Tabitha Aykroyd

Tabitha Aykroyd – aka Tabby – was born at Haworth.

When the Garrs sisters left in 1824, she went to work at Haworth Parsonage as cook and housekeeper to the Brontë family. She was a widow.

She provided a mother-figure which Aunt Branwell did not.

Her Yorkshire dialect was a source for that used in the sisters' book, notably Wuthering Heights.

She may have been the model for the character Nelly Dean in Wuthering Heights.

On 15th December 1836, she slipped on ice in Haworth's main street, breaking her leg. Aunt Branwell suggested that Tabby leave the Parsonage to be nursed by her sister, Susannah Wood, but the children objected – even going on hunger strike – and Tabby stayed at the Parsonage nursed by the children. A large ulcer which developed on Tabby's leg never fully healed and over the next 3 years many of Tabby's duties were taken up by Emily

In 1839, she retired for a short time, moving into a house in Newell Hill that she had bought with her widowed sister, Susannah. The Brontës engaged Martha Brown as a servant. In 1842, after Aunt Branwell's death, and at Emily's suggestion, she moved back to perform light duties at the Parsonage.

In 1855, she was ill for 6 weeks with an infection of the intestines – possibly typhoid. It has been said that she may have infected Charlotte. On 17th February 1855, Tabby died at Haworth – shortly before Charlotte – and was buried in Haworth churchyard. Her grave can be found just in front of the old gateway from the Parsonage into the churchyard

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 16:22 / 14th April 2021 / 3925

Page Ref: KK_146

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