Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Military uniforms in Victorian and Edwardian Derbyshire

Over the years, in the course of accumulating images for my study of Derbyshire photographers, I've come across a number of portraits of men wearing military uniforms. Such uniforms present a valuable aid in the dating of photographs, itself an important tool in the identification of the subject of a portrait, but my lack of knowledge of this topic resulted in my leaving many of the pre-Great War era images in the "too hard" basket.

My early efforts at identifying uniforms of regular Derbyshire regiments and militia units made it obvious that I first needed a better understanding of how they were made up, and therefore of their history. I was given a great deal of help in my efforts by several kind members of the Victorian Wars Forum, a group devoted the study of British Military Campaigns from 1837 to 1902.

I must point out that I don't claim to be any kind of expert, and this article should in no way be regarded as authoritative. I've merely compiled the information from a number of different sources and, while I hope I've not made too many errors, I'm happy to receive suggestions for improvement, amendment, corrections, etc.

© Brett Payne
Derbyshire's Infantry Regiments, Rifle Volunteers, Militia & Territorial Forces, 1741-1909

The chart above (GIF/PDF) is a provisional and simplified view that I've compiled to show the evolution of the various infantry regiments, rifle volunteers, militia and territorial units in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire through Victorian and Edward eras, till just before the Great War. I should perhaps also explain that I've included Nottinghamshire as the military history of two counties has been, and still is, inextricably linked, as will become clear.

Officer, 45th Regiment of Foot, 1811

The first regular infantry regiments associated with the counties of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire in the early 19th century were the 95th (Derbyshire) Regiment and the 45th (1st Nottinghamshire) Regiment, formed in 1823 and 1741 respectively. Although they are hardly likely to be found in photographic portraits, by way of an introduction I've included an artistic representation of the typical uniform from the Napoleonic era above.

By the early to mid-1850s, when photographic portraiture became available to the general public, as opposed to to the wealthier classes, through the introduction of the collodion positive, there were two regular regiments of foot and three militia regiments in existence, as follows:
- 45th (1st Nottinghamshire) Regiment
- 95th (Derbyshire) Regiment
- 1st Derby Militia
- 2nd Derby Militia (Chatsworth Rifles)
- 59th Nottinghamshire Regt of Militia (Royal Sherwood Foresters)

Unfortunately I don't have any photographs of uniformed soldiers from these units, but some may be seen in the collection of the Sherwood Foresters Museum.

Unidentified Senior NCO or Instructor
6th (High Peak/Buxton) Corps, Derbyshire Rifle Volunteers
Carte de visite by William Housley of Bakewell, c.1869-1870

Starting in 1859 a series of Rifle Volunteers Corps were formed throughout the two counties, as part of a much wider Volunteer Force, "a citizen army of part-time rifle, artillery and engineer corps, created as a popular movement." The senior non-commissioned officer in the above portrait is wearing the full dress uniform of the Derbyshire Rifle Volunteers, including 1868 pattern scarlet tunics with white facings which identified them as volunteers. The Bakewell man (above) also wears a cap more correctly described as a shako, with a regimental pattern white worsted ball (pom pom) and badge consisting of a French buglehorn surrounding the number 6.

Image © & courtesy of Michael Jones
Unidentified Rifleman
5th (Derby Artisan) Corps, Derbyshire Rifle Volunteers
Carte de visite by John Roberts of Derby, c.1869-1870
Image © & courtesy of Michael Jones

The Derby rifleman has a similar tunic, accompanied by a black patent leather cross belt with a pouch at the back and silver fittings comprising regimental badge on the front, whistle and chain and a bugle horn on the pouch, typically worn by Rifle Volunteers. The silver fittings have, however, been erroneously hand coloured gold. The cuff loop is of Trefoil type and indicates an 'other rank', as the cuff adornment of officers was always more elaborate to make the superior rank abundantly clear. His trousers are a very dark grey (virtually black) 'oxford mixture' with a 1/4-inch red seam down the outside of the leg. Instead of a shako, he is wearing his 'undress' pillbox cap - the Rifle Corps were the generally the only infantry unit to wear the pillbox cap - with a simple number badge (no horn). His rifle is either the 3-band 1853 Enfield or possibly the Snider Enfield 'conversion' which was phased in from 1866.

Image © & courtesy of Derby Local Studies Library
Lt. William Bemrose (1831-1908), Capt. John F. Thirlby (1839-1928) & Lt. Henry Monkhouse (1837-1905)
5th (Derby Artisan) Corps, Derbyshire Rifle Volunteers
Cabinet card by Richard Keene of Derby, August 1874
Image © & courtesy of Derby Local Studies Library

The next two portraits, a cabinet card and a carte de visite taken in the mid-1870s, show officers in full dress uniform. They are from the 1st Administrative Battalion of the Derbyshire Rifle Volunteers, which in 1880 became the 1st Derbyshire Rifle Volunteer Corps. Bemrose, Thirlby and Monkhouse are officers of Field Rank, as marked by the elaborate cuff lacing.

Image © & courtesy of Derby Local Studies Library
Lt. Edwin Pratt (1836-1913)
19th (Elvaston) Corps, Derbyshire Rifle Volunteers
Carte de visite by Clement Rogers of Derby, c.1874-1875
Image © & courtesy of Derby Local Studies Library

Edwin Pratt served with the 19th (Elvaston) Corps.

Image © & courtesy of Derby Local Studies Library
Major George H. Gascoyne (1842-1916)
5th (Derby Artisan) Corps, 1st Derbyshire Rifle Volunteers
Carte de visite by J.W. Price of Derby, November 1880
Image © & courtesy of Derby Local Studies Library

George Gascoyne was a major in, and later colonel and commanding officer of, the 1st Derbyshire Rifles. This portrait shows him as Commanding Officer of the 5th (Derby Artisan) Corps, shortly before its amalgamation into the 12 Companies of the 1st Volunteer Battalion, The Sherwood Foresters (Derbyshire Regiment)
. The 1855 (modified in 1860) forage cap which he wears was replaced from the mid 1870s on, but continued to be used in parallel until as late as 1880. It has a horizontal leather peak and the "5 inside French buglehorn" badge.

Image © & collection of Brett Payne
Unidentified Major
1st Derbyshire Rifle Volunteer Corps
Carte de visite by J.W. Price of Derby, c. late 1870s
Image © & collection of Brett Payne

Both Gascoyne and the unidentified major in the portrait above are wearing a dark blue "frogged" Military Patrol Jacket (not worn by other ranks) of 1868, a garment that was required by an officer in addition to his full dress tunic and often worn both in the field and in barracks.

Image © & courtesy of Cynthia Maddock
Soldier identified only as "Bonzo," probably G Company (Belper)
1st Vol. Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters (Derbys. Regt.)

Carte de visite by Jacob Schmidt of Belper, c.1884-1888
Image © & courtesy of Cynthia Maddock

This soldier is wearing the tunic of a man in a volunteer battalion of an infantry regiment, as evidenced by the Austrian knots on his sleeves, a snake buckle belt and a glengarry cap.

Unidentified soldier, probably A Company (Chesterfield)
2nd Vol. Battalion
 The Sherwood Foresters (Derbys. Regt.)

Cabinet card by H. Brawn of Chesterfield, c. 1899-1901

This soldier's white collar and cuffs (together known as "facings") indicate that he is from an English/Welsh county regiment, while the Austrian knots on his sleeves tell us that he is a "volunteer". He is wearing a 5-button frock rather than a 7-button full dress tunic, the former being of inferior material, cut more loosely and unlined. It was intended to be used in barracks as a working uniform, and due to cost-cutting measures it was eventually the only uniform issued to volunteers. He is dressed in Review Order (helmet and bayonet) and carrying the swagger cane or stick used when out of barracks in "walking out dress". The swagger cane or stick was carried by all other ranks at that time and was part of attempts to improve the soldiers view of himself and perception of him by wider society.

The blue cloth "Home Service Helmet" was introduced as a replacement for the shako in 1878 by most British line infantry, artillery and engineers, and worn until 1902, when it was replaced as part of the khaki service dress.

Image © & collection of Brett Payne
L/Cpl Thomas Charles Ison (1884-1938)
5th (Territorial Force) Battalion, The Sherwood Foresters
Real photo postcard by H.P. Hansen of Ashbourne, c. 1911-1913
Image © & collection of Brett Payne

Lance Corporal Ison is clutching a forage cap with peak, first issued in 1906, and has white facings and scarlet piped white shoulder straps on his 7-button full dress tunic, which with only minor alteration was worn until 1914 by the 5th Battalion Sherwood Foresters.

Both the organisational chart and the series of images are incomplete, but they will serve as an introduction to military uniforms used by Derbyshire units, and will hopefully prompt further contributions of images to fill in the gaps. I am most grateful to Victorian Wars Forum members Frogsmile, grumpy, Old Stubborn, Patrick, Isandlwana, Peter and crimea1854, who all contributed to an informative and in-depth discussion of the above images. If you are interested in further details of clothing and insignia, I suggest you browse that discussion and the many others on the forum.

Sepia Saturday 147
For other military-themed images this week visit Sepia Saturday, where I believe the regular contributers will do their best to oblige.


The Victorian Wars Forum

Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort's Own), Wikipedia & Wikimedia Commons

Beckett, I.F.W. (1982) Riflemen form: a study of the Rifle Volunteer Movement, 1859-1908, Ogilby Trusts, 368p.

Hay, G.J. (1987) The Constitutional Force, reprint of 1908 original by Ray Westlake Military Books.

Kelly (1881) Directory of Derbyshire.

Schick, I.T. (1978) Battledress: The Uniforms of the World's Great Armies 1700 to the present, illustrated by Wilhelm von Halen, London: Artus Books, 256p.

Wright, C.N. (1874) Directory of South Derbyshire, Derby: Bemrose & Sons.

Monday, 8 October 2012

George O. Stott of Nelson, Lancashire

Apart from this being a nicely posed portrait of an attractive young woman, with an interesting studio backdrop, I was intrigued by the surname of the photographer, and the possibility that he was related to my wife's mother's family. I wasn't able to prove a relationship, but thought I would share the portrait anyway.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Unidentified young woman, c.1911
Postcard portrait by G.O. Stott, Nelson

Although we can't actually see a loose bun arranged at the back of her head, just above the nape of her neck, this is probably a low bun or chignon hair style which was popular throughout the Great War. The large square collar and buttons are also typical of the early war years.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Reverse of postcard portrait by G.O. Stott
of Borough Studio, 4 Pendle St, Nelson, Lancashire

The reverse of the unmounted portrait shows a generic postcard with the photographer's name printed along the left hand margin. According to Jones (2004), George Ormerod Stott (1884-1958) operated a photographic studio at 4 Pendle Street, Nelson, Lancashire from 1911 to 1938, so this must have been one of his earlier portraits.


Jones, Gillian (2004) Lancashire Professional Photographers 1840-1940, Watford, England: PhotoResearch

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Sepia Saturday 146: Model ships as studio props

The nautical theme of the Sepia Saturday image prompt this week reminds me that I have long intended to do a series of articles featuring items commonly used as studio props and accessories. Maritime studio settings were common, and not restricted to coastally located towns. They were encouraged by the long-lived fashion for sailor suits lasting well into the 20th Century, and often featured appropriately painted backdrops, life-sized boats, coils of rope, lifebelts, mastheads, etc.

I have a few featuring models of sailing ships and toy boats in my collection which give a fair idea of the range used by Victorian and Edwardian studio photographers.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Two unidentified young men & model of sailing ship
Carte de visite by Abderame's Crescent Studio of Bristol, c.1875-80

This carte de visite is one that I have featured previously, and I suspect that the fine model of a two-masted brig was intended to provide a nautical flavour rather than as a toy for the amusement of children for the duration of the portrait sitting. The portrait came from an album which belonged to a family who emigrated from England to Australia and New Zealand, so perhaps these young men were readying themselves for a life abroad or on the ocean wave.

The New Bedford Whaling Museum has a fine example featuring a Captain Howland admiring a magnificant model of what is presumably his own sailing ship.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Unidentified child with model of yacht
Cabinet card by W.W. Winter of Derby, c.1890-91

An annotation pecilled on the reverse of Winter's card mount suggests that this boy in a smart sailor suit might be Charles Richard Mapp (1887-1955), whose father Richard William Mapp (originally from Derby) was the station master at Woodville Railway Station in 1891.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Unidentified child and model of yacht
Cabinet card by J.L. Hart of Ashbourne, c.1894-98

This pond yacht lies momentarily unattended on the seat of the wicker chair - perhaps its owner is concentrating on balance rather than the promise of a play at the boating pond after the studio visit?

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Unidentified young child with model of sailing ship
Cabinet card by C.S. Swift of Derby, c.1903-06

Swift's elaborate studio furniture didn't have much to do with sailing, but he was able to captivate this child shortly after the turn of the century with a model of perhaps a three-masted barque.

Sepia Saturday 146

Flickr user oldsailro has an entire collection devoted to model boats, a good proportion of which are late 19th and early 20th Century studio portraits, illustrating the huge popularity of pond yachting as a pastime for children at that time.

For more photographs of a nautical flavour head over to Sepia Saturday.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Sepia Saturday 145: Who was Percy Bird?

Sepia Saturday 145
Another spell working in Guadalcanal has sadly kept me from contributing regularly to Sepia Saturday. I'll just make this one because I have an image that I "prepared earlier" but, for some forgotten reason, failed to post at the time.

Image collection of Brett Payne
My offering to you this week is a large format print, mounted on card measuring roughly 6" x 4" (107 x 150mm), although the original size might have been slightly larger since it has been, as Spike Milligan might have put it, "ruefully" trimmed. The informal group portrait depicts a football team (albeit one player is missing), complete with referee, coach and a couple of hangers on in overcoats, who obviously have more managerial or proprietary roles. They are arranged against what appears to be the wooden back wall of a shed with a corrugated iron roof, of rather rough construction.

Image collection of Brett Payne
The referee at far right has a whistle in his right hand, and his left hand is placed in his hip pocket, pulling aside his jacket to reveal fob chains, no doubt holding the all important time piece.

Image collection of Brett Payne
The main in light coloured shirt who I assume is the coach appears to have a piece of paper in his right hand, and something else in his left, although I cannot make out the latter (my wife suggests it may be a cigarette). He's the only one of the fourteen who appears even remotely pleased with the team's performance ...

Image collection of Brett Payne
... so perhaps the diminutive size of the silver cup balanced on top of the football is an indication that they came second.

Image collection of Brett Payne
The back of the card mount is inscribed in pencil:
Percy Bird
but I fancy this is not in a hand contemporary with the photograph, which I estimate - from the style of clothing - to have been taken shortly before the Great War, say around 1905-1915.

Image collection of Brett Payne
Percy Bird seems to have had a little more style than the other members of his team, with a fancy spotted tie, but otherwise does not seem particularly remarkable. I've been spectacularly unsuccessful in unearthing anything about a Durham football player named Percy Bird, so perhaps his appearances were limited to the amateur field.

Image collection of Brett Payne
Purchased on eBay at roughly the same time, and possibly - although not necessarily - from the same original collection, was another card-mounted print (95 x 140mm on 113 x 152mm) of a football player. His striped shirt very closely matches that of the team pictured above, but it may well have been a common design. He is standing against a brick-and-stone wall, but there are no clues as to who he might have been or where he was from. I can't match his face to any of the players in the group photograph.

Perhaps some kind reader who is a soccer fan will be able to deduce more in due course, but for the moment I'm going to call it a day and suggest that, for further sporting antics and guaranteed entertainment, you head over to Sepia Saturday.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Sepia Saturday 140: Two weddings and a funeral

Sepia Saturday 140

For my contribution to the Sepia Saturday scrapbook this week, I have delved into my collection of specimens from Derbyshire's longest lived studio, that of W.W. Winter. This group of wedding photos - slavishly following Alan's matrimonial photo prompt - was a recent purchase on eBay and is probably the most recent example that I have from this studio.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Unidentified wedding group, c.1950s
Paper print (156 x 114mm) by W.W. Winter, Derby

The listing naturally caught my eye, or rather eBay's search tool, because of the studio's location, but it also turned out to be an interesting research problem. On the face of it, the wedding portraits offered relatively few clues as to the identities of the subjects. The bride could be in her mid- to late thirties, the groom - with an incipient receding hairline - perhaps a little older, and he is wearing a cassock and dog collar, so presumably an Anglican priest.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Photographic "Wedding" card folder
W.W. Winter Ltd. Midland Road Derby

The series of three 6⅛" x 4½" prints, one showing the wedding party standing outside the church in landscape format, the other two of the bride in portrait format, have their corners inserted in diagonal slits in pre-printed and embossed pale blue card folders (177 x 133mm or 7" x 5¼") with white decorated edging.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Reverse of paper print
Negative number "59165 A," surname "Edwards"

The prints have the standard W.W. Winter signature logo blind stamped in the bottom right, while a negative number and the surname "Edwards" are written in pencil on the reverse.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Reverse of card folder
Inscribed with negative number "59165 A" & surname "Edwards"

The same negative number and surname are inscribed in pencil, albeit apparently a different hand, on the back of the blue card folder.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Unidentified bride, c.1950s
Paper print (114 x 156mm) by W.W. Winter, Derby

The portraits of the bride show her holding the bouquet in a similar position outside the church.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Photographic "Wedding" card folder
Inscribed with surname "Edwards" & Negative number "59167B"
W.W. Winter Ltd. Derby

One of the folders has the pre-printed studio name in a different font, although it is otherwise identical.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Unidentified bride, c.1950s
Paper print (114 x 156mm) by W.W. Winter, Derby

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Unidentified bride, possibly "Dordy," c. 2 February 1959
Paper print in embossed card folder
W.W. Winter, Derby

But it is an inscription on the inside cover of the folder housing the third portrait which provided the only clue left by the presumed original owners.
To Lily
with Love
Dordy +
I can't be absolutely sure about the name "Dordy," but that's my best guess, based on a comparison with the remainder of the text, e.g. see how the "o" is written in the word "Love."

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

If I were to have any chance of identifying the subjects, it was clear that I would have to make some deductions, assume they were correct, and test the theory by seeing where that led. So perhaps ...

- the wedding took place on 2 February 1959,
- since it was captured by W.W. Winter, it was most likely taken somewhere near Derby
- "Dordy" was the bride, Peter the groom,
- their married name was Edwards,
- "Dordy" was a pet name, perhaps short for Dorothy or Doreen, and
- she gave the wedding photos to a close friend or relation named Lily.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Unidentified wedding group, c.1950s
Paper print (167 x 119mm) by unknown photographer

The last of these seemed plausible since accompanying the W.W. Winter wedding portraits in the same eBay lot were three further wedding portraits, similar in size and shape, but in plain card folders (with no photographer shown) and obviously a different wedding. However, the bride in these three portraits (above and below) is clearly the same woman who appeared as a bridesmaid in Dordy's group wedding photo.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Unidentified wedding group, c.1950s
Paper print (167 x 119mm) by unknown photographer


In order to find a suitable marriage record for Dordy I turned to FreeBMD, which has to be one of the most useful, and used, free UK genealogical research tools currently available on the net. Although this unofficial database of the GRO Birth, Marriage and Death Index, compiled by voluntary indexers, is not yet complete, the coverage for the 19th Century and first half of the 20th Century is very good, and growing. A quick check of the graphs (or charts if you prefer) for marriages shows that both transcription and validation for 1959 are estimated as complete, which will give us a good degree of confidence that we are likely to be searching a full set of records.


The basic FreeBMD search page has a very simple, and versatile, interface where I inserted the following details of the presumed wedding:

Type: Marriage
(Groom's) Surname: Edwards
(Groom's) First name: Peter
Spouse's First name: Do
Date range: Mar (Qtr) 1959 - Mar (Qtr) 1959
Counties: Derbyshire

N.B. Since I wasn't sure about the bride's first name, I decided to specify only the first two letters. This search engine matches all first names in the database with start with these letters and fit the other specified criteria, i.e. a wildcard after the specified letters is assumed. All other details were left blank.


Searching using these parameters produced a single hit, a marriage entry for one Peter A. Edwards, spouse's surname Sewell, in the Shardlow Registration District (near Derby).


Clicking the GRO Reference Page number gave a list of all the names listed on that page of the register, including that of Peter's bride Doreen N. Sewell.


I then used the FeeBMD Index of birth registrations to look for a Doreen N. Sewell born somewhere in Derbyshire between 1910 and 1930 (assuming that she was in her 30s or early 40s at the time of her marriage. Finding one whose birth was registered in the Belper R.D. in the September Quarter of 1919 (Dordy would have been thirty-nine years old when whe was married), and whose mother's maiden name was NEALE, I was able to search for potential siblings. Indeed there were at least five Sewell sisters (shown above) including, conveniently, the youngest named Lily V.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

Unfortunately, searching the FreeBMD marriage index for marriages for a Lily V. Sewell, even without any constraining dates or location, produced not a single hit. However, bearing in mind that her wedding would probably also have taken place in the 1950s (or thereabouts), we already known the coverage for that decade is patchy (we hit lucky with 1959).

I therefore turned to the comprehensive subscriber-only Ancestry database, which was far more successful, turning up a marriage for Lily V. Sewell and Albert H. Young in the Woolwich R.D. (Kent) from the September Quarter of 1952. Lily was apparently married six or seven years earlier than her older sister, when she was thirty-two years old.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

The photograph of the happy couple signing the register was of fairly decent quality, so I tried some digital manipulation of a detailed scan (click image above for a more detailed version), in an attempt to decipher the handwriting in the register. Unfortunately, while I think I can make out the name, Lily Victoria Sewell, that's about the extent of it. I sadly haven't been able to determine the name of the parish church, but it is likely to be in one of the parishes of Charlton, Kidbrooke, Plumstead or Woolwich.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

So, you might well ask, we've had the two weddings, but where is the funeral? When I was trying to identify as many people as possible who appeared in both wedding parties - can you see Dordy and her husband to be, Peter, in Lily's wedding photo? - there was one man who, although he appears to have taken the place often reserved for the father of the bride, looks too young for that role. Perhaps he's an uncle, or other member of the family? There is an older woman, also present on both occasions, who looks old enough to be Dordy and Lily's mother.

National Probate Calendar from
As shown by the above entry in the National Probate Calendar, Walter Edward Sewell of 298 Boulton Lane, Alvaston, Derbyshire (a pig iron carrier by trade) died on 12 July 1948, and was sadly not able to attend either of these two daughters' weddings.

For more weddings, and possibly a funeral or two, try Sepia Saturday's other offerings this week - I can guarantee you'll not be disappointed.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Sepia Saturday 139: Uncle Farquhar and his faithful hound

Sepia Saturday 139

I have a little catching up to do with reading the previous two editions of Sepia Saturday, so my effort for this week's hasn't been given the attention to detail that I would have preferred. Nevertheless, I hope readers will appreciate the contribution, which I think bears at least a passing similarity to Alan Burnett's image prompt, in the form of a Great War era poster exhorting people to recycle.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Portrait of man and dog by unidentified photographer
Plain paper print (65.5 x 107mm)
Collection of Brett Payne

Judging by the size of this plain paper print (2½” x 4¼”), probably a contact print, it was taken with Kodak 116 film or an equivalent in another brand. The casual pose of the subjects in the informal garden setting suggests this was a portrait by an amateur photographer, using one of the many cheap cameras that became available in the first couple of decades of the 20th Century, such as the 1A Folding Pocket Kodak.

A smartly dressed man, complete with a Homburg hat (popularised by Edward VII) and pipe in hand, stands on the luxurious lawn, facing the camera and with his body angled to the right. His is quietly attended by a largish dog which may be a border collie, but I'll leave the identification of breed to those more qualified. In the background are flower beds with a glass-topped cold frame, and some plants growing up a wire trellis, against a wooden paling fence. The latter probably separates the subject's garden from that of the neighbour, whose glass-panelled greenhouse with an open skylight forms a backdrop to the portrait. A three to four metre high tree - perhaps some kind of fruit tree - with a supporting stake, is sited to the left of the cold frame, while some much larger trees are just visible in the background. Since the branches of one of the larger trees are bare, and yet there are still leaves on the young, presumably deciduous tree, I would tentatively deduce that the photograph was taken some time in the autumn.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
"Uncle Farquhar Nov 1914"
Reverse of plain paper print
Collection of Brett Payne

The reverse of the print reveals that it was once pasted into one of the black-paged albums that became very popular in the first few decades of the 20th Century. A good portion of the album page from which it was torn has remained firmly affixed to the back of the print, and it is on this remnant that a later hand has inscribed "Uncle Farquhar Nov 1914" in pencil, a convenient confirmation of my autumnal guess.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
George & Mary Bloye's Photo Album
1860s/1870s style carte de visite album with brass clasps, publisher unknown Collection of Brett Payne

I must at this stage hasten to point out that I was not the vandal, and should also reveal that I found the snapshot amongst a collection of twenty-seven cartes de visite, generally from a much earlier period, inserted within a standard leatherette-covered mid-Victorian carte de visite album that I purchased some years ago - pictured above.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Portraits of Emma Jane Farquhar and Joseph Kent Farquhar
from George & Mary Bloye's Photo Album
Collection of Brett Payne

The album contains a number of annotations in the same pencilled hand that is seen above, both on the backs of card mounts and occasionally on the album pages themselves. There is also a small, slightly damaged label stuck at the top right hand corner of the flyleaf, inscribed "George Bloye Birmingham 1858," although this replaces an earlier, but now erased, inscription which reads, in past, "... Bloye ...ptember 1922," all in the same hand. Also written in pencil on the flyleaf in the by now familiar handwriting, then messily crossed out, is the following: "It was Grandpa's in 1858."

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Inscription on flyleaf of George & Mary Bloye's Photo Album
Collection of Brett Payne

I won't go into too much detail about either the annotations or the individuals mentioned, but wanted to point out that clues like these are vital in determining the integrity and provenance of a photograph album, whether it is from a family collection or purchased, as this one was, on eBay. One must always treat annotations with some suspicion since, as appears to be the case with this album, they are often written a good time after the album was purchased and compiled. However, having done some genealogical research into the names mentioned and marrying up these individuals with the subjects of the photographs, I am satisfied that the collection is largely intact, and not merely compiled by some latter day collector or eBay hopeful.

Notwithstanding the overall apparent authenticity of the collection, it is clear that the album could not have belonged to George Bloye in 1858 - apart from his being only 13 years old at the time, carte de visite portraits - and by extension the albums in which they were accommodated - did not become available to the general populace until 1860-1861. The album was probably produced and sold in the late 1860s or 1870s, when George Bloye would have been in his 20s or early 30s. Indeed it it is quite possible that it was a wedding gift to George and his wife in 1869.

Genealogical investigations have revealed that the subject of this portrait is Joseph Kent Farquhar (1849-1925), brother-in-law to the probable original album owners George Bloye (1845-1922) and his wife Mary née Moore (1844-1922). Joseph's wife Emma Jane née Moore (1849-1933) is the subject of the somewhat earlier portrait on the page opposite to that of Joseph.

So ... the question now arises: What is this portrait of Joseph Farquhar, probably taken in November 1914, and originally pasted into a contemporary album during or soon after the Great War, doing in a mid-Victorian family album? The truth is that very few albums remain in the exact state that they were originally compiled when they are handed down through the generations. George and Emma Bloye both died in 1922, and the album - perhaps together with other photos and/or albums - is likely to have been inherited by one of their two children George Herbert Bloye (1870-1931), a Wesleyan minister, and Ethel Mary Harmer (1873-1952), wife of a Wesleyan schoolmaster.

Ethel died in 1952 without any surviving issue, while George Herbert and his wife had two daughters, Joyce Ethel (1902-) and Winifred Mary (1906-). Being the only grandchildren of George Bloye senior, Joyce and Winfred would have been next in line to receive the albums, and one of the two was almost certainly the author of the pencilled captions. Given that most of the subjects of the photos in the album would still have been alive when the girls were in their youth, they would have been familiar with most of the faces, and probably also inserted some of the newer loose portraits into any empty spaces.

View Larger Map Home of Joseph K. & Emma J. Farquhar in 1911
22 Beresford Road, Rusholme, Manchester

What of Joseph Farquhar himself? The 1911 Census shows him and his wife living with three unmarried daughters in a Victorian terraced house in Rusholme, a southern suburb of Manchester, and it seems likely that this was where the snapshot was taken of him in the garden some three years or so later.

View Larger Map
Home & Garden of Joseph K. & Emma J. Farquhar in 1911
22 Beresford Road, Rusholme, Manchester

A bird's eye view of the present day address reveals what appears to be a paved or concreted back garden, but the cold frame of yesteryear was probably placed against the south-facing northern wall of the property, so as to make the most of the sun.

Image © Copyright Robbie and courtesy of
Dunrossness Methodist Chapel
© Copyright Robbie and courtesy of

Joseph Farquhar was born in the village of Dunrossness in the Shetland Islands where his father was a Wesleyan minister, but moved with his family to England when he was a young lad. He married Emma Jane Moore, daughter of a carpenter, at Birmingham in 1876, and spent all of his working life employed by a hardware manufacturer, initially as a clerk, then later as a manager and agent.

This post turned out a bit longer than I expected. If you've persevered for this long, I hope you've found the journey of interest, and still have some time left to read the other Sepia Saturday contributions.
Join my blog network
on Facebook