The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Agnes Anne Strutt

Agnes Anne Strutt

A carte-de-visite portrait of Agnes Anne Strutt (1827-1900), wife of the cotton manufacturer and philanthropist George Henry Strutt. Born at Prescot in Lancashire in 1827, she was the daughter of Edward Ashton. She and George were married at Belper on 15 September 1846. The marriage produced four children but the youngest died in infancy. Agnes died in 1900.

The Strutt family were wealthy cotton manufacturers based at Belper in Derbyshire. Their cotton empire was established by Jedediah Strutt (1785–1854), a towering figure in the history of the Industrial Revolution. He patented the Derby Rib machine and, together with Richard Arkwright, he built the first cotton mill driven by water power. Eventually there were eight Strutt mills at Belper and by the mid-nineteenth century the town’s population had grown to ten thousand.

Jedediah’s great-great-grandson George Henry Strutt was born in 1826. On 15 September 1846 he married Agnes Ann Ashton, daughter of Edward Ashton of Prescot, Lancashire. The couple had four children: Susan Agnes Strutt (1847-1894), Lucy Frances Strutt (1850-1914), George Herbert Strutt (1854-1928) and Clara Strutt (1861-1863). The family lived at Bridge Hill House in Belper.

George’s philanthropic undertakings included the construction of Christ Church, Belper (completed in 1850) and a substantial stone vicarage; the conversion of a building in Belper into a cottage hospital for convalescent mill workers (1870); the paving of the town’s market place (1880); and the donation of a fire engine to the town (1889). A commemorative fountain was erected by the townspeople to recognise his contributions to the town but it was never connected to a water supply. Perpetually dry, it still stands today.

Photographed in 1861 by an unknown photographer. The date is written on the back of the mount in a period hand. The backplate is that of the Belper photographer Thomas Barker Mellor but since he would only have been 12 years old in 1861, this series of portraits must have been taken by someone else and copied some years later by Mellor at the behest of a member of the Strutt family.


Code: 125957
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