Bill Davis

Bill Davis sang the Badminton Wassail to Andrew Kennett and Richard Chidlaw on 17 April 1972.

Bill Davis’ family had been living in the Horton/Hawkesbury Upton area for many years. His great-grandfather, Edward Davis, an agricultural labourer, lived with his wife, Elizabeth, in ?Longrove, Horton in 1841 where his son, John, and his other children were born. John, Bill’s grandfather, was also working as an agricultural labourer in 1851 and John’s mother, Elizabeth, was a house servant. John married Sarah Jane Pullin from Oldbury in 1853 in the Chipping Sodbury Registration District and by 1861 they were living in King Lane, Horton with four children: Rachel (Bill’s mother), Mary, George and Ann, all born in Horton. John was still an agricultural labourer as he was also in 1871 by which time John’s family were living in Petty France, between Hawkesbury Upton and Horton. Rachel and Mary Ann were general servants (out of employ). George was a farmer’s boy and they had two other children, John and Charles. All the children were born in Horton except John, Ann and Charles who were born in Hawkesbury.
Bill was born in January 1879. He carried his mother’s surname and in 1881, aged 2, he was living with his grandfather, John, a licensed hawker and his grandmother, Sarah, a shopkeeper on France Lane, Upton Tything, Hawkesbury Upton, not far from the Barley Mow pub. Also living there were John and Sarah Jane’s children: Rachel, a fancy wool welter and George and John who were both grooms and servants, and Annie, Charles and Sarah who were scholars. John, Sarah, Rachel and George were born in Horton, about three miles away. John, Annie, Charles and Sarah were born in Hawkesbury and William was born in Cheltenham. Bill retained his mother, Rachel’s surname all his life but in 1882 Rachel married John Box in the Chipping Sodbury Registration District. John Box was born in Sherston, Wiltshire. By 1891 aged 12, Bill was still living with his grandfather, John, his grandmother and Aunt Annie in Sodbury Road, old Sodbury, where John was then a shopkeeper and Annie was an assistant in shop. In 1901 John was a dealer with a general shop, born in Horton working on his own account. Also living at home was his wife, Sarah Jane, his daughter, Sarah, a shop assistant, born in Hawkesbury and they had 4 boarders. They were living at The Rookery, Old Sodbury. John Davis died in 1904 in the Chipping Sodbury Registration District. In 1911 Sarah Jane, his wife, was a widow living in Old Sodbury. She had had had eight children of whom one had died. Henry, a widower and agricultural labourer, was boarding with her. Sarah Jane died in 1920 in the Chipping Sodbury Registration District.
On 11 January 1897 William John Davis, described as a groom aged 18 yrs 1 month enlisted in the Grenadier Guards. He was discharged from the Guards some time before 1911 when he was living on the Sodbury Road, Badminton, working as a stableman-hunt. On 30 October 1906 he married Reverna Elizabeth Gulwell in Badminton Parish Church. In 1909, they had a son, Cyril William Davis and his birth was registered in the Chipping Sodbury Registration District. After 4 years of marriage and with one child who was still living on 27 January 1915, during the First World War, William John Davis aged 36, living at The Lawnes, Badminton, working as a groom gardener, reenlisted in the Grenadier Guards. William John Davis died in 1972 in the Kingswood Registration District. His son, Cyril William Davis died in 1996.
In the meantime in 1891 Bill’s mother, Rachel, and her husband, John Box, were living in No 4, Petty France Cottages, Hawkesbury, where John was a groom and domestic servant. By then they had two children, Sidney and Ellen, also born in Sherston and another daughter, Margaret, born in Hawkesbury. Rachel’s sister, Sarah Jane Davis, was also living with them. In 1901 Rachel and John, a stableman-groom, were living on the ‘Road to Cross Hands’, Great Badminton with three children: Ellen, Margaret and Winifred, the latter two both born in Petty France. Also living with them was Thomas, an adopted son born in Newbridge, Wales. In 1901, Bill’s mother and her husband, John Box, a stableman-groom, were living on the Road to Cross Hands, Great Badminton with their daughter, Margaret, and another daughter, Winifred, both born in Petty France. They also had adopted a son, Thomas, who was born in Newbridge, Wales. By 1911 John Box was still a stableman-hunting, living in Badminton with Rachel and two nephews. John and Rachel had had six children of whom five were still alive. Rachel Davis was buried on 26 July 1938 in St John The Baptist Church, Old Sodbury.

(Notes by Carol Davies November 2012)

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