The Barnes, Ashurst & Garrett families

This blog is about a spectacular collection of old photos that was gifted to me recently by my friend Diana, she wanted them to go to a good home. She had already sent scans of them to a family descendant (Barnes) in Australia. She kindly asked me if I would like to give them a permanent home and also wondered what I might find as I researched the family through their photos as every photo has been written on the back, with lots of names! This first photo below is definitely my favourite of them all and although it’s the first photo here it was the last one I researched to try and fit names to faces.

The Barnes Family 1880s

So coming back to this first photo after I had added a lot more to the family tree. I have deliberated for a long time over this one photo, it really got to me and I even contacted friend Jayne Shrimpton for her professional thoughts on it as the more time I spent looking at it the more I doubted myself over what date it was, which obviously would determine who was in the photo. I was very grateful to have Jayne confirm a broad date of the 1880s, so I’m in her timeframe, as she said ‘What is most frustrating is that we can’t see any of the ladies’ costumes in full-length. Skirt styles would definitely help with closer dating, but as it is, going by the females’ bodices, hairstyles and certain children’s dress details, I would put this in the 1880s.‘ If you need an appraisal or advice on anything to do with old photos Jayne is a professional dress historian, portrait specialist and ‘photo detective’ here’s the link to Jayne’s website:

My theory about this photo after all my time spent with it and looking closely at the family tree people and dates and the records, especially the census records in the families of Garrett and Barnes very closely, is that this photo is not the Garrett side of the family (Ellen Garrett nee Seamans named on the back died in Dec 1882) but the Barnes. I believe rightly or wrongly that this group photo was taken early in 1889 as maybe the Mother in the centre, Mary Ann (Seamans) Barnes was poorly, she died at the end of 1889, I don’t know the cause of death, you would need a cert for that. Also, I have discovered that George Barnes 1864-1952, one of her sons who had married Caroline Clark in 1885, emigrated with his wife and first daughter Florence 1886-1960 to America in 1889 (re 1900 US census). Their second daughter was born in America in 1890. So a group photo with his family before he left?

Please remember I am only speculating on all of this.

After these events, in 1890 Mary Barnes married Charles Frederick Docker and they lived with her Father pictured here. The reason I have put George John Manners in the picture is that Mary Ann (Seamans) Barnes’s sister Sarah (Seamans) Manners had died in 1876 leaving her husband Mark Manners 1866-1927 and her young son George John Manners. Mark Manners remarried in 1880 and I believe that after Sarah’s death George her son came to live with Mary Ann and her husband Edward Benjamin Barnes. So he slotted into the family at a similar age to their children and became part of their family group. Visually if you look carefully at the faces, they look like Barnes, especially looking like Edward Barnes back row far right.

Back Row, five adults: 1. William John Barnes 1868-1952. 2. George John Manners 1867-1959 3. George Barnes 1864-1952 4. Elizabeth Mary Barnes 1863-1937. 5. Edward Barnes 1858-1936.

Centre Row, four adults: 6. Mary Barnes 1866-1927. 7. Mary Ann (Seamans) 1834-Dec 1889. 8. Edward Benjamin Barnes 1826-1904. 9. Catherine Ellen (Garrett) 1852-1932 (m Edward Barnes 1858-1936)

The bottom row of four including children: 10. Henry 1872-1928. 11. on lap Edward Barnes 1886-1972. 12. on lap Ada Barnes 1888-1980. 13. on ground Ellen Barnes 1883-1953. Ellen sitting on the ground is a good marker as we have other photos of her for comparison as a child.

Back of the image above with written names.

Family History. So where to start, I needed to connect all these people via a family tree so I started with ‘Ellen Garrett nee Seamans‘ as the Home person on Ancestry. Then I went to Find My Past records for Civil Marriages and entered Ellen Seamans, one result: Ellen Seamans married one of these people in the 3rd quarter of 1846 in the St Luke district of London, Francis John Angus, Charles Garrett, Richard Axtens, Alfred Williams. That was an easy start, so I added Charles Garrett to my tree with their marriage date of 1846. Then up popped a few hints, one being their marriage, brilliant now I could add the father’s names and also see their occupations. So Charles and his father Abraham were both Inn Keepers and Ellen was a minor (under 21) and her father John was a Butcher. Great start. Over several days I managed to add several different branches of the family which all helps when you are trying to identify faces in photos, who are the most likely.

Marriage on 1 September 1846

I believe this photo could have been taken in August 1912 to celebrate Catherine and Edward’s 30th Wedding Anniversary? This obviously as you can see is a generation on from the first photo, now all the children are grown up and Catherine and her husband Edward are a little older too.

See below for the family group details

It’s amazing how quickly you can build up a small family tree with a little bit of luck on your side. Then as I added more people to the tree I realised that it wasn’t going to be as straightforward as I had first thought, mainly due to the first names in the family Barnes, there are many repeats William, Edward, Mary, Ellen etc very easy to mix up births, marriages and deaths if you don’t have the certificates. So I had to get them all properly sorted into their family groups on the tree before I could begin to match up faces correctly in these photos. When you look at the family trees that come up as hints on Ancestry there seem to be many mistakes because of this, that’s why I like to compile my own trees.

Here are some screenshots of the family, as you can see if you look at this first one below Edward Barnes and Catherine Ellen Garrett were first cousins, their mothers were sisters.

Also if you look at these next two records you will see Ellen’s Great Grandmother Elizabeth (Gwynne) Seamans 1803-1884 firstly on the 1881 census employing her family in the Haberdashers Arms that she ran until her death on 16 Jan 1884. John Seamans 1803-1867 her husband had been a Beer Seller and later in life after his death she was involved in the trade.

As you can see from the census above Elizabeth’s daughter Elizabeth with her husband Edward George Webster 1834-1882 had lived at the pub. Elizabeth was the Manageress and Edward followed his own trade as an Upholsterer.

Next, we have Edward Barnes and Catherine Ellen Garrett’s family group with their seven children that match the group photo.

Thankfully the two people who are constant in these two group photos are Catherine Ellen (Garrett)1852-1932 and her husband Edward Barnes 1858-1936, which is an enormous help. I usually find it’s good to have a married couple at different times of their lives. Then there is the handing down of these photos to a descendant hopefully, often female, in this case, it’s likely to have been Ellen Barnes 1883-1953 their eldest daughter who married Ernest Sydney Ashurst 1880-1948. So you are looking at faces that were close to these people and most were likely but not always, immediate family.

1891 census Edward & Catherine Barnes. Edward is a Silversmith.

This is a screenshot of Ellen Barnes and Ernest Sydney Ashurst’s family group:

Her husband Ernest Sydney Ashurst enlisted in the Royal Army Service Corps on 8 December 1915 just a few months after Ronald’s birth. He was discharged on 22 January 1918 due to sickness, and he never served abroad. Here’s his record from the British Army World War I Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920 collection on Ancestry. Army Service Corps. Regimental Number M2/226903. More information on the Silver War Badge Records, 1914-1920 collection for Ernest, also on Ancestry.

This lovely photo below was taken around late 1914? Catherine is on the left with her eldest daughter Ellen on the right. Ellen had her first child a boy Ronald Ernest Ashurst 15 April 1915-2005 in the 2nd quarter of 1915, could she be just pregnant here? Beginning of Autumn?

The couple had been married since 1906, and they later in 1922 and 1925 had two daughters Winifred Ellen Ashurst 1922-1998 who married in 1958 and had children and Amy Edith Ashurst 1925-2015, Amy never married and I believe this small collection may have belonged to her and gone out of the family after she died, she lived in Taunton, Somerset at the time very close to Dorset where the photos had ended up at a fair.

The lovely dog is called Carlo.

A few more photos of Ellen Barnes are below, as a child and an adult.

As these photos do look very likely to have come from the same branch of the family. The first photo below says Ada Barnes and so does the second photo but with a question mark, are they the same lady? Dog Carlo makes an appearance again.

This next photo has Ellen Ashurst (Barnes) and Edith Barnes written on the back, Edith 1897-1983 was one of Ellen’s sisters, the youngest.

Ellen Ashurst (Barnes) and Edith Barnes

Next, we have a photo taken at Beccles this was where Kathleen (Barnes) and her husband Frederick William Fitzgerald Harvey lived, at 34 Ellough Road, Beccles. They married in Suffolk in 1921 and had three children Vera 1922-1990, Gwendoline 1926-1987 and Ivan Richard 1931-2014. Kathleen is described on the 1939 register as being an invalid, she died on 14 Sep 1942, and she was 47. Her husband Frederick was a Motor Mechanic and also was in the East Suffolk Police Reserve (1939 Register)

The photo next is of ‘Ernest Sydney Ashurst with Carlo the dog at Beccles

Ernest Sydney Ashurst with Carlo

Ernest Sydney Ashurst was born on 1 January 1880, his parents were William and Ann. He married Ellen Barnes on 15 August 1906 in Upper Norwood, Surrey. He died on 17 May 1948 in Croydon, Surrey, at the age of 68. In 1939 Ernest was a Wholesale Newsagent and Tobacconist.

Ernest had many siblings and I was surprised to see records come up that showed his father William was a Bigamist! Several public family trees on Ancestry have more notes and records about William if you are a family member. He was a Butcher by trade and it seems his business failed, he also apparently turned to drink and then later disappeared. From looking at the records it looks possible that he went to Canada but that would need lots more research.

Court Date 28 May 1894, sentenced to 6 weeks hard labour.

This next photo is John Henry Barnes son of Edward Barnes and Catherine Ellen (Garrett)

Says on the back ‘Jack Barnes. Killed in Great War‘.

JOHN HENRY BARNES. Service Number: S/1858
Regiment & Unit/Ship. Rifle Brigade
12th Battalion.Date of Death
Died 12 February 1916. Age 25 years old. Buried or commemorated at
BelgiumCommonwealth War Graves Commission – Headstone.
Son of Edward and Katherine Barnes, of 47, Addison Rd, South Norwood, London.

The information I managed to find above was very limited, I wanted to find out more about this young man so I contacted my friend Simon at Charnwood Genealogy who is far more experienced with researching Military records and he kindly agreed to help me and found all this further information for me to share with you all, thanks so much Simon x

John Henry Barnes record, thanks so much to my lovely friend Simon at CHARNWOOD GENEALOGY

Simon found this information about the 12th Battalion Rifle brigade and their actions around 12th February 1916 online at London War Memorial : 12th Rifle Brigade arrived in France in July 1915, as part of the 60 Brigade, 20th Division. Towards the end of January 1916, the 20th Division moved to the Ypres salient where the action was continuous and fierce throughout the war.

As they made their way towards the front line on the evening of the 11th of February 1916, the men of the 12th Rifle Brigade must have been wondering what was in store for them. Would this be a quiet tour during which the front-line troops, both British and German, would be more concerned with keeping warm than fighting or would it all erupt into terrible violence?

Their destination was a position near the International Trench southeast of Boesinghe, on the extreme left of the British line. Here they found that the battalion they were relieving, the 9th King’s Royal Rifle Corps, was coming under a heavy and sustained German attack. Despite this, the relief went ahead during which a tremendous barrage fell on the British positions followed by an infantry attack. The left of the line held fast but further to the right at Lancashire Farm crossroads the Germans got into the front line.

The 12th Rifle Brigade immediately counter-attacked and a bombing party fought their way along the traverses and corners and retook this section of the trench. However on the right of the battalion line at Fortin 17 was a party of 1 officer and 30 men, most of whom were raw recruits who had just joined the battalion. They had been placed here because it had been considered to be a quiet part of the line but it was this sector in particular that came under a further intense bombardment during the course of 12th February.

Isolated, pounded by trench mortars and desperately fighting off infantry attacks this group of men held out for 4 days until the survivors were finally relieved. At the end of this violent episode, the trenches were unrecognisable and the 12th Rifle Brigade had suffered over 150 casualties. Including John Henry Barnes on the 12th.

Another record that Simon found.


A sad and grim part of this family’s history but must be remembered especially at Christmas, the time of the year when we have our family members uppermost in our thoughts. Simon said “It is very sad and sounds like they did not stand a chance bless them and I agree these young men and their stories need to be remembered always”

As you can see from the second group photo earlier in this blog Jack had two brothers so here’s a little about them too. 1) Edward Barnes born 12 May 1886-died 16 Jan 1972 also served in WW1 as an Ordinary Seaman, Able Seaman, service number R/3131, he survived the war and married Jessie Kathleen Elliot 1901-1976 at the beginning of 1921. I have found some possible children of the couple but would need certificates. On the 1939 Register, there is a redacted entry below their names so that could be a child. 2) George Barnes born on 4 May 1893-died 9 Oct 1962. At the time of his marriage, George was a Lance Corporal in the 2nd Battalion Welsh Regiment. He married Edith Blanche Ells on 10 Nov 1917 while he was on leave. George had signed up pre the 1911 census as I found him on the census at age 17 as a Soldier, a Private living in Pembroke.

As you can see Edward Barnes senior holding the reins, easy to recognise due to his white beard even Carlo gets a ride.

The Garrett family and the Seamans family both came from the Suffolk area. The Barnes were from Surrey/London and mostly in the Camberwell area. There were some interesting little bits of information I came across while researching. 1. William Josiah Barnes 1789-1863 was a Builder and before his death last living at Mary’s Cottage, Wyndham Road, Camberwell. Did he build it and name it after his wife Mary (Dench)1794-1873? 2. The Garrett Family it seems was fairly wealthy, one branch of the family founded the famous agricultural engineering company in Leiston, Suffolk. More info here: Garretts of Leiston

Then 3. Another Garrett connection. Abraham Garrett was one of the founders of the Camden Brewery in 1859. The Camden Brewery was pretty much a Garrett family venture. Richard and Abraham Garrett were cousins, with George Grimwood and Thomas Whittacker the partners also brought 30 alehouses to the venture. More here but I’ve not researched at all: Camden Brewery

4. Mary Barnes 1866-1927 and the daughter of Edward Benjamin Barnes and Mary Ann (Seamans)had married Charles Frederick Docker in 1890 but sadly he died in 1893 in the 1911 census Mary was Widowed and her Occupation Sewing Machinist, Mantle Making. Mantlemaker would denote someone who makes overgarments or overcoats. A term used mainly in the ladies tailoring trade. Previous to this after her husband had died on the census of 1901 (see below) and before her father died in 1904 she was living with her son in her father’s family home. As you can also see her brother William John Barnes was still at home and they had a servant Caroline (Carrie) Rees 1879-1948 who on the 1911 census below Mary describes as a cousin and who William John later married in 1913.

1901 census Edward Benjamin Barnes & family

Also on this census above can you see that brother 5. Henry Barnes is a Photographer!!!

This little family group are still together in 1911

I’ve not been able to find out much about Henry Barnes the photographer but he is mentioned in my London Photographers book living at 7 Leipsic Rd, Camberwell so I know I have the correct person. Also, he continued to be a Photographer till his death in 1928 as you can see from the probate record above. I had wondered if he was slightly physically disabled, looking at who I think he is in the first photo on this blog and he never married but stayed after his parent’s deaths with his brother William John and his wife Carrie all his life, it would have been a good occupation as it wasn’t a manual job. The other thing I wondered was, were some of the photos in this collection taken by Henry? I do hope so!

Henry’s nephew 6. Alfred Charles Dixon, his sister Elizabeth’s son was also interested in Photography of a different sort and was described as a bioscope operator in animated photography on the 1911 census.

A Bioscope show was a music hall and fairground attraction consisting of a travelling cinema. The heyday of the Bioscope was from the late 1890s until World War I‘ (Wikipedia)

I’ve found several references to The Bioscope, it was a British film journal which launched on 18 September 1908 and continued as a weekly until 4 May 1932. Here’s part of an article published in Jun 1910. ‘There is no mistaking the smartness of Messrs Pathé, and their latest achievement, the production of a weekly cinematograph paper, The Animated Gazette, has just about beaten all records for the interest which it has awakened among the great British Public. The Daily Press has been devoting considerable space to it, with the result that curiosity has been aroused, and people are now busily discussing the latest thing in moving pictures.

Briefly, the idea is to incorporate the usual journalistic methods of writing into filming, and to portray, in lengths of about 80 odd feet, the chief items of interest that have happened during the week. Thus the illustrated newspaper is being superseded by The Animated Gazette, which depicts the actual scenes of contemporary history in living and moving reality. This week’s contents bill announces motor racing at Brooklands, the manoeuvres at Salisbury Plain, the departure of the Terra Nova, the Chinese mission in Paris, the quarrymen’s strike, Caruso in the street, Modes in Paris, and other ‘newsy’ films. That the idea will catch on is undoubted, and it is perhaps not looking too far into the future to anticipate when the weekly Animated Gazette will become an indispensable ‘daily’‘.

The wealth of information on the census records for this family was wonderful and I could have gone on and on…..

Here’s the link to the Public Family Tree on Ancestry that I have compiled, with a few notes here and there

: Barnes/Garrett/Ashurst Family Tree

As it’s Christmas I will leave you with this last record, an electoral roll dated 1919 of Carrie (Caroline) with her husband William John Barnes and Henry Barnes and look who lives next door!

Yes, it’s Mr and Mrs Claus! Ho Ho Ho 🎅🤶

Till next time then…..


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