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Home / Studio Index / England / Derbyshire / Derby / B.W. Botham
B.W. Botham (1824-1877) of Derby, Matlock & Brighton
Image © & Collection of Brett Payne
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES by David Simkin, Brighton Photographers 1841-1910

Benjamin William Botham was baptized at Halesworth, Suffolk on 2nd December 1824, the son of Benjamin Botham (b. c1802 Southwold d. 1877 Halesworth), a tailor and habit maker, and Frances Botham, née Whiting (b. c1803 Great Yarmouth). He came from a family of tailors and in the early 1850s he was working as a linen and woollen draper and living in Bridge Street, Halesworth. On 20th April 1853, Benjamin married Ellen Bedwell (born 1831 Halesworth), the daughter of Sarah and John Bedwell, also a tailor. A son and daughter were born in Halesworth, but around 1857 Benjamin Botham set off on his travels as an itinerant photographer. He reached Derbyshire that year, and according to advertisements in The Derby Mercury, was operating as a photographer from premises at London Road, Derby between 1857 and 1858. The Botham's third child, Frances Rosetta Botham, was born at Derby in 1858.

Advertisements in The Matlock Bath Advertiser indicate that B.W. Botham also visited the Matlock area in order to take photographic portraits in September 1857. On the first three Tuesdays of September 1857, he took portraits in a temporary studio in Museum Parade, Matlock Bath, Derbyshire. By the end of 1859, the Bothams had returned to Halesworth in Suffolk, where their son John Andrew Botham was born. By the time of the census in April 1861, Benjamin W. Botham was living with his wife and four children at 23 Egremont Place, Brighton and gave his occupation as a "photographic artist." Later that year, Botham was taking carte-de-visite portraits at 59, North Street, Brighton, the former photographic studio of Robert Farmer (1823-1859). By 1862, he was listed as a photographic artist at 43 Western Road and 33 Clarence Square, Brighton. Botham remained at these premises until the summer of 1868, when he sold his photographic business at 43 Western Road to Charles Nathaniel Wootton of Cambridge.

B.W. Botham then became the proprietor of The New Oxford Theatre of Varieties in New Road, Brighton. His new venture was a success, but around 1874 he became seriously ill. On 18th December 1877, Benjamin William Botham died at his residence, 6 Marlborough Place, leaving "a widow with two sons and two daughters." Mrs Ellen Botham took over the running of the music hall after her husband's death. Ellen and her sons were involved in a court case at the end of 1881, arising from the tragic death of a 15 year old boy, who was killed by a magician's cannon during a performance at the New Oxford Theatre. Her two sons, Benjamin Clayton Botham and John Andrew Botham were the proprietors of the Oxford Theatre of Varieties from 1887. Clayton worked as an architect and designed the Brighton Empire music hall. Initially, John Andrew Botham had a career in the music hall business.

Benjamin William Botham's four children were as follows:

  1. Ellen Louise Botham b. 2 April 1854 Halesworth, Suffolk m: C1881 Charles Courtenay, a clergyman.
  2. Benjamin William Clayton Botham (known as Clayton Botham) b. 2 December 1855 Halesworth. He ran the Oxford Theatre of Varieties with his brother John until about 1891, after which he became an architect and surveyor. As an architect, Clayton designed the New Brighton Empire Theatre of Varieties, which opened under John Botham's management in August 1892. His obituary of 27 July 1907, describes him with the words "a most genial disposition ... highly esteemed."
  3. Frances Rosetta Botham b. c1858 Derby m: 1883 Joseph Henry Smith.
  4. John Andrew Botham b. c1860 Halesworth. He ran the Oxford Music Hall until about 1891. In 1893 he was the head of the Empire Theatre of Varieties and in 1894 he was the General Manager of the Eden Theatre of Varieties. At the time of the April 1901 Census he was living in Keymer, West Sussex (a village directly north of Brighton) and gave his occupation as "assurance agent."

If you have any further information about B.W. Botham and his studio, or if you have any photographs by him, please email me. I welcome contributions of images to increase the variety of coverage on this site. If you are able to identify or have an interest in any of the subjects in the photographs shown below, I would also be very keen on hearing from you.
CARD TYPES
Image © & Collection of Rita Giulietti Image © & Collection of Brett Payne
Type I
Used c. 1874-1877
Crown, belt & branches motif
& two fonts
purple text on white card
Type II
Used c. 1877-1878
Crown, belt & branches motif
& two fonts, with curved
and rectangular frames
red text on white card

PORTFOLIO Contribute a Photo
Image © & Collection of David Simkin ID #: bwbotham01
Source: Collection of David Simkin
Artist: B.W. Botham, of Brighton
Negative No. -
Size: Carte de visite
Card Type: Type I
Date: Undated, probably taken c.1865-1867
Notes: Thin card. Square corners.
Subject: Unidentified woman, probably in her 20s or early 30s, full length standing portrait.

Image © & Collection of David Simkin ID #: bwbotham02
Source: Collection of David Simkin
Artist: B.W. Botham, of Brighton
Negative No. -
Size: Carte de visite
Card Type: Type I
Date: Undated, probably taken c.1865-1867
Notes: Thin card. Square corners.
Subject: Unidentified woman, probably in her 20s or early 30s, full length seated portrait.

Image © & Collection of Rita Giulietti Image © & Collection of Rita Giulietti ID #: bwbotham02
Source: Collection of Rita Giulietti
Artist: B.W. Botham, of 43 Western Road, Brighton
Negative No. 5100 M
Size: Carte de visite
Card Type: Type I - Crown, belt & branches motif, purple text on white card.
Date: Undated, probably taken c.1865-1867
Notes: Thin card. Square corners.
Subject: Unidentified man with beard, probably in his 30s or 40s, full length standing portrait.

Image © & Collection of Brett Payne Image © & Collection of Brett Payne ID #: cnwootton01
Source: Collection of Brett Payne
Artist: C.N. Wootton, of 43 Western Road, Brighton
Negative No. -
Size: Carte de visite
Card Type: Type II - Crown, belt & branches motif with curved & rectangular frames, red text on white card; overprinted with "C.N. Wootton & Son" in black ink.
Date: Undated, probably taken c.1868-1870
Notes: Thin card. Square corners.
Subject: Unidentified young man, probably in his 20s, full length standing portrait.

REFERENCES

Historical Directories from the University of Leicester
Indexed 1841- 1901 Census Images from Ancestry.com
Partial Transcript of the GRO Index from FreeBMD
Photographers in Devon 1842-1939 : a brief directory for photograph collectors, by C.G. Scott, 1985, The PhotoHistorian Supplement No. 101, ISSN 0957-0209

Trade Directory entries

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

David Simkin would like to acknowledge the assistance of Debbi and Pete Botham of Braintree, Essex, who provided details of B.W. Botham's early life in Halesworth. Pete Botham is descended from the brother of B.W. Botham's grandfather.
Many thanks to Rita Giulietti and David Simkin for kind contributions of images and information.


© 2006-2009 Brett Payne unless otherwise stated.