The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Poultney Bigelow, 1855-1945

Nationality: American
Date of Birth: 1855.09.10
Place of Birth: New York City
Date of Death: 1945.05.28
Place of Death: Malden, NY


Bigelow's father was co-owner and co-editor of the New York Evening Post. At the beginning of the Civil War, the elder Bigelow was appointed United States consul in Paris, and after the war, he was named minister to France.

Bigelow's first marriage was on 16 April 1884 to Edith Evelyn Jaffray (born in New York City on 23 December 1861). She was the daughter of a Scot, Edward S. Jaffray, and Anna Phillips Jaffray. It is just possible that they were related to the Jaffrays who were old friends of the Whistlers, indeed one had travelled with JW from the USA in 1855 (John Hamilton ('Hami' or 'Hammy') Jaffray (1837-1900), son of A. S. and R. W. Jaffray [more])

The Bigelows had three daughters, Edith Evelyn, Mildred and Dorothy (Edith Evelyn was born on 9 February 1885 in England).

Poultney Bigelow's second marriage, on 7 April 1911, was to Lillian Pritchard (d. 1 December 1927) from Worchester, England.


Poultney Bigelow was educated in France, Germany, and the United States.

He was a lawyer and member of the bar of the Supreme Court of New York. He left that profession for journalism in 1822 and became an editorial writer, newspaper editor and owner of the Outing magazine.

'Poultney Biglow' is listed at 98 Oakley Street, Chelsea in 1893; however the name was probably spelt incorrectly. He stayed for some time in London with his wife, and would have met JW there.


The Bigelow Society, The Bigelow Family Genealogy, Vol. II, p. 492; Howe, Bigelow Family of America; Cohen, Aaron M., 'The Japanese Connections of Poultney Bigelow, Proponent of Japanese Expansion and Colonization,' Nanzan Review of American Studies (Nagoya), vol. 23, 2001, pp. 65-81; (accessed 2004)