Captain Justinian Nutt and others

Justinian Nutt - from Royal Museums Greenwich collection
Justinian Nutt, in a portrait showing him as officer and gentleman – Royal Museums Greenwich

In 1740 Justinian Nutt was part of a great adventure which led to his rise into the officer class. He went on the round-the-world Anson expedition, first as a lieutenant’s servant and then as the Centurion’s master: an experienced seaman in his late thirties but not yet a commissioned officer.[ref]Rodger, The Wooden World – J. Nutt was “about 36” in 1740[/ref] This indicates that he was not born a “gentleman”, though there is no record of his origins.

After years of service, Justinian Nutt was made a lieutenant and then a captain. Promotion on merit and social mobility was possible in the navy of that era, though unlikely for anyone born “beneath” the lower-middle class, with no schooling at all. Sons of tradesmen who supplied goods or services in dockyard towns, and sons of warrant officers, were more likely than other non-gentlemen to have the opportunity of getting a good start in the navy as an officer’s servant.[ref]Rodger, The Wooden World[/ref]

Scroll down page for Justinian Nutt’s descendants/family tree

Justinian Nutt marries Miss Cooke with her £10,00 - Gentleman's Magazine 1749
Justinian Nutt marries Miss Cook with her £10,000 – Gentleman’s Magazine 1749

By the late 1740s Captain Nutt was an officer at Greenwich Hospital, and in 1749 married Elizabeth Cook who brought with her a dowry of £10,000. Their two sons were given names honouring their father’s senior officers and comrades from the Anson expedition. Lord and Lady Anson and Sir Peircy Brett were godparents to George Anson Nutt. His brother, Justinian Saunders Bentley Nutt, was christened with Captain Saunders and Captain Bentley as his godfathers.

Brett and Bentley were among Captain Nutt’s executors when he died in 1758, and may have helped oversee the boys’ education, along with their uncle Francis Cook. (In 1761 Mrs. Elizabeth Nutt married Lieutenant Charles Bresson, who spent most of his life on shore, having lost a leg as a young man.) For more than a century, navy or army careers were almost the norm for Captain Nutt’s male descendants, with a Justinian in each of four generations.

This makes Whaley Bouchier Nutt, great-grandson of the captain’s, stand out as someone who followed his own path. After researching his role in an Edinburgh school, and discovering that both his father and brother were called Major Justinian Nutt I wanted to know more about his forebears. Read more about the school run by his wife, Helen Hamilton Black or Nutt, or go to a page about him, his wife, Helen Nutt, and their children. Scroll down for an outline of the Nutt family.

Justinian Nutt and the men from the Centurion recovered from danger and scurvy on the Pacific island of Tinian c1741.
Justinian Nutt and the crew of the Centurion recovered from danger and scurvy on the Pacific island of Tinian in 1742.

Four generations of Justinian Nutts and their siblings

I hope the layout and colours, along with dates, will show which generation is which. Please use the comments section for any queries.

Justinian Nutt, b. c1704, d. 1758, Captain at time of marriage in 1749 to  Elizabeth Cook(e), (b. Winchester 1726, d.1797, 2nd marriage to Charles Besson 1761.)

1.  George Anson Nutt (b. 1750, Catherington Hants, godfather Lord Anson, Captain of H.M. 33rd regiment, d.1828)  m. (1) 1783 Mary Smith  m. (2) 1793, Mary Tymewell Blake, d. 1841

  • George Francis Nutt, b.1784, gentleman cadet (army) 1798, d. before 1832
  • Mary, b. 1785, m. Rev. Francis Pelly of Siston, Glos.1806 (He married again 1813)
  • Justinian Nutt (b. 1786, d. 1853), Major in Bombay Engineers, G.A.N.’s “eldest son” by time of his marriage at Bridstow in 1832 to Cecilia Armitage (b. 1804, 5th daughter of Whaley Armitage )
  1. Justinian Armitage Nutt b. December 1832, Major in Bombay Engineers  when m. Lucy Amelia Anstey in 1865, d. 1907 (They had children with Justinian as first or middle name who died as babies in Bengal.) 
  2. Cecilia Mary Nutt b. 1834 Somerset m.1859 John Edward Sutherland Lillie, Bengal Civil Service
  3. Mary Eleonora Nutt b.1836 d.1915
  4. Rachel Emma Nutt b. 1839 Frankfurt
  5. Henry Lowther Nutt b. 1841 Frankfurt, 1868 in Aden m. Eleanor Olivia Anstey, by 1882 Major in Bombay Staff Corps, d. 1896
  6. A daughter b. 1844, Cheltenham
  7. Whaley Bouchier Nutt (b. 4 August 1846 Cheltenham, d.1895 Edinburgh), in 1882 m. Helen Hamilton  Black or Johnson (b.1853, Dysart, Fife, d. South Africa, from 1895 Helen Chamberlain)
  • Henry Anson Nutt b. 1796 Speen, Berks., entered Madras Cavalry in 1819 after attending Woolwich Military Academy, 1833 m. Helen Young, d. 1834
  • Charles Nutt b. c1798 Speen (Rev., lived East Harptree c1860) – sons John William Nutt b. 1834, James Anson Francis Nutt, cadet 1863, Lt-Col 1897, RA, daughters Jane, Maria, Elizabeth

2.  Justinian Saunders Bentley Nutt (b. 1751 Fareham, d. 1811), his will says he was “of Upper Brook Street”, “formerly Commander of His Majesty’s Ship Thetis”.

  • George Lloyd Nutt b. c1800


The portrait of Captain Nutt is a small version, taken from the BBC website, used here in the spirit of “fair dealing“, to make a point about his social status.

The print of Tinian (mis-labelled Tenian) was included in A Voyage round the World, in the Years MDCCXL, I, II, III, IV by George Anson, Knapton 1748, and the digital copy comes from Wellcome Trust/Wikimedia CC4.0


    • N.A.M. Rodger, The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy, Fontana 1988
    • Boyds Inhabitants of London Transcription 1754
    • Entries from family bible transcribed in Fragmenta genealogica by Frederick Arthur Crisp, privately published 1889
    • The register book of marriages belonging to the parish of St. George, Hanover square, in the county of Middlesex, Vol 1 1723-1787 – see this for Besson marriage and check date of G.A. Nutt’s first marriage – sometimes another date is given
    • JNutt’s wedding – Morning Post, 24 January 1832, and other newspapers
    • GA Nutt’s death – Birmingham Gazette 13 October 1828
    • Birth of son to the lady of Major Justinian Nutt, on the 15th at Bath – Morning Post – 19 December 1832
    • Death of relict of GA Nutt –  Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 5 August 1841
    • Marriage of Cecilia M Nutt – Oxford Chronicle and Reading Gazette – 9 July 1859
    • Marriage of HL Nutt – Edinburgh Evening Courant 20 November 1868
    • Birth of daughter to lady of Major Nutt  – The Morning Post, July 16, 1844
    • Birth of son to lady of Major Nutt – Cheltenham Chronicle, 6 August 1846, W.B.N. age 34 in April 1881 census
    • Reports of Cases Decided in the High Court of Chancery: 1859 to 1865 by Sir Richard Torin Kindersley, Vice-Chancellor, Volume 1
    • Death of Mrs. Charles Besson – Greenwich Oracle and Public Advertiser October 19, 1797
    • Marriage of GA Nutt’s “only daughter” – The Gentleman’s Magazine, Volume 76, 1806
    • Wills of Justinian Nutt (1758) and Justinian Saunders Nutt (1811)
    • And the usual genealogy sites. See “About” page for these.

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