SIMMONDS Family History

The SIMMONDS family

Nathaniel Simmonds & Edith Fanny Harrison

Edith Simmonds and family

Edith Fanny with, left to right, Edith, Nat, Mary, Christopher and Ellen

The Simmonds were living in and around Salisbury during the 1800's. Nathaniel Simmonds married Eliza Simmonds née Brown 26 December 1859. They had three children. Their first child also called Nathaniel Simmonds was born 7 October 1860 followed by his sister Eliza born 1862 and a brother Henry born 1863. From boyhood the eldest son Nathaniel was keen on drawing and painting, and a collector and lover of books.

Nathaniel Simmonds aged 38 married Edith Fanny Harrison aged 30 on 25 January 1899. Edith Fanny's father had died in 1894 so she was given away by her brother Frederick Joseph Harrison and her three sisters Annie, Ellen and Alice were her bridesmaids.

After they were married Nathaniel fulfilled his ambition and ran his own business selling prints, maps, books and rare specimens of literature, as well as running a lending library at Mitre House, High Street in Salisbury, just outside the cathedral close, where the family also lived. Mitre House was where the Bishop used to don his robes before going to the cathedral. There is still a mitre painted on the outside of the house. Their children were all born in Salisbury and christened in Salisbury Cathedral.

  • Edith Simmonds b. 17 November 1899 d. 23 January 1995 Bedford
  • Nathaniel Harrison Simmonds, known as Harrison or Nat, b. 9 December 1900 d. 1970 Bedford.
  • Ellen Simmonds, known as Nellie, was b. 12 March 1902 d. 27 August 1985 Bedford
  • Mary Simmonds b. 26 March 1904 d. 4 July 1965

Edith Fanny was expecting her fifth child in 1906 when her husband Nathaniel became seriously ill with Gastritis and died within fourteen days on 21 August 1906 at the age of 46. She gave birth to our father exactly 2 months after her husband died.

  • Christopher Simmonds b. 21 October 1906 d. 3 June 1987 Sussex

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 earned 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 trades people. 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 old closely followed by Mary. Edith was already attending her aunt's school so she stayed with her aunts and grandmother until she could go to Reeds in 1908, Harrison was adopted by Edith Fanny's brother Ernest but also went to Reeds School at Watford 1909. 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. He ran the bookshop for years and was later joined by his two children Henry Walter and Christina Katherine who continued to run the bookshop right up until the late 1960's. Neither of them married or had children and both died suddenly; Christina on 27 March and Henry b.29 March 1899 d. 16 April 1968. They both died intestate. The shop was sold and the descendants of their grandparents, Nathaniel Simmonds and Eliza Brown, inherited their estates.

Edith Fanny went on to become a matron at Wellington College where she lived and worked in term time until she retired in 1948 when she was almost eighty years old.

Despite early difficulties they were an extremely close and devoted family. Aunts and Uncles helped bring up the family. Christopher being the youngest was dearly loved by his mother, brother and sisters and they used to meet up with each other whenever possible throughout life. I remember the cousins driving Edie and Nellie, as old ladies, down to Felpham to meet with Christopher every summer. Edith Fanny loved to get all the family together and put on a ‘spread’ - she just loved family around her. She used to sing to us as children: One, two, three mother caught a flea, she put it in the tea pot to make a cup of tea along with many other ditties. Edith Fanny lived with one or other of her children throughout her life. She lived with Christopher in Richmond when he left school. Christopher was a keen horseman at this time and went out riding in Richmond Park with his good friend John Morley Grimes Davis. (Such a wonderful name! and an amazing man who lived to be a 100, a tree was planted in Richmond Park in his memory.) They remained close friends for the rest of their lives. Edith Fanny was at The Cottage on the Green, Carshalton, near Nottingham, with Christopher before he got married, then with Harrison and Madeleine and their family at 65 Chaucer Road, Bedford and on their smallholding The Moorings, 112 Bromham Road, Biddenham and latterly with Edie and her daughter Pat at 87, Goldington Road, Bedford.

Harrison Simmonds married Violet Emily Butcher (known as Madeleine) on 3 November 1926 They had five children;

  • Peter Ermest b. 22 November 1927 d. 28 May 2015 Brother Peter Salesian Lay Brother in South Africa for 60 years.
  • John b. 3 June 1929 d. 10 November 2011 Brother Simon. After 30 years as a Franciscan Lay Brother, Order of Friars Minor, John was ordained as a priest and became Father Simon (OFM)
  • Mary b. 30 October 1933 d. 17 February 1986 m. Ernest Shiner 1957
  • Michael b. 21 July 1936 m. Anne Theresa Taylor 3 August 1964
  • David b. 30 September 1938 d. 2 November 2008 m. Liliane Pace 10 September 1964

Edith Simmonds married Frank Mousley 1 February 1938. They had one daughter Patricia Mousley b. 1942

Nellie Simmonds did not marry. She worked as a district nurse living in Newport Pagnell.

Mary Simmonds was also unmarried. She worked as an industrial nurse.

Christopher Simmonds married Elizabeth Joyce Hesketh 17 January 1948. The result can be seen at the top of THIS PAGE.

© 2020 Sally Linklater Custos Rotulorum.