Doctor “R” Of H.M.S. Penelope

Dr R HMS Penelope cdv1Dr R HMS Penelope cdv2

Carte de Visite. Circa 1869 – 1880. Photographer:  William Vick, London Road, Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain.

Price:  $20.00       Size:  About 2 and 1/2 x 4 and 1/8″

See the update below for the name of the sitter…..thanks to one of our readers.

This is a Carte de Visite showing a photo of a gentleman posing for a formal portrait:  A pensive pose, with a book in his right hand and chin lightly resting on his left; seated next to, and with elbow resting on a small end table. His name appears on the back but is difficult to decipher:  The first word clearly looks like “Dr.” with the last name starting with “R.” Underneath the name is written  “H.M.S. ‘Penelope.’ ”
(The back of the card was darkened a little in the scanning process, to better show the wording.)

There were nine ships of the British Royal Navy bearing the name Penelope. This particular vessel was the fifth of nine; an armoured courvette (small warship) or ironclad that was launched in 1867 and broken up in 1912. An ironclad was a steam-propelled warship that was protected by iron or steel plates. This Penelope was the last ironclad to be commissioned in the Royal Navy.

HMS Penelope

Though the identity of the man in the photo was not found, that of photographer, William Vick of London Road, Ipswich was. He appears with his wife and children in the 1871 and 1891 England Census, and in directory listings ranging from 1874 – 1892. The 1874 directory shows Clarkson St., Ipswich, but starting in 1875 he is listed on London Road; the same address that appears on the back of this Carte de Visite. A more detailed post about the photographer will go up after this one.

UPDATE:  The subject of the photo is most likely the Reverend Doctor Bartholomew Ring, LL.D. (1825-1903). See the very informative comment from a reader, who has also replied with more information on the photographer.

Sources:  Census Returns of England and Wales, 1871. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1871. Class: RG10; Piece: 1750; Folio: 5; Page: 1; GSU roll: 830780. (

Census Returns of England and Wales, 1891. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1891. Class: RG12; Piece: 1466; Folio: 67; Page: 1; GSU roll: 6096576(

HMS Penelope. n.d. (accessed February 10, 2015).

HMS Penelope (1867). n.d. (accessed February 10, 2015).

White’s Professional and Commercial Advertising Directory, 1874. p. 135. ( UK, City and County Directories, 1766-1946.)

The Post Office Directory of Suffolk, 1875. p. 854. ( UK, City and County Directories, 1766-1946.)

2 thoughts on “Doctor “R” Of H.M.S. Penelope

  1. This carte de visite may well have been produced in 1869 or 1870. I have a portrait of a girl (probably Maggie Paton of Ipswich) with a similar design on the back, which has been positively dated to early 1870. There are a couple of differences: mine lacks the striated swirls of yours and the number 12047 is written in a blank space at the top left, ironically where yours has “No” followed by a vacant line of dots.

    I believe the sitter is the Revd Dr Bartholomew Ring, LL.D. (1825-1903). He was a Royal Navy chaplain, stationed with H.M.S. Penelope at Harwich, Essex, according to entries on pages 574 and 550 in Thom’s Irish Almanac and Official Directory of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for the year 1870 (compiled towards the end of 1869). Free access is provided by the HathiTrust Digital Library ( Ancestry has catalogued “Thom´s Official Directory of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland” under a browsable collection called “Ireland, City and Regional Directories, 1836-1947”. The 1868 and 1869 editions (seen only at Ancestry) also locate Dr Ring at Harwich, but with H.M.S. Pembroke, while H.M.S. Penelope is elsewhere. In the 1871 edition he is with H.M.S. Bristol but the 1871 census (RG 10/2140, folio 43, line 10) and Crockford’s Clerical Directory for 1874 (pages 733 & 734) put him aboard H.M.S. Indus at Devonport, Devon.

    A sermon he preached at Harwich in 1868, entitled The National Schools and the National Church, seems to have been printed initially in 1868 by Palmer of London (Crockford’s Clerical Directory, 1874, page 734) and again at Ipswich by Henry Knights, possibly in 1870 ( when the Education Act introduced a different system of elementary schools.

    In 1866, on his departure from Scotland to take up a new post after serving as chaplain of H.M.S. Lion, a local newspaper reported: “The rev. gentleman, during a residence of over four years in Greenock, has, by his zeal and affability, made for himself a large circle of attached friends” (Greenock Advertiser, 29 December, page 2, column 5).

    He died at his home in Bath, Somerset, on Saturday 7 March 1903. If the day of his death and the spelling of his forename are its only errors, an obituary published in the Bath Chronicle on Thursday 12 March (page 3, column 6) is worth copying in full:

    “We regret to announce the death of the Rev. Batholomew Ring, LL.D., chaplain R.N., which took place at his residence, 4, Bathwick Street, Bath, this morning. Dr. Ring graduated in honours from Trinity College, Dublin, of which he was a scholar, in 1853, and entered the Royal Navy as chaplain in 1855. His Naval services included the Russian and Chinese wars, for which he received the Baltic medal, and the Chinese medal with the Canton clasp. After services in the Baltic, China, Mediterranean, and West Indies, he acted as chaplain of Pembroke Dock Yard and Haslar Hospital, and (after his retirement from Active Service) as British Chaplain at Caen from 1885 to 1890. He was appointed to the Rectory of Greystead, Northumberland, by the Lords of the Admiralty in 1891, retiring in 1901, when he received many tokens of respect and affection. Dr. Ring was an eminent Freemason, and a P. P. Grand Chaplain, and was also Chaplain of the Bath Lodge of Honour. Since leaving Greystead, Dr. Ring has resided in this city, where he was much respected, especially by the congregation of St. Mary’s where he often assisted in the services. Dr. Ring leaves a wife and two daughters to lament their loss.”

    The funeral was held on that Thursday and reported at length in the Bath Chronicle a week later (19 March 1903, page 2, column 5). “Bartholomew Ring; Born 12th July, 1825; Died 7th March, 1903” was inscribed on the coffin. The chief mourners were his two daughters, “Miss Ring and Miss Mildred Ring”, and two nephews, “the Rev. T. P. Ring (rector of Rawmarsh, Rotherham) and Mr. G. A. Ring (Attorney-General for the Isle of Man)”.

    The Ring family’s gravestone inscriptions (with a death date of 2 March for Bartholomew) are supplemented by data from other sources on pages 144 and 145 of the Bathwick Local History Society’s document, “St Mary the Virgin, Bathwick – Smallcombe Cemetery …” (Section B) at

    Theophilus Percy Ring (1849-1927) is included in several Ancestry subscribers’ family trees, along with his brother George Alfred (c.1851-1927) and their father Cornelius Percy Ring (c.1815–1881). Cornelius’s father is absent (although named as Bartholomew in the marriage register of St Olave, Southwark, in 1846) and I see no trace of Dr Bartholomew Ring in any of those trees.

    Findmypast has the 1924 edition of Alumni Dublinenses, which shows that three sons of Bartholomew Ring (a farmer or gentleman) were admitted to Ireland’s Trinity College Dublin: Patrick and Cornelius Percy in 1833 (both aged 21 and born at Cork) and Bartholomew at the age of 20 in 1846 (born in County Cork).

    I hope these details will help to bring Dr Ring a new berth.

    • Thanks ever so much, David. It appears you have solved the mystery of the identity of the man in the portrait! Many thanks for the wealth of information and links!

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