There were two Cribb brothers who worked as gardeners for Nelson at Merton Place,Thomas and Francis. In respect of the christening robe story, the gardener having the child was Francis and the child was Emma. The Merton Historical Society have it right in the following: http://dev.mertonhistoricalsociety.org.uk/doc_library/nelson...
[ MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY:
TRAFALGAR BICENTENARY 1805-2005 NELSON AT MERTON
Finally Nelson obtained leave to return home briefly. He arrived at Merton at 6 am on Tuesday 20 August 1805. Emma had hastily collected Horatia and Nelson’s family the day before, and was ready to greet him.
Between visits to town to the Admiralty, the Foreign Office and the Prime Minister, Nelson filled these precious days with family parties, visiting and receiving friends, settling bills and planning for the future. His friend Davison promised to advance the money to pay for the next lot of work at Merton. And he made his gardener Francis Cribb, whose wife was expecting a baby, promise to call it Horatio or Emma (it was Emma), and gave him money for a christening robe. ]
From my research:
This Emma Cribb, born to parents Francis and Anne [or Hannah] Cribb) was christened: 24 Nov 1805 at Wimbledon, Surrey [Ref IGI]. She later married Henry Ladd who was also a gardener. (IGI has marriage date 29 Nov 1824 at Saint Mary, Newington, Surrey).
In 1841 Henry and Emma, together with 5 children (Henry, Emma, Alfred, William and Maria) were living at Nelson’s Fields, Merton (the site of Nelson’s house Merton Place which was demolished c1820).
Living nearby, also in Nelson’s Fields, was Emma’s sister Maria (nee Cribb, christened 07 May 1797, Wimbledon) who had married James Hudson (an engraver) on 23 Sep 1816 at Saint Mary, Newington, Surrey (ref IGI). In 1841 they had 6 children living with them. However in total James and Maria had 13 children, some having left home and others died. One of the ones who had left home was Emma Hudson, born 1820? and baptised 20 Apr 1823 Mitcham. My wife is descended from this Emma Hudson.
We like to think that this Emma was named after her nearby aunt Emma, who was named after Nelson’s Emma !
We have the following newspaper story about James Hudson written in 1888:
“ There is still living at Merton, Surrey, an old man named Hudson, one of the last survivors of those who knew Lord Nelson in the flesh. He is still hale and hearty, though nearly 96 years old, and in possession of all his faculties, if I except a slight dullness in hearing. He sits in his armchair and chats' about "the Admiral" as he styles him, and walks about his garden on sunny days, and smokes his pipe. He was born on the Merton estate, and has lived all his days in one of the two cottages at the bottom of the lane leading down from the " Nelson Arms " to the back of Merton Abbey.
His wife was a daughter of Nelson's gardener, Cribb, and be himself as a boy was employed about the gardens of Sir William and Lady Hamilton, and in running on messages and fetching parcels from the stage wagon. He well recollects seeing Nelson fishing in the river Wandle near the old Abbey mill, and sauntering with Sir William and his wife about the pretty grounds, which were intersected by an artificial canal which Nelson called: "the Nile," and which at that time extended on both sides of the high road. Hudson witnessed the final departure of Lord Nelson from the house on the 13th of September, 1805, just a month before his death at Trafalgar ; and on that occasion shut the door of the post-chaise in which be left, receiving from him a cordial grip of the hand with a word of counsel, “Be a good boy till I come back again."
" But he never has come back," says old Hudson, " and I don't think he ever will." He still points out, at the bottom of his little garden, the rivulet which -used to feed " the Nile," though it now flows in a diminished stream, and contains not a single minnow.
Hudson says that the cottage in which he lives, and its neighbour also, form a pair built by order of Lord Nelson for his coachman-and his gardener, so thoroughly had a company of goods been established between him and his host and hostess ; and he points with pride to the fact that the mulberry tree on his little grass plot was planted there by the order of Lord Nelson himself. Over the mantelpiece of his little dwelling is a mirror in a heavy gilt frame, which, he tells his visitors, once formed part. of the ornamental furniture of "Nelson's room" in Merton Place, and is his only tangible relic. The Admiral, he says, was very much beloved at Merton ; he would often stop and speak kindly to the boys who were at play in the street, and who regarded his weather-beaten form and features with all the more reverence, and all the more pleasure, because of the fruit and the pence which be would bestow on the youngsters . It is well, perhaps, to add that, though he has lately lost his wife, at an age little short of his own; Hudson is fairly well off, and carefully provided for, so that there is no need of an appeal to the public for support in his old age ;and to judge from his present state of health there seems to be no reason why he should not live to become a centenarian."
James Hudson died in Merton a year later, in 1899.