The Nimmo’s of Liverpool: Part 2

As I said in my last post, The Nimmo’s of Liverpool: Part 1, I am writing a separate post for each of the children of John Nimmo, Baker of 5 Crosshall Street, Liverpool, and his wife Susannah. Today, we will have a look at Jessie Nimmo. Before we start, I want to share something from the Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerk Project about St Peter’s Liverpool, the church where many Nimmo’s were baptised and married, including Jessie. The website says that:
St Peter’s was the first parish after the reformation; on 29 June 1704, St. Peter’s was consecrated ... Baptisms were held at the church from 1704-1919, marriages from 1804 - 1919 and burials from 1704 - 1853. The last service took place in September of 1919, and the church was demolished in 1922. A brass maltese cross is now embedded in the location of the former church on Church Street.

St Peter's, Liverpool in 1920
Taken from the Mersey Gateway website at

Jessie Nimmo

Jessie Nimmo, who was baptised with her brother Robert on 16 June 1822 at St Peter’s by P. Bulmer, Curate, married William Henry Brereton, a watch case maker from Fleet Street, on 10 January 1841.

They were married in St Peter’s by J.G. Headlam MA, Curate, after banns. Cornelius Brereton, brother of the groom, and Martha Holt were their witnesses. While the Brereton brothers were able to sign their own names clearly and confidently, Jessie and Martha were not, both putting crosses for their “mark”.

William Henry Brereton was the son on Stewart Brereton, a painter, and his wife Elizabeth O’Connell. Like his wife Jessie, William was baptised in St Peter’s on 2 July 1822 by J. Pulford, Curate. They were both minors when they married, and would probably have known each other their whole lives.

A few months after their marriage, in the 1841 Census, I found William and Jessie living with his mother Elizabeth and brother Cornelius, a painter like his father, on Fleet Street, their ages rounded down to 15. William's occupation was a watchmakers apprentice and there is no acknowledgement that they are in fact married.

Stewart Brereton had four of his children baptised in St Peter’s. With his wife Elizabeth Reed there was Charlotte, who was born on 26 May 1811, and baptised on 19 August 1811, and Jonathan, who was baptised on 19 June 1814. With his second wife Elizabeth O’Connell, a widow whom he had married on 12 February 1816 in Richmond St Anne, there was Cornelius on 25 June 1817 and William Henry.

Despite William and Jessie’s close association with St Peter’s, I can only find evidence of one of their own children being baptised there, Janet Nimmo, who was baptised on 8 March 1858 by Mr Duncan, Curate.

Four of their children were baptised in St Nicholas’:
Census records, corroborated by the FreeBMD Index, suggest that William Henry and Jessie also had Susannah Elizabeth (whose birth was registered in the January Quarter in 1849) and Jessie (whose birth was registered in the October Quarter in 1851).
I have tracked down the family in the 1851 Census, living at 76E Wood Street, when they were a household of three – William, Jessie and daughter Susannah Elizabeth. They also had a lodger, Mary Ann Unsworth, a widow aged 68 living with them. I wonder if she was a relative? The word lodger has been written over what was originally there, and I have not been able to decipher it yet.
William and Jessie had been married for almost ten years before Jessie carried a child (Susannah Elizabeth) to term. I wonder how much heartache there was before their family started growing in earnest.
In 1861, living at 18 Olive Street, their family had grown considerably with William (aged 38), Jessie (also 38), Susannah Elizabeth (now 12), Jessie (aged 9), Eliza (aged 7), Archibald (aged 5), Edward Nimmo (aged 2), and Henry Luke, who was only a couple of months old.
In 1871, the family had moved to 122 Vine Street, and included some extra additions to the family. The household was made up of William (aged 48), Jessie (aged 48), Jessie (aged 19 and a dressmaker), Eliza (aged 17), Archibald (aged 15), Edward N (aged 12), Henry Luke (aged 10), as well as Susannah Elizabeth now Mrs Worthington (aged 22) and her two daughters Agnes J (aged 2) and Susannah B (11 months).
In 1881, William (now aged 58 and formerly a watchmaker) and Jessie (aged 58) are living in a much smaller household, with just themselves and their unmarried son Edward Nimmo, now a bookkeeper and aged 22.
In 1891, William and Jessie are living alone in two rooms at 68 Melville Place. His occupation is listed as retired. Seven years later, in 1898, aged 75, William Henry Brereton died. Jessie lived to see the death of Queen Victoria and the coronation of King Edward VII, dying in the October quarter 1906, when she was 84 years old – a good innings back then, especially considering her economic circumstances.
As usual when I look at the documents, I have more questions about the lives of our ancestors. With Jessie, I especially want to find out if she ever learnt to write. She couldn't sign her own name in the marriage register but her husband appeared to be quite literate, did he at least teach her to sign her name? Did she know how to read? Even though she hadn't learnt to read and write as a child, did she encourage her daughters to learn, as well as her sons? What happened in those ten years before she had Susannah Elizabeth? Ah, so many questions.