Death of William Nightingale

Frances Nightingale  had become unwell, and Miss Nightingale had to take her back to Embley. She continued to look after her parents throughout most of 1873. In January 1874 she managed to return to London. Parthe and her husband Sir Harry Verney looked after Fanny and William. Bad new arrived on January 10th 1874, her father had died. He had gone upstairs to fetch his watch and slipped on the stairs, he died instantly. Miss Nightingale had been devoted to her father, they were very close and he understood her much more than her mother.

With the death of her father, more problems arose. As there was no son to inherit, the properties of Embley and Lea Hurst now passed on to Aunt Mai, according to the instructions of Peter Nightingale’s will. Fanny, old and confused could not understand why she was being turned out of her home. Aunt Mai wanted Embley, her husband Samuel was now an invalid, and it would be more suitable for them. It was suggested that Fanny could live in London, but Miss Nightingale knew that she would hate. She would also need a companion to look after, who could she find. It was decided in the end that Fanny would go to Lea Hurst. By July she had moved Fanny to Lea Hurst, and Embley was given up. Fanny now blind was happy to be in surroundings she knew.

Aunt Mai’s son William Shore Smith and his wife Louisa suggested they would look after Fanny at their house at Norwood, so Miss Nightingale could return to London to continue her work. But Fanny became so ill and unhappy, she had to and look after her. By the end of July 1875 she was well enough to travel, and returned to Lea Hurst.  Miss Nightingale was to stay with her mother, she was worn out by domestic difficulties

Miss Nightingale managed to keep control of the Nightingale School, either by writing letters, or paying visits when she could. She preferred her nurses to go to posts she had arranged for them, and would keep in contact with them, giving advice. When a nurse went to a new post, she would send flowers. There was always a constant supply of fruit, game, jellies, eggs and butter sent by her to the school. She took great pleasure in seeing people comfortable and well fed. Two of her probationers she became most fond of Miss Rachel Williams and Miss Pringle, both were excellent nurses and became matrons of important hospitals.

In the Summer of 1879 the estate at Lea Hurst was involved in a serious scandal. A typhoid epidemic broke out. The water supply and drainage was dangerously defective. With animals fouling the water and the cesspool allowed to lie or to percolate poisoning air, it contaminated `Holy Well` which gives its name to the village. Miss Nightingale was attacked on all side. For years she had been pointing out that the water supply, overflow from the cesspool was allowed to lie or to percolate poisioning air and water. An official enquiry was held, there were articles in the local paper and endless letters.

On February 2nd 1880 Fanny died aged ninety-two. She would be buried at East Wellow with William. After the death of her parents, she grew closer to her sister Parthe, and began to visit her home of Claydon. A room was set aside for her, called `Miss Nightingale’s room`. With Parthe becoming more ill, Sir Harry relied on Miss Nightingale to help him with the management of his affairs and property. She soon found herself taking an active part in the lives of his sons and their wives. In 1881 Uncle Sam died, and Miss Nightingale found herself reconciled with Aunt Mai.

The Closing Years …


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