John William Oakley was the son of a Southampton stone mason. He was born in Southampton, and travelled extensively, returning to the Southampton area in his later years.
The 1861 census listed Oakley living and working as a stone mason in Chelsea with his wife and baby son. Oakley gave his occupation as Photographer for the 1871 census, when he was living and working in Lancashire with his wife and 3 children. The younger 2 children were born in Fulham and Maidstone.
In September 1871 Oakley, his family, his parents, and his brother and family, travelled together to the USA. By February 1872 the family had settled in Ontario, Canada. (See entry for Joseph Wiseman who also emigrated to Canada in 1871). Oakley worked a photographer in Ontario; one of his surviving photographs recorded the aftermath of a disastrous fire in 1872.
Oakley and his family returned to England around 1876, while the the extended family remained in Canada for the rest if their lives. In 1879 Oakley's wife died leaving him with 4 young children. He remarried in 1880, and the 1881 census listed JW Oakley, photographer, with his second wife and the children from his first marriage in Lancashire. In 1883 the family were in Liverpool, and in 1888 a daughter was born while visiting the family in Ontario.
In 1891 Oakley was back in Lancashire, and he and his two sons were listed as photographers. Oakley and family moved to Eastleigh near Southampton in the mid 1890s, and the 1901 census recorded photographer Oakley with his family (including 2 more children born in Lancashire and Eastleigh) living and working in Eastleigh. An architect and surveyor was lodging with the family. In 1907 Oakley lived in Spring Road, Sholing, Southampton.
The 1911 census recorded photographer Oakley with his family in Station Road, Netley, along with lodgers - a College Principle and his wife, and a student, Edenslight Ejisa-Oxora, born Sierra Leone 1890. Oakley advertised as a photographer at Station Road, Netley in 1912, and died later in the same year.
The Braemar Castle was built in 1898. Between 1909 and 1915 it was used as a troop transport ship, dating this postcard to between 1909 and 1912, (the year John Oakley died).