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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Clement Williams

Other: Dr. Clement Williams 
Dates:  1833, 28 December - 1879, 26 June
Born:  England, Somerset, Williton
Died:  Italy, Florence

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John Falconer, British Library 
A Biographical Dictionary of 19th Century Photographers in South and South-East Asia

Amateur, Burma
Assistant Surgeon, Army Medical Service 1855; served with 68th Regiment, chiefly in Burma. In 1860 he went on leave to Mandalay and acquired some influence at court after completing several cataract operations; first political agent in Upper Burma. In 1863 he travelled to Bhamo, to investigate the opening up of trade routes with China; recalled by the king when rebellion broke out in Mandalay; resigned from the British service in 1866, and became a minister of the state at Mandalay, in which capacity he directed the attention of the King of Burma to the country's mineral wealth; medium of communication with the British Government at the time of King Thibaw's massacres on his accession. Contracted typhoid at Naples and died at Florence.
His account of his journey to Bhamo, Through Burmah to Western China being notes of a Journey in 1863 (Blackwood, Edinburgh and London, 1868) contain a number of references to photography. Unfortunately, on inspecting his boat for leakage,
'I regretted to find that my photographic projects would, to a great degree, be frustrated, as several of my boxes with prepared plates were half full of water, and some of the chemicals, too, entirely destroyed' (pp. 48-49)
However he did manage to take a few images, in Bhamo, for instance,
'The day being favourable, I took photographs of the old Woon and of some Chinamen who were at his house' (p. 93, where one of the photographs is reproduced as an engraving).
Two days later,
'Photographed various groups and buildings during the forenoon, but with indifferent success owing to the damaged condition of my chamicals' (p. 97).
A further attempt at photography is also mentioned:
'Tried to get a photograph of some Kakhyeens [Kachins], among them the son of the Loutan Tsaubwa, who looks only a younger rascal than his father. I wanted him to put on a sword when being taken, but he objected, saying that if he once put it on he could not, according to the custom of the Kakhyeen chiefs, return it' (p. 164).

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