Edith Fanny Harrison aged 30 married Nathaniel Simmonds aged 38 years on 25 January 1899. Her father had died in 1894 so she was given away by her brother Frederick Joseph Harrison and her three sisters Annie, Nellie and Alice were her bridesmaids.
Nathaniel Simmonds, born 1860, was from a Salisbury family as well. His father was also Nathaniel Simmonds and his mother Eliza Simmonds nee Brown. He had a sister Eliza born 1862 and a brother Henry born 1863. From boyhood Nathaniel was keen on drawing and painting, and a collector and lover of books. When he married he ran his own business selling prints, maps, books and rare specimens of literature at Mitre House, High Street in Salisbury, just outside the cathedral close, where the family also lived.
Edith Simmonds their first child was born 17 November 1899, followed by Nathaniel Harrison Simmonds born 9 December 1900. He was always known as Harrison or to us as Uncle Nat. Ellen, known as Nellie, was born 12 March 1902 and Mary born 26 March 1904. Edith Fanny was expecting her fifth child in 1906 when her husband became seriously ill with Gastritis and died within fourteen days at the age of 46. Christopher Simmonds was born 21 October 1906 two months exactly after his father had died.
Life changed dramatically for this young family. Edith Fanny had a great deal of help and support from her brothers and sisters but she needed to find schools where the children could be looked after and educated while she could earn a living. There were schools founded by Andrew Reed early in the 1820's, later known as Wanstead School and Reeds School, for 'the children of distressed gentlefolk' children of military or professional people, clergy or respectable tradespeople. Edith's brother Frank Inigo Harrison was a clergyman and we think he may have helped with getting them nominated and accepted as there was a system of votes for places. Ellen was the first to go to Wanstead in January 1907 at four and a half years. Edith and Harrison went to Reeds at Watford and Mary followed Ellen to Wanstead. In 1907 Edith Fanny went to work as a matron at 'Princess Mary's Village Homes' where she was able to take baby Christopher with her. At three years old Christopher joined Ellen and Mary at Wanstead. The bookshop had been handed over to Nathaniel's brother Henry Simmonds.
© 2020 Sally Linklater Custos Rotulorum.