Ethel Hopwood, Victorian Photographer, Weston Super Mare

This wonderful Cabinet Card (about mid 1890’s)was among the loose old photos that I bought in November.
Shame we aren’t able to see colours, I did wonder at first, if it may have been a Suffragette brooch the young lady on the left is wearing, but then I realized from the Tambourine in the front of the photograph, and the hats they are wearing, that they are both in Salvation Army uniform.  
I would love to know who the beautifully dressed young ladies are ?? ………

As there was nothing written on this card this time I thought I would research the Photographer………Ethel Hopwood.
Ethel Jane Hopwood was born in Bridgnorth, Shropshire early in 1866, she was the daughter of Robert Hopwood 1837-1927 and Harriet Morley 1838-1921.
In the 1871 census Ethel aged 5 was living with her younger brother Harold and their parents in Bridgnorth, her father Robert was a Watchmaker and Jeweller, employing 1 man and was also a  Photographer employing 1 man. They all lived in the High Street, St Leonards, Bridgnorth.
Previously in the 1861 census her father Robert Hopwood was unmarried and living with his sister in Bridgnorth, occupation was a Watchmaker and Engraver.
In late 1864 Robert Hopwood married Harriett Morley in London, these documents (sourced from Ancestry) are interesting relating to their marriage and change of residence for Harriett at the time………….

13th Oct 1864
19th Oct 1864 part 1
19th Oct 1864 part 2

 In the 1881 census Father Robert and the family were living at 3 Jersey Place, Kervlett Road, Cheltenham. Which was near the junction of All Saints Road/Hewlett Road, thanks to very handy info on this blog about Cheltenham Past and Present
 Robert was listed as an artist and teacher of water colour painting, he must have been doing well as he and his wife and two sons Harold Morley aged 13 and Walter Townsend aged 1 month, had a nurse and a servant. And also at this time Ethel was a boarder at a private girls school in Bridgnorth run by Alderman Joseph Lloyd Whatmore (born 1801) and his family.
By 1891 the family had moved to Weston Super Mare. Robert is listed as a Photographer and Fancy goods dealer, with Harriett still, and Ethel now aged 25 and listed as a Designer, what of? I wonder. Walter is now aged 10 and a scholar.  
But Harold is not at home, but visiting another house in Weston Super Mare, the home of his future wife’s family (Florence Matilda Shaw) he is listed as a Music Sellers assistant…
Harold and Florence marry on 14th April 1892 at the Trinity Chapel, Wesleyan Methodist, Gloucester/Bristol.
Sadly they didn’t have a long married life as I found a death record for Florence in London for early 1894, also a ‘Male Hopwood’ born and died in the same quarter.
Thankfully things brightened up for Harold, he met another partner before the 1901 census to a lady called Selma (Marie Lowen) and they had a six month old son, Gilbert Lowen. They married in the July Q of 1914, maybe the war had something to do with their decision to marry. They lived in Lewisham.
In the 1911 census still living in Lewisham, they had another son Roland Harold, and stated they had been married 11 years. Selma was German born and it states ‘naturalization due to marriage 1899’, I have found no records to match this information.
Harold (Snr) is a manager, Pianoforte and music dealer.
Selma (Marie) Hopwood died in early 1941, and Harold Morley Hopwood died on 7th November 1958, both in Cippenham, Wiltshire ( Harold left everything to their elder son Gilbert (he lived in Cippenham, so assume they spent their last years close by)
Walter Townsend Hopwood (Ethels other brother) married a Bertha Annie Durbin in the April Q of 1904, in the 1911 census the family with daughter Margaret Selina aged 6, were living in Cheddar, Somerset. Walter was a dentist.
Walter Townsend died on 20th May 1959, leaving all to his married daughter and another married lady Janet Hume Thornhill.
Back to Ethel and her parents…..
In the 1901 census Robert now aged 64, wife Harriet 63 and Ethel are living together in Grove Road, Weston Super Mare. Robert is a frame maker and Ethel is a Photographer !!
But a little surprise there is an 8 year old girl also with them called Doris Ethel, listed as a Granddaughter.
She has to be Ethels daughter born in Bath, Ethel is a spinster still.
UPDATE..due to wonderful info from a reader Rachael..See comments below….
 Doris Ethel was my great aunt and daughter of Harold. Gilbert Hopwood was my grandfather so she was his sister. She died in her early twenties I think, and the story goes that everyone thought her husband drove too fast. One fateful journey my great aunt thought they were going to crash and jumped from the car, sadly to her death.
In the 1911 census all four are still living together, Doris Ethel is now 18 and an assistant to her Mums Photography business.
Doris Ethel married William F Watkins in 1914, but died aged 25 years old in 1918. I have found an Alice Watkins born 1918, died March 1918, that could be a possible child born, but nothing conclusive without certificates. There are so many Watkins………..
Photographer Ethel Jane died on the 13th July 1951 aged 85. Weston Super Mare.
Ethel is listed in Kelly’s Directories for 1914, 1923, 1935 and 1939 as a Miss Ethel Hopwood, Photographer, Grove Road, Weston Super Mare. So she obviously made a living from Photography for many years..
Her mother Harriett died in 1921, and her father Robert died in 1927.
I would love to find out more about her life, but everywhere I look I seem to find a blank ! 

Till next time then………………


  1. Hi there! Robert Hopwood is my great grandfather and I would love to see this painting! Could you send me an image of it?
    I also have information about Ethel and Doris which I think might help


  2. Oh that sounds wonderful, I would love to see too Nicholas, sorry I haven't replied before Nicholas, but for some reason I didn't get a notification of your comment ! Kind Regards, Lynn


  3. I have information about Ethel who was my great great aunty. My mother knew her as a very sweet old lady! I think you might need to update your post as she definitely did not have an illegimate daughter!!


  4. Who was Doris Ethel then ?? Who's child ?? I make educated guesses about the people I research, because if I were to start buying certificates I wouldn't be able to afford the Old Photos !! Thanks so much Racheal


  5. Hi Lynn! Doris Ethel was my great aunt and daughter of Harold. Gilbert Hopwood was my grandfather so she was his sister. She died in her early twenties I think, and the story goes that everyone thought her husband drove too fast. One fateful journey my great aunt thought they were going to crash and jumped from the car, sadly to her death.


  6. Wow Wow Wow What a fabulous story ! Thank you so much for sharing this with me. I would never have been able to find this out from records..Don't you just love Family History !! Will correct post now !!Thank you Rachael ! 🙂


  7. Some fascinating information – thanks. Robert and Ethel Hopwood are also described in our book “Secure the shadow : Somerset photographers, 1839-1939”

    Liked by 1 person

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