Thomas Vincent was born at Widcombe, Bath in 1840 to George and Caroline Vincent. George Vincent was a journeyman plumber who spent his whole life in Bath. Living in obscurity, he only twice came to the notice of the Chronicle; in 1861 when he attended court to identify a piece of lead piping stolen from a urinal and again in 1867 due to the unusual occurrence of his death:
FATAL ACCIDENT— On Friday evening the city coroner held an inquest at the Guildhall on the body of George Vincent, aged about sixty, a master plumber, lately residing at Beaufort Square, who died at the United Hospital on Friday morning from the effects of an accident. It appeared from the evidence that the deceased, on Thursday morning, was engaged in putting a pump into a newly made well on Odd Down, when a large stone fell from the top of the well down the aperture to where he was working. After taking some water he ascended the ladder unassisted, but on reaching the surface he fainted, and was evidently much hurt. Means were taken to revive him, and he was removed to the United Hospital, where he remained insensible till about eight o’clock this morning, when he died from a fracture of the skull with compression of the brain. The stone which caused the death was eight or nine pounds in weight and fell about sixteen feet before striking the deceased. The Jury returned a verdict of “Accidental Death”.
In 1851 the twelve year old Thomas Vincent was living in Wells Row, Widcombe and attending St. Mark’s Church School. In his teens he was sent to London to gain experience as a plumber. He is not identified in the 1861 census but by 1863 had married Elizabeth (from Hinton Charterhouse). Whilst living in Middlesex they had three children: George (b1863), John (b1865) and Elizabeth (b1867). As a consequence of his father’s death he returned to Bath and lived in Walcot. His last two children, Charles (b1869) and Sidney (b1871) were born in Bath.
Immediately after his father’s death, on April 4th 1867 he put the following advertisement in the Chronicle:
PLUMBER etc (from London)
Begs to thank the inhabitants of Bath for the patronage so largely bestowed upon his late Father, and in Succeeding to the business respectfully solicits a continuance of the same, assuring them that nothing shall be wanting on his part to merit their continued support. An Apprentice is wanted.
12 Beauford Square, Bath
Until he became a Town Councillor Thomas Vincent lived his life in obscurity. His sons George, John and Charles followed him into the plumbing trade whilst Sydney became an accountant. The 1881 census reveals him to still be living in Walcot, his profession a “Master Plumber employing six men”. In December 1886 the following notice appeared in the Chronicle:
NOTICE is hereby given that the Partnership heretofore subsisting between us the undersigned THOMAS VINCENT of Marlborough Lodge in the City of Bath, Plumber, and GEORGE THOMAS VINCENT of No 7 Margaret’s Buildings, in Bath aforesaid under the Style or Firm of “VINCENT & SON”, has this day been dissolved. All debts owing from or due to the late Firm will be paid or received by the said Thomas Vincent who for the future will carry on the Business on his own account.’
Dated this 18th Day of December 1886.
GEORGE THOMAS VINCENT
Marlborough Lodge is situated towards the top of Marlborough Lane adjacent to Victoria Park. 7 Margaret’s Buildings was his office and workshop. The 1891 census lists him living at Marlborough Lodge with his wife and the three younger sons, his daughter having married in 1888.
In October 1891 Vincent was nominated as a Councillor for the Walcot Ward. This was a lost cause because he was a staunch Conservative whilst Walcot was known to be strongly Liberal. Out of the four candidates he came a creditable third. In September 1893 another opportunity arose, this time for Lansdown. This was a three way fight for the two vacant seats: A. Wyatt ( the previous Conservative incumbent), J. Caulcher (Independent) and T. Vincent. Vincent made his pitch to the electors:
To the Burgesses of Lansdown Ward.
MY LORDS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,—
In response to to a requisition presented to me by several influential burgesses I have much pleasure in offering myself as a candidate for the honourable office of Councillor in success to Mr. Councillor Daubeny, whose term of office expires on the 1st November next and who has declined re-election. I have spent all my life in the City and I am deeply interested in its welfare, the practical knowledge gained in the successful conduct of my business (from which I have now retired), I believe might be found useful in the interest of the ratepayers, and the time at my disposal would enable me to devote myself to the work with assiduity. I am a member of the Board of Guardians, and during the time I have held the office have only been absent from one meeting and would pay equal attention to my duties as Councillor should you honour me with your confidence.
Asking the favour of your confidence and support,
I remain, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Your Obedient Servant,
The Board of Guardians was the Committee that oversaw the Odd Down Workhouse. Wyatt and Vincent were the Conservative group’s favoured candidates, although this anonymous letter published in the Chronicle in October alleged otherwise:
‘SIR—Will you allow me space in your paper to ask Mr. Vincent, an aspiring candidate for the Lansdown Ward vacancy, to give the names of the “influential burgesses” who have requested him to come forward for election. Being a well known burgess myself, I am continually asked by the leading electors of the Ward, of both political parties, who these influential gentlemen may be. Mr. Vincent admits that he is a Conservative, but being myself on the Committee I am able to say it is not by request of such Committee, as up to the present time we have had no meeting to consider the choice of a candidate.”
On 26th October the results were announced; Wyatt and Vincent were elected with 382 and 327 votes respectively, Caulcher came third with 135. Vincent began volunteering for various committees: Markets, Pleasure Grounds, Waterworks, Sanitary, Surveying, Baths and Corporate Property. It could be argued that he spread himself too thinly because his only specific responsibility was Chairman of the Statutory Hospital Sub-Committee. This supervised the small infectious diseases hospital (in reality a scattering of wooden huts and tents) on Claverton Down.
He was appointed an Alderman in July 1906 but resigned in November1911 following the boundary changes. In March 1913 he was given his third conviction for setting fire to his chimney for which he was fined five shillings. His wife died on the 19th April aged 72 and was buried in Locksbrook Cemetery.
Thomas Vincent then went into physical decline and was nursed at home by his daughter Elizabeth. He died on 1st June 1916 aged 76 following ‘an attack of jaundice, which rendered him comatose and proved fatal.’ He was buried on the 7th June with his wife at Locksbrook Cemetery. The mourners included his surviving children George, John, Sydney and Elizabeth; Charles had already died in 1905. He left £9087-14s-6d (approx £800,000 today) in trust for his children and grandchildren. His grave was lost when the cemetery was redeveloped in the 1950’s.