Thomas Vernon Begbie

The Begbie's Family

Parents and Grandparents

Thomas Begbie was born at 8 St James Square to:

-  William Begbie b.1811*

-  Jane Begbie  b.1816*

William Begbie, and possibly both of Thomas Begbie's grandfathers were lapidaries.**

* Source of dates = 1841 Census.  See footnotes in  'Thomas Vernon Begbie's Edinburgh'.
However, Allan Wilson's research gives dates of 1809 and 1814 respectively.
It was common for people to 'knock a couple of years off their age when they completed census returns, so the '1809' and '1814' dates seem likely to be the accurate ones.
Allan's research also gives the name 'Elizabeth Jane Vernon' for Thomas Vernon Begbie's mother.

** Source:  Letter from Samuel Begbie, pasted inside qYDA1829.9 (860) C43978 in the Edinburgh Room Collection, Edinburgh City Library.  See footnotes in  'Thomas Vernon Begbie's Edinburgh'.

Allan Wilson's research gives TVB's grandfather's occupation in early records = 'Spirit Dealer'.
Allan added:
"I think I have now found out why there was a misunderstanding about his grandfather's occupation. It seems that from footnote (2) (in the 'Thomas Vernon Begbie' book, on the page preceding the plates) it is assumed that William's father (ie Thomas' grandfather) was John Begbie (a lapidary).  But this is NOT the case. According to William's death certificate and his baptism record his parents were Archibald Begbie (Spirit Dealer) and Emelia Hutton who married in 1809 just before William's birth."


Thomas Begbie was apprenticed to his maternal grandfather in the family lapidary business, based at St James Square until 1852, then at 9 Leith Street Terrace and changed the name of the company to William Begbie & Co, Lapidaries.


Thomas Begbie married Sarah MacDonald b.1838 around 1869.*** Sarah MacDonald was born in Glasgow. 

Both Thomas and Sarah died in 1915, having lived at 4 East St James Street since 1900 with their two sons:

-  Alexander, a lapidary and
-  James, a jeweller

***  No record of Thomas Begbie's marriage to Sarah MacDonald has been found by Joe Rock or by Allan Wilson.  Joe Rock says in the footnotes to 'Thomas Vernon's Edinburgh': "Possibly the marriage was in England."

Update - August 2011

Thank you to Mike Bisset who wrote on August 26, 2011: 

 "I think I've located the marriage record for Thomas Vernon Begbie and Sarah Elizabeth McDonald".

Mike found a record of the marriage being December 1864 at Newington, Surrey, England.
Ref 1d, page 369:  Registers now held in Southwark.            Source:



See Census below for details of Thomas Begbie's children in 1881.

From 1893 until 1900 the family lived at 4 East St. James Street, after which Thomas and his wife appear to have lived with their sons Alexander, a lapidary and James a jeweller at 13 St. James' Square.

Sources for the facts above

(1)  Thomas Begbie’s Edinburgh - A Mid-Victorian Portrait (David Patterson and Joe Rock).
ISBN 0 85976 337 4 
Publ: John Donald in association with the City of Edinburgh District Council, 1992

Note:  The City of Edinburgh District Council has a large collection of Begbie images in its City Art Centre Collection.

(2)  email from Allan Wilson, South of France.
(Thomas Vernon Begbie's brother was Allan Wilson's great grandfather.)


Thomas Vernon Begbie

1881 Census

Thomas Vernon Begbie was listed in the 1881 census as follows:

Master Photographer

Age:  40

Born:  Edinburgh

Resident:  7 Leith Street

Wife:  Sarah McDonald (born 1838)  [she died 1915]

Children (all born Edinburgh):

1.  Sarah

Age 12

2.  James A

Age 8

3.  Alexander

Age 6

4.  Charlotte

Age 4

5.  Helen

Age 1

[DR Torrance]


Thomas Vernon Begbie

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