Adam Diston

Professional Photographer in Fife and Medal winner at EPS Exhibitions


Birth and Death

Adam Diston was born in Edinburgh around 1827.  He had a long career as a professional photographer in Fife, and won many medals at international photography exhibitions.

His date of death is given as:

-  1889 * [Fife Family History Society web site]

-  28 June 1896 ** [Photographers in Central Scotland to 1914  (D Richard Torrance)]

*  I don't know where FFHS took this date from.  It appears to be incorrect.

**  Richard Torrance wrote on September 20, 2009 that the above date of death was, in fact, the date of death of Adam Diston's son at the age of 28.  The son, Adam Diston Jun, was also a photographer in Fife.

Below are the answers that led to the conclusion that Adam Diston, in fact, died in 1906.

Death of Adam Diston

Might one of the dates of death quoted above be the date of death of  Adam Diston Jun ?


Death of Adam Diston
Answer 1

It appears that Adam Diston (born c.1827) was still alive in 1901.

Thank you to Adriana Owen for sending me a record of his sailing to Australia on the ship, Oroya in May 1901, then aged 74, together with an Alex Diston, then aged 37.

Acknowledgement:  Adriana Owen:  July 7, 2009

See also:  'Answers 2+3' below


Death of Adam Diston
Answer 2

Thank you to Eric Eunson, who has been researching Adam Diston and photographs of Leven, for writing:

"I've managed to decipher the conflicting biography you have compiled.  FFHS are certainly wrong about Adam Diston's death in 1887.

I'm pretty sure Adam Diston snr. died in 1896.

The Adam and Alex Diston who travelled to Oz on the Oroya in 1901 were probably Adam Diston jnr. and his twin brother."

Acknowledgement:  Eric Eunson:  September 11, 2009


Comments on
Answer 2

The answer above sounds plausible, except for the age of the Adam Diston given on the records of the sailings to Australia. 

These records suggest that it was  Adam Diston Snr. (still alive in 1901!) who sailed to Australia.

The record shows:

Family Name

First Name





































Death of Adam Diston
Answer 3

Thank you to John Hadden, Edinburgh, who replied:

"I thought the best way to resolve the date of Adam Diston's death was to look up the records at GROS (General Register Office for Scotland).

There, it is recorded there that Adam Diston, Photographer, died aged 79 on 20 July 1906 at Queensberry House, 64 Canongate, Edinburgh.

At that time Queensberry House was a geriatric hospital.  Adam's death was registered by the Governor of Queensberry House."

John Hadden, Edinburgh:  September 20, 2009


Adam Diston
Answer 4

Eric Eunson wrote:

"The entry from the Oroya clears up that it was indeed Adam Diston senior who sailed to Australia in 1901,  so I might suggest the 1896 takeover of the business by AD Jr was a case of well earned retirement.  John Hadden must be right with that 1906 date of death for the father."

Eric Eunson,  Leven, Fife, Scotland:  September 23, 2009



Professional Photographer in Fife

Professional Photographer in Fife

Adam Diston was a Medal winner in international photography exhibitions including:

-   Edinburgh    1877 and 1882

-   London         1880 and 1883

-   Brussels       1883

-   many other exhibitions as can be seen from the back of this carte de visite.  Please click on the image to enlarge it.

22 Medals

   The back of a carte de visite showing 22 Medals awarded to Adam Diston


Professional Photographer in Fife

Adam Diston had studios in Fife at Leven (1855-1889),  Couper (1864-67) and Anstrauther (1877)

Please click here for further details of studio dates and addresses


The Diston family

The Fife Family History Society reports that  Adam Diston's studio in Leven was continued after his death by his son, Adam Diston JUN, and that he, in turn, was succeeded by Mary Diston from 1896 until 1905.


Guy Diston, grandson of Adam Diston reports that Adam Diston JUN. became a writer.  One of his poems titled The Retoucher  was published in the journal Photography in 1892?


1841 Census

Thank you to Eric Eunson for supplying the following extract from the 1841 Census


James Diston, M, Shoemaker, 60

Sarah Diston,  F,  56

William Diston, M, 20, Shoemaker journeyman

Adam Diston, M, 15, Painter apprentice

Janet Diston, F, 23

Eric added:

"So Adam did start out as a painter.  

The 1861 Parochial Directory for Fife and Kinross gives Adam Diston two separate listings at No. 58 High Street, Leven,  as a photographer and calotypist,  and as a painter and paperhanger.  Perhaps this marks a significant transition between one trade and another.     1861 may  be the first year of his photographic business.

Is the 'Est.1855' on his photographs the date he set up his own painting business, when he would have been 28?"

Eric Eunson, Leven, Fife, Scotland:  September 29, 2009


Photographs in Collections

Gael Newton, Senior Curator of Photography at the National Gallery of Australia tells me that the gallery owns two  genre scene 'compositions' as albumen silver photographs effectively laminated on the back of a sheet of glass and dated 1886. 

Both are by Adam Diston though it is unclear whether these are by Adam senior or Junior.



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