Personal and undiluted views
Edith Wingfield Digby

71 days ago

Photo Article: From 1899, the woman at the heart of the family mystery

Almost finally, in the small selection of photos uncovered by cousin John Stafford and found in the papers of Sir John Winnifrith is one of the woman at the heart of the mystery, Edith Maude Winnifrith. This shot is from 1899 when she would have been c24. Now look at the nose and chin.

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72 days ago

Winnifrith family history - another photo of a mystery woman emerges

This small set of photos were in a set of papers relating to the affairs of my father’s late nephew John Stafford who was another family member gripped by the mystery of Edith Maude Winnifrith (EMW): who was she?  Yesterday I posted a photo of a baby which came from EMW and which I can now date pretty accurately. The dress worn by the woman holding the baby is, according to the leading expert on Victorian dresses, from 1868-70 but it looks tight and ill fitting so may be a few years old. The photographer, Thomas Prothero started business in Bristol in 1875 or maybe a bit earlier. I have a submission he posted from his Wine Street Bristol address for a Royal Photographic Society exhibition in September 1875. EMW said she was born in 1875 though her birth certificate is a forgery so I assume the photo of the baby she kept was of herself, why else keep it? So who is the lady below?

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72 days ago

Winnifrith family history mystery - another photo riddle

I described the other day my researches into, inter alia, the big mystery in my family – who was Edith Maude Winnifrith, my great grandmother? She was certainly illegitimate but who were are parents? Is her mother really Edith Wingfield Digby?  I continue to go through the papers of her son, Sir John Winnifrith, and stumble across this photo marked up on the back, in Sir John’s writing, “my mother?”

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74 days ago

Does anyone know this woman or more importantly where this picture is and are there more?

I believe that Edith Wingfield Digby (1848-1935) of Coleshill, Sherborne Castle and Bournemouth gave birth to an illegitimate daughter in around 1875 who was my great grandmother Edith Maude Winnifrith, for reasons I partly explain HERE. I may be wrong, only a DNA test can resolve a mystery that has now haunted three generations once and for all. If you search google for pictures of Edith Wingfield Digby you will find an image of a stout old lady, the patron of several homes she founded in Dorset to care for fallen women. She had an interest in the subject. But there is just one I discovered of Edith as a younger lady which you can see below. The man who uploaded it is not responding to messages so I wonder does anyone out there know more about the picture below and if there are any others of this woman as a young lady or where the original can be found?

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76 days ago

The family papers – a night of revelation and shocks

The Mrs and the children are breaking lockdown rules with her parents and so left to my own devices I stayed up into the small hours combing the family papers picked up from my late father’s house last week. It was a night of shocks and revelation and having discussed the matter with my father’s sister L, I wonder what I should reveal. Perhaps all.

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79 days ago

Reading the family papers: it is easy to be reduced to tears

Among those things I collected from the house of my late father in Shipston yesterday were some ancient photo albums and several boxes of family papers and documents. I have started reading but these things almost make me tearful.  

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235 days ago

Photo article: Will I solve a 145 year old mystery this week? Who was Maude Winnifrith? DNA tests going out today!

Maude Winnifrith was born in 1875 and was my great grandmother. Her children included my grandfather, Sir John Winnifrith and the actress Anna Lee – once known as the British Bombshell. But who was Maude? The mystery has intrigued the family for decades and this week I hope to solve it once and for all with the assistance of a retired vicar in Oxfordshire, my father and two DNA tests.

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