The lady in the photo above is my great, great, great grandmother, Mary Anne Renham who was born in Cambridgeshire in 1820. I think this photo was taken sometime in the 1860s by which point she had been married to my great, great, great grandfather, Charles Gilby for over 20 years.
Mary had quite a sad life in many respects. She outlived all but 3 of her 12 children and I would guess that by the time this photo was taken at least 4 of them had already died. Maybe that explains the slight sadness in her eyes. In later life she suffered 2 extremely nasty fractures which left her confined to bed, and in a great deal of pain. Charles wrote about this in his memoirs saying;
“She enjoyed good health all through life, until Dec. 23rd 1877, when she had a severe fall, and dislocated her hip, at the same time fracturing her leg. She was compelled to keep to her bed for about six months, when she fell down again, this time fracturing the other leg. From this time forward she had to lie upon a water bed.”
Having said all that, it does sound as though she was very well loved, and although she looks very serious in her picture – who wouldn’t when you were expected to sit still for ages to have one taken – she does have a kind face and I can imagine it was one which lit up when she smiled.