Henry James Nobes 1851 – 1903
Henry started off his working life as a schoolmaster, teaching painting and drawing.
By 1890, when he was 39 years old, he started to advertise as a photographer in Landport, Hampshire and continued to advertise another studio in Landport before moving his studio to nearby Portsea. He advertised in trade directories up until 1903 – the year of his death.
1861 – age 10 at 2 St. Mary’s Street, Portsea, Hampshire living with his family
1871 – age 21 at 36 Renfrew Road, Lambeth, London (occupation – schoolmaster)
1881 – age 29 at 5 Regent Street, Portsea, Hampshire (occupation – teacher of drawing)
1891 – age 39 at 52 Lake Road, Portsea, Hampshire (occupation – photographer, painting and drawing master)
1901 – age 49 at 16 Marlborough Row, Portsea, Hampshire (occupation – artist and photographer)
Henry James Nobes was born to John Nobes (born 1816) and Sarah Nobes (born 1818) on the 19th April 1851 at St. Thomas’s Street, Portsea Hampshire.
In 1861, at the age of 10, Henry was living at 2 St. Mary’s Street, Portsea, Hampshire with his family.
By 1871, when he was 21, Henry had moved to London and was living at 36 Renfrew Road, Lambeth. He was working as a schoolmaster.
Henry went to a Methodist Teacher Training College in London where he met Helena Eliza Jenkins who was later to be his wife. Helena had been born in Westminster in London in 1852.
On the 22 December 1877, when Henry was 26, he married Helena at Clapham Chapel in Wandsworth, London.
Very shortly after the wedding, Henry returned to Portsmouth with Helena to set up home.
In 1878, their first child was born, a son called Herbert Harry Nobes (also involved in photography, see footnotes) followed by Percy Charles Edward Nobes in1880.
By 1881, Henry was already showing an interest in photography and a delightful family group taken by him is shown below.
Three years later, in the 1881 census, Harry and Helena were recorded as living at 5 Regent Street, Portsea, Hampshire, a part of Portsmouth. His occupation was stated as a teacher of drawing.
Henry’s family grew apace and five more children were born in Portsea prior to the census in 1891. They were Elsie Lilian Nobes (1881), Eva Irene Nobes (1884), Hilda Winifred Helena Nobes (1886), Sidney Harold James Nobes (1888) and Ida Robinette Nobes (1890).
Henry rose to be a head master and he also taught evenings in the Art School. He was told he couldn’t do both jobs so he gave up the teaching job and became a professional artist and part time art teacher, even though he had a large family.
In the spring and the summer he used to live in the country and painted and visited private schools on a horse and trap to take art classes. In the winter he moved back to Portsmouth to sell his paintings and to paint ships visiting Portsmouth. He used to paint the ships as if they were in a storm.
BY 1890 he had became interested in photography and opened a photographic studio at 71, Fratton Road, Landport.
The census in 1891 showed Henry, then 39, living at 52 Lake Road, Portsea, Hampshire. He was listed as being a photographer and a painting and drawing master. Henry also had a photographic studio at this same address and advertised it until 1896.
Their last child was born in 1895 in Portsea, a little son who they named Victor Arthur Nobes.
In 1896, Henry moved his studio to 16 Marlborough Row, Portsea and the 1901 census shows him and his family still living at that address. His occupation was listed as an artist and photographer.
Around this time Henry started to produce his paintings as postcards and sold them to the many sailors in this major naval port.
Henry enjoyed an active social life with a group of men who were considered the Portsmouth Society, visiting Turkish baths, oyster bars and cafes. Apparently Conan Doyle practised as a doctor near the Turkish baths – perhaps Henry knew him.
A family wedding in September 1902 provides an image of Henry and his wife Helena – see below.
Back row, left to right
Henry James Nobes, Helena Eliza Nobes (nee Jenkins), William John Hankin (bride’s father), Ethel Booth (nee Hankin, the bride’s sister), Elizabeth Hankin (bride’s mother), Edward Booth.
Front row, left to right
Eva Nobes, the bridegroom Percy Charles Edward Nobes, the bride Lily Estrel Nobes (Hankin) Elsie Nobes.
Henry Nobes died on the 20th November 1903 at Portsea, Portsmouth, Hampshire.
Herbert Harry Nobes, Henry’s eldest child, was also involved in photography. He gave his occupation as ‘photographer’ of Marlborough Road, Portsea when he gave evidence at an unlawful wounding case at Portsea Police Court in 1897 (Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle 8 May 1897).
He may have worked in his father’s studio but it does not appear that he kept pursuing his father’s occupation professionally as he was listed in the 1901 census as a fruiterer living at 172 Fratton Road, Portsmouth at the home of fruiterer and shopkeeper Hannah Smart.
In 1901, Herbert married Ellen (Nellie) Annie Sibbick. They had 3 children. Herbert apparently joined the merchant Navy but jumped ship in New York and his family followed him to the USA in 1908 aboard the Majestic.
Herbert was living in the Bronx, New York working as a bartender in the 1910 census and listed as a waiter in 1915, 1916 and 1917 in New York directories. He is once again listed as a photographer living at 143 East 235th Street in the 1920 directory but gives his occupation as wireman at a rubber factory in the census of that year. Herbert died in 1969 in Monroe, Louisiana.
Father John Nobes, born 1816 in Hampshire
Mother Sarah Nobes, born 1818 in Hampshire
Born 19 April 1851 at St. Thomas’s Street, Portsea Hampshire
Married 22 December 1877 at Clapham Chapel, Wandsworth, London to Helena Eliza Jenkins who was born 1852 in Westminster, London
Child 1 Herbert Harry Nobes, born 9 September 1878 in Landport, Hampshire
Child 2 Percy Charles Edward Nobes, born 6 January 1880 in Landport, Hampshire
Child 3 Elsie Lilian Nobes, born 19 October 1881 in Portsea, Hampshire
Child 4 Eva Irene Nobes, born 17 March 1884 inPortsea, Hampshire
Child 5 Hilda Winifred Helena Nobes, born 15 November1886 in Portsea, Hampshire
Child 6 Sidney Harold James Nobes, born 18 July 1888 in Portsea, Hampshire
Child 7 Ida Robinette Nobes, born 7 November 1890 in Portsea, Hampshire
Child 8 Victor Arthur Nobes, born 21 January 1895 in Portsea, Hampshire
Died 20 November 1903 at Portsea, Portsmouth, Hampshire
Compiled by Ron Cosens © www.cartedevisite.co.uk
- Gill Shepstone email@example.com, great granddaughter of Henry James Nobes, and family historian, who provided the information and pictures for the life story above
- Sandy Barrie for trade directory information
- Marcel Safier for additional research
- Ron Cosens for images from the Victorian Image Collection
Henry James Nobes – Gallery
Below are examples of Henry’s photography.