Portrait of Whitehead as a Young Man

Sometimes timing is everything.

Knowing that Whitehead had attended Sherborne School in Dorset as a teenager from 1875-1880, Brian Henning had contacted the school back in 2010 looking for any material they had related to Whitehead, but got little for his trouble. It was bad luck on his part, because less than a month after Brian contacted Sherborne, they hired an archivist named Rachel Hassall, who since her hiring has been working to raise Whitehead’s profile at the school and highlight their connection to him. A chance conversation with a colleague at CPS—Fiona Scott—led me to contact the school again this past August, leading to our discovery of five Whitehead photos taken between 1877 and 1879, when Whitehead would have been just 16-18 years old. It is rather shocking to see Whitehead with hair; the earliest photo I had previously seen was from 1898, when Whitehead would have been 37, and he was already bald.

We are happy to display these photos below, with many thanks to Ms. Hassall and Sherborne School. Additional information about Sherborne School’s history can be found on their archives website, including issues of the school’s magazine—The Shirburnian—dating back to 1859, which makes somewhat frequent mention of Whitehead in sports and the debating society.

Two of the below photos show Whitehead with his class, while the other three are of Whitehead with the football (rugby) team, which he captained from 1879-80. Whitehead was apparently quite a good rugby player; an issue of the student magazine in 1880 called him “the best forward the school has ever had.” He also served as Head Prefect of the school in 1879-1880, effectively running its daily activities and administering discipline as needed with the help of the headmaster.

You can click on the photos for larger versions.

 

Taken on March 10, 1877, this is the earliest known photo of Whitehead, and shows him with his Sherborne School Football (Rugby) team after winning the Interhouse Challenge Cup. Whitehead is in the middle row, first on the left. He had just turned 16 years old.
(Photo courtesy of Sherborne School Archives, with thanks to Archivist Rachel Hassall)

 

Whitehead with the Football team, Christmas 1877. Whitehead is in bottom row on far right.
(Photo courtesy of Sherborne School Archives, with thanks to Archivist Rachel Hassall)

 

Whitehead with his “6th Form” (high school) classmates, Christmas 1877. Whitehead is in the middle row, second from left.
(Photo courtesy of Sherborne School Archives, with thanks to Archivist Rachel Hassall)

 

Whitehead with the Football team, Christmas 1878. Whitehead is in the middle row, second from right.
(Photo courtesy of Sherborne School Archives, with thanks to Archivist Rachel Hassall)

 

Whitehead with his 6th Form classmates, Midsummer 1879. Whitehead is in the middle row, fourth from right.
(Photo courtesy of Sherborne School Archives, with thanks to Archivist Rachel Hassall)