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Derbyshire Photographers' Profiles
by Brett Payne, of Tauranga, New Zealand
Robert Pratchett

of Brighton, Derby, Stapleton & Bristol

Robert Pratchett worked as a photographer from at least 1878, when he operated from a studio in Brighton.  After a brief period in Derby, he moved to Bristol, where he remained until at least 1910.

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Robert Pratchett was born on 15 June 1851 at East Barnet, Hertfordshire, one of eight children of a farrier, Robert Pratchett senior (1820-1898) and his wife Mary Ann Pratchett née Peckham (1821-1902).  Robert junior married Henrietta Sophia Saunders (born at Hemingford Abbots, Hertfordshire in 1849) at Islington, London in 1873.  They had three children between 1876 and 1884, two daughters Florence Amy and Rosa, and a son William.

In 1875, Robert was living in Southport, Lancashire, but it is not clear whether he was working as a photographer at that time.  For a short period in 1878 - during which his daughter Rosa was born - he worked from a studio at 33 Western Road, Brighton, Sussex.  This studio had been operating since 1858, but a photographer by the name of D'Aubigny Hatch was the proprietor from about 1874 to 1877.  By May 1878 the studio was occupied by a Samuel Kay Balbirnie and he did not leave 33 Western Road until 1880.  Evidence of Robert Pratchett operating from this studio comes from two photographs (see below - courtesy of David Simkin), but he could only have been there for a short period in 1878.

By early April 1881, Pratchett had moved with his family to 64 Macklin St, Derby St Werburgh, where he described himself as a photographer.  However, no references have been found to a studio at this address, and it is possible that he was employed by another studio (perhaps Bostock & Carr, who are shown at 8 Macklin Street in an 1881 trade directory).  It is interesting to note that in the same household, described as a "visitor" and "artist" in the census, was Thomas J. Galvin, brother to Benjamin Galvin (1828-1900) who was briefly in partnership with J.W. Price (1830-1890) of Derby.

Although it seems likely that he had travelled elsewhere in the intervening period, by April 1891 Robert Pratchett was lodging with a family of independent means named Hill at Estcourt House just outside Bristol in Stapleton, Gloucestershire.  It is interesting to note that two of his landlady's unmarried daughters, Rosa and Lilian M. Hall, were shown in the census as photographic assistants.  His wife was working as a nurse at a public elementary school in Hemingford Grey, while the two younger children, still at school, were living with their maternal grandmother in the same village.  Their elder daughter Florence was working as a domestic servant for her aunt, an inn keeper in Broadwater, Sussex.

By the end of March 1901, when the census for that year was taken, he was living at 130 Cheltenham road, Bristol and described himself as a photographic artist.  His studio remained at this address (Kelly, 1902) until at least 1910 (Vaughan).  His wife, however, remained in Hemingford Grey, where she was first a cook (Census, 1901) and later a proprietor of apartments (Kelly, 1903).


Portfolio
Image © & courtesy of David Simkin Unknown Subject, taken by Robert Pratchett of 33 Western Road, Brighton, c. 1878
Format: Carte-de-visite

Image © & courtesy of David Simkin

Nothing further is known about this photo.


Image © & courtesy of David Simkin Unknown Subject, taken by Robert Pratchett of 33 Western Road, Brighton, c. 1878
Format: Carte-de-visite

Image © & courtesy of David Simkin

Card stock printed by Marion Imp. Paris.

Image © & courtesy of David Simkin

References
Images kindly provided by David Simkin
1881 UK Census - online from the LDS church
1891 UK Census - online from Ancestry.com
1901 UK Census index - online from the PRO
FreeBMD
Kelly (1902) Directory of Bristol, Kelly's Directories Ltd., London.
Kelly (1903) Directory of Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire & Northamptonshire, Kelly's Directories Ltd., London.
Bristol Photographers - by Roger Vaughan
Brighton Photographers 1841-1910 - by David Simkin

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