Saturday, December 4, 2021

Mrs Watkin's 1840s Evening Party.

This 1840s piece of sheet music came up on ebay ... so I investigated ...

ROE, J[ohn] W[iggett] (b Norwich, 25 February 1812; d 36 Western Rd., Hove 28 February 1853)

Born in Norwich, into a local family of beer-sellers and cotton-manufacturers, Roe was the son of an elder John Wiggett Roe (b Norwich 3 September 1775; d Norwich, 11 March 1812), well known in the area for his prowess as a vocalist, and his wife Mary, née Newsom.

His career is just a little bit difficult to decipher wholly accurately, as during the 1840s there were three Mr Roes active in the London musical world, the other two being a Mr John Roe, organist, conductor and music teacher, originally of Manchester, and J W Roe’s own brother, James, also an organist.

I have, however, discovered just why, through the 1830s, I can find no trace of Mr J W Roe in the musical listings of the nation. The 1841 census for Greenwich shows us Mr John Wiggett (sic) aged 20 ‘chemist’ with his wife, Eliza, their three year-old son, John, and 10-month old Robert, boarding in Royal Place, in the company of another ‘chemist’, Mr William Frost Green, his wife, Frances, and their children, Harry and Mary. Frances Green was the former Frances Roe, John Roe’s elder sister. And William Green was the brother of young Mrs Eliza Roe, ‘of St Mary, Whitechapel’ (m City of London Church, 31 August 1836). So Mr J W Roe, like his father, began his singing in an amateur capacity.

And we can, I think, firmly reject him as the Mr Roe, organist of St George the Martyr Church, Southwark, in spite of the fact that this was the same church at which the Greens had been wed in 1838.

Roe seems to have become a professional vocalist around 1843, when he was engaged as a member of the little choir at the new (1842) Temple Church, alongside William Dando, Enoch Hawkins, Mr J Lee and John Calvert 'late of St Paul's', and a group of boys amongst whom was the young W H Cummings.

Roe devoted himself principally to church and part music over the following years, but he also struck out a sideline, which would ultimately serve his memory better.

On 4 November 1845, he mounted a concert at the Crosby Hall, with the participation of 'Miss Thornton' (Annie Mogg) and Edward John Hopkins, the organist from Temple Church. The evening was entitled Facts and Fancies Musically Illustrated. Amongst the fancies were comical versions of the stories of Robinson Crusoe and Little Red Riding Hood, set to musical arrangements by John Liptrot Hatton, another sometime organist at the Temple.

J L Hatton

On 26 January 1846, he put up another evening, a more conventional one, at the Princess’s Theatre, under the title The Madrigal and Glee Writers of England and their compositions,with a team of singers including the Williams sisters, the Pyne sisters, Hobbs, W H Seguin and Hatton, but on 4 July he was back with ‘Music for the People’ at National Hall in Holborn, and a few months later was to be seen on the bill at Laurent’s Casino. On 3 November 1846, he returned to Crosby Hall with Moriatt O’Connor, Hobbs, Dando (violin) and Hatton, in an entertainment titled Music, Mirth and Melancholy.

Mr Roe’s comic songs and scenas, however, caught other and important eyes. Hatton purveyed the comical 'Mrs Watkin's Evening Party', and John Parry, the outstanding Victorian purveyor of the classy comedy number, also picked up on Mr Roe. By the time Roe’s 1847 concert came along (Crosby Hall 22 December), Parry’s repertoire had been enriched by ‘King Canute, or the Cold Water Cure’ and the excessively popular ‘Miss Harriet and her Governess’ with words by J W Roe. ‘Our Native Land’, ‘in three short volumes’ a potted history lesson from Julius Caesar to Queen Anne, set by Parry followed, and at Roe’s 1848 concert – after a first half devoted to the Tempest music of Purcell -- Parry delivered their ‘St George and the Dragon’ for the first time. ‘King Alfred, or the Old Woman and the Cakes’ was their next collaboration.

John Parry

Mr Roe was still a member of the choir at the Temple in 1848 – alongside Seguin, Young, Benson, Hodson, Lovell and Dando – but at some stage, not too long after, he left London, and took up residence in Hove. He was paragraphed ('author of some of Mr Parry's most popular songs') as preparing an entertainment for George Buckland, and he can be seen there in the 1851 census ‘professor of singing, 39’, with Eliza, and their children John Edward, Robert, Alfred, and William, and the four orphaned children of William and Frances Green.

On 9 March 1852, he mounted one last concert in London, at the Store Street Music Hall. Louisa Pyne, Miss Thornton, Priscilla Horton and Henry Phillips took part, as did the English Glee and Madrigal Union and the Temple choirboys. Glees, anthems and ‘a variety of popular pieces’ were given, but there was no mention of a new comic song.

This concert was to be Mr Roe’s last, for he died early in 1853, at the age of 41. His songs lived on, however, in the hands of such as J L Hatton (‘Mr Brown’s Serenade’, ’The Adventures of Little Red Riding Hood’, 'William Tell') and Buckland. The story of Mrs Watkins and her Evening Party was given by George Loder as far afield as New Zealand, by Robert Farquharson in Australia, and was still being performed round the English-singing world, by the very people it burlesqued, half a century later.

The family’s contribution to music sacred and comic was, however, not yet done. Eldest son, John Edward Roe (b Whitechapel, 28 January 1838; d Brighton, February 1871), by profession an organist, wrote and composed a number of pantomimes and comic songs, but has made himself a place in the small print of the world’s reference books thanks to a hymn-tune entitled ‘Weston’. He was organist to the Brighton Harmonic Society.

Nephew, Frank William Green (1842-1883) went decidedly further, and flooded the 1870s with pieces of light comic theatre and songwords, such as George Buckland’s ‘Mrs Somebody Swallowed a fly’ (music: Alfred Lee). His stage credits included the burlesque The Lying Dutchman, and a plethora of pantomimes and provincial extravaganzas.

The other Mr John Roe (b Manchester c 1815), and his wife Frances née Johnson (b Southwark 28 February 1818, m 5 January 1841), billed inevitably as ‘Mrs John Roe’ were in evidence in minor venues in the 1840s and the 1850s, he playing and conducting and she as a soprano vocalist. Her ‘first appearance’ was billed at O H Toulmin’s concert of 28 December 1843 at the Assembly Rooms, Kennington, and when she sang at the Society of British Musicians she was allowed ‘a charming voice and a style wholly unvicious’ if somewhat ‘timid’. She sang for several seasons in the mid-1840s at the Vauxhall Gardens (‘Di piacer’ etc), and Mr and Mrs John Roe mounted regular concerts, usually at the modest Store Street venue, at which they, their daughter, Frances, also an organist, and Mrs Roe’s singing pupils appeared. Mr Roe seemingly also ventured the flute. Their ‘annual’ concert can be noted through the 1850s, and my last sighting of Mrs Roe is in 1858 singing, alongside Mrs Dixon, at the West London Choral Society. By the 1871 census they can be seen living in Barnet, where Mrs Roe is listed as ‘retired music teacher’. She died there in the early months of 1875.

The latter (‘John Roe jun’) seems to have been the original teacher of Cicely Nott before Jullien got into the act.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

CASSWELL: finding Fanny..


This morning, a vast family collection of Lincolnshire photo-portraits appeared on ebay. Most are annotated, but they still took a deal of working out, even though they all belong to the extended Casswell family from the village of Benington, near Boston, Lincs.

(1) Grandma's elder sister née Ellen Casswell  Mrs William Thomas Oldman

(2) Grandma's eldest daughter by her first husband. With her last daughter by her second husband. Oh...  

(3) Harriet Casswell

(4) Great grandma. Mary Cresswell

(5) Susie Casswell

(6) Ellen

(7a) Richard

(7b) Richard
(8) Mary

(9) John Machin

(10) George

(11) Fanny Casswell

(12) Elizabeth

(13) Elizabeth Parthenia

(14) George and Mary

(15) George

That's enough. Though I suspect there are more. Anyway, here is the family -- George the elder (1821-1900), his wife Mary (1822-1899) (photos 15, 14 and 4) and their children in 1871

Ellen (photo 6), Richard (7), John, Mary (10), Susan (5), Elizabeth Queenborough (12), Harriet (3), George (8).  No Fanny (11).  And John's photo is missing.  And he's 'father of Grandma Machin'.  Frances. Oh? Fanny? Eh?

Ellen (1849)
Richard (1851-1840) m Martha Louise Neal 
John (1854-
Mary  (1859-
Susan (1860-1891) unmarried
Elizabeth Queenborough (1862-?)  m 1886 William Francis Wright
Harriett Ann (1864-1937) unmarried nurse in C81
George (1864-1925) m Carry Taylor Jacklin

Wait a minute. Something's wrong. The Fanny Casswell who married John Thurlby or Thorlby did so in 1853. And after Mr Thurlby she married Henry Machin.
So George 1821, is the brother of Ellen (Mrs Richard Oldham), and Frances ... yes, Grandma Machins' elder sister..  and ...
Mrs Oldham has a daughter Ellen who marries William Towell
Mrs Thorlby-Machin married Henry Machin (1863) She has a daughter Elizabeth Parthenia Thorlby (d 28 March 1917) who marries William Thomas Northorp or Northorpe ahha!

Haha, is this the line I should be following?

Mr Northorp[e]. See (photo no 2)  Yes! Scarborough. That's where he came from. Schoolteacher.  Headmaster. Married 1886. Children, the Rev Frederick (1887-1969) and  Winifred (1895-1931). A third son was killed in the Great War. So Elizabeth (no 13) above is his wife. 

Another angle. The verso mentioned Bernard (b 29 May 1894), Dorrie (b 1905, Mrs William S Travis) and their mother Ellen Gregg (1867-1933 née Machin) who was born in Nottinghamshire. Wife of Oliver Gregg leather merchant. Daughter of Mrs Machin's second marriage. 

Yes ...  And here she is! 1881. At Easthorpe, Nottinghamshire. Henry Machin, retired currier 64, Frances 'Grandmother Machin' 52, daughters Ann 17 and Ellen 14, and Elizabeth Parthenia Thorlby 27 (b Fletton, Northants)! Ann (unmarried) and Frances can be seen in the 1911 census, with Oliver and Barnard Gregg, in Southwell... 'Grandma Machin' died in Southwell 4 June 1914. 

Right. It seems there are two lots of children to whom Frances could be 'Grandma Machin'. Elizabeth's Northorps and Ellen's Greggs. Unless Frances had further Thorlby children between 1853 and his death in .. oh, 1855. So ...  

There I shall leave it.  There is a huge family here, but I'll just stick to these photos ..

6.03??????  Gosh. Winetime!

Friday, November 26, 2021

Mozart for tuppence: the Wybrow story


While I was wading through the opus of Ezra Read, I came upon a puzzling piece of music not by the said Mr Read.

So? Well-known (Jewish) song, by well-known Jewish songwriter. Eighteenth edition already. No particularly interesting except ... the Misses Wybrow? I know pretty well all the featurable singing sisters of the Victorian(ish) concert world. Not they. Who were they, and why did they get such big billing?

Ah. Printed by W Wybrow. Daddy. Hadn't heard of him, either. So, just a proud papa getting his girls' names on a music sheet?  No. Not at all. William Wybrow was, for thirty years, a music publisher based in Rathbone Place, off Oxford Street. And, as I was to discover, a whole lot more than that.

So, who was he. Well, he was born in London 5 December 1790, the first son of William Wybrow (1761-1840), cordwainer and Mary née Waller (1763-1815), and he began his working life as a carver and gilder. He and his wife. Hannah (née Downs, 1792-11 December 1844), (married 16 May 1813) settled in Jewin Court, Aldersgate, then in Hammersmith, and started a family ...  They would have eight children, of whom three girls and one son survived childhood ..

Mary Ann (b Aldersgate 1815), Rhoda Ann (b Hammersmith 1818), Sidney Hampden Waller (b Hammersmith 1820), Ann Elizabeth (b Hammersmith 1823).

Actually, by 1823, while stillmaintaining Wybrow's Hammersmith Library 'near the Angel Inn', they had already established themselves in Rathbone Place, and William had launched his new career as a bookseller and then as a music-printer ...

June 1821

The business took off mightily, for Mr Wybrow undercut the quality publishers: 'One thousand songs, including 'Maid of Athens' 3d each or fifteen for 3s. Catalogue gratis...'. 'New and fashionable music'.  Mozart for tuppence... It appears he had got hold of a large collection of elderly plates, which enabled him to produced music for little more than the price of ink and paper.

And soon the house of Wybrow had found a stable star, to take over where Henry Thomas Heathcote Esq comedian (whoever he may have been), had left off  ...

Sidney Waller began softly, in 1824 ...

8000 copies? Only one seems to have survived. And the words reek a little of Samuel Loney Barker.

Anyway, Sidney was a multi-talented chap. He wrote songwords, he composed and arranged music, from Weber to Rossini, for new words, and his material was performed by such stars as Miss Love, Miss Graddon, Eliza Vestris over a whole decade.

Among his most successful early venture were an arrangement of Weber as 'Love from the Heart' which as sung by Miss Love made its way to the Covent Garden oratorios, and the Manchester Festival, before being taken up by Vestris.

The 'operatic extravaganza' Juan's Early Days opened at Drury Lane 18 February 1828 and seems to been played six times.

Now the hits started to pour forth. 'Oysters, Sir', a combination of tunes from Rossini's Donna del Lago, was introduced by Miss Graddon, but it soon found wider fame, as did 'The Calais Shrimp Girl', as sung by 'a pupil of Mr Waller': the infant star Elizabeth Poole.

Messrs Wybrow and Waller had got other helpers aboard: in 1827 Signor Leander Zerbini, then Mr Evelyn Manners, then a certain J B Phipps ...

Brother Stephen Wybrow who had partnered William in the publishing venture was alas no longer aboard. He had died in 1826 at the age of 23. It seems that other brother, John Warren (1800-1838) was momentarily involved too .. and then a little Miss Warren Wybrow made a childish debut singing 'Oysters, Sir' efficiently at the Queen's Theatre  ...

Yes, Warren. Mama's maiden name ... so Sidney?  I suspected something was amiss when he didn't turn up anywhere but on music sheets. 'Sidney Warren' was none other than Mr Wybrow himself. As were 'Signor Zerbini' 'Evelyn Manners' e tutti quanti ... I even suspected poor Thomas Blomer Phipps, the guitarist, of being another Wybrow doppelgänger .. and Mr (1775-1837) and Mrs Walter Turnbull (the former Anne Charlotte Fayerman), music-sellers of Oxford Street ...

So: Miss Waller Wybrow. Mary, Rhoda or Annie? At her debut, in 1831, she was said to be six. To get anywhere near, it would have to be Annie.  Well, Miss Waller Wybrow might not have been a Miss Poole, but she had her moment. And it was announced that Bayley would write a play for her, with music 'by her godfather, Sidney Waller'. Haha. But Willie was a joker. On one occasion he gave a lecture on the life and works of Leander Zerbini. 

She stayed around for several years, playing Little Pickle at the Sans Souci, Albert in William Tell (Sloman's 'I am a merry mountain child'), and in concert and protean comedy at the Colosseum .. and there she is singing 'I'm the Little Drummer Boy' 'accompanied by herself on the drum' at the Queen's. The imitation of Miss Poole was just too palpable!

At the same time 'Miss Wybrow, pupil of Waller and Alberti, gives practical instruction in singing, style of Miss Stephens, also the pianoforte and Spanish guitar ...'. No. Not Annie. It must be Mary or Rhoda. And Fernando Alberti? I assume a reincarnation of the dear departed Signor Zerbini ..?

But he's added Miss Paton and Miss Inverarity to his star list ...

So in 1836, here is Miss Wybrow in the London concerts. Heaven knows which one. Singing 'Sloman's beautiful ballad 'Shall we sing tonight' at the King's Concert Rooms, Alexander Lee's ''Ere I watch the star to see' .. and occasionally 'the Misses Wybrow' ... 

Well, from 24 April 1839 we know who the Misses are. Annie and Rhoda. Because Mary, on that date, became Mrs Vincent Robert Albert Brooks, wife of an Oxford Street stationer. Rhoda was a witness. Mary Ann died in 1842 (3 August) in what I assume was childbirth. And Mr Brooks 'married' Rhoda! They had two children. When Willie died he named Rhoda and Annie as his executors. Both, he said, were spinsters. I suppose it was that 'deceased wife's sister' thing. Anyway, Vincent became a lithographic tycoon, boss of over a hundred printworkers, the printer of the famous 'Spy' cartoons of Vanity Fair, and died in 1885. Rhoda was the last survivor of the Misses Wybrow, and died 22 April 1892.

Brooks the lithographer .. 99th edition? Hah!

So, anyway, then there was one. Annie. She is with her parents at Rathbone place in 1841; by 1851, with Hannah gone, she is still there with papa.  Only when he had died did she become Mrs Wilson Twentyman, wife of a silk manufacturer. She died in 1885.

Rhoda published an 1838 set of sacres melodies for the guitar, Annie published all sorts 'professor of singing, pianoforte and guitar, pupil of Signor Crivelli, authoress of 'The Blind Girl's Dream', 'Ties of Home' and 'Dearest Spot on Earth'. ' 'Pupil of Crivelli, H R Allen and the Royal Academy of Music'. 'The Heart's Wish, or Dieu vous benisse', 'Rosalia Waltzes' ...

Willie Wybrow died 16 October 1859, at 40 King Street, Covent Garden. He didn't leave a heap of money, but I think he owned the freehold on no 33 Rathbone Place ... I see that after his death it became the home of Winsor and Newton ..

That should be the end of this tale, but I have a wee coda. I had to investigate, even though it's past my bedtime. 

In the late 1700s and early 1800s the name of Wybrow was somewhat celebrated in the London theatre. A 'Mrs Wybrow' was a favourite dancer, especially as Columbine in pantomime ('enchanting', 'incomparable'), and her likeness has survived in a couple of contemporary engravings. She looks ... lush. And apparently her love/sex life was a six volume novel of more than usual chapters.

Just to set the record straight, Mrs W was born Clarissa Blanchet (sic), daughter of publican Thomas Blanchet who, at one stage, ran the pub across from where I used to live in London's Bruton Street. She was trained by d'Egville at Drury Lane, and danced there as Mlle Blanchet until 1793 (30 December) when she married Mr William Wybrow. 'The eminent surgeon'. Eminent, my foot. The young Mr Wybrow was a 'pupil to Mr Paine of Brook St' and in 1796 he was seconded as an assistant surgeon to the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards. In 1799 he was promoted to Surgeon. He went to Ceylon and India, remained there for his whole career, with various regiments (Meron's, 17th Light Dragoons, and doubtless never saw Clarissa again. But she kept his name.

She didn't lack replacement 'husbands', although they seem not to have been durable. At various stages a Mr Morris, a Mr Dobson 'attorney', Lord Craven (of 10 Queen Street, Mayfair) and, finally, a Mr White are mentioned. When shed died, at an age somewhere between 48 and 52, in July 1826, he death was registered as Mrs White.  She wasn't of course, because Mr Wybrow was alive and still militarily active out in India. He went onto half-pay in 1828, was still alive in 1847 ... and I see a wee mention of a Mrs Wybrow accompanying him at one stage!

But I don't imagine he was related to our Willie. He just got in the way when I was looking.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

THE LOST CHORD..... lost again!


I found the sheet music to "The Lost Chord" on e-bay this morning. We all know "The Lost Chord". One of the most famous ballads of the Victorian Era. "It may be that death's bright angel .." while whacking out a stentorian imitation of "Erlkönig" on the keyboard. Glorious stuff. Words in the soulfilled style of the Victorian era by Adelaide Anne Proctor, set rousingly by Arthur Sullivan, first sung at the Boosey Ballad concerts 31 January 1877 ... fourteen years after the poet's death ...

So what did I think when this item turned up ....

Ezra ... who? Ezra when...? Ezra why?

The why is easy. Mr Read (who claimed at the age of 33 to have published 900 piano, mandoline and vocal composttions and arrangements) was one of those writers who grabbed every topic and theme of the day to put on the cover of his easy-to-play music. Example ..

And the London Music Publishing Stores, whoever they may have been, poured forth his music on to the public through the 1890s and 1910s ...

But let's get on to the 'who'.

Ezra Read was born in Willenhall, Staffs 14 February 1862 , one of the sons of James Read, a gun-sight filer, and his wife Mary. The other sons seem to have followed father into filing, but Ezra became a coachsmith in Wednesbury. But some time in the 1880s he got into performing, and left Staffordshire for the south coast. I suspect he is the Mr E Read giving 'Darkie's Holiday' with the 'Cinq Port Minstrels' in 1887-8. I know he was the Ezra Read who married in Bristol in 1886. And the two things are connected. He ('of Wednesbury') married (30 October 1886) a lass named Beatrice Ida Bertha Hampden, from Melksham, Wilts, who was really the female equivalent of himself. As well as being 'grand-daughter of the late Rear Admiral Cumberland'. Beatrice (calling herself 'Ida Hampden') was a mass producer of ditties and arrangements, she played piano and 'organ' ('own organ').. was it she who got him performing and writing?Ah, no. There he is in earlier 1886 already, playing the Britannia Music Hall, Coventry.

Anyway, they went off to the south coast where they apparently picked up small music-hall engagements, and turned out the first of those hundreds of ditties. The first I spot is called 'The Don't Tease Schottische' (1889) which got published by Joseph Williams, then the 'Winged Hours' Schottische. The flood had begun.

In the 1891 census the couple are in Portsmouth, staying in the Albert Tavern, Warblington St. The Tavern had a 'Concert Room' 'a small music hall', and the landlord, Henry Charles Hughes, is listed as 'music-hall proprietor' and most of the guests are music-hall performers. The week's bill? The Albert was described in the licensing court as 'a low class [tavern] and frequented by soldiers, sailors and loose woman ... prostitutes in the ballroom ... immoral purposes'. Oh dear. Ida, what would the Rear Admiral have said? And Ezra is advertising that he will send free songs to those who send him a stamped addressed envelope c/o the Casino.

After a while, they moved out of 'the Casino' and he is next seen advertising from 'Fernleigh', Inglis Rd Southsea: pianoforte, harmony and composition. Parties attended. Class tuition. Moderate terms'. 'Music hall preferred'. I don't see them working, but the easy-to-play, cheap-price, parlour-piano music continues to roll.

They eventually left the coast and returned north. In 1899 they are advertising from 72 Rigby St, St Helens. They finally settled in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, where Ida died in 1912

Ezra carried on, turning out occasional pieces for the nursery, the schoolroom, pianistic beginners etcetera, occasionally with a pictorial cover ..

So, why did he re-set Miss Proctor's poetry? Well, it seems he wasn't shy of anything. Here he had a go at Mrs Hemans's 'The Better Land', famously set by Frederic Cowan

Ezra Read died at 8 Church Hill, Shirebrook 13 December 1922, aged 60.  He left the sum of L644 7s 0d.
But he left a tonne of sheet music -- from 'Youthful Hearts' and 'The Nick-Nack Polka' to 'The Motor Car Galop' ...
On e-bay today there are 77 items from amongst what, if his tallying is true, must have been thousands. ...

I wonder if anyone heard his 'Lost Chord' or 'Better Land' and thought ... wot?