George Cromar Gowie 1858 – 1911
George started his photographic career in London Road in Glasgow as a photographer’s assistant and had his first studio in London about 1885 but soon after sailed for Australia where he had studios in New South Wales, Victoria and latterly in Queensland where he died in 1911.
1861 – aged 2 – living in Aberdeen with parents
1871 – aged 12 – living in Aberdeen
1881 – aged 23 – a photographer living in Everton, Lancashire with his wife and daughter
1891 – aged c33 – in Australia
1901 – aged c43 – in Australia
1911 – aged 58 – in Australia.
George Cromar Gowie was born on the 16 November 1858 at 6 Thornton Place, Aberdeen. He was the tenth of eleven children born to Stephen Gowie, a shoemaker, and his wife Margaret Gowie, nee Cromar.
1861 In the census, the Gowie family of two parents and six children were resident at 6 Thornton Place, Guestrow, St Nicholas, Aberdeen. George was listed as a 2 year old and was living with his parents, two older brothers and three older sisters. All of his siblings were born in Aberdeen.
1871 By the census, the Gowie family had moved to 6 Preston Court, St Nicholas, Aberdeen and George was listed as being 12 years old.
1879 On 29 November, George married Jane Hay at 300 London Road, Bridgeton, Glasgow. Jane was born on 24 February 1862 at High Street, Banff, the daughter of John and Margaret Hay. The marriage record states that George was 21 years of age and resident at 75 London Road, Glasgow. His occupation at the time was photographer’s assistant, the first time his photographic career is mentioned in the records. Strangely, on some of their children’s birth records, the couple provided 2 December 1879 as the date of their marriage.
1880 George and Jane’s first child, Georgina Hay Gowie, was born on 27 December 1880 at 48 Premier Street, Everton, Lancashire. George’s occupation was recorded as ‘photographic artist’.
1881 In the census, George was still living at 48 Premier Street, Everton and he is listed as a 23 year old photographer. He was residing with his wife, Jane, and their four month old daughter, Georgina. George is listed as a ‘Boarder’ as well as the ‘Head of the household’ on this census return which suggests the family was in lodgings rather than in their own permanent accommodation.
1882 George and Jane’s second daughter, Maggie Gowie, was born on 10 September 1882 at 17 Kintore Place, Aberdeen. George’s occupation was recorded as photographer’s assistant.
1884 George and Jane’s third daughter, Evaline, was born on 25 October at 2 Tait Place, Edinburgh. George’s occupation was recorded as a photographic artist.
c1885 Around 1885 George had a studio in north west London at 7 Gayton Road, Hampstead which traded under the name G C Gowie & Co. By 1887 this studio was trading under the name of The Hampstead Studio so George was no longer involved. An extract from ‘Hampstead: Hampstead Town’, A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 9: Hampstead, Paddington (1989) gives the following description of Gayton Road: “In 1881 the terraces of the Gayton and Carlile estates housed a mixture of tradesmen, clerks, merchants, manufacturers, and professional people, and included some tenementation and lodging houses in Gayton Road. There was also a photographer, an artist, and one ‘literary’ man in Gayton Road, an author in Kemplay Road, the historian James Gairdner (1828-1912) in Carlingford Road, and an architect in Denning Road. Ernest Bell, a publisher, lived at Saxon House, Willoughby Road, (fn. 95) and was presumably related to Edward Bell, who lived at the Mount, Heath Street, in the 1900s.”
1885 The National Archives catalogue has an entry related to a photographic portrait taken by George Gowie of the noted adventurer and eccentric Frederick Gustavus Burnaby. The reference is COPY 1/371/115. The entry provides the information that the copyright owner was James Wood, 61 Launceston Place and 72 Princes Street Edinburgh and the copyright for the author of the photograph was George C Gowie, 2 Tait Street, Easter Road, Edinburgh.
1885 A search of the New South Wales, Australia, Unassisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1826-1922 located George – as Mr G C Gowie – on the passenger list of a ship named Garonne. The ship departed from London and arrived in Sydney, New South Wales, on 14 January 1886. This corresponds to the declaration made by Jane on the birth record of Hugh.
1886 George and Jane’s fourth child, and first son, was named George Cromar Gowie and was born on the 26 July at 28 St. Andrews Street, St Nicholas, Aberdeen. See below (click on the image to enlarge it). Jane, as the informant of the birth, gave George’s occupation as photographer. What is apparent, however, is that George abandoned his family before little George was born.
A very interesting point is that perhaps George was not the father of George junior as a passage of 90 days to Australia makes the timings incredibly tight for the baby to have been conceived prior to George’s departure (conception would normally have had to have been between 30 October and 7 November 1885). It is also not outside the realms of possibility that George was the father if conception was immediately prior to his departure and the baby was overdue or if passage to Australia was quicker than average. It would seem strange for Jane to be so up front about the illegitimacy of Hugh but cover it up with George but she was newly abandoned so perhaps that was why. The baby’s paternity might remain one of those mysteries of family history!
Tragically, George died at just two years old, on 25 March 1889 of whooping cough, catarrhal pneumonia and tubercular meningitis.
1886 By December 1886 George Cromer Gowie was advertising his studio at 354 & 356 George Street, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia and described himself as a photo & art publisher as well as a photographer. On Christmas Eve he was advertising for a young lady to help in the back of the studio. See advert below.
1887 By January 1887 George was in partnership at the same address in Sydney and trading with John David Pickering as Gowie & Pickering and they called their studio the New Palace of Art. On the 12th January 1887, the new business advertised for a smart boy to help out. See advert below.
Gowie & Pickering advertised again in April and then in May – see below.
However, by the 31st May 1887 the partnership had obviously ceased as a firm called Frazer & Pickering were advertising from that address at that date.
In October the same year George C Goirie (sic) & John David Pickering were sued by a William Robinson regarding an unpaid debt and George had a judgement made against him for the full amount – see below.
1889 By March 1889 George had re-organised again and was trading as Gowie, Humes & Stawely. The studio was also known as the Melbourne Photographic Co. and was located at Donald in upstate Victoria.
According to Lilian Kirk, who is the archivist, there is only one reference to George’s business in the Donald History Group archives and it is to an advertisement in the local newspaper published on March 15, 1889 for the Melbourne Photographic Company.
Donald Times, March 15, 1889:
The Melbourne photographic Company have taken the premises opposite the Royal Hotel,
Your patronage is therefore kindly solicited
Interestingly, another photographer named Stubbs was advertising in the same edition.
Meanwhile … back in Scotland in 1889 – on the birth record of her illegitimate son, Hugh Hay Gowie, who was born on the 16 October 1889 at 103 George Street, Aberdeen – George’s wife Jane made the following declaration ‘Jane Hay, wife of George Gowie, photographer, who, she declares, is not the father of the child and further that she has had no personal communication with him since he went to Australia in November 1885.’ See Hugh’s birth certificate below (click on the image to enlarge it). In the 1891 census, Jane gave her marital status as ‘married’ but by 1901 she was describing herself as a ‘widow’. This would seem to indicate that she had not had any contact with George since he settled in Australia since she was having to guess whether he was alive or dead. Alternatively, she could have adopted the status of a widow as a way of ‘sanitising’ her status as an abandoned wife.
Tragically Hugh was killed in France in 1915.
Below is a picture of Jane Gowie (Hay) with her teenage children in about 1900.
A mystery – the photographic portrait below is believed, due to strong circumstantial evidence, to depict George Cromar Gowie and it has been dated to the early 1890s. The reverse of the photograph provides the details that the studio was Middleton’s Art Studio at 181 King Street, Aberdeen. Did he return to the UK and then go back to Australia again? No record of him as a passenger either way has yet been found.
Meanwhile – in Australia in 1896 The Sands Directory of Sydney for 1896 lists George C Gowie at 33 Ivy Street, Redfern, Sydney, New South Wales. It is thought that this is a domestic address.
1897 In December, George committed bigamy when he married for the second time. His bride was an immigrant from Berlin, Germany, named Agnes Clara Victoria Mantel and they married on 22 December 1897 at the Manse, Wolfe Street, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. He gave his marital status as ‘Widower’ when Jane Hay was very much alive (she died on 11 June 1911) and gave his age as 36, perhaps shaving a few years off his age since his bride was only 23. His occupation was again given as photographer.
1898 George and Agnes had a son on the 30th.October 1898. He was named Gerald George Cromar Gowie and was born at Hamilton Road, Hamilton (near Newcastle), New South Wales, Australia. George was recorded as a photographer on the birth certificate. Interestingly, when Gerald married Margaret Downie in 1923, he did so using the surname MacDonald and gave his parents details as George Alexander Lancelot MacDonald, a carpenter, and Jane Tindale. This perhaps suggests that Gerald was adopted by this couple. When Gerald died on the 31st. January 1950, he was recorded under his birth name but the certificate also states that he was known as Gerald George MacDonald. His father’s details were recorded as George Cromar Gowie, photographer.
1900 The Sands Directory of Sydney for 1900 lists George Gowie at 11 Telopea Street, Redfern, Sydney, New South Wales. As above, it is thought that this is a domestic address.
1900 George Gowie is mentioned in the Victoria Police Gazette of 7 February 1900 as follows ‘George Gowie, photographer, 15 Vere Street, Collingwood, reports property stolen from his dwelling, on the night of the 3rd inst., a grey tweed sac coat and vest, a pair of eye-glasses, a comb, and a wooden pipe. Value £3-0.1097. 5th February 1900’
1901 A the following year, the same Gazette shows that ‘Messrs Gowie’ departed from Melbourne and arrived in Sydney, New South Wales, on 5 February 1901 aboard the vessel ‘Arawatta’. This may or may not be George.
1903 George appears on the 1903 electoral register as George Crowser (sic) Gowie and resident at Malvern East, Kooyong, Melbourne, Victoria. He is listed as a photographer of 27 Johnson (Johnstone?) Street.
1911 George travelled around in Australia quite a lot and eventually died on the 1st. October 1911 in Murphy’s Lane, Ipswich (near Brisbane), Queensland, Australia. His occupation was given as a photographer and his age noted as 58. See his death certificate below (click on the image to enlarge it) :-
George’s place of birth was recorded as Thornton, Aberdeen, Scotland and it is noted that he had been in Queensland for two years and previous to that had been in New South Wales for 22 years. His parents were recorded as Stephen Gowie, bootmaker, and Margaret Cromar. The details of his marriages were given as Jane Rae (sic) at age 20 in Newcastle, New South Wales, and Agnes Martle at the age of 42 in the same location. The children listed were Georgina Gowie aged 27 and Gerald George Cromar Gowie aged 14 and one deceased female.
The cause of George’s death was rupture of the pericord (pericord is not a term in common usage but would probably mean rupture of the heart, or more specifically the pericardium, a covering over the heart) as certified by W H V Lossberg. He was buried in Ipswich Cemetery on 2nd. October 1911 which was certified by J W Reed, Peter Robertson, J Sandeman and AE McCoombes. The informant was Margaret Ann Anderson of Murphy Street, Ipswich. This certificate throws up some interesting discrepancies. Firstly, George was actually only 52 – almost 53 – when he died rather than 58. He may have added the years himself or, more likely, this was an error on the part of the informant. The information about his residency is also interesting. It suggests that he moved to Queensland in approximately 1909 and had been in New South Wales since 1887, which is a little different from the immigration information. However, there is no mention whatsoever of the period of time he spent in Victoria. The information on his children prompts more questions than it provides answers. Georgina was actually 30 rather than 27 and no mention is made of either Maggie or Evaline. Gerald was approaching 13 rather than being 14. Therefore, that there is a distinct possibility that George had little or no contact even with Gerald at the time of his death since the informant could not provide an accurate age. The fact that the informant is not a relative suggests that something had happened to George’s second family. There is also a mystery of the daughter who predeceased him. The child who had predeceased him was George but whether George even knew of his existence is unlikely and obviously he was a male child. Perhaps this suggests that George and Agnes had a daughter as well as a son. Even the cause of death is a mystery since no definition of ‘pericord’ can be found.
George Cromar Gowie’s Family
Father Stephen Gowie (born c1815 in Aberdeen)
Mother Margaret Gowie, nee Cromar (born c1818 in Birse, Aberdeenshire)
Born 1858 in Thornton, Aberdeen, Scotland
Married 1879 to Jane Hay (born 1862 in Banff; died 1911)
Child 1 1880 Georgina Hay Gowie born in Everton, Lancashire
Child 2 1882 Maggie Gowie born in Aberdeen
Child 3 1884 Evaline Gowie born in Edinburgh
Child 4 1886 George Cromar Gowie (junior) born in Aberdeen, Scotland. Died 1889
Child 1889 Hugh Hay (or Gowie) born to Jane Hay on 16 October 1889 at Aberdeen
‘Married’ 1897 to Agnes Clara Victoria Mantel from Berlin at Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Child 5 1898 Gerald George Cromar Gowie born in NSW Australia. Died 1950.
Died 1911 in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia.
Compiled by Ron Cosens © www.cartedevisite.co.uk
- Laura Dalgarno-Platt firstname.lastname@example.org & Tracy Wood email@example.com – family historians
- Sandy Barrie for trade directory information
- Marcel Safier for additional research – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ron Cosens for images from the Victorian Image Collection
George Cromar Gowie – Gallery
Examples of George’s photography are shown below.