Susannah May Cant, known as Cissy or Ciss, was born in London in the late 1800s. She trained as an infant teacher at Salisbury Training College from 1898 to 1900 and completed her probationary qualifications at East Hoathley National School in Sussex, from 1900 to 1902. She then taught at Staines and Egham, both in Middlesex, where in 1906 she met William Nicholls, a teacher at the Boys' Primary School. They were married in 1907 and had their first child, Margaret, on 14 February 1908.

In 1909 or 1910 William was appointed head teacher at Braywood primary school in Berkshire, and Susannah taught there also, taking charge of the infant classes. Their second child, John, was born at Braywood on 24 July 1911. In 1915 Will enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery, and served in France until he was demobilised in 1919. During this time Susannah was head teacher at Braywood School, until her health deteriorated and she was forced to resign. Then in May 1920 William was appointed to St. Leonard's primary school at Hythe, where they remained until 1923.

In 1922 the family had successfully applied for assist migration to Australia, under the Empire Settlement Scheme. They arrived in Australia on the P & O liner 'Beltana' in May 1923, accompanied unassisted by Will's uncle, John Spence who had lived with the family in England. On their arrival Will was offered employment by the Victorian Education Department and was appointed to a one teacher rural school at Walwa in North Eastern Victoria. The district was remote, and Susannah became concerned about the children's secondary education and the lack of medical services. Will was eager to try farming, so they purchased a ten acre block at Pearcedale on the Mornington Peninsula, and moved in November 1923.

The poor soil quality made farming unsuccessful, so in April 1924 Will returned to the Education Department, initially teaching at Bittern, then Pearcedale. The State Library of Victoria holds a large collection of letters from Susannah to her sister Olive, most of which were written from the farm at Pearcedale. They sold the farm in late 1927 and moved to a rented house at Somerville. They had purchased a car as both Will and Susannah were teaching at Pearcedale, their son John, also began teaching there in 1928. Their daughter Margaret had trained as an Infant Welfare nurse and was working in Melbourne. In September 1928 Susannah became ill, and was operated on at the Melbourne Hospital, where they discovered incurable bowel cancer. She returned home to Pearcedale, where the disease progressed rapidly. She died on 8th May 1929, almost six years to the day she arrived in Australia. Her family would return to England.

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