Saturday, April 11, 2020

A heavyweight load of ... guess what, Cartesians!

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Yesterday, I finished my Cartesians for the day a little earlier than usual. I didn't want to start a new bundle just yet, and ... well, where was I going to 'wander' in my choice for my next customer. So, I had the idea of following up some of the singers in the years after they left the company ... not just any ones, but the ones that advertised themselves as having been part of the Carte organisation. Funny idea, but the results were interesting.

So, who tagged the phrase 'late of D'Oyly Carte's company' on to their name. Obviously some who considered their time with the management their best reference. So, very largely, not the important and most capable members of the company, except when, like poor Ethel McAlpine, they had tumbled from the heights to singing in variety in downmarket venues. Of course, sometimes the epithet was tacked on to an artist's name by the press or a manager ... I'm sure folk such as Albert James, Rose Hervey, Flora Macdonald, Annie Bernard, Kate Lovell, H M Imano, Millie Vere, Allen Morris, Herbert Marchmont, Giulia Warwick, Aida Jenoure or John Wilkinson didn't need to be explained. But the management of places such as the Gaiety Theatre, Hastings or the the Café Chantant on the Clarence Pier, Southsea thought they did.

Anyway, here is the little list of artists -- verifiably Cartesians (I checked each one with the G&S archive) -- whom I turned up: Marie Strachane, Charles Conyers, Charles M Blythe, Charles Butler (and Dora Bernard), Laura [Heron] Maxwell, Maude Rod(e)rick, Ethel Savery, Muriel Chester, Ethel Wallace, Waldeck Hall, W H Montgomery, Patrick Hayes, Effie Mason, Florence Morrison and Charles Fisher,  Ella Maud Haigh, Kate Toole, John A Muir, Constance Arnott, Edmund Lee, David James jr.

Tessie Hamilton, Jessitta Arnelli, Edwin Pownall, Jessie Douglas are not in the archive, neither are Margaret Boyle, Norah Doyle, Frances Roma or E Gertrude Gerrard (*found, spelled wrongly), so they may have changed name (oy! Jessitta!) or simply fibbed. And the considerable Grace Armytage? She had no need to claim a dubious connection! Publicity manager's tricks?

Anyhow, the verifiable list gave me plenty to work on. Kate Toole I'd already sussed, Conyers, Blythe and Hayes I knew from my 'Victorian vocalists' research, the wretched Effie Mason I first bumped into 40 years ago, and Miss Waldeck Hall, well that's an operatic name once heard, never forgotten ... So let's get them quickly out of the way.

Kate TOOLE (b c1859; d Southwark 1 March 1903) called herself Mabel LEVISON for her stint with Carte. She played with Richard South's La Fille de tambour-major company before her time in the Carte chorus and later crossed the Atlantic to play with one of Mike Leavitt's companies. In 1888 she took to the music halls with a fine degree of success, singing and playing in sketches, for some thirteen years before he succumbed to chronic alcoholism at the age of 44.

Charles [Hodgson] CONYERS [HODGSON, Charles James] (b Paddington 1861; d Hampstead 19 November 1896) was born, the son of Yorkshireman Francis Conyers and his wife Emma née Olley, in Paddington. Possessed of 'a light tenor voice of pleasing quality ... clear elocution ... refinement and expression' he went on the musical stage as a chorister, under his given name, with the D'Oyly Carte companies. However, he became a leading man at a young age and he would maintain that place for a dozen years. I first see him touring for H S Dacre as Valentin in Olivette (1883) and playing the King of Hearts in pantomime at Brighton.


The following year, he rejoined D'Oyly Carte playing the tenor roles in The Mikado, The Sorcerer, The Pirates of Penzance et al and Grosvenor in Patience for a season, following up with two tours in the comic opera Glamour, in Indiana with Kate Santley, and as Captain Temple in Gipsy Gabriel, before rejoining Carte for another stint, playing Fairfax and Marco. He toured in Agnes Huntington's role of Wilfrid in Marjorie, and entered the West End as leading man in Miss Decima at the Criterion Theatre (1891-2). His next West End efforts were less durable: The Baroness, His Highness and Frasquita were quickly gone, before he joined Florence St John to play La Mascotte and Madame Favart. His singing was, as ever, roundly praised, but not for the first time his stage presence was criticised as 'effeminate'. During 1894, Conyers took to the concert platform: I see him performing The Ancient Mariner at Bath, playing in numerous Benefits, and 9 May 1895, presenting his own recital at Queen's Hall ('Waft her angels', Freischütz aria, 'Annabelle Lee'). He returned to the stage in The Bric-à-brac Will (1895), but it would be his last hurrah. In 1896, he fell victim to typhoid and died, after a week's illness, at the age of 35.
Conyers married Agnes Fry (22 April 1884) and fathered three children: Charles Harold (19 January 1885-1905), Agnes Ida (8 June 1886) and Eric Cater Conyers (22 March 1896-1983). Agnes married Captain Ernest Arthur Bridges who became Commodore of the Royal Mail Line fleet, and was knighted in the same gongfest in which Mr Lloyd George 'accepted' an Earldom. Lady Bridges died, wealthy, 10 December 1980.

Charles Mallett BLYTHE (b Bermondsey c1828; d Newton Abbott 27 March 1886) defies my identification searches. He worked as Mellett Blythe, plain Mr Blythe and, finally, C M Blythe; he died as Charles Mallett Blythe; he never married, and the only Census in which I can find him is 1881. So where is he, and as what, in the others? Puzzle.
My first sighting of him as a singer is 22 March 1858, at Charles Lowick's modest concert where he, nevertheless, sang alongside two known basses: Tom Bartleman and Thedore Distin. In 1859, I see him at the Rye Harmonic Society ('Men of Merry England', 'The Slave's Dream', 'My Old Friend John') and the Southampton Tavern and Concert Hall, and I suppose it is he in 1863 in concert in Barking and pantomime at the Britannia. By 1865, however, he was under way, singing baritone roles with Henry Lewens' company. He went on to join Henri Corri's troupe (1868), HenryHaigh's troupe (1871), the not very grand company run by Henry Walsham (1874-6), before finally coming peacefully to rest with Carte and HMS Pinafore (Bob Beckett). He remained with the company for some 6 years, until his death.

Patrick HAYES (b Dublin c1846) is a maybe Cartesian. In the 1881 census he is visible in Holland Park Terrace with his wife Ellen O'Connell and three Irish children. Only the last was born in England, so I guess he is freshly emigrated. Hayes worked as a chorister and small part player with the Carl Rosa Company (1891, Dancairo to the Carmen of Marie Roze) but seemingly in the 1880s he spent time with Carte, for in an 1892 concert at Swansea he is labelled as being 'of the D'Oyly Carte and Carl Rosa'. By 1901, he, wife and 4 daughters and one son are in Kensington 'living on his own means'. By 1911 he is 'retired stockbroker'!

Anyhow, Mr Hayes and/or Mr P Hayes turns up regularly over the years. I see him as an amateur singing at Leslie Crotty's 1875 Dublin concert, but by 1878 he is singing at the Albert Hall in the St Patrick's Day concert, 1879 I see him both in Dublin with Barton McGuckin, and England with Helen D'Alton, 1881 as vocalist in the Crystal Palace Concerts and at Steinway Hall before joining the Carl Rosa. When the company played at Her Majesty's Theatre, he was Don Jose to Georgina Burns's Maritana and the Lazarillo of Lillian La Rue. I see him as principal baritone with the modest Walsham company, and 1889-90 with Ilma Norina (Don Jose again, Ferrando, Mephistopheles, Devilshoof, Olivette, Herne the Hunter in The Rose of Windsor &c), but in 1891 he joined the Roze/Rosa Carmen company. I see him in 1894 singing 'A Famous man was Robin Hood' as Major Galbraith in Rob Roy and in 1895 giving his Devilshoof  in London's autumn opera season, after which I guess he went off to broke stocks. He may be the Patrick Hayes who died in London in 1920.

So is he the Mr Hayes of the D'Oyly Carte in the 1880s? He's nowhere else to be seen at the fatidic time in 1884 and 1887. And the role of Arac seems dead right for our man ..  To be proven.

Effie MASON (? b 4 March 1870). Yes. Well, Miss Mason was Little Buttercup in the children's production of HMS Pinafore (1879-81).  Dubbed 'a precocious little thing, who artistically follow in the wake of her seniors' she stole the show as it toured the country. At Christmas 1881 she played a part with a song ('St Patrick's Day Parade') in the Sanger's pantomime, in 1882 was at the Aquarium singing 'The Death of Nelson' and 'The Midshipmite', dressed as a middy, before being cast as the child, Hans, in Rip van Winkle. She returned, in 1883, to the halls (Trocadero, Metropolitan, South London, provines &c 'Dream Faces'), inevitably referred to as 'Little Buttercup' in the notices. When she was engaged, now aged 14, in variety she was billed as 'Little Buttercup' and sang the song. That was also her reference when she was hired as principal boy, alongside Ethel Pierson,  for the Leeds panto, Bo Peep. She retured to the Carte fold in 1885, to tour as Pitti Sing for an extended period through 1886 and into 1887, but a few months after the end of the tour, Miss Mason (or her mother on her behalf) published a letter in The Era, claiming to be penniless and jobless and effectively blaming Carte for not giving her another job. Carte and Gilbert promptly sent money, and Carte offered her a chorus job which she indignantly turned down ... Another management offered her a job at five pounds (with mother) a week, to play Tina and Mrs Hatzell in My Sweetheart, she wanted six. The fuss succeeded in advertising her 'availability' (as it was no doubt intended to) and she got a principal boy job in the pantomimes at the Birmingham Grand Little Red Riding Hood (Prince Prettypet) and Abdallah in The Forty Thieves (the cast included Ella Maud Haigh). But 'Little Buttercup' was little no more. Effie was just another jobbing performer. I spot her in 1897 in a small combination playing Little Cinderella (Tofferini), in 1898 playing the title-role in an entertainment called The Swiss Girl, and then in My Sweetheart. Mrs H was played by one Hilda Clyde. Mother? The company was a very shoestring one: I doubt if she got her 6 quid! And that's it. I see in 1904 an Effie Mason in the chorus of an amateur production of Dorothy at Grantham ...


Juvenile success does not guarantee a career, especially when you have a 'stage mother'.

Miss Waldeck HALL. I'm not at all certain of this lady's identity. I needed to find her in a census to know whether she came from Walsall. Because a lady named Annie Waldock Hall was born there around 1870, which could fit. She became Mrs Frederick Edward Fellowes Bailey, and died in 1961. But Mrs Bailey shows up in the censi and is always just a wife .. so ... And, besides, a very old, very learned book (British Musical Theatre by me) tells me Miss Hall's first name was Kate. I wonder where I exhumed that ...

Anyway, Miss Waldeck Hall turns up first at Bath in December 1888, singing the contralto part in Bridge's Callirhoe, then in the Crystal Palace concerts, the St Andrew's Hall proms in Glasgow, the Holborn proms .. In 1890, she joined Carte, featuring as the Duchess of Plaza Toro. She moved on to take over the part of Ultrice in The Mountebanks from chevronned contralto, Jenny Dickerson (1892-3), appeared at the Court Theatre in Jakobowski's The Venetian Singer, in Islington as the Queen of England in Jaunty Jane Shore, and then joined the Turner Opera Company. With them she played Lazarillo, the Gipsy Queen, the Marchioness in La Fille du régiment, Lisa in La Sonnambula et al through 1894-5. Thereafter she retrenched into variety and pantomime, and my last sighting of her is in 1902 at Llandudno, singing alongside Amy Sherwin. So I guess she's not the Kate Sherbrook née Waldeck from Hatfield ... sigh.

POSTSCRIPTUM. Found!!! Not by me, by Jeff Clarke and David Stone. Emma Rushton HALL. Not Kate. The younger sister of Annie from Walsall. So I got really close. Born Lichfield (they moved from Walsall between daughters) 1867. Christened 6 October. In 1891 she doesn't say she's a singer. 'Living on own means'. 1911: married, 44, living with mother in Lichfield, and vocalist has been heavily scored out. Husband: Robert Bates Maddison, son Gerald Bates Richard Maddison (b 6 August 1901, m Frances J Bruce, d 1941). Died Fairfield, Berwick Road, Shrewsbury 29 October 1935. Survived by husband, now 'hotel proprietor'. Probate ... over 44,000 pounds!


Ah! I see a concert by the Carte company in 1889. 'Miss R Waldeck' singing the top line in 'Strange Adventure' and 'Brightly Dawns Our Wedding Day'. The top line? Hmmm. Well, let's check.
Census 1891. [Ada Margaret Rebecca ka] Rose VON WALDECK (b Middlesex 1870, vocalist) daughter of Herr von Waldeck professor of music from Stuttgart ... in the 1871 census (Rose, 11 months old) father is [John] Frederick, mother Elsie or Elise Wilhelmina, children James, Maria, Charles ... The Archive says she lived until the age of 103 in 1973. More checking coming up. Well, the only folk who died aged 103 in Mayish 1973 were Dora Campion, Rachel Mills, Mithibai Ebrahim Premji (approx) and Emma Lizzie Rood, none of whom were born in April 1870. And maybe Rose Bronson in Cheshire (dob unknown). That's she! Ada Margaret Rose BRONSON died Hilston House, Green Walk, Bowdon, Cheshire 2 May 1973. Left 462L ...

Rose (by any other name)
Oh gosh! What's this. 1881 census. Blackburn. Amélie André, Alice Hodson, Christine Smellie, Edward S Collett, Amy Stothard, Caroline Brooks, Jessie Molt, Eugenie André and Marie von Waldeck 20, singers ... what is this? See earlier blog: it is Professor André's temperance choir! Rose's eldest sister Marie Elizabeth, I think!  Enough.

Now the less familiar (to me) ones. Ethel [Maud] SAVERY (b Hastings 1868; d 22 York Street, Baker Street 28 July 1915) daughter of William Savery, solicitor, and his wife Louisa. First spotted as a concert pianist in her teens, in which capacity she played at the Crystal Palace and Her Majesty's Theatre proms. One notice credited her with study at the Leipzig Conservatoire, and yes! here she is in 1887 booked for the Baden Baden concerts, playing at the Brighton Dome (October 21 and 28), giving a concert at Hastings (12 October) ...
She renounced the piano after the juvenil/teenage stage and switched to singing, playing the Slave of the Lamp in the 1889 Brighton panto, before joining The Gondoliers tour as second understudy to Gianetta (1890). When she got to play the role, the Hastings press jubilated. According to her advertisements, she also took a turn at Fiametta, Casilda and Kate In The Yeomen of the Guard. In 1891 she moved on to play Phyllis and Lady Betty in Redfarn's Dorothy tour, alongside W H Montgomery, and after a carefully chronicled 'illness' joined W H Lingard's company playing Fraisette in The Old Guard, Edwige in Falka and Zélie in Fauvette. In 1892 she married William Henry Ponsford, gave birth to sons Frank Henry Savery Ponsford and Guy Gooch Ponsford (her husband was grandson to a Sir Daniel Gooch) and five years pass before I see her again on the stage. After singing on Hastins Pier, she joined the Gentleman Joe tour, as Mrs Ralli Carr, played 1898 panto as principal boy at Penzance .. It was suggested she had visited America thereafter, and there was talk of her playing Cora Angelique in The Belle of New York, but 6 year-old Guy died and she seems to have left the stage.
She died in 1915, in London, and her remaining son, Frank, in the war (3 October 1917).

Margaret [Hermia] BULL (b Bournemouth 1878; ?d Pontypool 1927) was born in Bournemouth, the daughter of Henry Bull and his Scots wife Margaret Ann née Beard. In 1881, mother, widowed already, is running a china and glass shop. She appears in the 1901 census, with the Carte troupe in Bury (in the company of Julia Willis, Samuel George Anderson and his wife Amelia née Swallow), and apparently played with them (off and on?) for several years. She is 'late of the D'Oyly Carte' when assisting amateurs as Gianetta in Lymington in 1905. The G&S Archive tells us that she later returned to the organisation as a wardrobe mistress, and indeed she can be spied in the 1911 census ('aged 30') sharing her Hammersmith home with an Anne Harrison, 21, who, like Margaret, proclaims her adhesion to the D'Oyly Carte regime in large letters. The Archive also tells us that she married James William Turnbull (d 1925) of the company. Not in England she didn't. And if he's the one that died in Hartlepool, he was married to someone else. I thought 'Hermia' would make it easy, but I think she dropped it ... my Pontypool death date is a bit of a punt.


Right, two with one blow, this time. Charles FISHER and his wife, Florence Jane née MORRISON. 'Charles Fisher' is a forgettable name. It must be, because I see now that I must have passed it and him many times over the last forty years. And I don't remember him. So I started again from scratch.
Charles [FISHER, Isaiah] (b Wolverhampton 1862) was one of the seven children of another Isaiah, a pubkeeper from Compton, Staffs, and his wife Emma née Seagar, and he was a 'primo tenore'. That's what he advertised. Well, it differentiated him from the celebrated Charles Fisher of Augustin Daly's company and one or two others, who didn't sing. Yes, once again, as with the Miss M Marsdens, I presuming (since they don't coincide) that singing Charleses are our man and the rest are not. In 1889, he and Florence [MORRISON, Florence Jane] (b 8 August 1863; d 1945) took an advertisement in search of work. In it he claimed to have played La Sonnambula, Faust, The Lily of Killarney, The Bohemian Girl, Il Trovatore ... she claimed Manteaux noirs, Erminie, Olivette, La Mascotte, Les Cloches de Corneville ... and they both claimed a handful of the Savoy Operas. Which is as good as saying they had worked for Carte. I checked with the Archive and, yes, there they shyly were' he credited with depping as Richard Dauntless on tour in 1887, she with Ruth in the same piece. So I thought I ought to check them out back further and forward ...
My first credit for them is 1885, but they were married in 1885 (Chorlton 23 November) so I guess they may have met in that first job. The 1885 credit is actually in London. Charles was cast as Fritz in  the musical Dr D, alongside Emily Cross and Ethel Pierson, and Florence played in the forepiece. When Dr D folded in 24 perfromances, they went on the road in the J A Arnold Rip van Winkle company. I don't know when they joined Carte (C Fisher seems to pop up briefly in 1884!). They are only visible when he plays Dauntless. But they didn't stay very long, for soon he was advertsing (which he did a lot) 'primo tenore William Hamilton's diorama', and by January 1888 'late of the Turner Opera Company'. She's been playing Fairy Queen in panto at Bradford. I see him briefly playing in The Bohemian Girl and Maritana, but then they vanish for a year. Where to? China, India and Japan.
Back in Britain, they joined Redfearn and Rousbys Dorothy company as Dorothy and Wilder ('eminently satisfactory'), and Charles did a tour with Valentine Smith's company. Since Marmaduke Smith was a very fulsome tenor, Charles doubtless got the tenorious left-overs and the occasional understudy. And this is where that ad comes in. Well, who knows what they played in India ...?

In 1890 he was a member of John O'Connor's touring opera (lead tenor: Ben Davies), and in 1891 he joned the Carl Rosa for their Marie Roze Carmen tour. Durward Lely was Jose, but Fisher played Remendado, as well as Florestein in The Bohemian Girl, Jerome in Fadette and Laertes in Mignon.
Over the years which followed I see him playing tenor leads in tours of The Sultan of Mocha, La Fille de Madame Angot, Dorothy, Fun on the Bristol, Miss Decima, Maid Marion and Morocco Bound. I suspect Florence may have been along too, but she is only occasionally mentioned.
In 1895 he launched a company of his own with a Dorothy rip-off entitled Dorcas. He and Florence played the leads, and Dorcas proved a decided success. It would tour for many years, but the Fishers had moved on. Mr Fisher took a turn in the better music halls, before launching another production: the warhorse My Sweetheart. He, naturally, was the leading man, and interpolated the old favourite 'My Sweetheart when a boy'. At Christmas, he seems to have played Blue Peter in Back Eyed Susan for William Terriss, at the Adelphi, but come the new year the couple were off on their travels again. South Africa, this time, where Florence could come into her own as the two of them played pieces such as Fun on the Bristol, The French Maid, Bonnie Boy Blue and La Mascotte.
Back home, in 1898, they toured for Horace Lingard in a piece called The Chorus Girl (Florence was she) and, seemingly, a short-lived My Brother's Sister, after which Charles took in a few concerts (Crystal Palace, Lowestoft)  and music halls, as well as occasionally shoving My Sweetheart back on stage. In 1900 he toured as Verrado in El Capitan, and rewrote My Sweetheart 



By now, it seems, at forty, he was more a baritone than a tenor, but he tried one more provincial musical, The Fisher Girl. And one more production. 'The Charles Fisher Miniature Opera Co'. Miniature merely meant a selection from the show, with a cast of three. He was Thaddeus, and his Arnheim was no less that former star vocalist 'Frank Celli'. The act played music halls round the country .. I see it as late as 1908 as 'the Pocket Opera Co' ... after which Isaiah Fisher folded his tent and ..  In the 1901 census at 14 Draper Street, the Fishers had declared that the were 'wardrobe dealers' ie a second-hand clothes shop. Son Arthur Gibson Langley Fisher (d 1 March 1950) was a 15 year-old 'electrical engineer'. In 1911 Charles is again saying 'professional vocalist', Florence is 'shopkeeper', Arthur is 'motor mechanic'.

Sadly, I don't know when Isaiah Fisher bowed out. As so often, I have found the wife, the son ... but no Punch. But he'd had a pretty good career.

One more, then I'll call it a pretty big day.

Muriel CHESTER [COLLINGS, Kate Augusta] (b Millbrook, Cornwall x 23 October 1870; d 1936) was the daughter of mason and builder Samuel Collings and wife Celia Ann.  I see her in Southsea in 1894 in a concert (with Robert Fairbanks DOC) and she seems to have gone on the stage around 1898 when I see her touring as O Mimosa San in The Geisha with 'exquisite taste and expression'. She joined the Carte touring company to play Aloes in The Lucky Star, then returned to Morell and Mouillot for more Geisha (1899-90). Mr H Lytton played in the supporting Christmas matinees of Alice in Wonderland. She returned to Carte for his South African tour of 1902-3, then took up the ingenue role of Alice Coverdale in My Lady Molly, alongside Manfred Russell and W H Powell for a tour in 1903-4. In 1904, she married Tavistock solicitor Ernest James Hamilton Bridgman and left the stage. But I see Mrs Bridgman in concert at Great Waltham ... 'of the D'Oyly Carte' ...


Well, I said one more, but I've prepared just one more, so lets tack him on!

The G&S archive lists 'Mr E Lee' as a company member during the Continental Tour of 1886-7. I have found a Mr Edmund LEE who in 1890 claims 'late of ...', so I guess that is he.  Mr Lee was from Ireland, from Armagh so they said when he appeared in concert in Portadown in 1884. After his Carte experience he returned to Ireland where I spot him at Lurgan, Richill, Dromore, Newtownbreda, St George's Hall Belfast in variety, Ballynafergh, Carrickfergus, Castlewellan and the Ulster Hall, where his comic songs becme particularly popular ('Not a return', 'You Have it', 'Thou of my thou', 'I have to'. I see him in the Belfast Saturday Night concerts in 1896-7, after which he escapes me. An Irish researcher would doubtless do better, but at least he now has a christian name.

And now it's Sunday teatime. The fire is blazing, the kitties are snoozing ... I may tackle the leftovers (ten of 'em) this evening. Although I think How to Tame Your Dragon is the Easter special ...




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