Victorian Studio Photos
Victorian Studio Photos

George 'Lawyer' White was a personage in Epsom. Not only was he a prominent solicitor but he held several important civic posts in the town. From the viewpoint of a researcher coming along more than 100 years after he died his notebook, recording local births, marriages, deaths and other items of information, is very useful. The introduction to his notebook by Jeremy Harte and the article on his home, Ashley House, by Brian Bouchard tell you a great deal about his career but in this article I want to concentrate on the family and, in particular, his daughter, Evangeline, who adds a different dimension to a subject we have covered in many aspects on this website - mental health.

George White was born in Newington on 17 September 1809, son of Joseph and Charlotte White. His first wife was Esther Kirkham: they were married at Fulham on 27 August 1831. George was said to be of Croydon at the time but in 1841 they were living at Kemp's Cottages, Dulwich Common, with their daughter, also Esther, aged 8. (There is an interesting article about these cottages and their surroundings on the website of the Dulwich Society.) The family was in Ashley House by the 1851 census and young Esther was already married to George's articled clerk, William Daniel Taylor (born 1822 Croydon): they had wed at St Martin's on 29 September 1849. I don't think the law stuck as a career with William, as by 1861 he was a proprietor of houses (maybe an inheritance?), living in Lyndhurst, Hampshire. William and Esther had four children, but the latter died in 1867 while they were living in Galway. William remarried and died in 1910.

Esther Senior died at Pentonville, aged 41, on 29 October 1851 and was apparently buried at St Martin's on 4 November of that year (although she does not appear on our list of monuments in the churchyard, which seems strange, unless the service was held in Epsom but the burial was elsewhere).

On 4 October 1860 at St Martin's the widowed George married Jane Dorling, eldest daughter of the Epsom printer Henry Dorling and his first wife, Emily Clarke, who had died in 1840. Jane was born in 1837 and so she was effectively brought up by Henry's second wife, Elizabeth Mayson (née Jerrom) and her mother, Mary Jerrom. Luckily for me, Janet Painter has already 'done' the big and complicated Dorling family in her article 'The Dorling Family and Their Connection to Epsom' , but I shall need to revisit this large clan in a separate piece, as I am obliged to organise articles for the photos I've been issued with for this series and some of them are in the collection.

Mrs Jane White (née Dorling)
Mrs Jane White (née Dorling)
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

As you can see if you happen to be a follower of this series, Jane was wearing rather a daring outfit by comparison to the other women photographed by Cuthbert. I think this qualifies as a 'glamour shot' for Cuthbert, but she covered herself up later on.

There were a lot of children, so we'll do the obligatory table now.

George HenryBorn 26.9.1861 Epsom. Solicitor.
Married Helen Amelia Harrison Parker (died 1954) of Hessle House, Ewell.
Died 19.6.1903 at home (Chestnuts, Church Street, Epsom).
George Henry had taken over several of the posts his father held.
There were no children.
ReginaldBorn 28.11.1862 Bloomsbury.
Lived with his mother until her death (latterly in Links Road).
Died 17.2.1953 (90 yrs).
Architect, Army officer and local historian.
Arthur CecilBorn 19.7.1864 Bloomsbury.
Died 4.2.1948 Canada.
Lived in Duncan, Vancouver Island, BC.
Buried Mountain View Cemetery, Duncan.
Augustus ClaudeBorn 10.12.1865 Bloomsbury
EvangelineBorn 20.11.1869 Bloomsbury.
Died 23.3.1888.
Buried Epsom Cemetery.
Edgar FrankBorn 26.9.1871 Epsom.
Died 6 .6.1930 Canada.
TheodoreBorn 26.4.1873 Epsom.
Died 8.2.1904, still living at Ashley House.
Buried Epsom Cemetery.
Felix Walter (twin)Born 1875 Epsom. Brewer and wine and spirit merchant.
Married Beatrice Mary Weaving (died 1957).
Died 1968 Gloucester (92 yrs)
Alexander Frederick (twin)Born 25.3.1875 Epsom.
Married Alice Louisa Smart (died 1923).
Timber merchant.
Died 3.12.1975 (100 yrs) Gloucestershire.
SylviaBorn 9.11.1876 Epsom.
Married Archibald Horace Mann Robertson (died 1961), son of the Bishop of Exeter.
Died 1969 Cambridge (92 yrs).

Oddly, in the 1861 census George and Jane were living in Tintern Villas, Station Road. It may be that they were having work done at Ashley House, but in any event they were at Number 3 Tintern Villas with a housemaid and a cook. I mention this because, yet again, I have a mystery photo and a dodgy wrapper. The wrapper says Mrs E Martin, Epsom in the middle and then at the top, in different and faint handwriting, it may say Miss E Martin … or it may not. Nevertheless, I am throwing her in here just in case she is Elizabeth Martin, the Whites' cook in 1861, who would have been just over 30 if it is she in the photo. I can't tell you anything about the cook, since her birthplace was recorded as unknown so that the chances of finding her again with such a common name are non-existent.

Miss or Mrs E Martin, possibly the Whites' cook
Miss or Mrs E Martin, possibly the Whites' cook
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Now we have another photo of Jane White, not a glamour pose, holding a baby. I think this is probably her first, George Henry, born in September 1861, since many of the images in the collection have turned out to be in the 1862 region. I daresay that Cuthbert opened his studio for business and most of the town rushed in there almost straightaway. I have this vision of a huge excited queue snaking out of the door and along the street.

Mrs Jane White and child, probably George Henry White
Mrs Jane White and child, probably George Henry White
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Arthur is very elusive. In the 1881 census he was a pupil at Aldenham Grammar School, Hertfordshire with his brother Augustus. Eventually they both seemed to disappear, but I finally tracked down Arthur on a Canadian burial record. On the 1911 census form Mrs White said that six of her 10 children were still living and we have already accounted for three who had died by then (George Henry, Evangeline and Theodore), so the missing death must be Augustus. He was alive in 1898, when his father died, (per the newspaper obituary headcount of living children - nine), but does not seem to have been at the funeral, which suggests he might have gone abroad. If anyone has any information about Augustus, please contact the webmaster.

George White died at the age of 88 on 6 August 1898 'from practically decay of nature' (per the newspaper obituary) and was buried in the family vault at St Martin's with Evangeline. Jane remained in Epsom, ultimately moving from Ashley House to 'Millwood' in Links Road, until her own death on 29 April 1929.

The White family grave in Epsom Cemetery
The White family grave in Epsom Cemetery.
The face shown above commemorates George, George Henry and Jane.
Image courtesy of Loz Hennessy © 2019

This face shows the inscription for Reginald White.
This face shows the inscription for Reginald White.
Image courtesy of Loz Hennessy © 2019


I remember from a very long time ago the name of Normansfield, in Teddington/Hampton Wick, quite near the bottom of Kingston Bridge on the Middlesex side, which was fairly local to me back then. I can't recall why it resonates exactly, although I knew it was some kind of institution, mentioned rather in the same tone as Springfield, a mental hospital in Tooting (we had a neighbour who was in and out of there). It's weird how these places were spoken of - as a single word (Hanwell was another, its proper name being St Bernard's Hospital, but it was originally an institution for the pauper insane) and everyone knew that they were mental facilities, but the rest of the title was never added in conversation. I am sure it was the same in Epsom & Ewell, whereby people would say that someone was in Long Grove, Horton or wherever, and leave it there. We had all sorts in our road - a girl who ended up in Borstal, although I think her neglectful and dysfunctional parents had everything to do with that, and another girl who was not 'quite right' and would do things like eating Kit-e-Kat cat food out of the tin, but with a fork (she was very well looked-after and fed by her caring parents and was a nice girl, but just wasn't 'quite right'). The latter may have been the one who had connections with Normansfield. Childhood is filled with fragmented memories and they come back to you decades afterwards, still as fragments unfortunately, because you were too young to ask the questions.

Normansfield started out in 1868 as the Normansfield Training Institution for Imbeciles, a facility founded by Dr John Langdon Down, from whom we get the term Down's Syndrome.

Portrait of John Langdon Down (c 1870) by Sydney Hodges
John Langdon Down (c 1870)
Portrait by Sydney Hodges
Source: St. George's University of London via Wikimedia

We don't know if Evangeline had the physical appearance of what we now understand to be a Down's child, but she certainly would have had a serious mental impairment to be in Normansfield. In the 1871 census, aged only one, she was at home with her family and the same applied in 1881 but this time there was a margin note, saying 'partial cerebral inactivity from birth' and a nurse was in residence. She must have been hard to cope with for the Whites, since they had a large brood. Her burial record (1888) says that she had come from Normansfield, so the assumption is that she was an in-patient there. She survived only until the age of 18.

Normansfield was a progressive facility for its time, the objective being to teach the children to do whatever tasks they were capable of and look after themselves as far as possible, plus handicrafts, dance, theatre and physical activities. By the time Evangeline was a patient it had been renamed as an institution for the feeble-minded and charged £ 200 a year, which was a large amount in those days. There is more information about Normansfield on the Lost Hospitals of London website.

Linda Jackson 2019