Francis de Faye

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Francis de Faye


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Francis George de Faye was a pharmacist by profession, owner of the chemist's in David Place, so it was perhaps not surprising that he should use his knowledge of chemistry to become a prolific amateur photographer.


The David Place pharmacy in 1900

The son of Francois Breton de Faye (1827-1906) and Jane Coutanche (1817- ), Francis George de Faye was born in 1863 and for most of his adult life, photography was his hobby, while he ran his business at 21 David Place. As well as being a pharmacy, it also specialised in perfumes and bottled mineral water.

He produced his own brand of award-winning Eau de Cologne and had a mineral water bottling plant behind the David Place shop.

But it is as a prolific amateur photographer that Francis George is best remembered today. A collection of his work is held by the Photographic Archive of La Société Jersiaise, and many images are held in private collections.

Legacy of images of island life

He was active as a photographer from about 1880 until 1910, or perhaps later, and left an important legacy of images of island life at the end of the Victorian era and through the Edwardian era.

Most of his photographs are portraits of people, many of them probably family and friends. But he was not a studio portraitist. The majority of his photographs were taken out of doors, and when his subjects were indoors he often used rather rudimentary backgrounds. Many of his surviving images are of remarkably good quality for photographs taken up to 135 years ago; his profession clearly gave him a sound understanding of the chemicals he would have used to process his pictures. Strangely, given that most of them would undoubtedly have been taken with his camera fixed to a tripod, he was not particularly adept at obtaining level horizons.

But 21st century digital technology which would have amazed photographers such as de Faye, enables us to straighten some of his images, eliminate spots and blotches, enhance the contrast of sometimes faded photographs and generally present these antique images to a standard of which any photographer would be proud of today.

It will be seen from our selection that among his favourite subjects were the Jersey Militia, bicycles, harbour scenes, and, although it probably did not occur to him at the time, he left a valuable history of the fashions favoured by his obviously affluent subjects at the turn of the century.

Some of the photographs below were taken in the garden of the de Faye family home, Petit Pamproux, La Rocque, and undoubtedly include the third son of Francis George and his wife, Phoebe Kinsey (1864-1939), Edward Francis de Faye who was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Tank Corps when he was killed at Cambrai, France, at the age of 25, during the Great War. Unlike many photographers of this era, Francis de Faye does not appear to have liked self-portraits; at least none appears to have survived.

Will

Francis George de Faye died a rich man. In his will, first drawn up on 20 December 1907, he left 23 David Place to his eldest daughter Eline Phoebe; 29 Roseville Street to his next daughter, Katherine Mary. By 1909 he had acquired Petit Pamproux at La Rocque, which he left to his wife. His business had expanded into 21 David Place by 1918, and Phoebe also inherited rights to this property for life, after which it reverted to Marguerite Marie de Faye, his youngest daughter, born in 1909. It was not until another codicil was added on 23 February 1920 that any of his sons received a bequest, and they were the three youngest, Francis John, Philip Louis and William Eugene, who were to receive 19 David Place and 27 Aspley Road, St Helier. Another codicil added on 31 May 1924 recorded the sale of 23 David Place, and the final codicil on 31 August 1925 bequeathed the La Rocque poroperty to his wife, and then to daughter Eline. The couple's two eldest sons, George Kinsey and Clement Breton did not benefit from any of their father's wills.


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