© Copyright Martin Bodman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Thomas, like his father before him, was born in Coombe St Nicholas just 2 miles (3.2 km) northwest of Chard in Somerset and baptised in the local parish church on 12 April 1857 (6/3). By the age of 14 however he is already living with his uncle Thomas Grigg (1809-1880) who as explained above had moved to Dorchester by 1841 and by 1859(3) was running the Great Western Hotel in West Fordington. Throughout the period 1859 to 1870 Jury Lists (4) give his uncles address as the 'Nursery' and occupation as that of Innkeeper at the hotel. Unfortunately Thomas did not marry until he was 48 and his bride Mary Ann GILLARD was his contemporary and past child bearing age (6/4). The census returns show that Thomas was already employing people to help run this large Hotel, and given that George & Sarah had 8 other children to feed, it made a great deal of sense for them to take Thomas under their wing. This impressive hotel was situated right next to the Militia Barracks at the end of Dorchester High Street and must have been a far cry from the much quieter life he had experienced as a young child in Combe St Nicholas. No doubt this change in his circumstances raised his ambitions.
Throughout this period it seems highly likely that Thomas returned to Somerset from time to time to see his parents and siblings as only two years after his uncles death, he married in Combe St Nicholas on 1st February 1882 to Bessie Owsley (b1858) a native of Ashill in Somerset (1 & 6/5). Bessie was the daughter of George Owsley (1830-1861) a master baker and at one time an innkeeper. With his wife Mary Ann (1827-1862) (nee Dyer) they produced four children, Arthur William (1856-1930); Bessie b.(1858), and twins Dorcas Jane and Walter Harry (b. Aug 1860). Her father George Owsley died on 10th Oct 1861 and her mother followed 3 months later on 8th Jan 1862 leaving them as orphans with an estate between them of under £100. It's not clear what happened to the children but at least one (Walter) ended up in an orphanage in Bristol. By 1881 however Bessie aged 22 is working in the hamlet of Wadeford still within the parish of Coombe St Nicholas with her older brother Arthur William already at the age of 24 a master baker. The picture below shows their bakers cart circa 1940.
For more pictures See 'The Old Parish' via this link
Thomas & Bessie soon produced the following children all born in Dorchester:-
(2) Bessie Mary Grigg (1885) (6/9) She married when she was 26 to Ebenezer Beck a post office clerk on 20th Oct 1910 and moved to 2 Essex Road, Basingstoke to live.
(3) George Ernest Grigg (1886-1887) (6/10) Died an infant (6/11)
(4) Lillie Georgina Grigg (1890-1978) (6/12) Died a spinster at Poole in 1978
(5) Rena [Reina] Emma Grigg (1891) (6/13) at the age of 19 she was working in a store in Bournemouth in the hosiery dept.
(6) Walter Charles Grigg (1893) (6/14) he was baptised at St Georges Church Fordington 10th Feb 1893
Thomas GRIGG died at the age of 75 in the registration district of Poole in Dorset in the year 1932 (6/18).
I have so far only recovered 14 of the thousands of photographs taken by Thomas Grigg in Dorchester. If you have one buried in your family album I would love to add it to those shown below. Please make contact using the email address shown on the home page.
Dating his Photographs: This is particularly difficult as he started his business using his home address but also later rented property which he used for a studio. I have used census returns, electoral registers and jury lists to identify where he lived, and trade directories for where he was operating his business. As far as I can tell he operated from his home until he set up a separate studio, in High East Street which appears to have happened sometime between 1896 and 1903.
Date Range & Reasoning: (Note:- I am quite happy to be corrected by anybody with more knowledge or information)
1875-1880: See Photographs (12 & 13 below) where Thomas Grigg claims he established his photographic business in 1875 when he was just 18 years old. I have never identified any photographs for this period and although he may well have become interested in photography from an early age because of the activities of John Pouncy (1818-1894) we know from probate of his uncles will that he was living in Horton in Buckingham working as a grocer in 1880. If he was selling photographs at all it appears to have been only a sideline. It's interesting that as far as I can tell he only starts to claim he established his business in 1875 around the end of the century, so perhaps a bit of poetic licence.
1881-1883: Thomas returned to Dorchester in 1880 upon the death of his uncle, who left a considerable fortune to his widow Mary Ann. We know from the 1881 census that Thomas was living at 34 South Street from before April that year until at least 1886 but he is described (as was his uncle) as a victualler or Innkeeper, not a photographer. He was clearly however also operating as a photographer from this address as he produced many cabinet cards (carte de viste) like the ones shown (at 1, 2 & 5 below) with just 'South Street' as his address.
1884-1887: He then adds in the street number making it '34 South Street' some time later (See picture left which is displayed with the kind permission of Andy Miller and is displayed on 'Flickr' © all rights reserved). As you would not start using the full street address and then truncate it, I have assumed that cards with just 'South street' as the address date from 1881-1883 and those with '34 South street' to 1884-1887.
1888-1892: From Jury Lists we know Thomas moved into '35 South Street' in 1888 and this is confirmed by Kelly's Directory for 1889 which gives us our earliest reference to his photographic business. He is still there in the 1891 Census (See cards 3 & 4 below)
1893-1898 - We also know he was living at '1 East Parade' in 1893 when his son Walter was baptised and at '3 East Parade' by 1894, and he is listed in Kelly's 1895 Directory as a photographer at this address but so far I have not located any photographs showing this address.
1901-1905 - Jury lists and the 1901 Census show that Thomas was living at '54/55 Icen way' between 1901 and 1905.
1906-1927 - He moved to live at '43 High East Street' Dorchester in 1906 and Kelly's Directories for 1915, 1920, and 1927 all show this address.
His Studio - 12 High East Street (1900-1903): 13 High East Street (1903-1915)
(1). Boy in Fancy Dress as Robin Hood or William Tell (taken c1881-1883)
Picture © Michael Russell OPC for Dorchester & Fordington
(2). Ellen Trevett (taken c1881-1883)
Picture © Rachel Mayers (nee Trevett)
The picture below is thought to have been taken around 1883 and to be of Ellen Trevett who was born in the 2nd qtr of 1868 and baptised at Winterbourne Steepleton (about 3 miles west of Dorchester) on 23rd August that year making her about 14 years of age. She was the daughter of Henry & Matilda Trevett and went into service woking as a domestic cook in Wyke Regis by 1891.
I am grateful to Paul WOODROW of Kingston, Ontario, Canada for this photograph which he believes to be of Isabella Lee of Puddletown. It is slightly later than the photograph above as Thomas has added the number 35 to his address in South Street which seems to fit reasonably well with Paul's original estimate of 1892. The reverse of the card however carries the same design as that above so I think it's slightly earlier perhaps 1888-1889 as we now know this external design was changed whilst Grigg was still at this address. See next photograph.
Picture © Paul Woodrow Kingston Ontario Canada
Paul comments:- "Although the person in the photo is not identified, I believe it is Isabella LEE. She was a daughter of Richard & Tamar Mayers, and was born in Puddletown in 1826. She married Harry WOODROW in Puddletown in 1846, and had a total of 13 children up to 1865. Her husband Harry died in 1872 and in 1879 she married James LEE in Puddletown. This family was still in Puddletown in the 1881 and 1891 census. James' death is listed in the first quarter of 1892.
This photograph has kindly been provided by a descendant Roy Martin and shows Charles Martin (1849-1919) who was a coach smith by trade with his wife Sarah Bilke Pitfield (1849 -1919). They married in St Georges Church Fordington on 24 Oct 1875 and Sarah's left hand is on top to show her wedding ring and married status. Link to more information about their family.
More photographs of Sarah's family are given below.
Note design round the outside of the reverse of the card has changed indicating a slightly later date than the card above. Perhaps 1890-1891
(Picture © Roy Martin)
Pictures © Michael Pitfield 2013
The 'Cabinet' card was a style of photograph which was universally adopted for photographic portraiture in 1870. This picture of an unknown young girl dressed in her Sunday best dates from between 1881 and 1883 because of the 'South Street' Address on the back of the card. I would guess she is about 5 years old.
(6). Married Lady (taken c.1895-1901) and (7). Gentlemen (taken c1886-1890) - Pitfield Family
These Cabinet Cards have nothing on the back and are only displayed together because the photographs feature the same sofa and may have been taken at a similar date. I am no expert in dating cards from period dress and quite prepared to be corrected by someone who actually knows what they are doing. I am using as a rough reference guide the publication 'Costume 1066 to the present' by John Peacock. (6). The Lady's tight fitting jacket and colar with a broach suggests 1895-1901. She is married as she appears to be wearing an engagement and wedding ring on her left hand which is presented in this way to show her married status. (7). The Man's Bowler hat with a curled trim, single breasted jacket fastened by the top button, a bound edge to the jacket with cuffs suggests a slightly earlier date of 1885-1890. There is no evidence that he was married. This card is unusually coloured light blue (although this is not clear from the image) and Blue on the reverse.
This photograph is known to be of (8) George PITFIELD (1844-1917) who was Innkeeper at the Bull's Head on Fordington Hill for 20 years from 1877 to 1897. Photographs with the black surround on the front are usually blank on the back as is this one. The High East Street studio was at 13 High East Street and my wife thinks he looks to be in his mid 50's which would date the photograph to (taken circa 1900)
George PITFIELD (1844-1917)
Innkeeper of the Bull's Head - Fordington Hill
(9). Young Man (taken c.1890-1895) and (10). Young Man (taken c1885-1890)- Pitfield Family
(9) These Cabinet Cards have nothing on the back. Winged colars seem to have been popular 1885-1890 but still in use through to 1910. Winged colars with silk neck ties possibly 1890-1895. (10) I wondered whether the white colar suggested that he had joined the church as it does not appear to be a fashion statement around this time. I could not however identify a suitable candidate with the surname of Pitfield but of course he may have married into the family. Silk Cravats with a pin certainly were in fashion in 1885-1890 but a handkerchief in the pocket might be more 1901-1905
(11). Trevett Family (Taken c.1895-1901)
Another picture of one of the children of Henry & Matilda Trevett (See picture 2 above). The family moved from Winterbourne Steepleton to Nether Cerne (about 4 miles north of Dorchester) to live and this is a picture of one of their younger sons
The only evidence we have for his studio is the entry in Kelly's directory for 1903 and the address given on the back of the following three photographs which refer to both 12 and 13 High East Street. We know from census returns, jury lists and electoral and parish registers that Thomas GRIGG never lived here.
This photograph has kindly been provided by Roy Martin and shows Albert Ernest Martin (1883-1917) probably around the age of 17 in the uniform of the Victoria Hotel where he worked in Weymouth. Unfortunately like so many of his generation he was killed in the first world war on 14th May 1917 in Flanders France still at the young age of 34. Link to more information about his family.
(Picture © Roy Martin)
Surprisingly I purchased this photograph from a dealer in Victorian photographs in Cyprus which just goes to show the power of the internet. The address is shown as '13 High East Street' and he has become an 'Artist to H.M.Government'. We only know for sure that Thomas Grigg was operating from this address from 1903 and may still have been doing up to 1915. Prior to 1903 we know that '13 High East Street' was a Boot and Shoe manufactures run by George & William Morton.
Her wide brimmed hat, the bow with a brooch at the neck, cotton blouse, deep waiste and gloves all suggest the end of the 19th century. She appears to be young and unmarried. Prior to 1903 Thomas Grigg was at number 12 High East Street and the inclusion of 'Icen Way', which was his home address from 1901-1905 suggests that it was produced between 1903 and 1905.
Picture © Michael Russell OPC for Dorchester & Fordington
(Picture © Linda Ferguson-Stuart)
Picture 14 has on the reverse the address "Durnovaria", Icen Way, 13, High Est Street, Dorchester.
Genealogical Research Notes:- [If anyone has any more information, particularly about his role as 'Artist to H.M.Government' can more accurately date the photographs, or possess copies of any of this documentation please make contact as it would help add to our understanding of his life and help verify facts]
(1). Most of the Information about the life of the Grigg & Owsley families in Combe St Nicholas has been provided by Jenny Davis who has a particular interest in the village.
(2). Located in the following Census Returns:-
1861 8th April: Combe St Nicholas, Somerset: Thomas Grigg son age 4 scholar; born Coombe St Nicholas (father George age 39 wool dyer) RG 9; Piece: 1635; Folio: 7; Page: 7
1861 8th April: Great Western Hotel West Fordington, Thomas Grigg (his uncle) Head age 50 Hotel keeper born Chard, with Mary ann wife age 50 born Moreton Class: RG 9; Piece: 1354; Folio: 72; Page: 25
1871 3rd April: Great Western Hotel West Fordington; Thomas Grigg; nephew; unmarried age 14; scholar; born Combe St Nicholas Somerset (with uncle) RG10; Piece: 2011; Folio: 44; Page: 6
1881 4th April: 34 South St, St Peters parish Dorchester; Thomas Grigg; head unmarried; age 24; licenced victualler; born Combe St Nicholas RG11; Piece: 2110; Folio: 84; Page: 9;
1891 6th April: 35 South St, St Peters Parish Dorchester, Bessie Grigg head, married age 32, wife of a photographer; born Ashill Somerset with children Thomas A age 8; Bessie MA age 6; Lillie G age 1 m and aunt Mary ann Grigg age 83 living on her own means - Thomas is absent & I cannot locate him elsewhere but presumably away working.
1901 1st April: 54 Icen Way, All Saints Dorchester; Thomas Grigg; Head; married age 44; Photographic Artist born Combe St Nicholas Somerset with Bessie age 42+5 children; RG13; Piece: 2001; Folio: 17; Page: 25
1911 2nd April: 43 High East St; Thomas Grigg Head married male age 54 photographic Artist born Combe St Nicholas Somerset; Bessie Grigg wife married female married 29 years aged 52
1865 Harrod's Directory: Thomas GRIGG (his uncle) Great Western Hotel near railway station
1875 Post Office Directory: Thomas GRIGG (his uncle) Great Western Hotel
1889 Kelly's Directory : Thomas GRIGG, 35 South Street, Photographer,
1895 Kelly's Directory: Thomas GRIGG Photographer 3 East Parade,
1903 Kelly's Directory: Thomas GRIGG Photographer, 13 High East Street
1915 Kelly's Directory: Thomas GRIGG 43 High East St; Photographer
1920 Kelly's Directory: Thomas GRIGG 43 High East St; Photographer
1882 - 1886 inc. St Peters: Thomas GRIGG, 34 South Street, Innkeeper, amount 20
1894 Fordington: Thomas GRIGG, Photographer, East Parade Freeholder, amount assessed to the poor rate £14.10s
1895 All Saints: Thomas GRIGG, Photographer, East Parade, Freeholder amount £14.10s
1897 -1898 inc. All Saints: Thomas GRIGG, Photographer, 3 East Parade, Freeholder, amount £14.10s
1901 - number 109 Thomas GRIGG, 57 Icen Way, Tenement
1902 - number 145 Thomas GRIGG, 54 Icen Way, Dwelling House successive, qualifying property 57 & 54 Icen way
1903 - 1904 inc: number 115 Thomas GRIGG, 54 Icen Way, Dwelling house, qualifying property 54 Icen Way
1908 - 1921 inc: number 74 Thomas GRIGG, 43 High East St, dwelling house, qualifying property 43 High East St
6.2 Marriage of his grandparents George Grigg to Betty (Elizabeth) Slade Pallots marriage index 1807 Combe St Nicholas dates from Jenny Davis
6.3 Birth Thomas GRIGG (1857-1932) GRO 1st qtr 1857 Chard Registration district Ref 5c/501 baptism from Jenny Davis
6.4 Marriage of his uncle Thomas Grigg to Mary Ann Gillard on 26th Oct 1857 at Holdenhurst Hants father George Grigg her father William Gillard CLDS Film 1041171 IGI
6.5 Marriage of Thomas Grigg (1857-1932) to Bessie Owsley GRO 1st qtr 1882 Chard district Somerset Ref 5c/600
6.6 Death Mary Ann Grigg GRO 1893 age 84 Dorchester district Ref5a/235. Note:- would have been buried in the civic cemetery at this date. Records not available
6.7 Marriage of Rosanna Gillard to Stephen Stevens GRO 2nd qtr 1871 wareham district Ref 5a/559
6.8 Birth Thomas Arthur Grigg GRO Dorchester District 1st qtr 1883 Ref 5a/349
6.9 Birth Bessie Mary A Grigg GRO Dorchester District 2nd qtr 1884 Ref 5a/352.
6.10. Birth George Ernest Grigg GRO Dorchester District 1st qtr 1886 Ref 5a/339
6.11. Death George Ernest Grigg GRO Dorchester District 3rd qtr 1887 aged 2 years Dorchester district Ref 5a/191
6.12 Birth Lillie Georgina Grigg GRO Dorchester District 4th qtr 1889 Ref 5a/341
6.13 Birth Rena Emma Grigg GRO Dorchester District 3rd qtr 1891 Ref 51/319
6.14 Birth Walter Charles Grigg GRO Dorchester District 1st qtr 1893 Ref 5a/314 also baptised Fordington St George Church 10th Feb 1893 residence 1 East Parade fathers occupation photographic artist
6.15 Death Thomas Arthur Grigg Sherborne Burial Register Entry 907 resident Kings Road, buried 3rd Dec 1915 aged 32 years Rev C.O.Rockett
6.16 Marriage Thomas Arthur Grigg to Evelyn Couling GRO 4th qtr 1910 Upton upon Severn Worcestershire Ref 6c 559
6.17 Marriage All Saints Church dorchester Marriage Register: Image Ancestry.com - Entry 368 after Banns 20th Oct 1910 Ebenezor BECK age 27 a bachelor a P.O. Clerk resident Basingstoke, father James Beck a labourer married Bessie Mary GRIGG age 26 a spinster no occupation resident All Saints Dorchester father thomas Grigg photographer both their signatures witnesses Thomas Grigg and Benjamin Gates
6.18 Death Thomas Grigg GRO 1932 age 75 Poole district Ref 5a/261
7.2 National Probate Register for 1897 - George GRIGG of Combe-St-Nicholas Somersetshire labourer died 27 December 1896 Probate Taunton 19 January to John BROWN gentleman Effects £98 14 6d
7.3 National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations),1861-1941 Record for Thomas Grigg 1880 Personal estate under £2,000: 12th March. The Will of Thomas Grigg late of Fordington in the County of Dorset Gentleman who died 28th February 1880 at Fordington was proved at Blandford by Mark Pilley of Dorchester in the said County Boot and Shoe maker and Thomas Grigg of Horton in the County of Buckingham Grocer the nephew the executors. NOTE:- His uncle seems to have had a number of nephews; for example in the 1871 census an older nephew, John Barber was also staying with him in Fordington
7.4 National Probate Register Mary Ann Grigg of Childe Okeford Dorset Widow died 17th March 1893 at Dorchester administration with Will Blandford 10th July to Rosanna Stevens (wife of Stephen Stevens) Effects £44.14s.1d
7.5 National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations),1861-1941 Record for Thomas Arthur Grigg of Hill View Kings-road Sherborne Dorsetshire journalist died 28th November 1915 Probate at Blandford 29th December to Evelyn Grigg Widow and Garnet McDaniel Ingram Accountant Effects £461.0s8d
(9) This photograph is reported on the web to be circa 1940 but Jenny Davis (who lived in the village) and I both think this dates much closer to the start of the century circa 1904?