1865 Advertisement in Bennetts Southampton Directory
The partnership between photographers John Edward Brown (1826-1905) and John George Wheeler (1828-1905) was based on the Isle of Wight from the mid 1860s to the late 1870s. For a short time in the mid 1860s they operated a studio at 5 Above Bar, Southampton. In 1853 5 Above Bar was the address of Southampton artist Philip Brannon, and from 1861 to 1865 it was the photographic studio of George Edmonds 'American Photographic Artist'. From the late 1860s to the mid 1870s, the studio was run by Henry Sache. (See entries for Edmonds and Sache).
Brown and Wheeler were brothers in law, as Wheeler was married to Brown's sister. Before being in partnership with Brown, Wheeler had a brief partnership with photographer John Symonds in Cowes. (See entry for Symonds and Wheeler). Carte de visites exist that were produced by Symonds and Wheeler at 5 Above Bar, Southampton. The 3 photographers were closely connected by both work and family, as Brown married Symonds widow in 1874, after Symonds committed suicide by drinking poison in a theatre audience. After his marriage in 1874 Brown moved to Portsmouth and traded as a photographer under the name Symonds and Co, having taken over his wife's first husband's studio there.
Brown and Wheeler's photograph of their premises at Shooters Hill, Cowes. 'Under the Immediate Patronage of The Queen, The Court at Osborne, and the members of the R.Y.S (Royal Yacht Squadron)'. (Turley, R V. (2001).Isle of Wight Photographers 1840-1940. Southampton: University of Southampton Libraries)
As well as a career as an illustrious photographer, Wheeler had several other occupations during his life time. In 1851 he was recorded as a Superintendent of Police, in 1853 as a clerk, and in 1861 as a teacher in a private school. From 1865 to the late 1870s Wheeler was in partnership with Brown as a photographer, and after Brown moved to Portsmouth Wheeler was in business on his own until 1888. In the early 1880s Wheeler also became Registrar for Marriages. In 1888 he went bankrupt, but his photography business was still advertised until 1894, despite the 1891 census recording his occupation as newspaper reporter. The 1901 census listed Wheeler as a journalist and author in Cowes.
Brown and Wheeler both died in 1905 : Brown in Portsmouth,and Wheeler in Cowes. Brown left the Portsmouth photography business and a lump sum to his widow, while Wheeler died without having made a will. His eldest daughter eventually inherited a small legacy. The Isle of Wight newspapers reported that the former partners had both died in the same year, and carried obituaries for Wheeler.