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William Henry Southwell  (1823–1870)

William Henry Southwell, the eldest child of William Southwell, a London pianoforte maker, and his wife Elizabeth was born 31 May 1823 and baptised at St James, Piccadilly on 29 June of the same year. The 1841 census reveals that he was at that time living in his father's household and working as a pianoforte tuner; the 1851 census shows him as a pianoforte manufacturer.

To date nothing is known of where he received his training as a photographer. According to an entry in the diary of Jane [Robins] Cook, sister-in-law of two of his siblings, his father, William Southwell Junior, established a photographic studio for his sons in the upper part of a large house in Baker Street ‘to turn into account their artistic tastes’. Jane worked there with two of his sisters, finishing miniatures1. The earliest contemporary published references to the work of Messrs Southwell, photographer of Baker Street that we have located occur in the year 1857.

William Henry married Lucy Ann Buckingham at St Pancras Church on 20 Sept 1864. Tragically he died of heart disease in 1870 at the young age of 47, survived by his wife and young son Edward Buckingham Southwell. He was buried in Highgate Cemetery on 22 September 1870. His widow Lucy Ann died on 3 November 1893, leaving effects of £1,547 5s 1d (Probate Register April 1894).

1 The diary of Jane Cook, née Robins, a sister-in-law of both Elizabeth and Louisa Southwell, daughters of William Southwell junior and wives of Edward Cookworthy Robins (architect) and Alfred Robins respectively. Particular thanks to David Cripps of Tasmania for his tenacious work in locating and obtaining a research copy of this document in a private archive.

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