Wednesday, March 25, 2020

More Cartesians unveiled: Letter "L"

The gates of Gerolstein are locked. We have settled in for a month of 'self-isolation', courtesy of our dear government and the worldwide Chinese fish virus scare. Well, 'self-isolation' on 35 acres isn't too bad. Over in England, brother John is writing an epic novel in his caravan in the middle of a field, in Berlin the beloved Paulie is composing screeds for musicnotes in his bijou flat in the Humboldtheim ... but they are going into spring. Here it is a decidedly chilly autumn, so this old man is pretty well confined to indoors, to fight his drug un-withdrawal (I'm winning) in the company of two elderly, unwell cats, and the beloved Wendy. So what do I do in all those waking hours? I don't read or listen to music any more, the television provides 52 channels of pure crap ... and anyway, I don't want those passive entertainments, I want to do something that requires thought, something mentally active ... Well, here's the result of the first couple of days 'activity' ...

The other evening, I had call, as one does, to dip into David Stone's G&S archive. Letter "L". Then it was teatime. So, next morning, when I came to my computer, Letter "L" was on the screen. It was cold outside, the fire was going, my woolly cardi was wrapped round my shoulders, my usual early-morning sporting reading was non est, so with my no1 cup of camomile,  I dipped into Letter "L". Lots of folk there about whom nothing is or was known. And I'm quite nifty at this game. In the past I've issued a few blogs demystifying C19th members of the D'Oyly Carte organisation ..

But there are still plenty to go. So ... Letter "L".

Well, I drew some disappointing blanks. Hettis Lund (fl 1885-1901) -- surely Henrietta ?Alice by birth -- but the only one I could find was a dock labourer's wife from Heckmondwike. Minna Louis (fl 1881-1899), a student at the Guildhall under that name, but probably Minna Louis *****. Again, no cigar. G J Lackner (fl 1877-1881). But others were less reticent to my probing.

The first one I went for was 'Arthur Lorraine'. Obviously a stage name. Married to fellow chorine 'Lotti Carlotta'. Even more transparently a stage name. But ... little clues. 8 February 1880 he is listed in the Carte company advertisements as Mr T Lorraine. And in July, in the company cricket team (out for one) alongside poor Nelson Varley (duck). And she is clearly Charlotte something. Marriage 8 April 1880 at Middlesborough, son 6 February 1881 at Torquay .. comb, comb, got 'em! Thomas Arthur PAYNE married Charlotte MOORE ...
'Arthur' was born in St Pancras in the last months of 1851. Who his family were I do not know** (I do now!).  He was nearly 30 when he comes into view as a chorister with Carte. But I imagine he was the Mr A Lorraine, acting manager and chorus/bits (Notary in Barber of Seville) with the Durand Opera between 1875-7, the Mr A Lorraine playing in La Fille de Madame Angot and Geneviève de Brabant with Fanny Harrison (1877). Could it be he doing Harlequin at Sanger's at Christmas 1877? In 1878 he is with the Walsham Opera (Alcade in Maritana). So, by the time he joined Carte he was a thoroughly chevronned operatic chorister. He stayed three years with Carte, then joined the Turner Opera Company (Marquis in Maritana &) for a similar period. And that's my lot. 'Thomas Arthur Payne' died in Wandsworth in 1897. His death record says he was 44. A little more, I think.

Lotti was born in 1853 (Brighton 11 March), one of the daughters of George Moore (tallowchandler/turner/museum custodian) and his wife Caroline née Chate. In the 1871 census, she is working as a (sewing?)-machinist in Kentish Town. Quite when she adopted her curious nom de théâtre and went out as a chorus singer, I do not know, but she is there in the Carte touring lists in 1880. I see she stepped briefly from the chorus to play Kate in The Pirates of Penzance in 1882. She, too, joined the Turner Opera Company and seems to have stayed there after Arthur had retired. My last spotting of her is in 1889. After Arthur's death she went to lived with her elder son, carpenter Arthur Herbert Payne, and took up her old trade of dressmaking. I see her in Hornsey in the 1839 census, and she apparently died in the second quarter of 1941.

While I was on the Lorraines, I thought I had better check out Alice [Mary] Lorraine (1863-1897) wife of two Cartesians, William Owen Jones (d 1890) and subsequently Peter [Thompson] Flucker (b Constantinople c1868; d lunatic asylum Prestwich, 1 October 1920). She turned out to be no connection of Arthur, her maiden name being Alice Emily Mary NORRIS.

Kate Lovell [MEADOWS, Kate Lovell] (b Upper Clapton 1853; d The Lodge, Stoke Abbott Rd, Worthing 12 August 1915) gets but short shrift from the G&S community, as she played only once, in Rip van Winkle for the Carte organisation. But she had a fine career as a player in light opera.

Daughter of solicitor John Osmond Meadows, she set out on a musical career as a serio-comic variety performer (Bynes company 1877) before taking a tiny part in the original London production of Les Cloches de Corneville (1878). She also became regular as Princess in pantomime (Nottingham, York) and was cast in Charles Bernard's The Forty Thieves opposite no less a 'boy' than megastar Emily Soldene. She became a Bernard regular, touring in La Petite Mademoiselle (Jacqueline), Les Cloches de Corneville (Germaine), Billee Taylor (Phoebe) and playing in his pantomime Sinbad, before signing fow two pantomimes at Liverpool, a season at Londons Opera Comique as Psyche in Vulcan and a tour with Soldene as Fiametta to the star's Boccaccio. In 1883 she went out for Carte as Katrina in Rip van Winkle, in 1884 with Lila Clay's ladies company, in 1885 with Alfred Hemming's Carmen burlesque, but quitting Bernard and Soldene proved a bad idea. Her next Boccaccio was with the unritzy company of 'Vivienne Dallas'.
In 1886, 'the favourite artiste from the principal London theatres' took a trip to Australia. She appeared as the Plaintiff in Trial by Jury, then with Edward Farley's company as Serpolette and Wanda, and as Frasquita in Carmen, then in various concert parties before taking a supporting role with the Amy Sherwin Company (Marchioness in Maritana, third maidservant in Martha, Duchess in Le Fille du Régiment, Martha in Faust). She was now billed in concerts as 'the pleasing mezzo-soprano'. When a lightweight production of Little Monte Cristo was staged, she appeared as Mercedes (1888), followed by Camaralzaman (Badoura) and Whittington and his Cat (Alice).
In early 1889, she upped and left for Christchurch, New Zealand, but she was soon on her way back to England. And no work. But she was about to get the biggest headlines and the most international coverage of her life.
Way back in 1875 (15 April) she had married one Nias James Drew. The following year, she bore him twins. And then he skeedaddled. Off to Australia. While in Australia she had poked about and found that he was de facto-ing with a Mrs Hascher, known on the stage as Rose Critchley. So she thought it was time to divorce him. It was a case no different to many another, and Kate was hardly 'celebrated enough' for her affairs to warrant a fuss, but the papers took up the case, with dramatic headlines, and details of the divorce (promptly granted) were spread to hundreds of papers all over England, Australia, New Zealand and probably elsewhere, in places where Kate's name meant nothing.
But she still didn't get work. A panto at Brighton (Fairy Queen now, not principal girl) and a trip to South Africa (1892) with a good burlesque company playing Ruy Blas and the blasé roué (Queen), Little Jack Sheppard (Winifred Wood), Carmen up-to-data (Carmen). And that was more or less the end. For in 1894 (4 August) Kate Drew became the wife of John William Corderoy, mining engineer and the owner of the Streatham Gold Reef, Umtali, Rhodesia ... and in 1897 Nias Drew died in Melbourne.
Kate seems to have lived thereafter in Durban ... but she died back in Worthing. I don't know what had become of Albert, the surviving twin, during all of this, but he went to Durban, too, married there and died there in 1951.

But back to the real Cartesians.

Harry Leffler (b North London 6 January 1864; d Wandsworth 1944) caught my eye, because I'd already spotted him in the 1891 census, in Bradford, seemingly on tour 'actor, married'. Harry was one of twin boys, the sons of Herbert Leffler of Hornsey and his wife Henrietta née Purdie. As far as I know, they were not connected with the famous Leffler family of musicians, and their claim to fame was that Uncle Henry was the sub-manager of the Hull Branch of the Bank of England.
Henry worked, at first, as a solicitor's clerk, but he swtiched to the stage, and in 1890, I see him touring in the Hayden Coffin role of Geoffrey Wilder in an unambitious Dorothy tour. It seems to have been soon after this that he joined the Carte establishment, apparently for over a decade of chorus and small parts. However, in the 1901 census he is again describing himself as 'solicitor's clerk' so his reconversion was clearly under way. Later, Harry made himself a career staging the Savoy repertoire and other comic operas for amateur groups .. from Hunstanton (1902) to Totnes (1938) ... with considerable success. In the 1939 census he describes himself as 'Old Savoyard'. And in the marital status column 'separated'. I think, maybe, for quite a while. His wife had been a little song-and-dance lady, Alice [Jane] Ancliff (b 14 July 1870; d 1940) who appeared in the 1890s in the odd touring chorus (La Poupée, En Route, Sport understudying Cissie Saumarez). Their only child died at the age of thirteen.

Miss L Antoine wasn't exactly and "L" but somehow I got on to her. She was Louise Antoine (1859-1894) daughter of Théophile Joseph Antoine, professor of music, and a chorus girl from her teens. In 1876 I see her touring with Rose Lee in Giroflé-Girofla. She and her sister 'Miss M Antoine' (Mary Elizabeth ANTOINE) are both listed for the 1880 Pinafore tour, but Mary didn't stay long if she actually went. She married Henry Edward Brown of the Ship and Whale Pub, Rotherhithe, and settled down to pouring pints. Louise apparently stayed with Carte, and at the Savoy, through The Mikado and Ruddigore and in 1889 she too married into the public-house system. Harry Farrell Skeate ran a pub at 27/28 Charing Cross. In 1891, sister Mary is barmaid there. Louise, alas, died at the age of 35.

Another ephemeral Cartesian was the lass known as Mabel Levison. Apparently her real name was Kate TOOLE. 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. She died 1 March 1903 in Southwark aged 44.

When I started on contralto chorine Josephine [Marie] Lesage (b Dublin 4 April 1870; d Isle of Wight 1948) I didn't know I was getting into a saga. Born in Dublin to Irishman Auguste Eugene Lesage and his wife Catherine née Tynan, she joined the Carte chorus for what seems to have been her first (and only?) engagement in 1891. It was an engagement, however, which lasted some four years. And led her into a rather more unsatisfactory engagment. In 1892, she married fellow chorister Harry George Tebbutt (b London 1870; d Manhattan 1 February 1936), the less talented of two Tebbutt brothers, sons of Thrapston-born John Tebbutt, compositor, and his wife Ellen. Elder brother Frank Tebbutt (1866-1938) was also a member of the Carte companies in rather more appreciable roles than Harry.  In 1896, Harry and Josephine had a son, which seems to have put an end to her theatrical times. Harry continued and picked up parts in second-string provincial musicals (Captain Lionel Norman in Kitty, Madge Rockingham's In the Day of the Siege, second take-over in The Skirt Dancer) before, in 1901, he went out on tour one more time ... and if he hadn't been adulterising before, he now did. Unfortunately, the woman concerned, Marie Ashton née Douglas, was also married, She was Mrs Munkittrick, otherwise the wife of composer Howard Talbot. So the whole affair was not going to go unnoticed. It didn't. Both Josephine and Munkittrick-Talbot sued for divorce and the cases (1904-5) were foregone conclusions. Harry fled to New York, where he carried a spear in the odd production (Bijou Theatre 1908) and apparently made some sort of life for himself up till his death in 1936. He is buried in the Catholic Actors' Guild Plot at Calvary Cemetery.
Josephine remarried, in 1905, Daniel George Dibble, a publican from Dorking, and had a son, Dan Joe (b 3 December 1906), to add to the son and the daughter born during her first marriage. Daughter [Eileen] Rose (b 26 June 1903), brought up as Dibble, was allegedly a Tebbutt. The widowed Josephine and Dan Joe ('chief storekeeper') can be seen in Norris Castle, Cowes in the 1939 census. Rose has emigrated to Australia where she became Mrs James Henshaw Powell. I don't know what became of Fred (the family historians have the wrong Fred C Dibble).
Ah me! Another pair of Cartesian chorines who married in haste ...

Harry Tebbutt played Frederic in the children's Pirates

Well, I suppose that's better than poor Walter Henry Blizard (1861-1948) an amateur cyclist from Gloucester who turned theatrical. He spent the last part of his life in the Gloucester Lunatic Asylum.

That's enough for today. Maybe I'll try some more tomorrow. It's supposed to rain.

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