Monday, June 29, 2020

A Holiday snap at Margate, 1886 ...

Doodling through ebay this morning, I came upon a really warming family holiday photo. Dad, Mum and the three little ones, down at Margate, having the traditional snap taken by the local photographer. I smiled at them, and carried on, but I kept on thinking about them as I scanned hundreds of others of the ilk, and in the end I went back for another look

What a lovely, kind face papa has. Mama seems very much younger. How nicely they are all Sunday-best-dressed. I'll bet that little girl grew up a suffragette ... I wonder who they were ... the back of the photo is merely inscribed with the first names and ages of the children ..

Shame the photo wasn't dated. But I thought it was worth a shot ...  

Well, I did it. I don't know how I did, but sometimes you just luck into a hit. I can tell you that this photo was taken in July of 1886 and the people pictured are as follows:

Papa: William Howard DURRANT (b Swanton Abbott, Norfolk 28 March 1822; d Ellery Court, Beulah Hill, Upper Norwood 13 September 1910) whose second wife was
Mama: Fanny Eliza née PARR (b Middlesex 1845; d Ellery Court 14 February 1914) and their children 
Howard William DURRANT (b Nottingham 25 June 1881; d 20 September 1925) unmarried
Maud Eveleyne DURRANT (b Dulwich 30 March 1884; d Bentley Manor, The Common, Stanmore 24 August 1974) unmarried
Dorothy Katharine DURRANT (b Thorn Lee, College Rd, Dulwich 5 March 1886; d 31 Thistlebarrow Road, Bournemouth 3 December 1980)

There was to be one more child post-photograph:
Stuart Goode DURRANT (b Ellery Court, Upper Norwood 18 February 1888; d Hotel Stuart, Richmond, Surrey 1 June 1974)

The progression of addresses, I was to find, tells the story of the Durrants: a story which can only be described as one of 'making good'. 'Self-made man'. 'Rags (not quite!) to riches (decidedly) ...'. I thought the family look nicely dressed.

So, from the beginning. William Durrant (1799-?), registrar, married Maria Wright (1797-1838) in Swanton Abbott 9 February 1820, and of them were born at least six children. I have William Howard, Maria, Edward and George Henry. There was an Elizabeth apparently, and later a Fanny ...
Father and son, and Maria, can be seen in the 1841 census at the address 'by the George' in Old Catton, Norfolk. Mother Maria is dead ...  Father is still billed as 'registrar' and William Howard is a grocer. The George that they are by is Mr Jeremiah Friar's George and Dragon Public House in North Walsham Road. The 'George' closed down in 1865, so I guess the address changed. I don't know what William sr registered ... 

Anyhow, at some stage he got out of groceries and into stuff. I can't find him in the 1851 census, but in 1853 he got married and announced himself as a draper ...

Margaret was a little older than he (1816-1862) and a lot less durable. But by the time she departed his life, William Howard was, I think, on his way ...

In 1861, he is still in London (Edgeware Town), with Margaret and a selection of siblings, and still a linen draper ..  and at some stage he worked for the firm Goode, Gainsborough & Co. To shrink the story, he would later (1882) go into partnership with Charles Goode, son, in the Australian firm of Goode, Durrant and for a dozen years, to 1894, Tite, exporting drapery and soft furnishings to Western Australia. The firm would prosper hugely and W H Durrant became a rich man ...


After eighteen years as a widower, much of them spent in Nottingham, where he ran a drapery business from The Arboretum, W H re-wed. Needless to say, within the rag trade. Fanny Parr was the eldest of the four daughters (and, yes, one was named Katharine) of William Richard Parr and his wife, Rhoda née Linzell. W R Parr professed in the 1861 census to be a cutler, button manufacturer and dealer in tailor's trimmings. By 1871, Fanny was working as a governess. In 1880 she wed W H, who must have been on his way, for the marriage made the London papers. But he was still 'draper' rather than -- as later -- 'Australian merchant' 'drapery and soft goods'.

W H's first marriage had been childless. Now, in his sixties, he made up for lost time, as the growing family moved from Nottingham, to Dulwich, to Ellery Court ... and 26 Milton Street in the City ...

And they lived happily ever after. I knew it!  

Howard followed his father in The Firm, Maud and Dorothy apparently got into phonetics! Dorothy married her vicar in Bournemouth, Maud -- I knew it -- didn't marry anyone. Stuart became a chartered accountant. And further than that I have not gone. It's papa whom I love. And the obituary given to him in the Perth (Aus) papers proves I was right ...

Rest in Peace ....

Friday, June 26, 2020

Lost Cartesians: One soprano, and one Scottish sprinter ...


The yield of my daily dig for the tales on C19th Cartesians is -- like an Australian goldmine --becoming less and less large, but -- as in those mines -- dig deep, and you do hit a nugget ...

I have only two to offer, again, today. But they are two which I muchly enjoyed investigating ...

Alice [Maud] OPPITZ (b 56 Shelgate Rd, Battersea 9 November 1878) has been a curiosity to me for forty years. That name? German? Jewish? Well, finally, I did something about investigating it, and ...

Alice belonged to a fascinating family, originating in the town of Hajda in Liberec, Bohemia (today Nov Bor), which specialised, traditionally, in the making of glass. The Oppitz family, the male members of which were seemingly wholly immersed in glassmaking, emigrated, in the 1840s, to England, and there plied their trade with notable success. Paul Oppitz (1827-1894) was the most notable, but his brothers, then the next generation, also followed the same calling. There is a fine family tree of the Oppitzes on the web ... fine as far as it goes! It doesn't go as far as Alice.

Alice was the granddaughter of Paul Oppitz's elder brother, Ferdinand; third daughter of his glass-making son, Emile Paul Oppitz (1848-1906) and his wife Rebekah née Mallison. She was born just late enough to miss the family scandal: 17 year-old auntie Rosalie Josephine Cherry Oppitz got herself seduced, with child, and led into crime (1875) by a fellow named Raymond Sullivan. Ferdinand took her and baby Raymond (b 11 December 1874) home, but she ran away. The pair ended up in court charged with robbery, but Rosalie was rescued once more, and promptly married off to Mr Wyer, to whom she apparently stuck till her death in 1911.

Other members of the family were more respectable. One became a 'well-known parliamentary journalist', another changed his name to 'Arthur Evelyn du Cane' which was the name of the vicar of Abbotsford, Devon, while three went on the stage. Ferdinand Cecil (b 5 October 1882, who later tacked 'Louis du Cane' in the middle, so ... he ended up as a cinema manager) and Florence Mary (b 1884) seem to have been rather ephemerally attached to the theatre, likewise Ferdinand's son Louis du Cane Oppitz, but Alice ... Alice achieved.

Alice joined the D'Oyly Carte at, apparently, age sixteen or seventeen, and the archivists have her possibly on tour in South Africa, and in 1897 in Britain. I spy her singing the Plaintiff in Trial by Jury and Casilda in The Gondoliers, but she apparently also played Lady Angela and Princess Zara, before taking a sidestep to the Savoy where she sang in the chorus of The Beauty Stone. I imagine she was there as an understudy, perhaps to Ruth Vincent, for when the Lucky Star company was sent out, that is what she went as. But this time, she went on. She replaced Flora MacDonald as Princess Laoula for a week, and was then hoisted into the star role of Lazuli. She won superb notices, predicting for her a first-rate career with Carte, but that was not to be. On the Carte staff for the tour was a gentleman by the name of George Mewburn Slater (1870-1949) ...

Slater, too, came from an interesting family. You can read all about it at His career in the theatre was to be long, provincial and all-embracing, ranging from early years of performing (1894 'his musical entertainent', Minnie Palmer's The School Girl, The Late Mr Castello), to various management functions, for managers from Carte to Julian Wylie, to penning a panto or two. Anyway, he would marry Alice, in 1900, after she had finished playing Prince Ferdinand in Puss in Boots at New Cross.

For the next couple of years, I spy her only in pantomime (Puss in Boots 1900-1 Stoke Newington and tour, Robinson Crusoe at Aberdeen 1901), before she joined George Edwardes's companies, touring as Donna Teresa in The Toreador (1902-4), taking over from Nina Sevening as Miss Pinkerton in The Cingalee at Daly's and then -- after panto at Lichfield -- playing more Toreador (1905), The Little Michus in town and on tour (1905-6) and succeeding to the star role of Molly Montrose in London's The Little Cherub. She was next engaged for Tom Jones (1908-9). Florence Smithson was the leading lady, while Alice played Lady Bellaston and probably covered the star. She was just thirty years of age. So ... why do I see her no more?

In the 1911 census she is still 'actress' (and George is still 'actor'!) but that is the last I see of her. In the 1939 census, they are in Paddington's Cleveland Square ... he is still 'actor' but she has retired to housewifery. At his death, George was buried at Kensal Green ... maybe Alice is there too?

The tale of W[illiam] A[rthur] PETERKIN (b Edinburgh 2 January 1858; d The Hermitage, Flackwell Heath 22 March 1945) is an even more curious one. To me. He seems to have been equipped with all the necessities for a grand career, yet only in his work in Australia, in his forties, did he truly play on centre court.

He was born in Edinburgh, the son of a local very worthy, William A Peterkin (large obits), and his wife Elizabeth Mitchell née Barclay, and was set to the study of medicine. However, medicine did not appeal and the young, stalwart Peterkin, who had established himself as a championship sprinter (10.2 for 100 yards, 50.2 for 440) and representative footballer in Scotland, set out for the American west, to try his luck as a cattle-rancher. After which he went to Italy to study singing. The time frame here is a bit of a puzzle. I have him being a Scots medical student in 1881, and Signor Gilardoni's prize pupil at the Lyric Dramatic School, Ealing, in 1882 ... then nothing for more than a decade. So I guess the 80s and early 90s were when he went a-wandering. Yes 'he lost money ranching in Texas' (ah! he had money to lose?) and then (1890-2), deeming it possible to make money from his big bass voice, went to Naples to study under Scafati... OK, its falling in to place.

When he turns up to my gaze again, he has joined the Carte organisation. He played in Utopia (Limited) in America and on the British road, and then went to the Savoy, where he covered Scott Fische in the role of Ferdinand de Roxas in The Chieftain. And then he abandoned the stage, almost forever. In the 1901 and 1911 censi, he describes himself as a professional vocalist, so my theory that he had a day job, to account for his curiously thin palmarès of engagements over the next decade, doesn't wash.
For several years, apart from the odd smoking concert at such as the Bohemian Club or the Press Club, he seems to have sung almost exclusively at the Promenade Concerts at the Queen's Hall (one paper said he was a 'pupil' of Henry Wood. At forty?), at Scots concerts ('My Peggy'), and at Belfast, where on one occasion he depped for Albert Archdeacon in The Messiah. I see him giving his eternal 'The Sailor's Grave' at Dover with Antoinette Sterling, and playing a series of concert dates with that lady and soprano Margaret McIntyre in 1898. In that same year he sang in The Martyr of Antioch with Esther Palliser and Ada Crossley, sharing the bass music with Robert Radford. And then it was back to the smoking concerts, the Queen's Hall, the Scots songs, and a bundle of engagments singing in support of the Biograph in variety houses. In 1901, in a precursor of the 'three tenors', he and fellow bass-baritones Robert Grice, Reginald Groome and Wensley Russell formed a group which they called 'The King's Musketeers', to play the Empire Palace Theatre. In 1901, also, he married. His wife was Ann Maria née Baker, who sang a little under the name of 'Marjorie Nairne' (b 23 December 1869).

In 1903, however, he got a real job. He was hired to go to Australia, supporting the ageing Edward Lloyd in a concert tour. He was a decided success, and when the tour finished he was snapped up by J C Williamson, for his concert party, and then for Ada Crossley's Australian tour. He sang 'She Alone Charmeth my Sadness', and 'The Sailor's Grave' and 'Arm, arm, ye brave' round Australia, and Marjorie got to sing too, on occasion. When Ada sang in Elijah in Melbourne, Peterkin sang the role of the prophet.

However, when he returned to England, it was back to the old ways: singing on programmes top-billing Zena and Phyllis Dare, George Robey or Violet Vanbrugh, concerts at the London Morayshire Club and, eventually songs on the radio. Just once, he returned briefly to the musical stage, to play in The Chocolate Soldier, and the Australian press hopefully paragraphed that he would come back down under to repeat his role. He didn't. He'd given up a-wandering.

He and Marjorie settled down in retirement at Wycombe, where they can be seen in the 1939 census. Peterkin died in 1945, and Marjorie in 1952.

Hmm. I seem to have rather neglected the Letter "P". I've done Pounds, Petrelli, Power, Pepper, Parris, H G Patterson, Phyllis-Maguire, Pierson, Presano x 5, Purdon, Pyne, 'Brandon Phillips', Annie Palmer, Alice Pennington, Alice Pilon, Pfau and, now, Peterkin ... I've no need to do folk such as Esther Palliser, W S Penley and 'Annie Pelham' (an ancestor of my chief US helper) who have been thoroughly covered by others, or 'H Payne' who became Ernest Pike, or Sydney Paxton who wrote his own memoirs. I've already covered Mrs Howard Paul, Ilka Pálmay, Passmore, Pounds x 6, et al in my Encyclopaedia of the Musical Theatre, and Mrs Paul at vast length in my Victorian Vocalists, I've admitted defeat, if I remember, on the ephemeral Miss Louise Pemberton ... but there are still a number of P-folk whose dates of service begin with and '18' rather than a '19'. Harold Poole (b Bayswater 17 January 1867; d Wandsworth 24 May 1908), of course, became W H Kemble ... so he's 'done' ... which leaves ...
G M Palmer, 'Fred W Pattrick', George of the Paulton family, James Paxton, Arthur Payne (surely not Mr Arthur Locksley under his real name!), Americans Harry Pepper, Marie Pfeiffer, Dora Percival and Irene Perry, Miss A Percy, my 'old pal' from Soldene days, Juliette Piemonte (whose file vanished in a flood of dorper lamb juice last year, but who is now solved), William Plimmer again, Florence Plowden (1852-1890), John Pope, J H Poskitt, Laura Proctor, Charles Prescott, Minnie Pryce and oh dear! those Perry sisters! I thought I'd done them, and also Sydney Price, but evidently I haven't. Powis Pinder, too. And I would like to try harder on Catherine Pelling ...

The splendid Florence Perry

But I think I may be excused crushing my nose into Mr Page, Mr Pink, Mr Perry, Mr Plattee, Mr and Miss Phillips, Mr and Miss Parr, Miss Parsons, Miss Prince, Mr E Pearce, the various daughters of Anglo-American tenor Ernest Perring, the non-existent 'F Petrelli' ... and who in the devil's name is 'Miss Pisetu'?

Well, maybe I'll give them a short sharp go tomorrow ...

'Mrs P' will be watching from her new favourite Perch, outside my study window ..

Thursday, June 25, 2020

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

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 Wrexham, 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 frequently found 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 Holborn 9 March 1884; d Brighton 13 October 1958, 'vocalist').
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. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Eight Outed Cartesians and lots of chickens.

A fun, but, occasionally, frustrating, day. Pinned down eight folk, but a few others refuse to give up their identity, so although I have their careers -- large or small -- sorted, they have to wait. Josephine Findlay, Charles Rowan, Violet Russell, James Appleton ... into the Vere-St Maur box, until I take you out for another go.

But, on the credit side, green light for Amy Farrell, J W Foster, Alec Romer, Rose Rosslyn, Charles Goold, Constance Ethel Hyem, Alice Aubrey, G W Marnock ... and the chickens  

Amy [Kathleen] FARRELL (b Blackrock, Dublin 10 March 1872; d Prior Place, Heatherside, Camberley 11 May 1934)
Amy Farrell and her sisters Clara ('Cissie') and Laura were born into the theatre. The Surrey Theatre, to be precise. For their mother was 'Ada Conquest' (Amelie OLIVER), daughter of Benjamin Conquest (né Oliver) and sister of 'George Conquest' manager of the Surrey. Their father was Henry Farrell. 
Amy made what seems to have been her first named appearances at the Surrey. She ('a comely damsel of sixteen') and Cissie played in the 1889, 1890 and 1891 pantomimes, and in pieces such as A Ring of Iron, Alone in London and doubtless others, of all types, in between. The Surrey was a grand place for learning one's trade. They also appeared in the odd outside matinee (Good Queen Bess at the Vaudeville, Rita in The Scribe opposite Lyn Cadwaladr).
Amy joined the D'Oyly Carte in 1892, and served there in The Nautch Girl and The Vicar of Bray before moving on to play in Landon Ronald's forepiece Did You Ring? at the Prince of Wales, and as the Spirit of Bow Bells in the Olympic Theatre's Dick Whittington ('pretty presence and excellent singing'). Pantomime was to be an annual event .. Jack and the Beanstalk at the Crystal Palace (1893), Santa Claus at the Lyceum (1894, Queen Mab), Birmingham (1895) and Glasgow (1896, Maid Marian). In between she appeared in any sort of performance available

I wonder who Mr Willey was! Miss Serpell from Truro was Mrs Dale.

In 1897 Amy was cast as ingenue Millicent Warfield in the Waltons musical Skipped by the Light of the Moon ('pleasing voice and much charm') along with little sister Laura, Rudolph Lewis, and Isa Bowman, for whom Amy deputised on occasion. However, come Christmas, it was off to Dublin for Aladdin. In 1898 she played in The JP at the Strand and on tour, in Arthur Roberts' musical tryout Campano, and in Aladdin at Brixton, in 1899 she was Therese in the provincial musical Black and White, took up her old part in the attempt to turn the hugelysuccessful Skipped into a West End musical, and, in 1900, went on tour for George Edwardes as Dorothy in A Runaway Girl. When it wasn't panto time (Aladdin Hull 1899, London Hippodrome as Cinderella 1900).

And then it all came to an end. Amy married Manchester actuary Arnold Louis Schuster (1873-1954) had two daughters, left the stage, and, subsequently, it seems, also Mr Schuster. In 1911 she is with Mama in a Hove boarding house. In 1929, in London's Cromwell Rd ... 

J W or John Warren FOSTER [FOSTER, John William] (b Harrogate, 26 March 1868; d King John's House, Thundersley, Essex 20 February 1941)
John Foster was born in Harrogate, and would later call both himself and his father 'Esq'. Actually, his father, Charles Foster, was a plumber and gas-fitter, and his Pocklington-born mother took in lodgers. Young John started his working life as a grocer's assistant. He also may have been the J W Foster who won a prize for his pigeons in the 1887 show, but maybe not: Mr J W Foster 'of Wintringham' and 'of Wistow' would go on winning prizes for pansies, cut flowers, eggs, beans et al when our John has exchanged his apron for the Royal Academy of Music.
My first sighting of J W on a concert platform is in Bristol (Evenings for the People) in 1891, the second is at the RAM where he sang Papageno, Escamillo and Daland in the opera class concerts (1894-5). In 1896, he was cast as Lord Kempton in the musical comedy Newmarket, took a spell at the Savoy, then returned to Newmarket. He was back at the Savoy for The Beauty Stone, and in 1900 played at the Lyceum in Anthony and Cleopatra with F R Benson. 

In 1901, Foster found his niche. He was cast in the fine role of Sir John Binfield in the tour of Kitty Grey (1901-2) and thereafter was seen in the British provinces as Florestan in Véronique, Danilo in The Merry Widow, Alexis in King of Cadonia et al. He also appeared in London in a small part in the disappointing A Persian Princess (1909).

The Merry Widow is my last sighting of him as a player. He retired to Rayleigh, Essex, with his wife Florence Talfourd (née Major 1858-1924), sister of the vicar of Thundersley, to farm chickens and breed .. you guessed it .. breed homing and racing pigeons.

I see him donating messenger birds to the war effort, chairing local poultry meetings, singing at a pigeon fanciers do, opening the local bazaar, and caring for the composer Herbert Bunning in his dying days

After his wife's death, he married (15 May 1926) the much younger Winifred Alice née Ingle (b 9 March 1897; d Harlow 10 January 1968), who can be seen running a local Land Army hostel in the second war. At his death, he left her 910L. And, hopefully, King John's House, Thundersley, which had been their home for many years.

Alec ROMER [WOOODMAN, Alexander] (b Brixton 1871; d Horton Asylum, Epsom 23 March 1909)

Alexander (no Haines) Woodman was born in Brixton, the fourth child of 'general agent' Thomas Haines Woodman (d 1896) and his first wife, Mary née Christie. Quite what inspired him to have the dubious taste to take the surname 'Romer' (decades earlier famous in the operatic world), but it was as Romer that he appeared aged 21, on tour with Horace Lingard's company (The Old Guard, Pepita etc), and then with the Carte companies (1892 ssq). He is said, in 1896, to have married Carte chorine, Margaret Radcliffe (b Shrewsbury 1875), but unless her real name were Annie Elizabeth Jones, I can't find the record. In the 1901 census she says her name is 'Margaret Romer'. Bah!

I see them, in 1896, singing together at the Blackpool Winter Gardens, at Reading Queen's Hall and at the Bath Theatre of Varieties ('Marguerite Radcliffe'), and I see Alec taking over a role in the touring musical Runaways in 1902, while Marguerite is singing on the pier at Hastings. It may be he, in 1905, 'Mr Romer' in the chorus of Mr Popple of Ippleton at the Apollo Theatre. No sign of la belle Marguerite. She may have left, for soon after Alec was admitted to the Horton Insane Asylum, a new institution in Epsom, established largely to deal largely with sufferers from advanced syphilis and paresis. He died there at the age of 38.
As for Marguerite .. well, unless she turned into Miss Marguerite Radcliffe Hall ...

Rose ROSSLYN [TROOSTWYK, Leah Rosetta] (b Hull 1870; d Middlesex Hospital 29 May 1933)

Rose Troostwyk was born in Hull, one of the children of Dutch yeast merchant, Benedictus Troostwyk and his wife, Mary Ann née King. The family took part in local dramatics from childhood, and I first see Rose, aged 27, singing with Arthur Helmore at a hospital concert in Clacton (1897) and at the Withernsea Cricket Club (1898) before, in 1899, she joined the D'Oyly Carte organisation (Rose of Persia, Pirates of Penzance, Trial by Jury at Drury Lane, Merrie England &c). I see her next in a small part in The Duchess of Dantzig ... and then she committed the folly of marriage (15 February 1904). It was folly, because her husband was Harold Robertson Grimston, son of the 'Kendal's. I see a Miss Robertson Grimston with 'a powerful soprano voice' singing at Rutland Barrington's concert in 1906 and playing Mrs van Bridge in his operetta The Turncoats. Harold failed to show. In 1911 he 'merchant' 34, and she Rose Robertson Grimston aged 60 (!), are in an hotel in Portman Street.
Rose got rid of him in 1916. Co-respondent: Alexander E M D Jordan (who, I presume, was a woman) whom he married 1917. (PS She was a woman: Alexandra Esther Mary Dorothea, multiple names as often proven do not a lady make).

Charles [William Drew] GOOLD (b St Lukes, Middlesex 15 July 1853; d West Ham 8 June 1907)

Charles Goold was another who boasted buttonless flies. But also a fair theatre career. 
He was the son of schoolmaster, Charles Goold, and Jane Frances (née Monday) who ran a sewing machine team. 
He seems to have begun his career with the Carte organisation, as he is censussed in 1881, rooming with Laurence Roche and Thomas Moss in Tomorhan, Devon, where the company was playing. In 1884, he played King Hildebrand (Princess Ida) on tour. Thereafter, he worked largely as a comic actor in the non-musical theatre, in the provinces and suburbs (The Lodgers, The Still Alarm, Cattermole in The Private Secretary, Perkyn Warbeck in Our Boys, Maguire in The Silver Falls, Bubbles in The Bookmaker, The Late Lamented/A Mutual Mistake by W H Denny with time out for panto) before, in 1892, he turned actor--manager. Surprisingly enough, instead of choosing a classic comedy, he elected to produce de Koven's Robin Hood, under its English title of Maid Marian, with himself in H C Barnabee's role of the Sheriff of Nottingham, and Miss Emelie Holt as Marian. Miss Holt had been, for the past few years, the de facto Mrs Goold: de facto0 because there was a real Mrs Goold, née Cecilia Jane Canter, somewhere in the background. Maid Marian was a fine success, and the couple toured from 1892-4. And Cecilia Jane divorced her husband. Revengefully, she cited not only Emilie Holt, but two other females in her petition.

Back in the comic theatre, Goold appeared as Mark Murgatroyd in A Bunch of Violets, Uncle Gregory in A Pair of Spectacles, Simeon Jell in The Co-respondent (with none other than Lydia Thompson) as Mr Pews in Pinero's The Hobby Horse, took a turn back to comic opera to double the roles of Balthazar and Lorémois in C P Levilly's tour of La Poupée, then back for more A Pair of Spectacles, a stock season at Belfast (1896). Madeleine Lucette Ryley's An American Citizen, Nicholas Blount in a serious Kenilworth ... When a little attempt to revive the German Reed repertoire was put on at the Crystal Palace and several home counties venues, Goold joined Leonora Braham, Avalon Collard, Millicent Pyne and Charles Coborn to play Charity Begins at Home et al (1900).
Between 1901-3 he toured as Bob Chaffers in Arthur Robert's company, giving HMS Irresponsible, in 1905 he was Tom Codd in Beauty and the Barge, in 1906 he played The Little Stranger, and in 1907 he died.
The only obituary-ette I have found labels him 'the husband of Emilie Holt'. Which (a) was rather unfair, considering his career and hers and (b) seems to have mixed up fact and de facto.  Mind you, not knowing Ms Holt's real name, one can't be utterly sure...  Oh! Emilie Holt Goold married late 1907 ... to  Mr Caffrey or Mr Piper or .. good heavens! Hamlet Arthur Stammers. Well, it's not Stammers ..  oh! bah. I have a feeling that wedcert might hold the odd fib...

Constance Ethel HYEM (b 47 Upper George Street, Marylebone 8 February 1874; d Langley, Bucks 13 April 1928) was a case of double identity.
The lady was christened Constance Ethel, led her early life and career as Ethel, and then changed to being Constance. But, chuckle, she didn't trick me for long. She was born in London, the daughter of Pearl ar Perl Hyem, a solicitor's clerk, and his wife Elizabeth Caroline née Browne, and took part in the productions of the Uxbridge Dramatic Society from teenage days. She studied at the Guildhall, under L F Chapuy, took out several prizes for elocution and reciting, and ... well, I don't believe it, but she has an entry in Who's Who in the Theatre! And it seems to me to be pretty correct.
Debut in Belfast as Nelly Bly with the Carte tour of The Vicar of Bray, four years at the Haymarket, doing bits and covers, Vaudeville Theatre as Pansy in The Cherry Girl, Quality Street et al. Toured in Marie Studholme's role of Cicely Marchmont in The School Girl. Waldorf Theatre in Mrs Temple's Telegram, The Old Firm, a horsey sketch with Arthur Palyfair on the halls, the model, Mimi Vernpn in London's edition of Molnár's The Devil (1909).
Back to the country as Toinette in The Belle of Brittany, principal boy in Jack and Jill at Nottingham, more variety, this time teamed with George Graves, more panto (Aladdin) at Kennington and at the Coronet, a good does of Aggie in Baby Mine, The Glad Eye ..
A nice career, but ... Who's Who?
Ethel had married, in Haymarket days, Albert James Austin, secretary of the City of London School. We see them in the 1911 census, where under nationality he has rightly put 'Irish', and Ethel has put 'cockney'. The couple had a son, Patrick Anslow Austin, at 20 Gower Street 6 September 1906.

Alice AUBREY [SMITH, Alice Kate] (b Dalston 12 June 1857; d 13 Canterbury Rd, Croydon 23 March 1932)

I have met, of course, hundreds of performers who have changed their names, for one reason or another. But I think this is the first time I've met one who had her name changed for her. Alice Smith was born in London, the only child of Mr William Hickman Smith, congregationalist minister and his wife Catherine née Clarke. But the congregations clearly didn't come, for Mr Smith gave up ministering, changed his name to 'Aubrey' and decided to be a journalist. He was still professing 'journalist' in 1911, when the family of three were living in Croydon.
I don't know how often Alice worked. We know she did two overseas tours (Continent and America) with Carte in 1886-8 ... I'm sure I should find her amongst the peasants and villagers of other London musicals. There was an Alice Aubrey at the Empire in 1895, but I don't think it was she. This one was allegedly French and did an act with a performing elephant, ponies, monkeysand dogs. Imagine the feed bill!
Father died 10 February 1916, mother in 1918, and Alice lived alone, in their longtime home till her death in 1932.                    

G W MARNOCK [WALKER, George] aka Giorgio VALCHERI (b Port Elphinstone, Scotland 1842; d Kelvinside, Glasgow 23 May 1920)

George Walker was born in Aberdeenshire, the son of George Walker 'carpenter employing five men' and his wife Jannet (née Marnock). He spent his early life following his father's trade, and seems to have taken his time to decide on a career in music and the theatre. In fact, I don't see Mr Marnock on a bill until 1880, when he is nearly 40 years of age. But there is a reason. Mr Walker has been out of the country. Dateline 1873:

And then: 

'... has made a success in Palermo.. now engaged for La Scala ...'

1875 December 'an important engagement at the Teatro Fraschini, Pavia .. a decided hit as Don Carlo in La Forza del destino ...' with Jose Carrion jr
Camoens in Don Sebastiano 'La barcarola del baritono della quale si chieda ogni sera il bis'...

1876 April Teatro Balbo Turin Saffo, June Catterina di Belp

1876 Bergamo and Alessandria La Forza del destino 

'20 April 1878 .. Giuliano in Manlio Bavagnoli's Roderigo di Spagna ...

He is said to have sung Germont to the Traviata of Patti at Genoa.

After seven years, Giorgio came back to Britain, and I see him 27 November 1878 at Dundee's Kinnaird Hall singing Namaan with Aline Osgood, Jenny Pratt and William Shakespeare. And on 2 December he opened at London's Italian Opera as Luna, alongside the Trovatore of Gillandi, the Leonora of Eugenie Pappenheim and the Azucena of Zélie Trebelli. Then as de Nevers in Les Huguenots.
In between times, still billed as Signor Giorgio Valcheri, he appeared in concert in Glasgow, tripped to Scandinavia with Trebelli for a concert series (Tivoli, Copenhagen September), appeared at the Covent Garden proms on one of their better programmes (Sterling, Carrion jr, Mary Cummings, d'Anka, Celli &c) and popped up to Shoeburyness to sing (as 'George Walker') the title-role in Rigoletto in the place of an ailing amateur. And in July 1880, the Signor crept quietly away ... and come October, a re-Scottisised, G W Marnock is playing the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance.
And he has just got married. In the 1881 census, Mrs [Julia] Blanche [Impey] Marnock née Lovibond professes that she, too, is an 'artist'. I thought that must be a Victorian scribal error (VSE), but time was to prove me wrong. 
Poor Blanche had gone through up and down times. More down that up. She was a young re-un-married woman. Daughter of an Indian army Colonel, she had been sent to school in Britain, and at 22, she married a gentleman named Benjamin Edward Somers. Her experience of married life proved a flop. Mr Somers was 'inept for coition'.  Blanche sued for an annulment in no uncertain terms ...

Poor blighter. I hope the judge didn't 'inspect' him publicly. Anyway, Blanche got her annulment, Edward went away and lived, with a poppy or a lily, or something, in his hand, outlived them all, and died a virgin/bachelor in 1932. And George, who presumably wasn't 'inept', married Blanche.

And so 'Mr Marnock' began his career in comic opera. After the Pirate King, he appeared as a 'robust, baritone' Bluebeard in pantomime, sang at various concerts, spent four years touring as Boleslas in Falka, was involved in the non-success of The Punchbowl (1888), and played General Bombardos in Pepita (1888) at Toole's Theatre.
In 1889, he and Blanche visited Australia, which was (as so often) the occasional for long and deptailed articles and biographies, in this case not only of our baritone but of Blanche who, it eventuated, was 'well-known in London as a skilful designer of Christmas cards'. (Table Talk 15 February 1889). During his twelvemonth contract, George appeared in Pepita, Grosvenor in Patience, the Pirate King, Sergeant Meryll, the Mikado (H M Imano was Pooh Bah) and as the Demon to the Cinderella of Clara Merivale. The papers claimed that, on his salary of L27.10s per week, the 'canny Scot' was sailing home with L700 in his pocket. The experience must have pleased him, for the next year he joined Edwin Cleary's company for a trip to South America.
Back in Britain, he picked up his old roles with Horace Lingard's Pepita and Falka companies, and added the curious Brother Pelican while it lasted, he gave his Bluebeard at the Crystal Palace and then went out on tour as 'Brown of Colorado' in The Shop Girl (1895) before visiting Brighton to play the dastardly Captain Barnacle in Dick Whittington. In 1896, he suported Arthur Roberts in Biarritz and played the Emperor in the Drury Lane Aladdin, before putting to bed a splendid theatrical career of twenty baritonic years.

I see the couple in the 1911 census. Blanche is still painting greetings cards of fairies and pansies, and George is now ... a poultry farmer! What is it with Cartesians and chickens ...   She died at Knockholt, Kent 7 June 1912, and George returned to Scotland, where he died in 1920. In the 1911 census, the couple admit to 'one child, living'. So maybe there was ...

Well, that's today's lot ... the pile doesn't seem to be decreasing notably. It will soon be time to attack the Millie Vere-Geraldine St Maur box ... oh, boy ....

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Cartesians: The other Messrs Gilbert

William Schwenk Gilbert was not the only 'Mr Gilbert' to be active in the D'Oyly Carte companies of the 19th century ... Sam and Bill, leading tenors, and Charlie, baritone, all served their time and the first two went on fron the Carte companies and the Savoy to long, long careers in the theatre ..

Let's start with Sam. Sam called himself F S GILBERT (no one ever knew what the F stood for) but he was born plain Samuel Gilbert (b Mansfield 1860; d Herne Hill April 1927) in Nottinghamshire, the son of William Gilbert, coal dealer, and his wife Eliza, and younger brother of Henry, Joseph, Harriet Ellen, Emma, Betsy and Thomas, all of whom were sent out from an early age to earn a menial living. Sam became a boot finisher in a boot factory.

I was a little dispirited when I followed the course of his career via the censi. 1881 boot finisher 1891 Operatic singer 1901 theatrical manager 1911 professional chours singer ... but the bits in between colour up his life in music more than a little. Some time in the 1880s, he quit footwear and got himself and his 'light, high tenor voice' a job in the Carl Rosa chorus. I don't spot him in a role until 1887, when he joined the Carte organisation playing first tenor roles in Europe and England.
In 1888, he joined the J W Turner company, playing the lead tenor parts that Turner, himself, didn't want and deputizing for the manager from time to time. For more than a year, he toured with Turner in roles from Thaddeus to Manrico (in those days sung by a lighter voice than nowadays), and praised for his extensive range and easy high notes. He appeared with Turner at London's Princess's Theatre and the Crystal Palace in 1889. And, between dates, he sang The Messiah at Sheffield.
He took a turn back into comic opera in tours of Girouette for Charles Wibrow, and in Paola as Lucien to the Paola of Leonora Braham, but he soon returned to the opera world, as first tenor in the Arthur Rousbey company (1890-2, Faust, Lionel, Edgardo, Manrico &c). 

In 1892, he organised a little opera company to play some dates in his home region, took the role of Peter to the Dolly of Agnes Molteno in a revival of The Sultan of Mocha, and the rejoined, first, the flourishing Turner company (1892-3) and then returned to Rousbey for another three years (1895-7).
Next, he joined baritone Neilson in mounting a small English opera company which played such as The Bohemian Girl, Maritana, The Daughter of the Regiment, The Lily of Killarney, Il Trovatore, Fra Diavolo et al with artists like Constace St Bride, Charles Cowlrick and Walter Greyling through mainly minor dates, and when that company came to grief, he set up the F S Gilbert Grand Opera Company, playing similar dates, with a similar effective and an enlarged repertoire (Satanella, Faust, Rose of Castille &c), and fair success. The Gilbert company held the road for some eight years, before it collapsed in bankruptcy in 1906 ...

I see him but little thereafter: in concert with Sophie Harriss DOC (who?) and Lulu Evans DOC, billed as 'of the Carl Rosa' and with daughter, Doris Gilbert in the small print; I see him attempting a quickly vanished United English Opera Co (1907) and singing at the New Hippodrome, Porter Street, Hull, and I have a note saying he attemped America as a variety turn ,,
But comes 1911, and he and Doris are professing 'chorus singer' from 113b Kennington Rd. Wife, Edith, is managing a sweet shop. Of their other two daughters, Evelyn Maud is a music student and Phyllis Margaret is but seven. I don't know what became of them. I only know of Sam's death via a small para in a local paper ..

Then there was Bill. Bill wasn't a kosher Gilbert. William James JONES  (b Tunstall, Staffs 1855; d Millo, Pitfold, Scotland 6 August 1931) became Walter GILBERT for his career in the theatre. Which doesn't make him any the easier to track down. By the time I find him, in 1891, in a census he is already 'Walter Gilbert' and his wife is 'Madge Gilbert' (operatic vocalist). Well, we know her real name was Matilda Mary Anne Land (b Norwich November 1860; d 4 Forbesfield Rd, Aberdeen 3 August 1940), daughter of Henry Land, baker, and his wife Mary Ann. I can find no marriage record for them. They had had a son two years earlier, in Edinburgh. They are touring in Dorothy at census time. Maybe she is the 'Madge Johnson' playing Mrs Privett. No! There is 'Miss Madge Gilbert' as Lady Betty (1892).

Now, before we start on the career of 'Walter Gilbert', one word of warning. I have presumed that he is not (unless he can be in two places at once) the Walter Gilbert minstrel, music-haller and songwriter who flourished in the 1880s, and who was a few years older and born in Devon. But I haven't tried to prove it.

I assume he was still Willie Jones in his days as a choirboy at Lichfield Cathedral and St Augustine's Edgbaston .. where his obituary has him singing the Joseph Maas music in Gaul's The Holy City 'after its production at the Birmingham Festival in 1881. I was just about to search for him in the 1881 census in Birmingham where I realised there was no Festival in that year. The Holy City was premiered at the Aug/Sept Festival in 1882.
The same obituary (printed below) has him joining the Savoy chorus for the production of The Mikado in 1885, and he was on his way. He was plucked from the chorus to play the role of Nanki Poo on the road, a role he filled for some two years, moved on to feature opposite Esme Lee in the other megahit of 1885, Erminie, in 1888, and then in the less triumphant Carina with Josephine Findlay, before ducking down to Swansea for pantomime. But another hit show awaited. Gilbert (and wife, both billed as 'of the D'Oyly Carte') joined W B Redfarn's Dorothy tour. He would play the role of Geoffrey Wilder, round and round the country for more than five years. 
In 1896 he went out with Cissie Grahame's A Gaiety Girl tour, playing 'hero' Charlie Goldfield. I suspect he may also have been a silent partner in the management, for when the company came to blows with a provincial theatre (name and shame ... Ipswich!)which cancelled the well-loved musical on moral grounds, it was he who was cited in the papers, and he who went to court... and came away with the cash. 
From this time, he turned his eyes and his feet north. He appeared in Rob Roy and Cramond Brig in Scottish theatres, he sang in concert and even variety from Blairgowrie to Paisley, and in 1898 played in an Edinburgh musical comedy The Indian Prince which toured successfully. But that was the end. He took a job as acting manager and secretary at the Aberdeen Palace Variety Theatre. Once again I think he was a sleeping partner, for when, after twelve years, he left the Palace the transfer of the license was in his name. But he was not retiring. He had put together a syndicate to buy the old Aberdeen Her Majesty's Theatre building, and so divested himself of the Palace and took on, in 1910, what was going to become the Aberdeen Tivoli. Twelve further years on, he 'retired' from the Tivoli and took on the new Theatre Royal ... He didn't make it a third slice of twelve years: 'Walter Gilbert' died in Aberdeen in 1931.

Looks a fine fellow. Shame I don't have a nice photo of him as a younger performer. Anybody have one?

So, a long and pretty glorious theatrical career. Now, about that marriage ...

Mr Gilbert number three has been less forthcoming. Charlie. Charles GILBERT arrives on the visible scene in 1886, playing Baron Poncho in a second-rate piece named Rhoda, from where he continued to the Carte management, for which he played as an understudy at the Savoy, the role of Don Alhambra in The Gondoliers on tour. He also played in the Savoy forepiece Mrs Jarramie's Genie. He went on to play in a sanitised version of La Plantation Thomassin at the Prince of Wales Theatre, in The Mountebanks (Luigi Spaghetti) and Incognita (Baldomero) in the West End ... and thereafter, in 1893, vanishes from Britain theatrical annals.
Half a dozen reasonable years et puis s'en va. Was it his real name? What became of him? Who was he? Questions remaining to be answered... Oyyyyyy! The Charles [A] Gilbert Opera Company on the American road, starring Addie Cora Reed, 1893? Charles Gilbert, baritone, of the Metropolitan Opera House?  Melba tour with Charles Gilbert, baritone! Charles Gilbert, Victor recording artist ... oh, Charles Gilbert the widely known French baritone died suddenly at the Hotel Gregorian, New York 11 October 1910 ...  Ach. Too many Charles Gilberts ... I shall leave this one till I run into him ...

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Cartesians: a dip in the 'G's, or sweetheart and scandal

Back to D'Oyly Carte-land ... and, for no particular reason, a wee dip into David Stone's letter 'G' page. I've been there before, so it's mostly the hard ones and the impossible ones (I don't do the well-known ones) that are left ... but today my first three all 'co-operated' so I have two little stories and one hulking, scandal-filled tale to tell.

Ladies first.

Jessie Kathleen GILES (b 11 Gerrard Street, Reading 9 August 1869; d St Francis Nursing Home, Littlehampton 12 May 1948) was the second daughter (they would have a bundle more!) of Alfred Collins Giles, watchmaker and jeweller and his wife Lucy Ann née Leaver.

She apparently started her career as Jessie Giles (she was actually known as Kathleen) with the Carte companies, singing in the chorus of The Gondoliers in America and on tour in England in The Mikado and The Yeomen of the Guard through 1890. Immediately after, she returned to America, where she toured as Bruhetta in Ship Ahoy, Violet in The Little Tycoon and as Annie O'Tool in Myles Fadh, and ventured for the first time into the music hall, in tiny down-the-bill print at Tony Pastor's. She rose up the bill as she played at the Imperial, at Proctor's, at Keenan's Lyceum in Washington, but after some two and a half years she called an end to her American adventure and returned home.
Jessie, now billing herself as 'Jessie K Giles' (there were at least two other Jessie Gileses, and the one from Hastings had changed her name to 'Jessie Mayland') set foot in England 30 July 1893, and within weeks was appearing at the Holborn Royal ('a new serio of some promise'). After a visit to South Africa, she invested the music halls of London and Great Britain for some five years, and proved a very decided success

She was a particular favourite at Sam Collins's Music Hall on Islington Green, where her song 'Oh! Georgie' went down a treat ... 'a bright comedy songstress who embarrassed the double bass player, by addressing him as 'Georgie' and loading him with endearments and professions of love' (1893) 'She affords evidence of the possession of a very good voice ... in one of her songs she makes love to members of the band, and is undecided as to her final choice, although the drummer seems to stand very high in the vocalist's estimation ...'. Sunderland put her talents in a nutshell: 'an extremely sweet and well-cultivated voice ... mistress of a rare fund of humour'. Jessie K Giles seemed to be heading for the top. But she didn't stick to it. 13 March 1897 she married Captain John Austin Hussey (b 18 April 1858), master mariner and, within a couple of years, retired to the south coast.
It seems to have been Austin who continued artistic pursuits. I see him, in 1935, not long returned from a voyage to South Africa, writing and reciting a poem, 'Farewell to the Sea', at the Brighton and Hove Master Mariners Association: 'a sigh of regret for the passing days of the sailing ship'.
He died, aged 89, in 1947 and Jessie Kathleen, 'of the Franciscan Convent, Littlehampton' the following year.

Surprising, the folk whose life includes a period as a musical theatre chorister (spoken with feeling, the case being my own!). Robert GRAHAM [YOUNG, Robert Honiatt] (b Stepney 15 November 1869; d Hampstead 1922) was the son of Charles Vernon Young (b Tewkesbury 1831; d Earlswood House, Hackney 19 February 1880), attorney and solicitor, and his second wife, Valentia Aymer Frampton née Valentine. Mr Young was 'fourth son of Robert Young Esq of Tewkesbury', local worthy, and brother to another solicitor, Robert Young of Battle. So, what more normal that the sons and grandsons of these legal gentleman should follow the family calling. It seems to have been a paying professions, I see Charles in the 1871 census with wife, 8 child, 4 servants settled in for a life's career as a Stepney lawyer. His life was not all that long, he died aged 49, and Valentia ('second daughter of the Rev W Valentine MA, incumbent of St Thomas's Stepney') was left with her children and 3000L. Her stepson George became a solicitor, and Robert, too, was intended that way .. but oh! he would sing. By the age of 21, he was already describing himself as a professional vocalist. Apparently he was a member of the Savoy company in 1898-9, and in 1901 he is still vocalist and teacher (in Waterlooville, Hants), in 1911 'singer and vocal trainer'. I don't know where he sang (and he must not be confused with R E Graham or Jack Graham or ...) for he doesn't seem to have emerged from the chorus.
He married Laura Jane Davies in 1902, and I see that by 1911 they had produced four children ...

There are eight entries (4m, 4f) for the surname 'Gordon' in the G&S archive. 'Duglas' and her sister I have already disrobed, and the other two ladies are twentieth-century and, thus, out of my zone. Which leaves four men: E L, George, H G and J M.  J M (who was born McRobbie) has been roundly dealt with, not least in his published memoirs. 
So I thought I'd have a go at the others. I swiftly found nothing on E L who appears nowhere else in the history of the theatre except in his performance as Private Willis, unless he is Mr E Gordon of the Mohawk Minstrels (who was a tenor) or E Gordon Cleather sr moonlighting, and that George and H G were the same person: Hubert George GORDON or GORDON-MOORE (b Avenue St Cloud Paris x 8 February 1858; d Hill House Minster Ramsgate 29 October 1931).
Breeding (or, as it turned out, ill-breeding) by Cecil James Gordon 'commonly called Lord Cecil Gordon'. The hyphen-Moore bit (it was his wife's surname), and the christian name of 'Lord', clearly meant to suggest a title, were later additions. Mr Gordon the senior -- shall we call him 'Lord Cecil'? -- was actually fifth son of the Marquis of Huntley, and for a while held a purchased commission in the Highlanders. He married  and bred fluently, he went to prison as a bankrupt in 1857, and fled to France (where Hubert was born, 'father: nobleman'), and crowned his career of disrepute by abandoning wife and children and running off with his wife's much younger half sister, Lady Elinor Fitzgibbon (who was married to a close friend). The episode made a huge splash in the papers, as did the subsequent divorce suit (Cavendish v Cavendish and Gordon), as papers mused on what could cause a young wife and mother to run off with an old, ugly, penniless semi-relation. 'Lord' Cecil became a society laughing stock, as said papers came to the glaring conclusion that he was after her money. He was condemned by the courts to pay Cavendish 10,000L. I wonder if he ever did. Anyway, all this to say that, although grandson of a Marquis and 'related to a peer', Hubert George was not exactly brought up in esteem and wealth.
He was sent to Sutton's Hospital, Charterhouse, and, apparently, led a blameless career until he wed Helena Ann White in 1882. Here's the certificate: the Gordons turned out for the occasion. I presume Lady Cecil Gordon (harrumph!) is mama, who had retrenched to a grace and favour apartment at Hampton Court after her 'trouble', and not the bolter... the Metaxa is from Helena's side

Well, bad blood will out. A year or so later Helena was suing for divorce, and the recital of George's marital misdeeds that was brought before the court did not make pleasant reading. She kindly forebore to name a co-respondent. It may not have been female ... Anyway, Helena got her divorce ...

I don't know where George was in the next years. He seems to have sidestepped the censi. We know he was in England in 1885 to 1901, because he was playing Pish Tush, Arac et al with the Carte ... 

He pops up in 1911, on tour, in Sculcoates, rooming with one 'Drake Goodban' ...

And just when I'd sussed all this, I found this little article from an Aberdeen paper of 1935 ...

The Miracle was 1911. And silent.

George was not the only one of the children and grandchildren of 'Lord and Lady Cecil Gordon' to go on the stage. Nor the only one to get shamed in the divorce courts: brother Cecil starred in the newsworthy Goss divorce suit. 
On the theatrical side, George's niece, [Gabrielle] Marguerite Cornille (b 1881), daughter of sister Edith and her French husband, Oscar Henri Félix Cornille, made a very much more remarkable career than did her uncle, starring on the music halls from her teenage years. 

She married the motorist Arthur Cecil Edge, who died at the age of 28.

The progeny of the Marquis of Huntley and their 'exploits' would fill a book. But someone else can write it.

I'm going for another dip in the 'G'. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Carrick House, Eday, Orkney

Orkney! Magical word. When I was a tiny tot, my brother and I had the 'imaginary world' that so many children of our pre-television generation did. Being practical little boys, we had to situate our land somewhere in the real world so .. we looked at the big map on John's bedroom wall, and we chose the most far-off (from New Zealand) place, and we peopled it with our characters -- Maureen Pitchfork, Quasilda Harrington, Mr Prick --- and spent many an hour there, organising sports events ...

The unlikely, doubtless uninhabited, isles that we chose for our kingdom, were in that never-neverland north of the bundaries of the civilised world, north of Scotland where grandma and grandad came from ... the Shetlands and the Orkneys ...

A year or two later, when we were adults of 12 and 8, and childish games and lands were behind us, we smiled that, someday, we would go there and see those islands. Well, I never did. I never got further north than Kincardineshire. But John did. Thoroughly. He has even had an opera (The Iris Murders, mus: Alasdair Nicolson) produced there, was Festival Poet for the Orkney Festival, and got unofficially (we don't go in much for 'official') married there, with Viking trimmings we could not even have imagined, back in the 1950s  ...

So, even though I have never been there, Orkney has still a place in my life ...

And yesterday I came upon this photo. Real people from Orkney. So, since they were named, I thought I'd just check them out ..

Two sisters. Clara and Louisa, child named Eva, and doggie unnamed. But both ladies are labelled as being surnamed as HEBDEN née RANKEN. Both? Surely the inscriber has got muddled. But no, these sisters married brothers ...

Louisa Ann RANKEN (b Kirkwall, Orkney 11 April 1852; d Carrick House, Isle of Eday, Orkney 19 August 1900) was the elder of the two ... I wonder which one she is, above ... Clara Isabella RANKEN (b Kirkwall, Orkney 1857; d 22 Ann Street, Edinburgh 7 June 1934) was five years younger. They were the two younger daughters of Bryce MacMurdo Ranken and his wife Janet Young née Pollexfen. Mr Ranken was a solicitor and, I see, procurator fiscal for Orkney. Their brother, Thomas, would become the island's sherrif

Their husbands were, respectively, Harry Cawardine HEBDEN (b Ely Grange, Frant, Sussex x 15 January 1842;  d Carrick House, Eday 5 August 1901) and Alfred Charles HEBDEN (b Ardpatrick House, Loch Fine, 14 April 1850; d Nairn 1892), younger sons of Robert James Hebden and his wife, Caroline Hester née Walker. Robert Hebden of Carrick House, was Orkney aristocracy: 

Robert James Hebden, Esq introduced sheep-farming on a large scale into Eday with much success, his flock being composed of Cheviots, which thrive well on the island. He further improved a large extent of land around his residence in the NE part of the island, and built a commodious farm-steading, with water-driven machinery. 

By chance, Louisa had drawn the prize: The two eldest sons of R J Hebden predeceased their father, so when the 'laird of the manor' died in 1877, it was no 3 son, Harry, who had been trained for the sea
and travelled the world as a youngster, who inherited Carrick and its 7500 acres. Alfred Charles, described as a 'civil engineer' settled in Nairn, where this photo was taken ... when? Some time in the 1880s, I imagine. The child, Eva, should date it .. but ...
Louisa had five children: Florence Hester, Ethel Muriel (died age 22), Hildred Louise (d age 19), Harry Hamilton (Major) and Douglas James Ranken Hebden ... their lichen-eaten gravestone can be seen, with Cawardine and Louisa, and others of the family, in Eday cemetery 

And Clara? Well, the family historians have a big blank after Alfred and Clara ...  so I simply don't know. Whose baby are you?

This tale doesn't end here. As I always do, I followed up, and what did I find ...

'These' was a bundle of freshly-taken family photographs. Sent by 'C H H'. No date. Well, C H H seems surely to be mother Caroline Hester Hebden, matriarch of Carrick House, rather than her daughter Caroline Harriet Hebden ... but .... here we have the family, who have had a photo party at the studio of Mr J W Jackson of Burntisland... alas only two are labelled ... (and there is no trace of the corn plaster)

The 'gate' also features in this one, which is labelled as Arthur Hebden ...

Then we have Edith [Eleanor] STEWART née HEBDEN, wife of William Stewart (m 1876) ...


So, no doubting that that the Matriarch in the middle ... and then ... five of her ten children?  Three, plus father, by the 1880s are dead, leaving 
Harry Cawardine (1843-1901)
Frederick William (1844-1931)
Caroline Harriet (1846-1925, Mrs Duglas MacColl)
Edith Eleanor (1848-1928, Mrs William Stewart)
Alfred Charles (1850-1892)
Arthur (1851-1932)
Henrietta Fanny (1853-1927, Mrs T W Leisk Spence)

The boys don't look old enough ... but we know Edith and Arthur are there ... so that must be Henrietta in the front, and the photo must be 1870s ... what a shame mamma didn't date her wee lost-and-found note! 

Carrick House, Eday

Ah me, that's as close as I'll ever get to Orkney ... but it was nice 'visiting' ...