Tuesday, October 1, 2019

An original Broadway musical ... 1841.

Black Crook .. schmook ...

This amazing piece of music turned up on ebay this week. I think it must be the oldest published number from an original American musical that I can remember seeing ...

I have no idea (yet) who Mr Kirby is, except that he is credited with a few songs ('Harriet the Match Girl', 'My Helen is the Fairest Flower', 'Sing, Hey for the bottle'), but I know all about Mr J Henry Horncastle. The piece was produced at Mitchell's Olympic, around 1841-2, when Henry was a member of the company there .. It was one of a number of pieces which he wrote for Mitchell, but I didn't realise than any trace of them survived ...

Surely this belongs in a major American Musical Theatre collection ..

Oh, hang on ...  'My Mary is the sweetest rose' sounds awfully like 'My Helen is the fairest flower' ... I wonder if Henry just 'borrowed' Mr Kirby's tune, for a lyrical remake, in time honoured fashion ...

And if you are interested, here's a bit about Henry:

HORNCASTLE, [James] Henry (b St Clement Dane’s, Westminster, 27 January 1801; d Mayback, West Malvern, Worcestershire, 6 May 1869)

HORNCASTLE, George [Francis] (d Tavistock Place, 20 October 1844)

HORNCASTLE, F[rederic(k)] W[illiam] (b London or Dublin c 1790; d Sir Joseph Banks Hotel, Botany, NSW 21 January 1850)

During the first part of the Victorian age, the name of Horncastle featured in triplicate in the British musical and theatrical worlds. But not all of the time.
Frederic, George and Henry Horncastle were, in fact, brothers, born in London, the sons of one William Horncastle, said to have been ‘an Irish actor’, and his wife Mary, in the last years of the eighteenth century and the first of the nineteenth, and each made a career as a vocalist. But if George and Henry made their fame principally on the operatic and comic stage, as two of the era’s favourite buffo singers, Frederic followed a career as a church, oratorio and concert tenor, and more or less disowned his popular siblings.

Since the younger brothers are by far the more interesting (and agreeable) characters, I am going to dispose of Frederic, in spite of his tidy and occasionally even almost eminent, but not very Victorian, career, first and fairly briefly.
The eldest Horncastle began his musical life as a chorister at the Chapel Royal before going on to posts as organist at Stamford Hill Chapel, at Berkeley Chapel and then, in 1816, at Armagh Cathedral. His overweening ways, however, led to his dismissal from his job as organist and choirmaster, by none less than the Archbishop himself, in 1823. Back in London, he became a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, and appeared both on the concert stage and in oratorio with the Sacred Harmonic Society, the Melophonic Society and other such groups, and at various state concerts. Latterly, he set himself up as a lecturer on Irish music, but his ‘cold and formal’ performance won few admirers, and when he billed himself as ‘Professor Horncastle’, the press sniggered ‘and where is the Professor’s chair?’. He further ridiculised himself when he went into print to deny any relationship with his two buffo brothers, protesting loftily ‘I was never on the stage’, and more or less insisting that they cease to use ‘his’ surname. The Broadway Journal (critic E A Poe) leaped to the defence of Henry: ‘Mr James Henry Horncastle is very generally known in this city not only for his talents which are considerable and versatile but for his gentlemanly demeanour and honourable conduct’. Frederic met a less obliging welcome in America.
Frederic also composed glees, and published a Melodies of Many Nations and The Music of Ireland.

George and Henry didn’t suffer from their brother’s lofty pretensions. And apparently, initially, neither of them used the name which he guarded so jealously. And that makes their early careers a bit hard to follow.
It is said that Henry made his first appearances as a singing actor in 1820, singing Locke’s music to Macbeth under the name of ‘Mr Henry’, and under that name he worked for a long period at Covent Garden and later Drury Lane as ‘a useful buffo singer … an actor of quick study and much versatility being ready at a moment’s notice to assume any character, from grave to gay, from lively to severe…’ 
I notice a ‘Mr Henry’ in 1824 playing mostly tiny roles in all sorts of pieces at Covent Garden: in the comedy Bull (John), The School of Reform (Jailor), Henry IV (Prince John), Town and Country (Dwindle), Rosenburg (Conrad), All in the .. (James), A Dun a Day (Mr Rigid), Have a Wife (Thomas), Hit or Miss (John), Pride Shall Have A Fall (Civil Officer/Pisanio), Where Shall I Dine? (Timothy), Hamlet (Bernardo) and the Grimaldi pantomime The House That Jack Built (Ralph), the operetta Maid Marian (Mutch), The Mountaineers (Diego), Clari (Claudio), The Sultan of Kurdistan (Alidor), Macbeth (Donalbain), The Barber of Seville (Tallboy), A Woman Never Vext (George), Isabella (Maurice), Animal Magnetism (Picard), King John (French Herald), The Cabinet (Falconer), The Fair Penitent (First Gentleman), Native Land (Luigi), The Merchant of Venice (Balthazar) et al, later climbing occasionally to such billable parts as Rimenes in Artaxerxes with Vestris, Isaacs and Sapio at Covent Garden (1827). I spy him in the part of Osano in Winter’s The Oracle (Der unterbrochene Opferfest) in 1828 (and maybe he is ‘Mr Henry first singer of the Theatre Royal Bristol’ for a wee while, or Mr Henry ‘of the Haymarket’ giving Whims and Wonders at Lancaster), alongside Mary Ann Paton, Sapio, Pearman, Harriet Cawse and Henry Phillips, as Oswald in The Maid of Judah (1829-30), and, amid a mass of mostly small credits, such roles as Seaweed to the Black-Eyed Susan of Harriet CawseBombardino or Stiff in Teddy the Tiler, Lopez in the Duenna, Alcindoro in Cinderella with the young Miss Inverarity. Rossano in the tragedy The Fair Penitent, Maurice in Isabella or The Fatal Marriage, 2nd Lord in The Jew of Arragon, Balthazar in The Merchant of Venice and Callipus in The Grecian Daughter with Fanny Kemble, 1st Mask in the Carnival at Naples, Useful in Monsieur Tonson, Gunnel in The Blue Anchor, Edmond in Barnett’s Robert the Devil, Silvius in As You Like It, Lt Griffith in The Pilot (1830), The Tartar Witch and the Pedlar Boy (Jarphis), The Hunchback (Gaylord), Midas (Pan), The Lord of the Manor (Corporal Snap, with the song ‘Gallant Comrades’) Venice Preserved (Elliot), School for Scandal (Trip), Hamlet(Guildenstern), The Battle of Eddington (Oswy). Romeo and Juliet (Escalus). Comus (Bacchante), John of Paris (Theodore), The Slave (Officer) (1832), 
In 1835, ‘Mr Henry’ created the role of Corporal Schwartz in The Siege of Rochelle, in 1836 he played Ribbing in Gustavus III and Ottokar in Der Freischütz, and Gammer Gurton in the pantomime Old Gammer Gurton. In 1837, in a repertoire noticeably more operatic and a bit more substantial, he was  McStuart in Rob Roy, Lorenzo in Fra Diavolo, Joanno in La Sonnambula, played Phillips’s role of the Marquis in The Maid of Artois, Tchop-Dar in The Maid of Cashmere, Somerdyke in The Slave, Muley in The Castle Spectre, Alidoro again, and Flavius in Norma with Schroeder Devrient. He was still, however, seen regularly in plays such as Jane Shore, The Brigand, Valentine and Orson, The Hunter of the Alps, Bluebeard, The Wrecker’s Daughter or The School for Scandal (Careless). Confusingly, in 1837, the Drury Lane revival of The Siege of Rochelle includes both a ‘Mr Horncastle’ and a ‘Mr Henry’ in its cast, but it seems to be ‘Mr Henry’ (though this Lyceum bill credits 'Healy') who plays the role of William Cecil when Balfe’s Catherine Grey was produced 27 May 1837. 

George’s professional beginnings seem to have been provincial, but whether he too started out as ‘Henry’ (as has been said) or not, I have my doubts. In 1830 (27 February) I spot ‘Mr G Horncastle, his sister and a pupil’, appearing in Rovedino’s concert in Hull. Then ‘Mr G’ and said sister touring with Paganini’s troupe in 1832. I notice Mr G Horncastle ‘of the Theatre Royal Dublin’ guesting at the Theatre Royal, Liverpool, in June 1835, as Figaro in The Barber of Seville, Lubin in The Quaker, Lord Allcash in Fra Diavolo, and in Masaniello alongside Mr Wood and Brough. So it is clearly he who is the Mr Horncastle singing in an opera company, in the autumn of 1835, in Cork with Jane Shirreff. And obviously the Mr Horncastle whom the Dublin annals describe as ‘a great favourite whose singing of the charming song in No Song No Supper ‘I locked up all my treasures’ was greatly admired.’ And there he is, as far back as 1833, acting at the Dublin Theatre Royal (2nd Muleteer in The Mountaineers, Theodore in John of Paris, Osbaldistone in Rob Roy, Antoine Galliard singing ‘Peace to the brave’ in The Soldier of 102, Master Modus in The Hunchback &c), and singing at the Royal Exchange in a concert of sacred music (‘Lord have mercy upon me’ alongside Mrs Corri, Miss Adami, Brough, Bedford et al.) But in 1833, as well, a ‘Mr Henry’ ‘dragged from the rear rank of the chorus’ is seen as Count Jeronymo in the local play The Duke of Milan (1 May) ‘Although he spake not a word, his sinuous and lathy figure in the gay bridegroom of the Duke’s daughter excited the risibility of the house’. Apparently, it wasn’t supposed to. But Mr Henry wasn’t quite from the back row of the chorus. He’d already played little parts that year as George in the farce Second Thoughts in January, the Waiter in The Two Thompsons, in The Busybody (James), The Cherokee Chief (Terembo), The Way to Get Married (Undertaker), Virginus (Marcus). William Tell (Erni), The Pet of the Petticoats (Ensign Bannier) and in the extravaganza Don Giovanni. In fact, I find Mr Henry as far back as June 1832, playing one of the Macgregor’s sons in Rob Roy and singing at the Theatre Royal in November of that year

So, is it possible that both Horncastles did start out as ‘Mr Henry’. Even if George didn’t stay that way for long.

But. A big but. On September 5, 1832, when ‘Mr Henry’ is taking his first steps at Dublin, what do we find at Liverpool? ‘Mr G Horncastle most respectfully announces his Benefit’ featuring Emma Romer, Wilson and a new comedy The Golden Calf...’ Also on the bill is Mrs H Lloyd ‘late Miss Horncastle’. The two feature in the musical drama For England Ho! and a concert. So … is this the Mr and Miss Horncastle ‘late of the Theatre Royal, Bath’, who appear in Leeds in 1829 in Guy Mannering? They stay on and join the company (Lorenzo and Jessica in Merchant of Venice etc) and then goes to the Caledonian, Edinburgh for the seasons of 1829-30 (Edoardo in The Freebooters, Marquis de Ravannes in Les Aubergistes, Arbace in Artaxerxes with Miss as Semira, Don Giovanni in the Scottish premiere of Mozart’s opera with James Horncastle (sic) doubling Masetto and Commendatore and Miss as Elvira, Macheath in Beggar’s Opera, Cinderella, Figaro in The Barber of Seville ‘a good looking young man possessing musical talents more akin to the Italian than the English school’ ‘he seemed to enter into the spirit of the music with all his soul’, and goes on to sing oratorio with Miss Inverarity at Liverpool where he can be seen as Osbaldistone in Rob Roy in September 1831. No chorister, he. And in 1833, we come back together again, when Mr G Horncastle joins the company, under his own name, as apparently ever, in Dublin.

In 1838, George can be seen at the Theatre Royal, Liverpool, in operatic productions with Mr and Mrs Wood, Miss Grant, Mr Martyn, W H Bland and Clement White, and in the same city singing in concert, later in the same year I spot him in Dublin with the Woods (Clari interpolating the famous scena from Il Fanatico per la musica, The Duenna) and with Balfe, singing Caspar in Der Freischütz, and at the beginning of 1839 at Manchester‘s Theatre Royal in Amilie and The Devil’s Bridge. In 1840 he’s Alessio in La Sonnambula with the Grisi touring party, and Whimsiculio with Braham in The Devil’s Bridge at Newcastle, in 1841 I spy him at Hull as Lord Allcash and Dandini in the tour of Miss Delcy and Wilson, and acclaimed ‘the Prince of English buffos’ for his ‘Largo al factotum’ alongside Mrs Waylett and Paul Bedford in July 1842. 
In September 1841, he was summoned to Covent Garden, where after debuting in Sonnambula (‘evidently an old stager and perhaps on the whole the best Lord Allcash we recollect His voice is not powerful but he knows how to make the best use of it and apart from a little too much what is technically called gagging we can find no fault with his performance’, ‘A good face and figure and appears a thorough musician: a baritone not of much strength but pleasing .. an acquisition’),  he would become a fixture as a comic player in opera for the rest of his short life. As ‘Mr G Horncastle’… of Bath, Leeds, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Dublin, Hull and many an etcetera.

Henry had finally made the change, too. For, on 28 August 1837, Henry sailed into New York, on the ship Mediator, under contract to James Wallack. He played, at first, at the National Theatre with Wallack, Vandenhoff and Miss Turpin (Phoebus in Esmeralda, Almaviva in The Two Figaros, Frederick in No Song, No Supper, the Unknown in The Maid of Cashmere, La Sonnambula with Mme Otto and Morley , Cinderella etc), and at the Tremont, Boston, and was much liked: ‘Mr Horncastle is primo tenor. He has a good quality of voice without great power, reads with facility and goes through his solos with ease. His Recitative, ‘Severe the doom’, and the following Cavatina ‘Where find on earth affection sincere’ were worthy of high commendation for parts of the music were difficult of execution, and required a sustained voice through an uncommonly long reading… Messrs Horncastle and Morley are among the most accomplished vocalists of the day’, ‘what will the manager do without Horncastle when Mme Caradori comes to revive La Sonnambula and Cinderella?’
Back in New York, he took a Benefit (10 May) and played the part of Prince Juan opposite Miss Turpin (now Mrs Wallack) in the new musical drama Leila or the Cabalist of Grenada, for which he was also responsible for the musical arrangements. He went on to appear in opera at Niblo’s, and when Jane Shirreff and John Wilson arrived from England, Horncastle was adjoined to their troupe, albeit no longer in a starring position. In La Sonnambula, Wilson was, evidently, Elvino, and Horncastle played Alessio. In Amilie he was Brenner.
He toured around the country with Wilson, and with the operatic company headed by Edward and Anne Seguin. His versatility seems to have been made much use of during the wanderings of a company not always made up of a logical combination of voices, for I spot him billed – as Horncastle -- to play everything from Pompolino to Almaviva and, improbably, Fra Diavolo. When he appeared at the Park Theatre with Caradori Allan (11 July 1839), he was her principal tenor in Cinderella and La Sonnambula – yet he had previously sung the Podesta in La Gazza Ladra and soon after appeared at the Olympic Theatre in a burlesque of La Sonnambula, wittily dubbed The Roof Scrambler (16 December 1839). He himself penned The Cat’s in the Larder, a burlesque on La Gazza ladra (23 December 1840) to music arranged by George Loder, and several other pieces for the American theatres.
He stayed in America through into 1841, performing in all kinds of shows with all kinds of companies, and was still be seen on the boards of Mitchell’s little New York Olympic Theatre in April 1842, when he appeared in The Riquet with the Tuft, Cinderella, the title-role of an extravaganza entitled Boz, another Mephistophiles (music: W Kirby) and a comedy, All’s Fair in Love, all written by himself. 
He seems to have returned from America 22 June 1842, sharing a passage with Mr Manvers and his family on the ship Quebec.

George (‘a gentleman quite appreciated by the Liverpudlians’) had by this time made himself a fixture on the London stage, and played during 1841-3 at Covent Garden in such roles as Oroe in Semiramide, Dermot in The Poor Soldier, Sir Harry in The School for Scandal, Antonio in The Marriage of Figaro, Alessio in La Sonnambula, Count Coincide in The White Cat, Pietro in Masaniello, Dandini in Cinderella, Florestan in Richard Coeur de Lion, in Gustavus III, a Bacchante in Comus, Seyton in Macbeth John Culpepper in the comedy Turf, Matt o’ the Mint in The Beggar’s Opera, Bardolph in The Merry Wives of Windsor, as Allan Bane in The Lady of the Lake and at different times as a replacement for both Adam Leffler and Theodore Giubilei, as well as with Bunn at Drury Lane in more of the same kind of operas and roles, including the that of Don Gasparo in the original English La Favorita, more Cinderella, William Tell and the part of Leontio in The Brides of Venice. In between times, he returned to the provinces, where he had made his fame, in the company of Mrs Waylett, Bedford et al, billed large (Theatre Royal, Hull, 15 July 1842, York, August 1842), and he apparently even joined his brother for a spell at the Grecian Saloon in July 1843.

It was this success which prompted brother Fred into his disastrously supercilious letter to the press, which provoked gales of ridicule from the theatrical press:
‘A weekly publication, professing to be the organ of the musical world has inserted in one of its numbers a letter from a Mr F W Horncastle, who it appears is fearful lest he should be mistaken for Mr George Horncastle, who recently made so successful a debut at Covent Garden. There is, however, we assure him, no cause of alarm, for he must be a noodle indeed who cannot discover the difference between a harsh, horny, and disagreeable tenor, and a pleasing baritone. If this sensitive gentleman, signing himself Frederick William Horncastle, be the same person whom we remember at the Oratorios nearly 20 years ago, he being then not quite a youth, we would submit the propriety of his confining himself to the onerous duties of his sinecure appointment as Gentleman of Her Majesty's Chapel Royal, leaving to his more talented and youthful namesake, and we believe relative, the share of public approbation which he has fairly earned on the stage.’
And that was only the beginning. Fred was taken to bits.

George Horncastle seemed to have a fine career as a comedian and buffo vocalist to come, but later in the year 1844 he died, suddenly, at his bachelor lodgings in Tavistock Street. It seems to have been a recurrence of the erysepalis which he had suffered from two years earlier, the fault of an infected bunion.

If there had been problems and errors over the reporting of which Horncastle was playing where and what since Henry’s return to England and George’s London debut, those problems would be no more. From now on, ‘Mr Horncastle’ was (give or take Frederick’s attempts as an entertainer) all Henry. In November 1842, Henry Horncastle was working back in England, engaged in the operatic company at the Grecian Saloon, headed by John Frazer and including the Messrs Baldwin and MacMahon and the Misses Mary Ann Atkinson, Mary Ann Crisp, Annette Mears, Johnstone and Mrs Young, Reports of productions at the Grecian are not legion, but I notice him playing in the production of The Marriage of Figaro with Miss Crisp, in Ambroise Thomas’s La Double Échelle, mounted there in January 1843, and as late as August 1845 as Felix in The Daughter of the Regiment with Miss Meares,. He also supplied the Grecian with a number of texts throughout the 1840s, including a version of the Auber La Bayadère (Le Dieu et la bayadèrewhich he had played with the Seguins in America, an Auber pasticcio entitled Le Chevalier d’Essone, The Cat’s in the Larder with music by George Loder, which had also done service in America (Mitchell’s Theatre, 23 December 1840), the ballet-opera The Maid of Cashmere, a version of Auber’s Ma Part as Carlo Broschi (20 April 1846), a pantomime Aladdin, and a piece based on the Dickens story of The Infant Phenomenon, which would be repeated, down the years under various titles and in various forms, in other theatres (The Savage and the Maiden, The Crummles).
In 1844, he joined brother George at Drury Lane, and the two appeared together in William Tell with Duprez and Emma Romer. George played the role of Gesler and Henry was Rudolph. Henry also succeeded George Stretton in the role of Devilshoof in The Bohemian Girl, and went on to play Alidoro in Cinderella, The Bride of Lammermoor, Jacquino in Fidelio, Dandie Dinmot in Guy Mannering, Rovedo in Macfarren’s Don Quixote, Amaury in The Crusaders, and Bartolo in The Marriage of Figaro through into 1846.
During the subsequent season at the Surrey Theatre, he played similar roles in the transpontine repertoire, notably succeeding to the role of Pompolino in Cinderella, before returning to Drury Lane for the new season during which his roles included that of Count Saulnier in the Anna Bishop revival of The Maid of Artois, Crespo in Loretta and the enchantress Kalyba in the Lane’s pantomime St George and the Dragon with the Payne family. In 1847 he played two seasons at the Surrey, singing the Marquis in Maritana, Father Joseph in The Forest Maiden and the Moorish Page, Basilio in The Barber of Seville, Devilshoof, the Marquis de Vernon in The Bondman, Peachum in The Beggar’s Opera, the Corporal in The Daughter of the Regiment and Henry Ashton in Lucia di Lammermoor.
Henry Horncastle was now thoroughly established as one of the most useful and usable character singers in Britain – capable of singing a regular baritone role in opera and also capable of the most buffo vocalising and fooling. He was also agreeable to taking on roles of any size, large or small, and played both with distinction and success.
In 1848 he played a season at the Strand Theatre, which included The Daughter of the Regiment and a revival of his The Crummles, and another under the management of Elizabeth Rainforth at Sadler’s Wells (Lord Allcash, Devilshoof, Lubin), he toured with Frazer, Leffler and Rebecca Isaacs (La Sonnambula, Cinderella, The Daughter of the Regiment, The Beggar’s Opera, Love in a Village, The Crummles, and a Jeannette and Jeannot credited to Horncastle and Tully), and came to rest at the Princess’s Theatre where in 1848-9 he was seen as the Seneschal  in Leoline with Halkett Rafter and Charles Braham, as Lubin in Marie, as Khakan in the extravaganza Noureddin and the Fair Persian, in La Sirene, and as Sharpisclaw in Captain Rafter’s operatic version of The Heart of Midlothian.
He played Decosse in Les Huguenots at the Surrey (17 August 1849), toured widely in opera with Sims Reeves and Henry Whitworth, visited Cornwall in a vocal entertainment with George Tedder, and, in 1851, he rejoined Vestris, now at the Lyceum, as a member of the company playing such extravaganzas as King Charming, The Queen of the Frogs and The Prince of Happyland

In the 1850s, the useful and appreciated Mr Horncastle was seen all over.  At the Lyceum, at the Standard Theatre in opera, and on tour with the opera company led by Louisa Pyne and William Harrison. When that tour ended he returned to the Lyceum and to the Strand (‘Mr Horncastle has been added to the troupe, he is a very useful actor and likely to become popular here’) where he was seen in operetta (The Camp, Home Sweet Home) and in burlesques such as Italian Opera and Sambo Damapalus King of Timbuctoo by Act of Parliament in which he played the dame role of Sally Menes, alongside Rebecca Isaacs, ‘in a monster bonnet’. The Strand also remounted his The Crummles for him.

In 1853 he went back on the operatic road with Harrison and Miss Pyne, but when the couple went on with their company to America, he was not with them. He was already there. He had joined the company imported by William Niblo, for Niblo’s Gardens, with Dolores Nau and Alfred St Albyn as stars, and on 20 November he opened with them on Broadway playing the Duke in The Syren.

When the St Albyn/Nau company’s season at Niblo’s ended, however, Horncastle switched his allegiance to the Pyne and Harrison team, and he became a core member of that highly successful company, playing Alidoro in Cinderella, King Charles in Maritana, Devilshoof, Moncenigo in The Daughter of St Mark, Mr Peachum, Frederick Vilcoeur in Rip van Winkle, Sulpice in The Daughter of the Regiment, Count de Campo in The Crown Diamonds and Tête de bois in The Valley of Andorra during their several years in America.

Back in Britain, in August 1858. he went on the road with J H Tully’s company, with whom he took the role of Tristan in the first British performances of Martha, he toured with the Corri companies, returned to Covent Garden to play Floggamoch in the pantomime Bluebeard with the Payne Family, and to play in the Pyne and Harrison production of Le Domino noir (Grumboff), The Crown Diamonds (Campomayor, ‘his performance was more laboured than diverting’) and Son and Stranger.

At the age of sixty he was still touring actively, with both the Corris (who played his latest version of The Crummles, adapted as an afterpiece), with Elliot Galer’s London Grand Opera Company and with the Henry Cooper-Annie Milner company (Bundle in The Waterman). Now, however, he was advertising for ‘for 2nd bass post or md and buffo in a concert room' and, thereafter, he seems to have disappeared from the public eye and, after forty years of active stage life, and what seems to have been a very last appearance with Mrs Pyne Galton at Rochester (October 1864), gone into retirement as an annuitant of the General Theatrical Fund. 
His obituary described him as ‘Musician, actor, composer, author and amateur artist…’, which just about said it all.

Haughty Frederic ended up in the colonies where he died, alone, in an hotel in Botany, aged about sixty.

And now an educated punt. Father William. The ‘Irish actor’. I think not. The theatrical Horncastles of Westminster came from, I believe, more interesting stock. I think father William was the William Horncastle who, with his wife Mary née Squibb, had a bookselling and publishing business at 9 Tichborne St, Haymarket. It was the family trade: for grandfather Samuel Horncastle had, for thirty years run a stationery business in Broad Street, Carnaby Market (ie Golden Square) during which he had dealings with William Blake (and thus gets into all the Blake biogs). At his death in 1792, William took over the business. He is in Tichborne Street until 1813 … and had a son called Samuel ..

And that just leaves the ephemeral ‘Miss Horncastle’. Well, William and Mary had at least two daughters. I thought Eliza Rebecca (b 24 May 1811) had become Mrs David Lane, but oh! Wrong Eliza! Well, I knew Mary Ann (b 1805) had married William Thomas Pettit Newcombe … so who is Mrs Lloyd? Yes, actor Horatio Frederick Lloyd (d 91 Shields Rd, Glasgow, 29 November 1889) married Miss Eliza Horncastle … they had a dozen children … and she died in 1871. Sigh. But there’s always a wrinkle somewhere. 1851. Mrs W Watson, formerly known as the beautiful Miss Henry of Covent Garden Theatre, died 1st [December 1851], in the 45th year of her age, at the residence of her brother Mr H Horncastle… four children’. Yes, there she is singing second to Mary Ann Paton in 1824! Groan! So which Miss Horncastle is she? Back to the drawing board.

Oh, I should say that one of Eliza’s dozen children was christian-named Arthur. As Arthur Lloyd, he would become truly famous as a comedian and comic songster the length and breath of Britain.

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