Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Unravelling who's who - the groom

OK, blog readers. You're going to work for your supper this time. I need some help here!
This year I set myself the challenge of working out who's who in this wonderful wedding photograph. The likelihood of identifying everyone pictured is extremely remote, of course, but it would be lovely to put some names to faces, at least. I have a few notes, albeit rather vague ones, plus a few other photographs, to get me started.
So... first off - the groom.

Underneath a photocopy of the picture, my late aunt had written,

"Groom and Bride 
Arthur & Lillian
or John & Lizzie. (It looks very much like John)"

The 'John' to whom she refers is her grandfather, my great-grandfather, John Griffiths, or Jack as he was more often known, born in 1861. Arthur, born 1872, was her great uncle, John's youngest
brother - sons of Jabez and Mary Ann Griffiths (nee Dukes).

Clue One: Comparing faces.

Here are Jack and Arthur photographed together (date unknown). Jack is seated.

Brothers John and Arthur Griffiths

The close-ups:

John (Jack), from photo above                                     - the groom -                                           Arthur, from photo above

 Mmmm. Looking at this evidence, the groom looks much more like John than Arthur.

Clue Two: The wedding date.
John married Sarah Eliza "Lizzie" Baugh in 1894. Arthur married Lillian Clay in 1903.
According to Jayne Shrimpton's excellent book How to Get the Most from Family Pictures, a white tie or bow tie became the norm for men at weddings and other formal occasions during the 1890s, as can be seen in this photograph.
For women, elaborate lace and frills on bodices were becoming popular, as were increasingly decorative hats with flowers, ribbons and feathers, along with ever wider brims.
On the other hand, the trend for vast hats continued into the next decade and, to quote Jayne, "Bridal styles in fact varied widely during the early 1900s", and having studied the examples in her book and on the internet, it's clear that wedding fashions merge during this period, making it harder to differentiate. Even the clothes of the elder ladies give no real clue as they would be more suited to wearing styles from their own era and men's conventions continue much the same as before.
So if the fashions of the wedding guests can't help, I would have to return to the photographs and conclude that the marriage is of John Griffiths and Sarah Eliza Baugh.
However, there's one small fly in the ointment. Why did my aunt limit her suppositions to only two possibilities? All in all, Jabez and Mary Ann Griffiths had seven sons. For all I know, it could be any of them!
So, dear readers, what do you make of it? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.
Meanwhile, I'd better get back on the case. Perhaps the other brothers never married...