On the history trail: Celebrating the life of town photographer

Michael Tayleure (1829 ' 1916)
Michael Tayleure (1829 ' 1916)

It is now the 100 year anniversary of the death of one of Pocklington’s most celebrated photographers.

Michael Tayleure photographed the people of Pocklington in the late 19th century and the early part of the 20th century until his death in 1916.

Florence Tayleure's wedding in 1904 outside the Black Bull. Michael Tayleure is second from right. Photo courtesy of Sue Carter.

Florence Tayleure's wedding in 1904 outside the Black Bull. Michael Tayleure is second from right. Photo courtesy of Sue Carter.

Michael was born in Beverley and baptised in St Mary’s as Michael Todd along with his twin brother Charles Todd on 12 October 1829. The son of George and Elizabeth Todd (nee Tayleure) who married on 15 December 1828 at Drypool parish church in Hull. George was a Shoemaker, in Cook’s Yard, Dog and Duck Lane, Beverley.

It is likely that Michael adopted the name Tayleure following the death of his father and in order to help promote his photography career, when at that time, a French sounding name would be an advantage. Many of the early photography pioneers were French e.g. Daguerre, who started experimenting with photography in 1824.

In 1851, he was living in Beverley as a painter journeyman and lodging in the house of James Scruton a general dealer on Wednesday Market, Beverley. He married Joanna Pearson on 6 January 1853 in Kingston upon Hull, and the name he used was on his marriage record was Michael Todd Tayleure with his father named as George Todd Tayleure. The first mention of him as a photographer is in the 1861 census on Middle Street, Driffield, when he was listed as a painter, glazier and photographer with his seven-year-old son Arthur Pearson Tayleure.

In the 1864 Slaters directory he was on Middle Street, Driffield, in the painters, plumbers and glaziers section, but also appeared in the artists/photographic section.

He moved to Pocklington in January 1870 as the records show he joined the congregational church. In the 1871 census he was living on West Green, Pocklington, with his wife Joannah and son Arthur who by now was 17. Now his sole profession was stated as photographer.

In 1881, he was operating from Market Place. Son Arthur by now had married and was on Chapmangate as a provision dealer with wife Susannah (nee Rooks) and children William, Albert and Ada. Arthur was known to be a keen rugby player in Pocklington. In 1891, Arthur was innkeeper of the Black Bull and had added a daughter Florence and was assisted by father in law Charles Rooks, aged 84, and nephew Alfred Allison, aged 13.

In 1891, Michael was operating as a photographer on Grape Lane. He must have found space restrictions as the houses were quite small on Grape Lane, so by 1901 his business had moved to Railway Street. Some of Michael Tayleure’s photographs state the business is called Michael Tayleure and son, so this indicated that Arthur helped with his fathers photography business. He was a leading member of the congregational church on Chapmangate and appears many times in their records as a church leader.

The photographs that Michael created were varied, he took one of Pocklington rugby team outside the Star Inn on Market Place in 1888, but mostly the surviving photographs we find today were the ‘Carte de Visite’. Carte de visite were small visiting card portraits (usually measuring 4 1/2 x 2 1/2”) introduced by a Parisian photographer, Andre Disdéri, who in late 1854 patented a way of taking a number of photographs on one plate (usually eight), thus greatly reducing production costs. During the 1860s the craze for these cards became immense.

Many of Michael’s CDV size photos survive, but unfortunately very few of his subjects are named. His son Arthur is pictured in the wedding photograph stood next to the groom with his wife Susannah (nee Rooks). It was taken in 1904 outside the Black Bull for the marriage of his daughter Florence to Alexander Mackintosh but Arthur died in 1909 at the age of 53. Michael (second from right on the photo) later died in 1916 aged 88. If you have any Michael Tayleure photographs, Pocklington history group would appreciate a digital copy. Please send them to asefton@gmail.com.