Paul Frecker
Fine Photographs


M.E. Wilson
Alfred Hendrey of Cambridgeshire

A cabinet card of portrait of a young black woman identified as ‘M.E. Wilson’ by an inked inscription (possibly her signature) across the lower right-hand corner. The sitter’s clothes and the photographer’s backplate date the image to around 1891 or 1892.

The history of black people in Great Britain is as yet poorly understood prior to the arrival of the Windrush generation in 1948. Official sources seldom recorded a person’s race, so any estimate of figures is at best only a wild guess. However, surviving photographs of black sitters suggest that there were many more people of colour living and working in Britain than was once imagined, and that they were not just present in large metropolitan areas but also in small rural communities.

Photographed by Alfred Hendrey of Godmanchester, St Ives and Ramsey in Cambridgeshire.

Born in 1854, Alfred Hendrey followed in the footsteps of his father Fuller Hendrey and was originally a fishmonger (1871 census) before he became a photographer. He was first mentioned in a trade directory as a photographer in 1876, at which time he was operating a studio in Godmanchester. He later opened further studios in St Ives and Ramsey, the three towns forming a triangle located just to the east of Huntingdon. At the time of the 1881 and 1891 censuses he was living with his family on Post Street in Godmanchester. He died there on 21 November 1901, aged 56, leaving an estate valued at £797. After his death, his widow Sarah Ann Hendrey (née Woods) took over the business, with the help of her sons Victor Hendrey and Percy Hendrey, but when she died in 1915 her estate was worth just £63.

Condition: both the print and mount are in excellent condition.


price:  £100
code: cat017
black history, black history month, Black Britain, Black Briton, Black Britons