Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Military uniforms in Victorian and Edwardian Derbyshire

Over the years, in the course of accumulating images for my study of Derbyshire photographers, I've come across a number of portraits of men wearing military uniforms. Such uniforms present a valuable aid in the dating of photographs, itself an important tool in the identification of the subject of a portrait, but my lack of knowledge of this topic resulted in my leaving many of the pre-Great War era images in the "too hard" basket.

My early efforts at identifying uniforms of regular Derbyshire regiments and militia units made it obvious that I first needed a better understanding of how they were made up, and therefore of their history. I was given a great deal of help in my efforts by several kind members of the Victorian Wars Forum, a group devoted the study of British Military Campaigns from 1837 to 1902.

I must point out that I don't claim to be any kind of expert, and this article should in no way be regarded as authoritative. I've merely compiled the information from a number of different sources and, while I hope I've not made too many errors, I'm happy to receive suggestions for improvement, amendment, corrections, etc.

© Brett Payne
Derbyshire's Infantry Regiments, Rifle Volunteers, Militia & Territorial Forces, 1741-1909

The chart above (GIF/PDF) is a provisional and simplified view that I've compiled to show the evolution of the various infantry regiments, rifle volunteers, militia and territorial units in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire through Victorian and Edward eras, till just before the Great War. I should perhaps also explain that I've included Nottinghamshire as the military history of two counties has been, and still is, inextricably linked, as will become clear.

Officer, 45th Regiment of Foot, 1811

The first regular infantry regiments associated with the counties of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire in the early 19th century were the 95th (Derbyshire) Regiment and the 45th (1st Nottinghamshire) Regiment, formed in 1823 and 1741 respectively. Although they are hardly likely to be found in photographic portraits, by way of an introduction I've included an artistic representation of the typical uniform from the Napoleonic era above.

By the early to mid-1850s, when photographic portraiture became available to the general public, as opposed to to the wealthier classes, through the introduction of the collodion positive, there were two regular regiments of foot and three militia regiments in existence, as follows:
- 45th (1st Nottinghamshire) Regiment
- 95th (Derbyshire) Regiment
- 1st Derby Militia
- 2nd Derby Militia (Chatsworth Rifles)
- 59th Nottinghamshire Regt of Militia (Royal Sherwood Foresters)

Unfortunately I don't have any photographs of uniformed soldiers from these units, but some may be seen in the collection of the Sherwood Foresters Museum.

Unidentified Senior NCO or Instructor
6th (High Peak/Buxton) Corps, Derbyshire Rifle Volunteers
Carte de visite by William Housley of Bakewell, c.1869-1870

Starting in 1859 a series of Rifle Volunteers Corps were formed throughout the two counties, as part of a much wider Volunteer Force, "a citizen army of part-time rifle, artillery and engineer corps, created as a popular movement." The senior non-commissioned officer in the above portrait is wearing the full dress uniform of the Derbyshire Rifle Volunteers, including 1868 pattern scarlet tunics with white facings which identified them as volunteers. The Bakewell man (above) also wears a cap more correctly described as a shako, with a regimental pattern white worsted ball (pom pom) and badge consisting of a French buglehorn surrounding the number 6.

Image © & courtesy of Michael Jones
Unidentified Rifleman
5th (Derby Artisan) Corps, Derbyshire Rifle Volunteers
Carte de visite by John Roberts of Derby, c.1869-1870
Image © & courtesy of Michael Jones

The Derby rifleman has a similar tunic, accompanied by a black patent leather cross belt with a pouch at the back and silver fittings comprising regimental badge on the front, whistle and chain and a bugle horn on the pouch, typically worn by Rifle Volunteers. The silver fittings have, however, been erroneously hand coloured gold. The cuff loop is of Trefoil type and indicates an 'other rank', as the cuff adornment of officers was always more elaborate to make the superior rank abundantly clear. His trousers are a very dark grey (virtually black) 'oxford mixture' with a 1/4-inch red seam down the outside of the leg. Instead of a shako, he is wearing his 'undress' pillbox cap - the Rifle Corps were the generally the only infantry unit to wear the pillbox cap - with a simple number badge (no horn). His rifle is either the 3-band 1853 Enfield or possibly the Snider Enfield 'conversion' which was phased in from 1866.

Image © & courtesy of Derby Local Studies Library
Lt. William Bemrose (1831-1908), Capt. John F. Thirlby (1839-1928) & Lt. Henry Monkhouse (1837-1905)
5th (Derby Artisan) Corps, Derbyshire Rifle Volunteers
Cabinet card by Richard Keene of Derby, August 1874
Image © & courtesy of Derby Local Studies Library

The next two portraits, a cabinet card and a carte de visite taken in the mid-1870s, show officers in full dress uniform. They are from the 1st Administrative Battalion of the Derbyshire Rifle Volunteers, which in 1880 became the 1st Derbyshire Rifle Volunteer Corps. Bemrose, Thirlby and Monkhouse are officers of Field Rank, as marked by the elaborate cuff lacing.

Image © & courtesy of Derby Local Studies Library
Lt. Edwin Pratt (1836-1913)
19th (Elvaston) Corps, Derbyshire Rifle Volunteers
Carte de visite by Clement Rogers of Derby, c.1874-1875
Image © & courtesy of Derby Local Studies Library

Edwin Pratt served with the 19th (Elvaston) Corps.

Image © & courtesy of Derby Local Studies Library
Major George H. Gascoyne (1842-1916)
5th (Derby Artisan) Corps, 1st Derbyshire Rifle Volunteers
Carte de visite by J.W. Price of Derby, November 1880
Image © & courtesy of Derby Local Studies Library

George Gascoyne was a major in, and later colonel and commanding officer of, the 1st Derbyshire Rifles. This portrait shows him as Commanding Officer of the 5th (Derby Artisan) Corps, shortly before its amalgamation into the 12 Companies of the 1st Volunteer Battalion, The Sherwood Foresters (Derbyshire Regiment)
. The 1855 (modified in 1860) forage cap which he wears was replaced from the mid 1870s on, but continued to be used in parallel until as late as 1880. It has a horizontal leather peak and the "5 inside French buglehorn" badge.

Image © & collection of Brett Payne
Unidentified Major
1st Derbyshire Rifle Volunteer Corps
Carte de visite by J.W. Price of Derby, c. late 1870s
Image © & collection of Brett Payne

Both Gascoyne and the unidentified major in the portrait above are wearing a dark blue "frogged" Military Patrol Jacket (not worn by other ranks) of 1868, a garment that was required by an officer in addition to his full dress tunic and often worn both in the field and in barracks.

Image © & courtesy of Cynthia Maddock
Soldier identified only as "Bonzo," probably G Company (Belper)
1st Vol. Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters (Derbys. Regt.)

Carte de visite by Jacob Schmidt of Belper, c.1884-1888
Image © & courtesy of Cynthia Maddock

This soldier is wearing the tunic of a man in a volunteer battalion of an infantry regiment, as evidenced by the Austrian knots on his sleeves, a snake buckle belt and a glengarry cap.

Unidentified soldier, probably A Company (Chesterfield)
2nd Vol. Battalion
 The Sherwood Foresters (Derbys. Regt.)

Cabinet card by H. Brawn of Chesterfield, c. 1899-1901

This soldier's white collar and cuffs (together known as "facings") indicate that he is from an English/Welsh county regiment, while the Austrian knots on his sleeves tell us that he is a "volunteer". He is wearing a 5-button frock rather than a 7-button full dress tunic, the former being of inferior material, cut more loosely and unlined. It was intended to be used in barracks as a working uniform, and due to cost-cutting measures it was eventually the only uniform issued to volunteers. He is dressed in Review Order (helmet and bayonet) and carrying the swagger cane or stick used when out of barracks in "walking out dress". The swagger cane or stick was carried by all other ranks at that time and was part of attempts to improve the soldiers view of himself and perception of him by wider society.

The blue cloth "Home Service Helmet" was introduced as a replacement for the shako in 1878 by most British line infantry, artillery and engineers, and worn until 1902, when it was replaced as part of the khaki service dress.

Image © & collection of Brett Payne
L/Cpl Thomas Charles Ison (1884-1938)
5th (Territorial Force) Battalion, The Sherwood Foresters
Real photo postcard by H.P. Hansen of Ashbourne, c. 1911-1913
Image © & collection of Brett Payne

Lance Corporal Ison is clutching a forage cap with peak, first issued in 1906, and has white facings and scarlet piped white shoulder straps on his 7-button full dress tunic, which with only minor alteration was worn until 1914 by the 5th Battalion Sherwood Foresters.

Both the organisational chart and the series of images are incomplete, but they will serve as an introduction to military uniforms used by Derbyshire units, and will hopefully prompt further contributions of images to fill in the gaps. I am most grateful to Victorian Wars Forum members Frogsmile, grumpy, Old Stubborn, Patrick, Isandlwana, Peter and crimea1854, who all contributed to an informative and in-depth discussion of the above images. If you are interested in further details of clothing and insignia, I suggest you browse that discussion and the many others on the forum.

Sepia Saturday 147
For other military-themed images this week visit Sepia Saturday, where I believe the regular contributers will do their best to oblige.


The Victorian Wars Forum

Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort's Own), Wikipedia & Wikimedia Commons

Beckett, I.F.W. (1982) Riflemen form: a study of the Rifle Volunteer Movement, 1859-1908, Ogilby Trusts, 368p.

Hay, G.J. (1987) The Constitutional Force, reprint of 1908 original by Ray Westlake Military Books.

Kelly (1881) Directory of Derbyshire.

Schick, I.T. (1978) Battledress: The Uniforms of the World's Great Armies 1700 to the present, illustrated by Wilhelm von Halen, London: Artus Books, 256p.

Wright, C.N. (1874) Directory of South Derbyshire, Derby: Bemrose & Sons.

Monday, 8 October 2012

George O. Stott of Nelson, Lancashire

Apart from this being a nicely posed portrait of an attractive young woman, with an interesting studio backdrop, I was intrigued by the surname of the photographer, and the possibility that he was related to my wife's mother's family. I wasn't able to prove a relationship, but thought I would share the portrait anyway.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Unidentified young woman, c.1911
Postcard portrait by G.O. Stott, Nelson

Although we can't actually see a loose bun arranged at the back of her head, just above the nape of her neck, this is probably a low bun or chignon hair style which was popular throughout the Great War. The large square collar and buttons are also typical of the early war years.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Reverse of postcard portrait by G.O. Stott
of Borough Studio, 4 Pendle St, Nelson, Lancashire

The reverse of the unmounted portrait shows a generic postcard with the photographer's name printed along the left hand margin. According to Jones (2004), George Ormerod Stott (1884-1958) operated a photographic studio at 4 Pendle Street, Nelson, Lancashire from 1911 to 1938, so this must have been one of his earlier portraits.


Jones, Gillian (2004) Lancashire Professional Photographers 1840-1940, Watford, England: PhotoResearch

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Sepia Saturday 146: Model ships as studio props

The nautical theme of the Sepia Saturday image prompt this week reminds me that I have long intended to do a series of articles featuring items commonly used as studio props and accessories. Maritime studio settings were common, and not restricted to coastally located towns. They were encouraged by the long-lived fashion for sailor suits lasting well into the 20th Century, and often featured appropriately painted backdrops, life-sized boats, coils of rope, lifebelts, mastheads, etc.

I have a few featuring models of sailing ships and toy boats in my collection which give a fair idea of the range used by Victorian and Edwardian studio photographers.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Two unidentified young men & model of sailing ship
Carte de visite by Abderame's Crescent Studio of Bristol, c.1875-80

This carte de visite is one that I have featured previously, and I suspect that the fine model of a two-masted brig was intended to provide a nautical flavour rather than as a toy for the amusement of children for the duration of the portrait sitting. The portrait came from an album which belonged to a family who emigrated from England to Australia and New Zealand, so perhaps these young men were readying themselves for a life abroad or on the ocean wave.

The New Bedford Whaling Museum has a fine example featuring a Captain Howland admiring a magnificant model of what is presumably his own sailing ship.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Unidentified child with model of yacht
Cabinet card by W.W. Winter of Derby, c.1890-91

An annotation pecilled on the reverse of Winter's card mount suggests that this boy in a smart sailor suit might be Charles Richard Mapp (1887-1955), whose father Richard William Mapp (originally from Derby) was the station master at Woodville Railway Station in 1891.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Unidentified child and model of yacht
Cabinet card by J.L. Hart of Ashbourne, c.1894-98

This pond yacht lies momentarily unattended on the seat of the wicker chair - perhaps its owner is concentrating on balance rather than the promise of a play at the boating pond after the studio visit?

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Unidentified young child with model of sailing ship
Cabinet card by C.S. Swift of Derby, c.1903-06

Swift's elaborate studio furniture didn't have much to do with sailing, but he was able to captivate this child shortly after the turn of the century with a model of perhaps a three-masted barque.

Sepia Saturday 146

Flickr user oldsailro has an entire collection devoted to model boats, a good proportion of which are late 19th and early 20th Century studio portraits, illustrating the huge popularity of pond yachting as a pastime for children at that time.

For more photographs of a nautical flavour head over to Sepia Saturday.
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