Walter William Thwaites (Snr)

Walter William Thwaites was born in 1815 in London, to miniature portrait artist Walter William Thwaites and Charlotte Yeomans.

He arrived in NSW in 1834 (ship unknown) and worked for the Auditor General’s Department in Sydney for a number of years. In 1839, he married Jane McLean in Sydney and had three children.

The family moved to Hobart in 1861 where Walter set up business as an artist and photographer before later moving to Adelaide in 1865, opening a photography studio with his sons.


Walter appears to visit Western Australia by himself at Champion Bay in early 1867 and opens in the York, Toodyay & Northam area in February, selling ‘carte-de-visites, ambrotypes, life-size portraits, sennotypes, views of stations and groups, taken at moderate terms.’

Later that year in October, Walter is involved in a cart accident on the road between Glentromie and Walebing, when he was thrown from his spring-cart with the wheel passing over his body, knocking him unconscious. He sustained an injury to his right side but made a speedy recovery.

In January 1868, Walter opens a short-term studio in Howick Street, Perth. He doesn’t intend to stay long and advertises for sale his horse, trap and harness for £25, reducing the price to £22 the following month.

He soon returns to his family in Adelaide where he spends the next 15 years in his photography business there before moving to Kangaroo Valley in NSW.

Walter and his wife hit hard times, two of their three children had died and in the mid-1880’s they are induced to sell their home at Kangaroo Valley and head to Sydney, where they hoped a benevolent society would take them in. They could not find an asylum to take the both of them and instead of being forced into separate asylums, Walter decides to take his life on 23 February 1888 at Parramatta. His wife Jane, died 3 years later.


State Library of Victoria – W. Thwaites


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