*** Scottish boys clothes: 19th century families

Scottish Boys' Clothes: 19th Century Families

Scottish families
Figure 1.--This is a cabinet card that features three Scottish boys, two with Highland kilt outfits. The younger brother in the center wears a velvet suit and is holding a small pull-along horse. Notice how the older brother is holding on to his little brother. The studio is Marshall Wane of Edinburgh. The portrait is undated. The back of the mounbt is full of awards won by the studio. The most recent are Edinburg awards in 1877. We thus think it is very likely tht this portrait was taken soon after, probanly in the late-1870s. Curiously the mount was printed in in Paris. It is not clear to us why a Scottish studio would purchase their photogrphic mount stock in France.

We have only a small Scottish archive. Our views of Scottish families during the 19th centyry is thus very limited. Photography was invented in France (1839). It quickly spread to America, but developed in Europe more slowly. We thus have very few Scottish mid-19th century images. We have managed to find a few family portraits from the late-19th century. Most 19th century photograhs were formal studio portraits. This also means they are of successful, often affluent families. So family portraits are fairly rare to begin with in the photographic record. We note many boys wear kilts and associated outfits. We believethis was much less common for working class boys, except perhaps in the Higlands and Islands. Here we need much more information to adquately assess fshion trends. We do hope to expand this section as the inclusion of siblings along with parents provides a wealth of fashion information.

The 1800s

Major fashion changes appeared or began with the new century. Scottish women's fashion as with much of Europe and America in the first decade of the 19th century was dominated by the Empire Style. This meant meant basically plain dressess which fell straight to the feet with a very high waistline giving the impression of little or no waistine. Very commonly the dresses were white. There were colord dresses, but white was by far the dominant color. Men still wore knee breeches, but long pants were becoming more important. And this began with the boy's skeleton suit which was the fashionable style for boys. The skeleton suit was the firt ddicated style for children, in this case boys. Girls simoly wore smallr sized of their mother's Empire dresses. If course at the time, fashion was a luxury of the well-to-do. The Industrial Revolutin had begun expanding the middle-class in Britain which could aford fashion. The bulk of the population was less able to do so. We have less information on the working class. Interestingly it was the working-class and peasantry that were most lkly to wear destinctive local or national style. Fashing like the Empire dress or skeltin suit were worn by elites throughout Europe and North America.

Brodie family (about 1805)

This is the Scottish Brodie familly which John Opie painted about 1805. The boy is William Brodie who would the 22nd Laird of Brodie with his siblings. We are not sure yet who their parents were. William wears a bright red skeleton suit. All the other children wear Empire drsses, both wjite and colored. We are guessing that some of the younger children are boys. Notice that even though thy are a Scottish Higland familu,there is no plaid in sight. William's sons, however, were all dressed in plsid, both plaid dresses and kilts. It is a good example of how populr plaid became in the mid-19th century.

The 1840s

We see Scottish boys from well-to-do familes wearing kilts in the 1840s. We believe this was a much more prinounced fashion in the 1840s because Queen Victoria and Prince albert began dressing the Royl princes in Scottish kilts. It reflected the Queen's love of all things Scottish. We note a degree of informality with open collars. Tht is something you do not see in the late 19th century. Notice the Eton collars that the Edinburgh boys here are wearing, probably in the late- 1870s (figure 1).

The Brodies

William Brodie (1799-1873) was the 22nd Laird of Brodie. An early painting by John Opie in the early-19th century shows William Brodie as a boy with his brothers, sisters, and a huge dog. William wears a red skeleton suit and all the other children wear plain long Empire-style dresses without a tartan in sight. Some of the yonger childrn must be boys. A few decades later, artist James Currie painted a very destinguished looking William as an adult with his wife Elizabeth Baillie and their children during the 1840s. Currie was connected with the Brodie family in Scotland and painted several portraits of the family in the mid-19th century.There were six children: George Gordon (1839- ), Hugh Fife Ashley (1840- ), Caithness Druim (1842- ), and William Douglas (1845- ), and two other children. There do not appear to have been any surviving sisters. Currie has left us several important images as to how children from a rich Scottish Highland family dressed in the mid-19th century. The Scottish influence is much stronger thn was the case when William was growing up which of course we an credit at least in part to Queen Victoria. The Curie paintings mages show the boys wearing dresses and kilts. Apparently they wore tartan dresses before being dresed in kilts. Notice how similarly the Brodies and McKays are dressed.

The Mckays

We note a wealthy Scottish family from the Highlnds preparing to sail to New Zealamd in 1844. Actually they departed from London, but wanted a painting depicting their Highland origins. Mckay wasn't their real name. We see the partirch, James Mckay Sr., surrounded buhis large family and blongings. They were a large family with six children and two nephews. As a result we have seveal examples of how Scottish boys dressed at the time. Two of the boys wear kilts, the other two a tunic and a dress, both with Scottish touches. The girls of course all wear dresses, but without Scottish touches. The artist painted the children's outfits in great detail. .

The 1850s

The Napier family (1850s)

William John George Napier, 11th Lord Napier, 2nd Baron Ettrick (1846�1913) was a British Peer born in 1846). We note a portrait with his mother Lady Napier and his younger brother John Scott (1848-1928) probably taken about 1858 when Lord Napier was serving as a British diplomat in the United States. The portrait was taken in Washington, D.C. at the Brady studio. Minister Lord Napier and Lady Napier quickly became part the Washington social scene just before the Civil War (1858-59). The boys would have been about 10-12 years old. The Napiers were known for their fine entertainment balls. Although Scottish and Queen Victoria was popularizing Scottish dress, the boys do not wear Scottish outfits. We donot know if they did in Britain. William wears a short lapel jacket looking rather like an Eton jacket and loose white collar and not a stiff Eton collar. ohn wears what looks like a tunic and more rounded collar. Both boys wear long pants. William's parents were Francis Napier, 10th Lord Napier and Anne Jane Charlotte. His father had a long list of accomplishments. He served Governor of Madras and Acting Viceroy of India and oversaw a royal commission on the conditions of crofters and cottars in the Highlands and Islands. William Napier married Harriet Blake Armstrong Lumb (1867) and Grace Burns (1898). He had three sons: Francis Edward Basil Napier, 12th Lord Napier, 3rd Baron Ettrick; the Hon. Frederick William Scott Napier; and the Hon. Archibald Lennox Colquhoun William George Napier.

The 1860s

The CDV became important in the 1860s. And becasuse it was a negative system, copies were possible. Suddenlythere is za a huge photographic record. For some we reason do not yet have a ny 1860s Scittish family images.

Unidentified British family (1860s)

We have no accompanying information for this family portrait. We have no idea who they are. We suspect that they were well-to-do because of how well dressed they are. The fact that they are being photographed in their back garden instead of a photogrphic studio also suggests affluence. We do not know when the portrait was taken. We guess it was takenn in the 1860s, but we are by no means sure. All we know for sure is that it was British. It could well be Scottish because of the kilts the boys are wearing, but at the time we see English boys in fashionble families wearing kilts. Queen Victoria developd a love affair with Scotland. She and Prince Albert creared a new fashion when they began dressing the princes in kilts. So kilts by themselves at the time were not a valid indicator of Scotland. And at any rate, fashions in the Lowlands were basically English. We see mother and father with six children. Mother for sime reason is smileing, rare in these old portraits. There are four girls and two boys. They look to be about 3-15 years old. The boys and girls are all dressed very similarly. The boys wearing vested kilt suits and the girls wearing dresses. The major difference we see is the collars that the boys are wearing.

The 1870s

Unidentified Scottish families (1870s)

This 1870s CDV studio portrait shows a large Dunfermline family. Dunfermlin is located in Fife. We are not sure just what the count is, but there are three boys and at least two girls. The children look to be about 1-14 years old. We are not sure if the older lady at the back is an older daughter or an aunt. Notice one of the boys is smiling--very rare in period photography. The younger boys wear kilt outfits, but without any Highland trappings. For some reason their older brother ears a regular sack suit. The girls wear matching dresses with a hint of sailor styling. The studio was Drummond in Dunfermline

Glasgow family (1870s)

This CDV portrait of an unidentified Glasgow family is undated. Glasgow was Scotland's big industrial city, seyt in the Lowlands and heavily influenced by England. There also was immigration from Ireland. The dealer suggests the portrait was taken in the 1870s. Based on the clothing and mount style this seems reasonable. We see a younisg mother with two children, a boy and a girl about 5-10 years old. The boy wears a sailor suit, but not yet with the the traditional styling associated with sailor suits. The cap style was popular throughout the rest of the 19th century. Notice the tiered style of the dresses mother and daugter wear. The girl's dress has a large white collar. Her white stockings help ti date the portrait to the 1860s or earky-70s. She has elaborate necklace. Both mother and daughter hsve what looks like a collar pins. The children have been given props to keep their hands still. The mount is a dark green. This was more commion with cabinet cards. CDVs continued to be important in Britain longer than in America, The studio was Alex Finlayson in Glasgow.

Unidentified Scottish brothers (late-1870s)

This is a cabinet card that features three Scottish boys, two wearing Higland kilt outfits (figure 1). The boys are unidentified, but Jaimeson is written on the back. They look to be about 4-10 years old. The two older boys wear velvet cut-away jackerts and vests with aEton collars a small bow ties. Both have sporans They wear tartan knee socks. The only difference in their outfits is the shoes. One boy wears strap shoes, but both shoe have buckles. The younger brother in the center wears a velvet suit with lace trim. It is anee pnts suit which he werswith white stickings. He is holding a small pull-along horse. The studio is Marshall Wane of Edinburgh. The portrait is undated. The back of the mounbt is full of awards won by the studio. The most recent are Edinburg awards in 1877. We thus think it is very likely tht this portrait was taken soon after, probanly in the late-1870s. Curiously the mount was printed in in Paris. It i not clear to us why a Scottish studio would purcase their photogrphic mount stock in France. One woukd have thought that the mounts would have been purchased somewhere in Scotland or at least elsewhere in Britaiun.

The 1880s

Richardson family (1880s)

Here we see winter in North Berwick during the 1880s. Dr, Richardson had three young children. He was a photography enthuist and thus we have snapshots shoiwung the life style of an upper0middle class family and not just studio portraits. Photography was still very complicated in the 1880s and a hobbiest had to make a considerable commitment. It required both expensive equipment as well as a great deal; of time. Film did not yet exist. We note a portrait of three children in a the rather small back garden (yard). As is common in Scotland, the buildings and walls are made out of stone. Emulsions were still slow, so the children are posed and had to strand still. This image was printed from a 1/2 plate glass negative. These children have been posed beside a giant. The wear cold weather coats. One boy wears a Glengary cap. The other boy seems to be wearing a Balmoral cap. The photograph is part of a family collection shot during 1880s-1900s. Dr Richardson moved to North Berwick where he set up a medical practice. He created a wionderful set of images at a time when photography was mostly formal studio portraits. He photographed family members, trips and events. His grown up son founded the North Berwick Museum which provided a suitable archive for his father's collection.

Unidentified family (1880s)

This cabinet portrait shows an unidentified family portrait. They look to us to be a solid middle-class family. An imposing mother and father are posed with their littkle boy. He looks to be about 4 years old and wears a cut-away jacket, vest, Eton collar, and Highland kilt complete with sporan. Images like this suggest that the kilt was fairly common boys' wear in Scotland, atleast for boys from middle-class families. The portrait is undated, but the man's beard amd woman's dress suggest the 1880s or very-early-90s to us. Hopefully readers mor familiar with dresses can offer insights here. The photographer was J. Norval who had studios in Dunfermiline and Alloa. Dunfermline was just north of Edinburgh and the Fith of Forth. This is the southern border of the Highlands. Alloa is just to the west.

The 1890s

Photography continued to grow in importance, but it is in the 1890s that we have found really large numbrs of images. The photographic record shows that headwear continued to be important for both children and adults. Sailor style hats were popular for younger boys and also worn by girls. We note Scottish-styled caps caled bonnets for someeason. We see girls wearing actual frilly bonnets. White dresses were common. We see dresses with built up baloon sleeves. Younger boys might wear sailor suits. We also see Fauntleroy suits and lace collars, but they were not nearly as common as sailor outfits. Here there were social class connotatioins. Boys of all ages also wore kilts, in different styles, Many were vworn with Highland elements. Again there were social class connotations. We see many boys wearing Eton collars. Boy commonly wore suits. We see several different stles of jackets. We note both knee pants and knickers, mostly worn with long stockings. Kilts were, hpwever, commonly worm with knee socks.


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Created: 4:04 AM 2/5/2012
Last updated: 5:59 AM 6/22/2023