W.H White was born in Bridge Street, Southampton. His father was a farrier and his mother a dressmaker. William White senior died in 1849, and in 1851 William Henry White and his younger brother George lived with their mother Jane at 10 Bridge Street. William was a printer compositor and George was a bookbinder. By 1853 William had emigrated to Australia, and Jane and William had moved to 16 Bernard Street.
W.H White married Susan Newell Potter at Southampton Registry Office, Bugle Street, in 1859. On the marriage certificate he gave his occupation as Photographic Artist, and in the same year he was listed as a Photographer at 16 Bernard Street. The 1861 census recorded Photographic Artist William White, his wife Susan, and his mother Jane (a milliner) at 17 Bernard St. The first of William and Susan's 5 children, Elizabeth, was born later in 1861.
Carte de visite early 1860s
W.H White was listed as a photographer at 17 Bernard Street until 1869. The street numbering in ninetenth century Southampton was subject to change, so the White's were probably at the same building even though the number had changed.
W.H White also worked from a studio at 18 St Marys Street at some time in the late 1860s. Photographers Alfred and Mary Pibworth, and Samuel White (no relation to W.H White) also worked from the same address at the time. In 1884 S.M and A Tyson were photographers at 18 St Marys Street, and referred to number 18 as 'The Old Portrait Shop' in their advertising, which suggests that the shop was well known locally for photographic portraits.
Carte de visite 1860s
In about 1870 the Whites moved from Bernard Street to 37 Canal Walk. This was a dramatic change in neighbourhood as Canal Walk, known as The Ditches, was very different to genteel Bernard Street. William's health may have already been in decline at the time. He was no longer listed as a photographer and gave his occupation as newsagent for the 1871 census. In 1880 W.H White died at 37 Canal Walk. His death certificate gave the cause of death as TB, which the doctor stated he had been suffering from for years. William Henry White was buried in Southampton cemetery, beside his first daughter Elizabeth, who died in 1863 aged two.
William's widow Susan ran the newsagents in Canal Walk until about 1885. Her two sons were a reporter and a printer, so they may have been producing a newspaper themselves. After nearly 3 decades in the busy port of Southampton Susan moved back to where she had been born and brought up in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, and her youngest daughter Nellie went with her. Before her marriage to W.H White, Susan was straw bonnet maker in Dunstable. Susan and Nellie were recorded as straw plaiters in West Street, Dunstable in the 1891 census. By 1901 Nellie had married, and Susan lived with her daughter and family. Susan died in Hendon in 1914.