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Derbyshire Photographers' Profiles
by Brett Payne, of Tauranga, New Zealand
Frank Simpson (c.1830-1896)

of Ashbourne & Buxton

Frank Simpson and his wife Elizabeth Ann operated studios in Ashbourne and Buxton from 1880 until at least 1895.  It is possible that he also had premises, perhaps under managers, in London, Leicester and Burslem at an earlier date.

Go straight to Portfolio


Charles Thomas Frank Simpson was born c. 1829-30 in London.  He married Elizabeth Ann in Ashbourne, Derbyshire prior to 1871.  A report of the Derbyshire Petty Sessions in The Derby Mercury of 27 February 1867 shows Simpson, "a photographer, and having a travelling van situated in the parish of Clifton," to have been "summoned by Mr. Superintendent Corbishley for exercising his ordinary calling as a photographer on the Lord's-day, on the 17th inst. - Mr. Corbishley said that on Sunday, the 17th. inst., about 3.30 p.m., in company with Inspector Lytle he visited Simpson's van, and saw 16 persons in the van; he saw the defendant take two likenesses while he stayed; he told him he should summon him; there were about 30 persons standing on the highway near to the van. - Mr Wright said he saw no necessity for the defendant following this business on the Lord's-day, and he would fine him the full penalty. - Fined 5s. and costs."

In April 1871 he was working as a photographer in Swan Square, Burslem, Staffordshire.  The census shows him with a servant, suggesting that he probably had his own studio at that time.  In 1881 trade directories (probably compiled in  late 1880) show him with a studio at St. John Street in Ashbourne.  On the night of the census on 3 April 1881, however, Frank was staying with his wife Elizabeth Ann in a caravan at Spring Gardens, Buxton, next to the White Lion Inn.  He was presumably taking advantage of the seasonal trade produced by visitors to Buxton's "hydropathic establishments."

An early carte-de-visite (c. 1881?) suggests that Simpson, who styled himself as "Professor" - although it seems unlikely that this was a genuine title - also had studios in London (Barking Road), Leicester (Humberstone Gate) and Burslem (Swan Bank).  It is not clear whether these indicated a permanent presence, or were merely locations for a travelling studio.  Kelly's 1887 trade directory shows Simpson with "studios" at Ashbourne and Buxton (at 53a Spring Gardens).  In April 1891 the census shows Frank and his wife, now described as an "assistant in photography," living at the studio address in Buxton.  By this time, the Ashbourne studio was no longer listed in Kelly's.  He continued to operate in Buxton until at least 1895.

Frank Simpson probably died at Buxton in 1896.  There is a further entry for a Frank Simpson of Spring Gardens, Buxton in an 1899 directory, but it is possible that this was in fact his wife continuing to operate the studio under her late husband's name.


Portfolio
Image © & courtesy of Terry Nolan Unidentified group
by Profr. Simpson of 53A Spring Gardens, Buxton & St. John Street, Ashbourne (& London, Leicester & Burslem)
Undated, but probably taken in the late 1870s
Format: Carte-de-visite
Size: Mount 62.5 x 101.5 mm Photograph 60.5 x 93.5 mm

Image © & courtesy of Terry Nolan

Notes by TN:  The attached photo is from a collection of prints which belonged to my grandmother, Frances Helen Larissey, later Mrs Nolan of Handsworth, nr Sheffield. I can't identify any of the people in the picture. However, the man in the middle of the three men in the back row, bears an uncanny resemblance to my late father.  That being the case, it could be my Great Grandfather John Larissey (b. 1845) or failing that my great-great-grandfather Thomas Larissey (b. 1810).
Notes by BP: Considering the date of the portrait, the latter is far more likely.
Image © & courtesy of Terry Nolan

Image © & courtesy of John Bradley Unidentified couple, possibly in their early twenties
by Profr. Simpson of 53A Spring Gardens, Buxton & St. John Street, Ashbourne
Undated
Format: Carte-de-visite

Image © & courtesy of John Bradley

Nothing further is known about this photo.

Image © & courtesy of John Bradley

Image © & courtesy of John Bradley Two unidentified young men (football players)
by Professor Simpson of Spring Gardens, Buxton & St. John Street, Ashbourne
Undated
Format: Carte-de-visite

Image © & courtesy of John Bradley

Note by John Bradley: I believe they are dressed for the annual Shrove Tuesday Ashbourne "football game", which is a free for all battle to get a barrel to one end of town to the other (uppers vs downers), and is usually about 750 a side these days.

Image © & courtesy of John Bradley

Image © & courtesy of John Bradley Image © & courtesy of John Bradley
Horse-drawn landau with unidentified driver, outside the Railway Hotel, Buxton
by Professor Simpson of Spring Gardens, Buxton (& Ashbourne, London, Leicester & Burslem)
Undated, but probably taken in the early 1880s
Format: Cabinet card
Size: Mount 162 x 109.5 mm Photograph 

Image © & courtesy of John Bradley


Image © & courtesy of Gail Durbin Unidentified child with a dog
by Professor Simpson of Ashbourne, Buxton, London, Leicester & Burslem
Undated, but possibly taken in the 1880s or early 1890s
Format: Carte de visite

Image © & courtesy of Gail Durbin


Notes

Image © & courtesy of John Powell Three unidentified children
by Professor Simpson of 53A Spring Gardens, Buxton, St. John Street, Ashbourne, and London, Leicester & Burslem
Undated, but probably taken in the early 1890s
Format: Cabinet card
Size: Mount 115 x 165 mm

Image © & courtesy of John Powell

Notes
Image © & courtesy of John Powell

Image © & collection of Brett Payne Four unidentified young women with hats
by Professor Simpson of Ashbourne & Spring Gardens, Buxton
Undated, but probably taken in the mid- to late 1890s
Format: Carte de visite
Size: Mount 62.5 x 104.5 mm Photograph (max) 62.5 x 90 mm

Image © & collection of Brett Payne

Notes
Image © & collection of Brett Payne

References
Images and information kindly provided by Gail Durbin, Terry Nolan, Brett Payne, Nigel Aspdin, John Powell and John Bradley
1881 UK Census - online from the LDS church
1891 UK Census - online from Ancestry.com
1901 UK Census index - online from the PRO
FreeBMD
Derbyshire Wills (1525-1928) by Mike Spencer on John Palmer's Wirksworth web site
Wright C.N. (1874) Directory of South Derbyshire, Third Edition, October 1874, Derby.
Anon (1881) Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire, Kelly & Co., London.
Anon (1887) Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire, Kelly & Co., London.
Anon (1891) Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland & Nottinghamshire, Kelly & Co., London. University of Leicester's Digital Library of Historical Directories
Anon (1895) Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire, Kelly & Co. Limited, London.
Anon (1895) History, Topography, and Directory of Derbyshire, T. Bulmer & Co. - by kind courtesy of Sonia Addis-Smith
Anon (1899) Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire & Rutland, Kelly & Co. Limited, London. University of Leicester's Digital Library of Historical Directories

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