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Lytham St.Annes, Lancashire, England
 

 

 Samuel Oglesby, photographer, 1823-1879.

London, England, 7th October 1833: At seven in the morning two brothers, Samuel & Richard Oglesby opened the window of a house in Paddington and the older brother, Richard, entered the building. Charles Lovegrove, a plumber who lived in a nearby house, was just getting up for work. He saw the boys and sent his apprentice for the police.

P.C. Peter Glynn went to the house and found Samuel stood at the window with a bundle of goods, urging Richard to hurry up and pass him other items. They were both arrested.

An Australian convict ship.At the subsequent trial, they were charged with A Georgian butt hinge.stealing a jacket, a waistcoat and 48 butt hinges; both were found guilty.

In the eyes of the law, children were treated as adults. The sentence was transportation to a prison colony for seven years. 

A press report of the time adds that they were "two mere children" - Richard was 12 years old and Samuel, just 10 years old.

There was a backlog of prisoners waiting to be transported so the brothers spent two years in prison before they were placed on the convict ship John Barry which set sail on the 7th September 1835 and arrived in Australia on 17th January 1836.

The separation from their mother, Hannah, must have been heart-wrenching and whether they kept in contact is unknown. A letter would take four months to arrive and there is a good chance that Hannah couldn't read or write.

Australia 1836-1850s

I haven't been able to research the life of the two brothers whilst they were serving the seven year sentence. They may have been placed as servants with settlers or sent to Point Peur, Tasmania though they probably learned a trade.

After seven years, the boys were given a Certificate of Freedom which takes us to about 1843 and Samuel would have been 19 years old. He started following "the Art" of photography from about 1844 and a few years later he was in business, taking photographic portraits, and colouring them, at a time when photography was almost unheard of, especially in Australia.

Perhaps after his seven year term he had become an artist's assistant as some skill would be needed in order to colour the photographs by hand.

 The first mention I have been able to find is in 1849 when Samuel advertised his photographic studio in Adelaide, South Australia. The art (and science) of photography was in its infancy at this time and photos were printed on  copper plates which had a highly polished silver surface and known as daguerreotypes.

We strongly recommend our fellow colonists pay a visit to Mr Oglesby's Daguerreotype establishment at the rear of the Clarendon Hotel, where the sight of the specimens which adorn his room – coupled with the truly wonderful improvements that have been introduced by him into the method of taking them will amply repay the trouble.

His portraits are exceedingly beautiful, and are really first-rate likenesses, not having the cadaverous look so common to these productions.’

Mercury & Sporting Chronicle, Australia, 14th July 1849.

In another column Samuel placed an advertisement in which he identified himself as ‘S. Oglesby’ of London, and said that his daguerreotype portraits were being fixed by a new chemical process and would not fade. ‘Invalid ladies and gentlemen waited upon at their own residences. Terms moderate. Hours from 10 till 5.’ 

A few months later he was advertising hand-coloured daguerreotypes, possibly the first to be made in South Australia.

Between December 1849 and May 1850, Samuel toured various towns in Southern Australia before returning to Adelaide. He was advertising in the Adelaide newspapers until at least May 1851.

The Return to England in the early 1850s

Samuel left for England sometime in the early 1850s; his brother Richard stayed in Australia and is listed in 1856 as living in Victoria. Samuel was now in his late 20s and his mother, Hannah was still living in Marylebone, London, though she was now married to a grocer and had five children by him. Samuel was reunited with his mother after a separation of 20 years and met his new family of half-brothers and half-sisters.

Setting up business as a photographer in England, he moved to Norfolk, taking with him his half-sister, Ellen. They were to live together for the rest of their lives.

Norfolk and Suffolk, 1854-1856

Advert for Samuel Oglesby, photographer, Bury St.Edmunds, October 1856.Samuel moved to Norwich where he spent two years as a photographer. He then moved to Bury St.Edmunds and throughout 1856 he advertised in the local press. In the advert pictured he states that he has 'followed the Art for the last twelve years both in London and Australia.

He had a studio at 60, Church Street, Bury St.Edmunds. Click here for a recent picture; no.60 is the first low building on the right. Here he moved away from Daguerreotypes (photos on glass) and started to print on paper.

 Stockton-on-Tees, Durham, England, 1861

By 1859 Samuel was in Sunderland taking photographs of election candidates and the 1861 Census, taken on 8th April,  lists him as living with his half sister, Ellen, at a photographic studio near Yarm Road and Trinity Schools. There is a carte de visite photo by Oglesby of Sarah Backhouse, probably taken the Stockton & Darlington area in the Durham County Council archives.

Preston, Lancashire, 1861-1866

The reverse side of a carte de visite photo by Samuel Oglesby, Preston, Lancashire.Samuel Oglesby, Portrait Photographer, Fishergate, Preston, near the railway station, in 1861.In October, 1861, Samuel opened a portrait studio in Fishergate, Preston, near the railway station. On the back of many of his carte de visites is printed ‘Photographer to the Queen and Emperor of the French.’ I can't find any evidence of this though there is a portrait by him of Frances Anne Vane, Marchioness of Londonderry, in the National Gallery archives.

 He remained in Preston for four and a half years and was best remembered for taking portrait photographs of the members of the Corporation of Preston for the Preston Guild of 1862.

Sale of the estate of Samuel Oglesby, Llandudno, 1880. Llandudno, Wales, 1866-1879

Carte de visiteportrait of a gypsy mother & daughter by Samuel Oglesby, Llandudno.In 1866 Samuel moved to Llandudno with his half sister, Ellen, opening a portrait at Landsdowne Villa, Mostyn street. This was to be his final move after a lifetime of travelling.

Samuel's mother, Hannah, died in December 1878 and Samuel died the following year on 1st September, aged 55 years. Richard, his brother, remained in Australia and died (I think) in 1894 (to be confirmed).

 

 

 

 

The reverse side of a carte de visite photo by Samuel Oglesby, Llandudno.

After being brought up in the squalor of Dickensian London, ten-year-old Samuel overcame the separation from his family and endured two years in an overcrowded London prison.

As if that wasn't bad enough, he survived the four months voyage on a convict ship and the seven year sentence in a Australia. At twelve years of age he was one of the youngest criminals to be sent to a penal colony.

From humble beginnings, and a very bad start in life, he become one of the first photographers in Australia. He succeeded in returning home to his family and his photographic skills provided him with an income for the rest of his life.