The Tinne family

Old photo of three children

Bertha, Elspeth and Ernest on the sofa

The Tinnes were Dutch sugar merchants and ship owners, who first came to Liverpool in 1813 from Demarara in Guyana. During the 19th century, as part of the firm of Sandbach, Tinne and Co., they made a great fortune importing sugar, molasses, coffee and tropical hardwoods from their plantations there. They also transported cargoes and people around the globe in a large fleet of ships. The company continued in business until 1966.

Emily and Philip Tinne enjoyed a comfortable home life, funded largely by Philip's share of the company profits rather than his doctor's fees. Between 1911 and 1929 they had seven children, six of whom survived to adulthood. Their first child was Elspeth Deborah, born in 1911, followed in 1913 by John Ernest, known to his family as Ernest. Bertha was born in 1916, followed by Philip in 1917, who, tragically, died of whooping cough as a toddler. In 1919 Helen was born, followed by Alexine in 1923. Their last child was another Philip, known as Pip, who was born in 1929.

Woman with toddler

Emily and John Ernest, 1914

Recently, a huge collection of the family's letters has come to light, giving a fascinating insight into their lifestyle from the 1920s to the 1950s. They wrote to each other frequently, revealing a close and loving relationship between parents and children.

Emily and Philip's letters in the 1920s and 1930s to their eldest son, Ernest, while he was away at school in Eton and then later at Oxford, are especially revealing. They are full of family news and funny stories about friends and relatives, mixed with advice about life and details of what was happening in Liverpool and the wider world. The children also wrote to each other, as the girls were away at private schools in Liverpool once they were old enough.