George Edmund James West was born in 1815, the son of John Henry and Jane West, in Portsea, Hampshire. His father worked as a carpenter. By 1824, when George as only 9, the family moved into London, to Marylebone[i].
George initially took up his father’s trade of carpentry, which he was still doing at the time he married Mary Ann Allen Johnson. Mary’s father, however, was working as an engraver[ii] and George ultimately took up that profession, making ‘Valentines’, which were very popular in the 19th century. He moved on to the new craft of photography after its development. By the 1880s[iii] George was living in Gosport, near where he was born, and had established his photography business, G.West and Son, at Eagle House, 97 High St. By the end of the 19thcentury, his sons were working in the industry and a few businesses had been established in the south west of England, including West & Dawson at Fareham, run by Edward Dawson. By the 1890s, after George’s death (in 1885) Edward had moved with his young family to Gosport to work in the business there[iv].
George West’s wife, Mary Ann Johnson Allen, was known as Polly. She was born in 1819 to John and Mary Allen of Marylebone, London. They had nine children[v].
- Jane Matilda (Jennie). Born August 17th, 1839. Married Joseph Elliott.
- George. Born February 28th, 1841. Died 16 December, 1906, in UK. Married twice, first wife unknown, 2nd wife Jessie Amy Dashwood Woodley.
- Mary Ann Amelia (Pollie). Born January 1st, 1843. Unmarried. Died June 26th, 1929, Lock SA.
- Charlotte Ann. Born January 25th, 1845. Died at age 2 inUK.
- Henry Edward (Ted). Born February 4th, 1847. Went toAustraliawith Alfred John.
- William James. Born January 27th, 1849. Married Jane (Jennie) Veal.
- Emma Susan. Born October 14th, 1851. Married Joseph de Lasaux Simmonds
- Maria Louisa (Ria). Born July 1st, 1855. Died June 16, 1927, in Lock, SA. Married 1886 at Alverstoke.
- Alfred John. Born August 1st, 1857. Died January 15th, 1937,UK. Married Elizabeth Lucy House.
George West died in 1885, aged 70. Polly died reasonably young, aged 42, in 1860. When she died her daughter, also called Pollie, at age 17 took up housekeeping duties and the rearing of the younger children. Pollie never married. She came out toAustraliawith Edward and Ria, and was known as Aunt Pollie, or Miss West. Most of the children worked in the business[i]. The youngest son, Alfred John West, extended the craft into the new silent movies, (developed in the late 1890s). For more information go to his own page: A J West