Family Life

The accident had a profound effect on William Nicholson Nicholson. Locals maintained that he never ' looked up' after the incident and his daughter, Emily recalled that while her mother was always cheerful, her father remained 'very grave'.73

Life for his children became dull and regimented. The family's diet was spartan. Although they ate meat and pudding at lunch, the rest of the meals in summer consisted of large basins of milk with cream and dry bread, though in winter he generously allowed the milk to be warmed! They were allowed a piece of dry bread and butter in the morning with a further slice at supper time. This was a deeply religious family and Bible reading took place every morning before breakfast. Other reading was strictly limited to Christian texts including ' biography of god's people in olden times'.

Emily remembered her childhood with little affection:

My life did not have many remarkable things in it; it all seemed to go on in a regular routine, new brothers and sisters arriving, the old nurse continually holding up her finger and shushing me for fear I would wake the baby.

Though my life was rather hard and monotonous yet I thank the lord very much for it. There was a nice governess and I was glad of her companionship, I helped to teach the children all the morning and in the afternoon went with my mother if she went shopping or calling. Sometimes I read in the woods where I had wonderful times.74

One of the highlights of her life was visiting St. John's on a Sunday. She travelled there in her uncle's 'grand yellow chariot' with two footmen with white stockings standing behind. After the morning service they returned to The Mansion for dinner, before returning for the three o'clock service. Her favourite time was what the children called 'Weeping Sundays'.

Certain Sundays in the year were very much marked because Mr Rhodes, a retired clergyman, used to weep as he read the lessons and we always looked forward to those. The Sundays about Esau and Jacob and the Sunday about Joseph in the pit were always weeping Sundays and Mrs Rhodes, in her pew, wept too. The Vicar, Mr Davis, was quite in advance of his time and preached things not considered quite orthodox. When he did so Mr Armitage Rhodes coughed and we all listened with eager ears to the heresy being propounded.75

The Nicholson family had the usual worries about their children and they were fortunate that Stephen took such an interest in his great nieces and nephews, helping to promote their interests through his network of contacts. In October 1841 we find him writing to the Earl of Harewood for help in obtaining a 'commission by purchase' for his great nephew, Thomas.76

Stephen Nicholson died on 23rd February 1858 at the grand old age of eighty.

Stephen Nicholsons funeral monument
Funeral monument to Stephen and Sarah Nicholson both of whom are buried in the family vault beneath the church.

He was interred at the family vault of St. John's Church and an elaborate funeral monument was erected at the side of his step-brother's, in the main body of the church. He left everything 'to my dear wife…in trust for my said nephew William Nicholson Nicholson', however, she was given five hundred pounds to distribute among his indoor and outdoor servants. His wife continued to live in the Mansion, her needs being tended to by a butler, footman, maid, cook and three house servants.77 Gracious living indeed! Four years later she too was dead and William could, at long last, take charge of the estate.


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73. Yorkshire Evening Post, 19 Sept 1972.
74. Ibid.
75. Yorkshire Evening Post , 20 Sept. 1972.
76. Public Record Office: War Office 31/924 and 989.
77. 1851 Census: Leeds Local and Family History Library Bundle No.2316 1st Reel Fol.147-163.