Harriet S Day

Harriet Sophia Day
c10 February 1846 - 18 December 1929

Harriet Cobb
Date & photographer unknown, but likely to be J E Cobb or G W Cobb.
(Photo courtesy of G J Bland)

Harriet Sophia Day (variant spellings of her name are Harriett and Hariett) was born in the tiny English village of Winfarthing, Norfolk. She was the eldest child of Robert Day (bapt 10 Feb 1822 - 11 Feb 1873) and his wife Emily Page (10 June 1826 - 17 Nov 1909). Harriet was probably born on 10 February 1846, the 24th anniversary of her father's baptism. It appears that Harriet was named after two aunts, one maternal, the other paternal. The name 'Sophia' came from her paternal grandmother.

To have a true appreciation for Harriet's life, one must first understand her family background and the context in which she was raised:

Harriet's father
Harriet's father, Robert Day, was born in Earsham, a small village of 750 people situated in South Norfolk, England. He was born to journeyman-shoemaker, James Day (1784-1882) and his wife Sophia Warler (1791-1849). The year of Robert's birth is presumed to be 1822 with his baptism being registered by the church rector, George Day (possibly a relative), on 10 February 1822. Robert had at least five siblings, all of whom were baptised in the 14th Century Earsham Parish Church dedicated to All Saints, near Bungay, Norfolk. James and Sophia's children were:
  • Charlotte Day (baptised 16 Oct 1814)
  • William Day (baptised 20 Sep 1817)
    • William became a shoemaker and lived in Woodbridge, Suffolk. His wife's name was Ann. They had at least three children.
  • Herbert Day (baptised 13 July 1820)
    • Herbert became a shoemaker.
  • Robert Day (baptised 10 Feb 1822 - 11 Feb 1873)
  • James Day (baptised 23 Jan 1825)
    • James was a labourer.
  • Harriett (or Harriet) Day (baptised 25 Oct 1829 - c16 May 1832)

When Robert Day was a young man he moved 30 kilometers away from Earsham to the small village of Winfarthing, Norfolk, which consisted of barely 50 households. It was there that he met Elizabeth Davey (1821 - c18 Jan 1845) the youngest daughter of Thomas Davey, the local carpenter. They married on 12 November 1844 when he was 22 and she was 23. Sadly, this marriage lasted just two months because Elizabeth passed away the following January, aged 23. Her death was recorded in the parish register of St Mary the Virgin, Winfarthing. The cause of Elizabeth's death is unknown. 

NOTE 1: The church of St Mary (Church of England), Church Lane, Winfarthing was founded before 1385 making it the oldest surviving building in the village. Part of the building dated back to the 13th century, and because of its historical significance, it is now listed as a Grade 1 building. The church was once the home of the legendary 'sword of Winfarthing' which was left at the church by a medieval knight who had earlier sought refuge in the church after committing either the crime of theft or murder, or perhaps both. After he escaped, the sword remained and somehow gained 'supernatural' powers. Photographs of the church can be found here.

NOTE 2: Thomas Davey (carpenter) and his family are recorded as living at 67 The Street, Winfarthing in the 1811 census. The church of St Mary was just around the corner from their home. In the 1821 census, when Elizabeth was an infant, the family lived further out from the centre of town, at 101 Winfarthing Street.

Within a year of his first wife's death, Robert re-married. His second wife was Emily Page (10 June 1826 - 17 Nov 1909). Robert and Emily were married at the parish church, St Mary the Virgin, on 17 December 1845. Their first child was born two months later.

St Mary the Virgin, the parish church in Winfarthing, Norfolk,
where Robert and Emily were married in 1845.
(Unknown source)
Robert had a variety of occupations during his lifetime. The UK Census reports that he was a manservant when living in Winfarthing, Norfolk. Later, he worked as a footman, groomsman, and ostler in Winfarthing. After moving to Brighton, Sussex, Robert worked as a groom, then a painter-decorator-glazier. When living in Hampreston, Dorset he was employed as a farm bailiff. The final change of occupation was when Robert moved his family to Bournemouth, Dorset, where he became a professional photographer, starting up his business in a small shed in the square next to the cathedral, in 1862. Finally, the 1871 census lists Robert as 'photographic artist' with his children, Emily and William, both assisting him in the business.

This postcard shows the square of Bournemouth in 1875.
The small shed on the right of the St Andrew's Presbyterian Church
is where Robert Day had his photography studio in the 1860s.
(Photo courtesy of Alwyn Ladell, via Flickr)

Robert Day's tiny photographic studio is the on the right 
of St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, in Bournemouth square. 
Photo by Robert Day 1868.
(Photo courtesy of The Day Collection #7006, Bournemouth Library)

In the early days of photography, one would have needed to purchase a special licence from William Henry Fox Talbot (1800 - 1877) who took the first photographs in 1837. Talbot eventually stopped demanding that photographers pay him a licencing fee around 1854. Nevertheless, it would have been expensive for Robert, a mere manservant, to obtain all the equipment necessary for a photographic business. Along with that, Robert needed to learn the essential skills for becoming a successful photographer, including the correct and safe use of chemicals used to process the photographs. He must have had sufficient natural artistic and scientific talent to become a fine photographer. On top of that, Robert would have needed sound business knowledge and sheer determination, in order to make a successful career change to what was, at the time, a brand new profession. 

While the majority of Robert's business was made from customers wanting portraits taken, Robert enjoyed photographing nature and local landscapes. He took the earliest known photographs of Bournemouth which now have special historical significance. The 'Day Collection' (a collection of photographs taken by Robert Day and his son William), are now owned by the Bournemouth Library.
Click here to see some other photographs taken at the Day studio.

Here are three photos of Robert Day, the first being of him in his studio, and the last two show him in the uniform of the 19th Hampshire Rifle Volunteers:

Robert Day taking a self portrait
Date unknown, but before 1873.
(Photo courtesy of G J Bland)

Robert Day, 19th Hampshire Rifle Volunteers.
Date unknown but between 1862-73.
(Photo courtesy of G J Bland)

Robert Day dressed in the uniform
of the 19th Hampshire Rifle Volunteers.
Date unknown but between 1862-73
(Courtesy of G J Bland)

Robert passed away on 11 February 1873, the day after his 51st birthday. He had been suffering from a prolonged illness. Due to his years of service in the 19th Hampshire Rifle Volunteers, Robert was buried with full military honours. His grave is in the St. Peter's churchyard, Bournemouth, number 384 (not retained).

NOTE: St Peter's is the oldest church in the parish of Bournemouth. Robert's funeral was noted as being Burial number 693 there. Several famous people, including English novelist, Mary Shelley, who authored 'Frankenstein', are also buried in its graveyard.

Harriet's mother
Harriet's mother was born Emily Page (10 June 1826 - 17 Nov 1909) in the tiny parish of St Nicholas, South Elmham, Suffolk. She was baptised in the All Saints and St Nicholas Parish Church two days after her birth. At least three of her other siblings were also baptised in this church. Emily was the youngest child born to William Page (1782 - 26 May 1855) and his wife Mary Hawes (bapt 27 Apr 1783 - 1858). Their children were:
  • Mary Page (5 Sep 1803 - 21 June 1881)
    • Mary married Charles Bailey Anguish (19 Apr 1795 - 31 Oct 1874) on 1 Oct 1822 in Alderby, Norfolk. They had 13 or 14 children.
  • Francis Page (1805 - ?)
  • William Page (3 June 1807 - ?)
  • Peter Page (29 May 1809 - ?)
  • James Page (23 Jan 1811 - ?)
  • Harriet Page (20 Aug 1813 - ?)
    • Harriet's married name may have been 'Bird'.
  • John Page (20 June 1815 - ?)
    • John was baptised on 9 Nov 1816 in Attleborough, Norfolk
  • George Page (30 Aug 1817 - ?)
  • John Page (1817 - ?)
    • John was baptised on 22 June 1817 in Attleborough, Norfolk.
  • Robert Page (8 July 1819 - ?)
    • Robert was baptised on 5 Sep 1819.
    • He immigrated to the United States of America in 1856.
  • Henry Page (8 Aug 1821 - ?) 
    • Henry was baptised on 16 June 1822.
  • Charles Page (10 April 1824 - ?)
  • Emily Page (10 June 1826 - 17 Nov 1909)
After marrying Robert Day in 1845, Emily bore nine children. Besides being a wife and mother, she took an active interest in her husband's photography business, and after his untimely death in February 1873, she renamed it E. Day & Son, with the initial 'E' referring to herself! Robert and Emily's eldest son, William, who was a teenager at the time of his father's death, became the junior partner in the venture. The business was re-located to 3 Lansdowne Road and later to number 9. 

Emily Day
Date & photographer unknown
(Photo courtesy of G J Bland)

Emily Day
Date & photographer unknown, but probably William Day
(Photo courtesy of G J Bland)

Emily died in Christchurch, Hampshire, on 17 November 1909, aged 83 years. Her burial place is unknown. Following Emily's death, her son William carried on in the photography business with the assistance of his sister Mary, who was affectionately known as Polly.

Harriet's siblings
Harriet was eldest of the nine children born to Robert and Emily Day:
  • Harriet Sophia Cobb (10 Feb 1846 -  18 Dec 1929) 
  • Emily Valentina Lydford (14 Feb 1848 - 15 July 1930)
    • Emily was born in Winfarthing, Norfolk. It is likely that she was named after a maternal aunt. Her middle name is a reference to the date of her birth, St Valentine's Day. Emily was baptised on 12 March 1848, a month after her birth, in the parish church.
    • Emily married Richard Lydford (29 Aug 1849 - 22 Oct 1913), a carpenter, on 26 May 1879 in Christchurch, Hampshire. Five days after their wedding they immigrated to New Zealand with Richard's older sister, Mary Lydford (1846 - 1913), who was a governess. (Richard had a twin brother, Samuel Lydford (29 Aug 1849 - ?) who had previously immigrated to Napier. It's possible that Samuel sponsored his siblings out to New Zealand.) Richard and Emily were buried in the Old Napier Cemetery. Their seven children were all born in Napier:
      • Richard Lydford (20 July 1880 - 21 Feb 1961)
        • Richard married Priscilla Newton (5 Sep 1874 - 24 Jan 1958) on 10 April 1907. They had three sons:
          • Richard Basil Montague Lydford (April 1908 - 1994). He married Phyllis Carol (dates unknown) in 1936. They had a son and two daughters.
          • Kenneth Alfred Lydford (1912 - 1982). It appears he never married.
          • Aubrey Denzil Lydford (14 July 1914 - 25 May 1960). Aubrey married Verena Mary Smart (1915 - 1971) in 1938. They lived at 1 Hinemoa Street, Devonport. Aubrey worked as a carpenter. 25 year old Aubrey enlisted for World War II service on 20 September 1939. He served as a Corporal in New Zealand's 24th Infantry Battalion in North Africa, and was known to his army colleagues as 'Liddy'. Aubrey's military service number was 61990. He was admitted to a military hospital in Egypt and in January 1942 was shipped home as a result of a head injury which inflamed a pre-war cycling injury. Aubrey died aged 46 as a result of a blood clot, and was buried in the Waikumete Cemetery, Glen Eden, Auckland. Aubrey and Verena had no children.
      • William Frederick Lydford (19 Dec 1881 - 27 Nov 1935)
        • William was an invalid for the early part of his life and was transported from place to place in a special chair. Although an invalid, William worked hard to complete his education, eventually becoming an accountant. Later he was able to walk with the aid of sticks, and eventually, unaided. He even learnt how to ride a bicycle and to play bowls.
        • William belonged to the Napier Chess Club and served as president and club captain.
        • William never married. He was buried in the Old Napier Cemetery in the family plot.
      • George Day Lydford (18 July 1883 - 25 Aug or 16 Mar 1970)
        • George married Jessie A R Campbell (1889 - 1973). They had two daughters. George died in Auckland. The daughters of George and Jessie were:
          • Nancy Lydford (1908 - 1989). Her married name was 'Reid'. Nancy and her husband had one son, Ian Reid (1936 - ).
          • Annie Valentine Lydford (1913 - 1978). She married Alexander Reid (17 Feb 1910 - 11 May 1977) in Auckland. It is unknown, at this stage, if they had children. 
      • Alice Emily Lydford (26 July 1885 - 28 Aug 1978)
        • Alice never married. She was known as 'Auntie Pop' or 'Poppy' to her nieces and nephews. Alice was cremated.
      • Rose Elsie Lydford (28 Sep 1886 - 3 Apr 1953)
        • Rose was the twin sister of Mary. Unfortunately, Mary died three days after their birth. 
        • Rose attended the Napier District School in the 1890s.
        • She never married.
        • Rose was buried in the family plot in the Old Napier Cemetery.
      • Mary Elizabeth Lydford (28 Sep 1886 - 1 Oct 1886)
        • Mary was the twin sister of Rose. Sadly, she died, aged three days, and was buried in the Old Napier Cemetery.
      • Samuel Montague Lydford (3 June 1888 - 4 Aug 1964)
        • Samuel was born blind. He learned how to tune pianos from the Foundation for the Blind. Apparently he was the first person in New Zealand to use a cane after visiting England and returning with one.
  • Elizabeth (Libby) Day (1 June 1851 - 11 July 1860)
    • Libby was born in Colchester, Essex. It is likely that she was named after her paternal aunt, Elizabeth Day. Sadly, she died aged nine years, in Brighton, Sussex. The cause of her death and place of burial is unknown.
  • George Robert Day (29 Aug 1852 - 2 May 1853) 
    • George was born in Brighton, Sussex, but died before his first birthday. The cause of his death and the location of his burial are unknown.
  • William James Day (1 March 1854 - 2 March 1939) 
    • William was born in Brighton, Sussex. He married Cecelia (Cissie) Martha Groom (1857 - 1899) in the 4th quarter of 1884, in Kings Lynn, Norfolk. They had two daughters:
      • Mabel Cecelia Day (1887 - 1952). Mabel never married.
      • Muriel Emily Day (1888 - 1912). She became a photographer, but died in her twenties. 
    • Cecelia died in 1899 when her girls were about 11 and 12 years old.
    • William learnt the art of photography from his father, Robert. When Robert died, William, who was still a teenager, took over the business with his mother. Later, he took over the business and ran it into the 1920s, with his sister Mary who was affectionately known as Polly. William became a well-known landscape photographer. He also recorded many events of national and international importance, including the celebrations to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee (June 1897), her funeral cortege at sea (February 1901), and the departure of the Titanic from Southampton (April 1912). Many royal visitors stayed at nearby Highcliffe Castle and local photographers were often summons to take official photos of them there. The photograph of William's daughter, Mabel (2) indicates that his business was patronised by the royal family of Sweden and Norway around 1890.
      Muriel Emily Day aged two years. 1890
      Photographed by E Day & Son
      (Photo courtesy of Alwyn Ladell via Flickr)

    • William was a close, personal friend of the then tallest man in the world, Chinese-born Chang Woo Gow (1841 - 5 Nov 1893), who lived in Holdenhurst, Bournemouth from 1890. William was at Chang's bedside when he died, and promised to take in and raise Chang's two teenage sons, Edwin Santley Chang Gow (1877 - 1947) and Ernest A Chang Gow (b1879). It is reported that William described Chang as "a gentle giant, a giant of giants, great of stature, but with the kindest nature and a heart as true and tender as ever beat." Chang was buried alongside his second wife, Catherine Santley in an unmarked grave at the Wimborne Road Cemetery, Plot A6-30S. Both of the Gow boys were listed as living with William in the 1901 UK Census. They worked as assistants to an ironmonger.
    • William's great-niece, L Beryl Farrah (nee Morley) later described him as "quite a character" and that he "wrote many interesting articles for the Bournemouth Daily Echo." Some of the articles mention the Cobb and Lydford families (the families of his sisters Harriet and Emily). 
    • In 1925 William sold a collection of 170 photographic negatives of Bournemouth to the Bournemouth Library. The collection contains work by both William and his father Robert, and is known 'The Day Collection'.
    • William died in Bournemouth, aged 85 years.
  • Mary Charlotte (Polly) Day (23 Aug 1857 - 1933)
    • Polly was born in Brighton, Sussex. She helped at the family photography studio throughout her life, as a photographer's assistant. She lived in the William Day household, probably to help raise her two nieces after their mother died. 
    • Polly was an award winning portrait photographer. She was commissioned to photograph the royal family of Sweden and Norway.
    • Polly never married. She died in Bournemouth in 1933.
  • Frederick Robert Day (2 Dec 1858 - 27 Aug 1905)
    • Frederick was born in Brighton, Sussex. He married Emily Charlotte Shellard (1864 - 1965) on 17 July 1883. 
    • Fred was a foreman for a stone masonry company. He carved some of the stone figures at St Peter's Church in Bournemouth, and also assisted in constructing the 62m steeple in 1874. 
    • He died in Bournemouth aged 46.
    • Frederick and Emily had seven children:
      • Frederick Harold Day (6 Aug 1884 - 10 Mar 1947). He married Maud Mary King (10 July 1887 - 24 Dec 1945) on 29 July 1908 at the Fulham Registry Office. Frederick and Maud had two children. Frederick worked in clothing stores. During World War I, Frederick was a Bombardier with the Royal Garrison Artillary of the British Army, serving from 7 June 1916, a total of 2 years and 62 days. His regimental number was 146859. He was discharged from service on 7 August 1918 due to wounds to his right leg, and returned to his family in London. The children of Frederick and Maud were:
        • Lilian Maud Day (11 Oct 1908 - Jan 1998). Her husband was Charles Parkinson (dates unknown).
        • Harold Bernard Day (29 Oct 1911 - 20 Mar 1947). Harold married Eileen E Webdell (Mar 1914 - 29 Sep 1979) on 3 June 1939.
      • Frances Lilian Day (14 Feb 1886 - 2 Sep 1925) married Charles Fellows Morley (1879 - 1955). They had three children: 
        • Charles Dennis Morley (26 May 1911 - 17 Aug 1996). He married Nellie Allsopp (17 Feb 1910 - 18 Aug 2008) in Mansfield, Notts, on 13 Januaray 1935. They had three children. One of them died in infancy.
        • Lilian Beryl (known as Beryl) Morley 24 July 1913 - Nov 2005). She married Kenneth Henry Farrah (19 July 1907 - May 1984) in 1968. They had no children.
        • Alan Fellows Morley (14 Feb 1919 - Nov 2004). He married Avis Joan Sampson (dates unknown) in 1941. They had three children. 
      • Elsie Violet Day (1888 - 1890)
      • Grace Emily Day (5 May 1891 - 23 Apr 1989). She married Arthur Humphries (dates unknown). They had two children:
        • Bernard Humphries (22 July 1920 - Feb 2001). His wife was Rose Perotte (dates unknown). 
        • Audrey Humphries (dates unknown). Her husband was Eric Carlisle (dates unknown).
      • Kathleen May Day (28 May 1899 - 22 Feb 1979). During World War I, Kathleen was a motorcycle messenger. She made soft toys and also worked as a psychic. It appears that Kathleen never married.
      • Arthur Herbert Day (14 May 1903 - 5 Sep 1973). He married Doris May Boyce (Mar 1897 - Jan 1943) in Willesden, Middlesex, in September 1927. They had one son together. Following Doris' death, Arthur (42) married 48 year old Frances Rose Baker (11 July 1897 - 5 Mar 1972) in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, in June 1946. 
  • Rose Selina Holder (2 Feb 1861 - 1930)
    • Rose was born on 2 February 1861 and baptised on 5 May in Wimborne, Hampreston, Dorset. 
    • She married George Holder (23 Dec 1851 - March 1941) in the second quarter of 1887 in Chichester, Sussex. George was a draper and operated his business from the family home. George and Rose had two daughters:
      • Phyllis Mary Holder (19 Oct 1896 - 1978). She never married. She worked for the Bournemouth Post Office. In later life, she lived in West Moors with her friend Vi Hobbs.
      • Emily Margaret (Peggy) Holder (20 June 1900 - June 2000). A 1939 England and Wales register shows that Emily was single and lving with her father (teacher of music) and sister Phyllis (sorting clerk and telegrapher at the Post Office) at 21 Southbourne Road. It says that Emily was working as a pottery & advertising artist.
    • Both Rose and George were fine singers. 
    • Rose died in 1930 and after her death the daughters continued to live with 
  • Charles Edward Day (11 June 1863 - ?) 
    • Charles was born in Bournemouth, Hampshire and baptised in Holdenhurst on 4 June 1865. 
    • He initially worked as a tailor, operating from his mother's home whom he lived with until at least 1901. He is noted as living with his sister Rose and her husband in the 1911 UK Census. It gives his occupation as 'gardener'. 
    • Charles never married.
Rose and Charles, (presumably, the two children on the left),
 with a friend, probably Ella A E Russell Cotes (1860 – 1954).
Ella's parents owned the Royal Bath Hotel and in 1907
donated their vast art collection and home to the city of Bournemouth.
Ella's father was Mayor of Bournemouth in 1894.
Photo probably by E Day & Son c1867
(Courtesy of P Day)

Rose Day and her sister Polly.
Photo probably by E Day & Son. Date unknown.
(Photo courtesy of G J Bland)

Harriet & her sisters. Harriet may be the one on the left
facing the camera, and Emily is likely to be the one 
standing at the back. Rose may be the at the front left, 
and Polly on the right. 
Photo by Day & Son c1873.
(Photo courtesy of G J Bland)

William J Day
Date unknown. This photo was probably taken by his sister Polly
(Photo courtesy of P Day)

Harriet's early life
The 1851 UK Census was taken when Harriet was five years old. Her family are listed as living in Brighton, Sussex, her father was employed as a 'groom'. We know that he also worked as a painter-decorator-glazier while in living Brighton. 

Around 1858, when Harriet was about 12 years old, the family moved to Hampreston in the county of Dorset. While it is unclear how much education Harriet had, the 1861 UK Census, which records the 15 year old as being 'a farming bailiff's daughter' also states that her younger siblings attended school, so it is assumed that Harriet had already completed her education. Handwritten notes that Harriet wrote later in life indicate that she was well educated. An example is given below:

An autograph that Harriet wrote in her daughter Dorothy's notebook in 1914.

In 1862, when Harriet was 16 years old her family shifted to the small seaside town of Bournemouth, in southern England, where her father became the town's first photographer. At the time, Bournemouth was just a small fishing town of around 2000 people. 

The Day family set up home in Warwick Cottage which was located on Holdenhurst Road. Harrietalong with her younger siblings, were taught the art of photography by their father and worked as assistants in his studio which was situated in a tiny shed besides the St Andrew's Presbyterian Church in the town square.

Photos of Harriet around age 16.
Photos by Robert Day.
(Photo courtesy of G J Bland)

A birthday gift
Harriet was presented with an expensive silver pocket watch on the occasion of her nineteenth birthday. Judging from the accompanying letter, written by her father, we assume that Harriet's birthday was 10 February (which was also her father's birthday). We also get a sense of the deep affection that Robert had for his eldest daughter. The note reads:

Warwick Cottage, No. 1
February 10, 1865

My dear Harriet,
The enclosed is a 3.3.0 [3.3 British pounds?] silver watch which I your father makes you a presentation your 19 birthday and I hope you may live many years to wear it in remembrance of me and your dear mother who takes a share with me in this. We present this little present to you for your good conduct, and we also hope and trust that you will always try to keep yourself honest, steady and respectable, by so doing you will always find so long as life lasts, an affectionate father and mother, and you will also gain the well wishes of all that you have to do with. You must consider this present a keepsake, a large gift considering our circumstances, and you ought to thank God that your father and mother have it in their power to make to their eldest daughter a birthday present of a silver watch. It is more than either of us ever had, and there is another advantage you have got that I never had, and that is a little education which when I was 19 years of age I could not write my own name. You ought to be very thankful to God for that even, and I hope should you live to be a mother that you may have it in your power to bring up your children in the way they ought to go and you may depend upon it that they will reward you for your kindness and attention. Your brothers and sisters also wish you many happy years to live and I am pleased to tell them that I shall, if [it] please God to spare me [to] do something for them as well as for you. Oh, Harriet, I must ? as my hands are so crippled that I don't know how to write. So I do sincerely hope that you may live many years to wear this neat little watch and I hope that it will keep good time and I also hope that you will always keep good time and remember when even you look at this watch to see the time that you may not be behind, for time waits for no one. We remain your ever affectionate father and mother,

Robert & Emily Day
To their eldest daughter, Harriet Sophia Day

The little watch that was given to Harriet is now in the hands of a descendant of Harriet's daughter, Dorothy Blackman. Incidentally, if the watch cost Robert 3.3 British pounds in 1865, the equivalent price today would be more than $NZ 850. Certainly, this was a most generous gift and a token of genuine love.

Harriet. Date unknown.
Probably photographed by her father, R Day.
(Photo courtesy of G J Bland)

Marriage and family
On Christmas Eve 1866, 20 year old Harriet married 25 year old businessman Joseph Edward Cobb (13 Mar 1839 - 17 Mar 1911) in the Church of St John the Evangelist in the small village of Holdenhurst, north Bournemouth. Joseph owned and operated the Berlin Wool and fancy repository situated at 4 High Street, Christchurch, a short distance from Bournemouth. Joseph also had an interest in photography, and it is thought that this common interest may have been what brought the couple together. The photo shown below was taken at the Day's new home/studio at 3 Lansdowne Road, Bournemouth.

Harriet on her wedding day.
By Day & Son, 1866.
(Courtesy of G J Bland)

Following their wedding, Joseph and Harriet probably lived on the site of their High Street shop. They didn't waste anytime having a family. Their first child was born almost nine months to the day from their wedding.

Joseph and Harriet's fifteen children were:
  • Arthur Edward Cobb (23 Sep 1868 - 10 Mar 1873) 
  • Alfred (Alf) John Cobb (20 June 1869 - 3 Feb 1962)
  • Robert (Bob) Charles Cobb (20 Oct 1870 - 20 Dec 1949)
  • Elsie Day Cobb (19 Nov 1872 - 12 July 1957)
  • George William Cobb (24 Oct 1873 - 30 Aug 1950)
  • Percy Frederick Cobb (7 Mar 1875 -  7 July 1958)
  • Twins, David Cobb (27 May 1876 - 28 May 1876) & John Cobb (27 May 1876 - 1 June 1876) 
  • Walter Joseph Cobb (4th qtr 1877- 27 Apr 1879) 
  • Mary Elizabeth Cobb (23 Oct 1878 - 16 Feb 1908)
  • Alice Mabel (known as Mabel) Cobb (25 Feb 1880 - 18 Feb 1903)
  • Dorothy Emily Cobb (20 Aug 1881 - 11 Nov 1979)
  • Harold Day Cobb (17 Dec 1882 - 29 Nov 1961)
  • Lily Harriett Cobb (28 July 1886 - Apr 1887) 
  • John (known as Jack or Cobbie) Wesley Cobb (6 Apr 1892 - 7 June 1917)

A new photography business
Since Joseph and Harriet both had a mutual passion for photography, they set up a photographic studio in the glasshouse behind their High Street shop (in Christchurch). It was here that Harriet began specialising in portraiture, particularly focusing on taking photos of children. Harriet claimed that the lighting in the glass house enhanced the quality of her work. 

Later in 1868 the photography studio was moved to the two-storey Stour Cottage, 20 Barrack Road which was built around 1830. There was a conservatory adjoining the house which was probably used as the studio. These days [2017] Stour Cottage is a Grade II heritage building and is presently used as a Youth Centre.

A growing family
Harriet gave birth to her first son, Arthur, on 23 September 1868. Alfred was born on 20 June the following year, and Robert arrived on 20 October 1870. Allen White, in his booklet, Christchurch Photographers 1855-1915 (1966) claims that in this period Harriet won a medal and certificate from The Photographic Society (now known as the Royal Photographic Society) for a portrait of her three children. It is not known if this photo is still in existence. The Royal Photographic Society have no record of this. 

Joseph and Harriet's first daughter, Elsie, was born into the Cobb family on 19 November 1872. 

1873: A year of loss
Harriet suffered two significant losses in 1873. Firstly, on 11 February 1873 Harriet's father, Robert (51), passed away after suffering a long illness. Sadly, he died the day after their shared birthday. Robert was fareweled at a full military funeral and buried in the St Peter's Churchyard, in Bournemouth. 
NOTE: Incidentally, following Robert's death, Harriet's mother, Emily, renamed the photographic studio E Day & Son, the 'son' being William. As William was still a teenager at this time, he was named the junior partner. Much later, the 1881 UK Census stated that Emily Day was the senior partner in the photography business. She was living in Landsdown Road, Holdenhurst with 27 year old William (photographer, junior partner), 24 year old Mary (photographic assistant), 20 year old Rose (photographic assistant), and 17 year old Charles E Day who was unemployed. Three other women were also living with them as lodgers.

A month later, on 10 March 1873, Joseph and Harriet's eldest child, Arthur, passed away. He was just 5 years of age. This loss would have been keenly felt, not only by his young parents, but particularly by his younger siblings. The cause of Arthur's death and the place of his burial are unknown.

Arthur Edward Cobb c1873.
Photo by J E Cobb.
Photo courtesy of G J Bland. 

Additions and subtractions
In spite of the tragic loss of their firstborn son, Joseph and Harriet continued to extend their family. George was born on 24 October 1873, and Percy arrived on 7 March 1875. Sadly, twin boys, David and John who were born on 27 May 1876, died within a week of their birth. Another son, Walter, was born in the final quarter of 1877. Mary was born into the Cobb family on 23 October 1878 but sadly, when she was six months old, Walter (who hadn't yet reached his second birthday) passed away. 

Another "Good-bye"
On 25 May 1879, Harriet may have attended the wedding of her younger sister Emily who married carpenter Richard Lydford (30 Aug 1849 - 22 Oct 1913) in the parish church of St Mary, in Newington, London. While this would have been a happy family occasion, it would also have been a sad time for the sisters because five days following the wedding, the newlyweds, along with Richard's older sister, school mistress Mary Lydford (Sep 1846 -1913), migrated to New Zealand under the 'assisted passage' scheme. The Lydfords departed from Plymouth on the ship Rakaia on 31 May 1879. (Richard's twin brother, Samuel Lydford (30 Aug 1849 - 1924), had immigrated to Napier, New Zealand earlier.)
Richard and Emily Lydford just prior to
immigrating to New Zealand in 1879.
Photo by E Day & Son.
(From the collection of the Hawke's Bay
Museums Trust, Ruawharo Ta-u-rangi, 4021.)

The family grows
Three more children were born to Joseph and Harriet in Christchurch, Dorset. Firstly, Alice (known as Mabel) was born in the 25 Feb 1880. Dorothy arrived on 20 August 1881, then Harold was born on 17 December 1882. 

Considering a new life
Sometime between 1880 and 1881, Harriet received a letter from her sister Emily, encouraging her to seriously consider immigrating to New Zealand for a better life. Joseph and Harriet took Emily's advice. According to the Christchurch Times, 11 August 1883, Joseph and Harriet sold their shop to Mr Alfred Mallet. At the end of the month they took passage on the sailing ship 'Lady Jocelyn'. By that time, they had nine children ranging from 14 year old Alf, to Harold who was just a few months old. 

Joseph and Harriet with their children, 1883. 
This photo was taken just prior to the family 
departing for New Zealand.
Probably photographed by E Day & Son.
(Photo courtesy of G J Bland.)

The journey to New Zealand
In a newspaper report# written much later, William Day reminisced about the life of his sister Harriet. He recalled accompanying Joseph and Harriet and their young family to London from the railway station in Christchurch. The farewells given there were described by William as "of an unusually pathetic character". The family boarded the ship from the West India Dock. William also spend a night on board. Tugs towed the Lady Jocelyn out of the dock and into the Thames. William stayed on board until the ship reached Greenhithe where he was rowed to shore. It was at this stop that a cow was taken on board the ship, to supply the young children with milk for the journey. 

The 'Lady Jocelyn' departed London, England from Gravesend on 29 August 1883, but was damaged in a severe storm while in the Bay of Biscay and had to return to Portsmouth to be repaired. The storm was so severe that many of the passengers abandoned their dream of travelling to the new country and returned to their families in England. 

The following first person account of the storm was published in the Star, Issue 4843, 7 November 1883:

After two weeks of repairs, the Lady Jocelyn set sail again from Portsmouth, England to Wellington, on 18 September with the Cobb family on board. Also on board the ship was a special piece of equipment - Harriet's studio camera! 

Travelling and living in close quarters with other passengers with a young baby, several toddlers and some active young boys must have been an enormously challenging situation for Harriet. She must have been a highly organised, and efficient woman because she managed to cope successfully.

Four days after Christmas, New Zealand was sighted, and the passengers and crew disembarked in Wellington on 1 January 1884. The announcement of the arrival of the Lady Jocelyn was published in The Evening Post, 31 December 1883, Vol XXVI, Issue 154. The Cobb family are listed as passengers on the ship:

Shortly after their arrival in Wellington, Harriet and her family embarked on the ship 'Kiwi' which was heading north to Napier, and arrived there on 5 January 1884. Below is the notice of arrivals to Napier which mentions the Cobb family. It comes from the Hawke's Bay Herald, Vol XXI, Issue 6749, 7 January 1884:

A new life in New Zealand
It had been over four years since Harriet had seen her sister, Emily, and in those intervening years each of their families had grown! It must have been a great thrill for Harriet to introduce her sister to her three youngest children, Mabel, Dorothy and Harold, and in return, meet her three New Zealand-born nephews, Richard Jnr, William and George Lydford. 

While the Lydfords lived in one of the few villas on Roslyn Road, on the Napier Hill, the Cobbs decided to settle in Port Ahuriri, just over the hill. An advertisement from a 'Mrs Cobb' in The Daily Telegraph, on 19 January 1884, is likely to be the first instance of Harriet seeking work in the new country. It was under the heading 'Notabilia':

While it is possible that Joseph found some temporary work with his brother-in-law Richard Lydford, who was a carpenter, it is likely that he was keen to start his own photography business in the town.

Starting business in New Zealand 
Joseph and Harriet lived in Port Ahuriri for approximately one year. During that time, Harriet opened a photographic studio on Waghorne Street, opposite the London Hotel, where she advertised herself in The Hawke's Bay Herald on 15 July 1884: 

In an advertisement in the Business Section of the Hawke's Bay Herald, Vol XXI, Issue 6940, 20 August 1884, Harriet describes herself as experienced and a specialist in portraiture. She mentions that she gives "special attention" to children's photography:

The Cobb's studio was in a tiny building next to a well patronised store owned by Denholm & Sons. It was here that Harriet encouraged her patrons to make appointments when she was not in her own shop. It is not known where the Cobb's home was during their stay in Port Aruhiri, but it is likely to have either connected to the studio, or within walking distance from it.

Waghorne Street, Port Ahuriri c1880. The Cobb's studio
is amongst the cluster of buildings in the top centre of the picture.

The actual site of the Cobb's Port Ahuriri studio is likely to be present day Winston Street, or the building on the corner of Winston and Waghorne Streets (in 2015 this was the site of a furniture restoration business). The blue building in the photo below is the old Denholm Store, now used as a residential address. It is disguised with painted stucco.
The blue building is the old Denholm Store covered with painted stucco.
The Cobb studio was either situated on the immediate left
of the Denholm Store where Winston Lane currently is,
or at the green building on the far left of the picture.
(Photo by K Bland 2015)

The MTG Hawke's Bay website has a photograph of how Port Ahuriri looked prior to the Cobb family settling there. Click here to view it. 

During 1884, Joseph and Harriet's eldest daughter, Elsie, completed Standard IV, and their son George did Standard II at Spit District School. Both of them excelled academically. 12 year old Elsie came first in her class for General Proficiency and second for her sewing prowess, while 10 year old George came second in his class for General Proficiency.

According to The Hawke's Bay Herald, Vol XXI, Issue 7022, 26 November 1884, Harriet exhibited a "fine collection" of photos at the inaugural Working Trades and Art Exhibition which was held at the Theatre Royal, Napier. 

Living in Hastings
The Cobb family moved to Hastings in early 1885, where they lived until early 1889. Hastings was a newly formed town, just 11 or 12 years old at the time when they moved there. An advertisement in the Hawke's Bay Herald, Vol XXII, Issue 7091, on 17 February 1885 indicates the opening of their second photographic studio:

The Hastings studio was situated in prime position, on the main street, next door to the new local department store run by George Hamilton Roach (1839 - 1914), and later his son, George Frederick Roach (1866 - 1934). Roach's store was on the corner of Heretaunga Street West and King Street South, with the actual address being 244 Heretaunga Street West. Roaches Department Store was started in 1884. It is believed that the building that Joseph and Harriet used as their photographic studio was also owned by Mr Roach. 

The Cobbs put the following slightly amended advertisement in the Hawke's Bay Herald, Vol XXII, Issue 7289, on 10 October 1885:

The Cobb's studio was on the left of Roach's store (the shop on the far right
in the foreground), Heretaunga Street, Hastings. Photo taken c1884. 

It is unclear where the Cobb family resided in Hastings, but photographs of the day indicate that there were many villas within walking distance of their shop, so it is likely that they lived nearby. 

While in Hastings, the Cobb family were regular attenders at the newly formed St Andrews Presbyterian Church which was situated at 206 Market Street South. Joseph worked as the superintendent of the Sunday School, holding this position for four years, and Harriet taught Sunday School to a class of young girls. The church, which seated 130, was barely two years old when the Cobbs began attending. The church is no longer in existence.

Harriet's photographs get noticed
A series of photographs which Harriet entitled 'Vignette Studies from Life' were exhibited at New Zealand's first Industrial Exhibition which opened in Wellington on Saturday 1 August 1885 to much fanfare. While the main part of the exhibition was housed in the purpose built Exhibition Building, the art and photographic exhibits were displayed on the upper floor of the adjacent St George's Hall. The exhibition was a showcase of New Zealand's talent and organisers hoped to attract overseas interest in the wares on display. One person who noticed Harriet's work was the famous Sir Julius von Haast, geologist, and founder of the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch. He was so impressed by Harriet's photographs that she was invited to represent New Zealand by showcasing her work at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London the following May. Haast was present at the London exhibition in the capacity of New Zealand Commissioner. 

Many of the photographs that Harriet sent to the exhibition in London were of female faces. According to the newspaper report shown below, printed in the Hawke's Bay Herald, Vol XXII, Issue 7335, 3 December 1885, the best photographs were entitled, 'Sympathy', 'Happy Thoughts', and 'The Gypsy Queen'. 

The London Exhibition of 1886 was opened by Queen Victoria and was viewed by more than 5.5 million people in the 164 days it was open! In it, Harriet was one of only a handful New Zealand photographers to exhibit portraits. Her exhibits were described in the Colonial and Indian Exhibition 1886 Official Catalogue, page 273, as being 'photographs and vignettes' (see below).


All exhibitors at the fair were awarded a bronze medal and a certificate. Click here to see what the certificate looked like. It is unknown what happened to the photographs that Harriet exhibited or the medal she was given. 

One of Harriet's advertisements, following her success at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition, was printed in the Hawke's Bay Herald, Vol XXII, Issue 7540, 10 August 1886. Notice too, that Joseph is soliciting work as an outdoor photographer:


A busy life
By her 40th birthday Harriet was pregnant with her fourteenth child. With a business to run, a household full of children plus a new baby on the way, life must have been pretty busy for Harriet. Fortunately, her husband was by her side, and was actively seeking more work. 

Business must have been good, because in the Daily Telegraph, Issue 4602, 6 May 1886, Joseph advertised for tenders to build two shops with attached dwellings, which we believe, were to be built in Napier and Hastings:

A new baby
Harriet gave birth to a daughter on 28 July 1886 in Hastings. She was named Lily Harriett Cobb. No doubt little Lily was much loved and doted on by her parents, and older brothers and sisters. 

Lily Harriett Cobb, Joseph and Harriet's youngest daughter.
Photo taken around 1886/7.
(Photo courtesy of L Cobb.)

Major setbacks
With a newborn baby in the house, Harriet found herself unable to travel between studios. While she updated her newspaper advertisements, such as this one from the Hawke's Bay Herald, Vol XXII, Issue 7523, 25 August 1886, to inform patrons that she would not be travelling to the Napier studio during the winter months. In spite of that, Harriet continued to work in the Hastings studio, and Joseph probably maintained the Napier shop:


The family got into strife early in 1887 when Joseph was summoned to the Hastings Resident Magistrate's Court where he was fined and ordered to pay costs. The Hawke's Bay Herald, Vol XXII, Issue 7660, 5 February 1887, gives the outline:

Shortly after the court case, in April, baby Lily passed away, aged nine months. It is unclear what the cause of her death was. Lily was probably buried in Hastings but burial records for the area were lost during the Hawke's Bay earthquake of 1931, so we may never know for certain.

On 7 June 1887, Joseph filed for bankruptcy in the Superior Court of Bankruptcy in Napier, according to the Daily Telegraph, Issue 4933, 7 June 1887:

It seems that Joseph may have over-extended his finances with his ambitious plan to construct the two buildings. Maybe costs relating to Lily's death played a part in this sorry saga as well.

Harriet forges ahead
Harriet was not deterred by the bankruptcy. Because the earlier businesses were registered in Joseph's name, it was possible for Harriet to restart the business in her name alone. We know that in the time between the bankruptcy and early 1889, she traveled to Dannevirke, Waipawa and Onga Onga to take photos.

The following advertisement appeared in the Bush Advocate, Vol 1, Issue 62, 27 September 1888:

According to the Hawke's Bay Herald, Vol XXIII, Issue 8230, 6 December 1888, Harriet exhibited "some very fine character photographs" at the Waipawa Industrial and Art Exhibition which was held from 5 December 1888. The Daily Telegraph, Issue 5395, 7 December 1888, described Harriet's photos of children as "charming."

 In the Daily Telegraph, Issue 5398, 11 December 1888, a newspaper reporter described one of Harriet's photographs called 'Tired out' as "one of the finest [photographs] I have ever seen." 

It's fascinating to note that this same photo, of a boy crouching down in a corner fast asleep, was exhibited at an exhibition in 1890 where it was described in the Otago Daily Times, Issue 8696, 8 January 1890, as a "capital specimen":

Getting back to the Waipawa Exhibition of 1888, Harriet set up a mini studio at the exhibition in a shed made of corrugated iron. After the exhibition was over, Harriet remained in Waipawa for a while taking photographs for people. The Daily Telegraph, Issue 5418, 7 January 1889, described her as follows:

Other interests and talents
Harriet became heavily involved in the temperance movement during the 1880s. She was a great supporter of the 'Band of Hope', an international church-based charity actively promoting an alcohol-free lifestyle to young people. 

In January 1889, Harriet participated in a social for those involved in the temperance movement at the Rechabite hall in Waipawa. A number of musical items were performed at the concert including two pieces sung by Harriet, 'My Wandering Boy' and 'Sweet Chiming Bells.' The former song was a heartfelt but melancholy hymn written in 1877 by Reverend Robert Lowery describing the love of a parent for their wayward son. Click here  to hear a version of it. 

An account of the temperance event was published in the Daily Telegraph, Issue 5418, 7 January 1889 as follows: 

It is believed that Harriet was very musical and that her talent was hereditary. Her sister, Rose, was known to be a talented singer. It is also interesting to note that many of Harriet's children and grandchildren were also gifted musically! And her creativity lives on. Some of her living descendants are talented musicians, while others are skilled photographers. 
NOTE: Some further information about music in the Cobb family can be found at the end of this section.

Several newspaper articles of the day contain reports of Harriet singing during church or temperance programmes. The Hawke's Bay Herald, Vol XXVI, Issue 9021, 11 July 1891 reports that she sang at a meeting at the Bethel Mission Hall to launch the Western Spit Band of Hope at the Spit. One of Harriet's daughters also gave a recitation at this meeting. It seems that the same daughter (possibly Elsie), was involved in trying to recruit more members to the Band of Hope. 

The following newspaper article from the Hawke's Bay Herald, Vol XXVII, Issue 9292, 2 July 1892, gives another example of the Cobb family's involvement with the Band of Hope.  

Starting over in Napier
It seems that Joseph and Harriet desired a fresh, new start after all the setbacks of the previous years, and decided to return to Napier. It is unclear whether they made this decision for purely business reasons, but it is likely that it was for family reasons also. The Cobbs may have shifted to their new home in Emerson Street (the main road of town) around the first week of April 1889, as this was when Harriet began advertising her new Portrait Studio also on Emerson Street. This is a photo of the Cobb's stately villa in Napier. Sadly, it no longer exists.

The Cobb's villa in Emerson Street, Napier. Date unknown.
Photographer: Mrs Cobb.
(Picture courtesy of G J Bland)

During this period, Harriet cut down on her days at the Hastings Studio to spend more time in Napier at her Emerson Street branch. Initially she spent Wednesdays at her Hastings studio, then a few months later, business must have picked up there, so she went over on both Tuesdays and Fridays.

Involvement at the Trinity Methodist Church
The Cobb family became integrated into the life of the Napier community very quickly. Local newspapers of the day contain numerous stories of their active involvement in the church.

Harriet was not just talented as a photographer, she had other amazing skills too! It appears that she was a good cook, an effective organiser and a people-person because in September 1889 and 1891 she was involved in running the refreshment stall at the church bazaar. (One of her daughters helped at the lucky fish pond activity!) The fair was held in the Theatre Royal and was held in aid of the church's Trust Fund. 

Harriet wins a prestigious award
In 1889 Harriet submitted photographs to the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition which was held in Dunedin from November 1889 until April the following year. This world fair was part of the celebrations for New Zealand's 50th year as a British colony. Each region of the country submitted products for the exhibition. In the photograph-portrait section, Harriet won a special first class award for her life studies. A reporter in The New Zealand Herald (27 November 1889) described Harriet's photos as "beautiful", and also remarked, "They are real gems in their way, and must be seen to be appreciated."

Silver wedding anniversary & a surprise!
At Joseph and Harriet's 25th wedding anniversary celebrations on 24 December 1891, many eyebrows would have been raised when they noticed 45 year old Harriet's baby bump! 

To mark their parents' 25 years together, the Cobb children presented them with a grand, engraved clock, seen below. The plaque on it reads, Dear Father and Mother, on their Silver Wedding day, Napier Dec 24th 1891The clock is presently in the possession of one of Robert Cobb's grandsons. 

Clock given to Joseph and Harriett by their children
on the occasion of their 25th wedding anniversary,
24 December 1891.
(Photo courtesy of K J Bland)

Clock given to Joseph and Harriett Cobb by their children:
"Dear Father and Mother, on their Silver Wedding day,
Napier Dec 24th 1891."
(Photo courtesy of K J Bland)
Joseph and Harriet's eldest sons, Alf and Bob, may have left home around 1890. We know that they both tried their hand at carpentry in the Palmerston North region at a time when the city was expanding rapidly. While working in Palmerston, Alf met his future wife, Laura Estella Goldfinch (14 Aug 1870 - 3 Nov 1943) whose parents were one of the earliest settlers. Alf and Laura married at the Goldfinch homestead on Andrew Young Street, on 21 January 1892. It is believed that Harriet was the official photographer on this occasion.

A new baby
Joseph and Harriet welcomed their fifteenth (and last) child, John Wesley, into their family on 6 April 1892. His name is a distinct nod to the British preacher who founded the Methodist Church. Jack was born when his brother Harold was 9 years of age, so was definitely the baby of the family. He was christened at the Trinity Methodist Church on 29 May 1892. 

Church work
Harriet didn't slow her pace while pregnant or when Jack was a tiny baby. In 1892, shortly before Jack was born, Harriet was involved in a two week church mission in Napier. About six week after Jack's birth, Harriet presented a report about the Band of Hope at the anniversary meetings for the Western Spit Bethel Mission. Later, in 1893when Jack was just over one year old, it is reported that Harriet attended a Band of Hope meeting, where she sang and son George performed a recitation. It is reported that Harriet again performed in 1894

From left: Dorothy, Harriet, Jack, and possibly Mary, c1893.
Photographer unknown, but likely to be Joseph Cobb.
(Photo from M Toy)

The Cobb family were in attendance at the anniversary celebrations of the Western Spit Bethel Mission in May 1894. Harriet was involved in serving the food.

At a meeting in mid 1894, The Hawke's Bay Prohibition League elected a person to replace Harriet on the committee. It is unclear when she was elected and why she was replaced.

The Women's Suffrage movement 

The Cobb family were big supporters of the 'Women's Suffrage' campaign which demanded that women be given the right to vote in parliamentary elections. A petition was sent around the country, collecting signatures of those in support. In 1892, the year of her youngest son's birth, Harriet signed the petition in Napier, along with her eldest daughter Elsie. Daughter-in-law Laura also signed it, but in Palmerston North. This petition failed but a second petition was presented to the New Zealand Parliament in mid-1893 and led to the law change in which women gained equal voting rights alongside men. Harriet would have voted in the New Zealand general election on 28 November 1893, alongside 90 000 other female voters.

Record of the names recorded on the first suffrage petition of 1892.
This list is housed at The Beehive, Wellington. (2015)

Business matters 
In 1892 telephone lines were installed in Napier. At the time, many of the shop signboards, including the one on Harriet's shop, interfered with the telegraph wires. In October the Public Works Committee of the Municipal Council requested that Harriet and some other shop owners along the main streets of Napier adjust the signage on their shops.

Hastings Fire Brigade Commission

It appears that Harriet was commissioned in May 1893 by the Hastings Fire Brigade (comprising 26 men and two lads) to take their official portrait. 

Hawke's Bay Flood of 1893
In the first week of December 1893, the Hawke's Bay experienced their worst flooding to date. Most of the low-lying area reaching from Napier to Ormondville was almost completely flooded causing crops and livestock to be lost. Many of the residents of the pains had to be rescued through holes cut in their roofs, and taken to safety by boat. Unfortunately several lives were lost, including Reverend S Douglas, a Presbytarian minister, and labourer, Mr Duncan M'Farlane (named Donald MacFarlane in the New Zealand Herald, Vol XXX, Issue 9376, 6 December 1893). Their photographs, which had been previously taken by Harriet, were published in the New Zealand Graphic on 23 December 1893, page 542:

Reverend S Douglas
Photo by Mrs Cobb, c1893
Courtesy of the Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZG-18931223-542-3

Duncan M'Farlane (also known as Donald MacFarlane)
Photo by Mrs Cobb, c1893
Courtesy of the Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZG-18931223-542-3

Cobb-Ashcroft wedding
The wedding of Harriet's eldest daughter must have been an exciting affair for Harriet. Elsie married Robert Walker Ashcroft (2nd qtr 1871 - 24 March 1937) at the Cobb family home on Emerson Street, Napier, on 25 January 1894. No doubt, the Cobb household was a hive of activity in preparation for this occasion!

A celebrity wedding
On 6 February 1895 Harriet was the official photographer at the wedding of the then Commandant of the New Zealand Forces, Lieutenant Colonel Francis John Fox, to Cara Russell, daughter of the Honorable Captain William R Russell (later Sir William Russell), who also happened the be the leader of the opposition party. The wedding was held in the St Matthew's Church, Hastings, and then the many guests were received at a reception nearby, in Flaxmere. 
[NOTE: Interestingly, Colonel Fox was later buried in The Old Napier Cemetery where some of the Cobb family, including Joseph, are also buried.]

The Hawera Liliputian Orchestra
Harriet's photograph of the Hawera Liliputian Orchestra (seen below), was published in the New Zealand Graphic on 28 September 1895, page 381. 

The Hawera Liliputian Orchestra.
Photo by Mrs Cobb, 1895
Courtesy of the Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZG-18950928-381-1

On an early January morning in 1896 Joseph and Harriet's photograph studio in Hastings was slightly damaged by a large fire which enflamed the properties adjacent. The story about the fire appeared in the Daily Telegraph, 22 January:

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Photographer of note
Harriet's occupation is listed on the 1896 Napier electoral roll as 'photographer'. Joseph and their son George, are also listed on it as being photographers. 

Harriet's was renowned as a quality photographer by this point. A reporter from the Hastings Standard described her in the 14 July 1896 edition, as being "well-known", and her work as being "first class". The brief article says that Harriet has an excellent reputation in the district and that the quality of her work exceeded that of most other local photographers due to her ability to compose a well-balanced picture. Apparently Harriet was admired for the creative way she positioned her subjects in her photographs, and for the finishing touches to her work. The article concludes by saying that Harriet had won medals at the Indian and Colonial Exhibition, London in 1886 and the Dunedin Exhibition of 1889.

Working at two studios
By September 1896 Harriet was traveling to her Hastings studio on Tuesdays and Fridays. She not only advertised her services as a photographer, but also offered bromide and opal photo enlargements. Probably to cut costs, she sub-let her studio to a dress cutting school which also used the premises on Tuesdays and Fridays between 10am and 4pm. The same sewing instructor, Mrs Hope, rented out part of Harriet's Emerson Street studio in Napier on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thurdays.

Joseph and Harriet moved their Hastings photographic studio to another premises on Heretaunga Street owned by Mr J N Williams in early 1898. The new shop was situated opposite 'Sharp and Alfords' and was on the main arterial road through Hastings, a prime location. The Cobbs advertised some cabinets for sale around this time. These were probably made by Joseph.

During 1901 Harriet visited her Hastings studio on Tuesdays and Fridays, spending the remaining time in Napier. By October 1903 Harriet attended the Hastings studio on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It seems as though it was now situated in a different location - Heretaunga Street, near King Street. 

Church involvement
In January 1897 Harriet was elected the acting president of the Napier Methodist branch of the Christian Endeavor Society, and George, her son, was elected secretary. At a meeting in September 1898, and again in October 1899, it is reported that at least one of the Harriet's daughters sang items that were well received.

In 1897, Harriet took a photo of the Napier Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society. The picture was published in the New Zealand Graphic, 6 November 1897, page 616:
The Napier Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society.
Photo by Mrs Cobb, 1897
Courtesy of the Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZG-18971106-616-3 

Cobb-Coveney wedding
Harriet and the Cobb family celebrated the marriage of George to Ellen Josephine (Viney) Coveney (1867 - 9 May 1945) in 1898 (date and place unknown at present). George worked as a photographer with his parents in the family studio. He was also active in the Trinity Methodist Church, and he was on several committees there with his mother.

The Hawke's Bay Hunt Club
In August 1898, Harriet photographed the Meet of the Hawke's Bay Hunt Club which was held at the residence of Mr Lowry. The following photograph appeared in the New Zealand Graphic, 27 August 1898, page 276:

The Meet of the Hawke's Bay Hunt Club
Photo by Mrs Cobb 1898
Courtesy of the Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZG-18980827-276-1

Trinity Church Anniversary
On Sunday 2 October 1898 the Cobb family would have attended the anniversary celebrations of the Trinity Church Sunday School. On the following Wednesday evening the church held a public tea meeting, the tea being held in the hall, the meeting, in the church. Harriet and one of her daughters, probably Mary, assisted with the catering. The following month, Harriet worked on the refreshment stall at the church bazaar. 

In October 1900, Harriet was in attendance of the Trinity school anniversary, waiting on tables at the special celebratory dinner. In 1901 Harriet was elected the corresponding secretary of the Christian Endeavour Union at their annual convention. 

There is no doubt that Harriet was influential within the Trinity Methodist Church. In October 1902 there is a report in the local paper that mentions her, along with the pastor and a few others, officially welcoming in new members. 

In February 1904, the Trinity Methodist Church held an art show. Some of the Cobb girls submitted needlework for the show and won prizes. Harriet herself was the judge for the photography section.

A variety of celebrations
In May 1900 it was reported in the papers that Harriet gifted newly-weds, Ada B. (nee Seymour) and George E. Sands, a coloured photograph. It is not known what the relationship between Harriet and the newlyweds was.

On Christmas Day 1900, one day after her own 34th wedding anniversary, Harriet took family photographs at the Golden Wedding celebrations of George and Mary Goldfinch (her son Alfred's in-laws). During the celebrations Joseph proposed an elaborate toast of prosperity to the Goldfinch family.

Harriet is pictured in the photo below with the youngest of her children and some family friends. It is not known what the occasion was when this picture was taken but it appears to have been a wedding. 

Harriet (seated second from right) at what appears to be the occasion of a wedding. c1902. 
Back, from left: Robert Graham (Mary's future husband), Dorothy Cobb, Percy Cobb (or Harold)
& his wife Charlotte (Lottie) Drury. 
Front, from left: Mary, Robert Ashcroft (?) Jack (at 
front), Harriet, Mabel Cobb.
(Courtesy of J Henry)

Cobb-Drury wedding
In 1902 Harriet and the Cobb family celebrated the wedding of Percy to Charlotte (Lottie) Mary Drury (1881 - 13 November 1918) at the Salvation Army Barracks in Palmerston North. The wedding reception was held at Lottie's family home.

The wedding of Percy Cobb and Lottie Drury, 1902. Emily and John Drury 
(Lottie's parents) are pictured here with presumably some of their ten children.
Photographer unknown, but possibly Mrs Cobb.
(Photo courtesy of L Buckle.)

Cobb-Jacobi wedding
After daughter Mabel announced her engagement to Alfred Jacobi, there is no doubt that Harriet helped to organise a fitting celebration for her third daughter. While the formal wedding ceremony was held on Wednesday 26 March 1902 at the family church, Joseph and Harriet hosted the wedding reception at their home.

 The Cobb family celebrating the wedding of Alfred and Mabel, 1902.
Unknown photographer.

A birth and a death 
It is possible that Harriet was in Dannevirke with her daughter Mabel when she gave birth to her first child Mabel Cecelia Jacobi (13 Feb 1903 - 30 Sep 1918). Just before the birth, Mabel fell ill and had a premonition that she would not recover. Harriet must have been incredibly saddened when Mabel passed away on 18 February 1903 just five days after giving birth to her first child, and only a week before her 23rd birthday. Just 11 months prior, Harriet had celebrated Mabel's wedding so the loss must have been keenly felt. Mabel's funeral service, on 22 February, was described as being both solemn and impressive. It was held at the Trinity Methodist Church and the internment took place at the Old Napier Cemetery. 

Cobb-Graham wedding
One year following Mabel's death, Harriet helped one of her daughters prepare for her wedding. On Wednesday afternoon, 30 March 1904, Joseph and Harriet's second eldest daughter, Mary, married Robert Grier Graham Jnr at the Trinity Methodist Church, Napier. The wedding was described as a 'choral wedding'. Harriet once again, hosted the wedding reception at the family villa.

The wedding of Robert and Mary Graham. 30 March 1904.
From left: Harold, Harriet (seated at front), Ida Graham, Robert & Mary Graham, 
Dorothy, Joseph, Graham Foreman (best man). This photograph is from 
Mrs Cobb's studio, possibly taken by George Cobb
(Photo courtesy of S Rabarts.)

In 1905/06 the Electoral Roll recorded Joseph and Harriet, along with their son Harold (24-25 years old), as being photographers. Daughters, Mary (27-28 years old) [Strange because Mary married in 1904.] and Dorothy (25-26 years old), were listed as doing 'domestic duties'. 

On 10 June 1906, Harriet's mother Emily marked her 88th birthday by having her portrait taken in a garden, presumably in Bournemouth or Christchurch, England. The photo below was sent to Harriet in New Zealand.
The birthday portrait of Emily Day, Harriet's mother.
This photo was taken on her 88th birthday, 10 June 1906.

In February 1907 Joseph and Harriet made a substantial 10 pound donation to the Foreign Mission Fund through the Methodist Church. Around this time they sub-let part of their Hastings studio to the tailors Astley & Co

Cobb-Blackman wedding
Harriet was the official photographer at the wedding of her daughter Dorothy to Arnold Blackman (1877 - 2 May 1055) on 24 April 1907. They married at the Trinity Methodist Church, Napier.

Likely to be the wedding of Dorothy and Arnold, 1907.
Back left to right: Harold Cobb, Arnold Blackman, Dorothy Cobb, Joseph E Cobb
Seated from left: unidentified girl, and E Rose Lydford.
Photo by Mrs Cobb.

Cobb-Gardner wedding
Harriet took photos at her son Bob's wedding to Alice Maud Gardner (11 June 1884 - May 1950) on 4 December 1907 at the Salvation Army Hall, Waipawa. Both Bob and Alice were Salvation Army Officers. 

The wedding of Bob Cobb and Alice Gardner.
Back row from left: George Arrow, Mary Hazelhurst, Bob Cobb & Alice Gardner, 
Mabel Gardner, Thomas Smith Jnr, Emily Gardner. 
Front: Clara Arrow (nee Gardner) with daughter, Jane Gardner/Smith, 
sitting on the ground is Fred Smith. 
Photo taken by Mrs Cobb, 1907.
(Photo courtesy of G J Bland)

Death of Mary 
Harriet visited her daughter Mary in Onga Onga in 1907, and took some lovely photographs of her with her baby son, Gordon Harvey Graham (6 Nov 1906 - 18 May 1987). The occasion may have been Gordon's christening. Around that time Mary contracted tuberculosis and suffered for some time with the effects of it. She passed away on 16 February 1908, aged 29. Harriet would have been comforted by the fact that Mary had a strong faith in God and believed that he would take her home to heaven. Mary was buried in Plot 58, Forest Gate Cemetery, Onga Onga, Hawkes Bay.

Harriet took several other photographs of her grandson Gordon in the years to follow. They can be viewed on Mary's page of this blog.

Snippets from 1908
Harriet would have attended, and probably photographed the wedding of her son Harold to Madoline (Madge) Edwards (30 June 1886 - 3 July 1991) on 29 July 1908 at the Trinity Methodist Church, Napier.

Harold and Madge Cobb, just prior to departing on their honeymoon,
29 July 1908. The photograph was probably taken by Harriet Cobb.

In September 1908 the Hastings Standard was advertising that Harriet's photographic studio was available for lease. At this point it is unclear where Harriet moved her studio to.

Although unverified, we expect the Mrs John Cobb of Napier mentioned in The Outlook, 21 November 1908, was actually Harriet. The name 'John' is likely to be a misprint. The article mentions that Mrs Cobb was selling photographs of some missionaries to raise funds for two mission boats. 

Women's Christian Temperance Union
By 1909 Harriet was heavily involved in the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) which was established in New Zealand in 1893, and was travelling to conduct meetings around the lower North Island. She was especially interested in the Band of Hope, the youth branch of the organisation, and actively sought helpers to support the work with children. Harriet was passionate about educating children about the effects of alcohol. She attended the 24th annual convention of the New Zealand branch of the WCTU which was held in Wellington 16-26 March 1909, and at the conference, reported on the work of the Band of Hope in New Zealand. It was later reported in the King Country Chronicle, 26 August 1911, that a Mrs Cobb was elected President of the newly formed Te Kuiti branch of the WCTU. It is yet to be confirmed if this refers to Harriet or another family member. 

Death of Emily Day
On the morning of 17 November 1909, Harriet's mother Emily passed away at Thoenburg, Granville Road, Boscombe. She was 83 years old. Her death is likely to have been the catalyst for Harriet's trip back to England the following year with her sons Alf and Jack, and grand-daughter Ruth (Alf's daughter). They returned to Wellington as second class passengers on the steamer Rotorua which was making its maiden voyage to New Zealand, departing London on 27 October 1910, stopping in Cape Town and Auckland en route to Wellington where the ship docked in early December the same year.

Death of Joseph
Joseph passed away at the family home on Friday morning, 17 March 1911, just a few days after his 70th birthday. He had been ill for only three days. His sudden passing came as a huge shock to his church friends, and no doubt, to Harriet and their children too as he had been active right up until his death. Harriet, the Cobb children, and a huge congregation of friends said their farewells to Joseph at the Trinity Methodist Church on Sunday evening, 19 March. He was laid to rest at the edge of Old Napier Cemetery over looking the Botanical Gardens. Harriet must have been touched by the many wonderful tributes given in Joseph's honour. After 44 years of marriage, life without her partner would have been quite an adjustment for Harriet.

After Joseph's death, Harriet initially carried on in the family business with several of her children, however, by August of 1911 she began to wind it up, and finally retired in September. 

The New Zealand Methodist Times reported that the Trinity Sunday School gave Harriet a farewell during the church service on 20 August 1911. She was presented with "some choice silver plate" and acknowledged for 22 years continuous service with the Sunday School along with leading other departments of the church. In January of 1912, the church forwarded a formal letter of appreciation to Harriet, to thank her for all the work she had done for the church in the various departments she was involved with.

After retiring Harriet moved around a bit, spending time with her various children in their homes. It seems that she spent a great deal of time in Palmerston North where several of her oldest sons had set up businesses. 

Harriet may have returned to Napier for her brother-in-law's funeral. Richard Lydford died in Napier on 22 October 1913, aged 64. He was buried at the Old Napier Cemetery, a short distance from Joseph's grave. 

Harriet didn't stop her church work in retirement! The New Zealand Herald 27 February 1914 reported that she was present at a Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) meeting, and made a speech.
Article image

In March 1914, Harriet was staying with her daughter Dorothy and her family, in Te Kuiti. While there, she left the following inspirational autograph for Dorothy:

Autographed message from Harriet to her daughter Dorothy, 1914.
(Courtesy of L Cobb)

World War 1 
The Great War had an immediate effect on Harriet. On 19 August 1914, exactly one week after the New Zealand government offered to send Expeditionary Forces to join the British war effort, her youngest son Jack, enlisted for service. He was a 22 year old carpenter. After two months of training, Jack departed with the Wellington Infantry Battalion when the first troopships sailed out of Wellington harbour on Friday morning, 16 October 1914. It is likely that many family members, including Harriet, were dockside when Jack and his comrades boarded their ship. Her mother's heart must have been full of trepidation knowing that she might never see her son again.

During 1915, Harriet lived with her son Bob and his wife Alice, in Morris Street, Palmerston North. Bob was a carpenter and Alice was a home-maker. While Harriet must have loved spending time with her two little grandchildren, there is no doubt that she would have been constantly thinking of her own boy, far away, on a scary battlefield. She would have hoped and prayed each day that God would protect him from all harm and danger. 

One day in early May, the postman delivered the dreaded news to Harriet. Jack had been under enemy fire and sustained a severe gunshot wound to his thigh on 27 April, two days after the ANZACs landed on the Gallipoli Penisula, Turkey. He had been evacuated by ship back to Egypt where he was recuperating in a military hospital. While Jack recovered from his injuries he wrote letters home to his family. Those letters must have been particularly treasured by Harriet. 

In spite of the war, and even though she was retired, Harriet was elected the 'Evangelistic Superintendent' of the WCTU in March 1917. It is not known what this role entailed but it appears that it was a national position. 

Shortly after taking on the WCTU role, Harriet received the tragic news that her 20 year old grandson, Private George L D Cobb (known as Lynch) had drowned in a freak accident on 27 May 1917, while serving with the New Zealand Medical Corps. A few weeks later, on 16 June, she received the worst news a mother could get. She was told that her son, Lieutenant Cobb (25), was missing, believed wounded. Less than a week later she was notified that regretfully he had been killed in action during the battle for Messine on 7 June. It must have been heartbreaking for Harriet to hear the news that her baby was dead and to know that she could never visit his grave. The following document was sent to Harriet to give her particulars about Jack's movements up until his death.

Official document sent to Harriet following the death of her son Jack in the war.
(Courtesy of G J Bland)

Harriet received the parchment commission of her son Jack on 9 January 1919. She was given his bronze memorial plaque on 29 November 1921.

A resilient woman
Harriet was a strong, resilient woman. In spite of losing her husband and a number of children during her lifetime, she continued to seek opportunities to serve and bless others. It is a certainty, that Harriet would have provided moral support to her son Percy after his wife Lottie passed away unexpectedly during the influenza epidemic, in November 1918, leaving three young daughters. 

It is noted that Harriet maintained her involvement with the WCTU throughout the war years and beyond. She was part of the committee that bought and ran Willard Home on Fitzherbert Street, Palmerston North. 
[Willard Home was opened in October 1917 and used to accomodate the family members of the New Zealand military personnel who were camped at the nearby Awapuni army camp.]

In 1919, Harriet was living at 200 Ferguson Street, Palmerston North. The same year it is reported that Mrs Cobb gave an interesting address at a WCTU meeting. She was also re-elected as 'Evangelistic Superintendant' in 1919. At the 1920 convention Harriet was described the superintendent of the Bible in Schools and Sabbath Observance Department.

Moving on
Bob and his family moved from Palmerston North in 1919. Harriet initially remained in Palmerston North, possibly to be of help to Percy and his daughters, but she later moved to New Plymouth where Bob was residing. The 1928 New Zealand Census records Harriet living at 158 Leach Street, in the central business district of New Plymouth. Her son Bob was also living in New Plymouth at the time but at a separate address. 

Harriet, in her later life. Date unknown.

Death of Harriet Harriet died on 18 December 1929 at her daughter Elsie's home in Church Street, Otahuhu, Auckland. She was 83 years old. Harriet was buried in the Otahuhu Cemetery on 20 December 1929. Later, Robert and Elsie Ashcroft and Robert's father were buried either side of her.

The graves of Robert and Elsie Ashcroft, Harriett Cobb and James Ashcroft.
(Photo by K Bland 2016)
From left: the grave of Robert and Elsie Ashcroft, Harriett Cobb's grave, James Ashcroft's grave.
(Photo by K Bland 2016)

Gravestone of Harriett Cobb in the Otahuhu Cemetery
which also mentions her husband, Joseph who was buried in Napier.
(Photo by K Bland 2016)
Some of Harriet's photographs can be seen at the blog Early New Zealand Photographers and Their Successors. Sadly, after her death, a couple of Harriet's grandsons destroyed many of her photographic plates.

Sources of information:
  • UK Census
  • White, Allen. (1966). Christchurch Photographers 1855-1915. Hurad Ltd, Christchurch, Hants.
  • Bournemouth Then and Now - John Peters, David Couling & Michael Ridley
  • # Newspaper clipping in a family album: The Death of Mrs J E Cobb in New Zealand and Reminiscences by her Brother W J Day (source unknown)
  • L Cobb
  • Photos from M Toy, J Henry, P Day, G J Bland

##Music in the Cobb family
It seems that the Cobb children were musical. There are several reports of the Cobb girl(s) singing solos. Miss Cobb is reported to have sung at the anniversary celebrations of the Trinity Methodist Church in October 1899, and in Waipu in November 1890 in a fundraiser for the local cricket club. A Miss Cobb sang 'By the Fountain' at a Trinity Church fundraiser in May 1901. One of Harriet's daughters was reported to have sung a "bright, cheerful solo" at the annual harvest festival at the Trinity Methodist Church in March 1902. It was said that she sang "effectively". Incidentally, the membership of the church was 120 in 1901.

Last updated on 30 December 2020

Calls to widen old streets - eg after buggy accident on Emerson Street in Jan 1892
See https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/HBH18920113.2.10

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