I have written a previous article about this branch of the Linfield family which first appeared in ‘Longshot’ in the issue of May 2010. This can now be read on the website (see ‘The Isle of Wight Linfields’). In an earlier edition, we also printed an article by Roger Partridge about his memories of Kate Hilda Linfield, who came from this branch.
I had always regretted that we had very few photographs of this family – there was a grainy picture of Charles Ashover Linfield taken from a magazine article in Canada and some others showing his various stores in Medicine Hat, Alberta. We also had a couple of photos of Kate Linfield, courtesy of Roger Partridge, who remembered her with affection as his ‘Auntie Katie’ when during his childhood she was a great friend and companion to his grandparents.
Luckily, though, in 2016 we recruited a new member to the Group who not only descends from the Isle of Wight branch but has also inherited a fantastic album of old family photographs from her late mother. This was an exciting discovery and I was delighted that, at last, we would have more photos of this branch.
Katherine (Kath) Bennett is a direct descendant of Mark and Mabel Linfield through their youngest son, John Stanford Linfield (1865-1946) who married Nellie Wheeler in 1896. Her grandfather was their eldest son, Albion Stanford Linfield (1897-1974), whom Kath can just remember as she was a very small girl when he died. Albion married Ena Reynolds in 1936 and their daughter Myrtle, born in 1937, was Kath’s mother, who sadly died a few years ago. Albion had a younger brother Lawrence who died in 1990, and Kath remembers him quite well as she used to visit him fairly regularly.
The album is an amazing record of this Victorian family of drapers[i] and local tradesmen but, sadly, there is one problem which is unfortunately very common with old photos – only a few are annotated, so I set myself the task of seeing how many I could identify using some of the clues which these images can provide. Another point of this article is to add further information about the family which has been gleaned from old newspapers and more recent research.
Before continuing any further, a brief review of the family’s history is probably a useful introduction. It all started in 1854, when Mark Linfield (1825-1909) and his wife Mabel moved with their son Mark and daughter Mabel to the town of Ventnor, on the Isle of Wight. Mark was a linen draper by trade, and in the 1851 census he is recorded as such at 1, Albert Terrace in Camberwell, with his younger brother Stanford Frederick (1829-89), also a linen draper, and their sister Jane who was keeping house for them. Mark and his siblings were all born in Storrington, West Sussex and were the youngest three children of William and Harriet Linfield (nee Stanford) who were married in 1803. Both Mark’s father and grandfather Peter Linfield (1734-91) were farmers and butchers in Storrington, a trade followed by his older brother, Thomas (1812-84). Sadly for Jane, Mark and Stanford, they were orphaned when both their parents died in 1835. They were all still very young – Mark was ten, Jane 12 and Stanford only 6 – so they began life with a distinct disadvantage. They were brought up by older siblings, who no doubt wanted to relieve themselves of the financial commitment as early as possible. And so, by 1841, at the age of 15, it is hardly surprising that Mark is working as an apprentice to Henry Marshall, draper of High Street, Steyning.
Sometime after the completion of his apprenticeship, Mark moved to Camberwell to practice his trade. On 29 September 1851, he married Mabel Hall at Belper in Derbyshire – on 10 November 1852 their first child, Mark junior was born and a daughter Mabel, on 18 January 1854. Later in the same year, they decided to start a new life in the Isle of Wight – the obvious appeal of Ventnor in an expanding tourist destination may well have been the deciding factor. Mark worked hard and made a real success of his business, and his family continued to grow. They had a typically large Victorian family, a total of eleven children born between 1852 and 1865: James, their second son, on 12 August 1855; Frederick, born 31 December 1856; Harriet Mabel, born 4 March 1858; Francis Spencer, born 26 March 1859; Arthur Elliott, born in May 1860; Alice, born 11 December 1861; Charles Ashover, born 21 January 1863; Charlotte Elizabeth, born 13 April 1864; and, finally, John Stanford, born 22 November 1865.
Soon after, Mark’s younger brother Stanford also moved to the Isle of Wight, setting himself up as a draper in Brading. Stanford married Phoebe Pickerden at Hastings in 15 April 1854, and their first child Jesse was christened at Ventnor on 27 June 1858. Mark and Stanford undoubtedly had a close family relationship which must have arisen from their shared experiences as young orphans. Their elder sister Jane stayed in the Camberwell area, marrying James Brown at Camberwell Christ Church on 3 August 1857. Stanford joined the newly created 6th (Sandown) Isle of Wight Rifle Volunteers soon after its formation on 31 March 1860, in which he became a Sergeant. Due to its strategic position, a decision was taken in 1859 to re-fortify the island following a perceived threat of invasion from Louis Napoleon who had been building up the French fleet. In Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Artillery and Infantry Volunteer Corps were raised and some major fortifications constructed to repel any threat. Batteries were set up at Sandown, Puckpool, Bouldnor and the Needles. Incidentally, all volunteers had to pay for their own kit and expenses, which seems a bit unfair.
Moving on to the photograph album, a beautiful drawing on the inside cover puts it perfectly into context. It shows that the album itself was a 21st birthday present to Mark and Mabel’s youngest daughter, Charlotte, born 13 April 1864 (Fig. 1). Mabel was her eldest sister, born in 1854, and she married William Henry Pascoe, a Cornish mine agent, on 17 January 1878 at Ventnor.
There are a number of pitfalls to be avoided when looking at old family albums. People shown in an album will not always be immediate family, but may also include cousins, friends and even some favourite servants, especially nannies. Then there are two sides to every family, the paternal and maternal, meaning there may be two families wholly unrelated to each other. Sometimes the ordering of photographs may give some clues, but one needs to be careful when trying to make assumptions about this, not only because photos may get moved about periodically but where albums have been designed to hold a mixture of standard cartes de visites and cabinet prints, it would be very difficult to maintain a chronological order with prints of different sizes. This is the case with the Isle of Wight album. Therefore, it is best to avoid making any assumptions unless there are clues which indicate a particular person in a photograph or a set of photographs belong together.
My first quest was to see if I could find a photo of the head of the family, Mark Linfield (1825-1909). I found a cabinet print of a middle-aged couple whom I suspected could be Mark and Mabel, which is shown below (Fig. 2).
Luckily, by searching the Ancestry website, I managed to find a fellow researcher who is also interested in this family, Carol Petherick Shriver. She was able to send me an image of Mark in about 1905. What I didn’t know initially was whether the woman with him was Mark’s first wife Mabel, who sadly died in 1883, or his second wife, Eleanor (Nellie) Cake whom he married in 1884. Luckily, whilst researching the photographer – who was Samuel Porter of ‘Maison Rouge’, Ventnor – I discovered his obituary in a local paper of 1913 which provided the information that he moved to Ventnor in 1888, presumably setting up his studio in the same year. The serial number 3952, written in pencil on the reverse, indicates it was quite early (a reasonable estimate of 4000 sittings a year has been suggested as a good average for a studio photographer of this period) thereby providing an approximate date of 1889. This lady can therefore only be Mark’s second wife, Eleanor (Nellie).
The image confirming Mark Linfield as the sitter is a remarkable photo of him wearing his Masonic Regalia, annotated on the reverse with the date 1905, when Mark would have been 80. This is reproduced left (Fig. 3). Mark became a Freemason on 22 June 1857 when he was initiated into the Yarborough Lodge at Ventnor.
It is important to look for distinguishing facial features, especially the eyes and the nose, to help in the identification of close relatives who may have similar characteristics. The ears should also be compared because they change very little over time and usually maintain their exact shape. Mark has a long nose, prominent eyes and quite large ears.
Another photograph which soon caught my attention shows a middle-aged gentleman with a full grey beard, but he also has the unmistakable nose, large – slightly bulbous – eyes and similar ears to Mark Linfield (Fig. 4). This has to be Mark’s younger brother, Stanford. This photo was taken at the studio of Arthur Nicholls, 5 Marine Terrace, during the 1880s. Sadly, Stanford died in 1889 at the age of 60. He had suffered for many years from asthma and bronchitis. He left a widow, Jane (his second wife) and two surviving daughters, Jesse Armitage (married to Robert Fisk) and Emily Laura. His probate reveals a considerable personal estate to the value of £4,555.0s.8d.
These characteristic facial features are very prominent in several of the family. Another picture of Mark taken around 1880 by Arthur Nichols (Fig. 5) shows the resemblance between himself and his younger brother even more vividly, especially the eyes and nose. When considering the identification of Mark and Mabel’s children, these physical clues have proved very useful. It is now worth considering the following image of a young woman to show how it works (Fig. 6).
I decided initially to search for any images of Mark and Mabel’s daughters, as they only had 3 daughters who reached adulthood. Alice, their third daughter died in 1863 at the age of two. Hopefully, this would be an easier option than tackling the identity of their 7 sons! I found an interesting series of ‘carte de visite’ photographs, all taken at the studio of W. Nicholson, Ventnor and Shanklin. It also looks as though they were all taken at the same time. From the facial similarities, they all appear to be related and I feel certain they show Charlotte’s siblings, the children of Mabel and Mark Linfield. I have chosen the year 1877 as a close estimate of their date since it closely reflects the ages of the sitters at that time, and the date is compatible with the hair and clothes fashions they are wearing.
Once again, it was the Ancestry site which resulted in a positive identification of one of the young ladies as Harriet Mabel Linfield (shown right, Fig. 6). She is wearing a typical hair style from the mid-1870s with its elaborate ringlets and false hair extensions. She is fashionably dressed in the extravagant style of the seventies, with its full range of decorative and colour contrasts. Her day dress has the characteristic high neckline and long sleeves which are fairly tight around the wrists. She is wearing a velvet ribbon around her neck, another typical fashion accessory for the period. What is quite remarkable is that I found a copy of the very same photograph on the genealogy site of Carol Petherick Shriver. Harriet Mabel Linfield, born 4 March 1858, is her great-grandmother. Although Ancestry has its faults, and one must be wary of errors through some of the shoddy research of many of its members, the site can provide some amazing links with people you would never have known about. And the exchange of family photos is one of really positive benefits of membership.
Harriet married John Henry Petherick (1856-1944), a Cornish mining agent on 3 January 1878 at Ventnor. John was born in Chasewater, Cornwall son of John Petherick, also a mining agent. Soon after the birth of their son John Henry Petherick junior on 30 June 1880, they headed for Mexico City, where their daughter Alice Caroline was born on 26 October 1881.
All I had to do now was to try and identify Harriet’s two living sisters, Mabel and Charlotte. Since Charlotte was only a young girl of 13 in 1877, it didn’t take long to find another photo in the series which fitted her profile (see Fig. 7). Again, she is wearing the fashion of the 1870s – a very elaborate dress with the typical velvet ribbon around the neck. These monochrome images do nothing to convey the vivid colours and amazing contrasts of the clothes she is wearing – she must have looked quite stunning.
Interestingly, I have identified a later portrait of Charlotte taken over a decade later (Fig.8). She has the recognisable facial features, especially the large nose and mouth shape and the slightly prominent eyes, which can be seen most closely in her father, Mark. Luckily, there are some very strong clues which point to Charlotte as the subject of this superb photograph. Firstly, it was also taken at the studio of Samuel J. Porter at Maison Rouge Ventnor, like the image of Mark and Eleanor shown above, but we also know that both photos were actually taken on the same day from the penciled serial number on the reverse (3951). This shows it was taken immediately before Mark and his wife who were 3952. Through a process of elimination, this has to be Mark’s youngest daughter, Charlotte Elizabeth, who would have been 25 in 1889, which is the age she appears.
She was also the last daughter still living at home, as both of her older sisters had married in January 1878. The close-up of her face (Fig. 9) shows the family resemblance more clearly.
The eldest sister, Mabel, would have celebrated her 23rd birthday in 1877 and therefore it was again fairly easy to find a photograph which is probably of her (Fig. 10). The young lady depicted is sporting a very fashionable hairstyle from the mid-1870s with its ringlets and lavish hair extensions. Again, she has many of the familiar facial characteristics we have recognized in her father and sisters. Mabel and her youngest sister seem to have had a close bond, and when Charlotte died on 4 July 1917 it was while she was staying with her sister at Camborne, in Cornwall. Mabel was now a widow. Charlotte was only 53, and her death certificate indicates that she died from pernicious anaemia, a condition which is now easily treatable. Charlotte was buried in the local parish churchyard.
Interestingly, the first photograph in the album would appear to be a cabinet print of Mabel due to the facial similarities to the earlier picture (Fig. 11). It would seem quite logical that a photograph of Mabel should be the first in her sister’s album, as it was she and her husband who bought the present for her 21st birthday. Family albums were treasured items in Victorian times and very popular. Her updo hairstyle was popular during the 1880s and is quite plain when compared to the lavish styles of the previous decade. This photo was also taken by Samuel Porter so cannot be any earlier than 1888.
Again, there is a strong Cornwall connection. I have subsequently discovered that there was a family connection between John Henry Petherick and William Pascoe, since John’s uncle Ezekial Petherick (1837-1897) married Francis Jane Pascoe in 1864 at Redruth. Francis was William Pascoe’s sister. William married Mabel Linfield at Ventnor on 17 January 1878, just two weeks after his nephew married her younger sister.
The early 1880s were a very difficult time for the Linfields, as there were affected by some tragic family bereavements. The first of these was the sudden death of Mark and Mabel’s second son James, who died in London on 23 June 1881 at the age of 25. In the census taken just a few months earlier, James is working as a draper in the family shop in Ventnor so I decided to get a copy of his death certificate to find out what happened to him. Sadly, he died in the Middlesex Hospital after an operation for rectal cancer. His father Mark was in attendance. Rather unusually, the family album shows a photograph of his grave in a London cemetery (Fig. 12).
Then, some 17 months later, still grieving after the loss of James, their eldest son Mark was tragically killed in a road accident. The Isle of Wight Observer gives a particularly vivid account of how it all happened:
“Saturday 18 November 1882
FATAL ACCIDENT TO A TRADESMAN.
Great consternation was caused in Shanklin, on Monday evening, by a report to the effect that Mr Linfield, a respected tradesman, had sustained fatal injuries on being thrown from a carriage between Ventnor and Shanklin. Mr Mark Linfield, draper, was driving home together with his wife, with a horse and carriage hired from Mr Shilling, postmaster, and when near Cowlease-hill the occupants were thrown out. Mr Linfield fell heavily upon his head, cutting his face severely and breaking his neck, whilst Mrs Linfield escaped with a severe shaking. Finding her efforts ineffectual to rouse her husband, she ran into Shanklin for assistance, and on the arrival of the body at his residence it was discovered that Mr Linfield was quite dead. Great sympathy is felt, not only in this town, but in Ventnor and Shanklin, where relatives of the deceased hold prominent positions as tradesmen, at the loss sustained by the widow.
The inquest was hell by the Deputy-Coroner (K. F. Blake, jun., Esq.), at the residence of the deceased, in High-street, Shanklin. The following evidence was taken:
Mrs Harriet Linfield, wife of the deceased, stated that during the afternoon of Monday her husband obtained a horse and dog-cart at Shilling’s, and drove her to Ventnor. On the return journey they came from Ventnor to Luccombe, towards Shanklin. The roads were very much affected by the late storm, and when near a corner of the road they were thrown from the carriage, but it did not turn over. She then endeavoured to rouse her husband and spoke to him, but, receiving no reply ran into Shanklin for assistance. They were not driving fast at the time of the accident — very slowly in fact. It was very dark.
William Coker, labourer, living at Upper Lynch near Shanklin, said on Monday evening whilst sitting in his house he heard the sound of a horse and cart, and at the same time someone cried out. He went outside and met Mrs Linfield, who said her husband was lying near the copse hurt. He got a light and soon found the deceased lying by the side of the road. He raised his head, undid his coat and felt his breast, but his heart did not beat. A carriage then came along and Mr Linfield was taken to Shanklin. There were no stones near where deceased was found, but witness discovered where the carriage ran into the bank about 6 yards above the spot on the opposite side of the road. He was of opinion that the accident was the result of turning the corner too short. The mark of the wheel on the bank was two feet above the road.
Mr S. H. Shilling, postmaster, said Mr Linfield came to him about 2.30 on Monday afternoon, and hired a horse and dog-cart, to go to Godshill to take his wife for a drive. He paid 6s for the horse and trap. He had often driven witness’s horses. The horse he used on Monday was 10 years old, and had been in his hands for 5 years. It had always gone kindly, and was in all respects a quiet horse.
Mr David Lloyd, surgeon practising in Shanklin, said he saw the body of the deceased when it was brought home. He examined it externally and found the face cut and bruised, the left eye was considerably swollen. When he saw the deceased he was quite dead, and had been so for some time. As a result of further examination he found Mr Linfield had broken his neck. The jury concurred in a verdict of ” Accidental Death.”
Mark married Harriet Chilman at Godalming in 1878, and had his own business in Shanklin High Street, which was also a thriving resort. The census of 1881 shows that they were living at 3, Adelaide Terrace at the time, and Mark’s younger brother Charles, now aged 19, a ‘draper’s assistant’, was also living with them. Mark and Harriet had three daughters: Ruth, born in 1879; Ada Florence, born in 1881; and Harriett Mabel, born in 1882. With three young children, all under the age of 3, and their mother badly shaken, no doubt the family rallied round to help, at least until their mother was in a position to get back on her feet.
The death of their two eldest sons in quick succession must have taken its toll on their parents. However, soon after Mark’s death, their mother Mabel was struck down with liver cancer and after a long battle died at home on 15 July 1883 at the age of 56, with her family around her.
Mark married for a second time on 23 February 1884, his new wife Eleanor (Nellie Cake) being a long-term employee who had worked in the business for many years. But any new-found happiness with Nellie would have been shattered the following year when his daughter Harriet Mabel died at sea on the Steamship ‘City of Nantes’ whilst crossing the Atlantic Ocean. She died from the effects of tuberculosis on 30 September 1885. She was travelling to America with her husband and three young children, Mabel (1879-1974), John Henry junior (1880-1953) and Alice Caroline (1881-1888), who had been born in Mexico. John and their young children settled in San Bernardino, California and in 1886 he married Marie LeVavasour Dymoke Henessey. They started a new family together, but sadly in 1888 Alice died at the age of 7.
Carol Shriver also sent me a remarkable photograph showing four generations of her Petherick ancestors (Fig. 13). It shows (L to R) John Petherick senior (1835-1927), Harriet’s father-in-law, John Henry Petherick, Sr. (1856-1944), Harriet’s Husband, John Francis Petherick (1907-1995), Harriet’s grandson and John Henry Petherick, Jr. (1880-1953), Harriet’s son. There is also a photo of Harriet’s daughter Mabel Petherick Heber Pratt, Harriet’s eldest daughter (1879-1974) when she was very old.
It is difficult to know which of the Nicholson sequence show the portraits of Mark and James, the oldest two sons, who would have been 25 and 22 respectively in 1877. They are probably the two men shown in the next two images (Fig. 14 and 15). Pure guesswork would indicate that the first man is a few years older than the other, so could this be Mark junior and the other his brother James, both of whom were to die so tragically within the next 5 years?
The third brother, Frederick was born on 31 December 1856, and so would have been aged 20 in the year 1877. My guess as to his identity would be the next photograph in the sequence (Fig. 16). Frederick never married, and at the time of the 1911 census, is living with his younger brother Francis and his family at Mitcham in Surrey. He died in 1922.
So far, these would seem to be fairly reasonable guesses. However, there are only six brothers in this sequence of photographs so who is missing and why? The younger four brothers were Francis Spencer, aged 18 in 1877, Arthur Elliott, aged 17 in 1877, Charles Ashover, aged 14, and John Stanford, aged 12. John Stanford Linfield is easy to identify because we know he moved to Buffalo in New York State soon after his marriage to Nellie Wheeler in 1896, where their son Albion Stanford was born 1897. There is a fine photograph of him taken at Buffalo by Andrew Simson (Fig.17) which compares very favourably with the Nicholson image of 1877 when he was 12 (Fig. 18). He definitely has the Linfield eyes, nose and ears.
We also have a known image of Charles Ashover Linfield, taken in 1913 when he was 50 (Fig.19). This shows a distinguished looking man with a military style moustache, and although taken many years earlier, I think the William Nicholson image of 1877 shows a good resemblance to what Charles may have looked like at the age of 14, in particular the shape of his head, ears and eyes (Fig. 20). But can we be sure this is really him?
The penultimate photograph in this sequence from about 1877 (Fig. 21) has to be either Francis Spencer (1859-1915) or Arthur Elliott (1860-1936), too close in age to distinguish between them. It is interesting that the younger siblings are wearing a different style of suit to their older brothers, still 3-piece suits, but of a much lighter colour and different material. Could this be indicative of their ages? Perhaps their father considered his sons to be sufficiently mature to wear the dark, more sophisticated adult suits when they were old enough to work in the family business. A possible clue to the identity of the boy in this final photo is that there is a photograph in the album which would appear to depict Francis Spencer, due to a combination of useful clues. This photo is not in the best condition and is shown in Fig. 22. There is quite a close likeness between boy and man, although Francis would have been 18 in 1877 and the boy shown looks as though he may be a year or two younger.
The critical clue is the name of the photographer ‘W. Hall, at 80 West St., Brighton’. After many years in the business, initially in partnership, William Hall opened a new photographic portrait studio at 80 West Street in about 1874.The 1881 census provides the corroborative evidence that the young man depicted is most probably Francis Spencer Linfield because he is the only member of the family living in Brighton at the time. He is working as a draper’s assistant in the large drapery store of Joseph Smith situated on the eastern corner of North Street and East Street. Smith was employing 23 men and 18 women. By this process of deduction, my own view is that Arthur Elliott Linfield would appear to be missing from the sequence of photos.
There is one more photo in the Nicholson series of 1877 which shows their father Mark Linfield, who would have been 52 (Fig. 23). Rather oddly, there is not one of their mother Mabel in this grouping; perhaps she had an aversion to being photographed. Although there are a small number of photos in the album which could be her, I have not been able to positively identify her using any available clues. Funnily enough, though, there is a photo of her mother, captioned on the reverse ‘Mrs Mabel Hall’, taken at Wirksworth in Derbyshire.
Incidentally, by comparing another photo in Kath’s album with one of Roger Partridge’s showing her as a middle-aged woman in the late 1930s, we have identified Kate Hilda Linfield (1892-1982), Francis Spencer’s daughter, as a young woman. This is the next photograph, Fig. 24.
There are dozens of other photographs in the album which could be examined further, but this article has tried to put names to the main members of Mark and Mabel Linfield’s immediate family, using whatever clues have been available. It has been a useful and enjoyable piece of detective work, albeit there may be some mistakes based on some of the assumptions I have made. Hopefully, some of these may be resolved in time – especially if I am able to make contact with any of the living descendants of Arthur Elliott Linfield who may have some photographs of their own. Hopefully, one of them may read this article and get in touch! Arthur Elliott Linfield married Annie Vardy in Portsea in 1888, and they had 5 daughters and one son, William Elliott Linfield (1901-83). The family moved to Salisbury before 1900. William lived in Salisbury all his life and married Freda Dimer in 1939, having two sons who were born during the early 1940s. William’s background was in engineering, but in 1939 he was recorded as a carpenter and in 1942 as a paint merchant.
It is interesting to speculate how the family album came down through the family. After Charlotte’s death in 1917, it presumably went to her eldest sister Mabel. Mabel was presumably in close contact with her brother John Stanford Linfield, who at the time of the 1911 census was working close by as an agricultural labourer at Barriper, a small village on the western boundary of Camborne parish. When Mabel died in 1920, it is easy to see how it would have gone to John, and subsequently to his eldest son Albion, then to Kath’s mother, Myrtle.
Needless to say, I hope my assumptions are generally correct and I haven’t made too many errors. Unfortunately, the album has few photographs of Charlotte’s brothers and sisters in later life, which could have helped in providing further verification of the images of Mark and James who sadly died so young. If anyone can help further with any suggestions or comments on this article, please get in touch. There are probably more clues which can be explored – I do hope so!
Finally, one last photograph, showing Kath’s grandfather, Albion Stanford Linfield, as a young boy (Fig. 25).
- to Kath Bennett for generously allowing me to borrow her treasured family album and copy the wonderful photographs it contains.
- to Carol Petherick Shriver for permission to use her photograph of Mark Linfield in his Masonic regalia and the lovely group photo of her Petherick ancestors. And, of course, for providing the definitive identification of Harriet Mabel Linfield!
- Pols, Robert, Understanding Old Photographs, Robert Boyd Publications, 1995
- Pols, Robert, Looking at Old Photographs, Federation of Family History Societies (Publications) Ltd., 1998
[i] The term ‘draper’ is not really a term which is used any more in the English language. It means dealer in linens, cloths and related fabrics to make all sorts of items – from men’s, women’s and children’s clothes to furnishing fabrics, bedclothes and curtains.