Saturday, April 29, 2023

Warwick Gray: one more Cartesian uncovered


I've neglected my old Cartesians for quite a while. But something led me this week to refer to Mr Gray and I saw that the G&S Archive had but a three-line comment on his creation of the role of Guron in Princess Ida, and his performances as Willis in Iolanthe. The fourth line simply says 'little is know of his career before or after the D'Oyly Carte other than he ran a children's opera company in the late 1880s'.

A challenge?

Frederick Warwick Gray was born in Portsmouth 23 February 1841, the son of Lt Herbert Blackford Gray RN, coastguard, and his wife Emma Louisa née Stow. The family can be seen guarding the coast at Newtown, Calbourne in the 1841 census: Fred is 3 months old.

Herbert died 31 January 1849 and Emma was left with three children to bring up. In 1851, she can be seen in Shalfleet Village in the Isle of Wight with her younger children and her unmarried sister. She is an annuitant, so maybe Herbert died in the course of duty. Fred is gone. Where? To school in Greenwich. And then to join the navy. I see he was made a lieutenant in 1859: 'gentleman cadet Frederick W Gray to be 2nd lieutenant and seconded to Portsmouth'.

Now we come to the muddly bit. Fred married. The records say clearly that it was in 1871 to Harriet née Moss. The family historians say it was to Henrietta Newman in 1873. And Clara Butt (yes, the Clara Butt) related to a journalist, in later years, that her mother's sister married him. Her mother was Clara Hook from Shoreham. Her elder sister was Dorinda or Derenda or Belinda Hook (b 1844) and she was married in 1868. Her younger sister was Jane Ann (b 1847), and she wed a William Green. And seems to have died in her twenties. Well, I can't find Fred in the 1861 census. Maybe he was afloat. Ah, yes. On board the Princess Royal, 91 guns, off to the front!

But, by 1866, he, 'formerly a lieutenant in the Royal Marines', is a bankrupt banker's clerk in Birkenhead. Next, by 1871 he is in Islington, putting his education to use as a tutor. With a wife named Hetty. From Shoreham. In 1881 he's in Horfield, Gloucs, still with Hetty from Shoreham, now described as a 'manufacturer'. But what is this? A niece? Paulina Martha Gray? The mystery thickens. Paulina was not a common name, but Mrs Hook was a Paulina .. and there, in 1871, is baby Paulina Martha Green (oh, d 1882) with grandfather Joseph Hook! Whose baby? So Miss Butt is not wholly inventing! There is a connection between the families. So who is 'Hetty'? Is she Derenda, having shed her original name? Oh I see there was also a Mary and -- yes, a Harriet ... and what's this 'granddaughter Louisa Stone' .. Louisa Ann Eade Stone ..  Sorry, I can't resist digging deeper ... Michael E Stone, coastguard, wife Jane, Elizabeth, Emily, Louisa Stone and Margaret Hook, daughters ... Mary Ann Hook aged 4 ...  OK William J Hook (son of Joseph) married Margaret Stone, daughters Mary Ann, Paulina (gotcha!) ... oh! and gotcha again!!!!!!! Harriet Hook married Robert Moss 1857. Fred was her second husband ....  and Harriet was indeed Clara's mother's sister!!

Back to Fred.

So, there is Fred at 40 years of age, manufacturing in Gloucestershire .. but now he has already started performing. There he is at the Penny Street Lecture Hall, Portsmouth, in 1878 in an amateur charity concert. And again in 1879 ('Friar of Orders Grey', 'The Tar's Farewell') and 1880 ... Mr F Warwick Gray master of  Warwick House, Chester, Southsea ... not exactly a structured career!

And, finally, in 1883, the road to professionalism: 

And, after a few like concerts, came the engagement with Carte, Iolanthe, Princess Ida ...

At Xmas 1884 he was the Demon King in the Sanger's Amphitheatre pantomime (Louie Freear was 'Little Boy Blue') and, in 1885, he formed his Children's opera company, to perform La Fille de Madame Angot. They opened 13 April at Hastings, featuring 'Miss Marie Montrose' and 'Miss Alice Clairette' and Master F Kingsland. Little Louie Freear apparently scored a hit as Trénitz.

The venture proved a success and the company stretched its field of operation from the south of England, round the country. Les Cloches de Corneville was added to the repertoire, then Dolly Varden, My Sweetheart, Billee Taylor et al, and 'Mrs Warwick Gray' was added to the managerial line. Masters John Leicester Windust (died aged 16), Victor Gouriet and Willie Garvey, the Misses Ethel Hunt, Florence Shortland, Minnie Leverentz and Carrie Kavanagh joined Master Kingsland on the bill, and Fred was known to take to the boards to give a few ballads, and the Sentry's Song, mendaciously described as 'his original role'. 

By 1890 they were advertising 'over 1000 performances', had performed before royalty ... but then called it a day. Instead, Fred launched an adult company playing a piece entitled Black Diamonds, or Lights and Shadows of Pit Life. It, too, proved to have several seasons of life in it.

He and Hetty settled in Havant, where Fred advertised his servies as a manager for other folks' companies (he was for a time business manager with the Moore and Burgess Minstrels), penned the odd ditty, and gave his bass ballads at local amateur concerts ('The Boys of the Old Brigade'). 

Apparently he didn't do so well nowadays. In 1901 he and Hetty are living at Cosey Nook, Warblington. Hetty (I presume it is she) is now Madame Henriette Gray and gives Kingston, Surrey as her birthplace. However, when she takes Fred to court for money, under the Married Women's Act, in 1904, she is Mrs Harriet Gray again! All seems to have settled, but, in 1909, she has another go. Is it a scam? I don't know. But the Havant house was sold up and, in the 1911 census, Fred is alone in Southport, still 'married' ... a marital split at age 70? In 1921 he is a widower, working for a firm of carriers, in lodgings in Essex.

I don't know where Hetty went, but I see that Fred died in Burnham-on-Crouch in March 1926. Ah! died Harriet Gray of the Snuggery, Denvilles, Havant 4 May 1911 ... 

So, now at least we have the 'top and tail' of Mr Warwick Gray. And even sorted out the Clara Butt thing ...

Alway pays to come back to these articles for a re-dig a year or three later.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

The American musical theatre: The Million Dollar Doll


This morning's little discovery ...

I don't imagine many followers and scholars of the American musical theatre have heard of The Million Dollar Doll. I hadn't. So these intrigued me ...

It saw the light of stage in 1914. Exactly where and when I cannot be sure, but it was announced in early September, and I spot it playing at Watertown, Wisc on 7 October, as part of a series of one night engagements. It -- or something under the same title -- was still to be seen, under the same management, trouping the country four years later. So, what was it? And who were Mr Orr and Mr Weslyn.

'The Million Dollar Girl' title was a ripoff. Maurice Abrahams's song 'Oh, you Million Dollar Doll' had been doing the round of the vaudevilles for the past eighteen months or more ..

But titles in those days -- as in these - didn't necessarily have any relevance to the entertainment. The management's next show was entitled There She Goes. 

And in the same fashion, a piece described as 'musical comedy' wasn't necessarily a coherent musical play. Oh, it had music (lots) and comedy (lots) and often speciality acts ... but it was more a series of vaudeville turns, linked by a smidgin of plot and character.

The Million Dollar Girl claimed to be more than that. Harvey D Orr (b Wooster, Ohio 19 December 1865; d Indianapolis 8 June 1940) advertised determinedly 'a musical comedy with a complete story and plot'. Plus 22 songs. And, at some stage 'a carload of scenery and an aerial ballet 'The Birth of the Butterfly'. Plus ..

Mr Orr, farmer's son from Ohio, had seemingly never produced a musical before. His area, as actor and manager, had been the stock theatre in Chicago ('Harvey Dramatic Co' at Bush Temple of Music) and then for several seasons on the road, from Kalamazoo to Peoria (Harvey D Orr Stock Company, Life's Shop Window, The Confession and others, advertised as New York's greatest hits). 

Somewhere along the way, he came together with 'Mr Weslyn' of Indianapolis. Weslyn was rightly one Louis Weslyn Jones (b Indianapolis 12 October ?1874; 31 December 1936) who had been writing and publishing minstrel sketches and songs for over 20 years whilst earning his bread as collector, reporter, bookkeeper, press agent. I notice a song 'Dreams' published in 1893, another 'Rastus' for the 'Colombian Minstrels' a sketch The King of the Filipinos for Al G Fields's Minstrels, Moonflowers for Edd Redway and a Gertrude Lawrence (not that one), Cupid's Ladder (which he performed himself with Rhoda Nickells), Levinsky's Old Shoes ... He at some stage joined the staff at M Witmark & Sons, and came out with lyrics and sometimes tunes for a number of successful songs. 

So producer, writer and title somehow came together ...  and that plot? I can't find a review that details the much vaunted plot. I think it may have got drowned amid the songs and the girls. And the cast? Apart from Harvey himself, who is the comical gangler above .. well, I can't find them either. Except that his son or brother joined him in the billing latterly. (He had two sons by his first wife, who died young)

Mr Orr published the show's songs freely. They pop up on numerous websites, with ever-changing lists of singles. 'The Dancing Craze', 'My Little Fox Trot Girl' (lyric credit shared with Herman Hupfeld!) and 'When a Fellow Needs a Friend' seem to have been the stayers. 'Society', 'Night Time', 'I guess it isn't apt to happen again' were among the others.

That's it really. Until I can find a plot and a programme. Can anyone help?

Oh, the duo worked on two more shows together before the vein ran out...

PS a bit of documentataion on Mr Orr

Louis was less informatively buried in Brooklyn where there is less room ..

The Million Dollar Doll is buried forever. Unless a tatty old script turns up in an attic one day ...

Denistown, Pa

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

The sisters Leamar: historically scrambled

Lovely photo today. 'The sisters Leamar'. 

I've never investigated them properly, for they were really music-hall and pantomime artists. So, finding this photo, today, I had a wee peek ... and, horror!

Rarely have I found folk so ill-treated by those who write about such things. Umpteen different birth-names and dates, and 'facts' ... yes, I know some of their statistics are a bit awkward, but you have to work at these things

Their real surname was LEWIS. Not Duncan. Lewis. They were the children of waterman's son, George William (or occasionally James) Lewis, who dealt in coke and coal, and his wife, potter's daughter, Jane [Elizabeth] née Wheeler (m 13 November 1853) of Francis Street, Lambeth. 

They. Here's the rub. Mr and Mrs Lewis had heaps of children, eight of whom were girls. Five of whom became performers. And folk have mixed them all up. Particularly the amateur family tree makers, who have got the girls linked up to all sorts of irrelevant folk .. married (or not) to the wrong people, dying before their time ... One reference book (Kilgarriff) insists firmly that Alice Leamar was NOT related to The Sisters Leamar (who were two and only two), others insist that the delightful duo were any two of the five...

So, although I have not yet found all the facts of the fab five, I'll list what I have here, as a starting point. And the starting point to the starting point, as so often, are the British censi. 1871: mum and dad with daughters Jane, Mary, Emma, Elizabeth, Rose and Alice and son George at 9 Dorset Rd, Lambeth. 1881: 451 Wandsworth Rd mum and dad with George, Rose, Alice, Maud and Charles.

The five who are relevant to us are Mary, Emma, Rose, Alice and Maud, of whom all but Rosie worked under the name of LEAMAR.  Mary called herself 'Nellie Leamar', and Emma went as 'Kate Leamar' and these two were the act known as the Leamar Sisters and pictured above. 

Mary was the second daughter -- the first, Jane, 'machinist', did not go into showbiz and disappears from my ken -- and was born in ?1857. Emma [Henrietta or Harriet] was born the following year (d 26 May 1893). 

They made their first appearance as duettists in 1876, now Nellie and Kate, and quickly became recognised as 'the most charming serio-comic duettists on the stage .. few equals and no superiors' with their numbers 'Why is the world so gay today?', 'Two girls of good society', 'Did you ever tell of the harem?', 'Spooning', 'One Kiss More' etc.

Kate married quickly and inside the business. Her husband was William Richard Bint, comic singer known as 'Billy Bint', and they had a son, Sydney. (Sydney apparently called his family Rothschild ...)

Nellie married spectacularly. Into the peerage. The Honourable Hubert Ernest Valentine Duncombe was younger son of the Earl of Feversham, and big in Yorkshire. The marriage didn't last. After one son, Hubert divorced her for infidelity with a chap named Harry Yates. 

Typical of the press paras at the time was this piece of nonsense ... five, no six errors?

OK. So that is 'the sisters Leamar', a highly appreciated act on the Victorian platform and stage. 'Nellie' and 'Kate'.  Both, I fear, of the infidelity brigade ... but pretty and talented ...  Nellie died 5 July 1938. Kate was already 45 years in her grave.

The other sisters?

Elizabeth ('Lizzie') (1860-1925) married a chimney cleaner by name Frank William Jiggens (1860-1938). 

At age 20, Rosie (b 1864) followed her sisters into the theatre. But she didn't take the curious Scottish-Singhalese name of Leamar. She went out under her real patronym of Rosie Lewis. It wasn't Lewis off the bills for long, though. Rosie married (1882, 'as Rosetta Lewis') the fine comic actor known as Thomas ('P') Haynes (d Camberwell 16 February 1915) and they worked often together round the country until 1900, when Rosie's name disappears from the bills. She seems to have died in 1908 'aged 39'.

T P Haynes

And then came Alice [Maud]. Born in Lambeth 22 June 1869. Alice would be the most successful solo performer of the Lewis family. Read elsewhere. Also the survivor. Although she had a brief marriage (1892) to a rather footloose 'Captain' Charles Shirley Butler (d Greece 1923), she lived her later days alone, up to her death 30 November 1950, in Brinsworth House, the Artists' Benevolent Home in Twickenham. (So, no, family historians she did NOT die in the 1930s). In her last years she remarried a Mr Griffiths.


One more. Maud. Yeh, well Maud. She capitalised on the Leamar name, and Alice's success -- notably in the colonies -- she was well enough liked, except by married men's wives  -- more than that, I care not to know. I lose her after 1896.

That's five. 'Nellie', 'Kate', Rosie, Alice, Maud .....

A starter only. But at least we've got rid of at least some of the falsehoods surrounding the family. I hope.

Work in progress.

Friday, April 14, 2023

Mlle Angele (mezzo): a discovery in three parts


When, a dozen years ago, I first started this little article on one of England's finest Victorian mezzos, I had no beginning nor end to my story. Her career was clear enough, but ... who was she? And what became of her?  I moved on to other subjects, but I kept my eye cocked ... and finally, finally I winkled out the answers I was seeking ...

Alas, no photographs. Yet.

ANGELE, Elena [ANGELL, Ellen] (b Pall Mall, London 11 September 1834; d New York 2 March 1913)


In May 1864, an advertisement appeared in the London concert listings, standing up among the announcement of Madame Sainton-Dolby’s Annual Grand Concert at St James’s Hall, Howard Glover’s latest monster star-drenched concert, Kate Gordon’s matinées musicales (with fourteen high society sponsors) and a showcase by a Mr William Richardson Dempster ‘(from America)’ of his compositions The May Queen and The Idylls of the King at Collard’s Rooms:


‘Mlle Elena Angele has the honour to announce her FIRST SOIREE MUSICALE at the Beethoven Rooms, 76 Harley Street. Tomorrow, May the 18th, at half past 8. Vocalists: Miss Banks, Mlle Elena Angele, and Miss Messent, Mr Brewster Wylie from the Conservatoire, Paris (his first appearance) and Sig Nappi. Instrumental artists – Mr Boleyne Reeves, Giulio Regondi, Herr Lidel and Mr Charles Halle. Conductors Mr C J Hargitt and Signor Fiori. Single tickets 10s6d to admit three 21s. May be had of Mlle Angele, 14, Margaret Street, Cavendish Square; at Messrs Cramer, Wood & Co’s 201 Regent Street, and at Messrs Cock, Hutchings & Co’s, New Bond Street.’


A respectable programme, at a secondary but respectable venue, on a date a little before the fashionable part of the season, and offering some recognisable and appreciable artists, from sopranos Sophia Messent and Ann Banks to pianist Halle. But Mlle Angele? Who, pray, was Mlle Angele? The advertisement offered no clues. If the Scots vocalist David Brewster Wylie was decorated with his education at the Florence (?) Conservatoire, Mlle Angele offered nothing in the same line. No ‘pupil of’, no ‘from the principal theatres of’, nothing. Just this half-Italian, half-French name which, to the suspicious and the curious and me, surely signified that she was neither. And she wasn’t.


It took me a very long while to dig up the verity of ‘Mlle Angele’. I don’t know why, for the obvious inference was that she was in truth a Miss Ellen Angel or Angell. Which she was. And I finally uncovered her, as such, in the depths of the 1871 census, at 45 Manchester Street, a ‘professor of singing’ aged 27, living with her widowed mother, Charlotte (b Hertford). And from there it unrolled.

Ellen (who was not 27 – she had allowed herself to age 6 years and 5 years respectively between the two previous censi and was actually 36) was the daughter of one Thomas Clifford Angell (b Fulbeck, Yorks, 11 September 1798; d Marylebone, 1856), glover, and his wife, Charlotte Read née Elson (1801-1876) from Hertford Town (m Marylebone 11 September 1820).

The Angells seem to have been a considerably large family if, as I suspect, it is they who show up in Friday Street, Cheapside in the 1841 census: Thomas hotel-keeper, Charlotte, and sons Henry and Goulding. It is, in any case, definitely him ‘general dealer of St Mary le Strand Place, Old Kent Road’, in court in 1844, and in the Queen’s Prison for debt (‘liquid sugar refiner of Kennington Lane, Vauxhall’) in 1850. And it is definitely them in 1851 at Frederick Place, Kennington, where a now liberated Thomas is still refining sugar, alongside Charlotte, 29 year-old Thomas William and 18 year-old J G. No Ellen, but I suspect it is she at school in London’s Hanover Terrace ‘aged 16’. 

If so, by May 1864, ‘Mlle Angele’ would have been 29 years old. Except that in 1861, living now alone with her widowed mother at 81 Oxford Street, she says that she is 22, which would make her 25 in 1864 ...

You can see why I had problems with this lady. She evidently couldn’t count. She was 31.


What she could do, however, was sing. And she had, in fact, been singing for some years, under her natural name, before popping up on the London concert platform. As far back as September 1860, she can be seen singing alongside Mme Guerrabella at a Garibaldi Concert at Bristol’s Victoria Rooms ‘Miss Angell, whom we heard for the first time, has a nice mezzo soprano voice and, although a young artiste, sings with promise. She was very nervous in Wallace’s ‘Cradle Song’ with which she opened, but gained confidence as she proceeded and sang very nicely in Rossini’s Gazza ladra duet with Guerrabella (‘Ebben per mia memoria’)’.


On 27 November of the same year Miss Angell mounted a concert of her own at the same venue, and brought down Parepa and Giuglini for the occasion. She sang Leduc’s ‘Praise the Lord’, duetted her Rossini with Parepa, and took part in the Rigoletto quartet. From this time on, she appeared regularly at the Victoria Rooms, and on 15 November 1861 she produced her second ‘annual’ concert, with Titiens and Giuglini topping the bill. In 1862 (27 October) her guests included Madame Gassier and Joseph Swift (‘O mio Fernando’, ‘When silvery moonbeams sleep’). But she also appeared on less ritzy programmes, with mostly local artists. I also spot her in Dublin, at the Philharmonic Concerts (16 November 1863) on a bill with Thalberg: ‘Miss Angile, a lady possessing an agreeable mezzo-soprano voice and a cultivated style, sang a romance from Gounod’s Faust ‘Se parlate d’amor’ with excellent effect, hardly escaping an encore’. She followed up with Braga’s ‘Santa Lucia’ and Balfe’s ‘Write to me’.


Mlle Angele’s first London soirée musicale didn’t draw a lot of attention from the press, nor did an appearance at Lansdowne Cottell and Kate Gordon’s concert (21 July) on a programme featuring a number of the gentleman’s pupils, but the new contralto began, gradually, to make her way. In September she can be spotted, alongside Brewster Wylie but also Luise Liebhart and Chaplin Henry, at the Glasgow Saturday Evening concerts, and in December at the Brighton Pavilion, with Arabella Goddard, singing ‘Di tanti palpiti’, Virginia Gabriel’s ‘The Ship Boy’s Letter’, Randegger’s ‘Oh, would I were a village girl’ and a piece by Adolphe Schlösser and H B Farnie, ‘My love is an olden story’, allegedly ‘written expressly for her’ but sung previously by Julia Elton, and mostly thereafter by baritones.


Over the next couple of seasons, ‘Mlle Angele’ and her ‘clear and resonant contralto’ were seen out on the London concert stage on regular occasions: I notice her in 1865 singing her Schlösser song at the Beethoven Society, I spot her at the Hanover Square Rooms with Florence Lancia, Georgina Weiss and Bessie Palmer, singing at a Fancy Bazaar and at Eleanor Armstrong’s concert, and she turned out also for such artists as vocalists Herbert Bond and Augusta Manning, the guitarist Sokolowski and the pianist Mlle Peschel. In 1866 she can be seen singing Benedict’s ‘Rock me to sleep’ at Willis’s Rooms, appearing in concert at Brighton, and in London at the concerts of Aguilar, Henry Blagrove, Emma Charlier, Kate Gordon (‘Ben e ridicolo’) and others.  She also mounted, each year, her own concert at the Hanover Square Rooms: on 5 June 1865 with a bill including Mathilde Enequist and delle Sedie (‘Only a ribbon’) and on 2 July 1866 with Luise Liebhart, Edith Wynne, Ferranti, Ciabatta et al (Benedict’s new ‘The dark lady’, ‘Rock me to sleep’, John Thomas’s ‘The Ash Grove’ ‘the audience was large and more demonstrative than is usual at a musical matinée’).


In this latter year began what to me is a curious phenomenon. I’m sure there is a reason, a connection somewhere which would explain it, but, so far, I have failed to find it. ‘Mlle Angele’, the London lassie with the Yorkshire father, the Hertfordshire mother and the Frenchified nom de théâtre, began appearing in concerts with a Welsh connection. Already, here, she has struck up a propinquity with Edith Wynne and ‘The ash grove’, and she would go on to build an even closer professional relationship with the harpist, John Thomas, at whose annual concert she appeared on 21 June 1866 and for years thereafter. In July, she, Thomas and ‘The Ash Grove’ are all on display at Miss Forbes’s concert and, when Thomas founded the Welsh Choral Union, Mlle Angele was a regular soloist. On one particularly Welsh occasion, the press was even led to remark on the fact that Mlle Angele was the only performer among the participants who did not hail from the principality. There must surely be a reason, but I don’t what it was.


During this period, I also notice Mlle Angele operating as a singing teacher, and in 1865 she took over from Georgina Stabbach as a vocal teacher at the ambitious Holland College for young ladies in Notting Hill. The engagement seems to have lasted until about 1869 and the school, in its pristine state, seems to have lasted only a little longer.


Up to this time, Mlle Angele had filled a modest position on the British concert scene, but, from 1867, her presence became very much more noticeable, and the unassuming vocalist with her ‘charming mezzo-soprano voice bordering on the contralto...’, her  ‘simple and unaffected style and fine contralto voice’, ‘expressive in the highest degree’ and singing ‘with true feeling and compassion’ began to be much more frequently and widely seen and heard. In concert, she was almost always to be heard in English ballad music – such pieces as Benedict’s ‘Rock me to sleep’, Edward Land’s ‘When the night is darkest’, Henry Smart’s ‘The Lady of the Lea’ and ‘Priez pour elle’, and others best known as part of Mme Sainton-Dolby’s repertoire, such as Henry Leslie’s ‘The Fan’ or the famous contralto’s own ‘Out on the rocks’ – and only very rarely in anything operatic (the occasional performance of a scena from Vaccai’s Romeo and Juliet notwithstanding). 


However, during 1866 she also began to make appearances in another field: as a singing actress. That is not to say that Mlle Angele performed in a theatre – that, she would never do – but she began to be seen in English opera di camera productions, appearing in the Gallery of Illustration repertoire at Robertine Henderson’s Benefit (Countess de Berg in Widows Bewitched) with that lady and Thomas Whiffen, and in a performance of the same piece, with the same cast, sponsored by herself (9 March). Her rendition of the Countess (with an interpolated hunting song) was done ‘with ladylike grace’ and her performance as Lisette in Too Many Cooks ‘enlisted the sympathy of all her hearers .. [she] acted with much sprightliness’. She took to the drawing-room stage again at a fashionable charity evening, under Julius Benedict, at St George’s Hall, singing with Miss Henderson, and Whiffen (and alongside Mr Thomas, harp) in Benedict’s The Bride of Song and Virginia Gabriel’s The Lion’s Mouth, and again with Susanna Cole’s London Bijou Operetta Company as Bertha in W Chalmers Masters’s The Forester’s Daughter. She apparently showed up with ‘an attractive face and figure’ and ‘much intelligence and vivacity’ and, if she displayed ‘a less striking voice’ than the severely soprano Miss Cole, her performance in this last was judged very pleasing.


Through the next half dozen years, the years that constituted the heart of her career as a public performer, Elena Angele continued to vary her career as a concert vocalist with appearances in (and occasionally productions of) operetta: in 1868, I spot her at the Gallery again in Virginia Gabriel’s A Rainy Day and with Edith Wynne, taking the part created by Miss Poole, in a single performance of Jessy Lea, and at Oxford playing Edwin Aspa’s The Statue Bride; in 1870 she produced two performances of Randegger’s The Rival Beauties with Miss Wynne, Cummings, Maybrick and Marler which won sufficient success at the Gallery to be repeated at the Crystal Palace; in 1871 she introduced Alfred Plumpton’s little What Is She? on the occasion of her entertainment at the Gallery and in 1872 she played in a production of Schira’s The Earring at Madame Puzzi’s concert and, again, at the New Philharmonic Society. In 1873 she appeared once more with Miss Wynne in The Rival Beauties, alongside W H Cummings, J G Patey and, in a rare acting role, Lewis Thomas, on the occasion of Miss Wynne’s concert at St George’s Hall.


However, it was as a concert singer that Mlle Elena Angele made the bulk of her career, and in the late 1860s she was seen fulfilling some of the more fashionable and prestigious engagements available to a mezzo-soprano singer of English songs. In January 1867, I spot her singing for Charles Halle in Manchester, in April she shares with her frequent collaborator, Robertine Henderson, the vocal duties at Mrs Macfarren’s well-considered lecture-concerts (‘I would that my love’, ‘Two merry gipsies’ &c), in October she appeared both in Edinburgh and at the famous Glasgow Saturday Evening concerts to such effect that she was re-engaged, in November and again the following February she appeared for and alongside Mme Sainton-Dolby in that lady’s concert at St James’s Hall, and in December she shared with Anna Drasdil and Julia Elton, two of the country’s outstanding concert and oratorio singers, the contralto music in the Festival staged for the opening of Brighton’s new Concert Hall (The Legend of St Cecilia, Stabat Mater etc).


In 1868, Mlle Angele was featured vocalist in the Saturday and Monday pops at St James’s Hall (Sullivan’s ‘Will he come’) and at the Crystal Palace, alongside Mme Rudersdorff (Romeo and Juliet, ‘Rock me to sleep’), and took part in several of the Boosey Ballad Concert series, performing ‘When the pale moon’, ‘My lodging is on the cold ground’, John Thomas’s song ‘The Guardian Spirit’, ‘The Legend of the Avon’ and the seventeenth-century ‘Golden Slumbers kiss thy eyes’ in which the press reported she was ‘received with rapturous applause’. She also appeared in a long run of personal concerts – for Emma Busby, J Balsir Chatterton, Mrs Raby Barrett (performing the Rigoletto quartet with that lady, Whiffin and Distin), Mlle Mariot de Beauvoisin, Mr Thurnan at Reigate, Miss Clinton Fynes (Masters’s ‘Wicked teasing love’, ‘Why art thou saddened’, Maillart’s ‘I saw a bright blue flower’), Sidney Naylor, Augusta Mehlhorn, Lindsay Sloper, Benedict, Kuhe, Edith Wynne – very often in the company of Misses Wynne and Henderson and, most particularly, that of Mr Thomas, whose harp accompanied a number of her favourite songs. She also continued with her own concert presentations: a matinée at the Hanover Square Rooms (23 March 1868) in which she broadened her repertoire with Proch’s Wanderlied, Lady William Lennox’s ‘The Appeal’, ‘Peaceful Slumber’ and Stanton’s duet ‘One Word’ as well as teaming with Thomas in the inevitable ‘Guardian Spirit’; and an evening concert (1 May 1868), in which she gave her numbers from Widows Bewitched and Romeo and Juliet, Nicolai’s ‘Dis-moi un mot’ and, of course, the ‘Guardian Spirit’ and won the accolade ‘she has won by legitimate means an enviable position among the young vocalists of the time. To this position she is fairly entitled by the superior quality of her voice and her thoroughly artistic style of singing’.

Just occasionally, she stepped out of her regular ‘zone’: I note her at Gravesend on 3 November 1868 giving not only an ‘exquisite execution’ of ‘The Hawthorne Spray’ but also ‘Una voce poco fa’, in December taking the contralto music in The Messiah in Peterhead and, in February 1869, appearing in oratorio in Liverpool, and as second contralto to Madame Sainton-Dolby in Elijah in Joseph Barnby’s oratorio concerts at St James’s Hall. Her ‘Woe unto them’ was noted for its ‘purity of style’.


In September 1869, Charlotte Sainton-Dolby put together a concert party for an extended ‘farewell’ tour of Britain. It was a larger group that was normal, featuring Miss Wynne and Pauline Rita (sopranos), Arthur Byron and W H Cummings (tenors), Michael Maybrick (baritone), Lewis Thomas (bass), and, alongside Mme Sainton, Mlle Elena Angele (contralto). The tour, which extended right through until the early part of 1870, included concerts, in which Mlle Angele featured her song of the season, ‘O my lost love’ by Alfred Plumpton, and occasional performances of oratorio. Thus, Mlle Angele appeared as principal contralto in The Messiah at Dunfermline, and took second to Mme Sainton at Bristol. When Mme Sainton-Dolby gave her London ‘farewell’ concert on 6 June 1870, the bill was a rich one, with Nilsson, Trebelli, Lemmens-Sherrington, Monbelli and Sims Reeves amongst its stars. But Mlle Angele was also included on the programme. A few days later, a newspaper reviewing Frank Elmore’s concert remarked ‘now that Mme Dolby has left the concert stage we have no doubt some of that lady’s popularity will fall to her share’. He was not the only one to make parallels between the two singers, parallels which were only exacerbated on such occasions as Julius Benedict’s concert, later the same month, when alongside the glittering arias of the stars of the Italian opera, Elena Angele contributed an English ballad from the pen of … Madame Dolby.


In 1871, the Welsh content of Mlle Angele’s programme became visibly larger. When John Thomas founded his Welsh Choral Union, she appeared as the only non-Welsh performer in the inaugural concert, and became a regular soloist in the group’s concerts thereafter. She sang at concerts given by Brinley Richards, by harpist-pianist Mrs Henry Davies, by John Thomas, in concerts of Welsh Music at Store Street and in Wales itself, and mostly with Mr Thomas at his harp. However, she was still to be seen regularly on occasions with no Welsh connection: in 1871, for example, she sang at the still fashionable concert of Madame Puzzi, shared with Michael Maybrick the vocals in the London concert given by the Waldteufel sisters, turned out for Eleanor Armstrong, for J Pasquale Goldberg (singing his ‘The Prisoner’s Last Song’), for Mrs Scott Siddons (performing the Midsummer Night’s Dream music with Annie Sinclair), and on several occasions with Wilhelm Kuhe, both at his prestigious London concert at St James’s Hall (Sullivan’s ‘Looking Back’) or in his Festivals at Brighton, where she sang contralto the soprano of Lemmens-Sherrington in the Stabat Mater.


From 1872, Mlle Angele was a little less seen in public. She still appeared on Welsh occasions, in the occasional operetta, and at such events of the season as Madame Puzzi’s concert. She took part in what was billed as the first British (concert) performance of Petrella’s Ione at St George’s Hall, sang at Florence Lancia’s farewell, and gave her latest ballads (Molloy’s ‘Don’t be sorrowful, darling’, Louisa Gray’s ‘My White Rose’) at selected concerts – Miss Armstrong’s, Trelawny Cobham’s, Mlle Bartkowska’s. She gave an Elijah at Windsor (25 April 1876) and took part in a Benefit performance of George Fox’s cantata The Jackdaw of Rheims (29 June 1876). When she produced her own concert in 1873 (13 May) she billed the patronage of The Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Mary Adelaide, and gave it not at the Hanover Square Rooms as of yore, but in a private home in Portland Place. Gardoni and Florence Lancia topped the bill alongside such society favourites as Nita Gaetano and Trelawny Cobham.


Mlle Angele had been on the bill for the ‘farewells’ of Mme Sainton-Dolby and of Florence Lancia. Now, on 14 March 1877, not in London but in the salubrious surroundings of Cheltenham, she announced her own Farewell. The centrepiece of the occasion was a performance of the cantata The Legend of Dorothea, sung by Edith Wynne, Miss Angele, Edward Lloyd and Michael Maybrick. The cantata was the work of Madame Sainton Dolby. She ‘sang with her usual success, a success which is due to the expressiveness of her singing rather than to the power of her voice...’ read the almost ‘epitaph’ to what had been a thoroughly worthwhile, if perhaps rather unshowy career.


The reason for the dimunition, and then the closure, of the career of Elena Angele was never stated. Maybe it was, simply, the natural end of a singer’s public life – after all, although she was sporting a heavily false age, she was now 43 years old.


However, perhaps this disappearance has something to do with the fact that Charlotte Angell, the now aged mother with whom Ellen had shared her life for the last decades, died in 1876. I notice, just two months after the ‘Farewell concert’, an advertisement in the press for the sale of the considerable contents of the house at 11 Bryanston Square, Portman Square, where the two ladies had lived. And, after that, of Miss Ellen Angell otherwise Mlle Elena Angele, Britain knew nothing.


Maybe, I thought, that combination of facts is just a coincidence. But, whatever the reason, Ellen Angell’s farewell was indeed a final one. Where she went, I knew not. She was not to be found in the 1881 census. .. nowhere.


Originally, this article ended ‘No, she just disappears. Into death, marriage, the world beyond Britain … I don’t know. But I hope I will find out’. And I did.  By one of those hazards, from an unscheduled visit to the Canadian Dictionary of Biography, I learned that an ‘eldest’ sister of hers, Mary Jane (x 22 February 1827, father’s occupation: glover) who was, for some reason, adopted by a certain Major David Campbell of the 63rd Regiment, had made her life in Canada. Could Elena have gone there? So, I looked. And the answer was indeed in Canada. The marriage schedules for the county of Northumberland, Canada, record the marriage at St Peter’s Church, Cobourg, on 29 November 1877, of Belper-born Alexander Stanley Hancock of Montreal, age 40, physician, son of John Webster Hancock ‘a well known barrister’ and his wife Jane, with Miss Ellen Angell of England, daughter of Thomas Clifford and Charlotte Angell aged ... what? … twenty-nine!! She was forty-three. But it is she.

And look! There they are, Doctor Hancock and his wife in the American census of 1880, in Buffalo, NY, he a surgeon, she a music teacher (now admitting to aged 30), and here again in 1900, ‘married 1878, to the United States 1879’, twenty-two years into married life (and Ellen insisting still that she was born in September 1847), living at number 18 East Tenth Street.

The Directory of Deceased American Physicians (believe it!) tells us that Hancock, ‘allopath’, died at 339 East 19th Street, New York 28 February 1903 of throat cancer.  Alas, it doesn’t tell us what became of his widow, but the New York Times does. On 5 March 1913, it carries a funerary notice: ‘Hancock, Ellen Stanley, beloved wife of the late Dr. Alexander S Hancock.  Funeral services 1:30 P M, March 5, from G W Kelley's Funeral Parlors, 308 First Av. Interment Evergreen'.

So, Elena Angele lies in Evergreen Cemetery, under a stone bearing the legend ‘died 2 March 1913, aged 64’. She evidently never did learn to count: she was, veritably, 78.


During my long wanderings in search of the whatever-happened-to of ‘Mlle Angele’, I tracked down, incidentally, Ellen’s eldest brother, Thomas (b Mortimer Street x 23 July 1823; d Milverton Cottage, Whitchurch Oxon 5 October 1892). He was appointed in 1854 ‘assistant postmaster to the army in Turkey’ became ‘postmaster of the SW region of London’ and, an amateur artist himself, married the watercolourist Helen Cordelia Coleman (1847-1884), sister to another painter W S Coleman. Their daughter, Ethel Elizabeth carried on the painting tradition.


Monday, April 10, 2023

A very early Cantabrian: a grave concidence


Horrid weather, pre- and post-operative blues ... time to head back to the 19th century ...
I've got a new favourite amongst ebay dealers "charles rivers 0654" so I went for a wee wander through his listings ... with the most surprising results.
I decided I liked the look of this rather difficultly decipherable chappie, from the old village of Sedberg(h), Westmoreland.

and here is his wife ...

A small place, a complex name ... should be easy. Wasn't.

First of all decipher the surname. Conley? Cottley? Cossley? Crossley? The middle name looks more straightforward. Dampier. First name C****. 90% of the time that will be Charles. Not this time.

But I got there. He was christened Croslegh Dampier. Crossley was his mother's maiden name. So you stick your mother's name on to your father's? Is this just a yearning for a hyphen, or ...  It was 'or'. I should have guessed: wealthy uncle leaves fortune to nephew with the proviso that he assumes the family name. Croslegh covered both courts: he took both his parents' names.

OK. Here we are! When you know, it's easy ! 

"Scaitliffe Hall is beautifully situated in a picturesque part of the Burnley Valley. The south part was rebuilt in 1666 and the north part in 1738, but it was completely pulled down and re-erected in 1833. It is now a hotel and restaurant, but from mediaeval times it had been the home of the Crossley family..."

"The next owner of Scaitliffe was John's son and heir, also John Crossley of Scaitliffe ... married the only daughter of Thomas Ramsbottom of Centre Vale Mill Todmorden 27 September 1834. They were childless and therefore John devised Scaitcliffe and his other estates in Lancashire and Yorkshire to his nephew, Croslegh Dampier, son of his sister, Matilda. This was with the request that Croslegh Dampier would take the surname and the Arms of Crossley ...

Just to keep things straight, Matilda Crossley's husband was a solicitor by name Christopher Edward Dampier and they had four children: Mary Elizabeth, Matilda
Catherine, our man and Harry who died aged 25. Father was 'of Amwell Cottage, Ware' and clerk to local institutions, until he headed for 48 Lincoln's Inn Fields.

We are told that Mr Crossley took his young namesake under his wing, and taught him to become a gentleman farmer ...

And now the other side gets into the act. Christopher emigrated ... to New Zealand. Why? Well, in the 1840s the church decided upon 'the colonisation of New Zealand',
and things moved quickly as the land-grabbing began ..

The solicitor deputed to sail for New Zealand, on the Phoebe Dunbar, bearing the documents of Association was ... Mr Dampier. 'Without further delay' he set out, and arrived in Canterbury 8 November 1850. The famous 'first four ships' which every New Zealand schoolboy was taught of in my day, sent out by the Association, was two months behind him ...
Christopher was quick to get his business on wheels

and quick to invest in the new community. In March 1851 he bought 47 acres at Heathcote. He had a grocery shop erected on his property at London Road (it went broke), Lyttleton, purchased land in Kilmore and Chester Street, Christchurch, and entered full tilt into the colonial squabbles, political and urban finagling, and pettifogging and property-broking of the time. He was the first to moot a Lyttelton Tunnel, introduced the mulberry tree for silkworming, and also grew peaches and strawberries. And at some stage in 1870 he gave up Lyttleton.

Ah! Here is the Roehampton arriving from England 7 March 1858 bearing Mrs C E Dampier and two sons! mother Matilda, Croslegh and teenaged Harry. And a few weeks later, Croslegh in his turn purchases a large chunk of Hurunui. And another. And when father isn't in court defending or prosecuting sheep stealers, he's in court trying to secure his boundaries ... or pinch a bit of someone else's run. Usually successfully.

So, there we are. Croslegh Dampier arrives in New Zealand. In Hurunui. At what became known as Eskhead Station. And there he would stay. I see him referred to from time to time as 'of Leithfield', 'of Woodend', 'of Brockenhurst' or 'of Rangiora' ... good grief I live 12 mins from Rangiora!!!! but the 'run' at Eskhead remained the Dampier-Crossley headquarters. He also returned periodically to Britan. Brother Harry died on one trip (1866) and Croslegh got married, his bride being Mary Eliza Palin, daughter of a country vicar (b Stifford, Essex 7 June 1847; d Woodend 7 June 1893). And, of course they had their photos taken at Sedberg(h). John Crossley having died, CD inherited the lands and titles, and duly became CDC. And then they returned )1868 to Canterbury.

The family historians credit them with two sons and three daughters. John DC, Henry Maurice CDC, Isabella Catherine (Mrs Potts) and Mary Ethel (Mrs Macrae) ... and, hang on, I seem to have an extra daughter (1870). 

One daughter (Matilda Constance) died, aged 3. In 1892, I spot them travelling with 'two daughters' so I guess they lost the 1870 one as well. John died, aged 40, and it was Harry who succeeded to Esk

Anyway, CDC was a JP and a pillar of society and sheep, bred, dealt in and raced horses, and polo ponies, was president of the Brackenfield Hunt, and his mini-obituaries credited him with being 'the first man to take sheep to the West Coast' A story there?  In 1893 his draft totalled 3000 ewes and wethers. 

Cruising through Charles's list I found more photos labelled in that forceful handwriting ... 'Miss Catherine Dampier' is clearly Matilda Catherine (Christopher's second daughter).

Catherine (b 8 November 1837) came south too. She married one Andrew David Mason Allan, and died at Akaroa 6 February1901. Apparently they had bought a piece of Little River. That's where our peafowl came from ...  oh lawks (and squawks). Lots more to discover. But back to the photos ..

So, eldest sister Mary Elizabeth. Mary married ship's captain John Frank Atkinson (12 June 1860) of the East India ship Blenheim, and of Micklegate House, Pontefract ... in Yorkshire, and  in the same bundle of pictures I find another 'Aunt and Uncle'...  Robert Atkinson and wife ... 

Well, John Frank's father was Robert -- 'gentleman of Abingdon Street' -- (m 1806). So was one of his sons. But the latter was born in 1866. Did he have a brother Robert? Who is the Robert who witnesses JF's marriage? Along with John Crossley, Mary Hepworth (an aunt) of Ackworth Lodge and Dr James D Simpson? The Robert Atkinson of Iron Bridge Cottage, Brixton who teamed with JF (of Amwell End, Ware) to execute the will of -- yes, their mother --, Louisa Jane née Street, in 1868? Yep, Uncle Robert. Born 18 June 1810. And now I know, I see there was a sister, Louisa Archer Atkinson, and a William Bilboa (b 7 November 1818), a Thomas Francis (b 18 June 1813) and a Margaret (b 15 February 1815) ...   

Robert Atkinson, chief clerk at the Admiralty. Wife Elizabeth née Stone (m 28 February 1839). This is they. 

So, thats the photos sorted. But whose photos were they? My theory is that, to have a Dampier aunt and uncle, and also an Atkinson aunt and uncle our photo collector would have to be a child of Captain Atkinson and Mary Elizabeth. Hummmm. Choice of six. (One son died as an infant). The eldest, Hepworth Frank Atkinson became a clergyman, executed his mother's will, and would be my guess.

Well, there's a heap more to find and record here.  

Here is Croslegh divesting himself of part of his Uncles property ...

Must pop down to Rangiora and Woodend cemeteries. You never know! When it is a nicer day. But findagrave already tells me that CDC is buried in Rangiora Cemetery (damme! I passed within 10 metres of it today!)

Oh dear! What removes lichen ...?

Little Matilda Constance is at Woodend ... as is mother Mary Eliza née Palin ... 

Catherine lies in a broken grave at Wainui Cemetery ...

What a shame. But I can't mend any more graves of Canterbury Pioneer Women. I'm on a pension now. Lucy Sutton was my last effort.

So maybe the descendants will do so, and send me a photo.

CDC in later life

This isn't finished. Today being a mild Sunday I got out my tiny red car, and headed off on a cemetery trawl. Result: half fig, half raisin.  Rangiora first. Nicely mowed. Many, many broken and rotted stones. Hobbled around the alleys. No Croslegh. He's in G1. Section 1. But there are no letter guides. More homework to be done. The remnants of a sign refers to it as the Ashley Road Cemetery. No church. Am I in the wrong place? I suppose there was more than one Anglican Cemetery in Rangiora? I mean being Anglican was almost compulsory in the 19th century. Back to square zero.
Dispirited, sweaty, the good leg aching from compensating for the useless one, my temper tortured by the broken marble ... come on, marble steles last longer than a century, see ancient Greece/Rome ..
and Sunday, and no ice cream stand ....

Deep breath. No I'll continue to the planned Part II of my trip. St Barnabas, Woodend. WELL! World of difference. Beautiful little (hurrah!) church 

Immaculate graveyard, still active by the sight of the modern plastic grave-goods (see lower left), and not too huge. I can manage this. Off we hobble. Bugger why did I not bring my stick!
As the trudged the rows ... marvelling at the sensitivity and scholarship with which good old Barnabas had replaced any destroyed memorial with a white inscribed cross ... heart sinking ever lower ... and bingo! Third last row

Mother and daughter. With a re-openable gravetail where I suppose CDC was meant to join them. He, for some reason, went to Rangiora.

Anyway mission semi-accomplished ...

Now I just have to work out how to make the insane Blogger stay in one font, one size, one layout ....