Thomas and Edward Gilks -19th Century British Engravers

The Gilks: Thomas and Edwards
Engravers extraordinary

Thomas and Edward Gilks came to my attention through an Ebay book offer for Thomas' book: The Art Of Wood Engraving - A Practical Handbook, a popular technical text published throughout the middle to late 19th century (see Worldcat listing). The brothers were alternatively successful and in arrears throughout much of their careers, a problem most 19th century skilled trades people found themselves in.

For more on Thomas Gilks, see his Wiki Commons entry.

For more on Edward Gilks, see his Wiki Commons entry.

What caught my attention was the portrait of Thomas in the frontispiece of this book. He looked remarkably of African descent. His father worked at the East India Company docks and that is all we know of him. If of African descent, Thomas Gilks would be one of the very few 19th century British artisans to be so documented.

My onllne research turned up zilch. I contacted the British Museum and received this response: 

"Dear Gary Roberts,

Nothing to indicate that (or to disprove it either), all that is known is he worked in London. There is also the slightly younger Edward Gilks who may have been a brother, cousin etc. Sorry not to be more help but knowledge about the family history of large numbers of XIXc printmakers is lacking unless they came from a well-known dynasty of them.

Best wishes,

Hugo Chapman"

Back to square one.