The Nanny

There was a story in our family that, long ago, a nanny fell so much in love with the little baby boy she looked after, that when his mother died she married his father solely to stay with him. It has taken me several years of research, but I have managed to confirm this story is indeed correct.

The little boy in the story was a Walter Brundrett, who was born on 3rd November 1860 in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, which is just south of Manchester. The area was mainly used for market gardening in the early 1800s, and a lot of the families had strong Wesleyan beliefs and had built their own chapel.  Walter was the son of Isaac Brundrett and Jane Holland Rhodes who had married in 1857. They had another child, Kezia, who was born on 10th June 1858. However, sadly, Jane died just 7 days after Walter’s birth.

Jane Holland Rhodes was born in 1840 and, at the time of the 1841 census, was with her mother, Martha, staying with her maternal grandparents, George & Jane Grantham, at High Lane, Chorlton-cum-Hardy. Also at the property were her Uncle George’s daughters – Mary (1834) and Martha Jane (1836). They had been left with their grandparents when their mother, Hannah, died and their father went away to work as a clearing house inspector on the railways. He remarried in 1846, and his daughter Martha Jane is shown living with him in Berwick-on Tweed on the 1851 census. Although, by 1860 she was back in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, as it was her that widowed Isaac Brundrett turned to, to care for his newborn son and young daughter.

The census the following year shows them all living at Grantham Buildings, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, which I believe were named after George senior. Looking at old maps of the area, Grantham Buildings were on the site of what is now Brundretts Road, which was of course Isaac’s surname. The census records that Isaac was 46, Martha Jane, 24, Kezia, 2, and Walter, 5 months old. It lists Isaac as a salesman and Martha Jane as his housekeeper.

Isaac and Martha Jane married shortly after the census was taken – just 5 months after Jane’s death. Not only did their living arrangements not quite fit with their religious background, but Martha must have loved baby Walter so much that she was prepared to marry his father, the widower of her first cousin, despite a 24 year age difference.

Their first child, Georgiana Mary, was born exactly nine months later in 1862 and was probably named after her grandfather and uncle. She was followed by Clementina Martha (1865), George Grantham (1866) and Isabella Ann (1870). The family bible lists all of these important dates.

Walter thrived, married and had eleven children. His step-mother, Martha Jane, lived until 1910, so saw at least nine of her step-grandchildren. So I’d like to think that she did a good job!

In fact, Walter’s eldest son, Frederick Brundrett, was later knighted for his work as the chief scientific advisor to the Ministry of Defence from 1954-1960.


© angelina 2010


Family bible