IOW Photographers - Desa


Photographer Paul Royz De Sa   aka   Paul Royz Sa De  and  Paul Royz Desa
Active Period 1864 - 1885
Lifespan Born:  c1838  Ryde, IOW Died: 
Studio Addresses Dover Street, Ryde (c1864-c1866)
20 Melville Street, Ryde (c1865-c1880)
20 Union Road, Ryde (c1880-c1890)
Associates Augustus Desa (son)
Trade History 1865 Birth registration of daughter Florence (born 24 Nov)
Paul Desa, photographer, 20 Melville Street, Ryde

1866 Reference in Ryde Cemetery Burial Board Minutes (see Further Notes below)
Paul de Sa, photographer, Dover Street, Ryde

1867 Kelly's Directory of IOW
Paul Sa De, photographer, Melville Street, Ryde

1871 Census
Paul De Sa, photographer, Melville Street, Ryde

1875 Kelly's Directory of IOW
Paul Royz Sa De, photographer, 20 Melville Street, Ryde

1881 Census
Paul De La, photographer, 20 Union Road, Ryde
(note - the name 'La' was probably confused with the script form of 'Sa' in transcription)

1891 Census
Paul Desa, photographer, School Hill, Bishop's Waltham, Hants

1899 Kelly's Directory of Hampshire & IOW (page 63)
Paul Desa, photographer, Brook Street, Bishop's Waltham

Evidence Found
pre 1864 - estimated date of photo - see below
1880 - estimated date of photos - see below
Examples of
Trade Cards,
Adverts, etc
Desa5.jpg (16178 bytes)Desa6.jpg (3754 bytes)
Example of P R Desa's photo & enlarged clip of back known to be pre 1864.
Although not very clear, the bottom front is printed 'DESA'  'RYDE, IW'.

My thanks to Fred Kelso (Oxford, Pennsylvania) for supplying the above photo.

The photo is of John Lawrence, Fred's 4xgreat-grandfather, who died in 1864 at the age of 68 - this fact proving that the photo is dated no later than 1864. John Lawrence, a native of Aberdeen, was head gardener at St John's, Ryde for over 40 years; intially serving Sir Richard Simeon and, thereafter, his son Sir John. His obituaries make fascinating reading and show that he was a well-known and admired member of the community and much respected by those in botanical and scientific circles. His enquiring mind and practical abilities were recognised by eminent botanists of the period, and his contribution to Dr Bloomfield's study of Island Flora was invaluable.

Unfortunately, although John Lawrence and his achievements undoubtedly deserve greater recognition, it is beyond the scope of this website. I can only refer any interested readers to Fred Kelso whom, I know, would be pleased to supply further information. Fred would also welcome hearing from anyone having knowledge of this Lawrence family.
Please e-mail Fred Kelso at

Desa3.jpg (16713 bytes)Desa4.jpg (4717 bytes)
Example of P R Desa's photo & enlarged clip of back estimated to be pre 1880.
Note the striking similarity of the simple address with the earlier example above.
Also, note the same props of barley twisted leg table with curtain draped to its base - possibly Desa's 'trademark'. Desa was obviously using a slightly different design of table in his new studio - a fact which may help to date unknown photos.

The above photo from my collection is of Edward Hawkins who was married to Hannah Cole, sister of my 2xgreat-grandmother Sarah Carley (nee Cole). My album also has photos of Hannah and their young son William obviously taken at the same 'sitting' though, oddly, the studio address isn't printed on the backs of these. Perhaps the photos were stuck on the wrong side - I haven't tried peeling them off to find out!

Desa1.jpg (7423 bytes)
Example of P R Desa's photo back estimated to be c1880.

Desa2.jpg (9002 bytes)
Another more ornate example suggesting a later date.
Note the incorrect spelling of Melville Street !

Family History Paul Royz De Sa was born in Ryde c1838, the son of Manoel De Sa who is thought to have come from Portugal. In the 1861 census, Paul was found living with his mother and siblings at East View, Melville Street, Ryde. Paul's father was not present and, oddly, his mother was named as Hester Brown, a 53 year old married woman from Wimbledon, Surrey, described as 'proprietress of house'. No record of her marriage to Manoel De Sa has yet been found. Similarly, Paul (24) and his sisters Elizabeth (23) and Mary (18) were also described as 'proprietress of house', though his brother Manoel (21) was a bankers clerk. All the children had been born in Ryde, as were Hester's grandchildren Elizabeth and William De Sa who were also present. Also visiting the family at the time of the census was Mary J Thearle, a 28 year old unmarried laundress from Havenstreet. Mary was later to become Paul's wife.

Although no record of the marriage has been found on the IOW, it could have taken place elsewhere in the early 1860's because they had a son, Augustus, in c1862. A birth record for another child, Florence Evelyn born in November 1865, shows the mother's name as Mary Jane Desa, nee Tharle, and Paul as a photographer living at 20 Melville Street.

At the time of the 1871 census, Paul and his family were still living in Melville Street, probably at his mother's old address judging by the names of neighbouring properties. Paul was described as a 33 year old photographer, and living with him were his wife, Mary Jane (38), son Augustus (9) and daughters Florence (5) & Ida (1). Paul's wife, Mary Jane, died in 1872 age 42 and was buried at Ryde Cemetery. The Cemetery Register also records the burial of Isabel De Sa age 9 months in 1868 - one of their children.

Paul married his second wife, Mary Twyman, in May 1874 at Holy Trinity Church, Ryde. Mary, a spinster ten years his junior, was a daughter of William Twyman. Sadly, Mary died in 1879 age 26 and was also buried at Ryde Cemetery. Once again, the register records burials of further De Sa children thought to have been Paul & Mary's - Louisa Mary (age 9 months) and Gertrude Emily (age 3) - both having died in 1878.

By the time of the 1881 census, Paul had moved to 20 Union Road, Ryde; being described as a 42 year old widower and photographer. Living with him were his children Augustus (18), Florence (15), Ida (11), Nora (9) - all being born in Ryde - and a couple of lodgers. Paul's son Augustus was also recorded as a being a photographer - no doubt assisting his father.

Paul Royz De Sa left the Island in the late 1880's and in the 1891 census was found living at School Hill, Bishop's Watham, Hants. In that census, he was recorded as being Paul R Desa, a 49 year old photographer born in London - apparently having 'lost' a few years in the previous decade and changing his birthplace! By then, he had apparently remarried, because living with him was Annie Desa, described as his wife, age 42 from Fawley, Hants.

Kelly's 1899 Directory for Hampshire confirms that Paul Desa was a photographer at Bishop's Waltham, but at a different address from that in the 1891 census.

Paul and Annie Desa were found still living at Bishop's Waltham in the 1901 census, with Paul being described as a 59 year old photographer (still insisting he had been born in London!) and Annie age 53 from Fawley. Paul and Annie were still living in Bishop's Waltham at the time of the 1911 census, with Paul still working on his own account as a photographer and Annie a confectioner. This time, Paul age 74 had remembered his correct age and birthplace of Ryde! The census also records that he and Annie had been married for 25 years with no issue.

A little is known of what became of Paul's other children following the 1881 census. Paul's son, Augustus, had apparently given up his photographic career, because he was described as a 38 year old railway carriage painter living at Eastleigh, Southampton in the 1901 census. Also living with Augustus were Alice (38 from Cowes) and Phillip (10 from Eastleigh) - presumably his wife and son. The 1901 census also records that Paul's daughters, Ida & Nora, were employed as domestic servants at Hampstead, North London. Two other Desa families were also found in the 1901 census living at Lewisham, South London. One of these was headed by Paul's 60 year old brother, Manoel Desa, then described as living on 'own means'.

Further Notes "Local Bankrupt - Paul DE S`A, Ryde, photographer, to surrender June 4, at 1 o’clock. Solicitor Mr. G.P. Joyce ; official assignee, Mr. Blake."
- IW Observer 26 May 1866

My thanks to Ann Barrett for locating the above item.

Along with many other Ryde ratepayers, Paul De Sa signed a petition objecting to the Ryde Burial Board's proposal to level unattended graves in Ryde Cemetery. This petition, either dated 11 Dec 1866 or presented to the Board on that day, is recorded in the Board's Minutes. Paul signed his name as Paul de Sa, photographer, Dover St.

Note - family records above showed that Paul was living in Melville Street at that time, so it is possible that Dover Street was his studio address.

My thanks to Sally-Ann Garrett (IOW) for locating this item.

A full list of those signing the above petition is presented on the Ryde Social Heritage Website at . This provides a unique mini-census for Ryde in 1866.


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