Sunday, November 15, 2020

The Lees of West Hill, Brampton or, Saving a Cumberland family's archive.

It's happened again. I was going quietly along, tidying up my story about the lovely Saxtons of Matlock Bath, and just very vaguely thinking about starting on work the next book, when I some how made an écart into e-bay and saw another family album in the process of being torn apart ... what's a day in the life of an old hayfeverish man, locked in his dark study ... I have to save the Lees of Brampton from the depredations of Mr/Ms legitlibrum!

Here is the photo that first caught my eye

If only they hadn't been labelled! But they are. In pencil, and seemingly later than the date of taking of the photograph, which is apparently late 1860s. We have two lasses, Alice and Annie, surnamed Shield, and two named Lee. I like the look of the Shield girls, so I chased them first. But no confirmable luck, so far. So, on to the Lees. Yes, the two lasses who look as though Julie Andrews has made their frocks out of the curtain material. That's Mabel Jane seated, and 'Lillie' standing. And it is their family which is the heart and soul of this collection.

Once upon a time there was a lawyer by name John Lee (d 25 March 1880), who came from Nether Denton, in Cumberland, and settled, not far away, in the village of Brampton (now gobbled up by the metropolis of Carlisle) where he plied his trade in partnership (eventually) with the established Mr John Carrick. Here he is, clerking, in 1834.

Mr Lee married Miss Mary Ann Blacklock 'of Cumwhitton' 15 October 1836. And I think that, among the huge collection of photographs, we may actually have pictures of them

This, I am sure, is Mary Ann

And this John? Playing soldiers with the Volunteers, or taking time off from practising law to kill someone?

And, dated 1862 ...

I will follow that up another time, but in the 60s, John sr was in his 60s, and John jr only in his twenties, so I think we are safe saying this is John sr.

Right. Skip on. Facts. Not counting several episodes of infant mortality, John (d 1880) and Mary (d 1875) had for offspring (1) James Blacklock Lee (2) Mary Ann Lee (3) Elizabeth Lowther Lee (4) John Joseph Lee (5) Mabel Jane Lee (6) Emma Henrietta Lee (7) William Carrick Lee, and (8) Percy Thomas Lee. So, I think we can safely say that our curtain-material girls are Elizabeth (1842-1927) and Mabel (1848-1916). Both remained spinsters, as did William (1856-1913) and Emma (1853-?1936). Mary Ann became Mrs Dickinson, and died at the age of 47. Percy became, fate of youngest brother, a Rev. I lose J J.

I see that Mabel could brush up with a bit of Gok-styling

This seems to be Emma, from two different points of view

This is Percy... future Vicar of Garrigil then Shilbottle

And this is John Joseph (b 1845), educated at Parkgate Road Technical College, Chester, who seems to have ended up in Scotland ... though he must have been in Brampton for this photo session.

Which leaves James B, and that is exactly where we want to be.

James became a solicitor (and coroner), like his father. 11 August 1863, he married a Miss Emily Clay (yayy! there are Clay photos in that jewel of a collection!) and ...

But! Pause for the Clays! The Clays of Nether Denton. Robert and his wife Sarah Ann née Laing. Daughters Emily (1842) ... Annie Elizabeth (1856), Laura Cecilia (1859) ..  here we are! Or are we?

Cecilia and Annie ... but, hang on, the age is way out! This looks like the Annie (1814-1879) and Cecilia [Margaret] (1827-1888) who can both be seen ('annuitant') in Newcastle .. daughters of Robert Clay, master mariner, and his wife, Elizabeth ... Emily Lee's maiden aunts! 

And, why! Emily herself ...?

So, Emily married Mr J B Lee (b Brampton 1837; d The White House, Brampton 1 October 1903) 

and here we are ...

So. Then we have the next gen. Harry James (solicitor and !!!theatrical manager?, b Brampton 11 October 1864), Arthur (solicitor), Emily Ethel, Hubert John, Robert Clifton, Francis Blacklock, William Frederick, Laura Eliza .. Well, round about this time the labelling got sloppy: if it was Emily's collection she, obviously, didn't need to label her children, unless the photo was being sent to someone else. However, I can decipher some ..

Harry James ..  aged two ...

and older

Here's Hubert. Thrice!

Hubert became a bank clerk, married, bred ...

Francis Blacklock Lee. He was in the New Zealand army in the Great War, worked as a secretary of the Herekino Dairy Company, and died in Whangarei 7 September 1948, aged 73. He married Miss Gertrude Emily Dysart, but left no children. One dead branch.

Fred Lee ie William Frederick

That's three of the nine children: no Harry, Arthur, Emily, Robert, Laura or Septimus Joseph. Yet. 

Postscriptum: well, I've kept an eye on Mr Legitlibrum, and sure enough, a couple of months later, who should surface but JB and Emily's two firstborn: Harry and Arthur

and little daughter Emily ..

and here little Em'ly is again, with brothers Hubert and [Robert] Clifton

More Hubert/Herberts

Here's Frank

Alas, many of the other photos are unlabelled, but we can tell they belong to the collection. So is this John (1) or John (2)? That hideous beard ... it must be John (1) ..

Is this a younger version of the beard? The frogging on the sleeves ..

And well, we can be pretty certain about this one. Alice and Annie Shield. And Lillie Lee.

There are heaps more. They should all be enshrined in the Brampton Museum. But no. History has no chance against e-bay ...

Mr/Ms Legitlibrum. Before you break up another collection ... just think. You may sell a few of these photos, singly, for two or three quid. But if you keep them all together, a museum or a benefactor (such as I) will buy the whole lot for a hundred or two or even three. But the collection needs to be COMPLETE.

Oh dear, look! More ... he's fun. From the days when beards were a Male thing rather than a gay style ..

And dammit! Here's another photo of Alice Squire! Distant relation? Friend? Or have I missed something? Dated 1864 .. Well, I see and Alice (b 1836) and an Annie (b 1841) in Houghton, Stanwix. Father is a cotton weaver and mother (née Thornton) a bobbin-winder. The gowns look a bit rich ...

And these, unlabelled ..

Here are the curtains again..

Oh! Here's a later one 'Dorothy Lee and/or Daisy'. Dorothy? Daughter of Hubert John and born 2 November 1899 at Brampton? ... someone else has revived the photo album, thirty, forty years on? I see there was a Dorothy Lee in Brampton back in the early part of the century ... isn't it a nuisance when folk keep using the same forenames over and over ...

This one isn't named, but I'll bet it's the Lees .. yes, Mary Ann and Percy ..

Or is it!  This has just surfaced. months later. Mary Ann Dickinson née Lee. It is surely the same lady...

And this

Well, now that I've salvaged the best of the pictorial bunch, let's see what else I can discover...

And still they come! Here is little Emily Ethel Lee. 

And here is Emily Ethel Symington d 15 August 1959 .. in Brampton's churchyard ... along with three 18th century Lees ... Where are the rest, I wonder. They seem to have been a church-going family.

Enough. The Lee family honour is saved ... time to get back to work on that book. I'm sure that there is much more to be found, but ...

Hang on, who is this Laura C Clay ... 1880? Why! Its our Laura Cecilia (1859-1953) ...!  Married 1883. To William Henry Victor Vincent Bradley (ouf!), Bank of England clerk. Sons Cecil Vincent, Guy Laing ... Died 15 June 1953 at Hexham.

And sister Annie Elizabeth seems to have married an Arthur Hugh Sutherland ...

I know, I'm going on and on .. but so does this family! And I'm still hoping to spot a Shield in there somewhere!

Goodness, Mr J B Lee even had the servants photographed! Annie Grisdale and Maggie Little. Annie is with them in the 1891 census, 'aged 39', born Castlesowerby, daughter of a shoemaker ... soon after this photo, she married (so it seems) a widowed railway porter, Robert Lamonby, with three children, had a legitimate daughter of her own, to add to what seems like a youthful illegitimate one, lost her husband ... she died aged 70 in 1920.

The next day: I don't know whether my blog started something (I did alert the local paper and historical societies at Brampton) or not, but someone has bid for a number of the photos. Mabel Jane in her hunting gear has 16 bids and is up to 26 quid. Little Dorothy is up to thirteen. But nobody has latched on to my favourite ... and no-one seems interested in the Shields!

The day after: Rule of Thumb. ALWAYS revisit the scene of the crime!  Here is a little trove of Shields!

Annie Shield

Annie and ... Hugh!

Aunt Lizzie and Arthur

Got 'em!!!!!!! 1861 census. George Robertson Shield (49) woollen cloth merchant, 10 Claremont Place, St Andrew, Newcastle. Wife Elizabeth Alice (39). Children: Alice (13), Annie (11), George (9), Hugh Walter (7), Frederick (5), Arthur (2 months). I see Mrs Shield got a sabbatical year between children, but they nevertheless employed 2 nurses as well as the usual cook and housemaid. And guess what? Elizabeth Alice, Mrs Shield, was born ... Miss Clay! I knew there had to be a family connection! Alas, Elizabeth Alice died at Framlington Place 2 January 1864 ...

Oh, no sabbatical in 1850. Daughter, Kate, died 31 December 1854 aged 4 1/4 .... and oh, died 31 March 1858 Isabella, infant daughter ... No sabbatical at all ...

Oh dear. Here is papa's gravestone. Died 1894. Oh dear. A hecatomb among his sons: Hugh was lost at sea in the steamer Vanguard between London and Lisbon in 1882, aged 28 ... Frederick died 22 January 1881 aged 24, George born 1 March 1852, died 7 January 1884 aged 31... and baby Arthur (b 27 February 1861) is on there, too. But Annie and Alice ... ? Alice, where art thou?

And, here are Alice Lee (Mrs Hubert J, née Alice Plues), Dorothy and Gordon and ... Daisy the dog!  Well, we've had Dorothy and Daisy the dog before, and 'Gordon' is Hubert Gordon Lee born 1901 ...

Watch this space!  I knew it! Days later up pops a bit more Clay .... Annie Clay, dated 1880.

William Clay 1862

Robert Clifton Lee in 1882

And here is another branch of the family. Miss Fannie Blacklock 1886 ...

And there are more. 

Well, the right people notified, it has been ascertained that these photos, and more, came from a known collection owned by a descendant of the Lee family who died in February 2020. So who junked the family photos, even when they had already been recognised as an historical item in Brampton ... (censored)?


k dee said...

We have seen these, too and have copied those we could ID. We traced them to this family in the hope of finding a descendant.
Thank you for your blog.
Dorothy and little Louisa went for £25 yesterday.

k dee said...

There are so many being split up by thos seller. it is a tragedy.

k dee said...

The Shields were daughters of a tailor and cotton merchant and we think that is why the dress materials are so similar


KD hopefully this way we have preserved something of the family's history. Write to me at if I can help at all.

k dee said...

Alice Shield became an authority on Stuart kings and wrote and lectured on history. She died on a lecture visit in Edinburgh in January 1914 and probate was granted to Annie Shield, so neither girl married. Alice is well known as co-author of The King Over the Water.

k dee said...

William Downey became sought after and moved to London where his clients included the royal family and foreign nobility. He photographed Victoria, Edward VII and Victoria's friend John Brown.

k dee said...

Epilogue. These photos and more were in the possession of local descendant, Mr David LEE. Sadly, he passed away in February 2020 with no heir. It appears the albums were acquired and, tragically, the photos sold for maximum profit on line.

Jayhen6 said...

Very interesting blog. I presume you’re identifications are from the back of the photos?.. I came across a few of the remaining photos on eBay and like you I did some research during which I came across your blog. In instances like this i usually create a tree on ancestry in the hope that in the future some descendant will discover the information and images.

k dee said...

We have a lot of photos and family history on Family Treasures Reinstated UK Facebook group.