I usually buy my old photos from Car Boot sales, Fleamarkets, Antique Fairs/shops but scrolling through Ebay one evening I noticed this absolutely beautiful glass Ambrotype photo, unframed, of a couple, taken I thought probably 1855/60’s.
There has been some colouring/tinting done by the Photographer in Gold, the couple’s rings, watch & also the flowers are coloured in a pot between them. The lady is also holding something that is decorated & coloured with gold, a card of some sort? I did wonder if maybe this was taken to celebrate their marriage or a Wedding Anniversary, maybe 25th? but the description had no names. So I bought it to add to my other Ambrotypes I have. Then I thought after, I wonder what area it comes from or if the seller knows anything at all about it’s origins. So I sent a message to Lynda and asked. So glad I did! Not only did she know it’s origin but also a name & she was selling on behalf of a descendant! She also gave me her name (in confidence) so that I could verify I had the right family when researching.
Lynda also checked with the descendant selling that she had consulted the family about this photo, and no one had wanted it. I was a bit concerned that such a treasure should be lost to the family, but apparently they had other photos & family items they were keeping.
The name I had been given was Selina Wonnacott, the descendants Mothers family & possibly Mothers Great Great Grandmother. Also they lived in an area in Plymouth at the time.
So I started searching and it didn’t take me long to find Selina, I started a tree so that I could establish that I had the correct family with my named descendant. I very quickly had established sadly that it couldn’t be Selina and her husband as when they married in 1863, he was 21 and she was 24. Far too young, so it has to be the next generation back.
Wonnacott & Dillon Family History.
Richard WONNACOTT was born in 1809 in Tavistock, Devon, England as the first child of Thomas WONNACOTT and Mary LITTLEJOHNS. He had one sibling I have found, Thomas. He died on 03 Apr 1859 in East Stonehouse, Devonshire.
When he was 22, he married Mary ROBJOHNS, daughter of John ROBJOHNS and Jenny LUXMORE, on 03 Oct 1831 in East Stonehouse, Devon, England.
Richard WONNACOTT lived in Tavistock, Devon, England in 1841 (Richard is a Carpenter ). He lived in East Stonehouse, Devon, England in 1851 (Relationship: Head. Building Foreman.). He lived in Cookbury Holsworthy, Devonshire in 1851.
Richard WONNACOTT and Mary ROBJOHNS had the following children:
1. John WONNACOTT was born on 27 Jul 1832 in Tavistock, Devon, England. He died in Jan 1915 in Tavistock, Devonshire. He married Jane Ann BLIGHT in 1856 in Devon.
2. Thomas Robjohns WONNACOTT was born on 15 Jul 1834 in Plymstock, Devon, England. He died on 17 Nov 1918 in Surrey, England. He married Sarah Andrews in 1856 in East Stonehouse, Devon, England.
3. Eliza Ann WONNACOTT was born on 22 Jan 1837 in East Stonehouse, Devon, England. She died in Jan 1865 in Stoke Damerel, Devonshire.
4. Selina WONNACOTT was born in Jan 1839 in Tavistock, Devon, England. She died in Apr 1875 in East Stonehouse, Devonshire (Tragically died young at 36, so not the lady in my photo. See Blog.). She married William Henry DILLON HUNTER in Oct 1863 (he was 21 & she 24, so too young for photo) in Stoke Damerel, Devon.
5. William WONNACOTT was born about 1841 in Tavistock, Devon, England. He died on 06 Oct 1878 in Merchant Marine, At Sea, SS.Great Britain. He married Emily Louisa Short on 11 Feb 1866 in Walmer, Kent, England.
“When launched in 1843, Great Britain was by far the largest vessel afloat. However, her protracted construction and high cost had left her owners in a difficult financial position, and they were forced out of business in 1846 having spent all their funds re-floating the ship after she was run aground at Dundrum Bay after a navigational error. In 1852 she was sold for salvage and repaired. Great Britain carried thousands of immigrants to Australia from 1852 until converted to sail in 1881. Three years later, she was retired to the Falkland Islands where she was used as a warehouse, quarantine ship and coal hulk until scuttled in 1937″…………
…...In 1970, following a cash donation by Sir Jack Hayward that paid for the vessel to be towed back to the UK, Great Britain was returned to the Bristol dry dock where she was built. Now listed as part of the National Historic Fleet, she is an award-winning visitor attraction and museum ship in Bristol Harbour, with between 150,000 and 200,000 visitors annually“………………..Information & photo above, source: Wikipedia.
William Henry DILLON HUNTER was born in Oct 1842 in St Andrews, Plymouth, Devon as the first child of William Dillon and Margaret Hunter (HUNTER, WILLIAM HENRY DILLON JAMES Order GRO Reference: 1842 D Quarter in PLYMOUTH Volume 09 Page 389 ). He died in Mar 1927 in St Germans, Cornwall, England. When he was 21, he married Selina WONNACOTT, daughter of Richard WONNACOTT and Mary ROBJOHNS, in Oct 1863 in Stoke Damerel, Devon. When he was 33, he married Mary Brock WILTON,daughter of Samuel WILTON and Ann BROCK, in 1876 in Devon.
William Henry DILLON HUNTER was baptized in 1843 in Devon (The last name/surname was mixed up when they registered the birth? also putting the mother’s maiden name incorrect as James, should be Hunter which should have gone before Dillon. James was Margaret’s father’s name, so could explain?). He lived in Plymouth Charles the Martyr, Devon, England in 1851 (Relationship: Son). He lived in Charles, Devon, England in 1861 (Relationship: Son. He was a General Clerk). He lived in East Stonehouse, Devon, England in 1871 (Relationship: Head. He was a Warehouseman). He lived in Plymouth St Andrew, Devon, England in 1881 (Marital Status: Married; Relationship to Head: Head. He was a commercial clerk & traveller). He lived in Plymouth, Devon, England in 1901 (Relation to Head of House: Head. He is now an Accountant). He lived in Rame, Cornwall, England on 02 Apr 1911 (Marital Status: Widowed; Relation to Head of House: Father, should be Father In Law. Living with daughter Alice & husband, his second wife Mary had died in 1909.).
William Henry DILLON HUNTER and Selina WONNACOTT had the following children:
1. Alice Mary Margaret Dillon was born on 09 Jul 1864 in Stoke Damerel, Devon, England (DILLON, ALICE MARY MARGARET WONNACOTT Order GRO Reference: 1864 S Quarter in STOKE DAMEREL Volume 05B Page 334 ). She died on 16 Jan 1958 in Plymouth, Devon, England. She married William Henry Spiller on 20 Jul 1898 in Plymouth, Devon, England (See Gallery, marriage cert borrowed from Public Tree on Ancestry).
2. William Wonnacott DILLON was born on 01 Jan 1868 in Stoke Damerel, Devon (DILLON, WILLIAM WONNACOTT WONNACOTT Order GRO Reference: 1868 M Quarter in STOKE DAMEREL Volume 05B Page 367 ). He died in Dec 1956 in Plymouth, Devon, England. He married Helena Whiteman PARKER in Jul 1897 in St Giles in the Fields and St George, London, England.
3. George Herbert Dillon was born in 1871 in Stonehouse, Devon, England. He died on 10 Jul 1888 in Lost at Sea. STORY: George Herbert Dillon, letter to his father on 27 August 1888. He went overboard on morning of 20 July 1888 on the ship Barque ‘Eden Holme’ (photo below) see letter & pic below. Letter & portrait from a Public Tree on Ancestry.
Info from Low Head Pilot Station Maritime Museum website “The Eden Holme was an iron vessel of 827 tons. The dimensions were — Length, 201.8 ft.(61.5m.); breadth, 32.2 ft.(9.8m.); depth, 18.5 ft.(5.6m.) She was built in 1875 by Messrs Bartram, Haswell, and Company, at Sunderland, and the port of registry was Maryport in England. She was rigged as a barque with square sails on her front two masts and a gaff sail on her mizzen mast. The Eden Holme spent her early years trading to Queensland, South Australia and North America. In 1896 with the break up of the Walker Line, she was placed on the London to Tasmania run. She was skippered by John Wyrill, who had been master of the Walker line’s Berean since her maiden voyage in 1869, and who now transferred to the Holme Line. The Eden Holme and Brier Holme shared the Launceston wool trade. One would arrive in the spring and leave Launceston before Christmas, while the other would arrive in December and stay until February. Sometimes the ships unloaded cargo in Hobart, before sailing to Launceston to load wool. In 1904 John Wyrill made his last voyage before retirement. His replacement was the young Captain George Dulling“.
William Henry DILLON HUNTER and Mary Brock WILTON had the following children:
- Henry Ernest Ambrose DILLON was born in Apr 1877 in Plymouth, Devon, England (DILLON, HENRY ERNEST AMBROSE WILTON Order GRO Reference: 1877 J Quarter in PLYMOUTH Volume 05B Page 296 ). He died in Apr 1889 in Plymouth, Devonshire.
2. Stanley Cecil DILLON was born on 12 Jun 1879 in Plymouth, Devon, England. He died in 1958. He married Adela Emily Katherine HACKETT in 1909 in Tottenham, Middlesex, England (Catholic Church. Dispensation because of one party not being Catholic. Both lived at 20 Peabody’s Est, Lordship Lane, Tottenham.)
3. Bishop Percival DILLON was born on 12 Oct 1881 in Plymouth, England (DILLON, BISHOP PERCIVAL WILTON Order GRO Reference: 1881 D Quarter in PLYMOUTH Volume 05B Page 283 ). He died on 29 Jul 1958 in Shanghai, China.
William Henry Spiller was born on 14 Jul 1835 in Cawsand, Cornwall as the first child of John Spiller and Sarah Hooper. He had one sibling, namely: Sarah Jane. He died on 13 Dec 1918 in St Germans, Cornwall, England. When he was 28, he married Sarah Ann Cock, daughter of George Cock and Ann Cock, in Oct 1864 in St Germans, Cornwall. When he was 63, he married Alice Mary Margaret Dillon, daughter of William Henry DILLON HUNTER and Selina WONNACOTT, on 20 Jul 1898 in Plymouth, Devon, England (See Gallery, marriage cert borrowed from Public Tree on Ancestry).
William Henry Spiller lived in Rame, Cornwall, England in 1841. He lived in Rame, Cornwall, England in 1851 (Relationship: Son). He lived in Vessels, Royal Navy, England in 1861 (Relationship: Boatswains Mate). He lived in Vessels, Devon, England in 1871 (Relationship: Boatswain 2 Class). He lived in Vessels, Devon, England in 1881 (Marital Status: Married). He lived in Maker, Cornwall, England in 1891 (Relation to Head: Head. Retired Warrant Officer, Royal Navy). He lived in Maker, Cornwall, England in 1901 (Relation to Head of House: Head). He lived in Rame, Cornwall, England on 02 Apr 1911 (Marital Status: Married; Relation to Head of House: Head). “The rank of boatswain is the oldest rank in the Royal Navy, and its origins can be traced back to the year 1040. In that year, when five English ports began furnishing warships to King Edward the Confessor in exchange for certain privileges, they also furnished crews whose officers were the master, boatswain, carpenter and cook. Later these officers were “warranted” by the British Admiralty. They maintained and sailed the ships and were the standing officers of the navy”
William Henry Spiller and Sarah Ann Cock had no children.
William Henry Spiller and Alice Mary Margaret Dillon had one daughter:
Marjorie Christina Alice Spiller was born on 27 Jun 1906 in Kingsand, Cornwall. She died in Jul 2006 in Plymouth, Devon, England. She married William George John Gardner in Sep 1924 in St Germans, Cornwall. The descendant comes down from Marjorie.
This Wonnacott and Dillon family histories are so interesting, many family members have great life stories. Here is the direct link to the public tree I compiled on Ancestry for them all. … Wonnacott & Dillon Family Lynns Waffles
There are several Public Trees on Ancestry with details, Letters and many super Photos of the families, well worth looking up if you have a connection to any of them.
This photo below I found on Ancestry is one of my favourites..
I am unable to pin down the couple on the beautiful Ambrotype photo although I think my best hunch is on the Dillon side of the family, William Dillon and Margaret Hunter, William Dillon was born about 1799 in Aberdeen, Scotland (He also used William Murray Dillon as his name, so was his Mother’s maiden name Murray? Seems possible as he was born in Scotland. as the first child of Phillip DILLON). He died sometime after 1863 in Cornwall, England (Wife & Son on 1861 census. Says wife of a Petty Officer.). When he was 48, he married Margaret Hunter, daughter of James HUNTER, on 13 Sep 1847 in Plymouth, Devon, England (See GALLERY for Wedding cert. Anglican. Place..Plymouth, Charles the Martyr).
William Dillon lived in Plymouth Charles the Martyr, Devon, England in 1851 (Relationship: Head). He is described on son’s Marriage Cert as a ‘Seaman Instructor’ in 1863. Is it them..I wonder? What do you think?
This is the Ambrotype below, without the black card on the back, you can see the spots where the laquer backing is damaged…
Till next time then……………….
Some interesting coincidences here. My grandfather’s brother died in1879, age 16, falling from the mast of a ship off the Cape of Good Hope. Also I have ancestors from Devon called Rabjohn, which I believe is a variation of Robjohn.
LikeLiked by 1 person
That’s astonishing Liz, do check out the family tree! Wouldn’t it be great if you were connected x
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yet another fabulously interesting post Lynn. You certainly know how to present them. Love it. !!!
Thanks so much Rita x
LikeLiked by 1 person