Stephen Grey - Brighton Photographer

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Stephen Grey (1822-1891) - Brighton Photographer

Part 1 : 1851-1863

Stephen Grey ( born 1822, Charlwood, Surrey - died 1891, Brighton, Sussex )  

Stephen Grey was born in Charlwood, Surrey, in 1822. By 1851, Stephen Grey was living in Brighton, working as a porter and messenger at 57 Marine Parade, where William Constable was operating Brighton's earliest photographic portrait studio. It is likely that Stephen Grey was introduced to photography during his employment at 57 Marine Parade. Later that year, Stephen Grey married a nineteen year old local girl named Jane Ann Wood (born c1832, Brighton). By 1852, Stephen Grey was working as a portrait painter and living in Eastern Road, Brighton.  
 

Grey & Hall

In 1854, Stephen Grey entered into partnership with a Scottish-born photographer named William Hall (c1826 Selkirk). By July 1854, the firm of Grey & Hall had established a Photographic Institution at 13 St James' Street, Brighton. In an advertisement dated 13th July 1854, Grey & Hall announced the opening of their "General Photographic Institution", where they made photographic portraits " by all the most recent  and improved processes, by License of the Patentees." An advertisement for Grey & Hall's General Photographic Institution in the Brighton Gazette of 3rd August 1854 reads as follows :

GENERAL PHOTOGRAPHIC INSTITUTION

13 St James's Street, Brighton

Mssrs GREY and HALL beg to announce that they have just opened the above establishment and have completed arrangements for taking Portraits by all the most recent and improved processes, by License of the Patentees. Talbotype Portrait of large size, mounted in gilt frame, 15s. mounted duplicates 7s 6d.

Coloured Collodion Positives by a new and peculiar process from 15s.

Daguerreotype, warranted to last, from 6s.

These pictures are taken in a spacious Glassroom, erected for the purpose, in which is obtained the most agreeable light and shade.

Grey & Hall's General Photographic Institution was unusual in that it offered to take portraits using all three of the available photographic processes. - Daguerreotype, Talbotype and Collodion Positive. The patent on the daguerreotype, a positive image on a silver-coated copper plate, had come to an end on 14th August, 1853, and so, strictly speaking, Grey & Hall did not need to hold a licence for this particular method of photography. The Talbotype was a positive print on paper made from a negative using William Henry Fox Talbot's calotype process, which the inventor had patented in 1841. Professional photographers who wished to produce talbotype portraits were required to purchase a licence from William Henry Fox Talbot. In 1851, Frederick Scott Archer had invented a photographic process which involved coating a glass plate with a sticky substance called collodion. Archer had chosen not to patent his invention, but as the collodion process involved making photographs from a negative, Talbot claimed that the process was covered by his earlier patent. The Collodion Positive was a method by which an underexposed collodion glass negative was placed against a black background to give the appearance of a positive photograph. As Henry Fox Talbot had recently started legal action against photographers who were using the collodion process, alleging they were infringing his patent rights, Grey and Hall decided to purchase a licence from Talbot so that they were free to produce both Talbotype portraits and 'collodion positives.' By 1854, there were only nine photographic studios in England holding licences from Talbot and two of these were located in Brighton - Hennah & Kent's Talbotype Portrait Gallery at 108 King's Road and Grey & Hall's General Photographic Institution in St James's Street.

[LEFT] A fragment of a label advertising Grey & Hall's Photographic Institution at 13 St. James Street and 18 Old Steine, Brighton, which provides the backing to a framed coloured collodion positive portrait of two sisters dating from around 1855. (The collodion positive portrait of the two girls is illustrated below). It appears that Stephen Grey and William Hall opened their second studio at 18 Old Steine, Brighton in the Autumn of 1854. An advertisement published in October 1854 mentions that Grey & Hall took photographs using "three distinct processes - Daguerreotype, Talbotype and Collodion". The collodion positive (ambrotype) process soon supplanted the daguerreotype in portraiture.

Grey & Hall's Photographic Institution was located at 13 St James's Street, in the eastern part of Brighton called Kemp Town. St James's Street led to the Old Steine and ran parallel to Marine Parade on the eastern seafront and so was reasonably well located for visitors to the seaside town. Folthorp's Directory for Brighton, which was compiled in September 1854, lists the business premises of Grey & Hall at 13 St James's Street, but within a month the two photographers had opened a second studio in the Old Steine. In October 1854, the firm of Grey & Hall  was advertising a second studio at 18 Old Steine, but this branch studio was only in business for a short time. The partnership of Grey & Hall was dissolved on 25th November 1858. William Hall retained the studio at 13 St. James's Street and Stephen Grey established a separate studio of his own.

[ABOVE] Portrait of  a young woman holding a pet bird, a collodion positive (ambrotype) by Grey & Hall's Photographic Institution, 13 St. James Street, Brighton (c1858).

[PHOTO: Courtesy of Richard Meara]

 

[ABOVE] The trade plate of Grey & Hall of 13 St. James Street, Brighton, which was stamped on the leather case of the collodion positive photograph shown above.

[PHOTO: Courtesy of Richard Meara]

 

[ABOVE] Advertisement for Grey & Hall's Photographic Institution, 13 St. James Street, Brighton, which appeared in The Sussex Express on 7th October 1854.

 A Coloured Collodion Positive Portrait of Two Young Girls by Grey & Hall of Brighton (c1855)

[ABOVE] A framed collodion positive portrait of two identically dressed girls, probably sisters, produced at Grey & Hall's Photographic Institution around 1855. The photographic frame was provided by W. J. Penn, picture frame maker of 12 Grove Road, Eastbourne. [ABOVE] Grey & Hall's collodion positive portrait depicting two identically dressed girls (c1855). In this picture, the portrait on glass has been removed from its frame. At the back of the photograph on glass is an advertising label for Grey & Hall's Photographic Institution in Brighton. [ABOVE] A fragment of an advertising label advertising Grey & Hall's Photographic Institution at 13 St. James Street and 18 Old Steine, Brighton, which provides the backing to the portrait illustrated on the left. The text states that "Mr. G. & Mr. H respectfully inform their friends" that they "continue to take Daguerreotype Portraits".
 

Stephen Grey's Family

Stephen Grey married Jane Ann Wood (born c1833, Brighton) in Brighton in 1851. [Marriage registered in Brighton during Second Quarter of 1851]. The couple's first child, Sarah Jane Ann Grey was born in the Spring of 1852 and baptised on 1st August 1852 at St Nicholas's Church, Brighton. Their second child, Charles Stephen Grey, was born two years later and baptised in Brighton on 1st October 1854. Another daughter was born around October 1856 and was Christened with the name of Frances Mary Grey at Brighton's church of St Nicholas on 2nd November 1856. George Elijah Grey, Stephen and Jane's second son, arrived during the Second Quarter of 1859.

From around 1854, Stephen Grey and his family lived in Park Street, Brighton. When the 1861 census was taken, Stephen Grey, his wife Jane and their four children were recorded at No 19 Park Street, Brighton. Stephen Grey is described on the census return as a "Photographist", aged 39.

1861 CENSUS: 19 Park Street, Brighton

         
Stephen GREY  

Head 

  Photographist   age 39   born Charlwood, Surrey
Jane A.  GREY 

wife

  Photographist's wife age 30   born Brighton, Sussex
Sarah J. GREY  daughter      scholar   age 9    born Brighton, Sussex
Charles S. GREY son     scholar       age 7        born Brighton, Sussex
Frances M. GREY    daughter      scholar      age 5      born Brighton, Sussex
George Elijah GREY   son     scholar age 2     born Brighton, Sussex
         

[ABOVE] Details of  the Grey Family from the 1861 Census Return

 Stephen Grey's Photographic Career after 1861

[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of  a woman by Stephen Grey, Photographer, 144 Western Road, Brighton (c1866).
The Carte-de-visite Portrait

Not long after Stephen Grey and William Hall parted company, the carte de visite portrait became popular and this led to an increase in the number of photographic studios in Brighton. In 1862, Stephen Grey was one of two dozen photographers who had their own portrait studio in Brighton. In Folthorp's General Directory of Brighton published in 1862, Stephen Grey is listed as a photographer at 20A Norfolk Square.

The carte de visite was a small photographic portrait pasted on a card measuring approximately 2 1/2 inches by 4 1/4 inches ( 6.3 cm by 10.5 cm)  -  the same size as a conventional visiting card, hence its name.

Stephen Grey's advertisements in the mid 1860s provide details of the charges he made for his carte-de-visite portraits. At Grey's studio, a single carte-de-visite cost one shilling, while a dozen copies could be had for 5 shillings. Compared to other Brighton studios, these prices were in the middle range. A high class establishment, such as Mayall's Photographic Portrait Studio at 90-91 King's Road, Brighton, charged 1. 1s. for a set of 12 carte-de-visite portraits. * *  

* *  In the mid 1860s, the average earnings of adult male workers was around 19 shillings a week. Adult women earned, on average, 11 shillings a week.

Part 2 : 1864-1891

[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a couple by Wells & Grey, Photographers, 144 Western Road, Brighton (c1864)

 

Wells & Grey

By 1864, Stephen Grey had joined Francis Ross Wells at 144 Western Road to form the firm of Wells & Grey. Stephen Grey's business partner Francis Ross Wells (c1834-1893) had previously operated a studio at 27, St James' Street, Brighton. The partnership with Wells only lasted about a year and by October 1865, Stephen Grey was the sole proprietor of the studio at 144 Western Road and remained there for the next 10 years. 

[ABOVE] The trade plate of Wells & Grey, Photographers, of 144 Western Road, Brighton (c1864)

 

[ABOVE] Advertisement for Stephen Grey's studio at 144 Western Road, Brighton (1865)

 

Stephen Grey at 144 Western Road, Brighton

 

[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a seated man by Stephen Grey (Late Wells & Grey), Photographer, 144 Western Road, Brighton (c1865)

[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a young man writing at a desk by Stephen Grey (Late Wells & Grey), Photographer, 144 Western Road, Brighton (c1866). Negative No. 32944

[ABOVE] A hand-coloured carte-de-visite portrait of a seated man by Stephen Grey, Photographer, 144 Western Road, Brighton (c1868). Negative No. 55852

 
       

 

[ABOVE] The trade plate of Stephen Grey (Late Wells & Grey), Photographer, 144 Western Road, Brighton, as printed on the reverse of  carte-de-visite portrait (c1865).

[ABOVE] The trade plate of Stephen Grey (Late Wells & Grey), Photographer, 144 Western Road, Brighton, as printed on the reverse of  carte-de-visite portrait (c1865). Negative No. 32944

[ABOVE] The trade plate of Stephen Grey, Photographer, 144 Western Road, Brighton, as printed on the reverse of  carte-de-visite portrait (c1865). Negative No. 55852

 

 

1871 CENSUS: 51 Cobden Road, Brighton

         
Stephen GREY Head  Photographer   age 48    born Charlwood, Surrey
Jane A.  GREY wife   age 38 born Brighton, Sussex
Sarah J. GREY daughter   Photographer age 19 born Brighton, Sussex
Charles GREY  son  Photographer  age 17  born Brighton, Sussex
Frances GREY  daughter     age 15  born Brighton, Sussex
George GREY son   age 12 born Brighton, Sussex
(Anne) Elizabeth GREY daughter    age 9 born Brighton, Sussex
Walter GREY  son    age 6   born Brighton, Sussex
Alice GREY daughter     age 4  born Brighton, Sussex
Emily GREY daughter   

age 2  

born Brighton, Sussex

[ABOVE] Details of  the Grey Family from the 1871 Census Return

Stephen Grey and his Photographer Children

At the time of the 1871 Census, Stephen Grey was residing at 51 Cobden Road with his wife and eight children. Stephen Grey is recorded in the 1871 census return as a "Photographer", aged 48. In 1871, the two eldest children, nineteen year old Sarah Grey and seventeen year old Charles Grey, were both assisting their father in his photographic studio and in the census return each give their profession as "Photographer". As each son became old enough to work, another photographer joined the family business. By 1890, Stephen Grey and all four of his sons were working as photographic artists.

Towards the end of 1871, Stephen and Jane's youngest daughter, Emily Grace Grey, died before reaching her third birthday. Early in 1873, Sarah Jane Grey, their eldest daughter, married and left the family home. Sarah's place in the Grey household was soon filled by the arrival of Stephen Grey's last child - Sidney William Grey ( birth registered in Brighton during the Second Quarter of 1873].

Some time before 1876, Stephen Grey had returned to his original studio at 13 St. James's Street. By 1882, Stephen Grey had taken his sons into the family business and from this date the studio at 13 St James's Street went under the name of "Stephen Grey & Sons".

 

[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a seated man by Stephen Grey, Photographer, 144 Western Road, Brighton (c1872).

[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a woman and child by Stephen Grey, Photographer, 144 Western Road, Brighton (c1872)

[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of  Miss Margaret King by Stephen Grey, Photographer, 144 Western Road, Brighton (c1871).

[ABOVE] The trade plate of Stephen Grey, Photographer, 144 Western Road, Brighton,  as printed on the reverse of  carte-de-visite portrait (c1871). The Dublin International Exhibition mentioned at the foot of the design took place in 1865.

 

Stephen Grey at 13 St. James Street, Brighton

 

[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of  a bearded man by Stephen Grey, Photographer, 13 St James Street, Brighton (c1876). See below for the reverse of this carte-de-visite.

[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of  a boy and a young woman by Stephen Grey, Photographer, 13 St James Street, Brighton (c1876).

[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of  a bearded man in a top hat by Stephen Grey, Photographer, 13 St James Street, Brighton (c1877). See below for the reverse of this carte-de-visite.

 

 

[ABOVE] The trade plate of Stephen Grey, Photographer, 13 St James's Street, Brighton,  as printed on the reverse of  carte-de-visite portrait (c1876). The Brighton Aquarium mentioned in the address was opened in 1872.

[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite group portrait of  three men by Stephen Grey, Photographer, 13 St James's Street, Brighton (c1878).

[ABOVE] The trade plate of Stephen Grey, Photographer, 13 St James's Street, Brighton,  as printed on the reverse of  carte-de-visite portrait (c1877).

 

 

1881 CENSUS: 51 Cobden Road, Brighton

         
Stephen GREY Head Photographer   age 58    born Charlwood, Surrey
Jane A. GREY wife   age 48 born Brighton, Sussex
Charles S. GREY  son Photographer  age 26  born Brighton, Sussex
Ann. E. GREY   daughter   Dressmaker  age 18   born Brighton, Sussex
Walter J. GREY  son Photographer  age 16   born Brighton, Sussex
Alice H. GREY daughter  Scholar    age 13  born Brighton, Sussex
Sidney W. GREY son Scholar   age 8   born Brighton, Sussex

[ABOVE] Details of  the Grey Family from the 1881 Census Return

Stephen Grey & Sons

 

[ABOVE] The trade plate of Stephen Grey & Son, Artists, Photographers, 13 St James's Street, Brighton, as printed on the reverse of  carte-de-visite portrait (c1887).
 

[ABOVE] The trade plate of Stephen Grey & Sons, Artist Photographers, 67 Lewes Road, Brighton (c1890).

 

By 1881, George Elijah Grey had left the family home, but two of Stephen Grey's photographer sons, Charles and Walter, worked alongside their father in the family business. From around 1882, the studio at 13 St James Street went under the name of Stephen Grey & Sons. Stephen Grey ran a second studio at 48 Preston Road, but these premises were taken over by the photographer Henry Spink junior after only a year. By 1885, Grey & Sons had opened another studio at 67 Lewes Road and around 1890, Stephen Grey vacated the St James Street studio, which passed to the photographer Alfred James. In 1890, Stephen Grey left Cobden Road and set up home at his new business premises at 32 Caledonian Road. By this date, Stephen's three eldest sons had married and were operating their own photographic studios. Charles S. Grey had taken over the family studio at 67 Lewes Road and George Elijah Grey had set up a studio at 70 Islingword Road.

When the 1891 Census was taken, the only child living with his parents at the family home was 18 year old Sidney William Grey, who was assisting his father in the Caledonian Road studio.

Over the last twelve years of his life, Stephen Grey suffered from an inguinal hernia. In April 1891 it was discovered that the hernia had become strangulated and that an operation was essential. Stephen Grey was admitted to the Sussex County Hospital and underwent surgery lasting three hours. Stephen Grey did not survive his ordeal and, on 29th April 1891, he died. He was sixty-eight years old at the time of his death. Stephen Grey had been active as a photographer in Brighton for nearly 40 years. Five of his children had worked as photographers in Brighton and three of these had operated their own photographic studios in the town.

Stephen Grey's second eldest son George Elijah Grey (born 1859, Brighton) had established his own studio at 70 Islingword Road, Brighton around 1889. In 1891, George Grey and his wife Louisa were living in London. He returned to Brighton, but early in 1892, George Grey died at the relatively young age of 32.

Stephen Grey's eldest son, Charles Stephen Grey (born 1854, Brighton) ran what he called the Military Photographic Studio at 67 Lewes Road, Brighton until about 1896, when it was sold to Ernest H. Jones. Another son, Walter James Grey (born 1854, Brighton) worked as a photographer in Stephen Grey's Brighton studio from the age of sixteen, but after his father's death he appears to have abandoned photography. In 1901, Walter Grey was working as an "Assurance Agent" in Willesden, Middlesex.

Stephen Grey's youngest son, Sidney William Grey (born 1873, Brighton) took over the family studio at 32 Caledonian Road, Brighton, after his father died in 1891. Sidney (who went by the name of "Sydney W. Grey" in adult life) worked as a photographer throughout the 1890s. Around 1899, Sydney W. Grey opened a new studio at 172 Lewes Road, Brighton which he operated until the end of the First World War. By 1921, S. W. Grey's studio at 172 Lewes Road was in the hands of the London photographer Henry Brabazon.

 
George Elijah Grey (1859-1892)

George Elijah Grey, Stephen and Jane Grey's fourth child and second eldest son, was born in Brighton during the 2nd Quarter of 1859.

George Elijah Grey married Arabella Edwards (born 1856, Horringer, Suffolk) in Fulham, London, in 1887. Arabella Edwards, George's bride, was the daughter of Susannah and Valentine Edwards, a carpenter from Horringer (Horningsheath), a Suffolk village 2 miles south-west of Bury St. Edmunds.

Mrs Arabella Grey gave birth to a daughter named Mabel Olive Grey in 1888, when she and her husband were living in Fulham. A second daughter, Elsie Hilda Grey, arrived the following year. George Grey and his family were still living in London at the time of the 1891 census. Sadly, George Elijah Grey died early in 1892 at the age of thirty-two.

Following George Grey's death in 1892, his widow Mrs Arabella Grey placed her children in the care of her parents in Horningsheath and went back to work as a cook in London in order to financially support her two young daughters. Around 1908, Mrs Arabella Grey and her two grown-up daughters emigrated to New Zealand.

 
[RIGHT] A detail from a Victorian map of Brighton showing the approximate location of George Elijah Grey's photographic studio at 70 Islingword Road, Brighton. George Grey operated as a photographer at No 70 Islingword Road, Brighton for a brief period in the late 1880s.

Detail from a Victorian Map of Brighton (c1882). The approximate location of George Elijah Grey's studio in Islingword Road is marked by a red dot.


 

The Family of Stephen Grey 

Stephen Grey (born 1822, Charlwood, Surrey - died 29th April 1891, Brighton, Sussex ). Photographer. Married 2nd Qtr 1851 = Jane Anne Wood (born c1832, Brighton)

Jane Ann Grey ( born c1832 Brighton - died 1910, Steyning District )

CHILDREN

  1. Sarah Jane Ann Grey (born 2nd Qtr 1852, Brighton ; baptised 1st August 1852). Photographer in 1871. Married 1st Qtr 1872.
  2. Charles Stephen Grey (born 1854, Brighton ; baptised 1st October 1854, Brighton). Photographer. Married 2nd Qtr 1883 = Emma Georgina Nash ( born 1857, Maidstone, Kent )
  3. Frances Mary Grey  (born 1856, Brighton ; baptised 2nd November 1856, Brighton)
  4. George Elijah Grey (born 2nd Qtr 1859, Brighton - died 1st Qtr 1892). Photographer. Married 3rd Qtr 1887 =  Arabella Edwards (born 1856, Horringer, Suffolk). Two daughters: Mabel Olive (born 1888) & Elsie Hilda (born 1890)
  5. Elizabeth Annie Grey [aka Annie Elizabeth] (born 4th Qtr 1862, Brighton ; baptised 7th December 1862). Dressmaker in 1881. Married 3rd Qtr 1884 = Elias Patching (1857-1889)
  6. Walter James Grey (born 4th Qtr 1865, Brighton ; baptised 7th January 1866 ). Photographer. Married 1st Qtr 1886 = Edith Caroline Chappell (born c1868, Bramber, Sussex ).
  7. Alice Harriett Grey (born 1st Qtr 1868, Brighton ; baptised 5th April 1868 ). Married 2nd Qtr 1888 = Alfred Edward Priest.
  8. Emily Grace Grey (born 1869, Brighton ; baptised 6th March 1870 - died 4th Qtr 1871, Brighton, aged 2)
  9. Sidney William Grey [aka Sydney] (born 2nd Qtr 1873, Brighton ) Photographer. Married 3rd Qtr 1901 = Madeline Sarah Gorringe (born 1879, Brighton)

 

 

Photographic Studios in Brighton belonging to members of the Grey Family

 

GREY & HALL

13 St James Street

1854-1858

 

18 Old Steine

1854

GREY Stephen & SONS

13 St James Street

1882-1887

 

67 Lewes Road

1885-1889

GREY Stephen & SON

32 Caledonian Road

1890-1891

GREY Charles S

67 Lewes Road

1889-1896

GREY George

70 Islingword Road

1889

GREY Sidney W

32 Caledonian Road

1891-1892

 

5 ? Caledonian Road

1890s?

 

172 Lewes Road

1899-1918+

GREY Stephen

144 Western Road

1865-1875

 

13 St James Street

1876-1889

 

48 Preston Road

1887

 

Acknowledgements & Additional Information

Thanks to Gill Clayton, a great, great grand daughter of Stephen Grey, for providing additional information on Stephen Grey's family. Thanks also to Alan Fry of Lincolnshire for extra information on Stephen Grey's family. Alan Fry is a great, great grandson of Stephen Grey. Alan's great grandmother was Elizabeth Annie Grey (aka Anne Elizabeth Grey), one of Stephen Grey's daughters. Elizabeth Annie Grey married Elias Richard Patching (1857-1889) in 1884 and together they ran The Bridge Inn at Upper Beeding, where Alan's grandmother was born in 1885. I am grateful to Jenny Harnett of  Auckland, New Zealand, for providing further details relating to the family of George Elijah Grey, the second son of Stephen Grey. Jenny Harnett is the great grand-daughter of George Elijah Grey (1859-1892).
 

Click on this link to go to :  Stephen Grey - Brighton Photographer

Click on this link to go to : Charles Stephen Grey - Brighton Photographer

Click on this link to go to :  Sidney W. Grey - Brighton Photographer

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