William Clayton’s portraits of working women – 2 young women identified? Maybe …

Posted on by emyr

During the 1860s, a Hampshire-born photographer called William Clayton who had recently moved to Tredegar, established a business in the town.

During the early years of his Tredegar business, Clayton produced an album of portraits of ordinary people, dressed in their working clothes, which comprised mainly women employed in heavy industry and mining at that time.

It appears from information gleaned from the Museum of Costume in Manchester that the photographs accompanied articles in the Merthyr Gazette newspaper, which campaigned to stop their employment largely on the grounds, they argued, that it was unsuitable work for women, rendering them unfit to be wives, mothers and home-makers.

The women workers wore calf length skirts and boots, with tarpaulin aprons. A distinctive feature of their costume was the head-dress, a bonnet or scarf thickly padded on top, decorated gypsy-like with beads and coins.

Unfortunately, no names seem to have been attached to the photos but through some detective work on the census and a couple of big ifs, there is a possibility that 2 young women may have been identified.

In one of Clayton’s photos, there is a group of 3 women dressed in their working clothes, but 2 women on the right and left-hand sides in the photo look very similar; indeed they may be identical twins.

At No.1 Plummer’s Row on the 1861 census, lived 2 girls, Anne & Mary Morgan of the same age, whose occupations would have been ‘unloading iron mine’ – in other words, lifting and carrying lumps of iron ore that had been dug or unearthed on the patches and scourings surrounding the town.

Could the 2 girls in the photo attached below actually be Anne and Mary Morgan? Both young women would have been about 22 years of age around 1865.

If you have ancestors from Tredegar called either Ann or Mary Morgan, I would love to hear from you!

 

 

 

1861 Census of No.1 Plummer's Row, Tredegar. 2 young women of same age, 18, Ann & Mary Morgan may be twins photographed by William Clayton, c.1865

1861 Census of No.1 Plummer’s Row, Tredegar. 2 young women of same age, 18, occupation – Unloading iron mine, Ann & Mary Morgan may be twins photographed by William Clayton, c.1865

2 of the 3 young womenin this photo by William Clayton, c.1865, could be twins, Ann & Mary Morgan whose occupation in 1861 was to unload iron ore (mine)

2 of the 3 young womenin this photo by William Clayton, c.1865, could be twins, Ann & Mary Morgan whose occupation in 1861 was to unload iron ore (mine)

2 of the 3 young womenin this photo by William Clayton, c.1865, could be twins, Ann & Mary Morgan whose occupation in 1861 was to unload iron ore (mine)

2 of the 3 young womenin this photo by William Clayton, c.1865, could be twins, Ann & Mary Morgan whose occupation in 1861 was to unload iron ore (mine)


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Blaenau Gwent Access to Heritage Project

The Blaenau Gwent area has a wealth of local history and heritage.  Across the County Borough, groups of dedicated volunteers work tirelessly to preserve and enhance the history and heritage of their local communities. The Blaenau Gwent Access to Heritage Project aims to make this rich local heritage accessible to as wide a range of people as possible.  Thanks to a £250,000 funding package from the Heritage Lottery Fund, CyMAL (the museum, archives and libraries division of the Welsh Government) and Blaenau Gwent Council, the project is now up and running.
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