Louis (Luigi) Peroni – aka Arthur Lewis 1874 – 1968
Louis was known by several names. Although his birth certificate showed his name as Louis Peroni he was also known as Luigi Peroni and Lewis Peroni. According to his obituary, he was also known by another professional name as Arthur Lewis. Quite a migration and maybe to do with wishing to anglicize his family name.
He was apprenticed to the Royal photographers Bassano in London on leaving school in about 1888.
He went on to run several studios in London and worked as a photographer from home in 1911. He later worked as a seaside photographer in Margate in the late 1930s. Luigi (Arthur) died in 1968.
His sister, Adelina Peroni, also ran a studio in London in the first World War era and for a few years afterwards.
1881 – age 7, (listed as Luigi) at 9, Upper Tollington Road, Islington with his parents and siblings
1891 – age 16, (listed as Luigi) at 27, St George’s Avenue, Islington with his parents and siblings. Occupation – photographer
1901 – age 27, (listed as Luigi) at 16, Upper Tollington Road, Islington with his wife and nine month old son.
1911 – age 36, (listed as Lewis) at 99, Bartholomew Road, Kentish Town with his wife and two children.
The Peroni family arrived in England from France on the 19th December 1849 and Luigi’s parents had married in 1865 in Clerkenwell in London. See below.
1874 Louis Peroni was born on the 23rd May 1874 at 12 High Holborn, London.
His parents had already had two girls named Victoria Peroni (1866 – 1868) who died at the age of two and Luisina Peroni (1870 – 1951) before Louis was born in 1874.
The name on his birth certificate was Louis and his father was Louis Antonio Peroni (known as Luigi); a confectioner who was born in Argegno, Italy in 1836.
Luigi’s mother was Victoria Peroni (nee Adams) who had been born in Norwich, Norfolk, England in 1844.
It is an understanding in the family today that both Luigi senior and Luigi junior were initially known as Luigi.
Some details of Louis senior’s working life prior to 1874 are shown at Appendix A at the end of this biography.
1876 Albert Peroni, Louis’ eldest brother arrived in the family in 1876 and lived a long life until 1959.
1877 When Louis junior was three years old, the Post Office Commercial Directory of London listed his father, Louis Peroni senior, as a confectioner at 12 High Holborn London WC where he was the sole tenant. He was also listed as a glass tube maker at 45 Hatton Garden London EC which he shared with four other people. Ten years later he was the sole tenant of both commercial properties. Further detail of Louis senior’s working life and achievements are show in Appendix B.
1878 Louis senior patented the triangular sectioned thermometer which had a magnifying effect on the scale and was easy to read. More details about this are shown in Appendix B. These work activities and achievements must have influenced Louis junior in his early years.
1878 Adelina Peroni was born so that Louis now had a younger sister as well as an older one. She lived until 1948.
1880 Louis’ father, at the age of 44, was still an Italian national and decided to apply for British citizenship under the Naturalization Acts of 1870. His request was granted and he became a naturalised British subject on September 10th 1880. This may have had an influence on why Luigi later anglicize his name to Arthur Lewis.
His father’s certificate is shown below and lists the family address as 9 Upper Tollington Road, Holloway, London.
1881 The census of 1881 shows Louis as Luigi and, at the age of 7, he was living with his parents Luigi (a glass blower) and Victoria at 9, Upper Tollington Road, Islington. Also in the household were Luisina Peroni (age 10), Albert (age 5), Adelina (age 2) and Alice Skinner who was a niece/aunt as a domestic servant.
1882 The family increased yet again when Arthur Peroni was born – another little brother. Arthur pre-deceased Louis in 1956.
1889 Nothing is known of Louis’ school days but after he left school, and before he was 16, he was apprenticed to the renowned London photographers, Bassano, for the sum of £50.
Whilst he was there he took photographs of Kitchener (later Lord Kitchener of Khartoum), one of which was used later as a basis for the famous WW1 recruitment poster.
He bought his first camera from Mr. Speight from Bond Street for 15 shillings and “practiced with it at home” according to an interview he gave much later in the 1960s.
It is most likely that the photograph below of his sisters Luisina and Adelina Peroni outside of the family home at 27 St George’s Avenue, Tufnell Park, London was one of his early pictures.
1891 The 1891 census shows Louis (now Luigi), aged 16, living with his family at 27, St George’s Avenue, Islington. His occupation is given as ‘photographer’ and he was employed by Bassano.
In the household were his parents Luigi (a thermometer maker aged 55) and Victoria (47), sister Luisina (20), brother Albert (14), Adelina (12), Arthur (9) and his aunt Alice Skinner (28) who was a domestic servant.
About 1892 Luigi appears to have set up his first studio at his parent’s home at 27, St George’s Avenue, Islington, London about 1892 and one of the photographs taken was of his brother Albert Peroni. See below.
Albert Peroni taken about 1892
About 1894 Another family photograph, this time of Luigi’s sister, Luisina Peroni, was taken at the same studio. See below.
1894 On the 5th December 1894, Luigi’s older sister Luisina, who was 24 years old, married Carlo Rayna an Italian from Albiola in Italy. They married in London and Luigi was a witness and signed himself, on this occasion, Louis. Below is a beautiful wedding photograph but the photographer is not stated. Louis/Luigi is actually in the photograph on the left at the back.
1895 Two more photographs of Luisina Rayna (nee Peroni) which were taken by Luigi Peroni about 1895 are shown below.
About 1896 Luigi appears to have moved out of the family home, as he became more established and set up a studio at 22 Bishops Road, Bayswater in the west of London and stayed there a couple of years before moving again.
Below is a portrait from that era of Alice Skinner who was Luigi’s aunt and who lived with his father’s family as an unmarried domestic servant. This image shows a fashionable outfit and the full ‘leg-o’-mutton’ sleeves with shoulder frills/epaulettes indicate that it was taken in the period 1895 to 1899 (fashion advice and dating provided by Jayne Shrimpton – www.jayneshrimpton.co.uk )
Alice Ann Skinner taken about 1897
1896 Luigi’s father, Luigi senior of 45 Hatton Garden, London, died at 27 St George’s Avenue on the 3rd of August 1896 leaving an estate of £15,418 which equates to about £6m in today’s money – 2015. A huge amount.
His executor’s declaration published in the London Gazette on the 1st September 1896 p.4958 is shown below.
1898 By 1898, at the age of 24, Luigi was advertising his new studio at 16 Upper Tollington Park, Finsbury Park, London N which was, or was to become, his home as well as his place of work. A fine photograph of his brother in law’s family was taken in October 1900 and is shown below
Carlo Rayna, Maddalena Rayna and Gustavo Rayna taken in October 1900
1899 Although Luigi no longer worked for Bassano, his picture of Lord Kitchener of Khartoum continued to make them (Bassano) lots of money. In 1899 it was chosen for a completely different function when it was used as the frontispiece of the prestigious book published each year and known as the Penrose Annual.
1900 Sometime before 1900 Luigi met and courted a girl named Beatrice Jeanette Webster who was three years younger than himself.
On the 5th March 1900 Luigi, at the age of 25, married Beatrice at Edmonton Registry Office in north London. His forename was given as Luigi on the marriage certificate, his occupation as photographer and his address as 16 Upper Tollington Park, Stroud Green, London. (Alice) Skinner was a witness to the marriage.
Beatrice was the daughter of William Andrew Webster, a musician, and Christina Emma Calvert of 15 Tregothnam Road, Clapham.
Luigi and Beatrice were expecting their first child.
1900 Luigi’s and Beatrice’s son was born on the 16th July 1900 in Hornsey and was named Ronald Lewis Victor Peroni.
1901 The census shows Luigi and Beatrice living at 16, Upper Tollington Road, Islington with their nine month old son Ronald. Tragically, Ronald died of tubercular meningitis at 1 Stanhope Gardens Tottenham on the 1st August 1901.
Ronald was baptised on 29 July 1901 at St. Paul, Haringey, London just two days before he died.
Luigi’s business continued to thrive and below is another fine portrait of two members of his brother in law’s family.
1902 Luigi’s second child was born in Islington, London on the 18th August and he was named Cyril Enrico. He later became known as Cyril Eric Lewis. Cyril died in Peacehaven, Sussex nearly 80 years later on the 19th June 1982.
1904 By 1904 Luigi had moved home and studio again and set up in 105 Park Street, Camden Town, London where his daughter Rita Peroni was born on the 2nd July.
It is not clear how long he stayed at this address but appears to have stopped advertising in 1905. He had, however, changed address again before February 1905.
1905 It is thought that Luigi enjoyed an occasional gamble and that the family were once quite wealthy but that Luigi suffered some losses. This is confirmed by a Deed of Transfer dated 23 February 1905 whereby Luigi transferred ownership of all the furniture and the household effects (including money) to his wife Beatrice. At this time they were living at 11, Bryanstone Road, Crouch End, London.
1909 The Electoral Roll in 1909 shows that Luigi and family were living at 236 Park Road, Crouch End, London
1911 The census in 1911 shows Luigi Peroni, aged 36, living and working from 99, Bartholomew Road, Camden Road, London NW. but he gives his Christian name as Lewis. He states he is a photographer working on his own account and declares himself as British.
Also with him are Beatrice (age 30), Cyril (age 9) and Rita (age 7).
1911 Luigi’s mother, Victoria, died in October 1911 leaving an estate of just £8 but soon afterwards their daughter Adelina Betty Peroni was born on the 5th November 1911 at St Pancras, London.
1914 The Electoral Roll in 1909 shows that Luigi and family were living at 103 High Street, Camden Town, London.
1915 Sometime between 1911 and 1915, Luigi had opened a studio called the Florence Studio at 103 High Street, Camden Town where the family was living when tragedy struck again as three year old Adelina died on the 25th of January 1915. Her sad obituary is shown below.
Among the mourners was her aunt Adelina, who was a photographer, and also a well known London photographer called John William Gorsuch.
Also among the mourners were Mr. & Mrs.Simundt. Mrs. Simundt was Beatrice’s sister Ada, who had married Victor Simundt, a German. They lived in Berlin with their daughter Irene before WWI and came back to live in England and anglicised their name to Simmonds.
Beatrice had been pregnant at the time that Adelina died and a son was born on the 23rd June the same year. He was called Donald Lewis Peroni and he lived until 1984.
During WW1 Luigi had photographed many hundreds of men who were leaving the UK to fight abroad in places like Flanders.
1916 By 1916 the Florence Studio was being advertised by Jacquier & Peroni. The Peroni in this business was Luigi’s sister Adelina Victoria Peroni who was in partnership with Giuseppe Jacquier who had been born in Florence, Italy in 1871. Within a year Adelina had taken sole ownership of the studio and continued to advertise it until at least 1921.
Adelina, a spinster at the age of 40, married William Boag Aitken in 1919 and gave her address as 103 High Street, Camden Town.
1917 On the 23rd November 1917 Luigi and Beatrice had their last son and called him Douglas Peroni. Luigi’s name on Douglas’ birth certificate was given as Lewis Peroni.
1918 The Electoral Roll in 1918 shows that Luigi and family were still living at 103 High Street, Camden Town, London.
1923 The Electoral Roll in 1923 shows that Luigi and family were still living at 103 High Street, Camden Town, London.
1929 The Electoral Roll in 1929 shows that Luigi and family had moved to 41 High Street, Camden Town, London.
1930s Over time, Luigi found it easier and more convenient to style himself as Arthur Lewis. It is not clear if this change of name was done officially by deed poll or not but it is believed that the change probably came about by common usage. Support for this is shown in Beatrice’s will dated 1963 when the executors are listed as Cyril Enrico Peroni (known as George Lewis), and Douglas Peroni.
Luigi’s son Cyril became known as George Lewis and his son Donald and daughter Rita adopted Lewis as a surname. Douglas Peroni, however, refused to change his family name.
1933 At the age of 59, and according to his obituary, Luigi and Beatrice moved to 25 Denning Road, Hampstead, near Hampstead Heath in London NW3 about 1933. They had a one-bedroom ground floor flat, even though their daughter Rita lived with them for the rest of their days. Cousin Beryl says that her family went to live there also in the 1930s, for a time. How they all lived together in such a small flat is unclear. It appears that Luigi (Arthur) was often ‘hard-up’.
1938 Also, between the wars Luigi (Arthur), appears to have spent the summers in Margate, photographing holidaymakers on the promenade. Below is a photograph of him and a team of workers (who were almost certainly photographers) dated September 1938 and captioned ‘End of the season for most of us’. It is thought that he was still working up until the outbreak of WWII at least.
1939 A picture of the Lewis family is shown below. It was taken around 1939.
Lewis family – adults L-R: Luigi (Arthur), Don, George, Rita, Cis (Don’s wife) Beatrice.
The children are: Rosemary & Beryl (George’s children) Peter & Tony (Don’s children),& one unknown
1939 As previously mentioned, Luigi’s son Douglas got married in 1939.
1948 Luigi’s sister Adelina died. She had always been very much part of his life and features in one of his earliest photographs shown at the beginning of this biography.
1950 One of Luigi’s sons, Douglas, and his family were living in a ground-floor flat at 15 Denning Road in 1950. The family had a telephone with an extension to No. 25, so that Luigi (Arthur) could place his bets.
Pre 1962 At the age of 88, Luigi (Arthur) received a letter where he was asked to chat with J R Walmsley, a director of Bassano Ltd. about his early days at the Bassano studio (see below).
1963 Beatrice died in 1963 and her will named Cyril Enrico Peroni (known as George Lewis), and Douglas Peroni as her executors.
1965 Following his reminiscences with Mr. Walmsley in 1962, an article by Leslie Sansom FRPS was published in The British Journal of Photography magazine on May 14th 1965, when Luigi was 91. Excerpts are shown below. The whole article is shown at Appendix C.
1968 Louis Peroni/Luigi Peroni/Lewis Peroni/Arthur Lewis died on the 4th August 1968 at New End Hospital in Hampstead in London. His cremation was at Golders Green, London. A newspaper report is shown below.
Louis/Luigi Peroni’s Family
Father Louis Antonio Peroni (known as Luigi) born Argegno, Italy in 1836. Died 1896
Mother Victoria Peroni nee Adams born Norwich, Norfolk, England in 1844. Died 1911
Born 1874 in Holborn, London
Married 1 1900 to Beatrice Jeanette Webster. Died 1963.
Child 1 1900 Ronald Lewis Victor Peroni – (16/7/1900 to 1/8/1901)
Child 2 1902 Cyril Enrico Peroni – (18/5/1902 to 19/6/ 1982). AKA Cyril Eric Lewis.
Child 3 1904 Rita Peroni – (2/7/1904 to 8/10/79)
Child 4 1911 Adelina Betty Peroni – (5/10/1911 to 25/1/1915)
Child 5 1915 Donald Lewis Peroni – (23/6/ 15 to 16/12/1984)
Child 6 1917 Douglas Peroni – (23/11/1917 to 13/3/1987)
Compiled by Ron Cosens © 2015 Photographers of Great Britain and Ireland 1840 – 1940
- Ian Sayer – e-mail – contact email@example.com – family historian who provide much of the information in this biography
- Richard Peroni – grandson of Luigi Peroni
- Sandy Barrie – for trade directory information LINK
- Allan Collier – for census details and other additional research firstname.lastname@example.org
- Marcel Safier – for additional information
- Ron Cosens – for some images from the Victorian Image Collection
Louis/Luigi Peroni – Gallery of mount designs
This gallery contains the known types of carte de visite and cabinet card photographic mounts used by Mr. Peroni.
Appendix A Notes on Luigi Peroni’s father
Appendix B More notes on Luigi Peroni’s father
Appendix C Article published in The British Journal of Photography May 14 1965