1734 5th February
"A poor collier woman had her purse cut at Bristol Fair."
Purses were worn at the girdle and a determined thief would have to slice through the binding " hence the expression "cut-purse".
Elizabeth Batt, died aged 81, and was buried at Bitton in the same grave as her sister, Mrs Mary Wornell, died 1721.
A fund had been opened to build a gallery in Bitton Church.
Numerous people contributed, a few of whom are listed below:
Richard Barry, the vicar Berkeley Seymour, esquire Thomas Coster, esquire William Edwards, esquire Thomas Winstone, esquire Richard Hart, esquire Henry Creswick, esquire Mr Ones. Tyndal Mr Thomas Whittington Mr Edward Parker Mr Benjamin Perrott each of these contributed a guinea.
Among the ten shilling contributors were Mr William Atkins & Mr Thomas Ross, the churchwardens, and Mrs Mary Wear.
At five shillings, there are some well known names: Mr Lamorack Flower, Mr Samuel Whittock, Mr Joseph Whittock, Mr Samuel Tippett, Mr Francis Tippett, Mrs Woodward.
Further down still are tradesmen, without any handle to their names, donating 3s 6d, among them Abraham Battman and Jonathon Robbins.
A great many more gave half a crown each including Henry Brain, Moses Strange the younger, and John Taylor, the smith.
Another smith, William Atkins, also gave 2 shillings.
( It is intriguing that the two smiths are the only people whose occupation was stated. )
Among the shilling contributors were John Smith of the Way House and Nathaniel Williams of the Common.
Those who threw sixpence into the hat included Chappells, Lovells, Leonards, Brains and Peacocks.
Slightly more notable was George Ruddle (or Riddle), and we shall hear more of him in 1738.
The work commenced in July, and it is amusing to note that a few of the contributors saw a return for their money.
William Atkins did some work, as did Abraham Battman, who worked 21 days at is 8d per day, and also put in a bill for £2. 6s. 6d for "Work and timber for the gallery".
Jonathon Bobbins did 22 days, also at 6s 3d a day, and "his man" worked another 15 days.
Samuel Brooks and William Lydiard, five shilling contributors likewise profited, Brooks charged 4s 5d for "turning the Ballisters for the Gallery" and Lydiard fifteen shillings for writing a letter for the church.
Out of pocket was Thomas Gunning, who gave five shillings but only made two shillings "for hauling freestone from Lansdown"
Joan, the wife of Joseph Rosewell died aged 87, and was buried at Bitton.
1735 22nd July
Harrington Davis conveyed Benjamin and Stephen Summerill to Gloucester Gaol,
at a cost of £4 expenses to be divided equally between Oldland and Bitton.
Worse would follow in 1737.
John Roger, victualler, bound in £40 for the appearance of Hannah, wife of Richard Peacock, coledriver, Ann wife of Abraham Gaines, coalminer, all of of St Philip & St Jacob, Bristol, to give evidence against Richard Gowen, otherwise Livings, and John Vernon, otherwise Long Jack, for burglary and felony.
1739 29th October
Edmond Bond of St Briavels, Gloucestershire, gentleman; made his will, leaving to his nephew Richard Bond "tenements, lands, messuages, mines and veins of coal lying in St James Bristol, and Bitton,".
These coal veins had come to Edmond through his marriage to Mary Chapman, the daughter of Stephen Chapman, once a partner of Francis Creswicke of Hanham Court, Richard must be the Mr Bond of "Mr Bond's Liberty" shown on the 1750 map of Bitton.
James Perriman, with his wife Grace and child, and William Cox, his apprentice produced a settlement certificate at Bitton showing they all belonged to Marshfield.
A letter from John Wesley, "Few people who have lived long in the West of England have not heard of the Colliers of Kingswood; a people famous from the beginning hitherto for neither fearing God nor regarding man.
So ignorant of these things of God that they seemed but one remove from the beasts that perish and therefore utterly without desire of instructions as well as without the means of it".
Henry Legg of St Philip & St Jacob, coal driver, participant in the Tollgate riot, was bound over to be of good behaviour.
Charles Bragge, nephew of Arthur and Thomas Flayer, then a minor, was in this year left the Player property in Mangotsfield, including Cleve Hill.
The winter of 1739/40 was the coldest of the century.
1740 1st February
"The persons who collect for the poor outside Lawford's Gate made a fourth distribution of beef to upwards of 260 distressed families and then two oxen and a half, 400 quartern loaves and twelve waggon load of coal ( ten given by liorborne Berkeley and two by Charles Bragge ), were distributed to four hundred poor families outside the Gate".
Isaac Cribb, of St Philip and Jacob, coledriver, arraigned at Quarter Sessions for an assault on William Berkeley.
"The Reverend Mr Tucker of All Saints and several of his parishioners went in person amongst the poor at Lawford's Gate and generously distributed their collections amongst those families whose miseries were most shocking and whose moans and cries pierced their very hearts".
Norborne Berkeley, now standing for Parliament for Gloucestershire, gave another ten waggon loads of coal to the poor beyond the Lawford's Gate "which are computed at 700 families with at least 1,500 children".
Henry Cooling, labourer, John Hale and Edward Tayler, colliers, believed in helping themselves.
They were in Newgate for passing several base false half crowns.
Benjamin Roach and Henry Willis, coaldrivers of Bitton, required to give bonds for their good behaviour in the connection with the same assault on William Berkeley, the night constable of St Mary Port ward in Bristol.
Sarah the wife of Charles Arthur of Stapleton died aged 58.
Thomas Chester, the sitting MP, perhaps stirred by the actions of his new running mate gave £20 to the Lawford 's Gate poor fund.
Kedgwin Webley wrote to Henry Creswicke of Hanham Court:
"You have now been so kind as to explain the reason for the present manner of working the land for which we are extremely obliged to you.
But as you don't express any different sentiments with these of mine in my last as to the expense of erecting and working a fire and horse engine, I take it for granted that the former is to be erected at a less expense than the latter.
Especially; considering that the partnership has the former already and for how much more in proportion the materials of it will sell than that of the latter when the work is completed.
And therefore surely there cannot be any Choice which is to be erected if either shall be necessary.
And we apprehend that the Land cannot possibly be worked to effect without one of them.
Upon the whole, nothing is so much desired by the user as a perfect harmony with you and our other partners in this Undertaking, and to which no-one shall contribute more than -Sir.
( The premises appear to have been the Clink Close ) coalworks at Bitton.
It seems unlikely that this is the first "fire engine" in Kingswood, for Mary Dafter makes an intriguing reference in a letter dated 12th February 1723/4 to "a new engine with Valentine Flower and two more to be worked without horses drawing of it" which was to be kept secret until they had obtained a patent.)
The three coiners were tried.
Hale was acquitted, having turned King's Evidence, and so apparently was Cooling, who blamed Taylor.
So much for honour among thieves.
Taylor was convicted and sentenced to a year in gaol with the prospect of a new trial in Somerset on his release, for issuing base coinage, which was classed as High Treason.
John Newman at last came to trial:
"John Newman, one of the colliers concerned in the riot of last October, and for the taking of whom a reward of £20 was paid by the magistrates of this City was sentenced to six months imprisonment and to give surety for his good behaviour for twelve months".
1741 12th April
A fire broke out at the house of Mr Moor, a tallow chandler of St James's Back.
Samuel Tonkins, "the only waterman on the Bath and Bristol river", advertised in the Gloucester Journal:
three new boats had been added to his previous fleet, and each had a house with sash windows.
Two boats plied daily, the Journey taking four hours.
Fare: one shilling.
On this date was buried Robert Sherman of Westerleigh, in the 72nd year of his age, having been schoolmaster 52 years and parish clerk 40 years.
Settlement Examination of James Morris, horsedriver at Bitton, who said he was born at St Philip and Jacob in Bristol, and lived there until he was ;fourteen years of age, and then went as a covenant servant to Edward Warn for threequarters of a year, and then to William Brewer of Bitton, horsedriver where he worked by the week for three years.
His father John had a settlement at Pontypool in Monmouthshire.
That in the month of December last past he was married to his present wife Sarah near Bath.
"A stranger, name unknown, who was a travelling person" was buried at Pucklechurch.
Charles Wesley, John's brother administered communion at Kingswood Schoolroom to those followers who had been refused at Temple Church in Bristol.
Letter: Cennick to Whitefield.
Would Mr Wesley approve of a certain William Spencer "as a sort of usher under me at your school in Kingswood ? Cennick preached regularly in the fields that summer, under trying circumstances.
"A gentleman named Parker at Upton, four miles from Kingswood hired men to disturb us at our meetings for two or three months. As we met in the fields they rang bells, beat large pans over our heads, threw many hundreds of baskets of dust over us, besides riding with horses thro the midst of our congregation by which many were trampled, and beat cruelly".
On another occasion, some of the persecutors felt remorse for harassing the meetings and turned against their own kind, driving them off, "but this only enraged them more against us the next time, when we were almost killed ".
Mr Parker obtained a warrant to prevent the twice weekly gatherings, and Cennick was obliged to appear before the bench. "One of the Justices would have me withdraw, but I would not consent. Another bid me go and preach, saying 'No-one shall disturb you.
You have to wonder whether Cennick had sought Mr Parker's permission to hold the meetings in his fields in the first place? The preaching continued, and Mr Parker "blasphemed our Saviour openly." But, Cennick recorded triumphantly, "Afterwards, God's hand lay heavy on him. His most beloved son died.
Another person who helped abuse us was drowned and three others were hanged at Gloucester who earnestly begged God to forgive them and repented they had meddled with us."
Hannah, wife of John Lewton, senior, of Hanham, died aged 43, and was buried in Oldland Chapel Yard.
( John died aged 80 in 1772 ).
John Harris of Mangotsfield, waggoner was charged at the quarter sessions with "bringing Elizabeth Jarrett, a poor impotent person into the parish of St Peter, where she is chargeable, and likely to remain so.
( Presumably the ratepayers of Mangotsfield had commandeered Harris's waggon to get Elizabeth off their rates and on to someone else's, a common enough occurrence ).
A indenture signed between John Talbot and Kedgewin Webley, gentlemen, and Edward Stone, coalminer as servant, agent and workman.
"Twelve men and twelve women followed me" wrote Preacher Cennick:
Samuel Tippett, married, now a dear brother
Abram Stout, single, now gone into the world, and married
Thomas Beswick, single, now a Baptist preacher
Ambrose Luton, single, in the World, since married
William Bolt, single &
Peter Bush, single, hearers of the Methodists, but in no Society
William Bush, married, died before I came to the brethren
Aaron Bush, single, in the World
John Tippett, married, in the World
Isaac Haskins, single, since married among the brethren
Mary Tippett, married with the brethren
Hannah Jefferies, single, now Brother Stone's wife
Ann Allen, since married in the world
Ann Davis, single, since married. With Mr Wesley.
Jane Tippett, married, in the world
Hannah Stone, otherwise Peacock, single, since married to Arthur Palmer
Johanna Rider, single, since married to Thomas Beswick
Ann Tippett, single, died happily
Hannah Richards, married, with the brethren, now a widow
Eleanor Morgan, widow, with the brethren
Sally Morgan, single, died happily 2 May 1742
Mary Jones, widow, dead.
"With these twenty four I came to Stephen Tippett's house a little way from London Road, and we sat down and wept together, but resolved to continue as hearty friends to each other and meet of ten."
( The above brethren were the Moravians, who Cennick later joined. )
1742 The trials of Local Government:
"In this year, William Cann, the Town Clerk of Bristol, his assistant clerk and an under-clerk, all went mad in the same week.
One cut his throat, and the other two were taken to Fishponds Lunatic Asylum.
"A reward of 2 guineas is hereby offered to any person who shall arrest anyone for stealing timber from Mr Wesley's School Room at Kingswood in the parish of Bitton, to be paid by John Heatley at the said school.
Warrants for the apprehension of reputed fathers, Bitton:
Joseph Bain, coalminer & Eleanor Prigg.
Merchant Colewell's house at Fishponds offered for sale.
At Oldland Chapel: "Here lyeth the body of James Shatford of Hanham, who departed this life Aug. 14, 1746 aged 59 years; also here lyeth Susanna, wife of the above, who departed this life Jan. 24, 1762, aged 70 years; also the body of Ann Christopher, sister in law to the above James Shatford, who departed this Life July 20, 1745 aged 42 years."
( Mr Shatford was Mr Thomas Trye's clerk )
"Eloped, Mary wife of Edward Stone, 20th August, of St Philip & St Jacob, horsedriver, he being apprehensive she may run him into debt hereby cautions all persons not to trust her for that he will not pay any debts she shall contract from the date hereof."
John Cennick's Diary:
"William Clear broke open the door of the school accompanied by several others, but it was done by the instructions of Thomas Burchill, bailiff of the coalworks under Mr Bragge.
Mr Jenkins, the dissenting minister at Maidstone ( once a Methodist ) and Mr Humphreys, ditto at Bradford, prompted them on.
John Pool repented of it afterwards, and joined the brethren.
Clear also was sorry, but went back again to Burchill.
( Evidently certain parties did not want Cennick's school to continue, perhaps because it would keep boys away from their work at the pits and give them ideas "above their station", but it is impossible to say why two dissenting ministers were in cahoots with a pillar of local society, Charles Bragge, coal owner, gentleman and magistrate. Even more mysterious is the involvement of Thomas Burchill and William Clear, who had been amongst those Cennick appointed as Stewards of his Society in 1741.
Had they been forced to choose between God and Mamnion to keep their jobs ? )
"Mr Richard Farrar was found in the pond belonging to Brice's Mill, Stapleton with no marks of violence and his gold watch, pocket book, some papers and halfpence in his pocket, and his silver buckles and shirt buttons in their proper places."
The coroner's verdict was accidental death.
1743 In this year, Victory Purdy was born.
He was variously described "The Kingswood Collier" or the "Walking Bible".
He was christened at the parish church of St Philip and St Jacobs and married Mary Milsom on 13th January 1774.
He commenced his evangelical work for John Wesley in 1781, and it is said that between then and his death he preached 2,882 sermons and walked 22,896 miles, mainly on foot.
The male inhabitants of Oldland and Bitton Villages application to Humphrey and William Lear to serve the Court Leet as tythingmen:
John Stump. Henry lies. Dennys Rogers. William Lear. Abraham Brain. Thomas Harris. Humphrey Lear. Ralph Peacock . Edward Stone. Samuel Edwards. Thomas Harding. Isaac Brain. Joseph Jefferis. Samuel Potter . Isaac Tippett . William Britain . Samuel Tippett . Henry Rogers . Jonathon Pierce . Isaac Cool. James Stibbs . Richard Britton. John Batman . William Lines. Henry Britain. John Pearce. Nathaniel Crew. Joseph Brain.. Charles Tippett. John Tippett . James Peacock . Arthur Williams. John Williams . James Fisher . William Meacham. Isaac Brittan. Joseph Morgan. Thomas Britain. Samuel Harris. Able Scull. Thomas Beasley . Isaac Bailey. Francis Stone .
1744 16th February
Samuel Cox died Feb. 16th 1744, aged 31, buried at Bitton.
Samuel Batman, labourer of Langridge, Somerset, his wife Mary and children, removal from Bitton to Langridge.
Henry Watts, for stealing goods from the house of John Pinker of Bitton, was sentenced to transportation for seven years.
A hailstone, reported 5" inches in diameter was caught in a basin during a violent storm at Hanham.
An accident in Wade Street, outside Lawdford's Gate.
"One of the dragoons who came off duty fron guard at Knowle where the French and Spanish prisoners are confined neglected.
to draw his piece which was charged with powder and ball.
His piece went off and shot one Nelmes, a rug weaver thro' the upper part of his thigh.
as he was making water in the street.
Nelmes cried "You have shot me you bastard", on which the, dragoon reply'd "God Forbid", The unfortunate man was carried to the- Infirmary where he languished till next day, and died of his wound.
"The dragoon was taken in charge but was exonerated by the coroner's verdict of accidental death, though he admitted he was not entirely sober.
Removal order, Mary Bright, spinster from Bitton to Siston.
Removal Order, Sarah Hook, spinster, from Bitton to St John's, Bristol.
Benjamin Hall, the younger, blacksmith, settlement certificate, Wick & Abson.
Elizabeth, second wife of Charles Arthur died aged 65, and was buried at Stapleton.
( Charles was steward to Norborne Berkeley at his coalworks ).
John Mays, wife Betty, and child, settlement certificate, Wick & Abson.
"Examinations" under the poor law at Bitton, of Thomas Patrick of Bromsberrow and his family, and William Jefferis, his wife Jane, and child of Siston.
"A house was broken open at Grimsbury, near Hanham and a blue narrow cloth coat, a blue damask waistcoat trimmed with silver and a purple pair of plush breeches were carried off.
The rogues took pains for these trifles to enter the house by making a breach of the wall with pick-axes, and it seems a little surprising that they carried off no other things."
Thomas Lovell, the son of Martha, was killed in a coalpit, and buried at Mangotsfield.
1746 9th January
Committed to Lawford's Gate Bridewell, Thomas Bayley and Thomas Smith, two colliers, on the evidence of another collier, John Pearce, for 'divers burglaries and felonies by them separately and co-Jointly, in Hanham and Kingswood, particularly in breaking open the houses of Mrs Brayne, Mrs Shatford and Mrs Harris, situated at Hanham.
( which appears to have been the Christmas robbery, two weeks before ) and also in robbing divers pits in Kingswood belonging to Norborne Berkeley, esquire, of 150 fathoma of pit rope.
Pearce has since impeached another of the gang, and is himself committed as evidence for the King.
We hear there are upwards of thirty other colliers concerned in other burglaries and felonies about the same quarter, some of whom may have absconded from their dwellings.
Bayley and Smith were found guilty at the following Gloucester Assizes, and both were sentenced to seven years transportation beyond the seas, as reported 13th March 1749, in the Bath Journal.
We hear from without Lawford's Gate that there was lately buried in St Philip's Churchyard from the Poor House, one Margaret Pun, aged 105, who retained her senses until within two days of her death, and could remember the beheading of Charles the first.
John Lovell died this day of the "pox" he will be buried at Siston Parish
1776 1st February
Once again the winter was appallingly severe.
Thick snow made the roads impassable and newspapers reported people lost in the drifts.
Last Tuesday, four men were drowned in one of the coalpits in Kingswood by the water breaking suddenly in upon them.
Three have left wives and children.
The fund for the needy labouring poor outside Lawford's Gate was revived.
The committee reported that some 2,000 persons residing in the outparish of St Philip and St Jacob's who received no parish relief whatsoever had been assisted.
In order to help those who were in real want, committee members went from house to house giving bread and money.
The going rate for a horse load of coal was one shilling and a penny, ( or just under 5p today ).
This was the sum paid to Mary Frankham of Stapleton on this and other occasions.
Sixty five years later, a Government report would refer to these " Amazons " the women coal-carriers of Kingswood, "rivalling the men in strength of sinew and vigour of lungs".
A tenement at Oldand in the parish of Bitton, now in the tenure of John Cryer at the yearly rent of £ 30 was the first lot in a sale by auction to be held at the Exchange Coffee House, Corn Street, Bristol.
"The estate is very improveable, is quite compact and is in very good repair".
Under it are several veins of coal which may be worked at small expense ".
The assignment of the following lease may refer to the above property:
Between parties ( 1 ) G. Shusle of Bristol, stationer.
( 2 ) Thomas Smith of Kingswood, Oldland, Bitton, coalminer.
( 3 ) Francis Waters of Bitton, in respect of a house and ground in Kingswood, Oldland, Bitton.
"Yesterday, a man very much in liquor, driving a cart through Kingswood, >it overset on him and killed him on the spot".
Where as Messrs Smith and Waters could lawfully sink for coal on their leasehold estate, others still took a chance on the common grounds or wastes.
The Oldland Court Leet in session ordered Thomas Summers of North Common and Jacob Flayer of Oldland Common to fill up the coalpits they had dug.
John Pearsall was to do the same with his dangerous clay pits.
If this had not been done by Christmas Day then Summers and Pearsall were to pay forty shillings each.
On Thursday the Press Gang entered the Iron Foundry at Cheese Lane, St Philips and seiz'd one of the men on whom information had been laid ( perhaps an experienced merchant man or even Royal Navy deserter ) when a battle commenced between the gang and the workmen who arm'd themselves with red hot bars of iron, spits, clubs with which they oblig'd their antagonists to fly precipitately dreading the consequences of such uncommon weapons.
It seems however, the Press Gang did not let go of their captive.
Yesterday a man died at Wick in Gloucestershire, far advanced in years, Thomas Haynes, esquire, a man who justly merited the attention and praise of the public as well as the love and admiration of his many private friends.
In short, in the character of husband, parent, master, neighbour, gentleman and magistrate it would be difficult to find his superior.