Thursday, April 9, 2020

Cartesians: All sorts of wandering discoveries.

Well, you can't expect to score rows of bullseyes all the time. And today and yesterday have been a teensy bit mundane. But nevertheless, I have exhumed some bits and pieces to add to, and clarify, the details on a few more minor and even not so minor folk from the ranks of the C91th Carte companies who caught my attention. So here you are.

Pattie KEATE [KEATE, Martha] (b Bristol 1849) spent several years with the organisation, playing roles from Lady Angela to Katisha, during more than twenty years as a vocalist, amateur and professional. She was born in Clifton, the last of the half-dozen children of cordwainer John Keate and his wife Mary Ann née Richards, and took to singing in public in the late 1860s. I see her in concert at Chipping Sodbury in 1869, and in Bristol and environs in the early 'seventies. At 22, she married a fellow amateur singer, John Richardson Clements, as young and foolish as she. Clements ran the City Arms Hotel in Bristol, and the two of them continued their concertising. But in 1878, Pattie decided to play the vocalist card for what it was worth, and she went to London and enrolled in Lansdowne Cottell's academy. She won a number of engagements: the Scottish Corporation Festival with Annie Sinclair, the Brixton Choral Society (Last Judgement) with Clara Suter, Laura Clement, Charles Abercrombie and Henry Pope, the Crystal Palace concerts ... and she was still c/o the City Arms Hotel in advertisements. In 1879 she was back home and singing (May) 'O rest in the Lord' and 'Darby and Joan' at Colston Hall, while Clements gave 'Waiting' and 'The Blue Alsatian Mountains' to the Licensed Victuallers. And then it all fell apart. The hotel, the marriage ... in the census of 1881, Clements is calling himself 'widower', and Pattie is off on the road with Frederic Archer's opera company, with J W Turner, singing Fiametta to Kate Santley's La Mascotte, and then Lady Angela for D'Oyly Carte. After a tour of Polly and a brief stay in the company at Violet Melnotte's Avenue Theatre, she rejoined Carte, as understudy to Elsie Cameron through 1886-7. After that, I see her only in the Manchester pantomime of 1891, but a curious item has popped up on the www: a piece of music ('The Clock on the Stairs') by Marco Enrico Bossi dedicated to 'very gentle Madame Pattie Keate'. Now, what is that all about?
Pattie was calling herself by her birthname up to 1891, but I can't find her inthe censi of 1881 or 1891. Nor can I find her after that date. So what is that all about? I can't find Clements either ...  to be continued.

Dorothy VANE [MacKENZIE, Gertrude Amy] (b Dunmow, Essex 12 April 1870; d 19 Troy Court, Kensington 4 March 1947) is a very different slice of cake. The daughter of John George Mackenzie, lawyer, and his wife, Julia (née Brackett), she went on the stage in her teens. My first sighting of her is in the Faust-up-to-date touring company with Teddy Payne, Alice Barnett and Amy Augarde in 1890. She joined the Carte organisation in 1891 and played principal roles therein, in Britain and South Africa, including a stint at the Savoy Theatre as Dorcas in Haddon Hall and Jane Annie in the piece of that name, until 1898. 

In that year, she voyaged to Australia under a two-year contract to J C Williamson and George Musgrove) to play with his comic opera company (The Gondoliers, The Geisha, La Poupée &c). 

She became hugely popular and newspaper-worthy, especially when she allegedly announced that at the end of her contract she would be going into a nunnery. She didn't, of course, she got married, instead, to Norman Hay Menzies (b 11 December 1866; d 17 May 1927) of Menzies' Hotel and went to live at Blair Athol, Brighton, Victoria, and 10 September 1904 gave birth to a son, Archibald Norman Menzies. She still continued to make the Australian press pages, and in 1914 she made a return to the stage in some of her old roles, including Iolanthe ... 23 years on. She made her home, latterly, in England, but visited Australia a number of times, spurring the papers into voluminous reminiscences.
You see, unlike Pattie, a clearly documented life and career ...

Maud [Evelyn] ELLICOTT (b Calcutta 11 July 1870; d Weybridge 15 December 1939) was another who played leading roles, but for a much shorter time. Daughter of an Indian army officer, William Ellicott, she joined the Savoy company as a deputy for Nancy McIntosh in Utopia (Ltd), played the title-role in Mirette, and retired to marriage as Mrs Arthur Wellesley Willey (d 1923), solicitor, of Leeds. She outlived her husband, and all of her five children, and died, aged 60, in 1939.

Maud Ellicott

Back to the chorus. How can one not be curious about a chorus lady who claims to be called Marie de Lacy, born in Bavaria in 1851-3?, who played in the Carte chorus, off and on, for twenty years? Well, she stuck doggedly to the de Lacy bit, up to her death at the age of 82, in Holborn, in 1935, and I don't suppose we'll ever know the truth, but I've winkled out something. Marie, whether she had a husband or not, did have two daughters.

'Marie de Lacy'

The elder, Gertrude Ellen dit 'de Lacy' was born in Belfast 25 February 1875. Was mamma on tour? The younger, Valerie Margaret dit 'de Lacy' was, more conveniently, born in Birmingham 11 March 1877. And registered as Valerie Margaret GRANT. Both girls spent time as Cartesian chorines -- I see them, with Mama, heading the Carte ladies cricket team in1893 --  Gertrude the longer, and taking small roles and understudies. Valerie gave birth to a daughter, Vera Cecile Laurie Sutton, 17 September 1898 (I know not who Mr Sutton was) but was back on stage to take a chorus role in San Toy at Daly's Theatre. She understudied Evie Greene in the star role of The Country Girl and Ethel Irving as Lady Bickenhall in Sergeant Brue while playing chorus roles, and in 1906 was cast as Miss Carolina Wilhelmina Amelia Skeggs in the light opera The Vicar of Wakefield. In 1908 she went on the variety stage purveying  'illustrated chorus songs'.
In 1909, she married (as Valerie Sutton) Andrew Patrick Donald, and had three daughters before Lieutenant Donald went to the war, in the Royal Engineers. He died in the military hospital 1 February 1918 aged 41.  Valerie was to have nearly 60 years of widowhood before her death 13 July 1972.

Gertrude didn't marry. In the 1939 census she lists herself as 64 year-old 'film crowd artiste'. And she, like mamma, stuck to the 'de Lacy' up to her impecunious death at Barnet, 26 January 1948.

I got involved in the next pair of ladies, because they annoyed me. Miss Minnie Marsden and Miss Millie Marsden. And no, they are not the same person, and no, those were not their real names. Both of them started out their careers in the theatre under the Carte management in the 1880s, and in the 1890s we get 'Miss M Marsden'. So...?  Well, I think I've sorted out the careers ... one minimal, the other fine ... but, alas, not the identities, in spite of a few hopeful clues.

Miss Minnie, age unknown, played one of the children, Hans (created by Effie Mason), in Rip van Winkle on tour. She was surely an adult, as 'Miss Marsden' had played a chorus role in the town production. Thereafter, she appears to have apeared on the road in The Danites, and to have married, or 'married', a gentleman named 'G Francis'. They shared trade press advertisements in a conjugal fashion, and worked together in 1889, 1895 (The Bells of Hazeldean at Hanley along with little Ethel Francis) and in 1898 (The Plunger at Liverpool), and doubtless in between, and in 1902 the pair of them are members of the Nottingham stock company.

Miss Millie toured with the Carte company on the Continent in 1887. She apparently had a fine singing voice, and thus I presume all the good musical jobs fulfilled by 'Miss M Marsden' are she. They start with Satanella in Cinderella with Fanny Wentworth and Nellie Murray at Bristol (1898), continue with a Cloches de Corneville at the Crystal Palace for William Hogarth, then a trip to America with Agnes Huntindon to play Malaguena in Paul Jones. Back in England, she joined the cast of Little Christopher Columbus, taking over the role of Hannah Slammer (1893-4). However, she now decided to upmarket herself a little and became Millicent MARSDEN. Miss Millicent would have another decade in good principal and leading roles in the touring musical theatre, each job broken off, yearly, to allow her to fulfil her inevitable principal boy in pantomime. I see her playing A Trip to Chinatown, the new Odd Man Out (Lilian Daring, 1897), Fun on the Bristolthe title-role in Little Christopher Columbus, Cora Angelique in Belle of New York through three seasons, more A Trip to Chinatown, Flo in The Lady Slavey and Mrs Crocker in The Prince of Pilsen (1905-6), as well as taking the odd trip to the music-halls, before vanishing.
Now, Miss Millicent advertised. She advertised her address -- 57 Bolsover Rd, until it was razed to make way for the London Orthopaedic Hospital, then 34 Cranbourn(e) Street. She advertised her mother's death: Mary Marsden 18 March 1898. Of course, the British death records don't have a Mary Marsden .. but that is usually enough clue for me. Except the thought of tracking down Bolsover Street in the 1891 census ... when Millie was probably in America ... another day, perhaps.

A whatever happened to one. Poppie Wilkinson [WILKINSON, Constance Adeline Rose] (b Fulham 21 July 1884) was D'Oyly Carte born and bred, the elder daughter of John Wilkinson and his wife Laura Elliston [ALDERTON, Laura Adeline] (1859-1904). She had a brief teenaged career with the Carte company, in London and on the road (she can be seen, with her mother, in Plymouth in the 1901 census), before hurtling into marriage with another child of the theatre, George Arnold Charlton Mudie, son of comic opera players George Mudie and 'Adelaide Newton'. She quickly bore a son, Maxwell George Mudie, started an affair with actor Geoffrey Berwick of The Orchid touring company, was roundly divorced, and married her inamorata ... Mr Berwick seems to have been a minor sort of a player, but I see him in 1909 playing William Gibson in The Catch of the Season for George Dance. Poppie/Poppy/Constance played Naitooma in The Cingalee (1905) and Madam Sophie/Princess in Macdona's tour of The Country Girl (1907-8). Mr Berwick and family headed for Australia in 1911 and he played The Sunshine Girl and Princess Caprice there ... was he subsequently the 'Geoffrey Berwick', really George Dalrymple Nash, of Australian journalism? The G D Nash who, as a teenager, had served with the Rough Riders in South Africa? Did Poppy end up in Yarra Glen ...? Yes! There she is Constance Adeline Rose Nash, daughter Aileen Eva Dalrymple Nash (b 25 October 1908) in Lilydale, Victoria in the 1920s ...  and there they all are in the 1911 census' living with Berwick's father, 'clerk in holy orders' in East Woodhay ...

Poppie and Aileen returned to England in 1926, and I think Poppie died on the Sussex coast in 1927 aged 43. The family historian insist it was 1952, but in 1932 Geoffrey remarried, so I'll stick to my 1927. He died at Chantry House, Slaugham 19 November 1945. Well, I think I now know what happened to Poppie. Son Maxwell ended up in Canada, Aileen (Mrs Lay, Mrs Coles) died 29 June 1997.
Incidentlly, the famile had floral tastes: Poppie's sister Marguerite was known as -- of course -- 'Daisy'.

Rose Estelle [VON HOLTORP, Constance Charlotte Victoria] (b London 3 October 1860; d Santa Cruz, Calif 17 December 1957) was an ephemeral chorister and understudy who married within the company (1884). Her husband was 'J Brandon Phillips' [HOLDEN, Philip John] (1859-1934), to be detailed at another time. Her parents were Hiero Erasmus Augustus von Holtorp, an artist's draughtsman from Poland, and his wife Mary Elizabeth née Holmes, who died shortly after Constance's birth. Constance then became 'Rose' for the short time up to her marriage, and apparently at various stages thereafter.

They had three children, and the family has been meticulously documented with photos on the internet. Here's "Rose' as a matronly mamma (aged 60)

I suppose I should report on my less successful diggings as well. Three with the same surname always arouses interest, so I got into the Wades. Alice, Ethel and Florence. All members of the company in the years between 1900 and 1903. I'm pretty sure I've identified them correctly.

Ethel [Annie] WADE (b Coventry 14 December 1876) and Florence WADE (b Bentley, Warwicks 1874) were seemingly sisters, daughters of Wolverhampton English and music teacher James Cliffe Wade and his wife Amelia née Head. Eldest sister, Mabel, was a violin teacher. I see the family in Bray in 1881, in Burnham-on-Sea in 1891, and in 1901 Ethel is with the Carte Company in Bury, while Florence is at home with mother and Mabel. After her three years with Carte, Ethel went on tour in Charles Macdona's Gay Parisienne company, playing the ingenue, Norah Honeycombe, but then is spied no more. Once again, I suspect South Africa. Florence, if it were she, is listed in 1911 as 'sanitary inpector, Cardiff Corporation'.

Is it she?

Alice WADE is a bit less easily identified. She is listed, with the company, in the 1901 census as being 19 years old. Perhaps the Alice [Elizabeth] Wade, daughter of William A Wade, musician ...  After her Carte days she seems to have gone on the halls, initially with Fred Karno's company (mezzo-soprano and comedienne' 'sweet voice, winning ways'). I see an Alice Wade perfoming a sketch The Tea-Shop Girl in 1906, and playing principal boy in Robinson Crusoe in 1913 ... all a bit 'maybe'ish ...

Frank GLOYNS born Crediton, aged '35' in the 1901 company census at Plymouth, should have been a doddle. But, alas, it must be a rather curious choice of stage name. I spot him only touring with The Lady Slavey in 1894, professing 'late of the D'Oyly Carte' in 1897, and back on team in 1903. Work in progress.

Similarly the much more successful W[illiam] S Laidlaw. Real name? Who knows. I do! (after having finished this article!) A curious and seemingly brief career, a good chunk of it in the West End. After 1890-2 with Carte at the Savoy, where he went on/took over in principal roles such as Giuseppe in The Gondoliers, John Dory in The Vicar of Bray and Punka in The Nautch Girl, he was seen in Dorothy (1893), The Golden Web (Spindle, 1893), as Captain Slammer in Little Christopher Columbus (1894-5) and Ratinet in the botched French piece, Baron Golosh (1895).  Then, however, he turned to the music-halls, where, after a duo with Ella Chapman (she of the Lydia Thompson troupe and the banjo?) which produced a pair of songs, 'He wants some more' and 'She wanted something to play with', taken up by Arthur Roberts for Gentleman Joe, he joined up with the actress-authoress who called herself 'Roma T Roma' (it sounds like a tin of dust-free tea!). Miss Roma played a monologue sketch Him and Her in which her male partner, originally Charles Collette, was a mute comedian. Laidlaw apparenly scored by his 'walk and mannerisms', and the team played major halls for two years. Miss Roma then filmed her sketch for Mutoscope and Bioscope (the joke must have gone out the window with both of them in dumb show) but Laidlaw's part was played by Frank Wood. Presumably the Frank Wood, husband of Katie James, sometime of The Nautch Girl ... And that's the last I can find of W S Laidlaw. It doesn't help not knowing his real name, alas...
Ahha! 1891 census 226 Uxbridge Road: William SMITH, artist vocalist born Stepney 1866, brother Robert Laidlaw Smith, sister Emily Osborne Smith artist vocalist (was she in the Carte too?) ...   by William Laidlaw Smith (1849-1889) out of Emily née Osborne ...  well, it looks as if he just gave up the stage and got a 'proper job'. In the 1901 census he is still single, still at home with mother at 20 Paulton's Square, Chelsea, aged 35 and a what? a 'constructional engineer'!. By 1911 it's just Mamma and the girls (Emily is now 'private nurse'), in Putney, and .. oh dear ... Mamma has 5 children 2 living. William has gone ...

I haven't got a photo of William, but is sister Emily (left) and another sister courtesy of the family, who don't seem to realise great-uncle was a West End actor.

Well, at the last minute I think William Smith Laidlaw (always be wary when they insist on that middle initial) moves from the 'failures' into the successes! In spite of his being a Smith.

Rosa [Alexandra] HUSK (b London 31 March 1863; d Los Angeles 28 January 1913) was, of course, one of the children of the inimitable James Baker HUSK (see elsewhere) of the original Trial by Jury jury. She spent a while in the Carte chorus until she married, in 1883, Irish 'vocalist' 'Alec' ie Patrick Alexander EWING. A quartet of small Ewings followed -- , Jessie Sara (9 October 1884; d 6 September 1944), Mrs Waymire, Mrs Stanhope), George French (b Brighton 21 November 1885; d California 20 February 1968), Charlie Henry (b London 6 November 1887; d Los Angeles 15 December 1930), Rosamund Charlotte (b London 8 June 1890; d Santa Barbara 8 June 1979, Mrs Chew)-- before, in 1904, the couple removed to America. Although Alec is still 'vocalist' on his early children's baptism schedules, they had renounced the theatre by this time -- in 1901 Alec is working as a piano tuner -- and Rosa was being a mother. She died just before her 50th birthday, but Alec/Patrick can be seen, with daughter Jessie, in the 1930 census 'aged 76'. Jessie is a mail clerk. He seems to have died in 1936 'aged 70'.

OK, I've left out the ones on which I have drawn an utter blank. They can join Geraldine St Maur in the 'life-isn't-long-enough' drawer ... But I'm quite pleased, in the end, with the last two days' results. I was going to stop after this post, but ... well ... what would I do instead? Maybe this little feller, who paid us a visit last night, has the idea ...

Footnote: most of the pictures herein are borrowed from David Stone's G&S Archive. Some are amazing finds ... I mean, Marie de Lacy? My own picture collection having been given away to a picture library in New York, I am condemned to rely on the kindness of colleagues. But I do have a few drawers full of 'Victorian vocalists' ...
PS additional photos of the de Lac(e)ys from the David Lovell collection .... staggered I am!

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