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Derbyshire Photographers' Profiles
by Brett Payne, of Tauranga, New Zealand
William Seward 

of Nottingham & Ilkeston

After working for Burton & Sons in the late 1860s and early 1870s, William Seward operated a studio at verious addresses in Nottingham from 1874 until at least 1901.  He also worked from Bath Street, Ilkeston some time in the 1880s.

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William Seward was born at Tiverton, Devon in 1840, son of a builder and carpenter Richard Seward and his wife Elizabeth Ann.  He grew up partly in London, where his family had moved around 1850.  In 1865 he married Sarah Ann Kirk (daughter of a musician, Samuel Kirk, and his wife Sarah) at Nottingham, where they settled.  In early 1868, he was employed by John Burton & Sons as manager of their Nottingham branch studio, after the departure of Alfred Burton for New Zealand.

The Burton & Sons studio closed in 1871, and William Seward appears to have operated on his own account from that date, although the first trade directory listings only show him working from the old Burton premises at Cobden Chambers, Market Street, Nottingham in 1874 and 1875.  From 1876 to 1878, Abraham Booth took over the premises, and in 1877 Seward was working from his home at 18 Lamartine Street.  From 1879 to 1881 he appears to have been back in the studio at Market Street, but from 1883 until 1889 he worked from new premises, at 5 Cobden Chambers in Pelham Street.  Between then and April 1891, he and his wife moved to 6 Bromley Place, where he operated from home.  Heathcote & Heathcote (undated) show him at this address in 1892 and 1893.  The 1901 Census shows him living with his wife at 38 Hucknall Road, and still working as a photographer.

Seward and his wife appear not to have had any children.  His brother-in-law, Sarah Ann's younger brother Samuel Kirk (1847-1925), was also a renowned Nottingham photographer.

Image © & collection of Brett Payne
Unidentified man
by W. Seward of Market Street, Nottingham & Bath Street, Ilkeston
Undated, but probably taken c. 1879-1881

Format: Carte-de-visite

Image © & collection of Brett Payne


Image © & collection of Brett Payne

Images provided by Brett Payne
1841-1901 UK Census - online from
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:
- History, Gazetteer & Directory of Nottinghamshire, 1885
Anon (1887) 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.
Heathcote, Bernard & Heathcote, Pauline (n.d.) Pioneers of Photography in Nottinghamshire, 1841-1910, Nottinghamshire County Council.
Heathcote, Bernard V. & Heathcote, Pauline F. (July 1979) Nottingham Photographic Studios in Victorian Times, The Royal Photographic Society Historical group.
Craven, Maxwell (ed.) (1993) Keene's Derby, Breedon Books, Derby, pp. 200-202. - by kind courtesy of Sonia Addis-Smith

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