Ralph Nicholson of Thornton (1754-1817) & Mary Middleton (1763-1803)
- Eleanor b. 1781 m. James Cleghorn
- Mary b. 1782 m. Thomas Stamp
- Catherine b. 1784 m. Robert Wornum, her 3rd cousin
- George b.1785 m. Helen Ostens
- Jonathon Middleton b. 1787 d 1791 Died Young
- Ralph b 1789 m. Mary Wood eldest daughter & child of William Wood of Pressen, Carham.
- Jonathon Middleton b.1791 Died in East Indies unmarried at the age of 25 in 1816
- Elizabeth b. 1793 m. Lieut George Beazeley RN
- Jane b. 1795 m. Jonathan Middleton her 1st cousin
- James Robert b. 1797 m. Harriet Makins
- William b. 1799 m. Frances Holmes Nicholson his 1st cousin
- Harriett b. 1801 m. William Dodds
Music & The Mantua
Robert Wornum Junior (1780-1852) & Catherine Nicholson (1784-1856)
Suffice it to say Robert Wornum jnr revolutionised the design of the upright piano, most noticeably, in its size, and many of his patented modifications were still being used in the manufacture of pianos well into the 20th Century.
In 1832 he relocated his factory to premises at Nos 15 & 17 Store St., in the fashionable Bloomsbury district of the city. A music hall next door at No 16 soon followed “built expressly for Morning and Evening Concerts” with a capacity of between 800 and 1,000.
In due course their second son Alfred Nicholson Wornum joined his father, and the business became known as Wornum and Sons. Subsequent census records show that it was sizeable concern, providing employment for between 50 and 70 men.
the daughter of William Nicholson and his own first cousin Frances Holmes Nicholson. (At this point my computer software suffered a small seizure!) William was tenant of Lennel Hill (where I now live) from between circa 1835 to the family’s departure to Lackagh, Co Kildare in Ireland in the mid 1860’s. The memorial headstone to this branch of the Nicholson family in Norham churchyard does not make for pretty reading.
The Beazeleys are a very interesting family indeed. It is alleged that George Beazeley was the son of Count ‘Semen Romanovitch Vorontsov’, the Russian Minister to England from 1784-1806 and that he was christened at the Chapel of the Russian Embassy in May 1790. I have not had sight of this record so therefore cannot comment on the validity of the claim, however I do wonder that if this is the case how he came to be named George Beazeley?
This matter aside, the family were supporters of the recently emerging Swedenborgian Church, and circa 1850 set off to Charlottetown, St Edward Island off the coast of Nova Scotia in search of a new life and to spread the ‘word’ of the New Church. Things did not work out for them as they hoped and the family had returned to London before the 1861 census when the orphaned Alfred Wornum Nicholson can also be found residing with his Beazeley relatives. A few fabulous letters survive, written by Alexander and his father George during their brief time overseas, to Nicholson cousins at Thornton in Northumberland, and the Wornum family in London. They provide a wealth of information and can be read at:
Ralph Nicholson Wornum (1813-1877) and the National Gallery
As a young man he abandoned his academic studies in favour of his passion for art and travelled extensively for six years visiting art galleries throughout Europe. In 1839 he returned to London and set-up as a portrait painter, but it was a writer and art critic that he excelled and as such achieved high acclaim within the art world. In 1843 he married American born Elizabeth Seldon reputedly one of the most beautiful women in London, and with whom he would have ten children.
“.. as keeper of the National Gallery and secretary to the trustees, upon the recommendation of Sir Charles Eastlake. His appointment was taken as an augury of reform in the administration of the gallery. Wornum's ‘whole time and knowledge were now secured for the public’ (GM, 2nd ser., 43, 1855, 168), and the salary of the post was raised to £750 a year. In March 1856 a Treasury minute reconstituted the administration of the gallery: the keeper was to reside within the gallery to ensure the safe custody of the collection and to compile a complete catalogue of works that might be suitable for inclusion in the national collection. Wornum was also responsible for hanging the paintings and supervising their cleaning. However, it was to the Turner collection that he devoted most of his energies”.
Ralph held his position at the National Gallery until he died at his home No 20 Belsize Square, Hampstead on 15th December 1877. He was survived by his second wife (and cousin) by some 26 years. In the census following his death Harriet is still resident at 20 Belsize Square, along with several children, step children and the Strachans visiting from India.
More about Mantuas
Wornum & The Piano
My feature of December 2014 covered the descendants of Mary Middleton's brother, Hodgson Middleton and his wife Phillis Smith http://www.bordersancestry.co.uk/blog/the-middletons-of-strathmiglo-loved-ones-lost , and their son William Nicholson featured back in July 2013 http://www.bordersancestry.co.uk/blog/a-place-a-philosopher-the-potato-a-private-printers-painters-publishing-the-pacific-a-pirate-part-i