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This blog will be a record of stuff I find interesting, discover or write. Interested in family & local history, cemeteries, reading & libraries, old stuff, research & writing, photography, wine and fine dining plus lots more! Immersed in local history, fascinated by technology and social media and would like more time to spend doing the things I love!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Annie Nichols nee Richardson (1882-1958)

Annie, young Bill and Ern at Tilba, Nichols family archives

My great-grandmother, Annie Richardson was born on the 25 October 1882 at Avenue Road Acton in Middlesex. She was the daughter of William and Mary Richardson. Annie's mother, Mary nee Potts died in 1888 aged 46. The cause of death was Uterine cancer. Annie was only five years old. She was recorded in the 1891 census living with Robert Faircloth (1833-1917) who along with wife Helena (1832-1909) reared Annie. In the 1901 Census Annie is listed as their adopted daughter. Family stories allege they were her Aunt and Uncle but to date no family connection has been found. 

Annie Richardson's birth certificate, Nichols Family archives

By the early 1900s Annie was living in Finchley with her Aunt and Uncle whilst working as a waitress. Around this time Annie met Ernest Nichols and after seeing each other for a while, they decided to marry. Ern was a baker and was born on 28 February 1875 at 7 Hornsey Street Islington, the son of William Nichols (1848-1926) a Police Sergeant and Jane Eliza nee Tucker (1843-1914). At the time of their marriage Annie was almost 20 years old whilst Ern was seven years her senior at 27. The couple married 22 September 1902 at St. Phillip's, Dalston MDX. The witnesses of the marriage were Robert N. F. Richardson and Amy Richardson. Amy was Annie's sister. Robert apparently reared Annie. 

It is not known where Ern and Annie resided immediately after their marriage but eventually they lived at "Lucerne" in Dale Grove, North Finchley. (Ern’s parents William and Jane Nichols also lived in North Finchley). From the 1890s, Ern was employed as a baker by Henry Purvis who ran the “North Finchley Hygienic Bakery” at 81 High Street. Purvis was a high class cook and confectioner although he died on the 18 February 1908 aged 71 years, Ernest stayed on and worked for the Executors of the Purvis' estate. 

The only surviving child of Ernest and Annie was William Robert, born 2 July 1903 in London. Sadly for the couple they were destined to only have one child although Annie apparently suffered numerous miscarriages. They appeared to have a close bond. Once Annie and son Bill went on a trip to Brighton and in a postcard, Annie wrote: ......shall be so glad to be back with you dear! Love and kisses from Sonny and myself, your loving wife, Annie.

Annie's postcard to her husband, Nichols Family archives 

Following a decade of marriage Ern and Annie made the decision that would change both of their lives irrevocably. They resolved to migrate to Australia. There are several family stories passed down giving the reason behind this choice; firstly to put as much distance as possible between Ern and his interfering mother; secondly the warmer climate would better suit Ern's asthma. Whether there is any truth behind these rumours, is not known, but tickets were purchased and trunks packed. It would have been a difficult decision, to leave all that was familiar, friends, family, birthplace to travel half way around the world to the strange and exotic destination of Australia. The Manager of the Purvis Company supplied Ern with an excellent Reference. The Manager stated that Ern was leaving us entirely of his own accord, to try his fortune in a new country and they were very sorry and very reluctant to lose his services. They had no hesitation in recommending him for any position suited to his abilities and capacity. They considered him absolutely trustworthy and hard working and found him to take an intelligent interest in anything he had in hand.   

Ern's handwritten Recipe Book has survived and in it is recorded seven varieties of Yeast, recipes for Queen cakes, Madeira cake, Cornflour Cream Buns, Coconut Mac's, Cheese curd etc.

Apparently Ern could not purchase tickets for the family on the same ship, so he went on his own, the plan being for him to establish a starting place. He departed on the 27 October 1912 from London on the Zicten. The ticket cost £17 and was for an Open berth, for males only.  Ern was listed on the Passenger List as Ernest Nicholos (sic) and his occupation was 'butcher' to the clerk recording these details, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, probably did not concern him a great deal. Never realising that years later people would be researching family history and be sent into a quandary about conflicting information! Ern possibly did not know anyone when he arrived in Sydney and would have been most definitely missing his family, particular as it was the festive season of Christmas. It must have come as a shock celebrating Christmas in the heat of summer rather than the cold winter season he was used to.

Bill with Annie on the Scharnhorst which arrived in Sydney in 1913, Nichols family archives

Annie and young William travelled later on the Scharnhorst. They left England on the 22 December 1912 and 47 days later arrived in Sydney, on the 7 February 1913. The Scharnhorst carried a total 211 crew and 478 passengers on the journey they travelled with the Reverend Ellis and family. Annie was very appreciative of the family's concern and always spoke very kindly of the Ellis family. Annie's grandson Warren Ellis was named after the Reverend and other family throughout the years have also been given the name.

On arrival the family spent time looking for a suitable climate for Ern's asthma, they travelled north to Coolangatta before spending time in Tilba and so began their life in Australia.

  • Reference for Ernest Nichols from H. Purvis business, North Finchley 22 Oct 1912
  • Inwards Passengers List  28 Jan-15 Mar 1913,  SR Reel 2070
  • Recipe Book, compiled by Ern Nichols, Nichols family archives
  • 1891 Census, 1901 Census

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