This photo is of my great grandfather, Ernest, with his sister Jessie and his brothers Frank, Sid and little Freddie. Of the older boys, I’m not sure which one’s which, but my guess is that Ernest is second from left.
There are eight years between little Fred and Jessie, the oldest
– so if he’s about six and she’s about 14 in this photo, that would date it at 1897.*
I don’t know where it was taken, but all of these children were born in Birmingham, as were their parents. This branch of my family – my dad’s mum’s dad’s side – is listed on censuses over the years at addresses around the Bordesley area – Deritend, Small Heath, Hay Mills – including, in the 1881 census, an address at Muntz Street, then the home of Birmingham City FC.
By the 1901 census, the boys and their parents had moved to Crayford in Kent, where Ernest met his future wife – my great grandmother – Rosina, before bringing her back to Birmingham with him to start a family. Jessie stayed in Birmingham, working as a tailor.
I have a tangible connection with Jessie; I wear her ring on my right hand. She left the ring to her favourite niece – my Nanna – Ernest and Rosina’s daughter. And Nanna left it to me.
Intriguingly, someone has been snipped out of this photograph. You can see the line where it’s been cut, between the boy on the far left and the others, leaving only a bit of spooky trouser leg.
*EDIT: I saw my dad at the weekend and he showed me the original photograph – here’s what was written on the back:
Frank Herbert 9 yrs / Ernest John 10 yrs / Jessie May 11 yrs / Sydney Charles 8 yrs / Frederick Clifford 3 yrs
This would date the photo at 1894.
Dad hadn’t noticed that someone had been cut out of the photograph – he couldn’t explain it either…! He did tell me about two more brothers, who wouldn’t have been born when this photograph was taken: Reginald Joseph, who was born in 1897 and died in a POW camp in 1918; and Horace Richard (Dick) born in 1901.
Dad has an amazing scrapbook full of pictures like this, with captions explaining who everyone is. I spent a long time poring over the photos and watching these children growing up, having children and grandchildren of their own and getting old.