- 1723-2020 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
Name of creator
The families are all related through marriage, with James Low of Kirriemuir marrying Ann Fairweather c1803, and their descendants marrying members from the Chabot. Halley and West families. A common thread through the families is international trade, with Alexander Fairweather Low listed as a Merchant in Dundee in 1841. AF Low moved to Mexico, where he owned the La Hormiga cotton factory, and where he met his wife, Mary-Ann Julia Chabot, whose father, James Chabot had traded as a merchant in Malta and London before moving to Mexico. The Chabot family in the UK originated with Jaques Chabot, a French Huguenot refugee.
Alexander JS Low, photo-journalist is the son of Alexander Halley Low, whose mother was Annie Halley. His maternal great-great grandfather, Alexander Hally was born at Lundie Fowlis, and by 1808 was a merchant and Sardinian Consul in Madeira. His son, Dr Alexander Halley (who added an e to the spelling of Hally) returned from Madeira to Edinburgh for his medical training. He maintained interest in his Scottish roots through membership of the Gaelic Society and Highland Society of London, where he practised. Dr Halley married Emily Jane Harland, whose brother, Sir Edward Harland, was a founder of the ship building company, Harland and Wolff.
The West family, originally from Ireland, are connected to the Low's through the marriage of AJS Low's great-uncle, Charles Watson Low to Violet Augusta West. Her brother, Captain George West served in Africa and as British Vice Consul of Archangel, during the 1905 Russian revolution. George’s life was quite troubled, ending with him being sectioned and admitted to Holloway Sanatorium, Virginia Water, where he died.
Alexander Halley Low was a geologist and mining consultant who explored the oil fields of north west Canada, His marriage to Dorothy Lindesay Gregory, connected the Low family to the Gregory-Richardson families, one of whom, AH Lindesay-Richardson won the first V.C. fighting for 'Strathconer’s Horse', a Canadian regiment under British control in the Boer War.
Name of creator
Born to Alexander Halley Low and Dorothy LIndesay Gregory, Alex JS Low attended Seaford College. His father and grandfather, AG Low, were both keen amateur photographers, and Alex learned basic techniques from his father; by the age of ten, his pictures were being published in the local press.
Alex developed his photographic skills whilst doing his RAF National Service in 1955-1956, after which he matriculated at a local polytechnic. However, finding the course very basic, Alex rarely attended, preferring to develop the skills he had learned at a course at the Leica factory, which he had attended while he was serving in Germany. Using his own Leica camera, Alex began building up is own 'unauthorised' portfolio, his photographs winning the most stars of merit from a prestigious judging panel at an exhibition of students' work held by the polytechnic. Despite this achievement, Alex was not welcomed back to the polytechnic, being deemed as 'undisciplined'.
Alex determined to become a photo-journalist and continued to build his portfolio, travelling around the UK and Europe capturing scenes like the Dog Market at Club Row and villages around the Mediterranean coast. Originally getting small magazine assignments, in 1960 he was offered a job as staff photographer with the Pictorial Press agency, who worked in collaboration with the US based Globe Photos Inc.. but Alex continued to shoot images like the ban the bomb marches, as opposed to the agencies' film world shoots. Meeting and working with Simon Guttman expanded his assignments into picture stories centred around the arts, but by 1964, the work was declining and Alex had a brief spell working in TV for BBC 2 with Chris Brasher. In the same year, the new colour supplement 'Weekend Telegraph' was planned and Alex was invited to joing the team as its first picture editor and only staff photographer. In that capacity he worked on major picture stories in many parts of the world, including the Isle of Wight pop festival, Californian hippy communes, Club Méditerranée, Corfu, the drug problem in 1960's Hong Kong and several projects across India, where he became friends with the last Maharaja of Bikaner. Alex also worked for Pictorial Press in Fleet Street and through Globe Photos in the USA and produced pictures on topics as diverse as Hollywood actors and crofters on Islay.
In 1971, Alex became a director of Tom Stacey Ltd, in 1971 , His first project was a 20 volume series, the 'Peoples of the World' which have been published in 14 languages around the world, but not published in the UK. Alex has written that this 'was a great challenge. We assembled a team of eminent anthropologists to advise us and write the copy. We divided a map of the world into 18 appropriate areas, one for each volume, with two additional volumes for Man the Craftsman and The Future of Mankind. Each volume was to be 144 pages. The photographs came from the files of photographers all over the world, many of whom I knew as friends through my work at the Telegraph, and also from anthropologists and historic picture collections. These books have become a unique record of the peoples of the Earth, just before and in the middle of the 20th century, before their cultures were destroyed by the spread of 20th century western civilisation and globalisation.'
By 1979, Alex had moved to Cornwall, where he and his partner, Sally, ran Coombe Farm Country Guest House until 1999.
Alex has four children with Marianne Wenzel and Sally Wickes. In recent years, Alex has lived in Devon, and with the help of partner Anna Philpott, has gathered and organised the archive of his ancestors' papers.