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Derbyshire Photographers' Profiles
by Brett Payne, of Tauranga, New Zealand
John James Hobbiss (1833-1894)

of Birmingham, York, Leeds, Carlisle, Buxton, Garston & Brecon

J.J. Hobbiss worked as a photographer and operated studios from the late 1850s until his death in 1894, in Birmingham (Warwickshire), York and Leeds (Yorkshire), Carlisle (Cumberland), Buxton (Derbyshire), Garston (Lancashire) and Brecon (Wales).


Go straight to Portfolio


John James Hobbiss was born on 7 Jan 1833 in Lambeth, Surrey, eldest son of glass, china and earthenware dealer John Hobbiss Senior (1809-1886) and his wife Kezia Yendall (1812-1882).  His parents moved back to their home town of Birmingham shortly after his birth, and he was baptised at St. Phillips on 29 December 1834.  As an eighteen-year-old, John Hobbiss was apprenticed as a glass painter.  In 1854 he married Ann Scattergood at Birmingham, and their first son John Henry was born there in 1855.  A second son William Yendall Hobbiss was born, also at Birmingham, in 1858.

The first sighting of a John Hobbiss working as a photographer is in the General & Commercial Directory of Birmingham for 1858.  This was probably John Hobbiss Senior, and his son John James may have been working for him; the directory shows a residence in Chester street, with a studio at 107 New street.  By April 1861, John J. Hobbiss (Junior) had moved to 7 Park Crescent,
St Maurice Parish, York, and described himself as a "photographic operator."  It appears that he had, at some stage, trained under the well known studio artist, Oliver Sarony of Scarborough, because a carte de visite is known - probably from the mid-1860s - which states, "J.J. Hobbiss, late Sarony, 15 Park Place, Leeds."  Cartes de visite from the mid- to late 1860s show another studio address at 1 Commercial Street, Leeds.  White's Directory of Leeds & the West Riding for 1870 provides a fourth studio address in that city: Ridge mount, Cliff Road, Leeds.  By April 1871, however, he had moved to Carlisle in Cumberland, where he was living at 28 Portland Place, Butchergate, and working as a "photographer's assistant."

Adamson (1997) shows J.J. Hobbiss as having operated a studio at 3 Dunmore Square, Market Place in Buxton, Derbyshire in 1876, having taken over the premises from William Bentley.  Two cartes de visite from this period are included below - the mounts include an additional address of 15 Bridge Street, Buxton, and the information that Hobbiss was also operating at Wellington Street, Garston (near Liverpool).  It seems likely that his spell in Buxton was of relatively short duration, and that the studio was initially owned by John Hobbiss Senior.  The 1881 Census shows a Frederick Hobbis (b. 1822) living at 25 Wellington St, Garston and working as a photographer.  It appears likely that Frederick Hobbis was a relation of some kind - although it has been established that he was not a brother of John James - and perhaps he was employed by John Hobbiss at the Garston premises.  By late 1880, John James Hobbiss and his wife had moved to Brecon in Wales, where they settled at number 18 Watton.  He continued working as a photographer until his death in 1894.

CDVs are also known (see below) showing "H. Hobbiss" of 18 The Watton, Brecon, and directories show a Henry Hobbiss at this address from 1884 to 1891.  The card mount design and clothing fashions suggest they were taken in the late 1880s, when John James Hobbis was probably living at this address, but the identity of "H" is not clear.  John had brothers named William Henry (born 1834) and George Henry (born 1837), but the former appears to have died in childhood, and the latter lived in Aston and became a jeweller.  John and Ann had two sons.  Their elder son John Henry Hobbiss (b. c.1855) probably moved with them, but he died in the fourth quarter of 1880, in the Brecknok Registration District.  Although John Henry was described as a pawnbroker's clerk, aged 15, in 1871, it is possible that he styled himself Henry and operated the studio in the late 1870s.  However, this would not explain why "Victorian Professional Photographers in Wales" lists an H. Hobbiss at Brecon in 1884 and 1891.  Their younger son was named William Yendall Hobbiss - he appears in Carlisle in the 1881 Census, and later beame an architect/surveyor.

Portfolio
Image © & collection of Brett Payne Unidentified elderly woman
by J.J. Hobbiss of 1 Commercial Street, Leeds (late of 15 Park Place)
Undated, but probably taken in the mid- to late 1860s

Format: Carte-de-visite
Size: Mount 62 x 105.5 mm Photo 56.5 x 93.5 mm

Image © & collection of Brett Payne

Notes

Image © & collection of Brett Payne

Image © & collection of Brett Payne Unidentified older man
by J. Hobbiss Senr., of Birmingham (Late Wm. Bentley), 3 Market Place, Buxton
Date

Format: Carte-de-visite
Size: Mount 63.5 x 104 mm Photo 61 x 94 mm

Image © & collection of Brett Payne

Notes

Image © & collection of Brett Payne
Image © & collection of Brett Payne Image © & collection of Brett Payne

Image © & courtesy of Fiona Wilson Unidentified older man
by J.J. Hobbiss (of Birmingham), 15 Bridge St, Buxton & Wellington St, Garston
Date

Format: Carte-de-visite

Image © & courtesy of Fiona Wilson

Notes

Image © & courtesy of Fiona Wilson

Image © & courtesy of Bronwyn & Graeme Gilmour Joanna Jenkins (née Jones)
by H. Hobbiss, 18 The Watton, Brecon
Undated, but probably taken c. 1885-1890

Format: Carte-de-visite

Image © & courtesy of Bronwyn & Graeme Gilmour

Notes:
Image © & courtesy of Bronwyn & Graeme Gilmour

Image © & courtesy of Ridge Williams Frederick William James Angus (1869-1950) & Mary Elizabeth Angus née Bevan (1870-1956)
by H. Hobbiss, 18 The Watton, Brecon
Undated, but probably taken c. 1885-1890

Format: Carte-de-visite
Size: 55 x 95 mm

Image © & courtesy of Ridge Williams

Notes by (RW): The photographs are of my wife’s grandparents, Frederick William James Angus (1869 – 1950) and Mary Elizabeth Bevan (1870 – 1956). Both spent their early years in Brecon town but were working elsewhere on 1891 census day. They were married in Llanwonno, Glamorgan in 1893 and did not live in Brecon after that date. Perhaps the two full-length portraits taken against the same studio background were made at the same date in the late 1880s before Mary Elizabeth left Brecon to work in London.

Image © & courtesy of Ridge Williams
Image © & courtesy of Ridge Williams

Image © & courtesy of Ridge Williams Frederick William James Angus (1869-1950)
by H. Hobbiss, 18 The Watton, Brecon
Undated, but probably taken in the early to mid-1890s

Format: Carte-de-visite
Size: Mount 60 x 92 mm Photo 60 x 105 mm

Image © & courtesy of Ridge Williams


References
Images kindly provided by Bronwyn & Graeme Gilmour, Ridge Williams & Fiona Wilson
1841-1901 UK Census - online from Ancestry.com
FreeBMD
International Genealogical Index - online from the LDS church
North East Midland Photographic Record - Picture the Past
The following trade directories have been accessed using the University of Leicester's online collection, Digital Library of Historical Directories:
- General & Commercial Directory of Birmingham, 1858
- White's Directory of Leeds & the West Riding, 1870
Anon (1881) Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire, Kelly & Co., London.
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.

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