When the earliest document was created, in 1721, the property was owned by Nicholas Lane who was an apothecary. It was in two parts, one under the auspices of the Mayor and Burgesses of Gloucester, the other under the auspices of the Dean and Chapter of Gloucester Cathedral. The former was described as:
“All that stable, summerhouse and garden situate and being in the parish of Saint Mary de Grace in the city of Gloucester, then in the tenure of the said Nicholas Lane or his under-tenant, consisting of all that piece of ground extending from Grace Lane by the College wall to other the land of the Mayor and Burgesses then in possession of Richard Elly, gent, containing in length from Grace Lane aforesaid to a summerhouse newly built on the west nineteen yards and in breadth four yards. And all that stable and building thereon erected next to Grace Lane aforesaid. And after some part of the summerhouse or building standing at the west end of the same piece of ground containing in building from east to west two yards and an half. And also all that other piece of ground extending in length from the said summerhouse on the north to the lands of Mr Fletcher on the south fourteen yards and in breadth two yards and an half having land of the Dean and Chapter on the south and divided by a brick wall from other the lands of the said Mayor and Burgesses on the west. Also all that part of a shop on Maverdine Lane side with the building over it wherein Mr John Palmer dwelleth containing in length from the street side to the north three yards and two foot and in breadth one yard and one inch having Maverdine Lane on the west side and the other part of the shop being College land on the east together with a purpresture of half a yard broad the length of the shop next the land together with all ways, passages, and appurtenances to the said premises or any part thereof belonging or in any wise appertaining. “
The second part of the property was described thus:
“All that their shop with all the rooms thereupon built mentioned to be situate lying and being on the parish of Grace Lane in the city of Gloucester in a place there called the Mercerrow having the lands of the said Dean and Chapter mentioned to be then in the possession James Wood, mercer, on the east side, a lane or passage called Maudlin Lane on the west, the land of Nicholas Lane on the north and the Kings Highway on the south and containing on the forepart from east to west four yards and one foot and from north to south seven yards and then in the possession of John Palmer, bookseller; And also all those their four stables now converted into three tenements with two courts or gardens to the same belonging situate, lying or being in the parish of Grace Lane in the city of Gloucester aforesaid having lands then of Thomas Lugg, gent, on the south, the lands of said Nicholas Lane on the north and west and the Kings Highway on the east which said tenements do contain from east to west nine yards and an half and from south to north next the Lane twelve yards and the courts or gardens do contain from east to west ten yards and a quarter and from north to south nine yards and a half and are mentioned to be in the possession of Robert Clarke, Thomas Haines and the said Nicholas Lane; “
Nicholas Lane was born c. 1672 and married Hester Rodway in the 1690s. Over the next twenty years, the couple had eleven children: Mary, Nicholas, Elizabeth, Kendrick, Sarah, Hester, Lucina, Christianus, Charles, another Mary and Eustace. Of these, Kendrick, Sarah, Christianus, Charles and both Marys died young. Nicholas, junior, does not appear in any of the documents relating to 24 Westgate Street; it is presumed he, as an adult, was living a separate life from the rest of his family by the 1720s. His sister, Elizabeth Lane, had married in 1714 to Richard Harding, a mercer from Tetbury, whose name is prominent in the early documents.
Over the years, at least from 1701 to 1717, Nicholas took on apprentices; Richard Yarnell, Thomas Hill, Thomas Peynard, Thomas Scott, George Wilcox and Joseph Colesbourne. His oldest son, Nicholas junior, also became an apothecary. But, by 1821, Nicholas was not doing well in trade and was in deeply in debt. Fearful that he would be sent to the debtor’s gaol in Gloucester Castle, Nicholas transferred the property at 24 Westgate Street into the name of his wife and those children still living at home, Hester, Lucina and Eustace, so that they would still have a roof over their heads, should the worst occur. The property was held in trust for them by two gentlemen; Richard Harding, his son-in-law and John Rodway. John Rodway was also a mercer and, in 1723, became Mayor of Gloucester. He was possibly a relative of Hester Lane, Nicholas’ wife who, before their marriage, was Hester Rodway.
The financial situation did not improve for Nicholas Lane. In 1723, he took out a mortgage for £300 from Mary Clissold but, in 1728, he obviously had not paid all of the instalments on the mortgage, was arrested and put in gaol. After a while, the money was raised to pay his debts and he was released but the experience damaged his health and, later in 1728, he died. His wife, Hester, went to live with her daughter, Elizabeth Harding, in Tetbury, and died there in March 1732/3.