Everybody belongs to somebody. That is the thought I always have in my head when I acquire new portraits and embark on a little research.
Take the above cabinet card, for instance. It arrived with a small collection of other photographs relating to the Monson family (see previous blog posts). An attractive lady in a pretty dress with an enigmatic expression. To me, she looks young and full of hope, but the card does not identify who she is.
Fortunately a second cabinet card of the same lady (below) is inscribed on the reverse, with the name ‘Olive Bruce (nee Macaulay)’:
Here she appears a little older and perhaps more pensive. I sense some sadness in her expression. So now I am intrigued.
From the newspaper archives I quickly learn that a marriage took place 19th August 1903 between Robert Perry Bruce, of Florence, and Olive Maud Macaulay, of Paignton, South Devon. The wedding is described in some detail in the Western Morning News (20 August 1903), and appears to have been a grand affair with the bride wearing a dress of ‘rich braided cream silk, with train to match, covered with family Honiton lace‘.
Sadly, Robert Bruce died in 1914 at the age of just 52. Olive outlived her husband by a further fifty-four years, passing away 1968 in Merton, Surrey, at the age of 93.
How is Olive connected to the Monson family, such that her portrait was bundled together with their own family portraits? Among the (long!) list of wedding presents described in the newspaper is an ‘antique jewelled cross’ gifted by ‘Mr and Mrs Henry Monson’. Could this be Henry John Monson from my previous blog post? In which case, Mrs Monson would be Theodosia A. E. Wright. And the name Theodosia runs through these families, with Henrietta Anne Theodosia Monson as another of the portraits, and Olives’ own sister Miss Lois Theodosia Macaulay (born 1882; see above extract).
The connections might not be straight-forward and require further research, but in the end I come back to my first thought. That everybody belongs to somebody.
Various information from Ancestry.co.uk
Newspaper clipping/quotes from The British Newspaper Archive © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.