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Derbyshire Photographers' Profiles
by Brett Payne, of Tauranga, New Zealand
George White (c.1810-1880)

of Rose Hill, Chesterfield & Blackpool

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A Mr. G. White advertised that he would be taking daguerreotype portraits at Rose Hill, Chesterfield, presumably some time in the 1850s, as shown in the handbill illustrated at right (courtesy of Mike Spencer).  Nothing further is known about the identity of this photographer until, quite by chance, I came across a carte de visite by a George White of Blackpool.

George White was born around 1810, in either Chesterfield or Winster (he never was quite sure, according to census records). He married Ann Melbourne (dau of Belper nail manufacturer, William Melbourne) at North Wingfield in September 1834, and by the census of June 1841, they were living at a house in Chapel Avenue, Poulton le Fylde, Bispham, Lancashire. George was working as an artist, and a James White, aged 15 - possibly a nephew - is listed as an artist's apprentice.

According to Bernard & Pauline Heathcote (2002), who trawled contemporary newspapers between 1841 and 1855 for advertisements, George started work as a profile artist in 1834, either becoming a daguerreotype photographer or employing one by 1849. He also operated briefly at Preston in 1850.

Within the next few years they moved to Layton-with-Warbreck, near Blackpool, where their only son Frederick George was born in 1850. The census of April the following year shows Ann living at 1 Queen's Terrace, Layton with Warbreck, Blackpool, with their son and a nurse, but George was lodging in the parish of Church, west of Accrington. He now described himself as an engraver.

After the expiry of Beard's daguerreotype patent in August 1853 and the development of Archer's "patent free" wet collodion process, when there was a great expansion of photographic activity in England, White possibly took up the photographic business as a sideline to his art. Initially at least, he is likely to have operated mainly in the summer months, and visited areas where there were not photographers already well established. Oliver Sarony (from Scarborough) and Horatio Harrop (of Manchester) were early visiting photographers to Chesterfield, in May 1852 and 1854 respectively, while Henry Morton opened the town's first permanent studio in July 1854. Others known to have worked there in the 1850s included Andrew & James McMunn (1856), Henry Slack (October 1856), John Stringfellow and George Edgar (1858) and Hugh Boughen (1859).  No advertisements have been found for George White in Chesterfield newspapers, but it seems likely that he visited that town, albeit briefly, in the mid-1850s.
Image © Derbyshire Records Office & courtesy of Mike Spencer
Advertising handbill for George White, c.1853-1856
Courtesy of Mike Spencer
By 1861, George was back with his wife and son in the house at Queen's Terrace, and working as an "artist" once more. The carte de visite shown below is probably from the early to mid-1860s, but doesn't include an address, so it is not clear whether he had permanent premises by that time. Gillian Jones (2004) lists him at 1 Queen's Terrace, Adelaide Street, Blackpool from 1849 to 1869, and then at 33 Adelaide Street, Blackpool in 1869. It is possible these are actually the same location.

It appears that George White retired around 1869; that is certainly how he described himself to the 1871 Census enumerator. George died in 1880, and census night in the subsequent year found his widow Ann living with their married son, still in Adelaide Street. Frederick George White, now married, stated his profession to be, "Income from houses, &c" and Ann is shown as an annuitant. Either George had done well from his art/photographic business or, more likely, Frederick had inherited property from his maternal grandfather.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Unidentified elderly man
by George White of Blackpool
Undated, but probably taken c.1862-1866
Type: Carte de visite
Size: Mount 60.5 x 105 mm Photo 56.5 x 96.5 mm

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

Notes: see Photo-Sleuth article

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

Images and information provided by Ian Leith, Michael Pritchard, Brett Payne & Mike Spencer
1841-1901 UK Census - online from
International Genealogical Index - online from the LDS church
Bagshaw (1846) History, Gazetteer and Directory of Derbyshire. Collection of Brett Payne.
Anon (1855) The Post Office Directory of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. University of Leicester's Digital Library of Historical Directories
White, F. & Co. (1857) History, Gazetteer and Directory of the County of Derby. Transcribed by Neil Wilson.
Harrison, Harrod & Co. (1860) Directory and Gazetteer of Derbyshire, London.
Anon (1870) Harrod & Co.'s Postal & Commercial Directory of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland & Staffordshire. - from University of Leicester - Digital Library of Historical Directories.
Adamson, Keith I.P. (1997) Professional Photographers in Derbyshire 1843 - 1914, The PhotoHistorian, No. 118 Supplement, September 1997, ISSN 0957-0209. Courtesy of John Bradley.
Craven, Maxwell (ed.) (1993) Keene's Derby, Breedon Books, Derby, pp. 200-202. - by kind courtesy of Sonia Addis-Smith
Gillian Jones (2004) Lancashire Professional Photographers 1840-1940, PhotoResearch, ISBN 0-952311-5-6, courtesy of Michael Pritchard
Bernard & Pauline Heathcote (2002) A Faithful Likeness, ISBN 0-9541934-0-7, Courtesy of Ian Leith

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