Gordon Family photograph collection

Images from a Gordon Family Photograph Album

[page in process of assembly]

Dr John Gordon has kindly given Kirkcudbright History Society permission to reproduce the following images from a Gordon family photographic album in his care and has also provided the commentary with each image.The photographs are mostly printed as ‘cartes-de-visites’  and bear the photographer’s details at the foot of the image and on the reverse.


Page 1 –  Image 1 : ? The children of John Gordon (b.1841) and Anna St Clair (1853-1934)

Photographer – Thomas Moryson; Dumfries, Moffat, Castle Douglas and Lockerbie

Thomas A Morrison (1856-1912), from Belfast, moved to Dumfries in 1876 and probably took over the business of James Rae (1825-1890) in 1878. Rae established his business ca. 1860 and was selling Cartes de Visite for 3s (1s for extra copies) in 1862. He moved to Jersey in 1878, and Morrison (who assumed the more artistic name of Moryson) took it over, later opening studios in Castle Douglas, Lockerbie, Moffat and Stranraer. He moved to London in 1901 but returned to Dumfries around 1910.

The photo above (around 6×4 inches in size) was taken after 1876, and probably after 1878. The four young children are close in age: two boys 6ish, a girl 2-3 and a baby. The only family I found that fits this pattern was that of John Gordon (b. 24 Dec 1841) and Anna St Clair (1853-1934): they had four children, born 1872-1878, lived at Kelton and then Culraven, and emigrated to the USA in 1879-80. If the photo was taken just before they left, Thomas was 6-7, young John was 5, Amy 3 and baby James ca. 1.

As the photo is the ‘Frontispiece’ of the album (all the other pages are Cartes de Visite), I wonder if the album was bought to accommodate it. Perhaps it was a farewell present to John’s cousin, the Rev James Gordon; the families stayed in touch, but Brucia Crane (John’s g-grand-daughter) wrote that John ‘went broke – some bitter feelings held on in Scotland over him’. Maybe a photo of the children alone was a more tactful gift than one of the whole family.



Page 2 – Image 1 : ? Rev. John Gordon

Photographer / Artist: Unknown

This image  is a photo of a small, oval portrait in a wooden gilt frame (I have the original: it measures about 3½ by 2½ inches). There is no photographer (or artist) identified. The subject is a young, adult male, who seems to have a characteristic ‘wee Gordon chin’! From the dress coat and stock, I’d guess the portrait dates from the early 19th century. Probably the Rev. John Gordon.


Page 2 – Image 2: Unknown woman and girl.

Photographer – Daniel Jones; 66 Bold St. & 11 Church St.,Liverpool

This lady  is unknown; she looks about 30ish, and the girl beside her (her daughter?) might be about 10. The photographer Daniel Jones was at these addresses in Liverpool in the 1860s and 1870s.



Page 2 – Image 3: Unknown
Photographer – Vandyke & Brown; 34 Castle Street, Liverpool

This man  is also unknown, but as this photo was also taken in Liverpool, perhaps he was linked to the lady. Vandyke & Brown were listed at that address (in Gore’s Directory) 1871-1875; by 1878 Vandyke is listed individually.



Page 3 – Image 1: Helen McCormick Hilston (1811-1893)

Photographer – White; ?98 West George St., Glasggow

This is Helen McCormick Hilston (1811-1893); an almost identical image was used (head and shoulders only) in the J & D Hilston article in the Farming News of 24 May 1963. White’s dates are 1861-1883 (see http://www.thelows.madasafish.com ); that logo was used ca. 1862. Helen took over Hilston’s after William’s death in 1851.



Page 3 – Image 2: ??Janet Gordon (1838-1901)

Photographer – James Robertson; 77 Sauchiehall St., Glasgow

The lady  is unknown, but the photo card probably dates from 1861 (Robertson acquired a Bothwell address in 1862). She looks in her 20s, and a possible candidate is Janet Gordon (1838-1901), who married Robert Symington – from Glasgow – in 1861. Five of the portraits in the next two pages are (I’m fairly sure) her siblings.



Page 3 – Image 3: Unknown

Photographer – Henry Everitt; 3 Cheapside City, London

This man is unknown; Henry Everitt operated from 1866-1873, and the sitter looks about 40, so he was born ca. 1830. Few of my ancestors are known to have a full beard (though there are some in this album!), and I know of no-one based in London around 1870 apart from Robert Symington, who was in Islington in the 1871 census, aged 42.




Page 3 – Image 4: Duncan Hilston

Photographer – Jabez Hughes; Ryde, Isle of Wight

Duncan Hilston (later Sir Duncan Hilston) in naval uniform. A cap with a badge is on the table. Jabez Hughes (1819-1884) moved from Glasgow to the Isle of Wight in 1861 and bought Regina House, Ryde, in 1866. The firm became Hughes & Mullins in 1883, and Hughes died in 1884.



Page 4 – Image 1: Rev. James Gordon (1841-1899)

Photographer – Cramb Brothers, 67 Nile St., Glasgow

This is probably Rev. James Gordon (1841-1899), who studied at Glasgow University, enrolling as a Divinity student in 1862-63 after taking his MA. The card lists an award won in 1862 by the Cramb brothers (flourished 1859-1875) so the photograph is no earlier than that.




Page 4 – Image 2: ? Mary Gordon (1837-1921)

Photographer – William Stewart, Kirkcudbright

The identification is uncertain but if the photo dates from the early 1860s, the subject could be James Gordon’s sister Mary (1837-1921), who married David Houston in 1863. William Stewart (1838-1883) was Kirkcudbright’s first commercial photographer (flourished 1860s-1883). There is no printing on the reverse of this carte-de-visite, and the photo is not cut square, with printing askew.




Page 4 – Image 3: ? Rev. Thomas Gordon

Photographer – Hugh Thomson, 21 Marshall Place, Perth

This is probably Rev. Thomas Gordon (1844-1917), who was based at Scone (Perth) in 1869. Hugh Thomson (‘Photographic Artist’) is listed in the Post Office Directory for Perth from 1866-1880.



Page 4 – Image 4: Katherine Douglas Gordon

Photographer – Daniel Jones, 66 Bold St., and 11 Church St., Liverpool

This is Katherine Douglas Gordon (1843-1891) who married Sam Jolly in 1876 and emigrated to Canada in 1883; the upper part of this photo was used by Norman Jolly in his book on Sam. Photos by Daniel Jones elsewhere have been dated to 1865-1875, and I’d guess it was taken around 1870.



Page 5 – Image 1: Barbara Houston (1840-1920)

Photographer – E. Swift and Son, 126 Bold St., Liverpool

This is Barbara Houston (1840-1920), who married John Gordon (1839-1895) in Liverpool in February 1864, just before they emigrated to New Zealand (where John worked in Robert Symington’s company).



Page 5 – Image 2: John Gordon

Photographer – Thomas Annan, 202 Hope St., Glasgow

This is John Gordon, who abandoned his wife Barbara (above) and their five children in New Zealand in 1872, for a new life in Australia.




Page 5 – Image 3: Unknown

Photographer – E. Swift and Son, 126 Bold St., Liverpool

The subject is unknown, but the photograph has been taken in the same studio around the same time as that of Barbara Houston above. There is also a physical similarity between the two women which might indicate a close relationship. E Swift was at 126 Bold Street in a directory of 1870.



Page 5 – Image 4: Unknown

Photographer – Vandyke & Brown, 34 Castle St., Liverpool

The subject is unknown, but he has been photographed in the same Liverpool studio as the subject  in page 2/image 3 and bears a physical similarity. Vandyke & Brown were in Castle Street in 1871-1875.



Page 6 – Image 1: Unknown




Page 6 – Image 2: Unknown




Page 6 – Image 3: Unknown




Page 6 – Image 4: Unknown