John Horsburgh

1835 - 1924

The death of John Horsburgh, photographer was reported in The Scotsman newspaper on October 1, 1924.  Here is the article that appeared in The Scotsman wrote.  I have added a few paragraph headings to the article.



"The death has occurred at 114 Thirlstane Road, of Mr John Horsburgh FRSSA, portrait painter and photographer.


Born in Eddleston in Peeblesshire in 1835, Mr Horsburgh was a son of the late Mr John Horsburgh, who was for some time a Baptist pastor at Galashiels.


He came to Edinburgh in early life, and was apprenticed in the silk mercer business of Mr Duncan McLaren, who entered Parliament and married a daughter of John Bright.


Mr Horsburgh soon turned his attention to photography, then emerging from the early form of daguerreotype and glass positive.

He commenced with a studio in the South Bridge, Edinburgh, but removed to 17 Princes Street and again to 131 Princes Street, where he continued until 1898.

Royal Appointment

His success in the association of photography and portrait painting brought him including Queen Victoria, His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge and members of many noble and distinguished families.


His interest in portraiture turned his attention to the value of the works of Sir Henry Raeburn, and in 1876 he originated the Raeburn Exhibition in Edinburgh.

HMS Challenger

Among many interesting commissions carried through during Mr Horsburgh's long business career may be cited his work on the illustrations of the HMS Challenger expedition, when he produced by photo-mechanical methods, then in their infancy, the many thousand prints required for the report.

Princes Street Gardens

As one of the proprietors of West Princes Street Gardens, he was a member of the Committee authorised to hand over these Gardens to the town for the public benefit.

Merchant Company

A picturesque and well-known figure in Edinburgh for many years, Mr Horsburgh was a very old member of the Merchant Company.


He was also a Freemason, being made a member of the Roman Eagle Lodge, Edinbrugh, about 1860.


His own recreation was in his fondness for a horse and he rode and drove a great deal in his younger days.


He celebrated his golden wedding in 1906.  Mr Horsburgh who was predeceased by his wife leaves a grown-up family of four sons and four daughters."

[Obituary, The Scotsman: October 1 1924, p.8]




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