In-depth study of Horncastle photographer

A fascinating study into the life of a 19th century Horncastle photographer has been immortalised into a new book.

'Portrait of a commercial traveller' George Jobson (1862-1925).
'Portrait of a commercial traveller' George Jobson (1862-1925).

Iain Logie Baird, an Independent Scholar and Communications Historian from Shipley, West Yorkshire, began his study into Horncastle’s George Jobson, who lived between 1862 and 1925, when he read the claims made in period newspapers after Mr Jobson's death that he had been a famous scientist.

"I had read extensively about the history of science – if Jobson was a famous scientist, then why had I not heard of him before?” Iain said, “The situation led me to investigate.”

According to Iain’s research, Mr Jobson spent his early and later life in Horncastle, but from about 1878 until 1914 also worked in numerous other places in England, as well as in New York from 1891 until early 1895.

Just before his death, having no direct descendants in his will, Mr Jobson set up what is known today as the Jobson Trust, which funds donations to worthy groups and individuals.

“After doing the initial research, I realised that the historical evidence concerning Jobson's life and career was limited and what did exist was dispersed,” Iain said, “The process was something like assembling a jigsaw puzzle where most of the pieces are lost.

"With each new piece of information, it became increasingly clear that the scholarly value of Jobson's story would be in 'recovering' his contributions to photography, and, to put it briefly, as a demonstration of the process of working with little evidence when writing about figures like him."

Over the past couple of years, Iain completed the first in-depth study of the life and career of the professional portrait and landscape photographer of Horncastle, who was also an occasional inventor of his own patented commercial products.

“He was a relatively unique figure compared to those who operated more conventional businesses as portrait photographers during the Victorian and Edwardian eras,” Iain added, “Jobson operated where the world of photography overlapped with industrial manufacturing.”

Iain’s work, entitled ‘Portrait of a commercial traveller’ – George Jobson, has now been published in the photographies journal Taylor & Francis, which is available to buy at www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17540763.2022.2060293