Enter your email address to subscribe!

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Which New Zealand photographer became chief cartoonist on the Sydney Punch, and Queensland’s Worker and was known for his paintings of racehorses?

Eugene Montagu Scott (1835-1909)


In a career spanning some 50 years Montagu Scott produced around 3000 front-page, full-page or double-page illustrations for a variety of Australian publications. He was Australia’s, if not the world’s, most prolific 19th century cartoonist; only Alice in Wonderland illustrator, Sir John Tenniel, is said to have matched his output.

Scott was born in London in 1835, the son of artist and portrait painter, William Scott, and his American wife Sarah. His siblings Walter, William and Emily Anne all became accomplished artists in their own right, and it may have been sibling rivalry that prompted Montagu, in July 1855, to accompany his cousins Robert Manfred, Arabella and Julia, on the Joseph Fletcher bound for New Zealand. Among the other cabin passengers was the Reverend John Kinder. Today Kinder is known, amongst other things, for his skill as a watercolourist, but it was Montagu Scott who was dubbed “the artist on board” by a fellow migrant.

Immediately on arrival in Auckland in October 1855, Scott took rooms adjacent to the Masonic Hotel in Princes Street, and advertised “portraits on glass” – ambrotypes - plain or coloured, from 10 shillings “including frame”. Unfortunately his chemicals had succumbed to the sea air on the voyage, and he was forced to suspend his photographic activities until fresh supplies arrived from Sydney. In the meantime he offered tuition in painting and drawing, eventually establishing formal segregated drawing classes to supplement his income from photography. He was, after all, as an “Exhibitor at the Royal Academy, London”, supremely qualified for this role, although he neglected to point out that he had exhibited just one work - a portrait of “James Smith Esq”. He also made good use of his artistic skills at the Theatre Royal in Victoria Street, repainting the stage doors, adding decoration, and painting the drop scene for a production of Ali Baba.

But with the theatre in financial difficulties, and sustained competition from other photographers and artists, Scott determined to try his luck in Australia. In August 1856 he left Auckland on the Elenora, arriving in Sydney on 15 September 1856, en route for Melbourne. When in 1868 he was commissioned to paint a portrait of the visiting Duke of Edinburgh for the princely sum of 250 guineas, at the time highest fee ever commanded for a portrait in the Colonies, it must have seemed like a very shrewd move. But Scott had already survived a catastrophic bankruptcy in 1860, and despite simultaneously working as both an artist and photographer and, from 1866, as chief cartoonist on the Sydney Punch, he was again declared bankrupt in 1870, and forced to sell his photographic equipment. In the 1880s he went on to work for the radical Brisbane-based Boomerang and Queensland’s Worker. But his finances barely improved, and despite the popularity of his paintings of racehorses, he was once again bankrupted in August 1908. He died on 15 May 1909 at Randwick, Sydney.
On arrival in Auckland in October 1856, Scott rented rooms and set up a photographic studio in Princes Street, probably in what had been (until 1847) Wood's Royal Hotel, but was now the Claremont Boarding House (left). The building in the centre is the Union Bank of Australia;  the Masonic Hotel can be seen centre right. (Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries. 4-16)

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Which New Zealand photographer was gaoled as a result of his marrying a 12 year-old girl?

Charles Henry Monkton (1840-1890)


Until 1933 in New Zealand it was perfectly legal for a girl under the age of 16 to marry, provided she did so with the consent of a parent or guardian. Consequently when Charles Henry Monkton married 12 year-old Emma Mary Howell in November 1881, he committed no crime. What proved his downfall, however, were the circumstances surrounding the marriage.

In what appears to have been a bizarre, premeditated precursor to an enforced ménage-à-trois, Monkton presented himself at the office of the Auckland Registrar in the company of Emma’s eldest sister, Alice Lynch, with whom he had been living for a number of years. To ensure the marriage went ahead, Lynch posed as Emma’s mother, and gave the girl’s age as 15. The ruse was only uncovered some 3 years later, when Emma absconded to Sydney in an apparent attempt to escape plans to force her into prostitution. Monkton was arrested, and put on trial. The case was a national sensation, and the New Zealand press revelled in the salacious details. Monkton was convicted of making a false declaration under the 1880 Marriage Act, and was sentenced to 2 years’ imprisonment in the Mount Cook Gaol in Wellington.

It was the end of a promising career that had taken Monkton across the length and breadth of the colony. Arriving in Auckland from London on the ship Jura in January 1860, he had immediately established himself as a cheap, innovative and popular photographer, praised by the Daily Southern Cross for his entrepreneurial flair. In the early 1870s he had toured the West Coast goldfields, and after a brief stint in Wellington, in 1876 he settled in Whanganui. In 1879 he returned to the capital, where he suffered his first serious setback. Declared bankrupt in June 1880, Monkton embarked on a semi-itinerant existence that took him to Napier, back to Auckland, on to Parihaka, and then finally to Christchurch, where he was arrested in April 1884.

On his release from prison in July 1886, Monkton assumed the name Henry Airey (his mother’s maiden name), and fled to Australia. He settled in Minyip, Victoria, where he abandoned photography and made his living as a hotelier. He died in 1890, aged only 50; just retribution, perhaps, for a dissolute life.

At the end of 1865 Charles Henry Monkton travelled to the Upper Wairoa to photograph Wiremu Tamihana. According to the Daily Southern Cross (18 December 1865, p4), he photographed Tamihana with his rifle, reading a bible, and with his friends - back row: (from left to right) W L C Williams, Josiah Clifton Firth, Wiremu Tamihana, unknown; front row: Purae, Dr Sam, William Australia Graham. Could the man standing at the extreme right, wearing the tam-o-shanter, be Monkton, having set up the shot? (Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries.  34-F56A-5)

Monday, 8 December 2014

Which well-known Auckland photographer once took possession of a Pacific island in order to exploit its valuable guano?

Henry Winkelmann, 1860-1931


Despite his Germanic-sounding name, Henry Winkelmann was born in Bradford, England. He did, however, come from Germanic stock. 19th century Bradford was the centre of the English wool trade and cloth manufacturing industry, and was already home to a sizeable German community when Henry’s father Peter moved there from Prussia in the late 1850s with his young wife Louise (Schueller) to become a worsted yarn and stuff merchant.

Henry would probably not have come to New Zealand but for two significant events. One was the death of his father towards the end of 1877 at the relatively young age of 47; the other was the conviction of his brother Charles in April 1875, then just 16 years old, of involuntary manslaughter. On his release from prison Charles took ship to Auckland. Three years later Henry undertook the same journey.

During the next couple of years, Henry drifted between Dunedin and Auckland. The longest he spent in any one place was six months in Hawke’s Bay where Charles had been appointed a master at Te Aute College. Then in 1881 living at a boarding house in Hobson Street, Auckland Henry accepted a job offer from Thomas Henderson of Henderson and MacFarlane. The plan seemed simple enough. Henry and fellow boarder Harold Willey Hudson were to live on the remote Jarvis Island for 3 months to validate the company’s claim to the island and permit the exploitation of its valuable guano. Dropped off by the company schooner Sunbeam, the pair found themselves marooned for almost 8 months. With supplies running low they survived on turtles and birds’ eggs, and by distilling their own drinking water. Their employer Henderson seemed nonplussed by their re-appearance in Auckland, but paid out their agreed wages to the exact penny, fixedly overlooking the hardships they had suffered.

Henry now embarked on a peripatetic lifestyle of a very different kind. As a clerk with the Bank of New Zealand he worked at locations throughout the North and South Islands, in Levuka (Fiji) and in Sydney. In 1892 he purchased his first camera, but pursued photography in tandem with banking until 1895 when he resigned to take up farming on Great Barrier. It was not a success. He rejoined the bank, this time in Blenheim, but quit after just 12 months to run a customs agency on Auckland’s Queen Street Wharf. Four years later, in August 1901, Henry opened a photographic studio in Victoria Arcade. His adventurous spirit continued to manifest itself in his cityscapes taken from the crosstrees of sailing ships on the Auckland waterfront, and in his photographs of yachts, invariably snapped from his “peanut of a boat” on the Waitemata Harbour.

On his retirement in 1928 Henry sold his negatives of Auckland city streets to the Old Colonists Museum. He died at Mount Eden on 5 July 1931. In his will he left the remainder of his glass plates and a sizeable collection of prints to the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
Henry Winkelmann's view of Freemans Bay, Auckland photographed from the mast of the Jessie Craig, 23 March 1904 (Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries. 1-W1102)

Friday, 5 December 2014

Which moneyed New Zealand photographer and phrenologist had an aunt who lived next door to Charles Dickens?

Herbert Henry Vorley 1839-1880


In January 1879 Herbert Henry Vorley of Westport received a cablegram from London notifying him of the death of his paternal aunt, Frances Sharp. She was the widow of a solicitor, Edmund Sharp, and for over a decade had been a neighbour of the author Charles Dickens when he lived in Devonshire Terrace, Marylebone. Anxious to claim his share of his aunt’s ₤50,000 estate (NZ$6 million at current values), Herbert Henry immediately packed up his belongings and together with his family set sail for England.

Despite an affluent background, Herbert Henry had since 1867 pursued a humble existence earning a living as a photographer and phrenologist on New Zealand’s West Coast. Born in London in 1839, the commercial activities of his father, John Iliff Vorley, a former ship's officer and merchant, had taken them both to Melbourne, Australia by 1860. Here Vorley junior married 17 year-old Margaret Wood in February 1863. But the successive deaths of his father in July 1863, his one year-old son Edmund Sharp Vorley in 1865, and infant daughter Frances Caroline Vorley in 1866 prompted a radical change in direction. The recent gold discoveries in New Zealand had Melbourne buzzing, and Herbert Henry and Margaret joined the exodus of diggers from Victoria headed for the West Coast.

Vorley eventually settled in Westport, and in 1873 was one of the signatories to a petition calling for the town to be constituted a borough. But it is evident from the birthplaces of his children, and from his cartes-de-visite, that he did not limit his activities to the town, at various times operating photographic rooms at Camp Street, Charleston, and in Broadway, Reefton.

Vorley’s Westport studio adjoined his house in Palmerston Street. As was usual at that time, it had an expansive glass roof to provide natural lighting. However, the roof was susceptible to the weather, and suffered substantial hailstorm damage in December 1875. Much to his annoyance and distress, Vorley’s premises also abutted a roller-skating rink. In October 1876 he successfully prosecuted the proprietor of the rink, hotelkeeper George Clark, for nuisance, claiming that skaters’ jeers and catcalls, and a noise like a perpetual Ethiopian clog dance, frequently lasted from morning until 11 or 12 o’clock at night. The clamour interfered with his calculation of exposure times, and disturbed sitters, often necessitating the taking of additional negatives. Not only was the din detrimental to his business, it had also affected his health. The judge agreed with the plaintiff, and awarded damages of £10 10 shillings, plus costs.

This was the first mention of health problems. Soon after, in March 1877, Vorley was compelled to cut short a business stay in Reefton because of illness. His aunt’s bequest was therefore very opportune. But he had little time to enjoy his good fortune, dying in London on 17 November 1880.


Herbert Henry Vorley was one of many 19th century New Zealand photographers who combined their art with other occupations, offering both portraits and phrenological assessments at his Charleston studio. This phrenological chart of Sir George Grey by P Besomo is dated 1891. Note the beer bottle by his right temple! (Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries. 7-C65)

Which New Zealand photographer claimed the patronage of the Grand Duke Alexander of Russia?

William Robert Robinson 1859–1942


The casual reader of the Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich Romanov's autobiography, published in exile in 1932, would never know that he had ever set foot in New Zealand. In fact as an officer on board the Russian corvette Rynda, the Grand Duke spent almost two weeks in the country in 1888 at a time when the "Russian Scare", which had led to the building of major fortifications along New Zealand's coast, was still a very recent memory.

As cousin to Tsar Alexander III, Alexander Mikhailovich was the most important Russian ever to have visited the colony.

The Rynda docked at Auckland on 15 March 1888 and, after 4 days in the city, the Grand Duke made a week-long excursion to the Hot Lakes, Rotorua and Taupo. His hectic itinerary, however, proved only mildly more interesting to the New Zealand public than his run-in with a Queen Street storekeeper, and his involuntary donation of £8 to a charitable institution in Rotorua.

But if Alexander found his experiences of the country less than memorable, his presence proved enduringly rewarding for one young Auckland photographer. Summoned to the Rynda to photograph two groups of officers and the ship’s band, William Robert Robinson afterwards used the experience to promote his career, captioning his portraits, “By Appointment to His Imperial Highness the Grand Duke Alexander of Russia”.

Born in Dorset in 1859, Robinson had arrived in New Zealand in 1884. Initially he based himself in Wellesley Street in Auckland, before moving to a more prominent location in the Victoria Arcade around 1887. In 1888/9 he took over Tuttle's Queen Street studio, which was where the Grand Duke made his acquaintance. In 1892 he on-sold the business (together with his own and Tuttle's negatives) to C H Clemens, subsequently acquiring George Gregory's West End Portrait Rooms in Ponsonby. By 1894 he was back in Queen Street, trading as Robinson and Yates at the recently deceased Edward Arnold's former studio in Edson's Buildings. Two years later, in 1896, he sold out to Charles Hemus and moved to Ellerslie. From at least 1908 he was at Whanganui, where for 23 years he was employed by the notable photographer Frank Denton. He died in 1942, and is buried at Whanganui's Aramoho Cemetery.

William Robinson supplemented his income by acting as an agent for the Dunedin-based Burton Brothers partnership. Customers who purchased 52 Burton Brothers views paid just one shilling per print per week. This Burton Brothers photograph shows Queen Street in 1884, with Clarke Brothers’ Fine Art Studio in the centre adjacent to the building faced with scaffolding. (Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries. 4-782)

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The son of which Auckland photographer wrote the iconic Australian bush poem “While the Billy Boils”?

John James Goodchild (1826-1895)


John James Goodchild opened the Auckland School of Photography next door to the Wheatsheaf Inn in Upper Queen Street in August 1863. A recent arrival with his wife, their 3 children and a servant on the War Spirit, Goodchild styled his studio after Samuel Prout Newcombe's London School of Photography where he had trained the previous year.

Goodchild's background was in commerce. Born in Shoreditch in 1826, he was the son of a ham merchant, and made his money in cotton. In May 1862 he was robbed of a £100 note during a transaction at Masterman’s Bank, Nicholas Lane, London. It was probably this event more than anything that prompted him to switch careers and undertake the arduous voyage to New Zealand.

At first his new venture did well. The studio benefited from the build-up of troops in Auckland in advance of the invasion of the Waikato, and the corresponding influx of settlers from outlying districts. But gradually the business succumbed to the economic downturn that accompanied the end of the Waikato War and the transfer of the capital to Wellington. Financial pressures were compounded by the birth of a second son, Henry Humphrey in December 1864. The family managed to eke out a living for another year, but on 1 March 1866 Mr & Mrs Goodchild and their four children left Auckland on the Prince Alfred bound for Sydney.

In Australia, the Goodchilds settled at Echuca, a small town at a ferry crossing on the Victoria side of the Murray River. Before the year was out their lives had been devastated by the deaths of their two youngest children, 1 year-old Henry and 8 year-old Edith. Despite the tragedy the family continued to live in the area, although it is unclear how Goodchild made a living. At the time of his death on 10 February 1895, he was Secretary of the Echuca Mechanics Institute, a position he may have held from its opening in 1876.

History remembers Keighley Goodchild rather than his father. Born John Keighley Goodchild in 1851, and educated as a boarder at the Schoolhouse in Leyton, east London, Keighley worked as a compositor on the Riverine Herald, and as editor of the Echuca & Moama Advertiser. He was also a bush poet, the author of "While the Billy Boils", part of a collection of verse published under the title "Who are you?" at Echuca in 1883. When he died on 4 April 1888, aged just 37, of the four Goodchild children who had come to Australia with their parents in 1866, only his sister Florence Annie Goodchild now remained alive. In 1892 Florence married a widower, James Denny. The following year she and James named their first son Keighley John Denny in memory of Florence's poet brother.


In Auckland's formative years Upper Queen Street generally referred to that section of Queen Street running uphill from Grey Street (in the centre of the photograph). But such usage was not fixed: the Wheatsheaf Inn, which the Auckland School of Photography abutted, was actually in the block bounded by Wellesley and Wakefield Streets. Could the bulbous glass structure in the extreme right of this photograph (taken in 1865) be the studio ceiling of Goodchild's Auckland School of Photography? (Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries. 4-1015)

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Which New Zealand Photographer died while photographing tigers at Wirth Brothers' Circus?

John Randall Mann (c1857-1902)


The sensationalist headlines might have indicated otherwise, but John Randall Mann was not the victim of a tiger attack. Having completed a photo-shoot of a young lady (Miss Purcell) inside the tigers’ cage at Wirth Brothers’ Circus in Freeman’s Bay in May 1902, Mann remarked, “That will do gentlemen,” turned away, and immediately dropped down dead. The ensuing inquest - to which Mann’s partner Auckland photographer Alfred Jones (who later went on to found the firm Jones & Coleman) was called as a witness - attributed his death to heart disease exacerbated by pleurisy.

Although trained as an engineer, Mann worked as a press photographer in Australia, having immigrated to Victoria in 1877. He came to New Zealand from Melbourne to cover the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York’s visit in 1901, and settled in Auckland. He specialised in outdoor photography, and much of his output went to New Zealand illustrated newspapers such as the Auckland Weekly News, although his work was also in demand from British and Australian publications. Despite his professional achievements, however, his deceased estate amounted to just £21 – cash of £11 found on his body, his camera equipment and clothes valued at £8, and jewellery assessed at £2.

But unlike some photographers who were tempted to claim a royal connection on flimsy or barely existent grounds, Mann may have personally been acquainted with the Duke of Cornwall. He grew up on the Isle of Wight where his father (also John Randall Mann) was Surveyor of Works at Osborne House, Queen Victoria's private retreat. The link may have helped facilitate Mann's access to the Duke and Duchess during their tour, and may also account for a telegram of condolence sent by the Acting Premier, Sir Joseph Ward.

Mann was buried at Purewa Cemetery, Auckland on 28 May 1902.


Quite possibly one of the last photographs ever taken by John Randall Mann, this shot appeared in the Auckland Weekly News on 29 May 1902 and was probably supplied by his partner Alfred Jones. (Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries. AWNS-19020529-10-3)