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Individuals with connections to Barlow
Alfred Oakey was musical director of Rowe's Circus in Melbourne in November 1853. In 1855, he and his wife were performing in Ballarat. Alfred as a pianist and his wife, Emma, as a singer. Alfred Oakey played piano accompaniment for Barlow here. Oakey was in Ballarat at the time of the riots that culminated in the uprising at the Eureka Stockade.
Alfred Oakey was a "close companion" of Peter Lalor.
In 1864 Oakey toured in New Zealand, with Charles Thatcher, Joseph Small and Madame Vitelli. He settled there in Nelson performing as an orchestra conductor, piano teacher, and as a pianist. He also ran a business selling pianos and sewing machines.
When Barlow performed in Nelson, in 1866 and again in 1891, Alfred Oakey played piano for him. Alfred Oakey died in Nelson on December the 6th 1896.
Barlow once performed in the same town in New Zealand as this popular actor. A newspaper article says that Barlow remarked that he had performed with Lauri's father at Drury Lane. He had also performed with Lauri's grandfather.
Lauri's story may be seen at this site. It is a touching tribute well told.
Baby Osbourne performed on a bill with Barlow in March 1876, in Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia. "La Petite Danseuse". She was five years old in 1876. She performed for at least the next three years. This is not the Marie Osborne who performed from the 1920s using the same name.
General Tom Thumb.
Charles Sherwood Stratton (1838-1883.) Many performers used this name throughout the 19th and 20th century. Stratton was the first. He was on tour in Europe with P. T. Barnum when Barlow performed on the same bill. This was on December the 3rd and 4th in 1846 in Dublin, Ireland. The venue was Jude's New Assembly Rooms, Grafton Street, Opposite Wicklow Street.
J. K. Emmett
Emmett was an American actor. For him is claimed the record of performing to the smallest audience. Before this was noted, in November 1913 in Perth, Western Australia, Barlow was thought to have held the record when he performed for an audience of eight. Emmett had performed for one man when he refused to wait until the towns-people returned from a lynching. The one audience-member was a man passing through.
This was Joseph Jacobs (1813-1870). He was an English magician and ventriloquist who became very popular in Australia and New Zealand. He declared at the start of each performance that his act was a series of deceptions. He performed at the same venues as Barlow in New Zealand in 1866 but was never actually on the same bill.
From a New Zealand newspaper article comes the only reference to this colourful character with connections to Barlow. The article was printed, in the Otago Witness, on the 14th of February 1889, just after his death. It is headed-
THE COLONIAL CAREER OF CAPTAIN CHARLES ANDERSON.
The article tells about Banjo Charley's life in Beechworth where he joined the Billy Barlow Troupe. This would have been in 1857. At around this time Anderson opened a hotel and a private hospital in Yackandandah. He was known as Banjo Charley because he played a banjo. He also played guitar. He had a rich tenor voice. Anderson also starred with opera singer Madame Carandini. I have not found anything else about him but the newspapers in the Beechworth area surely hold some information.
Ledger was a minstrel. He played concertina. In London in 1867 he performed with George Pell and Barlow. They appeared at Cremorne Gardens as:
G. W. Pell, Ledger & the American Barlow. The Original Ethiopian Serenaders.
Cape was a writer, printer, and producer of "Entertainments". In London, in 1870, he placed an advertisement in the Era. Among his other achievements he states,
"... and the Great American Barlow's Musical, Anecdotical, and Eccentric Entertainments, by means of which Barlow realised, in Australia, India, and China, the enormous sum of 16,000 pounds."
Cape goes on to list his services and gives his address as, "Mr Damer Cape, care of D'Alcorn, Music Publisher, 351 Oxford-street."
Cape does not enlighten us about which entertainments he wrote for Barlow. He does mention that he produced several entertainments using the Pepper's Ghost illusion which may be connected with Barlow's Professor Pepper's Ghost. This advertisement is followed by an extract from a letter by Charles Dickens sanctioning, without enthusiasm, Cape's proposed abridgement of A Christmas Carol.
Chang the Giant
Chang Wu Gow was born in China in the 1840s. He died in England in 1893. He was eight feet tall. A well-educated man he spoke ten languages. He toured in Europe, America, Australia, and New Zealand during the 1860s and 70s. He became well-known in the same areas, in Australia and New Zealand, where Barlow was performing. In 1871 Barlow first presented his act Chang High and the Dwarf Little Hong Kong. These names are derived from the names of the cities -- Shanghai and Little Hong Kong. Barlow presented himself in a basket held by a giant. This involved a trick costume. See Barlow's Entertainments.
Fakir of Oolu
This was Alfred Sylvester (Born: London 1831. Died: Melbourne 1886). He was trained in medicine and chemistry and came to the performance of illusions from a scientific angle. There is a well-written and comprehensive account of his life in Perth's Western Mail. Saturday January 23rd 1886. Sylvester's son and subsequently his grandson also performed as illusionists. Sylvester and Barlow were both performing in Perth's St Georges Hall and other venues in December of 1881.
There is a lot of information available about this charismatic, handsome performer. Thatcher was popular on the goldfields of Central Victoria and in New Zealand. His songs were printed in Australia making them accessible to the public. His songs had a broad appeal and were not performance-based like many of Barlow's. Barlow sold his songbooks in England but, as far as I can tell, not in Australia. Thatcher connects with Barlow only indirectly. The two men were performing in the Ballarat and Bendigo area from the early days of the gold rush. Barlow having arrived in Melbourne two months before Thatcher. Both lived in Central Victoria through the 1850s. There are some contemporary comparisons of the two that suggest that Barlow's act was considered to be more genteel. Thatcher being known to write and sing bawdy songs. Not that it mattered. There was audience enough for both and more.
E. D. Davies
This was Edward Davies the well-known and popular ventriloquist. There is conflicting information about his birth-place and date of birth. He died by his own hand in Esperance, Western Australia in 1896.
Davies used two dolls at once in his act -- Joey and Tommy and also two life-sized elderly dolls.
Davies performed with Barlow in Portland, Victoria in April 1878. His act was called The Twins of Momus. In ancient Greek mythology Momus was the personification of derision and gaiety.
A comprehensive, and well written, account of Davies life can be read in the article Nineteenth-Century American Ventriloquists by Ryan Howard. It includes pictures of Davies with his dolls.
Yeamans was a clown in the circus of Joseph Rowe. He came to Melbourne with Rowe in 1852. He was a talented actor, singer and clown. He performed with Barlow at Rowe's Circus. In 1854 on July 11th the performance was a benefit for Yeamans. On this occasion Barlow and Yeamans formed a duo in a comic Burletta called, The Rival Clowns.
Riley was an English singer, dancer, musician, and clown. He performed in the circus and on the variety stage. From the circuses and theatres of London he went to America to tour with variety troupes. In Melbourne in 1852 he was one of Joseph Rowe's two clowns. The other was Ned Yeamans. In Rowe's Circus in October and November of 1852 Riley performed with Barlow. Advertisements said they accompanied themselves on a variety of instruments."
Riley never stopped performing. At the age of ninety-two years and six months he was still entertaining his fellow residents at the Old Colonists' Home in North Fitzroy. Fitzroy is a suburb of Melbourne. He died there on the 17th of December 1911. He had been looking forward to the Christmas festivities and it was with great sorrow that the was laid to rest.
From the Fitzroy City Press Friday 22nd of December 1911:
"... It was a shade on the pathetic side to witness the efforts of the man whose flesh was weak but spirit willing, to ward off the coming of the rider of The Pale Horse. The latter, however, was not to be denied. The beckoning finger of grim Death was raised, and, obedient to the call which could not be gainsaid, the breath passed out of the body of he who had in his time cheered many an aching heart, and brought smiles to the faces of some thousands of theatre-goers and circus lovers."
Mulholland was a songwriter. He wrote the songs for Barlow's Siege of Sebastopol which was performed at the Salle De Valentino in Melbourne in 1855. In February 1855 Barlow gave Mulholland a benefit performance calling him "his able and talented poet (the poet laureate of Ballarat.)" Mulholland responded by saying that it was Barlow's performances that made the songs so good. In June the same year Mulholland published a book of his songs "at a cheap rate so as to be within reach of all."
Madame was a Lady Velocipedist. One of her more daring acts involved riding a bicycle side-saddle in and out of champagne bottles of inflammable liquid with lighted wicks. The stage was covered with these bottles and the gaslights extinguished. The audience thought it all very pretty. Some thought it dangerous and foolish. She also performed a safer act with flower-pots of brilliant flowers. Madame did other kinds of trick riding like fanning herself as she stood in a ballet pose on the bicycle seat. Her act produced comments ranging from extraordinary, through beautiful, to risqué. Surprisingly never, "Where's the fire exit?"
After arriving in Melbourne from Sydney in May 1876 she performed at St. George's Hall, and at the Colosseum. Madame toured Victoria returning to Sydney to perform in the Sydney Exhibition of April 1877. Following the Exhibition she was on the same program as Barlow at the Victoria Theatre on June the 9th. She toured in New Zealand where she amazed everyone while being seen as perfectly proper. Madame Franzini continued performing at least until 1888. I've not found anything that suggests a theatre fire during her dare-devil exploits.
A. A. Gaskarth
Gaskarth was a violist in Ipswich, Queensland in the 1850s to 1870s. In 1859 he wrote The Queensland Polka which he dedicated to Lady Bowen. Gaskarth played a tiny violin which was a source of amazement and delight. In December of 1884 he was said to have teamed up with Barlow in Bundaberg. Nothing is known about the shows performed by them here.
ADOLPHUS FREDERICK SPILLER
Spiller was a champion roller-skater and singer. In June 1865 he was a repairer of musical instruments in Tasmania. By 1867 he was a roller-skater as well as a singer and musician. He performed with Barlow in Tasmania in 1867. Spiller caused great excitement by roller-skating all over the stage. Some of the performances included his brother. The brothers played duets on flutinas. On the 5th of February, as part of Barlow's entertainment, Spiller was said to have glided around a totally unsuitable stage on his patent roller-skates. The stage had an uneven surface, was narrow, and was on an incline. After several falls he knocked over a footlight getting applause and laughs from the audience. At one point in his act Spiller did portray himself as a learner-skater, so his act included intentional comic elements. This makes it unclear how much of what the reporter witnessed was deliberate. Spiller was performing in Sydney in 1869 and 1870. By 1874 he was living in London as a manufacturer of roller-skates. He patented an improved construction of roller skates this year. In 1877 the firm of Spiller and Company filed for bankruptcy. This was reported in the Tasmanian papers.
Banting was a cabinet-maker who put himself on a diet that restricted simple carbohydrates. After successfully curing his own obesity problem he wrote a pamphlet about his diet. It is the basis of sensible weight-loss diets today. Doing Banting became a catch phrase which may have come from the play of that name. Alternatively the play may have taken its name from the phrase. The play is a farce about a plump family and Banting's diet. Barlow did an act and song, different from the play, based on Doing Banting.
AGENTS AND MANAGERS ASSOCIATED WITH BARLOW
Harry P. Lyons was Barlow's manager for a short time during the early 1860s. Lyons was also Blondin's and Charles Thatcher's agent.
J. C. Rainer. In the 1860s Rainer was the manager of the Theatre Royal in Castlemaine, Victoria. He employed Barlow there. The two also performed in other venues as a duo.
George Coppin. Coppin engaged Barlow for the opening of his Apollo Theatre in Melbourne in 1862. Barlow continued performing there for a season.
James Ellis was manager of the Salle De Valentino were Barlow performed for most of 1852. When Ellis owned Cremorne Gardens in Melbourne he was Barlow's neighbour.
D. Symonds. Lessee of the Theatre Royal in Ballarat.
CIRCUS MANAGERS ASSOCIATED WITH BARLOW
William Cook. Barlow performed in Cook's Circus in Oxford in 1848.
Joseph Rowe. Barlow performed with Rowe's Circus in Melbourne during the 1850s. Rowe was Barlow's first employer in Australia.
William Foley. In 1865 in New Zealand Barlow was the main act in Foley's Californian Circus.
Henry Burton. In Central Victoria in 1853 Barlow performed in Burton's Circus.
George Lewis. Barlow performed in Lewis's Circus in the 1850s in Melbourne. Lewis was using Astley's Amphitheatre.
BARLOW PERFORMED BEFORE THESE IMPORTANT PEOPLE
Lord Combermere; Lord Barrington; Lord Ewin Hill; Lord Forrister; Lady Payne; Colonel King; Sir Robert Napier, K.C.B.; Sir Robert Peel and family; General Lee; Major Gordon; their Excellencies Governor Latrobe, of Melbourne; Sir John and Lady Young, Sydney; the Ministry of Dunedin; the principal Consuls of India and China; The Duke of Edinburgh in 1870; King Edward vii (when he was the Prince of Wales).