1781 – 24 Westgate Street

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Apprentices, Gloucester, Local History, Nonconformist, Shops

Every time the property changed hands, it was described as being in two separate parts, one under the auspices of the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral and the other under the auspices of the Mayor and Burgesses of the city of Gloucester.  By 1781, it was being described as one. 

“All that backward messuage or tenement court and brewhouse thereunto belonging with the appurtenances … and which said messuage or tenement is now thrown into one and intermixed with certain leasehold premises purchased of the said John Webb which make together one complete messuage or tenement and shop”

In November 1781, John Webb transferred the property to Meshach Charleton, a hatmaker.  In those days, the top hat was replacing the cocked hat as favourite headwear amongst the wealthier citizens of Gloucester.   Where Meshach learnt his trade is not recorded in the local apprenticeship records but it is assumed he did so with his father, also called Meshach, as the father, a feltmaker or feltmonger, is recorded as taking on a couple of apprentices. 

Meshach Charleton married Mary Washbourn in 1774 at St Mary de Crypt church.  On his marriage licence, he was described as being a 30 year old widower so this was obviously a second marriage. At that time, it was required that all marriages (except for those of Quakers and Jews) should take place in a Church of England church.  Whether the couple were at that stage practising nonconformists or not is unknown but both of their children, Shadrack, in 1776 and Elizabeth in 1779, were baptised in the Barton Street Independent Chapel.

With two small children, Meshach decided to expand his business and moved into 24 Westgate Street where he set up shop to sell his wares. He remained there for nine years before transferring the property. How well he prospered is unknown but when he died in 1801, his will left everything to his wife including two houses in Westgate Street and the interest on £500 which was in his son, Shadrach’s, hands.

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