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Saturday, 16 January 2016

Who were they?

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt shows two little French boys, survivors of the Titanic disaster. At the time the photo was taken, their identity was unknown, but publication of this photo and others resulted in them being identified by their mother in France, after their father had taken them away from her with the intention of emigrating to America.

Here is a photograph of two sweet little sisters, dressed in identical check print dresses. The younger child is holding what looks like a pull-along toy of some kind, and the older one is possibly holding a small bag. The photo appeared in an old family album given to my cousin Kim in Christchurch NZ. She and I are doubly related, through my 2x great grandmother Mary Anderson being her 3x great grandmother through Mary's second marriage to Charles Paterson, and my 2x great grandmother Jane Paterson being her 4x great aunt. Hence we have quite a few relatives in common, but despite this we don't know who these two little girls were. We can surmise is that the couple in the following photograph were very likely to have been their parents, because the studio background is the same and they were consecutively placed in the album. Unfortunately we don't have a date for the photographs but they are likely to have been taken in the 1870s or 1880s. I have a similar old family album originally given to Frederick Young in 1881, and although it doesn't contain these two photographs, I was wondering whether they could be Frederick's sisters,  my great grandmother Jane Isabella Young and and her little sister Mary Euphemia. They were born in NZ in 1860 and 1862 however, so they were probably a little old for the photograph to be of them, even though the father in the photograph does look rather like my 2x great grandfather Charles Young, father of Jane Isabella, Mary Euphemia and Frederick, and husband of Jane Paterson.

Could these older girls who are also wearing matching clothes be the same children? I believe they may be Jane Isabella and Mary Euphemia, mentioned above

I'm fairly sure that this is a photograph of Jane and Euphemia's parents Charles and Jane Young (nee Paterson).

There were two other sets of sisters who are possible candidates, namely Elizabeth and Rachel Nancarrow, born 1876 and 1878 respectively, and Leah and Mabel born 1885 and 1888, daughters of Michael Nancarrow and Margaret Paterson, who was a daughter of Mary Anderson and her second husband Charles Paterson.Unfortunately I don't have an identified photographs of these sisters. I do have a photograph of their father but he doesn't look like the same man as the father of the little girls.

So sad to say, unlike the little boys in our prompt, I can't identify who these two little girls were with any certainty. Perhaps publishing their photograph here may help.

For more blogs on this week's topic,
be sure to have a look at Sepia Saturday #313


  1. Those dresses were beautiful; it’s one of those times when I wish we could see them in colour. Good luck with the identification.

  2. Hoping that you can identify them.

    I would say that their mother put a lot of work into making those matching dresses!

  3. Interesting to me that in BOTH photographs of the girls, they're wearing matching dresses...I know that some mothers dressed twins in matching outfits, but these girls are clearly different ages.

  4. My sister and I had those matching dresses as kids. And we often had placemats from the same fabric. I think my mother got a better price on the cloth if she bought a partial bolt, so the same fabric would show up. Probably a similar reason here for the matching clothing.

  5. I love the plaid dresses. I just learned today that they were popular in the 19th century.

  6. I would guess they are indeed a family. The younger girl resembles the father, in both the little girl and older girl photos. I do have to fuss when I get stumped by unidentified photos in my collection.

  7. They certainly are two little characters. Lovely old photographs, and in a way it doesn't matter if we can't every get a definite ID - they are all ours.

  8. I always thought it would be fun to have twins & dress them alike. I didn't, but I did have two girls only 18 months apart so I often dressed them in identical outfits. And having two children that close together & all it involved caring for them, I'm GLAD I never actually had twins!

  9. Very distinctive dress styles on the girls. They are lovely. I have a feeling Queen Victoria made plaid material popular with her love of her Scottish retreat.

    1. That's interesting, especially as my 2xGG grandfather Charles Young who is possibly the girls' father saw Queen Victoria passing through the town of Ballater on her first visit to Balmoral in about 1848, and the Paterson and Young families all came from around there. I'm sure Charles was a staunch Royalist, despite leaving Scotland for NZ in 1851.

  10. Beautifully dressed. It was quite common to dress children identical. My sisters and I were wearing identical dresses on Sunday. Even I, dressed my girls in the 196os sometimes identical. I knitted jumpers with just a tiny difference. Perhaps a different coloured stripe etc. for each to make it a bit more individual.

  11. They sure do look like the older girls. Good luck with your sleuthing.

  12. My mother sometimes dressed my sister and me alike, even though we were 2 years apart. That meant my sister got to wear those dresses twice as long - hers and then mine.