Tuesday, 8 April 2008

The story behind the picture

Many photographs tell a story, but with some it's only if you know the story that you can find the little things in the portrait that illustrate that story. A nice example is this family portrait recently sent to me by Jane Porter.

Images © & courtesy of Jane Porter

The reverse of the photograph has the names of the people pictured, who are, according to Jane, (Back row L-R) Hugh Baker (my g-grandfather), Ethel Clara Constance Hasledine, Frederick John Hasledine (my gg-grandfather) (Front row L-R) Emma Allsopp (Jane Hasledine's sister in law), Dorothy Ada Baker (née Hasledine, my g-grandmother) with her baby (Madge Baker, my gran), Jane Hasledine (née Allsopp, my gg-grandmother). Jane also wrote:
It was 1920 in Derby. That was the year when my gran - Madge - was born. The story is that a photographer knocked the door and offered to take a photo of them. They rushed to get themshelves tidied up and cut some roses from the back garden to hold. Ethel (the middle of back row) had just been doing the washing (she'd had her sleeves rolled up).
A nice story, and I thought I'd investigate the door-knocking photographer.

Image © & courtesy of Jane Porter

I hadn't come across any photographer named HITCHEN, KITCHEN, KETCHEN or anything similar from Derbyshire. The surname looks most likely to me to be "Hitchen," and initials are probably "L.P." After some research, I've decided that he was Leo Purcell Hitchen, born in 1877 at Burnley in Lancashire, son of a cotton weaver John Hitchen (c.1836-1911) and Elizabeth Clegg. The 1901 Census shows him married (to Isabella Haworth at Burnley in 1900), living in Burnley, and working as a cotton weaver. He died at Burnley in 1922, at the relatively young age of 45. I don't have any independent records which show Leo Hitchen to have ever worked as a photographer, but it's quite conceivable that he travelled south as far as Derby.

Post Script (21 Jan 2013)

A transcript from the Lancashire OPC project shows Leo Purcell Hitchin of 118 Briercliffe Road was buried in Grave: A9697 at Burnley Cemetery, Burnley, Lancs. on 16 Mar 1922 (Source Register: Book 12 #90449). Buried in the same grave were:
- on 18 Dec 1933, Daniel Haworth, aged 76yrs, 4 Randall Street, probably his father-in-law
- on 19 Mar 1963, Richard Haworth Hitchen, aged 61yrs, died at the General Hospital, a son (baptised at St Peter, Burnley on 23 Feb 1902).


  1. What a lovely photo and what an interesting story behind it.
    Hallo from Annette in Sweden

  2. Leo Purcell Hitchen of Burnley was on the (English) Football League list of Supplementary (the ten just outside the top 30) Referees for 1913-14 and 1914-15. He was also on the wartime list for its four seasons (1915-16 to 1918-19) but did not re-appear when normal service resumed. It now appears he was working as a photographer. He might have been doing so previously as refereeing would usually only be on Saturdays in the days before floodlights.

    John Treleven (old) Jersey


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