Chichester Photographers (N-R)

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Professional Photographers in Chichester (N-R )

George Nesbitt - Richard Paige - Frederick H. Robinson - Thomas Russell


George NESBITT (born 1848, Blandford, Dorset)

Recorded as a Photographic Artist in Chichester at the time of the 1871 Census

George Nesbitt was born in Blandford, Dorset in 1848, the son of Mary Ann and John Nesbitt, a clothes dealer and outfitter of Salisbury Street, Blandford Forum. John Nesbitt (born c1820, Blandford) had married Mary Ann Flunt ( born c1819, Blandford) in 1840 ( Marriage registered in Blandford during the March Quarter of 1840). In 1861, George Nesbitt is recorded as a 13 year old scholar living with his parents at their house in Salisbury Street, Blandford Forum. George's father, John Nesbitt, is described in the census return as an "Outfitter", aged 41. Interestingly, George's eldest brother, Albert Nesbitt (born c 1841, Blandford) is listed as a twenty year old photographic artist. Eventually, all of John Nesbitt's sons became professional photographers. Tom Nesbitt (born 1850), became Blandford's resident photographer and he operated a studio in the town from 1875 until 1915. The youngest brother, Charles Nesbitt (born 1856, Blandford) had a photographic studio in Richmond, Surrey around 1891 and in 1901 he settled in Barry, Glamorganshire, where he ran a photographic studio until 1921.

[ABOVE] Market in North Street, Chichester, a photograph taken around 1870, the period that George Nesbitt was lodging at 68 North Street.

George Nesbitt worked in Chichester for only a brief period. In the 1871 census, George Nesbitt is recorded as a "Photographic Artist", aged 23, lodging at 68 North Street, Chichester, the home of Mrs Frances Trigg, a sixty-one year old widow.

By 1876, George Nesbitt had moved on to the area around Bournemouth and by 1878 he had established a photographic studio at 9 Tiverton Terrace, Norwich Road, Bournemouth. By 1880, Nesbitt had set up a studio at 9 The Triangle, near Surrey Road, in the Holdenhurst district of Bournemouth. At the time of the 1881 census, George Nesbitt is recorded as an unmarried, thirty-three year old photographer residing at his business premises in The Triangle. Also residing at No. 9 Triangle, was a twenty-nine year old housekeeper, an 18 year old servant, and Isabella Stewart (born Sherborne, Dorset), described in the census return as a twenty-three year old "Assistant Photographer". During this period, Nesbitt regularly showed his photographs at the annual exhibitions of the Photographic Society of Great Britain. During 1881, Nesbitt exhibited his work at the International Exhibition in Melbourne, Australia and this event might be linked to his marriage to an Australian born woman in 1885. Nesbitt's young Australian bride was Esther Mary Randle (born c1868, Sydney, Australia) and they married in Kensington, London, during the December Quarter of 1885. Around this time, George Nesbitt opened a photographic studio at 118 Notting Hill Gate, Bayswater ( The studio address was later changed to 118 High Street, Notting Hill, London ). George Nesbitt was the proprietor of the photographic studio at 118 High Street, Notting Hill Gate between 1885 and 1895. Edwin James Nesbitt (born 1864), George's nephew, was working as a photographer's assistant at the Notting Hill Gate studio at the time of the 1891 census. George Nesbitt opened a second studio at 50 High Road, Kilburn in N.W. London around 1888 and the following year he formed the firm of Nesbitt & Co.  At the time of the 1891 census, George Nesbitt was recorded as a 43 year old photographer living at 35 Cambridge Avenue, Kilburn, Hampstead. In 1896, Nesbitt & Co. opened yet another studio at Victoria Villas, Victoria Road, Willesden, but this studio closed after only a year or so. Nesbitt's premises in Kilburn's High Road was still listed as a photographic studio in 1901. At the time of the 1901 census, George Nesbitt is recorded as a Photographer, aged 53, living at 22 Chepstow Place, Kensington with his thirty-three year old wife, Esther.

[ABOVE] The trade plate of George Nesbitt taken from the back of a carte-de-visite produced at his London studio at 118 Notting Hill Gate (c1885).

 [ PICTURE - Courtesy of Lorna Waters]

[ABOVE] Portrait of a young woman, a carte-de-visite photograph produced at George Nesbitt's studio at 118 Notting Hill Gate (c1885). [ PICTURE - Courtesy of Lorna Waters]


[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a young couple, photographed by George Nesbitt at his Bournemouth studio around 1880. The reverse of the carte mentions medals awarded for photography at exhibitions in London and Cornwall in 1875 and 1877. [ PICTURE - Courtesy of Lorna Waters]

[ABOVE] The trade plate of George Nesbitt taken from the back of a carte-de-visite produced at his London studio at 118 High Street, Notting Hill Gate (c1888). [ PICTURE - Courtesy of Lorna Waters]

[ABOVE] Portrait of a middle-aged woman, a carte-de-visite photograph produced at George Nesbitt's studio at 118 High Street, Notting Hill Gate (c1888). [ PICTURE - Courtesy of Lorna Waters]



Thanks to Lorna Waters for providing the carte-de-visite portraits from George Nesbitt's Bournemouth and Notting Hill Gate studios. Lorna's father is descended from the Nesbitt family of Blandford Forum, Dorset.


Richard PAIGE (born c1856, Portsmouth, Hampshire) - name occasionally given as PAGE

Probably an itinerant or travelling photographer known to have been in the Chichester area around 1875

Richard Paige was born in Portsmouth around 1856. He settled in Chichester and married his wife Emma (born c1855, Chichester). Richard and Emma Paige's first child, Annie, was born in Chichester in 1875 (birth registered in Westhampnett during the September Quarter of 1875). By 1877, Richard Paige and his family were living in Worthing, where three more children were born - Hetty (born 1877), George (born 1879) and Kate (born 1881). At the time of the 1881 census Richard Paige was living at 4 Western Cottages in Worthing with his wife Emma and their four young children. The census enumerator spelt the surname as "Page", but Richard Paige is correctly entered on the census return as a "Photographer", aged twenty-five.


Frederick Henry ROBINSON (born c1864 Hastings)

Active as a photographer in Chichester between 1895 and 1914

Frederick Henry Robinson was born in Hastings, Sussex, in 1862 or 1864. ( Census returns suggest he was born in Hastings around 1864, but the birth of Frederick Henry Robinson was registered in the Hastings district during the June Quarter of 1862 ). Frederick Henry Robinson was the son of Frederick Robinson senior (born c1825, Pulborough, Sussex), a boot and shoemaker of Hastings, and Ann Amelia Scott. Frederick Robinson had married Ann Amelia Scott (born c1831, Ore, near Hastings) in 1851. The couple had at least eight children, including four boys - William John Scott (born 1852) Edward Thomas (born c1858), George (born c1865) and Frederick Henry. The eldest boy became a carpenter but the three remaining sons followed their father into the boot and shoemaking trade. At the time of the 1881 census, seventeen year old Frederick Henry Robinson was lodging with Charles Adams and his family at 18 Russell Street, Hastings. The young Frederick Robinson gives his occupation as "shoemaker".

Around 1882, Frederick Henry Robinson married Elizabeth Mary Ridley (born 1859, Peasmarsh, near Rye, Sussex). Elizabeth was the daughter of  Jane Ridley (born c1832 Peasmarsh), an unmarried farm worker. When the 1881 census was taken, Elizabeth Ridley was working as a domestic servant in Hastings at 76 Warrior Square, the household of General Pringle Taylor, a veteran army officer. Frederick and Elizabeth Robinson settled in the Rumboldswyke area of Chichester. The couple's first child, Frederick Henry Robinson junior, was born towards the end of 1883 (birth registered in the Westhampnett District during the December Quarter of 1883). A second son, George Robinson, was born around 1885. Another boy, Rupert Robinson, arrived in 1886 ( birth registered in Westhampnett during the June Quarter of 1886).

At the time of the 1891 census, Frederick Robinson and his family were living in Orchard Road, Rumboldswyke, Chichester. By this time, Frederick Robinson had abandoned shoe-making and was earning a living as a photographer. 

When Cecil Ridley Robinson, the couple's fourth son, was born on 10th April 1893, Frederick Robinson and his family were living in Bognor Road, Rumboldswyke.


[ABOVE] Portrait of  the Chichester photographer Frederick Henry Robinson, photographed at his studio at  5 St Pancras, Chichester (c1900)

[ PICTURE - Courtesy of Moira and Michael Greatorex ]

F. H. Robinson - Photographer in Chichester

In the 1891 census return, Frederick Henry Robinson is described as a twenty-seven year old "Photographer (employed)", which suggests he was employed as a camera operator for one of the three photographic studios that were in business in Chichester in 1891 - Walter Noah Malby of 68 East Street, James Russell & Sons of 65 East Street or Thomas Russell of Southgate.

Around 1895, Frederick H. Robinson established his own studio at 5 St Pancras, Chichester. The street of St Pancras was situated to the east of the city walls and was the road that ran into East Gate, the opening to the commercial area of East Street. When Robinson started his photography business around 1895, there were four other studios operating in Chichester - the long established firm of James Russell & Sons at 65 East Street, Charles Barden, who had recently taken over the studio of the late Walter N. Malby at 68 East Street, the young photographer Edward McBeath, who had just opened premises at 31 Hornet and Thomas Russell, one of the photographer sons of James Russell of East Street, who had been running an independent studio at 20 Southgate for at least four years. With a steady population of around 50,000, the city of Chichester rarely supported more than four studios. The equilibrium was suddenly restored later that year, when the photographer Edward McBeath died at the tragically young age of twenty-one. Frederick Robinson's photographic career was to last considerably longer. F. H. Robinson's photographic studio in St Pancras, Chichester, was to survive until the eve of the First World War.

When the 1901 census was taken on 31st March, Frederick Henry Robinson and his family were living at his business premises at 5 St Pancras, Chichester. Frederick Henry Robinson, who gives his age as 36, is described as a "Photographer (own account)", which suggests he did not employ assistants outside of his own family. Frederick's wife Elizabeth probably helped her husband with the photography business. Only one of his sons, fifteen year old Rupert Robinson, is described as a "Photographer's Assistant". The eldest son, seventeen year old Frederick junior, was working as an apprentice to a coachsmith or coach manufacturer. George Robinson, who was 16, was training to become a hairdresser. The youngest boy, eight year old Cecil, was still attending school.


[ABOVE] Portrait of Cecil Ridley Robinson by F H Robinson, 5 St Pancras, Chichester (c1900). Cecil was the fourth son of the photographer Frederick Henry Robinson. Cecil Ridley Robinson was born at the family home in Bognor Road, Rumboldswhyke, Chichester, on 10th April, 1893.    [PICTURE - Courtesy of Moira and Michael Greatorex ]

[ABOVE] The reverse of the carte-de visite portrait of Cecil Robinson. The publicity printed on the back gives details of F. H. Robinson's prices for cartes-de-visite - "3 for 2/-"

[ PICTURE - Courtesy of Moira and Michael Greatorex ]

 F. H. Robinson, Portrait Photographer of Chichester

[ABOVE] Portrait of a young woman by F H Robinson, 5 St Pancras, Chichester (c1898)

 [ABOVE] Back of a carte-de-visite by F H Robinson, 5 St Pancras, Chichester (c1898)

Frederick Henry Robinson's Portrait Studios

As a photographer, Frederick Henry Robinson specialised in studio portraiture. He produced photographic portraits in the small carte-de-visite format and the larger cabinet size. Publicity on the reverse of the cartes-de-visite produced around 1900 indicate that F. H. Robinson charged 2 shillings for a set of three of these small photographic portraits. It was unusual to provide a set of three copies, but the price charged suggests Robinson's studio was in the middle range of the business market. The photographer C. H. Boswell of Brighton boasted of his  "extraordinary low prices" and he was charging 3s 6d for 12 carte-de-visite portraits in 1899. Harry Boyd of Hastings, another photographer who was appealing to the lower end of the market, priced his cartes-de-visite at 2s 9d per dozen. George William Bradshaw, the proprietor of The Memorial Studio in Hastings, charged 10 6d for a dozen cartes-de-visite and 6 shillings for six. "High Class" studios avoided mentioning prices in their advertisements. In his publicity, Robinson emphasised that his "prices (are) very moderate" and promised "satisfaction guaranteed ". F. H. Robinson's studio in St Pancras, Chichester also provided an enlargement service and a notice on the back of some of his carte-de-visite portraits advised his customers that "this or any other portrait can be enlarged and finished in oils, or black & white".

After five years or so, Frederick Robinson's photographic business appeared to be doing well. Around 1902, Robinson expanded the size of his studio premises by taking over the neighbouring shop. The entry for Frederick Henry Robinson's studio in the Trade Section of Kelly's Post Office Directory of 1903, gives a business address of 5 & 6 St Pancras, Chichester. Around 1908, the firm of F. H. Robinson opened a second studio in Chichester at 66 South Street. The two studios are listed in Kelly's Trade Directory of 1909, but Robinson's studio in South Street was short lived. When Kelly's Directory of Sussex was published in 1911, Frederick Henry Robinson is listed only at the St Pancras studio. F. H. Robinson's studio in Chichester is mentioned for the last time in 1914. This final entry might indicate Frederick Robinson's retirement from the photography business in Chichester or possibly marks the end of his life.


[RIGHT] Postcard portrait of a woman (c1910). The sitter is believed to be Mrs Elizabeth Robinson, the wife of the photographer Frederick Henry Robinson of Chichester. Born Elizabeth Ridley at Peasmarsh, near Rye, Sussex, in 1859, she married Frederick Henry Robinson around 1882, when she was a domestic servant in her early twenties. In this portrait, probably taken after 1910 when she was over 50 years of age, Elizabeth is posed holding a copy of the popular fiction monthly "The Grand Magazine", which had been launched in 1905. [PICTURE - Courtesy of Moira and Michael Greatorex ]


Click on the link below to view the Photographic Work of Fredrick Henry Robinson

The photographic work of Frederick H. Robinson of Chichester


Thomas RUSSELL (1841-1903)

Probably active as a photographer in the Chichester area from the 1860s. Proprietor of a studio in Chichester from around 1885 to 1903.

[ABOVE] The reverse of carte-de-visite portrait produced by Thomas Russell in the early 1890s. Thomas Russell employed a wide range of designs on the backs of his photographs from 1885 to 1900.

Thomas Russell was the third son of James Russell (1809-1899), the founder of the Chichester firm of photographers Russell & Sons. Thomas Russell probably trained as a photographer under his father and it is likely he was employed in one of his father's studios up until the early 1880s. Around 1885, Thomas Russell established his own studio at 20 Southgate, Chichester, which he operated until his death in 1903 at the age of sixty-two. Russell's studio in Southgate was continued by his widow, assisted by studio manager George H. Allen. The studio eventually passed to George H. Allen, but he retained the studio name of Russell's.

For a more detailed account of the life and career of Thomas Russell and to see examples of his photographic work, click on the link below:

Thomas Russell of Southgate, Chichester



Thanks to Moira and Michael Greatorex for providing additional information on Frederick Henry Robinson's family history and for permission to use family photographs. Moira Greatorex is the daughter of Cecil Ridley Robinson, one of the sons of Frederick Henry Robinson, the Chichester photographer. Moira and Michael would be interested in hearing from anyone who might be able to provide further information on Frederick Henry Robinson and his family or can provide examples of his photographic work. Moira and Michael can be contacted by e-mail at
A RootsWeb genealogy website, which includes details of of Frederick Henry Robinson and other family members can be viewed at The Family Trees of Michael Greatorex.

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