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William Towert

William Towert & Son

Studio

William Towert established his photography business in 1865, and was later joined by his son, who become proprietor of the business.  His studio addresses in Edinburgh were:

Towert,  William

31 Saint Patrick Square

1865-73

Towert,  William 

29 Saint Patrick Square

1874-76

Towert,  William, & Son

29 Saint Patrick Square

1877-79

Towert,  William, & Son

14 Nicolson Square

1878-83

Towert,  William, & Son

42 Saint Patrick Square

1880-99

The Towert studio was described in one 1890 account as follows:

“Established at its present premises, 42 St Patrick Square, twenty-six years ago by William Towert, father of the present proprietor.” 

“An extensive practice, including amongst its patrons the most influential families in the surrounding districts, many athletic clubs, rowing, swimming and water polo groups.”

“It is a large establishment with fine showroom on the front street and sitting room in the rear, both displaying beautiful specimens of the firm’s work.  Beyond the sitting room is the studio, equipped with all descriptions of back scenes - an aspect of studio photography that was becoming more widespread.”    [ST]

 

Cartes de Visite

Please see Cartes de Visite by Edinburgh Photographers for an example of one of William Towert's cartes de visite.

  

Comments

1.

D Richard Torrance

Edinburgh

Thank you to D Richard Torrance, who has been compiling lists of Scottish photographers, for providing the family details below. 

1881 Census

William Towert was listed as:

Photographer:  aged 55

Born:  Edinburgh

Resident:  8 Buccleuch Street, Edinburgh

Children

1 Agnes

 

(born:  America)

2.  Andrew

 

(born:  America)

3.  Lillias M

aged 21 

(born:  America)

 

  

Comments

2.

VJ King Sr

Round Corner, New South Wales, Australia

Thank you to VJ King Sr who wrote:

Family History Research

"I have been researching the families of the Edinburgh photographer, William Towert (born about 1826?) and a founder of the Christadelphian movement, Dr John Thomas (1805-1871).

Thomas emigrated to the USA in 1832 and in 1848 returned to the UK embarking upon a two-year lecture tour that incorporated Glasgow (15 Sep – 13 Oct) and, relevantly, Edinburgh (27 Oct – 11 Nov).

It seems likely that William Towert met, if not befriended, Thomas during the latter’s 1848 Edinburgh visit for, within three years, we find both men, and their families, residing in New York where Towert is recorded as photographing Dr Thomas and members of his family. 

The resultant 'American' photographs were advertised in an 1870 UK Christadelphian periodical as available “on application to W Towert, 31, St. Patrick’s Square, Edinburgh.”

William Towert returned to the UK, setting up his photographic studio in Edinburgh in 1865.  Dr John Thomas died in the US in 1871 on the eve of his intended return and resettlement in the UK."

VJ King, Round Corner, New South Wales, Australia:  December 22, 2011

Here is a copy of a William Towert advert that VJ King has sent to me:

Photographs

Excellent photographs of sister Lasius (Dr Thomas's daughter) and also of sister Thomas (the  Dr's wife), from an American picture; also the Dr himself, can be had on application to W TOWERT, 31 St Patrick Square, Edinburgh.  Each post free for 7 stamps; or the set for 1s7d.

 

Below are some extracts from notes sent to me by VJ King.  These notes raise an interesting question about William Towert's name.

1841 Census

George Forrest

Resident: Auchnieve, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Wife:  Helen Forrest

Children: 

1 John Forrest

aged 14

2.  Thomas Forrest

aged 9

3.  Jane Forrest

aged 7

4.  William Forrest

aged 5

5.  James Forrest

aged 3

 

1851 Census

George Forrest

Resident:  Auchnum (sic):  probably Auchnieve, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Wife:  Helen Forrest

Children: 

1 Jane Forrest

aged 19:  note age discrepancy

2.  Thomas Towert

aged 19:  note surname change

3.  William Towert

aged 15:  note surname change

4.  James Towert

aged 13:  note surname change

4.  Alexander Towert

aged 9:  note surname change

4.  Mary Towert

aged 5

4.  Helen

aged 2

 

1861 Census

William Towert:    No entry found for him in UK census 

He would have been living in USA in 1861.

 

1871 Census

William Towert

Resident:  138 Nicholson (sic) Street, should be Nicolson Street, Edinburgh

Occupation Lithographer Arteat (sic):  probably should be Artist

Wife:  Lillian (sic):  should be Lilias

Children

1.  Agnes

aged 19

(born:  New York)

2.  Andrew W

aged 15

(born:  New York)

3.  Allias (sic) M:*

aged 10

(born:  New York)

 * should be Lillias M

1881 Census

William Towert

Wife:  (not included in this census)

Resident: 8 Buccleuch Street, Edinburgh

Occupation Photographer

Children

1 Agnes

aged 29

2.  Andrew W

aged 25

3.  Lilias M

aged 21

Also a border:  Robert Scott Mowatt,

William Towert & Son

It was on Andrew W Towert's attainment of age 21, in 1877, that  '& Son' was added to the company's name.

 

Reply to VJ King?

VJ King is keen to find photos of Dr John Thomas taken by William Towert, and to discover if there are any descendants of William Towert who may have inherited any of William Towert's photos.

If you think you may be able to help VJ King, please email me, then I'll pass on your message to him.

Thank you.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  January 11, 2012

Comments

3.

VJ King Sr

Round Corner, New South Wales, Australia

VJ King added:

Date of Birth

"While there does exist a discrepancy in the records as to William Towert's date of birth, I lean towards 1826 as representing the more realistic year – otherwise, if 1836, Towert would be having his firstborn, Agnes, at 16 years of age – possible, but unlikely."

VJ King, Round Corner, New South Wales, Australia:  January 15, 2012

Date of Birth

Despite VJ King's comments above, I would find it surprising for the date of birth of a child to be recorded with a discrepancy of ten years in the 1841 census and for this mistake to be repeated in the following census in 1851.

Peter Stubbs:  Edinburgh:  January 17, 2012

 

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Links to Other Pages

EdinPhoto - Home Page  Please send me an e-mail ...  with your questions, comments, suggestions or news.   At any time, you can search for a word  -  perhaps a photographer's name or a photographic topic.  The search will produce a list of pages on the EdinPhoto web site where this word appears.     At any time, you can search for a word  -  perhaps a photographer's name or a photographic topic.  The search will produce a list of pages on the EdinPhoto web site where this word appears.  

Photographs and Other Images  -  These include portraits of photographers  -  photographic outings -  Princes Street views  -  Newhaven Fishwives  -  etc.  Early Photography in Edinburgh  -  Talbot, Brewster, Hill & Adamson, Early Professional Photographers in Princes Street, etc.  Professional Photographers in Edinburgh  -  1840 to 1940  -  Their names, dates of business and studio addresses.  The Photographic Society of Scotland  -  1856 to 1873  -  Lectures, Exhibitions, Outings, etc.  The History of Edinburgh Photographic Society  -  1861 to date  -  Lectures, Exhibitions, Outings, Poems, etc.  EPS Publications - EPS Handwritten Records  -  Photographic Journals  -  Trade Directories  -  Books  -  etc.  Thanks to all who have encouraged and supported me in creating the EdinPhoto web site  -  including descendants of photographers  -  researchers  -  providers of photographs and other material  Background notes on the research thal led up to the creation of this site  -   together with lists of new material added to the site since its launch.  Brief comments on how this site might be used  -  Just browsing?  -  Seeking specific information?  Please add your questions, suggestions or other comments to the Guest Book.  Links to other web sites  -  Photographic Societies  -  Photographic History  -  Family History  -  etc.  Click here to find the link to the Edinburgh Photogrpahic Society web site.

 

A selection of my photographs, many from Edinburgh throughout the year.   Also photos from Scotland, London, Iceland, Italy, Hong Kong and elsewhere    Many old maps of Edinburgh (Old Town, New Town, while City), Leith and Newhaven.  Includes several old transport maps and a comparison of old maps with recent aerial photos.   Old engravings, mailly of Edinburgh scenes.  Some from the 1820s, some from the 1890s,  some others - includes many hand-coloured examples from the 1820s.   News from Edinburgh today  -  Events, Collections, Buildings and Gardens, Transport   This site includes     1. Post card portraits taken in studios in Edinburgh:    2. Post card views either takeen/published by Ediburgh photographers or views of Edinburgh, or both.y Edinburgh    Views of Edinburgh, grouped into three sections:     1. Street views:    2. Buildings:    3. Around Edinburgh   Views of transport around Edinburgh  -  Horse drawn trams and buses, cable cars, electric trams, buses and a few railway photos.  Also several maps of Edinburgh's bus and tram routes.   Links to pages with Photos of Groups   Frequently Asked Questions

  Summary of the updates added to this site each month since the site was launched   Links to Dumbiedykes pages  Link to Granton pages  Link to Leith pages   Link to Newhaven pages   Links to Portobello pages   Link to My Recent Talks