Friday, October 25, 2013

Sepia Saturday 200 : The Curious Case Of The Milliners' Wedding

For Sepia Saturday 200 we are revisiting our previous Sepia Saturday posts and choosing just one to illustrate our Sepia Saturday contributions over the years. My choice takes me back to the very beginning of Sepia Saturday and provides some background to a photograph which will be familiar to all Sepia Saturday readers - the photograph that has appeared at the head of our blog for the last three and a half years. So here is the curious case of the milliners' wedding.


SEPIA SATURDAY 11 : 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 ....."

You can see all the sepia favourites which have been published to celebrate Sepia Saturday 200 by visiting the Sepia Saturday Blog and following the links.

29 comments:

  1. I love the research that goes into so many of these Sepia Saturday posts!

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  2. Look more like the James gang to me...

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  3. As a bloke I have to admire the women for getting into those dresses - just look at the waspish waists. No room for a pint there.

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  4. I missed this first time round so I’m pleased to offer my comment and my admiration for those hats. A good choice of post for the occasion.

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  5. And the little girls are almost dwarfed by their hats. So precious...

    Dee

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  6. All the beautiful women and handsome men! The old bald guy is not too bad, either. I think he's the butter factor. He could also be the money. If a factor was what a factor is, he bought and sold notes for the purchase and delivery of butter.

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  7. I love the little family mysteries that we encounter, and enjoy them even more when we can present a viable answer to them. This was one such, and definitely worthy of being captured for posterity in the proposed Sepia Saturday book.

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  8. Oftentimes, even today, weddings don't always reflect the amount of money one actually has to spend on one. Of course back then they didn't have 'plastic' to pay for what they really couldn't afford. Suffice it to say however it worked out, they all looked lovely.

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  9. I'm thinking your'e just on the money...even the little flower girls have huge hats...but that must have been what was available. Thanks for bringing this to light. All the people that might still be alive from that picture, and those that aren't, will thank you!

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  10. Great to read the story behind the header, and give the wedding some recognition. Love the hats!

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  11. A great choice, Alan. My hat's off to you. I've always been intrigued by the close resemblance between Abraham and the other young man on the right.

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  12. Cool hats. they are of the style of the day. I wonder if there is a millner trade any more.

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  13. Hats Off To Harry's Father !

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  14. If the cobbler's children have no shoes, then I'm surprised the milliner's family all have hats.

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  15. I love this post and the solving of the mystery. Actually everyone in this photo looks very prosperous. Not just the hats, but the dresses and the men's suits. Yes, Red. There is still a milliner's trade. Remember the royal wedding not too long ago and those preposterous hats? Somebody had to make them. I remember hearing after the wedding that hats became more popular than ever - well in England anyway.
    Great post, Alan. A perfect one for the book.
    Nancy
    Ladies of the Grove

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  16. Great photo, Alan. Yup, the rewarding detective work is what keeps us going with family history.

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  17. The title pulls you into this post and promises a detective story. We were not disappointed.

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  18. Great photo. Those wedding photo poses never change. Great post for Sepia Saturday 200!

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  19. I think that period was about the high point of hat wearing. It always strikes me that even little girls wore these gigantic flouncy hats! But in a milliners wedding.... well, you would expect something good. They were, if anything, rather on the subdued side, and I am sure were better made and far more tasteful than some of what was being worn then.

    It must have been a simply wonderful sight in real life. I'm imagining it in colour.

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  20. I do really like this photo. Your census research reveals far more interesting job titles than any of mine. I love these hats but would not have wanted to wear the same; I think I have a photo of unidentified ladies possible ancestors who must have been in this same wedding party by their hats.

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  21. Absolutely, it's posts like this that urge me on, to keep on discovering.

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  22. Fantastic research to match a fantastic photo.

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  23. The hat thing seems to be a really big thing over there anyway so I bet there wasn't a chance they could get married without hats. They could have made their own if one person in the group knew the trade. It is a wonderful piece of history and shirt tail cousins makes it so much more special.

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    1. Alan I am working backward on the list of bloggers so you were 20 and I have 19 to go.

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  24. Maybe Alice made all the hats for the wedding party or showed them how to make their own. I think hat making supplies were easily available back then.

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  25. A great bit of lateral thinking. Patience is something which is a great asset when doing family history. A beautiful photo.

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  26. I remember when this photo was the Sepia Saturday "logo" photo and have admired it since then. I'm so happy to learn that the people in the photo are known relatives of yours, Alan. Sending very belated congratulations and best wishes to the happy couple.

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  27. I had never stopped to think about this picture, though I enjoy it every time that I see it. Glad to know that you figured out the gist of who's wedding it was and the idea of how they came by the beautiful hats.

    Thanks for all of your hard work on the blog and the book, Alan. I appreciate it so much. I miss being a regular part of Sepia Saturday these days, but it is like pulling teeth to get anything done on my blog anymore.

    Hugs,

    Kathy M.

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  28. Well, now I know the story behind a familiar sight.
    Thanks for sharing, Alan!!
    :)~
    HUGZ

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