Having worked our way through the quarter plates alphabetically it has taken us some time to get to the later letters of the alphabet. As you can imagine, there are many Walkers, Webbs, Whites, Woods, Wilsons and Youngs but the V’s are a little thinner on the ground. Among them were four plates with the name ‘Verling-Brown’, showing three different individuals clearly from the same family. With such an unusual double barrelled name, this was one of the families that instantly singled itself out for research as it seemed likely we might have some success. Today’s post is the result of research undertaken by Kath Shawcross, Borough Archivist.
This is Jane Verling-Brown and two images of her daughter Jane Beryl (known as Beryl). From school admission records online we know that Jane was born 5 February 1877 in Hampstead, North London to John and Agnes Hair. Her mother died shortly after her birth. John Hair was a civil servant working for the Paymaster General. Previously at Miss Welsh’s School in Hampstead, Jane at the age of 11 was enrolled in the North London Collegiate School for Girls.
By the time of the 1901 Census Jane, age 24, is working as a “sick nurse” at the Great Northern Central Hospital in Islington which is described in the census as a General Hospital for the relief of the sick poor. It was located on the Holloway Road, North London.
It is possible that Jane met her husband, Charles Richard Verling-Brown, who she married in 1907, at the hospital or through colleagues at the hospital, as he is listed in the 1911 Census as a Doctor of Medicine. By this time they are living at Seymour House (later number 22), Mulgrave Road, Sutton. Their first daughter Jane Beryl is aged 2 and was born in Sutton. They are doing well enough as two servants, a cook and housemaid, are employed by the couple. They went on to have a second daughter Louisa Lawrie within a year of the census.
It is towards the end of WW1 that we discover that Jane was putting her nursing experience to work. The digitised records of the Red Cross WW1 VADs show that Jane served from October 1918 through to the following summer at The White House Auxiliary Hospital in Cheam. The White House was a large house located on the corner of Cheam High Street and Park Road. Initially housing Belgian refugees it was later converted to an Auxiliary Hospital.
Post-war the family continued to live on Mulgrave Road, Sutton, moving to Little Bookham around 1927. Jane, a widow from 1954, died in a Finchley nursing home on the 15 November 1960.
It is likely that there could be more plates of this family among our collection; we are yet to work our way through the larger format half plates. Many of our sitters, particularly those from more affluent backgrounds appear to have had portraits shot in multiple formats. If we find this to be the case with the Verling-Browns, or any other of our sitters, we will update all blog posts with any further images or information that is found.
Please note, all images from the Knights-Whittome photographic archive are reproduced under the creative commons copyright attribution CC by NC.
Ancestry – for census returns and Surrey electoral registers
FreeBMD – for birth, marriage and death records
Find My Past – for school admission records
Google – for information about the Great Northern Hospital, Holloway Road
WellcomeImages – for images of the Great Northern Hospital, Holloway Road
Sutton Local Studies & Archives Centre – for images and information about The White House, Cheam
Red Cross VAD Volunteers – for details of Jane’s work during WW1