Edward John RUSSELL

Edward John Russell 1830 – 1895


Photographic Business

Edward started in photography prior to 1861  and remained in photography until his death in 1895.

He operated studios in London.



1851 – age 20, at No.28 Litchfield Street, St. Anne’s, City of Westminster, London, Errand boy

1861 – age 30, No.23 Lisle Street, London. Photographer

1871 – age 40, No.1 St. Albans Street, Lambeth, London. Photographer?

1881 – age 50, No.2 Newport Street, Lambeth, London. Photographer?

1891 – age 60, No.11 Gordon House, St. George the Martyr, Southwark, London. Photographer


Edward’s  Story

Edward John Russell was the second child and only son of John Jacob Russell born 1799 and Catherine Lawrence born 1796. His grandmother Sarah (Levin) Russell had been born in Königsberg in Russia and was the niece of Solomon Hirschell, the first Chief Rabbi of the British Empire. The family on Sarah’s side can trace their lineage back to the Bible – being a distinguished family of Rabbis throughout the centuries.

John Jacob Russell, Edward’s father, was listed as a ‘General Commission Agent’. In 1841 the family home was in Dean Street, London and John and Catherine (Lawrence) Russell had six children, Ann Russell born in 1829 in Covent Garden, Edward John Russell born in 1830, Louisa Russell born in 1832, Frances (Fanny or Francis) Russell born in 1836, Amelia Russell born in 1837 and Caroline Russell born on 26th July 1838. All except Ann had been born in St. Anne’s Soho, Westminster, London. Their seventh child Rebecca was born on the 19th February 1843 in St. Martin’s Westminster, London.

By 1851, at the age of 20, Edward had started life as an ‘errand boy’. Ann Russell became a teacher of music, whilst Louisa took over the position of ‘house servant’. Fanny was earning a living from needlework whist Amelia, Caroline and Rebecca were still at school. They were all living at No. 28 Litchfield Street in the Parish of St. Anne’s in the City of Westminster, London. There were several families living at the same address which is usually a sign that they were renting an apartment or rooms.

By 1861, aged 30, Edward had become a ‘Photographer’ and was still living at home but by then the home is at No.23 Lisle Street, London and there are other people registered at the same address.

In the 1871 census, Edward was 40 years old and married to Rose who was only 21, but it would seem Edward had continued his career in photography and they were renting a room at No.1 St. Albans Street in Lambeth.

The 1881 census shows they had two children Fanny (Frances) born in 1876 and Rose born in 1879. They were living at No.2 Newport Street, Lambeth and although no occupation is recorded for Edward, one can assume he continued with his photography.

In 1891 Edward Russell was 60 years old and had continued his career as a photographer. In Edward and Rose’s household, there were further children bringing the total to 6. They had Edward Russell born in 1881 in Camberwell, Florence born in 1885 in Walworth and William born in 1887 in Bow followed by Morris born in 1888 also in Bow, which shows just how much the families moved around. They were the only occupants of No.11 Gordon House, in the Parish of St. George the Martyr, Southwark. However Fanny, who had been born in 1876, was not at home and was not found after 1881. It has to be assumed therefore that she died young. Rose, who had been born in 1879, was also missing but she was at home in the 1901 census.

Edward did not appear in London trade directories in his photographic career from the early 1860s and it is possible that he worked for someone else. However, by 1894 his photographic mounts and trade directory information show that Edward was advertising the Van Dyck studio at No.238 Upper Street, Islington in his own name. He advertised as being at that address in1894 and 1895.


Edward Russell died in 1895. In the 1901 census Rose declared herself a widow and was living at No.5 Green Court in Southwark, London. Still living at home were her children Rose who was by then 21 years old, William aged 14 and Morris 12 years old. Young Rose recorded herself as being a ‘tin-pot maker’, which was corrected to ‘tinplate maker’, so she probably worked in a factory. Edward would have been 20 years old and may have gone into lodgings to be nearer his work but Florence who would have been 16 years old is also missing and may have gone into service but should have been found unless she died sometime during the previous 10 years. Edward’s widow Rose had not recorded any occupation and it may be that Edward had left his wife well provided for after a successful career in photography.


Other famous relatives. One of Edward’s uncles was Henry Russell, born 1812, who composed 800 songs including ‘Life on the Ocean Wave’ and ‘Woodman Spare that Tree’. He campaigned for the abolition of slavery through his music and his musical plays. He also raised money and lent money to the starving Irish during the famine to allow them to emigrate to a better life. Edward’s cousins included William Clark Russell who wrote 322 novels, stories and articles mostly with a nautical theme, gaining his knowledge and experience in the merchant navy whilst serving from 1857 to 1865. Another of his cousins, and also son of Henry Russell, was the     opera impresario Henry Ronald Russell. Both he and his brother, Sir Landon Ronald Russell, both worked with the famous opera singers of the day such as Enrico Caruso and Dame Nellie Melba. Landon Ronald Russell entertained 5 reigning monarchs and a future King from Queen Victoria to Edward VIII, at Balmoral and Windsor. He was the conductor of the Albert Hall Orchestra and a director of the Gramophone Company at its inception. He also wrote more than 200 pieces of music including songs, piano pieces and ballets. Another distinguished member of Edward’s family was Sir Herbert Russell who was a journalist reporting for Reuters from the Gallipoli Campaign and who accompanied the Prince of Wales (Edward VIII) to India and the Far East, writing a book about the tour. There were also opera singers in the family such as Charlotte Russell and Hèlena Crosmond.



Father – John Jacob Russell – born 1799 and died in 1881.

Mother – Catherine Lawrence – born 1796 and died in ?

Born –  1830 in St. Anne’s Soho, Westminster, London

Married – between 1861 and 1871 in London to Rose ? – born c1850

Child 1 – Fanny (Frances) Russell – born in 1876

Child 2 – Rose Russell – born 1879

Child 3 – Edward Russell – born 1881 in Camberwell, London

Child 4 – Florence Russell – born 1885 in Walworth, London

Child 5 – William Russell – born 1887 in Bow, London

Child 6 – Morris Russell – born 1888 also in Bow

Died – 1895 in London.



Compiled by Ron Cosens © www.cartedevisite.co.uk





Edward John Russell – Gallery

Examples of Edward’s photographs from the Victorian Image Collection


Unidentified man photographed by Edward John Russell. Carte de visite No.1

Unidentified man photographed by Edward John Russell. Carte de visite No.1

Carte de visite No.1 (verso)

Carte de visite No.1 (verso)


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