Isaac Averill, was known as the ‘Gentleman of Broadway’. He was born in Broadway on 21st August 1830, the oldest son of Isaac Blakeman Averill JP of Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, and Mary (née Osborne) of Broadway. Isaac had 12 siblings. His family were wealthy farmers having farmed several hundred acres in and around Broadway for over 300 years.
Broadway Parish records show that there were Averills (surname also spelt Averell or Avery) in the village from the early 1600s and that Isaac Averill was descended from the marriage of John Averell and Alice Fawkes which took place in Broadway on 2nd November 1602.
Isaac grew up in Broadway at South View House, 46 High Street. The house had been rebuilt by the family in 1804 and the land to the north of the house was known as Broad Close. He was home schooled before attending Cheltenham College from 1842 to 1847 as a day pupil. After leaving school Isaac gained further farming experience when he spent 15 months working for Mr Roberts in Waterperry, east of Oxford. Following his return to Broadway, Isaac went on to farm at Gorse Hill Farm, Clump Farm, Collin Farm and Home Farm, farming several hundred acres of farmland he had inherited on the death of his father in 1858.
Aged 30, he married his cousin Sarah Averill (born in Broadway c1827), the daughter of his Uncle Stephen Averill JP of Broadway, Worcestershire, and Gloucestershire. Isaac and Sarah were married on 15 December 1860 at St Andrew’s Church, Holborn, London.
Isaac was an active member of Broadway’s community and described Broadway as an “old fashioned village, healthy and attractive”. He was a Magistrate (Chairman of the Evesham County Bench), County Councillor and a Parish Councillor from 1855. In 1857 he was appointed Highway Surveyor and he organised the installation of the fence along the bottom of the village green to preserve the green from damage from passing carriages. He was also Chairman of the Gas Company, a Guardian of the Poor and one of the managers of the Samaritan Club.
In 1860 following the death of his Uncle Stephen1, Isaac was made a magistrate for Worcestershire and in 1862 he was appointed a JP for Gloucestershire. He regularly attended the sessions at nearby Chipping Campden. He was also appointed Deputy-Lieutenant for Worcestershire and, after just losing in the first County Council elections, coming second to Thomas Byrd by 40 votes, the County Council elected him Alderman.
Isaac was elected a member of the Sanitary Authority for Broadway in 1875. In the early 1870s, following several outbreaks of cholera and typhoid, local authorities were required to provide clean public water supplies and Sanitary Authorities were set up across the country. Isaac purchase the rights to a supply of spring water (located at the top of the village) and gifted the rights to the District Council for the village’s use before Evesham Corporation acquired it.
He took a great interest in the Broadway Mutual Aid Club and was a churchwarden of St Michael’s Church for over 30 years, presenting the church with its brass lecturn in 1899. Isaac also took an active role in the restoration of St Eadburgha’s Church.
On 28th April 1895, a dinner was held in his honour in recognition of his services to the village. The dinner was hosted by the George Coventry, 9th Earl of Coventry, and attended by Lord Lifford, Lieut.-General Henry Fanshawe Davies, JP, DL (of Elmley Castle), the Reverend Francis A. Morgan (Vicar of St Michael’s Church), Reverend S. Clarke and Edgar Flower. Isaac was presented with a silver cup inscribed with the following wording:
Presented to Isaac Averill, Esq., by his numerous friends in the parish of Broadway and neighbourhood as a mark of their esteem and appreciation of his long and untiring service devoted to the interests of Broadway and district.
He retired as Chairman of Evesham Board of Guardians in 1901 after 40 years’ service on the Board. He had been first elected as Guardian of Broadway in 1861 and after 5 years was appointed a member of the Evesham Board. In 1870, during his time on the Board he was in charge of building a new chapel and a hospital for the Evesham Union Workhouse. Issac was also actively involved in the running of Broadway’s National School (The St Michael’s National School) and the education of the children. As Treasurer of the school, he laid the foundation stone of the school’s new schoolroom in 1869, and continued to visit and be involved in the school until his retirement on 28 November 1901.
Isaac was also a keen sportsman. He hunted with the North Cotswold for many years and was involved in the building of the hunt kennels and stables in the village in the 1860s. He was also a founding father of Broadway Golf Club (1895) and a member of Broadway Cricket Club and Lawn Tennis Club. In 1897 he gave some of the land he owned opposite South View (Broad Close), adjacent to Keyte’s Lane, to Broadway Fire Brigade2 so that a new engine house could be built which was completed the following spring.
During his lifetime Isaac was interested in his family’s history and had records of his family dating back to the early 1500s. His Uncle Stephen, was a good friend of Sir Thomas Phillipps of Middle Hill and in 1899 Stephen Averill enlisted Thomas’s help along with Reverend Morgan, who held the Averill’s family register, to try and trace his ancestors. Isaac was keen to find out whether his family was related to William Averell, a Quaker, from Kent, who had fled England for America and settled in Ipswich, Massachusetts, in early 1637. No direct link was made by Isaac and Stephen Averill at the time, however, some references can be found today that possibly link a distant branch of Isaac’s family to the Society of Friends (Quakers) who settled on the east coast of the United States.
Isaac’s wife, Sarah died in 1901 after a period of ill health and it is reported that Isaac never recovered from her death. He died at home in Broadway four years later on 5th July 1905. He left his effects in his will to his brother Stephen and nephew George Averill. His funeral was held at St Eadburgha’s and Isaac and Sarah are buried together in St Eadburgha’s Churchyard alongside Isaac’s parents in the family grave.
When the village allotments off the Leamington Road were built on in the mid 1980s, one of the roads in the new housing development was called ‘Averill Close’ after the Averill family and the Gentleman of Broadway.
- Stephen Averill (c1794-1860) died, aged 66, on 7 March 1860 in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, following a fall from his horse. He was JP of Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, and for many years a trustee of the toll gates on the turnpike road in the Borough of Evesham and County of Worcestershire. His funeral was held at St Eadburgha’s and his remains placed in the family vault in the churchyard.
- For further information about the history of Broadway Fire Service see: www.broadwayfire.co.uk
Broadway Parish Records
The Worcestershire Archives
The School Registers of Cheltenham College