Who were the family in these photos?

Submitted by David on Sun, 02/25/2024 - 11:00
People at Deep Water Bay golf course

We've seen this group before - I used this photo of them in my latest book. From left to right we have Cedric, Maud, Father, Lewis, Mr Hosie, Mrs Duncan, and Annie. The photo is dated to 1 Jan 1916, and shows them taking a break from playing golf at Deepwater Bay.

I bought it on eBay as part of a bundle of this family's photos. Let's take a look at their other photos and see what else we can find out about them.

Living & working

In the book I'd identified the men in the group as working for the Dock Company at Hung Hom, as Jurors Lists from that time show both Mr Hosie and Mr Duncan were working there. None of the other photos show men at work, but several show people in front of homes.

Many of the Dock Company's men lived in company accommodation on the site - did the family live there too? Here's a photo from a different source that shows the Company's quarters along Bulkeley Street in Hung Hom.

Kowloon - Unknown
Quarters, by hfsiu


One of the family's photos shows Annie in front of a building that is certainly very solid, but isn't an exact match for the quarters shown above:

'Passport to Canton ??? ????'
'Passport to Canton ??? ????'

Then there are several photos taken in front of a third style of building. The buildings in the previous two photos have all-stone balustrades around their terraces and verandas, but this third building uses decorated ironwork.

'Me at our garden gate.'
'Me at our garden gate'


'Maud on garden stairs'
'Maud on garden stairs'


It's hard to know where those two were taken, but at last this photo of Cedric has signs of a dockyard. 

'From votre frere Cedric'
'From votre frere Cedric'

On the left of the photo there is a ship in the background. It is at a very low level, suggesting it was in a dry dock.

The photo was taken during the First World War, explaining Cedric's dressing up as a young soldier. His handwritten note, 'From votre frere Cedric' suggests he was learning French (votre frere = your brother), and was sending this to a brother or sister living overseas.

The last photo of this building also has a clear dockyard connection, as the two boys are sitting on a mooring bollard at the corner of a sea wall.

'To Flo with love from Annie'
'To Flo with love from Annie'

Does anyone recognise whether the second and third buildings also belonged to the dockyard at Hung Hom?

On the water

We get a photo of 'father's launch' K3, and a close-up of its interior.

'Fathers launch K3 at Deep Water Bay. Just finishing Tiffin.'
'Fathers launch K3 at Deep Water Bay. Just finishing Tiffin.'


'Sept 3 1916 passing Aberdeen'
'Sept 3 1916 passing Aberdeen'

It shows Lewis in the background, then L-R are Mrs Morris, Mrs Duncan, and Annie, then in the front row are Maud, Mr Duncan, and Mr Morris.

The launch also had its own wooden rowing boat, the Maud.

'Rowing ashore in the "Maud" Repulse Bay'
'Rowing ashore in the "Maud" Repulse Bay'



Apart from playing golf, there are also several photos of the family playing tennis on different occasions. (Or at least, photos of them dressed to play tennis!)

'Duncan's tennis party 15-7-1???'
'Duncan's tennis party 15-7-1???'

Standing L-R are Mr Morris, Mr Cartwright, and Father. Annie, Mrs Morris, Mrs Duncan and Maud are sitting on chairs, and Lewis and Cedric are sitting on the ground.

'Maud on the tennis court'
'Maud on the tennis court'


'Father  Mrs Richardson  Mr Richardson  Annie  Maud'
'Father  Mrs Richardson  Mr Richardson  Annie  Maud'


'To Herbert from Father'
'To Herbert from Father'

This last photo shows there was occasionally some exercise involved! The match was Mrs Richardson & Father vs. Mr Richardson & Annie, but it is the photo's background that is more interesting to me.

In the distance in the upper centre of the scene there is a large wall with dark rectangles along its top. I remember seeing a similar wall in Kowloon Park. It is easily missed, but if you look to your right just before leaving the park to cross the footbridge to Hong Kong China City, you'll see a small section of wall with rectangles cut into it near the top.

That's part of the original wall around the Kowloon West Battery. It had loopholes cut into it for British soldiers to fire their rifles through. (If you walk up the steps by that wall you'll come to the Kowloon Park Discovery Playground. It is built on the site of the battery, and the old gun emplacements are still clear to see.)

There were also a Kowloon East Battery and a Kowloon Dock Battery, both built on the headland at Hung Hom near to the dockyard. I think it's the wall of Kowloon Dock Battery that we can see behind the tennis court.

The other clue is on the right of the photo. Just outside the tennis court wall there is a tall post with a dark, diamond shape attached to it. That showed ships where telegraphic cables ran across the harbour between Kowloon and Hong Kong, and alerted them not to drop their anchors there in case they damaged the cables. We know that posts like these were on the Hung Hom peninsula, just next to the dockyard.

With all the connections to Hung Hom I feel pretty confident that father worked for the dockyard, but ...

What was father's name?

Here are the clues I can see:

  • He worked for the Dock Company and must have been a senior member of the staff if he had his own launch. (Though it was K3 not K1, so he probably wasn't the most senior.)
  • There is no mention of 'Mother'.
  • Father looks pretty old to have sons as young as Cedric and Lewis, so either he had a younger / second wife (Annie or Maud?), or the boys are his grandsons or other relatives.
  • The photo of the tennis match has the note 'To Herbert from Father', of the mooring bollard says 'To Flo with love from Annie', and of Maud on the tennis court says 'To Flo, Herbert & Denis'. Were they more children away at boarding school, or was Herbert married to Flo with a son Denis?
  • Family members include Annie, Cedric, Denis, Flo, Herbert, Lewis, and Maud.

Maybe some of Gwulo's experts at tracing family trees can find the pattern that links those names?

Meanwhile, I'll turn to the 1917 Jurors List, as Father should be one of the names listed there. 

  1. I searched the list for all people giving Dock Co. or Dock Company as their employer. Found 89 names.
  2. Deleted any people with junior positions, i.e. Assistant, Blacksmith, Boatswain, Boilermaker, Clerk, Engineer (but kept Superintendent Engineer), Gateman, Shipbuilder (but keep Superintendent Shipbuilder), Storekeeper, Timekeeper. 33 names left.
  3. Deleted Mr Duncan and Mr Hosie, as they're shown in photos with father. 31 names left.
  4. Look at any Special Jurors, as they're usually the senior men in a company. There are two:
    1. Robert Morton Dyer, Chief Manager
      • As far as I can tell he had no children, as his will was made out to his brothers and sisters (Carl Smith Card 96765).
    2. Hedley Graham White, Shipwright
      • He looked possible initially as he married an Annie Peacock in Shanghai in 1907 (CS Card 151937). But they had a son in 1913 (CS Card 152059) and as I don't see a 3-4 year-old in the photos I've counted him out too.

Unfortunately, I still haven't managed to pin down the family name of this group. I'll include the list of the remaining 29 names at the bottom of this page, and hopefully Google will send us someone who recognises the names and / or photos.

Further reading:

Bonus photos:

The family travelled to and from the UK via the Suez Canal, and took these photos.

'Bungalows at Suez end of Canal'
'Bungalows at Suez end of Canal'


'Entrance to the Bitter Lakes'
'Entrance to the Bitter Lakes'


'Herbert a camp Oct 1915 - Judean Camp Suez Canal'
'Herbert a camp Oct 1915 - Judean Camp Suez Canal'


Suez Canal
Suez Canal

The last photo shows graffiti on the side of the canal, 'Here we are again', and the names London and Paris on the two huts!

Potential names for 'Father' from the 1917 Jurors List

If you can eliminate any of these people (e.g. not married, wrong age, etc.), please leave a comment below.

  Family name Given name(s) Occupation Reason
1 Allan John Niven Rodger Draughtsman  
2 Atkinson Clark Shipwright  
3 Brown Wilson Foreman Joiner  
4 Brown James Joiner  
5 Coleman Frederick Charles Electrician Photo shows he wasn't 'father', see https://gwulo.com/media/28851
6 Crispin Charles Foreman Shipwright  
7 Crossan Thomas Shipwright  
8 Davison William Foreman Shipwright  
9 Dick James Gold Sawmiller  
10 Ford William Fanlkner Harbour Foreman Engineer  
11 Garraway James Graham Foreman Engineer  
12 Graham William James Supt. Shipbuilder  
13 Gray Samuel Foreman Turner  
14 Henderson George Shipwright  
15 Keith David Shipwright  
16 Lambert William Osborne Draughtsman  
17 Martin James Draughtsman  
18 McIntosh James Stewart Draughtsman  
19 Neave Thomas Superintendent Engineer Children's names don't match, see https://gwulo.com/node/39268
20 Neilson Donald McLaren Foreman Boilermaker  
21 Nicholson Alfred Superintendent Engineer  
22 Oliver Peter Moulder  
23 Ramsay Joseph Marshall Supt Shipbuilder  
24 Scott Harry Hodge Draughtsman  
25 Steele David Shipwright  
26 Taylor William Pattern-maker  
27 Tucker Alfred Head Watchman  
28 Tulip Wilfred Draughtsman  
29 Watson James Master, “David Gillies”  


I've been doing a little bit of searching through passenger lists on Ancestry and came across a possible family - The Grahams travelling to HK on the Namur in 1916.  Mrs R.A, Miss A, James and Lewis.  The boys are about the right ages, so I thought I'd look further and found a 1911 Census which gives James's full name as James Albert Cedric Graham.

Full census details:

Living in Wallsend.

Rachel Annie Graham Head single aged 26

Emily sister 24 single

Lily Isabella sister 22 single

Flora sister 18 single

Alice Maud sister 16 single

James Albert Cedric brother 8

Lewis P. J. A brother 4

Lewis is listed as being born in Kowloon, Hong Kong and resident. British subject by parentage.

James Albert Cedric was born in Northumberland, Risehill.

Civil parish Wallsend
County/Island Northumberland
Country England
Street Address 7 Park View Wallsend
Registration District Number 559
Sub-registration district Wallsend
ED, institution, or vessel 06
Piece 30712

A bit more research suggests the father is James William Graham, who is listed as a shipyard manager when one of his sons was married in 1914.  Some records (not yet verified) suggest he was born in about 1865.

A very minor technical point. That's not a mooring bollard but a powered warping roller - a sort of winch. Basically a rope from a ship you're trying to move into or out of or along a dock is led multiply around the roller, which is driven by a power source (here possibly electric or by remote shaft drive from an engine house - you can see it stands on a raised plinth and is able to rotate on its base (under which the rotating mechanism lies)). 


David - James Herbert Swan 'Cubby'  Duncan lived as a child at Hung Hom. Would have been born early 1900s. Pretty sure his father George was with Kowloon Docks. He may be the Herbert referred to, and may have been away at school at this time. Might help with your sleuthing!    -Geoff

The building with the Iron Balustrade is in Hung Hom Dockyards on a point between No 1 Dock and Victoria Harbour. The HK Maritime Museum identifies the building as Headquarters for the Hong Kong and Whampoa Dockyard I created a place for it here

This photo of the empress of India shows the same buildings in the background of the photo titled 'From Votre Frere Cedric"

empress of india c1901
empress of india c1901, by Paulo

The building survived into the 1930s - it was likely destroyed during the bombing in WW2 as the site was left empty well after the war. 

Photo of building upper left in 1902:

HMS Terrible in Kowloon Dock
HMS Terrible in Kowloon Dock, by Admin

HMS Hermes in Dockyard - building can be seen lower far right:

HMS Hermes in drydock hung Hom
HMS Hermes in drydock hung Hom, by Herostratus

Another photo of the building in the 1930s:

Hung Hom Dockyards
Hung Hom Dockyards, by Herostratus

Zooming in on this photo shows the same balustrade design:

Hung hom dockyards headquarters house
Hung hom dockyards headquarters house, by Herostratus


This photo from the 1890s shows the Headquarters building in the background 

HMS Powerful in No1 Dock
HMS Powerful in No1 Dock , by Herostratus


Here is the positive print of the Hung Hom dockyards headquarters house that Herostratus posted recently. 

Hung hom dockyards headquarters house (positive print)
Hung hom dockyards headquarters house (positive print), by Klaus

Shows the management team and foremen of the dockyard.

Possibly the third person from the left is Mr. Duncan (the only one with a moustache). I think none of the other persons that appear on the family's photo sits in first row, probably also not "father".

Mr. Duncan
Mr. Duncan, by Klaus

I've made a page for James William Graham, the 'Father' in the photos above.

I suggested above that Herbert may have been J W Graham's son, and married to Flo. J W Graham's will explains I have them the wrong way around - Flora was his daughter, who had married Herbert Briggs.

Thanks also to J W Graham's grandson (also named James) for getting in touch with corrections and extra information:

Your comment about second wife is incorrect. Jane died in 1912 in England and he never remarried.

Maud met her future husband on the journey out and married in 1922 shortly after returning from H K.

Annie married Eric John Wolston Beard who she met in HK. 

Here's a closeup of the area that @herostratus has identified:

Buildings at the southeast end of the dockyard
Buildings at the southeast end of the dockyard, by Admin
  • A: Main House / Office
  • B: Tennis court
  • C: Building with distinctive roof
  • D: Chimney

The photo of Annie and the two boys has the Main House / Office in the background:

'To Flo with love from Annie'
'To Flo with love from Annie', by Admin


The photo of the tennis match shows the tennis court, and the building with the distinctive roof left of centre:

'To Herbert from Father'
'To Herbert from Father', by Admin


Finally the photo of Maud also shows the tennis court, but was taken at a different angle so we can see the chimney at the left:

'Maud on the tennis court'
'Maud on the tennis court', by Admin

The two photos: 'Bungalows at Suez end of Canal' and 'Entrance to Bitter Lakes' are of what are known as Signal Stations that, when the canal first opened and through until after WW2, were ten km apart on the west bank (up which the telegraph line ran). The ones that have survived have not hugely changed in the decades since. The Suez end signal station has now disappeared with the development of Port Suez, though can be spotted on the old Admiralty chart 233. The station near the Bitter Lakes may have been either el Kabrit or Deversoir, depending on whether the 'entrance' was from the south (el Kabrit) or the north (Deversoir). I've discounted el Gineifa because there is a photo in the the Australian National Library (https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-148998584/view) and it doesn't really fit. If the image resolution is good enough, the large rectangular white sign at the end of the jetty should have the station's name.