Edwardian Annotation

It’s a balmy sunny day in East Ham in August 1911 – the wedding day of our grandmother (Amelia Rosetta Finch) and our grandfather (William Jewson-Finch). Looking across all the wedding guests your curiosity is piqued. Who is that rambunctious fellow in the glasses and the military man whose shoulders he is playfully resting on? Who is that ageing couple seated in the front row – surely their past reaches well into the Victorian era? Putting faces to names can be an impossible task unless you are fortunate enough to have in your hand a handcrafted annotation from the Edwardian era. Luckily enough, our Aunt Gwendolyn had enough foresight to write down on a piece of manuscript who was present in the photograph. Using an ingenious numbering system, our aunt (some forty years after the event) had identified many of the people in the scene from over a hundred years ago.

Annotation notes written by Aunt Gwen 40 years after the wedding.

Now it comes to life! We’ve done the family tree, we know when people were born, got married, won medals and passed away. But without clues such as Aunt Gwen’s we are left with a collection of antique photos and ancestry data that means very little to anyone.

But now we know that the little old lady in the white shawl sitting at the front right is our great-great-grandmother Rosetta Finch (nee Rosetta Ellmore 1831–1912). The piece of paper also tells us that the old bearded gentleman next to her is not her husband. It’s William Brown, our great great grandfather from our grandmother’s side. The sewing machine maker. The one that was renowned for walking for five days from Nottingham to London, finding a new home.

The spectacled chap wearing a bowtie and broad grin on the back row to the right is our great uncle Edgar Jewson, resting on the shoulders of his brother Bertram Jewson Finch.

This wedding photo would provide the key to unlocking our photo albums. No longer would they be anonymous, forgotten faces. With a little bit of imagination we could also spot them in other photos, even from different eras. These clues would enable us to track forward and even track backwards in time. Even the dog named Buller who sits in the front had his own recorded history that will appear in a future post.

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