Cortis Biography

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Professional Photographers in Worthing

Edward Charles Cortis (1837-1899) Later known as Edward Charles Cortis STANFORD

Edward Charles Cortis was born in Worthing in 1837, the son of Charlotte Cortenay and Charles Cortis, a dispensing and pharmaceutical chemist of 12 South Street, Worthing. Charles Cortis (1803-1880) was born in Ferring, Sussex and established a chemist shop in Worthing in 1827. Charles Cortis married Charlotte Cortenay (1814-1906) at Broadwater-by-Worthing on 9th February 1836. Edward Charles Cortis, the couple's first child, was born in Worthing the following year. Edward was christened 'Edward Charles Cortis' on 26th March 1837. [ In a brief biography of Edward Charles Cortis Stanford published in the Journal of the Chemical Society in 1900, states that Edward was born on 23rd February 1836, but it is more likely that his date of birth was 23rd February 1837].

Edward Cortis was educated at All Saints College in Maidstone, Kent and Crawford College, a high-class boarding school in Maidenhead, Berkshire. Edward showed great academic promise, particulary in science and chemistry. Edward served his apprenticeship under his father, Charles Cortis, at Cortis's chemist shop in South Street, Worthing.

Edward Cortis's interest in science and chemistry led him to take up photography as a young man. As early as May 1855, Edward C.Cortis was advertising his services as a photographer, offering to take images of "Portraits, Landscapes, Public Buildings, Gentlemen's Villas, Favourite Pictures and Prints, Statuary, Models, &c.". Readers of the advert were invited to visit his father's chemist shop, "where specimens of the Photographic Art may be seen in every variety." Edward Cortis is known to have taken a number of photographs of important buildings in Worthing between 1855 and 1860.

[LEFT] A photograph of the Worthing Dispensary in Chapel Road, Worthing, taken by Edward Charles Cortis around 1857.

This photograph is one of the few images that has been identified as the work of  Edward Charles Cortis, one of Worthing's earliest photographers. Other images of Worthing which date from between 1855 and 1860 have been attributed to Edward Charles Cortis. These early photographs include views of St Mary's Church, Broadwater, and Worthing Town Hall.

After his serving his apprenticeship as a chemist and pharmacist with his father, Edward Cortis went to study at the School of Pharmacy in London. Edward worked under Theophilus Redwood (1806-1892), Professor of Chemistry and Pharmacy at the School of Pharmacy. In 1858, Edward Charles Cortis, changed his name by deed poll to Edward Charles Cortis Stanford. At the instigation of their father, Charles Cortis, Edward Cortis and his younger brothers Osmond Cecil Cortis (born 1838, Worthing) and Walter Halsted Cortis (born 1841, Worthing) had their surname legally changed from Cortis to Stanford. Their surnames were changed to Stanford to meet the requirements of the last will and testament of Edward Stanford (c1768-1858), a former tailor, woollen draper and hatter of Warwick Street, Worthing.

In 1859, Edward Cortis, under the name of Edward Charles Cortis Stanford, published a paper entitled "Analysis of Well Water at the Worthing Water Works". Edward Cortis Stanford's paper was reprinted in French & Son's Handbook for Worthing in 1859. The editor warmly welcomed the Cortis' findings in his introductory comments : " All interested in the prosperity of the town of Worthing are greatly indebted to our talented young townsman, Mr Edward C. C. Stanford, son of Mr Charles Cortis, Chemist of South Street, for the following careful and satisfactory analysis." In 1859, Edward Cortis Stanford was made a Fellow of the Chemical Society of London (F.C.S.).

In 1860, Edward C. Cortis Stanford became a Member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain & Ireland and between 1860 and 1862 he gave lectures in Chemistry and Physics at local institutions and colleges. At the time of the 1861 Census, Edward was living with his parents, brother and two sisters at 12 South Street, Worthing. Charles Cortis, the head of the household, is described as a "Chemist & Druggist", aged 57. Twenty-four year old Edward, Charles Cortis's eldest son, gives his name as "Edward C. Stanford" and enters his profession as "Professor of Chemistry".

In 1862, Edward Cortis Stanford left Worthing to take up the position of Assistant Demonstrator at the School of Pharmacy in London. The following year he was working as a "Consultant" to the Kelp Industry and in 1864 he travelled to Scotland as Manager of the British Seaweed Co. Ltd.

In 1864, as the leading member of Stanford & Co., a firm of manufacturing chemists, Edward Cortis Stanford built the Stanford chemical works on the banks of the Forth & Clyde Canal in Dalmuir. The Stanford chemical works was engaged in extracting iodine and potash from seaweed and was the first factory to be established at Clydebank.

On 22nd July 1868, Edward Charles Cortis Stanford married Jemima Margaret Simpson Gibb (born 1848, Glasgow, Lanark), a grand-daughter of the twelfth Laird of Penkill. Edward Cortis Stanford fathered eleven children between 1869 and 1889, but not all reached adulthood.* At the time of the 1881 census, Edward Cortis Stanford was residing at Glenwood, Old Kilpatrick in Dunbarton, Scotland with his wife, five children and four live-in servants. Edward Cortis Stanford is described in the census as a "Chemical Manufacturer", aged 44.

Edward C. Cortis Stanford was prominent in the chemical industry and in the civic and intellectual life of Clydebank. In 1884, Edward Cortis Stanford was awarded the Graham Medal by the Chemical Society of London, and in 1887 he was made a Fellow of the Institute of Chemistry. Edward Cortis Stanford was also an active member of the Glasgow Philosophical Society. Edward Cortis Stanford held senior positions in the Society of Chemical Industry, becoming the institution's President in 1893. Edward Cortis Stanford, an expert in iodine extraction, made a significant advance in seaweed chemistry when he isolated alginate from the kelp seaweeds found on the coasts of Britain..

Edward Charles Cortis Stanford died in 1899 at Dalmuir, Scotland.

[RIGHT] Edward Charles Cortis Stanford (1837-1899), photographed towards the end of his life.

[ABOVE] A portrait of Edward Charles Cortis, as a young man (c1858). Edward Cortis took up photography in his late teens. By the Spring of 1855, Edward Cortis was advertising his services as a  photographer in Worthing, offering to take views of buildings and portraits with his camera.


[ABOVE] A notice placed in The Worthing Monthly Record of 1st May, 1855, advertising the photographic services of Edward C. Cortis, the 18 year old son of Worthing chemist, Charles Cortis of South Street   This is possibly the first advertisement for commercial photography in Worthing. In his publicity, Edward C.Cortis offered to take photographs of "Portraits, Landscapes, Public Buildings, Gentlemen's Villas, Favourite Pictures and Prints, Statuary, Models, &c."

[ABOVE] A notice placed in The London Gazette on 18th June, 1858, announcing the change of Edward Cortis's surname from Cortis to Stanford. From this date, Edward Charles Cortis was known as Edward Charles Cortis Stanford.

[ABOVE] Edward C. Cortis Stanford (centre, back row) with fellow elected Commissioners and officials of the Police Burgh of Clydebank, Scotland, in 1886.

[ PHOTO :Clydebank Central Library ]


* Details of the children of Edward Charles Cortis Stanford can be found in the family history "The Boyds of Penkill and Trochrig" (1909) - [ref: page 34] at this website:

 Clan Boyd Society website

 OTHER SOURCES: Census Returns :1861 & 1881 ; The Open University : Biographical Database of the British Chemical Community,1880-1970; The Worthing Monthly Record (1st May, 1855); Clydebank Central Library; Worthing : A Pictorial History by D. Robert Elleray (Phillimore,1977);  French & Son's Handbook for Worthing (1859) ; International Genealogical Index (I.G.I.) at FamilySearch;  Various Sussex Trade Directories, 1839-1866.

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