Photographer, 19th-20th Century
1884-1894 Wemyssfield, Kirkcaldy, Fife.
1894-1914+ 1 Townsend Place, Kirkcaldy, Fife.
1881 Census: Artist Photo Assistant, aged 23, b. Banff, resident 19 Queen Street, Stirling.
1891 Census: Photographer, aged 33, b. Banff, resident 9 Wemyssfield, Kirkcaldy, Fife with [sister] Jessie Rettie 50.
1901 Census: Photographer, aged 43, b. Banff, resident 31 Townsend Place, Kirkcaldy, Fife [with sister Jessie Rettie 61].
He trained in Inverness and afterwards in Fraserburgh and then Stirling. He acquired the business and negatives of John Patrick in June 1884 and over-stamped some of Patrick’s cartes. He died on 19 December 1925. A Rettie cabinet card states that the business was established in 1853, but this must refer to John Patrick.‘Scottish Studio Photographers to 1914 and Workers in the Scottish Photographic Industry’, Vol II, D. Richard Torrance, Edinburgh, 2011, pp. 186-187
Robert Gibson RETTIE was born on 26 Sep 1857 at Easter Culbeuchly, Banffshire. His parents were George RETTIE and Isabella WILSON.
ScotlandsPeople (SR Births 147/02 0023)
George RETTIE was a Farmer Of 87 Acres Employing 1 Labourer & 2 Boys, born about 1809 in New Deer Aberdeenshire. His wife Isabella was born about 1812 in King Edward, Aberdeenshire. Together they had 9 children: Jessie, Ann, George, Alexander Thomson, Isabella, Betsy Cheyne, Catherine K, John and Robert Gibson. [I wonder why only some of the children were given middle names?]
FindMyPast (1861 Census, RG09, Piece 147, Folio 2, Page 9)
The 1871 Census shows the family living at 12 Telford Road, Inverness with George RETTIE as ‘Superintendent of Cleaning Department Inverness’. Only his wife Isabella and children Ann, John and Robert are in the household. Robert is listed as Photographer’s Assistant, aged 13.
FindMyPast (1871 Census, RG10, Piece 98, Folio 19, Page 21)
By 1881, George had moved the family again – this time to 24 Eccleston Road, London in the parish of Ealing with Old Brentford where he is listed as ‘Retired Farmer’. The household has his wife Isabella, daughters Jessie and Betsy, and son George who is a ‘Religious Journalist’.
FindMyPast (1881 Census, RG11, Piece 1345, Folio 111, Page 54)
However, the young Robert had branched out on his own, moving instead to Stirling.
FindMyPast (1881 Census, RG11, Piece 490, Folio 10, Page 15)
In 1884 Robert RETTIE moved to Kirkcaldy where he lived with his sister Jessie for over 30 years together. The 1891 Census shows them living at 9 Wemyssfield and the 1901 & 1911 Census shows them at 31 Townsend Place. Neither ever married.
FindMyPast (1891 Census, RG12, Piece 442, Folio 8, Page 22)
FindMyPast (1901 Census, RG13, Piece 442, Folio 21, Page 3)
ScotlandsPeople (1911 Census 442/00 022/00 002)
Meanwhile, the rest of the family were still in London. Old George was still going strong at the age of 82, now living at 36 Chatsworth Road, St Mary, Lambeth. The household has his wife Isabella, son George who is now an Assistant Editor, daughter Kate, nephew Robert H WILSON and granddaughter Annabella FORBES.
FindMyPast (1891 Census, RG12, Piece 417, Folio 114, Page 7)
Jessie RETTIE died in 1915 at the age of 73 in Kirkcaldy, Fife.
ScotlandsPeople (SR Deaths 442/00 0063)
Robert Gibson RETTIE died on 19 December 1925 at the age of 66 in Anthony’s Hotel, Kirkcaldy, Fife.
ScotlandsPeople (SR Deaths 442/00 0473)
- The writer Thomas Carlyle with his brother John and niece Mary – The Bridgeman Art Library
- The late Provost Swan seated – The National Archives (ref. COPY 1/398/512)
- The late Provost Swan full face – The National Archives (ref. COPY 1/398/513)
- The Rev William John Macdonald – The National Archives (ref. COPY 1/408/118)