

Chambers Kitchens roomths Lofts Lights wayes easements paths passages profitts comodityes advantages emoluments and Appurtanances whatsoever to the said Messuages or Tenements

gardens and premisses belonging or in any wise apperteyning or therewith or with any part or parcell thereof or with or with any part thereof as part parcell or member thereof accepted

reputed held occupyed or enjoyed And of the rents revercions remainders and services thereof By the name of Two messuages One Cottage & One Stable and three gardens with

th’ Appurtenancies in the parish of St James in the said City of Bristoll and County of the same Or by such other apt and proper names quantities or qualities As by the

Counsell learned in the Law of the said John Harwood and Rowland Thruppe shall be advised & thought fitt Which fine so as aforesaid or in any other manner to be levied and

acknowledged by and betweene the said parties to these presents or any of them And all and every other Fine and Fines already levyed or at any time hereafter to be levyed or acknowledged

by or betweene the said parties to these presents or any or other of them or by or betweene them or any or other of them and any other person or persons of the said premisses above
mencioned or any part thereof either alone by itselfe or joyntly with any other Lands or Tenements shalbe and enure and shalbe adjudged esteemed and taken to

be and enure And the said John Harwood and Rowland Thruppe and their heires & all and every other person or persons standing and being seized or which at the time of

perfecting the said Fine or Fines shall stand or be ……for in the said premisses above mencioned or any part thereof shall at all times thereafter stand and be seized thereof and

of every part and parcell thereof with th’appurtenancies To and for the severall uses intents and purposes now ………. tted expressed and declared (that is to say) .. for and

concerning the said Messuage Stable and garden ground going out of Rosemary Lane aforesaid with th’Appurtenances and the rents revercions remainders and services

thereof To the only proper use and behoofe of the said Elizabeth Skinner her heirs and assignes for ever And as for and concerning All and singular other the

said messuages Tenements and premisses above particularly mencioned with th’Appurtenancies To the only proper use and behoofe of the said John Harwood his heirs

and Assignes for ever And to or for none other use intent or purpose whatsoever In Witness whereof the parties first above named to these present Indentures interchangeably

have sett their hands and seales the day and year first above written:
Elizabeth Skinner Eliner Wilks Ann Hawkredg John Harwood Row Thruppe

Note: one or two words missing as damaged in fold of parchment


1703 Indenture Angell House John Horwood signature

All maps documents and photographs courtesy of Bristol Record Office and Museums

The Horwood family of Bristol

St James Square, Bristol c1805

I have already mentioned two Bristol families in previous articles – the Heales and the Drews, and now will turn my attention to the third main family who provide the connection between the city and the Peters family of Chew Magna; the Horwoods.The surname is variously spelt as Horwood and Harwood, but I have chosen the former as it was the first version I came across and sheer laziness prevents me from changing all my notes.

William Horwood was born around 1633/5 but no record of his parentage, baptism or possible apprenticeship has been found yet. The first time we encounter him is at his marriage to Elizabeth Drew at the church of St Philip and St Jacob in Bristol on April 7th 1656. Just under a year later, on March 3rd 1657, William was admitted as a Burgess of Bristol, giving him the right to vote in local and national elections and the right to work and trade within the city. He was granted this by reason of his marriage to Elizabeth, the daughter of a Burgess, Robert Drew the housecarpenter; marriage to a daughter or widow of a Burgess conferred the right, as well as the more normal methods of entry which were as the apprentice to a Burgess on completion of the apprenticeship, or as the son of one.

By trade William was a feltmaker, possibly serving an apprenticeship outside the city of Bristol. Horwood/Harwood was a common name in south Gloucestershire. Feltmaking or Hatting was an important local industry, suppling the hinterland as well as a substantial export trade, especially to the American and Caribbean colonies. Whilst Bristol had its own Company of Feltmakers and Haberdashers, catering to the retail and wholesale trade, as well as manufacturing, South Gloucestershire was the hub of a cottage industry geared to the cheaper end of the market. By the middle of the eighteenth century it is estimated that there were over 10,000 people employed in the hatting trade in the villages of Frampton Cotterell, Winterbourne and Rangeworthy alone. The majority of these would be piece-workers, being supplied with materials, and tied to selling to members of the Bristol Company.

It was a dangerous occupation too – many workers succumbing to lung complaints brought on by the constant wool dust which the process produced as well as the ever-present threat of “hatters’ disease” caused by mercury poisoning, and the inhalation of the fibres used in the process. This caused mood swings, memory loss and tremors and gave us the expression “as mad as a hatter”.

Art of Hat Making
A print of the mid 18th century shows the process of feltmaking. This would hardly have changed since the days of William Horwood. The feltmaker is shown to the right, with his bow, layering the fibres into a “batt”. By plucking the bow over the loose fibres they were rearranged and layered into the required shape. The “batt’ was then rolled up and down boards over a “bason” containing heated acidic liquid – this is shown to the left. This arrangement of boards and bason was known as a kettle. The batts would be regularly dipped into the liquid and then pressed and rolled again until the correct thickness was acquired. On the floor are the moulds for the shaping of the hats, and finished hats are hanging to dry on the walls.

A study of the archives of the Company of Feltmakers shows that William was admitted a member in 1660 and during the next few years played an active part in the organisation. He served twice as Warden (1662 and 1665) and twice as Master of the Company, the first time in 1666, when he would have only been in his early thirties. His second term was in 1670.

William and Elizabeth had four children baptised at St Philip and St Jacobs, Elizabeth (1656), Mary (1657), William (1660) and John (1663), and both the sons were later apprenticed to House Carpenters, following in the profession of their grandfather, Robert Drew. John, having completed his apprenticeship with Thomas Stockman, was admitted as a Burgess of Bristol on March 31st 1685. Two years later, on June 2, 1687 John married Mary Heale at the Quaker Meeting House in Bristol. As noted in a previous article, Mary was the daughter of two prominent Quakers, John and Margaret Heale, whereas the Horwood family appear to have diverged in their religious affiliations. When the intention to marry of John and Mary was first declared at the Quaker Meeting, Elizabeth was present and gave her “concent and aprobacion”. This however, was not sufficient for the Meeting and the following month John appeared again with “a certeficate from his father William Horwood of his concent and aprobacion”. William was not a witness at their marriage, whereas Elizabeth made a bold EH mark.


William probably died in 1690/1 as his membership of the Feltmakers Company ceases then, but I have not found his burial yet. It was certainly not in the Quaker burial ground at Redcliff, whereas Elizabeth was interred there at her death in 1693. So it seems William remained an anglican and Elizabeth, in common with several of her siblings, joined the Society of Friends. William and Elizabeth had lived in one of the properties built, and held on a Corporation lease, by Robert Drew. In his will of 1681, Robert left this house to trustees to hold for the use of Elizabeth for the remaining term of the lease. It is probable that the newly-wed John and Mary Horwood lived there too, as at the birth of their eldest child, Mary on February 7th 1688, the certificate records that she was born at their dwelling house in Castle Street

Birth of Mary Horwood 1687 2

Two further daughters, Elizabeth (1689) and Margaret (date unknown) were born to the marriage before the premature death of Mary Horwood in 1695. She too, was buried in the Redcliff burial ground. It would be fifty years before her husband John was to join her.

John continued to reside in the Castle Precincts, as the area built on the site of the demolished Bristol Castle was known, and it may well be that the family occupied the same house that Robert Drew had built back in the 1650s and which John’s parents had lived in. In 1696 a list of inhabitants was drawn up for taxation purposes and as the transcribed extract below shows, John Horwood’s neighbour is one Peter Gray, who was another tenant of the Corporation and whose property was alongside two of the houses mentioned in Robert’s will. Other members of the extended Drew family can also be seen – Mary and Francis Page, and John and Darcas Collins.

John Horwood in Inhabitants of Bristol 1696 crop

It is interesting that John’s eldest daughter Mary is not present here. This document does not represent a snapshot of Bristolians, in the way of modern Censuses, but was intended as a definitive list on which to base future tax assessments. It may well be that Mary, who would only have been eight years old, had moved into her grandfather Heale’s residence. John Heale, who had lived in Wine Street, Bristol moved to Chew Magna at some time around 1691/2, when his name disappears from taxation records in the city. Possibly, as John’s senior heiress, it was considered suitable for her to be raised in the house she would inherit and become the lady of the household. Mary’s eldest daughter, as will be seen, appears to do the same in the following century.

John Horwood’s name does not feature in Quaker records very often; he does attend the Men’s meeting on occasion, and in 1690 is paid for his work on the new School established by the Friends. His signature is also seen as witnessing marriages, but he was certainly not a prominent member of the Society. His business interests do seem to have prospered though. His name is no longer found in the taxation records of Castle Precincts; possibly the lease originally granted to Robert Drew had ended and John now appears in the tax records of St James parish to the north. Initially in “Broadmeade” in 1704, and later on in Milk Street. An indenture of 1703 shows him involved in the purchase of property in the Barton (St James Barton presumably), Rosemary Lane and “Angell House near the weir”. Another in 1719 involves three houses in St Peters parish and St Philips. Whether or not John was involved in these deals as a carpenter, to build or rebuild on the sites, or purely as an investor is hard to tell. Certainly the Poll Books for 1734 and 1739 show John as a freeholder of St James parish.

On one of the documents where John is named he is described as a merchant rather than a carpenter, and indeed he was involved in other enterprises. At this time, Bristol was one of the pricipal lead-smelting centres in the country, and together with other businessmen John was involved in the extraction of lead. At least three leases survive (there could well be others) which show him as a partner (often the senior one) in prospecting and digging for minerals. One dated August 26th 1719 show him acquiring two-eights of a partnership to “dig and search for lead and other ore upon the Cardiganshire lands of Thomas Johnes of Llanfair”. The other parties were the landowner and his son-in-law, a Bristol merchant, a Gloucestershire Gentleman and a Thornbury yeoman. These individuals were named in another lease two year later, in another Welsh mining enterprise on the lands of Viscount Lisburne. The consideration at that time for a 21 year lease was £50 and one seventh of the ores raised. In 1726 John entered into a 7 year lease for the mining rights on the land of a Captain Obadiah Webb at Stoke Bishop, in the parish of Westbury-On-Trym. This may well have been in the area of the old lead workings on Durdham Downs.

All of the houses constructed by John Horwood have probably long since been demolished, but one certainly survived into the 1880s. On June 16th 1709 John was granted a lease on a plot of land on the eastern side of Queen Square. The Square was a grand new development by the Corporation of Bristol on land between King Street and the quay, known as the Marsh. It had previously been a public recreational area, with a bowling green and tree-lined walkways. A piecemeal attempt to develop it had come to nothing and it was resolved to grant a good number of leases (some 25 within 6 months) so that it could be completed, and raise the status of the city as befitted its trading reputation. It remains the second largest square in Britain to this day.

John was originally granted a plot with a 64 foot frontage and a depth towards Welsh Back of 121 feet. A codicil to the lease requests instead for there to be two plots of 32 foot, with the more southerly one granted to Henry Walter Esq.

1709 Lease John Horwood Queen Square

The 1709 lease

The lease was for an initial period of two years with a rent of “ a Pepper Corne” and a proviso that John build a “Mansion House or Houses” thereupon. Thereafter he was granted the premises for a term of a further 51 years at an annual rent of £3. 4s. The property (seen on a map of 1828 as No 19) was not mentioned in his will of 1745 and one presumes he sold on the lease to help finance other investments, possibly the mining activities. Queen Square became a fashionable residential site at once and John, no doubt, made a good profit on his enterprise.

Queen Square map 1828 copy

Detail of Ashmead’s map of 1828

It is fascinating to see that John had adapted so quickly to the demands of the new age. Brick and stone had rapidly replaced wood as the pricipal building materials and the carpenter’s manual job was reduced to providing joists and roof timbers, yet along with many others, John had transformed himself into what we would now call a builder and developer.

Queen Square 1827 painting
Queen Square, painted in 1827 and showing the south-east corner. The house built by John Horwood is on the extreme left, beneath the tower of St Mary Redcliffe

Following the death of his father-in-law, John Heale in 1710, John Horwood appears to have taken over the property and land at Chew Magna which was bequeathed to his three daughters in John Heale’s will. It is possible that he spent time there on occasion, and certainly his daughters are described as “of Chew Magna” in various documents. Only the eldest, Mary ever married. The wedding, to Robert Peters, a yeoman of Chew, took place in 1713 at Wells Cathedral by Licence, and with her father’s consent. For a Quaker, marrying before an Anglican priest in “a steeple church” was a cause for expulsion from the Society, so possibly the couple married well away from their home parish to avoid any complications for both the newlyweds and the bride’s father.

On the 1st November 1744 John Horwood drew up his will. There are substantial cash bequests to his eight Peters grandchildren (£50 a piece on marriage, if such marriage is approved by his daughters!) and the two properties he holds in Chew in his wife’s name are left to his two grandsons, John and Robert Peters junior. He bequeaths two Bristol freehold properties to his youngest daughters: a house in St James Square to Elizabeth and a house in Merchant Street jointly to Elizabeth and Margaret.

It is interesting that Margaret, the youngest (albeit aged about 54) receives nothing individually. His household goods in Chew are left to daughter Elizabeth, and in Bristol mainly to granddaughter, Elizabeth Peters, who presuambly lived with him, as he refers to the “Bedd and all that belongs to it which my Granddaughter Elizabeth Peters now lyes on”. He is scupulous in arranging matters so that his grandchildren benefit in the long run so long as they do not go against the wishes of their mother and aunt. It therefore seems to be the case that he moved between houses in Bristol and Chew, and although he leaves no property in Chew Magna to his second daughter, Elizabeth, we shall see that she describes herself in the following year as “Of Chew Magna”. John also bequeaths the profits of his “Five Eighths in Ventures” – no doubt his mining interests – equitably; two eighths to daughters Elizabeth & Margaret jointly; two eighths to the grandchildren jointly and one eighth to daughter Mary Peters.



John died on 17th or 18th April 1745 and was buried in the Quaker Burial Ground at Redcliff on the 19th. The certificate shows that he died “att his house on Redclift Hill” – one not mentioned in his will, so presumably it was rented.

Redcliffe Hill

Redcliff Hill in the late 1700s

However much John Horwood, in his will, hoped to divide his estate fairly between his daughters and grandchildren, a series of unforseen events was to complicate this. He had named his daughter Elizabeth sole executrix and, although she presumably carried out the provisions of the will as probated, what resulted from her actions was to provide a sad coda to the story of the Horwood family.

Within a month of John’s death three of his Peters granddaughters married, and were given £50 each as stipulated in the bequest. The executrix, Elizabeth Horwood then converted the remaining £250 which was “at Interest” with a Bristol currier, Stephen Stone into a bond with Stone, but in her own name. Has Elizabeth lived longer, no doubt all would have been resolved as the remaining Peters children married in their turn. However it would appear that she died suddenly on November 25th 1746. She had attended the marriage of her neice, Elizabeth Peters to Anthony Lawrence at the Quaker Meeting House in Bristol in April of that year, signing as a witness, and on August 7th she made her will, yet something very odd seems to have occurred. Her will states that she was “of Chew Magna”, yet her death is recorded in the Castle Precincts in Bristol. Even stranger, her sister Margaret died there the same day. They were both buried at Redcliffe on 26th November.

Burial of Margaret Horwood 1746

Margaret Horwood is a shadowy figure – her birth was not recorded in the Quaker Registers, and whenever she features as the beneficiary in a will, it is normally not as an individual, but as a sharer in an annuity or property bequest. It may be that she was handicapped in some way and not considered able to look after her own interests, unlike her two elder sisters.

With the deaths of Elizabeth and Margaret the narrative of our family story properly moves on to the Peters family, but I shall deal with the consequences of Elizabeth’s actions here. Unlike her father, Elizabeth obviously had her favourites among her nephews and neices. Of the two freehold houses in Bristol, the St James Square property was left to Elizabeth Lawrence, nee Peters, the eldest grandchild of John Horwood; on Elizabeth’s death in 1762 it would have passed into the hands of her widower. The Merchant Street house was left to sister Margaret for her life, and thereafter to Robert Peters, the youngest grandson of John Horwood. Was it assumed Margaret would not be able to make a will of her own? There were a few cash bequests to others (kinsmen and servants possibly), but the remainder, including the house and property in Chew Magna and all her goods was left to her neices Hester Edgell and Margaret Pow, whom she appointed joint executrices. No mention is made of Elizabeth’s sister, Mary Peters, nor of Mary’s other children, Mary, John, Martha or Frances. Hester and Margaret were the third and fourth daughters of Robert and Mary Peters, and the actions of these two sisters, along with their husbands would lead to a family dispute that would end in the Court of Chancery. But that belongs to the story of the Peters family.

Horwood family tree jpeg

The Drew family of Bristol

Castle Street 17th Century houses

The Drew family line can be taken back to one John Drewe who was probably born around 1575. His marriage to Joan Gillson is recorded at St Philip and St Jacob’s church in Bristol on 2nd May 1603, although Joan may be his second wife, as there is an entry in the burial register a year earlier for Elinor, the wife of John Drewe. No baptisms with John and Elinor as parents occur in the register, but his marriage to Joan produced four children, two daughters named Anna (the eldest died aged 2), a son, Robert and a final daughter, Bridget. Little more is known of John; he does not appear in the Bristol Burgess Books, but we can be sure he lived in the eastern part of the city, in the Old Market area, and he is surely the individual whose burial is recorded in 1624 at St Philip and St Jacob.

John died intestate and administration of his estate was granted to the widow, Joan on 20th September on presentation of an inventory, which happily survives. It is frustrating that the occupation of John is unclear (and possibly missing), but it may read “husband(man)”, which is a smallholder or farmer who leased his land. Certainly the contents of the inventory would bear this out, although no animals or leases are mentioned. He did leave however, two acres of oats and oats in the barn as well as fodder and three stacks of hay, which would indicate that he kept stock. In addition he had horse fetters and saddles in the house as well as ox yokes and pig styes. The only livestock listed are a single cock and hen. Inside, as well as the normal household items there were cheese vats, a cheese press and ten cheeses. He also owned a crossbow, arrow and bolt. No mention is made of the property apart from the fact that it must have comprised a dwelling house with three downstairs rooms (hall, parlour and kitchen) and two chambers above, as well as a barn.

Inventory of John Drew 1624

The Inventory of John Drewe’s goods 1624

With John’s son Robert, the documentary evidence is much stronger. On 28th July 1633 he married Elizabeth Brayne (also at St Philip) and eighteen months later he was admitted as a Burgess of Bristol. He is listed as a Carpenter and the name of the master to whom he had been apprenticed was John Friend. Carpenters (sometimes House Carpenters) were major figures in the rapid expansion of Bristol in the seventeenth century.

Before c1700 virtually all houses were constructed of wood, even the grandest, such as the famous “Dutch House” which once stood at the corner of Wine Street and High Street. This magnificent structure was built about 1680, almost certainly by local craftsmen. The master carpenter was the main contractor on any construction, being responsible for arranging the design, foundations, all the major framework and the roof woodwork. Separate tradesmen would be called in for the minor works; a joiner for the internal partitions and probably the doors and windows; plasterers, glaziers and plumbers for the windows and roof leadwork, and finally tilers for the roof. During this period wages were fixed and strictly enforced by the Corporation – a master carpenter, if employed was paid 2/- per day; journeymen and older apprentices received 1/8d and junior apprentices 1/4d. The hours of labour were also fixed – from 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning until 7pm – with breaks for breakfast and lunch.

Dutch House

The Dutch House

The mid seventeenth century was a busy time for carpenters in Bristol; apart from the regular rebuilding of decaying properties and those damaged by the constant fires that were a terrifying hazard in a largely timber-built city, a major construction site became available in the 1650s when Oliver Cromwell authorised the demolition of Bristol Castle by the City Corporation. The Castle had been purchased by the Corporation in the 1630s, and although garrisoned during the Civil War, had not seen any military action for hundreds of years; Cromwell was pleased to see the end of a possible stonghold in the centre of the second city of the Kingdom, which still held many royalist sympathisers. The Castle had been in disrepair for some time and the site contained many illegal gerry-built structures which harboured criminals and low-life of all descriptions. It was almost completely demolished and three main streets were constructed on the site – Castle Street, Tower Street and Castle Green.

St Philip and St Jacob, Bristol

St Philip and St Jacob’s Church

Although living closer to the parish church of St Peter, the Drew family maintained their connection with St Philip and St Jacob. All of Robert and Elizabeth’s children were baptised there, and two of their daughters married there; Elizabeth married William Horwood, a feltmaker on 7th April 1656 and the following year, Mary married Francis Page who had been one of Robert’s apprentices. Francis became a Burgess of the City through the completion of his apprenticeship, whilst William did so by virtue of his marriage to Elizabeth; marriage with the daughter or widow of a Burgess was one method of becoming a Freeman. A lease of 1641 shows that Robert already rented a property inside the Castle grounds – “that tenement wherin he dwelleth” with a woodyard adjoining the Castle wall on the south side. The lease was for 99 years or the lives of himself, Elizabeth his wife and John, his son.
On the destruction of Bristol Castle the Corporation granted many new leases to citizens who were willing to take on the clearing of the site and the construction of new properties. Robert must have been one of the earliest to obtain such a lease – possibly because of the situation of his existing dwelling. On the 26th July 1656 a lease was granted on the surrender of his previous one, which included a property (“messuage or tenement” is the phrase customarily used) called the George Inn, which was near the site of the Castle Gate, just inside the walls, and a piece of void land leading to the highway – the new Castle Street as it was to become. It may well be that this included the house and woodyard he previously rented from the Corporation. A renewal in 1658 granted him the land behind the George, running down to the river and gives the dimensions of the site – a street frontage of 47 feet. and a frontage onto the Avon of 42 feet. The lives on which the lease was granted are now those of his daughters, Mary Page and Elizabeth Horwood, and his youngest son, Joseph, and the term has been extended from the 41 years of the 1656 lease to 99 years. The annual rent was £6.10s and there was a convenant to erect a building on the street frontage, so the George must have stood somewhat back from the line of Castle Street.

In 1663 Robert was granted a further lease on a site in Castle Street of 36 feet in frontage and 70 feet backwards. This was the site of Nos 7 & 8. One condition was that he “remove the Rubbell thereon and build two houses within the space of four years in uniformity to the rest of the Castle buildings”. A rent of 12d per foot (presumably a reduction on the norm) is agreed because “there are noe stones left to bee made use of”. It seems that Thomas Harding, another carpenter had already constucted the house at No.7 as the lease records that one house is already built. These houses were almost facing Robert’s other properties at the George Inn site on the south side of Castle Street. Although the lease stipulates that the houses were to be constructed “in uniformity” with rest of the new developments in the area, it appears that such uniformity was loosely applied. Robert’s house at No. 8 bears the inscription in the plasterwork “ID” and “1663”.


Castle Street 17th Century houses

Nos. 7 & 8 Castle Street painted in 1828

All three of Robert and Elizabeth’s sons became House Carpenters and Burgesses in due course – John the eldest (born 1635) was admitted in 1665, Samuel in 1666 and Joseph in 1677, and the elder two are also found being granted leases in the Castle Precincts (as the area encompassing the old Castle site was known).

1663 Lease Robert Drew mark

Mark of Robert Drew on 1663 lease

In 1665 Samuel, the middle son was granted a lease on a plot in Tower Street on which he was covenanted to build two houses and in 1668 the eldest son John, took a lease on a plot at what became Nos. 70, 71 & 72 Castle Street. In all these cases it is laid down the pattern of the buildings to be constructed – in the wording of the 1668 lease to John Drew: “one good, strong, firme and substantiall tenement, fitt and convenient for a tennant to dwell therein and the same tenement to be three story in height besides the roof and alsoe in uniformity to the rest of the Castle buildings there erected”. All three of Robert’s sons
have fine signatures on these documents but Robert himself could only make a mark. Strangely enough John Drew alone signs himself “John Drue als Druw”.


Castle Precincts 1673 copy 2

Detail from Millerd’s map of 1673. Robert’s properties at The George Inn in red and No.8 in yellow; Samuel’s Tower Street houses in blue and John’s houses in Castle Street in green; The “Sugar House” in white.

We can pinpoint the area where the Drews constructed their houses and where they lived for the next thirty or so years. In Millerd’s map of 1673 a cluster of buildings is shown to the east of St Peter’s church. One lease granted to a Ralph Hele in 1656 states that his plot of land is between Castle Street and the river to the north and south, and between the George Inn on the east and the “Sugar House” on the west, and stood where the old Castle ditch had been, against the Castle wall. The George is, of course, Robert’s plot, and the Sugar House was part of the old mansion of the Aldworth family, later known as St Peter’s Hospital; it had been used for sugar refining for much of the 16th century, and was later to become the Bristol Mint, the first Workhouse in the country and later, the Bristol Register Office. It was totally destroyed in the Blitz in 1940. Thus the site where Robert and John built their houses was a property’s width away from the Aldworth mansion.

Site of George Inn 1789

A later map of 1789 shows quite clearly where the yard of the George Inn lay and confirms the situation.

It is not known if the Drew family ran the George themselves, or simply sublet the running of it to others. A Council resolution of July 1657, just a year after Robert had acquired the site states: “Whereas the Castle is now demolished, and a common street and highway made therein. And whereas there was formerly a house in the Castle called the George inn. A new house having been built on part of the old site, and it being very commodious for entertaining men and horses, Ordered that the said house be used as a common inn and hostelry”. A few months later a further resolution forbad the establishment of any other inn within the Castle Precincts. Obviously Robert had constructed a very desirable residence and perhaps the family then had to live in another house on the site. It could be a reason for the later (1663) lease which enabled Robert to build elsewhere in Castle Street. The George became a very valuable property for the Council and they sold it on to the Merchant Venturers in 1686.

Some of the extended Drew family became Quakers as the century progressed, and suffered as a result. It is recorded in March 1682 that Constable Hoares “violently haled one Mary Page, Wife of Fra. Page, out of the Meeting to the endangering of her life, she being big with Child”. It seems that Robert’s eldest son, John and his wife Dorcas were also members of the Society, along with the Pages and Elizabeth Horwood. The births of the children of John Drew and Mary Page are recorded in Quaker registers, whereas those of John’s brothers are not, and the Horwoods had their children baptised at St Philips.

The three Drew sons all married and produced families, and at least two of Robert’s grandsons became house carpenters in their turn. The family appears to have remained in Bristol thoroughout the eighteenth century. The two eldest boys, John and Samuel predeceased their father, leaving their widows with six and three children respectively. John made his will in June 1680 and presumably died shortly after; Samuel died only a month before his father in September 1681. John’s widow, Dorcas married again in 1683 in a Quaker ceremony. Her new husband was John Collins, a cooper, who had previously appeared at a Quaker Meeting to agree to the conditions of Dorcas’ children inheritance expressed in their father’s and grandfather’s wills. Of the two brothers, only John’s will survives, together with an inventory of his possessions. He left two houses, for the term of their leases, in Castle Street and a further piece of land and workshop of some type in Gaunt’s Mead (possibly near where Barton Hill is today), all in trust to his wife and children. The inventory has his possessions valued at £32 7s 6d – more than twice that of his grandfather, and in addition his four leases were valued at £150. His residence in Castle Street, which he had built in the 1660s was of three stories with a cellar and a garret.
In addition there was a storehouse and yard at the back. It would have resembled the houses at Nos. 7 & 8 as well as those in the same rank, shown below.

Castle Street 1820s Nos. 65-8

Nos. 65-8 Castle Street in the 1820s. John’s house was at No.70

Robert died in 1681 and was buried at St Philips on 7th October, and in his will he left a substantial estate There are a few money bequests to his grandchildren and daughters-in-law, but the main inheritance were the leases on seven or eight houses which were left to his three surviving children (his two sons-in-law being enjoined not to “intermeddle or have to doe with any part of my estate”) for the remainder of his interest therein. Of the houses, one was left to son Joseph, one to the children of son John, and the others to trustees who were required to distribute the rents and profits therefrom to Joseph, Mary and Elizabeth equally. Apart from one house in Marsh Street, all the others were in Castle Precincts, mainly in Castle Street, but also “behind” Castle Street – one “next to the waterside”. The three children were to share equally the cash, household belongings and “stocks of timber” as well as the usage of one third each of the garden on the site. Apart from requiring his children to pay an annuity to their mother, no further mention is made of Robert’s widow, Elizabeth (even her name is not recorded in the will). Although Robert seems to have remained an Anglican, it is interesting that one of the Trustees to his will is named as Nathaniel Snead, who was a leading figure in the Broadmead Baptist Chapel.

Robert’s surviving son, Joseph, did not seem to have the entrepreneurial spirit of his father. An account book of the wealthy merchant, Thomas Speed records various small payments to him for work done or timber supplied during the 1680s, the final one being £1.12s for work carried out at a stable in Duck Lane (the account book ends in 1690). Furthermore in 1688, Speed had purchased from Joseph three tenements in “the Castle… held by him by the last Will and Testament of Robt. Drew his father, deceased”. These included the houses occupied by Francis Page and William Horwood. Speed also purchased the reversion in fee of the properties from the City, becoming the outright owner of the freeholds. He paid Joseph £137 and a further £120 to the Corporation, whilst continuing to receive rent from the Pages and Horwoods, who are recorded as still living there in 1696.

In the same year Speed paid a further amount to Joseph (£3.6s.3d) for “flooring a kitchen & new windows etc.” as well as £25.3s “in consideration of his poverty, over and above the purchase money contracted for”. The contra account splits this payment up, showing that a part of it was to “Francis Yeamans for managing his business with his Creditors whilst in prison, release from Walton Short…”. So Joseph had got himself seriously into debt and needed to sell the leases in order to settle outstanding liabilities. Joseph’s sons seem to have restored the family’s fortunes somewhat, both leaving property in their respective wills in the following century, but our interest lies in Joseph’s sister Elizabeth and the Horwood family.


Illustrations courtesy of Bristol Record Office and Bristol Museums


An Ancient Friend of Good Memory


The Quaker Margaret Heale


Central Bristol 1673 map copy

Central Bristol in 1673

Very little can be discovered of the early life of Margaret Heale, in fact nothing is known of her, including her maiden name, before her marriage to John Heale, presumably in Bristol, around 1651/2. The marriage itself is not recorded – it may have taken place at St Peters, where the registers have been destroyed, or possibly in the nonconformist Church of Christ, which later became the Broadmead Baptist Chapel. What is certain is that at some point in the 1650s the Heales became members of the Society of Friends, otherwise known as the Quakers. It is possible they were among the score or so Independents who followed Dennis Hollister from the Broadmead congregation to the newly established Quaker group which had been established soon after the first preachers, John Audland and Thomas Airey arrived in the City on July 12, 1654.

An early Quaker register records the birth of John, son of John and Margaret Heale on 16th of the 9th month (November) 1653, the parents residing in “Peters parish”. A daughter named Susannah followed in 1655, but she must have died early, as another Susannah arrived on 24th October 1658. Sadly she too died young, being buried in the burial ground known as the Orchard near Broadmead, where the Society’s first meetings took place, in 1664. The birth of their final child, Mary had been recorded in the register of the Society two years previously: “Mary daughter of John Heale by Margaret his wife was borne at their dwelling house in Wine Street the Two and Twentieth day of the 11th mo. 1661”. In modern terms that is January 22, 1662.


Birth of Mary Heale 1662

John Heale (sometimes spelt Heal, Hale or Hele) was a baker by trade, having served his apprenticeship under another John Hele (his father perhaps) and become a Burgess of Bristol in 1652. This probably points to him being born around 1622 – Margaret was probably about the same age. Both John and Margaret were active in the Quaker community, John being employed on occasion on disciplinary activities and a regular member of the Men’s Meeting; Margaret, however seems to have been a major figure in the women’s congregation. In November 1671 the Men’s Meeting, being the main organisational body of the Society, questioned why “Margaret Hale and Jone Hily publisht a womens monthely meeting & likewise to know how & on what account that …meeting was sett up; & to give an account to this next meeting”. Four members were deputed to attend the women’s fortnightly meeting and report back. At the next Mens’ Meeting on December 11th, they recorded “That Margret Heale of her selfe, and not by order of any meeting, published the weomens monthely meeting in the publique meeting house.” It appears that the Men had intended to send a paper to the Women “against vanity and excess”, but in error had forwarded a letter from George Fox, the founder of Quakerism which dealt with the setting up of monthly meetings. This is what the Women had discussed and attempted to implement. Margaret and Joan were obviously the prime movers in this as it is recorded that the “weomen friends…. not agreeing amonge them selves… apoynted a meeting…to waite upon the lord if peradventure they might come to unity amongst them selves”. The Men’s Meeting advised them not to proceed with a Monthly Meeting and matters thus lapsed, but two weeks later, a “paper given forth” by Margaret was read out at the Men’s Meeting and she proposed for it to be more widely distributed. Again the advice from the Meeting was that “shee should further waite to bee directed in the wisdome & power of God to publish it” – another put-down. She agreed to to recieve the “councell of freinds & so left the paper with us”.

It is unfortunate that the minutes of the Women’s Meeting for this period do not survive, but further evidence of her standing in it is shown in a letter held in the Bristol Record Office archives. It dates to about 1672 and shows the women at odds with the Men’s Meeting again. It concerns help being given to a widow living in want of “necessarys required in a famaly which were not fitt for men to loke into” and the letter rebukes the men for concerning themselves with almsgiving, which was normally the preserve of the Women’s Meeting. The list of signatures subscribed is headed by Jone Hely and Margarit Hale, although noticeably the handwriting is the same – almost certainly that of Joan Hely, as Margaret when witnessing marriages usual made a mark of MH.

Letter from Womens to men's Meeting c1671. Sig of Margaret Heale r

Margaret Heale in letter to the Men’s Meeting

The Quakers in Bristol suffered two intense bouts of persecution, although harrasment and hostility were a continual feature of theirs lives; the first was in 1663-4 when John was imprisoned, but the most serious was that of 1681-3, instigated by the sheriff of Bristol, John Knight. John Heale had already been imprisoned for a second time in 1679, as punishment for opening his shop on January 30th – the anniversary of the execution of Charles I, which had been ordered to be a day of “fasting and humiliacion” by Charles II, but these final years of trial were to see both John and Margaret suffer imprisonment, John fined £220 for failing to attend Anglican worship (it is not known if the fine was ever collected) and finally, in January 1683, the death of Margaret in Newgate Gaol. Joseph Besse’s Sufferings of the Quakers records that, following ill-treatment by the gaolers, she was taken ill on the 23rd, and by the 26th she was near to death. A request to visit her by some of her fellow prisoners was denied by the Tapster of Newgate, although one member of the Society was present and recorded her final words (see here). Asked as to her condition she replied with a beautiful metaphor for dying: “Aye, said she, we are full fraught, ready to set sail the first fair wind” and the author adds “as she and some others did, into the ocean of eternity not long after ….finishing her testimony for God, and his truth, the 28th of the 11th month, being faithful unto death, and now enjoy the crown of life”.

Margaret was buried the following day, 29th of the 11th month, 1682 (29th January 1683 New Style) in the Quaker burial ground and the entry in the Register records the fact: “Margarett, wife of John Hale Baker buried” and added in another hand, “An Ancient friend of good memory, she dyed prisoner in Newgate” A remarkable woman whose faith sustained her and whose strong personality shines down through the centuries.

Burial of Margaret Heale 1683 detail copy

Burial of Margaret Heale 1683

Postscript. Following Margaret’s death John Helae continued to live in Wine Street until c1691. Their daughter Mary married John Horwood at the Quaker Meeting House in the Friars in 1687 (these are my 6x great grandparents), but by 1691 John Heale had moved to Chew Magna where he had acquired a property and some land. He ceases to appear in the Bristol Quaker records but often attended the Chew Meeting, sometimes representing it at the Somerset Monthly Meeting. He married again in 1697, his bride being Hannah Fyler. To obtain the Meeting’s approval he was required to present a “Cetificate of his clearnesse from the widdow Hickinbotome, with whom he had been formally concerned”! It seems he continued his baking business in Bristol (he was paid £39 by Thomas Goldney when the Duke and Duchess were fitted out before their famous voyage of 1708-11) although he sometimes described himself as a yeoman. He made a will in 1708 in which he left the bulk of his estate to his Horwood granddaughters, with an interest for life to his wife Hannah, of his dwelling house and goods. One detail that delights is that he bequeathed to his granddaughters Mary and Elizabeth “one wring and stone for making Cider”. John died at Chew but his body was brought back to the Quaker burial ground at Redcliffe, where he was laid to rest at 4.00pm on July 22nd 1710.

Records of the Society of Friends (Quakers)
Joseph Besse: A Collection of the Sufferings of the People called Quakers 1753
John Whiting: Persecution Exposed 1791
Anon: A Narrative of the Cruelties & abuses acted by Isaac Dennis, Keeper, his wife and servants in the Prison of Newgate…. 1683
Anon: The distressed case of the people called Quakers in the City of Bristol…. 1682
Minute Book of the Men’s Meeting of the Society of Friends in Bristol 1667-86 BRS XXVI 1971

This article was first published in the Journal of the Bristol & Avon Family History Society  (No 162 December 2015)