Thursday, February 21, 2013

Happy Family Portraits...Sepia Saturday (165)

(If I really have to guess I will go for Canada 1963)
Oh dear !

I found this weeks photo a bit of a challenge. I really could not read the faces of this little group, they give nothing away except that they have prepared themselves for a formal studio photo. To me the year and the nationality is obscure.

They appear to be generic parents with a little generic boy, in a generic pose. The generic granny was undoubtedly pleased to receive a copy for a generic Christmas present.

 Hmmmm!...What could I possibly write about? Am I allowed to miss a week if I don't feel inspired?

I could tease them.........perhaps I might have focused on his winklepickers or his string vest, but I worried that this may be a favoured family photo of a senior member of the Sepia Saturday governing body, and I began to quake at the consequences. I am a new boy after all.

On the assumption that this little group appeared a moderately Happy Family (if not a trifle stressed by the event) , I decided to go and find that pack of cards Granny Aspdin used to pull out for me when I was little.

(Actually, they used to terrify me when I was little !!)

Happy Families was devised by John Jaques II in 1851. The games manufacturer John Jaques of London (founded in 1795) commissioned a set of drawings from John Tenniel,. Tenniel is most noted for two major accomplishments: he was the principal political cartoonist for England’s Punch magazine for over 50 years, and he was the artist who illustrated Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.

The game was shown at the Great Exhibition of that year and was an instant success, rapidly superseding similar games such as John Bull in which players also collected sets of four cards. Jaques' version of Happy Families remained popular until the Second World War, but was lucky to survive thereafter. In 1941, during the Blitz, a large bomb destroyed the Hatton Garden factory. However, a safe, which had been kept at the top of the building and had fallen through to the basement, yielded the charred remains of an old pattern book, which included the originals for all the firm's card games.

My Happy Ancestors

Here are a few of my happy ancestors. Well, I assume they were happy, but I don't think that smiling was encouraged in the days of slow film speed in the 1800s . In fact, looking at my old family albums, family groups are increasingly rare the further one goes back, I assume because of the wriggle factor.

John Bywater Smith and  wife Mary Ann (nee) Woolley with sons
 Joseph Arthur and Charles Sydney, and daughters Edith and  Mabel.

Circa 1892 (Arthur Neale, Nottingham)

Do you remember the skating  Slater sisters last week? Here they are with their parents circa  1899.

I never knew any of the loosely related family below, but I do think they look a lovely happy family, even if the Mum was distracted.

The Olorenshaw family
(Circa 1906. Photo J Perks, Swadlincote)
Harriett Elizabeth (Cissie) HEWITT b. c. Feb 1867 Derby DBY d. 1935 Coventry WAR
(road accident) m: 4 Sep 1893 Alvaston DBY George William Borbeck OLORENSHAW b.
c.Feb 1868 Alfreton DBY
|- George OLORENSHAW b. c.Aug 1894 Coventry WAR
|- Grace OLORENSHAW b. c.Feb 1896 Coventry WAR
|- Mary OLORENSHAW b. c.May 1897 Coventry WAR
|- John OLORENSHAW b. c.Nov 1900 Coventry WAR
Research: Courtesy Brett Payne.

Big Happy Family, (and cheeky maid inside!)

The Hewitt family, 10 children of John Richardson Hewitt and 3 friends, at their home in Uttoxeter Old Road Derby circa 1889. 
 Harriett Elizabeth (Cissie) HEWITT from the prior photo must be back row right. If the ckeeky maid stayed with the family until the 1891 census she was Hannah FIELDING , single aged 28. Domestic Servant. Born Leicester, Norton Weal.

Less Happy Family. British Beach Holiday.
Summer (Yes!!) 1930.

I will be writing about these ancestors next week!! The photographer, my Mum, was a very happy 11 year old, wait until next week to find out why !!
 Borth (Welsh: Y Borth, (literally English: The Port)) is a coastal village 7 miles north of Aberystwyth in the county of Ceredigion, Mid Wales.

The end

February 23, 2013

I added these photos of some of the Hewitt sisters after responding to Barbara and Nancy's comment. The first is the little girl at the front left of the group image, the others are of her older sisters (when they were younger) and I include these as there are undeniable similar looks, the curly fringe being a feature !


  1. That last photo made me smile. Now I'll have to wait a week to find out more.

  2. The Photo With The Slater Sisters Is One Of The Best Family Portraits I Have Ever Seen! & The Bloke In The Final Photograph! His Expression is priceless!

  3. I'm with tony on the Slater Sisters photo. It jumps out at you, it's so striking.

  4. I adore the maid in the window - priceless!

  5. It's interesting that in the age of non-smiling family shots, many of your ancestral children were on the verge of modernism with a slight smile. The best though is the maid in the window - how symbolic of her being the ultimate insider while forever an outsider.

  6. The young lad in the front row of the Big Happy Family looks like an angel with wings (the pants of the chap behind). Is the maid looking out the window a photo bomber? Brilliant post - your segues from the unknown family to the game to your happy family. Another big hit Nigel!

  7. The Happy Family photos look a lot happier than the cards. The card game looks like it was designed to frighten children.

  8. I collect vintage card games, but I've never seen yours. Could the game have evolved into Snap Fish. I can really see the resemblance to the Queen of Hearts on that one card.

    The Hewitt family looks as if they stepped out of a Merchant/Ivory film. And isn't that a maid sitting in the front row - not just the one behind the window?
    And that last photo - what kind of a nightmare vacation was that? Can't wait to hear all about it.

  9. I don't know the game Snap Fish and on a quick search I did not find it. Give me a clue and I will see if I can follow that up. As you see from the box, Jacques did also publish a game to which they refer to as "Snap". The current Jacques web site lays claim to..."We were also responsible for the creation of much loved family board games and games for children such as Snakes & Ladders, Ludo, Happy Families, Snap and Tiddly Winks"....but the Snap game I played as a child was just with an ordinary pack of cards, so I assume its something different.

    I am sure the little girl is not the maid, she is just dressed in a pinafore as a playing child would be. I don't doubt that she and the real maid were close pals, so maybe the maid ran up a matching pinafore for her !

    I added some images at the bottom of the blog for you, the little girl in a formal pose, and her elder sisters (at an earlier age). I would say quite a good DNA match !

  10. I remember Happy Families so it obviously got to Australia somehow. My Nanna (born in Australia as were both her parents) was a huge one for card games!
    I think the 'distracted' mother really just wants the photographer to 'capture her best side'.
    Obviously the beach group have been told to get some sun for their health - nothing like an Aussie summer beach shot.

  11. What a great collection of handsome family groups!

    Kathy M.

  12. What a fabulous medley on the theme. The Bones family is indeed a bit frightening. I like the Slater skater sisters but the Olorenshaw family was my favorite, with their quite modern direct gaze and smiles and the one accidental distracted SQUIRREL! look.

    Not a generic post at all.

  13. Oh the two photos before the last one are my favorite. What a fun fact filled interesting take on this week's theme. I totally enjoyed seeing it all!

  14. A thoroughly enjoyable post Nigel- so much for being stuck!! And of course you don't have to post every week if the mood doesn't take you.

    These are really very interesting photos and worth more than a cursory glance as there is so much detail to pore over. The first family almost look 'modern' in their attitude and pose, and as for what I belive our esteemed founder, Kat Mortensen would call the 'photobombing' maid - that's very funny.

    Now, we would all be very grateful if you would switch off word verification. Most of us here on Sepia Saturday find that comment moderation works just fine and isn't nealy so frustrating for those attempting to comment.

    Have you thought of joining our Facebook group by the way?

    1. Sorry...did not realise Word Verification was on. Its now changed.

  15. Very enjoyable look through your family photos! That Bones family could give a kid nightmares.

  16. That beach scene in the last photograph is how I imagine most English beaches to be, although I suppose there must be a few with better outlooks. To be honest, I wonder why they bother going to the beach if they have to rug up like that.

    1. Be patient will find out why next week !

  17. Wonderful photographs, particularly that last one. Looking forward to discovering more about it next week.

  18. You have some great faces in your collection, men of character and women that look as if they know their own minds. You also have some that have a sense of order, time and place and when it summer we sit out on the beach