** English families 1890s

English Family Chronology: The 1890s

Figure 1.--This cabinet card portait shows four boys and their pretty sister. The children look to be abour 2-12 years old. The children's clothing seems age graded. The portrait came out of an album purchased in London. The family was apparently from Newcastle-on-Tyne. The studio was A. B Gardiner & Co.

The photographic record by the 1890s is extensive. We have numerous famnily images, although still mostly formal studio portaits. We have collected images of entire families or in some cases just the children in the families. A few images include the nannies carrying for younger children. Good sized families were still fairly common. Younger boys still wore dresses. We see boys wearing Fauntleroy suits and sailor suits. The age range for the sailor suits were greater. We notice school-age boys commonly wearing Eton collars, especially primary-age boys and younger teenagers. They were worn both with and without neckwear. We notice both collar-buttoning and lapel jackets. Norfolk styling was popular. Boys wore both knee pants and knickers with long stockings. Younger boys might wear short pants and knee socks with the knee showing, but this was not very common for school-age boys. Girls wore a variety of dresses. Baloon sleeves were considered stylish during the decade.

Surbiton Family (1890)

This cabinet card portrait shows what we think is a comfortabl middle-class family probably living in Surbiton. This is a neighborhood of south-west London within the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames along the Thames. We see a middle-age mother and father along with four children, two boys and two girls, who look to be about 3-14 years old. The portrait is undated, but we are fairly confident it was taken in 1890, although 1891-92 is possible. We think it was taken in 1890 because on the back are notifications of awards won in 1887, 1888, and 1889. If they had won an award in 1890, certainly it would have been included. And we do not think that they would continue to report these awards very long after they were won as this would suggest that standards had declines. In addition, mother's dress does not have the puffed sleeves we see at mid-decade. The girls wear white dresses. The older girl has a colored waist sash. The boys about 10-14 years old wear sailor blouses with Eton collars. This is unusual, especiall for the older boy. Sailor suits in the 1890s were mostly worn by younger boys. This suggests to us that the boys did not attend private schools. The Royal Hospital School is a possibility. The studio was G.T. Jones in Surbiton.

Unidentified Kent Family (early-1890s)

Here we have the three children of an unidentified Kent fmily, probably living in Bromley. They look to be about 5-12 yers old. We thought at first we thought that they were a brother and his younger susters. But now we are not sure about their gender, especially the younger child. The older boy wears a traditinal sailor suit. The younger children wears matching velvet outfits with lace collars. We at first thought that they were wearing dresses, but matching rompers are possible. Some romper suits were long baggy affairs. We are not at all certain. And they may be boys. The younger child on the right certainly looks like a boy and we are not at all certain that the child on the left is a girl. The studio is identifid as a 'Gold Medalist 1889'. This could mean that the portrait was taken in late 1889, but more likely it was taken in 1890 or soon there after. We think that using these awards as effective advertising only close to the award date. Any longer and clients would wonder why there were no recent awards. The studio was E. Davey Lavender in Bromley, Kent.

Unidentified Oxford Family (early-1890s)

This cabinet card depicts a substantial late-Victorian family from Oxford. Between the parents are five childen, we think two boys, two girls and a baby. They look to be about 1-8 years old. Two of the children look to be twins, we think fraternal twins because they look like a boy and girl. Three of the children wear identical dresses with destinctive stripe overlay. We are unsure about the colors. Two of the three children in dresses have bangs and short hair. The older girl has short ringlets. One of the children is clearly a boy. He looks to be about 7 years old and wears a Norfolk suit with an Eton colalr and bow tie. The portrait is undated, but we would guess was taken in the 1890s, probably the early-90s.

Steggal Family (1893)

This snapshot shows the family of mathematician Professor John Steggall about 1893. John Edward Aloysius Steggal was born in London (1855). His father was Dr. J. W. B. Steggall, a physician whose ancestors came from East Anglia. He was educated under noted headmaster, Dr. Abbott, at the City of London School. He went on to Trinity College, Cambridge, where h earned various academic honors. He taught a few year in at collegess, but spent most of his career at newly founded University College of Dundee in Scotland (1883-1933). He had vrious interests, includung astrionomy, architecture, cycling, mountaineering, photography, and woodworking. His interest in photography explains why we have family snapshots and not just studio portraits. His collection of more than 2,000 photographs is archived at the University of St Andrews. He married Isabella Katherine Fraser from Gareloch, near Helensburgh in Scotland (1878). They had three children two girls and a boy. A family snapshot shows the children on an outing with their family, we think in 1893. The snapshot is undated, but we think was taken about 1893 as the boy looks to be about 6 years old. The girls wear white dresses. he boy wears a sailor suit with a wide-brimmed hat. The younger children were born in Scotland and all three grew up in Dundee, Scotland. So this might be called a Scottish family. We do not know he names of the girls, but the boy was John William Abbott Steggall (1887-1916). John perished duruing the Battle ofv Jutland when his ship, the battlecruiser HMS Invicible was struck by a German shell and exploded.

Lawrence Family (about 1893)

D.H. Lawrence was one of the most important figures in early-20th century English literature. He wrote, novels, stories, and poems. Lawrence was also a noted critic. He even painted. He is perhaps best known for his poetry. Some authorities point to 'Snake' and 'How Beastly the Bourgeoisie is' as his most notable poems. He is probably best known for his novel, Lady Chatterly's Lover. His father was a hard drinking coal miner. At a time when British boys without means did not attend secondary school, he earned a scholarship to Nottingham High School.

Unidentified Family (1895)

This cabinet card portrait shows middle-age parents with two young children. The boys look to be about 3-6 years old. The younger boy looks to be wearing a dress with a pnafore. You can't see mucg of the dress, but the shirt lace-trimmed slleves indicate that he was wearing a dress under the pinny. Often children did not wear pinafores for a stuydio portrait, but we guess mother is taking no chances that he might get his drs diurty. The oldr boy wears a Norfolk suit with a modest Eton collar. The portrait is not dated, but the mount tyle and mother's dress suggest the 1890s, probably about 1895. Note the very basic studio set, probably a low cost studio. And the nount was also the style used by basic studios. It just said 'Cabinet Card' without any identifying studio name. That was not real common in England, but we see a lot of these in Easter Europe.

E. Mosley Family (1895)

This is a cabinet card Portrait Of the E.?. Mosely family. We think it may be the E.J. Mosley family, but that middle initial is difficult to make out. It was not a studion portrait. In fact the mount does not identiofy the studio. Rather the space normally used to identify the studio is used for a message from father, "Up I came with my little lot." We are not sure what that meant. Perhaps father had moved the family from London to a small town in the Midlands or North. The porrtatit was taken in May 1895. Other than the name of the family, we know nothing about them, other than they are fashionably dressed. Notice the voluminous sleeves on mother and the teenage girl. That was the height of fashion in 1895. Father is also smartly dressed. The boy wears a fashionable sailor suit, not the traditional style with stripes--note the squared off collar with an added white 'V' collar. The pants are bloomer knickers worn with black long stockings. Also notice his peaked school cap. One interesting aspect of this portrait is that it is not a studio portrait. Rather it was taken outdoors in front of their home. We see more of these infron of the home portraits in England than any other country. We are not sure how this worked. Did the patents go to the studio and request this? Or did a photographer go door to door? However it worked, it is helpful because it provides some context as to the family's economic status, something we do not get from studio portraits.

Unidentified Family (about 1895)

Here we have a family image without any information. The dealer was American, but it was definitely not an American image. As it was not a postcard back image, we figured it was a 19th century image and this was confirmed by the clohes. The ladies puff-sleeve dresses were a 1890s style, in this case we would say close to 1895. The fact that the boys were wearing knickers rather than knee pants in the 1890s confirmed that they were not Americans. And the boy about 11-12 wearing long pants also suggesting they were not American. Knee pants were almopst universal in America, except for rural areas. The shoes are another indicator. Notice that the boys have low-cut hoes. High top shies were virtually universal in America. The Eton collars were another indicator. Eton collars were not unknown in America, but much more common in England. And we have them in front of their home which tells us more about them than a studio portrait. Our initial assessment is that they are a moderate income middle-class family.

Middle--Class Family (about 1895)

This cabinet card portrait shows a comfortable young middle-class Weymouth family. Mother looks like an fashionable lady. The puffed sleeves help to date the portrait. It is undated, but was probbly taken about 1895. Father is also well dressed. Notice the modern-looking mustache. He notably wears a jacket and pants that do not match. The children look to be about 7-10 years of age. The boy wears a standard sailor suit. Unlike the Continent, we mostly see younger boys in England wearing sailor suits, specifically by the 1890s. His older sister wears a smock-like dress. The portrait is well posed, but notice that no one is holding hands. Weymouth is a picturesque port in Dorset (southwest England) that had become popular with the tourist trade.

Unidentified Family (1890s)

This studio cabinent card shows a mother with her six children, four boys and two girls. We would guess that the children are about 5-15 years old. The portrait is undatd, but we would guess was taken in the 1890s. We are archiving it in the 90s, but the 80s is possible. If readers have any better assessmnt we can move it. The youngest boy weaes a sailor suut. The next youngest boy looks to wearing a jersey sweater. Three of the boys have small Eton collars with small bows. Two boys wear cut-away jackets, albeit with minimal cutaway area. The girls have light colored dresses. The younger girl wears a sailor dress without the stripe detaling. The studio was Owen in Southhampton.

Unidentified Worchester Family (1890s)

Here we see an unidentified mother with her three children. The portrait is not dated, but the clothes and mount looks like the 1890s. The boys look to be about 3-10 years old. We see the three boys wearing outfits that were age approporiate for the three ages of the boys. The younger boy wo looks to be 3-4 years old wear a white or light-colored kilt suit with a large collar giving it a kind of sailor look. The kilt skirt has box pleats and a band of stripes near the bottom hem. The middle brother wears a front-buttoning sailor suit with knee pants. By the 1890s British boys were beginning to stop wearing sailor suits at an earlier age than continental boys. This boy looks to be about 6 years old. Their older brother who looks to be 10 years old or so wears a suit with an Eton collar and knicker pants. All three boys wear dark long stockings and lace-up high-top shoes.

Finch Family (1890s)

This cabinet card portrait show four children about 2-12 years old. The two younger children are girls, both wearing dresses. Notice the baloon sleves on the younger child. That and the cabinet card mounts help identofy the 1890s. One boy wears a trditional sailor suit, very popular in the 1890s. The older boy wears a collar buttoning suit with an Eton collar, and small bow. Also notice the boy's center part. We know the portrait is English and not Americam because of the studio identification on cabinet card. But the low-cut footwear even if the studio was unknown tells us that it was not American. Three of the children are identified, George, Ethel, and Nettie Finch. We do not know why he four child is not identified. The studio is J.H. Killick in North London.

Well-to-do Family (mid-1890s)

This British cabinet card shows an unidentified family. We begin to see more portraits outside the studio in the 1890s. Most seem to be taken by studio photographers. This was expensive as the photographer often had to spend an entire day on such assignments. Thus these outside the studio portraits suggest a wealthy or at least well-to-do family. Here the family is posed outdoors on the door stoop. We do not get to see much of the home, but we get the impression it was a substantial brick home. There are five children two boys and three girls, the parents, and perhaps a grandmother. The children look to be about 3-15 years of age. The girls wear stylish dresses. It is a little difficult to make out what the boys are wearing. One boy seems to be wearing a velvet dress with a lace collar. The other boy may be wearing a white dress, but all we can make out for sure is his wide-brimmed sailor hat. The card is not dated, but the sleeve styl of mother's dress suggests the 1890s, but we are not sure if it us the mid- or late-90s. We are not sure about the father's cap.

Unidentified Fareham Family (mid-1890s)

We have very limited inforamtion on this English family other than what can be observed in the protait. We do know that it was Farnham family. The full baloon sleves on the dresses suggest the portrait was taken about 1895. There are many Farnhams in England, but most are villages. Ham in Old English has the meaning homestead, village, manor, or estate. Thus this is probably the town southwest of London which with the expansion of the city in modern times puts it on gthe outskirts of the city. It is of some historical interest. there are buildings of note, including Georgian houses. Farnham Castle overlooks the town. A short distance southeast of the town centre are the ruins of Waverley Abbey, Moor Park House and Mother Ludlam's Cave. The portrait shows the parents and four children, about 9-20 years of age. There is also a second adult woman, perhaps a maiden aunt. We see a definite military connection. Two of the three boys wear sailor suits and the girl wears a sailor dress. The third boy wears an army uniform. The two older boys are probably actually in the military and wearing real uniforms. We suspect their father is a retired military man. The younger boy wars a child's sailor sui. We are unsure as to his age. He has his hair done in short ringlets. He looks older than 8 years, but older boys are less likely to have ringlets.

Unidentified London Family (mid-1890s)

Here we have a portrait of an unidentified London family. All we know for sure is that they lived near Hyde Park which means central London. The portrait is undated, but the baloon sleeves on the agirl' dress suggest the mid-1890s. It is a little unusul to have a family portrait without the mother. It is possble tht they lost her. The children look about 7-15 years old. The boys wear identical traditional sailor suits with whistle lanyards and bows. They wear heavy winter sailor suits with iconic V-front collar and back flap. The suit is very plain so there is an added V-collar with the three stripe detailing. The suits are presumably navy blue. The added collar ws probably dne in royal blue. The only difference we note is that the older boy's dickie has some decorative collar trim. The girl's dress has a smocked bodice with decorative emroidery. The embroidery is repeated on the cuffs. It is a dark dress, but there is no way of telling about the color. The boys have cropped hair. The girl has long wavy hair. Father wears a wing collar and small white bowtie like neckwear.

Unidentified City Family (mid-1890s)

This cabinet card portait appears to be the work of an intinerant photographer which perhaps why tghere is no studio information on the mount. It appears to be taken on the stoop of an unidentified family's home. It is undated but the arge baloon sleeves of the mother helps to date it to about 1895. It is interesting to see the family not in the studio, but with their home in the background. We would say that this was a working-class family. Thepooch and hobby horse suggest that they are living in comfortable circumsances The father is not in the portrait, probably because he was at work when the portrait was taken. The boys look to be about 5-11 yers old. The older boy wears school cap and knee pant suit. He would have still been in school. We are a little urrpised he is not wearing an Eton collar. His younger brother wears a kind of tassled tocking cap and blouse-jacket with a large collar that has stiping.

Unidentified Siblings (1890s)

Here are more undated images, but they are especially interesting because we have a series of four portraits. They do not appear to be either CDVs or cabinet cards, but rather photographs from a family album. This is one reason in addition to the clothing styles that we think that the portraits are from the 1890s. They show the three children of the family at diferent ages within a space of about 5 years. Thus we see different outfits. The boys wears a plain cut-way jacket, Eton collar, and knee pants with long stockings. His outfits do not change much over the span of the photographs. One photograph shows him and his sister wearing hats. The boy's hat has twin streamers. The other photographs show the girls wearing different dresses.

Nanny and Charge (1890s)

The nanny was an important part of a well-to-do Victorian family. This was especially the case a concerns the children. There were variations from family, but many affluent families left the care of the younger children in the hands of a nanny or governness. Nannies were commonly for the younger children and wore domestoic uniforms. They often had limited educations, but were chosen for their temperments and abbility to work with young children. They were primarily tasked with domestic care. A governess was for somewhat older children and more involved with education. Many children grew up knowing their nannies much better than their parents. This was the case of Winston Churchill and he is just one of many examples. Really wealthy parents might hire tutors to teach the children at home. After mid-century it became common to send thev children off to boarding school at about 7-8 years of age. At first this was primarily for the boys, but it gradually became the convention for girls as well. If there were several children, the nanny might be with the family for some time and become in essence a virtual member of the family. Ties between the children and nanny might be closer than with the patents. Given the age of the child here and the uniform the lady is wearing, we suspect she was a nanny.

Unidentified Newcastle Family (1890s)

This family cabinet card portait shows four boys and their pretty curly haired little sister (figure 1). The children look to be abour 2-12 years old. The children's clothing seems age graded. The youngesr boy wears a large white collar shaped like a giant Eton collar wuth a cut-away velvet jacket that had color edging. We think he is wearing knee pants, but they might be knickers. Note the knee socks. We only see younger boyswith bare knees in the 1890s. His slightly older brother weara a standard Eton collar with a collar-buttoning Norfolk jaclet. His suit has knicker pants and he wears long stockings. The next oldest noy also has an Eton collar, biut he wears a lapel jacket with a vest. None of the boys have neckwear. The oldest boy wears a light-colored lapel jacket, we believe aloso with an Eton collr. We can't tell if he is wearing a tie. Their little sister wears a velvet frock with a huge lace collar. The portrait came out of an album purchased in London. The family was apparently from Newcastle-on-Tyne. The studio was A. B Gardiner & Co. The portrait is undated, but the ckothing, espoecially the girl's dress suggests the 1890s.

Unidentified London Family

Here we see the whole familly. We have a cabinet card portait of an unidentified English family is undated, but we think was taken during the late-1880s or very early-90s. The dealer reports that the portrait came with a lot of Australian photographs, so the family may have emigrated to Australia. The studio was B. Barry, Clifton House, Barking Road East. We think that with English portraits when the city is not specified that it probably means London. The two boys look to be about 3-5 years old. There also is a very young baby. Both boys wear classic knee pants sailor suits. While the sailor suit for boys originted in England, we mostly see younger boys wearing them in contrast to many countries on the continent. Notice that the younger boy wears socks rather than stockings like American boys would. The younger boiy has aoy gun. The older boiy wears a neat cap with some sort off embroidered crest at the front. We have not seen a lot of caps like that. The younger boy probably had one as well, although we don't see it.


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Created: 1:59 AM 5/16/2011
Last updated: 5:30 PM 4/28/2020