The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Mrs George Baden Crawley and child

Mrs George Baden Crawley and child

Identified in the Silvy daybooks as 'Mrs G.B. Crawley', this is the wife of George Baden Crawley (1833-1879), sportsman and railway contractor. George Crawley planned and carried out two railways in Belgium, two railways in Spain, a railway from Vera Cruz to Mexico City, and a railway of nearly 300 miles from Tiflis to Poti. His last work was a railway from Ploesti in Romania to Cronstadt in Hungary. He was accidentally killed on a steamer off the coast of Mexico on 23 November 1879. His body was brought back to England and he was buried in Highgate Cemetery on 1 January 1880.

In 1863 George Baden Crawley married Eliza Inez Hulbert (died 1913), the daughter of Henry Hulbert of East Farleigh in Kent. The couple had at least seven children: George Abraham Crawley (1864-1926), Henry Ernest Crawley (1865-1931), Eustace Crawley (1868-1914), John Kenneth Crawley (1873-1943), Arthur Stafford Crawley (1876-1948), Caroline Inez Crawley (married 1893, died 1920), and Georgina Beatrice Crawley (died 1968).

Given the date of Mrs Crawley's visit to Silvy's studio, the infant must be George Abraham Crawley. [His brother Henry Ernest Crawley was born on 19 August 1865, four months after this portrait was taken.] Born in London on 24 June 1864, George's earliest days were spent at Fitzroy Farm, Highgate, a house which his grandfather had built. He became a designer and decorator; his office was at one time in the Flat Iron Building in New York. Basil Dighton said that he 'never met anyone who had such a profound knowledge as George Crawley of the styles of all periods of decorative art. He could sit down at a moment's notice and design a Daniel Marot mantling of a coat of arms, a finely engraved Queen Anne silver lock, an Elizabethan fire-dog, a Henry VIII elaborately panelled room, or anything else that one's fancy desired.' The same source, a biography privately printed after his death, adds that 'He possessed the soul of an Italian artist-craftsman of the Renaissance. His appreciation of "beautiful things" was the inspiration of his life's work.'

The biography also gives a picture of Mrs Crawley in later life: 'She was a perfect hostess, kindly and warm-hearted, and her children and their friends were always welcome. Her energy and "joie de vivre" enabled her, even in old age, to throw herself with enthusiasm into the interests of the young. She was an excellent musician with a charming voice, which her children and grandchildren have inherited, and she inspired and led the music that was always a feature of her entertaining at shooting parties, cricket matches, and family gatherings.'

On 15 September 1913 The Times informed its readers that 'Mrs Eliza Inez Pringle of Rutland Gate, formerly of Broke Hall, Nacton, near Ipswich, widow of Rear-Admiral George Elliot Pringle, R.N., and relict of Mr George Baden Crawley, left estate valued at £76,528 gross, with net personality £56,667.' At the time of her death she was aged 72, so she was born in or about 1841.

Photographed by Camille Silvy on 12 April 1865.


Code: 122894
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