'Fascinating' pictures of locals from nineteenth century

A Times reader has submitted two interesting pictures of his nineteenth century ancestors.

Wednesday, 20th January 2010, 11:34 am
Updated Thursday, 21st January 2010, 10:07 am

Mr. Alan Boyd, who now resides in Truro, Cornwall, describes the photographs as ‘fascinating’ and reveals the people are from Ballymoney.

“This may be of interest to your readers,” Mr. Boyd said.

“The pictures were taken by my great grandfather, Robert A. Boyd who was born in Ballymoney in 1857 and was the son of Samuel Boyd and ‘Bessie’ (nee Jordan),.

“I believe the parents both worked as merchants(possibly drapers?) and tailors in the town. Robert became a textile designer as well as a keen early photographer before moving to London and then Antwerp.”

Details of the group picture are as told by Mr. Boyd:

A family group of Jordans (the photo is actually a circa1890 copy of an 1860s photo) including Robert’s mother, Elizabeth ‘Bessie’ Jordan who was by this time Samuel Boyd’s wife (she is the one at the centre of the back row) with three of her sisters.

I believe Jane is the rather dour lady in the centre who had a toyshop in Ballymoney and the equally sombre lady to her left is Mary, a confectioner – neither married.

The rather pretty girl on the right is probably the youngest of the total of nine children, Marianne, who was born in 1839 (aged about 25 in this picture). As you might imagine, she did marry and went on to have seven children of her own but sadly it is thought only three lived to maturity. Of the family members not shown at least two had emigrated to USA – Robert, who ended up in Pittsburgh and Catherine who died aged only 25 in 1858 in New York. James, born in 1820 was a builder and architect and we think was responsible for building one of the chapels in Ballymoney.

He may be one of the two men in the photo. If so, he would have been 44 years old as he was born in 1820. More likely it is William who is featured, as he was born 7 years later (both men look rather youthful).

We do not know what event brought the family together for this photo opportunity but I suspect it may have been the funeral of their father, Robert in 1864, as neither parent is in the shot (their mother, Jane formerly, Hopkins, having died earlier in 1859). Samuel and Bessie had left for England by 1866 so the photo is most probably from before that date.

Second picture:

John Chestnut(t), son of Samuel and Mary Chestnut of Dungorbery who was a tenant farmer and mill owner.

His sister, Elizabeth married Samuel Boyd’s father William of Dungorbery who was a flax grower and we believe eventually took over the mill.

Robert Boyd took this photograph, which is on a glass plate, about 1885 - just before John Chestnutt’s death.

Naturally, I would be delighted to hear from anybody who is connected to any of those named or can shed any more light on the photographs (I see there are several people with the same names living in the Ballymoney area today). I shall be visiting Ballymoney for the first time myself in mid February to see some of the places mentioned in my family’s history.

Alan Boyd

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