Thursday 9 January 2020

New term and new decade

Well - it's all over for another year and I hope all readers of my blog have had a good Christmas and New Year. I am taking decorations down and preparing for a new term with my local history classes in Howden and Goole.

The first Howden class is on Monday 13th January at 1.30 pm in the town council offices on Bridgegate and we would welcome new members at this first class - you can enrol after you've tried it out!!

The first Goole class at Ilkeston Ave Community centre is at 10am on  Thursday January 16th. Both classes are very friendly and a good way to meet new people.

One of the topics I shall be looking at is the story of Nancy Nicholson who lived at Drax and later at Asselby. After her death there in 1854 pamphlets were published about her colourful life. She was apparently a 'termagant'.

I have been looking particularly at her ancestry and connection with Asselby Hall. This was the home of the Smith/Smyth family from at least the seventeenth century when John Smith's house had 5 hearths, the biggest in the Village.

The family were still living in Asselby when in 1769 Nathaniel Smith died. But then later the same year his only son John  also died. He left all his property in Asselby to his sister Mary, to pass eventually to her young daughters Ann and Sarah.

Mary Smyth had married Rev Joseph Fisher, vicar of Drax in 1765. Joseph was  originally from Cockermouth.  When he died in 1820 after 50 years as vicar aged 82 he was described as   "a man of most eccentric character, but of wonderful and superior abilities being not only well versed the art of physic, but also law and divinity. "

He studied medicine for 2 years at Edinburgh university,  wrote a thesis on dropsy and was subsequently awarded a medical degree from the university of Leyden.

He was also master of the school at Drax.  But as he was away from Drax for long periods he had a hard working curate. This was Rev John Jackson. In 1787 John Jackson married Joseph's daughter Ann and the following year their daughter Nancy was born. She was apparently very spoiled by her parents and seemingly not a nice person.

Joseph's daughter Sarah married Thomas Harrison of Harrington in 1810 and they had a daughter Dorothy.

Time passed and in 1810 a  newly ordained curate, Rev John Nicholson, came to help John Jackson. Rev Jackson died in December that year and was buried in the chancel of Drax church.

The chancel of Drax church

The following year 22 year old Nancy married the curate. It was not to be a happy marriage nor was it a happy time for the pupils of Drax school.

Read School Drax chapel showing alms houses

Apparently Nancy's mother could not bear living with her daughter and moved to Cliffe where she died in 1842 aged 73. The newspaper report described her as

Ann. relict of the Rev. John Jackson, curate of Drax, and lecturer of Barmby-on-the-Marsh, the last surviving daughter of the Rev. Joseph Fisher, M.D., late vlcar of Drax, and granddaughter of the late Nathaniel Smith, of Asselby Hall, near Howden.

If the story is correct Nancy starved the 12 pupils, taught them how to steal eggs and apples, dressed oddly and was very miserly. Her husband took to drink and both were violent. They parted and Nancy moved to her Asselby property, inherited from her mother. She ejected her tenant farmer who was a relative and the villagers were so angry they bought his goods back for him at the farm sale and burned her in effigy.

Rev Nicholson was suspended from preaching in 1828 and died  in 1850 at Newland, near Drax, described in the newspaper as much respected.

Meanwhile Nancy's cousin Dorothy had married a ship's captain. Sadly he was killed in an accidnet and in 1845 she married again at Howden.

 Mrs. Dorothy Wilson, of Asselby Hall, widow of Captain John Jorden Wilson, of Harrington Harbour, Cumberland, and granddaughter of the late Mr. Nathaniel Smith, of Asselby Hall, this county; and also of the late Rev. Joseph Fisher, M.D., Vicar of Drax, and Perpetual Curate of Carlton, in the same county.

 After the death of this second huband she and her children moved in with her cousin and was living in Asselby in 1851.

Nancy died in 1854.   She left nothing to her cousin Dorothy who had cared for her. Dorothy kept an ironmonger's shop in Howden Market Place on the corner of Highbridge but she was in partnership with her son Joseph and they went bankrupt in 1875. The premises were sold, described as

 DWELLING-HOUSE AND SHOP, Situate on the East side of the Market-place, and lately occupied as an Ironmonger’s Shop, by Mrs. Dorothy Taylor. This Estate is situate in the best part of the important town of Howden, and will be found on inspection to be well-built, conveniently arranged, and well worthy of the attention of purchasers whether for investment or occupation.

Asselby hall was demolished sometime after Nancy's death and apparently replaced by Eel Hall
It was said that an oak beam with eels carved on it was built into the gable of the  old hall and that this was incorporated into the attic of the new house.

Life was certainly exciting in Asselby when Nancy was there.

I have not a picture of Eel Hall farm - can anyone help?