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HomeContents > People > Photographers > William Henry Cornish

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Active:  India
Photographer active in India in the nineteenth century.

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

Amateur, India
Son of Lieut Phillip George Cornish (10th Native Infantry) and Mary Ann; baptised at St James’ Church, Delhi, 14 Nov 1840 (IOR/N/1/60/f.39); Bengal Police 1859-96. Joined service, Jan 1859; served in Military Department until May 1863, when he entered the Police Department as Assistant Superintendent; District Superintendent, Apr 1870; served in Assam, 1870-4, 1879-83; retired Mar 1896.
Letter from R.N. Shore, Officiating Commissioner of the Cuttack Division, in response to government request for information and photographs of native races, notes ‘I hope to obtain photographs of several of the tribes I have mentioned, through Lieutenant Cornish of the 8th Police Battalion, a most excellent Amateur Photographer, who has kindly promised me his assistance on his return to Sumbhulpoor at the close of the rains.’ [1]
‘In continuation of this Office letter No. 5675, dated 30th November 1868, I am directed to forward a packet of photographs taken by Mr W.H. Cornish, Assistant Superintendent, Champarun, and to say that an expression of the Lieutenant-Governor’s thanks has been conveyed to Mr Cornish for the collection. A list of the photographs accompanies. List of photographs.
1. Ruins of the old Palace at Sumblepore, C.I.
2. Continuation of ditto
. 3. Another view of the same.
4. Black Pagoda, Pooree [Puri].
5. The fallen Idols at B. Pagoda.
6. Gateway or chief entrance, B. Pagoda.
7. Fallen carved stone with iron beams under it.
8. Stone pillar at Lowreah, Chumparun.
9. Tomb at Kessareah.
10. Form one picture of the rock-cut caves of Raneehaspore Kunda-Siree Bhobenesswar (Cuttack).
10. Ditto.
11. Singraj Temple at Bhobenesswar, Cuttack.
12. Old ruined temples at Bhobenesswar.
13. Face of temple shewing the carving on a temple at Bhobenesswar.
14. The Beital Temple, Bhobenesswar.
15. Singh Darwaza, or Lion’s Gate, Juggurnath, Pooree.
16. West view of Juggurnath.’[2]
Repeated in list of 16 architectural photographs (2 copies of each sent) of subjects at Bhubaneshwar, the Black Pagoda,etc, sent in by Cornish.[3]
Large series of views by Cornish in Indian Museum series: Bhubaneshwar, Konarak, Puri, Udayagiri, etc. Several of the Bhubaneshwar views are also used in M.H. Arnott’s Report with photographs of the repairs executed to some of the principal temples at Bhubanesvar and caves in the Khandagiri and Udaigiri Hills, Orissa, India, between 1898 and 1903 (London, 1903); in the preface Arnott specifically states that these views (showing temples before restoration) had been taken ‘late in 1892’. Cornish’s record of service[4] notes that he was on special duty between 18 October and 17 December 1892, and this probably refers to a photographic tour during which these views were taken. This date is corroborated by Alexander E. Caddy (qv), who photographed some of the same sites in 1895, and referring to Khandgiri, notes, ‘I have been trying to get at the right names of these cave. Comparing Fergusson, Cunningham, and Dr Mitter with a recent portfolio of photographs made by Mr Cornish of the Cuttack Police, I find little agreement...’ 

  1. Λ Letter of 19 August 1861, Bengal Public Proceedings, no.17 of December 1861, IOR/P/15/21. 
  2. Λ From H.S. Beadon, Officiating Under Secretary to the Government of Bengal, to E.C. Bayley, Secretary to the Government of India, dated 3 May 1869, Government of India Public Proceedings, Home Department, 12 June 1869 no. 106, IOR/P/434/17. 
  3. Λ In letter of 11 April 1869, Bengal General Proceedings, no.6 of May 1869, IOR/P/432/5. 
  4. Λ IOR/V/12/127 

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