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Harwood Diary Topics



The Diary of Elizabeth Nutt Harwood -
from 1838 to 1842, when she was between 20 and 24 years, Elizabeth Nutt Harwood wrote a journal which vividly describes not only everyday events on the farm and at the inn at Beeston Rylands where she lived, but many of the changes that are happening around her - particularly the coming of the railway and the widening horizens that that offered.

These pages explore aspects of the diary, the events it describes, Elizabeth's life and what happened subsequently to her remarkable decendants.

The Survival of the Diary - The survival of family papers is often precarious - and yet, when they do, they can be immensely informative and enlightening - and this is clearly the case with the Harwood diary.

After Elizabeth's death in 1852, the diary lay for about 125 years, unknown except perhaps by a few members of the Nutt family. Like all family documents from the past - it would have been vulnerable during the whole of this time - particularly when the current custodian died or moved home and it was at the mercy of those who handled it at that time.

Isabel RoweIn 1979 the diary came into the care of Nottinghamshire Archives where it was safe at last, thanks, in the end, to the diligence of Isabel Rowe (nee Nutt), a great-granddaughter of the diary's author. David Hallam, the writer of these notes became interested almost immediately, recognising it as a rare insight into life in Beeston at the very start of the Victorian era and - remarkably - a document written by one of his own distant relatives. Acting on a hunch, he decided to seek out the donor who was found eventually, having moved from the recorded address, living out her final years in a rest home in Derbyshire. His visits with her, starting in 1984, and the fascinating discusions which followed revealed totally amazing and unexpected stories of a most remarkable family. Isabel, shown in our picture during one of these discussions in 1985, was very keen that David should one day record the story of the diary and her remarkable family; these pages are dedicated to that aim.

From these discussions we know that the diary found its way eventually into the care of Dorothy Nutt, Elizabeth's great grand-daughter who lived in her late parents' home in Norton, Derbyshire. Until then, after Elizabeth's death, the diary passed within the family - first, no doubt, it was retained by her husband before passing to his eldest son Thomas - one suspects, before his father's second marriage in 1875. While with Thomas and his family, it would have survived the turbulence of their moves to the Isle of Man and to Sheffield, eventually passing to their eldest son, Henry Styring Nutt, Dorothy's father.

It was from there that the diary came under the care of Notts Archives - but first it had to survive one last threat. When Dorothy's home was finally closed, Isabel Rowe, her cousin, was helping to clear the house. In the cellar was a large pile of newspapers; workmen were about to remove them when Isabel had second thoughts, decided to take a look through the papers and found the diary. When the diary was shown to Nottinghamshire Archives, naturally it was keen to keep it in its care and Isabel readily agreed. The diary was safe at last for posterity.

Now, in 2004, a transcript of the diary, with a forward by Margaret Cooper, is about to be published by Nottinghamshire County Council Leisure Services. We hope that these pages, based on many years research by David Hallam, will add an interesting insight into the events mentioned in the diary and - equally fascinating - what happened to Elizabeth and her family in the years that followed.

Excerpts from the diary are included by kind permission of Nottinghamshire Archives.

The author acknowledges the invaluable contribution made by Sir Michael Carlisle, Martin Gregory Nutt and other descendants of Elizabeth Nutt Harwood, who have co-operated enthusiastically and given access to surviving family papers and research in their possession.