It’s not only photographs of landscapes that end up relegated to charity shops and car boot sales. Very often discarded family albums can be found, containing sepia photographs of long forgotten people. The very fact that these albums have been discarded suggests that there is no longer any living connection with the photographs, but at the same time one remembers that these people were once living and breathing. Loving, laughing, crying and shouting like all of us. They had their hopes and dreams, and recorded their special occasions with photographs just as we do today. Very often, one can do little more than date the photo and give an estimate of the age of the person. Several other websites and blogs do that with incredible skill and accuracy – have a look here for example http://www.rootschat.com.
However, occasionally you find a named photograph and you can start to bring some life back to that person.
At the bottom of the photo, you might be able to make out the inscription: “Yours Sincerely, C Philip Laslett”. Not too much detective work on http://www.freebmd.org.uk brings you to a birth registration in Jun qtr of 1888, in Witney, Oxfordshire for Christopher Philip Laslett. We can then see Christopher on the 1891 census, living with his parents, Thomas Manger and Rhoda Laslett, and 4 siblings at Oxford House, Wytham Terrace, Eynsham. Thomas Laslett is listed as a Draper and Outfitter.
Ten years on, in the 1901 census, Christopher is enumerated as Phillip C Laslett. He, and his mother Rhoda, are staying with his now married sister, Florence Burr in Kingswood, Surrey. Christopher’s father, Thomas Laslett, has died in January 1899. Whether the removal to Surrey was just for a visit, or for a longer stay, it is not possible to work out, but by 1911 Christopher and his mother Rhoda are back living in Oxford and Christopher is working as a draper’s assistant – maybe drawing on skills that he learnt from his father in his younger days.
The next glimpse we see of Christopher’s life is from WW1. Private Christopher Laslett, number 2076 of the Royal Army Medical Corps was awarded both the Victory and the British War medals.
Perhaps his experiences during the war changed his outlook on life, because it becomes possible to track Christopher’s movements through newspaper articles. We find that he has become an ordained minister in the Congregational Church. It seems that he first begins his ministry in Manchester, before moving to Worksop, then Millseat,and then finally Huntly Congregational Churches. This last move in around 1945 was to be his last because he passed away on the 24th November 1947.