IOW Photographers - Porter


Photographer Samuel James Porter and Porter & Co
Active Period 1888 - 1938
Lifespan Born:  c1862  Newport, IOW Died:  1913
Studio Addresses Maison Rouge, 31 High Street, Ventnor
(also opened studios in Torquay c1898, Paignton c1900 and Exeter c1902)
Associates Sarah Porter (sister)
Samuel Alfred Porter (son)
Herbert & Sydney Coster (nephews)
Trade History 1898 Kelly's Directory of IOW (page 551)
Samuel Porter, photographer, 31 High Street, Ventnor

1899 Kelly's Directory of IOW (pages 665 & 948)
Samuel James Porter, photographer, 31 High Street, Ventnor

1910 Kelly's Directory of IOW
Samuel Porter, photographer, 31 High Street, Ventnor

1915 Kelly's Directory of IOW (page 1090)
Porter & Co, photographer, 31 High Street, Ventnor

1921-22 Kelly's Directory of IOW (page 729)
Porter & Co, photographer, 31 High Street, Ventnor

1924-25 Kelly's Directory of IOW (page 485)
Porter & Co, photographer, 31 High Street, Ventnor

1927 Kelly's Directory of Hants & IOW (page 1106)
Porter & Co, photographer, 31 High Street, Ventnor

Evidence Found
1890 - estimated date of photo (see example below)
- estimated date of photo (see example below)
1901 - estimated date of photo (see example below)
1905 - estimated date of photo (see example below)
A portrait photo of a lady has been seen with the unusual studio name of S T Porter, Maison Rouge, Ventnor (negative number 012372)
The printed name S T Porter is very clear and, not having discovered any family members to whom it would relate, can only assume it was a rare batch printing error!
Examples of
Trade Cards,
Adverts, etc

An early example of a Porter's photo of an unknown child from my own family album having negative number 5498, estimated taken c1890


An example of a Porter's photo c1897 with negative number 18174

My thanks to Mark Randall for the above photo.
The photo is thought to be of Frederick and Rose Saunders (nee Maunder) from Ventnor, with their daughter Hilda Jane who was born 1896.


Another example of a Porter's photo estimated c1901 with negative number 15172?
Note the addition of Paignton and Torquay studio addresses.

My thanks to Ann Barrett for the above photo.
The photo is thought to be of Oliver Salter (born 1879).


An example of a Porter's postcard photo estimated c1905 with negative number 2427-W-64
Bottom right of the front is embossed 'Porter VENTNOR'

My thanks to Peter Wheeler for the above photo who found it among some old family archives.
As annotated, this is a photo of Gordon Marsh, an entertainer who appeared in a summer show at Ventnor, but no further details have been found about him.

Family History Samuel James Porter was born in Newport c1862, the son of a silk lace worker Samuel Porter and his wife Frances aka Fanny (nee Prangnell) who had married at Whippingham in 1845. Prior to Samuel's birth, the 1861 census records his parents and 4 older sisters living at Whippingham. Strangely, Samuel's birth does not appear to have been registered. This may have been an oversight caused by the death of his father in July 1862.

At the time of the 1871 census, 8 year old Samuel was living with his widowed mother and two of his sisters, Sarah Jane & Harriett, at Durham Cottages, St Thomas Street, Ryde.

By the time of the 1881 census, the family had moved locally to Belvidere Street, Ryde. The family then comprised 54 year old widowed head and housekeeper Fanny, 24 year old daughter Sarah, 19 year old son Samuel and Fanny's 52 year old widowed sister Sarah Harbey. In that census, Sarah was listed as an artist and Samuel as an assistant photographer; no doubt working for one of the several photographers in the town at that time.

By the time of the 1891 census, Fanny, Sarah and Samuel had moved to Ventnor and were living at Maison Rouge, 31 High Street. By now, Samuel was working as a photographer in his own right, being described as an employer, and Sarah an employed artist. Samuel's obituary infers the move to Ventnor was c1888, which is when he probably established his studio.

In 1893, Samuel married Clara Constance Day at St Boniface Church, Bonchurch. Clara (who sometimes used her second name Constance), some 10 years younger than Samuel, was the daughter of local builder Daniel Day and his wife Clara (nee Buck). A son, Samuel Alfred, was born to Samuel and Clara in 1894 at Ventnor.

At the time of the 1901 census, Samuel and Clara (Constance) were found living in Paignton, Devon, where Samuel was still working as a photographer employer. His sister, Sarah had moved to Devon with them, and was working on her own account as a sculpture artist. Meanwhile, their 7 year old son, Samuel Alfred, was living with his grandparents Daniel and Clara Day in Bonchurch. Also living with Samuel and Clara in Devon were Herbert and Sydney Coster, Samuel's teenage nephews. These lads had been born in Stoke Newington, London, and were the sons of Samuel's older married sister Mary Ann Coster. They were both described as photographers assistants, presumably working for Samuel. Interestingly, Herbert and Sydney were old neighbours of Samuel from Ventnor; living with their book-keeper mother Mary Coster at 32 High Street, Ventnor in 1891. Samuel and Clara also had a servant from Bonchurch living with them in Devon.

In 1901, while Samuel and Clara were in Devon, Mary Coster had moved into their old house at 31 High Street, Ventnor, and was working as a photographer/bookkeeper. Being described as a worker in the census suggests that Mary may have been running the studio for Samuel Porter during his absence. Living with Mary then were two more of her young teenage sons and also a boarder, William Page from Stafford described as a photographic artist (worker). While Mary Coster's tenure of 31 High Street is uncertain, trade directories show that another photographer, James Maurice Allen, was operating a studio from that address c1904 to 1906.

However, by the time of the 1911 census, Samuel and Clara had moved back to the Island and had taken up residence in their old home at 31 High Street, Ventnor, where Samuel was still operating as a photographer (employer). Their son Samuel Alfred, now 17, was living with them and also working as a photographer, assisting in the business as was his mother. Samuel snr's sister, 55 year old Sarah Jane, was also living with the family, and still working as an artist, also assisting in the family business.

The reason for moving back to the Island may have been attributed to being found insolvent at a meeting of creditors at Exeter in 1905. He stated that main cause of his financial difficulty was depreciation of property and having to move his Torquay business due to high rental costs. He also said that he had sold his Ventnor and Exeter businesses c1903 and Paignton in 1904, and that he now carried on only from Torquay.

Samuel James Porter died in 1913 and was buried in Ventnor Cemetery, his wife Clara having pre-deceased him in 1912. The photographic business Samuel Porter established continued to be run at 31 High Street, Ventnor, under the name of Porter & Co (or S Porter & Co) by his sister Sarah until her death in 1938.

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