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Elizabeth Leighton Brown fonds (P721)

Vers 1850-1927. - 6.4 cm of textual records. - 868 photographs.

Administrative History - Biographical Sketch:

Elizabeth Leighton Brown (1891-1958) was the daughter of Fayette Brown, an American athlete who set a record for the 100 metres while studying at Yale University. Fayette Brown left the United States and moved to Montreal with his family (in 1900, they lived at 283 Mountain Street) to manage an insurance company. Elizabeth, nicknamed Libby, travelled extensively in Europe and the United States throughout her childhood and teenage years. She had one sister, Dorothy (born in 1887).

In June 1915, Elizabeth married Harold Hingston (1888-1965). Her husband's father, William Hales Hingston (1829-1907), was a medical doctor with degrees from McGill University and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. His innovative operating methods made him one of the most famous surgeons of his time. He also served as Mayor of Montreal from 1875 to 1877, and he was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1895.

Although Harold was Catholic and "Libby" was Protestant, he was determined for them to marry without her having to convert to Catholicism. His mother, Margaret Joséphine McDonald, persuaded Archbishop Paul Bruchési to grant the couple special dispensation to marry. While expecting their first son, Elizabeth moved to London to be near her husband, who had joined the Irish Canadian Rangers during the First World War. There she gave birth to her two children: Harold William, nicknamed Pat, and Fayette Williams Brown George, nicknamed Billy.

Wounded in the forearm, Harold left the front and returned to Elizabeth's side in 1917. Yet by this time, he was also an alcoholic and had been traumatized by the war. Their marriage could not last. After the Great War, Elizabeth remarried; her second husband was Edward Stuart Merrett.

Scope and Content:

This fonds consists primarily of photograph albums dating from 1900 to 1920. Most of the photos are identified and some have comments. The albums illustrate the family life of Elizabeth Leighton Brown (1891-1958) from the age of 3 to 36. Since Elizabeth had married into one of Montreal's best-known families, the Hingstons, the content of the fonds provides a record of the lifestyle of high society in the early years of the 20th century.

Besides a large number of photographs, the fonds includes a scrapbook of clippings about her trip to Europe in 1906 and an oil painting of her grandmother.

The fonds is divided into the following series:

  • P721/A: Scrapbook of Clippings, 1906
  • P721/B: Photographs, about 1850-1927