While the main reason for this is that I've been busy with other stuff - as explained previously - it is also complicated by my plans for a slight restructuring of the web pages. Apart from a new, cleaner look to the site, my new home page will eventually become the main entry point not only to the Derbyshire photographers, but also to other photohistorically focused studies that I have done, of studios, albums, subjects, etc.
My primary task will be dealing with the large backlog of accumulated images, both from my own acquired photographs and those sent in by readers from around the world, that need to be compiled into profiles. I'm especially grateful to those who have taken the time and made the effort to contact me and send scans of photographs in their collections. Without these - and at last count there were over two hundred contributors - I could not have envisaged compiling such a resource.
To those who've sent me images in the last couple of years and haven't seen them online, I'm grateful for your patience and hope to remedy the situation with some significant additions over the next few weeks and months. In the mean time, I hope to feature some of them periodically on Photo-Sleuth.
One of the significant contributers is Robert Silverwood, a keen family historian and fellow old photo collector, who has sent me scans of portraits taken in a number of Derbyshire towns. This carte de visite from the well known Derby studio of W.W. Winter, located on Midland Road a stone's throw from the railway station, caught my eye when I was looking through the folder the other day because the subject is identified in pencil on the reverse.
The name carefully written in cursive script and underlined is "Ada Dickin." Many of the DICKIN and DICKEN families in South Derbyshire emanate originally from the parish of Newton Solney in the late 17th Century, and a member of my PAYNE family married a DICKEN there in 1791, so I wondered immediately if there was a connection.
My first task was to date the photograph and mount. Although there is no negative number written on the reverse, as is commonly the case with Winter's portraits, the card mount is clearly identifiable - by comparison with the selection shown here - as "Type XVI," used c. 1885-1886. From what I can see of the young woman's clothing, the portrait also looks to have been taken around that period. Estimating an age from this vignetted head-and-shoulders portrait is difficult, but I would say that she's somewhere between 17 and 23 years old, giving an approximate birth date range of 1862 to 1869. Her hairstyle is rather unusual - it appears to have been coiled around on the top of her head, but perhaps I'm mistaken.
Searching the 1871, 1881 and 1891 Census records for an appropriately aged Ada DICKIN(S) or DICKEN(S) living in Derbyshire, and checking these against entries on FreeBMD and the IGI, yields two potential candidates:
1881 Census: 80 Burton Rd, Derby St Werburgh Ref. DBY RG11-3400-8-15-84
Ada Elizabeth Dickin b. 10 Mar 1867 Derby, daughter of master baker Henry Dickin (1838-1887) and Fanny Cholerton (1840-1909). She married Robert Cholerton (1866-1907) at Derby in 1890, had at least four children with him, and died in 1944, still living in Derby.
1881 Census: 143 Upper Parker St, Derby St Alkmund DBY RG11-3406-7-7-39
Ada Lydia Dickin b. 1870 Derby, daughter of pattern maker John Dicken (1833-1915) and Ann Dunning (c1833-1893). She married John Mavis (1870-1942) at Derby in 1894, with whom she had five children, and she died in 1928, also at Derby.
Dicken/Dickin families of Newton Solney, Doveridge & Derby, 1700-1900 (click image for detail)
After some further research, it appears that the two Adas were first cousins, their fathers being brothers. Henry and John were sons of William Dicken (1808-1874) and Mary Gee (1809-1883), William being a sawyer who was born in Doveridge, but had apparently moved to Derby with his parents in the 1820s or 1830s. As shown in the outline above, these Dickens were originally from Newton Solney, and William's father Thomas Dicken (1780-1851) was a first cousin to the Elizabeth Dicken (1765-1842) who married my relative Thomas Payne (b. 1768) at Church Gresley in 1791.
The use of the spellings Dicken and Dickin varied considerably over the period of my research, with several other often inventive variations too. Although it may appear that I've been a little haphazard in my use if the variants, I've tried, where possible, to stick with what each generation/branch of the family were using at the time.
So either of the two Adas is distantly related to me, but which one is the subject of the portrait? I am fairly confident of the date of the sitting being around 1885-1886. At this time Ada Elizabeth would have been 17 to 19 years old, while Ada Lydia was 14 to 16 years old. I think it has a better chance of being Ada Elizabeth Dickin, but what do you think? Please leave your comments below.