The Low Family


Photographic Studios


These are the Low photographic studios that I have found in the Edinburgh trade directories:

Claude Low

Claud Low in one directory

2 Tait Street


54 Cockburn Street


74 Nicolson Street


72 Princes Street


26 Montrose Terrace


Mrs Mary Low

11 South Bridge


Messrs Low

130 Princes Street


79 Princes Street


127 Ferry Road


72 Princes Street


Peter Low

130 Princes Street


79 Princes Street


Philip Ernest Low

144 St Stephen Street


2 George Place


26 Bath Street, Portobello

Cabinet Print  -  donkey, ladies and children  -  Photographer: Philip E Low


18 Kirkgate


3 Baxter's Place


130 Leith Street


Thomas Low

130 Princes Street




Photographic Studios


There were also several Low studios in Angus.  Thomas Low advertised both his Edinburgh studio (130 Princes Street) and his Dundee studio (Euclid Crescent) on the back of his cartes de visite.

I expect that Philip E Low (Broughty Ferry) would have been the same photographer as Philip E Low (Edinburgh).

I don't know who L & P Low were, or whether or not they were related to any of the Low photographers in Edinburgh.

Here are the addresses of the Low studios in Angus:

Philip E Low

Promenade, Broughty Ferry


Esplanade, Broughty Ferry


Thomas Low

Top of Reform Street, Dundee


42, Reform Street, Dundee


  9, Euclid Crescent Dundee


10, Euclid Crescent Dundee


W & P Low

Sometimes referred to as 'Low Brothers'

132a, Nethergate, Dundee


Photographers in North East Scotland to 1914  [D Richard Torrence]


Family Tree

William Low was a portrait painter who married Ann Peak.

Their son was Peter Low (b. Dublin 1842).  He married Georgina Hill in Duns, Berwickshire in 1871.  They had two sons:

Peter Claude Low (b. Edinburgh, 29 Jan 1874).
Presumably he was known as Claude Low
He married Mary Thomson Masson (1895).
She appears to have run the studio at 11 South Bridge during World War 1.

Philip Ernest  Low (b. Edinburgh, 7 April 1876).
He married Margaret Margaret Chisholm (1897).

It is possible that Thomas Low was the brother of Peter Low  b.1842 Both were in business as photographers at 130 Princes Street in 1872.

What were the names of Messrs Low?  Were they Thomas and Peter, who shared premises at 130 Princes Street in 1872?

[Stuart Laing, Central Bedfordshire, England]

It is possible that Thomas Low was the brother of Peter Low  b.1842 Both were in business as photographers at 130 Princes Street in 1872.

What were the names of Messrs Low?  Were they Thomas and Peter, who shared premises at 130 Princes Street in 1872?

[Stuart Laing, Central Bedfordshire, England]


1.  Between 1878 and 1880, Messrs Low were based at 130 Princes Street, then 79 Princes Street.  They did not appear in the Edinburgh trade directories again until 1894.  What were they doing for the intervening thirteen years?  Perhaps they spent these years in London.  See 1881 Census below.

2.  Was Mary Low, who had a studio at 11 South Bridge from 1915 to 1921 part of the same family?  Was she the wife of Claude Low, perhaps looking after his business while he was serving in the 1914-18 War?  This is all speculation at this stage.  See 1901 Census below.


Great-Grandfather, Claude Low

Thank you to Geraldine Heather Benzmann, who wrote telling me:

"Claude Low was my great-grandfather and Olive was my grandmother and I think they lived in Montrose Terrace.

My grandmother learnt her photography from her father and I have a number of plates and photos taken by the family.

Claude and Mary Low had 6 children, 3 girls and 3 boys as far as I know only my grandmother stayed here in the UK.  All the others went to South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

Olive married Charles Kinloch (wines & spirits family) and had a daughter called Heather, my mother."


The Low family in London

1881 Census

Some of the Low family were living in London around 1880.

In the 1881 census in includes:

-  Peter Low, portrait painter
-  Georgina Low, wife
-  Peter Claude Low, scholar
-  Philip Ernest Low, scholar

were all boarders with a coal merchant at St Pancras, London.

[Stuart Laing]

Thank you to Beverley Charles Rowe for telling me:

"The address I have for Charles Low in 1881 is:
 85 Agar Grove, Camden New Town, St Pancras, London"


The Low Family in Edinburgh


By 1891, Peter, Georgina and and Philip Ernest Low were back in Edinburgh.

Between 1894 and 1896 Messrs Low appeared again as photographers in the Edinburgh Trade Directories.  Shortly afterwards, Claude Low, then Philip Ernest Low were back in business as photographers in Edinburgh - both until 1910.

[Stuart Laing]

1901 Census

The 1901 Census lists the following as living at 54 Cockburn Street, Edinburgh

-  Claude Low,  head, M aged 27, Photographer working at home, born Edinburgh

-  Mary Low, Wife, aged 28, born Aberdeen

-  Violet, daughter, aged 4, born Edinburgh

-  Olive, daughter, aged 2, born Edinburgh

-  Matilda Mason,  sister in law, aged 14, born Leith

In 1906,  a son was born to Claude Low.  He was also named Claude Low.  [Melody Gray] 

1906 was the year that Claude Low's studio at 72 Princes Street first appeared in the Edinburgh trade directories.



Sold to James Mason

James Mason

James Mason was was apprenticed to Claude Low after leaving school, around 1907-12, before opening his own studio in Portobello.

Note the Low and Mason family connection in the 1901 census above.

In the 1920s, Claude Low and some of his family emigrated to South Africa.  James Mason bought the Aberdour studio, which operated only in the summer months, from Claude Low.

James Mason continued to run his Edinburgh studio and the Aberdour summer studio until 1933, when he closed both and moved to Dundee, opening a studio at 29 Panmure Street which he ran until his death, at the age of 57, in 1947.

[Helen Robertson]


The information above has been provided by the daughter of James Mason.

However, I have not been able to trace any Edinburgh studios in the name of James Mason in either the Portobello or Edinburgh trade directories.

Helen Robertson also comments about the lack of info available for the 1910s, saying:  "The period from 1910 is not accounted for in the Trade Directories, though in practice this leaves a gap of only about 4 years before the outbreak of the First World War. Alternatively, perhaps the emigration was earlier than the 1920s."



Wood & Co.

I have several cartes de visite by Wood & Co, whose advert on the back describes the company as Wood & Co, successors to Messrs Low, 72 Princes Street.


Were Messrs Low ever at 72 Princes Street?  I can find no reference to them at this address in the trade directories.