David Nunn of London

David is the most tenuous of the four brothers I have identified. While Jonathan and Alexander are mentioned in Baptist journals, making it clear they’re brothers, and while William appears on the 1841 census with their mother, and his baptism in Guildford is mentioned in a journal, too, David is an outlier. But there are facts which make it clear that he was one of Joshua Nunn and Mary Alexander’s six children.

David Nunn was born in Marylebone, London, in about 1816, a place we know that Joshua’s family was associated with, and four years before Joshua died. No infant baptism was recorded for David, as his family were Baptists.

In 1838, he married Mary Ann Mann, who had been born in Woodbridge, Suffolk, the daughter of Charles Mann, a carpenter and his wife Eleanor Knights. They attended the Independent chapel there. When David and Mary Ann married, he gave his occupation as pawn broker, and he lived on Richmond Place. He stated that he was the son of Joshua Nunn, tallow chander, deceased – his brothers James and William gave the same father’s name and occupation on their second marriages.

I haven’t been able to find David and Mary Ann on the 1841 or 1851 censuses, but between those dates, the couple had three children, who were all born in Marylebone:[1]I identified their children by using the Birth search on the GRO site, using surname Nunn and mother’s maiden name Mann.

  • Charles James, 1842-1843
  • Eliza Eleanor, 1849-1929
  • Jonathan Alexander, 1849-1888

There are only two other Jonathan Alexander Nunns – David’s brother, and his brother’s son. By 1849, when David’s son of that name was born, David’s brother had been dead for seven years. This is another clue which points to David being one of Joshua and Mary’s children. Another, more tenative one, is that the names Eliza and Eleanor crop up among his nieces too.

In 1848, David had been having some dealings with a man named William King, from Colchester in Essex. Having got into financial difficulties, King went by the name Charles Orford. When King’s luck finally ran out, he went on trial, and narrowly avoided deportation. David was called on as a witness, living at Homer Place in Paddington at the time, and we find out how much wheeler-dealing was going on in his work as a broker. We even hear one witness claim that David was often drunk! At one point, he was asked if he was present when King was looking into the possibility of forgery, and David replied that he wasn’t there because his wife and child were ill. He at least seems to have been a caring father and husband.

By 1861, the family at last appear on the census, although this would be David’s only appearance. They were living at 53 London Road, St Pancras:

  • David Nunn, 45, broker and furniture dealer, b Marylebone
  • Marian, 45, straw bonnet maker, b Woodbridge, Suffolk
  • Jonathan A, 11, telegraph messenger, b Pancras

It was in the Tottenham Court division of the St Pancras registration district, so would presumably have been on the south side of Euston Road. David and Mary Ann’s daughter Eliza wasn’t living at home by that point; on the night of the 1861 census, she was working as a servant in a house on Great James’ Street in Marylebone, the home of an oilman called Donald Jarvis. Was that a connection with Joshua having been an oilman, or just a coincidence?

In 1863, David’s brother James died, and was buried at Kensal Green cemetery. A write-up of the funeral in Baptist journal The Earthen Vessel says that the coffin was accompanied to the grave by many people, including “the brethren and daughters of Mr. Nunn”. While “brethren” could mean members of the same chapel, in this context, where his daughters are mentioned too, it presumably means the family version of brethren. And this means that William and David were presumably there in Kensal Green, attending the funeral.

On 13 Aug 1865, Eliza married Richard William Charrott at St Marylebone parish church. He was a french polisher. Did he know Eliza through her father’s work as a furniture dealer, perhaps? Eliza lived a long and eventful life, finally passing away in 1929 in Edgbury Hospital in Aspley Heath, Bedfordshire. She and her husband had three children, but only their daughter Eliza Ellen lived to adulthood. She married George Philip Wood, a hotel manager at St Andrew’s, Barnsbury, in 1892, but the couple divorced in 1905. It’s unfortunate for them, but lucky for us, at it means that we see the court artist’s rendition of Eliza and her husband, as produced in Lloyd’s Weekly News, 11 June 1905. And not just that, but a granddaughter of David Nunn, and great-granddaughter of Joshua Nunn and Mary Alexander:

Eliza Ellen Wood, née Charrott

After the divorce, Eliza moved back home to live with her mother, but I haven’t been able to trace her any further than the 1911 census.

David died in 1870, aged 54. He was buried in the cemetery at St Pancras, in what appears to have been a public grave, with 13 others. His address was given as 8 Old Goldington Street, which was presumably near Goldington Crescent, where his brother James had once lived and maintained a huge congregation in his Baptist chapel. He doesn’t appear to have had the material success of his three brothers – he didn’t leave a will and his worldly goods didn’t warrant a grant of administration – and it’s difficult to piece his story together given that he doesn’t appear in many public records.

After David’s death, his widow Mary Ann lived with their daughter Eliza, but she disappears after the 1871 census, perhaps dying before it was next taken in 1881.

David’s son Jonathan Alexander Nunn had three children by Annie Searle. They were living together at 40 Well Street, Marylebone, on the 1871 census, with Annie’s children Charles, John, and Louisa Cale. Her first husband was John Doughty Cale, who she had married in 1862. I haven’t been ablet to find a marriage for Jonathan and Annie, which suggests that she had left Cale and moved in with Jonathan. London was such a large and busy place that couples who couldn’t easily afford a divorce could live together pretending to be married. The births of Jonathan and Annie’s three children were all registered as if they were married, taking Jonathan’s surname and giving Annie’s maiden name on the record too. Their children were:

  • Annie Cambridge Nunn, 1872-1921
  • David Alexander, 1875-1883
  • Ellen, 1880

When the 1881 census was taken, Jonathan and Annie were living at 21 Upper Rathbone Place in Marylebone, and had a full house, with their three children, plus Annie’s four children by her first husband. Sadly, the family would soon be broken apart by two deaths. Jonathan died before 3 Dec 1888, when his eldest daughter Annie married Philip Baker at St John the Evangelist’s in Camden. She stated on the marriage certificate that her father was desceased.[2]I haven’t yet found Jonathan’s death in the death indexes. Then Jonathan’s widow died on 30th March 1889, at 38 Saville Street in Marylebone of bronchitis.

I haven’t been able to trace Jonathan and Annie’s daughter Ellen any further than the 1891 census, when the eleven-year-old orphan was listed as a “lodger” at her sister’s house. Annie and Philip had several children, but another early death led to tragedy for her, when Philip died sometime between 1901 and 1911, apparently dying (unless he had abandoned his family for some reason, but Annie preferred to be described as a “widow”). Annie was working as a flower-seller when she and three of her children, Louisa, George, and Mary, had to go into St Pancras workhouse. She appears to have died in 1921. I haven’t traced her children yet – if you are descended from Annie or Ellen, please do get in touch.

By Helen Barrell

First published 22 March 2024

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1 I identified their children by using the Birth search on the GRO site, using surname Nunn and mother’s maiden name Mann.
2 I haven’t yet found Jonathan’s death in the death indexes.