Mystery photo: the Stack family

As I’ve said before, there is nothing I like more than a bit of mystery in the family history department, and I am still on the trail of the mysterious Stack family, into which one of my great-grandfather’s brothers married, and one of whose descendants I have known since childhood (she is my third cousin’s third cousin but not mine, and I am NOT going to explain that).

I have a small hit-list of photographs which I do not know the precise provenance of, and this one is one of the more interesting ones I’ve come across. Here it is:

'Uncle Maurice' and the Stack family

'Uncle Maurice' and the Stack family

At the bottom, you can just make out an arow pointing to an individual, who is identified as ‘Uncle Maurice’. But who is Uncle Maurice? There are two Maurices in the family, and logic would dictate that it is Maurice Ilderton Stack (1880-1905), not least because he had four surviving sisters, and because the couple to the left are probably his parents Maurice Stack snr and his wife Mary Ann Weatherley. If this is the case, then it is important to work out how old he is, and I would have guessed that he was about 17: which would make the picture 1897. And 1897 looks a bit too late for this snapshot, unless the sepia is fooling me. Perhaps the answer is that the woman at the back is this woman (see if you agree):

"Grandmother Stack"

"Grandmother Stack"

Of course, trying to match up photos is always a question of trying not to see who you want to see. If the woman at the back of the picture above, then we have a problem, because the back of the photo tells us that she is Margaret Stack, the mother of Maurice Stack snr, and the grandmother of Maurice Stack jr. (It tells us, to be precise, that she is ‘Grandmother Stack’.) But there is a catch: if this is Margaret Jane Stack, then she cannot be the woman in the picture, since Margaret Jane Stack died when her grandson, ‘Uncle Maurice’, was only two. Could this therefore be the maternal and not the paternal grandmother? If this is the case, then she is Mary Ann Weatherley, formerly Rattray, and before that, Johnson. She died in 1896, aged 59, so it looks more feasible.But this looks like a large family. Both Mary Ann Weatherley and Margaret Jane Stack were widowed young – each of them before Maurice snr was married in 1874. Maurice was an only child by 1878 (his brother died aged 30). His wife Margaret had one half-sister. Where have all these cousins come from? And is this in fact, a picture taken in the early 1860s, in which case, is this ‘Uncle Maurice’ actually Maurice Stack senior? Any experts on fashion out there? How old do you think the photo is? Do you think we’re looking at the same woman? And, just for luck, do you think both of them are also this woman:
And the same woman, earlier in life?

And the same woman, earlier in life?

This is the sort of thing which keeps me awake at nights …

5 Responses to Mystery photo: the Stack family

  1. Pam says:

    Have just come across your family history and no doubt will still be reading it at bedtime. Very readable, I am envious of your skill!
    Although I am unable to help solve the mystery of the photograph I am very interested in the Mary Ann Johnson/Rattray/Weatherley connection. I am not descended from the Weatherley’s but I have gathered quite a lot of information on the family. You say Mary Ann was widowed young but she did marry again two years after John Jopling Weatherley died to yet another Weatherley.
    This is her on the 1881 census:

    Dwelling: 28 Thornhill Ter
    Census Place: Bishopwearmouth, Durham, England
    Source: FHL Film 1342201 PRO Ref RG11 Piece 4993 Folio 126 Page 55
    Marr Age Sex Birthplace
    Robt. WEATHERLEY M 80 M Waldridge, Durham, England
    Rel: Head
    Occ: Shipowner
    Mary A. WEATHERLEY M 48 F Sheffield, York, England
    Rel: Wife
    James F. WEATHERLEY U 23 M St Ives, Hampshire, England
    Rel: Granson
    Occ: Solicitor
    Elizabeth M. HORNCASTLE U 19 F Brampton, Cumberland, England
    Rel: Niece
    Occ: Scholar
    Mary E. HORNCASTLE U 17 F Brampton, Cumberland, England
    Rel: Niece
    Occ: Scholar
    Mary WOOD U 21 F … , Stafford, England
    Rel: Servant
    Occ: Servant

    I would be very interested to know if you have solved the mystery of the photo?
    Best Wishes and FTM!

  2. Interesting photos. I just wondered whereabouts these Stacks lived? I have set up a Facebook group for people from around the world who have a Stack connection if you or family are interested to join you are very welcome

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