1823 – 24 Westgate Street

At this point, the relationships between the persons mentioned in the documents and the property become increasingly confusing.  Hannah Sadler appeared back on the scene and on 12th February 1823, leased the property for a year to Charles Hough, son of the former John James Hough.  The following day, the property was released to him, for a peppercorn rent.

Charles was a stationer and printer like his father.  He was made a freeman of the city of Gloucester in July 1805.  John James Hough had died on 1st December 1821 leaving his estate to his youngest son, Arthur, according to the custom of Borough English.  But Arthur died on 12th January 1822 having left a will leaving his estate to his brother Charles Hough.  At some point in his career, Charles set up a partnership with Thomas Jew but this was dissolved in 1829. 

Around this time, Charles moved to Monmouth where he established a partnership with Reginald J Blewitt, and purchased the Monmouthshire Merlin Newspaper from T A Stinson, the first edition of which appeared in May 1829.

Charles Hough was presumably not a very good businessman as he was made bankrupt in 1831; the partnership with Blewitt did not survive Charles’ bankruptcy and he left the newspaper business.

Less than two weeks after the Westgate Street property was transferred to Charles Hough, on 25th February, a mortgage for securing £550 was issued on the premises between James Abell, gentleman, his mother Ann Abell  and his sisters, Ann, Maria and Caroline Abell.  Was the property sold off because of Charles’ bankruptcy? There is mention in the documents of Elizabeth Martin and Thomas, her son, who inherited the property in the will of Thomas Martin, senior, in 1812, but there is no mention of Charles Hough!

James Abell inherited the property from his father according to the custom of Borough English.  James believed that the house, etc., was intended for his mother and his sisters and was willing to fulfil his father’s wishes but his mother preferred to have an annuity of £27 10s and the sisters wished to share the sum of £550.

1815 – 24 Westgate Street

The property remained in the ownership of the Martin family for 10 years, during which it is assumed John James Hough was the tenant.  The members of the Martin family are not known in detail.  It is thought that George and Elizabeth Martin had no children, certainly none were mentioned in George’s will.   There is mention in the documents of Richard Martin, the elder and Richard Martin, the younger, both of Wheatenhurst.  Was Richard a brother of George?  There is also mention of Thomas Martin, of the Hayes in the parish of Standish, gentleman, who is recorded as being “the youngest brother and heir by the custom of Borough English”. 

Borough English was an unusual custom whereby, if a father died intestate, his real estate went to the youngest son instead of the eldest.  This custom was used in Gloucestershire in the 18th century and indeed lasted until it was abolished in 1924.

It would appear that there was some dispute over the ownership of these premises as the documents refer to “his Majesty’s Court of Common Pleas at Westminster” which dealt with disputes between people but not concerning the monarch, and one “Fine Sur Cognizance de Droit Come Ceo”, the latter being a compromise giving a fee simple to the plaintiff.  The person mentioned in relation to this is one Robert Pleydell Wilton, a local attorney. 

In 1816, on 2nd February, the final agreement made in the Court was produced. It referred to:

“Between Robert Pleydell Wilton, plaintiff and William Bishop & Mary, his wife, Elizabeth Martin & Thomas Martin, deforciants, of two messuages, one outhouse, three warehouses, two stables, two curtilages, two gardens, two ways & one half of one acre of land with the appurtenances in the parishes of St Mary de Grace & the Holy Trinity.”

William & Mary, Elizabeth & Thomas acknowledged the premises to be the right of Robert Pleydell Wilton. And for this acknowledgement Robert Pleydell Wilton gave to William & Mary, Elizabeth & Thomas the sum of four hundred pounds.

[It is not understood how this situation came about considering the conveyance of 1815 to Thomas and William Abell.]

1805 – 24 Westgate Street

The ownership and occupancy of 24 Westgate Street becomes inceasingly confusing to follow.  Four years later, in 1805, the property was leased to George Martin, Esquire, of Wheatenhurst for a year and then released the following day, a legal arrangement to publicly declare the sale of a property.  Presumably he was the owner and John James Hough was still occupying the premises, as bookseller, stationer and printer. 

By 1812, George Martin had moved to Bristol with his family and died there that year.  He was buried at Bristol St James church.  In his brief will, he left all his estate to his wife, Elizabeth Martin. 

Elizabeth, then of Oxford Street in Westbury-on-Trym, held on to the property for another three years, when, in 1815, she transferred the property to one Thomas Abell, an innkeeper, and William Abell, a maltster, both of Gloucester.  At this stage, the document includes a plan of the house and grounds although the shop section is omitted.

Westgate Street runs across the bottom of the plan, with Maverdine Lane down the left-hand side.

1801 – 24 Westgate Street

The next names to appear in the documents were those of the Reverend Thomas Rudge, William Bishop, a Gloucester grocer, and Charles Evans, the latter’s trustee.   Thomas Rudge agreed to sell to William Bishop a piece of ground approximately one rood in area, for the sum of £42 15s,

“being the north-west corner of an inclosure of pasture ground belonging to the said Thomas Rudge as Rector as aforesaid situate within the parish of St Michael in the city of Gloucester and adjoining the highway leading from Barton Street towards the Regnum Stile … and is bounded on the north by land late belonging to the Reverend Ebenzer Cornell but now to James Jelf, Esquire, on the south and east by the land of the said Thomas Rudge as Rector, on the west by the said highway, together with all appurtenances”

Later that year, another document was signed, entitled ‘Exchange’. It began with the following statement.

“Soon after Mr Bishop purchased the within mentioned piece of land, he erected a messuage, stable, etc., thereon and one of much greater value than the messuage comprized in the indenture of 1st January 1801 and soon after Mr Bishop exchanged the same with Messrs Rudge, Bailey and Stock for the messuage comprized in the deed of 1st January 1801.”

The Reverend Thomas Rudge, clerk, was “rector of the rectory of St Mary de Grace” [the church itself was demolished in 1652 and the materials used to repair St Michael’s church]. William Bishop was a grocer of Gloucester and Charles Evans, a gentleman, from Highgrove.

By June of the same year, there was an exchange of properties. The messuage, brewhouse, kitchen garden and hereditaments in the parish of St Mary de Grace held by  the Reverends Thomas Rudge, Joseph Baylis and Thomas Stock were exchanged for the messuage, garden and hereditaments in the parish of St Michael vested in William Bishop and his trustee, Charles Evans.

1794 – 24 Westgate Street

John James Hough was named on the Westgate Street documents from 1794 until 1799, along with various others.  He was described then as a bookseller but later was also called a stationer and printer.  John James (always recorded with the double name) was born around 1758.  On 7th January 1774, he was apprenticed to Thomas Dunn, a book binder and stationer, for the sum of £20.

When his seven year apprenticeship ended, on 15th January 1781, John James Hough was made a freeman of the City of Gloucester.  Later that year, he married Sarah Pace, on 25th October 1781 at St Nicholas Church.  The couple produced eight children over the next 15 years:  Charles, Mary, John James junior, George, Henry, Helen, Arthur and Ellen.  Of these, Charles and Arthur followed their father into the book binding and stationery business;  John James junior went into the Royal Navy as a Lieutenant and George went off to Oxford where he gained a Bachelor of Arts degree, becoming a clerk.

In 1796, the Mayor and Burgesses of the City of Gloucester re-leased their part of the property to John James Hough and, three years later, in 1799, the Dean and Chapter of Gloucester Cathedral conveyed the other part to him.

When he died in 1821, John James Hough left a will, originally written in 1812.  The will, proved in London in 1822, was much edited, with deletions and insertions, both in the text and in the margins.  The widow, Sarah Hough, her son Charles Hough and sister in law Mary Hobbs all had to swear that the alterations were made in the hand of John James Hough with which they were very familiar.

John James Hough senior and his wife Sarah were both buried in the Chapelry of the Hospital of St Mary Magdalene.  The inscription on their tomb reads:

Underneath this stone are deposited the remains of

John James Hough of the City of Gloucester Bookseller

who departed this life Dec 1st 1821 aged 63 years

Also Arthur son of the above John James Hough

who died on the 12th Jany 1822 aged 27 years

Sarah relict of the above named John James Hough

who died May 5th 1825 aged 70 years.

1790 – 24 Westgate Street

Next to own the house and shop was a group of four people – two men and their wives; the Reverend Joseph White and Mary his wife and Mr James Sadler and Hannah his wife.  The couples were connected because Mary and Hannah were sisters, neé Turner.  It seems unlikely that either or both of the couples lived in the property, more likely that the purchase was an investment.

The Reverend Joseph White, born in Stroud in 1746, was a very well educated man.  He gained his BA and MA degrees from Wadham College, Oxford and, in 1787, he became a Doctor of Divinity.  He became Laudian Professor of Arabic from 1774, Bampton lecturer in 1781, Regius Professor of Hebrew and Canon of Christchurch, Oxford from 1802.  But from 1788 until 1802, Joseph was a Prebendary at Gloucester Cathedral.  He and Mary seem to have moved to Oxford in 1802 and stayed there until Mary died in 1811 and Joseph died in 1814.  The couple do not seem to have had any children.  The only two relatives mentioned by Joseph in his will are his two sisters, Hannah and Phoebe.

The second man involved in the transaction was James Sadler, seen above, described as an Esquire, of Gloucester.  Very little is known about James but he was obviously a fairly important person in the life of the city and, in 1789, he became Mayor of Gloucester.  In 1790, whilst living in the Precincts of Gloucester cathedral, he married Hannah Turner, sister of Mary Turner who was to marry Joseph White in Prestbury the following year.  As with her sister and her husband, Hannah and James seem not to have had any children – only brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces were mentioned in James’ will.  He was buried in Gloucester cathedral as befitted a man of his standing.

So, by the end of 1814, Hannah Sadler was the only one of the four still living.  She moved away from Gloucester, settling in a Dorset village called Child Okeford, to be close to where her niece and her husband lived.  Hannah died on 29th February 1828 and was buried in Gloucester Cathedral on 8th March 1828, presumably alongside her husband.

It appears that Charles Cooke continued to have an interest in the property until 1794 and, from then on, one John James Hough also was involved. I imagine they were the people who occupied the shop for their trade.

1790 – 24 Westgate Street

The next person to occupy the premises was one Charles Cooke.  On the documents, he was identified as a surgeon and apothecary so the shop returned to the trade it was used for in 1721 when Nicholas Lane first transferred it to his wife and children. 

Again, because he has a rather common name, details of Charles Cooke’s family are difficult to confirm but it seems that he married Catherine Smythe in St Mary de Crypt church in 1790 and they had six children over the next 18 years:  Thomas, Charles Turner, George, John Freeman, Albina and Henry George Pauncefoot Cooke.  Of these, Thomas became a clerk at Oxford University and Charles Turner followed in his father’s footsteps and became a surgeon.  Both became freemen of the city of Gloucester.

When he took over the house and shop in 1790, Charles senior took on an apprentice called William Jones so he was obviously setting himself up in the area and feeling the need to develop his business.  At the time, he called himself surgeon, apothecary and man midwife.  In 1809, he took on another apprentice, this time one Nathaniel Mills.  A year later, Charles’ wife, Catherine died at the age of 44 years and was buried in St Mary de Crypt churchyard.  It is not known when Charles Cooke died or where he is buried.

In the ‘Notes of Henry Yates Jones Taylor’, there is an interesting story relating to the son, Charles Turner Cooke.  It states: “He was a regular attendant at the Cathedral Sunday services. Very frequently in the middle of the services his servant or one of the vergers crept noiselessly and timidly along to his seat and tapped him on the shoulder when he immediately left and got into his carriage at the porch, and drove away to some case of emergency. This occurred so often that persons began to get doubtful or sceptical as to the genuineness of the calls upon his professional skill and attention. So a vigilance committee was extemporised. One Sunday the old performance was repeated with a great deal of fuss and ostentation. The carriage with the Doctor drove all round the town and returned, but it was noticed that he neither left his vehicle nor made a call. He resumed his seat and his pious devotions. The humbug was so effectually exposed that he did not repeat those tricks by which he had endeavoured to impose upon the religious fraternity and the general public to induce them to believe that his services were so important as to necessitate a perpetual interference with his devotional exercise.”  Apparently, Charles Turner Cooke  also wrote a book which made several editions on the efficacy of white mustard seed.  

1781 – 24 Westgate Street

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.

1773 – 24 Westgate Street

John Webb was recorded as being one of the Aldermen of the city of Gloucester when he purchased the property at 24 Westgate Street.  No occupation or trade is given for him so it is assumed he was a ‘gentleman’. 

John purchased the property in 1773 after the death of Jane Punter.  Whether he lived in the property or just rented it out to others is not known.  In fact, very little is known of him at all – the name John Webb was quite a common one in Gloucestershire at that time so it is difficult to distinguish one from another.  When he sold the property again, in 1781, to Meshach Charleton, John Webb was said to be ‘of Wotton in the county of Gloucestershire’.  That could have been Wotton, an area on the outskirts of the city or it could have been Wotton under Edge – the former seems more likely.

Soon after he sold the property, John Webb died. From his will, proved in 1785, it would appear that he did not marry or have children, as only his three brothers, Thomas, Richard and the Reverend Benjamin Webb, and their offspring are mentioned. Interestingly, one of the witnesses to his will was Meshach Charleton.

1755 – 24 Westgate Street

The next owner of 24 Westgate Street was Richard Elly, described as a gentleman and an attorney.  He was also a Freeman of the city of Gloucester from 1722 and a Proctor of the Consistory Court of the Diocese of Gloucester.  He had a brother James, named after his father, and a sister Jane to whom he left a lifetime’s interest in the property in Saint Mary de Grace parish.  Among other legacies, he left £200 to the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge – he would no doubt have been delighted to know that, as the bookshop S.P.C.K, the society occupied the building in the 20th century, from 1949 to 1970.

Richard does not appear to have married so, in his will of 1755, he left much of his property, to his sister, Jane, including Paygrove Farm and lands in Little Normans.  His executors were Thomas Branch, George Worrall (both at various times Aldermen of the city and Luke Hook, described as a writing master. Richard was buried in St Michael’s church.

Jane Elly married Joseph Punter, a mercer, in Gloucester Cathedral in 1736.  Like her brother before her, Jane does not appear to have had any children – she was, in fact, in her late forties when she married.  Her husband died in 1749 leaving Jane a widow for over twenty years.

In her will, in 1773, Jane left legacies amounting to over £1500 to friends and their children.  She also gave £500 to a charity helping Gloucester Infirmary and the residue of her estate went to the Mayor and Burgesses of the city of Gloucester to invest, the interest being used every year to pay for as many poor local boys to be apprenticed to a trade as the funds would permit.

By the time Jane died, so had one of the executors, George Worrall so the other two were left to sell off the property to the next owner, Alderman John Webb.