Friday, September 30, 2016

Hart or Ling

The last post raised some questions when attention was drawn to a 2000 Yearbook that captioned a picture as Tom Hart. Tom Hart and Jonathan Ling are usually mentioned together as early Bible Students in the London area in the 1880s.

The photograph on the left is Jonathan Ling and was supplied by his great granddaughter from family archives. If you check back in the blog you can see that the original is captioned with some family history details. The photograph on the right was sent to me as a picture of a much older Jonathan Ling from a German publication, but the above mentioned Yearbook says this is Tom Hart.

You can examine both pictures side by side here. Personally, looking at features like mouth and ears, they appear to be the same man but several decades apart. It would be all too easy to have material about Hart and Ling in a file and assume a photograph is one of them without corroborating evidence.

I could of course be wrong. Maybe Hart and Ling just looked alike. What do you think?


Andrew Martin said...

If they aren't of the same person, it's an amazing resemblance. It's the eyebrows that I noticed.

Then again, they could be twins separated at birth and raised separately (which actually happened to a brother across town from here).

Some CSI technology needed here! Thanks for the background information; it certainly makes your case.


Anonymous said...

Regarding the recent posts on this blog relating to the Hart/Ling pictures. My query is why Bernhard thought the picture he sent on was of Ling? i.e. What is the German publication that served as the source of his information? It may be possible to contact the publisher to check his/her source. Also, do we know please Jerome, how long Ling lived and whether he actually reached old age? I'm guessing he did as I know he had a large family.

For those that have it, the picture at Mill Hill that Andrew mentioned in the earlier set of posts appears in Tony Byatt's Reminiscences book on page 230. Tony would have known Tom's daughter Alice, who served faithfully at the London Bethel for many years. Knowing Tony and his great interest in theocratic history, even if, somehow, pictures of Ling and Tom Hart has become confused, I would be very surprised if Tony had not spotted this.

I agree there are similarities between the two pictures you have shared, but - as I also know from experience - cross matching pictures of individuals taken at differing times is notoriously difficult, especially where beards obscure the jaw line. I have played this game several times and admit to having reached erroneous conclusions on more than one occasion when later evidence came to light.

All good wishes
Son of Ton

roberto said...

Both Ling

jerome said...

I agree it is notoriously difficult to examine faces from different eras, especially when wearing beards. (I always look at ears...) I will leave it to Bernhard to give the German reference, which could of course, be wrong. I know the German writer asked permission to use the picture at some point. But all we know for certain is that the younger man IS Ling - who according to the original caption on the photo supplied by a descendant, died in 1922. As for Tony Byatt, he of course knew a branch of the descendant family when in London. But he left London in 1977 and published his book in 2012. He could have simply copied from the 2000 Watchtower reference, and unless anyone showed him a photo earlier would have been none the wiser. And the photo could well have come from his contacts in London Bethel. They of course have the photo labelled as Tom Hart anyway, but the question is - did someone there in years gone by a mistake in captioning?

I really don't know. I know that the photo of Ling the Younger can be used in the Separate Identity series if the authors wish to - permission has been given for that. If they wanted to use the picture of (Whoever) the Older, they would have to ask permission from the Watchtower Society, and at that point could ask the obvious question if they chose.

All the best

Anonymous said...

In case anyone is inclined to misunderstand what I am about to say, can I firstly say how much I like a nicely groomed beard. It has never worked for me personally, but I have always thought that if it was good enough for Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Russell it couldn't be too bad a thing. However, when it comes to calculating the ages of men In photos I rather wish these had been unshaven.

I have always thought that the picture believed to be of Tom Hart was of quite a frail old man with a top hat and cane. If, as I understand it, some kind of clerical error may have been made at some point and the picture is actually of an older Jonathan Ling, we must conclude that the man with a top hat and cane is under 64 years of age for Ling lived, I believe, between 1858 and 1922. Out of interest, do you have a date of death for Tom Hart please Jerome? I think you stated earlier that he was born c. 1853.

With thanks
Son of Ton

P.S. In all fairness and recognition of the aging effect of beards, I should mention that my younger 22 year old son has recently shaved off his beard. With it he looked a mature 30 year old, but without it he seems fresh out of school!

Miquel Angel Plaza-Navas said...

Difficult!!! It seems that his nose is a little different in both pictures. May be different men?

Miquel Angel

jerome said...

To Son of Ton - I don't have a problem with someone in their 60s with a beard looking old around a hundred years ago - see the last few pictures of Charles Taze Russell for an example. I do not know when Tom Hart died. All I know is gleaned from material written by Bruce and Rachael that says he was born in Calcutta in 1853. Even with this information, there are just too many Tom Hart's in Ancestry to pinpoint him without further information. It would be useful to know, even without the current query.

Maybe inquiries in Germany will answer the question definitively. Although I somehow doubt it.

Andrew Martin said...

Jerome - you might be in the best position to know the answer to my question - or at least to be able to find out the answer:

Was Alice Hart still alive when the 2000 Yearbook was compiled?

If not, was she alive when the display was created at Mill Hill Bethel?


Bernhard Brabenec said...

The book titled "Jehovas Zeugen in Europa", Band 2 von Gerhard Besier, Katarzyna Stoklosa. Besier is a historian and not a witness. He used this photo with permission from the British Branch and attached the name Jonathan Ling. Maybay he made a mistake. I will try to contact him and will ask if the information came from the Bethel or he done wrong.

Anonymous said...

Unlike Jerome I no longer have an Ancestry subscription and when I did, alas, I was not so skilled at using it as he. I do recall however checking the 1911 census and noting that that Alice Hart was then a member of the Bethel family. Even so, the Life Story of Alice Hart appeared in w62 310-313 and in this she stated that she was born in 1892, so would not have survived until 2000 to have verified the photo on display as being that of her father, although it may have been left to the Branch office as part of her archive. This reasoning still is far from definitive. Individuals rarely name other family members pictured in photos since they obviously know who the subject is. Surviving family inherit the photos, sometimes with no idea at all who is pictured.

As regards the German book, Besier is a very well respected historian and I am sure would not have attributed the picture to Ling without reason. I look forward to the two "Jehovah's Witnesses in Europe" books eventually becoming available in English. I understand that the first book will be available soon.

Must get ready for the meeting now.

Son of Ton

jerome said...

I am sure that Besier did not make a mistake. Whether the person who gave him permission to use a photo made a mistake is the 64 thousand dollar question. We are about evenly matched but in the "is he?" "isn't he?" stakes, I still think it is Ling. But of course am happy to be proved wrong. What it does show is the importance of getting photographs properly identified before the key personnel have gone. We had my wife's grandmother spend her last year with us over 30 years ago and went through boxes and boxes of photographs of unknown faces and she identified nearly all and we wrote in pencil on the back. So glad we did. Although an historian might still demand more "proof".

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Donald Jacobs said...

Byatt says it's Tom Hart on page 230 of his London history, but he's probably just following the 2000 yearbook.

jerome said...

As soon as I received the photograph captioned "Ling" (and before I realized there was going to be any question as to the photo's identity) I sent a copy to the Ling descendant who had kindly supplied the portrait of Ling as a younger man. I received a delayed email today, thanking me and making this comment:

"It looks like an older Jonathan Ling and definitely has the Ling nose."

Andrew Martin said...

"Surrender, Mill Hill!"


jerome said...

Bernhard has just emailed after hearing from Gerhard Besier. He writes:

Good morning ....indeed it is a good morning: end of discussion. It is Ling not Hart! You can see the statement from Besier, the yearbook is wrong ... So that means, we have 2 photos from Ling and none from Hart.

The explanatory chain of emails is all in German, which alas I cannot read. Perhaps Bernhard could give us some more information here, if there is more information to share.

What it shows is that, once a mistake is made in even a minor matter, then it is so easy for it to just take over. One is reminded of one of the closing lines in "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (John Ford movie) - "This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

Andrew Martin said...

Jerome, do you want me to try my hand at the German, if Bernhard is pressed for time?

jerome said...

Bernhard has given the OK for you to see the correspondence, so I have forwarded it back-channel. Most of it relates to other matters.