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Guide to the Nutting Family Papers
  MS 460

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400

@ 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Jan Hilley

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on November 02, 2011
Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Nutting Family
Title: Nutting Family Papers
Dates: 1875-1936
Abstract: The papers contain materials of the Nutting family of New York. The collection is mainly family letters but also includes a small number of photographs, telegrams, clippings, account books, etc.
Quantity: 0.5 Linear feet (1 box)
Location note: Manuscript Cage
Call Phrase: MS 460

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Biographical Note

Andrew Jackson Nutting, prominent Brooklyn, New York, merchant, was born in Chateaugay, Franklin County, New York, in 1834. A descendent of the Nutting family of Groton, Massachusetts, he was also a distant relation of Samuel F. B. Morse (his maternal grandfather was Morse's cousin).

Called by the New York Herald Tribune a "self-made merchant prince," Nutting's first job was driving a horse that provided the power to run a tan bark mill in Chateaugay. He was paid seventy-five cents a week. Other early experiences included selling fruit at a railway station in Schenectady, working as a "devil" for the Schenectady Sentinel and printing bibles. His preference was for selling goods, and it was through his various mercantile enterprises that he made his name. Starting out as a shirt and collar salesman on the road between Troy and Buffalo, he worked in a succession of leading New York department stores before establishing, in 1879, his successful A.J. Nutting & Co. Clothiers at 386, 388 & 390 Fulton Street in Brooklyn. He ran this business until the time of his death in September, 1924. (Mr. Nutting is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn.)

In 1868 he married Agnes Livingstone Moore (1841-1903). They had three children: Andrew Hamilton (b.1869), Agnes Livingstone (b. 1873) and May (b. 1875).

Andrew married Maude Slater and had two daughters - Dorothy Slater Nutting ("Dot") and Alene Kilbourne Nutting. Alene was married, in 1930, to Frederick Selchow.

Agnes married Neil Morrow Ladd. Within these papers, there no children are mentioned. As an indication of Mr. Nutting's success, his wedding gifts to Agnes included a luxurious home in Greenwich, Connecticut, and a Packard touring car.

May (sometimes referred to as "Mae") was married twice. From her first marriage, to Robert Davidson Kennedy, a daughter was born - Agnes Rafaella Kennedy. The second marriage was to J. H. Patterson. The Pattersons left New York and became residents of London for quite some time. It was in London that Rafaella was first married to Clare Van Neck (1928) and, subsequently, to Edward Fitzgerald, Duke of Leinster (1932).

The Duke had previously been married to the actress, May Etheridge. The Duke committed suicide in 1976. Although he brought to the marriage with Ms. Kennedy many titles including Duke of Leinster, Marquess of Kildare, Earl of Kildare, and Earl and Baron of Offaly of Ireland, his grand lifestyle and gambling debts left him in a constant state of bankruptcy.

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Scope and Content Note

The papers of the Nutting Family consist primarily of 75 personal letters (Folders 1-10), the greatest number of which were written by Andrew Jackson Nutting to his children. The letters offer a glimpse into the private life of a relatively wealthy New York family in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The collection includes a single letter written by Mrs. A.J. Nutting to her son Andrew; letters exchanged among the three siblings, Andrew, Agnes and May; letters from and to Andrew's wife Maude; letters from the grandchildren, Alene, Dorothy and Rafaella; and a number of letters written to Nutting family members by distant relatives and friends, some of whom are identified only by a first name or nickname.

Folder 11 contains a few telegrams, invitations and gift enclosures from various family members and friends.

Unfortunately, much of the correspondence is not dated. It is, in some cases, possible to estimate relative chronology from the content or with the assistance of a partial date. A number of the letters were written on illustrated A.J. Nutting & Co. letterhead which provides a view of the Brooklyn business as it grew over time, expanding from 386 & 388 Fulton to 386, 388 & 390 Fulton. There are other letterhead illustrations including one of the Plaza Hotel at Central Park.

In addition to correspondence, the collection includes a life insurance policy taken out in 1891 on the life of Andrew Hamilton Nutting, naming his father as beneficiary. There are baptismal certificates for Andrew, Agnes and May, indicating that the three were baptized on the same day (Folder 12).

Several unidentified photographs are collected in Folder 13 along with a number of negatives, primarily of the garden at the Nutting home in Belle Haven, Greenwich. The items in Folder 14 include two annotated maps of parts of Connecticut and Massachusetts, a church program and an undated advertisement.

Included in this collection (Folder 15) are several bankbooks belonging to Alene Nutting. There is a "Memoranda" book without explicit identification. Among its entries documenting financial transactions is found a brief draft will, including an inventory of properties, debts owed, etc., dated 1876. It mentions as children both Mrs. A.J. Nutting (Agnes Livingstone Moore) and her sister Annie (L. Lockwood), suggesting that this may have been written by their father, Leprelette H. Moore, who died in 1879. In Folder 16 are a few miscellaneous items including a genealogy referring to members of both the Moore and Nutting families, on a single handwritten sheet. A packet of what appear to be spills is also in the folder. (A spill is a slender piece of wood or other substance used for lighting candles, lamps, etc.)

The final folder (17) in the collection contains newspaper and magazine clippings. A lengthy article describes a devastating fire at the Mount Anthony House in Bennington, Vermont. There is no date; however, A.J. Nutting is mentioned as the proprietor of the establishment. (The hotel is illustrated and described in the advertisement contained in Folder 14.) Obituaries of Mrs. A.J. Nutting, her father and her sister are included, as are articles concerning A.J. Nutting's financial status at the end of his life. A lengthy, though incomplete, article from the New York Herald (November 24, 1912) provides a biographical sketch along with Mr. Nutting's recommendations for a long life - work and champagne. (The entire article has been obtained from microfilm and is also in the folder.)

Nutting's Brooklyn residence on South Oxford Street is featured in an 1892 article that includes several illustrations along with a detailed description of its architecture, interior design, furniture, draperies and many other aspects of this "spacious, elegant, model of comfort." A Brooklyn Eagle article (1909) describes his purchase of a Greenwich, Connecticut, "Mansion," modeled after an Italian villa.

There are a number of wedding announcements in the clipping collection including those of Agnes Livingstone Nutting to Neil Morrow Ladd and Agnes Rafaella Kennedy to Clare Van Neck. It is Rafaella's marriage to the Duke of Leinster, however, that is most widely covered, along with several articles concerning his difficult financial situation.


Correspondence arranged by sender; then by addressee.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Leinster, Edward Fitzgerald,--Duke of,--1892-1976

Document Type

  • Clippings
  • Correspondence
  • Ephemera
  • Photographs
  • Stationery
  • Telegrams

Subject Organizations

  • A.J. Nutting & Co

Subject Topics

  • Americans--England--London

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)--Social life and customs

Family Name(s)

  • Nutting family


  • Merchants

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Administrative Information


Donated by the Filson Club Historical Society, Louisville, Kentucky, 2001.

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Use Restrictions

Permission to quote from this collection in a publication must be requested and granted in writing. Send permission requests, citing the name of the collection from which you wish to quote and a transcription of your quote, to

Library Director
The New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as the Nutting Family Papers, MS 460, the New-York Historical Society.

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Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Letters Sent: Kennedy, Agnes Rafaella (Mrs. C. Van Neck; Duchess of Leinster)
1930, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Letters Sent: Nutting, Agnes Livingstone Moore (Mrs. Andrew Jackson Nutting)
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Letters Sent: Nutting, Agnes L. (Mrs. Neil M. Ladd)
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Letters Sent: Nutting, Alene Kilbourne (Mrs. F. Selchow)
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Letters Sent: Nutting, Andrew Hamilton
1900-1907, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Letters Sent: Nutting, Andrew Jackson
1891-1924, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Letters Sent: Nutting, Dorothy Slater
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Letters Sent: Nutting, Mae (y) (Mrs. R.D. Kennedy: Mrs. J.H. Patterson)
1900-1929, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Letters Sent: Nutting, Maude Slater (Mrs. Andrew Hamilton Nutting)
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Letters Sent: Others - Outside Immediate Family
1905-1908, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Telegrams, Invitations, Gift Enclosures
1922-1936, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Documents - Insurance and Baptismal Certificates
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Photographs and Negatives
1939, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 14 Annotated Maps, Church Program, Advertisement
1906-1911, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 15 Account Books, Memoranda
1875-1928, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 16 Miscellaneous Personal Items
Box: 1 Folder : 17 Newspaper and Magazine Clippings
1892-1934, undated

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