Collated by Mary Mason.

Church of Christ Church built in 1958.


Crokerne Pill 1497--- One of many families to be associated with the Channel pilots is the Ray family. It is said that James George Ray piloted Cabot’s Mathew to sea in 1497.  Pill was home to many Bristol pilots and the pilots of Pill cruised the Channel as speed was essential to go alongside cruising vessels and offer pilotage.


“Upon the river Avon, northeastward from the village, (Easton in Gordano) stands the hamlet of Crockerne-Pill, the buildings of which chiefly arose in the last century for the habitation of Mariners, whose business consists in piloting vessels to and from Bristol, and down the Channel, sometimes as low as the island of Lundy, in which a great number of towing-boats and yawls are constantly employed, besides skiffs which ply down the Channel in speculation for the arrival of vessels.”

                                                                                                                                                                                    Reverend John Collinson, F.A.S. 1791.


1577; A act of piracy was committed in the Avon in July 1577, by a gang of sailors and ruffians who took possession of a small Dungarven vessal lying at Pill, they also robbed several other ships of their cargo laden with wares for the fair. The pirates were pursued by Lord Leicester’s Flebte with a crew of sixty armed men. Those apprehended were tried at the goal and three were sentenced to death.


1615 Sessions. Upon good cause shown it is ordered that Thomas Maggs shall go back again from Pill where he now dwelleth to Lovington where he hath formerly for a long time dwelt; yet he may make his best profit and benefit of his house in Pill, so as he doth not place above one tenant or household in the said house; and if the parishioners of Lovington shall refuse to receive him; that the next Justice with in that limit may bind over such as do refuse to the next Sessions.


1604 Morgan a landowner of Pill, had given the Corporation much trouble, in interfering with the navigation of the Avon. In June 1630 a petition was laid before the Privy council, setting forth that Morgan had not only prevented the use of certain posts set up at Pill for the mooring of ships but had also erected a house on the river bank. The Council ordered Morgan to demolish the house and to erect new posts however on rehearing the case, the Government send two influential personages to visit the place and report on the dispute. (17th Century Annuals of Bristol records a detailed report on this case.)


1631Sessions. Upon the certificate under the hand and seal of Sir Edward Berekley of Pill, Knight, and of the parishoners there, it was ordered that John Dunckerton, a poore impotent man borne in Pill aforesaid, having no settled place of abiding there, should erect a Cottage upon some part of the west ground within the parish.


1632 William Joyce of Pill to be a common badger of Corne to be bought in any open market within this County, not exceeding the quantity of xvi bushels weekly for one year, Henry Berkly, Robert Hopton, John Harrington.


1633 Licences Granted. Willus Joyce of Pill, to buy weekly xvj bushels of Corne in Wiltes and Somerset, to sell again in this County and not else where.


1634 In the matter of the difference between the parishioners of Evercreech and Pill concerning the settling of one Gregory Brooke his wife and child, it was desired that Sir Ralph Hopton and Sir Edward Rodney, Knights, should settle the said Gregorie Brooke his wife and child where they think fitt.


1636 Thomas Locke of Pill to be a common badger of Corne.


1652 Mr Morgan, son of the above, of Pill was reported to the Commons Council in June. It was stated that the landowners or some of his tenants were raising fresh buildings on the river-bank to the prejudice of navigation, it was ordered that a notice should be sent to Morgan, to demolish what had been built. (17th Century Annals of Bristol)


1693 The first known Customs watch-house was built at Pill.


1763 The Customs Officer received information about goods being landed near Portbury. Although the coast was watched for several days nothing was found, however many smugglers were apprehended along this coast-line.


1821 Marriage: May 10 at St George’s by the Rev H Mirehouse, Mr G Wild of Portbury to Mrs Mary Windham, widow of the late Mr John Windham of Pill.


1840 Nov 7. Notice is hereby given, that application is intended to be made to Parliament in the ensuing Session for an Act to make and maintain a Dock or Docks, or Basin, with good and efficient Roads and approaches thereto, and all requisite Wharfs, Buildings, Roads and Approaches and conveniences connected therewith, at or near Pill, in the Parishes of Saint George, otherwise Easton-in-Gordano and Portbury, in the county of Somerset, and in the city and county of Bristol, or one of them. And it is intended to apply for power, by the said Act, to levy Tolls, Rates and Duties, in and for the said Docks or Basin, Wharfs, Roads and Works, and to purchase and take Lands for the purpose thereof. And also to apply for such provisions to abolish, diminish, regulate in apportion the Tolls, Rates and duties, now payable upon such vessels using the said Docks or Basin, and not making any use of the present Docks and works at Bristol, above Rownham Ferry, as may be consistent with the convenience of the Public, the prosperity of the Port of Bristol and its vicinity, and the rights of Property combined.


And notice is hereby further given that the Maps or Plans and Sections describing the line and levels of, and the Lands to be taken for the purpose of the said Works, together with the Books of Reference to the said Plans, containing the names of the Owners or reputed Owners, Lessees or reputed Lessees and Occupiers of such Lands will be deposited for Public Inspection with the Clerk of the Peace for the said county of Somerset at his office in Taunton, and with the Clerk of the Peace for the said city and county of Bristol, at his office in Bristol, on or before the Thirtieth Day of this present month of November; and also on or before the Thirty-first day of December next, Copies of so much of the said Maps or Plans and Sections as relates to each of the said Parishes, in or through which the said Books of Reference thereto will be deposited for Public Inspection with the Parish Clerk of each of such Parishes, at their respective residences.

                        Dated this Fourth Day of November 1840.

                                    JAMES ADAM GORDON.

Mr EDWIN NAISH will sell at the RODNEY INN, PILL

On Monday the 7th August next, at five o`clock in the afternoon

The following Property in Lots;

Lot 1. All that Messuage or Dwelling House, situate in the occupation of Mary Langman.

Lot 2. All that Messuage or Dwelling House, adjoining in the occupation of John Sully.

Lot 3. All that Messuage or Dwelling House, also adjoining, in the occupation of William Miles.

Lot 4. All that Messuage or Dwelling House, also adjoining in the occupation of Richard Bouns.

Lot 5. All that Messuage or Dwelling House, with the shop attached thereto, and Premises situate near the Slip, in the occupation of Jane Seville.

Lot 6. All that Messuage or Dwelling House, and Premises adjoining the last lot, in the occupation of Mr Hobbs Brown, the owner.

Lots 1.2.3 and 4 are held for the remainder of a Term of 99 years, determinable with the Life of the said James Hobbs Brown, now aged 39 years; and Lots 5 and 6 are also held for the remainder of a Term, determinable with the lives of the said James Hobbs Brown and Jane Charles, now aged 40 years.


1843 July 29.






















AUCTION at the Rodney Inn Pill Somerset

On Tuesday next, the 5th day of June, at five o`clock in the evening precisely.

All that MESSUAGE or Dwelling House, with the Garden and

Premises thereto belonging, situate at HAM-GREEN in the parish of Portbury, Somerset, late in the occupation of Captain Henry Parfitt, but now void.

The above premises are held from the decease of the survivor of John Leuco and Ann his wife, which took place in the year 1848, for a term of Twenty-one years, granted by an Indenture of Lease bearing date 29th Sept. 1831 an and under the yearly rent of 2s 6d.


1849 June 2.













Bristol Newspaper reports.

1850 Jul 6. The opening of the new customs station at Pill.

On Friday week, the thirteenth anniversary of her Majesty’s coronation, the new Customs station at Pill, near the mouth of our river, was opened with appropriate ceremonials, more than one hundred gentlemen having been invited to be present on the occasion. Pill being situate within view of the mouth of the river, nearly two centuries since the Custom-house authorities deemed it requisite to establish a station there, and a building was erected, which was thus described by a stone embedded in the wall- “this watch-house was built in the year of our Lord 1693 by Captain Charles Symes, who first proposed it to the Hon Commissioners of the Customs. He lived here as principal surveyor twenty years, when this stone was put up, being 1710, and died after.” This building having become dilapidated and altogether unequal to the requirements of the port, the Commissioners of her Majesty’s Customs determined upon the erection of a substantial station in its place, the building of which was entrusted to our fellow-citizens, Messrs. Wilcox & Sons, under the superintendence of Mr Thomas Howell, clerk of the works for her Majesty’s Customs.


The present building has been erected at a cost of about £2500, is upon the old site, and is a most substantial one, raised five feet above the level of the old building and fronts the river Avon just opposite Lamplighter’s Hall. It is built on strong wharf walls, with a species of granite, raised in the neighbourhood of Stapleton, and has a slate roof and projecting cornice. The interior is most commodious, consisting of the surveyor’s department, parlours, bedrooms, kitchens, lobbies, with a spacious yard and boathouse, the whole reflecting the highest credit upon every person concerned in its erection. Embedded in the wall is a large stone bearing the following inscription:


“Rebuilt in the year of our Lord 1850, in the 14th year of the reign

                                                                      of her most gracious Majesty Queen Victoria.

                                                        J Ker Esq. collector; M Laxton Esq, controller; Mr Thomas Harvey

                                                        and Mr C A Davis tide-surveyors; Thomas Wilcox & sons, builders;

                                                                       Thomas Howell, clerk of the works.”


At ten o’clock a numerous party left the basin in the Propeller steamer for Pill, accompanied by an excellent band of music. Upon the steamer arriving in sight of the station they found it profusely decorated with flags etc and the slip manned by a large number of the officers of Customs, in their uniforms, and having been received by Mr Davis, at the foot of the slip, amid a salute of artillery placed in the yard, they proceeded by the band playing “God

 Save the Queen,” entered the building, which was then formally opened, and her Majesty’s heath drunk amid the cheers of the assembled multitude, the cannon firing a royal salute. The company, accompanied by several ladies, then adjourned to the large room, which was tastefully decorated with flowers and evergreens, and where they sat down to an excellent cold repast, under the presidency of John Roberts Esq, landing surveyor, Michael Tisdale, Esq, officiating as vice-chairman.


1850 Nov 23. Marriage at St. Paul`s Church, Newport, Mr. A. Matthews of Portland, America, chief mate of the `Dirigo` to Miss E. Brown second daughter of Mr. Joseph Hobbs Brown, late of Pill, Somerset.

1852 Aug 7. Marriage on Aug 2 at St. Philip`s Church, William eldest son of Mr Henry Feltham of Shirehampton to Sarah Ann relict of Mr George Durban and eldest daughter of Mr John Cross, builder and contractor, Pill, Somerset.


1853 Mar 26. Quarter Session. The court voted that the sum of £60 was awarded for the repair of Pill-bridge.


1860 Mar 17. Wilful Murder at Pill, Somerset. An inquest on the body of a male infant that had been found in the river Avon, about a mile from Pill. That Albert Dickens gave information to Edward Hitchcock, who went and took the body up, and found a severe bruise on the side of his head, notwithstanding the police had made every possible inquiry in that part of Somerset, Bristol and Gloucester; they had been unable to obtain any information on the matter. The surgeon Mr John Hayward who resided at the Lodway, St. George, saw the body; and he found the body in a state of decomposition and was of the opinion that it had been dead three weeks and was probably three months old. He concluded that death was caused by suffocation from drowning. The jury returned a verdict of `Wilful murder` by drowning against some person or persons unknown.


1862 Apr 5. Wreck of the `Mars` steamer. The `Mars` steamer was commanded by Captain James Blinman, a native of Pill, Somerset. The catastrophe which resulted in the loss of the ship and cargo and the sacrifice of some fifty human lives occurred on the Welsh coast near Milford. At Pill with which village, the Captain, Chief and second mates and three or four members of the crew were connected, the wreck had caused as almost funereal gloom to pervade society. Of the six survivors, according to one account, one is a seaman named James Case living on Temple back, Bristol, another is Joseph Cross residing at Pill, while the rest consist, two stokers, one passenger and a cattle-drover, according to another, of two seamen and four drovers. 

                                    List of the Crew.

The following is a list of the crew, but of the passengers, nothing definite is yet known.

Captain J Blinman aged 42, resides at Waterford, and has left a widow.

Mr Marshall, aged 25, second mate, acting in place of Mr Dando, as chief mate. Mr Marshall was nephew of the Captain. His father was drowned two years ago in a pilot skiff, and his widowed mother and some children were, to a great extent dependent on him.

Alfred Alesbury, aged 35, of the Hotwells, Bristol, acting as second mate, leaves a widow and four children.

James Case, of Temple back, seaman known to be saved.

Joseph Cross, of Pill, seaman, known to be saved.

Thomas Hunt, of the Hotwells, seaman, leaves a widow.

William Bullock, of Pill, seaman, leaves a widow and two children.

Frank Sevill, of Pill, seaman, single.

William Rose, of Pill, seaman, single.

Charles Cooper, of Waterford, single.

Joseph Edwards, of Waterford, seaman.

Peter Dunkanson of Waterford, first engineer.

Second engineer, just joined, name unknown.

John Davis, of the Hotwells, fireman.

Patrick Berry, of Waterford, fireman.

Patrick Russell, of Waterford, fireman.

James Maher, of Waterford, fireman.

------ Sutton, of Waterford, seaman.

John Martin, of Wrexford, seaman.

Richard Mitchell, employed to look after the crew.

Patrick Corcoran, of Wexford, carpenter.

George Hallett, steward, at the Hotwills.

Mrs Way, stewardess.

Benjamin Goldric, cabin boy and cook of the Hotwells.



1862 Jul 26. Death of a Merchant Captain:--The flags on the shipping in our port were half masked on Monday, in consequence of the death of Captain George Lee, master of the West Indiaman Louisa, and late of the Dora, who had been from his apprenticeship on board the Fanny in the employ of Messrs T Daniel & Co, and who expired on Sunday evening, at his residence, Queen Square. The deceased, who was, we believe a native of Pill, was much respected, and has left a widow and five children.


1863 Nov 21. Eliza Cook, landlady of the Red Lion tavern, Pill, was summoned for keeping her house open at illegal hours on Sunday November 15. She was fined £2 including costs, and the bench threatened to refuse the renewal of her license.


1870 May 14. Death. Apr 15 at San Luis Obispo, California, Mr Samuel George Tucker, late of London, and youngest son of the late Mr Thomas Tucker, of Myrtle Hill, Pill, aged 43.


1872 Jul 2. On Thursday afternoon all the regular attendants at the Sunday School in connexion with Christ Church, Pill, together with their teachers, were invited by the Rev J W Lace, vicar of Pill, to spent the afternoon in the vicarage grounds, where an excellent tea was provided for them. The Revs. J W Lace, A Walker and E O Tyler, Mrs Lace and Mrs Walker etc assisted in entertaining and amusing the children.


1873 Apr 5. John Winter of Pill, for being drunk on the highway was, in default of paying a fine, ordered to be locked up, at the police station for two days.


1875 Jan 23. Marine Parade Pill. Mr Wm Weeks has received instruction from the executors of the late Mrs Mary Bailey, deceased, to sell by Public Auction, on the Premises as above, on Thursday next January 28th. The whole of the household furniture, china, glass, oil paintings, prints and other effects. Sale to commence at one o` clock.


1878 Apr 1. Samuel Caple and William Sims of Pill, were charged, the former with stealing, and the tatter with receiving. On the 22 March, thirty eight ponds weight of lead, value 4s-9d, the property of Mr George Prescott. Mr Prescott deposed that he was a carpenter, living at Easton in Gordano, and was the owner of a house at Pill, in that parish. On the 22 March, in consequence of information received by P C Smith, the witness went to his house at Pill, and found that the whole of the lead was stripped off a porch over the front door; and he subsequently went to P C Smith who showed him the roll and he went with the constable and placed it on the porch and it fitted perfectly. The prisoner Caple’s uncle lived in the house from which the lead was taken. The prisoner Caple was sometimes called ‘Weeks’. A marine store dealer at Pill named Sims, said Samuel Weekes had brought some lead and offered it for sale. He did not give him any money for it, the constable took charge of the lead and afterwards apprehended Caple who was about 17 years old. Caple was sent to goal for one month, with hard labour, Sims was committed for trial at the next Quarter Session for receiving the lead, knowing it to be stolen.


1878 Aug 17. Thomas Knight, a labourer of Pill, was charges with assaulting P C Smith in the execution of his duty, on the 16th. The defendant it appeared had been assaulting his mother, and was so violent, he had to be tied down. The constable on arriving, directed him to be unfastened and this being done, he went into the house and attempted again to struck his mother He threw a pan at the officer and broke some windows. The magistrates sent him to goal for one months hard labour, and ordered him to pay the expenses of the windows out of the money he had in his possession.


1878 Aug 17. William Dungery, a labourer of Pill, summoned for being drunk and refusing to leave the Waterloo House, Pill when requested, was fined 14s including costs.


1878 Dec 21. Fatal Accident at Pill. On Tuesday afternoon, a sad accident occurred here, which caused the death of Mr Charles Adams, aged 66, a superannuated Bristol Channel pilot; Whilst in the act of ascending the stairs he fell backwards upon his head. He was picked up in an insensible state, and remained unconscious until Wednesday afternoon when death took place. The deceased was much respected.


1879 Feb 26. Board of Trade Inquiry at Cardiff into the circumstances attending the collision in the Bristol Channel between the steamship C W Anderson of Liverpool and the brig Shields of Cork. It appeared that the brig Shields anchored that night (Feb 12) near the Nash Point, having been in collision with a pilot-boat, owned by Edwin Carey of Pill, Somerset, while at anchor and with all her lights burning the brig Shields was bore down directly by the Liverpool ship and she struck the Shields on the Port bow, and cut down so that she sank in two or three minutes. The inquiry was adjourned.


1880 Nov 5. Inquest: An adjourned inquest was held yesterday at the Packet-house inn, Pill (by Mr R Biggs, coroner) touching the death of Thomas Neale, carpenter, of Totterdown. The inquest had been adjourned for the attendance of a man named William Gidley.  Gidley, Neale & Groves left a public house in Temple Backs. At Bathbridge the deceased had occasion to go to the urinal, and requested witness to wait for him. In about 10 minutes time, witness went to look for him and found he was not there, thinking he had gone home, witness left and next morning heard deceased was missing; Belived he must have gone down the steep bank of the Cut and fallen in. P C Smith proved finding the body on the morning of the 29th . The state of the man’s clothing confirmed the statement made by other witness. A verdict of “Found drowned” was returned.


1881 Jun 4. Mr Edward Canby of the Duke of Cornwell, Pill was summoned for selling gin to the prejudice of the purchaser.  P C Palfrey purchased a pint of gin which was submitted to be analysed. The certificate of the analysis stated that the sample was 37 under proof. Fined 10s and 13s 11d costs.


1882 Jun 28. On Monday the quarterly tea of the Mothers Meeting, in connection with the Pill Seamens Mission, was held in the Gospel-Hall, the chair being taken at 6-30 by J Shepherd, missionary, who addressed the mothers, and read a piece about”Babies.” Mr Durant spoke about home influence and the training of children. Mr Yendall spoke about the example of Mothers and what good they might do. At the close a nice inkwell was presented, from the mothers, to Mr Yendall, as a wedding gift. The room was enlivened with flowers by Miss Blake and the tea was superintended by Mrs Shepherd.


1885 Sep 14. Petty Sessions. John Buck of Pill, was summoned for being drunk and disorderly, at Pill, on the 20th of July last. Fined 10s including costs or seven days.


1890 Jan 4. Dangerous practice at Railway Station.

William Jefferies, an elderly, respectably dressed man was summoned by the Great Western Railway Company for attempting to enter a train in motion, at Pill, on the 1st December. Mr J Wall (Fussell and Co.) presented on behalf of the Great Western Railway.

John Hitchcock, station master at Pill, said that on the evening of the 1st  inst, the 8=15 train from Portishead was at Pill station, and after it had been in for two minutes he shouted out “Anymore passengers for the up train.” He then saw the defendant and a young man come down the steps from the roadway, and they said they were going on, adding that first-class would be good enough for them.

The guard who was standing near told them there was ample third class accommodation behind.  Witness walked with them to a third class carriage in which there was only one passenger, and opened the door, but they refused to get in. The guard then opened another door, but as they made no attempt to get in, the train started. The younger man jumped on the footboard and opened the door and got in, and the defendant also got on the footboard and tried to do the same.

Witness caught him and begged him to desist, as the speed the train was going made it dangerous for anyone to attempt to enter the compartment. He ran along by the side of the train for some yards and them defendant jumped off and the other man also jumped out of the carriage, falling against the defendant, and both rolled on the platform, the footboard striking one of them.

The guard stopped the train by applying the vacuum break seeing the danger both were in. The defendant was evidently under the influence of drink, as was also the other man.

Evidence corroborating this statement was given by the guard and Mr T H Fry, and the bench fined the defendant 30s and costs, the chairman saying they must make an example of this case, in order to put a stop to the very dangerous practice.


1894 Feb 16. Property Sell. Mr Thomas William Munden sold by auction on Wednesday the freehold fully licensed inn known as the Red Lion, Pill, Somerset, for the sum of £775; also a freehold dwelling house in Myrtle Hill, Pill, for the sum of £100; also two freehold cottages at Pill; for the respective sums of £30 and £23-10s: also a plot of land at Pill, for the sum of £17. Messrs Fussell and Co were the solicitors for the vendors, the trustees of the estate of James Cox, deceased.


1898 May 21. A Pill Licensed House. The publican of the Queen`s Head, Pill, John James Masters was summoned before the justices on three separate offences. The first was permitting drunkenness on his premises on Feb 7th; 1898; the second summons was for keeping open his house after closing hours on the 8th; the third was for selling beer after closing hours on the 8th. The case was postponed.


1899 Mar 7. The remains of Mr William H Carey, Bristol Channel pilot, were buried on Saturday afternoon in the churchyard of Easton in Gordano. The body was removed from his residence to the Wesleyan Chapel, where the first part of the service was conducted by the pastor in charge The Rev B Scott. The coffin was then conveyed to the burial ground in an open hearse. The chief mourners were Mr John Carey father, Mr Edgar Carey  brother, Mr H Hookway uncle, and Mr George Hookway cousin. The funeral was attended by a number of pilots, including Mr Edward Rowland son, Mr R A Case, Mr F Ellis, Mr J J Ellis, Mr E C Rowland and Mr W Selway, together with a large muster of members of the district Foresters’ court, of which deceased was a member.


1899 Apr 14. Divorce Suit. This was a suit of Mr John Edward Mayne, a painter, of Pill, Somerset, for a dissolution of his marriage with the respondent Alice Maud Mayne, on the grounds of her alleged adultery with the correspondent, Mr Walter Heard. The suit was undefended . The marriage took place on April 22, 1890 at Pill, where the petitioner and his wife lived together happily for a few years. In 1893 the respondent left her home while her hushand was at work. In 1897 he heard she was living in Bristol with a man as “Mr and Mrs Heard. He said that Walter Heard had been a school friend of his and was an admirer of his wife before he married her.