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Home / Studio Index / England / Devon / Exeter / Thomas Saunders Reeves
Thomas Saunders Reeves (c1816-c1889) of Exeter, Plymouth & London
Image © & Collection of Brett Payne

Thomas Saunders Reeves and Alfred Reeves were born c. 1816 and 1829 respectively at Taunton in Somerset, two of at least three sons of Thomas Reeves and his wife Jane. The family moved from Somerset to Tottenham Court Road, St Giles, London some time prior to 1841, and by the time of the 1851 Census both brothers were working as "photographic artists."

Thomas REEVES b. c1785 Taunton SOM m: Jane b. c1796 Taunton SOM
|- Thomas Saunders REEVES b. c.1816 Taunton SOM m: 1855 St Pancras LON Jane COCKBURN b. c.1823 Whitby YKS
   |- Jane REEVES b. c.1856 Greenwich LON
   |- Mary REEVES b. c.1857 Greenwich LON
   |- Florence REEVES b. c.1866 Plymouth DEV
|- Alfred REEVES b. c.1835 Taunton SOM m1: 1853 Paddington LON Elizabeth PALMER m2: 1866 St Pancras LON Emma PAVEY b. c.1843 Exeter/Plymouth DEV
   |- William REEVES b. c.1867 Plymouth DEV
Thomas married Jane COCKBURN in 1855 and they had at least three daughters. Alfred married first Elizabeth Palmer in 1853 and second Emma Pavey at St. Pancras, London in 1866. He had one son William, born c. 1867 to his second wife.

It seems likely that both brothers started off their photographic careers as assistants in one of the London daguerreotype studios. Thomas Reeves had his own studio at 498 Oxford Street from 1853 to 1856, at which time he was living with his wife in Greenwich. Some time in the late 1850s they moved to Plymouth, so that by the census in April 1861 they were living at 4 Queen Ann Battery, Charles, Plymouth. Thomas is described as a "photographist" but the first mention of a studio in Plymouth is at 17 Bedford Street in 1862 (Scott, 1985). He remained there until 1867.

Thomas S. Reeves then moved to Exeter probably in late 1867, where he opened premises at 262 (and from 1870 at number 260) High Street. A carte-de-visite dated 1867 is included below. Scott (1985) describes him also as a "medical galvanist & analytical chemist." However, this studio was relatively short-lived, appearing in trade directories only until 1871, and by April of that year the family were back in London, living at 125 Camden Street, St Pancras.

Alfred Reeves became rather well known in the late 1850s in the field of photomicrography, including a mention in an anonymously written article reproduced in several magazine in 1859 (Stevenson, 2008). An 1861 advertisement is described by Warren (2007, as reported by Stevenson, 2008) and Scott (1985) shows Alfred to have been awarded a "prize medal" in 1862, but the there have been no more sightings in this vein after 1862. By 1867, and possibly immediately after his remarriage in 1866, he moved to Plymouth. From a later trade directory listing Alfred appears to have been operating the commercial portrait studio in Bedford Street, Plymouth by 1873, and presumably took it over from Thomas upon his older brother's departure two years earlier.

Meanwhile, Thomas Reeves' daughter Mary Reeves (c1857-), then aged 13, was shown in the 1871 census working as an assistant in the London studio. Trade directories demonstrate that he operated from premises at 101A Park St, Camden Town, London, NW from 1872 until 1881. By the latter date Thomas - now a widower, his wife having died in 1875 - was living with his youngest daughter at 167 Pancras Rd, St Pancras, London, and had taken on the additional trade of "tobacconist". Thomas Reeves himself probably died in the 1880s - possibly in 1889 - since no further sightings of him have been found after 1881.

Alfred Reeves, on the other hand, moved to Luton in Bedfordshire some time between 1873 and 1881, where he lived with his wife at 15 Ebeneezer Street. He practised as a photographer for some time, as was shown in that profession in the census of April 1881. However, it is unknown whether he operated his own studio was employed in one. By 1890 he was no longer a photographer, and had set up in business as a straw hat maker at 21 Hastings Street, in which he continued until at least 1901. Alfred Reeves died at Luton in 1907.

If you have any further information about Thomas or Alfred Reeves and their studios, or if you have any photographs by them, 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.
Image © & Collection of Brett Payne Image © & Collection of Peter Nicholas
Type I
Used mid- to late 1860s
TSR monogram & five fonts
Green ink on white card
High St (Exeter) & Bedford
St (Plymouth) studios
Type II
used c. late 1860s
Recto "Reeves Plymouth"
Verso unknown
Type III
used c. early 1870s
Camera, palette & easel
framed w. oak branches, 4 fonts
black ink on buff card
Camden Town studio

PORTFOLIO Contribute a Photo
Image © & Collection of Brett Payne Image © & Collection of Brett Payne ID #: tsreeves01
Source: Exeter Album, Collection of Brett Payne
Artist: Thomas S. Reeves, of 262 High St, Exeter & 17 Bedford St, Plymouth
Negative No. 985
Size: Carte de visite (Mount 62 x 102.5 mm; Photo 56 x 90 mm)
Card Type: Type I (green on white) - TSR monogram with five fonts, two studios.
Date: Dated 1867
Notes: Thin card. Square corners. Inscribed, "1867" on the reverse.
Subject: Unidentified girl or young woman, probably in her late teens, full length standing portrait with chair.

Image © & Collection of Craig Curtis ID #: tsreeves02
Source: Collection of Craig Curtis
Artist: Reeves, of Plymouth
Negative No. -
Size: Carte de visite
Card Type: Type II - Recto printed, "Reeves Plymouth"; Verso design unknown.
Date: Undated, estd. c.1867-1870
Notes: Square corners.
Subject: Probably Mary Daniels Jenkin, full length seated portrait with open book.

Image © & Collection of Peter Nicholas Image © & Collection of Peter Nicholas ID #: tsreeves03
Source: Collection of Peter Nicholas
Artist: T.S.Reeves, of 101 Park St, Camden Town
Negative No. -
Size: Carte de visite (Mount 64.5 x 109 mm; Photo 59 x 97 mm)
Card Type: Type III - Camera, palette & easel framed with oak branches, 4 fonts.
Date: Undated, estd. c.1871-1873
Notes: Square corners.
Subject: Possibly Elizabeth Nicholas, full length seated portrait with foot stool.


Anon (1859) Microphotography, The Photographic News, Vol. II., No. 28. March 18, 1859, p.15. Google Books.
Stevenson, Brian (2008) Alfred Reeves ("A.R."): Victorian era Microphotographer, 1829-1907, Micscape Magazine, December 2008.
Historical Directories from the University of Leicester
Indexed 1841- 1901 Census images from
1881 Census Transcript & International Genealogical Index (IGI) from the LDS Church's web site FamilySearch
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
Kelly's Directory of Bedfordshire (1890)
- Reeves Alfred, straw hat manufacturer, 21 Hastings street, Luton


Many thanks to Peter Nicholas, Brian Stevenson, Craig Curtis, Sandy Barrie for kind contributions of images and information.

All images and information on these pages are © 2006-2009 Brett Payne unless otherwise stated, All Rights Reserved