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The Wingfield Connection Part 4 – The Resolution

Posted by on November 19, 2012

In my last post I wondered why these relics that seem only to pertain to the Wingfield family have ended up in my possession.  This is my belief as to why and how this happened.

The links between the families have been strong in the past and the 1881 census describes Sarah Brittain (Hanshew) as being Emma Wingfield’s husband’s cousin although I cannot identify the actual family link.

Both families have roots in Watford, Hertfordshire.  Joseph Wingfield (1778-1857) was born there although he is well settled, farming in Sarratt by 1816 when he is appointed as parish overseer.  When his daughter Rebecca is painted by Joseph Hanshew, Sarah Hanshew has left Watford for Lambeth and marriage to John Brittain (1809-1885).  I assume this is the same John Brittain who is a witness at the marriage of Rebecca’s brother, Joseph Wingfield (1815-1873), to Emma Lane in 1857 although John and Sarah also have a son, John (1831-1859).  This same Sarah is buried with this Joseph in 1883 having lived with Emma Wingfield (Lane) from at least 1871 to 1881 and most probably until her death.

Following the census returns for Emma Wingfield through the ages I see that Emma also shared her home with Sarah’s daughter Emma Elizabeth Brittain, sister to my great-grandmother.  Emma Wingfield died in 1898; unfortunately as I cannot find the 1891 census return for either Emma I cannot be sure that Emma Elizabeth stayed with Emma Wingfield until her death.  In 1911 Emma Elizabeth is living in Wimbledon and is described as being a mother’s help.


To my dear sister Rhoda from your affectionate sister Emma Elizabeth Brittain. This likeness was taken Oct 18th 1870 my age being 16 years

Although my great-grandmother Rhoda Emma Elizabeth’s sister, died in 1904 I believe that Emma Elizabeth eventually lived with her daughter, Emily Maud, my grandmother.  My mother, born in 1914, remembered a great-aunt Emma living with them for a time, possibly until her death in 1922, and her photograph is one of the few she was able to confidently identify.

Emma Brittain from mum's photo album

Aunt Emma Brittain from my mother’s photo alum

It seems most likely that the paper documents arrived via the two Emmas, Wingfield and Brittain.  As Joseph and Emma had no children and Rebecca never married this branch of the Wingfield family ended in 1898.  I like to think that Rebecca’s portrait also arrived this way, in some sense returned to the family of the artist.

One curiosity that I would like to resolve concerns Emma Lane herself.  In 1861 Ebenezer Joseph Brittain married an Emma Lane before in 1864 marrying Louisa Maria Raven Rowe with whom he immigrated to America.  It is possible that Emma (Lane) Wingfield and Emma (Lane) Brittain are aunt and niece but I find that there are two Lane families in London about this time, one in 1851 living close to the Brittains, however I cannot link Emma Wingfield to them ……yet.


2 Responses to The Wingfield Connection Part 4 – The Resolution

  1. anne

    I know this is a long shot, but I was hoping this was still an active site. My Great Great Grandfather was Ebenezer Joseph Brittain and Great Great Mother was Louisa Maria Raven Rowe. We do not have much information on them expect what we have found on line. I have seen a photo of EB Brittain. We we wondering if anyone had a photo of Louisa, we can not find anything. Thank you.

    • Barbara Selby

      Hi Anne, I’m afraid I don’t have a photo of Louisa, at least not one I can identify. Do you know Victoria Brittain? She is also Ebe’s great grand-daughter. My best guess is that there might be publicity photos from her acting days but I haven’t found any myself. Best wishes Barbara

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