Yeovil People

William Thomas Paine Sugg



William Thomas Paine Sugg was born during the autumn of 1843 and variously recorded as St Sitwells, Exeter and Exmouth. He was the third of the five sons of  reading and billiards room keeper James Sugg (b1819) and Ann née Williams (b1819). James and Ann's children were; James Fergus (b1842), Fergus (b1842), William, Walter (b1846) and Alfred (b1853). The 1851 census listed the family living at the Beacon Public Rooms, Littleham, East Budleigh, Devon. The family were still living above the reading rooms in 1861, but by this time 17-year old William gave his occupation as a photographer.

Around 1867, William moved to Yeovil. He worked for stone mason and carver John Swatridge of Princes Street, who also ran a photographic studio. It appears that William ran the studio and was probably the actual photographer who worked under Swatridge's name.

In the 1871 census, 26-year old William was boarding in Middle Street above the shop of ironmonger Mary Mead. He gave his occupation as an artist and photographer.

On 25 June 1872, at Huddersfield, William married Mary Knight (b1847), originally from Manchester, and the eldest daughter of Mr Knight of Fitzwilliam Street, Huddersfield. They were to have a daughter Theresa, born in Yeovil in 1873.

Having worked for John Swatridge for five years, in 1872 William Sugg and John Swatridge had a disagreement. They parted acrimoniously, resulting in William establishing his own photographic studio in Middle Street. He was listed in the Somerset Directory of that year as a "Portrait and Landscape Photographer of Middle Street."

William claimed that John had promised him the opportunity to take over Swatridge's photographic business, which Swatridge denied. Their argument was played out from May 1872 until October 1872 in a series of advertisements placed in the Western Gazette (see Gallery).

Swatridge began the tit-for-tat argument by running an advertisement from May to October 1872 in which he stated he was "... still carrying on the photographic business. He has parted with his late assistant, Mr Sugg, and engaged a still more able manager, who has introduced various improvements in pose, lighting, tone and finish..."

William Sugg responded to this by running his own advertisement, also from May through to October, stating "... he has resigned the management of Mr Swatridge's business, on account of Mr S not having fulfilled his promise in disposing of his Photographic business to him, after stating that he would... ".

Finally, Swatridge ran an advertisement for several weeks refuting William's claims; "J Swatridge begs to contradict Mr Sugg's statement to the effect that the photographic business was promised to him. Mr Sugg asked for the business, but, as he was unwilling to comply with J Swatridge's conditions, the matter fell through."

One can only assume that William Sugg's new venture did not pan out well, since by the time of the 1881 census, William had left Yeovil and was living in Lascelles Hall, Lepton, Yorkshire, and working a s brewer. He was working in partnership with John Murdoch, but the partnership was dissolved in December 1888.

By the time of the 1891 census, William had moved his family yet again. They were listed at 3 Mottram Road, Hyde, Cheshire where William gave his occupation as a grocer.

William Sugg died in the spring of 1900 at Chorlton, Lancashire. He was 56 years old.




The first of the acrimonious advertisements, placed by John Swatridge, from the 17 May 1872 edition of the Western Gazette.


The notice of William and Mary's marriage in the 29 June 1872 edition of the Exeter Journal.


In response to John Swatridge's advertisement in which he stated he had engaged a "still more able manager", William Sugg responded with this advertisement which ran for several weeks. It accuses Swatridge of failing to keep his promise. This particular item is from the 5 July 1872 edition of the Western Gazette. The advertisement ran until October 1872.


Again, running for several weeks, this advertisement by John Swatridge refutes William Sugg's accusation. This advertisement is from the 14 June 1872 edition of the Western Gazette.


From my collection

A carte de visite of a young boy by William Sugg of Middle Street. Because of its square corners, this carte probably dates to the very early 1870s, when William left John Swatridge.