The Whaite Family History

From Coddington to Sydney NSW via Manchester

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According to the Nottingham documents dated 4 April 1797, John Whaite was already established in Manchester as a Shoemaker and the address of a letter dated 14 June 1801 sent to him by George Baxter reporting the death of his son George, was Hanover Square which was the address recorded in Pigots Directory for 1814-5.

One of his later descendents said that John could turn his hand to almost anything, and only turned to Shoemaking when nothing else was available. His eldest son Thomas, on his second marriage in 1844 said his father was a Gentleman, maybe to match the occupation of his bride's father.

The burial of an earlier Samuel in 1792 at Salford shown as Whiate may actually refer to a White record.

It is also a mystery why John and Mary's son George said to be born 29 Sep 1798 perhaps in Manchester should be living with his aunt Betsy nee Clayton and her husband George Baxter. He could hardly have been a replacement for Betsy's own child Elizabeth, who had died nine years earlier, unless George was already frail and his aunt was better able to care for him.

Many of John and Mary's children and grandchildren had prominent places in the artistic world of Manchester, starting with his eldest surviving son Thomas. He is shown in 1821 Directories of Manchester and Salford as a Portrait Painter and as late as 1871 as a Scene Painter It was he who designed and painted the banners for the Peterloo Petition - a demonstration in 1819 for the repeal of the infamous Corn Laws which resulted in the death of over 600 people. His only exhibited painting is dated 1880, just before his death and exhibited at Nottingham Museum Art Gallery.

Thomas' elder son, Thomas George turned his hand to photography, working for C A Du Val & Co owned by noted photographer Charles DuVal and later he married his daughter Elizabeth. He left Manchester for London by early 1881, and then up to Carlisle by early 1891 and was lecturing to Edinburgh Photographic Society about the Camera Obscura and Paper Negatives. Later in 1891 or 1892 Thomas George took himself and family off to California and he lived in USA for the rest of his life. Family letters mention his photographs won numerous medals in USA and Thomas' grandson Rene known as George Rene, had a portrait studio in California by 1899 according to "Artists in California 1789 -1940" which mentioned he was active until his death in 1941.

Thomas' younger son James was sent by the family in 1871 to Conway in Wales, where he did his early paintings, though he later lived in Liverpool and Cheshire. He first exhibited in Burton Joyce Nottingham in 1881 at Liverpool and Manchester as well as other UK galleries including Royal Academy.

John's third living son, Henry was of some note as an early English flag and banner maker and in 1828-9 Pigots Directory of Cheshire Cumberland etc he was shown as a Carver and Gilder of 75 Bridge St Manchester. Pamphlets found in Henry C Whaite's papers show that around 1823-6 he established at Bridge St Manchester "this side [of] Queen's Theatre" Whaite's Fine Art Gallery, which while hanging paintings and having exhibitions, sold everything an artist might need.

For the Royal Visit to Manchester, as part of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee festvities in 1887, he advertised that he would would organise Triumphal Arches, Transparencies, Gas & Oil Illuminations as well as Fireworks Displays.

The Gallery also had a Photographic Dept, which made "Carte-de-Visites" on the spot and copied and reduced drawings and photos. In its Optical Dept microscopes, opera glasses, magic lanterns and dissolving views were for sale, while an Illusionoist or Conjurer could be hired for the evening.

Henry was the agent for "Diaphanie", stick on imitation Stained Glass Windows from France as well as Wanzer Sewing Machines, imported from Germany.

At Christmas time, the gallery presented a German Fair, the culmination of which was a tree some 25 feet high, covered in ornaments and presents and lit by numerous gas jets enclosed in glass globes from 2 to 12 inches in diameter. This tree could be inspected from the gallery reached by a broad staircase and everywhere were toys of all kinds from all over the world.

At the base of the tree was some scenic representation which changed from year to year varying from Robinson Crusoe and Man Friday, Gulliver in the Land of Lilliput to the Adoration of the Magi. There was an aviary with real singing birds as well as a Punch and Judy show.

After Henry's death, the Gallery was said to be run by "the genial proprietor Mr F A Whaite and the "smiling young lady attendants", but it was Henry Clarence who really was in charge.Fred had become ill and died in 1897, but the Gallery continued in Manchester until around 1912, when it was taken over by Jeremiah Bibby and Co.

"The Manchester City News" of 21 December 1907 in " A Scene Thirty Years Ago" described the German Fair and lamented its passing [so now] "on the site are a post-office, shops and other business premises"

Henry's eldest son, Henry Clarence known as Clarence was the most famous member of the family and a prolific landscape painter. He is said to have started his career in the family's banner making business and attended Manchester Grammar School and then Manchester School of Design. The Headmaster of that school James Hammersley took Clarence to the Swiss Alps around 1850 and this began his life long love of mountain scenery. Further studies at three art schools in London led in 1859 to his first exhibition at the Royal Academy and early in 1870's he joined the Welsh artists' colony in the Conway valley. This was the home of his future wife Jane Griffith and after their marriage in 1876 in London, they settled near his wife's family there, though Henry also had a house in Kensington where he did most of his painting.Besides exhibiting oil paintings and water colours in galleries all over UK, he held offices in many artistic societies in Manchester and London and Wales. His large oil painting "The Rainbow" which had many years earlier been commented on favourably by Ruskin when exhibited at the Royal Academy was recently part of a BBC series "Painting The Weather".

To commemorate Clarence's 70th birthday, a committee gathered donations for a bust by the noted sculptor John Cassidy and this was given to the Manchester Art Gallery in 1898

His only child Lily was also a painter who mainly showed at Royal Cambrian Art Gallery. She was especially fond of flowers and her painting exhibited at Royal Academy was titled "Poppies".

It was Henry's custom to spend half the year sketching in the Welsh countryside and then go to his studio in London to develop these sketches into finished works. Lily was her father's companion on these excursions accompanied by their dog and drew a humorous sketch of them setting out, with Henry toting his umbrella accompanied by no less than 5 retainers with a tent, lunch basket and painting needs.

Henry's second son George Augustus was only 40 when he died, but he earned his living as a Carver and Gilder, while his third son Lorimer Edward went to live in Cheltenham in Gloucestershire where he was a partner in Humphreys & Whaite Artist & Photographer at Royal Old Wells Cheltenham. This business was sold after 1865 and Lorimer returned to Manchester, where he died in 1871 at the early age of 37 years.

Our probable forebear Samuel alone in this family was as a Mechanic in 1832 Pigots Directory and a Spindlemaker in 1841 Slaters Directory and Harry's probable father George followed that occupation until his death in 1878. On Harry's 1931 Death Cert George is said to have been an Engineer. However on Samuel's daughter Elizabeth's marriage in 1892, she said her father was a Photographer and a photo of George himself is said to have been taken at "Photographic Studio of Whaite's Coal Clough Lane Burnley". Perhaps towards the end of his life, George was not well enough to follow his former occupation or else photography was just a side line. .

Census records reveal that Samuel's family lived in very reduced circumstances, as did his son George - maybe Samuel was the black sheep as it were.

Despite the much better conditions enjoyed by Henry's family, there seem to be no records in the papers of Henry Clarence that even mention Samuel and his family nor any attempt to help him, though Henry Clarence spent much of his time [and money] sorting out the problems of his own and other related families.



These records are based upon the patient research over many years, mainly by Judith Moore of Flixton and some others.

The copyright of the papers of Henry Clarence Whaite is held by David Mortimer-Jones and they are shown as HCWP in the text. They are held by National Library of Wales at Aberystwyth and were researched by Eirionedd Baskerville

"The Hidden History of Women Artists. Lily Whaite and the Gwynedd Ladies Art Society" Rhiannon Michaelson-Yeates in The National Library of Wales Journal Vol XXXIII No 4 1905 pp 371-386 Plates 1-12

Dictionary of British Artists 1840-1980 Woodbridge Antique Collectors Club 1986 from Christine Whaite

This family tree ends with Seventh Generation, to lessen the chances of living persons being included. However details of Eighth and later generations are available on request for family members, for those families whose entries say see 8......

The letters SF after a Whaite spouse indicate that further details of their family are shown in "Spouses Families" at the end of the Family Tree.