THE PARENTAL NEGLECT OF SAMUEL AND ANNIE NICHOLSON - SHEFFIELD AUGUST 1903

In May 2016 I decided to spend some time trying to tie some loose ends up on my family history. My great grandfather's eldest brother WILLIAM HENRY SANBY married an ANN MACKEVOY in 1871 and during the course of their marriage had five children. As ANN was from an Irish family, the children were brought up in the Catholic faith. The eldest was a daughter who was born on 24th April 1872 and named after her mother ANN ELIZA SANBY. 

I was researching material on Ancestry when I came across this entry from the Court Books of Sheffield - 25th August 1903. A researcher had placed this information in her family tree next to the entry for ANN ELIZA SANBY. Her married name was NICHOLSON by the way.   

 

To say I was shocked was an understatement. I could just not believe that ANN would have neglected her family of five children to such an extent that she summoned to court and what is more, found guilty and sentenced to one months hard labour. I had never come across anything like this in the family. To find out more about the case I found the report in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated 26th August 1903. My relief was palpable - the researcher had failed to look at the case in the newspaper. My ancestor ANN ELIZA SANBY had married a JOHN THOMAS NICHOLSON in 1890 and whilst she was the same age as the defendant, her husband was not SAMUEL STEAD NICHOLSON who stood accused with his wife. It was not my ancestors who were on trial.

Nevertheless as the report indicates it was a terrible case of  "wilful disgraceful parental neglect" of five children between the ages of 11 years and eleven months. Mr Arthur Neal who brought the prosecution on behalf of the NSPCC quickly pointed out that the main culprit was ANNIE who was described as "incorrigibly lazy." The impression you get from the report is that they were struggling to find words to describe the indescribable stench and horror that the family were living in. Samuel's defence if one can call it that was rather peculiar  - it is as if he had no part to play in what had happened to his family. This desperate situation had persisted for perhaps nine months but it appears his only action Samuel took was to "reprove her over and over again" and give her the odd "thrashing".  "It was not his fault that the house was in a dirty state". I would have suggested that his time may have been better spent dealing with the vermin that had clearly infested all rooms in the house rather than berating his wife.

It was a desperate state of affairs but there were a couple of mitigating elements. The first is that all the children had "consumptive bowels" in their infancy. (inflammation and ulceration of the intestines from tubercular disease). In most cases this condition was caused by drinking unpasturised milk. And secondly all the children with the exception of the baby were "fairly well nourished". The baby was emaciated due to "consumptive bowels."  

But when I researched the family further, I was surprised about what came after the court case and the imprisonment of ANNIE

In 1901 the family were living at 52 Napier Street, the same address that was described as a "fever den" in August 1903

    

And ten years later in 1911 they were still at the same address

Napier Street Sheffield circa 1900

The remarkable fact is that all the children survived the deprivations that they had suffered in their early years. Even the baby Alice who was now eight years old but in August 1903 was emaciated and in a serious condition. But even more surprising is that Samuel and Annie had another three children. And so at the time of the 1911 census there were ten people living in just three rooms. The census also shows that Annie gave birth to twelve children in total, eight of which were still living

Name: Annie Nicholson
Age in 1911: 40
Estimated birth year: abt 1871
Relation to Head: Wife Gender: Female
Birth Place: Sheffield, Yorkshire, England
Civil Parish: Ecclesall Search Photos: Search for 'Ecclesall' in the UK City, Town and Village Photos collection County/Island: Yorkshire-West Riding Country: England
Street address: 52 Napier Street
Marital Status: Married
Registration district: Ecclesall Bierlow Registration District Number: 509 Sub-registration district: Sharrow ED, institution, or vessel: 2 Piece: 27813
Household Members: 
Name Age
Samuel Stead Nicholson 42
Annie Nicholson 40
Frederick Joseph Nicholson 19
Annie Elizabeth Nicholson 16 
Elsie Nicholson 13 
Ethe1 Nicholson 10 
Alice Nicholson 8
Doris Nicholson 7 
Harty Nicholson 5
Albert Edgar Nicholson 1

Three of the children that died are buried together in Sheffield's Burngreave Cemetery

NICHOLSON, Lilian (Dau of S S Nicholson, age 3 months).
Died at 7-7 Monmouth St; Buried on September 16, 1893 in General ground; Grave Number 10, Section X1 of Burngreave Cemetery, Sheffield.
Parent or Next of Kin if Available: . Remarks: S. Plot Owner: S NOCHOLSON of 7/7 Monmouth Street.

NICHOLSON, Mabel (Daughter of S S Nicholson, age 12 months).
Died at 52 Napier Street; Buried on March 5, 1900 in General ground; Grave Number 10, Section X1 of Burngreave Cemetery, Sheffield.
Parent or Next of Kin if Available: . Remarks: Officiating Minister, C G Holt.

NICHOLSON, Samuel (son of A S T Nicholson, age 17 months).
Died at 52 Napier St; Buried on August 9, 1897 in General ground; Grave Number 10, Section X1 of Burngreave Cemetery, Sheffield. Parent or Next of Kin if Available: . Remarks: 52457.

Five years later in May 1916 Samuel and Annie lost their eldest son Frederick Joseph Nicholson He died 31st May 1916 whilst aboard HMS Invincible in the Battle of Jutland. Frederick was just one of 1026 men who lost their lives when the ship was sunk. He is remembered on the Portsmouth War Memorial

Rank:Stoker 1st Class
Service No: K/11599
Date of Death: 31/05/1916
Age:24
Regiment/Service: Royal Navy H.M.S. "Invincible." 
Panel Reference: 19.
Memorial:
PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
Additional Information:
Son of Samuel Stead Nicholson and Annie Nicholson, of 52, Napier St., Sheffield.

It is strange to contemplate that a boy who was described as being covered in filth, bitten by rats and wearing filthy clothes that were held together by string, should die serving King and Country in the Royal Navy thirteen years later.

But this was not the only tragedy that befell Samuel and Annie in 1916. Two months earlier they lost their daughter Edith who was 4 years of age (Edith must have been born after the 1911 Census). She is buried in Sheffield's City Road Cemetery

Nicholson, Edith (daughter of Samuel, age 4).
Died at 52 Napier St; Buried on March 25, 1916 in General Portion ground; Grave Number 9351, Section I of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.

They also lost another daughter Ethel in 1919. The Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated 4th July had this notice in its BMD columns

Nicholson, Ethel (Daug of Samuel, age 19).
Died at Royal Infirmary; Buried on July 5, 1919 in General Portion ground; Grave Number 9351, Section II of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.

I do not know the full story of what became of the family after 1919 apart from these few facts

Samuel Stead Nicholson 

Nicholson, Samuel Stead (Retired Printer, age 71).Died at 5 Halliwell Close; Buried on March 4, 1940 in General Portion ground; Grave Number 9351, Section I of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.

Annie Nicholson 

Nicholson Annie Elizabeth (wife of Samuel, age 60).
Died at 12 Herries Rd; Buried on August 15, 1932 in General Portion ground; Grave Number 9351, Section I of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.

Frederick Joseph Nicholson died 31 May 1916 aboard HMS INVINCIBLE in the Battle of Jutland

Annie Elizabeth Nicholson 16 married William Sponge (born 1894) 1913 Sheffield

SPONGE, William (Retired Grocer, age 65). Died at 22 Buttermere Rd; Buried on May 14, 1936 in Consecrated ground; Grave Number 12223, Section Q of Abbey Lane Cemetery, Sheffield.

SPOUGE, Annie Eliza (Widow, age 72). Died at 2 Herries Road; Buried on April 9, 1953 in Consecrated ground; Grave Number 12223, Section Q of Abbey Lane Cemetery, Sheffield.

Elsie Nicholson died 1963

Ethel Nicholson died 1919

Alice Nicholson 

Doris Nicholson died 1961 Brighton Sussex Son Thomas Bowes-Nicholson (1924 London -1996 Shoreham) Father Thomas Bowes 
Harty Nicholson 
Albert Edgar Nicholson 

As a postscript when Samuel Stead Simpson died in 30 March 1940 at the age of 71, he left a net estate of 105.12s.01d

 


NOTES
1. Surname First name(s) District Vol Page 
Marriages Sep 1891 

Nicholson Samuel Stead Sheffield 9c 811 
Walker Annie                  Sheffield 9c 811 

Sources
UK Census 

Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated 26th August 1903

Sheffield Indexers

Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated 4th July 1919

This page was last updated on 05/09/16 15:37

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