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Thursday, 10 August 2017

Portrait Poses and Props - Sepia Saturday

This  week's prompt photograph from Sepia Saturday shows a portrait of an earnest young man, finger on chin, sitting on a chair, but facing backwards.

I knew immediately  which image I would choose from my  family collection.  

My Great Uncle George (the youngest of my grandfather's seven brothers), is looking very studious, here, hand on chin, seated sideways  on a large solid oak chair - so a good match in many ways to the prompt.

George, born 1894,  son of James Danson and Maria Rawclliffe of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire,  worked on W. H. Smith bookstalls at local railway stations.  He was killed  whilst serving as a stretcher bearer on the Somme  in 1916, a week after his 22nd birthday.  I have written bout him a number of times on my blog - take a look at  A Stretch Bearer's Tale  


An ornate scrolled back to this chair for  a portrait of my husband's uncle  - 
Matthew Iley White, looking determined   in his uniform of the Durham Light Infantry.  
Photograph taken by T. W. H. Liddle, Photographer, South Shields.  

A heavily scrolled chair with an ornate back for seated Joseph Prince Oldham  (1855-1917) with his granddaughter Elsie Oldham  (1906-1989)  and grandson Joseph Butler who was born 1918.  

Elsie Oldham and my mother, Kathleen Danson, were second cousins, and I am grateful for Elsie's son, Stuart for the use of the photographs of his extended family. 

Joseph Price Oldham  became a carter and coal merchant in Blackpool, Lancashire, in a house with stables, opposite the North Station. His son John William Oldham carried on the business, until it fell to Elsie. 

In the 1920's, Elsie also  ran a hairdresser's from the family home,  giving her name a French twist as "Elise". 


  A charming photograph of Joseph Prince Oldham (the grandfather above) 
born 1855,  as a small boy.  


A large medieval style chair for Elsie Oldham here  - it makes another appearance below. 


Sitting on a regal looking chair, an older Elsie Oldham with her cousin 
Joseph Butler standing behind her - presumably in clean boots!   


 Is this the same chair?  A serious looking Sarah Alice Butler, nee Oldham  with her son  Joseph Butler, - the little boy above, born 1918 and named 
after his grandfather Joseph Prince Oldham.   

An ornate backed sofa is the setting for this portrait of Ellen Florence Coombs,.
nee Hooker, with baby Hilda Florence, born 1906.  
Take a closer look at the beautiful detail on Ellen's blouse.


Sitting on a throne-like seat, is   Annie Jolly, a friend of  my Great Aunt Jennie Danson.  The Jolly and Danson families were at one time neighbours in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire and there were distant family connections too  through marriage. 


This was also in  the large collection of photographs of my Great Aunt Jennie.  It seemed to be the fashion to stand young children on chairs to get their portraits taken.

Written on the back was "From Mary, Charlie & Nannie Hardisty, Villa Farm, Bispham, Blackpool.  The photograph was taken at W .J. Gregson & Co, W, P. Beck, proprietor, Photographers, 92 Talbot Road, Blackpool.  

I did some quick detective work and found the family in the 1911 census, with Mary,  26 years old, husband Charles Alfred 24 and Nannie Ada 1 year old.  She does not look too happy here  in her best knitted coat and bonnet, plus little boots.   c. 1912.  


I could not let this prompt pass by,  without showing this photograph which has appeared before on my blog and is crucial to my family history. 

"Who was that stern, rather Spanish looking woman sitting in the  imposing medieval style chair?"  This was the question  that started me on the family history trail when I found this photograph in a shoebox collection at my grandfather's house.   The answer -  my great grandmother Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe.   There was an apocryphal  story that her dark looks had come from sailors, who after the Armada were shipwrecked on the Fylde coast of Lancashire.

By her side, is her granddaughter Annie Maria (my mother's cousin)  who made her home with Maria after the early death of her own mother.  Annie was born 1905 and she looks to be around 11-12 years old in the picture, so I estimate it was was taken  c.1917.  Annie's father John Danson, died in 1917 in tragic circumstances at military camp,  a few months after the death of his brother George Danson in the first photogrpah. No wonder that their mother Maria looks  forbidding here.    

And Finally:
Not a studio portrait, but here I am on my own little chair - a bit big for me  as   my feet don't touch  the ground.   The chair was passed down, with fresh covers,   to my daughter and granddaughter - but I never thought at the time to take a photograph of them in it. 
A pity! 


epia Saturday gives bloggers an opportunity to share 
their family history and memories through photographs.

Click HERE  to see what other bloggers have spotted in this week's prompt. 


  1. What a wonderful collection of relatives sitting in all manner of chairs, and how lucky you are to have them! My favorite has to be your young Great Aunt Jennie in her little knitted cap and coat. Interesting we both have featured youngsters standing on chairs, and both of us ended our posts with non-formal portrait pictures. Snap! As usual. :)

  2. That first one really matches and I do think those two chairs are the same one.

  3. A lovely collection of photographs. There was definitely a fashion for small children standing on chairs. Perhaps it was to line them up with the camera and give them something to lean on to keep still.

  4. That first photo is a great match. While my photo also shows hand to cheek, my subject is sitting as she should, not in an unconventional way like your uncle. You have a wonderful collection of chairs, something I had not thought of. Clever you!

  5. What a great collection of family portraits...I'm in awe!

  6. yes,maybe the chair-standing was to keep child still..and those two chairs do seem to match.
    Always so sad to see photos of young soldiers who later fell in the trenches.What a waste.And ,because so many died,the unknown ways their absence changed and defined the relatives for generations afterwards...

  7. Lovely old photographs, especially those of Joseph and Elsie.

  8. Those "U" shaped chairs are amazing! They can't be particularly comfortable, but they sure look good in those old photos! Nice collection!

  9. I've recently found a great (can't remember how many times back) grandfather who was a carter. Has me baffled. What exactly was this profession? I think it's driving wagons. Is that it?

    1. My great great grandfather was a "carter" and it is a frequent term under occupations in U.K. Census Returns. You are right , it is someone who drives a horse and cart, delivering goods and carrying people.

    2. That's what I thought. But then I have a bunch of other Scottish ancestors who did weaving so I thought it might have something to do with that. Thanks for verifying it for me.


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