McGlashan and Begbie

Thomas Begbie worked as an assistant for Alexander McGlashon.  Begbie took many stereoscopic views of Edinburgh.  Perhaps he took some of those that were published in the 'McGlashon's Stereoscopic Series'.



Alex Sinclair

Dunblane, Stirling, Scotland

Thank you to Alex Sinclair for telling me about his research into the photographers, Begbie and McGlashon, and giving me his views on who is likely to have taken the stereo views that have, to date, been attributed to Thomas Vernon Begbie.

Alex, who has about 100 of McGlashon's "Stereo Views of Scotland" in his collection, wrote:

Images attributable to

Thomas Vernon Begbie

"While browsing the EdinPhoto website recently I was on the Thomas Begbie pages where I recognised several of the photographs as ones which I held in my collection. This led me to the Capital Collections site of Edinburgh libraries and museums which displayed several further images which I own."


Thomas Begbie's Edinburgh

A Mid-Victorian Portrait

"I then acquired a copy of the 1992 book 'Thomas Begbie's Edinburgh - a Mid-Victorian Portrait'  by Joe Rock and spotted several other photographs that I own.  

However in every case the photographs that I recognised were by Alexander McGlashon."

Web Site

Capital Collections

"It was also obvious that the dating of the photographs on the Capital Collections site was generally incorrect. The images are mainly stereoviews and have mostly been dated 1887 on the site but as many of these were advertised for sale by McGlashon in 1858 (advert on Edinphoto site) clearly there is a dating problem.

This can also be verified in some instances from physical features in the photographs; for example the view of Princes Street from the Scott Monument clearly shows Campbell’s North British Hotel which was still trading as such in 1857 but by 1858 had become Wilson’s North British Hotel. Despite this Capital Collections dates the image to 1887."


Born 1841

"It should be borne in mind that Begbie was born in the first half of 1841 making him age 16/17 when these stereos were taken. Oddly, for someone  being credited with such remarkable photography, there are few contemporary references to him. Indeed a detailed search of the online British Newspaper Archive failed to produce any references to him."

Begbie's Studio

"Begbie did run a studio from his house in Leith Street from 1874–81 but from the lack of any other recorded photographic activities it is reasonable to assume that he was not particularly successful as a photographer.

Indeed I am struck by the scarcity of surviving photos bearing the Begbie name and in particular I have not seen any Victorian stereoviews with his name on them.

Begbie and McGlashon

There is a reference here in the Edinphoto website to Begbie having worked as an assistant for Alexander McGlashon but I have been unable to find any corroboration for this statement.

If these stereo plates were ever in the possession of Begbie, and there is no clear evidence that they were, I would suggest that the most likely scenario was that he purchased them from McGlashon with a view to reusing them, but that his business never grew sufficiently for him to make use of them.

Bearing in mind that these plates were discovered in St James Square in 1950 it may also be relevant that at the time of his death in 1877 the McGlashon business was based in St James Square and his daughter lived in a further address in that Square which she still owned at the time of her death in 1919."

 Joe Rock's Comments

"In the introductory pages of the book by Joe Rock there is clear and I believe well founded scepticism that the youthful Begbie could have been the photographer.

I have recently corresponded with Joe on this subject and he has confirmed that he has always been sceptical of the attribution of these photographs to Begbie; as he stated in the book “on balance we must accept Begbie as the author until more evidence should prove otherwise”

I think that the required evidence is now available that the photographs are by Alexander McGlashon and should be recognised as such."

Alex Sinclair, Dunblane, Stirling, Scotland:  11 + 25 April 2017

Alexander McGlashon

Alexander McGlashon           McGlashon Family           Flashlight  - 1865

McGlashan & Hill         McGlashan & Walker        McGlashan and Begbie

McGlashan in Australia

McGlashon's Scottish Stereotgraphs

   stereo view in the "McGlashon's Scottish Stereotypes" series  -  The East Window of Holyrood Abbey ©

List of Views           Thumbnail Views

Stereo Pairs

Edinburgh Castle

Holyrood - 4 views

Old Town - 2 views


Edinburgh Castle

Holyrood - 4 views

Old Town - 2 views


Edinburgh Castle

Holyrood  -  1   2  3

Old Town


Thomas Vernon Begbie

Maps with links to Begbie photos

Central Edinburgh

Central Edinburgn, west  -  Begbie Photos ©

Edinburgh & Leith

Edinburgh and Leith  -  Begbie Photos ©

Central Edinburgh

Central Edinburgh east  -  Begbie Photos ©


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Other McGlashan Pages