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Sunday, 14 August 2016

A pretty wedding

Weddings are the flavour of the month for Sepia Saturday, so this week I thought I'd feature the following photograph. The description that accompanies it was originally clipped from the New Zealand Times, 30 December 1909.

The wedding photograph of Frances Morrison and Raymond Horn, 29 December 1909. 
Photo and clipping courtesy of Shona Michie, granddaughter of Frances and Ray, and my 2nd cousin.


Frances Morrison was my great aunt. Her brother John who gave her away was my grandfather. He is the young man seated on the right, and was a civil servant working in Wanganui at the time, north of Wellington, so he would have been available to give his sister away in place of his father. John would only have been 20 in 1909, with Frances being  27, her groom Raymond being 25 and her sister Margaret 24.  The best man and my great aunt Margaret both look rather solemn and no one is really smiling, but the two little nieces are very sweet. The reporter did a good job of describing all the details of the dresses worn by the bridal party and others. I found several other reports of the wedding on the invaluable New Zealand National Library web site Paperspast, although two of them were rather inaccurate, as they referred to the bride being attended by four child bridesmaids, and had the wrong first name for the groom. 

 One report says that there were between 50 and 60 guests attending the wedding, but the bride's parents (my maternal great grandparents Daniel and Mary Bridget Morrison) were not amongst them. They lived in Canvastown in the Marlborough district of the South Island and perhaps the cost of the journey across Cook Strait between Picton at the top of the South Island and Wellington at the bottom end of the North Island was prohibitive, in view of the fact that five of Daniel and Mary Bridget's fourteen children would still have been living at home. Eileen their youngest would only have been aged 8 in 1909 and perhaps wished she could also have been a bridesmaid for her big sister.

The Morrisons' decision not to attend their daughter's wedding might also have been influenced by the fact that earlier that year (1909) there had been a major shipping disaster in the Cook Strait, when the SS Penguin was wrecked with the loss of at least 72 lives. You can read about the disaster here at Cook Strait is not very wide but can be an extremely rough stretch of water in bad weather. One of the passengers, a pregnant lady called Ada Hannam, was coincidentally related to me on my father's side. While Ada and her unborn baby survived, she very tragically lost her husband and four children in the disaster. I can imagine that people would have been wary of making the crossing for some time afterwards.

Frances and Ray had a happy marriage which produced three children, although sadly their first son James died in infancy.  Ray passed away in 1943 and Frances in 1959. 

For more thoughts on love and marriage, the Sepia Saturday topic for August, go to

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