Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Caroline Richardson née Young (1852-1928) of Derby

Brenda Croome recently sent me a series of images of her great-grandmother Caroline Richardson née Young (1852-1928) of Derby showing a nice sequence of cartes de visite and other format portraits from her late teens to her mid-forties.

Click on image for reverse of card mount - Images © & courtesy of Brenda Croome
Caroline Young with her half-siblings Rosamund and Richard Smith
Taken by J. Roberts of 26 Osmaston Street, Derby, c.1871
Images © & courtesy of Brenda Croome

The first of these portraits was taken by John Roberts at his Osmaston Street studio, and includes Caroline's half-brother Richard and half-sister Rosamund Smith. The elaborately painted backdrop depicts a country scene. Although Caroline was born in Derby in 1852, her mother Sarah Ann Young married William Smith in 1854 and moved to Aston-on-Trent, where her half-siblings Richard and Rosamund were born in 1855 and 1866. The youngest child Rosamund looks to be about five years old and I suspect, therefore, that they visited Roberts' studio around 1871. The census of April that year shows Richard, aged 16, and Rosamond [sic], aged 5, living with their parents at Derby Road, Aston-on-Trent, while Caroline Young was living at Walton Hall, Walton-on-Trent, where she was employed as a nursery maid by Richard Ratcliff (1830-1898), of the Ratcliff brewing family (Bass, Ratcliff & Gretton). In a coincidental connection with my own family, Richard Ratcliff's younger brother Robert Ratcliff (1837-1912) had married my ggg-grandfather's half-cousin Emily Payne (1837-1916) in 1866 and later settled at Newton Park in nearby Newton Solney.

Click on image for reverse of card mount - Images © & courtesy of Brenda Croome
Caroline Young, aged about 22
Taken by W.W. Winter of Midland Road, Derby, c.1874
Images © & courtesy of Brenda Croome

The next two cartes de visite were taken at the studio of W.W. Winter in Midland Road, Derby. The card mounts of both are of a style (Type VI) which I have estimated previously as having been used c. 1874 to 1877. Although clearly not taken on the same occasion, as Caroline is dressed in different clothes, the two were probably taken at around the same time. The first shows her in a dress with a large bustle, and her hair braided and piled up on the top of her head. Her clothing and hair styles are typical of the early to mid-1870s.

Click on image for reverse of card mount - Images © & courtesy of Brenda Croome
Caroline Young & Thomas Richardson
Taken by W.W. Winter of Midland Road, Derby in March 1874
Images © & courtesy of Brenda Croome

In the second Caroline is dressed in "walking out" clothes, including a smart jacket and feathered hat, and poses with her left elbow leaning on a "rustic" wooden studio fence. She is with a young man who Brenda identifies as her husband-to-be, Thomas Richardson (1851-1898). Both are carrying umbrellas or parasols. The card mount is dated on the reverse, "March 1874," and was therefore taken some nineteen months or so before Caroline and Thomas were married at All Saints, Aston-on-Trent, Derbyshire on 14 October 1875.

Image © & courtesy of Brenda Croome
Caroline Richardson, c. 1882-1884
Taken by A. & G. Taylor of 4 St. Nicholas Buildings, Newcastle-on-Tyne
Image © & courtesy of Brenda Croome

After their marriage, Caroline and her husband lived first in Yorkshire, and then by late 1880 had settled in the lodge at Simonside Hall, Harton near South Shields, Durham, where Thomas was employed as a gardener, presumably by the owner and resident of the hall George May, a mining engineer who was chief agent of the Harton Coal Co. Ltd., and manager of the St Hilda Colliery. Richard and Caroline had three children: Charles Robert (born 1878), May Susan (born 1880) and Janet Amy Ann (born 1882/83). Brenda has two portraits, shown above and below, which appear to have been taken on the same occasion in the early 1880s at a branch studio of the firm A. & G. Taylor, located at 4 St. Nicholas Buildings, Newcastle on Tyne. Although the portrait has been folded and torn, the bulk of the photographic image is fortunately still intact. Her hairstyle, the lace collar and the highly embroidered and embellished bodice of Caroline's dress are suggestive to me of the mid-1880s.

Image © & courtesy of Brenda Croome
Thomas Richardson, c. 1882-1884
Taken by A. & G. Taylor of 4 St. Nicholas Buildings, Newcastle-on-Tyne
Image © & courtesy of Brenda Croome

The studio was located opposite the Cathedral Church of St Nicholas and adjoining the post office in the centre of Newcastle, and although not exactly handy to Harton, was probably a convenient place for them to visit on special occasions. According to Osman (1996), although the Newcastle branch operated from 1878 until at least 1900, this particular design of card mount - referred to as the "Crown & Plume of Feathers-type" and shown below - was mostly used by branches between 1882 and 1886.

Image © & courtesy of Brenda Croome
Reverse of A. & G. Taylor card mount, printed by Marion Imp. Paris,
of a style typically used by branches throughout the United Kingdom
and in the United States, between 1882 and 1886

Image © & courtesy of Brenda CroomeImage © & courtesy of Brenda Croome

Brenda's cousin also has two very nice miniature portraits, hand coloured, framed and glazed, which were obviously reproduced using the negatives from the A. & G. Taylor portraits.

Thomas Richardson died in 1898. Three years later, at the time of the 1901 Census, Caroline was living at Station Bank, South Shields, and described herself as a "caretaker." Her two daughters were still living at home, while son Charles Robert, recently married, was living with his parents-in-law nearby.

Click on image for larger version - Image © & courtesy of Brenda Croome
Caroline Richardson, c. 1904-1910
Taken by R.H. Carling of South Shields, Co. Durham
Image © & courtesy of Brenda Croome

The last portrait in the series is a large format mounted print of Caroline Richardson, probably taken between 1904 and 1910, when she was in her mid-fifties, although she doesn't look it. She is warmly dressed in a long dress, with a fur around her neck, fur muff and a wide feathered hat. She has with her a dog on a leash which, although fairly well behaved, has not stayed still for quite long enough to avoid being slightly blurred in the photo.

Robert Hamilton Carling (1865-1941) was a portrait photographer and miniature painter, originally from Wales, who operated a studio, sometimes known as the Grand Studio, at 38 King Street, South Shields from c.1894 to around 1930.

Many thanks to Brenda for the images and information featured in this article.


Osman, Colin (1996) The Studios of A. & G. Taylor, The Largest Photographers in the World, Supplement No. 111 to The PhotoHistorian, March 1996, ISSN 0957-0209.
Anon (1914) Kelly's Directory of Durham, University of Leicester's Historical Directories
Indexed 1841-1901 Census Images from Ancestry
General Register Office (GRO) UK Birth, Marriage and Death Indexes from FreeBMD
Google Maps UK
Harton Cemetery Monumental Inscriptions, by John Bage

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