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Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Sepia Saturday - Three's Company

Sepia Saturday give bloggers an opportunity to share their family history and memories through photographs.

My theme this week is very obvious - Threesomes.


Florence Annie (born 1894),  Lily (born 1886)  and William (born 1891)  - 
children of Henry Bailey and Annie McAffray of Blackpool, Lancashire 

This charming photograph is  one of the oldest  in my family collection and comes from my third cousin, Stuart.  Elizabeth Danson, the  mother of Henry Bailey above,  was Stuart's great grandmother and  the eldest sister  of my great grandfather James Danson.   Henry, a stone mason, died at the age of 41 in 1903, leaving his young family fatherless. 


 My great grandmother Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe (1859-1919)
with her daughter Jennie (my great aunt)  and little granddaughter Annie - c. 1909. 

Jennie was the only daughter and last child of James and Maria Danson, born on Christmas Eve, December 24th 1897, with her eight (surviving)  brothers,  George then aged 3, Frank 5, Albert 7, Tom 9, William 12, Robert 16, John 18 and Harry 20 – quite a household in what looked like  a cramped terraced house.  Their father James died in 1906. 

Jennie's photograph collection forms the basis of much of my family history and even better she had identified the names on the back of most of the photos.   

Little Annie,  the daughter of second son John Danson and Sarah Haydon Lounds, was born 1905, but sadly Sarah died a year later and the infant Annie made her home with her grandmother, her many uncles and  her aunt Jennie, who was only eight years her senior. Further tragedy struck when Annie's  father John died in army camp in 1917. leaving Annie an orphan. 


Tom, Janie and Jack Riley, the grandchildren of Maria's sister Jane Riley, nee Rawcliffe, c.1913  


Jack Riley (above)  is identified in the centre  of this group,  
wearing sailor’s uniform  and a cap HMS Chester.

Jack was 5 months old in the 1901 census, but so far I have been unable to find him ten years on in 1911, with his surname a popular one in the Fylde region of Lancashire. 

I did a search for HMS Chester and was surprised to find it was the ship on which a young sailor John Travers Cornwell fought at the Battle of Jutland in 1916 and  was warded the Victoria  Cross for a conspicuous act of bravery.  The citation reads  "Mortally wounded early in the action, Boy, First Class, John Travers Cornwell remained standing alone at a most exposed post, continuing to service his gun, until the end of the action, with the gun's crew dead and wounded all round him. His age was under sixteen".

Was Jack Riley another young sailor  on board HMS Chester at this time?  I have  a postcard sent by his mother to my great grandmother Maria to say " Jack went out to sea today.  He went in good spirits".  The postmark is difficult to make out but could be 7.?? 16  or 18. 

John Cornwell was a keen scout in his home town and in his honour the Boy Scout Association instituted  the Cornwell Scout Badge, awarded for outstanding acts of  courage and endurance in the face of adversity.  There is an additional  personal dimension to this story, for my husband received the Cornwell badge in 1948 following three years serious illness  in hospital.

It is amazing the direction family history can take you!

Another photograph from Jennie's collection, identified as 
Amy,  Edna and Lavinia Dodd, Todmorden.

Jennie's youngest brother George had enlisted  January 1916 at Todmorden, West Yorkshire.  His army service record gave his   address at the time as  17 Harker Street, Harley Bank,  Todmorden, with occupation station bookstall manager. 

I turned to the 1911 census online  and found the Dodd family at  17 Harker Street, Harley Bank,  Todmorden, with head of household Elizabeth Dodd (occupation choring) and three daughters Amy aged 15 (a cotton weaver) , Edna 12 (a fustian sewer)  and Lavinia  aged 9.  They never George again, as he was killed on the Somme in 1916.

THREE MEN IN A PUB - or a club? 

Admittedly there is no sign of any drink, but here is my grandfather Willian Danson, in the centre with his brother Robert  (he had 7 brothers), and  a friend.  

My parents, though I suspect this was taken prior to their marriage in 1938, with Mum (Kathleen Danson) on the left and Dad (John Weston) on the right  - plus an unidentified friend.

 My father in RAF uniform, with my mother on the right and her sister, my Aunt Edith on Dad's left - taken in the garden of my grandfather's house, c.1940.


Dad on the left  and his older brother Fred - whilst I am the little girl, not looking too happy

 My brother Chris and I,  with our father on a busy promenade in Bournemouth, c.1952  


Dad, Chris and I

Click HERE to read posts  from other Sepia Saturday bloggers.
Copyright © 2015 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved


  1. You are so fortunate to have so many photos! Like most genealogist, I just love the photos, but sadly, I didn't inherit many. I think it is interesting to note the transition in photos from the time when people looked so solemn to the time when they smiled and looked happy.

  2. You found some wonderful ‘threes’ for us Sue. The little girl looking unhappy reminds me very much of some of my own grumpy photos; I never seemed to smile much at the camera.

  3. Great trios and everyone alive!! I don't think I really appreciated the beauty of a group of three until seeing these all lined up. I love the Cornwell Certificate and
    the final family trio photo.

  4. I agree with Helen, wholeheartedly! Some great threesomes there.

  5. What a great collection of live trios! Cheering me up after spending time with the corpse(s) in the prompt. I wonder if those men are sitting outside by a fence, and not in a pub.

  6. I guess I have to hope that Jack Riley was not on the ship at the same time as John Cornwell. I enjoyed seeing your groups of 3, none of which will ever be included in a collection of creepy photos like our prompt photo!

  7. Loved the happy holiday makers photo. It reminded me of one I have of my sister with our parents at the annual Agricultural Show in a small country town when she was about the same age as you.

  8. Great post, lots of history there!!!

  9. All wonderful pictures - the first one especially. Lily looks so sweet. But I can't get over how much like your 1952 self - when you & your Dad & brother were on the promenade at Bournemouth - you still look! Older, of course, but the features are really so much the same. Rather amazing! :)

  10. I'm such a fan of "before and after" so love the shot of you and your brother with your father...then and now. Fabulous!

  11. You've assembled a fine medley of trios, that are also interesting for being posed in both lines and triangles of faces.

  12. Wonderful photos, Susan, strung together with a fascinating history.

  13. These are great photos and I am envious that you have so many! Thanks for sharing!

  14. You have such a great collection of photographs, Susan. The three solemn children look like little adults, don't they? Especially the boys, not just because of their suits, though; there's something else about them that says small men. I love the photograph of you with your brother and dad in Bournemouth. You all look so happy.

  15. The last three family shots are really my favorites. Dad and uncle could have squeezed you there. You have some great historic family photos.

  16. Thank you to everyone for such lovely comments. I realise how lucky I am to have such a collection of family photographs, as in my husband's family very little was kept - such a pity!

  17. So many great shots! My fave is the first with the angelic looking children. The older sister and little brother have nearly identical faces.

  18. Your Jennie was a treasure, collecting (and naming) the photos.


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