W. E. Curtis & Co., Curtis & Cross, Cross

Ashley Vale Aerated Water Company.

In August 1886 at Ashfield House, Ashley Vale, there was a sale of veterinary and saddlery supplies, the property of Mr. Curtis, who was relinquishing the business. The house itself was the property of a builder named John Lambert.

Curtis and Cross Bottles - Image courtesy Aled Rees.

William Edwin Curtis was born in Leigh, Wiltshire, in 1841, son of Henry Curtis and Sarah Hicks. "Edmund" Curtis of Minety married Elizabeth, daughter of William Golding of Tailor's farm, Minety, Wilts. on 5 Dec. 1861 in Malmesbury, Wilts. In the 1871 census William is listed as Edwin Curtis and the family are at 21 Belle Vue Road, Old Swindon, with daughters Sarah Ann and Mary Jane aged 7 and 6 respectively. whilst Sarah Ann had been born in Minety, baptised 14 Dec. 1862, Mary Jane was born in 1864 in Pontcanna, Canton, Cardiff, Glamorgan. In 1862 "Edmund" & Elizabeth Curtis lived at the Old Workhouse, Minety. By 1881 the family are at 6 Armada Place, St. Paul's, Bristol, where William Edwin is a Coachman for the local preacher. They have another daughter, Lucy Maude, also born in Canton, Cardiff in 1866. By this date Sarah Ann had married Frederick Henry Price and was living back in Minety. In 1886 Lucy Maud married Arthur Millar White in Bristol in 1885. In the 1891 census William Edwin is listed as "Manager Mineral Water Works" and is living at 7 Midland Terrace, (now Lower Bristol Road) Bath, with wife Elizabeth, all the children had left home. Elizabeth died on 6 Jan. 1908 at 46 Elton Road, Bishopston age 65 (late of Grosvenor Road). By 1911 William had reverted back to "Edmund" and was living with daughter Lucy, and the White family at 22 Cranbrook Road, Ashley, Bristol, he is a painter and decorator. He died in Bristol in 1919 aged 78.

From the London Gazette 3 June  I887: "NOTICE is hereby given that the Partnership heretofore subsisting between us the undersigned, William Edwin Curtis and Richard Cross, carrying on business of Manufacturers of Mineral and Aerated Waters and Summer Drinks and Cordials, at Ashfield House, Sussex-place, in the city of  Bristol, under the style or firm of Curtis and Cross, has been dissolved, by mutual consent, as from the 23rd day of May, 1887. All debts due and owing by the said late firm will be received and paid by the said Richard Cross. — Dated this 27th day of May, 1887.                     :      

William E. Curtis.  
Richard Cross."

Richard Cross was born in Bristol in 1832, baptised 27 June at St. Peter's, son of Richard Cross, a Bristol iron dealer, and his wife Elizabeth Rich. Richard married Clara Margaret Theresa Kaill, daughter of Peter Kaill and Elizabeth Tricker, born 12 Aug. 1849 in St. Helier, Jersey. The marriage took place some time in the 1860s. Richard was a small farmer of 22 acres on Jersey and the family lived there for many years before returning to Bristol in 1886. The couple's son Richard was born in St. Brelade's, Jersey, in 1868. Richard the son married Susannah Le Couterer in St. Saviour, Jersey on 6 May 1889. In the 1891 census Richard Jnr. is at the Mineral Water Works at 52 Sussex Place with wife Susannah and daughter Cecelia Theresa. At this time his parents are living at 244 York Road, Bedminster. Other children of Richard and Clara are: William, born 1870, Edward born 1873, Walter, born 1875 all at St. Brelade's; Stiles Richard, born 1880, Frederick A., born 1882 both at St. Peter's, Jersey, and Oswald Charles born 1888 in Bristol.

It was the baptism record of Oswald Charles that led me to believe I had the correct family. It took place at St. Werbergh's Church, Bristol on 25 April 1888, and Richard Cross the father is stated as being a Mineral Water Manufacturer of Lower Ashley Hill.

It is likely the family returned to Bristol in 1885 due to a dispute concerning the Will of Elizabeth Cross née Rich: "LOCAL LAW CASE. CHANCERY DIVISION, LINCOLN'S INN. Before Mr Justice CHITTY. RICH V. CROSS AND AUBERT. This case, which was opened Wednesday, was resumed yesterday. The suit raised a question upon the will and codicil of Mrs Elizabeth Cross, widow of the late Mr Richard Cross, formerly of Bristol, iron merchant. By the will the testatrix devised all the real estate of which she might be seized, or over which she had any power of disposition, unto her son Richard Cross, his heirs and assigns, for his and their own benefit, subject to the payment of an annuity of £40 to her son Walter for life. There was also a bequest of her personal estate to trustees upon trust to pay two equal third parts thereof to her son Richard and as to the remaining third part of her said residuary personal estate upon trust to pay the income to her said son Walter Cross, for his life, and after his decease pay the corpus to her said son Richard Cross absolutely. By a codicil, after stating that her son Walter was dead, the testatrix altered her foregoing will, and gave and bequeathed to Richard Cross, eldest son of her son Richard Cross, £1,000, with an alternative gift to other grandchildren in the event of her said grandson dying before her, and as to the residue of her estates, real and personal, after payment of all liabilities, the testatrix gave and bequeathed the same to her said son, Richard Cross, and her daughter. Eliza Mary Ann Aubert, in equal portions, should either of them die before the testatrix she gave his or her share to his or her children.
The testatrix died possessed of real or personal estate of her own as to which no questions arose in the suit. But in addition to her own property the testatrix had a special power of appointment over certain freehold houses in Bristol, called Rich's Buildings, to which she was entitled (under her marriage settlement) for life, with power to appoint the property by deed or will amongst such of her children as she might think proper, and the point in discussion was whether the gift in the codicil applied to to this property.
Mr Maidiow, for the representative of the surviving trustee of the settlement, said the question was to whom the settled property belonged, whether to Richard Cross only, or whether it was to be divided between him and his sister, as in the case of the residuary, real, and personal estate, of which the testatrix was absolute owner. As representing a trustee, he did not desire to argue for either claimant, but stated the case for the opinion and direction of the court.
Mr Romer, Q.C., and Mr Lawes, on behalf of Richard Cross, the son, contended that the testatrix had by her will exercised the power of appointment in favour her son Richard exclusively, subject to the annuity to Walter, which ceased upon his death; that the gift in the will was clear, and as the codicil did not refer to the power of appointmont or to the propertv which was the subject of it, the gift in the codicil did not revoke the gift in the will; that the legacy in the codicil was in favour of grandchildren who were not objects of the power of appointment, and that in speaking of the residue of her estates real and personal the testatrix was referring only to her own absolute property, and accordingly the appointment made by the will was not affected or altered by the codicil.
Mr Vaughan Hawkins, for Mrs Aubert, argued that the codicil in effect revoked the appointment of the real estate made by the will, and contended that the testatrix had, by the expressions in her will, given a more a extended meaning to the words of the codicil, "residue of my estates, real and personal," so as effectually to include the real estate comprised in the settlement, as well as her own property, and, therefore his client was entitled to half share of the settled estate.
His Lordship, without calling for a reply, said the question turned upon the construction of the codicil. The appointment in the will was clear, and admitted of no doubt. There were no words of revocation in the codicil, consequently if the appointment was revoked it could not be by express words, but must be a revocation revocation by inconsistent disposition. Unless the intention was clear and free from doubt there was no revocation. As to the words used by the testatrix, "residue of my estates," he thought these prima facie referred to her own property. It had been argued that the testatrix had given special meaning to these words, but on reading the will and codicil he could not find that this was the case, and as there was not any evidence of an intention to revoke the gift he must hold that the appointment made by the will in favour of Richard Cross was not disturbed by the codicil, and accordingly declared that Richard Cross was absolutely entitled to the real estate comprised in the settlement." (Western Daily Press - Tuesday 17 March 1885 page 5). It is likely that this legacy is what enabled Richard Cross to enter partnership with William Edwin Curtis.

In June 1888 an employee of Richard Cross, a carter named George Kingcott was charged with cruelty to a horse whilst out on a delivery round in Olveston, Almondsbury and Thornbury. "Richard Cross, the employer of the defendant, stated that the horse was in good working condition.- his carters' duties were to take corn with them to feed the animals when they were on their Journeys, but he could not say whether defendant had taken corn with him on the day in question or not, The defendant when he came home told him that the horse had heart disease, and had dropped dead. When he found out how he had ill-treated the animal he at once discharged him from his employ. The bench considered it a most gross case of cruelty, and sentenced the defendant to be imprisoned for three months with hard labour, and £l 18s 6d to be levied by distress, or an additional month's imprisonment". (From the  Bristol Mercury - Thursday 28 June 1888 page 3.)

In September 1888 Richard was nominated as an electoral commissioner for the ward of St. James & St. Paul.

By 1889 Richard Cross (the son) seems to have departed Bristol to take up management of the Belgrave Hotel in Wilder Street, Ilfracombe. It seems however that rumours were afoot! "Mr Richard Cross (the "old Bristolian") is "at home" at the Belgrave, Wilder Road, confidentially expecting everybody to visit him. We were there last week, and to give Mr. Cross what Kingsley calls "the puff honest and true," we may say that the tankard of bitter on tap at the Belgrave cannot be surpassed. The changes enumerated above are, however, not the only ones. Scandal has been rampant during the last week, and it is rumoured that a prominent individual has taken a holiday tour, and that the one-time partner of his joys and sorrows would like to interview the being in whose company he "skipped"!"(Bristol Magpie - Saturday 22 March 1890).

The gossip in the "Magpie" became clear a little later in the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Thursday 16 October 1890 page 8: "LICENSING CASES IN NORTH DEVON...Mr. Roberts then made application in regard the Belgrave Hotel, Ilfracombe. He said the hotel was owned by a Company, and the licence was held by a man named Richard Cross. Unfortunately, he bolted from Ilfracombe a little time before Michaelmas-day, leaving the Company without their rent and either taking the license with him or mislaying it.—The Clerk to the Magistrates (Mr. W. E. Law) pointed out that if the Magistrates were satisfied on oath that the licence was lost an endorsement could be made on a copy. Mr. W. Walters, Secretary to the Company, proved the fact that the licence could not be found and that the manager had gone. Miss Bolt was now acting manageress. The Bench granted license, under the circumstances, to Miss Bolt." In the same newspaper Tuesday 21 October 1890 page 2: Mr. Richard Cross, late of the Belgrave Hotel, was summoned for non-payment of his gas bill, amounting to £10  2s.—Mr. Ball, manager of the Ilfracombe Gas Company proved the bill, and a distress warrant was issued.

In 1891 Richard had a licence for the White Lion Hotel in Victoria Street: "BRISTOL COUNTY COURT. * WHITE LION HOTEL, VICTORIA STREET, BRISTOL. MR WILLIAM BOWMAN will SELL by AUCTION, on the Premises, on FRIDAY, 27th February, 1891, the STOCK IN TRADE and capital HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE and EFFECTS of Mr Richard Cross, taken in execution. No Reserve. Sale at Two o'clock. Auction Offices. Nicholas Street, Bristol." The license transferred to Frederick William Elton Jones on Weds 15th April 1891. (Bristol Mercury - Thursday 16 April 1891)

Similarly from the Western Daily Press - Saturday 12 December 1891 page 1: "SALE OF HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE AND EFFECTS, ASHFIELD HOUSE, SUSSEX PLACE, ASHLEY ROAD, BRISTOL. MR C. H. TUCKER will SELL by AUCTION, on the Premises as above, on MONDAY, Next, Dec. 14th, a portion of the HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE and EFFECTS, belonging to Mr Cross, Comprising: Sewing Machine, Clock, Couch, Iron French Bedsteads, Curtains, Pole and Rings, Dressing Table, Toilet Glass, Floorcloth, Carpet, and Sundries. Sale at Three o'clock precisely."

Clara died on 22 Nov 1894 aged 45 years and 3 months. By now son Richard the son had returned to 11 Cheapside, St. Hellier, Jersey, unemployed, where he and Susannah had another daughter Clara Margaret Kaill, born 25 April 1893. In 1901 Richard Cross Senior is living with son Oswald at 5 Dowry Square, Bristol, his profession is stated (as in 1891) as an accountant. Richard Cross senior died in 1909.

Ashley Vale Aerated Water Company continues...

From the Western Daily Press - Wednesday 6 February 1895 page 7: "A BRISTOL ACTION FOR WRONGFUL DISMISSAL. Yesterday, at the Bristol County Court, his Honour Judge Austin and jury heard the case Simpson v. Lambert, in which Lancelot Simpson, of London claimed of John Lambert, Ashley Down, £46 18s in respect of wrongful dismissal and breach of agreement. According to the particulars of claim the defendant agreed on May 8th, 1894, to employ the plaintiff as manager of his Kops ale business and his mineral water business, at a weekly salary of 30s, with furnished rooms, plaintiff to have the option of purchasing the mineral water business on certain terms. The agreement was terminable by two months' notice on either side. The term of employment commenced on May 26th, instead of May 15th, in respect of which the plaintiff claimed £6. The defendant was alleged to have broken the agreement by not providing properly furnished rooms, and the plaintiff claimed £4 18s for the expenses of other rooms taken by him. Further, on September 21st, the defendant, as was alleged, wrongfully dismissed the plaintiff without notice, and refused to carry out the agreement. For loss of salary and of rooms, and damages for loss of option purchase, the plaintiff claimed £36. Mr Shewell Cooper (instructed by Messrs Trail and Howell, London) represented the plaintiff, and Mr F. E.Weatherly (instructed by Messrs Press and Inskip) was for the defendant.
Plaintiff gave evidence to the negotiations which led up to his taking over the management of defendant's business. An agreement was drawn up on May 8, 1894 under which the defendant accepted him as manager at a weekly salary of 30s, with two furnished rooms rent free and five per cent. on all sales above certain amount. Plaintiff was also to have the option of purchasing the business for £600, with a lease of the premises for seven years at a rental of £60. The document was produced, and witness admitted it did not state when he should enter upon his work, but it was verbally agreed that he should commence on May 15.
On taking up his residence at the works in Sussex Place he found the rooms were not properly furnished, and that there was no caretaker on the premises, as he had been led suppose. In consequence of that he took other lodgings, but the defendant objected to the place being left unoccupied night, so resumed sleeping at the works, and for four weeks he had to make his own bed. He continued occupation of his second room to have his meals in, and that cost him 7s a week for fourteen weeks. To reimburse himself he deducted 10s week for three weeks, but returned the money when defendant objected and threatened dismiss him. He was not on good terms with the defendant, who offered him a five-pound note to return the agreement, but he declined. One of the men in the works had been "subbing," and when defendant requested witness to refund the money which had been advanced, he declined. Defendant then became excited, and threatened to have both the man and witness arrested. Witness still declined to pay, so defendant dismissed him. He was out of work for three weeks, and he claimed £2 a week for the loss he sustained in consequence. Defendant also refused to give up his clothing, and he had to spend some £10 in that respect.
Mr Weatherly admitted that the goods had been detained under a misapprehension. They had been returned, and the only question under that head was the amount of damages sustained.
Plaintiff was first cross-examined as to the comfort of his apartments. He complained that the furniture was odds and ends and the bed hard. (Laughter.)
Mr Weatherly: You cannot expect to have rooms furnished in the height of luxury. (Laughter.) Now, in the bedroom were there not bedstead, two palliasses upon it, and bed upon that which I suggest was made of millpuff?
His Honour: He has called it "a thing." (Laughter.)
Mr Weatherly: I don't admit that.
His Honour: You don't admit it is a thing.
Mr Weatherly: Not in a contemptuous sense. (Laughter.) It was a millpuff bed.
Witness: It was very lumpy. (Laughter.)
Mr Weatherly: There were sheets and blankets?
Witness: Yes; but they were all too small. (Laughter.)
Replying to further questions he said there were chairs and other furniture—a mixture of odds and ends. (Laughter.) Asked if there was carpet, witness said there were two or three pieces. (Laughter.)
Mr Weatherly: Not one over the other. Witness: Oh, no. (Laughter.) The cross-examination was then directed show that the accounts were improperly kept and formed justification for dismissal.
His Honour remarked that man employed as the plaintiff was could only be discharged for misconducting himself in his employment. Merely keeping the accounts in a slovenly way would not be justification for dismissal.
Mr Weatherly said that his case was that defendant dismissed the plaintiff by two months' notice properly signed, and that plaintiff then went away and dismissed himself.
In further cross-examination, the plaintiff said he allowed one of the men to have "subs" because he was in  exceptional pecuniary circumstances. The defendant did not say to him in reference to that matter that until it was cleared up he must have nothing more to do with the accounts. He had previously told the defendant about the "subbing." The defendant complained, and witness consulted his solicitor in London. His effects were afterwards sent on to him, but some of them were damaged through having been kept in damp place. The defendant refused to sell the business to him. It would be worth about £800.
Gordon Stewart Fairclough, of the firm of White and Simpson, ale and stout manufacturers, Southampton, said he negotiated for the purchase of the defendant's business, but the negotiations were broken off in consequence of a communication from the plaintiff.
John Hanham, carman, of Redfield, St. George, formerly in the employ of the defendant, said he "subbed" and gave the plaintiff I.O.U.'s for various amounts, in all £2 11s 10d.
Walter Lyon, of Lower Cheltenham Place, deposed to the plaintiff taking apartments there for some time. He saw the place provided for the plaintiff by the defendant, and did not consider it properly furnished.
John Claydon, manager of Kops' Brewery, Fulham, London, spoke to negotiations between his firm and the plaintiff in regard the business in Bristol.
Mr Trail, the plaintiff's solicitor, said had known Simpson for ten years. He acted on plaintiffs behalf in trying to procure partner for the business, and Mr Fairclough would have been prepared to join the plaintiff. Subsequently he was present at an interview in London between the plaintiff and defendant, at which the latter spoke about taking criminal proceedings against the plaintiff, and flatly refused to return the plaintiff's effects or to allow him the option of purchasing the business. He also said plaintiff had been dismissed, but could return if he paid back the £2 l1s l0d. Witness visited plaintiff in Bristol, and stayed the night with him.
Mr Cooper: Did you sleep with him in the bedroom we have heard so much about?
Witness: I did, and I should decline on any account to sleep in that room or on that bed again. (Laughter.)
Mr Cooper: Was it hard?
Witness: It was series of lumps. (Laughter.) The things were too short for the bed by something like a foot or eighteen inches. I am not particularly small man, and my feet were right out at the end. (Laughter.) The mattresses were too short, the sheets were too short, and I have never slept in such desolate room in all my life.
His Honour: Or in such a desolate bed? (Laughter.)
Witness: was very uncomfortable.
Mr Cooper: But it was desolate, I hope? (Laughter.)
Witness: Oh, yes. (Laughter.)
Mr Weatherly: Which would most appropriate for a manager of Kops' agency at salary of 30s week, a feather bed or millpuff ?
Witness: If that were millpuff common charity would prompt me to give a feather bed. (Laughter.)
This closed the plaintiff's case.
Mr Weatherly, for the defence, denied that the plaintiff was to start for the defendant on May 15; asserted that the rooms were properly furnished; and added that dismissal was with the agreed two months' notice. He admitted that the defendant did wrong in detaining the plaintiff's effects, but said they were afterwards returned and all expenses paid.
The defendant said the Ashley Vale Mineral Water Works came into his possession from a tenant. He was retired builder. Wanting to take up Kops' agency he communicated with the firm, and the plaintiff was recommended to him. It was understood that the plaintiff was not to come down until the goods arrived, and there was no date in the agreement. The plaintiff wrote on May 11th to say he was coming, and witness was unable write in time to stop him. He came down and blamed Kops' people, from whom he said he should claim expenses. As to the rooms, the plaintiff looked over them himself, and there was plenty furniture available in the house. He knew nothing of the "subbing" by Hanham, or of the I.O.U.'s being given by him to the plaintiff. Before he knew of the I.O.U.'s he spoke of the offence as embezzlement.
His Honour remarked that the reckless way people sometimes instituted criminal proceedings now-a-days was astonishing, and he was surprised to hear defendant talk about this as embezzlement.
Defendant, in further evidence, said, that had always been anxious to sell the business—never more so than that day. (Laughter.)
His Honour: This has been rather bad day for the business? (Laughter.)
Defendant: Yes, I am not used to this kind of thing. (Laughter). He offered the business to plaintiff for £100 less than the amount agreed upon. This would be few weeks before plaintiff left.
In cross-examination, defendant said had lived in the house which had been spoken of for 20 years.
Mr Cooper: With the furniture which has been described?
Defendant: No, I don't say that. It has been my misfortune, when I  have been away sometimes, to have to sleep under worse conditions than our friend Simpson. (Laughter.)
Mr Cooper: Should you like occupy that room?
Defendant: I should not object to go and sleep in the same bed to-night.
His Honour: You need not, unless you wish. (Laughter.)
Defendant, in further cross-examination, admitted that there was no bath on the premises, but it did not strike him that plaintiff required bath. (Laughter.)
Mr Cooper: You don't agree that bath is necessity?
Defendant: It is matter of taste. (Laughter.) In reply to further questions, he denied that he charged plaintiff with embezzlement or with compounding a  felony. He did complain of plaintiff allowing Hanham to go on "subbing." At the interview in London he said that plaintiff might have his belongings back, with the exception of the bicycle.
Miss Bertha Newman was called to speak to the millpuff bed. She was employed by the defendant, and prepared the rooms for the plaintiff. They were properly furnished, and the bed it was "good wide millpuff." It  would not be nobbly if made proper way—(laughter)—but it required pulling about the same as a feather bed. She considered that if all young people had as comfortable a home as Mr Simpson had there, they would be well done for. (Laughter.)
This was the whole of the evidence, and counsel addressed the jury for their respective clients.
His Honour summed up, and left several questions to the jury, which were answered follows:—(1) Was there any agreement between the plaintiff and defendant that plaintiff should begin work on the 15th of May?— Yes.
(2) Supposing there was such agreement, what are the damages defendant ought to pay? —£4.
(3) Did defendant commit any breach of agreement to supply plaintiff with two furnished rooms?— No.
(4) If there was breach, what is the damage?—None.
(5) Did the defendant dismiss the plaintiff the 21st of September?— No.
(6) If the defendant dismissed the plaintiff, was the dismissal justified by his conduct ?—No.
(7) What is the damage for the detention of the goods?—£l0.
The court sat until after seven o'clock, and as his Honour had left before the jury came to a decision, the question of costs was reserved until this morning."

From the Western Daily Press - Monday 21 August 1899, Lambert had finally succeeded in disposing of the company. Hansford had taken over equipment and bottles from the pre-existing company in Ashley Vale. Hansford & Co. issue the following announcement: "ALL BOTTLES and BOXES belonging to the ASHLEY VALE MINERAL WATER CO., Ashley Hill, Bristol and bearing the following names- "W. E. Curtis & Co.," "Curtis & Cross," "Cross," "Ashley Vale Mineral Water Co.," and "Kops" - are now the property of  HANSFORD & CO., Mineral Water Manufacturers, Grosvenor Road, Bristol.


6oz Codd's Bottle Ashley1.jpg

Glassworks:  Unmarked. Cross on base.

Stoneware Ginger Beer Bottle Cross3.jpg
Printed on front:  (All within Maltese cross design) HOME BREWED / GINGER BEER / CROSS'S / ASHLEY VALE / BRISTOL

Photo courtesy Aled Rees.
Potter:  ? All white glaze.

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