The two hand coloured photographic enlargements shown above, with a cabinet card and carte de visite for size comparative purposes only, are from my own collection. They are on roughly trimmed, very thick card measuring approximately 140 x 205 mm and, from the marks at top and bottom, it is clear that have previously been mounted in some sort of frame.
Some pencilled notes, only partly decipherable, regarding the colouring of the portrait can be found on the reverse of the first enlargement, as well as what appears to be a negative number (37433). Also written on the reverse, in a different hand, and in what appears to be ball point pen (and therefore certainly not contemporary with the portrait itself) is an identification of the subject: "Robert Hardwick, Died at sea off Farne Islands, Jan 13th 1895, Aged 54."
The second portrait has a similar ball point pen inscription on the reverse, "Emma Hardwick, wife of Robert Hardwick," and a negative number (37434?)
From the style of the woman's clothing, I estimate that the portraits were taken in the early 1890s, perhaps between 1890 and 1893. Although it's more difficult to estimate ages in portraits that have been "doctored" in this manner, I would say that the couple are aged about 50, approximating to the age indicated on the reverse of the first photo.
After some research, I was able to locate Robert and Emma Hardwick on the 1871 Census, and then tracked the family through the census and other records:
1871 Census: Auckland Place, Lower East St, Middlesbrough DUR PRO Ref. RG10/4890/6/6/27:
Robert HARDWICK / Head / M / M / 31 / Sailor / Bristol
Emma HARDWICK / Wife / M / F / 29 / - / YKS Leeds
Martha Ann HARDWICK / Dau / - / F / 12 / Scholar / YKS Middlesbrough
Thomas H. HARDWICK / Son / - / M / 11 / Scholar / YKS Middlesbrough
Rose H. HARDWICK / Dau / - / F 8 / Scholar / YKS Middlesbrough
Catherine HARDWICK / Dau / - / F / 6 / Scholar / YKS Middlesbrough
Emma E. HARDWICK / Dau / - / F / 1 / - / YKS Middlesbrough
Mary WILD / Visit / - / Wid / F / 57 / - / YKS Willoby
Robert Hardwick was born in Clifton, near Bristol in 1839, son of a mariner Robert Hardwick senior and his wife Catharine. Soon after his birth, the family moved to Middlesbrough in Yorkshire - Robert's father had been born in Robin Hood's Bay, a village near Whitby, where Captain James Cook learnt his trade as a seaman. In 1867 Robert Hardwick junior married a widow, Emma Ratcliff née Wild, and the 1871 Census shows Emma's three children by her first husband (Martha Ann, Thomas Herbert and Rose Hannah) living with them. Emma had another five children with Robert: Catherine (Kate) was born in 1864, Emma Elizabeth in 1869, Robert in 1873, Arthur in 1877, and finally John Frederick in 1879.
The presence of small corsages in the buttonholes of Robert and Emma Hardwick suggests that they had these portraits taken on a special occasion. Perhaps it was the marriage of their daughter Emma Elizabeth to Ernest Edward Robinson, which took place in Middlesbrough in late 1891. The 1891 Census shows Robert away, presumably at sea.
1891 Census: 12 Baxter St, Middlesbrough YKS PRO Ref. RG12/4010/15/23/123:
Emma HARDWICK / Wife / M / F / 49 / - / YKS Leeds
Emma E. HARDWICK / Dau / S / F / 24 / Dressmaker / YKS Middlesbrough
Robert C. HARDWICK / Son / S / M / 17 / Clerk / YKS Middlesbrough
Arthur HARDWICK / Son / - / M / 14 / Office Boy / YKS Middlesbrough
J. Fred HARDWICK / Son / - / M / 12 / Scholar / YKS Middlesbrough
Rose H. RATCLIFF / StepDau / - / S / F / 29 / Domestic Servant / YKS Middlesbrough
Mary WILD / MoLaw / Wid / F / 78 / Living on her own means / YKS Selby
Bulmer's Directory of Middlesbrough for 1890 (from Genuki) and Kelly's Directory of the North & East Ridings of Yorkshire for 1893 (from Historical Directories) show the following professional photographers operating in Middlesbrough:
- Charles John, 203 Newport rd.
- Gibbs Robert William & Co. 18 Wilson st. (formerly manager of Cleveland Photographic Co., Linthorpe road)
- Phillip & Wright, 75 Albert rd.
All three of these premises were with a short distance of the centre of Middlesbrough, and any of them could therefore have been the studio visited by the Hardwicks.