Robert Francis Nurse of Hanham (Born 1855)

Category: Nurse Family
Last Modified: Feb 5 2021
Great Grandfather – FFF1
Figure 1: Robert and William
at Dr. Nunn's Boarding School

Robert Francis Nurse my great grandfather was the eldest son of Robert and Ann Nurse. He was well educated, having finished his education at Dr. Nunn's School, a private boarding school in Portland Square, near the center of Bristol, with his younger brother, William Richmond.2,3

In October 1876, when Robert Francis came of age the malting business was offered to him at the price of £415: 6s (a valuation of £638: 17s: 5d less £223: 11s: 5d, which he was due under his father's will). Robert accepted the offer and proceeded to pay off the sum over several years.

Figure 2: The Lindens under construction

The malting business was run in the parish of Hanham Abbots, in premises at the back of Robert’s Uncle Samuel’s house, “The Strattons”. This was the “ancestral” Nurse family home, from the time that Samuel and Robert Nurse moved to Hanham (from Compton Dando) and started the malting business in the late 18th century.

The house itself stood in front of the malting house and both the house and malt house dated from at least 1699. The malting house is still standing, although Robert Francis built a new house called “The Lindens”.

Figure 3: The Lindens and Nurse's pond (c 1995)

Samuel, Robert’s uncle, lived in the house with his daughter Sarah Elizabeth (who was born March 11th, 1850). Presumably Robert Francis worked here under Samuel’s guidance as he learned the family business. It was probably during this time that he formed his relationship with Samuel’s daughter (his cousin), since on 17th December 1878 they were married in the parish church of Hanham Abbots.

Figure 4: Robert Francis and
Sarah Elizabeth Nurse (c 1903)

By this time Hanham was a parish in its own right, rather than a chapelry of Bitton and was licensed for weddings. The couple moved into “Strattons” with Sarah’s father.

By 1881 Samuel had retired from the business, although in 1880 Robert Francis was already named as the licensee of the malthouse, when dealing with the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise. The newly introduced Inland Revenue Act had transferred the duties on malt and maltsters to beer and brewers and resulted in Robert and Samuel having to pay duty at the rate of 6s 3d on the ordinary barrel (i.e. 36 gallons) of beer.

All of Robert and Sarah’s 5 children were born before the new house was complete; Edward Robert the eldest (born 27th September 1879), Frances Ellen (born 10th April 1881), William Richmond, my grandfather (26th April 1882), Arthur Francis Willis (30th September 1883) and Frederick Charles (20th February 1885).

Figure 5: Robert and Sarah's Children

The children were all baptised at Hanham Abbots church. They were all, at least initially, educated at the nearby Hanham Court School, although their later education was at private schools. At least two of the boys attended a boarding school on the west of Bristol, while the youngest two boys finished their education at the Christ Church National School in Hanham.

It is not clear whether Robert employed workers in the brewery, but it is evident that he did at least some of the deliveries himself, and that he was actively involved in the running of the business and was not just the proprietor. The beer delivery round, which took him to the surrounding areas of Kingswood, Oldland Common and Hanham, was an occasion for Robert to spend time with his children, who he took with him (in turns).

Figure 6: The Family of Robert Francis and Sarah Elizabeth Nurse

Robert as well as being a successful businessman was very religious. The family attended three churches regularly - Hanham Abbots (just across the green from their home); Christ Church, Hanham, which became Hanham Abbots mother church when it again became a chapelry, and St John’s Keynsham (across the river Avon), where the family had their own labelled pew.

Figure 7: The Malthouse (c. 1903) from
Bickley's Farm (Frances E Nurse)

The family would attend as many as three services a day, although not necessarily together. The whole family would usually attend the morning service at Hanham Abbots, Sarah would attend the afternoon service and Robert would attend the evening service in Keynsham, sometimes with one or more of the children.

Robert’s main involvement was with Hanham Abbots Church and parish and it was his church duties that led him into local politics. Early in his married life he began attending the vestry meetings and from there became sidesman, churchwarden and in 1888 he was appointed Parish Warden. In 1894, when the Hanham Abbots Parish Council was formed he was appointed as its first Chairman - a position he held until his death. He was also appointed Churchwarden at Christ Church, Hanham in 1885.

In 1900 he was appointed Chairman of Warmley Rural District Council - again, a position he held for the rest of his life.4 He also served on several committees and was, in the early 1900’s appointed as a Justice of the Peace for the County of Gloucestershire under the Lawfords Gate Division.5

One further appointment that would have been of considerable interest to Robert was that of a member of the Lawfords Gate Highways Board and as elected Way Warden for the Hanham Abbots Parish. His delivery round meant that the state of local roads would have been of interest to him and their improvement would have been of prime interest, particularly with the advent of cars and trucks.

Robert Francis Nurse died on the 20 Jun 1923.6 His wife Sarah lived another 10 years dying in April 1933.

Bibliography and Notes


  1. When showing relationships F means Father, M means Mother. So FFM is my father’s father’s mother.

  2. Much of the information on Robert Francis Nurse comes from a biography I obtained from Frank Nurse (my second cousin), which was based on notes of Frances Ellen Nurse (Aunt Nell) who was Robert Francis's daughter.3 The biography of Robert Francis Nurse states that Robert’s great grandfather Robert purchased the business.41 As we have already discussed Robert Francis’s great-grandfather was Samuel Nurse, and he and his brother Robert ran the malting business.

  3. Notes of Frances Ellen Nurse.

  4. The Western Daily Press, Thursday December 6, 1894, p3

  5. Kelly’s Gloucestershire Directories, 1914 – 1923

  6. Western Daily Press, Monday June 25, 1923, p6, Tuesday June 26, 1923, p10 and Wednesday October 3, 1923, p6.

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