Reverend George W. Bridges was an English clergyman, author, traveller and photographer. As the oldest son of landed gentry, he was destined to become a clergyman, and in 1814 published as a member of Oxford University; but he confounded his family by eloping to Scotland with the pregnant Elizabeth Raby Brooks. They married in 1815.

In 1816, after the disgrace of the wedding, George was offered a post well beyond Britain: Rector of St Ann's, Jamaica. George and Elizabeth had six daughters and two sons, but the marriage became deeply unhappy, and Elizabeth eventually left him in 1834 with several children to care for.

In 1828 George wrote The Annals of Jamaica, outlining Jamaica's history and expressing his staunch support of the slave trade.

Tragedy struck on New Year's Day in 1837: all four surviving daughters were drowned in a boating accident in St Ann's Bay, Jamaica. Son William Somerset survived. Deeply distressed, George moved to Canada with William, and built a wooden tower house on Lake Rice, near Peterborough. Father and son returned to England in 1843 due to William's health problems. George became a rector in Gloucestershire; he is mentioned in clergy lists of 1859 to 1863 (the year he died).

In 1846, having learned the basics of photography from Henry Fox Talbot, George set out on a seven-year photographic odyssey, including Italy and Greece. He had a selection of his works published on his return, and became Vicar of Beachley and private secretary to the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol.

He died in 1863, and was buried with his wife in Beachley, beneath a rock inscribed in memory of their daughters.

Museum Victoria SMV File No.81/62
George Hannavy (ed), Encyclopaedia of Nineteenth Century Photography

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