Chapter 5

The Death of William George Nixey

(1870)

After a sudden illness which lasted only a few days, William George Nixey died at his home, Springfield House, on 31st March 1870, he was fifty-seven years old. His death certificate gives the cause of death as “Inflamation of the Caecum 8 days,” Caecum being a pouch connected to the junction of the small and large intestines, and “Peritonitis 4 days,” which is inflammation of the peritoneum, the thin layer of tissue that lines the inside of the abdomen. The informant of his death was his brother-in-law, William Pitt, of High Street, Slough, who was present at the time of death. The registration took place on 8th April, and the registrar was Philip Hammond.

An article was published on 2nd April 1870 by the Windsor and Eton Express, which reported:

Death of Mr W. G. Nixey
It is with deep regret that we record the death of Mr. William George Nixey, of Springfield, Upton, which occurred about 7 o’clock on Thursday evening, after five days’ illness. Up to the end of last week Mr. Nixey was in good health, and the comparative suddenness of his death has cast a gloom over the neighbourhood. As a successful man of business and agriculturist Mr. Nixey was well known, and he was also known as a liberal and kind-hearted man. He was the owner of considerable property in Slough, including the four noble mansions in Chalvey Park, which he built, and he always displayed great interest in the prosperity of his native place. He was a member of the Local Government Board from its first establishment in 1863; and from August, 1863, to August, 1869, he held the office of chairman to the Board, the duties of which he discharged with much courtesy. He was the founder of the Slough Water Company, the completion of whose works we recently recorded, and which, eventually are calculated to be of so much advantage to the town. He was a warm advocate for the completion of the system of drainage, and at the last meeting of the Board (on Monday, the 21st ultimo), called to consider the subject, he presided. Mr. Nixey’s loss will be much felt in Slough, and, from the conspicuous position which he occupied, he will be greatly missed.

The Windsor and Eton Express of Saturday 9th April 1870 published the following article regarding the funeral which had taken place the previous day:

Funeral of the Late Mr. Nixey. – The funeral of the late Mr. W. G. Nixey took place yesterday afternoon at 3 o’clock, the interment being made in the family vault in Old Upton Churchyard. The body was carried by bearers from the residence of the deceased to the church, which is but a short distance, and was followed by the son of the deceased; by Mr. E. O. Secker, his son-in-law; Messrs. Joseph Nixey and Thomas Nixey, brothers; Messrs. W. Pitt and J. Deverill, brothers-in-law; several nephews and other relatives, and a great many friends. There were also present about 50 of the brothers of the Windsor Castle and Etonian Lodges of Freemasons; and many of the employees from the London establishment of the deceased. The churchyard was crowded with persons anxious to witness the mournful ceremony. The funeral service was read by the Rev. W. Oswell Thompson, Vicar of Upton-cum-Chalvey. Luther’s hymn was sung by Mr. Dyson, of St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, accompanied on the organ by Mr. Hancock. The funeral arrangements were carried out by Mr. Holden of Windsor. The majority of shops in Slough were partially closed, as a mark of respect to the deceased. The coffin was of panelled oak, and bore the following inscription: “W. G. Nixey, died March 31st, 1870, aged 57.” The only other coffin in the vault is that of the late Mr. G. Nixey, brother of the deceased, who died March 8th 1866, aged 63.

Another article that appeared on 9th April was in the Reading Mercury, which stated:

Mr. W. G. Nixey, at whose residence the closing meet of Sir R. B. Harvey’s harriers was to have taken place on Monday, died at seven o’clock on Thursday evening at his Slough residence. The Prince of Wales and Prince Christian were to have lunched at Mr. Nixey’s upon the occasion of the meet, but the sudden illness of that gentleman becoming known, the meet was transferred to Langley Park. Mr. Nixey was the originator and proprietor of the celebrated black lead called after his name, and ranked among our merchant princes. He had of late years distinguished himself as a successful breeder and exhibitor of Devon cattle.

The following week, the Windsor and Eton Express in its issue of Saturday 16th April printed an article regarding a meeting of the Local Board of Health, which had been adjourned from the previous week. Below is an excerpt from the minutes of that meeting, with Mr. C. Turner in the chair:

The Late Mr. Nixey
The Chairman: Before we proceed to our ordinary business, I wish to advert to the loss we have sustained in the death of Mr. Nixey. The last time we met together this board was presided over by him, and at that time no one could have dreamed of his leaving us so soon; yet here we are face to face, and it devolves upon us to go on with our business without him. Before we do so, however, I think we ought to pay a mark of respect to his memory. We must all remember the great assistance he has been to us in this parish, as well as in connection with this local board. Mr. Nixey was one of the original members when the first twelve were elected, about six years ago. He had to run the gauntlet of three contested elections, and he came in each time at the head of the poll; which shows how much he was esteemed all through our little local opposition. All opposition has now passed, and there can be but one feeling – that we have sustained a great loss. With your permission, I would suggest that our clerk should write a letter of condolence and sympathy to Mrs. Nixey and family at the loss sustained by Mr. Nixey’s death. Mr. Nixey had a liberal heart and a great mind; and he did not mind running counter to a few people to carry out great undertakings that would be ultimately of great public benefit. He did not live to see them carried out, and had he lived longer we should, I think, look on him as a man who saw a great deal further than others; but, unfortunately, he has been cut short in his career, and all we can do is to show our sympathy with and our feeling towards his family, and our respect towards Mr. Nixey for what he has already done. There may have been differences between him and members of the board, and probably there were; but I am quite sure we shall be unanimous in this matter, in expressing to the family our esteem toward Mr. Nixey as a member of this board, and our feeling towards him as a gentleman and a man of business. I beg to propose that our clerk be instructed to write a letter to Mrs. Nixey, which shall be entered on our minutes, expressing our condolence with her and her family in the loss they have sustained. We have lost a great friend in Mr. Nixey, who was always ready to come forward to assist us in the district; and I only hope we shall show our respect towards him by endeavouring to carry out those schemes by which he endeavoured to improve the value of property in Slough (hear, hear).
Mr. Holmes: I have great pleasure in seconding the resolution with which you concluded your observations, and I feel in doing so I shall only be expressing the feelings of every member of this board. We all know that Mr. Nixey, amidst his multifarious occupations, was always ready to give up his mind and his time to any matter which he thought would be of benefit to his native town. Our expressions of condolence with his family and widow can afford them but small relief in their afflicted circumstance; but at some future time they will look back with pleasure and reflect that he had gained the esteem of his neighbours. What you have said so fully expresses our sentiments on the matter that it would be superfluous to add any further observations, and therefore I will merely confine myself to seconding the resolution which you have so ably and so honourably proposed.
The resolution was carried unanimously.

A memorial brass can be found on the west wall of the chancel in St Lawrence’s church to W. G. Nixey. Three years after his death, the Windsor and Eton Express in its issue dated Saturday 26th April 1873 published an article regarding a large marble monument (below right) which had been positioned on top of the family vault in the churchyard:

The Late Mr. W. G. Nixey – A very handsome monument has been erected over the vault, in Upton Old Churchyard, in which the body of the late Mr. W. G. Nixey is deposited. It is a pedestal of highly-polished grey granite, with small polished columns of red granite at the four corners, the whole being surmounted by an urn of red granite. On the west side is the following inscription: “In affectionate remembrance of William George Nixey, of Springfield House, Upton, and of 12, Soho-square, London; born August 12th, 1812; died March 31st, 1870.” On the south side is an inscription to the memory of a brother, Edward Nixey, who died March 8th, 1866, aged 63. The work was designed and carried out by Messrs. Alex, Macdonald, Field, and Co., of the Aberdeen Granite Works, and its cost has been about £400.

On 12th January 1866, shortly before the death of his brother Edward, William George Nixey wrote his last will and testament, which was proved in the Principal Probate Registry on 8th June 1870. The text of the will is reproduced in full at the end of this chapter. His personal estate was valued at under £70,000, and he also held leasehold property and real estate. The executors were named as his wife Charlotte, Lt.-Col. William Griffin Sutton (of Ealing, the husband of Edward and Eliza Nixey’s niece, Emma née Silver), and Thomas Chowne (of Edmonton, William George and Charlotte Nixey’s son-in-law), both of whom were also named as trustees. They were each stated to receive £100 for serving as executors. His wife Charlotte was to receive all household effects, and £500 for her immediate use, life interest in Springfield House as residence for her and their children during her widowhood, with the responsibility of keeping it in good repair. Charlotte was also appointed as the guardian of their children. All the real estate and the residue of his personal estate was allocated to the trustees, in order for a Trust Fund to be set up to allow the manufacturing business to continue. When his son William George Nixey reached the age of twenty-one, the business and stock-in-trade was to be valued and offered to him. If he wanted it, he would receive one-third immediately and had to offer security for purchasing the remaining two-thirds from the Trustees over a period of seven years. Meanwhile, the profits arising from the other two-thirds remained in the Trust Fund for all the children equally, until they reached the age of twenty-one or until they married. If his son William George died before the age of twenty-one, or if he chose not to take on the business, the trustees were to use their discretion as to whether they should continue to manage the business themselves, with the profits held on trust for all the children in equal shares, or to put it up for sale. Charlotte was also to receive from the Trust Fund £2000 per year, which would be paid to her every three months until her death or remarriage, for bringing up and educating the children. If however she was to remarry, the amount she would receive would be reduced to £500 per year, independent of her husband. Meanwhile, the trustees had full discretion to manage the business and employ staff, receiving £100 per year each for doing so, until the business was disposed of, either fully to William George Nixey the younger, or sold elsewhere.


This is the last Will and Testament of me William George Nixey of Soho Square in the County of Middlesex and of Upton near Slough in the County of Bucks Black Lead Manufacturer I appoint my dear Wife Charlotte and William Griffin Sutton of Ealing in the County of Middlesex a Lieutenant Colonel in Her Majesty’s Army and Thomas Chowne of Edmonton in the said County of Middlesex Esquire Executors of this my Will and bequeath to each of them the said William Griffin Sutton and Thomas Chowne the sum of One hundred pounds free of Duty for their trouble as Executors And I appoint the said William Griffin Sutton and Thomas Chowne Trustees of my Will. I bequeath all my household goods and furniture plate linen china glass books Pictures Trinkets Ornaments Wines and all other my household effects, also my two Carriages two Carriage Horses Harness and Stable and Garden effects to my said wife absolutely I also bequeath to my said Wife the sum of Five hundred pounds for her immediate use I devise all that my messuage or dwelling-house at Upton in the County of Bucks wherein I now reside with the Gardens Coach house Stables out-buildings and appurtenances thereto belonging to my said Wife during Widowhood as a residence for herself and our children she my said Wife keeping the said messuage and premises in substantial and decorative repair and paying the expense of insuring the same from loss or damage by fire and also the taxes and other outgoings affecting the same I devise all my real Estate (subject as to my said messuage and premises at Upton to the devise thereof to my said Wife during Widowhood) And I bequeath all the residue of my personal Estate and which are hereinafter comprised under the denomination of “my Trust property” unto and to the use of the said William Griffin Sutton and Thomas Chowne their heirs executors administrators and assigns Upon trust during the minority of my son William George to carry on my business of a Black Lead Manufacturer or cause the same to be carried on under their inspection and control and to employ for the purpose such part of my real and personal Estate as shall constitute the capital employed therein at my decease with an additional Capital which my Trustees shall think requisite And I declare that the annual profits of my said Business until the sale thereof shall form part of the annual Income of my Trust property And I further declare that upon my said son attaining the age of twenty one years the said Business and stock in trade Plant Machinery and Business effects shall be offered by my said Trustees in writing under their hands to my said son as to my said Business and the good-will thereof at Five years purchase and as to my Stock in trade Plant Machinery and business effects at a valuation to be made by two valuers named by my Trustees or if such Valuers shall disagree then to be named by a third valuer to be named by the other two before they shall enter upon the valuation as their Umpire And in case my said son shall notify in writing under his hands to my Trustees his acceptance of the offer within three Calendar months after the making hereof then my Trustees shall at the costs of my said son assign the said business and Stock in Trade Plant Machinery and Business effects to him on having two thirds of the value secured in such manner as my Trustees shall think fit to be paid in one payment or by instalments at any period or periods not exceeding seven years from the time of my said son attaining the age of twenty one years with interest at the rate of Five pounds Per Cent Per Annum and the other third of the value shall become the absolute property of my said son discharged from all the trusts of this my Will And I direct that subject to the annuity not exceeding Two thousand pounds hereinafter bequeathed to my said Wife during Widowhood the said two thirds of the said valuation so to be secured as aforesaid and the interest thereon shall be held by my Trustees In Trust for my child (exclusive of my said son) if only one or my children equally if more than one who shall attain the age of twenty one years or marry And in the meantime to be invested for their benefit and the income accumulated and the accumulations shall follow the destination of the capital with power to my Trustees to apply such Income for their maintenance and education And in case my said son shall die under the age of twenty one years or shall refuse neglect or omit to notify in writing under his hand to my Trustees his acceptance of the offer within three Calendar months after the making thereof then upon trust in the discretion of my Trustees either to discontinue the said business and sell and dispose of the same or to carry on the said business or cause the same to be carried on under their inspection and control so long as they in their discretion shall judge expedient and for that purpose to employ as capital any part of my real or personal Estate And I declare that in the event of a sale of my said Business under the last Clause it shall be lawful for my Trustees to make such arrangements as to the time and mode of payment of the purchase money and to accept such security either personal or otherwise for the payment thereof as they in their absolute discretion shall think fit and subject to the trusts aforesaid as to my said Trust property Upon trust at such time or times as having regard to the destination of my trust property under this my Will they shall in their sole discretion judge expedient sell my real trust property by public or private sale together or in lots with power to make any special or other conditions of sale as to the title or the Evidence of title or otherwise and to buy in the premises at any sale by auction and to rescind either on terms or gratuitously any Contract and to resell without being answerable for any loss and invest the produce conformably to the Clause for the investment of monies hereinafter contained and shall in the meantime from year to year or for a term of years upon husbandry building repairing or improving leases or occupy and use my said real Estate and manage the affairs thereof generally at their discretion but no sale of my said dwellinghouse and premises at Upton aforesaid devised to my said Wife during Widowhood shall be made during the Widowhood of my said Wife without her consent in writing And I direct that my Trustees shall at their discretion sell and convey my personal trust property not consisting of monies invested in stocks funds or securities yielding income (other than personal securities) and shall at their discretion either get in the monies invested as last aforesaid or permit the same to continue so invested and shall invest the produce of the Trust property so converted or gotten in pursuant to the general direction for investment hereinafter contained
I bequeath to my said Wife during Widowhood out of the annual Income of my Trust property an Annuity or annual sum of Two thousand pounds or such reduced sum as the annual Income of my Trust property shall for every current year be sufficient to pay by equal quarterly payments the first quarterly payment to be made at the end of three Calendar months after my decease with a proportionate part to the day of her decease or second marriage which shall first happen And I direct that my said Wife shall thereout maintain educate and bring up my children being sons until the age of twenty one years and being daughters until marriage And in case my said Wife shall marry again then I bequeath to her during the then remainder of her life out of the income of my trust property an Annuity or annual sum of Five hundred pounds for her sole and separate use independent of any husband and her receipts alone to be discharges for the same the said sum of Five hundred pounds to be paid quarterly the first quarterly payment to be made at the end of three Calendar months from the day of her second marriage with a proportionate part of the last quarter to the day of her decease I direct that (subject as aforesaid) my Trustees shall hold my trust property for the absolute use of my child if only one or all my children equally if more than one who either before or after my death shall attain the age of twenty one years or marry I declare that my Trustees shall retain the share or shares original and accruing in the aforesaid valuation (if any) and in my Trust property to which each or any daughter of mine acquiring an absolutely vested interest shall become entitled by virtue of my Will Upon trust for such person or persons and in such manner as my same daughter whether covert or sole by any Deed or Deeds executed by her with the consent of my wife during widowhood and after her death or second marriage of my Trustees or Trustee for the time being to be testified by her their or his executing the same deed or deeds or by her Will or any Codicil or Codicils thereto shall appoint And in default of or until any such appointment or so far as the same if incomplete shall not extend Upon trust during the natural life of my same daughter to pay the annual income of her share or shares into the proper hands of my same daughter as and when the same shall become due and not by way of anticipation for her sole and separate use free whensoever she shall be covert from the control and engagements of her husband and for which income her receipts alone shall be sufficient discharges to my Trustees and Upon the decease of my same daughter and in default of or subject to any such appointment as aforesaid then as to the principal with the future Income Upon Trust for the person or persons who at the decease of my same daughter shall be of her blood and of kin to her and who under the statutes for the distribution of intestates effects would be entitled to her personal Estate if she were dead intestate and discovert such persons if more than one to take in the proportions prescribed by the said Statutes I direct that my real Estate shall be considered for the purposes of enjoyment and transmission under the trusts declared by this my Will as converted into personal Estate from my death I direct that my Trustees after the death or marriage of my Wife shall apply the whole or so much as they shall think fit of the Income of the portions of my children for the time being contingently entitled as a common fund for their maintenance education and bringing up in such manner as my Trustees shall judge expedient accumulating the surplus income and also the surplus income to accrue during the widowhood of my said Wife in aid of the said common fund and the income and accumulations ultimately unapplied shall follow the destination of the Capital whence the same shall have arisen I direct that my Trustees shall have power in their discretion after the death or marriage of my wife or during her Widowhood with her consent in writing to raise by such means as they shall judge expedient out of my trust property any part not exceeding one half of the principal or value of the contingent portion of each child and apply the same for his or her advancement in life I direct (but subject to the provision for advancement hereinbefore contained) that my Trustees shall invest and continue invested in their names portions of my general direction hereinafter contained the contingent portions of my children I direct that all Investments to be made in pursuance of my Will shall be made in or upon three per cent Stock of the United Kingdom or Bank Stock or Stock or Securities of the Government or the India Government or upon Mortgage of freehold copyhold or leasehold Estates in England or Wales or the Bonds debentured or debenture Stock or Guaranteed Stock or Shares of any Railway Dock or other Company in England authorized by Act of Parliament and at the time of the Investments therein paying dividends And that my Trustees shall have power at their discretion to vary such investments for any other Investment of the description aforesaid I direct that my Trustees shall have power at their discretion to settle my accounts and wind up my affairs and in so doing to make such arrangements relative to debts or demands due or claimed to be due to or from my Estate as they shall judge expedient with liberty to accept compositions or securities from and grant indulgences to debtors and wholly to release property mortgaged or pledged on part payment of the money secured and to admit the claims of creditors on evidence not strictly legal and to pay demands which have become barred by any statutory or other limitation and also to submit questions and accounts to arbitration I direct that my Trustees may employ a Manager Travellers Bailiffs Collectors Clerks Accountant and Servants in the carrying on my said trade or Business in collecting debts and rents and otherwise in the administration of my trust property and in making out and keeping the Accounts thereof with such salaries and allowances as they shall think reasonable And I consider the salary of the Manager of my Business should be Five hundred pounds per annum with power to my Trustees to increase or diminish the same as they in their sole discretion shall just expedient I direct that Purchasers and others taking the receipt of my Trustees on the payment or Transfer to them of any money or effects shall be thereby exonerated from all liability in respect of the application thereof And that no purchaser shall be obliged to enquire into or take notice of any matter connected with the propriety or regularity of any sale and particularly no purchaser of my business and stock in trade shall be obliged to enquire whether the same has been offered to my said son or whether he has refused neglected or omitted to notify his acceptance thereof or otherwise as to the propriety or regularity of any sale thereof by my Trustees I direct that my Trustees or Trustee for the time being may retain out of the income of my Trust property the sum of One hundred pounds per annum each for the trouble they will have in superintending my said trade or business until the same be sold and they may deduct and mutually allow to each other all disbursements and expences incident to the execution of my Will and shall be responsible each for his own acts and defaults only and irresponsible for losses accruing without wilful neglect or default and shall be indemnified with or out of my trust property against all liabilities consequential on the execution of my Will and particularly as regards the carrying on of my trade or business pursuant to the direction hereinbefore contained I direct that any and every vacancy in the Trusteeship of my Will occasioned by disclaimer resignation incapacity or unfitness or by death (whether in my lifetime or after my decease) shall be supplied as soon as may be by the appointment of a fit substitute such appointment to be made by my Wife during her Widowhood and after her death or Marriage by the continuing Trustees or Trustee if any or if none by the acting Executors or Executor for the time being or the administrators or Administrator for the time being of the last deceased Trustee and on every such appointment my Trust property transferrable at law shall be legally vested by proper conveyance and my Trust property not transferrable at Law shall be equitably vested by force of the appointment itself in the new Trustees either alone or as the case may require jointly with the continuing or surviving Trustees or Trustee I direct that the Trusts and powers hereinbefore confided to my Trustees herein appointed (who are hereinbefore mentioned or referred to as “my Trustees”) may be executed by the Trustees or Trustee for the time being of my Will and in regard to Trustees to be appointed as well before as after the vesting of the Trust property in them I devise all Estates vested in me upon trust or by way of Mortgage unto the said William Griffin Sutton and Thomas Chowne and their heirs subject to the Equities affecting the same I appoint my wife she continuing my Widow and after her death or Marriage the Trustees or Trustee for the time being of my Will to be Guardians or Guardian of the persons and fortunes of my Infant Children I revoke all former Wills In witness where of I the said William George Nixey the Testator have to this my last Will and Testament contained in seven sheets of paper set my hand this Twelfth day of January in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and sixty six.

(signed) W. G. Nixey

Signed and Declared by the said Testator William George Nixey as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence of us both present at the same time who in his presence at his request and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as Witnesses
(signed) W. Hy Saltwell Thos Neale Doughty Carlton Chambers, 12 Regent St.


On the 8th day of June 1870 the Will of William George Nixey late of Soho Square in the County of Middlesex and of Upton near Slough in the County of Buckingham, Black Lead Manufacturer deceased, who died on the 31st day of March 1870 at Springfield House Upton aforesaid was proved in the Principal Registry of Her Majesty’s Court of Probate, by the Oaths of Charlotte Nixey of Springfield House aforesaid, Widow the Relict, and William Griffin Sutton of Ealing in the said County of Middlesex a Lieutenant Colonel in Her Majesty’s Army two of the Executors named in the said Will they having been first sworn duly to administer Thomas Chown (in the will written Chowne) the other Executor having renounced the Probate and Execution of the said Will
Effects under £70,000
Leasehold


References

Unless otherwise stated, all newspaper articles can be found at the British Newspaper Archive.


Credits

The portrait of William George Nixey appeared in the book "Two centuries of Soho, its institutions, firms, and amusements" by John Henry Cardwell, published 1898 by Truslove and Hanson, London; the image was edited and enhanced by Nivard Ovington.

The photograph of the large marble monument at St Lawrence’s churchyard appears by kind permission of Julia & Keld.