Friday, May 4, 2018

POUNDS OF PYES, or mea culpa no2

I believe in making up for my mistakes.

This one was pointed out to me by the impeccable Andrew Lamb, who has been compiling some entries for the Dictionary of National Biography. One of them is that of Courtice Pounds.

[1] I have, in my Encyclopaedia of the Musical Theatre got his birth date wrong. Out by a year. He’s right. I don’t know how that happened. It says 1861 in my data base. But the book says 1862. It’s 1861. Please correct, everyone.
[2] I credit him with marriage to D’Oyly Carte bit player, Millicent Pyne. The ‘marriage’ was, in fact, totally de facto, but lasted a while. Pounds was still married to Jessie Wilson, and remained so.

So, Andrew two, me none. But I get one back. Who, anyway, was Millicent Pyne? I know, she was a singer and played with the company … but who was she. Well, here goes.

Millicent was born in 1873, the third child of the Dewsbury post master, William Pye (yes, Pye, no ‘n’) and his wife Ann. The family can be seen at home in Gloucestershire in the 1881 census. But by the 1891 census 17 year old Millicent is in London, living in with music-teacher George Ernest Lake. And soon after she had adopted her stage name and joined the Carte company. 


David Stone covers her career:

'Millicent Pyne began her D'Oyly Carte career at the Savoy, appearing as a chorister in The Vicar of Bray, and briefly as Polly in the companion piece Captain Billy (March-June 1892). She then left the D'Oyly Carte for a spell, appearing as Deborah Meerschaum in a Christmas entertainment, The Pied Piper of Hamelin at the Comedy Theatre, December 1893-February 1894. She shortly after rejoined the D'Oyly Carte organization and travelled to America where she appeared as Princess Kalyba with D'Oyly Carte's American Utopia Limited Company in New York and Boston from March until June 1894. After a few weeks in which she probably sang with D'Oyly Carte Opera Company "E" (June-July 1894), she and several others from that Company helped launch D'Oyly Carte Opera Company "A" in July for a tour of Utopia in England and Scotland. Miss Pyne was again Kalyba on the tour, though she also filled in briefly for Marian Grey as Princess Zara in October of that year. When Company "A" disbanded in December 1894, she transferred to D'Oyly Carte Opera Company "D." Over the next eleven months she played Kalyba in Utopia (December 1894-October 1895), Bianca in Mirette (December 1894-June 1895), Juanita in The Chieftain (February-August 1895), Lady Psyche in Princess Ida (September-October 1895), and perhaps a small part in The Vicar of Bray.

There’s a bit missing in there, though. In November 1895 Mr Courtice Pounds visited Australia. The shipping registers show that his companion on the trip was Miss Millicent Pyne.

Millicent, interestingly, shows up in another ship list: the voyage to and from America the following year. Oddly enough, the company list includes an Edith Pyne, which threw me for a bit. But Edith was a real Pyne from Haverstock Hill and no relation. But that ship list allows us to see the personnel of the company. There are a number of names I recognise: John J Braham and Charley ‘Arris of course, Frank Boor, Frank Danby, Richard and Emie Weathersby, Ivy Hertzog, Buchanan Wake, John Coates, Isabel Reddick, W A Peterkin, George Paulton, John Poskett, Edith Quarry … but a whole heap that I don’t: John and Mary Rose, John and Mary Hannan, Frank Crimp, Louis Steadman, Frank Morrison, Avon Hastings, William Morgan, Alfred Gates, Alfred Bourne, John Raff, George Farrow, Louis Walker, Charles Thornton, Henry Patterson, Maisie Turner, Madge Griffiths, Margaret Arnold, Ida and Eva Florence, Agnes Goode (found!), Maggie Hogan, Bessie Graves … and the list goes on!

Millicent never married. She settled down at 34 Pembridge Villas, Notting Hill, for much of her long life. She died at 104 Aldwick Road, Bognor Regis on 5 October 1965 aged 92.

Now please. That took me 90 minutes to sort out. So will the family historians who equate Millicent with some lady from Barnsley please fix their family tree, and … well, am I responsible for the canard that she and Pounds married? If I am, sorry, but we got there in the end.

**Agnes Caroline GOODE b Enstone, Oxfordshire 6 December 1863  one of 7 children of Charles W Goode, inventor. married Ernest Tyrwhitt Drake (farmer)
Died 24 April 1941 London. 


ss said...

Dear Kurt, you say above that Courtice Pounds' wife's name was "Jessie Wilson," but other sources say "Jessie Louise Murray" (stage names Jessie Gaston, then Jessie Pounds).

Is it just a typo?



Hi Sam. The 'Murray' brothers were stagenamed 'Murray'. There real name was Wilson.

MURRAY, Edward [WILSON, Edward Smith] (b 35 Lower Belgrave Place, Pimlico x 9 October 1829; d 43 Euston Rd 9 August 1878)


That's "their". I can send you the Edward article if you like. Its one of the 1000.

ss said...

Thanks! I'd love to see even a very short a Jessie Pounds article. I don't think I need Edward Wilson.