Click here to select Other Photographers


Arthur James Turner

Amateur Photographer

Cabinet Print

Here is a cabinet print by A J Turner.  The background appears to be outdoors, rather than a studio backdrop.

The style of the photo looks similar to some taken around 1890, but the cabinet print has the photographer's name and address written in ink, rather than printed, or even stamped, onto the front or back of the photo.

This suggests to me that A J Turner may have been an amateur photographer or a professional photographer who did not do enough business to justify having cabinet cards specially printed.

I can find no trace of any professional photographer named Turner in the trade directories, though there was an Ebeneezer Turner was listed in the Edinburgh Trade directories as living at 2 Rosslyn Street from 1883 (or 1884) until 1894.

1894 was the latest year that Rosslyn Street, Pilrig, was listed in the Edinburgh & Leith Post Office Directories.

Cabinet Print

 Cabinet print by A J Turner  -  Was he an amateur or professional photographer?

©  Reproduced with acknowledgement to Ewan Morrison, Canberra, Australia


Arthur J Turner


1. What is known of A J Turner?

2. What is known of the photograph above?

If you have any information, can you please email me so that I can pass it on to the owner of this photo.

 Thank you.

Answer - 1

A J Turner

Arthur J Turner was an amateur photographer, though some of the photos he produced (see above) were in the style of a professional photographer.

He was the eldest son of  Ebenezer Turner.  Arthur was born in Ireland and was a student, aged 19, who worked for the Civil Service and lived at 2 Rosslyn Street at the time of the 1891 Census.  See below.

This information, together with the address details from the trade directories above suggest that the photograph above was probably taken around the early 1890s.

Bill Turner (nephew of Andrew Turner) tells me that Andrew used to coat the backs of old envelopes with silver nitrate to produce some of his photos.  Bill still has some of these photos.

[Sources  1. 'The Venture'  held by the Edinburgh Room at Edinburgh Central Library.
2. Bill Turner, grandson of Ebenezer Turner and nephew of Arthur J Turner  -  Oct 2004]

Answer - 2

Date and Place of Photo

The photograph was probably taken between 1890 when Arthur J Turner was aged 18 and 1893 when his address 2 Rosslyn Street was re-named 8 Rosslyn Crescent.

The photograph was taken in the back garden at 2 Rosslyn Street.

Arthur J Turner was born 18 July 1872.  He died 29 November 1952  [The Venture, 1892]

[Bill Turner - Nov 2004]

Answers - 3


The cabinet print photograph above  is believed to be of  Mrs Arcus, a person of some influence in the Morrison household in Leith - a teacher or some such.  The younger woman is a mystery.

[Ewan Morrison - Nov 2004]

The younger woman seems likely to be Miss Angus.  She was a member of Pilrig Church, Edinburgh in the 1890s, and joined the church's Essay Club which was started by Ebenezer Turner and to which his son Arthur J Turner was a  regular contributor.

[Bill, Turner - Nov 2004]

 I am exploring the Arcus family history and Iíll have a look to see if I can establish who the Arcus ladies photographed may be. There were two or three Arcus families in Edinburgh at the time. All originated, a generation or two earlier than the time of the photo, from the Shetland Isles in the far north.

[Rob Arcus]


Family Histories

Further Research

The cabinet print above brings together research from three families. The first two (at least) had ancestors who were involved with Pilrig Parish Church and its Essay Club in the 1890s:

-  Bill Turner, Portobello Edinburgh is nephew of Arthur J Turner and grandson of Ebenezer Turner who started the Pilrig Church Essay Club, and wrote a History of Pilrig Church.

-  Ewan Morrison, Canberra Australia, who owns the cabinet print above, is great-grandfather, William Morrison, was born at 6 Kirkgate Leith in 1863 and was a prominent member of Pilrig Church.

The young lady in the cabinet print above is probably Miss Arcus.  She was also a member of the Pilrig Church essay club.

-  Rob Arcus - currently investigating the Arcus family history.

The family research above is ongoing.  If you would like to make contact with those carrying out the research, please email me so that I can pass on your message to them.


1891 Census

2 Rosslyn Street, Pilrig, Edinburgh


Head Ebenezer Turner P age 45? Officer of Inland Revenue 1st Class b. England
Wife Susan Turner P age 47 - b. England
Son Arthur J Turner P age 18 Student
Civil Service
b.. Ireland
Daughter Helen May P age 15? Dressmaker's Apprentice

b. Prestonpans,  Haddingtonshire

Daughter Daisy G P age 13 Scholar

b. Prestonpans, Haddingtonshire

Son Herbert P age 11 -

b. Pencaitland Haddingtonshire

Son Walter A   age 8 - b. North Leith
Son Harold P age 5 - b. Edinburgh
Daughter Ella P age 3 - b. Edinburgh

P = See photograph below.  Click on the  photo to enlarge it.

Photograph of the Turner Family, by Ovinius Davis, 1910 ©

The Turner Family


BACK ROW:      Bertie,  Arthur,  Harold

MIDDLE ROW:   Ebenezer,  Susan

FRONT ROW:     Nellie, Ella, Daisy


Ebenezer Turner and his Family

Ebenezer Turner in his back garden, standing beside his tricycle ©

The Venture

Ebenezer Turner was a prominent member of Pilrig Church.  He founded the Pilrig Church Essay Club.  He wrote a book The History of Pilrig Church in 1913.

Members of the Pilrig Church Essay Club wrote a series of essays in the 1890s.  These were bound into seven leather-bound volumes of handwritten essays.  The volumes are titled The Venture

These volumes, extending to almost 1,000 pages each, are illustrated with a few photos and lots of ink drawings, many by A J Turner, and some attractive ink-wash drawings.  They are now all held by the Edinburgh Room reference library at Edinburgh Central Library.

Early editions of The Venture record that:

-  Ebenezer Turner was born in Lewes, Sussex and came to Edinburgh as an excise offices, after serving in Oban, Campbletown, County Kerry, Prestonpans and Kinchie.

-  Ebenezer's son, H W Turner (1843-1914) drew most of the illustrations for The Venture.

-  Ebenezer's son, the photographer A J Turner (1872-1952), also a regular contributor to The Venture, was Chief Clerk in the Accounting Office at the GPO in Edinburgh.


Turner Family photos