Old photos and their history

F.E. Levy, Photographer, Derby

F.E. Levy

This carte de visite of a late Victorian woman with a jade-green border was produced by Florence Elizabeth Levy.

Florence (b1879) lived at 200 Uttoxeter New Road in Derby during the 1901 census. She’s described as a photographic artist.

Marriage

In 1903, Florence married Luke Bradley (b1875) and moved to Leicester. They had one son, Frederick Luke Bradley (b1906).

Florence died in 1961. I can find no evidence that she continued her photography after 1903.

Father’s court appearances

Florence’s father, Thomas William Levy (b1852), appeared in court at least twice.

Garden argument

In 1893, an argument over turf and a garden gate instigated the first assault. Thomas owned a garden on Ashbourne Road that sat next to the garden of Lewis Meakin. Thomas removed some turf belonging to Lewis as it obstructed his gate.

Lewis does not appear to have liked Thomas touching his turf. The Derby Mercury (1893) described the attack:

“…Meakin came out of his garden and laid hold of his nose, at the same time threatening to screw it off. He afterwards struck him in the mouth, knocking the pipe which he was smoking a distance of ten yards.”

The main witness for the assault on Thomas was his daughter, Florence. The defendant’s witnesses – Frank Meakin and Alfred Handley – both denied any crime had taken place.

Lewis Meakin (b1850) worked as a coach-builder. In 1891 he lived at 124 Wind Mill Lane in Derby with his wife, son, six daughters, and stepson. Wind Mill Lane adjoins Ashbourne Road.

Frank Meakin (b1858), Lewis’s brother, also lived on Windmill Hill Lane. In the 1891 census he is at number 125. He worked as a postal telegraph clerk.

The other witness may possibly be Alfred Handley (b1843). In 1901 he also lived on Wind Mill Hill Lane, at number 6. He was a rivetter.

The newspapers mention that Thomas Levy lived at 24 Manchester Street. This street runs parallel to Ashbourne Road, and Windmill Hill Lane is close by. Both sides involved would have likely known each other.

Lewis Meakin was fined 10 shillings and costs by Derby Borough Police Court.

Sister-in-law

In 1896, Thomas appeared in court again, though now as defendant rather than the victim. He’d been accused of assaulting his sister-in-law, Mary Ann Levy.

“…the defendant thrashed her boy, and when she went to his studio on the Ashbourne Road he struck her in the eye, blacking it, and also bruised her face. – The defendant said he only scuffed the boy for misbehaving himself, and Mrs. Levy came to his place like “a wild woman.” She struck him twice, and he forcibly ejected her.” (The Derby Mercury, 1896: 5)

This was the same road as the previous incident. And again, the other person lived nearby. Mary Ann Levy lived at 4 Radbourne Street. This street runs parallel to Ashbourne Road.

Mary Ann Levy (b1855) had married Thomas’s brother Benjamin Levy (b1856) in 1883. Benjamin worked as a postman. Mary Ann is described as a laundress in the 1901 census.

They had three sons and one daughter: Benjamin George Levy (b1886), Francis Harold Levy (b1888), Mabel Annie Levy (b1890), and Ernest Cecil Levy (b1892). The boy who Thomas Levy hit may have been either Benjamin or Francis as Ernest would have been too young.

Thomas was fined 2 shillings and 6 pence, and an additional 18 shillings and 6 pence for costs. Mary Ann received a caution not to annoy Thomas any more.

Thomas Levy’s Job

The 1881, 1891, and 1901 censuses give Thomas Levy’s occupation as Postman and Inspector of Postmen. Yet, the newspaper articles of 1893 and 1896 all describe him as a photographer who had a studio on Ashbourne Road. The photography studio may have been a family business to earn extra income. It may have been this business that his daughter Florence became briefly involved in.

Sources

(1893) Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal, 03 November, p.5.

(1893) The Derby Mercury, 01 November, p.6.

(1896) The Derby Mercury, 02 September, p.5.

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Theresa Walpole, Birmingham, 1876.

T. Pope produced this carte de visite in 1876. Pope had been active as a photographer at 36 New Street, Birmingham, between 1876-1879. I’d be grateful for any further information regarding this person.

Theresa Walpole

The card is named and dated “Theresa Walpole, Aug 26th 1876”. If we assume she lived in Birmingham, then we discover a Theresa Walpole, born in Birmingham 1856 to Thomas and Betsy Walpole.

1871, 1881, and 1891

There are three census records for Theresa: 1871, 1881, and 1891.

During 1871 and 1881 she lived with her mother and father and four younger siblings. In 1881 these were Thomas (50) (father, tailor), Betsy (51) (mother), twins Thomas (21) (jeweller) and Elizabeth (21) (tailoress), Eleanor (18) (bag liner), and her youngest sister Annie (17) (electroplate packer).

In 1881, at the age of 25, Theresa worked as a cocoa flaker. Her family had lived at 14 Clement Street in Birmingham. After her father’s death in 1886, she and her mother moved to 1 Knightstone Terrace, Coralie Street. At this time in her life, she became a Bible woman. I cannot find any further records after this year.

Portrait

She rests herself on a plush chair. Her position is relaxed, though this is more due to the need at the time to steady oneself during the long exposure of the camera. She is around 20 years of age.

Apart from a curtain draped over the chair, there is no decoration. A neutral background had been fashionable at the time. Later on, studio portraits would have elaborately decorated backdrops that displayed both indoor and outdoor scenery.

The faded monochrome does little justice to her clothes. Availability of improved dyes in the 1870s saw great splashes of colour in fabrics. We can only now guess what colours she wore in this picture.

There is a chain dropping from between her buttons. This is likely for a pocket watch discretely tucked inside her outfit.

We find a sticker on the back of the carte de visite. “Yes, if you profit by experience and avoid former errors.” This sounds like a quote from the Bible or a moral from Aesop’s fables. “Theresa advice” looks to have been scribbled in pencil. Was this advice from Theresa or given to Theresa?

As always I am keen for any further information, whether about Theresa or anyone else. Please reply using either the comment section or email myself directly.

Coralie Street in Birmingham no longer exists, but memories of it are available at:

http://www.winsongreentobrookfields.co.uk/caralie-street/

The address of T. Pope comes from:

https://footlightnotes.wordpress.com/tag/t-pope-photographer/

A useful resource on carte de visite and antique photos in general:

Robert Pols. Looking at Old Photographs: Their dating and interpretation. 1999.

 

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