Wednesday, November 29, 2023

FAMILY PHOTOS: SAMPSON (without his heir ..)


As I sit here at my desk, there is, by my right elbow a single Globe Wernicke unit. On top, my modem; a charming little portable bookcase holding some of my favourite books; a little box from goodness-knows where holding years of (other people's) business cards, guarded by my stuffed kitty from Grafton ..

And inside. Volumes of photo albums, century old diaries, envelopes and folders full of memorabilia. Its the Gänzl family history.

Maddeningly, the earliest volumes are in German Sütterlin. In some of the later ones my father used German shorthand. The photos are pretty self-explanatory. Many are 1910s and 1920s holiday snaps, invariably featuring alps and unknown (to me) Austrian mountain villages. But great-aunt Minna was a professional photographer, and the family had a camera pointed at it regularly. And father caught the bug ... he loved and cared for his camera and it looks as new today as it did 70 years ago. Bellows and all.

Alas, who will care for camera, books, diaries, photos when I and brother John -- the last of the Gänzls -- are gone. A sad thought.

And a thought which came home to me today while strolling through the period photos on e-bay. In the stock of Arthur Bewick I spied ten or so pictures featuring the same surname. SAMPSON.

John, Mr and Mrs, Mildred, Fanny, Alice, Emily, Arthur ... Mr and Mrs were photographed in Northampton ... somebody's family pictures which lost their family ..

I decided to try to put them back together again.

Mr and Mrs Sampson -- he of Shoreditch she of Northampton. 

THOMAS NEWNHAM SAMPSON b 11 December 1814; d 1905 aged 90

MARY née ATKINS d 1916 aged 90

Mr Sampson, son of John and Mary, was a wharfinger's clerk. But a consequent clerk. He rose to be the manager for the wealthy Alderman John Humphery at Hibernia Wharf, London Bridge, and to such purpose that the Alderman left him a bequest of £300 in his will.

It seemed impossible that Thomas's father could have been photographed, so I guessed that the old photo labelled John would be a brother. And I was right

JOHN LEISTER SAMPSON (b 9 July 1812; d 1882). He was apparently a porter. He married a Sarah Newton ... and I see they had issue (Elizabeth Margaret, Mary, Sarah, John Wilby, Maria Naomi 1851-1939). Surnames to follow BECKER, GRAY ...  maybe this branch is not shrivelled?

But it is Thomas's family which makes up the rest of the bundle.  His children were:

[MARY] MILDRED b 9 Thomas Terrace Bermondsey 4 February 1851 d Hackney 1923. She worked as a governess at the rectory of Braiseworth, later as a teacher notably for the London Schools Board as a cooking instructress  


ANNIE AGNES  b 25 November 1854 d Chipping Norton August 1878


FANNY JANE b 27 May 1858; d Swindon 24 November 1956. Also did a bit of teaching, but seems to have got along without work


ALICE MARGARET b 5 October 1863; d Hastings 30 September 1951 m Joseph Godfrey NICHOLLS, solicitor b 1871; d 11 October 1958// son Joseph Anthony Sampson NICHOLLS 19 January 1906- Chorleywodd 10 January 1992, dtr Margaret Ivy Mary NICHOLLS  d 24 November 1990. Grandson Peter Anthony NICHOLLS (b 22 September 1939).

This picture is claimed as Alice, and I'm sure it is. But Mr Bewick doesn't show us the evidence, dammit. Anyway Alice was the only Sampsonite to marry, and breed, and I see that both her children died in the 1990s, and I would guess it's from them that these photos come.

EMILY MARIA b 25 May 1860; d Hastings 1951 aged 91.

ARTHUR NEWNHAM SAMPSON b 23 June 1867; d 13 Frederick Street 26 May 1898

I wonder why Annie and Arthur died so young. And which sister was photographed with young Arthur ... and ...

I don't want my family's photos and diaries .. and my decades of letters home from London, Monte Carlo et al, carefully stored by mamma .. to end up on e-bay. It was enough to stumble there upon a job-seeking letter from father's Uncle Fritz ... and letters to Onkel Max Hecher in his prison camp ...

The New Zealand national library isn't interested in me. I've offered the lot to them.  But, alas, I'm a Jewish-Scotty Kiwi. And I don't have a tattooed chin. 

So do I just burn it all?

Or tell Wendy to sell it all on e-bay ....


Sunday, November 26, 2023

Annie Marriott: the first 'live cast recording'

MARRIOTT, Annie [Augusta] (b Nottingham, 26 May 1858; d Croydon 1931)


Soprano Annie Marriott was one of the outstanding English oratorio singers of the later part of the 19th century.


She was born in Nottingham into a family which was associated with the trade of  silk lace-making. Father William (d 69 Shepherd’s Bush Road, 27 April 1912) was a manufacturer of lace, and the family of her mother, Rebecca née Miller, were all connected with the lace- and dressmaking businesses.


The family, however, were musical – Rebecca’s sister, Eliza Ann, taught singing, William would eventually throw in lacemaking to become a music publisher (Marriott and Williams), and at least three of his children – eldest son William, Annie and her younger sister Edith Rebecca (b Nottingham, 1857; d 13 Clipstone Avenue, Nottingham, 14 March 1928) – became vocalists, the two girls professionally.


I first spot Annie in 1874, when the Nottingham Sacred Harmonic Society, under Henry Farmer, was rehearsing its performance of Fridolin, prior to the arrival of the Sherrington sisters, Gustave Garcia and Hilton. Sixteen-year-old Annie stood in for the prima donna, and William depped for the men. 

Soon after, Annie shipped off to London, for a course of lessons at the new (and short-lived) National Training School, under John Bacon Welsh and Arthur Sullivan. She was noticed at the college concerts for her ‘powerful and musical soprano voice’ (‘I will extol thee’), and I spot her in public 25 October 1878, at the Camden Athenaeum, giving ‘O luce di quest’anima’ and ‘Tell me, my heart’, alongside Bridson, Seligmann and others of less fame.

Three weeks later, she was up at St James’s Hall, singing in the Boosey Ballad Concerts. She sang Sullivan’s ‘Let me dream again’ in ‘a powerful and sympathetic soprano’ and was judged ‘gifted ... a fine career is open to her…’ and ‘a decided success’. She appeared at several more Boosey concerts in January, performed, with fellow students Frank Boyle and Frederic King, at the Hackney Choral Association and, on 22 February 1879, made a first appearance, of what were to be very many, at the Crystal Palace, alongside Charles Santley, singing Mendelssohn’s ‘Infelice’ ‘exceedingly well’ and with ‘undoubted intelligence’.


She appeared at de Jongh’s Manchester concerts, at the Huddersfield Ballad Concerts, gave her ‘Infelice’ at her teacher’s St James’s Hall concert, visited Belfast for a Creation and Darlington for Namaan, and was engaged for the Saturday and Monday pops (‘Zuleika’, ‘Luisinghe più care’, ‘Deh vieni’, ‘Lovely Spring’). Still within the first months of her career proper, she sang at the Crystal Palace Easter and Bank Holiday concerts, on more Boosey Ballad programmes (Behrend’s ‘Joan of Arc’), at the Moore celebration (‘Rich and rare’), at the Oxford Commemoration (Loreley), and at the Covent Garden proms series, while journeying regularly to the north and midlands in concert (‘The Worker’, ‘Tell me, my heart’, ‘Beauty sleeps’, ‘Bel raggio’, ‘Deh vieni’, ‘O luce di’) and oratorio (The Messiah, The Woman of Samaria.) ‘Every effort on her behalf was a triumph’, commented the Worcester press after her appearance in The Mount of Olives and Israel in EgyptIsrael in Egypt was also the oratorio in which (25 April 1879) she made a first appearance, alongside Mme Patey, Lloyd and Henschel, at London’s Sacred Harmonic Society.


The season of 1880 found the young singer thoroughly established in her profession. She sang repeatedly at the Boosey concerts (‘The soldier tir’d’, ’When the heart is young’), the Saturday and Monday pops, and at the Crystal Palace (Choral symphony) returned to the Sacred Harmonic Society for The Messiah and Israel in Egypt, sang Hiller’s Song of Victory with Joseph Barnby at Kensington and covered the country, singing principally in sacred music. In the course of twelve months or so, I pick her up at Chester (Messiah), Nottingham (Elijah, Eli), Birmingham (Messiah, Elijah), Southampton (Die erste Walpurgisnacht, Loreley, ‘Ocean thou mighty monster’), Wolverhampton (The Bride of Dunkerron), Oxford (Israel in Egypt), Lowestoft (Messiah), Huddersfield (Macfarren’s Joseph), Glasgow (Moses in Egypt) … and there were undoubtedly many more such.

1881 included dates at the Albert Hall (Stabat Mater, Lobgesang, Messiah, Scottish concert), the Hackney Choral Society (Goring Thomas’s ‘Hero and Leander’), and the Sacred Harmonic Society, where she sang in Samson, The Messiah and in Sullivan’s The Martyr of Antioch, which work she repeated several times in various parts of the country, at the Crystal Palace and the Alexandra Palace and Hengler’s Proms, and in September she joined Emma Albani and Anna Williams at the top of the bill for the Three Choirs Festival at Worcester (The Widow of Nain, Jephtha).

Her list of provincial engagements was as heavy as the previous year, and ranged from the predictable Messiahs to such less-performed works as Bridge’s Boadicea (14 November 1882) which had been created by Marie Roze at the Chester Festival.

When Annie appeared at the Crystal Palace in December, she was joined by her sister, mezzo-soprano Edith, also for some years a stalwart of the Nottingham Sacred Harmonic Society, who would appear both in duet with Annie, and as a single, with considerable success – initially under the name of ‘Edith Miller’ -- over the years to follow.


The Martyr of Antioch continued to be a regular on Annie’s programme, and she returned to the moribund Sacred Harmonic Society 24 February 1882 to, once again, sing the role created by Albani (‘natural charm of her voice ... intelligent rendering of the difficult music assigned to her’) alongside the other original soloists. At the age of twenty-four.

In the same month, she performed the Choral Symphony at the Philharmonic Society and, on May day, she joined Shakespeare and Frederick King to create the role of Alswitha in Ebenezer Prout’s Alfred, with his enterprising Hackney Society.

In June 1882, she shared the soprano duties with Mary Davies at the Chester Festival (The Prodigal Son, Woman of Samaria. Elijah) and, in the latter part of the year, she went on a concert tour with Edith, Helen D’Alton, Boyle/Henry Guy and Thurley Beale.

The Crystal Palace continued to be one of her preferred venues, and during 1883 she appeared there in a repeat of Alfred, in the Saturday concerts, the Choral Symphony, a selection from Mackenzie’s opera Colomba and in the much touted ‘8th triennial Handel Festival’. She shared the soprano music with Albani and Alwina Valleria, acknowledgedy the two most prized soprano vocalists of the day. Annie, with Anna Williams and Mary Davies, was already in the top division of the local sopranos.

She appeared with the revived Sacred Harmonic Society (Lobgesang, Christmas Oratorio), in the Choral Symphony at the Richter Concerts, in Gaul’s Holy City, Cowan’s St Ursula, Farmer’s Christ and his Soldiers and other more regular works, in various parts of the country, sang at the National Eisteddfod at Harlech, the Halle concerts at Liverpool and, in October, joined Valleria and Williams in the Leeds Festival (Elijah, The Crusaders, Lobgesang &c).

Among the local small part soloists was Leeds’s Percy Palmer, a light tenor. In half a dozen years’ time, Annie would become Mrs Palmer.

In the following years, Annie Marriott was repeatedly seen in London, at the Crystal Palace (Choral Fantasia, Mors e vitaRedemption, Handel bicentenary, Good Friday concerts, Dvorak’s St Ludmilla, Mackenzie’s The Story of Sayid), with the Sacred Harmonic Society (Belshazzar, Woman of Samaria, Mount of Olives, Creation, The Messiah), at the Richter concerts (Beethoven Mass in D), at the Albert Hall and the Covent Garden proms (Elijah, Messiah, Sullivan’s ‘Over the roof’).

Having been the first to introduce its music to London, at the Covent Garden Proms, days after it premiere at the Birmingham Festival, she gave a number of performances throughout the country of Dvorak’s The Spectre’s Bride (‘she has made it peculiarly her own’), confirmed her connection with the National Eisteddfod, sang the Lobgesang in Westminster Abbey, and continued with her run of lesser known works – Goring Thomas’s The Sunworshippers, Jansen’s The Feast of Adonis, Bridge’s Rock of Ages, Mackenzie’s The Bride, Prout’s Hereward, Cowen’s The Sleeping Beauty around Britain.

On 11 May 1887, she was commanded to the Palace, to give a private performance for Queen Victoria, on the occasion of her Golden Jubilee, and on 22 June sang the second soprano part to Albani in Mackenzie’s Jubilee Ode premiered at the Crystal Palace.


In the same year she sang at the Huddersfield Festival (7 October) premiering Prout’s The Red Cross Knight, and at the Norwich Festival (The Messiah, Dvorak’s Stabat Mater, Bottesini’s The Garden of Olivet, Jubilee Ode, Cherubini’s 4th Mass in C) where she made an unaccustomed venture into the semi-operatic by singing the role of Margaret, alongside Lloyd and Santley, in Berlioz’s Faust.

A fortnight later, she sang the part of Donna Anna in a concert of Don Giovanni at the Crystal Palace (29 October 1887), given to mark the centenary of its production. She ‘sang admirably and fully justified a reputation which has long been great and has recently been rapidly increasing’ wrote the press, crediting her with ‘true dramatic power and expression’. But – even though the press might label her ‘one of the most dramatic of dramatic sopranos’ -- Annie Marriott was not veering towards an operatic career. This was just about the closest she would ever get to going on the stage.

She repeated Bottesini’s cantata when it was given a London showing by the Sacred Harmonic Society (17 November 1887) with Hilda Wilson Lloyd and Santley. She returned for the next Handel Festival, to sing in support of Valleria in Israel in Egypt and, in doing so, became part of a memorable occasion. The performance was recorded, live, and became – so it is said – the first ever recording of a classical music concert.

In 1889 (20 July), Annie Marriott became the wife of [James] Percy PALMER (b Flaxton, Yorks 17 December 1860; d 32 Victoria Grove, Fulham Rd, 10 August 1893) whose small career as a tenor singer he had renounced in favour of teaching. It would be a short marriage, for Palmer died at the age of 32, and his second son was born posthumously. Dr Bridge played the organ at his funeral and Harper Kearton sang the anthem.


Annie sang in Bridge’s Callirhoe and The Repentance of Nineveh, Benoit’s Lucifer and became a favourite choice for Albani’s role of Elsie in performances of Sullivan’s The Golden Legend, and just once more took an ‘operatic’ engagement when in December 1891 she sang a concert Faust with Julia Lennox, Henry Guy and Henry Pope for the Batley Choral Society.

From this time, Annie Marriott was less frequently seen. She still visited Scotland in concert and oratorio, she still went to Bristol or Dewsbury to sing Cowen’s St John’s Eve or Parry’s Ode on St Cecilia’s Day or Cardiff for The Sleeping Beauty. When the National Sunday League oratorios began in 1894, she sang the soprano roles in The Last Judgment, Judas Maccabaeus, Rebekah and Redemption.

But now, she was ‘Madame Annie Marriott’ and an adjudicator for the prizes awarded by the Royal Academy of Music. And a music teacher at the Crystal Palace.

On 9 June 1897, she sang in the stillborn oratorio The Death of Moses at the Queen’s Hall, and my last sighting of her as a performer is on 30 November 1900, when she surfaces singing Athalie with the West Ham Choral Society.

Annie was now remarried, her new husband (8 August 1898) being a French-born photographer, Paul Lacroix (d 58 Coningby Rd High Wycombe 15 November 1958). Thereafter, I find little of Annie. She apparently had a daughter in 1901, she is living in Fulham both in 1909 and in the 1911 census, described as singing teacher’ and, in 1915, when her son, Percy Reginald, was killed in action in Belgium, she was ‘of Camden Rd, Holloway’.

But she seems to have left the world of music.

So fully had she left it, that I can find no trace of her death, except for the entry ‘Annie A Lacroix’ in the death registers for Croydon, 1931. While minor figures get half a column of obituary here and there, the woman who was one of England’s best soprano vocalists of the 1880s is just allowed to vanish. Another one.


Edith Marriott also married, a hosiery manufacturer, from back home in Nottinghamshire, by the name of William Edwin Elliott and retired to a life, with four children, on home ground.


William seems to vanish as a singer after 1880.


Father William dissolved his publishing company, remarried when over 80, and, when he died in 1912, was said to be ‘of Keith, Prowse’.


Saturday, November 25, 2023

Mrs Lenthal Swifte: her moment of 'fame'


Today's fun discovery. It caught my eye, because of the name of Joseph Tapley, one of the top contendors for the title of pretty-boy-tenor-of-the-Victorian-age ...

But who in heaven's name is Mrs Lenthal Swifte?  And it isn't Black-Eyed Susan as one might have expected, because the sailor is 'Charles', not 'William'.

So what is this?  When?  

Well, I discovered quite quickly 'what'.  Charles and Susan are hero and soubrette in the one-act operetta Prizes and Blanks, adapted from the well-known The Lottery Ticket, and first produced at Ladbroke Hall 29 June 1885 by ... Mrs Lenthal Swifte. And yes, the name (with or without assumed hyphen) is real. It was even respectable.
Edmund Lenthal Swifte was the venerable keeper of the crown jewels, and his son Alexander was born in the Tower of London. Alexander toyed with the army, but decided instead to become a painter. He also decided to marry. His bride was a young widow named [Annie Alice] Maud Anderson.

Mrs Anderson was born in Capetown, 6 May 1859, daughter of an army captain named George Davies (73rd foot), and she had become Mrs William Thomas Anderson ('son of Rev Matthew Anderson of Buckland House, Alwyne Rd, Canonbury') 21 September 1880. The marriage was brief: the husband died 26 January 1883. Widowhood was brief also. Maud married Lenthal Swifte 14 February 1884. I  don't know whether Maud had been a public performer previously, but this matinee is my first sighting of her:

I was disappointed to find that Tapley didn't 'create' the part of Charles. Mr Hulbert Luther Fulkerson (1849-1910) was an American music teacher who doesn't seem to have sung solo very often. So it seems that Mrs Swifte must have played 'her' operetta on other occasion(s).  Other folk certainly did. Percy North toured it soon after with his concert party which included among its cast the young Hayden Coffin and Sir George Power, Edith Brandon from the German Reed establishment ...

Maud ('professional vocalist' hmmm) was obviously capable. She appeared in pro-am concerts between 1885-1890 with the usual criminals: Monari Rocca, Ria, Miss Wakefield, et al, and in charity cases, and was able to truthfully bill herself as being 'of the Albert Hall and Crystal Palace concerts'. Both venues, of course, had Concerts and concerts. More often, she could be seen at the Victoria Hall. But not all that often. 

And then her husband died. Aged 37. Maud was lethal for a man's health. However he left her with a daughter: Evelyn Ethel Lenthal Swifte ...

And Maud sang on. Occasionally. She joined a wee concert group run by a striving (married) baritone who called himself 'Stanley Heaton'. His real name was Alfred Wright. From Syonsby, Leics. When being grand, he called himself Alfred Stanley Heaton-Wright.  Oh those hyphens. Although he seems to have had a wife and children, she 'married' him ...

Alfred was, I think, a bad bargain. I see him being arrested and jailed for theft in Brighton in 1898 ...  

Anyway, the 1939 census shows us Maud living with Evelyn and her husband, Rev Alfred Theodore Coldman, and there she died, aged 82, at the Rectory, Henley on Thames, in September 1940, billed as .. sigh ... Mrs Heaton-Wright.  Oh those hyphens! 

I would go on about Tapley, except that I've done so before ... he ended up chucking the music world and becoming a farmer in Canada ...

Well. I went a bit further ... but I think that is enough, don't you?

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Debris of the musical stage ....


The world's poubelles are submerged by it ...

All those unproduced show scores. All those which were played for just one night or tryout before being canned ...

Then post-Jesus Christ Superstar, we got the 'concept recordings'. So much ruined vinyl. It was an awful period in which to be a producer's reader/listener!  I was asked by a London producer to 'do something' with one of these. I forget what its subject was: I think Italian and deeply serious. I returned its harmless score and dreadful text saying I'd have to start rewriting from zero ... at which the (American? University?) writer/composer threw a majorhissifit ... and I turned my newly-discovered doctoring skills to better stuff.

It's teddibly teddily fashionable, nowadays, in some esoteric quarters to exhume bits of musicals or operas that never happened, or failed and claim them a jewelled masterpieces. If, that is, the performance materials survive. Most don't. Unless they have a well-known or culty name attached to them. And publication doesn't always help. The marvellous musical Expresso Bongo had its score and libretto published. It was recorded. Made into a movie with the young Cliff Richard ... and when you try to get it back together for a new production? Impossible.

I am moved to this opening of my bleeding heart by the discovery, today, of a piece of printed music.

Well, they tried. At least this piece got on. Teatro Bellini, Naples, 1892 apparently. But Italian houses had long been accustomed to chewing up and spitting out new operas and this one, unless I mistake, got spat.

But, as we can see, it got spat as far as Britain, where the young baritone-producer 'Arthur Rousb(e)y' actually got it to the stage. Rousbey was leading a not very high-class opera company around the British provinces. Occasionally he tried something outside the tried and true repertoire, and for reasons unexplained (to me), he decided on Mercedes.  It was produced at the Leinster Hall in Dublin, with Rousbey, Miss van Dalle (Mrs Hilton St Just eig Todd), Boyd, Frank Land and Theresa Gilbert in the lead roles on 11 January 1896.

They were soon back to playing Faust, Maritana, The Bohemian Girl et al. Rousbey got married, the company headed to South Africa, and he died on the way home. Mercedes was already dead. A bit more musical-theatre flotsam and jetsam.

But this music sheet survives to witness that it ever existed. Just like all those 'concept recordings' and 'new musical' CDs of the 20th century ...

PS for a full biography of Rousbey (eig James Huntress of Westoe) see my Victorian Vocalists. 

And here's another. England this time, The Young Pretender was produced at the Haymarket 10 November 1846. It got varying responses:

Why the difference?  I think, perhaps, because of the folk involved. James Hudson, Priscilla Horton and J B Buckstone were from the top drawer of the Haymarket's megastars. Why did they want to play a piece of a such evidently not 'new and original'. There is an answer.

The piece was written by well known journalist Mark Lemon, husband to a sister of Emma Romer, and the music composed by Mrs Gilbert a'Beckett, sister to ... Priscilla Horton. Which is, I imagine, why this song was published:

The trade press opined that it would stay of the bills for a bit thanks to the performers, and he was right.
It got through to mid-December ... and the songs were well plugged by The Music Book ...

Much Mrs a'Beckett, a bit of Romer, more Lemon, one T G Reed (Priscilla's husband) ... I wonder who ran The Music Book. Ah, a new venture launched on 1 October 1846. Published St Bride's Avenue, Fleet Street by 'The Music Book' (prospectuses available). The first issue promised a Balfe song for 6d ('Sing Maiden Sing'), and a Wallace setting of Tom Hood ('The False Friend'). But the 'proprietors' still didn't come out of the closet ..

The publication had a very short life. And the proprietors' names still didn't appear. Even in the bankruptcy court.

Mark Lemon

Bessie Sudlow: the happiest British Blonde.


A few years ago, when I was a lot younger and healthier, I began (for the second time in my life) to pen a monster work on the history of burlesque. The remnants of the unfinished work are doubtless somewhere in my computer's brain ... On another occasion, I began a work on Lydia Thompson's famous 'British Blondes'. I didn't complete that one either. And I gutted my half-finished text for a large scholarly article in a Continental compendium. The left-overs are lying in the same brain. 

So, when I come -- as this morning -- upon a nice picture ... and to research .. a little voice says 'hey, I've done this before!'. A little fishing in the files that microsoft has not rendered useless, and ... here we are!

SUDLOW, Bessie [JOHNSTON[E], Barbara Elizabeth] (b Liverpool 22 July 1849; d Hove, 28 January 1928)


‘Bessie’ was born in Liverpool in 1849. Her father, George Johnston, was a seagoing man, the son of an army man cum ship’s captain and himself, at the time of marriage (1 July 1846), mate on a Liverpool ship. Her mother was Eliza née Lee, daughter of another seagoing man, John Lee, of Toxteth Park, who had converted into a ‘clerk and salt merchant’, and his wife, Eliza (d Gate Avenue, Brooklyn 20 January 1869).

George and Eliza had a son, and then Bessie, before George either sank or disappeared. In the 1851 census Eliza, listed as widowed, is living with her parents at Liverpool’s 3 Bittern Street, with her two children.


At some stage in the next years, Eliza remarried. And she also emigrated to America. In which order, I can not discover. But her 1857 son claimed he was 'born ast sea'. The rest, allegedly, in America. But I have tracked back her new husband: Thomas Richard Sudlow (x Liverpool 8 October 1824), eldest son of Thomas and Emma Sudlow (née Haygarth), from Walton on the Hill, Everton. Thomas sr (d 3 December 1847) was listed variously as a clerk, a cashier, an accountant and Thomas jr followed his lead as a book-keeper. Not, it seems, very successfully. I thought he might have been the TS convicted of forgery, but that one fled to Australia. However, he was the TS who, having lost his father in 1847, went bankrupt in 1848. 

From 1851, I lose the family until 1857, when Thomas (‘cashier’) turns up at 81 West 48th Street, NYC, then at Nassau Street, corner of Pine, then 74 Gold, Brooklyn, then Madison and Classon (‘accountant’). 

And in October 1868, Bessie, now ‘of Brooklyn’, makes her first appearance on the American stage. The Brooklyn press wrote that she ‘has attained some local celebrity by her musical talents’ so it seems this may have been a first stage appearance. Apparently it was in the title-role of the spectacular Undine at Niblo’s Garden. The ‘title-role’ is not quite as grand as it sounds, for the stars of the Black-Crookish Undine were its dancers, billed largely on the advertisements in which the singers and actors, lord forbid the plot, were rarely mentioned. And anyway the Brooklyn Eagle complained that when she was billed, she was spelled wrongly.

She stayed at Niblo’s into the new year – I see her playing Kitty Wobbler in Blow for Blow and then in April 1869 taking over in Lydia’s troupe in the second edition of The Forty Thieves. She played at the Boston Theatre Comique, and dates beyond, as Morgiana in a version of the same piece starring the ambitious Ada Harland (‘the best singer in the troupe’), repeated with Lydia at Philadelphia (28 August 1869), and made a less happy sally into burlesque when she featured in the attempt to get a Robinson Crusoe, starring the Lauri family, off the ground at the ill-fated Tammany Theatre. The Tammany versions of Ixion and Bad Dickey did no better, and in February Bessie withdrew from the company.

For the next four years she worked largely at Niblo’s Theatre, in a whole array of pieces: as the Player Queen and then Osric in Hamlet, as Phoebe in As You Like It, as Terpischore Slopperton in the musicalised Paul Clifford, alongside Emma Howsonas Augusta in My American Cousin, Lucy in The Streets of London, in travesty in Black Friday, in Robert Macaire, Fidelio in Leo and Lotos, as Columbia and Queen Mab in The Children in the Wood, and even alongside fellow ex-blondes Pauline Markham and Lizzie Kelsey in an attempt to breathe some life back into the poor old Black Crook.

Bessie kept busy. In between Niblo’s shows, I spot her appearing with Lisa Weber’s burlesque outfit, at Baltimore as The Queen of the Abruzzi, with Olivia Rand in pantomime, at the Globe Theatre in the skating show The Skating Pond by Midnight or as Laura in the melodrama After the War, at Albany as Idex, now, in Undine, alongside Pauline Markham, and at Philadelphia in Jenny Lind at Last …

My last sighting of Bessie on American shores is in June, in Boston. For then she again crossed the Atlantic, in the opposite direction. Lydia Thompson was launching a season at London’s little Charing Cross Theatre in September. Her announced supporting cast contained very few familiar Blonde names, but amongst them was that of Bessie Sudlow. I’m curious as to whether Bessie was included because she was heading for Britain, or whether she headed for Britain in order to play the season. Because she didn’t. And because she didn’t, she scored the success of her life.

Bessie Sudlow made her ‘first appearance in Europe’ on Christmas Eve 1874, at John and Michael Gunn’s Theatre Royal, Dublin, as principal boy, alongside E W Royce, in the pantomime The Yellow Dwarf as one of a cast glittering with unknown names. She was decidedly successful. Her acting, appearance and singing were all found charming, and the Gunn ‘family’ took her into their bosom. She was taken up by Gunn’s associate, Richard d’Oyly Carte, as an agency client and she was hired by Gunn’s cousin, George Edwardes of London’s Gaiety Theatre to tour with that theatre’s star, Nellie Farren, playing leading lassie Gabrielle in The Island of Bachelors. 

She took up another leading role in another saucy Lecoq opéra-comique under unusual circumstances. Emily Soldene recounted the tale of Bessie’s ‘jump-in’ to the Criterion Theatre (October 1876) production of Fleur de thé in her memoirs. She exaggerated the situation more than a little, and I dissected it in my biography of la Soldene, but alas without finding the nitty gritty to the mystery. Suffice it that the Lord Chamberlain apparently forbade the casting of the original star (one longs to know who and why!) during rehearsals, and Bessie was hurried into the role. She opened after very limited preparation, was successful, and established herself as a comic opera leading lady in the West End. But, by December, she was back in Dublin (‘shouts of acclamation and welcome’) starring as principal boy in Dick Whittington.

In 1876, she went on tour as principal boy to Selina Dolaro’s ‘girl’ in Carte’s production of probably the most ‘indecent’ French musical of all, La Timbale d’argent (The Duke’s Daughter) and in another pants part as Prince Paul to Dolly’s La Grande-Duchesse. But Dolly threw one of her walk-out tricks, and Bessie found herself going on as Lange in La Fille de Madame Angot in her stead.


But all ended well. Soon after the end of the tour, Bessie went to St Marylebone Church and, in the presence of the whole Gunn-Edward(e)s-Carte clan, wed Mr Michael Gunn of the Dublin Theatre Royal, and lived happily and comfortably ever after.

Mrs Gunn appeared occasionally thereafter on her home stage (Plaintiff in Trial by Jury, Galatea in Pygmalion and Galatea, Cinderella 1877-8, Miss Hardcastle to the Lumpkin of Li Brough, Ariel in The Tempest, Lady Teazle 1880, Azucena 1887), and in 1878 she also played opposite Toole in his visiting entertainment. The other lady participant was Miss Eliza Johnston[e]. Now, there was/had been a lady of that name on the British stage, but I’m guessing that this was … mother.


Eliza née Lee had, in 1877, hit the headlines when, after twenty years of marriage and four children, she served her husband with divorce papers, claiming ill-treatment. Thomas, who was at that stage a treasury official (although the papers described him as ‘doorkeeper at Niblo’s!) and sometime President of the Greenwood Quoit Club, promptly got drunk, rushed home, pounded on his wife’s bedroom door, punched his elder daughter, who tried to intervene and … well, I guess Eliza got her divorce. Two years later, she was describing herself as a widow. Which she may have been. Eliza returned to Britain and, of course, Ireland and Bessie. She would die there at Coolbawn, Ailesbury Road on 1 July 1906 aged 87.


Sister Frances (‘an actress as Frances Lee’) also followed to Britain, promptly married a Dublin silk merchant named Alfred Ernest Manning, in 1878, churned out three children in quick time, soon started cheating on her husband, he sued her for divorce … I see father and two in Dublin in the 1911 census. They seem to have got on well enough without her …


Brother Thomas Mercer Sudlow became a sea-captain in Washington, married and bred and died in Seattle 28 November 1917 … I don’t know about Eda-Ida-Ada Mary and Charley [Edward Freeman] but the family historians say she was 1860-1940 (Mrs Jacob P van Horne) and he 1864-1889.

But Bessie, she had a fine and happy married life. Being a Blonde, albeit briefly, hadn’t done her any harm.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Mr Green of the Alhambra


A lovely discovery today!  And an easy peasy bit of re-research ... only then I went off a tangent ...

Mr R Green. Oh there were several of those, but I know this one. Because he sang with Emily Soldene in the days when she was 'Miss Fitzhenry'. And everyone who even just said 'hello' to Emily got themselves investigated by me decades ago ... pre-Internet.  Alas, many of my notes from those 20th century years got swept away on a tide of Dorper Lamb juice ... and on Microsoft's 'no longer supported' list ... but here's what I saved.

Robert GREEN (b Clitheroe, Lancs 12 June 1829; d Clayton Hospital, Wakefield 14 March 1882) was a son of John Green, a block-cutter, and his wife Sarah née Foulds from Great Harwood. Four sons, four daughters ... and in the 1851 census young Robert is, yes, an apprentice block-cutter. 

I don't know when he got tired of chipping stone, or when he discovered a huge bass-baritone voice, or where and when he first displayed it. The Lancashire press of the time is not forthcoming about concerts in Clitheroe. However, by 1861, while the family was bunkered down in Accrington, he is declaring that he is a professor of music, and that he has a wife named Henrietta. 

Well, my first sighting of him as a vocalist does indeed come in 1861. In October of the year he turns up as a member of the resident company at the top-class Oxford Music Hall, London. He has a solo role in Meyer Lutz's King Christmas, sings Ford in the potted Merry Wives of Windsor, and when the famed Orphée aux enfers mega-selection was produced he sang John Styx and joined 'Miss Fitzhenry' in the Metamorphosis Couplets.

Over the next eight or nine years, he was a regular at the Oxford, but also at the cavernous Alhambra where he could shake the chandeliers with his vast baritone voice.  

In 1869, he was among those transported to America by the entrepreneurial gentlemen at Tammany Hall. On opening night, it was he who led the singing of 'The Star Spangled Banner', as well as giving 'She Wore a Wreath of Roses' and playing the Marquis de Longueville in Farnie's burlesquelet The Page's Revel. Tammany was a fairly quick failure, but Green stayed there for at least a couple of months -- I see him giving an 'Anvil Jack, the farrier' by French and Operti at their shortlived Sunday concerts ... and tiens! there is a Mrs Hattie Green singing Rossini. I wasted time on her ...

Green didn't waste time at Tammany either. By June he was headed back to England and the music-hall rounds. When he sang at Vance's Benefit iin April 1870 the press nodded 'His baritone voice is perhaps the strongest and the loudest in the upper notes of any living artist'.  Another press person noted 'without exception the best baritone singer that ever visited this hall.' 'Remarkable vocal powers'. 'He fairly makes the hall ring'.

In 1872 he took over the musical direction of Livermore's 'Court Minstrels' ('Largo al factotum', 'The Scapegrace', The Village Blacksmith', 'The White Squall'. 'Rose of Allandale', 'Le Sabre', 'The Soldier's Tear', 'Honour and Arms' &c), then moved on to Hengler's Cirque in Hull, into pantomime at Leeds (Xmas 1873), to the Cambridge and Crowders's Music Halls ('far above the average of concert hall baritones') ...

In 1879 he was still a 'splendid baritone', but rather less in view ... and in Leeds he got bitten by a dog. He died of rabies/hydrophobia in a hospital in Wakefield aged 52.

I should have left it there.  But I didn't. I noticed how often the namme of 'Mademoiselle/Miss Ada Herminie' appeared in conjunction with Green's.  Could she have been 'Henrietta Green'?  So I searched. And I did not find. Because the only clues are behind paywalls ...   and some odd newspaper site ('pay') seems to vouchsafe that she was the wife of, firstly, music-hall comedian 'James Hillier' (1840-1874) and subsequently, in 1876, of his friend George Leybourne.  Errrr. Yes, there's a wrinkle here.  

I'll leave it to the music-hall historians (are there any serious ones?) to suss that one out! 

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Music Hall in the C19th: Kate Royle


Why did I get into this one?  Because the music sheet loooked so deliciously cheap and colurful, I guess... also, I didn't have the faintest who the people involved were. 

The point of the thing was that George Sims and Henry Pettit's Adelphi drama Harbour Lights was from December 1885, a decided hit at the Adelphi Theatre. This ditty, of course, had nothing to do with the drama: it was merely cashing in on the buzz-word title, ('suggested by') much as a third-rate so-called 'tribute' band cashes in on the name and reputation of its 'original'. Lord knows if Ms Kate Royle's music had any quality, or the lyric penned by her husband, Joseph Sidney Long any value, but it didn't really matter what was behind illustrated covers like these ...

So who were Kate Royle and J T Long, I wondered. 

Well, Kate [Emily] Royle was of good music-hall pedigree. 'A charming serio and dancer' herself, she was one of the daughters of the former Mary Ann Dunn, known on the music-halls of Britain as Mrs F R Phillips (b 1830; d 10 December 1899). Father was Frederick Powis Royle, a sometime looking-glass manufacturer who converted into a 'professor of music'.

Kate, however, apparently saw herself rather as a composer/songwriter and went to it with a will. In 1882 she was supplying material to Newham and Latimar, for Nellie Wilson and, after her liaison with Long, they supplied William Ward and Nellie Eveley, Jessie Acton ('What's Next', 'Hey Diddle Diddle'), Julia Rosenburg (another occasional piece 'The Royal Jubilee'), Miss Mainstone, the rather more consequent Hetty Chapman

Hetty Chapman

Miss Raine Hampden, Cerise and Cora Caselli, Kate Toole (once of the D'Oyly Carte) ... she teamed with Fred Bowyer on a couple of numbers for G H MacDermott 

I notice she has climbed in class and has a Concanen cover here!

She also supplied Harry Randall, James Fawn ('She trotted me off to church') and doubtless others with tunes for similar pieces. 

The Longs persisted a while. He gave up performing and became a variety agent, then front of house at the Winter Gardens Southport, then a picture framer. She gave piano lessons.

Joseph seemingly died in 1904. Kate perhaps in 1924. They left three children to carry on the line ...

Which I guess is where I stop. But .... 'Miss Farrell'?   MISS?  Well, she wasn't. But who would expect anything else. She was actually Mrs Ellen ('Nelly') Farrell. And for a while, she was considered the best 'Irish' lassie on the British music hall scene.  It seems she wasn't even Irish. Well, maybe Birmingham Irish?  And her birth name seems to have been Billingsley. Bit iffy this. And her husband ... er ... William Farrell or William Roach (1860-1898)  .. married (25 July 1881) after the birth of two daughters ... ??? Hmmmm. Seems that's right ...

But Nelly had nearly a decade as a well-billed popular songstress before her descent into depression, divorce and booze. Even if she didn't perform 'Harbour Lights' anywhere that I can see.

Monday, November 20, 2023

A Musical with a message: hmmmm


While, or so it seems, all my friends and 'friends' are watching television and films, I delve. History. Musical history. And write my little pieces, in a vain attempt to stop folk using the too often ficticious articles of wikiplegia as gospel.  I don't know what it's like for accuracy in other fields, but in my field it's appalling.  

Anyway. I doddle on. With facts that probably interest half a dozen other people in the world ... but at least I have facts out there. Yes. Facts. That's what I deal in. Not really a care of writers these days, who prize the promotion of a theory (right or wrong) above the truth.

Oh it's not something new. And today I stumbled upon a piece of musical proselytising from the 1880s.  'Stumbled' because I was wandering down the publishing district of Paternoster Row, London City, and I encountered this strange object ...

Why would Pitman be publishing this? Did Mr Foskett (who he?) pay for it. How did said Mr Foskett get Stainer, a respectable musician, to contribute?  George Martin ... why?  I'm not familiar with Mr Charles S Jekyll (but I will be) ... and who were the 'other well-known composers' who were  not credited on the cover, anyway ...

Well, I found the wrinkle.

Mr Foskett, a mercantile pen-pusher from Southwark, liked to write poetry. And when he moved from pushing his pen for commercial causes, he became a clerk at the National Temperance Union. And he clearly took his post to heart. For his cantata, thus labelled, and a mixture of songs and recital ... was a musical with a message ...

Needless to say, temperance organisations were delighted to have a cautionary cantata of their own and after its initial showing at the Crystal Palace Great Temperance Feast (12 July 1881), Harold Glynde was snapped up by other devoted groups.  Perhaps the most unlikely performance was one at Alexandra Palace (8 October 1881) behind the Canary Exhibition and Emily Soldene in the entire Carmen. 

In the few years to come, I spot performances at the Halifax Temperance Mission, at its Leicester equivalent, at Derby by the local Temperance Choir, at Chelmsford and by the Dublin Band of Hope. The Dublin group did better at their evening performance with a Musical Robinson Crusoe. 

It was given at Sheffield by the Sunday School Band of Hope (1 May 1882), by the Hull Weslyan Temperance Society, at Sheffield again by the Cemetery Road Congregational Band of Hope, at Consett, Chelmsford, Chipping Norton, Aylesbury, and by Leeds's St Simon's Gospel Temperance Society. As late as 1890 it was still being given the odd hearing by the devoted ...

Mr Foskett apparently published some poetry ('Mr Foskett's poems are very serious and deliberate') as he moved on to be a librarian in Peckham ..

He died 27 September 1901 at 57 St Mary's Rd, Peckham, leaving a widow, four children, £789, and I suppose, the rights to Harold Glynde.

I wonder if this piece has been performed in the last century. I wonder if it is any good ...  Musicals with a message are usually, as Julian More and Monty Norman memorably wrote in Songbook, 'for Western Union'.