On board "Lady Canning", floating church, Calcutta, India, c. 1875. Elizabeth Ann Rust and baby William.
I'd be fascinated to hear if anyone has any further information about this floating church in Calcutta harbour, now dated to late 1875 or early 1876.
Thanks to a little research we now know that the mother mentioned is Elizabeth Ann Rust (I think nee Webster), wife of the churchman Abraham Rust. The son at her feet, named in the inscription as Willie, is William Lepage Rust b. 8 Mar 1874.
It's not so much the photograph that's of interest here as the amazing inscription. The reverse can be seen in the previous picture in my photostream, but the full transcription is represented here:
"The Floating Church Calcutta
The Lady Canning was a ship built in Calcutta on the lines of the Victoria & Albert, the Queen ???? ??? yatch [sic], made to chase the Chines[e] pirates in the East, but the builders forgot that she would have to carry heavy guns, & when they took her down into the Indian Oceans for her trial ???? & some bad weather came on, they had to throw her arms over board to save the ship. Her lines were too fine for guns. Just then my predecessor [as chaplain of the Port of Calcutta I believe] asked the dockyard authorities if they could give him an old ship which could be fitted up as a floating Church & Library. The dockyard people had a private meeting and concluded that this would be a good way of getting rid of their failure, so they took out the middle deck and made a beautiful church & quarters for the parson & his family aft."
There is a further note that simply states "That's the way the money goes".
On the front, as shown here, the text reads:
" After that the Bishop gave me a block of buildings at Bishop's College where Harry [Rust] was born."
Finally, the picture itself is captioned:
"The ???? of the Lady Canning the sitting room is behind the window. Willie [Rust] the firstborn asleep at his mother's feet"