Local Life In The 20th Century


( 1839 - 1914 )

Mr. Luke TILLEY was born in 1839, one of seven sons of the late Mr. Wm. TILLEY, who for 50 years carried on the business of leather seller and bootmaker in South Street, Dorchester. Two of his brothers died in boyhood.

He was educated at Dorchester at the private school of the Rev. William BARNES, who is now known to fame as the Dorset Poet, his charming poems having been written in the broadest dialect. Here his schoolfellows included Sir Frederick TREVES, the King's physician, and Thomas HARDY, the well-known Wessex novelist.

He served a seven years' apprenticeship in the principal bookselling and printing business in the town, and also became acquainted with the inner workings of a newspaper office.

Later he was with Messrs. BARNICOTT of Taunton, only leaving in April, 1870.

[Tilley Brothers]
Jason TILLEY Collection


In April Luke purchased the old-established bookselling, stationery and printing business of the late Mr. BAYLIS, in High Street, Ledbury, then carried on in the lower portion of the premises. In the following month May he married Mary Anne Sarah LUTLEY the eldest daughter of Mr. Robert LUTLEY, of Baltonsborough, Somerset.

Within six months he had bought the stationery and printing business carried on next door (where Mr. BIXLEY now lives), and for a time he occupied both houses, ultimately buying the lower one, greatly altering it and making it his sole premises.

[23 High Street]
Luke TILLEY stood in the doorway of his shop

In connection with the latter business was published the "Ledbury Free Press," the only newspaper in the town, which he improved and sold, and which later became the "Ledbury Guardian".


He was one of the keenest workers in the early 1870s for the Ledbury Conservative Association, and many will remember the outings by canal barges and other festivities in which he was one of the chief workers and originators.

1871 Census

Luke TILLEY: 32, Birth Place: Dorchester, Living at: 32 & 33 High Street, Ledbury, Marital status: Married, Occupation: Bookseller Stationer Printer, Other Household Members: Mary Violetta TILLEY: 22, Wife, Ellen F TILLEY: 1 month, Daughter, Peter TILLEY: 21 Visitor, Single, Brother, Letter Press Printer, Mary Jane STRONG: 16, General Servant Domestic, Amelia McDONALD: 33, Midwife


The Ledbury Cottage Hospital, had in him the oldest surviving member of the Committee of Management, and to the end he took a great interest in its work.

1881 Census

Luke TILLEY: 42, Living at: 23, High Street, Ledbury, Other Household Members: Mary TILLEY: 32, Wife, William L TILLEY: 8, Son, John J TILLEY: 5, Son, Ernest TILLEY: 3, Son, Fanny FOSTER: 16, General Servant Domestic.

[17 High street]

Luke purchased the premises at which the business of TILLEY's Bazaar carried on, he rebuilt them, and resided there.


Luke served on the committee of the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Agricultural Society on their visit to Ledbury.


The Ledbury Building Society has done so much good work in the town, Luke was the last of the original directors, and was one of the trustees appointed at the formation of the same. The same may be said of the Ledbury Markets and Fairs Company, the idea of the market having been in his mind for several years before it came into being. He had hoped to see a fruit, poultry, and butter market on the site of the old tan pits in Bye Street, but that idea never came to anything.


In 1887 the arrangements for the Queen's Jubilee were so successfully carried out chiefly due to his indefatigable efforts in conjunction with the late Major PALAIRET, both working together as joint secretaries. The programme then arranged included a dinner to adults in the streets, sports, amusements, tea, and medals to the children on the first day, and a railway picnic to Tintern Abbey the second day. A gold medal bearing the imprint of the Market House presented to Queen Victoria by the town, was designed and executed by Mr. TILLEY.


Luke worked well on the committee for the restoration of Ledbury Church, when, ₤10,000 was raised. For many years he was a sidesman at this church, but when a suggestion was made that he should be churchwarden he declined, and it was thanks to his suggestion that Mr. C. H. BASTOW for so long ably filled the post.


Luke served on the committee of the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Agricultural Society on their visit to Ledbury.


So great was the success of the programme in 1887 that 10 years later Luke was again asked to be Hon. Secretary (in conjunction with Mr. Ernest HOPKINS), for the Diamond Jubilee celebration. This went off equally well, and included a dinner to old people, tea to the children, sports and a bonfire at Bradlow.

A Retrospect
May 7 A public meeting was held to consider the Diamond Jubilee celebration. A committee was formed with Mr. Spencer H. BICKHAM, J.P., as chairman. Messrs. L. TILLEY and E. H. HOPKINS were appointed joint secs.

1901 Census

Luke TILLEY: 62, Living at: 16 High Street, Ledbury, Other Household Members: Mary TILLEY: 52, Wife, Ellen F TILLEY: 30, Daughter, Amy TILLEY: 17, Daughter, Peter TILLEY: 52, Visitor, Single, Brother, Letter Press Printer, Honorine THIBAULT: 16, General Servant Domestic.

Next door, William L TILLEY: 28, Birth Place: Ledbury, Living at: 17 High street, Ledbury, Marital Status: Married, Occupation: Cycle Agent, Other Household Members: Annie E TILLEY: 28, Wife, Donald W TILLEY: Son, 4 months, Frances E MAYO: 16, General Servant Domestic.


Luke was also on the committees of The Coronation festivities, both of King Edward and King George.

1911 Census

Luke TILLEY: 72, Living at: Sunnyside, Newbury Park, Ledbury, Other Household Members: Mary TILLEY: 62, Wife, Peter TILLEY: 62, Visitor, Single, Brother, Letter Press Printer, Alice JONES: 15, General Servant Domestic.


In March Luke retired from business, leaving his second son John to carry on the business, the eldest son being engaged in the motor trade. The last few years of his life were spent at Sunnyside, Newbury Park, Ledbury.

1914 - Death OF Mr. Luke TILLEY

Death Notice, Funeral and Eulogy as printed in Ledbury Guardian Newspapers 01 10 1914 & 10 10 1914 including photographs of Luke's grave at Ledbury Cemetery. Read More...

1931 - Death OF Mrs. Mary TILLEY

Widow of the late Luke TILLEY, printer and stationer of Ledbury. The late Mrs TILLEY, who was 82 years of age, had resided in Ledbury for upwards of 60 years.

Related Links
23 High Street ( First Business Premises )
Luke TILLEY's Ledbury Bazaar ( Proprietor )
Ellen Fanny TILLEY ( Daughter )
William Luke TILLEY ( Son )
Alice Maude TILLEY ( Daughter )
John Jacob TILLEY ( Son )
Ernest TILLEY ( Son )
Amy TILLEY ( Daughter )
Mabel TILLEY ( Daughter )
Peter TILLEY ( Brother )
1887 Golden Jubilee Celebrations ( Organiser )
1897 Diamond Jubilee Celebrations ( Organiser )

1897 - 1979 Ledbury Tilleys Almanacks - Herefordshire History
Photographs are credited to the owners where possible
Edited Memories in italics are from members of the Old Ledbury Facebook Group
Cuttings are from Old Ledbury Reporter Newspapers
History of Ledbury in the 19th Century
Herefordshire Archive Records Centre HARC
( TILLEY's Collection ) - No photograph to be reproduced or used for commercial gain without permission Alan HOIDA

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