John S. Winter’s family, friends, and places in 1854.

by R. Derek Wood

[As published in NZ Journal of Photography, May 1995, No.19, pp.12–15]


In 1854 a James Winter living with his wife and three children in Tasmania went back to see his relatives at his place of birth in England. He returned to Tasmania a few months later with some gifts from those relatives which included an inscribed silver salver from his oldest sister and an album of photographs put together for him by his clergyman brother John in remembrance of the trip. James lived only for another two years and when a few years later his oldest son Henry moved to New Zealand the album also came across to the south island. Since then it has been handed down through another two generations and is still in New Zealand: cherished by his great–granddaughter and great–great–granddaughter just as it surely must have been by James Winter as an icon of his birthplace and family on the other side of the world.

James and John S. Winter had both grown up in Shenley, Hertfordshire, England. Fourteen children had indeed been born to their parents (Rachel and John Mico Winter) but only eight survived into adulthood.[1] The Rev. John Saumarez Winter (1807–1875), who in 1854 took the photographs in this album for his brother James, was born in 1807.[2] After graduating at Corpus Cristi College, Cambridge, he was ordained in 1832. Although briefly a deacon at Sutton, near Peterborough, for the remaining years of the 1830s John was curate in north–east London at Hackney. He married during that period but there do not appear to have been any children.  In 1841 he became curate of All Hallows Parish Church in Tottenham, Middlesex, a few more miles further north from Hackney and London. The post of vicar was at that time held by Thomas Newcome (1777–1851)[3] who concurrently was the long established Rector of Shenley, which was ten miles from Tottenham. Although she had long before died in 1825, Thomas Newcome’s wife Charlotte (1780–1825) had been an aunt of J. S. Winter. Indeed the interrelationship of the two families was re–inforced when, the very same year that J. S. Winter became curate at Tottenham, one of his sisters, also named Charlotte(!), had married the rector’s son Henry Justinian Newcome (1815–1905). The latter became the new Rector at St. Botolph, Shenley, two years before his father died in September 1851. Winter remained curate in Tottenham with a new vicar, William J. Hall (1793–1861),[4] being appointed in 1851. This was the situation when the Rev. Winter took many photographs of family, friends and places near London when James came on his visit to England from Tasmania.

At Tottenham, the Rev. Winter photographed – presumably using wet–collodion negatives on glass – not only his own church and vicarage but also recorded Trinity Church (Album No. 5) in the same parish, whose “perpetual curate” was the Rev. G. B. Twining.[5] It is probably his son “Georgey Twining” who can be seen in photograph No. 26 taken two years earlier. Apart from those of Cambridge Colleges, Ely Cathedral, and Rochester Cathedral in Kent, most of the photographs in the album were taken in places in a curving band from east to west across the north of London about six to twelve miles from the centre of the capital – Wanstead, Waltham, Chingford, River Lea, Tottenham, Southgate, Shenley, South Mimms (only two miles from Shenley), five miles further out to St. Albans, and to the west of London, Kew, Richmond and Hampton Court. A footpath passes alongside the old church of St. Botolph at Shenleybury and a quiet walk of fifteen minutes through fields reaches ‘Salisbury Hall’[6] (No. 23). That name was derived from the Earls of Salisbury, who owned the manor in the fifteenth century. During recent years of the 1990s it has been the business premises of a Japanese company.

Although J. S. Winter was curate at Tottenham when the photographs were taken it is not that church and vicarage which provides a centrepoint to the story of the album. It is rather St. Botolph at Shenleybury,the church most closely associated with the family of Newcome, not far from the one time home of the Winter family at Shenley Hill. When J. S. Winter photographed St. Botolph in 1854 it had a very unique wooden porch which did not survive into the 20th century, but otherwise the exterior of this building has not changed even though St. Botolph did cease to function as a church in 1972. The interior has since been converted into a private home with the surrounding graveyard partly a private garden. Gravestones are undisturbed and memorial stones from the inside of the church have been preserved that would provide appropriate captions to photographs of persons who feature in Winter’s album.

The photographer did also assemble a second album, for such a volume with the bookplate of “Thomas L. M. Winter” was auctioned at Christie’s in London in 1976.[7]  [7bis]]  Thomas Le Mesurier Winter [8] was intermediate in age between his older brother John and the younger James. Born in 1809 he died in England at Shenley in 1876, one year after John. But he may not have lived in England every year of his life. It is indeed conceivable that he either left for Australia in 1854 with his brother or was already there. A clue to this has been preserved for us in a singular piece of writing by the vicar of Shenley. In 1854 Henry Justinian Newcome had taken over from his father as Rector at Shenley. He and his wife Charlotte, the photographer’s younger sister, are portrayed in one of the photographs in the album (No.42). Little more than four years after this photograph was taken the Revd. Henry became somewhat obsessed with designing a system for very cheaply heating Shenley Church. Charlotte became so worried about her husband’s hyperactive behavour that she persuaded him to go to Edinburgh to stay under observation for a few months in a private asylum. When trying to avoid this pressure Newcome had gone to Tottenham to obtain some support from his brother–in–law, our reverend photographer, but J. S. Winter was equally as worried and indeed helped his sister manage the affairs of the supposed “lunatic” while away from Shenley. The following year Newcome published a book of sixty–nine pages, The Lunatic or English Clergymen & Scotch Doctors, a furious account of those events in his life during 1859 as a rebuttle of having excited himself into insanity. He noted that while in Edinburgh he had a visitor – “Mr. T. Winter, a brother–in–law, appears, just returned from Australia”.[9] Thomas Le M. Winter was God–father to his nephew Henry who was born in Tasmania in 1842 so maybe Thomas like his brother was in Tasmania in the 1840s. He does not seem to feature in the 1854 album, although other names or initials are noted under most of the photographs of persons. The whereabouts of his album since it was sold in London in 1976 is not known. [Thomas Winter’s album has since been located, see note 7bis]

The Rev. John Saumarez Winter was at Tottenham for a total of twenty–one years. Although the post he held was that of curate he apparently had full charge of the parish for most of that time. Finally in 1863 he became vicar of Weedon–Bec, a village about eight miles west of Northampton. No evidence is available of any continued interest in photography by Winter in the later part of his life at Weedon. He and his wife did enjoy gardening during those years and on Thursday 2 September 1875 spent a busy day hosting the annual Weedon Flower Show in the grounds of the vicarage.[10] But at midnight, at the end of that sociable day, Winter was seized by a sudden heart attack. Enduring for three more days, he died on 6 September 1875 aged sixty–eight.[11] At his funeral were many local friends and parishioners. Amongst the small group of family mourners was the presence of five persons with whom we are now familar from photographs in his album: Maria Page (niece of Mrs Winter), Rev. G. B. Twining (father of the boy in Photograph No. 26), Rev E. Newcome (No. 49), the Rev. Henry Justinian Newcome (still Rector of St. Botolph at Shenley) accompanying his wife Charlotte, J. S. Winter’s sister. Also at the grave side was Thomas Le M. Winter and his wife. Apart from the widow, they were the only persons bearing the family name to attend J. S. Winter’s funeral in 1875. The album of photographs that John Saumarez Winter presented twenty–one years earlier to his younger brother James was already at that time in New Zealand.


The author thanks Mrs Yvonne Ower of Christchurch NZ, Peter Buttle of St. Botolphs, Shenleybury, and Doreen Abbott of Weedon, England, for information of value in preparing this article, and to the editor William Main for instigating the project.


[1]   Shortly after the death of their father (John Mico Winter, 1775/6–1839) a memorial stone was erected in 1840 inside the church of St Botolph, Shenleybury, which lists the six Winter children who died in childhood (John Edwin Cussans, History of Hertfordshire, London, 1879, reprinted East Ardley 1972, vol.iii (1), 315, 322).  The eight daughters and sons still living in the 1840s were the photographer himself, John Saumarez Winter (1807–1875); Thomas Le Mesurier Winter (1809–1876); James (1813–1856) then resident in Tasmania; Charlotte (1815–1898),  who in 1841 married Henry Justinian Newcome; their oldest sister Mary aged forty years at the time the memorial was erected died unmarried in 1885; Augusta who had married a Thomas Sheppard in 1829; a much younger Amelia born in 1819; and one who has not been identified.

[2]  Alumni Cantabrigienses. Part II, 1752 to 1900 (Cambridge, 1940–1954),vi, 543. Tottenham vicarage census report of 1851, PRO London, HO107/1702, f331.  Death certificate of J. S. Winter, Daventry Reg.District, Vol 3B, p.67. Memorial light of stained glass window in Weedon Bec Church.

[3]  Rev. Thomas Newcome (1777–1851), Alumni Cantab Part II, iv, 534. Newcome family see Burke’s Landed Gentry, 18th edition (London, 1972), iii, 678–9.  Robert Clutterbuck, The History & Antiquites of the County of Hertford (London, 1815), i, 485.  J. E. Cussans, History of Hertfordshire (1879), iii (1), 315, 319, 320, 323.

[4]  Alumni Cantab Part II, iii, 205.

[5]  Alumni Oxonienses 1715–1886 (Oxford,1888), iv, 1453.

[6]  The Victoria History of Hertfordshire (London, 1908; reprinted Folkestone,1971), ii, 267–8. R. Clutterbuck, op.cit. (1815), i, 481–3. J.E. Cussans, op.cit. (1879), iii (1), 309–31.

[7]  Christie, Manson and Woods Ltd, London: Catalogue of Sale on 10 June 1976, Lot 38. See the complete entry from this catalogue reproduced opposite [p.14]

[7bis]  [After the publication in 1995 of this article the author learnt that Thomas Winter’s album sold at Christie Ltd, London on 10 June 1976, is in the Stephen White collection, California, USA]

[8]  The grave stone of Thomas Le Mesurier Winter (1809–1876) at St Botolphs, Shenleybury, is still just readable, and the text was recorded by J. E. Cussans (1879), iii (1), 322.

[9]  Henry Justinian Newcome, The Lunatic or English Clergymen & Scotch Doctors, London: John Pownceby 1861, 41.

[10] Northampton Herald, September 4, 1875, 8.

[11] Northampton Herald, September 25, 1875, 6–7.

As well as the above article of 1,500 words as published in NZ Journal of Photography, a fuller article of 3,650 words had also been prepared in 1995. In particular the longer version provided more information about the Winter family which was less relevant for publication in a photographic journal. That more detailed version was never published but is made available now online as a PDF file which can be downloaded [here].

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