Joseph Colenso
was born in Truro, the youngest of seven children. He was baptised in St Mary's Wesleyan, Truro, 24th September 1826. His father John Colenso was a bootmaker and the two eldest sons John and Thomas followed in the same trade. The third son Samuel took to a life on the sea. The youngest two brothers, George and Joseph, had learned to be bootmakers too, but as young men in their 'twenties', decided that they would seek work in major cities. George ended up in Liverpool, and Joseph in Bristol.
I am not sure that Joseph was aware of the fact that the next few years were going to be very exciting and 'high profile' in Bristol, but he certainly chose a happening city in which to make his home! Joseph married Louisa Pymm, the daughter of George and Mary Ann Pymm. in Bedminster 4th October 1850. He worked all his life providing footwear for the citizens of Bristol and so supported the well-being of his growing family. They lived first at 12 Eugene Street, and then moved a few doors down to number 27. When daughter Louisa Jane got married she lived next door at number 25 and son John James at number 4. When Joseph's eldest brother John appeared, he lodged at number 13. Eugene Street was therefore quite a Colenso 'stronghold' for a few years.

(While the street remains today, the houses are long gone with a piece of Colenso history.)


John Colenso
1782 - 1863

Jane Moon
1794 -

George Pymm


Mary Ann


Joseph Colenso
1826 -1889

Louisa Pymm
1828 - 1912


Louisa Jane 1853-1921

John James 1858-1937

Edward Sidney 1864-1937


Joseph George 1854-1932

Mary Ann 1861-1922

Frederick Samuel 1866-1953

(Albert) Thomas

William Henry 1856-1914

Charles Edward 1862-1886

Clara Annie 1869



Louisa Jane Colenso
married James Henry Cocking in 1872. James was a Boot finisher. They had their first three children in Bristol, Joseph James 1873 , Catherine Louisa 1875 and Edward Henry 1877. Although their fourth Frederick Sidney was born in Bethnal Green in 1879, by 1881 the family were back, at 25 Eugene Street Bristol.

In 1891 they are at 10 Philadelphia Street and have three new additions Mary Ann 1884, Peter William 1886 and Bertie 1890. Louisa's mother and adopted son Albert Thomas are also at the same address.

By 1901 James had become a Fish and Fruit Dealer, the family had moved to 37 Brook Road, and there was one more daughter in the family Florence 1893.

Louisa Jane died in Toronto 1921.

Joseph George Colenso
married Frances Matilda Eastman in 1875. They had the following children Joseph William 1876, Edith 1878, Arthur Henry 1879, Annie 1886, Mabel 1888, Henry 1892 and Arthur 1894.

I have yet to find this family in the 1881 Census - perhaps they went overseas - but in 1891 Joseph was a beer retailer at 27 Philip Street Bedminster aka 'Maltsters Arms' from 1891 - 1932.

Frances died in 1903. Twenty years later in 1923 Joseph married Jemima Elizabeth Bird nee Hyde.

(I am not sure if Rosa and Elizabeth 1884, belong to Joseph or brother John James).

William Henry Colenso
married Lydia Evans in 1878.They had one daughter Lilian who died only weeks old. In 1881 he was living at 4 Albion Street and working as a shoemaker.
He was in Australia from 1883 - 1886.
I am not sure what William did when he first returned from Australia, but in 1891 he started as Landlord of 'The Dolphin' at 46 New Street, St Judes where he stayed for 8 years.

1891 - 1902

Dolphin Public House
46 New Street
St Jude's

Painting of Stag and Hounds

We are very lucky that such a fine building with so much history attached still remains.

The importance of the 'Stag and Hounds' is that it was the home of the 'pie poudre' court .The actual court room being on the first floor at the front.

1903 - 1906

Crown and Horseshoe,
High Street had an annual rateable value of £34.0s.0d. in 1903. It closed at 11 p.m.
1903 William Henry Colenso. Alehouse. Bristol United Brewery
1906 William Henry Colenso

1906 - 1913

Kings Arms
10 Church Road

1913 - 1914

Stag and Hounds
74 Old Market Street

The 'Pie Poudre' Court in Bristol took its name from the French, as evidence from a 1477 Court Action Book for Old Market shows it being referred to as the 'Court of the Dusty Foot'. As with all courts of this nature, it was there to deal with any disputes of 'unfair trading '. For centuries now the court has been opened on the last day of September (unless it fell on a Sunday when it would open on Monday 1st October instead) and dealt with any disputes for two weeks. In Bristol the Tolzey Court at Guildhall was suspended for those two weeks and became the Pie Poudre Court at Old Market which meant that the proceedings were the same as for the mainstream court session. From the 'Stag and Hounds' there was a direct route underground for persistent offenders to waiting ships for transporting to the colonies.

The 'Stag and Hounds' can be seen towards the left of the photograph with the 'Dutch style' flat roof.
None of the buildings seen this side of the Stag are in existence now.

Painting of Old Market Street

Photograph of well machinery inside Stag and Hounds

The judges room at the at the back has a sloping floor. The landlord told me this was deliberate so that anyone speaking to the Judge would always have to stand lower.

 The well used for drawing water is still to be seen inside the right hand room - and gives an indication of the depth, not only of the water level, but also of the tunnels that had to be filled in when creating the new road system in recent years.


John James Colenso
married Elizabeth Merrifield in 1880.
Like his brothers and father he was a shoemaker, even his wife was a slipper binder. Elizabeth already had Florence Emily 1878 when they married, but they went on to have (possibly the twins Rosa and Elizabeth 1884), but definitely Ellen Edith 1891 and Mabel Elizabeth 1894.
Like his two elder brothers, John decided to change career and become a publican.

1901 - 1909 'Shepherds Arms' at 37 Frogmore Street

1910 - 1917 'Garricks Head' at 22 Broad Quay (photo)


Photograph of Garricks Head at Broad Quay

All but Florence (and the twins) are buried at Canford Lane Cemetery Westbury-on-Trym Bristol.

Photograph of headstone for John James Colenso and family

Mary Ann Colenso
was a tailoress in 1881. She went to Australia and while there married Albert James Owen in Victoria 1886. I wonder if her brothers stayed for the wedding and then returned to England? Albert was in the Royal Navy. They had four children Samuel 1887 - 1887, Edith Clara 1888, Ethel 1890, and Alice 1894.
In the early 1900s the family returned to Bristol.

Charles Edward Colenso
was a 'boot riverter' in 1881. He went to Australia and unfortunately died in 1884 aged 21.

Edward Sidney Colenso
was a 'boot riviter' in 1881. He married Mary Ann Whitrow in 1885 and had two children Florence Polly 1886 and Jessie 1889.These dates suggest that he did not go to Australia with his brothers. However, he was in Australia not long after Jessie was born.
In 1892 Florence Etty was born in Melbourne, the daughter of Edward Sidney Colenso and a Margaret McNee. While she is indexed as a Colenso, the certificate records her name as Florence Etty Colenso McNee.
In 1902 Sydney, Edward married Margaret Louise Scott. It also appears that he enlisted in the AIF for WWI under his brother Charles' name.

Photograph of view from 51 Chancery Street

I cannot find Mary Ann or the children in the 1891 Census which may indicate that they went to Australia as a family. Certainly Mary Ann was soon back in Bristol where she married Edward Casling, a tin smith, in 1894 who adopted Florence and Jessie. Edward and Mary Ann Casling had their own daughter Matilda in 1898.
They were living in Chancery Street in 1901. While the house is no longer there, this would have been the view at the front.

Frederick Samuel Colenso
was a 'learning boot riveter' in 1881.
He was in Australia from 1883 - 1886.
In 1889 he married Ada Donaldson, and they had two daughters - Lily 1891 born in Bristol and Rose Dorothy Olive 1897 born in Bath.
They were living at Brooklyn Road, Bath in 1901 (photo)

For a very short time in 1906 he was Landlord of the 'Waterloo Tavern'
21 Midland Road St Philips Bristol.

Perhaps he decided that the pub trade was not for him.

Photograph of Brooklyn Road Bath

Clara Annie Colenso
married Alfred Cavil in 1890 and was living in Philadelphia Street St Pauls Bristol in 1891 with her mother and adopted younger brother. I know little else about her.

The significance of the 'Merchant Navy Memorial Garden' in Bristol in relation to this family has been added below


Richard Physick
1791 -

Mary Wilton
1791 -



Richard Physick
1824 - 1888

1828 - 1895

Richard William 1854 -

Austin 1858 - 1893

Grace Wilton 1861 -

Mary Louisa 1855 -

Lucy 1859 - 1861


Richard Physick was born 1791 in Cornwall. On 22 February 1810 he married a Jenny Hancock in Menheniot and had three children. Richard 1811 was born in Menheniot, while Robert 1813 and Thomas 1815 were both born in St Minver. I am guessing that Jenny died soon after Thomas' birth because Richard married a Mary Wilton in Stoke Damerel. Both Robert and Thomas died in 1824. I thought originally, that their first son Richard must have died as well, but he is to be found on the census returns as a Farm Bailiff. Yet the same name was given to their son born late 1824. A daughter Mary Ann followed in early 1829. Both were baptised in St Martin on Looe Bay.

In 1841 the family were at Keveral Mill Cornwall where father Richard (1791) was an agricultural labourer and son Richard (1824) was an apprentice tailor.
Then the focus moves to the north of England as in 1853 son Richard married Lucy Hodgson bHelperby in Easingwold. Richard William was born in 1854 followed by Mary Louisa 1855, Austin 1858, Lucy 1859 and Grace Wilton 1861 and all in Newcastle on Tyne.

In 1881 they are to be found in Bristol living at 19 Perry Road. No longer a tailor Richard (1824) is a Civil Servant working on National Survey while his son Richard William was a Clerk at the Ordinance Survey Office, daughter Mary Louisa an upholstress, daughter Grace was not working.
Austin was a waiter at the National Club 1 Whitehall Gardens Westminster London.

On 17 March 1883 Grace Wilton Physick gave birth to an Albert Thomas Colenso. Father unknown but may have been one of the sons of Joseph and Louisa who adopted him.
In 1889 Grace married in Holborn London but it is unknown whether she kept in touch with the Colensos or not.

In 1891 Albert was living with his adopted now widowed mother Louisa in Philadelphia Street St Pauls Bristol and in 1901 still living with her in Wilder Street and listed as a soldier.

Albert Thomas went by the name Colenso-Phisic.

Christmas Day 1909
Trinity Church Horfield
he married
Lucy Beatrice Mary Shepherd
who was born in
Nagpur Madras India 1886.

They had 8 children.

Photograph ofTrinity Church Horfield

One of the younger sons Stanley James Colenso joined the merchant navy.

He was barely 1941 when he was training on Vindicatrix at Sharpness.

He had little contact with his brothers and sisters being away at sea for years at a time.

Photograph of training ship Vindicatrix at Sharpness

Photograph of Merchant Navy Memorial Garden

 Stan told me he has three birth certificates Colenso, Phisic and Colenso-Phisic!
Of his father Stan said he was a bit of a character and only ever laughed if asked about the Phisic name!

Stan was able to tell me all about the Memorial Garden, including its location, hence the photograph.
It took the Bristol Merchant Navy Association four years to collect enough money to be able to realise their aim of having a permanent memorial to all merchant seafarers who sailed from Bristol. It was designed by artist David Backhouse and unveiled by HRH The Princess Royal, Princess Anne on 21st May 2001.

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