Neal relations at Cuckoos Cup, The Wrekin

Delving into the Osborne gallery More mystery images

Could this photograph be of 3 times great grandmother Mary Ann Osborne, nee Dawe? A fresh batch of interesting old family images have been emerging courtesy of cousin Rob {1}, and this one is particularly intriguing.

The back of the photo is the place to start, with its difficult to decipher writing but also with the printed details ‘Photo by Mayo’s Studio, 7 Paget Road, Barry Island’. Mary Ann (often recorded as just Mary) lived in Misterton with husband Robert but she is already noted as being away from him at times. At the 1891 census, she was with daughter Susan Sibley and very young family at 4 Bush Houses, with a third child on the way. Son George Osborne and his family are also living in the same house.

The longest day?

The writing on the photo’s back (below) seems to say something like “Dear D…ne and John – is the longes(t) day of grani Osborne – John”. Writer John is presumed to be John Osborne, born 1889 to George and Elizabeth (nee Gluyas) – the other family at 4 Bush Houses in 1891 {4}. Could granny Osborne have visited Barry while travelling home after another family get together in the Rhondda? That could indeed have made a long day.

While no means certain, the above stacks up reasonably well. Dating the photo is a bit more problematic however. The photo itself doesn’t give much away but ‘feels’ to your editor like late 1890s/early 1900s, when Mary Osborne would be in her seventies. The postcard format started becoming popular in the early 1900s, so that sort of works. But! The only online references to Mayo’s Studios, or rather photographer Benjamin Mayo, at 7 Paget Road, Barry, suggest a 1920s period {2}. Is it worth spending more time trying to research the studios or does anyone happen to have further insights?

Mary’s likely death is 1910 – there’s an October burial which would fit with this in Misterton, age 82 (likely birth is 1824 but a few years tend to get lost on the way). Robert, also born about 1824, manages to carry on for a few months after the 1911 census. {3}

Brothers Osborne?

Another photo from the batch is this one. The question is, could that be William (1848-1928 – my ancestor) sitting down, next to brother George (1850 to 1925 – Rob’s ancestor)? Comparisons to the photo in the ‘An array of Osbornes‘ article, plus another one in the collection, do show similarities in features and posture – he is sitting in the others too. The curliness of hair is rather less evident in the later images, though. There is no other obvious candidate, so a ‘probable’ for this one.

Update to this: I am told that it is the one sitting down that has been positively identified as George, not the one standing. The latter doesn’t seem to me to be as good a match to the William portrayed elsewhere.


  1. That’s Rob Osborne, national reporter for ITV Wales, who I’m pleased to count as a third cousin, once removed. Thanks for all the images!
  2. See Victorian Professional Photographers in Wales 1850 -1925 on Genuki for instance.
  3. See Scott and Osborne page for more on this large family.
  4. John is still living ‘at home’ in 1911, when he completes the census form for the family. He’s now 22 and the writing is certainly better than on the postcard, but there are plenty of spelling errors. He would have used chalk and slate at school, so perhaps writing with pencil on card didn’t come naturally to him. There are school admission entries (on Findmypast) for a John Osborne and sister Jane, with father George, May 1897 in Dinas, previously attending Clydach Vale Board School. As their school dates of birth are months different to those in the 1939 register, and no other indication that the family briefly left Bush Houses, perhaps this is just a strange coincidence! John and wife Caroline ran the Conservative Club in Berw Road, Tonypandy.



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One response to “Delving into the Osborne gallery More mystery images

  1. Alan Croad avatar
    Alan Croad

    Sorry for late reply. As usual great work John. Might Barry Camera Club have some info re Victorian photographers?

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