Olive Maud Macaulay

olive maud macaulay a small

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)’:

olive maud macaulay c small

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‘.

Marriage Western Morning News - Thursday 20 August 1903

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.


North Lynn House

north lynn house

Here is the second photograph in the album described in my last blog post, this one labelled ‘North Lynn House’.

Look carefully and you will see two figures on the far left who appear to be playing archery (the target is to the right of the side door of the house). I particularly like the vines that are trailed vertically up the walls in an orderly fashion.

At the time this image was taken there were relatively few inhabitants in this area of Norfolk, which has made tracing the house a little easier. On the 1886 ordnance survey map of King’s Lynn is a building that forms part of North Lynn Farm, and the building shares a similar footprint to one above. In particular there is a small courtyard area, that would be located behind the side door next to the archery target. Also note the location of the pond on both the photograph and the map.

North Lynn Farm 1886

Looking at the 1906 map, the Lodge and Farm are less than half a mile apart, with very little in-between.

Farm and Lodge 1906 ‘Maps reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’
Map Images Website

As for inhabitants, the earliest record I can find comes from the Electoral Rolls of Norfolk, England 1836-37, listing ‘Giles Walker’ as occupier of farmland owned by Lord William George Bentinck.

1836 Norfolk, England, Register of Electors 1836-37

The 1851 census describes Giles Walker as resident at ‘North Lynn Hall’ (presumably an alternative name for the farm) with his given occupation as ‘farmer of 700 acres’. In January 1860, at the age of 67, Giles died and the farm became home to William Marshall and family. Sadly, in 1881 William reportedly took his own life in a gruesome manner, an event described by newspapers at the time.

Norfolk News - Saturday 12 March 1881Norfolk News – Saturday 12 March 1881

The farm was subsequently managed by the two sons of William Marshall, until the older son William Francis Marshall passed away in 1931, aged 78. Between 1938 and 1950 the farm house disappears from the ordnance survey maps, although most of the surrounding buildings remain in place.

I wonder who the people playing archery were? Perhaps members of the Marshall family? I find it sad to think that the house no longer exists, but I hope this blog post helps to keep the memory of the old farm, home and families alive :).

Census & Electoral Rolls information from Ancestry.co.uk

Newspaper clipping from The British Newspaper Archive  © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

The Lodge (North Lynn)

the lodge - north lynn

The above photograph is quite large and comes from a Victorian album I recently bought. It is the first in the album, and is labelled (in faded pencil) as ‘The Lodge – North Lynn’.

All photographs are firmly stuck to cardboard pages and the subject matter varies from groups of people and unknown buildings, to copies of etchings and church interiors.

I would love to know who the people in the carriage are and how they are connected to the Lodge. Look carefully at the right-hand side and you will see someone, possibly a maid, holding the gate open. And in the far distance are buildings that resemble a farm (the subject of my next blog post).

With help from members of the King’s Lynn Forums, I am almost certain it is the Lodge marked on the 1906 Ordnance Survey map of Norfolk, England:

Ordnance Survey 1906 ‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’
Map Images Website

Earlier maps also show a building in the same location, just North of King’s Lynn and close to the Coastguard Station on the banks of the River Ouse. The building can still be seen on Google Maps. But apart from location, its history remains hidden for now.

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!

Update (January 2018)

Thank you to Debbie for contacting me and sharing information. Debbie has brought my attention to the BFI Player, where Blanche Victorine Forsythe can be seen in a small number of early films. In particular, in 1915 Blanche stars as Sal in ‘Heart of a Coster’ (3’25”), and as Peggy in ‘The Lure of Drink’ (from the beginning). Both are well worth viewing!

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.