Wednesday, 20 May 2009

A Scottish family in Staffordshire

Image © and courtesy of James Morley & What's That Picture
Robert William Melbourne, September 1896
Cabinet card portrait by George Renwick of Burton-on-Trent, Negative #16601
Image © and courtesy of James Morley & What's That Picture

James Morley recently sent me scans of a group of cabinet cards by Burton-on-Trent photographers George Renwick and Richard Keene Junior which he purchased at an auction. Quite apart from my interest in Burton studios, this group includes some fine identified and dated portraits, which enabled me to do some background research on the subjects. The first four in the series were clearly taken at the same sitting - the negative numbers appear to have been 16599-16602, although one of them is not legible.

Image © and courtesy of James Morley & What's That Picture
Negative #16602

The birth of Robert William Melbourne was registered in the September quarter of 1892 at the Burton register office. He was born in Burton-on-Trent, the only child of Charles James Melbourne (1858-1935) and Elizabeth Janet Smith (1860-1925), who were married in 1891. At the time of these portraits he would have been about four years old, plus or minus a couple of months. It's even possible that the visit to the photographer was a celebration of his fourth birthday.

Image © and courtesy of James Morley & What's That Picture
Negative #16599

Robert's father was a commercial clerk who, by the time of the 1901 Census, had become manager of a brewery. I have been unable to discover which of the nineteen Burton breweries mentioned by Kelly's 1900 trade directory for which he worked. The largest, controlled by the firm of Bass, Ratcliff & Gretton, covered an area of 160 acres, but there were many smaller ones, and the area had become famous for the quality of its ales.

Image © and courtesy of James Morley & What's That Picture
Negative # not legible

Robert William Melbourne continued to live in Burton until at least 1940 - I found an entry for him in a directory of that date at 128 Station street - but I'm not sure whether he married and/or had children.

Image © and courtesy of James Morley & What's That Picture
Possibly Charles James Melbourne, c.1895-1900
Undated cabinet card portrait by Richard Keene Junior of Burton-on-Trent
Image © and courtesy of James Morley & What's That Picture

Charles James Melbourne was born in 1858, also at Burton, one of three children of brewer's clerk Charles James Melbourne (1826-1878) and his wife Helen Beck. Charles James senior was, in turn, born in Belper, youngest son of a nail manufacturer William Melbourne (c1783-1846) and his first wife Phebe Williams (c1786-1828). He was therefore a brother to Ann Melbourne, the wife of photographer George White (c1810-1880) of Chesterfield and Blackpool.

Image © and courtesy of James Morley & What's That Picture
Probably Robert W. Melbourne and his mother Elizabeth Janet née Smith, c.1893-4
Undated cabinet card portrait by George Renwick of Burton-on-Trent, Negative #14693
Image © and courtesy of James Morley & What's That Picture

Robert William's mother Elizabeth Janet Smith was born at Tutbury in 1860, one of eight children of an engine smith James Smith and his wife Janet Mackie, both of Scottish origin. Although they lived first in Tutbury and later in Hatton, William Smith worked as a brewer's engineer, presumably in Burton. He had emigrated from Renfrewshire, Scotland to Staffordshire around 1852.

Although the Melbourne family had lived in Belper for several generations, the other three of Robert's grandparents were born in Scotland. This strong Scottish heritage obviously influenced his parents' choice of the "Bonnie Prince Charlie" style of clothing worn for the two portraits by George Renwick.

Image © and courtesy of James Morley & What's That PictureImage © and courtesy of James Morley & What's That Picture
Card mount designs from George Renwick's Burton-on-Trent artisitic & photographic studio, c.1876-c.1916

George Renwick (1849-1919) operated a studio in the Staffordshire town of Burton-on-Trent from around 1876 until at least 1916. Initially, he appears to have operated form his parents' home at 105 Station Street, but by 1880 he had moved into premises at 20 Station Street and remained there until 1905. Between 1905 and 1912 he moved to Bank Square.

Image © and courtesy of James Morley & What's That Picture

One of the cabinet cards has a rather crumpled tissue protector depicting a rural scene with pond, tree and windmill. These tissue protectors, although very commonly used at the time, have often not survived. Many, like this one, were generic although some had the photographer's name printed on them.

Image © and courtesy of James Morley & What's That Picture

Another of the photographs in James' collection was enclosed in a translucent envelope with the studio's name and address printed in brown ink, as shown above. In my experience, even less of thes envelopes appear to have survived.

Many thanks to James Morley for the opportunity to feature this collection of portraits.

Monday, 18 May 2009

The Hull Trawler Challenge

I've been visiting James Morley's web site What's That Picture? for some time now, partly because he has an interesting collection of old photographs of his own, but also for the series of User Galleries containing some interesting images submitted by visitors to the site. However, the images in his set of hand coloured lantern slides which he has made the subject of his Hull Trawler Challenge are nothing short of spectacular.

With James' permission, I would like to reproduce a few of these photographs here, as I think they are so unusually evocative of a way of life which is long gone, and probably quite foreign to most of us. Some readers whose ancestors were fishermen may find them particularly relevant and interesting. I hope, too, that this preview will give you a taste for more, and that you will want to view the entire, remarkable Hull Trawler collection hosted at Flickr. I think it's well worth directing more readers to this interesting research project, in the hope that more clues to the background story behind the photographs and the photographer will be uncovered in due course.

Image © and courtesy of James Morley & What's That Picture?
Hull Trawler H413 SS New Zealand
Hand coloured glass lantern slide
Image © and courtesy of James Morley & What's That Picture?

The series of seventy eight lantern slides consist predominantly of photographs taken aboard two fishing trawlers from a fleet that was based in Hull (aka Kingston-upon-Hull, Yorkshire), a port on the north bank of the River Humber estuary on the north-east coast of England. The SS New Zealand (shown above) was built in Hull in 1898 and owned and operated by the Hull Steam Fishing & Ice Co Ltd. until being requisitioned as a troopship in 1916. It is during this early period of the ship's life, i.e. in the decade or so prior to the ship's war service, that the photographs appear to have been taken.

Image © and courtesy of James Morley & What's That Picture?
Fishermen at work aboard SS New Zealand
Hand coloured glass lantern slide
Image © and courtesy of James Morley & What's That Picture?

Some of the images show men at work bringing aboard or sorting fish.

Image © and courtesy of James Morley & What's That Picture?
Fishermen eating, possibly aboard SS New Zealand
Hand coloured glass lantern slide
Image © and courtesy of James Morley & What's That Picture?

Many more depict them eating, ...

Image © and courtesy of James Morley & What's That Picture?
Fishermen relaxing aboard Hull trawler H1 SS Canada
Hand coloured glass lantern slide
Image © and courtesy of James Morley & What's That Picture?

... relaxing ...

Image © and courtesy of James Morley & What's That Picture?
Fishermen posing for the camera aboard SS New Zealand
Hand coloured glass lantern slide
Image © and courtesy of James Morley & What's That Picture?

... or in groups deliberately posed for the camera, albeit on a violently pitching deck, complete with pets. Both cats and dogs appear in several of the images.

Image © and courtesy of James Morley & What's That Picture?
Heavy seas encountered aboard SS New Zealand
Black and white glass lantern slide
Image © and courtesy of James Morley & What's That Picture?

While many of the photographs were obviously taken under relatively calm conditions, there are a significant number that clearly show heavy seas and a violently pitching deck, conditions that would have been commonly encountered by fishing fleets in the North Sea. The image above depicts a situation that I wouldn't want to have been anywhere near carrying a digital camera, let along the cumbersome photographic equipment that would have been required a hundred years ago. Nineteenth century newspapers e.g. the The Hull Packet and East Riding Times, are full of reports of sailors and fisherman lost at sea by being washed overboard, and it must have been a very dangerous means to earn a living.

Although my own ancestors from Norfolk, also on the east coast facing the North Sea, were largely farming folk, while searching parish registers I came across several entries for burials of unidentified bodies found washed up on the beach, presumably men who had been lost at sea and presumed drowned. It was obviously not an rare occurrence.

The images provide a wonderful insight into the lives of these hardy men, a lifestyle that has all but vanished, and I urge you to visit the Hull Trawler Challenge pages and browse the full set of full size images here. Many thanks to James Morley for permission to reproduce the images.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Electric Trams in Derby, 1904-1934

A Festival of Postcards

Evelyn Theriault, author of A Canadian Family: Acadian & French Canadian Genealogy, has started up a new blog carnival entitled A Festival of Postcards and very kindly emailed me to ask if I would like to take part by posting a postcard relating to the first carnival's theme, Wheels.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

The photograph that I have chosen is one from my collection that is a print rather than a postcard, although it does appear to have been published as a postcard, as I will demonstrate. The photograph shows a procession of six decorated electric trams - known in North America as streetcars or trolleys - as well as a horse and cart being driven away from the photographer down the opposite side of the street and several individuals and groups of people, including the tram drivers - referred to as motormen - and conductors.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

The reverse of the photographic print shows signs of having been removed from an album, but beneath the remains of album page still stuck to the print is a rectangular blue stamp filled in with a pencilled explanation of where and when the photograph was taken. The items that have been completed state:
System: Derby
Date: Opening Day
Taken at: 27.7.1904 London Rd
The empty boxes appear to relate to various aspects of the tram configuration, and for this reason I have wondered if the print originally formed part of a tram enthusiast's collection.

Image © and courtesy of Tramway Information
"The Cars" on London Rd. Opening Day July 27th 1904 Derby Electric Trams
Postcard published by Lever Bros., Derby
Image © and courtesy of Tramway Information

Further research revealed that the Derby Tramways Company opened the first electrified tram routes for service on 27 July 1904. The Tramway Information web site has reproduced the image above from a postcard in their collection, previously featured as a "Postcard of the Month." It is clearly a print of the same photo as my print, with a slightly enlarged view, revealing a couple of young lads loitering in front of the first tram, and some text which appears to have been written in ink onto the negative. The web site provides the following explanation of the scene:
[The] postcard shows a line of trams standing in London Road on 27th July 1904 awaiting the opening ceremony, headed by car 3 which is decorated for the occasion. This is card 113 in a series by Lever Bros., Fine Art Dealers who were a local firm in Derby.

[The operation] started life as a horse tramway opened by the Derby Tramways Co. in 1880. In 1899 the company was taken over by Derby Corporation who set about improving and then electrifying the tramway with the first electric routes opening on 27th July 1904 from The Spot to the Harrington Arms in Alvaston, a branch to the Midland Railway Station and from The Spot to Abingdon Street where the depot was located. There were various extensions until 1908 which then brought the system up to fourteen miles in length ultimately operating some 78 trams. The system was built to the unusual 4 foot gauge.

Car 3 in our view was one of the original batch of 25 open top cars built in 1904 by the Brush Electrical Engineering Co. Ltd., of Loughborough. They seated 22 inside and 26 on top. They were fitted with 5ft 6in wheelbase Brush AA type four-wheel trucks with two BTH GE52 25hp motors and General Electric K10 controllers. The livery was dark olive green and cream.

In the 1930s, in common with many other British tramways, it was decided to replace the trams by trolleybuses, with the last tram running on 2nd July 1934, the trolleybuses themselves being withdrawn on 9th September 1967.
According to Kelly (1912):
The tramways were taken over by the Corporation in 1899, and the system was then electrified and new offices erected in Victoria street in 1904.

813. "The Cars" on London Rd. Opening Day July 27th 1904 Derby Electric Trams.
Postcard published by J.S. Simnett, 2 Guild Street, Burton-on-Trent

Exactly the same photograph was also reproduced, with somewhat better results, and sold by J.S. Simnett of Burton-on-Trent.

Apart from Simnett's studio address and a Professional Photographers' Association (PPS) logo printed on the reverse, the text handwritten in blue ink appears to refer to details of the tram line:
4'0"9. cl. 2/7/34
1-25 Brush/04
In other words, the service provided by the 25 cars manufactured by the Brush firm to a 4'0"9 guage was inaugurated in 1904, and they were finally withdrawn from service on 2 July 1934. It appears, therefore, to be another item from a tram enthusiast's collection.

Image © and courtesy of Picture the Past
"The Decorated Car" Opening Day 27th July 1904 Derby Electric Trams
Postcard published by Lever Bros., Derby
Image © and courtesy of Picture the Past

The caption to an image of another postcard published by Lever Brothers which is reproduced on Picture the Past reveals that the photographs were actually taken by the firm of Richard Keene Ltd. Although the reverse of the postcard is not reproduced, a handwritten date at the bottom of the front of the card ("15/11/04") is possibly the date that it was posted. It depicts the same Derby Corporation electric tram number 3, festooned with decorations and a sign denoting it as a "special car," with another tram (perhaps number 2) in partial view behind it, and the motorman and conductor in clear view. Picture the Past's caption states:
Car 3 at the front of a 6 car cavalcade on the first day of Derby Corporation Electric Tramways operation, wednesday, 27 July 1904. The cars were decorated and led a procession along the newly opened route. Richard Keene Limited were commissioned as the official photographers for the event (though this card is published by Lever Brothers). The cavalcade route was London Road, Osmaston Road, Alvaston and Abingdon Street. Tram no 3 was one of the initial batch of 25 cars supplied by Brush in 1904. It remained in service until 1933, the final parts of the tramway system being abandoned in the following year. The conductor (left) is Harrison Fletcher and the original postcard is addressed to him at 30 Pelham Street, Derby with the message "Dont you think this is a VERY PRETTY postcard."
It is clear, therefore, that the firm of R. Keene Ltd. (Richard Keene himself had died a decade earlier) licensed the image to other postcard publishers in order to take advantage of the publicity surrounding the event.

Image © and courtesy of Picture the Past

A further image from the same group reproduced by Picture the Past shows a large unidentified group of company staff, a couple of mounted policemen and possibly some onlookers, standing in front of Tram No. 3 outside the Derby Tramways Company Depot in Osmaston Road on the first day of operation.

This event was the obviously the occasion for much celebration. Electrification, one of the most important industrial developments of the late 19th Century, resulted in great technological advancements throughout the world, and it did not take long for new uses to be found for this commodity. In Derby, after first being proposed in 1889, the Electric Light Station was built in 1893 on Sowter Road - next to the Old Silk Mill and very close to the town centre - and opened on 10 October 1893 [Source: The Derby Mercury, 16 May 1894]. Initially used only for the lighting of streets, shops and private houses, it was subsequently expanded several times to cater for the high demand created by developments such as the electric tram system.

Image © and courtesy of The National Tramway Museum
In Affectionate Remembrance of the Derby Horse Cars
Postcard published by Charles H. Foster of 21 St James' Street, Derby
Image © and courtesy of The National Tramway Museum

Along with a celebration of the exciting new technology, there was some nostalgia for what was being replaced.

Image © and courtesy of The National Tramway Museum
In Memory of the Derby Horse Cars
Postcard published by Mrs Ann Roberts of The Spot, 4 Osmaston Road, Derby
Image © and courtesy of The National Tramway Museum

The horse trams had been servicing Derby's streets for almost 25 years, and publishers such as Foster of St James' Street and Roberts of The Spot produced commemmorative mementoes of the event.

Image © and courtesy of The National Tramway Museum
717. The Old & the New Cars, Victoria St, Derby
Postcard published by unknown photographer/publisher
Image © and courtesy of The National Tramway Museum

This postcard issued as number 717 in a series by an unidentified photographer/publisher has been reproduced by The National Tramway Museum in the Photograph Library on their Crich Tramway Village web site. It shows both horse-drawn and electric tram cars - "the old and the new" - in use on Victoria Street, Derby. The older cars continued to be used on certain routes for a few years until being completely replaced with the new ones. This view is of particular interest because on the left is the Derby Tramways Office at 4 Victoria Street, a building which was erected in 1904, and which has been featured in a previous Photo-Sleuth article because of its siting on the location of Derby's earliest photographic studio.

Image © and courtesy of Ann Hunt
Victoria Street, Derby
Postcard published by J. Valentine
Image © and courtesy of Ann Hunt

This 1907 colourised "Souvenir Post Card," showing a very similar view to the black-and-white version, is one of many that was published over the next decade or two depicting views of Derby streets and including the ubiquitous trams. The distinctive Derby Tramways Office red-brick building is again at left, the grand, classic facade of the Athenaeum next door, with several forms of transport active in Victoria Street, including two of the electric trams, horse-drawn carts and carriages, and a motor car.

Image © and courtesy of Ann Hunt
Reverse of postcard of Victoria Street, Derby (Valentine's Series)
Written and posted to Miss Smith, The Coombs, Glossop,
6.15 p.m. 17 April 1907 at Derby
Image © and courtesy of Ann Hunt

Last Car - Derby Trams
Postcard by J. Harwood, Printer & Publisher, Derby

The demise of the electric trams in 1934 was, once again, a golden opportunity for Derby postcard publishers, as shown by this undated example from J. Harwood of Derby, who also republished an old image, as shown below.

Inauguration of the Electric Trams at Derby, July 27th, 1904
Postcard by J. Harwood, Printer, Derby

Image © P L Chadwick and courtesy of
Derby Corporation tram No.1, Crich Tramway Village
Image © Copyright P. L. Chadwick, courtesy and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Finally, tram car No. 1 is the only one of The Derby Corporation's electric trams to have survived, and is a permanent exhibit at the Crich Tramway Village. Although it has been fully restored, it is a stationary exhibit because of its unusual guage, which does not permit it to run with the many other surviving trams from all over the United Kingdom on the Tramway village's standard guage rails.

Thank you, Evelyn, for the opportunity to join in the fun and I wish you all the best for a long and fruitful run of what promises to be a fascinating carnival.

Post Script

John Prentice, who is webmaster of the Tramway Information web site, Manager of the Festival of Model Tramways, and Chairman of the Tramway & Light Railway Society, kindly sent me the following interesting information on the origins of my photograph of trams featured as the first image in this article:
I can tell you a little about the origin of your own photograph with the " rectangular blue stamp filled in with a pencilled explanation" on the reverse. These were photograph copies of the postcard done by the late Bob Parr and were sold to collectors in the 60s and 70s to help raise funds for tram preservation. He did hundreds of views. Some of the photos were from his own negatives of trams or those of other tram fans. Some were copies of postcards like this one. Others were copies of photos that had been in "Tramway & Railway World," a magazine published in the late 19th and early 20th century. They used to cost 6d (that is six old pence – 2.5p in new money). I have quite a few in my collection, bought at the time when I was just a kid. All had this rubber stamp so you could fill in details. Those from his own negs also were stamped "copyright R.B.Parr." Although postcard size they are not real postcards, only photos for enthusiasts.

Anon (n.d.) Derby Power Station - Then and Now, on Bygone Derbyshire
Thomas, Hugh (1879) An Unfinished History of the World, Pan Books Ltd., ISBN 0330264583
Anon (1893) Local News: The Electric Lighting of the Borough, in The Derby Mercury, 26 July 1893
Anon (1894) Electric Exhibition in Derby, in The Derby Mercury, 16 May 1894; Issue 9358
The Derby Mercury, in 19th Century British Library Newspapers, Digital images online from GALE Cengage Learning
Kelly & Co. (1912) Directory of Derbyshire, from the University of Leicester's Historical Directories

Monday, 11 May 2009

Smile for the Camera (13th Edition) - All Creatures Great and Small

Smile for the Camera (13th Edition) - All Creatures Great and Small

The title of this edition of the Smile for the Camera Carnival, hosted as usual by footnoteMaven at Shades of the Departed, presented something of a dilemma for me as I'm not much of a family pet kind of person. However, the other day I came across this carte de visite portrait in my collection which fits the bill perfectly.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
"All Creatures Great and Small"

I think I'll leave the portrait to speak for itself. Neither of the subjects are identified, so perhaps readers could suggest appropriate names for both of them. The studio furniture and background is not at all elaborate, and does not appear to have been very expertly arranged. Indeed the plinth on which the dog is perched could have been a relict of the 1860s!

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

To give this article at least some semblance of respectability, I'd better discuss the photographer. Frederick Hughes operated a studio in the town of Leicester from the late 1880s until at least 1906. He moved to Leicester from Stonehouse in Gloucestershire around 1888. The design on the reverse of the card mount is printed in gold ink on a glossy bright red surface, and is of a style which started to become popular during the late 1880s. The address shown is Campbell Buildings, 10 Belgrave Road. Heathcote & Heathcote (1982) list the following addresses of studio premises operated by Hughes:

1888-1898: Campbell Buildings, 12½ London Rd, Leicester
1900: 1 Argyle Terrace, Belgrave Rd, Leicester
1902: 29 Belgrave Rd, Leicester
1902-1906: 109 (or 107) Belgrave Gate, Leicester

He was followed in 1909 at this last address by Alex McInnes. I estimate that the portrait was taken between 1889 and 1894.


Heathcote, Bernard V. & Heathcote, Pauline F. (1982) Leicester Photographic Studios in Victorian & Edwardian Times, published by the Historical Group of the Royal Photographic Society.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

A mystery marriage in Barton-under-Needwood - Epilogue

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

In Part 1 to Part 7 of this story, I described Nigel Aspdin's and my successful investigation into the identities of five people in a wedding portrait by William Farmer of Barton-under-Needwood, Staffordshire (shown above), and the location of this and two other carte de visite photographs. As part of that discussion I gave something of the background to the Smith and Hoult families. To round off the story, I would like to report on my research into what happened to the members of the two families after the wedding.

Image © 2007 Brett Payne
Rectory Farm & St Mary the Virgin Parish Church, Weston-on-Trent
from the Trent & Mersey Canal, 26 September 2007
Image © 2007 Brett Payne

Jacob Botham Smith and his wife Mary Ann settled initially at Rectory Farm, near the village of Weston-on-Trent in southern Derbyshire, where their only child, a daughter Mary Hardy Smith was born in about April 1870 and christened at the parish church on 7 May.

Image © The National Archives and courtesy of
1871 Census: Rectory Farm, Weston-on-Trent, Derbyshire
National Archives Ref. RG10/3552/141/5/27

The census of 1871, taken on the night of Sunday 2nd April, found Jacob, Mary Ann and daughter Mary aged eleven months at home at the Rectory Farm. Jacob is described as a "farmer of 300 acres employing 5 men and 5 boys" so it must have been a fairly substantial operation. Also living in the household are two teenage girls, working as domestic servants, and three of the male farm servants.

Image © and courtesy of Ordnance Survey Get-a-map
Rectory & Glebe Farms, Weston-on-Trent
Source data - 1:25,000 Scale Colour Raster
Image © and courtesy of Ordnance Survey Get-a-map

F. Wright's Directory of South Derbyshire for 1874 includes the following listing under the village of Weston-upon-Trent:
  • Smith Jacob Botham, farmer, Glebe Farm
Presumably the family moved the few hundred metres from Rectory Farm to Glebe Farm (shown on the current OS map above) between 1871 and 1874. Both properties were probably been leased from Sir Robert E. Wilmot-Horton, Baronet, who is listed as the principal landowner of the parish in Kelly's Post Office Directory of Derbyshire for 1876, as well as lord of the manor. The same directory lists the chief crops in the largely loam soils of Weston-on-Trent as "half grass, half arable." In January 1878, Jacob B. Smith was sworn in as a member of the Grand Jury at the Derbyshire Epiphany Sessions in the Derby Crown Court [Source: The Derby Mercury, 9 January 1878].

Image © The National Archives and courtesy of
1881 Census: Glebe Farm, Weston-on-Trent, Derbyshire
National Archives Ref. RG11/3386/122/6/31

On Sunday 3rd April 1881 Jacob and Mary Ann were living at Glebe Farm; Jacob is described as farming 286 acres and employing four men and four boys. The servants living on the farm included a dairy maid. Rather strangely their daughter Mary, then aged ten, was not shown at home and I haven't been able to locate her in the census anywhere else.

Mary Ann Smith's death was registered at the Shardlow Register Office in the first quarter of 1885. I presume that she was buried in the churchyard at St Mary, Weston-on-Trent, although I have not been able to check the parish registers. She was only fifty years old.

Image © The National Archives and courtesy of
1891 Census: Glebe Farm, Weston-on-Trent, Derbyshire
National Archives Ref. RG12/2201/27/13/64

On Sunday 5th April 1891, the widowed fifty year-old Jacob was living with his daughter Mary at Glebe Farm. No details of the farm size or number of employees were provided by the census enumerator, but there were seven servants living at the farm, including a housekeeper.

Image © British Library and courtesy of Gale CENGAGE Learning
The Derby Mercury, Wednesday, January 11, 1893; Issue 9288.

Less than two years later, Jacob Smith decided to retire from farming. The Derby firm of auctioneers, Cumberland & Sons, inserted the following advertisement in the newspaper:
(3 minutes' walk from Weston-on-Trent Station, Midland Railway)
Messrs. CUMBERLAND and SONS are instructed by Mr. J.B. Smith (who is declining Farming) to SELL by AUCTION, on MONDAY, February 6th, 1893, the whole of his LIVE and DEAD FARM STOCK, viz.-
107 Beasts,
60 In-lamb ewes or theaves,
8 horses, pigs, poultry, Farm Implements, Tackle, &c.
Lunch by Ticket 10. Sale at 11.30.
Particulars in future papers and catalogues.

The Derby Mercury, Wednesday, February 8, 1893; Issue 9292.

A report on the sale published in The Derby Mercury gives some idea of the farming operation, as well as the respect he had earned amongst the local farming community in the 25 years or so that he had been living there.
Although it cannot be said that the agricultural prospect has materially improved of late, except as regards the weather, great interest was shown in this sale, held at Weston-on-Trent on Monday, and an unusually large attendance of country gentlemen, agriculturists, stock dealers, and butchers assembled at the place of sale. Doubtless the hopes engendered by Spring, and the prevailing opinion that prices hace now touched the bottom, the nearness to a good railway centre, the acknowledged usefulness of the cattle and horses to be sold, combined with the popularity of the owner, Mr. J.B. Smith were all instrumental in calling together one of the largest companies seen at a local stock sale for some years. A capital lunch was provided, to which over 500 persons did justice, and here, as in the sale yard, most satisfactory arrangements had been made under the direction of the auctioneers, Messrs. Cumberland and Sons. The sale commenced with the farm implements, waggons, tackle, dairy utensils, &c., which, being in trim order and modern, were quickly disposed of, and the live stock was then dealt with. Before proceeding, Mr. Cumberland said it was almost superfluous to impress upon his audience the sterling character of the lots he had to dispose of that day, both in cattle and horses. Mr. Smith's reputation and judgement were sufficient guarantee for any praise that he might bestow. The Shropshire inlamb ewes and theaves first came under the hammer in lots of five. They were a very fine flock, and made from 58s. to 63s. apiece. There were over 100 beast, which came up in capital form and condition; incalves realised from 15l. to 22l, barren cows 10l. to 14l., heifer yearlings 13l. to 15l. the pair. Calves 2l. to 2l. 10s. Fat bullocks 15l. to 21l. 5s. Fat heifers 17l. to 25l. 5s. Fat cows 19l. to 23l. Two bulls made 22l. 15s. and 21l. 5s. respectively. A good deal of interest was shown when the horses were trotted out. They were all of a very useful stamp, and eagerly bid for. Traveller, bay gelding, made 24½ guineas; Captain, black gelding, 28gs.; Jack, black half-legged gelding, 29gs.; Poppett, brown mare, 26gs.; Weston Blossom, bay shire mare, served by Harold, 60gs.; Berry, black shire mare, 62gs.; Florence, black shire mare, 29gs.; brown nag mare, 45gs. These concluded a sale that was in every way considered highly satisfactory, and as the company dispersed the general hope and expression was that Mr. J.B. Smith would experience many years of health and happiness in his well-earned retirement.
Image © The National Archives and courtesy of
1901 Census: High Street, Castle Donington, Leicestershire
National Archives Ref. RG13/3204/61/5/34

In early 1899 Mary Hardy Smith, too, died at the age of twenty-eight. Her father retired to Castle Donington, Leicestershire, where he was shown living on the High Street - with three servants - on 31 March 1901. Subsequent directory entries demonstrate that he remained living at "The Hawthorns" in the High Street until his death in late 1915, aged eighty six.

Since their only daughter died at a young age without having married or had children, Jacob Botham Smith and Mary Ann née Hoult would have no surviving descendants. However, both had several brothers and sisters and numerous nephews and nieces.

  • Joseph Botham Smith (1829-1915) married Jemima Bancroft (c.1840-1913). They farmed at Draycott Fields near Wilne and had six children.
  • Elizabeth Botham Smith (1831-1912) married Charles John Storer (1828-1891), a Derby grocer and chandler.
  • James Hardy Smith (1836-1928) married Jemima Marples (c.1836-1901) and farmed at Alvaston. They had no surviving children.
  • John Hardy Smith (1838-1920) married Fanny Margaret Smith (c.1849-), with whom he had five children. Although originally a farmer, after his marriage they moved to Leicester, where he was a leather merchant.
  • Margaret Abigail Hoult (1841-1901) married James Archer a farmer of Hoon Hay and Brailsford, Derbyshire. They did not have any surviving children.
  • William James Hoult (1843-1900) married Hannah Newcomb (c.1847-1896) and farmed initially at Cranage, Cheshire, where their only son was born in 1870. In the 1870s they moved back to Barton-under-Needwood, and farmed at Tucklesholme Farm. James Newcombe Hoult (1870-1940) became a brewer's clerk, married Mary Ann Bruxby (c.1872-1916) and lived nearby at Efflinch; they had at least three daughters.
  • Louisa Georgiana Hoult (1847-) married Edward Etches (c1816-), a cheese factor from Derby, and had three children.
  • John Abell Hoult (1849-) married Fanny Archer (c1850-1929) and, after farming at Upper Blakenhall with his father James until the latter's death in 1882, moved to Newbold Manor Farm, north-east of the village of Barton-under-Needwood, in Dunstall parish. They had at least seven children, including a son Albert James Hoult (1883-) who served on the parish council in the late 1890s and early 1900s, and purchased Fulbrook House on Captain's Lane, Barton-under-Needwood in 1933. His son William John Hoult (1916-2000) also served on the parish council from 1952-1976.
  • Joseph Emmanual Hoult (1851-) married Carolina Victoria Archer and settled in Cheadle, Staffordshire, where he was a chemist. They had one daughter.
  • Constance Emily Hoult (1853-) married Charles Henry Hess, manager of a chemical factory; they settled in Hampstead, London.
... and that's it. I think I've done this one to death now, and will move on! I hope you've not found the journey too tedious.

Post Script

Many thanks to Michael Spencer who kindly checked the Weston-on-Trent parish registers in the County Record Office at Matlock for me. I now know that Jacob Botham Smith and Mary Ann Hoult were married by the rector Thomas Wadham at Weston-on-Trent on 22 February 1870 by licence, and that the witnesses present at the ceremony were Joseph Botham Smith, James Hardy Smith and Jemima Smith (two brothers and a sister-in-law of the groom).

When Mary Hardy Smith was baptised at Weston-on-Trent on 7 May 1870, the following was written into the margin of the baptism register:
Chas John STORER,
Elizabeth STORER,
The Mother Apr 5 1871
Mike states that similar notations elsewhere in the register specify the named individuals as sponsors of the child. I'm not sure what the sponsors would be in this context - perhaps something like godparents. I suspect that this means that on 5 April 1871, her mother asked the parish clerk to make the additional notation in the register that Charles John Storer and Elizabeth Storer had assented to become her daughter's sponsors. CJS and ES were, of course, the child's paternal aunt and uncle.

Mary Ann Smith née Hoult was buried at Weston-on-Trent on 12 January 1885, her place of residence at the time of her death, aged 51, being shown as Rectory Farm.


J.G. Harrod & Co.'s Directory of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland & Staffordshire, 1870, from the University of Leicester's Historical Directories
F. Wright's Directory of South Derbyshire, 1874, from the University of Leicester's Historical Directories
E.R. Kelly's Post Office Directory of Derbyshire, 1876, from Ancestry
Kelly & Co.'s Directory of Derbyshire, 1881, from Ancestry
Kelly & Co.'s Directory of Derbys, Leicestershire & Rutland, and Nottinghamshire, 1891, from the University of Leicester's Historical Directories
Kelly & Co.'s Directory of Leicestershire & Rutland, 1899, from the University of Leicester's Historical Directories
Kelly's Directory of Leicestershire & Rutland, 1908, from the University of Leicester's Historical Directories
Kelly's Directory of the Counties of Derby, Nottingham, Leicester & Rutland, 1912, from Ancestry
Kelly's Directory of Leicestershire & Rutland, 1916, from the University of Leicester's Historical Directories
The Derby Mercury, in 19th Century British Library Newspapers, Digital images online from GALE Cengage Learning
UK Census 1841-1901 indexed images from Ancestry
Barton under Needwood Parish Council History on the Barton-under-Needwood Community web site

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

A mystery marriage in Barton-under-Needwood (Part 7)

In Part 5 I described how Nigel Aspdin identified a possible location for the wedding portrait at Upper Blakenhall Farm, west of the village of Barton-under-Needwood. I would now like to describe how Nigel and I have investigated this aspect in considerably greater detail.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

The wedding portrait has clearly been taken outdoors. The lighting and the shadows on the subjects' faces suggest (a) that it was taken against a south-facing wall, and (b) that the sun was behind and a little to the left of the photographer. In other words, the photographer was facing in a northerly direction, the sun was in the south-west, and it was therefore almost certainly taken in the early afternoon.

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

After examining the south-facing wall of the main house at Upper Blakenhall, Nigel made the following comments:
Looking at the brickwork as it now is on the middle structure it is clear that there has been re-modeling in the south wall, possibly more than once. The small window is a cellar window now, and I believe it was in the Farmer photo, as it appears not to be glazed but barred with perhaps perforated zinc netting to allow air and not insects. I would suggest that in the Farmer photo the door was the entrance to the cellar, the steps proceeding down and to the left as one went in, lit by the small window. Later re-modeling has made the cellar access from inside the building, and the small window has been moved right in this exercise. The original door opening seems to be evidenced by the horizontal fillet of roof tile edges set between 2 course of brick.

The wall dividing the farm yard from the farm garden/vegetable plot with stone copings would not have been there at the Farmer photo time.

If the wall in the Farmer photo is lime washed, this may be consistent with what may have been a dairy area, perhaps for cheese preparation, possibly covered by a lean-to roof or walls not visible. This would have been the obvious place to site such an area between the milking/cattle sheds and the farmhouse. There is no sign of lime wash now, but such would have washed off easily given the 130 years time span.

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

Our initial attempts to match the doorway and cellar window in the wedding portrait to the existing south wall of the farm house met with some difficulties.
In the Farmer photo there are about 28 courses of brick to the top of the door frame. In the current photo there are about 26/7 to the fillet. The difference is easily accounted for by rise in ground level by subsequent surfacing, indeed the current surface of concrete paving blocks would itself have added 1.5 courses.
However, an initial overlay of the portrait onto the wall (shown above) demonstrated a problem with this interpretation, i.e. the people would have had to be midgets! In the overlay, if the height of the wall is a little over 2 metres above current ground level, this would suggest that the tallest of the standing men was only 1.45 metres (or only 4 feet 9 inches), which seems unlikely. The problem lies in the replacement bricks which are appreciably smaller than the ones used in building the original farm house.

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

I started again by comparing brick sizes, number of brick courses, etc. In the old photograph, the top of the doorway appears to be 28 brick courses above ground level. Using only "original" courses from above the outline of replaced bricks in the new photograph (shown above), the highest point in the bricked in outline - adjacent to the wall, is only 22 brick courses above ground level. This suggests that the current ground level may be at least 6 brick courses higher than the ground level in 1870. According to my calculations, using a brick height of 2½ inches and a nominal 3/8 or ½ inch mortar joint, that would make just under 18 inches (or 44 cm) raising of height of the ground level between 1870 and 2009.

With regard to the probable heights of the three men, I have done another exercise, based on my estimations of a brick course height of 73.2 mm. This would make the height of the top of the door 2.05 metres above ground level, and the average height of the three men approximately 1.75 metres, or about 5 feet 9 inches tall. I have taken into account that they are standing away from the wall, rather than against it, but not nearly as far away as the feet of the groom. They would therefore be of fairly average height.

Nigel used an alternative method of calculation, coming up with a very similar result:
A standard length of cast iron downpipe is 6 ft, i.e. from the top of the collar to the end of the uncollared end. The only length in the photo I can be reasonably certain is an uncut length is the top section of the right hand drain (the drain that runs near to the left of the old door opening). It would be normal to fit the un-cut lengths first, cutting only the bottom length.

That 6 ft length of pipe spans 23.6 courses of brickwork, or 1.83m.
=> 28 courses of brickwork = 28/23.5 x 1.83 = 2.18 m (i.e. the height of the door opening)

Average height of the men = about 22 courses of brickwork.
=> Average height of men = 22/23.5 x 1.83m (6 ft) = 1.71 m = 5' 7"
With regard to the current ground level, Nigel estimates:
The old door opening appears to be currently 25 brick courses high [in the new photo], but of smaller bricks or coursework than the original wall. Panning left past the re-modeling to original brick work, I estimate that the current "door" is 22 brickwork courses high.
=> current "door" height is 22/23.5 x 1.83m, = 1.71m
=> ground level has risen by (2.18 - 1.71) = 0.47 m or 18.5 inches, and that seems to accord with your calculations.

I must say that an 18 inch increase seems significant, but if the building has no damp course, which I suspect is the case, then there is no reason not to allow the level to rise. The farm yard is concreted, and that probably extended to the area of the photograph at the same time, that would have added perhaps 9 inches (say 4 inches rubble, 5 inches concrete)

Then there is the current concrete block work paving. My research shows that this would have required:
Granular sub base (100mm), Gritty sand 25-40 (say 40mm), Block 50-100 depending on expected traffic (80mm)
Total thickness = 220 mm = 8.5 inches.

So in total the concreting of the yard, and later block work, may easily account for 16.5 inches of our 18 inch rise.

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin
Wedding portrait image projected directly onto south wall of farmhouse with appropriate scale and perspective adjustments

With this knowledge and information I was then able to relate the scale of the wedding portrait to that of the recent photograph of the south wall. Using a vertical line through the left hand door jamb - since vertical dimension is not affected by perspective in either of the two photographs - I adjusted the scale of the wedding portrait to that of the recent photo, and superimposed the former on the latter using Adobe Photoshop. In other words, I have matched the top of the old doorway to just below the upper limit of replacement brickwork, and the base of the 22nd brick below the top of the old doorway (in the old photo) to the current ground level. This, of course, results in everything below waist level in the old photograph being below current day ground level, which is a little difficult to envisage.

For those who might interested I carried out this digital manipulation using Layers in Photoshop, as this feature greatly facilitates the manipulation of the various parts of the image:
Base Layer: Original colour image of south wall of farm house
Layer 1: Outline of replaced brickwork
Layer 2: Lines of perspective (later deleted)
Layer 3: Image of wedding portrait (50% transparent)
I manipulated the image in Layer 3 to cater for the perspective using Photoshop's "Distort" tool, fitting it to the perspective lines that I had drawn into Layer 2, which were later removed before producing the final image. I'm sure the same could be done with any of the other popular digital image editing programmes available.

The position of the old photograph laterally along the line of the wall is, of course, somewhat arbitrary. However, I believe it very unlikely that the doorway could extend between the two parts of the building. The lines of bricks do not match up at all, and there is probably an internal structural wall between the two parts, in line with the vertical down drain pipe, and immediately on the other side of the low external wall extending to the right.

Image © Brett Payne

It is also important to examine the proposed location of the wedding portrait in a three-diemsional sense, rather than merely in the plane of the wall. For this purpose, I have produced a simple plan showing an outline of the farm buildings, overlain on a greatly enlarged satellite image for reference to the original location shots shown in Part 5. The plan immediately demonstrates a difficulty with the proposed location - there doesn't seem to be enough room for the photographer, as the distance between the farmhouse and the outbuilding is only about 3 metres. I don't have enough technical knowledge to be sure, but I estimate that the photographer would have set up his camera and tripod between 4 and 6 metres away from his subjects. If the identification of the location is correct, there appears to be no place for him to stand in the current arrangement of buildings.

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

Nigel spotted that the brickwork on the west wall of the outbuilding (image above) showed evidence that several substantial modifications had been made to the structure over the years.

Image © and courtesy of Nigel Aspdin

In particular, the portion of the wall covered with fine lattice work shown in the enlarged image above clearly has a join between walls of two quite different styles and, presumably, dates. This join continues up and to the left diagonally into the shingles on the roof. Nigel and I believe it very likely that the the part of the outbuilding to the left of the join, i.e. the northern part of the building, is of later construction, and at the time the wedding portrait and associated photographs were taken, the outbuilding probably ended at the join. This would increase the "1870" distance between the farmhouse and the outbuilding by 6-8 metres, giving plenty of room for the photographer to set up his camera and tripod, and as a consequence removing a significant obstacle to this being the location for our our wedding portrait.

Upper Blakenhall Farm therefore matches so many aspects of the three portraits in this group, and the extended Hoult and Smith families fit very nicely what we have been able to deduce about the subjects of the photograph, that I feel pretty confident that we have solved the mystery. The only lead that we haven't yet followed up is to investigate whether the buildings at Barton Park Farm (discussed and illustrated in Part 4) include any cellar windows and other features which could match. Nigel may be able to check out that property at some stage in the future, but the families of the Archer-Ball marriage from Barton Park did not correlate well with the subjects of the old photographs, so I regard it as a very long shot.

For the moment, I am very happy to remain with the identification of Mary Ann Hoult and Jacob Botham Smith as the bride and groom, and the location of all three CDVs as Upper Blakenhall Farm near Barton-under-Needwood. In the last of this series - yes, I promise it will be the last - I'll outline what happened to the Smith and Hoult families after this marriage, through into the 20th and 21st Centuries.
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