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West Street, Old Market – Historical Bristol Street Directory 1871
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Mathews’ Bristol Street Directory 1871

West Street, top of Old Market Street to Trinity Church

1-2. John Sharp, spirit dealer
3. George Strange, news agent, etc
5. Henry. Newbury, egg and fish dealer
6. Horner Brothers, linen drapers
7. Thomas Leader, corn and hay factor
8. Thomas Marsh, earthen ware dealer

9. Isaac Short, vict, Lamb Inn Between Lawford Street and Gloucester Lane, established in 1651 the Lamb was a coaching inn with stables and a courtyard, no longer licensed by 1903 the building was demolished in the 20’s to be replaced with shops, the yard and stables survived into the late 40’s. Zachariah Huggins was also a horse dealer and was licensed to let horses.

Poltergeist at the Lamb Inn

The Lamb Inn once stood in West Street Old Market between Lawford Street and Gloucester Lane built 1651 demolished 1905.

Because of their position in the community and superior education generally, it was inevitable that clergy became involved in some of the major events, even when these were not directly concerned with ecclesiastical matters. This was so in the incident concerning the White Witch of Bedminster.

In 1761 it was alleged that supernatural disturbances were occurring at the Lamb Inn, near Lawford’s Gate, the landlord of which was Mr Richard Giles. The latter had, at the time, only just begun a haulage business between Bristol and London with his ‘Flying Wagons’.

It was said that two of his children, Molly and Dobby, aged thirteen and eight, were tormented each night by an unknown power which bit them on the neck and arms, pricked them with pins and threw articles of furniture about the room.

A report of these proceedings was written by Mr Henry Durbin, a wealthy druggist of Redcliff Street. In addition to the above, the writer stated that he had personally witnessed a wine glass rising perpendicularly a foot in the air – then fling itself, with a loud report, against a nurse several feet distant. The child Molly’s cap flew four feet off her head, followed by something beating a tattoo on the bed-ticking like a drummer. During the time that the children were apparently being bitten, Mr Durbin and others thumped the bed. There was a sound like that of a rat, but the phenomena continued.

Henry Durbin and the other witnesses present were not only convinced of the presence of an evil spirit but are actually said to have contacted it by means of a system of knocks, so many being required by the interrogator for an affirmative reply.

This, of course, can only be done when the interrogator has a pre-determined idea. In this case it was suspected that the spirit had been instigated by an old witch living in Mangotsfield; she having been paid ten guineas, by a rival carrier, to bewitch Giles’ family and wagons. This knowledge was said to be confirmed by the fact that one of Giles’ wagons became suddenly stuck fast in the road, near Hanham, and eighteen horses had been required to move it. Another wagon was said to have "had a tembling fit in Giles’ yard".

When these facts were generally known there was, quite naturally, considerable discussion and speculation in the neighbourhood. Meanwhile, Mr Durbin had been joined in his visits to the Lamb Inn by several clergymen.

Amongst them was the Rev J. Camplin, precentor of the Cathedral; the vicar of St Nicholas; the Rev Seyer Headmaster of the Grammar School; the Rev R Symes of St Werburgh’s; the Rev J. Price of Temple, the Rev Brown and the Rev Shepherd. These gentlemen questioned the spirit in Latin, Greek and Hebrew and Mr Durbin records that the questions were correctly answered by knocks. In addition, Mr Camplin asked several questions mentally and received correct answers to them.

On another occasion the children were thrown violently out of bed and Major Drax, a relative of the Countess of Berkeley and a powerfully built man, told Mr Durbin that he, a footman and a coachman, were unable to prevent the girls from being flung to the floor. And, again, four men could scarce restrain one child who was borne towards the ceiling. Pins flew about the room. The Major marked several of the pins and laid them in a distant corner of the room. Almost instantly they were thrown back into his hand.

There was also trouble with Giles’ wagons. One took sixteen hours to get from the Lamb Inn to Bath, while yet another seems to have its iron chain twisted into knots. After the incidents Giles voiced an opinion that this was simply the trickery of his servants.

Meanwhile, the children had been removed to the houses of friends. As long as they remained together the phenomena continued to take place; when they were separated there was a noted diminution of these effects.

Several months after the events began Giles was taken ill. He had ridden to Bath in a gig and on the return journey, at the spot where his wagons had several times been "Affected", the harness broke. In the immediate vicinity he saw an old woman standing near a wheel but, in view of the circumstances, he had not the courage to speak to her. Giles died four days later and Henry Durbin made it known that, in his personal opinion, Giles had been the victim of witchcraft He says that the ‘demon’ told him this.

When the eldest girl, Molly, was sent to stay at Swansea, the disturbances at the Lamb Inn ceased. for about two months when the younger girl, Dobby, was once more tormented. At the time of Temple Fair, those who had in previous years put up at the inn, declined to stay in what was considered a witch stricken house. When the children were again united, the old phenomena began once more and Mr Durbin states that, upon questioning the spirit, he leamt the witch had received another ten guineas to continue the persecution.

At this point Mrs. Giles, the dead man’s widow, thought it necessary to call in the assistance of the ‘White Witch’ or ‘Cunning Woman’ of Bedminster. Mrs. Giles and one or two friends disguised themselves and went to the house of the female in question. She, without prompting, told them she knew all about their trouble, then went on to name the spirit which was working the mischief.

She propounded a remedy for – "… his summary overthrow, which modern delicacy will not permit to be described" (Latimer). Whatever this frightening panacea was must remain hidden, even lost, because of the Victorian prudery on the part of Latimer when he recorded the above in his "Annals". But, whatever it was, it apparently did the trick and the persecution of the children ceased.

John Evans wrote of the affair and concluded that the whole imposture was planned by Mrs Nelmes and her daughter Mrs. Giles, for the purpose of depreciating the value of the house, of which Mrs Nelmes later became the purchaser.

Is this conclusion a correct one? It is is, then it assumes that two women were able to hoodwink intelligent merchants and members of the church over the presence of a ‘demon’. For this to have been successful there must have been~collusion between the women and the children, who were the principal actors in the charade, if this, indeed was what it was. If we put to one side the incidents with the wagons, then the happenings at the Lamb Inn strongly suggest the presence of a poltergeist.

A large number of poltergeist phenomena occur, or are supposed to occur, through the agency of children, so in the case discussed all the essential ingredients appear to be there to support the theory of a poltergeist. If his should be dismissed, then what is to be made of the word of Major Drax who, together with two others, was barely able to restrain the children at times and witnessed the flying pins?

The fate of Giles and his wagons can be passed off as coincidence, but the other happenings at the inn are not so easily dismissed.

John Evans considers further that a rival carrier was responsible for the fatalities which overtook Giles’ wagons. But for this to occur at the same time as the manifestations were taking place at the Lamb, is rather stretching coincidence more than somewhat. Consideration should also be given to the point that Mrs Nelmes and Giles’ wife quite possibly played on the fact of unusual happenings at the Lamb, but only AFTER the death of Giles, when they saw the possibility of their losing the public house. If Giles had not died then the problem would not have arisen and, if Mrs Nelmes had previously planned to take over the Lamb, then the question must arise of – Was she concerned in the death of Giles?

At this time of writing, so far removed from these occurances, it is not really possible to come to any final, concrete conclusion. All that is left is speculation as to what might have been.

Notes: In 1842 writs were served upon 15 gentlemen, the committee of the Out Parish of St Philip and St James for conducting the last election on behalf of the Conservative candidate The writs were issued at the instance of Mr Mountain, whose bill for £290 was for refreshments afforded to the voters on the day of polling

In January 1843 it was reported that five pictures, principally representing field sports were stolen from the inn. Apparently two youths went into the room where the pictures were suspended and it was believed that the pictures went at the same time as the young men, as they had not been seen since.

The inn was concerned in a Chancery case in the 1850s because of repeated disputes between the members of the Mountain family. On a Saturday night in October 1858 one of the Mountains and his daughter, Caroline Pike, landlady of a tavern in Hotwell Road, went to the house and created a disturbance. Mr Short who had been called for directed them to leave. They refused to do so and Caroline threatened if he attempted to interfere with then to gouge his *** eyes out. He caught hold of her father to turn him out, whereupon she flew at him and gouged until she drew blood. On the police being called she was taken to the station house. She said her father was entitled to money out of the house and ‘it was hard that he should want bread when there was plenty there’ and naturally when he was attacked she took his part. She was charged with very gross assault as Mr Short was doing his duty by preserving order in the house and must be protected, Fined 40/- and costs or a month’s imprisonment.

January 3rd 1870 it was reported that Isaac Short gave his usual spread to his parlour customers, numbering over 40 persons.

In January 1873 George Smethust of this address was prosecuted by the Bristol School Board for not sending his child to school. Fined 5s or 3 days imprisonment.

The licence was transferred from Eliza Hember to John Smythe in March 1882.

11. Matthew H. Isaac & Co. grocers & tea dealers
12. George Paget, corn and flour factor
13. John Chard, currier
14. Burge & Co. wholesale confectioners
15. Parry Brothers, boot and shoe makers
16. Charles Dixon, grocer and provision factor
17. Nicholas Morgan, boot maker
George W. Stephens, tobacconist
18. Matthew Willet, M.D. surgeon
19. Reuben Fulton, working jeweller and stationer
20. William J . Day, draper and milliner
21. Samuel Rodgers, boot maker
22. Mrs Mary Franklyn, saddler
23. Philip Owen, grocer and provision dealer
24. Pullen and Dinner, linen drapers

25 John Mack, vict, Eagle Tavern 1860 – 65. William Howland / 1867. Edward Wescott / 1868 – 72. John Mack / 1874 – 87. Henry Britton / 1889. Joshua Dorymead 1891 – 96. Jacob Dorymead / 1897. William Lucy jnr. / 1899 – 1904. William Sweetland / 1906 – 09. George Fry / 1914. Ernest Brewer 1917 – 28. Frank Evans / 1931 – 35. Alfred Sparks / 1937 – 38. Lewis Watt / 1944 – 50. William Stokes / 1953. John Harding 1953 – 56. Reginald Henry Budd / 1960 – 75. G. G. James.

26. J . F. Golding, tobacconist
27. Shadrach T. Ovens, grocer and tea dealer
28. William Fletcher, greengrocer & potato merchant
29. William S. Shattock, salt & general shop keeper
30. Alfred Ball, saddler, hose and mill band manufacturer
31. C. M. Cousins, linen draper

32. Andrew Brown, congreve maker. (during the Napoleonic Wars there was a certain artillery officer named Sir William Congreve who invented a kind of military rocket for firing at the enemy. When the wars ended, in 1815, it seems likely that he turned the pyrotechnic skills he had acquired to the invention of an early kind of friction match – which was known as a congreve.)

Robert Barrow
33. Edward Sarney, painter
34. John Porter, confectioner
35. Ann Brown, greengrocer
36. Abraham Matthews, umbrella maker
37. Henry Dutton, boot and clog maker
Thomas C. Phillpot, pastry cook
38. Abraham Fothergill, boot maker
39. John Dunn, greengrocer
40 James Scull, bacon curer

George Hutton, vict, Plough 1775 William Yandell.

Hannah More Schools – master, J. Courteney. Day and Sunday schools, Infant and Ragged schools conducted on the principles of the Church of England. Some members of staff as listed in directories, etc: Mr J Courtenay (Master), Miss Ruddle (Mistress), Mrs Whitwell (Infant School Mistress) 1861 Mr Cox (Master), Miss Cambridge (Mistress), Mrs McGuire (Mistress of Infant School) 1885 Mr Carter (Master, Miss Cambridge (Mistress), Mrs McGuire (Mistress of Infant School) 1898

Notes: Founded 1838. In July 1839 the committee of the Hannah More Schools placed a notice in the newspaper stating that ‘while they congratulated their friends on the opening of the principal schoolhouse for boys and girls, they are anxious to press on the minds of the benevolent the great importance of that part of the original plan which relates to the erection of an infants’ school. ‘ There was a ‘mass of population of the labouring class in the immediate vicinity of the site of the intended building and a multitude of little infants whose neglected condition appeals to the public sympathy’. In consequence they were opening a separate fund for an infants’ school, ‘proceeding in the hope that we shall get it completed by the winter.’

In January 1856 Aaron Harvey pupil teacher at the boys’ school was stated as being ‘in the list of Queen’s Scholars first class at the Christmas examinations’.

In 1858 Lionel E Carey and Matilda Cuckow from the school were made Queen’s Scholars, being entitled to 3 years’ education at one of Her Majesty’s Training Colleges free of charge.

In 1861William H Jones and Mary Jane M Sage received 2nd class Queen’s Scholarships in the Christmas examinations

In January 1883 100 children belonging to the Ragged School had a tea and treat given to them by Miss Kirby., assisted by Dr Highett. Each child ‘received a handout of an orange, a little book and some chocolates.’ Tea and cake was supplied by Mr Calder of Stokes Croft.

At the February 1885 prizegiving of the 900 children on the roll, 540 were present under the charge of the teachers and pupil teachers. Prizes were awarded to every child who fulfilled the following conditions -attending 400 times during the last year, good conduct, pass of government exam in all subjects. 63 boys, 30 girls and 19 infants received these prizes. An additional 24 prizes were presented by the vicar for proficiency in religious knowledge, 11 boys and 13 girls.

Other prizes went to the child in each standard, (7 boy’s classes and 7 girls’ classes) who obtained the highest mark for their home lessons and similarly to the child in each standard who attended for the greatest number of times in the last twelve months. There were also illuminated certificates for every pupil who had attended 350 times and passed the government examination – a total of 236 boys and 162 girls..

It was announced that the examination by HM Inspector had resulted in a mark of 97%, and this would have been higher but for the irregularity of attendance of many of the children.

In 1899 Scholarship awards went to: Boys -T Jarrett to Colstons, A Adey, H Webb, W Stevens and A Greening to QEH, A J Rainey, A O Harrold and W C Harris to Merchant Venturers’ College (Elton Scholarship), W Joiner received Gloucestershire County Council Scholarship, J Rainey, W Harris, W Rose and W Stevens received Alice Coles Charity. Girls: Elsie Orchard to Red Maids, Annie Drew received Elton Scholarship.

41. William R. Venman, wheelwright & implement maker
42. William Upton, butcher

43. John Ettery Scully, vict, White Lion (no listing?)

44. John Rose, stationer, etc
45. John Webber Hurley, baker
46-47. James Phelps, wine & spirit merchant
48. William Upton, butcher
49. W. Phillips, soap and candle maker
50-51. J . W. Bobbett, baker & corn factor
52. Edward Lodge, stationer & news agent
James King, wholesale and retail tea dealer
53. Elizabeth Pulham
54. William Cox, butcher

55. William Clark, vict, Rising Sun 1794. John Barnes / 1848 – 54. Joseph Smart / 1860. Henry Power / 1863 – 69. William Cox / 1871. William Clark / 1872. H. Bourn 1874. Albert Thomas / 1875. William Barrett / 1877. J. Plant / 1878. J. Wilkes / 1881 – 89. Robert Norman / 1891. Joseph Bacon 1892. Mary Ann Clutterbuck / 1896 – 99. James Brokenbrow / 1901. Fanny Pritchard / 1904 – 06. George Payne 1909 – 14. Thomas Webb / 1917 – 31. Albert Bryant / 1935 – 38. Thomas Bryant / 1944. Beatrice Bryant / 1950. Albert Bryant 1953. John Callaway.

56. Robert Bick, furniture broker
57. Jesse Rice, painter and glazier
58. John Scutt, broker & cabinet maker
59. Matthews Brorthers tobaceonists
60. James Matthews & Son, collar & harness makers
61. Henry Cillgrass, hat and cap manufacturer
62. Robert Leonard, butcher
63. William Thomas Curtis, baker

64 W. R. W. Highman, vict, Black Horse 1775. William Figgins / 1792 – 1800. Timothy Booth / 1806. William Higgs / 1816 – 22. William Whitford / 1823. Mrs Whitford 1826. S. Whitford / 1828. Harry Burgess / 1830 – 34. William Higgs / 1837 – 52. Maurice Hennessy / 1854 – 68. Patrick Murphy 1869 – 79. William Highman / 1881 – 1904. Samuel Broome / 1906. Alfred Powell / 1909. William Dorsett / 1914. Thomas Dodd 1921. John Bateman / 1925 – 28. Alice Louisa Stephens / 1930. George Morley / 1931. Wilfred Abbott 1932 to 1934. Lydia May Abbott / 1935 – 44. Robert Lane / 1950. George Moore / 1950. Henry George Head / 1953. Kenneth Evans 1960 – 75. R. E. Hooper.

68. Frederick Vaughan, watch maker and jeweller
67. John Henry Dowell, wholesale milliners
Joseph Flook
J . Hennessy, cattle dealer, Black Horse yard
72. George Sanders, hosier, etc
73. William O’Grady
74-75. Robert Sutclifie, hide broker
76. Neale & Howell, timber merchants
77. Williztin Clements, butcher
78. Enos Howes

79 John Henry Ficken, vict, Royal Oak 1832. Luke Hipsley / 1837 – 40. Elizabeth Mahoney / 1847 – 49. James Bushnell / 1853 – 54. William Parsons / 1855. Thomas Leader 1856 – 58. Robert Plank / 1860. John Bayley / 1861 – 63. Joseph Scapens / 1865 – 69. Thomas Harris / 1871. John Ficken 1872 – 79. James White / 1881 – 96. William Slade / 1897. George Mead / 1899 – 1904. Selena Sale / 1906. Charles Smith 1909. James Forbes.

80. Heyman Brorthers, oil and colormen
81. Thomas Callow, baker and flour dealer

82. Joseph Summers, vict, Forester’s Arms (no listing?)

P. Ennett, salesman
83. Richard Griffiths, bedstead maker, etc
84. John Jones, plumber, gas-fitter, etc
G. William Moore, cork manufacturer
85 William Cuff, watch and clock maker

Thomas Pearce, vict, Horse Shoe & Talbot 1775. Thomas Higgs / 1792 – 94. James Stone / 1800. John Fewings / 1816. Charles Edwards / 1822. J. Battershall 1823 – 26. Robert Sims / 1828. Francis Yeo / 1830. Eliza Yeo / 1832 – 34. John Morgan / 1837. John Pullin / 1839. W. H. Reily 1842 – 44. James Reily / 1847 – 49. W. H. Reily / 1851 to 1875. Thomas Pearce / 1876 – 1892. William Pearce 1896 – 1901. William Marsh / 1904 – 06. S. Rowland / 1909. George Thomas.

86. Alfred Lewis, smith
87. Thomas Leader, sack, rope, and twine maker
88. Co-operative Stores
89-90. Edwards & Sheppard, wholesale hatters

Other West Street public houses not listed

Bell 1775. Robert Willis / 1806. William Foxwell.

Jolly Nailers it expanded into the house next door during the mid-1850’s. Early directories sometimes list the pub as the Three Jolly Nailers.

Olive Branch 1858 J. Perry.

Palace Hotel Lawford Street / West Street. 1871 – 74. John Sharp / 1878 – 86. John & Richard Blacker / 1887. Rose Blacker / 1894. Samuel Beckett / 1896. William Marchant 1897. George Collett / 1899. John Dobbs / 1901. Charles Thomas / 1904. Charles Martin / 1906. Richard Procter 1909. Charles Thomas / 1914. George Eastwood / 1917 – 21. Reginald Read / 1925 – 31. Alfred Angerson / 1935. James Brokenbrow 1937 – 50. Harry Nash / 1953. William Shute / 1975. A. A. Bwye.

Rose, Thistle and Shamrock 1867 – 69. William Stone / 1872. William Gregory / 1874. G. Wilson / 1877. J. Oram / 1878. Thomas Applin 1881 – 82. Stephen Coleman / 1883. C. Chamberlain.

Sun 1775. Francis Pearce / 1792. John Barnes.

Weary Travellers 1832 – 34. Mary Arbery.


William Fear – A carpenter of West Street Old Market.. In 1798 was a member of the Bristol Volunteer Infantry, ‘gentlemen volunteers who served without pay’.

Aaron Austin – Lived in Old Market 1791. Household consisted of 2 male, 2 female.

Isaac Clement – In May 1888 worked as a maltster and was charged at Bristol Police Court with stealing a watch from another maltster, William Stacey, which he then pawned in a shop in Old Market.

Mrs Eliza Gingell – In January 1867 she was charged with stabbing Joseph West, a pork butcher of Lawrence Hill on December 1st of the previous year. West had gone to the Stag and Hounds in Old Market with several friends, just after 9pm. One of the friends, named Llewellyn called for beer and went to the fire to light his pipe. Eliza was sitting with her husband and told him to move away and when he did not struck him 3 times in the face.

Llewellyn sat on a stool nearby and she said that if he did not go away she would jab his eye out. Her husband got up and drew a knife. A struggle ensued and the knife was dropped. Eliza is said to have picked up the knife and stabbed Joseph West in the right eye, although she claimed that the damage was done by a key which she had in her hand. West lost the sight of his eye and Eliza, said to be ‘a woman of bad character’ was given 9 months’ imprisonment.

Daniel Jones – Lived in Old Market 1791. Household consisted of 4 male, 2 female.

John Millard (d. March 5th 1884) Boot and shoe maker at 83 Old Market Street,. Wife Maria , children William, Maria, John, Sarah Ann ,Thomas

Charles Power – Charged at Bristol Police Court in March 1884 with stealing an ingot of gold from the premises of George Stevens, gold beater in Old Market Street, who employed him. Power was supposed to melt the gold and had left it on his worktable at lunch time according to W Styles another employee and that was the last that was seen of it. When found , Power was drunk (claimed he had drunk a pint of whiskey) and said he had sold the gold at a shop in the Arcade. He was sentenced to 1 month’s hard labour.