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Maria Bicknell was the daughter of Charles Bicknell, a London solictor. She and John Constable fell in love but were banned from marrying by Maria's grandfather, Rev Dr Durrand Rhudde. The couple met in secret for seven years before marrying in 1816.
Twelve years of marriage produced seven children but Maria was always in poor health and died from turburculosis at the age of 41.
The Constable Brood
Maria helped to bring up all her siblings including her two younger sisters Isabel and Emily.
John was sensitive - a fine intellect but in poor health. Charles was robust with a low attention span.
Alfred and Lionel were attached to their nanny as their mother died before they reached the age of two.
By 1821 Maria had suffered a miscarriage, given birth to two children and was pregnant again - in fact she was pregnant for most of her twelve-year marriage and it was obvious that she was not going to be able to look after all the children all the time. Mrs Elizabeth Roberts was appointed as nurse and governess and she held the household together until John Constable's death in 1837. The family called her Bobs and Lady Ribbons and they looked to her for many of the things Maria could not provide.