Collated by Mary Mason.
“To the north west from Portbury stands Portishead, or the head of the port, from port and head, there having been formerly at this point of land a harbour and a passage to the coast of Monmouthshire and Wales. The inhabitants corruptly call it Possut.
Portishead is pleasantly situated on the south side of a high ridge of hills finely wooded, which rise immediately from the skirts of the channel, and defend it from the strong westerly winds. At the northwest end of the parish the hills end, and admit a level tract of meadows to the water. The shore is very rocky, and in some places nearly sixty feet in perpendicular height. The rocks are composed of a kind of grit stone in which is some gypsum; and on them grow vast quantities of the kelp-weed, but no other varieties. Flat fish and shrimps are caught on the beach. A few market-boats are employed in carrying corn, cider, and other goods daily to Bristol, and in return bring bricks, tiles, timber, and sundry other articles. On the spot called Portishead Point a fort was erected in the last century to command this strait part of the Channel; but it was demolished, and only the foundations of the walls now remain. A spring called Welly-Spring, rises on Welly Hill about a mile from the Church, and running in a small brook through the village, falls thence into the main channel at the water mill.”
Rev. John Collinson. 1791.
1278 A day is given to Ranulph le Frankelein of Portishead, plaintiff and Robert de Bruynce on a plea of assize of mortdancestor on the octave of S. Martin here, at the prayer of the parties, and the writ is with the sheriff.
1279 Randulph de Fraunkeleyn of Portishead who brought a writ of mortdancestor against Robert de Brynce about a messuage and a acre of land in Wrington does not proceed, therefore he and his pledges for proceeding are in mercy, namely William Champeneys of Weston and Nicholas ate Chirche.
1370 At Westminster in the octave of St Hillary between Walter son of Walter Lawrence and Elena his wife querents; and John Botiller and Isabella his wife deforciants; for the manor of Capenore in Portesheved. John and Isabel’s granted to Walter and Elena the said manor to hold to them and their issue and if they die without issue then to remain to the right heirs of Elena; for this Walter and Elena gave John and Isabella one hundred marcs of silver.
1445 December 28. Commission to Master John Stokys and Master John Sparhauke, bachelors in both laws, on receipt by the bishop of a presentation of Sir Philip Jekyn, priest to the church of Portishead said to be vacant on the death of Sir Richard Mason, by John earl of Shrewsbury, lord Talbot and of Furnyvale, to enquire as to the vacancy of the church and the right of patronage thereto; as the bishop has no proof of the earl’s right.
1445 January 6. Institution of Sir Philip Jekyn, priest, as rector of the church of Portishead, vacant by the death of Sir Richard Mason, on the presentation of John earl of Shrewsbury, lord Talbot and of Furnyvale, found by inquisition to be the true patron.
1453 January 2. Institution of Sir John Howell, chaplain, as rector of the church of Portishead, vacant by the death of Sir Philip Jekyn, on the presentation of Margaret, countess of Shrewsbury.
1457 April 29. In the chapel by the cloister of Wells cathedral, Walter Comber, layman, formerly a dweller in the hospital of St Katherine in the parish of Holy Cross of the Temple, Bristol, as he asserted, who was lately taken in the parish of Portishead on strong suspicion of heresy, brought before the bishop in the manor of Banwell, judicially convicted of heresy by his own confession and by the deposition of trustworthy persons and committed to prison by the bishop’s order.
1497 John Cabot sailed from Kingroad, in his ship the Matthew.
1569 A wreck of a vessel, stated to have occurred at Portishead Point but changed later to “the rocks called Plotneys in Kingroad.) was claimed by Lord Berkeley, as Lord of the manor of Portbury, he ordered two of his officers to sell the ship and cargo. The Corporation maintained that the derelict ship and contents belonged to the city by virtue of the Admiralty privileges granted by Royal charter. The dispute was brought to a hearing at Somerset Assizes, held at Chard in 1572. The verdict was given for the Corporation who received £16 damages and costs.
1581 Jul 24th The Dominick, a ship, laden with spices and oils, was wrecked about Portishead Point, and twenty-seven men cast away in her.
1616 The oldest tomb in the Churchyard is that of John Hobbs who died in January, 1616.
1630 Fifty ponds to be raised by a County rate and the money arising therefrom to be paid unto Rice Davies and Richard Cole, Esquires, to be by them imployed for and towards the transporting of a greate number of Irish people from the parish of Portshedd according to the lawe in this case made and prvided.
1643 Dec 4th. Edmund Turner, Esq. Commissioned by the King as Treasurer of the garrison of Bristol, Bath, the town and Castle of Berkeley, Ninney Castle, Farley Castle and Portishead Point.
1645 Jul 16th. Some Parliament-ships arrived in Kingroad to Blockade, Bristol, sent by Vice-Admiral Moulton.
1686 Aug 25th The King came to Bristol. On the 26th after dinner, the King went through the city to Redcliffe and from there to Portishead Point, attended by several noblemen and others.
1755 Mar 14th. Henry
Eynon drowned in Kingroad.
1782 Mar 21st. William Bowcott: An Officer of ye Customs buried.
1790 Sep 15th. Florence Price, Wife of James Price, Superintendent Officer of Quarantine Ship at Portishead.
1791 Mar 29th. William Bound: His Death was occasioned by swallowing a Draught of Poison in Mistake for Bitters.
Portishead records written in the Church Register.
1815 Mar 8th
This day in consequence of a petition, signed by the Rector, Curate, Churchwardens and some of the principal inhabitants of this Parish, showing the dilapidated state of the Parish church, the Mayor and Common Council of the City of Bristol, Patrons of the Living, ….. the Sum of £400 pounds towards putting it in a complete Repair and, in order the better to accomplish so desirable an object, the following address, to the Public being resolved, a proper number of Copies were printed for circulate.
Copy of the Address.
The respectful address of the Rector, Curate, Churchwardens and Parishioners of Portishead in the County of Somerset, Diocese of Bath and Wells-to all well disposed Christians.
That the Parish Church of Portishead aforesaid, stands in great need of Repair, the Lead on the roof of the North Aisle requiring to be new cast, and the Pinnacles (several which have already fallen) and Stone-work on the Top of the Tower being far gone into decay, and become not only dangerous to the roof of the church, but also, there being a Path close under the Tower, to foot Passengers, and to the Parishioners assembled in Divine Worship.
That the Tower is a very handsome Structure, an Ornament to the County, and seen for many miles by Land and Water, from which latter circumstance, it becomes a Beacon or Land-mark for Mariners, and highly deserving to be kept perfect and secure.
That moreover, the Body of the Church, being in a wretched condition, requires to be new seated and floored, the Windows to be new glazed, and the Area to be considerably raised, as the Church is at present extremely damp and unhealthy, and by no means in a comfortable state for a place of Religious Worship, which occasions many of the Parishioners, especially the aged and sickly, to absent themselves from Divine Service.
That an appropriate accommodation for the Sunday School is also much wanted, which may be procured by erecting a small Gallery over the Vestryroom, the School being now under the necessity of occupying too large a portion of the Church, the whole area of which is scarcely spacious enough for the present Parishioners, and the Parish is considerably increasing in the number of its Inhabitants.
That the Parishioners, being mostly tenants at rack Rent, and Occupiers of small Estates on lives, and, of late, particularly burdened by the Rates of an heavy Drainage, are unable, wholly of themselves, to defray the Expenses of repairing and refitting their Church, therefore hope to be aided by humbly solicit, the Charitable Contributions of well disposed Christians, to assist them towards accomplishing this necessary, honourable, and religious undertaking.
In consequence of the desire of the Corporation of Bristol, an Estimate has been made by regular Surveyors, and laid before them, which amounting to Eight Hundred Pounds, they have liberally promised to double any Sum that may be raised, not exceeding Four Hundred Pounds.
In order, therefore, to enable them to take the full benefit of this liberal Subscription, the Parishioners entertain a hope that a considerable Sum, in aid of Parish Rate, may be collected from the generous and well disposed, for carrying into effect so desirable and necessary an object.
And your Petitioners will ever pray.
The Revd. Dr. Shipton. £50.
The Revd. Mr Shipton. £50.
James Gordon Esq £50.
Wm Dickenson Esq M.P.£21.
Wm Gore Langton Esq M.P. £21.
Philip John Miles Esq £15.
The Revd. John Bull £10.
A Friend by the Revd. Shipton.
The Revd. George Johnson £2.2s.
Mrs Hannah More £2.2s.
Abm. Harford Battersby Esq £2.2s.
Hugh Smyth Bart £5.
A Friend 0.5s.6d.
Wife Langley £10.
Lieut: James Maurice Shipton R.N. £2.2s.
Ensign H N Shipton 4th Regt. Foot. £2.2s.
Mrs Joyfeate. £5.
Henry Schimmelpenning Esq £1.
Thomas Kington Esq. £5.
Samuel Gardner Esq. £21.
Edward Long Fox Esq. M.D. £2.2s.
William Weare Esq. £5.
Henry Norman Esq. £3.3s.
Mrs Bayly £5.
John Hugh Smythe Esq. £1.
The Revd James Vaughan. £2.2s.
The Revd. Drax Durbin. £2.2s.
Mr William Baily. 10s.
Mrs Hannah Fry. 5s.
John May. 5s.
William Hurle Esq. £5.5s.
Revd. AS B Dowell. £1.1s.
James C Lewis Esq. £6.6s.
Collected in the Parish by Mr Thomas Harris.14s 6d.
John Pearce. 2s.6d.
Mr Martin Noble Shipton. £1.1s.
Lady Mordaunt. £10.5s.
Mrs Browne. £2.2s.
1816 Dec 24th
This day the Repairs of Portishead Church and Chancel begun the 26th of last August, were completed, at the Charge of £782.5.4d which the Mayor and corporation of Bristol contributed £400, the Rector and family £105.5.0d, Private friends of the Rector, at his solicitations, £223.3.0d and the Parish only £57.16.0d.
The Pinnacles of the Tower alone remain untouched, the great distress of the Times rendering it necessary that their Repair should be postpones to a more favourable opportunity. May God bless the Rector who brings about their Repair, and all who lend an helping hand in so good a work, and restore, the Expense and Trouble they may be put to in so doing, seven fold into their Bosom.
1819. Order of the Venerable Reverend the Archdeacon of Bath.
A Copy Written in the Church Register.
To the Churchwardens of the Parish Church of Portishead in the Diocese of Bath and Wells, and in the Archdeaconry of Bath.
You are hereby required forthwith to fulfil the following orders respecting your Church and Churchyard.
N. B. These eight orders are to be executed without delay, and a certificate is to be returned to me, signed by Dr. Shipton the Rector, and by yourself, stating that these orders are executed, on or before, the first day of November next ensuing.
N.B. As this last order will require considerable time for its execution, and as the Parish has of late been at heavy expences in the repair of the Church, the return of the Certificate, signed by the Rector and the Churchwarden, to this order, is respite to the first day of November 1821: When if it be not returned, proceedings will take place in the Ecclesiastical Court against the churchwarden.
Archdeacon of Bath.
Dated on my Visitation at Portishead this 4th day of August 1819.
1819 Dec 3rd.
This day the New Iron Gates at the Church Porch were put up at the cost of 12 guineas.
1820 Apl 10. Inquests taken by P Layng Esq. On John Urio, found on the rocks on the sea-shore, in the parish of Portishead. The deceased resided in Bristol, was a dealer in jewellery, and had been in Wales. He had left a wife and four children. Considerable property was found in his pockets.
1820 Aug 20th.
This day (being Sunday) a most excellent Sermon was preached in the Parish Church of Portishead by the Venerable and Reverent Charles A Moysey D.D. of Christ Church, Oxford.
1821 Mar 1st.
The Archdeacon of Bath (Dr Moysey) visited the Church to examine the Repairs Ordered, as mentioned above.
1822 Jul 11th. The Venerable Revd. Dr Moysey, in the course of his Parochial Visitation, again visited this Church and Parish, and spent a day or two at the Rectory House.
1822 Sep 19th. This day the Revd. John Shipton D.D. Rector presented the Parish with a silver Plate on which to collect the Alms at the Sacrament-it cost £4.11.6d.
1823 May 31st. The Revd. John Noble Shipton B. D. of Balliol College Oxford presented the Parish this day with a silver Cup for the Holy Communion, Gilt inside-which cost nine guineas.
1823 Sep 9th. The archdeacon of Bath (Dr Moysey) visited the Church with the Rector and Churchwardens, to examine the Repairs ordered in his last Parochial Visitation and again 1824 Jul 20th.
1831 July 12th. To be sold by Auction at the Anchor Inn, Portishead on Monday the 18th July 1831 at Four o’clock. A neat convenient and Newly-built Messuage or Dwelling-House, with half an acre of Pleasure and Garden ground, in the occupation of Mr Vincent Bessant. The Dwelling-House comprises on the ground floor, a dining room, drawing room, 2 kitchens, pantries and wash house, on the first floor, 5 bedrooms and a dressing room and on the second floor, 3 bedrooms. These premises are freehold on inheritance and are situated at Sea View Place, Portishead.and command extensive views of the Bristol Channel and the Welsh Coast. The purchaser will have the option of buying another half acre of garden ground adjoining to and now occupied with these premises at a price to be named at the time of sale and immediate possession may be had of the whole.
1831 July 12th.
PORTISHEAD TO BE SOLD
At the Anchor Inn, in Portishead, on Monday The first day of August next, at Three
o’clock in the Afternoon,
Thirteen Lots of Valuable FREEHOLD LAND, admirably
situated for building detached Villas; and a FARM-HOUSE and Building’s; the
whole containing 45a. 3a. and 24p. in the occupation of Farmer Newton. Further particulars may be had and a map seen on
application to Messrs. ISAAC COOKE and SONS; solicitors, Shannon Court,
Bristol; and a Map may be seen at Mr. Geo. Dymond’s, Architect, Castle-Green,
TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION
At the Anchor Inn, in Portishead, on Monday
The first day of August next, at Three o’clock in the Afternoon,
Thirteen Lots of Valuable FREEHOLD LAND,
admirably situated for building detached Villas; and a FARM-HOUSE and Building’s; the whole containing 45a. 3a. and 24p. in the occupation of
Further particulars may be had and a map seen on application to Messrs.
ISAAC COOKE and SONS; solicitors, Shannon Court, Bristol;
and a Map may be seen at Mr. Geo. Dymond’s, Architect,
1852 Dec . Death on Nov 25th at his residence, Rackley, Portishead, aged 78 years, Rear-Admiral John Cookesley.
1853 Aug 6. Destroying Post Letters. John Cross was indicted for feloniously destroying, at Portishead, three post letters, the property of the Postmaster-General. Mr Crowder opened the case, and briefly stated the facts, which will be found detailed in the subjoined evidence.
1860 Nov 17. Robert Rutler of Portishead, grocer, summoned for having several unjust and unstamped weights in his possession, was fined 9s including costs.
1870 May 14 Death. May 10 Mr William Rossiter, piermaster, Portishead brother of Mr Charles Rossiter, Broadmead, aged 50.
1879 Jul 2. Death. Jun 24 at Princess-cottage, Martha, widow of Mr Thomas Brown, of Portishead, aged 39.
1871 Sep 9. Louis Moore applied to have the license of the Plough Inn, Portishead, transferred to his son, Henry Louis Moore. The decision of the Bench was adjourned till the next meeting, the magistrates seeing some objection in the matter.
John Hewlett, a labourer, was charged with wilfully damaging a door to the extent of 5s at Portishead, the property of John Parsons, and he was further charged with assaulting William Wilkins. Wilkins said the prisoner got drunk and struck him, he struck him in return, prisoner came after him with a bradawl, which he thrust through a door of the house, where they were working. Thomas Hunter gave corroborative evidence. Mr Alman for the defence, assured the magistrates that his fellow workers got him drunk and then provoked him. Prisoner was fined 2s 6d and costs and the money was paid.
1873 Portishead Parish Magazine.
Mrs Catherine Chapple’s Charity.
Conversation on Parish Matters. Pancake Money. (Edited as it is a long conversation)
“I beg your pardon, sir,” said the wife of one of our labouring men to me one day lately, as I was standing talking to a friend near the National School. “I beg your pardon, sir, but will you be kind enough to speak for me to have the Pancake Money this year.”
“I will refer to my book,” I said to her, “and see if it is your turn. If so I have no doubt but that you will get it; but not otherwise.”
“It is my turn then, sir, certainly; for I have not had it for three years.”
“Perhaps not; but that is no reason why you must necessarily get it this year. For as you know, while the population of the parish has increased; the amount to be distributed in now less than it was a few years ago.”
“Yes I know that sir. But I do think the old parishioners ought to be thought of before the new comers.”
“And I can only say again that if it is your turn, and you are not in any way disqualified, you will no doubt find your name amongst the rest on the Church door on Shrove Sunday.”
I turned again to my friend who exclaimed “Pancake Money! what ever does that mean.”
“Pancake Money is the name that has been given, I am told for the last 150 years, to a small local charity, from the fact of its being annually distributed at Shrove-tide. A certain Mrs Catherine Chapple, in the year 1693, gave three or four bits of land (in all five acres) in different parts of the parish, to be let by the Ministers, Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor to the best advantage, and the rents to be distributed yearly on Shrove Sunday, as the said Ministers, Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor shall direct and appoint to and among such and so many poor housekeepers, as have no relief of the Parish, and do frequent the Church at the time of Prayer.”
“The lands originally left by Mrs Chapple were exchanged under an Act of Parliament passed in the year 1814, for a larger quantity of land, a little over seven acres, on the hill near the Rectory, called the Forehills; where a quarry was opened by the trustees some years ago. We now receive from the tenant an annual rent of £10, together with a royalty of two-pence per ton for all building stone, and one penny per ton for all other stone taken from the quarry.”
“But with the prospect of such a demand for the stone, do you think that either the rent or the royalty are as high as they ought to be?”
“Those very questions were often asked and much canvassed in the parish about three years ago when the Pier was being built and the Docks already in contemplation; but by direction of the Charity Commissioners; both the land and quarry were surveyed by Messrs. J.P.Sturge and Sons of Bristol; and according to their report, dated Feb 8, 1870, the present rent of £10 per annum is the full value of the surface, and the royalty of two-pence per ton is a fair and proper sum to be charged for stone.”
“But what did you say just now about the poor being dissatisfied because the sum received as royalty for the stone used in building the Pier was not distributed amongst them? You don’t mean to say that any of the royalty has ever been distributed! I have had some little to do with such matters myself; and I am sure you could have no right to distribute a penny of it. Did the Charity Commissioners in London ever hear of it?”
“Yes. The matter was brought under their notice in October 1869; when we were given to understand that the quarry itself ought never to have been opened at all without the sanction of the Charity Board and were directed to invest all future royalties, together with any unexpended amount of them in hand, in the name of the Official Trustee of Charity Funds; the interest of which alone we were allowed to distribute on Shrove Tuesday every year, together with the rent, as before.”
“Was that all? Well, then, I think they let you off very easily. They might have forced you and your predecessors in office to repay to them every penny of royalty that had been distributed.”
“Yes so they told us; but at the same time kindly condoned what had been only a well-intended mistake. My share, however, would not have amounted to much, for I had then but just come into the parish. And I find, too, that the average amount of both rent and royalty together distributed during the 21 years from 1849 to 1869 inclusive, is only £11-3s-8d.”
“The present generation at any rate have no right to complain, for all the error that has been committed has been entirely in their favour. They have had distributed amongst them a few pounds that ought to have been invested for the benefit of themselves and their children.”
“What they complain of is, that they do not still receive year by year, both rent and royalty together as formerly. Should the contractors for the Docks finally decide to take any large portion of the stone required for their works from the quarry, there will very soon be a permanent yearly income for distribution far greater than the highest sum that was ever distributed under the old system.”
“Yes; and in that case you will soon become rich enough for disestablishment and disendowment, or at least for the further interference of the Charity Board. In your present manner of distribution.”
“Very likely! And I for my part—though I am quite willing to do my best for the interests of the parishioners in any matter over which I may have control—should on no account object to be both disestablished and disendowed as a trustee of Mrs Chapple`s Charity. For in this, as in many other matters, all I get for whatever trouble I take is only more kicks than half-pence.”
John Arkell. (Vicar)
1874 Feb 7. Alleged Manslaughter at Portishead. On Tuesday Mr R Biggs, deputy county coroner. Held an inquest at the Anchor Inn, Portishead, on the body of William Miller, a thatcher, aged 55, who died at Portishead after having fallen down some steps at the White Hart inn, North Weston, near Portishead, a fortnight before- on January 17th. It was alleged that he had been pushed down the steps by a flyman names Alfred Bessant, when the magistrates on Saturday had committed for manslaughter. Mr Ward of Bristol appeared for Bessant.
In opening the inquiry the coroner drew attention to the broad feature of the case as narrated in the letter written him by the police and said very recently he had for the first time in his life to lament what he considered an interference with the course of justice in a case where a charge being made against a man he was debarred by what he could not help thinking was an arbitrary exercise o9f power on the part of one or more magistrates, from the privilege which, according to English law, he ought to have undoubtedly possessed, of meeting the charge at the earliest possible time, and in a court where, having the power to offer himself as a witness, a man might be able to disprove at the very outset the charge, which being once made might cling to him as a charge of felony for the remainder of his life. So strongly did he feel this on a former occasion, that he had come down there that morning-whether rightly or wrongly-to teat that question to the utmost; and with the full determination, if the persons implicated in this matter were not before him, at once and for ever-so far as he was concerned-to have it decided how far the magistrates power was superior to his own. (etc) He would not have it on his conscience that he had ruined a man’s prospects, perhaps for life, by sending him for trial on a charge which might turn out at the trial on a charge which might turn out at the trial to have no foundation. He was happy to say that the question did not arise here. The man had been in custody, but was on bail, and he had been invited to attend.
The Jury having viewed the body; The Coroner said he had just further learnt that the accused had been already committed for trial by the magistrates for manslaughter. He need not remind them that this would not in any way whatever weigh with them. The inquiry was totally independent of any other and they would in finding their verdict, try to forget that any other inquiry had taken place.
Several witnesses were examined but the only one who could describe the occurrence was Alexander Nisbett, labourer, of Weston in Gordano, who said that Bessant was coming out of the bar of the inn as the deceased was entering it and Bessant struck him in the chest either with his open hand or his fist, and deceased fell back against the door frame, and then swung to the right and down the cellar steps and remained insensible for some time. Had not heard a word pass between Bessant and deceased. The blow did not appear to have been given in anger and his impression at the time and still was, that it was struck in fun and without any intention to the injury. Deceased overbalanced himself when he got to the step.
Mrs Hartree, landlady of the White Hart inn, saw the decease fall, but could not say what happened previously. He and Bessant had been joking together. Bessant was somewhat the worse for liquor, and so was the deceased.
P.C. Alexander Palmer deposed to helping the deceased home on the night in question. He for some time believed him to be “hopelessly drunk”. He fell twice.
Mr Lionel Alexander Weatherly, surgeon, who was called to visit the deceased on Monday the 19th gave evidence to the effect that deceased had scalp wound behind the right ear about an inch and a half long. There was no external mark of violence except the wound on the head. On removing the scalp he found large extravasations of blood and on opening the scull at the anterior part of the base of the scull, there was fracture from one side to the other. The fracture with the effusion was the cause of death.
1875 Jul 3. George Taylor, 26, navvy, pleaded guilty to breaking and entering a shop, and stealing two pint bottles of champagne and other wines and spirits, the property of Mr S Dupan, at Portishead, on the 12rth June and was sentenced to two months hard labour.
1875 Jul 3. Joseph Trim, on bail, was charged with stealing two pots of Geranium plants, value 10s, the property of Richard Wraith, at Portishead on 31st October. Mr Vigor for the prisoner, said the chief witness—Mrs Wraith—was too ill to attend, and as the medical man attending her was also unable to attend, there was difficulty in getting her deposition read. He felt that he could not go on with the case in her absence, and should offer no evidence at all. The prisoner was discharged.
1876 August The third annual festival of the Portishead branch of the Church of England Temperance Society took place on Wednesday, July 12th 1876. The programme was the same as on former occasions;--embracing a public Service in the Parish Church at 4-30 p.m. a meeting of members in the National Schoolroom at 5-30 p.m. a Public Tea in the Rectory grounds at 6-30 and a Public Meeting on the Rectory lawn at 7-30 at which last addresses were given by the Rev. C. Parsons rector of Penarth, who represented the Parent`s society, the Rev. W. E. Littlewood of St. James, Bath and Mr. Dunn of the baths, Portishead, a well known popular Temperance Lecturer.
The weather proving as favourable this year as it was unfavourable a year ago, the above programme would have been successfully carried out from beginning to end, had not the promised preacher, the Rev. W. E. Littlewood, allowed his train to leave Bristol without him and so deprived the congregation of his sermon. As it was however, with that one exception, everything passed off most pleasantly and without a hitch of any kind. Nevertheless, arising out of this years experience, a question has been suggested for future consideration and decision,--whether it would not be more conductive to the general success of the festival, as well as better in other ways, to commence proceedings somewhat earlier in the afternoon, so that both the tea and the meeting on the lawn might be over about an hour earlier and an interval of daylight yet remain in which the company might either engage in more active amusements, or stroll about the gardens in the cool of the evening, enlivened (let us hope) by the exertions on Mr. Hines and the Portishead Brass Band.
Mr Hines was Organist at the Parish church.
1878 Apr 1: Edward Brown, William Viney and William Tuck, sen. of Portishead, were summoned by Mr Albert Thompson, assistant overseer of that parish, for neglecting to pay their poor-rate, and orders were made for payment and distress warrants issued.
1878 May 27. Frederick Owens, of Portishead, was summoned for assaulting Mary Fowler, of the same place, on the 11th of May. The defendant pleaded guilty.
John Wyatt of Portishead, was summoned, for neglecting to provide sufficient elementary instruction for his children above the age of five years.
1878 Sep 25. Malicious Shooting at Portishead. A man named Edwin Ralls has been charged before Mr Payne, a magistrate of the Portishead division, with having without notice fired a loaded gun at Henry Wilmot and William Joseph Bezzant, with intent to do them bodily harm, and with threatening to do for them and assaulting them by holding his gun by the barrel in a threatening manner. Wilmot said that he and Bezzant, along with neighbours named William Banks, George Collins and William Wyburn had been at the Beach Hotel on Friday night, after they had gone from that house, they left Collins at his house, and were proceeding homeward, when the accused ran out and making a noise, fired a gun at them. Mr Payne remanded the case till Friday, but we are told that Ralls was afterwards admitted to bail.
1878 Sep 28. The Portishead Shooting Case. At the Long Ashton Petty Sessions yesterday before the sitting magistrates, Messrs W J Braikenridge, C A Homfray and J H Selwyn-Payne a man named Edwin Rowles, said to be of independent means, residing at Portishead, was charged, under a warrant, with discharging a loaded gun at Henry Wilmot, Wm Joseph Bessant and others with intent to do them grievous bodily harm.
Mr Clifton defended the accused. The following evidence was taken in support of the charge: Henry Wilmot, labourer, residing at Portishead deposed that on the previous Friday night he was coming from the Beach Hotel in company with Geo. Collins, Wm Wybourne, Wm Banks and Wm Joseph Bessant towards his home. In doing so they had to pass Rowles house and as they went by his residence they were singing. They stopped at Collin’s house, which was about 15 yards from defendant’s residence, to wish him good-night. They remained there talking about three or four minutes and after wishing Collins good night, they were about to go away. The defendant then came from the back of his house into his garden and grunted something, but they could not understand what it was. He had a gun in his hand which he fired, but witness could not say whether he fired it from his shoulder or not, as it was rather dark. He however saw defendant raise the gun in the action of shooting, but could not say it what direction it was pointed.
The witness who up to this time had given his evidence in a strangely contradictory manner, was seized with a fit, which necessitated his removal from the court. William Bessant, fly driver, living at Portishead, said that on Friday night the 20th he was in company with the previous witness and others, and they left the Beach hotel together just before tea. They were singing as they walked along. And on reaching Collins’s house they stopped a short time to wish him good night. Collins had gone about 15 yards down the path towards his house when someone came round from the back of defendant’s house and grumbled out something. Witness could not say who it was, but immediately a gun was fired from the direction of Rowles’s house. He distinctly saw the flash but was unable to say in what direction the gun was pointed. The shot however rattled in the hedge immediately behind witness and his companions. Mrs Rowles then came out and said she would go for a policeman. She made her appearance directly after the gun was fired. Whilst she was talking to them defendant rushed out with the gun, which he held by the barrel, and brandished the butt over their heads. When he ran out defendant said he would do for witness and Wilmot, and further threatened to shift them all.
Mr Clifton-That is what he wanted to do, to shift or move them away from his house.
Witness in continuation, said that he and his companions then went away.
Cross-examined by Mr Clifton-He had been in this court before. On that occasion he was convicted and fined for an assault on Mrs Rowles. Witness did not know how Mrs Rowles came by the black eye she now had. He did not see any of his companions strike her. The song they were singing was,”“We don’t want to fight” He would swear that it was not. “We’ll hang old Rowles to a sour apple tree”. (laughter) Witness remembered Rowles accusing Wilmot of stealing some one’s fowls. Wilmot asked Rowles what he meant by it and defendant said he had been informed of the theft by the man who had lost the fowls. Witness would positively swear that he and his companion did not throw a volley of stones and dirt at defendant’s house. They were not serenading Rowles for half an hour and would swear that no one requested them to move away before Rowles came out with his gun. He had no grudge against Mrs Rowles on account of the 18s 6d he had to pay for assaulting her. Wilmot did not threaten revenge upon Rowles when the latter accused him of stealing the fowls.
William Banks labourer of Portishead on, being sworne, deposed to leaving the Beach Hotel on Friday night in company with the others. There were singing up to Collin’s house and there finished their song. As they were still singing up to Collin’s house and there finished their song. As they were still singing someone came from behind Rowles house and stood about 20 yards from the road. This person, whoever it was, said something and fired a gun. Witness saw the gun raised to the shoulder and fired. Could not sweare who it was but saw that it was a man. He were standing. The shots passed just over their heads and entered the hedge behind them. They did not see what became of the person who fired but Mrs Rowles ran into the road just after the gun was fired and said she would go for a policeman. For the shots to have reached where they did the charge must have passed over the corner of Mr King’s garden which was between them and the road, he was carrying the gun on his shoulder and said he would start the lot of them, and threatened to “do” for Bessant and Wilmot.
William Wyborne, cab driver, Portishead, was also examined in confirmation of the other witness. He however said it was too dark for anyone to see who the person was that emerged from the back of Rowles’s house. It was too dark even to distinguish whether it was a man or a woman. He did not see the gun pointed but saw the flash and heard the shots rattle through the hedge at the back.
The witness Wilmot on being sufficiently recovered was again examined and concluded his evidence. George Collins said he was with the other witness on the night in question. They accompanied him home as far as the gate of his house. Witness had gone down the garden path about 15 yards when he heard a noise at the back of Rowles’s house. He waited for a minute or two and then heard Rowles’s voice say “if you don’t go in you------------I will serve you the same.” Shortly after this someone came out from the back of defendant’s house. Witness looked towards the spot and a gun was then discharged. Witness saw by the flash the face and hand of the man who fired the gun. The defendant’s garden and witness’s were next to each other, the division being a hedge. The gun was pointed in the direction of the young men who were standing in the road. Witness could distinctly see that the person who fired the gun was the defendant. Cross-examined by Mr Clifton-He had had a dispute before with Rowles about some pigeons. He had then sworn in court that he saw Rowles discharged a gun, but the case was then dismissed. He would swear that he liked Rowles none the worst for that. Constable Palmer stationed at Portishead, having been examined, the case for the prosecution concluded.
The case altogether was replete with anomalies. After drawing the attention of the bench to the direct contradictions in the evidence, Mr Clifton said that when they came to examine the law bearing upon the point, it was actually painful to see the way in which the time of the court and the public had been wasted by the calling of witnesses to prove facts which he (Mr Clifton) did not for a moment intend to contest. In the evidence which had been called there was nothing to show that the defendant had the slightest feeling against the young man and it was an insult to common sense to think that a person without the slightest cause should go from his own home armed with a gun to main and injure persons who had given him no offence whatever. The evidence bore out entirely the view which he submitted to the bench, that the witnesses were congregated outside of the defendant’s house disturbing him and behaving in a very unseemly manner and that he got the gun out and fired it for the purpose of frightening them and causing them to shift. If he had intent at the time he fired he must have maimed or seriously injured some of them. Mr Clifton further submitted that there was not the slightest evidence on which a jury could convict. It was in the magistrates power to bind the defendant over in heavy sureties to keep the peace and that was surely sufficient to meet the justice of the case. In conclusion he asked the bench in order to save the county from scandal, not to commit the defendant for trial, as the charge would be laughed out of any court of justice.
The magistrates retired to consult with the clerk, and on returning into court announced their intention of committing the prisoner for trial, adding that they had no objection to receive bail.
1880 Sep 11. A new license for the sale of beer on the premises in a shed or building at the Portishead Docks was granted to Mr Charles Boulter of the Royal hotel, Portishead, subject to the confirmation of the County licensing committee, who meet at Highbridge on the third Monday in September.
Charles Bessant of Portishead, was fined £2, including costs, for assaulting an old man named Isaac Bacon, at the same place on the 2nd instant.
1881 Jun 4. Mark Howell, George Bessant and Albert Lovell, of Portishead, pleaded guilty to wilfully damaging freestone caps on pillars at the entrance to a newly erected house in the Beach road, and were each fined 15s including damage and costs or seven days.
1882 Sep 21. Church of England Temperance Society. On Tuesday evening the first of a series of entertainment to be given under the management of this society was held in the National schoolroom. The rector, Rev J Stuart. M.A. presided and the meeting was addressed by the Rev Mr Birbeck, who earnestly advocated the claims of the cause. Several ladies and gentlemen, amongst whom were the Misses Wigan, Mr J C Glyde and Mr Gillett contributed to the enjoyment of the evening by songs and recitations.
1882 Sep 30. Thomas Tuck of Portishead , pleaded guilty to working a horse in an unfit state at Portishead, on the 8th instant and was fined 10s including costs.
1882 Dec 30: Sudden Death. An Inquest was held on Tuesday at the Albion inn by Dr. L A Weatherly, deputy-coroner, on the body of Mr Alexander Binland, who met with his death on Saturday in the manner described below.
The deceased gentleman has resided at Launer`s cottages, Portishead, for a considerable time. Caroline Eliza Binland, widow of deceased, deposed that on Saturday he appeared to be unwell, and suffered very much from cold. He asked for castor oil with whisky in it, which she gave him. He refused to have a doctor sent for. About two o`clock he died. Dr. Wigan gave evidence to the effect that the probable cause of death was syncope from failure of the hearts action. Verdict accordingly.
1883 Jul 30. John Ashford of Portishead was ordered to pay 6s weekly towards his wife’s support.
1883 Aug 27. John Wyatt of Portishead, was ordered to pay 17s, arrears due towards the support of his son in the Formidable Training ship and 2s-6d costs.
1884 Jun 16. The Docks Purchase. The Corporation Docks Purchase Bill is down for second reading tomorrow, (Tuesday) but no day has been fixed for its coming before a committee of the House. The Great Western Bill, to which the company seek to obtain powers for the purchase of the Portishead Railway, will probably be read a second time on Friday.
1884 Aug 20. The Annual Treat to the Church Schools: Last week we reported the proceedings connected with this annual treat but the unfavourable weather that then prevailed prevented anything being done in the way of sports; and immediately the children had partaken of tea they were dismissed. On Monday it was decided to devote the evening to the enjoyment of the games and sports provided and a most successful programme was gone through in the rectory grounds, as usually kindly thrown open by the rector. The children assembled at the various schools about 5 p.m. and then marched in procession to the rectory grounds, where they were received by the Rev James Stuart M A (rector), the Rev A W M Weatherly, Mr & Mrs W M Webb, Mr J B Walter, Mr & Mrs Hardwick, Mrs Roberts, Miss Honeywell, Mr F Weatherly, Mr & Miss Salmon, the Misses Smith and other ladies and gentlemen. The head master and Mistress from the National School, Mr & Mrs Trabridge, the infant School mistress, Miss Morriah and the Mistress from St Barnabas, Miss Thomas with the other teachers, were also present. Races of all kinds, high jumps and long jumps also competitions for climbing up greasy poles etc were freely and heartily indulged in; and all present appeared to thoroughly enjoy themselves. By the kindness of the rector and other friends there was a liberal supply of biscuits, gingerbreads and tea, as well as other refreshments, and these were freely patronised. The proceedings of the day were brought to a close by hearty cheers.
1885 Jan 3. The Foods Act. The following baker was fined for selling bread otherwise than by weight. Gilbert Daniels of Portishead 10s and costs.
1890 Jan 7 On Saturday the Portishead football club, having been disappointed by an opposing team not turning up, arranged a five miles foot race amongst them-selves. A number of prizes had been promised by local tradesman. The starting point was from a tree in front of the White Lion hotel to Weston in Gordano, round a tree a little past the White Hart inn, and back. There were seventeen starters, Selvey and Pickering as professionals, had to give Uncles, Bessant, Smith and Reynolds five minutes start and Bartley and Hazell two minutes. The following is the order in which the men arrived at the winning post. Bartley, Uncles, Pickering, Hazell, Monckton, Reynolds, Bessant, Selvey, Maddock, Mitchell, Davis, E Mitchell, A Mitchell, C Mitchell, Laurence and A Smith, the rear being brought up by Mr Picton. Pickering accomplished the distance in 30 minutes. In the evening the prizes were distributed in the large room at the Anchor inn. Mr James Uncles who had given the first prize was unanimously voted to the chair, and handed each article to its respective winner, after which Mr C L Thomas proposed, and Mr Reynolds seconded, a vote of thanks to the captain, the vice-captains and the secretary, for the able manner in which all arrangements had been carried out. The remainder of the evening was very pleasantly spent, many of the members contributing songs.
1892 Sep 24. Non payment of rates. Jacob Derrick of Portishead, was summoned for non payment of the poor rate. Defendant did not appear, but Joseph Allen, assistant overseer, stated that the amount of the rate was paid, but defendant would not pay the cost of the summons. The bench now made an order for the payment of the costs.
1892 Sep 24. George Mans and James Parsons, overseers for the parish of Portishead, were summoned for the non-payment of their contributions of £150 each. It was explained that £173 13s 10d had been paid into the bank. The case was adjourned for two weeks.
1899 Jan 21. Robert Edward brown, a young man, was charged that he, being a servant in the employ of Henry Benjamin Coles, of Portishead, did embezzle, between November 17 and December 24, several sums of money received on behalf of his master. Prisoner pleaded guilty. Prosecutor, who is a Butcher in High Street Portishead, said that the prisoner’s duty was to deliver meat, take orders and receive money from customers who paid on delivery. He was expected to account for any money he had received immediately upon his return. After Christmas Eve the prisoner did not turn up for work, and witness did not see him again until he saw him in custody. Harriet Susannh Coles, wife of the last witness, said it was the prisoner’s duty to pay any money received to her and she always entered it in the book, in his presence. There were accounts as follow which the prisoner had been paid, but which witness had never received: -Mrs Bessant £1-0s-2½. Mrs S Gale 12s-4½. Mrs S Harris 3s-3d. Mrs J Hayman, 1s-4d. and Mrs E Porter 6s-2d. All these customers received receipts for these sums in the prisoner’s handwriting, but the prisoner had not paid any money to witness. Mrs Bessant, Mrs Sarah Harris, Mrs Joseph Hayman and Mrs Elizabeth Porter proved paying the prisoner. Edith Minnie Louis Gale said she was her grandmother, Sarah Gale, pay the prisoner 12s-4½. She also produced the receipt signed by the prisoner. Detective Pollard of the Bristol police, proved a previous conviction against the prisoner for embezzlement and theft. The bench sent the prisoner to prison for four months hard labour.
1899 Feb 4. The Rev T G Horton conducted a pretty wedding at the Union Chapel on Tuesday afternoon. The contracting parties were Mr Jarvis and Miss Burgess both members of the Christian Endeavour Society in connection with the chapel. The bride carried a handsome shower bouquet and was attended by three bridesmaids. Miss Wilmott played the wedding march. The presents were numerous and costly and amongst them was a tea service of electro-plate, given by the class to the bride, and a handsome marble clock, given by the officers of the B T S Formidable to the bridegroom.
1899 Sep 22. Portishead Drowing Fatality: An inquest was held on Wednesday at the White Lion Hotel by Dr Craddock, coroner, over the body of Albert Williams, who was drowned at the Black Nore rock on the 17th inst. The facts have already appeared in the “Bristol Mercury”. The jury recorded a verdict of “Accidentally drowned on the Black Nore rock by the capsizing boat.”