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Burton, Alfred Henry



  • Existence: 1834 - 1914


Alfred Henry Burton was the eldest son of John Burton and his wife, Martha Neal. He was born in Leicester, England 1834. John Burton had founded the photography firm of John Burton and Sons which was patronised by Queen Victoria and other members of the Royal Family.

In 1856 Alfred emigrated to New Zealand, and was employed in Auckland as a printer for about three years. After a similar period spent in Sydney, Australia, he returned to England. He married Lydia Taylor at Ramsgate, Kent, on 15 November 1864, while he was manager of the Nottingham branch of John Burton and Sons.

In 1868 Alfred joined his brother Walter John Burton in Dunedin. Walter had immigrated to Dunedin in 1866 and set up the Grand Photographic Saloon and Gallery in Princes Street The firm became known as Burton Bros and was very successful. Alfred travelled extensively taking photographs or 'views' to be sold and Walter looked after the portrait studio. The brothers did not always get on and in 1877 their partnership came to an end. Alfred continued on with the business while Walter struck out on his own and set up the Royal Gallery of Photography on Georges St in 1878. It was unsuccessful and on 10 May 1880 he committed suicide.

After Walter left the firm Alfred and later his son Harold continued to travel all over New Zealand as well as Samoa. Fiji and Tonga to take photographs. When Harold lost his arm in 1890 much of this topographical photography was taken over by an employee, George Moodie.

In around 1882 he went into partnership with Thomas Mintaro Muir, the firm continued to flourish under this partnership. Alfred retired in 1898 and the firm was brought out by Thomas Muir and a new partner George Moodie to become another prominent New Zealand photography studio, Muir & Moodie.

After retiring from the studio Alfred taught elocution for 16 years and was a founding member of the Dunedin Shakespeare Club, and secretary of the Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics' Institute.