Sunday, May 6, 2018

Another D’Oyly Cartesian disrobed

David Stone’s third part of his triple challenge was for me to find the real identity of ‘Geraldine St Maur’. I mean why not call yourself ‘Elizabeth Windsor’ or ‘Victoria Regina’. Oh, dear, they were aristostruck!  …

Well, this morning, I started. I think I just may have found the answer, but I lack positive proof … so I pause before the big reveal on this one  ..

However, on the way to ‘Geraldine’, I met her friends and colleagues, and went off on a few side trips … 



Many of the photos of ‘Geraldine’ show her as Peep-Bo in The Mikado. And in most of them, the Pitti-Sing is the lady known as Kate Forster. No, that’s not her real name either. But we’ll get to that.


 Kate played for twenty years with the D’Oyly Carte companies, and the details of her career can be found on David’s website. But I take issue with him on one statement. That Kate was born ‘Kate Hardwick[e]’. She wasn’t. Hardwick was her mother’s maiden name, and, no, she wasn’t illegitimate: her parents had been fifteen years and several children wed, before Kate was born. Not in 1860, but in 1857. So…

William Jancowitz arrived in England, from Poland, around 1840, and he set himself up in Sheffield as a bunion specialist. A podiatrist of sorts, I suppose. He married Elizabeth Hardwick, daughter of a Chesterfield maltster, and they bred … and in the course of time, William gave up feet for merchandising in Berlin wool, the family moved to The Cliff in Scarborough. And there, in 1857, was born (amongst others) a daughter, Kate Jancowitz. Yes, that’s our Kate. Jancowitz. Her baptism is recorded, but not her birthdate.


 Skip ahead to 1873, and teenage Kate got married. The bridegroom was by name James Graham Wigney, son of a ‘gentleman’ from Huddersfield. Gentleman? Mr Wigney sr ran the Imperial Hotel. Mr Wigney jr was, it seems, to prove an ephemeral husband. He lived till 1921, but had long, long since given up describing himself (‘banker’s clerk’, ‘sculptor’, ‘artist in watercolour’) to the census-takers as anything but ‘single’. And Kate went on … and became ’Miss Forster’ of the D’Oyly Carte companies. She died in Norwich in 1915.



There. So visit David’s site for the details of her long career … mostly with the Carte organisation … I just wanted (as usual) to put the ‘who WAS she’ in place …

David Lovell sent me this great photo of Kate with Edward Clowes in YEOMEN


Bed. And another in the morning! With luck …










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