Wednesday, July 1, 2020

A Cartesian pot pourri of Surprise Ps

I was in two minds over whether to bother blogging the left-overs from my 'Letter P' delvings. I thought those remnanted folk might just be a name (real or not), a date if I were lucky, and a couple of credits ... 

G M PALMER was an example. Apart from his job as Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance, alongside Laura Joyce, A W F McCollin, Marie Conron et al, touring in 1880, and a possible sighting at Tony Pastor's the year after, there was nothing to be found.

I dogged on. James Paxton who played Ralph Rackstraw? 'He is weak both as an actor and a singer. He should be retired'. Ouch. Well, he didn't retire. He had a twenty-year career as a singer, mostly safely back in his baritone range.
James [Pyburn] PAXTON (b Murton, Northumberland 23 March 1852; d Chicago 17 October 1896) was born in England, of Andrew Paxton (cabinet-maker) and his wife Martha née Proctor. The cuple and their five children emigrated to Illinois in the 'sixties, and young James worked as a clerk and a bookkeeper in a Chicago store while studying music at Allen's Academy and singing as a tenor in the choir of the Third Unitarian Church. When the locals staged Cox and Box, Paxton played Box.
In 1878, he joined the company at Hamlin's Theatre, playing in The Naiad Queen with Georgina Smithson, and the following year was cast as Corcoran in Bruno Kennicott's unpretentious HMS Pinafore company. I see that another member was Louis Raymond, the last husband of Alice May. I see him at Detroit in stock, and with John McCullough's company at Haverley's Chicago (1880) before he joined the Comley Barton tour, playing Valentin in Olivette. In 1883 he was on the road with Jennie Kimball's company (Cloches de Corneville etc), and it was with them that, in 1885, he attempted his primo tenore moment, opposite, for heaven's sake, Mattie Daniel[le], the ex-Soldene chorus girl who had been demoted from principal step-ins in New Zealand.
He name appears ('bass') in the lists of the Bijou Opera Company (1885) which seemingly became Barnett's New York Ideals, but which was nevertheless a stronger team -- Adelaide Randall, Augusta Roche, W H Hamilton, Harry Pepper -- with whom I see he played des Ifs in Olivette and something in La Mascotte. In 1888 he is with W H Hamilton's Church Choir Co, leading tenor Wallace McCreery (The Bohemian Girl, Maritana, Martha, Ruddigore, Mikado) and then took part in the production of the musical Ship Ahoy (1890).
He was engaged next for the Jeannie Winston company (La Périchole, Les Manteaux noirs, Donna Juanita, Prince Methusalem) as a supporting 'baritone soloist' ... but that seems to have been his final job. He died in Chicago at the age of 44. 
I didn't, truthfully, expect to turn up so much on him. He worked pretty steadily, he can't have been that bad.

Fred[erick] W[illiam] PAT[T]RICK (b Wickham, Kent 26 November 1862; d 17 St Paul's Crescent, Camden Town 17 April 1945) on the other had, yielded less than I expected.
His birth surname was Patrick with one 't', his father, Fred, had a series of unskilled jobs (porter, messenger &c), his mother was Elizabeth née Hillier, and his first job was as a printer and compositor. But something had happened in the meantime: many years on a Mr F W Pattrick was a (singing) guest at a Hull Orphange function, where it was said that he had been a resident scholar 1872-77!
My first sighting of him as a vocalist comes in 1889. He is with Carte's Yeomen of the Guard company, they are in Doddridge, Northants, and they give a concert for the local hospital. Interesting bill. Kate Talby, Cadwaladr, Marchmont, Cairns James, Maynard Roberts ('Salve dimora'), Cecil Barnard (piano!), J Philps, Rose Waldeck, Miss P Alberga (who?), Tom Redmond, Jessie Moore, Edward Clowes, Alice Gresham, Jose Shalders ... Fred sang Jude's popular 'The Skipper'. 

His career for a dozen years, up to May 1902, was with the company (details in the g&s archive), after which he went touring as the Rajah of Bhong in The Country Girl (1903) with Valerie de Lacey as Nan, The Cingalee, and as Mr Hazell in The Earl and the Girl (1905), before returning to the Cartesian fold.

He remained there, in a reduced capacity, until 1915, but he was not finished yet. He appeared in several Oscar Asche pieces, including Chu Chin Chow (where he ultimately succeeded to the role of Kasim Baba) and Cairo, and directed amateur shows around the country, through the 1920s ...

His private life was, it seems, less satisfying. While on tour with Carte in 1893 (12 November) he married Rosa Emily May (b Sonning 1860). Helier Le Maistre was witness to to ceremony, the other was a local plumber. So I don't know whether Miss May was a member of the company or not. The marriage lasted long enough for them to produce a little Freda May Patrick (1894). Rosa is said to have lived to be a centenarian and to have died in America.

Which brings me to 'George Paulton'. Hmm Paulton was a famous musical theatre name in the 19th century. Harry of that ilk was star performer and the author of one of the most successful musicals of the era in Erminie. Therefore, I have long since investigated him and his family minutely, and when I saw this George feller mentioned as a son, I said 'no'. And I was right. But it is one thing knowing that he wasn't a kosher Paulton, and altogether another knowing what his real name was. Yes, I got there ... but it still not clean cut.

George PAULTON [FUCHS, Peter Julius] (b 29 St Paul Street, Islington 1867; d Salford 1930) was clearly born in London. His parents, Peter Fuchs (baker and confectioner) and Jacobina née Wallraff were married there the previous year. So why does he, more than once, say he was born in Germany? Curious. He says a few things ...
Anyway, 'George', understandably, started life as a baker's apprentice. And, all through his theatrical career, he seems to have maintained his connection with bread and cake, although at least on his marriage certificate he admits to being a performer. That career seems to have started in 1890 or 1891 when he went on the road with Charles Wibrow's Paul Jones company. The company toured large and long, and perhaps he stayed with it. But I spot him next voyaging to America, in 1894, with the Carte Utopia (Limited) team, then as Harold in His Excellency and, in 1896, as Bonsor in The New Barmaid. He supported Little Tich in Lord Tom Noddy (1897) and Billy (1898), toured in La Poupée (1899-1900) .. and became a husband and a father.
His wife called herself Flora Mary Ernest, daughter of Charles Ernest, tenor. Actually, she was Flora Mary Parker, and daddy was Ernest Charles T Parker, singing teacher, of Chelsea. 

They were to have eight children over the years to come, of whom all but two, Violet Flora Marguerite and Peter, died young. George continued to work his seemingly double-life, as a bakery manager in Leyton, and a singer in musicals such as Amorelle (1904) and Jack and Jill (1906) ... and in 1911 I see them all together .. Violet is a cardboard-box maker ...
Now, its sometime a little hard to un-newsworthy follow folk between 1911 and 1939. But Violet took a trip to America in 1922, and she filled in her parents' address: care of Smith, 47 Fort Street, Ayr. Violet has risen to being a 'clerkess'. Oh! She wed once she got there! Gordon B Farquhar. And had a baby Gordon Glenn Farquhar ... and on the baby's birth registration she is listed as Violet née ... Paulton! Oh! this family! Violet died 20 December 1948 in Chicago ...

Arthur PAYNE. Wait a moment ... I've been here before!  This is Arthur LORRAINE ... see earlier blog...

Miss A PERCY. Well, it could be Miss A Percy who played the Pavilion in 1869, the Annie Percy who was ballad vocalist at the Hull Alhambra, the one in the Kidderminster stock company 1871-2, or even the one touring with the Milton Rays in 1895 ... or it could be a typo ....

Laura PROCTER (b Oamaru 1864; d Croydon 1913) was an ephemeral Cartesian, and an ephemeral performer. Born in New Zealand, the daughter of publican Thomas Procter (d Avon Street, Oamaru 13 January 1890) of the White Hart then Royal Hotel, Oamaru (later Mayor of the town) and his wife Catherine Elizabeth née Kendall (d Avon Street 4 December 1896). She went to London about 1889 'to complete her musical studies'. In the only London concert appearance I can spy she sang 'Regnava nel silenzio' on a bill including Ganz, Wilfred Bendall, Tito Mattei, Helen D'Alton, Franklin Clive ... joined the Carte chorus, and promptly married the cousin (Edgar Alfred Birtles) with whom she was lodging and became a wife with a daughter, Edna Winifred ... 

Juliette PIEMONTE. It has taken me 30 years to work this one out. Juliette worked steadily in the British musical theatre for a decade, playing with a series of opéra-bouffe companies -- those of Emily Soldene, Cornélie d'Anka, Alice May, Richard South -- and with Hariel Becker's company she appeared as Clairette to the Lange of Rose Bell and the Pitou of Henry Hallam. When Alice May was starred at the St James's Theatre as Le Petit Duc, Juliette went too, and played The Rose of Auvergne as a forepiece, which possibly means that she was Alice's understudy.
In 1879, she went touring with HMS Pinafore (it is suggested she covered Buttercup rather than Josephine), sang at Augusta Mehlhorn's concert in London, toured as leading lassie in Wilfred Bendall's operetta Lover's Knots alongside Fred Clifton, played in Babes in the Wood at Glasgow, and teamed with George Power and Fanny Edwards to try out Henri Loge's ineffective Incognito. In 1881 she sang Trial by Jury at the Alexandra Palace, in1882, she toured with a little operetta company as soprano to the contralto of Isabelle Muncey and the tenor of Fred Wood, playing The Beautiful Galatea, The Waterman, Prizes and Blanks et al, and I spot her last, in 1883 singing at the Alexandra Palace.
So, who was she? The was a Mancunian lassie by the name of Juliet Smith who showed great promise around this time ... ah, no, there she is in 1880, creating John Crook's Sage and Onions .. so Juliette with her half-French half-Italian 'name' remains a ...
Omigosh, look at this .. 1898 .. in my birth-town of Wellington, NZ ...

And good old Wellington gives us the answer. Juliette PIEMONTE [Ellen Elizabeth PEARMAN] (b ?Coventry ?1850; d Wellington 18 February 1931). Apparently, the daughter of Thomas Pearman, photographer 'of 31 Warren Street', and his wife, Ellen. Married Mr William Frank England of England and Wellington (1887), mother of Mr Philip Desire England (b 26 December 1889), golfer and automobilist, of Wanganui, Captain Louis Walter England of Auckland (b 12 July 1894), Sergeant Frank William England (1891-20 February 1919)... died 'aged 77' and buried at Karori .. oh ..
I notice that Juliette's younger sister, Phyllis, married a John Desiré England (1887), a 'dry plate maker'. Keeping photogaphy in the family ... but the family is, otherwise, a little difficult to decipher. But who cares ... at last I found Juliette! And in my own city ...

Well, as teckery, I reckoned, it can't get much better that that. But, tidying up for the night, I hit another puzzle, to replace the one solved. but this one is a different kind of puzzle. I thought I'd sweep J H Poskitt (sic) off the plate of Ps. And swept myself right inot a mystery which I, then, only half solved. 

No problem with the first part. John Herbert POSKITT was born in Queensbury, Yorkshire, the son of 
Frederick a draper and his wife Mary Elizabeth née Evison. He was christened 15 May 1870. Mary Elizabeth (b Caistor, Lincs) tells us in the 1881 census that she is a vocalist. I wonder which type.  Anyway, little John soon showed the way he was going. In 1891, although he was quite an adult, he joined Montague Roby's Midget Minstrels, a kiddie team 'all between 10 and 16' as the troupe's interlocutor. I get the feeling he was a bit of a munchkin, like the one star to come out of the troupe, funny little Louie Freear of A Chinese Honeymoon and 'Martha Spanks the Grand pianner' fame. When he coudn't pass for a child anymore, he went on the halls as a novelty vocalist, described as 'the juvenile baritone'. And from there, somehow, into the D'Oyly Carte shows, which I wouldn't have thought needed a 'novety' act! But he played Tarara in Utopia (Limited) and Ben Hashbaz in The Grand Duke and got married. For a while.

It is the lady whom he married who is the mystery in all this. She was a widow, a singer, and surely a member of the company, for her first husband had also been a Cartesian. Her maiden name had been Arabella Annie Madle, apparently known as 'Annie' (b City of London 3 July 1860), daughter of a Greenhithe publican, and her husband had been Leonard Arthur Rooke (b Alnwick 1852), umpteenth child of the vicar of Embleton, and known to the stage as 'Arthur Leonard'. The archive says he joined the company in 1890, in which case he was married, and father of two sons (Leonard Harry Hepple Rooke 13 March 1888-1944, Arthur Eustace 1889-1914), already: therefore I guess he and Annie must have worked together somewhere else earlier. Anyway, they can be seen, on tour, in Wigan in the 1891 census, along with D S Jeffrey and wife and an Elizabeth Mary Matthews. 

In 1892, on tour, Annie caught scarlet fever and had to be left behind as the company moved on. A fortnight later, Arthur cut his throat in his digs in Huddersfield.

Did Annie stay wth the company? Well, she married Poskitt in 1899, they had a son, Jack Herbert (b Meersbrook Bank, Derbyshire 1899) and, while he continued as a 'coster and character comedian' on the halls, she stayed home with the three little boys. In the 1911 census Annie is running a sweet shop in Aston Manor, eldest son Leonard is trying to be an actor, littlest son Jack is eleven, there are three boarders, three visitors ... and Poskitt is nowhere to be seen. Annie must have regretted her first husband, for she went back to calling herself 'Rooke' and at some stage got a divorce.
Poskitt seems to have died in 1935, Annie was still living, alongside son Leonard who named her his executor when he died in 1944. Little Jack had been registered, already, at school in 1913 as Poskitt or Rooke ... I wonder what became of him, poor wee bugger.
Annie had not had much luck in her married life. Now I just have to find out what she called herself on stage. 

Well, as you can see, my 'quick' Ps (hehe they turned out 'Surprise Ps') turned out to be nothing of the kind,  so there are still a podful to do ...

And if I had unlooked for success with some baby Ps, I failed utterly with Catherine PELLING. Born Maidstone, Kent. There's one of that name playing piano in Shirwell and Thetford ... and our one left a fan 'used in The Mikado' (oyoy pinching the props!) and a 'green embroidered silk train' 'from a dress worn by [her] when playing the Duchess in Haddon Hall'. Errrr, WHAT Duchess in Haddon Hall? My last sighting of elusive Cathy is in 1891, playing her usual role of Inez in The Gondoliers. Haddon Hall  was produced in 1892 ... so ... more work needed! But .. what Duchess?

Oh, golly. Midnight .. 

Well, I may start the last Ps in the pot tomorrow...

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