First World War in Headington and Marston, Oxford

Ralph NUTT (1888–1914)

Ralph Nutt

Ralph Nutt was born at Stowood on 19 January 1888, the son of John Edgar Nutt (born in Great Milton on 7 June 1851 and baptised there on 29 June) and Ann King (born in Brill, Buckinghamshire in 1854 and baptised there on 26 December).

His parents were married at Waterstock on 18 October 1875 and had ten children:

  • Mary Ann Nutt (born at Waterstock on 20 August 1876 and baptised there on 17 September;
    but the family was described as being “of Forest Hill”)
  • Lizzie Nutt (born at Beckley in 1878 and baptised there on 1 September)
  • John Nutt (born at Beckley in 1880 and baptised there on 8 August)
  • Edgar Nutt (born at Stowood in 1882 and baptised at Beckley Church on 23 July); died at 42 New High Street at the age of 17 and buried at Headington Cemetery on 25 January 1899.
  • Sarah Ann Nutt (born at Stowood in 1884 and baptised at Beckley Church on 23 March;
    died aged thirteen months and buried at Beckley on 11 March 1885)
  • Kate Nutt (born at Stowood in 1886 and baptised at Beckley Church on 14 February)
  • Ralph Nutt (born at Stowood on 19 January 1888 and baptised at Beckley Church on 4 March)
  • Frank Henry Nutt (born at Stowood in 1889 and baptised at Beckley Church on 6 October)
  • Thomas William Nutt (born at Stowood in early 1891)
  • Herbert Nutt (“Bert”) (born at Stowood, reg. in first quarter of 1893).

Ralph’s father was originally an agricultural labourer, and he and his wife Ann began their married life at Forest Hill, moving to Beckley by 1878 and Stowood by 1882. At the time of the 1881 census they were at Lodge Farm, Stowood with Mary (4), Lizzie (2), and John (nine months).

Ralph was born at Stowood in 1888.

At the time of the 1891 census Ralph (3) was living at the bottom of Lodge Hill in Stowood with his father John (39), who was a carter, his mother Ann (35), and his siblings Lizzie (12), John (10), Edgar (8), Kate (5), Frank (1), and Thomas (two months). His eldest sister Mary Ann (15) was working as a nurse for the Annis family at 54 Iffley Road, Oxford.

Soon after this census the family moved to Headington.

At the time of the 1901 census Ralph (13) was living at the present 42 New High Street (then 1 Southill Cottages) with his father John (49), who was now working as a gardener, his mother Ann (45), and five of his siblings: Lizzie (22), who was a cook; John (22), who was a mechanic, and Frank (11), Thomas (10), and Herbert (8). Also living with them was Ralph's nephew Reginald Nutt (6), who had been born in Headington. Two of his sisters had left home: Mary Ann (24), who was now married, and Kate (15), who was working as a general servant in a household in New Maldon, Surrey.

Soon after this Eliza Nutt, probably Ralph’s great-aunt, appears to have come to live with the family, as she died in New High Street at the age of 64 and was buried at Headington Cemetery on 5 January 1894. (She was not Ralph’s grandmother: that was Sarah Nutt, later Mrs Joseph Shepherd, who was unmarried when she gave birth to Ralph's father John Edgar Nutt was born.)

On 11 May 1905 Ralph (17), who had been working as a garden boy, joined the Royal Navy, and on his eighteenth birthday (19 January 1906) he signed up to serve for twelve years.

Ralph’s father, John Edgar Nutt, died in Headington at the age of 59 in the second quarter of 1910.

Early in 1911 in the Portsmouth Registration District, Ralph Nutt married Florence Mabel Sharp, an older woman who already had a child.

The 1911 census shows Ralph (25), described as a seaman gunner, living in Copnor, Portsmouth (at 12 Stapleton Road) with his wife Florence (32) and his stepson William Harry Sharp (16), who was born in Brighton. By 1914 the family had moved to 3 Cleve Road, Fratton, Portsmouth.

Meanwhile back in Headington Ralph's mother Ann Nutt (56) was living at 46 Windmill Road in 1911, which was now in the new parish of All Saints. She had her own market garden there, and two of her sons, Thomas (20) and Herbert (18), were living with her and working as her assistants. There were also two of her grandchildren with her, both born in Headington: Reg Nutt (16), who was engaged in farm work, and Mabel Nutt (4), who was her son John’s daughter.

Nutt grave

Poppy In the First World War Ralph Nutt served as an Able Seaman in the Royal Navy (Service No. 233798) on the destroyer HMS Falcon, which was part of the Dover Patrol. His ship was hit off the Belgian coast on 28 October 1914 by a German eight-inch shell, which killed one officer and eight men, including Nutt, who was 26 years old.

Sue Mott (the great-granddaughter of Ralph’s brother John Nutt) remembers her grandmother Mabel talking of the family travelling from Oxford to say goodbye to Ralph on the boat, and by the time the family returned to Oxford, they had received word that Ralph had died.

Ralph Nutt is buried at the Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery in Hampshire (E. 22.1) and is remembered on the Roll of Honour of All Saints’ Church, Highfield.

Nutt grave
Ralph Nutt's grave is the one in front nearest the camera. Photographs of the grave kindly supplied by John Drummond


All Saints' board

Ralph’s widow
  • Ralph's widow Florence Mabel Nutt was still living at 3 Cleve Road, Fratton, Portsmouth at the time of Ralph's death. She married her second husband Charles Spearman in Portsmouth in the fourth quarter of 1918.
Ralph’s mother
  • Ann Nutt died at the age of 90 in 1945 (reg. Oxford district, fourth quarter).
Ralph’s siblings
  • Mary Ann Nutt (born in 1876) married George Herbert Atkins at Hendon on 8 March 1900, and they had six children. She died in Swansea on 3 June 1925.
  • Kate Nutt (born 1886) married Charles Robert Makins in Hendon in 1906. She died in Oxford in 1941.
  • Frank Henry Nutt (born 1889) married Maria Thomas in Swansea in 1920.
  • Thomas William Nutt (born in 1891) remained in Headington with his brother Herbert, and by 1912 they had turned their mother’s market garden into a coal merchant’s business. Thomas married Elsie M. Pill in the Headington registration district in the fourth quarter of 1917. Their son Leslie Thomas Nutt (known as Tom) was killed in 1944 in the Second World War: CWGC information. His other son John Henry Nutt (known as Jack) lived at No. 39A New High Street until 2009.
  • Herbert Nutt (born in 1893) married Mabel Steer at All Saints’ Church on 7 February 1915. Their son Herbert J. Nutt was born on 13 July 1915 and baptised at Tyndale Road Wesleyan Chapel on 14 September 1915.

See also
  • CWGC: Nutt, R
  • Oxford Journal Illustrated, 9 December 1914, “Heroes of the War”: Photograph of R. Nutt of HMS Falcon in his naval uniform, published five weeks after his death (shown above with kind permission of Oxfordshire County Council, Oxfordshire History Centre)

Back to All Saints’ Church, Highfield roll of honour

Back to War Memorials page on Headington Community Website