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Harwood Postscript

A Postscript to the Elizabeth Harwood Diary

Nutt ChildrenWhen Elizabeth's diary comes to an end in December 1842, it is very clear that Elizabeth and her cousin Tom Nutt have become close; by that time, he was visiting Elizabeth at Beeston Meadow several times a week, coming over from his home in Lenton. In November he had given her a pencil case as a present. It is not therefore surprising that things moved swiftly at the beginning of the new year and they were married at Beeston Parish Church on 27 May 1843, Now that Elizabeth assumed her married surname, her full name became, somewhat bizarely, Elizabeth Nutt Nutt. The couple set up home in Old Lenton where the Nutt family were based and where Tom continued in the family tradition as a butcher.

Their first child, Thomas Harwood Nutt was born just over a year later on 29 May 1844, followed in the next year by a sister, Elizabeth Harpham Nutt. A second daughter, Alice Mary Nutt, was born on Christmas Day in 1848 but sadly died 11 days later. When, in 1984, David Hallam began visiting Isabel Rowe, Elizabeth's great grand-daughter and saviour of the diary he already knew that Tom and Elizabeth had married and had a family; what he could never have expected was that he would see a picture of them - but, there on Isabel's wall was a painting. It was, of Thomas and Elizabeth and is shown here.

Despite the happy and prosperous family life implied by the painting, it appears that all was not well. It seems that Elizabeth's health had deteriorated significantly as, by the time of the 1851 census, she and their five year old daughter, were living back at the inn at Beeston Rylands with Elizabeth's father and her aunts Mary and Elizabeth. It seems likely, but it has not yet been confirmed, that Elizabeth had tuberculosis. If so, she was one of many - by the beginning of the 19th century, consumption, as it was popularly known, had become the cause of one death in four in the country, the kind of level that continued all through that century. The disease was not finally controlled until well into the 20th. As so often is the case, the poor were the worst affected but all sections of society had its victims - including all three Brontė sisters, Keats, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Walter Scott. It appears from the diary that Elizabeth's cousin Thomas had died from that cause in 1839 and that his sister Eliza was similarly affected. Now that the scourge affected Elizabeth herself it was perhaps no longer appropriate that she should live at Lenton where her husband was operating as a butcher. At Beeston Rylands she and her daughter could receive the care that they needed and the fresh air that could be so beneficial.

Elizabeth Nutt MIDespite everything, Elizabeth died on 28 October 1852, just short of her 34th birthday, and was buried five days later in the churchyard at Beeston where her memorial survives today. The inscription tells the story of her sad end -

Sacred to the memory of Elizabeth
the beloved wife of Thomas Cornelius Nutt of Lenton in this County
who after a long and severe afflication which she bore with patience
and resignation to her divine maker
departed this life October 28 1852 Age 36 years

Short though her life was, many of her descendants were to go on to leave their mark in several remarkable ways.

The Styrings - Elizabeth's husband, Thomas, continued to live in Lenton and in 1854, two years after the death of Elizabeth, he married Helen Styring in Sheffield where her family was based. Helen's father, Robert had been born, in 1767, at Austerfield which is just inside Yorkshire, close to the Nottinghamshire border near to Bawtry. At the age of 18 he had moved to Sheffield where, after an apprenticeship as an upholsterer, In the early days of his career he had been in partnership with a Samuel Laycock as hair-seating manufacturers, until changing direction and establishing himself as a successful auctioneer and estate agent. In 1795 he had married Sarah Ashmore and, at the time of his death in 1838, he was survived by his widow and eight of their eleven children. The family appears to have had strong connections with Nottingham and Lenton in particular such that, by the time of Robert's death, at least one of their sons - George - was living there and had established himself in business and two of their daughters, including Helen, married Nottingham men; another son moved to Nottingham later and another - Henry - was later to marry a Nottingham widow whilst continuing to live in Sheffield.

Robert and Sarah's son George, born in Sheffield in 1806, had moved to Nottingham in his twenties and had married Betsy Twigg in Radford in 1829 and, by 1841, the couple had six children under 10. George had established himself as a coach proprietor and operated a regular service between Nottingham and Chesterfield. However, in 1842, tragedy struck; on the way back from visiting his brothers in Sheffield, he was thrown from his gig and died from a heart attack, aged 36. This devastating event appears to have been the catalyst for a move to Nottingham by other members of the family. George's mother Sarah had been widowed by the death of her husband in 1838 and it was natural that she would wish to help her newly widowed daughter-in-law with her six young children. Her arrival there at that time appears to have coincided, either directly or indirectly with others of her children visiting or, in some cases, moving to Nottingham - and Lenton in particular.

We can assume that her daughter Helen, who was to marry Thomas Nutt in 1854, was one of those who arrived in this way; and there was also her brother James (born about 1805 in Sheffield) who never married but, by 1861 was well established in Lenton as a farmer, employing two men and two boys and also operating the Three Wheat Sheaves Public House on the Derby Road - where his niece Mary A Styring, the youngest of George & Betsy's children was helping with the business. But again, disaster was not far around the corner as he died less than five months later and was buried on 1st September 1861 at Lenton Parish Church outliving his mother who was by them living with Thomas and Helen Nutt at their home on Gregory Street, Lenton. The couple continued to live there for more than another 10 years during which time Sarah, their mother died followed, in turn, by her daughter Helen, Thomas' wife. In 1875, he married for a third time to Eunice Richardson (nee Boot), widow of a local Butcher, 25 years his junior in age and who was to survive him into the 20th century.

When their mother died in 1852, Thomas Harwood Nutt had been 12 and his sister Elizabeth Harpham Nutt was 11 and it seems that they continued under the care of Elizabeth's extended family in Beeston Rylands; as we have seen, their father remarried in 1854 but remained close by, continuing a relatively measured life in Lenton with his new wife. Things began to change significantly when Richard Harwood, Thomas & Elizabeth's grand-father died in 1861.

Elizabeth Harpham Nutt - although a year younger than her brother Thomas, Elizabeth married first at the age of 20, on Boxing Day 1865, to William Henry Pratt, a Sheffield engineer but with origins in Nottingham - his father was Henry Pratt, a pipemaker but, by that time, a victualler in that town. The couple had four children in the years up to 1879 but, by 1881, Elizabeth too had died young. At the time of the census in that year, William is to be found a widower with his four children and widowed mother, occupied as a victualler in Derby - perhaps they had got together for mutual support, someone to help run her late husband's pub, someone to help with his young family.

Thomas Harwood Nutt - as we shall see, Thomas' end was nothing but dramatic and unconventional. But that was in the future, the present included a much more conventional family alliance - in 1866, aged 22, Thomas married Elizabeth Crabtree Styring in her native Sheffield. Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry Styring, brother of Thomas' step-mother.

Henry StyringHenry Styring's marriage to Elizabeth's mother, Mary Brewin - previously Crabtree - had come as something of a surprise to his family, particularly his maiden sisters. After the death of his father in 1838, as the oldest surviving son, he had assumed control of the family business, dropping the auctioneering side to concentrate on the estate agency. Never a physically robust man, he was small in stature and had had the early misfortune of injuring his arm in a fall which had left it permanently two inches shorter than the other. Now, at the age of 40, and soon after his father's death, he proposed to marry a much younger Nottingham widow who had been previously been briefly married to an Edward Brewin before his early death from consumption. Although it is not known how they met, it seems that he chose well; born in Nottingham and brought up there as a Quaker she was reputed to be a "tall, good-looking woman, capable and industrious, thrifty and very loyal". According to her son, writing late in his life, she brought up her eight children to love and honour her. Locally she was recognised as the "best-looking young woman in the district". This, perhaps unlikely, pairing was to raise a most remarkable family.

After the marriage of Thomas Harwood Nutt to Elizabeth - Henry and Mary's second oldest daughter - the couple settled down to life at Beeston Meadow where Thomas continued the family farming tradition combining this with some horse dealing. Things, however, did not go well and in about 1870, finding himself in financial difficulties, he took his young family to the Isle of Man. Two children, Henry Styring Nutt and William Harwood Nutt, had been born at Beeston. The youngest was just a small baby when they left and it appears that Elizabeth was expecting their third at the time of the move. They settled at Onchan, near Douglas. In the 1871 census they can be found there, farming 181 acres with the assistance of two hired men; their third child, Elizabeth Styring Nutt, born on the Island, was then six months old. Two other children, Ernest Smith Nutt and Frances Helen Nutt were to follow in 1873 and 1875 respectively.

Despite all their efforts, fortunes were no better in their new life on the Isle of Man. Faced with further financial difficulties, Thomas took the desperate step of leaving to seek prosperity in Australia. Even there, fortune was not to be kind to him and was never to see his wife and family again.

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The author acknowledges the invaluable contribution made by Sir Michael Carlisle, Martin Gregory Nutt, Elizabeth Ann Carlisle and other descendants of Elizabeth Nutt Harwood, who have co-operated enthusiastically and given access to surviving family papers and research in their possession.