Sunday, April 26, 2020

Cartesians: Brickwalls and birthdates ...

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Yesterday was a frustrating day. I shouldn't have got into George Low's 1894 paysheet for Utopia (Ltd). I ended up swimming in choristers about whom there was little to exhume but births, deaths and marriages, although even there there were one or two surprises. Largely, I got the ones who performed under approximations of their own names, but at least they can be crossed of my 'warrant for the arrest of' list. To wit:

Henry WIGLEY (b Worcester 7 May 1843; d Brighton 22 January 1935) by John Wigley cordwainer ex Sarah, bootbinder. Married Ellen ('Nellie') Cowell of Droitwich. By 1861 he is following his father's trade, in Blockhouse. Some time in the 1870s he spent time in America, and it was there that his daughter, Sarah 'Sadie' Lydia (b Philadephia 30 October 1874; d Hendon 1962) was born. Sadie WIGLEY also spent time with the Carte companies, played a chorus role in The Queen of Brilliants at the Lyceum Theatre (1894), danced in the tour of King Kodak (1895, leading lady Josephine Findlay), a long tour as Musette in Trilby (1895-6) and can be seen dancing Columbine in Puss in Boots at the Garrick (1889-90). On 15 August 1900 she wed John Robert Cobbing (1871-1955) of Brixton Hill.


Strange how an hotelier and a singing chorister become 'gentlemen' on public documents. Anyway, the couple had over half a century of married life, much at the Crown Hotel, Framlingham, and (among four children) a daughter, Sadie Evelyn Sydney (b Framlingham 23 October 1907, Mrs Donald L Fuller) who also went in for dancing. Henry can still be seen chorussing in Monte Carlo at the Avenue Theatre in 1896.

Next, Edward Louis Desiré BISHOP (b Marlborough, Wilts x 18 November 1868; d ??1942). The 6f 3ins Mr Bishop was the son of John Bishop, a customs officer, and his wife Louisa Rosabella née O'Dwyer from Ripon. They moved to Southampton, then to Millbrook ... and apparently he was a member of the Carte chorus from 1890. Anyway, he is on the 1894 paylist. I spot him rarely: at King Edward VI Grammar School, Southampton in 1882-5 (fifth form, second prize mathematics, chemistry, electrcity, magnetism .. Cambridge Entrance) ... I don't know when he dumped a savant chemical career in favour of one as a chorusboy, but hereafter I see him mainly in Cartesian cricket teams in the 90s, and, in 1899, as 'Cancan a citizen' in The Lucky Star. However, he did make the faits divers columns when his wife, née Sophie Madeleine Lacy (b Chelsea 9 February 1866), sued him, in 1899, for non payment of maintenance. Which was a bit cheeky, because she was the one who was wandering. He promptly divorced her (1900) and revealed the name of her paramour, Mr JamesYorke Scarlett Rae of the Edinburgh amdrams. I see him with the comany in Bury in 1901, but I don't know what became of him after that. Or her. Or their two children, Charles Leslie (b 7 December 1893) and Dorothy (b 23 March 1895). Lost, one 30-something chorus boy.

I thought I would find 'Fred DRAWATER' easily enough, but no go. He's on a 1905-6 shiplist going to South Africa with a mixture of known and not-yet-known Cartesians, and the Archive tells us he had a career of some forty years. So he's in there somewhere. But I gave up when he wasn't easy. I'll have another go later.


While I was on that ship list, I decided to have ago at another seeming sitting duck: Mr Flamsteed. Yup. Cyril Leonard Dodsley FLAMSTEAD (b Lambley, Notts 1872; d St David's Home, Castle Bar, Ealing 30 December 1938) was the son of the vicar of St George's Bristol. He lists himself as a singer in 1901 and 1911. And single.

I put the shiplist aside -- after all, it's outside my 'Victorian' timeframe -- and returned to the Utopia (Ltd) paylist.

Henri or Henry Charles DELPLANQUE (b 196 Kensington Park Rd 23 September 1862; d Ealing 1949). Father Hildebert Charles D, dancing master ('Cours de danse at Almack's' 1843, bankrupt 1864)  mother Anne Lawrence. Married 1905 Alice Skene. Children Phyllis Cécile (1908) and Veronica M (1909). Sister dance teacher at Ancaster House School, St Leonard's.  ..  The Archive tells us that he Carte-d from 1892-5. I see him first playing Quite an Adventure with Robert Rous, Alfred E Rees an 'Ré Stephanie' in Glasgow with The Vicar of Bray. In 1895 he is teamed with Hewson and E L D Bishop as the sons in Pricess Ida. After leaving the company, I spot him rarely (The Free Pardon at the Olympic, 1897) but in 1901 he still declares himself an actor, so I guess he's in there somewhere. Then marriage, children, 1911 census and then the 1939 census: Gunnersbury Lane. Henri is now a cloakroom attendant, Alice (b 1 April 1883) is a canteen assistant, sister Emily is doing the housework, Phyllis is a clerk in an electrical company and Veronica a ladies' hairdressing assistant. .After Henry's death, Alice and the two unmarried girls carried on living in Gunnersbury Lane where I see them yet in 1964 ... Alice died in Cornwall aged 96 in 1979.

Next, Henry's colleague Robert ROUS (b Holyhead, Anglesey 1867; d Toxteth Park 17 February 1919). His father, Thomas, was a coastguard and mariner, his mother, Mary Anne née Carterbrook a dressmaker. In between times at sea and guarding the coast, Thomas spent time fathering at least eight children, of which Robert was number seven. The Rouses moved from Anglesey to Liverpool's Mount Pleasant, to Toxteth Park, where 24-year-old Robert can be seen working as a shipbroker's clerk (1891). But not for long. By 1892 he is on the road with The Vicar of Bray (John Dory). He would stay with the company for most of the next decade. During his couple of seasons away, I see him touring in Wallace Erskine budget musical In Search of a Father (1897, Captain Troupardin). His connection with the Carte organisation apparently ended in 1903, but in 1911 he is still 'actor on tour'.   I see him on tour with The Earl and the Girl (1906, Mr Talk), and then got to play the star role of Sammy Gigg in The Toreador (1907) alongside Sydney Granville. He was back to supporting roles in The Merry Widow (1909) and The Belle of Brittany tours, after which I lose him ..


Vena ROSENBAUM was a must. Rosenbaum was my great-grandmother's name, and her descendants (including several memorable folk) and I are a neat little club, from Brazil, to New Jersey, to California, to Chile, to England ... I'd like to think that Vena was one of my Rosenbaums, but her father came from Germany rather than Austria-Hungary, so I think not. Malvena Florence ROSENBAUM was born in Finsbury in 1871, the daughter of German jeweller Henry Rosenbaum and his wife Florence née Dowling from Hereford. I don't see her anywhere other than the Carte companies (1891-6, The Nautch Girl, The Grand Duke etc), at the Southend Empire. Leiston &c with the 'Savoy Quintette (1899-1900), and at the Alhambra soon after, except getting married in 1900 to one named Rooke or Rourke. His prenames seem to vary. After which ... zilch.

Pattie [Louise] REIMERS (b Marylebone 21 or 26 February 1873) was one of three singing sisters, the daughters of Henry Frank Reimers, a German watchmaker, and Adelaide George Davies, his English wife. The sisters in question were twins Susannah Georgina ('Susie') and Pattie Louise and Hilda (b 1879) .. then came Sydney John, Fredrica Adelaide, Henry Frank, Bertrm Lewellyn and lastly Eric Victor (b 1889). The papers of the 1890s don't always specify which Miss Reimers they are talking about, but I see Susie taking over the role of Lady Pilkington Jones in Gentleman Joe at the Prince of Wales (1895), and Pattie and Hilda spent a number of years in the Savoy chorus.  Susie (Dorset William Lawrance) and Hilda (d 1955, m Pierre William Albert Carr Goiffon) married, Pattie didn't, and in 1911 she is living with mother, who died the following year. Pattie was still alive in 1938. Oh ... and little Victor? He went on the Cartesian stage too, as a child, playing the midshipman in HMS Pinafore. 

Gertrude AYLWARD is a 'case unproven'. Not the career, which is far more substantial than these others, but the identity. Let's start. Stream of consciouness stuff. There's a batch of musical Aylward siblings in Salisbury and the Isle of Wight in the 1870s -- Amy Metzler Aylward RAM (b 1852 'professor of singing'), Leila Jane ARAM (b 19 September 1839; d Salisbury 1905), Gertrude Mary (b New Canal, Salisbury x 11 October 1848, Mrs Fuller), William Henry, Augustus Albert, plus father William Price Aylward professor of music and music-seller -- but surely that is rather too early for our Gertrude, who is RAM-ming in the late '80s! Amy, by the way, won a bronze medal alongside Annie Albu and Ellen Orridge, then a silver with Annie Butterworth, and I see her singing The Seasons at Worcester and as vocalist to Arabella Goddard at Sheffield, The Building of the Ship at Hull, Hoffmann's Cinderella at St James's Hall, Stainer's  The Daughter of Jairus at Gloucester &c&c as part of a tidy career which ends just as Gertrude RAM makes her first appearances. Is it her elder sister? I doubt it. A niece? Augustus had a daughter, Gertrude. 1879. Too late. Sigh. William H (professor of music/'cellist) had a daughter Gertrude Mary .. 1868! Just right. Born St Pancras. Age 2, the White House, Upton with Chalvey. age 12 ... local orphan asylum! William had died, aged 43, in 1878, and mother had taken the two oldest children to London's Cavendish Square and set up as a boarding housekeeper ... well, there's fair chance that's our girl.


All Gertrude's earliest engagements are in Yorkshire. Which must mean something. The May Queen at Hovingham with Eleanor Rees, The Messiah at Bedale, Elijah and Acis and Galatea at York. But she is 'of London' and RAM now. I see her singing at Steinway Hall alongside Edward Lloyd, at Prince's Hall for one Hermann Heydrich, at St George's Hall in Coward's The Fishers, at the Covent Garden Proms, and in a concert of her own at the Portman Rooms, before she opted for a steady job and joined the Carte organisation (1893-4) playing Nekaya in Utopia (Ltd). She went from there to play Bianca in His Excellency at the Lyric Theatre, and Jessie Bond's role of Nanna in the New York production. On her return, however, engagements of that quality did not recur. She sang in concert, appeared in a brief provincial Osmond Carr piece The Celestials with a cast full of ex-Cartesians, sang Fairy Queen in the Islington Grand Babes in the Wood, and a matinee in a 1-act piece The Scribe at Sydenham (1899). And then I lose her for a bit. And when she resurfaces, she's changed genre: Caroline in The Orchid (1905), succeeding to Connie Ediss's part in The Spring Chicken, playing the Tivoli with the old forepiece from His Excellency, The House of Lords with J J Dallas, Irene Verona and G H Snazelle (1907), touring in The Belle of Brittany ...
And on the personal front? Gertrude Mary Marc Aylward (20) married Randolph Payne (21) in 1890. With permission of her mother, [Katherine Mary] Teresa née Scott (d 1913). I have no idea who Mr Payne was or what became of him. Teresa is, in the 1901 and 1911 censi, with her elder daughter, [Jea]netta Katharine, now Mrs Alfred Roger Ackerley in Herne Bay, then (3 children, 4 servants) in Richmond .. but no Gertrude, no Randolph ... bah! Where do all these folk go to ...

Which led me, somehow to William Simms BULL (b Burston Staffs 6 July 1866; d 176 Oxford Gardens, London 3 August 1944). Son of a civic worthy ('prominent conservative councillor and alderman') of the same name and his wife Mary née Adams, he was brought up in Cheltenham, where the 'living on own means' family was added to largely. However, aged 25, young W S, who had been playing comedy roles, including the Lord Chancellor, with local amateurs,  got himself a job as an actor/singer with the Carte tours. He held that engagement  (see Archive for details) till 1900. In the 1901 census he can be seen with his widowed father in Barmouth, Wales. Father (d 16 February 1919) has bought a slate quarry, and William jr is 34, comedian.  Over the next years I see him only touring in a bit part in The Earl and the Girl, before he rejoined Carte in the capacity of stage director, and later business manager. Bull married Isabella Stuart Miller (b 19 March 1879; d 14 July 1949) and fathered, amongst others, another William Simms Bull (23 February 1913; d 30 August 2006) ...




Latterly, the marriage seems to have dissolved. In the 1939 census, Isabella and her sister Jessie are working as servants ... W Simms jr is in advertising ...

Louise LANCASTER [LANCASTER, Louisa Mary Ann] (b London 1869) was the daughter of engraver Henry Lancaster, and his wife Mary Ann née Hopkins, haberdashery shop keeper. She attended the RAM, and I see her first at the Chesham Saturday Popular Concerts in 1891, singing 'Dreamlight', 'Whisper and I shall hear', 'Six o'clock in the bay', 'The Gift', 'Daddy' and Killarney, while Mr George Haddon recited. She made several visits to the Portsmouth Town Hall Concerts (organist: W A Griesbach) ('O thou that tellest') billed as 'of the Lyceum Theatre' (?!) (1892-5) and, in between, fulfilled a contract as contralto with D'Oyly Carte. She was well liked, but she went back to her intermittent concerts ('medallist RAM') and a tourlet with Charles Butler's English Opera Singers, before she married her reciter, George Haddon Tomkins (1898), retired, and gave birth to a daughter, Elsie. By 1911, George had given up reciting and become a manager of a motion picture theatre in Deptford. They later lived in Lewisham, and Greenwich, where George died in 1934.  After that .. well I'd be guessing ..



Next, two for the price of one. Yes, another Cartesian marriage. Albert Edward REES and Dorothy Elsie DUNCAN. This pair have proven rather documentarily shy, and have, I believe, suffered from a bad case of landlady or lies. In the 1901 census of Blackpool, he is given as 39, born London, actor and she is born Tunbridge Wells aged 25. In fact, she was born in the City of London. He, maybe in Northumberland. But the ages seem right.
Dorothy Elsie Duncan was born, seemingly in Chelsea, to Scots George and Elsie Duncan. Father was a telegraph clerk, and there was a younger brother George and sister, Cecilia (1891 census). She was born around 1876, but doesn't seem to have made it to the registrar's office. Cecilia did. Cecilia is clear as a summer sky. She went on to become an organist and a chorister and turns up punctually where she ought. But not Elsie. Especially after that 2 July 1895 marriage to Mr Rees, which is my main piece of evidence


Not much help on Elsie (though it seems mother came up to Liverpool to be a witness), rather better on Albert. Father William a deceased customs collector? In which case he is not 31, but 33. William Rees, coastal officer, from Pembroke Yorks, living Waterloo, Northumberland can be seen in the 1871 and 1881 censi with his wife, Eliza, and his son Albert Edward, born Blyth, Northumberland. Christened at Blyth 20 April 1862. That will do me, and damn the Blackpool landlady.
The careers? Well, Elsie was with the Carte from 1895 to 1900, and my last stagesight of her is in the chorus of the pre-London Kitty Grey in 1900-1.
Albert is a Cartesian for most of the period 1892-1900 playing small roles, and getting his best reviews for his policeman's song in Quite an Adeventure. He was added to the named cast of Kitty Grey as the Mayor of Biarritz and understudied. And then the two of them vanish, Yes, another air of vanishing actors. I can track Cecile, but nor Albert and Elsie. Why? The law of the Cartesians ...

While we're on Cartesian marriages, here's one which took no lucubration to find. More Bulls. Ernest Henry BULL otherwise 'BERESFORD' (b Hereford 4 May 1855; d Dollis Hill, 13 October 1939) was on the staff of the Carte companies from 1887, but it's his wife I'm interested in. Rhoda MAITLAND [FRYER, Rhoda Jane Trimble] (b Exeter 12 April 1862; d 1 Ashley Gardens 16 January 1951) was the daughter of John Fryer, schoolmaster and his wife Elizabeth née Trimble, brought up in Devon and Somerset. She made her first appearances under her own name: I see her singing The Creation with the Bristol Musical Association and Harper Keaton (18 October 1884, 'a very pleasing but not powerful voice'), at a Grantham Festival billed as RAM, at Bristol's Saturday Concerts with Hannah Jones and Lawford Huxtable, at the Crystal Palace (12 November 1886), at Bath with Tableaux vivants (December 1886), at Melton Mowbray (January 1887), and at a concert by the pupils of J B Welch at Prince's Hall. She was amongst the also-sangs, although the programme included only Henry Piercy who would climb to 'fame'. She returned to the Crystal Palace 3 September 1887, and then 'Rhoda Fryer' was retired and 'Rhoda Maitland' took flight. See the Archive.


After her marriage, she retired to motherhood, resurfacing only to fill in on occasion for an ailing soprano.


But she was not forgotten. When her brother died, she got full mention as a Cartesian ...


The Bulls had two daughters, Winifred Mary (b London 12 August 1893; d Malvern 13 August 1976), a dispensing chemist, and Margaret Lucy (b Wolverhampton 16 March 1900; d Oxford 1 November 1984), who professed singing, but left a cool 78K in her will.

Florence [Elizabeth] LAMBERT (b Glasgow 11 March 1865) was a very ephemeral Cartesian, but she had her little place in musical-theatre history. She was the third child of Henry Albert Lambert, originally of Portsmouth, Glasgow City Organist and Conductor of the Glasgow Choral Union and the Balmoral Choir, and one of his wives. The first, Louisa Hurley (quickly gone, as was their child d 1854), gave way to Harriet Duckett who was de facto for many years before, after 6 children, getting wed in 1887.


I see Florence singing at her father's concerts from 1882, and by 1885 she was a Cartesian. For just a matter of months. Her next job was at the Gaiety Theatre, and there she created the role of Phyllis Tuppitt in the memorable Dorothy. However, she did not stay around the Edwardes organisation: I next see her playing Bo Peep in panto at Doncaster, singing at Sydney Smith's Prince's Hall concert with the two Dorothys, Florence St John and Marie Tempest, and in 1887 going on the road as Bianca to the La Béarnaise of Agnes Delaporte, for two tours. She then took a step into opera, and although she spent weeks in a couple of fourth rate troupes ('Signor Ristori's Grand English Opera Company') she settled in for something like five years as a mezzo in the J W Turner troupe. Josephine Yorke was for a while a member of the company, so, until her departure Florence did not get the usual mezzo roles, but I see her playing Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Alice in Robin Hood, Anne Chute in The Lily of Killarney, Martha in Faust, Nancy in Martha, the Marchioness in La Fille du Régiment, Lazarillo in Maritana &c.
In 1895, H A Lambeth died, and Florence returned to Scotland. She sang in occasional concerts, featured as Highland Maggie (with songs) in a drama called For Bonnie Scotland and gave ballads in variety. In 1898 she seemingly went with a variety troupe to South Africa. While she was there, the Pollard Troupe of semi-children was in town. They played Dorothy. I say 'seemingly' because I'm not entirely sure if there were not two or even three Florence Lambeths around over the decades to come. One of that name played Mrs Bissett in The Swashbuckler at the Duke of Yorks (1900) and in The Admirable Crichton on tour (1904). One sang in variety (1909). One toured as Lucienne Touquet in Kissing Time (1922, 'beautiful soprano voice') and in the revue Our Dad with Johnny Danvers. One became a panto favourite on stage and radio, and one knocked them out with 'My Hero'. In 1935. She would have been seventy! So where does our Florence stop and the other(s) begin? I have no answer, although the Archive says she died in Scotland in 1943. So, maybe.

Talk of Dorothy brings me to another Cartesian whose career peaked in the original production of that show. I wasn't going to include her, yet, because she's another Millie Vere. Fake name, astutely hidden. Oh yes, purposely. I have an interview where it is revealed that she is married, but no name is given. She called herself Florence DYSART. Right from her pupil days, which may have been RAM, but in any case were with J B Welch. Now, 'Florence' started advertising in 1881, and she gave her contact address as 147 Ladbroke Grove. Well, I know who lived there. Phineas E van Noorden, musician and supremo of the girly minstrel team, the Blondinette Minstrels. Alas, he hasn't got a teenaged music student as a boarder. Just a widow, a spinster, two servants and his young family. It's just a contact address. The van Noorden connection is confirmed by her first sighted concert in June 1881, with Phineas and Mrs Dukas (née van Noorden). She played the part of Nina in Mosieur Jacques and was criticised as 'Very nervous, very uncomftable, very inaudible'. Yet a few months further on, she was a member of the Carte company, playing Lady Ella in Patience. At Christmas 1883 she was reported to be 'recruiting her health' at Exeter. She rejoined the Carte company to play Princess Ida, but I see that in a performance at Derby she had to hand over the title-role to Marie Wynter after Act 2. But she was well enough to join the Savoy company for the revival of Trial by Jury (October 1884) for some six months.
I see her as Alice in Dick Whittington at Dublin, that Christmas, featured back in London in Oliver Grumble, singing in Houp La, the forepiece to Helen Barry's The Esmonds of Virginia at the Royalty, and then it was Dorothy. Marion Hood was Dorothy, one of the two lasses at the heart of the piece, and Miss Dysart was the other. The role of a lifetime. George Edwardes retained her for the burlesque Frankenstein (1887), she took over from Marion Hood in the title-role of Miss Esmeralda (1887), and after a trip to Drury Lane as Maid Marian in Babes in the Wood was back at the top of the West End musical entertainment world, playing the 'baddie' Barbara Bellasys to Marie Tempest's Kitty Carroll. She took over the role of Marie, Queen of France in Joan of Arc, and then went to the Trafalgar Square Theatre to play her original role in Dorothy (1892). It was too soon for another Dorothy, and it lasted little, so Florence went over to the Shatesbury to dep for a few weeks for the holidaying Violet Cameron in Morocco Bound. When her stint was done, the management staged another company, Miss Dysart featured, at the Islington Grand, and sent it on the road.

With Marion Hood in Dorothy
But things thereafter went less well. Miss Dysart advertised 'disengaged' regularly, in May 1894 she gave an interview bemoaning the replacement of real comic opera by semi-sung 'musical comedy' (the interview where she skirted revealing her identity and history) and her current resultant periods of unemployment. She played more Morocco Bound in 1895, took over Ethel Sydney's roles of Melissa Banks and Beatrix Bartrum in My Girl (1896), appeared as the Plaintiff and Lydia Hawthorne  in Benefits, and in 1897 went on the road in a 'sensational drama' A Fast Life (Julia Maria Jenkins).
And that was it. No one asked what had become of her, at probably not yet forty. Nobody mentioned her husband, any children, her death .. her name just appeared in endless paragraphs about 'The History of Dorothy'. And it was just that, a name. Which it was my mission to fill out with human detail. Well, I haven't done it. Into the 'Geraldine St Maur'-'Millie Vere' box with you, my girl. No, its not a rubbish box, it's a One Day I'll Get You box ....

Right, what else is in the dregs of this Tried-To-Do box. Minnie KEENE from the Utopia (Ltd) 1894 company. Spotted her touring with Charles Wibrow in 1891 (23, born London). I suppose she might be the one who died in 1946 aged 78 in Sussex. (later note FOUND!)  [Edith] Maude RICHARDSON also of Utopia.  She's better. Born Churchgate Street, Bury St Edmunds ?1 September 1870, daughter of Thomas Bentinck Richardson (d 13 April 1893), professor of music, from Salisbury and his wife, Ellen. Children Ida, Kate, Amy, Ellen, Charles, Mabel, Arthur ... Maud is at boarding school. Well, it's at least a possibility.


Ré or Rachel STEPHANIE bah! bunkum! Eva FAWCETT. Miss ?PISETU. Maude MAY. Misses NATHAN, MORRIS, CROSS ... Josie SHALDERS, Messrs Henry FOUNTAIN, A STEWART, John CARRINGTON, Samuel SCHOFIELD, ALDRIDGE, WARREN ... that's the left overs of the chorus ... the prncipals, of course, will be easier ... Florence HUNTER, Bobbie EVETT who rose to metropolitan fame, Charles USHER, John MACAULEY, Arthur WATTS, George COCKBURN and oh! J T MacMILLAN whom I investigated decades ago ... I hope Microsoft hasn't eaten his file ... van Rensselaer WHEELER I shall leave to the Americans ...

Well, I shall tackle that bunch tomorrow. I fear that some are hopeless cases, but you never know!

PS Don't forget. All the details of these folks's Cartesian careers are to be found on David Stone's G&S Archive. From whence most of these illustrations come. Teamwork ...

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