English Boys' Clothes: Personal Experiences--Alphabetical List

Figure 1.-- Here we see a CDV portait of Francis Holliday. He wears a sailor suit mafe up of a cap with abnchor pin, middy blouse and trousers. The cap had a cap tlly with a ship name--MS Dun????. He was 6 years, 5 molnths old. We know nothing about Francis and his family. The portrait is undated, but we would guess was taken in the 1880s. The studio was Wayland of Blackheath.

Some interesting details are available on specific families as well as articles from fashion magazines. We have also added some historical accounts as well as published memoirs. We have also included named portraits, even though there is often little information available. HBC's English readers are encouraged to provide HBC information about their personal experiences or historical accounts with which they are familiar. These personal accounts add greatly to the other informnation HBC has garnered from fashion magazines, catalogs, and available images. Often the personal perspective is not avialable from these other sources. Thus these personal accounts are a very important part of HBC. We now have accounts dating back to the 1850s. While we do not yet have every decade covered, some decades are covered in considerable detail.

Betty, William Henry (1791-1874)

An English readers mentions a child actor at the turn of the 19th century, William Henry Betty. William was born in Shrewsbury. We have no information about his parents or early childhood. We have no informatin on how William dressed as a boy. The portrait here shows him as an older teen ager at about the time he retired from the stage. William began acting in Belfast when he was 11 years old. I'm not sure why he was in Ireland. His first role was Osman in Aaron Hill's "Zara". This was an English version of Voltaire's "Zaire". (Authors of the day were none to shy at plagerism." His success was immediate. He was prodigy. Not only was he an extrodinarily gifted actor, but had a progigal memory.

Brereton, William

Wallace Brereton’s Salford childhood covers the years from 1923 to 1933. He tells his autobiography in his book called Salford Boy. The author is also the illustrator of his book. Wallace was a boy who grew up never knowing who his father was. When he was 4 years old his mum went to Canada in the hope of starting a new life. The plan was to send for the boy when her circumstances were better. Unfortunately this never happened. After going to Canada when Wallace was 4 he did not see her again until he was 11. In 1931 she returned to Canada and he would be a teenager of 17 when he next saw her.

(The) Brownings (1850s)

Elizabeth Barett Browning and Robert Browning are two of England's most noted romantic poets. Elizabeth grew up in a priviliged, wealthy family. Their mother, like many mothers of the era, dressed her sons in the same dresses and pantalettes as her daughters. Elizabeth and her siblings were schooled at home. She was an accomplished student. She led a closeted life until meeting Robert. The relationship was one of the great love stories of the Victorian era. Elizabeth and Robert had one child, Pen, who Elizabeth schooled at home and dresses with the same flair as her romantic poetry. Pen did not object as a younger boy, enjoying the attention and compliments from his mother's friends. As an older boy he began to object, but with little success in the face of his strong opinioned mother who had very definite ideas on the subject. Elizabeth is now best known for hautingly beautiful romantic poetry as well as her iterest in women's rights and social justice.

Ellis, William Webb (1806-72)

William Webb Ellis is credited by Matthew Bloxam as the originator of Rugby football. This is a remarkable story of a 16 year old boy, from Salford, Lancashire, who played soccer and invented a new ball game called Rugby. Bloxam recalls that this happened in November, 1823. It was in the days prior to the Matthew Arnold becoming one of Rugby School’s famous headmaster. Rugby School was and still is an independent boarding school in Warwickshire. This is in the middle of England. The book about the early 19th Century Rugby School was written in 1858 by Thomas Hughes. He was the first author to write a novel about boys and their adventures in a boarding school. The story is called Tom Brown’s School Days.

Fuller, Alfred (1836)

Here we see a water color painting of Alfred Fuller, an English boy. He was 4 years old when the portrait was painted. We know nothing about his family, but surely he must come from a very affluent family. We do not know who the artist was. We do know that it was painted in 1836 which is helpful. The boy wears a low-cut blue dress with lace edgeing and ballon sleeves. We have noted other paintings of boys wearing dresses with baloon sleeves, but the baloon sleeves here are as about as large as we have noted. I believe these sleeves were also called gigot or leg-of-mutton sleeves. The boy here also wears white patalettes, white socks, and strap shoes. The boy looks to be about 5-6 years old, but estimating ages is often more difficult in paintings than in photographs. While the child is unidentified, the short hair and side part, whip, and stick horse all suggest a boy to us. Note that the dress here is just the same style a girl might wear, although a girl might wear fancier pantalettes.

Greene, Graham (1904-91)

Noted English author Henry Graham Greene was one of a number writers who were very unhappy at their private schools. Graham had a hard time, not only because hedidn't like sports, but because his father was the headmaster. Some biographers believe that his experiences at school has a profound impact on his outlook on life and personal outlook projected in his novels. His father thought he was disturbed and set him to a therapist. One of his most noted books is The Power and the Glory addressing religious oppression. He is also known for his Cold War books, especially The Quiet American and Our Man in Havana. He also did a number of screenplays, the most famous was "The Third Man".

Haigh family

A HBC reader reports, "At a recent photo fair, I purchased the contents of two Cdv albums that once belonged to the Haigh family of Grainsby Hall, Grainsby, Lincolnshire - there are about 50 cdvs of the children of the family (5 boys and two girls acccording to the 1881 census) over the period 1863-1871. Almost all of the CDVs are dated and identified on the reverse, which is just as well as this family kept the boys with long hair and in dresses until they were 6 years old at least--a gender identification nightmare as you will see when I scan and send you some of these remarkable photographs."

Hardcastle, John (About 1830)

This is a photograph of a painting of John Hardcastle, presumably the family patriarch, when he was a child. At the time of the 1881 census John Hardcastle was 59 years old and retired from his occupation of 'Merchant'. He looks to be about 8 years old in the painting which would date it around 1830, he was born in Abingdon, now in Oxfordshire but formerly the county town of Berkshire. He is wearing a what appears to be akeleron suit that is evolving into a moder modern suit style. Is is difficult to tell from the image if he is wearing a vest (waistcoat) or ome kind of one-oiece vest-trouser garment. He has a kind of square lace collar which he wears with a small bow. He looks to be about 6 years old in the portrait shown here. His hair is cut relatively short here. Notice the hoop that he is playing with (figure 1).

Holliday, Francis (1880s)

Here we see a CDV portait of Francis Holliday. He wears a sailor suit mafe up of a cap with abnchor pin, middy blouse and trousers. The cap had a cap tlly with a ship name--MS Dun????. He was 6 years, 5 molnths old. We know nothing about Francis and his family. The portrait is undated, but we would guess was taken in the 1880s. The studio was Wayland of Blackheath.

Jones, Gareth (1905-35)

Gareth was born in Wales in 1905. His father was the headmaster of Barry County Boy’s School. His mother had worked in the Ukraine in the late 19th century. She had been the governess to the children of a steel industrialist. It was position she enjoyed. Gareth’s mum also liked living the Ukraine. As a boy Gareth listened to the stories his mother told about as the adventurous life she led as a governess in the Ukraine. His mother’s stories had given him a longing to visit the Ukraine. The chance to go came in the early 1930’s after he had graduated from university. He joined Lloyd George’s staff has its Foreign Affairs Adviser. This position came with opportunity to travel. The first country he visited was the Ukraine. It was his reporting that revealed the causes of the wide spread famine which had gripped the region. He had the makings of becoming a great journalist but in 1935 he was murdered while investigating a news story in China.

Knebworth, Anthony (1903-35)

An interesting, but obscure book titled Antony, A Record of Youth, published in 1935 by Peter Davies Ltd provides a fascinating insight into the life of a British boy in the early 20th century. It is written by his father the Earl of Lytton with a foreword by J. M. Barrie, of course the famed author of Peter Pan. It is a book which chronicles the life Antony Knebworth, born May 13, 1903. Christened at the Chapel Royal, St. James in the presence of his Royal Godfather, King Edward VII. He spends his formative years at Eton and Oxford, then going to India with his sister. When returning to London, he starts an enterprise and becomes a successful businessman. Later he becomes a MP for the Conservative Party of his home constituency. He also joins the Auxiliary Air Force to train as air pilot for the 601 squadron. During a practice formation flight for a special display for the Prince of Wales in 1933, there is an midair accident and the (then) Viscount Knebworth is killed. The book has many anecdotes of Antony growing up and there are many letters displayed written by him whilst he was at school and correspondence as an adult to his associates. The book displays him as an adventurers young man who lived life to the full before his untimeious death in 1935. There are quite few photographs in the book and some from his boyhood are enclosed. Note the mansion in the background of the 'School Race 1916'.

Odell, Jack (England, 1912)

A HBC reader has provided an account about Jack Odell. He is an 11 year old boy who in 1912 went with his family went on a motor tour of Ireland. The photographic record of the holiday became an important historical document. The photographs taken onboard the White Star liner Titanic are the only primary source historians and documentary makers have of the ship's onboard life and they give an idea of how the boys on board were dressed.

Petly, J. (England, 1878)

We do not know a great deal about J. Petly. We do have one photograph from about 1878. It is easpecially interesting because it shows two prep school boys at the time on their summer vacation. J. Petly's school friend is Edward Robinson. They are with Edward's older brother. The imsge is interesting because it shows what the boys probably wore at school.

Robinson, Edward and William (1870s and 80s)

Edward and William Robinson were the grandsons of a country pastor. A HBC reader has sent us a wonderful collection of family photographs from the 1870s and 80s. The Victorians loved to create albums. Our reader has found one of the family photograph albums. The photographs not only show how the boy dressed but convey a great deal of information about contemprary life style trends. The collection is especially interesting because the photographs are not just static formal studio portraits, but rather family snap shots from an era when sbap shots were not very common and the term had not even been invented.

Smoith, Joseph (1852)

We have no information about this boy, other than a oil portrait. The boy was was English. His name was Joseph Smith and was 7 years old when painted by G.W. Jackson during May 1852. He is not an artist with which we are familiar. The lack of a background suggests that the artist did the portrait as quicklyas possible. but it is an excellent likeness atr a time that photography was beginning to make real inroads in portraiture.

Tennant, Stephen

The Tennants were an upper class English family. The mother, Pamela was born in 1871. Pamela married into Tennants, a very rich Scottish merchant family. The Tennants moved in high circles. The father, Edward-- Lord Glenconne, was familiar with important government ministers. Pamela was from a much more gentil (Whyndham), artistic background than the Tennants. She was members of the "Souls" a group of upper class intellectuals. She and her two sisters are the models for John Singer Sargeant's painting "The Three Graces".

(The) Tennysons

Alfred Lord Tennyson is one of England's most beloved poets of all time. No English poet has produced acknowledged masterpieces in so many different literaray genres as Tennyson. The consumate artistic excellence of his verse, resembling in many of its qualities the stately and heroic measures of the ancient Roman poet Virgil, has securred an enduring place in literature for Tennyson.

Walton, Joseph (1783- )

Thirteen year old Joseph Walton was enjoying a very hot summer in 1796. He always managed, despite his chores, to get in a spot of fishing every day. He lived in a small Lancashire village called Ribchester. It is very close to the River Ribble. The children had a favourite spot on the river. Here the river bends and flows passed the village church. The children found that fish always seemed to be easy to catch at this spot. Also that summer there was an archaeological dig looking for Roman artefacts. The dig was near to where the children fished. A group of children went searching for worms. Joseph was with them and they explored the archaeological site because they thought worms would be easy to find in the soft earth. Instead of worms, Joseph found a Roman military helmet that day in 1796. Since then no better example has ever been found.

Woodruf, William

William Woodruff wrote a wondeful book, The Road to Nab End beginning in 1929. It is about growing up in Blackburn, Lancashire during the depression.


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Created: March 9, 1999
Last updated: 8:16 PM 8/24/2009