John Henry THORNTON (1845–1924)
His wife Mrs Clara THORNTON, née Stanbury (1848–1935)
His sister-in-law Miss Clara STANBURY (1846–1889)
St Michael’s section: Row 10, Grave C45½

John Thornton's grave

Loving Memory of




[At foot of the grave, on the kerb, shown below]:


Grace Stanbury

John Henry Thornton was born over his father’s bookshop at 51 High Street in St Peter-in-the-East parish, Oxford on 29 July 1845. He was the son of the Oxford bookseller Joseph Thornton and his first wife Emma Walker.
For more on his parents, see separate grave.

In 1853 his father moved his shop to 18 Magdalen Street, and his mother appears to have died soon afterwards, and in 1860 his father married again. At the time of the 1861 census John (15) was living there with his father and stepmother and working in the shop. In 1863 his father moved his business to 10 Broad Street in St Michael’s parish, and finally in 1870 to No. 11 next door, where it was to remain until 2002.

Clara Stanbury was born in Berkhamsted, Hampshire in 1848 and baptised there on 6 November, the daughter of Frederick and Mary Stanbury. At the time of the 1861 census she was aged 13 and paying a visit to the Webb family in Abingdon with her mother Mary (37), who described herself as the wife of a railways manager. In 1871 census she was aged 22 and living at 9 Walton Crescent with her widowed mother Mary and her sister Grace Stanbury (24), who was born in Camberwell in 1846 and worked as a governess, plus their a 15-year-old servant girl.

In the second quarter of 1872 in Oxford, John Henry Thornton married Clara Stanbury, and they had four children:

  • Frederick Stanbury Thornton (born in Oxford in 1875, reg, Headington district third quarter)
  • Reginald Walker Thornton (born in St Mary Magdalen parish in 1877/8, reg. Oxford district first quarter of 1878)
  • Mary Winnifred Thornton, known as Winnifred (born in St Mary Magdalen parish, Oxford in 1879/80
    [no registration found]
  • Olive Margaret Thornton (born at 25 Norham Road in 1883, reg. Headington district second quarter).

At the time of the 1881 census John was working as a bookseller and living at 170 Walton Street with his wife Clara and and their children Frederick (5), Reginald  (3), and Mary (1), plus a nursemaid and a general servant, and a lodger.

In 1889 Clara’s sister Grace Stanbury died, and she was the first person buried in this grave:

† Miss Grace Stanbury died at 15 Fyfield Road at the age of 42 on 2 March 1889 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 5 March (burial recorded in the parish register of St Michael’s Church).

Thornton's old shop at 11 The Broad


By 1890 John’s father had retired and moved to Southmoor Road, and so John moved back to 11 Broad Street to live over and manage the main shop (left).


John and Clara Thornton are listed there in the 1891 census with Reginald (13), Winnifred (11) and Olive (9), and one servant. Frederick (15) was staying with his cousin, Cambridge-born John Thornton (48) who ran Avenue House School in Sevenoaks.


John Thornton took over the family business with his brother James soon after this census, as his father died on 2 June.


Unlike his father, John chose not to continue to live over the shop, and by the time of the 1901 census he was living with his wife at 202 Woodstock Road (which was in the ecclesiastical parish of St John the Baptist in Summertown and the civil parish of St Giles). Two children were still at home: Frederick (25), who was working for his father, and Olive (19). Winifred (21) was now a student at the University of Wales at Aberystwyth, and Reginald is hard to find.


By 1911 John and Clara Thornton were living at 324 Banbury Road, Summertown with their daughter Olive (29), who was a piano teacher. They had a 15-year-old servant girl living with them.

† John Henry Thornton died at 324 Banbury Road at the age of 78 on 21 February 1924 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery (burial does not appear to be recorded in the parish register of St Michael’s Church).

His effects came to £7,653 0s. 7d., and probate was granted to his sons Frederick, who was a bookseller, and Reginald, who was a chartered accountant.

His wife Clara died in 1936:

† Mrs Clara Thornton, née Stanbury died at 324 Banbury Road at the age of 85 on 26 February 1935 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 1 March (burial recorded in the parish register of St Michael’s Church).

Her effects came to £926, and probate was granted to her daughter Margaret.

Children of John and Clara Thornton
  • Frederick Stanbury Thornton (born 1875) continued to manage the family bookshops. In the third quarter of 1902 he married Mary Dewe at Faringdon, and they had three children, all born at 39 Beechcroft Road and baptised at Summertown Congregational Church: John Stanbury Dewe Thornton (born on 22 May 1903 and baptised on 21 June); Margaret Mary Stanbury Thornton (born on 5 March 1905 and baptised on 24 September); and Winfred Joan Thornton (born on 4 May 1907 and baptised on 11 August). At the time of the 1911 census he and his wife were living at Beechcroft Road in Summertown with their three children, plus one servant.
    Photograph of Frederick Stanbury Thornton in 1923 (from an album of past Presidents of the Oxford High School Boys Club)
  • Reginald Walker Thornton (born 1877/8) was a chartered accountant. He married his wife Ethel Phillips in 1909/10. At the time of the 1911 census he was living at 304 Banbury Road, Summertown with his wife and his stepson Phillips Leonard Chatwood Wood (aged 8 and born in Bangkok) and one servant. Their son John Thornton was born in 1913 (reg. Headington district fourth quarter). Reginald died on 28 July 1947 at Broom, Hinksey Hill, and his effects came to £56,118 1s. 2d. See his obituary in the Oxford Times of 1 August 1947.
    Reginald Walker Thornton founded his own accountancy firm, which became Thornton & Thornton of London and Oxford when he was joined by his son John. In 1959 this merged with Baker & Co in 1959 to form Thornton Baker; and in 1986 Grant & Co of Chicago merged with Thornton Baker to form the present Grant Thornton. See article in Oxford Mail of 21 June 1979 on John Thornton’s retirement, and his obituary in the Oxford Times on 2 February 1996
  • Mary Winnifred Thornton (born 1879/80) was studying at the University College of Wales at Aberystwyth in 1901; but she is hard to find thereafter.
  • Olive Margaret Thornton (born 1883) looked after her parents and never married. She died in Oxford in 1956 at the age of 74 (reg. fourth quarter).



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