Nat Gould

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Nathaniel Gould 1824-1874

Nathaniel Gould 1824-1874

Nathaniel Gould 1824-1874

Nathaniel Gould was born on 13 April 1824 at Pilsbury Grange in Hartington parish in Derbyshire. He was baptised at Hartington church on 5 May 1824.

Although born in the house of his ancestors, as a younger son of the family he had to find work away from the old family home. By 1841 aged 17 he was apprenticed to a Wolverhampton tea merchant, John Shinton of High Green, and lived in his household alongside four other apprentices. Two years later he was back at home and about to take up another apprenticeship. On 26 July 1843 Nathaniel wrote in a letter to his brother Richard Goodwin Gould in London:

“You will be surprised to see that I am at Pilsbury. I came here on Friday last [.] I expect I am coming to London very soon - shall be either in the Strand or in Fleet Street [.] I hope it is not very far from you - the firm is Clarkson & Co. Mr Dakin has got me the situation. I saw him on Saturday and he says I must stop and help them get the hay ---” (1).

In The Magic of Sport Nat Gould wrote that his father was “a diligent young man, good-looking, active, bright, and cheerful” and that Dakin promised him financial help to set up business in Manchester as a tea merchant when he had finished his apprenticeship in London.

In 1848 Nathaniel Gould arrived in Manchester, full of hope for the future and accompanied by his brother Richard Goodwin Gould. They acquired a shop, a tall commanding building at No 3 Market Street and started up in business as Nathaniel Gould and his Brother, Teamen from London (2).

The promised aid never arrived. His former master in London, in charge of the business at St Paul’s Churchyard, had been accidentally killed in a coffee mill explosion.

Undaunted, Nathaniel Gould shouldered his task, and became one of the best tasters and blenders in the trade. “For many weeks before Christmas I seldom saw my father;” Nat recalled fifty years later, “he left home about seven, or half past, in the morning, and worked until eleven and after at night - when he had a paper cap on, his sleeves rolled up, and the dust of ‘China’ about him. This to a man whose whole heart and soul longed for the fresh air of his native hills, but he never murmured, and always bore a cheerful face.”

Mary Wright 1827-1897

Mary Wright 1827-1897

On 11 May 1852 Nathaniel Gould married Mary Wright 1827-1897, daughter of William Wright 1796-1882 of Bradbourne and his wife nee Elizabeth Gould 1802-1843 (3). Nathaniel Gould and Mary Wright were third cousins, both being great-great grandchildren of William Gould 1677-1772 of Pilsbury Grange and his wife nee Anne Morewood 1679-1749. The Wright family had farmed at Bradbourne for generations. Years later an old lady still recalled that “Miss Mary was the loveliest bride of all, that she was!” (4). After their marriage, Nathaniel and Mary Gould returned to Manchester to set up home in the northern suburb of Cheetham. There, on 21 December 1857, in the midst of the pre-Christmas rush in the tea trade, Nat Gould was born at the family home at 27 York Street (5).

Nathaniel Gould loved the freedom of the open air and country life. “The love that he bore for his old country-house was intense. He often spoke of it to me as we tramped from Buxton to Pilsbury, or I walked from the house to meet him on the main road when I was staying there - he threw out his chest and inhaled vigorously. Then, after a stay of three days at the outside, he was off back to Manchester again, and to his labours in the dust of the tea-room”. The walk from Buxton to Pilsbury Grange was some fifteen miles (6).

Richard Goodwin Gould was bought out of the tea business by his brother in 1858 for £500. “It was Nathaniel who did the work and Dick who spent the money,” Nat Gould wrote, “for in some old account-books of my father’s I found such entries as Dick, £50; Dick £100; Dick £200, and so on. Evidently he went the pace.” In Hartington he was known as "Dickey the Sinner" (7). Nathaniel Gould took a new partner Francis Wright into his business after Richard Goodwin Gould left the firm (8).

In 1874, while Nat Gould was still in School at Southport, Nathaniel Gould suddenly died. His wife had been taken ill and was convalescing at Southport. While wheeling her in a bath-chair he caught cold, and four days later was dead. His wife and son were devastated with grief. He was buried at Prestwich near Manchester, in the family vault, with his two sons William Pichott Gould 1855-1857 and Henry Gilbert Gould 1859-1860 who had died in their infancy (9).

In his Will, dated 1 November 1864, he made provision for the necessary alterations in the partnership of his firm Nathaniel Gould & Company, and left his estate in the hands of his executors and trustees, for the benefit of his wife and surviving son Nat Gould.


(1) He moved to London to a tea business owned by Sir Thomas Dakin. But it was not in the Strand or Fleet Street but at a prestigious address No.1 St Paul’s Churchyard. For the full text of the letter see Pilsbury Grange Letter 4.
(2) Nathaniel Gould is not recorded in the 1851 Census. His brother Richard Goodwin Gould was at 26 New Bridge Street in the city centre with his household, including a brother "Matthew" Gould (born 1825) in business with him. The census taker evidently misheard "Nat" as "Matt", and the otherwise unknown brother "Matthew" was actually Nathaniel Gould. (Suggestion of Trevor Byrnes.) In 1861 Nathaniel Gould and his family were still living at 27 York Street, Cheetham, where Nat had been born three years earlier. In 1871 they were at 26 St Mary’s Road (St Mary’s Villas) in nearby Crumpsall in Manchester.
(3) "At Bradbourn, on 11th istant, by the Rev. Augustus Wirgman, Nathaniel Gould, Manchester, fifth son of the late Mr. Edmund Gould, Pilsbury Grange, Derbyshire, to Mary, second daughter of Mr. Wright, Bradbourn." Derby Mercury 19 May 1852
(4) The Magic of Sport page 211.
(5) Three sons were born to them, but William Pichott Gould 1855-1857 and Henry Gilbert Gould 1859-1860 died in infancy. Nat Gould did not name his brothers in his autobiographical writing, but did so on his mother’s gravestone when she was buried in Bradbourne churchyard in 1897.
(6) Before Nat Gould was born it would have been an even longer walk for his father. The railway from Manchester reached Buxton only in 1863, and the nearest station was a further eight miles away at Whaley Bridge.
(7) The Magic of Sport page 10.
(8) The new partner Francis Wright was the son of John and Elizabeth Wright of Atlow in Derbyshire and was the first cousin of Nat Gould's mother nee Mary Wright.
(9) Nat Gould: The Biography by Tom Askey (2017) pages 1-4.