John Jabez Edwin Mayall
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John Jabez Edwin Mayall 17 Sept 1813 - 6 March 1901
Converting peoples loft spaces occasionally throws up stuff of interest, usually in the form of old newspapers, but recently at a job in Southwick we stumbled upon a pamphlet dated July 20th 1875, in almost perfect condition. The customers had told me that they believed the original owner, who had commissioned the place to be built, may have been involved in the moving pictures industry in its infancy, but they knew no more. In the early stages of setting out for steels and joisting, I had found an old, and barely discernable business post card with the name J.J.E.Mayall, and four addresses from London, Paris, Dublin, and Brighton in each corner, stating his business as 'Photographic Artist', I had something to go on. I would discover links to a U.S President, Ulysees S Grant, Charles Dickens, Queen Victoria and her family, the painter J.M.W. Turner, great invovlement in local politics, and overall a quite remarkable life lived.
When back home I checked him up on the ancestry.com web site, and Googled his name too, finding that he had originally been called Jabez Meal when born on 17th September 1813, at Chamber Hall near Oldham, son of John and Elizabeth Meal. John Meal was described as a manufacturing chemist and is believed to have specialized in the production of dyes for the linen industry, by 1817 John Meal and his family were living at Lingards, near Huddersfield in the cloth manufacturing region of West Yorkshire. In Baine's Directory of 1822, Mayall's father, John Meal, is listed as a dyer in Linthwaite. John and Elizabeth had two other sons, (that I know of), Joseph, born 16 Oct 1814, and Samuel, 1818. Joseph emigrated to America in 1834, setting up business as a Bleacher and Dyer
Since that first search, I've found out that Jabez married Eliza Parkin in 1834, had three sons, Edwin, (1835), Joe Parkin, (1839), and John by 1842, then emigrated to Philadelphia, America, where he studied and perfected the photographic process known as the Daguerreotype, invented by the Frenchman, Louis Daguerre. Setting up business at 140 Chestnut Street, with Samuel Van Loan in 1844, he also gave lectures on the art of photography, one being a, 'Memoir on the Daguerreotype' to the Philosophical Society of the United States in 1846. He was regarded as being the first photographer to use Daguerreotypes to illustrate a story. Returning to England in 1846, now under the name, John Jabez Edwin Mayall, he soon set up business as a 'Photographic Artist' in London at 433 West Strand.
Once back in England, Mayall advertised himself as, 'Professor High School', a nickname he had earned in Philadelphia, later dropping the nickname, and advertising as the, 'American Daguerreotype Institution'. The reason for this mis-direction was quite possibly because the French Government had made a gift of the Daguerreotype process to the world, with the exception of Britain, owing to a shrewd Daguerre instructing a patent agent to file for the patent in England just five days before the French gesture, so Mayall led people to believe he was in fact American.
Between 1847-'49, the artist Joseph Mallord William Turner, RA (baptised 14 May 1775 – 19 December 1851) a British Romantic landscape painter, water-colourist, and printmaker, visited Mayall's photographic studio, although Mayall was at the time unaware that this man was indeed the great painter of world renown.
The following was published in "The Life of J.M.W. Turner, R.A. Founded on Letters and Papers Furnished by his Friends and Fellow Academicians" by Walter Thornbury (London: Hurst and Blackett, 1862), Volume II, p.259-264. :-
THIRST FOR KNOWLEDGE IN OLD AGE.
One of the most admirable things about Turner's mind was, that it never grew old. It never froze and petrified into unchangeable fixity, but remained to the last thirsty for knowledge, and ready to grow as the world grew.
One of the most interesting proofs of the perpetual growth of Turner's mind is the following account of the interest he took in the science of optics and in the science of photography. It is kindly furnished to me by that eminent professor of the progressing and wonderful art, Mr. Mayall, of Regent-street:
"Turner's visits to my atelier were in 1847, '48, and '49. I took several admirable daguerreotype portraits of him, one of which was reading, a position rather favourable for him on account of his weak eyes and their being rather bloodshot. I recollect one of these portraits was presented to a lady who accompanied him. My first interviews with him were rather mysterious; he either did state, or at least led me to believe, that he was a Master in Chancery, and his subsequent visits and conversation rather confirmed this idea. At first he was very desirous of trying curious effects of light let in on the figure from a high position, and he himself sat for the studies. He was very much pleased with a figure-study I had just completed of ' This Mortal must put on Immortality;' he wished to bring a lady to try something of the kind himself. This was in 1847; and I believe he did fix a day for that purpose. However, it happened to be a November fog, and I could not work. He stayed with me some three hours, talking about light and its curious effects on films of prepared silver. He expressed a wish to see the spectral image copied, and asked me if I had ever repeated Mrs. Somerville's experiment of magnetizing a needle in the rays of the spectrum. I told him I had.
"I was not then aware that the inquisitive old man was Turner, the painter. At the same time, I was much impressed with his inquisitive disposition, and I carefully explained to him all I then knew of the operation of light on iodized silver plates. He came again and again, always with some new notion about light. He wished me to copy my views of Niagara then a novelty in London and inquired of me about the effect of the rainbow spanning the great falls. I was fortunate in having seized one of these fleeting shadows when I was there, and I showed it to him. He wished to buy the plate. At that time I was not very anxious to sell them. I told him I had made a copy for Sir John Herschel, and with that exception did not intend to part with a copy. He told me he should like to see Niagara, as it was the greatest wonder in nature; he was never tired of my descriptions of it. In short, he had come so often, and in such an unobtrusive manner, that he had come to be regarded by all my people as ' our Mr. Turner.'
"This went on through 1848, till one evening I met him at the soiree of the Royal Society; I think it was early in May, 1849. He shook me by the hand very cordially, and fell into his old topic of the spectrum. Some one came up to me and asked if I knew Mr. Turner; I answered I had had that pleasure some time. ' Yes,' said my informant, rather significantly, ' but do you know that he is the Turner?' I was rather surprised, I must confess; and later on in the evening I encountered him again, and fell into conversation on our old topic. I ventured to suggest to him the value of such studies for his own pursuits, and at once offered to conduct any experiments for him that he might require, and, in fact, to give up some time to work out his ideas about the treatment of light and shade. I parted with him on the understanding that he would call on me; however, he never did call again, nor did I ever see him again.
"I recollected putting aside a rather curious head of him in profile, and, you may be sure, on the following morning after this interview I lost no time in looking up the portrait, which, I regret to say, one of my assistants had without my orders effaced. I am almost certain you will be able to trace some of the daguerreotypes of him, for I made at least four, for which he paid me; and some I rubbed out where we had tried the effect of a sharp, narrow cross light, in which some parts of the face were left in strong shadow.
"I need not add, that at that time I was a struggling artist, much devoted to improving my art, and had just bought a large lens in Paris, six inches in diameter. I let Turner look through it, and the expressions of surprise and admiration were such that I ought at once to have known him in his true character; however, he was very kind to me, and by some sort of inuendo he kept up his Mastership in Chancery so well, that I did not. He sent me many patrons. I used to hear about him almost daily. When somewhat desponding of my success one day, I told him London was too large for a man with slender means to get along. He sharply turned round and said, 'No, no; you are sure to succeed; only wait. You are a young man yet. I began life with little, and you see I am now very comfortable.' ' Yes,' I replied; ' and if I were on the same side of Chancery you are, perhaps I might be comfortable also.' I was at that time fighting the battle of the patent rights of the daguerreotype. He smiled and said, ' You'll come out all right, never fear.' My recollection now is, that he was very kind and affable to me, rather taciturn, but very observant and curious; he would never allow me to stop working when he came, but would loiter and watch me polish the plates and prepare them, and take much interest in the result of my labours.
"I recollect Mr. Spence, the naturalist, sitting to me, and was much struck at the time with the resemblance of the two heads. I mentioned this to Turner, and I showed him the portrait of Mr. Spence. Mr. Spence was stouter. Turner stooped very much, and always looked down; he had a trick of putting his hand into his coat-pocket, and of muttering to himself.
"Whatever others may have said of his parsimonious habits, I cannot recollect one act of his that would lead me to infer he was other than a liberal, kindhearted old gentleman."
When Mr. Mayall, the photographer, whose fame is now European, was first known as a young struggling American photographer in a small shop in the Strand, the wonderful art was then uncertain in its results, and few there were who could at that time foresee the influence it would exercise over art. It was one day during that moral epidemic, the railway mania, when Mr. Hudson ruled England, and all the world, from the countess to the costermonger, knelt down and beat their heads on the pavement of Capelcourt, in passionate idolatry to the golden calf. The age of chivalry had indeed gone. At Mr. Mayall's door there were hanging photographs intended to satirize the folly of the day. On one side there was a Stock Exchange man radiant, shares being at a premium; on the other, the same man in maniacal despair at the Great Bubbleton railway shares falling down to nothing. These pictures (almost the earliest attempts to make photography tell a story) attracted crowds, and among them Turner. So interested was he, indeed, that he came into the shop, and asked to see the gentleman who designed them. After this, he came so often, that an Abernethy chair was habitually placed for him, so that he might watch Mr. Mayall, without interrupting him at work. He took great interest in all effects of light, and repeatedly sat for his portrait in all sorts of Rembrandtic positions.
This next extract is courtesy of 'The Project Gutenburg', who digitised the:-
ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHIES OF
THE GREAT ARTISTS.
JOSEPH MALLORD WILLIAM TURNER
(Talking about Turner)
'He did not, however, lose his love of art and his desire of acquiring knowledge relating to it. It was in these last years, 1847-49, that he paid several visits to the studio of Mr. Mayall, the celebrated photographic artist, passing himself off as a Master in Chancery, and taking very great interest in the development of the new process which had not then got beyond the daguerreotype. To the interesting account of these visits printed by Mr. Thornbury, we are enabled by Mr. Mayall’s kindness to add that at a time when his finances were at a very low ebb in consequence of litigation about patent rights, Turner unasked, brought him a roll of bank-notes, to the amount of £300, and gave it him on the understanding that he was to repay him if he could. This, Mr. Mayall was able to do very soon, but that does not lessen the generosity of Turner’s act.'
I wonder if Turner, having painted there,may have talked about Shoreham to Mayall during one of these many meetings they had, given that they would have shared an interest in the natural light which made it such a popular place for painters, and later, photographers and early film makers along at Bungalow Town, which is now Shoreham Beach. Could it be that a seed was sown at this point, resulting in Mayall eventually moving to the area?
At the Great Exhibition of 1851, in what was effectively the first photography competition, with entries from six of the greatest nations of the time, J.J.E.Mayall had 72 of his daguerreotypes exhibiting among a total of 700 entered in the Daguerreotype and Calotype section, this helped secure Mayall's name, if it hadn't been already, with the interest and encouragement of Prince Albert, who with Queen Victoria, later commissioned him to take a series of photographs of the Royal Family as, 'Carte De Visite', the first to do so. His pictures of Prince Albert sold over 60,000 copies after the untimely death of the Queens Consort, doubtless adding a few digits to Mayalls wealth. He also photographed many of the most eminent people in the country, including such luminaries as Charles Dickens, William Gladstone, Alfred Tennyson, not to mention virtually the entire Royal family of the time.
I took this from the Spartacus,schoolnet.co.uk site, regarding the Great Exhibition of 1851 :-
"Mayall received an "Honourable Mention" for the daguerreotypes he exhibited at the Crystal Palace and looking back over Mayall's career nearly thirty years later the, "Photographic News", stated that the pictures he showed at the Great Exhibition, "brought him to the front rank.".
By the 1864, J.J.E. Mayall had opened new premises at 90 and 91 Kings Road, Brighton, leaving his eldest son, Edwin, (1835-72) to run the London establishments, while his other two sons, Joe Parkin, (1835-1922), and John, (1842-1891),also photographic artists, were located around Brighton at this time too, John marrying Eliza Caroline Josephine Dabbs of Lancing, (whose parents were running the Farmers Hotel in Lancing), in Worthing 1865, and Joe Parkin's first born, Marian Emma Mayall, born in Brighton in 1868. J.J.E also had a daughter with Eliza, Harriet, who married Arthur William Woods, a solicitor, at Brighton in 1867. A Royal family portrait photo of Queen Victoria and eight of her children taken in 1863, has, 'Mayall, Photo', in the bottom left corner, and 'London & Brighton' in the right hand corner. Throughout John Jabez Edwin Mayall's life, he called himself an 'Artist' on his census reports, but from early on after arriving in Brighton, he became involved in local politics, going on to serve as Mayor of Brighton between 1877/78, and, I discovered while working in that loft space in Southwick, played a huge part in saving Shoreham harbour, and driving through a bill in Parliament to have a reconstitution of the Trust Port, with the power to borrow funds from Government to improve the port, and make it a viable ongoing business that would benefit the local area and people, and not a few greedy speculators.
J.J.E's wife, Eliza, died at Brighton in 1870, and in the April 2nd 1871 census, J.J.E is living at Hove Place House, Dyke Road, Brighton, as a widower, his occupation given as 'Artist'. By late 1871 he has met and married Celia Victoria Hooper (nee Gardiner 1834-1922), a widow with one daughter, (living with her),Celia Victoria Hooper (1863-1942), and a son, Joseph Francis Hooper, (1862-1940). In 1872 they had a daughter, Elsie Lena (born Brighton 1872-1953), but unfortunately that same year, Mayall's eldest son, Edwin, died after a long illness. In the Morning Post of 2nd March 1872, it read:-
'Death of Mr Edwin Mayall- The Photographic News announces the death of Mr E. Mayall, son of Mr J.E. Mayall, the well known photographer of London and Brighton, which event took place, after many months of great suffering, on the evening of Monday last. The deceased was only 37 years of age, but had great experience in photography, having worked it from the earliest days of daguerreotype and calotype. He twice made the tour of the United States of America, and at other times he travelled through France, Germany, and Italy, always in pursuit of his art, and always bringing back hints and ideas suggested by the working of photography in those countries. His death will be greatly regretted by a large circle of friends.'
Two years later, J.J.E and Celia had another son Oswald, (born Lancing 1874), and lastly, Sybil, (born Lancing 1876). J.J.E's second son from his frist marriage, Joe Parkin Mayall, was also a renowned photographic artist in his time, here is a short bio taken from the Royal Academy of Arts 'Collections'. (although it incorrectly gives his date of death as 1906, he actually died at Camberwell, 1922).
Joseph Parkin Mayall
|Photographer. Joseph Parkin Mayall (1839-1906). The second son of the photographer John Jabez Edwin Mayall and his first wife Eliza Parkin. It is likely he had a photographic studio in Brighton from the late 1860s and another in Australia from 1872 to 1875.
A Brighton Directory for 1877 lists a J.P. Mayall at 8 West Hill Road and in 1879 a studio at 6 North Street Quadrant, in 1882 his address was 69 Buckingham Road, Brighton.
By 1883 Mayall is recorded as having a studio at 548 Oxford St, London which may have been called 'Park Lane Studio'. Pritchard lists this studio as being active until 1889. Mayall died at Epsom in 1906. Artists at Home. was published in 1884.
Johnson, W. S. Nineteenth-Century Photography An Annotated Bibliiography 1839-1879, London, 1990, p.418
Reynolds, L.L., Gill, A.T. The Mayall Story History of Photography, Vol.9, Number 2, April-June 1985
Joe Parkin Mayall produced a series of photographs of eminent painters of the time in their own homes, including Sir Edward J Poynter, Sir Frederick Leighton, and Sir John Everett Millais among others, which would be sold as 'Carte De Visit's' the medium his father had done so much to promote with his 'CDV's' of the Royal Family. He also photographed William Ewart Gladstone, both former, and yet to be again at the time, Prime Minister of Great Britain. This in itself is all the more remarkable for me, as I have been studying these painters as a result of my Great Grand Father, Henry Ramus' business partner, William Walker Sampson, a leading art dealer of the time. I had a suspicion when I first picked up that dusty post card sized business card with 'J.E.Mayall- Photographic Artist' on it, that I might find a connection to my own family past, and so it has transpired, albeit tenuously. The best part was finding the Lawrence Alma Tadema photo, (below), as it was a book written by Vernon Grosvenor Swanson about this painters protege, John William Godward, which first brought W.W.Sampson to my notice. Sampson, it turned out, was head of an art cartel running at both Christies and Sothebys, Swanson writes:-
'As early as 1905 another London dealer, William Walker Sampson (1864- October 1929) then in partnership with Henry Ramus, began to advertise and offer J. W. Godward prints and originals. Sampson had begun his art trade career in 1887 and now self-styled himself as a "Wholesale Fine Art Dealer: The British Galleries" of 13 Air Street, Regent Street in London. W. W. Sampson & Son's specialty was selling "English and Continental Modern Art" to the trade rather than to private collectors. After the Godward's death Sampson begins to pay increased attention to the artist's work until his own death seven years later.'
'Working almost exclusively with the auction market, Messrs. W. W. Sampson was called "champion of British Art at auction" in his obituary. He had been bidding on Godward paintings at Christie's since 1905. He had already purchased at least eighteen oils before his strong entry into the Godward market in 1924. That year and the next he wins bids on twelve more Godward paintings. About two-thirds of the auctioned paintings by Godward during this sinking market period were purchased by Sampson.'
"Bill" Sampson, as he was called, was eulogized profusely in The Daily Telegraph as the great savior of British art during difficult times. In fact nearly half of all late 19th century paintings auctioned in London during this period were acquired by Sampson! Such an amazing feat was made possible by virtue of his controlling "The Ring." Most of the paintings were then dispersed, in wholesale fashion, to other dealers at discount prices.'
Sampson died at 122 Kings road, Brighton, on the 31st October, 1929, two days after 'Black Tuesday' of the Wall Street Crash. He left just ten pounds in his will, presumeably having lost everything by then, as had many others in what would be the beginning of the Great Depression.
On Tuesday July 20th 1875, Alderman Mayall, having been appointed by the Brighton Corporation to be one of the trustees of the Shoreham Harbour Board, gave a speech at a meeting of the trustees at the Dolphin Chambers, Shoreham, where he laid out his plan to get a new bill passed through Government to allow the port greater borrowing powers in order to make the most of Shoreham Harbour's potential. In the speech, he proposes that Captain Walter Wood, and Mr William Hall, be heard to make statements regarding an offer that had been made to the shareholders, and submit a draft Bill for the reconstitution of the trust, which would need the sanction of Government. In this address, Mayall goes on to explain why they needed to go to Parliament to have a new bill passed to obtain greater borrowing powers for a necessary improvement of the harbour, and how the existing financial limit of £3000 a year was woefully inadequate. To make this happen, the shareholders would have to be bought out, which was where Captain Wood came in, having already helped underwrite Milford Haven Docks work, his name stood on the Bill as promoter of the Milford Haven Improvement Bill of 1874, an operation that had already cost half a million sterling at that time. Alderman Mayall had also sought the guidance of an 'eminent engineer who knew something of harbour works', and the Harbour Master, to determine what was immediately required. He even conferred with ship owners from the north, to find what would encourage them to send their ships to Shoreham. With all the available information at his hands, he deduced that, 'Here is a revenue slumbering, it only requires ways and means in order that it may be rendered available'.
Having enlisted the help of Captain Wood, the Alderman decided it necessary to introduce him to the former Chairman of the Harbour Board, Mr William Hall, he states, 'I believe these two gentlemen have now foreshadowed a policy which will be of great advantage to this harbour from a public point of view. And under no circumstances will I tolerate any policy from anybody that shall be of a private character, We must look to the interests of the public, who are pre-eminently concerned; and we must look well to the trading and shipping interests of the port'.
Having explained all the reasons for the necessity of the proposition, how it would work, he finished by telling the gathered menbers, 'I will but add, in conclusion, that I shall always be found to the fore in anything that concerns the prosperity of the port of Shoreham, with a view to making its harbour one of the first on the South Coast. (Cheers)'
The resolution was carried.
The photo below of the Dolphin Chambers at which the above meeting was held, is by permission of Sussex Archaeological Society at Shorehambysea.com
. The building was demolished in 1938.
Here is the link to my family research involving William Walker Sampson
On October 22nd 1877, the President of the United States, Ulysees S Grant, while on his tour of Britain, spoke in response to an address by Mayor John Mayall of Brighton. (Taken from his papers).
'Mr Mayor and Gentlemen: I have to rise here in answer to a toast that has made it embarrassing to me, by the very complimentary terms in which it has been proposed. But I can say to you all, gentlemen, that since my arrival in England, I have had the most agreeable receptions everywhere; and I enjoy yours most exceedingly. In a word, I will say that Brighton has advantages which very few places have, in consequence of its proximity to the greatest city in the world. There you can go and transact your business, and return in the evening. If I were an Englishman, I think I should select Brighton as a place where I should live, and I am very sure you could not meet a jollier and better people anywhere.'
In the 1881 census, Mayall and family are living at, Storks Nest, Lancing, a property south of the railway station, his occupation listed as, 'Artist', something that never changes throughout his life, despite his political importance by this time. In this census, they have two servants, Ellen and Kate Clapshoe, and on further investigation I found they had a brother, Harry Clapshoe, (all Lancing born), who was employed by the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway Company, and their records show that he came recommended by J.E. Mayall.
By the time of the 1891 census, J.J.E was now living in Southdown Road, Southwick, where I discovered his pamphlet in the roof space, just 122 years later. He was still giving his occupation as 'Photographic Artist', and living with his wife, Celia Victoria, daughters, Elsie Lena, Sybil, and step daughter, Celia Victoria Hooper. John Jabez Edwin Mayall died on the 6th March 1901, at 88 years old, and was buried next to his first wife, Eliza, in Lancing. His wife and daughters continued to live out their lives at the home in Southwick, Celia Victoria Mayall passing away in 1922, and her daughter, Celia Victoria Hooper, on 18th June 1942, leaving the impressive sum of £66,407 to her step sister, Elsie Lena Mayall, who died in 1953, at 61 The Drive, Hove.
I consider myself lucky to have found that pamphlet of a meeting held 138 years ago, and to have retrieved a little piece of Shoreham Harbour history, but more importantly, to have discovered about the life of this remarkable man involved in the birth of photography, who went on to exhibit in the Great Exhibition of 1851 at the Crystal Palace, won the patronage of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, producing Carte de Visits of the Royal Family, photographed many of the most eminent people of his time, became Mayor of Brighton, and throughout his working life, approached his chosen medium with the mind of an artist. On top of all that, he involved himself with the concerns of the world around him, bringing his wealth of life experience and contacts to assist in any way he could.
Rest in peace John Jabez Edwin Mayall, aka Jabez Meal, your work here was done, and done well.
Here is a link to shorehambysea.com, my home town web site, full of fantastic local information, both current and historical
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