The Low Family



1891 Census

19 Henderson Row


Head Peter Low age 49 Portrait Painter
Wife Georgina Low age 41? Seamstress + Teacher of Music
Son Peter C Low age 17 Camera Maker
Son Philip E Low age 15 Clerk, Coal Office


Peter C Low

Note the occupation of Peter C Low at the age of 17.

Was this the man who was living at 54 Cockburn Street under the name Claude Low at the time of the 1901 census, and who went on to have several photographic studios between 1896 and 1910?


1901 Census



Head Philip E Low age 44* Photographer
Wife M... Low age 26 -
Daughter Evelyn Low age 3 -
Father Peter Low age 64** Photographer (retired)
Step-mother Emma Low age ?* Teacher of Painting

*   Philip E Low's age of 44(above) looks suspect.   Age 25 would seem more likely.

**  Peter Low's age of 64 (above) looks suspect.   Age 59 would seem more likely.


1901 Census

54  Cockburn Street


Head Claude Low age 27 Photographer
Wife Mary Low age 28 -
Daughter Violet age 4 -
Daughter Olive age 2 Photographer (retired)



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).

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?

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.

[Stuart Laing]


The Move to London

The Low family moved to London around 1880.

In the 1881 census:

-  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]


The Return to Edinburgh

for a while

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]


Studio  -  sold to James Mason

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.  

[Helen Robertson]

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.

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

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 ha been provided by the daughter of James Mason, but I have not been able to trace any Edinburgh studios in the name of James Mason in either the Portobello or Edinburgh trade directories.



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.