The family photograph albumn, in propsperous families several alnums, was one of the most prized possessions of any Victorain family by the 1860s. As such surviving albumns are wonderful historical documents. A British reader informs us, "I purchased another antique photograph album a few days ago which has some interesting images within it. The album is leather bound with an embossed cover and was given to Mary Ella Capper on the 19th November 1872, there are 125 carte de visites and 16 cabinet cards in the album, mostly images of the Capper, Hardcastle, Mathews and Birt families ranging in date from 1863 to the 1890's and almost all identified and dated. I'm not certain of the connection between the Mathews family and the other families in the album but there are clear connections between the Hardcastle-Capper family and the Capper-Birt family. In particular, Mrs Eliza Capper is the sister of Mr John Hardcastle, Mary Ella Capper (the daughter of Eliza Capper) married Daniel Birt."
The family photograph album, in propsperous families several alnums, was one of the most prized possessions of any Victorian family by the 1860s. As such surviving albumns are wonderful historical documents. The multiple images provide important details about how one or related families dealt with clothing styles, age appropriate clothing, cultural trends such as breeching, and hair styling. Affluent families might have albums with beaitifully tooled ldather covers. Some might even have artistic script inside. Often there were metal claps to keep the allbum closed. Some even locked with a key. I'm not sure why that was seen as necessary. Less afflurnt families of course would have much more modest albums.
The images in this album are all CDVs. Even after cabinent cards became available, this family appears to continue to have CDVs taken. We are not sure why. CDVs were smaller and pergaps less expensive. As the image is smaller, they can not be enlarged to the same degree as a cabinent card.
A British reader informs us, "I purchased another antique photograph album a few days ago which has some interesting images within it. The album is leather bound with an embossed cover and was given to Mary Ella Capper on November 19, 1872, there are 125 carte de visites and 16 cabinet cards in the album, mostly images of the Capper, Hardcastle, Mathews and Birt families ranging in date from 1863 to the 1890s and almost all identified and dated. There is even an image of an 1830s painting providing comparisons with an eralier generation. The image here gives you a good idea what the inside of one of these CDV albums looked like.
I'm not certain of the connection between the Mathews family and the other families in the album but there are clear connections between the Hardcastle-Capper family and the Capper-Birt family. In particular, Mrs Eliza Capper is the sister of Mr John Hardcastle, Mary Ella Capper (the daughter of Eliza Capper) married Daniel Birt." Our British contributor was not able to correctly piece together the family commections from the photographs. A reader and descendent of the families tells us, "Although I haven't seen the photos, you appear to have a pretty impressive site on Boys' Historical clothing, but as a distant relation of both the Hardcastles, Cappers and Matthews, I should point out that there are errors in the information given, which I presume were made by the British purchaser of the photo album. One of these is that Mrs Eliza Capper was the wife of John Hardcastle. This is incorrect and Eliza was actually surnamed Kent." [Hazell]
The Hardcastle family patriarch is John Hardcastle. The portrait of him from about 1830 provides a fascinating comparison with the way in which his children were dressed.
This is a photograph of a painting of John Hardcastle, presumably the family patriarch, when he was a child. At the time of the 1881 census John Hardcastle was 59 years old and retired from his occupation of 'Merchant'. He looks to be about 8 years old in the painting which would date it around 1830, he was born in Abingdon, now in Oxfordshire but formerly the county town of Berkshire. He is wearing what appears to be a skeleron suit that is evolving into a modern suit style. He has a kind of square lace collar.
Bertha and Wilfred were the eldest children of John and Anne Hardcastle. Bertha was born in 1852 and Wilfred in 1854. Bertha wears a checked dress with an open collar and puff sleeves. Wilfred wears what looks like a dark flannel suit. He has a small Eton collar and very small bow. The knickers have seem detailing with what looks like buttons. At the time of the 1881 census they were both unmarried and living at the family home in St Johns Wood, London. Wilfred's occupation is given as Architect.
Norman was the youngest son of John and Anne Hardcastle. He was born in 1859. When photographed in 1863 he was wearing a dress. He was breeched in 1864. We note rather intricate hair styles. He appears to have been quite a bright student. He was admitted to Downing College, Cambridge (October 6. 1877). At the time of the 1881 census he was residing at 'Downing College', Regent Street, London where he was a 'Student of Law'. I think that means that his official residence was London even while he was studying law in Cambridge. He obtained his BA & LLB in 1881, his MA & LLM in 1884 & his LLd in 1890. He was a Lecturer in Law, French and German at Pembroke College and Downing College, and Hon. Secretary of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society. He died at aged 34 after a tragic fall from his horse (April 14, 1893).
This CDV photograph was taken in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1866 The children are - back row left to right Wilfred, Basil, Rosa. Front row Norman and Bertha. This was obviously a fairly affluent family as there are photographs of other family members in Russia and Germany, there is also a photograph of an 1868 painting of a house ('Mon Port') in Lausanne which they perhaps rented or owned. Rosa may have entered the nursing profession as there is a 25 year old nurse by that name working at Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge according to the 1881 census.
This is an intriguing portrait taken in Lausanne, Switzerland of 11 boys who have been participating in a team game of some kind - all are named on the back of the Cdv. Some are wearing a rosette on their shirts indicating success of some kind perhaps? I think that Basil Hardcastle is seated at the right with the check shirt and Norman Hardcastle is at the left rear
holding a pole and wearing a dark shirt. he reverse of the above photo, naming all the
players and showing how remarkably organised these boys were, in that they had a committee to organise proceedings. Although the CDV is dated for the year, we have no idea when during 1869 it was taken and therefore no clue (other than clothing) as to whether this was a Winter or Summer sport the boys were involved in. My guess would be Summer. Note that several of the boys are wearing what was to become the traditional English school cap. Although in the 1860s is appears to have been more of a games (sports) cap. Here the image is so wide that we had to cut it into.
We do not fully understand the connection between the Mathews and the Hardcastle family. The principal connection is the marriage of Wilfred John Hardcastle to Mary Theodora Matthews (1859). There is an 1869 picture of Harold Mathews with Eliza Capper, so by looking at the ages of the people involved, I'd say that Eliza Capper is the maternal grand-mother of the Mathews children. We see Marmaduke, Walter, and Harold here. There were also four girls Eliza, Constance, Emily and Gwendoline.
Marmaduke ('Mardi' as he was known to the family) was born in 1864 and Walter was born in 1865, they are the eldest children of Marmaduke (a solicitor) and Martha Mathews of Greenwich, London. The boys are dressed in matching velvet jackets with small white collars and a kind of tassle neckwear. They wear skirts or dresses, it is difficult to tell which. While the boys wear matching outfits, curiously the stripped band on the skirts is slightly different. The boys also wear pantalettes. In this photo they appear to have some kind of band keeping their hair up. At the time of the 1881 census both boys were at school but living at home.
Here we see Marmaduke at about age 8 years in 1872.
Here we see Walter Mathews at about age 7 years in 1872.
Here we see Harold Mathews at age 2 years in 1871 wearing a velvet dress woth ribbons at the shoulders. His curls have not yet been cut. As stated above, the connection between the Mathews family isn't totally clear from the album or the census returns but there is an 1869 picture of Harold Mathews with Eliza Capper, so by looking at the ages of the people involved, I'd say that Eliza Capper is the maternal grand-mother of Harols and the other Mathews children.
We have two images of the Capper children. One is of of Mary Ella Capper the original
owner of the album. The other is of Harold Herbert Capper who we believe was her brother.
We do not have a portrait of John Capper, but a relative has provided some information on John Capper and his descendents which is useful in understanding the family relationships of the individuals in Mary Ella's album.
Here we see Harold Herbert Capper in London when he was 4 years old. Unlike most of the CDVs in the album, this one is undated. We believe the portrait was proably taken during the mid-1860s. He wears a heavily embroidered light colored dress with a pin-on lace collar and pamtalettes. His hair style is especially striking for a right razor part. English boys normally had left parts. This was somewaht less common gor younger boys before breaching. No further information available, it is possible that he is the younger brother of Mary Ella Capper the original owner of the album. There is a later CDV of him which was taken in Stuttgart, Germany which may explain why he does not appear in the 1881 census.
Mary Ella CAPPER was born about 1851, Clapton, Middx. Her father Walter Capper (son of John Capper) is described in the 1881 census as being a 'General Draper' aged 66 employing 200 hands.
Mary Ella Capper was photographed in Lugano, Switzerland during the late 1860s. Notice the necklace she is wearing, a very large chain - I wonder if this had any significance, the Victorians were masters at putting meaning into a piece of jewellry by the use of different metals or stones, siginificance which is lost on us nowadays. There is also a photograph of her taken in Stuttgart indicating perhaps some family connection with Germany. Mary Ella married March Qtr. 1874, Daniel BIRT who was born about 1841, Southwark, Surrey. She was a housewife. Her husband was a solicitor. Their children included: 1) Ethelwyn Ella BIRT was born December Qtr. 1875, Caterham, Surrey. 2) Daniel Kenneth C BIRT born September Qtr. 1878, Caterham, Surrey. 3) Amelias Cyril BIRT born December Qtr. 1879, Caterham, Surrey. 4) Guy Capper BIRT born December Qtr. 1884, Caterham, Surrey. A HBC reader is researching the Capper and Birt families for a descendant of Benjamin Kent. Benjamin Kent was father of Benjamin Archer Kent and Eliza Kent. My friend is descended from Benjamin Archer but would like to> know about the children of Eliza who married Walter Capper and gave birth to Mary Ella who married Daniel Birt.
Mary Ella Capper had a sister, Eliza Theodore Capper. Her father was Walter Capper the draper. Eliza married marmaduke Matthews. Mary Theodore Matthews was there daughter. Eliza died very young in 1869 (age appox 28). Marmaduke then went on to marry Martha Ann calrow a young widow nee Whyte. [Edmonds]
There were no Masons in Mary Ella's album. The Masons were, hosever, related to the Cappers. Thomas Mason, originally a Police Sergeant, but later and for the greater part of his life, the Registrar and Relieving Officer for Titchfield, Hampshire. He had three sons. Keith Hazel tells us that his uncle Cedric Arthur Mason was related to the Capper family. He has provided us some charming portraits of his uncle and details about his fascinating life. Thomas Reginald Saunders Mason became a Police Lieut. in Washington DC. Another son, Harold Victor Mason became a Police Sergeant in Havant, Hampshire, and later Chief Master at Arms on the Cunard vessel "Queen Elizabeth".
The Cappers were also related to the Birt family thriugh Mary Ella. A reader writes, "My name is John Geoffrey Birt aged 62. I have just seen your web site about Mary Ella Capper's CDV album. My Great Grandmother was Mary Ella Capper who married Daniel Birt. My Grandfather, Guy Capper Birt, the youngest son of Mary Ella & Daniel Birt became an eminent medical man and was Surgeon Dentist to King George V. His elder son, my Uncle, Alan Beckett Birt, was a Surgeon and President of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. My father, Geoffrey Guy Birt, became a tea planter in India before World War II and after Indian Independence returned to the UK where he worked in the oil industry. If anybody would like more information on the Birt family please do not hesitate to contact me. [Birt]
There are later photographs of most of the boys mentioned above, mostly portraits which do not reveal much about their clothing, Switzerland is a common theme as there are later photographs of the Mathews boys taken in Montreux and elsewhere. In addition to the CDVs in the album, I have found some CDVs for sale individually that as I recognized as some of the children here. You can see some of them laid out by the album above (figure 1).
Birt, John. E-mail message, January, 10, 2008.
Edmonds, Dawn. E-mail message, June 24, 2006.
Hazell, Keith. E-mail message, June 4, 2005.
Lovell, Patricia. E-mil message, February 28, 2006.
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