Thursday, June 25, 2020

Cartesians: the sad tale of mad Minnie, and the glad tale of twice-wed Taffy

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These Cartesians are getting trickier and trickier ... today's lot hid very successfully, but I managed to squeeze two drops of juice (and a few pips) out of today's lemon ...  they were, nevertheless, good drops! Here's the sum total of my delving rather deeply on this cool, damp, grey and winterish day.

Minnie FREEMAN (b Brighton 1865; d Maidstone, Kent 1946) took longer than she ought to have. But sometimes the little people do. I should have gone immediately for the straightforward name, because that was the name she was christened by. But I got there, after some wasted time.

Minnie was the eldest child of Mr Vincent Paine Freeman and his wife Mary née Moore, of Brighton. Mrs Freeman gave birth to six daughters in a row, so they kept on going. Mr Freeman was in the building trade. In a big way. He was the partner of George Cheesman in the well-known Cheesman construction firm, and declared on the 1881 census that he employed 200 men. So Minnie was brought up in a well-padded builder's cradle. Plenty of servants, fine house. And then she and her pretty soprano voice decided that they wanted to go on the stage ...


She must have been reasonable, as she was cast to play Gianetta in one of the Carte tours of The Gondoliers, for a period (1890). But Minnie made a deadly mistake ... she married ...

Lieutenant Edmund James Peach Warden (b 15 December 1858) of the Somerset Light Infantry and the Madras Corps, was a 34 year-old divorcé. He and his first wife, Catherne née Waddington, daughter of a superior Indian army officer, had lived mostly in India, and had three children. But Warden was a good time boy. He 'had a habit of going about with actresses and travelling theatre companies', he slept with whomsoever he fancied, caught the clap at least once, and when they came back to England, started an affair with a Mrs Violet Sainsbury. Catherine sued for divorce. Mrs Sainsbury was brought in, not as co-repondent, but as a witness, simpered that she was 'a married woman' so therefore not obliged to 'incriminate herself' by admitting serial adultery ... but, finally, after a pause caused by legal technicalities .. Catherine was ridded of him. So, he went out and married (1892) Minnie. They had a daughter, Hylda Minnie Warden (b 6 January 1893; d 20 April 1976, Mrs Harold Hindley) .. before, in 1898, Warden's lifestyle got the better of him, and he died at Kidmore End, Oxon, at the age of 39. 


I don't know what became of Minnie. She is notably unfindable in the 1901 census. But in 1902 the police descended and took little Hylda Minnie in charge, and placed her in the workhouse. I suspect Minnie was either on the game, or the drink, or gone peculiar. Probably, at least, the latter, because a few years later she was carted off to Maidstone Mental Hospital. Mr Warden's syphilis again?

She lived there for nearly forty years, until her death. And proudly filled in her occupation, in the 1939 census, age 74, as 'professional singer'.

Ah, me, there's a telly minidrama in Minnie. Casting La Sainsbury would be fun.

Allen MORRIS (b Denbighshire c May 1854; d Brighton July 1933) took much longer than he should have, and I needed a posthole digger to delve deeply enough to find the answer to his identity. 
Now, when you have a Welshman with the ordinary and widespread moniker of 'Allen Morris' you rather assume that its real, and you just have to sort out from the Welsh records which of the Allen Morris's he is. Not straightforward, for he varied his age by a few years over time. But I tried. No joy. 
So I came at the question sideways (as I do) and I got him! His birth name was John Allen WILLIAMS. Well, I suppose 'Williams' is even more frequent than 'Morris', but it was good for a number of fine Welsh singers, including that adorable creature, Lucy Williams 'the Welsh Nightingale'. Anyway, starting point found. Alas, although his birth was registered under Wrexham, the right Welsh records aren't on line, so (without splashing on a certificate or two) I don't know about his family. He turns up in England, in the 1871 census, working as a coal miner ...

And my next sighting of him is, now 'Allen Morris', playing Grosvenor in Patience with the Carte touring company (1880). My next? He's back to being 'Williams' again, and, yes, another one, getting married (Wolverhampton 1883) to Cartesian chorine Margaret Eliza (ka 'Madge') EVANS. The following year. Madge gave birth to Frederick George Allen Williams (b 9 March 1884; d Brighton 13 October 1958).
Morris played the Beast in Beauty and the Beast at Marlyebone, took a turn with George Roberts's company in My Wife and Beauty and the Beast, and then rejoined Carte (1885-7), replacing James Danvers as The Mikado, and touring the Continent.
After a brief sally in the provincial musical Geraldine, he joined the J W Turner Opera Company, appearing (with a brief break to essay Nanon) as Arnheim, Don Jose, the Sherrif of Nottingham (Macfarren not de Koven), Count Almaviva, Danny Mann et al around England for some three years. 
After ending his re-engagement with Turner, he played briefly as Menaggio in Fun on the Bristol, alongside Constance Bellamy, J T MacMillan and Hilton St Just, before heading for Australia under a twelve-month contract to J C Williamson. 
He made his first appearance in Australia 21 December 1891 in concert with the Melbourne Liedertafel, to delighted notices, and his first on the stage (1 February 1892) as Vincent in La Cigale (starring Marie Halton, and with Charles Ryley DOC as Franz, 'a light, pleasing voice .. nice looking, though slender and not tall'), then as the Mikado, and in other repertoire roles, for precisely one year then headed home.


Things took a while to settle. He played some Dorothy dates as Squire Bantam, he and Miss Bellamy guested in Martha with the Aberdare amateurs, he sang at Blackpool's Indian Lounge, Palace Gardens, and then joined up with the small Gordon Hicks opera troupe. He played in the production of a piece called Mona at Hyde, in the Bradford panto, as Davy Jones and Father Christmas (1893), and in the new year toured as Larivaudière in La Fille de Madame Angot, before he found a role to challenge his Mikado. He would tour, with some short breaks, as Vincent Evelyn, the Tomato Millionaire, in The Lady Slavey for the next ten years. 



I don't know what had happened to Madge, but I see her during Lady Slavey years, playing in the chorus behind her husband, and then ... ? Later,  an 18 year-old chorine who called herself 'Nelly RAYMOND' (BOLSOVER, Ellen b Sheffield 4 August 1883) joined the company. Madge must have gone, for Nelly and the thirty-years-older baritone were married in 1902. Apparently, there was issue but ...

In 1906, Morris swapped his part as the American Tomato King for another leading juvenile man's role, the Frank Abercoed of Florodora, but things were about to come full circle. In 1908, he returned to the D'Oyly Carte organisation, and (details in the G&S archive) there he and Nelly remained until the end of their careers, which I gather was 1923.

His death, in 1933, did not go without notice. The archive makes reference to a detailed obituary in the Gilbert and Sullivan Journal. I wonder if the writer knew that he was dealing with Thomas Allen Williams. And Ellen née Bolsover. 






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