Penty Lee’s garden

We are at High Street and Adeline tells us that “in the garden below High Street lived Mrs. Penty Lee. I do not know whether ‘Penty’ was her late husband’s name, or an abbreviation. She married as her second husband Mr. Thomas Severn, but was nearly always called Mrs. Penty Lee.”

As we walk out of High Street we are in to Penty Lee’s Garden alias Severn’s Yard …. can you see why ?!!

Penty Lee was born Elizabeth Garrett and married clothier John Lee in March 1838 before coming to Ilkeston from the Melbourne area and settling in High Street — at an area referred to in the 1851 census as Lee’s Yard but not to be confused with the alternative yard of the same name at Albion Place.

John Lee died in July 1853 and Elizabeth then married Thomas Potter Severn, wheelwright, in July 1855, an event which subsequently gave rise to ‘Severn’s Yard’.

Thomas Potter Severn’s mother was Phoebe (formerly Leggitt) who married William Severn, wheelwright, in February 1809, the latter then dying in August 1818. As a widow Phoebe gave birth to Thomas Potter Severn in 1820 before marrying Thomas Bennett, wheelwright and (later?) landlord of the Harrow Inn, in April 1822.

Alan Smith has been following this Severn family and he writes about wheelwright John Severn, son of William and Phoebe, and (half?) brother of Thomas Potter Severn ….
John Severn, wheelwright of Ilkeston … where was he in 1841?
John was Christened on 6th March 1816 in Ilkeston to William Severn and Phoebe Leggitt. I know he was married to one Emma Ride of Muggington/Weston Underwood in 1838 and together they had two children; Matilda who was born in 1839, and John who was born in the 4th quarter of 1840.
Emma and her young son (John) both died in 1841 prior to the census of that year being recorded, I know that their daughter Matilda was living with her re-married grandmother Pheobe (who’d married Thomas Bennett), but its the whereabouts of Matilda’s father (John Severn) I’m after as he seems to have disappeared – it must have been hard for him after losing his wife and son.
From what I’ve found out, Matilda never lived with her father again, but John did live in Ilkeston as he’s found on the 1851 and later census. I’ve looked to see if John went to see his wife’s parents in Muggington/Weston Underwood, but he’s not listed with them, so I’m out of ideas of where to look for him.

Elizabeth Severn (nee Garrett) alias Penty Lee died in Severn’s Yard in February 1871, her age then recorded as 68.

In September 1877, widower Thomas Potter Severn married his second wife, Mary Antill Greensmith of  Watnall, the illegitimate daughter of Mary Blake Greensmith. She had worked as a domestic servant at Keyworth Rectory for Alfred Potter, who was born at the Park in Ilkeston but was then Rector of Keyworth. Later she moved on to serve as a domestic servant for Alfred’s brother-in-law George Blake Norman at Dalby House, in Anchor Row and adjacent to Severn’s Yard.
Mary’s close proximity to Severn’s Yard may well have brought her into contact with her husband-to-be?

Mary died at Severn’s Yard in January 1899 and Thomas died there in July 1902.

Severn’s Yard in the twentieth century (courtesy of Jim Beardsley)


Adeline now leads us on — “leaving High Street, we pass on our left Dr. Norman’s House.Dalby House.” (which is on the map above, bottom right corner)