Henrietta Anne Theodosia Monson


At first glance, I mistook this lady for Queen Victoria. She is, however, the grandly named Henrietta Anne Theodosia Monson, born 1826 and baptised in Bedale, Yorkshire the same year. At the time of this portrait she would have been around 65 years old.

Henrietta was the daughter of Thomas and Sarah Monson, and Aunt to the Monson siblings in my previous blog post.

On 2nd March 1848, she married Henry William de la Poer Beresford and adopted her husband’s family name of Peirse, to become Henrietta A T Beresford Peirse. While her early life and older age were spent at the The Grange in Bedale, she lived many of her adult years in the Peirse family home of Bedale Hall:

bedale_hall_-_geograph-org-uk_-_636593BEDALE HALL By Gordon Hatton, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer (29 October 1921) records her passing, and describes ‘Mrs Beresford-Peirse’ as ‘affable and greatly benevolent’, commenting that ‘although her health had declined…. she preserved her faculties in a wonderful degree’. Her portrait presents her as a strong woman, so I’m not in the least surprised to learn that she lived to the late age of ninety-five.


Monson Family – Two Weddings And A Dress



While it’s fun to buy job-lots of victorian photographs on eBay, I can never be sure if they are connected to one another. So I was happy to discover that the man above, named as H J Monson, was the brother-in-law of Eric James Wright who featured in my previous post.

Henry John Monson was baptised in Kirby Underdale, Yorkshire, on 26th October 1862. In 1901 he married Theodosia Anne Emily Wright, the sister of Eric James Wright. The following account is taken from the St Jame’s Gazette (22 August 1901) in which the bride’s dress is described as ‘a gown of ivory satin flounced with chiffon and trimmed with Brussels lace‘:


A name that stands out is that of brother Mr. Gilbert J Monson since he is depicted on an accompanying cabinet card, although the inscription is faint and hard to read (‘Gilbert Monson, HJM’s youngest brother’?):



Born in 1876, Gilbert would have been twenty-five at the time of the wedding. In the above photograph he is still a young boy, smartly dressed but perhaps a little timid-looking.

The brothers had several other siblings, including Alice Edome Monson (born 1869), whose portrait I found on a third cabinet card:



This inscription is also difficult to decipher and my best guess is ‘Alice Monson – (passed on at Mentone – ??? with her). Any suggestions would be gratefully received!

Alice married Captain Cecil Maddock, as reported in the Luton Times and Advertiser (1 June 1906). Intriguingly, her dress was ‘a costume of ivory satin draped with old Brussels lace‘. Could this be the same dress worn by Theodosia Anne Emily Wright a few years beforehand?

Gilbert Monson is also mentioned, this time ‘giving’ his sister away:


I see a definite likeness between Gilbert and Alice and I’m happy that all three photographs are together, as I think they should be. There is one more cabinet card to explore from this family, which will be the subject of my next post.

Edited to add: The death of Alice Edome Maddock (nee Monson) is recorded in ‘Homeward Mail from India, China and the East, 30 May 1908’. It says:

MADDOCK – May 1, at Karwar, Alice Edome, wife of Capt. E.C.G. Maddock, India Medical Service.


Eric James Wright


This cabinet card of a smartly dressed young man is the first in a series that I recently acquired from eBay. On the reverse is written ‘Eric James Wright – born 1880’.

On the 1881 census and age just 5 months old, Eric can be found in Cambridge, England with his brother George Denman Larken Wright and sister Theodosia Anne Emily Wright. In 1891 he is a pupil at Aysgarth School, North Yorkshire and by 1901 a student of Trinity College, Cambridge University.

According to the Cambridge University Alumni records (Ancestry.com), Eric managed several mines during his adult life including the Concordia tin mines of Bolivia and the Chorolgne tin and bismuth mines in the Andes. He died in Bolivia in 1940, leaving his effects to sister Theodosia Anne Emily Monson (England & Wales, National Probate Calendar).

Which leads me neatly to the Monson family, the subject of my next post.

Blanche Victorine Forsythe (Actress)

blanche forsythe actress

Recently bought on eBay, this vintage photograph is roughly the size of a cabinet card. Unfortunately it has been trimmed and part of the signature is missing, but the 1911 census helps to identify her as Blanche Forsythe, an English actress born 1873. She made her name in various theatrical productions and later in silent films.


Blanche signed the 1911 census (Class: RG14; Piece: 7283; Schedule Number: 34). She lived with her mother and two brothers in Tottenham, London at the time of the census and gave her occupation as ‘actress’.

In the above photograph Blanche is dressed as Trilby O’Ferrall from a stage adaptation of the novel ‘Trilby’ by George Du Maurier (published 1894).

The following interview is taken from the Leigh Chronicle and Weekly District Advertiser, 31 July 1896. In it, the interviewer asks Blanche to compare herself to another English actress Dorothea Baird, who also played ‘Trilby’ around the same time. Blanche is unfazed, saying that neither is “better than the other”:



During the 1910s, Blanche was cast in various silent movies including title roles in ‘Jane Shore‘, ‘East Lynne‘ and ‘Sixty Years a Queen‘. Coincidentally she also played the part of Ustane in the film adaptation of ‘She‘ by Henry Rider Haggard, an author I have previously come across while writing this blog. The IMDb website has more information about Blanche’s film success.

I have searched but am yet to come across any other clear photographs of Blanche Forsythe on the internet. If anyone knows of any, please contact me!

Outdoor CDVs


I particularly like cartes de visite that have photographs taken outside, such as the one above. I am struck by the natural lighting, and how the baby appears to be wriggling causing mum to hold on tightly.


This second image shows two men posing on a stile. It’s as though they are taking a break during a walk. The photograph is badly faded and I had to do some processing to bring any detail out (including a thumbprint in the middle!).


This third and final image looks as though it might also be outdoors. In a back-yard perhaps? To me, the lighting is different to the previous two. So perhaps it is a photographer’s studio, set up to look like the outside.

A pity, then, that all three cartes de visite are unmarked and the photographers unknown. That might at least have provided a clue.

Irene & Doris


Recently found, this photograph of a young girl in a lacy outfit is presented on a rather battered board with the name ‘Irene  M Hargreaves’ written on the back.

Alongside it was a cabinet card of a girl wear a similar hat and dress:


The handwriting on the back of this second photograph is more difficult to read, but my best guess is “Doris Mary Sandoe, aged 2 1/2 years, 1895”. According to census data a Doris/Dora Sandoe was born in Broadclyst, Devon c1893, the daughter of surgeon John Worden Sandoe. Is this the same Doris?

And where did Irene and Doris get their wonderful hats?!

cabinet-card-hopwood-burnley   cabinet-card-kelley-plymouth

The Woman With The Pearls


Among the loose photographs in the Welsh album is this one of a beautiful young lady wearing a pearl necklace. It always makes me stop and wonder who she is. Taken by J E Purdy & Co. of 145 Tremont Street, Boston, it dates to the 1920s but unfortunately there are no other clues. It is presented in a brown folder with the photographer’s name written ornately on the front.

Sir Edward George Clarke

sir edward clarke

Printed on thin card this is a vintage copy of a photograph by W. Heath & Co., Plymouth. It is signed by ‘Edward Clarke’, who was a Victorian barrister and Conservative politician born in 1841. He took part in a number of famous legal case, representing Oscar Wilde in 1895 and (in a separate case) cross-examining the Prince of Wales in 1891. He was knighted in 1886 and lived into his 90th year.

Several other portraits of Sir Edward Clarke can be found on the National Portrait Gallery website.

Haw Par Villa, Singapore

I recently came across a batch of small vintage photographs, depicting gruesome scenes that immediately intrigued me. Scanned and enlarged I realised they were mostly of model figures. On the back of one is written ‘Tiger Gardens, Singapore’ and another mentions ‘Chinese Gardens’. So I leapt onto the internet (what did we do in the days before Google Search?!) and soon found information about Haw Par Villa, Singapore, aka Tiger Balm Gardens.

Haw Par Villa Singapore 2

Haw Par Villa Singapore

According to Wikipedia, the gardens opened in 1937 and remain open today. I would guess that these images were taken in the 1950s. One is labelled “Another pleasant pastime – the Bandwagon!” and another, which makes me smile, says “Would you say he is happy at his work?!”.

During my search I also came across the following video, with similar images set to music… enjoy!

A Link to Bangor

Bangor - photo

Photographs like this make me wonder who was behind the camera? Did the location mean something? Was the older lady the driver? So many questions! One thing I do know is the building in the distance is Bangor University (see image 10), and there are other links to Bangor in the Welsh Album, including the postcard below:

Bangor - postcard

Both of these photographs are copies, not originals, meaning that someone thought enough of the town of Bangor, North Wales, to want them and keep them. Perhaps they brought back memories. I will keep digging.