Morris Property

The Inclosure Awards of 1807 have left us with a map and index for the owners of each property in the village.  At that time a William Morris held Plot No 157 which can be seen opposite Norton Farm, Plot No 158, on the plan reproduced below – there is no longer a building on this site.  It was described as a ‘House, Garden & Orchard’ and was 2 rods 30 perches in size.

On 9th April 1810 we have an Indenture between William Morris of the parish of Upton St Leonards, Barton Street, near the City of Gloucester but in the County of Gloucester gardener and eldest son and heir at law of Richard Morris late of the parish of Norton.  William was selling the mortgage on the property to William Husbands of the City of Gloucester salesman.  This is quite helpful inasmuch as it lists previous occupants; “… All that messuage cottage or tenement with the garden and orchard thereunto belonging situate lying and being in the parish of Norton aforesaid in the Lower Town there near a messuage or tenement called The Farm which said messuage cottage or tenement garden and orchard was formerly in the tenure or occupation of one Daniel Nelmes and afterwards of one William Okey and Sarah Starkey widow since of William Morris the grandfather and Richard Morris the late father of the said William Morris … but now in the occupation of Richard Morris brother of the said William Morris as tenant thereof to him the said William Morris … together with all ways waters watercourses hedges ditches trees mounds fences easements rights members and appurtenances whatsoever…”.

We will return to the Morris’ later but the earliest name I have for this property from the Indenture is Daniel Nelmes.  Daniel left a Will dated 4th March 1729 which gives us an approximate date for his tenure of the property.  Daniel does not give a name for the property or detail its location but simply wrote; “… I do give to my three children Daniel, William and Elizabeth all my estate lying and being in Norton with all my goods equally to be distributed between them for the maintaining of them ..”.  Indeed, it is possible that the Daniel Nelmes referred to in the Indenture was actually the son of the elder Daniel.

The next named was William Okey.  William was married to Anna and the couple were having children baptised at Norton in the 1750s.

Sarah Starkey, widow, is the next named but she has not been identified. 

The next document that has any bearing on the property also returns us to the Morris family.  On 10th August 1791, Richard Morris wrote the following Will; “In the name of God, Amen.  I Richard Morris in the Parish of Norton in the County of Gloucester do make, constitute and appoint this my last Will and Testament.  I give to Elizabeth, my beloved wife, all that house, garden and orchard and all thereunto belonging (wherein I now live) for and during the term of her natural life; and after the death of my wife; I do give the house, garden and orchard unto my son William; (and in the case he should die without heirs) and after his death, I do give the said house, orchard and garden unto my son Richard; (and in the case he should die without heirs) and after his death, I do give the said house, orchard and garden unto my daughter Ann Page (if she is living) and in case of her death, I give the said house, garden and orchard unto my grandson William Page (or in case he should die without heirs) I do give the said house, garden and orchard unto my grandson Joseph and to him and his heirs and assigns for ever.  I do give to my beloved wife Elizabeth all my goods and chattels and all my personal estate whatsoever, to her and her heirs and assigns for ever.  In witness hereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this tenth day of August 1791”  This will was written at just the right time as a memorial at St Mary’s, Norton, records that Richard died just ten days later; “In memory of Richard Morris of this parish who died the 20th day of August 1791 aged 54 years”.

On 21st October 1817 we find another Indenture this time between William Husbands of the City of Gloucester salesman … William Morris of Barton Street … gardener and Thomas Joy of the City of Gloucester yeoman and Robert Phillips of the same City shoemaker.  Property was still in the occupation of Richard Morris, brother, as tenant.  William Morris defaulted in his mortgage repayment to William Husbands when he called in the debt of £102 14s.  William Morris “…having occasion for the further sum of forty seven pounds and six shillings… hath applied and requested the said Thomas Joy and Robert Phillips to advance and lend him … the sum of one hundred and fifty pounds … which they have agreed to do upon having such transfer or assignment of the said mortgage…” .

William Morris promised to pay back £150 six months later but it would appear that he had problems as on 12th December 1823 William Morris sold the mortgage to William Read King of Serjeants Inn, Fleet Street in the City of London, Gentleman, “… for and in consideration of the sum of five shillings … to have and to hold the said cottage … for the term of one whole year … yielding and paying the yearly rent of one pepper corn … if demanded…”.

The following day we find a conveyance that confirmed that Richard Morris was still the tenant and was paying the rent of £10 per annum.  The Conveyance was from William Morris, James Moss City of Gloucester, Gent, and Michael Jennings City of Gloucester, tailor, to John Bagley of the City of Gloucester, smallholder.  Paid William Morris £18 and Robert Phillips £161 5s to cover the outstanding mortgage and interest.

We are lucky to have a ‘terrier and valuation of the messuages, lands, and other hereditaments liable to poor rate in the parish of Norton’ from 1838 that tells us that at that time the property was owned by the Cross Keys Club, Gloucester, and let to Thomas Turk.  It was described as being near Norton Farm, a house, garden and orchard of the same size plot as in 1807.  It had a gross estimated rental or annual value of £8 and a rateable value or net annual value of £6.  A William Turk, chairmaker, appears to be in residence by 1841 along with his wife Elizabeth and five young children all below the age of 10 years.  The family are still there in 1851.

On 6th October 1853, in consideration of the sum of £180, Michael Jennings and his mortgagees sold to William Turk, chairmaker of Norton.  A little later on 8th October 1855, William Turk took out a mortgage on the property for £140 with a Miss Ann Jones spinster of Barton Street in the City of Gloucester.

On 14th March 1865 we find a declaration by a James Ricketts referring to the property belonging to the Cross Keys Friendly Society of Gloucester and he reiterates some of the mortgage dealings we have already covered; “I James Ricketts of the City of Gloucester, schoolmaster, do solemnly and sincerely declare that in the month of October 1855 and for several years prior to that date I was Clerk or Secretary to the Cross Keys Friendly Society in the City of Gloucester.  That the said Society shortly after the above date was broken up and the members thereof have since become dispersed.  That many years before the said period the said Society was enrolled under the Statute 10th George the 4th Chapter 56 but at what period I cannot now tell.  That I recollect certain freehold property at Norton in the County of Gloucester being sold by the said Society to William Turk in the year 1855 at which time there was no Treasurer of the said Society nor any other trustees except James Moss and Michael Jennings to whom with John Bagley (deceased) the said property was conveyed in the year 1823.  That the said John Bagley died in the year 1830 and the said Michael Jennings died several years ago but the said James Moss is still living.  And I make this solemn Declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true and by virtue of the provisions of an Act made and passed in the Session of Parliament of the fifth and sixth years of the reign of His late Majesty King William the Fourth entitled ‘An Act for the more effectual abolition of Oaths and Affirmations taken and made in various Departments of the State; and to substitute Declarations in lieu thereof, and for the more entire suppression of voluntary and extra judicial oaths and affidavits and to make other provisions for the abolition of unnecessary Oaths’. 

William Turk, his father Thomas, and his son Charles were all part of the prosperous Norton business of chairmaking that flourished from early Victorian times under the James family. 

On 23rd November 1865 the property went the way of much of Bishops Norton when Edward Webb of Norton Court paid Ann Jones £140 and William Turk £110 to take over the property and it became part of the Norton Court Estate.  The sale included both a house and a workshop, probably where he carried out his chair making.

At about this time Edward Webb was buying up any property that became available.  He was also renovating properties and demolishing where necessary. 

1844-1888 OS 25” 1st Edition

It would appear that the survey for the Gloucestershire 1st Edition map, as depicted above, was conducted between 1873-1884 and it can be seen that there was no record of the property at that time.  In fact this property has not been identified after 1865 when it was purchased by Edward Webb so perhaps this was when it too was demolished.

In the Cheltenham Chronicle & Gloucestershire Graphic newspaper of 19 March 1910 I found the report of a Charles Morris celebrating his Golden Wedding anniversary.  The report reads; “A Tewkesbury Golden Wedding.  On March 6th 1910 two inhabitants of Tewkesbury celebrated their Golden Wedding – Mr & Mrs Charles Morris of Barnes’ Almshouses, Chance Street.  They were married at St Peters Church, Cheltenham, in 1860.  Mr Morris was born at Norton, near Gloucester, and his wife at Ashchurch.”

I have not been able to identify Charles Morris at Norton but perhaps, a few generations later, he was descended from the same Morris family as recorded above.

The piece of land where this house once stood will now be buried beneath the new development of houses that has been taking place through 2019. The following photo (from Google Maps) records the land shortly before building work commenced with Norton Farm to the north of Wainlode Lane.