Burial register ID: 12603
Surname: BURTON
First name: ALFRED
Middle names: HENRY
Gender: Male
Age: 80 Years
Cause of death: Unknown
Burial type:
Date of death: 02-Feb-1914
Date of burial: 04-Feb-1914

Block: 191A
Plot: 11


1834 – 1914


1836 – 1921

On second gravestone:-


1869 – 1901

Bio contributor:

Alfred Burton was the eldest of four sons of John Burton and his wife , Martha Neal. He was born at Leicestershire, England, probably sometime between 1833 and 1835. John Burton had founded the firm of John Burton and Sons, printers and photographers of Leicester, with branches in Birmingham, Derby, Nottingham and other Midland towns. All four of his sons seem to have started work with the family firm.

In 1856 Alfred emigrated to New Zealand, and was employed in Auckland as a printer for about three years. After a similar period spent in Sydney, Australia, he returned to England. He married Lydia Taylor at Ramsgate, Kent, on 15 November, 1864, when he was manager of the Nottingham branch of John Burton and Sons. His brother, Walter John Burton, who also trained as a printer and photographer, had married three weeks before Alfred , on 24 October 1864, at Lincoln. He and his wife, Helen Jemima Draper, emigrated to Dunedin. New Zealand, in 1866.

It was at Walter’s invitation that Alfred returned to New Zealand, attracted by the opportunities for landscape photography in the burgeoning province of Otago. Alfred and Lydia Burton arrived in Dunedin in 1868. Their daughter, Oona Emma, came with them; they were to have two more daughters and a son, Harold Taylor.

Alfred joined Walter’s photography business, and the firm became known as Burton Brothers. Their first studio was in Princes Street, Dunedin, and looked remarkably similar to the Leicester frontage of John Burton and Sons, with a large coat of arms claiming royal patronage. For several years the brothers advertised as dealers in Masonic clothing and jewels and they also sold newspapers and fancy goods. However, the demand for photographs was constant. Dunedin settlers wished to send home portraits and views of the new country. Consequently, the first years of the partnership were busy and successful.

During the 1870s the business expanded. Alfred was travelling over much of New Zealand taking photographs of a landscape new to European eyes. Panoramic views were a speciality. On arrival he had had the coach builders Robin and Company build a travelling dark-van, essential in the days of wet-plate collodion when photographic plates had to be processed on the spot. Where the van could not be taken, pack, pack horses and a small dark-tent had to be used. Alfred relates how, on the West Coast, coating plates in the dark-tent ‘was a truly delightful experience in a region where the tiny but potent sandfly worked his wicked will.’ He would be pouring the collodion onto the plate to make an even coating and the ‘little wretches’ would take advantages while he was occupied to bite his face and hands. Often a sandfly would ‘with devilish art, plump himself right in the middle’ of the plate which would then have to be discarded. Once this occurred three times in succession.

Both Alfred and Walter held positions of prominence in the orders of Freemasonry.

Walter travelled to Europe and visited studios, bringing back with him the latest equipment to set up an independent studio in premises in George Street in late 1878. He called it the Royal Gallery of Photography. It did not prosper, however, because of his uncertain health, and on 10 May 1880 he committed suicide by taking potassium cyanide.

Meanwhile Alfred continued to run the firm of Burton Brothers. By about 1882 Alfred had entered into partnership with Thomas Mintaro Muir. During the 10 years after Muir became a partner the firm achieved great success, and in 1885 Muir and Burton were able to open a large portrait studio at the Exchange Court in Princes Street.

Burton found the Maori people of the King Country completely innocent of photography, and succeeded in taking a total of some 150 plates of genuine ethnographic significance. The value of these photographs was later recognised by museums in Europe and America.

In 1898 Burton retired. For 16 years after giving up photography, he was a teacher of elocution. He died in Dunedin on 2 February 1914. His contemporaries remembered him as a tall, upright man, striding importantly along Princes Street. …abridged

Knight, Hardwicke. ‘Burton, Alfred Henry 1833-1835? – 1914″ Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, updated 16 December 2003


Alfred Henry Burton

Alfred Burton Hotel

There are 3 Interments in this grave:

Surname First names Age Date of death Date of burial
BURTON ALFRED HENRY 80 Years 02-Feb-1914 04-Feb-1914
BURTON HAROLD TAYLOR 31 Years 06-Jan-1901 08-Jan-1901
BURTON LYDIA 84 Years 08-Jan-1921 10-Jan-1921