The Short Family

If you have any further information on members of the Short family please contact Peter Davies e-mail:

tel: 0117 9719724

Bitton’s Largest Family

The name of Short was not uncommon in South Gloucestershire and the first census in 1841 is the first firm evidence of how well established the family was in the parish of Bitton. In the 18th century, Jacob, Robert, Johnathan, William and his son William were born in the area and many of them were married in St. Mary’s Church, Bitton.

Early Records

The 1841 and subsequent censuses, record the foundation and intermarriage into other parish families with recurring names such as Jefferies, Hacker, Summerill and England, many of whom had marital and occupational connections to the Shorts. Many were employed as hatters, coalminers or agricultural workers. The Shorts became perhaps one of the most predominant families in the early to mid 19th century, in fact as much as twenty percent of the local population, a good number of whom were hatters or felt makers.

The apprenticeship records for employer Jacob Short who was a hatter, show he employed Absom Hall 1798, John Henderson 1802 and George Worlock 1803 as apprentice hat makers. Other Shorts had different occupations: Isaac and Joseph were boot makers, Moses an ale-house keeper, Job, George and William were coal miners. Records show that William at the age of eleven in 1842 was earning 4d a day at the Golden Valley pit in Bitton. The household was run by the female of the family who was expected to support her husband in his trade. Some, however, in the early nineteen hundreds enhanced their income by taking employment. Mary and Elizabeth were hat trimmers and Joanne worked as a stay maker. As the century progressed, the hat trade declined and the Shorts had to adapt to other trades and employment. Levi, Edwin and George had work at the paper mill. Dinah and Martha took domestic service with the Hollings family.

Two cousins Edwin Henry (Harry) and Lewis Andrew Royal Navy ,later lost on the HMS Begonia WW1. Photo taken outside the White Hart, about 1914. (courtesy Peter Davies)


As in all families, the Shorts had their fair share of characters, some outside the law. Some lives were crossed with sadness and some were acknowledged in their village. Thomas Short, 1868, lost his life aged 9. He was registered as sub-normal, and died falling into boiling vitriol. Moses Short, ex publican, was fined two pounds in 1832 for opening on a Sunday and he, in 1870 at the age of 87, cut his own throat. He was registered as a lunatic, perhaps from hatters mercury poisoning. Moses Ira Short was accused and was acquitted of embezzlement.

Levi Short (Standing) early 1890s; photo courtesy Karen Cox

Mercy Baker who married Edwin Short 2nd March 1873; the reverse of the photo is annotated ‘to Sarah and Luther with love and best wishes from Aunt Mercy’; photo courtesy Karen Cox

Mercy originated from Bedminster and, although she could not read or write, was apparently an astute business woman and had a meat stall in St Nicholas Market Bristol.

Lost in WW 1

The war memorials in the parish contain the names of several Shorts. Rowland (Gloucestershire Regiment), Lewis Andrew lost on the HMS Begonia, and Vernon (Welsh Regiment). Others include Ernest (Engineers) and Herbert (Royal Artillery). All were lost in WW1. In 1898, Edwin Henry Short (Harry) married Eliza Higby and moved from Lavender Cottage, Prospect Buildings to The Nest (now Willow Cottage) Church Road, Bitton where he lived and raised his family until his death aged 101 in 1979. Harry sang in the choir into his late nineties and played cricket for Bitton, captaining the 2nd eleven, aged 75. The cricketing tradition was followed by his grandson Keith. The Shorts continued to marry into local families well into the twentieth century, some of which include Burchell, Clothier, Pullen and Prouse.

Edwin Short and his family around 1900. Left to right: Ernest, Mercy, Edwin, Martha, Matilda and Edwin Henry (photo courtesy Peter Davies)
Edwin Short and his family around 1900. Left to right: Ernest, Mercy, Edwin, Martha, Matilda and Edwin Henry (photo courtesy Peter Davies)

Connections with the Pullin Family

Reg Pullin has written of his connection to the Short family. Reg Pullin was born in 1934, at No 3 Prospect Buildings, Bitton and has lived locally all his life, in Bitton, Keynsham, Warmley, & Cadbury Heath.

I also have a copy of the photograph of Edwin & Mercy Short & their family, which is shown above. This photo was taken at the front of no 1 Prospect Buildings, Bitton. Which is only yards from No 3 where I and most of our family were born & grew up. It was interesting to note from Peter’s story that No 1 was called Lavender Cottage in Harry Shorts youth, surely that name or the name Prospect Buildings would be preferable to just High Street as it is now.

Here are some comments about the people in that photo & the wider connections in the village. Looking at the photo we see Edwin Short with his family & it is to Edwin & his siblings that I am connected, because Edwin’s youngest sister Emmilene was my paternal grandmother and married John Pullin, so if my father was half Short I must be one quarter Short. Also in the photo is Matilda who married the brother of my grand father on my mother’s side & lived at No 5 Prospect Buildings, & I can just remember Aunt Mercy Short sitting on the wall in the sunshine when she was in her old age & living with her daughter.

Let us look at Emmilene’s & Edwin’s family & we shall see some of the reasons why the Shorts contributed so much to the village families & the gene pool in Bitton in the nineteenth century.

Here are Emmilene’s & Edwin’s parents: George Short 1824-1894 married Martha Short (nee Jefferies) 1825-1898

Here are some salient facts about that very fruitful marriage. Between the years 1846 & 1866 they produced 10 children, very regularly at two yearly intervals, six boys & four girls, here are the names & dates of birth in order.

George Short 1846-1898.  Ann Short 1848-1884.  Drucilla Short 1850- Edwin Short 1852-Martha Short 1854- Andrew Short 1856- Levi Short 1858-1894   Job Short 1860-1873  Rowland Short 1862- 1888 Emmilene Short 1866-1920. Generally not a long-lived family & we see that Job Short died at the age of 13 years of age. It is no wonder that the name of Short occurs in so many of the village families when just this family of George & Martha sent at least nine siblings out to continue the Short dynasty.

Having myself been born into the middle of a large family (thirteen) I can have some understanding as to how a large family of 10 functioned, everyone contributing to the family organisation a very good training for later life too. My fathers name was Rowland Stanley but he was always known as Stan, it seemed to be quite a common practise in the early twentieth century for people to use their second names. My father was obviously named by Emmilene my grandmother after her brother Rowland who came next to her in the family. My mother also used her brother’s name for me.

Emmeline Pullin

There is another name in that family of ten, which our family have always known about, and that is Drucilla born 1850. Even her name was recycled as we had a cousin who was always known as Cilla the shortened version of the name. Drucilla Haskins (her married Name) in the early years of the twentieth century she was living in No 3 Prospect Buildings, she was a widow by then. My mother & father had started their family while living with my granddad John in No 1 Boyd Brook Cottages, It was arranged in 1926 that my parents with three young girls would move in with great aunt Drucilla Haskins (nee Short) then a widow at No 3 Prospect Buildings, but she then moved to stay with dads sister Alice in Kingswood. Our family continued to live in that house until 2014.

One other thing we have been reminded of in this 100th anniversary year of the start of WW1 is of the tremendous sad loss of life the Short family in general suffered in that conflict. On the war memorial are the names of four Shorts, V Short, R Short, A Short, & E Short, but to these four can be added W Pullin & A Pullin who were Emmilene Shorts sons & my fathers brothers.

Employment in the village; The firms of Torrance & Sons & The Paper Mill being the two largest employers drew the work force from quite a wide catchment area reaching as far as Bath & Bristol but gave employment to many of the locals who could walk or cycle to work. When I left school at 15 my mother took me down to see the manager Mr Crump who gave me a job as a store boy until I was 16 & then I would start a 5 year apprenticeship as a Fitter & Turner, this would have been in 1949 & I worked there until 1963. During that time I had completed my two years national service, got married, bought a house & started a family.

Torrance’s was a happy place to work & there were various members of different Short families working there during my time, Ted Short (son of Harry ) was the lorry driver for many years.

 By Reg Pullin, November 2014

Shorts Family Butcher

Short's Butchers Shop, North Street, Oldland Common showing Ruben and Elizabeth (in the doorway): photo courtesy of a local resident (see Short Family page for more information)

Shorts Butchers Shop North Street Oldland Common showing Ruben and Elizabeth (in the doorway): photo courtesy of a local resident

This was a photo taken at Christmas. The shop, which was made of timber, was located at the side of 111 North Street Oldland Common. The shop apparently went bankrupt in 1933.