Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sepia Saturday : The Curious Case Of The Milliners' Wedding


The decision about the first photograph I should submit for the new Sepia Saturday blog was a fairly easy one. It is one I have used a lot this week as it is the one I chose as the header for the blog itself. I have featured it on News From Nowhere before and explained a little of its background. But that was back in 2008 when the only followers I had were my friends Jane, Edwin and Mark and my dog Amy. So I will simply reprint the earlier post and send my apologies to J, E and M. I don't apologise for repeating myself to Amy because I sometimes suspect that she doesn't listen to me as I read out my daily draft posts.

THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE MILLINERS' WEDDING
Irrespective of anything else, this is just a gorgeous photograph. Again it came out of one of those boxes of old photographs which are handed down. There are no firm details as to who the subjects of the photograph are other than a scribbled note in pencil on the back which states "Harry's Father". I must confess that the handwriting looks suspiciously like mine and therefore it appears that at some stage, I half identified the happy couple and then abandoned them to a fate of dust and scratches at the bottom of a old cardboard box. For this I feel guilty and I am therefore determined to make some amends. I need to track down the details and release them to the waiting world. It will be like one of those wedding reports you see in the local paper. The difference will be that it will be a little late in appearing (as it turns out, 108 years late).

The Harry was the clue, for as regular readers of the Blog will know, I had an Uncle Harry. He was married to my fathers' sister and was therefore not a direct blood relative of mine. Luckily, amongst the various documents I have accumulated over the years, I have a copy of his birth certificate. He was born in 1903 and his parents were Abraham Moore and Alice Moore (formally Rotheray). So the chances are that this could be a photograph of Abraham and Alices' wedding. The one problem with this is that they all look a little too affluent . Abraham is listed on the birth certificate as being a "Piece Taker In" which sounds as though it is a run-of-the-mill textile process. Could a Piece Taker In have afforded those magnificent hats or attracted a girl from a family that could. The census records suggest that Alice's father was a "Butter Factor" : once again not likely to be able to afford all those ribbons and bows.

The crowning piece of evidence was in the 1891 census records. By now Alice is 16 and her occupation is listed as being a "Milliner Apprentice". We therefore have a possible solution - the hats were stock in trade, borrowed for the big day from the brides' workplace. Whatever the explanation, it does seem likely that it was the wedding of Abraham and Alice which took place in the Spring of 1900. So, a little late in the day, we can finally publish the picture, and the report :

"The wedding took place on Saturday 23rd April 1900 of Abraham, son of Smith and Margaret Moore of Percy Street, Horton, Bradford and Alice, eldest daughter of Thomas and Lydia Rotheray of Smiddles Lane Bowling, Bradford. The bride wore a dress of starched white silk ....."

VISIT THE OTHER SEPIA SATURDAY PARTICIPANTS BY USING THE LINKS ON THE SEPIA SATURDAY BLOG

22 comments:

  1. A fine wedding for a hat shop girl! I love the thrill of solving a historic family mystery. Well done, Alan. Beautiful photo.

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  2. I confess, I have been wondering about the origin of the photo ever since you first created the Sepia Saturday blog.
    I do love a good mystery and you've been a regular Sherlock Holmes with this one. Hats off to you!

    Kat

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  3. Sharing in Poetikat's wonderment and glad you answered to our curiousity, sir! And 'tis a right fine snap for the blog header as well :) Also wondering how far back you've gone into those census records ( once I'm recovered, I'll be able to do that, meself ).

    I'll be popping round after work to the others but wanted to get in at least one ere I head out the door. And a fine Saturday to you, Alan :)

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  4. They Look A Finely Turned Out Crew.
    Actually , The Expense Of Weddings Is Fairly Daft so the solution they found is a practical Yorkshire one!

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  5. They certainly are magnificent hats Alan. Lovely group photograph of the wedding party and a story with an ending..at last.

    I'd love to have Smiddles Lane as part of my address, by the way.

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  6. it is a fabulous photo, and what a great bit of detective work

    i think about 50% of that generation of men must have been called Harold/Harry!

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  7. I'm glad you posted the picture again, it's gorgeous. It's a fine example of elegance and fine hats.

    My sepia offering was a bit early, I'm afraid ... domestic upheaval preventing a sort out of old 'snaps'

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  8. Genealogy and old photos often require the investigative skills of a Sherlock Holmes.

    Nice piece of detective work!

    And that is one gorgeous photo.

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  9. great job hunting down it's history, it is a beautiful photo - and I was wondering about it when I saw it as the header on Kat's - so I am really glad you had the story on it.

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  10. to unraveling the mysteries!!

    wonderful post and such a chuckle with your mention about your dog amy and her interest in your stories.

    for me, the garments and adornment of wedding parties were so much more interesting back in that day.....one can just get lost in all the detail and all the expressions!

    oh, love the job description "piece taker in"

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  11. I agree, it is a stunning photo and took my breath away when it was used for the header! Yes, the hats are amazing. I like the idea of the bride getting to borrow them from her work place for her big day. Makes perfect sense!

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  12. What a terrific piece of deductive investigation, you fine historical detective you!

    Every detail of this is fascinating.

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  13. The hats are magnificent. I can picture all of them having a wonderful time trying them on and selecting just the right one for the big event. Happy SS : )

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  14. This so reminds me of an old photo that shows a family gathering and it's story. I must dig it out and post one of these times. Great that these old photos survived when some of the color photos from the 70's faded so easily. I have wondered too about the cost of some of the dress/hats in old photos as my family was not wealthy at all. It's a wonder they had photos...

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  15. Millinery as a profession was a rare trade for women to become heads of companies. The description of the shop in "The House of Mirth" is a good view of that.

    It was great to have the background on the banner photo.

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  16. Alan, you are a very good detective! Everyone looks lovely. I certainly hope the gentlemen appreciated all the finery and frippery and extra efforts! The hats are marvelous! I do love to dress up!

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  17. Beautiful photograph indeed and those hats just gorgeous. You're quite the detective Alan when it comes to solving these sepia secrets! And don't underestimate Amy, she probably soaks it all up!

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  18. A lovely photo & a fine piece of photographic detective work! Great SS kick-off.

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  19. Alan, I'll be off-line for a while, as I just took a major malware hit from one of the Sepia blogs! I believe it was the "C Hummel" one; could have infected widgets. Too, the "Crazy Fox" one does not appear to be working...more later***SIGH***

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  20. "Butter factor"? What an odd job description. Nice detective work Alan! Lovely photo.

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  21. Millinery... something dear to my heart. A time when the hat wore the woman! -J

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  22. Isn't a piece taker a comedian?

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