Crisp Brothers continued

Crisp Brothers.


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The diagram below illustrates the relationship between the Crisp and Horn family.


1815 - 1820

Charles and Mary Anne Crisp.jpg

At the time of Mary Anne's birth in 1815, her father, George Crisp, was no longer an actor but a grocer and draper. Her mother, Mary née Crompton, was the daughter of a successful Hereford merchant, Jonathan Crompton. Mary Anne, we believe, was the second daughter of George Crisp but we cannot find any reference to the first child's birth, or a previous marriage for George. Thus far we have not been able to establish who her mother was but the possibility of it being Mary Crompton should not be discounted. The girl's name was George Crisp and we place her birth about 1814, the year of George and Mary's marriage. The family house was in Bridge Street, Hereford, and Mary Anne was baptised at St. Nicholas Church, 11th January 1815. The young Mary Anne's early life would naturally revolve around her parents so a brief account of her father's activities during her younger days is conducive to help us understand the life Mary Anne and her sisters lead. We know almost nothing about Mary Crompton, but a little about her father and the Crompton family. George's early life with his brothers and his later years has already been documented, links to the pages can be found from the Crisp family contents page.

From late 1816, George leaves the comfort and security of working as an actor with his brothers John and Charles, abandons the idea of being a grocer in Hereford and joins the York theatre circuit. This may have been George trying to emerge from his brother's shadows. John was the driving force of the family, already a well respected actor and certainly the business brains, but now Charles was on the scene and already stealing the limelight. George's move to Yorkshire must have been a success as in 1818 he was still there, but in May of that year the Hereford Journal reported he had been confined in York Castle for debt. Described as Mr George Crisp, Comedian, late of Sheffield....but heretofore of the City of Hereford, Grocer and Draper

A question we have pondered many times is "Where was George's wife, Mary?" During 1815 George was still working with his brothers at the Hereford and Chester theatres and probably some of the smaller theatres of the circuit so we think Mary would have stayed at home in Hereford, it is unlikely she would have accompanied her husband; but George's time away in Yorkshire is a different story. The only indication we have is the events of 1819 and the birth of their next daughter, Herriott.

Mail Coach
Timetable. 1819.

The Hereford Mail Coach sets out from the White Horse Cellar, Piccadilly, London, at half past eight in the morning, arrives at the Angel Inn, at Oxford, (54 miles) at four in the afternoon; sets off from thence at four the next morning, and arrives at the Star and Garter, Worcester, at twelve at noon (57 miles); sets out from Worcester at half past two P.M. and arrives at the Crown, Great Malvern, at three in the afternoon, and at the Malvern Wells, (121 miles from London,) at half past three; reaches Hereford at six in the evening, 22 miles from Malvern Wells, and 143 from London.
It goes from Hereford to Worcester every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, at half past six, and returns the same days through Malvern. There is a stage coach which sets out an hour earlier, and goes to Worcester every Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday, and returns the same day; and various others, whose hours of departure and return are continually changing.3

Mail coach routes in 1756

Img:1 Mail coach
routes in 1756

Mail coach routes in 1756

George had left the Yorkshire circuit and after a few brief appearances at various locations took a long term engagement in April 1819 at the Sadlers Wells theatre in Islington, London. Mary, in the meantime, was expecting another child. We believe her to be safely tucked up at home in Hereford, or living with her mother and father. We do not have a date of birth for Herriott but she was baptised on September 5th, 1819, at St. Margaret's Church near Vowchurch in the Golden Valley, the home parish of her father, Jonathan Crompton. Vowchurch itself is approximately ten miles west of Hereford. Back in London, five days prior to this, on August 31st the Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser printed an advertisement for the Sadlers Wells theatre advertising a production of The Caliph and Cad which included Mr. G. Crisp on stage that very evening. This performance appears to have been his last at Sadlers Wells. We believe George was away for the birth of Herriott, but left London in time to return home for her baptism at St. Margarets, her certificate of baptism shows her father as George Crisp, and his profession was entered as Actor on Stage, London.

The White Horse Cellar, Piccadilly.

Img:2, The White Horse
Cellar, Piccadilly2.

Close The White Horse Cellar, Piccadilly.

The journey from London to Hereford would have been tortuous by today's standards. 1819 pre-dates the building of any railway in Herefordshire by over 50 years so travel from London to Hereford would have been by stage/mail coach. Above left is a mail coach route map from 1756 and may well have been a route still in use in 1815. The coach left the City Arms in Hereford at 6.45 in the morning and typically arrived in London at 5am the following day1, a journey of 22 hours. The note to the right describes the revised route in 1819 and may be a more accurate reflection of the journey George underwent in September of that year. Even with the rapidly improving roads and general travelling conditions, journeys of this distance were measured in days rather than hours. George would have arrived at the City Arms in Hereford hungry, thirsty and tired but, at the prospect of meeting his new daughter, Herriott, for the first time, in high spirits.

1820 - 1822

In 1820 George resumed working with his brothers, John and Charles. John had added the Cheltenham theatre to his portfolio in 1819 and Charles was the acting manager. George played Cheltenham in May (opposite Charles Edward Horn), Worcester in September and Chester during October and November so it was a case of everything as it was. 1821 continued in the same vein with appearances mirroring the previous year with the addition of a single report in the newspaper Morning Post placing Mr Crisp on stage at Brighton during October. Curious indeed. Charles was busy preparing the theatre at Kidderminster for its re-opening at that time and John was in serious financial straits - he was being held at the Kings Bench debtors prison in Surrey - so it seems George was on his travels again. His performance at Brighton by-the-by was one "...deserving of considerable praise...." His wife Mary, we know, was with him on this journey as two months later Catherine was born and baptised at St. Giles-in-the-Fields, London. We wonder about the likelihood of Miss George and Mary Anne being with their mother and father and reason they probably were, and as Miss George's name has not appeared in an advertisement or playbill anywhere, seems to add a little weight to that reasoning. By March of 1822 George was back in the fold, the company played the usual venues with the addition of Brecon where George had a benefit concert and Charles donated the profits of one nights performance to the "...poor of Brecon". It is 1823 is where all the confusion begins.

1823 - 1825

Hereford Theatre Playbill from 1823.

Img:3, Hereford Theatre
Playbill from 1823.

1823 starts off simply and well ordered but then we only have two Miss Crisps to consider, the first reference we have found, thus far, dates from 1816 and refers to a benefit concert at the Hereford theatre. The concert, for Saturday 6th April 1816, was for Mrs. C Crisp and Miss C. Crisp. In 1816 Miss C. Crisp (Cecilia) was but five years old. (I am also advised that Cecilia's sister, Eliza, older by five years, had also been on stage with her mother the previous year at Chester). The serious references start in earnest in April, 1823, with Miss Eliza at Stourbridge. A remote reporter sent a review of the evening's entertainment - Henri Quatre - to the The Drama, Or, Theatrical Pocket Magazine which was published in their June edition of 1823.

"...Miss Crisp's "Louison" was a most engaging performance. This young lady, who is not more than seventeen, has already evinced capabilities in the first line of characters, both in tragedy and comedy, of the highest order..."

Image three alongside dates from August and shows Eliza, as Miss Crisp, with roles in the main and supporting pieces back in Hereford, it is also interesting to note the depth of talent in this company with the likes of Mrs. and the two Miss Quantrills, Vining, Horton and Lansdown. After Hereford the company returned to Stourbridge but the only notice we have found is for Rob Roy Macgregor with Eliza as Helen Macgregor and Cecilia as Diana Vernon. Eliza and Cecilia were the daughters of George's brother Charles. It seems John's children, of similar ages, had no interest in following their father to the stage. His two eldest daughters were name Eliza and Mary Ann so if they had followed in John's footsteps, they may well have gone unnoticed in the avalanche of Crisps that was just over the horizon.

Mr Vining's benefit night.

Img:4, Mr Vining's
benefit night.

In April 1824 we have the first sighting of the mysterious Miss George Crisp at Hereford, playing alongside her father, her cousin Cecilia and her uncle Charles in Shakespeare's Richard III. Charles took the lead role, with George playing the Lord Mayor of London. Cecilia played the Prince of Wales and Miss George the Duke of York. The afterpiece was the musical farce Turn Out; or, the Scotch Lassie, in which Miss [Eliza] Crisp took the lead role as Marian Ramsey, the scotch lassie. In between the pieces Mr. Shuter, Mr. G. Crisp and Miss G. Crisp all sang a song. In May, on the evening of Friday 7th Mr. Vining's took his benefit. His chosen piece was Slave in which he played Mathew Sharpset. Miss Cecilia was absent from this night but her father and sister Eliza gave their support, Miss George, her father and Mr Shuter all sung in the interlude. The playbill for this concert is pictured to the right and of particular interest to us is the address at the bottom Mr Vining gives for his lodgings, Mr Adam Crompton, Pipe Lane. Pipe lane is the location of Crompton's wharf, the centre of Jonathan Crompton's business interests. Jonathan Crompton was Mary Anne's grandfather, Adam Crompton was his nephew. Pipe Lane is also claimed to be the birthplace of Nell Gwynne, a favourite of king Charles II, it is now called Gwynne Street.

The routine continued throughout 1824 with new theatres joining the circuit under Charles' management. Warwick and Birmingham joined Brecon and Stourbridge and in early September John Crisp, now released from the Kings Bench prison, was engaged for three days at Warwick for their Race Week. The company put on Heir at Law in which John played Zekiel Homespun, one of his favourite roles. He was joined by Charles as Doctor Pangloss and Eliza as Cicely Homespun. From Warwick John headed west to Shrewsbury where he was engaged with the comedian, George Shuter and Mr Bunn the manager of Birmingham's theatre royal.

The Welsh newspaper, Cambrian, whilst informing their readers that the theatre at Brecon was to be fitted with gas lighting, also reported that Miss Crisp was enjoying "success unrivalled" at Warwick, playing Queen Elizabeth in the Sir Walter Scott's popular play Kenilworth. They also claim Charles had been approached by an (unnamed) London manager with a view to securing her services for a season there. Eliza, by dint of seniority, was always billed as Miss Crisp and Cecilia was Miss C, or Miss Cecilia Crisp. Tradition always dictated this was the way it would be and it held true until Cecilia married in 1833 and Eliza retired from the stage to look after her ailing mother around 1844. Or did it?

John Crisp at Stafford

Img:46, John Crisp
at Stafford, 1825.

John Crisp at Stafford

In December the company opened the theatre at Brecon, and on the 22nd performed Scott's Elshie, Wizard of the Moor with Mr. George taking the role of Hobie Elliot. This was followed in January of 1825 when Miss George Crisp reappeared with her father for his benefit as the Spirit Ariel in Shakespeare's Tempest and a performance of The Spoil'd Child. The Cambrian Newspaper reported Miss George's interpretation of the song Since then I'm Doom'd as " of the most interesting performances ever witnessed in that theatre".

Brecon, Bridgnorth, Dudley and Stourbridge would be some of the minor venues of the circuit the company were playing and advertisements notices or reviews are hard to come by for these theatres, indeed, some of the smaller towns did not have a theatre at all, just a church hall or rooms above or behind an inn. Carmarthen did have its own theatre however, described by Charles Mathews as "...a beautiful theatre and holds thirty pounds" but it has also been described as a "...and old place fitted up in the old way", so, make of that what you will. In March 1825 the company played to a crowded house, they performed Kenilworth and the reviews were glowing: "...beyond anything presented on these boards for twenty years". Away from Carmarthen John was keeping busy, during April he had been engaged by Mr Stanton, the manager of Stafford theatre, to appear with Miss Booth from Drury Lane, Romeo and Juliet and The Turnpike Gate was the fare for Saturday April 9th.

Miss Crisps at Hereford

Img:5, Three Miss Crisps
at Hereford, 1825.

Close Miss Crisps at Hereford

This lack of publicity is likely to be the reason the company disappears between February and July as the next time we find them is at Ludlow on the edge of the beautiful Shropshire Hills. The evenings fare was Der Freischutz and A Woman never vexed and only Charles and Cecilia are mentioned in the review. The article was in the Hereford Journal dated 3rd August but the date for the performance at Ludlow was not printed. The same edition, however, carried an advertisement for Hereford's own theatre for that very day, Wednesday 3rd August. Wonder, a Woman keeps a secret, would be followed by Rosina. Charles, Cecilia, Mr. George and Miss Crisp all play a part but Miss George is not billed. The same advertisement also gives the entertainment for Thursday 4th, Friday, Saturday and Monday so the finer details of who plays who, for the most part, were missing throughout. Der Freischutz was repeated at Hereford on August 9th and ran for at least three nights, with George, Eliza and Cecilia all taking part, the afterpiece on the 12th was Simpson and Co. Miss George again took no part throughout this particular the evenings performance and unusually neither did Charles.

Advertisement for Warwick's Race Week

Img:6, Advertisement for
Warwick's Race Week

Close Advertisement for Warwick's Race Week

Hereford's Race Week in 1825 commenced on Wednesday 17th August and the entertainment with it. The advertisement in the Hereford Journal (above) provides details of the entertainment for Wednesday through to Saturday and on Friday 19th we see Miss George as Leoline in M.G. Lewis' romantic play The Knight and the Wood Demon. The notice contains a lot of Crisps and one Mr Vining. Indeed, it falls far short of doing the company the sort of justice it deserves as is evidenced in the playbills. Charles, and John before him had put together a strong company comprising of very good actors but rarely is it evident from some of the newspaper advertisements. At the end of August the company moved on to Stourbridge as their Race Week began and then to Warwick for their Race Week.

A notice in the Warwick Advertiser advised the citizens of the town and the race-going visitors of the theatre's opening date, Tuesday 6th September. We have no record of the early performances but for Saturday Charles revived one of his favoured characters in King Richard III. It was followed on Monday 12th by Tom and Jerry with The Knight and the Wood Demon. On Wednesday, by desire of the Countess of Warwick, everybody's favourite piece; Rivals, culmanating with No Song, No Supper. Advertisements for Warwick's Race Week were also placed in Aris's Birmingham Gazette, a curious move as I cannot imagine empty seats in Warwick's theatre during race week. The notice singles out Monday's offering of The Knight and the Wood Demon and puts Mr. Vining in the lead role as Hardyknute with Miss George as Leoline and Miss Crisp as Una. Mr. and Miss George were again on stage together on September 28th in Scott's Elshie, Wizard of the Moor as Hobbie Elliot and Gordie Groeme respectively, Charles played Elshie and Miss Crisp was Grace Armstrong. The season at Warwick continued through October with Cecilia Crisp's benefit on the 31st The choice for the evening was School of Reform followed by Der Freischutz, two pieces riding high in the popularity stakes. The notices sent out by the theatre's management declared Cecilia as "A Juvenile Candidate for Public Favour". The theatre closed November 7th, Charles Crisp's benefit night.

Miss George Theatre Royal, Birmingham.

Img:7, Miss George at the
Theatre Royal, Birmingham.

Close Miss George Theatre Royal, Birmingham.

During November we found the first instance (as far as we are aware) of what would become a recurring annoyance. During November Miss George appeared at the Theatre Royal in Birmingham for the first time. The occasion was a benefit concert for Mrs Clarke. Also appearing was Mr Wilson, (a tight rope walker and rope dancer) and Miss Field. Miss George was to sing two songs, one being a duet with Miss Field. No other member of the Crisp family or the company had any involvement in the concert. The advertisement for the evening, in the Birmingham Journal, mentions only Miss Crisp, which, given the protocol, we naturally assumed to be Miss Eliza Crisp. We later discovered in Aris's Birmingham Gazette another advertisement, in a different format, for the same concert that mentions Miss George by name. If we are close with our judgement of placing her date of birth as 1814, she would be only eleven or twelve years old.

The year ended for the company back in Hereford with performances on Monday, 21st November of Alexander the Great, with the Forty Thieves. On Wednesday, 23rd Virginius was followed by A Rowland for an Oliver. A pencil adjustment to the playbill for Forty Thieves crosses out Miss Horton and writes Crisp beside the character of Gossamer. There is no doubt this entry is for Miss George as Miss Crisp and Cecilia are already cast as Cogia, the wife of Ali Baba and Morgiana, a slave of Cassim Baba, respectively. In December, an interesting development was announced through the pages of the Chester Chronicle, the theatre in Bridgnorth would be the latest to join Crisp's growing theatrical circuit.

Madame Vestris,  John Liston, Phyllis Glover and Mr Williams in Paul Pry.

Img:8, Madame Vestris,
John Liston, Phyllis Glover
and Mr Williams in Paul Pry.5

© Victoria and Albert
Museum, London.

Close Madame Vestris, John Liston, Phyllis Glover and Mr Williams in Paul Pry.

Also in December Hereford cheered the brief return of John Crisp and a performance of Paul Pry on the 5th in which Eliza and Cecilia both had roles, Eliza also played Jacintha opposite John's Sancho in the afterpiece, a one act farce, Like Master Like Man. The final throes of 1825 saw a busy Christmas period for the company. John was still in Hereford and a report in the Sheffield Advertiser reproduced a review printed in the Hereford Journal of the company's production of Sleeping Beauty and Paul Pry. Special mention was given to both Charles and John for their respective roles, "Mr.[C.] Crisp" it reads " us something much better than mere shew, his Paul Pry is a great treat of whim and humour." Of John, he "...kept the house in most perfect good humour." Unfortunately we cannot date the performance of Sleeping Beauty.

A neat little advert in the Hereford Journal spelt out the gifts available at the theatre over the festive season, the entertainment was going to come thick and fast. 21st George Barnwell with Forty Thieves, 23rd Henri Quatre with Deaf as a Post, 26th (Holiday Monday), Pizarro with Harlequin and Mother Goose. The presentation for the 27th was in preparation, as was the next days but it was confirmed to be one of Charles favourites, King Richard III to which the note was added "...acted by him in this city when Young Roscius the Second".4 Cecilia and Miss Crisp are mentioned but not Miss George, who, since Birmingham, has been invisible, apart from the one pencilled in part in Forty Thieves.


Playbills archive bookcover.

Img:9, Playbills
archive book cover.

Close Playbills archive book cover.

January began as December ended with the company at Hereford. The earliest advertisement we found was for Friday, January 13th and a benefit for Cecilia. The new and successful comedy Quite Correct would open the evening and be followed by Paul Pry. In between the two Mr. George would sing a comic song. Quite Correct, looks to have been a very good choice. Written by Caroline Boaden, a not too successful actress but a fairly competent playwrite, it opened at London's Haymarket in July, 1825, with Mr. Liston as Grojan the hotel keeper. According to the advertisement put out by the Hereford theatre, its initial run lasted over 100 nights. Paul Pry was one of the big theatrical hits of the day. It was first performed at the Haymarket Theatre, 13th September, 1825 and ran 114 times in its first season. Written by John Poole, with music drawn from a number of composers, including our own Charles Edward Horn. Paul Pry included the song Cherry Ripe with music written by Horn and sung by Madame Vestris in the role of Phoebe, (Img 8). Already a favourite in some quarters the song rocketed her to stardom. The character of Paul Pry was played by John Liston, it quickly became a very popular part and one many actors made their own, Liston's depiction of Paul Pry, his mannerisms and choice of costume would define representations of the character for many years to come, the character's catchphrase "I hope I don't intrude" was soon tripping of everyone's tongue. In Hereford, Charles Crisp starred as Paul Pry and Phoebe was played by Miss Crisp. George played the part of Grasp and, just to confuse everyone, Eliza was played by Miss Cecilia Crisp. Tickets for Cecilia's benefit could be had of Messrs Parkers, the bookseller and of Miss Cecilia Crisp at Mr Dillon's, Bye Street.

The following Friday was Mr. Durand's benefit with Henry the Fourth followed by Rosina. Charles played Sir John Falstaff with three Gentleman amateurs taking the parts of Henry, Prince of Wales, Worcester and Henry Percy. Singing was by Messrs Lockwood, G. Crisp and Bristow. Rosina, was a musical farce, of which the title role naturally fell to Cecilia, with Eliza playing Phoebe. Of Mr. Durand, whose benefit it is, there is no mention, except his address for tickets, at Mr. Babbidge's, Broad Street.


Hubert Smith-Stanier

Bridgnorth has known few if any more kind-hearted and genial old English gentlemen than John Jacob Smith and his son Hubert who in recent years has been known as Hubert Smith-Stanier, he having added to his original name that of Stanier in deference to the wish of his father's second wife, Miss Stanier of St. James's Priory, from whom he derived the fine old property attached to that Priory. The late Mr. Smith-Stanier and his father, John Jacob Smith, and his grandfather, Joseph Smith, held the office of Town Clerk of this Borough, in succession, for the long period of one hundred and six years prior to the year 1887 when he resigned...Mr. Smith-Stanier at various periods in his career held many official appointments besides that of Town Clerk, including Clerk to the County Justices, Clerk to several bodies of Turnpike Trustees, Secretary to the Charity Trustees, Registrar of the County Court, Clerk to the Governors of the Grammar School, Steward of the Manor of Ackleton.6

Charles Crisp had taken the lease on the Bridgnorth theatre in December 1825 and it was of this period that an enterprising and eccentric character, local to Bridgnorth, created an archive containing some of the playbills printed for the performances of the Crisp family at the Bridgnorth theatre, beginning in 1826 and ending in 1827. The archive, though not complete, was bound in the form of a book, with the family crest of Hubert Smith-Stanier inside on the first page. We assume from the crest that the archive was created by Smith or on his instruction, for what reason we shall never know. Smith was the Town Clerk of Bridgnorth for many years, as was his father and grandfather, but as to why he would be interested in the theatrical season of 1826-7, when he would have been only three or four years old is an interesting question. Hubert Smith-Stanier was described by his wife, Julietta as " eccentric, and therefore an interesting man". Somewhat understated certainly, read more about Smith here. The book, in excellent condition, is held by the Northgate Museum in Bridgnorth and they have allowed me to reproduce the enclosed pages here.

Silk Playbill for Bridgnorth Theatre, 1826.

Img:10, Silk Playbill for
Bridgnorth Theatre, 1826.

Bridgnorth is a short journey of 45 or so miles from Hereford, passing through Ludlow and Leominster. In February the company had opened up the theatre with Sir Walter Scott's Warlock of the Glen on Thursday 23rd. Mr George played Sandie with Miss George as The Rightful Heir, an ideal curtain raiser for the forthcoming season. This was followed on Saturday 25th with Paul Pry, Charles' depiction of the title character proving very popular with press and audiences alike. The supporting piece was an old favourite, Forty Thieves, in which Miss George joined her father and cousins on stage. Monday 27th the company returned to draw on Sir Walter Scott's limitless imagination to play Kenilworth which was repeated on 2nd March, Miss Crisp played Queen Elizabeth on both occasions. It was followed on March 14th by Wonder, Woman keeps a secret, with J. H. Payne's Clari, The Maid of Milan with music by Henry R. Bishop. Clari, includes Bishop's most popular song Home Sweet Home, which, when published independently of the opera, sold 100,000 copies in it's first year, in this production it was sung by Cecilia. The Shropshire Archives hold a very delicate playbill for this performance printed on silk, pictured alongside. It it difficult to read in places but clear enough to see Charles, George, Eliza and Cecilia all featuring in both both pieces, and George once again with the comic song in between. A note near the top of the bill is not very clear, it appears to read "...the last week of performing until Easter Monday (which in 1826 was March 27th) in which week the benefits will commence and the season finally close". The company will then move on to Stourbridge.

The week continued and the troupe was enhanced by the return of John Crisp from Shrewsbury. We do not know how long his engagement was for but his penultimate night was April 1st with a performance of School for Scandal followed by Elshie, another piece based on a tale by Sir Walter Scott. Betwixt the two was a song by Mr Lockwood and a comic song sung by Mr George. John took the lead as Sir Peter Teazle, Lady Teazle was played by Miss Crisp and Maria by Miss Cecilia.

George Crisp Benefit with Miss George.

Img:11, Mr. George's
benefit with Miss George..

The next appearance of the family we might have expected to be at Stourport, as noted on the silk playbill earlier, but we can find no reference to the theatre being opened there. Instead it came back at Bridgnorth, ten days later on the 11th April as the benefits began. The main piece was William Tell or The Patriot of Switzerland claimed on the bill to be the most successful play performed at Covent Garden the previous season. The tale of William Tell centres on the hero Tell (played by Charles Crisp) shooting an apple from his own son's head. It was performed as a benefit for Mr Durand, who played Verner. Albert, the unfortunate son of William Tell was played by Miss George, Mr George played Erni and Mr Vining played the evil landburgher Gessler, (printed as Gresler on the bill). Two comic songs in the interval by Mr. George and Mr. Bristow were followed by Quite Correct, one of London's Haymarket theatre's successes in which Miss Crisp took the role of Miss Rosemore. Miss Cecilia had the night off.

Mr Smith-Stanier furnished us with five more playbills for April, the next one, Shakespeare's Tempest, is undoubtedly the one that interests us most of all. Thursday, April 13th was Mr. George Crisp's benefit night, and Tempest was his chosen piece. In its post Restoration form, adapted by Sir William Davenant and John Dryden it had become the most successful show of its age. Charles, Eliza and Cecilia were all featured, George himself took a minor role as a drunken sailor but the headlines were for Miss George as the spirit Ariel. During the course of the evening she also sung three additional songs and danced a hornpipe. Mr. George sung his comic song, Incontrovertible Facts "first time in this theatre". Taking a back seat for the night, probably for the first time, were Eliza and Cecilia who played Dorinda and Miranda respectively, the daughters of Prospero, who was played by Charles. The afterpiece was the evergreen Spoil'd Child with Miss George again taking the limelight as Little Pickle, and having three more songs to sing. Seen primarily as a vehicle for introducing young talent, the anonymously written play, Spoil'd Child, was unaccountably popular. William Oxberry, the actor, biographer, publisher and theatre manager described it as "...utterly despicable..." and added "The composition of such a thing, is an offence against good taste, which few men would be courageous enough to avow themselves guilty of."7

Mary Ann Horton

Mary Ann Horton was born in Birmingham (England) 13th March 1811 and Christened at St Martin's Church in Birmingham June 1813. She was the fifth of ten children, her father, Thomas, a "manufacturing jeweller" and her mother Barbara, were both Calvanists so: " our youth none of us were ever allowed to go near a theatre" Her opportunity came when her father became "financially embarrassed" and she was able to find work singing so could support him and do something for the education of her four sisters. After finding success on the stage she was followed by her two younger sisters, Prescilla and Sarah. Prescilla became known as Priscilla Horton and was rather more successful on the London stage, she married Thomas German Reed, an English composer and theatrical manager.8

Nell Gwynne; The City of the Wye.

Img:12, Nell Gwynne;
The City of the Wye.

Close Nell Gwynne; The City of the Wye.

Saturday April 15th was Mr Horton's benefit, Henry the Fourth was the main entertainment with Charles taking the lead as Sir John Falstaff. Mr. George and Miss George played a part and Miss Horton was Francis. Eliza and Cecilia were missing. The afterpiece was a new local history story called Nell Gwynne. The City of the Wye or The Red Lands of Herefordshire. Charles took a back seat in this piece, leaving the headlines to Mr. Vining as King Charles the Second, George was on stage as Farmer Redstreak and Cecilia played Eleanor Redstreak. Eliza ran the show as Eleanor Gwynne. Written by Thomas Horton, apparently in Hereford, and yet to be published, this may have been one of the first performances of Nell Gwynne to be staged. To the left is the earliest example I have found of the original play, published by W.H. and J. Parker in High Town, Hereford and dated 1828, two years after this performance at Bridgnorth. It seems Thomas Horton and Mr. Horton of Charles Crisp's company of actors and comedians are one and the same person, we also assume Miss Horton, who played Francis in Henry the Fourth and some other minor roles in the past year, to be his sister. Furthermore, Miss Horton we feel sure is Mary Ann Horton, who took to the stage to support her family when her father became "financially embarrassed." In 1838, Mary Ann Horton married Charles Edward Horn in Baltimore, USA.

The benefits continued with Mr. and Mrs. Lockwood's on Tuesday and Mrs. and Miss Quantrill's on Thursday 20th April, neither of which featured Miss George. Tuesday's piece was Castle of Andalusia with Paul and Virginia from which Eliza was also missing and Thursday's concert was the ever popular Virginius followed by the equally popular Tekeli. Eliza and Cecilia both gave their services for the Quantrills. On Tuesday April 25th, the company played Heart of Midlothian, yet another of Sir Walter Scott's masterpieces. George played the Laird of Dumbledikes and Cecilia played Effie Deans. This performance, we are sure, was a benefit, but for who we cannot say. The concert on Saturday 29th was a benefit for Mr. and Mrs. Whitcott, most of the company played their part, Speed the Plough and Clari, the Maid of Milan were performed. At the bottom of the bill it was announced the forthcoming entertainment for Mayday 1826 was to be Tom and Jerry; or, Life in London; with the comment: Not the piece that was acted by the company here last season, but the Adelphi popular play...acted by this company 11 nights in Hereford, 9 in Stourbridge, 8 in Dudley and 10 in Warwick. References to any performances in Dudley are very hard to come by, indeed, this is the first I recall seeing. The season at Bridgnorth closed on Saturday May 13th, Charles Crisp's benefit night. The entertainment on offer for that evening will remain a mystery as we have no playbill or advertisement for the event, only a note in the "forthcoming entertainment" section of the above bill.

The new season at Stourbridge.

Img:13, The new
season at Stourbridge.

The new season at Stourbridge.

Two days after Bridgnorth theatre closed, Stourbridge opened. During its closed season the theatre had been decorated and new scenery painted. Notices were published to announce a new season of seven weeks commencing on Whit Monday9, (which in 1826 was 15th May) with Enchanted Castle; or Sleeping Beauty followed by Fortunes Frolic. The theatre would be open three nights a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Pictured left is the advertisement published Monday 26th June for the last week of the season at Stourbridge. The same evening the Stranger and Clari were offered which would be followed on Wednesday by Cecilia's benefit night. She chose Sheridan's Rivals followed by Coleman's Love Laughs at Locksmiths, two very safe bets for a good house. Friday night, "under particular patronage" was the Devil's Bridge and Elshie. The Devil's Bridge made it's debut in 1812, performed by the Drury Lane company at the Lyceum theatre in London. The libretto was written by Samuel James Arnold and the music composed by John Braham and our own Charles Edward Horn. It enjoyed reasonable success in London but is not often played in the provinces. The last night of performances, Monday July 3rd, was naturally Charles Crisp's benefit night, on his list was Pageant from Kenilworth, Paul Pry, and Ways and Means. His characterisation in the title role of Paul Pry was still an item of news and would guarantee a good turnout without Scott's Kenilworth or Colmans's Ways and Means but with them meant a busy but fruitful nights work for the manager. Meanwhile John Crisp had been engaged by Mr. De Camp, the new manager of the Chester theatre.

Warwick's race week, 1826.

Img:14, Warwick's
Race Week, 1826.

Warwick's race week, 1826.

July passes with no news as to the company's whereabouts, but in August they are back home in Hereford for the beginning of Race Week. On Friday, August 4th, John Bull was performed under the patronage of Hereford's Minister of Parliament, Mr. E. B. Clive and was followed by Winning a Husband, or, Sevens the Main in which Miss Crisp played eight different characters. Monday 7th was Jealous Wife and Love Laughs at Locksmiths and Tuesday, the first Race Day, Rivals was the entertainment by desire and under the patronage of James Phillipps, Steward of the Races. Charles, Miss Crisp and Cecilia (spelt Cecelia in the Hereford Journal) all featured, of Mr. or Miss George there is no mention.

St. Mary's Hall,

John Boles Watson and Robert Hoy moved Coventry's theatre from the town gaol to St. Mary's Hall around 1797. When his son, Jack Watson, took the Cheltenham Company to Coventry in 1810, he saw much room for improvement. By installing prefabricated galleries and boxes he increased the capacity dramatically. Mrs Jordan, late on in her career, played St Mary's Hall for Watson and described it thus: "[It] is made out of the Town Hall, and a curious looking place it is. How it will look at night I don't know. It is entirely surrounded by high painted windows which press up behind the Boxes and look so odd. This is where Lady Godiva dined with the Corporation".
The BBC featured St. Mary's Hall in the programme "Shakespeare on Tour" in 2016, alluding to its past history as a theatre they added a little substance to the words: "The hall itself, boasting an intact minstrels gallery, would have been a splendid performance space, 30 foot wide by 72 foot long, rivalling palace halls and theatre stages in London".

Early September was Warwick's Race Week and once again the entertainment devised by Crisp's company would be coming thick and fast. To make sure the whole town was aware of it, one entire column of the front page of the Warwick Advertiser and Leamington Gazette was taken for advertising. The theatre would be open under the patronage of Captain Russell and J. W. Knighley, stewards of the races, from the first race day, Tuesday 5th until Saturday 9th. The very first item on the agenda has to be the hit of the season, Paul Pry with the now familiar line-up, acted for the first time in Warwick, followed by Warlock of the Glen. Wednesday evening was Quite Correct with another new piece for Warwick Winning a Husband, or, Sevens the Main in which Miss Crisp plays eight different characters.The third offering for the evening was Broken Sword, or, Who's the Murderer in which Cecilia plays a dumb boy. Thursday's fare was Clari, the Maid of Milan, with More Blunders than One and Kill or Cure and Friday's was something of a surprise. Another new piece to Warwick was William Tell, played before at Bridgnorth with Miss George in the role of Albert, Tell's son. At Warwick, Albert was played by Master W.H. Crisp, (William Henry Crisp) Charles' youngest son. As big as the advertisement was for Warwick's race week, there was no mention of Miss George anywhere although her father played several roles. Of William Henry, we know this; he was baptised at Kidderminster, 20th January, 1822, but later records show him to have been born several years earlier. This performance was probably William Henry's stage debut, and we calculate his age, based on later records, to be around eight or nine years. The advertisement affirms this was to be his first and only appearance. William Tell was followed by Helpless Animals, or, Batchlors' Fare and Lady and the Devil, or, Catch her Who Can. For Saturday 9th, only one the main course was advertised, Alexander the Great and Charles, of course, would play Alexander. The last line of the advertisement confirmed the theatre would open again on Monday 11th, a busy week indeed.

October reveals the company still in Warwick, this time performing under the patronage of the Countess of Warwick in the latter half of the month. A note at the base of the advertisement informs that the benefits will commence from the 30th October. From that we can assume the company were in Warwick for most of October and possibly the latter part of September although they may easily of played a smaller venue between these dates. Mr. George is in the billing and his old mentor Mr. Shuter and his wife are part of the company and although it is not mentioned in the advertisement, I feel sure there would have been at the very least one comic song in the interval.

St. Mary's Hall, Coventry. 1829.

Img:15, St. Mary's Hall,
Coventry. 1829.

Close St. Mary's Hall, Coventry.

Into November and on to Coventry. It is unusual to find an invite or engagement like this. The Coventry theatre was managed by Mr. John Boles Watson II, usually called Jack, to distinguish him from his father. Watson's theatres included Cheltenham amongst many others. It is quite likely he engaged Crisp on the proviso he would play Paul Pry thereby virtually guaranteeing the manager a full house, such was the popularity of the play and Charles Crisps portrayal of the titled character. The advertisement for Tuesday, November 7th was very brief, mentioning only the headline piece, Paul Pry, and Charles, who would play him. Underneath was the entertainment for Friday November 10th featuring Mr. Elliston as Dr. Pangloss and the manager, Mr. Watson, as Zekiel Homespun in Heir at Law. All performed under the patronage of Colonel Ross and the Officers of the Fourth Royal Irish Dragoon Guards.

The Coventry Herald was impressed with Mr Watson's efforts but not keen to lavish praise upon him. Of Mr. Crisp they said his Paul Pry was "very amusing" and we learnt from the Herald that Mr. Vining played Young Stanley, with "great spirit and vivacity". The editorial continued: "We trust, however, that he [Watson] will allow us to remind him, that although Phoebe is a very pretty girl, yet she is but a servant, and ought not to receive with her mistress an equal share of respectful attention." Surely Mr. Watson was not to blame for the words of the playwrite John Poole, or did this production stray from the original? More from the Herald: "The Misses Crisp are very pleasing young ladies, and we doubt not will become great favourites with the audiences of Coventry".

Miss George Crisp's Benefit Concert.

Img:16, Miss George Crisp's
Benefit Concert.

Miss George Crisp's Benefit Concert.

The latter part of November was back in Warwick. It was a complete surprise to find the 21st November had been given over to Miss George for her benefit. From this we can be sure that even though we have found no evidence that she was still with the company she has been playing a part, significant enough to warrant a benefit. The staple for a young performer would be the Spoiled Child (usually promoted as Spoil'd Child) and so it proved, but, for this evening, also included was John Kerr's popular Wandering Boys and George Colman's Blue-Beard, during which Miss George would sing and accompany herself on the piano. Talented indeed, it would seem. Playing the piano is an attribute not seen in Eliza or Cecilia, although we find it hard to believe neither would have learnt. The Warwick Advertiser reported the concert was well attended and Miss George "...bids fair to attain a high rank in her profession..." The receipts, they reported, at £32, were nearly double the sum of previous benefits taken at the theatre so far and occupier of the theatre at Leamington was looking to secure her services for that town. Warwick had been very good for Miss George.

A single reference from December tells us the company returned to Bridgnorth at the end of Warwick's season. Scott's Rob Roy was played on the 14th with Cecilia playing Diana Vernon, the spirited and wilful niece and ward of Sir Hildebrand of Osbaldistone Hall. Diana, a skilled hunter, could ride her horse as well as any of her male counterparts and controversially, in the same style. Her character and situation has been likened to that of another fictitious heroine, Cathy Earnshaw (Wuthering Heights) who was portrayed as being equally out of place among her boorish relations. Although a work of fiction the artist Alexander K. MacDonald's depiction of her was featured in the "Famous Beauties" series of Player's cigarette cards in 1937.


Three Fingered Jack

In 1780, the notorious rebel "Three-Finger'd Jack" Mansong escaped from slavery and murdered hundreds of travellers. He remained at large for almost two years before he was captured and killed. The Jamaican Royal Gazette published the first known account of Three-Finger'd Jack in 1780, issuing the governor's proclamation for the reward and capture of the runaway. Early the following year it reported Jack's death at the hands of the Maroons.10 Accounts of his life, some more sympathetic than others, describe him as a solitary bandit allegedly protected by obeah (obi), an Afro-Caribbean system of beliefs likened by some to voodoo. In the early part of the nineteenth century stage adaptations of his life circulated in England, the provinces, and the United States. Despite Jack's enduring reputation as a bandit, perpetuated by the colonial British, Jamaican playwrights and directors have harnessed Jack's energy to celebrate Jamaican independence from England and from a past of slavery and colonialism. To this day, Jack Mansong remains a controversial figure in Jamaican literary culture.11

December 1826 melted away and January 1827 rose with business as usual. The new season at Bridgnorth continued and the company had some new names in their midst. Alexander the Great was performed on the 6th January with Charles repeating the role of Alexander he played in Warwick. Mr George, Messrs Vining, Durand, Shuter and Mr Horton all featured, plus Mr. Johnson, one of the new faces in the company. The afterpiece was Miss Crisp's special, Winning a Husband, or, Sevens the Main in the course of which she sings several songs. The characters not played by Miss Crisp, there were only three, were taken by Miss Quantrill, Mr. George Crisp and Mr. Vining. Between the pieces Mr. George and Mr. Shuter shared the duties with the comic songs. However, all the comic songs in the world might not have been enough to raise the spirits for this evenings entertainment which would have been overshadowed by the death of Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, the previous day. Prince Frederick, the famed Grand Old Duke of York (who had ten thousand men) was the heir presumptive to the British throne.

Floating Beacon scipt.

Img:17, The script
from 1824.

Floating Beacon scipt.

At the bottom of the bill is the line for forthcoming attractions which shows George Barnwell for Monday 8th and Bluebeard for Tuesday 9th. The next performance we found was January 18th and another benefit. The recipient this time was the new name in the company, Mr Johnson. Jane Shore was the headline piece followed by Combat of the Three from Sleeping Beauty and Father and Son. Only Cecilia was missing from the regular supporting cast (and Miss George) which included a Mr. Whitcott, the other new member of the team. Mr. George and Mr. Shuter provided the interim amusement with some comic songs.

Prince Frederick's funeral was planned for Saturday 20th January so the planned entertainment for that day was brought forward to Friday 19th. New to Bridgnorth and first performed at the Surrey Theatre in 1824 was Floating Beacon, or the Norwegian Wreckers, written by Edward Ball. The lead role was taken by Mr. Durand, ably supported by Messrs George Crisp, Vining, Johnson, Horton etc. but no Mr. Charles Crisp. Like Cecilia and Miss George, he took no part in the evenings proceedings. The Young Widow and White Lies, both featuring Miss Crisp, followed on. The intermission for this evening was filled with music and comedy, Mr. George, Mr. Shuter and Mr. Danby all sung comic songs. The forthcoming entertainment for Monday 22nd was going to be Revenge, or, The Spanish Insult Repaid, followed by Obi; or, Three-Fingered Jack, play-write John Fawcett's telling of the Jack Mansong story of an escaped slave turned freedom fighter in old Jamaica.

Undated picture of the Raven, formerly the Commercial Inn

Img:18; The Raven, formerly
the Commercial Inn.14

Undated picture of the Raven, formerly the Commercial Inn

Saturday, January 27th Bridgnorth welcomed the appearance of John Crisp as Anthony Foster in Scott's Kenilworth. The first day of February Guy Mannering was the headline piece continuing the trend for dramatic entertainment from the pen of Sir Walter Scott. A transcription of a record of this performance lists Mr. George Crisp as playing the parts of both Ballie Mucklethrift and Dandie Dinmont, not unusual but is it possible one of those characters could have been played by Miss George? The next indication we have of activity is the 10th but it seem very likely the intervening days were not lost, something would have been happening somewhere. Meanwhile, February 10th was a Saturday and a benefit concert for Mr. and Mrs. Danby. A New Way to Pay Old Debts and Magpie and the Maid was the evenings fare, very unusually no female Crisp took part in either piece. We can read into this many things but an obvious possibility must be the ever growing personnel count, the playbill for this day includes Mr. Bond, another new name and face, albeit male. Tuesday 13th February was another benefit, for Mr. Easthope and his sons from the orchestra. Mr. Easthope was staying at Mr. Hudson's Commercial Inn, and as tradition demands the address of his lodging house was printed at the bottom of the playbill. In the 1828 Salop Directory, William Hudson's Commercial Inn, was in Raven Street, (now merged with Whitburn Street), High Town. The building still stands and has the date of 1646 above the entrance. The entertainment included a grand concert of orchestral which will include the overture from Der Frieschutz, incidental music and singing. Mr Easthope was well supported for the occasion, participants included Mr. Spray and Mr. Stannard from the Theatre Royal, Worcester and Mr. Thornhill from Wolverhampton. The headline play was a comedy, Laugh When You Can, or, the Rival Philosophers, and for the occasion we can boast a full house of Crisps with Miss George in the role of Charles Mortimer. The follow-on piece was All In The Dark.

Kenilworth playbill, Bridgnorth, 1st March 1827

Img:19; Kenilworth and
a full house of Crisps.

Cecilia's benefit was next, on Thursday 15th February, and again the printers spelt her name wrong. Her choice was Honeymoon; or, How to Rule a Wife. by John Tobin and The Inn-keeper of Aberville; or, The Ostler and Robber. a drama penned by Edward Fitzball and first produced at the Surrey theatre in January 1826. The actual title of the play is The Innkeeper of Abbeville, rather than Aberville, I wonder if anyone noticed. Between the pieces, seemingly in place of the comic songs, Miss Cecilia would feature in a new Garland Dance as the Little Flower Girl. The last event we have for February is Mr. George Crisps benefit on Saturday, February 17th under the patronage of the Gentleman of the Morfe Coursing Club12. On the bill was the firm favourite School of Reform; or, How to Rule a Husband, followed by The Wandering Boys. One of the busiest characters of the evening was Miss George, she played Paul in the afterpiece, The Wandering Boys; danced the British Sailors Hornpipe, and sung The Plain Gold Ring and Auld Robin Gray, (but she would not be accompanying herself on the piano this time) and a duet, called ABC with her father. Unusually for a benefit, George's lodging house is not recorded.

March gets under way with a performance on the first day. Kenilworth; or, Queen Bess's Golden Days was the headline piece. Three years earlier, Miss Crisp played Queen Elizabeth with success unrivalled as described by the newspaper Cambrian. For this night, Queen Elizabeth was played by Mrs Shuter, the reason for that will become obvious in a few lines. Again we have a full house of Crisps, but with a few surprises. Charles plays the Earl of Leicester, Mr. George is Michael Lambourne, Miss George is Theodore, the Queens page and Cecilia plays Janet Foster. Then we have Master C. Crisp who plays the page Fernando, Miss Kitty Crisp as Spring, Miss G. Crisp as Summer, Miss B. Crisp as Autumn, and Master W. Crisp as Winter. Master Charles Horatio Crisp, was born around 1812, the son of Charles and Elizabeth, the brother of Eliza and Cecilia. He married Mildred Mary Everill in 1831 and became a land surveyor. Master W. Crisp, born 1817, we have already met, William Henry played Albert, William Tell's son, in Warwick the previous year. He married Elizabeth Tyrer and had a fairly successful stage career in Scotland and Ireland before he moved to America and found more success as an actor and theatre manager. Truly his father's son. William Henry died in January 1874, in Dallas, Texas.13 Miss Kitty Crisp, we believe to be George's daughter Catherine, born in London November, 1821. Kitty is generally a diminutive of Katherine, Catherine or Kathleen but has, more recently, been used as a name in its own right. There will be more about Catherine later in this story. Of Miss B. Crisp we have nothing to write. Of all the children John, Charles and George produced none are an obvious fit for her. Unfortunately this child, we know nothing of. Perhaps the most curious part of this production is the non-appearance of Mary Anne who, by now, would be 12 years of age. Why was it she played no part when there seemed to be roles in abundance. Mary Anne grew up to be the most successful of George's children and certainly as successful as Eliza and Cecilia, her absence is a mystery indeed.

The afterpiece for the evening was Miss Crisp's speciality Winning a Husband; or, Sevens the Main, undoubtedly the reason Eliza played no part in Kenilworth. Joining her on stage for this were Mr George, Mr Vining and Miss Quantrill. In addition to playing eight different characters in the play she would also sing three songs, quite an achievement.

Saturday 3rd March was Miss Crisps benefit. Saturday was generally considered a good night benefit-wise and probably the night of choice for the shrewdest. The evenings entertainment was Thomas Morton's School for Grown Children; or, the Heart of an English Farmer. Morton was proving to be one of the best English playwrites of his era producing a string of works that were revived time after time. A Cure for the Heart Ache (1797); Speed the Plough (1798); The School of Reform, or How to Rule a Husband (1805); Town and Country, or Which Is Best? (1807); A Roland for an Oliver (1819); Henri Quatre (1820); to name a few, and this, his latest work, School for Grown Children, premiered the previous year. There was none of Miss Crisps characterisations for this evening, she played Lady Stanmore and Cecilia played Fanny Bloomly Charles and George played their parts and Cecilia sang and danced between the pieces. The afterpiece was Broken Sword.

Sporting Magazine's review of
Three and Deuce.

The novelty and chief business of this piece consists in the circumstance of three brothers bearing so critical a familiarity of person to each other as to render a diferimination between them impossible. Their manners and propensities are, however, essentially different; one being a grave and sedentary gentleman, the second a fop and the third an ideot, which afford an ample scope for the display of young Bannister's versatile powers, who alternately personines, and is the sole representative of them all, a task which he is enabled to affect by their appearing singly throughout the whole of the plot.- Humphrey [Grizzle] is servant to Pertinax Single as is Renard to Peregrine and MacFloghan (an Irish School-master) has the care and education of Percival, the ideot entrusted to him. The mistakes committed by these in consequence of the striking likeness of one another, supposed to exist in the three brothers, produce some very whimsical scenes and situations, and afford an affinity of pleasantry and laughter.15

Mr. Shuter's benefit was played out on 6th March with Foundling of the Forest, followed by Love, Law and Physic; or, the Timber Merchant Outwitted. In support of Mr. Shuter a guest appearance by Mr. Smith took the headline, being his first appearance upon any stage. Five songs were sung by Mr. Shuter and Miss Crisp, and Mr. Shuter sung a lyrical "How D'ye Do?" to his friends. Charles and Mr. George played the Count De Valmont and Sanguine respectively and Mr Smith played Bertrand, a valet. In the afterpiece Mr. Shuter played the timber merchant, Lubin Log, and George was Andrew. Charles had an early night, Miss Cecilia and Miss George didn't feature at any point.

Thursday March 15th was also a benefit night marking this month as the end of the season at Bridgnorth. This benefit was for Mrs Horton,"Box-Keeper and Money-Taker at the Box and Pit Door." So who was Mrs Horton? The two obvious answers to that question are Mr. Horton's wife or mother, but we will probably never know. It is worthy of note that this performance was to be Miss Horton's last with the company and we have a suspicion they may well be linked. Joan of Arc, Quarter Day and Paul and Virginia were played with all the company taking part. There was another guest appearance, Mr Carr, who would sing and "a new fancy dance" by Miss Horton, both would take place during the break.

The last bill we have is for March 17th and a performance of Sweethearts and Wives by desire of the Bridgnorth Corporation. This performance we are told is the last night but three, and the managers benefit will be the last night of the season in Bridgnorth. The afterpiece, Three and Deuce, was a comedy apparently written for Mr. J. Banister jun; a man of many talents, by Prince Hoare and first saw the light of day at the Haymarket theatre September 15th, 1795. The three main characters are three brothers, presumably triplets as they are so alike, named Pertinax, Peregrine and Percival Single, roles which have to be played by the same person, (akin to Miss Crisp's Winning a Husband). The three brothers, though alike in appearance in every way, have personalities that could not be more different. Pertinax is grave and sombre, Peregrine is an effeminate dandy and Percival is simply empty headed. All three parts naturally fell to Charles, including the explanatory address which he also composed. Other parts fell to the regular company, Mr. George played Frank Woodbine, Mr. Durand played Reynard servant to Perigrin, Mr. Shuter was Humphrey Grizzle, a servant to Pertinax, Mr. Vining was McFlogham, Percival's tutor. Miss Crisp played the Welsh barmaid Taffline and Cecilia Phoebe Woodbine. The essence of the play is simplicity itself, the confusion caused by the two servants and McFlogham, the tutor, by mistaken identity. The Sporting Magazine reviewed the play after its first airing, see alongside.

Clara Fisher's benefit night.

Img: 22. Clara Fisher's
benefit night.

Clara Fisher's benefit night.

The managers benefit and the last performance in Bridgnorth was Saturday, March 24th, and Hereford's theatre opened for the assizes Monday 26th. Joining the company at Hereford would be Miss Clara Fisher, another actress for whom the term child prodigy may have been conceived. She first appeared on stage at Drury Lane at the tender age of six years as Lord Flimnap in a production of David Garrick's Lilliput. The date was December 10th, 1817. Her career would span over seventy years and earn her the dubious title of "the oldest living actress" she died in the U.S.A. in 1898. Miss Fisher had been playing the provinces during 1827, in February she had been in Arundel and early March Coventry, she would be in Hereford until the end of March. The opening night's performance was Douglas, or the Noble Shepherd followed by The Romp, Miss Fisher took the title role in Douglas and played Priscilla Tomboy in The Romp. We can only guess as to who would be joining her on stage as details of the cast were not shown in the advertisement, apart from Mr. and Mrs Shuter, who were now described as being from the Theatre Royal, Birmingham.

The former White Hart Inn, Raynalds Manion.

Img:23, Raynalds Manion,
the former White Hart Inn

The former White Hart Inn, Raynalds Manion.

Miss Fisher appeared a further two more nights at Hereford, Wednesday 28th, and Friday 30th, her benefit night. Paul Pry "with all the original music" was once again the choice for benefit night and Miss Fisher took the part of Phoebe, which included the popular sing-along Cherry Ripe. For Saturday night Clari was revived with Fish out of Water and other entertainments. After her departure business continued as usual and under the patronage of John Griffiths, the High Sheriff, Speed the Plough, Thomas Morton's evergreen favourite took us into April. Securing Miss Fisher's engagement for Hereford would have been a real fillip for the town and for Charles personally. Bringing talent to the bigger theatres of the circuit was something brother John was very good at and soothing a furrowed brow when the talent is less than impressed with what he finds was another of his many attributes as we saw with Grimaldi when he first set eyes on the little theatre at Hereford. Charles had some very impressive shoes to fill. Meanwhile John had been engaged by Mr. Bennett, the latest manager of the Worcester theatre, for Assize week, his role as Sir Peter Teazle in the School for Scandal was one of his favourite characters.

White Hart Inn. Much Wenlock.

Img:24, The White Hart Inn
Much Wenlock.

Close White Hart Inn. Much Wenlock.

For early April we have nothing to report; it may be another of the minor theatres was opened for a week or so. For the latter part, the plan was the re-opening of the Hereford theatre that has barely had time to gather dust; but first, it is to Much Wenlock we go for an evenings entertainment with Mr. and Miss George, and what proves to be the last time we see her. Much Wenlock is an historic market town on the outskirts of the Shropshire Hills area of outstanding natural beauty. The venue was the White Hart Inn, a beautiful three bay, half-timbered house in Much Wenlock's High Street, apparently built around 1390. At the back of the house there is a extension, built with stone taken from the ruins of Much Wenlock's Abbey, destroyed during the dissolution in 1539. The beautifully ornate frontage was added in 1682 by the then owner, corn merchant John and Mary Raynalds from whence the building now takes its name, Raynalds Mansion. In 1827, however, it was the White Hart Inn and on the evening of April 16th the venue for a one-off soirée with Miss George and her father. The songs and duets were all familiar, "Cherry Ripe" from Paul Pry and the "Banks of Allanwater" both Horn favourites, Auld Robin Gray and A.B.C. sung in the course in many evenings work and Mr. George's parody of Buy a Broom, called Buy a Brush. Through it all Miss George sat at the piano. She would now be around thirteen years, but we still have no clue as to what happened to her.

Foote vs Hayne

In 1824 Miss Foote instigated legal proceed -ings against Mr. Joseph "Pea-Green" Hayne, for a breach of promise of marriage. Some years earlier, around the age of 17, she became acquainted with Colonel Berkeley, who, under a promise of marriage, seduced her, and she lived "under his protection for five years" during which two children were born. Miss Foote, eventually concluding that Colonel Berkeley had no intention of fulfilling his promise, ended the connexion in June, 1824. and almost immediately received an offer of marriage from Mr. Hayne which she accepted. Acting out of revenge, Colonel Berkeley communicated in full the circumstances of the situation to Mr. Hayne which resulted in the breaking-off of the engagement. After conside -ration and consultation with Miss Foote, where it was decided the children would be given over to the custody of Col. Berkeley, Mr. Hayne renewed his suit, but again, later, withdrew it. Miss Foote won her case. In 1831 she retired from the stage and married Charles Stanhope, 4th Earl of Harrington, making her the Countess of Harrington.

Miss Foote painted by  James Charles Armytage c. 1820

Img:25, Miss Foote painted
by J.C. Armytage c.182016

Close Miss Foote painted by  James Charles Armytage c. 1820

Hereford theatre was already open on the Wednesday, 25th April, but we do not have a date for the opening night, the two plays advertised, King John and The Eleventh Hour, had never performed at Hereford before. Friday's fare was George Barnwell and that was all the information the advertisement carried until Monday April 30th when Charles Crisp announced the engagement of Miss Foote, the popular but controversial actress from Covent Garden and Drury Lane. Three years previously Miss Foote had been engaged in a very public spat that had laid bare her private life. Although unmarried, she had two children by a Colonel Berkeley, a rather unsavoury gentleman with an even more unsavoury reputation. The details of the affair, including letters sent by interested parties found their way into newspapers and even books, broken promises of marriage until eventually Miss Foote ended the affair and excepted a proposal of marriage from Joseph Hayne, which itself was withdrawn, then renewed only to be withdrawn again. The scandal lead to mixed reactions from audiences as Miss Foote continued working after the completion of the court case, the parts she was being offered were inferior to what she would have expected but she enjoyed a level of public sympathy and offers of work continued to come in.

Miss Foote at Stourbridge.

Img:26, Miss Foote at
Stourbridge Theatre.

Miss Foote at Stourbridge.

Naturally the Hereford Journal was delighted with the news of Miss Foote's engagement but even more delighted that the admission price would remain unchanged during her stay. Her first night was Monday April 30th, playing Letitia Hardy in The Belle's Stratagem followed by Of Age Tomorrow in which she played Maria opposite Charles' Frederick Baron Willinghurst. Tuesday May 1st, traditionally may-day, Miss Foote took the role of Rosalind in Shakespeare's As You Like It and Variella in The Weathercock which was altered to include a scene with Miss Foote as a Bavarian girl so she could sing Buy a Broom, a current favourite of the theatre going public. Charles played Tristam Fickle. The last night of her engagement, Wednesday 2nd, was naturally her benefit night and the headline piece was The Wonder, a Woman Keeps a Secret. For this one performance the names of four supporting roles were added to the advertisement, Charles as Don Felix, Mr. Shuter as Lisardo, Mr. Vining as Colonel Briton and Mrs Shuter as Flora. Miss Foote played Donna Violante. The afterpiece was A Roland for an Oliver during which Miss Foote "...will sing the favourite song of "I've been roaming" and her very favourite "Waltzing Song"..." After Hereford, Miss Foote would then travel to Ludlow for three nights, Bridgnorth for a further three nights and then on to Stourbridge for another three nights which concluded her engagement. The Salopian Journal noticed her arrival at Bridgnorth 7th May: "...Miss Foote, in her own carriage, accompanied by her father and mother, and attended by her own servants, arrived at Mr. Reynolds's, the Castle Inn, Bridgnorth, in order to fulfil her Theatrical engagement with Mr Charles Crisp at that town. After performing three nights at the new Theatre there, to overflowing houses, she, on Thursday, left the Castle Inn for Stourbridge, to finish her engagements for the present with Mr. Crisp. Miss Foote, we understand, was engaged at a very large sum by Mr. Crisp..." The same article, almost word for word, appeared in the Cambrian newspaper several days later.

Very informative advertisement..

Img:27, Very informative

Very informative advertisement..

The last paragraph of the advertisement placed in the Hereford Journal's publication of April 25th looked forward to the end of May, post Miss Foote's engagement. The company at that time planned a return to Hereford to open the theatre on the 21st May with Edward Fitzball's Pilot; or, a Tale at Sea. By 13th June however, it had still not been produced. A very informative notification of the company's plans placed in the Hereford Journal on that date, renewed the promised that Fitzball's piece would be produced and the company were working towards that end. Mr. Crisp thanked the public for their continued support in general and at the various benefits, with particular reference to Miss Crisp whose illness in April had caused some productions to be cancelled. The newspapers, while sympathising with Miss Crisp's poor health, singled out a Paul Pry production as one such cancellation particularly missed. The expected re-opening for race week after the current season ends was confirmed, but no dates were printed and the announcement that race week would be the last time the theatre at Hereford would open this year but the doors would re-open for race week in 1828. During the winter months the company would be touring the theatres in Wales. The last paragraph of this notice introduced Leominster as the latest theatre to join the circuit. It would open, newly decorated, for their race week and for a season in October, no longer than ten weeks. Leominster joins Hereford, Ludlow, Warwick, Bridgnorth, Stourbridge, Kidderminster, Dudley, Brecon and Carmarthen in the Crisp theatre stable.

Paul Pry Steam Vessel

On Monday evening a little after four o'clock, this vessel arrived Crompton's Wharf, below Wyebridge, in this city. She left Chepstow on Wednesday, and reached Monmouth the same day towing barge after her. On Friday she proceeded from Monmouth to Lidbrook, which she left the next day, towing a barge far the Kern Bridge, and arrived at Wilton. On Sunday morning at 10 o'clock she departed from Wilton and reached Hoarwithy at the same evening, where she remained till eight. Monday morning, when she continued her voyage to this city; during her course she was retarded at various places the anxious desire immense numbers of persons expressed to inspect her, and all were gratified by the polite attentions those on board. If it had not been for the delay occasioned by the above circumstances she would have terminated her voyage much earlier.

Hereford Journal
23rd January 1828.

Hereford's race week seems to have commenced Tuesday, 7th August, and the theatre opened accordingly. The Noble Slave; or, the Blessings of Liberty was the headline piece with Charles, Eliza and Cecilia as Gambia, Zelinda and Stella, respectively, followed by Miss Crisp's speciality piece, Winning a Husband. Pizarro played on Wednesday, with Mrs Shuter's name on the advertisement for the first time in a while, she played Elvira, opposite Charles as Rolla and Miss Crisp as Cora. On Thursday, Fitzball's Pilot; or, a Tale at Sea was advertised but with no cast identified. We assume this was not the first airing for this piece and although it did not make its first appearance in May at Hereford as planned, it was performed at some point during June or July. The theatre remained open for Friday and Saturday although no details were given as to what would be performed and the following Wednesday John Crisp was engaged for three nights, but again no details. Following on from From John Crisp brother Charles trumpeted the return of Miss Foote to Hereford. Since her departure in May she had performed at Newcastle, Edingurgh, Glasgow, York, Leeds, Wakefield, Southampton, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Birmingham plus several other minor towns. She had chosen to return to Hereford for a further two days, 27th and 28th August.

After the excitement of Miss Foote's visits the only item we have found for September is George Crisp's name on the 1827 Herefordshire Game List, that is, he was issued with a license to shoot game. Considering we have found no information regarding Mr. or Miss George since April the issuing of a Game License at least confirms their presence in Herefordshire. The advertisements, articles and reviews, so often a rich source of information have been unproductive since the early part of the year. All we can do is assume that Mr. and Miss George is still with the company.

Mde. Vestris as the Broom Girl.

Img:29, Madame Vestris
as the Broom Girl.

Mde. Vestris as the Broom Girl.

We know Leominster's theatre was being prepared for race week and the Worcester Journal affirmed the races commenced on Thursday, August 30th, that accounted for the early part of September. The first season at Leominster would run for anything up to 10 weeks and would take the company well into the winter and into the time set aside for the Welsh theatres. Crisp was granted a license to open the Brecon theatre for 60 nights, running from December through to March, the plan now was to open 26th December. No details of the Leominster season have come to light apart from some newspaper reviews; for the opening night for example Paul Pry was the headline piece which I am sure surprised nobody. The Hereford Journal reported on subsequent nights "...the street leading to the theatre, by five o'clock, has been crowded, and in ten minutes after the doors have been open, the house has been literally crammed, so that numbers of persons nightly have been unable to obtain admittance." The benefit nights were likewise crowded and the last night of the season was Christmas Eve, 24th December, and Charles Crisp's benefit. Laugh When You Can was played and during the evening Mr. Paul Pry would make an appearance and Miss C. Crisp would sing Buy a Broom in the character of a Bavarian broom girl. The evening's entertainment concluded with the farce Deaf as a Post. It would be fair to say that Christmas day of 1827 was not a memorable one for the Crisp family, spent as it must have been, travelling from Leominster to Brecon in mid-winter. Today, the journey, about 40 miles, could be completed in 60 minutes, in the depths of winter in 1827 with un-made roads, considerably more.


Mr and Mrs Barry as Jaffier and Belvidera

Img:30, Mr and Mrs Barry as
Jaffier and Belvidera.

© Victoria and Albert
Museum, London.

Close Venice Preserved

The public's appetite for everything Paul Pry was again manifested in the naming of a steam vessel launched onto the River Wye. It was hoped the vessel would be powerful enough to tow barges against the current when the river was in-flood and at times of low water levels. She was undergoing tests during January and arrived at Crompton's Wharf in Hereford on Monday 21st January (see note above). In April, 1832, a fast coach began running from South Wales to London, starting from Brecon at 8.00 am, it left Monmouth at 1.00 pm and was in Cheltenham by a quarter to six. It's name? Paul Pry.

With the dawning of the new year the absence of Mr. and Miss George continues, we have found nothing to give us any indication as to where the family might be. Charles, Eliza and Cecilia in the meantime had left Herefordshire and reports in the Cambrian newspaper from a local correspondent confirmed the season at Brecon was underway. By January 4th Paul Pry had already played twice, such was its popularity, and Miss Crisp was winning praise for her numerous roles in Winning a Husband. On Monday 7th a good house was reported for Sleeping Beauty and Ways and Means, in the latter Charles played Sir David Dunder, Mr Danby was Tiptoe. The midweek show was surprisingly "thinly attended", wrote the Cambrian, considering "the bill of fare was good"- Alexander the Great was followed by the The Woodman's Hut. Whilst Alexander the Great usually drew the audience in, The Woodman's Hut was now nearly fourteen years old and probably past its best. It opened to good reviews and had a fair initial run and although the frequency of revivals tailed off, they still continued. Written by Samuel James Arnold with music by C.E.Horn it caused a stir on its debut at Drury Lane in 1814 by having a real (controlled) fire on stage when the woodman's hut burned to the ground. For some people this was too soon after the theatre was completely destroyed by a real fire in 1809.17 Friday's performance was under the patronage of Mrs Williams of Penpont and the Rivals was the headline piece.

T.P.Cooke as Long Tom Coffin in Pilot.

Img:31, T.P. Cooke as
"Long Tom Coffin" in "Pilot".

Close T.P.Cooke as Long Tom Coffin in Pilot.

A lengthy review in the January 25th edition of the Cambrian was quite informative about the season thus far, the review which described how the entertainment of the Pilot "...was produced on a scale of magnificence never surpassed in this town and would be repeated on Monday 28th." The Wonder followed on Wednesday with an officer of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers taking the part of Don Felix to the delight of the audience and "...Miss Crisp's representation of Violante was chaste and elegant..." she was applauded both on and off the stage. Killing no Murder followed in which Charles played Buskin and the same officer played Apollo Belvi. Fridays offering was under the patronage of Major Ross and the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, was Heir at Law and Love Laughs at Locksmiths, two tried and tested favourites. Cecilia, though not mentioned by name, has been appearing during the course of the week and again sung Buy a Broom, in character. Like most of the country Brecon celebrated the anniversary of King George IV's ascension to the throne on January 29th, civic lunches, a street bonfire, and other activities were joined by the ringing of the church bells. Moving into February we have but little information, Charles II was played, School for Scandal and two unusual pieces, the £100 note and A Day after the Wedding. On February 13th, despite atrocious weather, the theatre was crowded for Venice Preserv'd and The Miller and his Men. The officer of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers again took part, playing Jaffier in the former and Lothair, a young peasant, in the latter. Venice Preserv'd was first performed in 1682 and remained popular into the mid nineteenth century, Charles played Pierre, a soldier, and Miss Quantrill played Belvidera, the daughter of a corrupt senator and Jaffier's wife. Jaffier is the hero of the piece. We learn from the 14th March edition of the Carmarthen Journal that the benefits commenced from 10th March; The Rover and The Wandering Boys were played for Mr. Sanders, well supported by the cast with a well filled house. Two days later it was Mr. Obbey's night, he chose Virginius for which Charles Crisp played the title role. Once again the officer of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers took part, he was Icilius, with Miss Crisp and Miss Quantrill playing Virginia and Servia resectively. Mr. Vining played Dentatus. With the benefits firmly under way the end was nigh for the season at Brecon, the Carmarthen Journal reported the imminent opening of the theatre at Carmarthen and Mr Crisp's intention of having it decorated prior to the planned opening date on or around April 28th. The season at Carmarthen was planned to be 10 weeks, as the company were scheduled to open Ludlow theatre in June.

Pilot, Carmarthen Theatre May 12th 1828.

Img:32, Carmarthen Theatre,
May 12th, 1828.

Pilot, Carmarthen Theatre May 12th 1828.

The planned opening date for Carmarthen was missed by two days, the newly decorated theatre opened with The Soldier's Daughter and Weathercock on Wednesday, April 30th The Carmarthen Journal's 9th May issue looked back over the previous week but only commented on two of the cast that performed Weathercock, Charles and Cecilia. Charles, who played Tristam Fickle was "greeted with a warm welcome...Miss Cecilia Crisp, as Variella, delighted us, she is an enchanting little actress." The Soldier's Daughter fared even worse, Miss Crisp's portrayal of the Widow Cheerly was the sole mention but the review did list most of the cast who had "...the most flattering marks of approbation" bestowed upon them. Man and Wife and Hunter of the Alps were Friday nights offering and on Monday May 5th, Paul Pry; the Carmarthen Journal again...

"A crowded house.-- We have been taught to expect much from Mr. C. Crisp's "Paul Pry", well knowing he acted the character 21 nights in Hereford, and as many in most of his towns. We were not disappointed -he kept his audience in a roar of laughter from beginning to end; and we strongly advise our friends, who love mirth, to see him in it on Monday week, May 19th, which, in consequence of the shortness of the season, we see is the only time it will be performed."

Belle's Stratagem

Belle's Stratagem was written by Hannah Cowley and opened at Covent Garden in 1780. Though a comedy, it had a serious underlying message about feminine identity and power, a radical message in Georgian Britain. It is thought to have been inspired by the earlier play Beaux Stratagem in which Aimwell and Archer, two fashionable but penniless beaux, are on the lookout for an heiress to marry, by fair means or foul, so they can repair their fortunes. Hannah Cowley reversed the gender and removed the deceit. Her heroine, Letitia Hardy, was the subject of an arranged marriage to Doricourt; the play tells the story of her design to entrap her betrothed, not by guile or cunning, but by winning his heart.
The play was dedicated to Queen Charlotte and the following words were printed on the first page:

"Madam, In the following comedy, my purpose was, to draw a Female character, which with the most lively sensibility, fine under - standing, and elegant accomplishments, should unite that beautiful reserve and delicacy which, while they veil those charms, render them still more interesting. In delineating such a character my heart naturally dedicated it to Your Majesty; and nothing remained, but to lay it at Your feet. Your Majesty's graciously allowing me this high honour, in the point to which my hopes aspired, and a reward, of which without censure I may be proud."

Sleeping Beauty was performed with all new scenery on Wednesday 7th and William Tell on Friday 9th. Forward a week to the Carmarthen Journal's 16th May edition and we learn William Tell, on this occasion, was performed by Mr. Vining and Miss Quantrill played Emma. Special notice was made of Master (W.H.) Crisp who played Albert, a role young William Henry shared with Miss George. In her absence however, the apple would be firmly on his head. Monday 12th, the Pilot was the headline piece, termed as a novelty by the Carmarthen Journal who continued with a surprising account from the season at Brecon; nine nights the Pilot was played there, they reported, and each time the theatre was crowded, so greatly was the piece admired; Charles, Cecilia and Mr. Danby were singled out for commendation: "...Mr C. Crisp's "Tom Coffin", is in his very best style of acting...Miss C. Crisp's "Kate Plowden" was excellent and Mr. Danby's "Captain Buroughcliffe" was very amusing...". The afterpiece, advertised as Catch Her Who Can appeared in the review as The Lady and the Devil, but the characters were the same. We assume the correct or original title of the play may have been Catch Her Who Can; or, The Lady and the Devil, or vice versa, however, whatever the title, Miss Crisp, Messrs Sanders, Vining and Durand played a part, but no one else was mentioned. Carmarthen it seems was unimpressed with this offering as, unlike Brecon, the house was poorly attended. The theatre opened on Wednesday 14th under the patronage of Charles Morgan esq. and a crowded house were treated to School for Scandal and Spoil'd Child which the Journal took great delight in naming each player and lavishing praise on their respective performances. During the evening Cecilia sung the Bavarian Girl, the song back in England called Buy a Broom, and then featured as Little Pickle, in the Spoil'd Child. Friday 16th Der Frieschutz was followed by £100 note. Monday 19th the eagerly awaited repetition of Paul Pry was followed by the short, one act farce of The Lottery Ticket and the Lawyer's Clerk. A French play by Louis Benoit Picard translated into English by Samuel Beazley, the story revolves around Wormwood, a lawyer's clerk, who takes great delight in the misfortunes of others. The advertisement above shows a performances for Wednesday 21st and for Thursday and Friday, the first two days of race week, without going into detail. Indeed race week passed and we go well into June before we find any further news of the company.

 Benefit for Miss Crisp.

Img:33, Benefit for
Miss Crisp.

 Benefit for Miss Crisp.

A review in the Carmarthen Journal of June 13th carried a two column epistle detailing the theatre's activities for the previous week starting with Miss Quantrill's benefit of the previous Friday whenVirginius and Love Laughs at Locksmiths were performed. Monday 9th Belle's Stratagem and Of Age Tomorrow were played for Miss Crisp's benefit and the Carmarthen Journal waxed lyrical about Miss Crisp and her performance, likening her to Miss Foote:

"...The house was filled to overflowing, a deserved tribute to this meritorious actress. The interest of the first piece is almost engrossed by "Letitia Hardy" and "Doricourt". Miss Crisp personated the former character, and Mr. Vining the latter, and seldom to country audiences enjoy the advantage of witnessing two characters so ably supported. Miss Crisp's "Letitia" is not a whit inferior to Miss Foote's in its conception and acting. Miss Foote, who is "cast in nature's finest mould," makes perhaps a more fascinating impression, but we have seen her "Letitia Hardy," and in nothing do we consider it superior as a performance to Miss Crisp's..."

Of course there was more, much more, than we have touched on here like the attributes of Mr. Vining is his role as Doricourt, references that should be recognised but not always detailed. Wednesday 11th was for Mr. Vining and although the house was good, it was not full. Wonder, a Woman Keeps a Secret and The Warlock of the Glen were played and very well received. Friday 13th was Mr. and Mrs Danby's benefit, Henri Quatre and The Midnight Hour were the chosen pieces, followed on Monday by Richard III and The Smoked Miser for the benefit of Mr. Durand.

At this point we need to go back a few days to Mr. Vining's benefit of Wednesday 11th when, at the end of the evening Charles announced the details of the next concert and added words to the effect of: "...myself and my company hope never to act at this theatre again..." The comment justifiably caused ill feeling and as manager Charles was asked to account for this apparent slight upon the town. The Carmarthen Journal must take some responsibility for the confusion and dismay caused by Mr. Crisp's off-hand remark for it was they that first voiced the opinion. Going back even further to the Journal's May 9th edition they printed this:

"...the theatre is elegantly painted; but we sincerely wish some patron of the drama would set about a subscription for a new house, Six hundred would build an elegant theatre, and at £25 shares it would, in our opinion, be accomplished directly..."

The result of this misunderstanding was felt immediately by Mr. and Mrs Danby whose benefit, on Friday 13th, was very poorly attended. Mr. Durand faired better, his benefit was under the patronage of the Bachelors of Carmarthen, and it was this night Mr. Crisp was called upon to explain himself. The house was full apart from the boxes all of which were empty, the usual occupants staying away knowing as they did what was likely to happen. Richard III was being played and all was quiet until King Richard (played by Crisp) entered the stage, where "...he was met by shouts of disapprobation...". This continued for several minutes until Mr. Crisp approached the footlights and waited for calm to be restored, when peace replaced the storm he responded thus:

"Ladies and Gentlemen, I presume this confusion proceeds from the manner in which I announced the benefit of Mr. Danby two nights back, when I stated that his benefit would be the "last night but six of this company ever performing at this theatre." Ladies and Gentlemen, I have many friends at Carmarthen, and I may have enemies; and when I stated that I did not mean to perform at "this theatre," I did not wish it to be understood that I would never perform at Carmarthen, but that if a new theatre were built, I would take one, two, three or four shares in the same. If I meant to insult the public, is it to be supposed that I would have chosen so inopportune moment? Would I have not deferred my observations to the last night? Which would at least secure me from all the unpleasantness, which I must be aware would inevitably attend a premature annunciation. In such a large and commercially flourishing town as this, it is a pity that a theatre adequate to its size and respectability has not been built: but in saying this I do not mean to cast any reflection upon Mr. Awbrey, the proprietor of this theatre, who, I am sure, has done all in his power to render it comfortable. I have been a manager upwards of twenty years at Hereford and other respectable towns, and I have done all in my power to cater for their amusement; and if a new theatre be built here, I shall be happy to cater again for your amusement."

With calm restored Mr. Crisp was applauded for his response and Richard III continued, but more was to come. In the role of Queen Elizabeth, Miss Crisp took to the stage and again some elements in the gallery reacted adversely, the respectable part of the audience applauded her entrance but such was the effect of the censure on Miss Crisp she was overcome, and fainted on stage, she was carried off by Mr Durand. The effect of this on Mr. Crisp was such that he could not continue, Mr. Vining took his part as King Richard. Miss Crisp later returned as Queen Elizabeth to much applause and the rest of the evening continued uneventfully.

Wednesday 18th June was Cecilia's benefit, and there was probably a feeling of unease about the company. Three pieces were played, Charles II, Deaf as a Post and Clari, the Maid of Milan. The house was crowded which was as much a reflection of Cecilia's popularity as it was an element of remorse for the way some of the audience reacted to her sister. However, any fears the company may have had were quickly dispelled as the evening passed uneventfully. Her portrayal of Clari, wrote the Journal, "...was a most effective and affecting piece of acting" and they continued the theme of the previous Monday, adding weight to Mr Crisp's suggestion that the current theatre is unworthy of such a company as his and such a town as Carmarthen. The newspaper again lamented the short season at Carmarthen and the company's commitments to the open the Ludlow and Hereford theatres for their respective race weeks and encouraged all to show their appreciation of the company for the remainder of the season.

The benefits continued and all were well attended; for Mr. Easthope and his sons The Noble Slave and The Wandering Boys were performed on Friday 20th. The peace however, was short lived; on Monday 23rd, the evening set aside for Mr. Whitcott, the Bill Distributor, was so full there were no more seats to be had and people were sitting on the stage. The Stranger and Fortunes Frolics were chosen by Mr. Whitcott and the Stranger went off without a hitch but uproar again broke out in the audience when two constables appeared late on during the evening in the pit lobby. Mr. Crisp claimed later not too have requested them but it has been suggested they were there to prevent certain types of lady plying for business, something not unfamiliar to some theatres. A similar problem had been encountered at Chester many years previously where disturbances in the pit lobby were a regular occurrences. At Carmarthen, the display of resentment and indignation by the audience was such that the on-stage dialogue could not be heard beyond the footlights; Mr. Crisp again had to address the audience.

Charles Mathews (1776-1835)

Charles Mathews was a comedy actor and theatre manager; a natural mimic and prolific writer, particularly to his wife Ann, whilst he was away from home. In 1839 Ann (his second wife, nee Jackson) published his letters as part of a memoir, in four volumes. They were published again, in condensed form, by Edmund Yates in 1860. The name Crisp appears many times in the pages of the original memoir, some of these references can be identified as being John Crisp, for example, an engagement at Shrewsbury over the Christmas period of 1814 and another at Chester for the benefit of Mr. and Miss Brunton in 1817. There are also several references to William Crisp in the later volumes but for the most part only the name Crisp is used.
In his one man show he played many different characters, the voice and dress altered to suit. Image 41 is one of these characters, Monsieur de Tourville, a French gentleman on his travels, who puts down memoranda of everything he hears, with a knowledge of the language edifyingly incompetent. He is at the same time very particular in begging people to repeat their information, in order that he may be correct. Thus the mention of the word "canons" at St. Paul's startles him; but on finding the word repeated, he puts implicit faith in the "orthodox artillery," and sets it down in his tablets, that St. Paul's Church is well provided with cannon.20

The Miss Trees at Hereford.

Img:40, The Miss Trees
at Hereford.

The Miss Trees at Hereford.

The last night at Carmarthen was Wednesday 25th June, the manager's benefit night, and despite everything that had happened the house was crowded. The Dramatists was played followed by Broken Sword, both to great applause. At the end of the evening Mr. Crisp again addressed the audience, thanking them for their support of him, his daughters and the company overall. He assured them he bore no animosity towards anyone who had visited the theatre and he hoped no one bore him any. All-in-all a friendly departure at the end of the season with full coffers and the promise of a quick return. It will come as no surprise to anyone to learn the company never returned to Carmarthen even though they played Brecon several times over the next few years. The Journal declared Mr Crisp and his company of comedians to be the best Carmarthen had seen since Andrew Cherry's time.19.

Ludlow races commenced July 2nd and we assume the theatre was open before then, but we have found no reports to confirm it. Hereford theatre, however, was opened for their races on July 11th with the engagement for three days of Miss E. and Miss A. Tree from Drury Lane. Belle's Stratagem was the opening night's offering with Miss E. in the role of Letitia Hardy and Miss A. as Lady Francis. The follow-on piece was the Wandering Boys with Justine and Paul played by Miss E. and Miss A. On Saturday Miss E. was Albina Mandeville in The Will and her sister Moggy McGilpin in the Highland Reel. The Miss Crisps, it seems, were given a well earned rest. No information was advertised for their last night.

Mr. Mathews as Monsieur de Tourville.

Img:41, Mr. Mathews as
Monsieur de Tourville.

Mr. Mathews as Monsieur de Tourville.

For the remainder of July and most of August we have only one clue as to the whereabouts of the company but at the end of August Messrs Mathews and Yates were engaged for two nights, Saturday August 30th and Monday 1st September. The intervening date of Sunday 31st were married, Mr. Henry Vining, the stage manager, and Miss Quantrill at St. Thomas's Church in Dudley. Is this where the company have been performing during July and August? The entertainment provided by Messrs Mathews and Yates was Mr. Mathews at Home, Home Circuit. Home Circuit; or, Cockney Gleanings was a lecture on character, manners and peculiarities performed with a collection of recitations, anecdotes and songs by the comedian Charles Mathews with his friend and fellow performer Frederick Henry Yates, the manager of London's Adelphi theatre. The Home Circuit tour followed a pattern Mathews devised and developed at the Lyceum theatre in 1808 where he played all the characters in the show, he took the idea to America in 1822 and was a complete success. He used the experienced to enrich the show with new characters from all walks of American life.

In 1817 Mathews had been engaged by John Crisp to play Worcester, Hereford, Ludlow, Chester and probably other theatres in the circuit. Crisp was always on the lookout for London talent to play his theatres, it was what he promised at the beginning of his managerial career he was keen to fulfil that promise. Charles Mathews would have been as popular choice as Elliston had been in previous years. Mathews wrote about his experience to his wife:

Worcester, May 5th, 1817. Never did I go through such toil in my life: riding to Hereford, thirty-two miles; acting the same night in the most horrible confusion of a divided company (and you know my sort of fag); next night again, three parts; Wednesday, twenty-four miles to Ludlow; acted that night and the next; yesterday to Worcester, thirty-two miles: three parts last night. My strength, however, has borne me out, and my voice last night was better than when I started. If I had not (though unwillingly) done this, Worcester would not have paid anything. They made up their minds to come one night, my own; but they will do nothing for Crisp. His stock houses are from 21. to 51. and never more. Elliston's popularity here as manager last year has made Crisp's twopenny troop despised. With this I had 54/., half of which was mine; and my week has produced me 87/., which is enormous, for I would have taken 40/. for my share last Tuesday. I start to-night for Chester, where I act on Monday.21

Mr. Crisp's benefit at Warwick.

Img:42, Mr. Crisp's
benefit at Warwick.

Mr. Crisp's benefit at Warwick.

In September the company returned to Warwick with Mr. Vining taking the title role in Charles II; or, The Merry Monarch on Thursday 4th which was followed by The Lady and the Devil and The Spoil'd Child. We have not found any reference to the duration of the season at Warwick as yet and only two more notices for the remainder of September. For two nights only, Monday 15th and Wednesday 17th September, the Miss Trees of Drury Lane were engaged to appear at Warwick theatre. The Leamington Spa Courier, 13th September edition, carried the advertisement alongside and a small editorial with a description of the sister's qualities, Miss E. Tree as an actress and Miss A. Tree as a vocalist. They also took the opportunity of highlighted the ticket price, pointing out that it was not changing for the engagement of the two stars from the London stage.

The company remained at Warwick through October and into November when we find some interesting snippets of news. The Hereford Journal reported the theatre there would open at the end of November or early December for a very short season as the company take a break on their journey to Abergavenny, and that Mr Crisp was to travel to London to secure some attractions for the future. The article also pointed out to anyone who cared to listen that the theatre has not opened during the last three winters. Meanwhile at Warwick the Leamington Spa Courier reported that the Chief Magistrate had attended Miss Cecilia's benefit on Monday, 10th November which tells us the season at Warwick is drawing to a close. In their November 19th edition the Hereford Journal comes out with two more nuggets of information, both of which would be more than welcomed by the residents of Hereford. They again reiterated the theatre would open at the beginning of December but this time added: "We have heard it whispered that astonishing child, Master Burke, is to open it."22 It is also rumoured, they added, that Mr. C Crisp was purchasing the theatre and during the winter it would be redecorated and filled with new and permanent scenery.

Mr. George Crisp at Manchester.

Img:43, Mr. George Crisp
at Manchester.

Mr. George Crisp at Manchester.

Monday 24th was the last night and traditionally the mangers benefit night. The Bottle Imp was the piece chosen by Mr. Crisp to end the season, followed by NO. and The Beehive. Oxberry describes The Bottle Imp as a tale of "magic and devilry". It was written by Richard Brinsley Peake, a former treasurer of the Drury Lane theatre and was first seen at the English Opera House July 7th of this year and was proving quite popular. The play draws on ancient stories, fairy tales and continental folklore, probably originating in Germany; Oxberry was quite opinionated on the subject of German folklore: "There is no nation on the face of the globe so au-fait at getting up these devilish pieces of business..."23 No. was an English translation of a light French farce that failed to light any fires and The Bee-Hive was a musical farce written by John Gideon Millingen with music by our own Charles E. Horn. At the end of the evening Mr. Crisp addressed the packed house, thanking them for their support but informed them this season was the last time he would appear at Warwick as the theatre manager. With scenes briefly reminiscent of Carmarthen, the audience responded, not with hails of derision but with dismay. The advertisement for the evening had forewarned Warwick the evening of the manager's benefit would be "The Last Night the Theatre would open under his Management" but the audience still reacted adversely but without malice. Mr. Crisp and his company of comedians were highly thought of at Warwick. The following week the Leamington Spa Courier printed a transcription of the manager's farewell address for the many folk who failed to gain entrance to the theatre on the final night.

Master Burke as Jack Ratline.

Img:44, Master Burke
as Jack Ratline.

Master Burke as Jack Ratline.

The final piece of news for November is the whereabouts of Mr. George, unseen since April 1827. The Manchester Times, 21st November edition printed an advertisement showing Mr. G. Crisp playing Sir Mark Chace in Thomas Morton's A Roland for an Oliver at the Theatre Royal, Manchester. A week later the Manchester Courier reported his permanent engagement, on both occasions he was again described as being from the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. Back at Hereford, the Journal's whispers came to fruition as Master Burke opened on 3rd December with Tom Thumb, The Review and The March of Intellect. Almost inevitably he was dubbed as the Irish Roscius by the press, he was born in Galway about 1818, the son of a doctor and hit the headlines in 1824 playing Tom Thumb at the Theatre Royal in Dublin. He later played the Haymarket and Surrey Theatres in London, at the latter engendering new acclaim by playing six different characters in the farce The March of Intellect written especially for him. At Hereford he was joined on stage as Tom Thumb by Mr. Bromley, an unfamiliar name to us, who played King Arthur, the only other character mentioned. In The Review Master Burke shared the stage with Charles Crisp who played Caleb Quotem opposite Burke as the wonderfully named Loony Mc Twolter. His engagement was planned to end Monday 8th with his benefit but such was the demand two further nights were added leading to a run of seven nights (excluding Sunday, the day of rest). From Hereford the company and Master Burke moved on to Leominster and Ludlow.


Img:45. A card from
Miss Cecilia.

 A card from Miss Cecilia.

A month after Master Burke's departure from Hereford the company were back with the audience's favourite; Paul Pry was announced for Friday January 9th under the patronage of the M.P. for Stoke Edith, Mr. E. T. Foley. The activities of the company in the intervening period, Ludlow and Leominster aside, is not known. The Hereford Journal printed a brief review of the The Bottle Imp with Sleeping Beauty from January 7th declaring The Bottle Imp as "...the best and most expensive piece produced here for years." At Hereford the company remained through February and into March. The advertisement alongside (image 45) is a long way from the large, column-filling, informative advertisements we are used to, all we have is the publication of Charles Crisp's benefit night on the 2nd March, which, as always, was the last night of performances and the theatre's closure. The fare for the evening was Love Among the Roses and Fish out of Water with the headline piece, new to Hereford, Who wants a Guinea? by George Colman the younger. Above the advertisement is a "Card" from Miss Cecilia, written in the typically poetical style of the day and addressed to the theatre-going populace of Hereford. The card was a thank you note for their support at her benefit concert on 16th February: "...the theatre" she wrote, "was crowded to excess."

Information about the company during 1829 is a little thin compared to 1828, for March, April and May for instance we have nothing. However, we do have information about George and John. A playbill featuring Mr. George as Sir Tomkin Probe in another of Richard Brinsley Peake's works, Haunted Inn dated 6th March, tells us George is still at the Theatre Royal, in Manchester; and from an advertisement for a benefit concert for Mr. Crisp on 7th March we learn that John is back at the Stafford theatre. It was twenty five years ago that John had married Alice Burroughs in Leek, whilst he was engaged at the Stafford theatre in November 1804, he has returned there periodically, usually to a very warm welcome.

Mrs Ellen Kean, nee Tree.

Img:47, Mrs Ellen Kean
née Tree.


In June the company were back in Brecon, opening the theatre on Friday 12th. The Monmouthshire Merlin reported and reviewed the opening night as Charles the Twelfth and A Chip off the old Block were "admirably performed", adding: "...the Misses Crisp deserve great praise for their strict attention to costume." On Monday 15th The Bottle Imp was played with NO as the follow-on piece, both were well received. Nothing was written about the performance on Wednesday but, at the request of the officers of the 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers, on Friday 19th John Bull and The Weathercock were performed. The following Monday 22nd June, Brecon welcomed the Miss Trees to their theatre for three nights; Monday, Wednesday 24th and Friday 26th. The Merlin's review of the engagement was nothing but positive, it was written by an unnamed correspondent in whose opinion the two sisters from Drury Lane could do no wrong. Their first night Jealous Wife was performed with Miss E. Tree as Mrs Oakley and Charles as Mr. Oakley, Miss A. Tree played Harriet Russett a part which, on this particular night, included a few popular songs. The after-piece was The Wandering Boys naturally featuring the two sisters. Wednesday School for Scandal was the headline piece with Miss E. Tree as Lady Teazle which was followed by the new piece Youthful Queen; or, Christine of Sweden. After the success of her first season at Drury Lane Miss Ellen Tree was reported to have "sunk into obscurity"24 but in the role of Sweden's Queen Christine she drew much praise. At Drury Lane the part of Emma, the Prime Minister's niece, was played by Miss Grant; at Brecon, it was played by Miss A. Tree. After its opening night of 24th October 1828 at Drury Lane, the play run for nineteen days. The sisters last appearance was due to be Friday 26th with a performance of Bold Stroke for a Husband but an extra night was added for their benefit the next Monday. They would then join the company at Ludlow.

Leominster, Ludlow and Hereford theatres.

Img:48, Leominster
Ludlow and Hereford theatres.

Close Leominster, Ludlow and Hereford theatres.

The Miss Trees left Shropshire for Liverpool to fulfil a previously arranged engagement which also took in Hull, on the other side of the country. We do not know if they played at Leominster before leaving as we have found no information as to their, or the company's whereabouts in July. Wherever they were the sisters were soon forgotten as a new star of the London stage caught the public's attention, Miss Sarah Booth, formerly of Covent Garden, Drury Lane, Haymarket, the Adelphi the Olympic and most other theatres throughout the land, had been engaged to play Ludlow, Leominster and Hereford.

A short biography25 of Sarah Booth written by Mrs C. Baron Wilson described her as "... truly a locomotive theatrical machine." She was born in Birmingham in 1793 and made her debut at Covent Garden in November 1810. Unfortunately for Miss Booth over a period of time she found herself up against such favourites as Miss Foote and Miss O'Neill and on each occasion came off second best, but being second best to Miss Foote and Miss O'Neill is an achievement in itself and did nothing to curb her popularity. Her booking commenced with Virgnius on Thursday, 13th August at Ludlow, from there she went to Leominster for two nights, performing The Wonder on Friday and taking her her benefit on Saturday. The following Monday (17th) she was back at Ludlow for another benefit. From Ludlow to Hereford for the Assizes where on Monday 24th she played Lady Teazle in School for Scandal. On Wednesday it was Virginius in which Charles took the title role and Miss Booth played Virginia. Nothing was advertised for Friday or Saturday but her last night was scheduled for Monday 24th which of course meant another benefit.

John Crisp

Mr. John Crisp - the very opposite of his successor Bennett. Crisp had the reputation of being a Bashaw amongst his actors, but I think unjustly. He told me the anxiety attending the management of seven or eight theatres, occupied his thoughts so entirely, be perhaps often appeared reserved and distant, and his abstraction might be construed as pride. This I can believe - his whim for coach-driving was one of his eccentricities, which annoyed his company, more than his supposed grandeur - he kept a stage coach for the accomm - odation of the ladies and gentlemen, and honoured them by driving from town to town, but they paid for his condescension, by sundry upsets. On one occasion, a Mrs. Chambers, with a lap full of ripe gooseberries, sat opposite inside passenger to Mr. G. Crisp, and after frequent warning jolts, and responsive cries of "Oh, Mr. John will turn us over again" - Mr. John did tum them over, and Mr. George's bald head, plump full in Mrs. Chamber's gooseberry store! - On being released from his unpleasant situation, he placed his hand on his head, and feeling the mashy moisture, he cried out in extreme terror, "John, John, I'm a dead man, my brains are dashed out." But Crisp was a good actor, though an uncertain driver, for I remember his Crack and Nipperkin had the stamp of sterling worth. When I last saw him, he had left the stage, and settled in the neighbourhood of Worcester.26

Robert Dyer

Worcester theatre's latest manager, Mr Bennett, was endearing himself to his audience in much the same way as Charles Crisp was at Hereford and his other theatres. For August he had engaged Madame Vestris and her sister Miss Bartolozzi who were followed by John Crisp who, in turn, was followed by the Miss Trees. John's engagement ended with his benefit on August 24th and a performance of Charles the Twelfth. The advertisement for the evening reported John was to take the part of Triptolemus Muddlework, a part he had never played before. The follow-on piece was The Sleep-walker, which gave him the opportunity to play Somno, one of his favourite roles. Of Madame Vestris and her sister Miss Bartolozzi, the Worcester Herald reported their performances "...drew brilliant and crowded audiences". Of the Miss Trees, who took the stage on Wednesday 26th August, they were complimentary, if a little less laudatory; "...these talented and interesting ladies a full house as might have been expected from the state of the weather...".

In September the Hereford Journal carried an advertisement for the Hereford Theatre with Miss S. Booth's "last and only" appearance on Wednesday September 16th. Under the patronage of Stoke Edith's Member of Parliament, Mr. E.T. Foley, she played Albina Mandeville in Frederick Reynolds comedy, The Will. The advertisement made it clear Miss Booth's return was for one day only. The following Friday three pieces were on offer providing a full night of entertainment, The Ostler and the Robber with Love Among the Roses and the after-piece of The Sergeant's Wife. In the latter Lisette was played by Miss Crisp. Monday 21st was billed as the last night of performing and a new piece from the Surrey theatre called Black-Eyed Susan was the headline piece. Written by Douglas Jerrold, Black-Eyed Susan was already on its way to becoming one of the most popular of the nautical plays yet staged.

Loughborough Theatre

Img:50, Loughborough

Loughborough Theatre

In December the Hereford Journal reported Mr. Charles Crisp had taken the Loughborough theatre and had opened to crowded houses under the patronage of Lord Southampton and Mr. J. Craddock of Woodhouse. The news must have dismayed them, their long-standing local theatrical corps leaving the west midlands for the seemingly richer pickings in the east. The news was tempered slightly by the news that the company would return to play Leominster in February. The Nottingham Review covered the opening night, 14th December, and was full of praise for the new company. School for Scandal and A Chip of the old Block (sic) were the opening salvos and as one would expect Charles took the plaudits for his portrayal of Sir Peter Teazle and Chip. The Misses Crisps were also named, with Eliza as Lady Teazle "easy, graceful and elegant", and Cecilia, "fascinating" as Maria who also "...delighted the audience with her song of The Bavarian Broom girl". Messrs Vining, Durand and Sanders were also named in the supporting parts. In the same article performances of The Pilot and Peter Wilkins were mentioned without specific dates but Thursday, presumably 17th December, the theatre "was honoured by the distinguished patronage of The Right Hon. Lady Southampton". The evenings entertainment she witnessed featured John Crisp as Frank Oatland in Thomas Morton's A Cure for the Heart Ache with Charles as Young Rapid Mr. Sanders as Old Rapid and Cecilia as Jesse. "Miss Cecilia Crisp imparted to the innocent Jesse, the sensibility and feeling the character so imminently requires." The afterpiece was John Poole's short one-act farce Deaf as a Post, with Charles as Tristram Sampsey who "...kept the house in a roar of laughter...". The review ended looking forward to Monday (again presumably 21st) and the benefit of John Crisp who was to perform Francis with Charles as Sir John Falstaff in King Henry the Fourth with Bluebeard to follow.


The Mitre circa.1960.

Img:51, the Mitre circa.1960.

The Mitre circa.1965.

The beginning of 1830 gives us nothing by way of information as to the whereabouts of the company but there were major changes on the horizon. We have found no advertisements, reviews, playbills or articles for January or February and only two references for March, the first of which is frustratingly vague. The reference, noted in Scott Dramatised,27 was to a performance of Warlock of the Glen at the Tenbury theatre near Ludlow, the only allusion to this town I am aware of, the part of Andrew, a fisherman, was played by Mr. Crisp. We have found six other occasions of the family performing Warlock, Andrew was played by Mr George once, yet on another occasion he played Sandie, a peasant. The Tenbury performance could have been any of the three brothers. I have written many times about the minor theatres that make up the circuit and the lack of information relating to the activities and performances in these theatres, it is more than likely this would account for the company's whereabouts at the beginning of 1830. The other indication we have is a short note in the 31st March edition of the Hereford Journal for a benefit concert for Miss Eliza at Hereford on the 1st April which was described as her farewell concert. The review of the concert in the following week's publication confirmed her retirement and advised on the return Miss Foote to Hereford and the forthcoming engagement of Mr. Alford. Miss Foote, it was was reported, was travelling from London for the sole purpose of acting three nights in Hereford, so "well pleased" was she with her previous visit.

Charles Crisp takes The Mitre

Img:52, Charles Crisp
takes "The Mitre"

Charles Crisp takes The Mitre

The Hereford Journal announced Charles Crisp's retirement from the stage at the end of April. The Worcester Journal carried the notice alongside in early May, written by Charles Crisp himself, signalling his new direction as a landlord and hotelier, reflecting perhaps a desire for a more settled lifestyle for him and his family. Image 51 above shows the Mitre from the early-to-mid 1960's with the fabulous wrought iron entrance that was probably added when the hotel was rebuilt in 1834 by Daniel Davis. It is likely there was something similar on the original building but I have not found an image to prove or disprove that idea. The removal vehicles outside belong to the local company Greenlands. The rent for the site was paid to St. Ethelbert's Hospital, a local charity apparently administered by custodians attached to Hereford Cathedral. The opening night's celebrations on May 1st at The Mitre, were enjoyed by 130 guests; the full attendance, the Hereford Journal commented, being a reflection of the high esteem in which Mr. Crisp is held.

Macready and Miss Eliza's Ludlow farewell.

Img:53, Macready and
Miss Eliza's Ludlow farewell.

Macready and Miss Eliza's Ludlow farewell.

The newspaper, whilst celebrating the past also looked to the future, Ludlow and Leominster theatres would be managed by Mr Vining, the stage manager of Crisp's company for many years, but Hereford theatre would remain under Charles Crisp's control until the expiration of the lease. No mention was made of the recently taken Loughborough theatre, of Brecon, Tenbury or any other of the theatres in the circuit. From this, we can only assume each theatre has been let go as it's lease has fallen due for renewal. Continuing at Hereford Mr. Kean jun. was engaged for three nights, 6th, 7th and 8th May, followed by Mr. Macready on the 10th, 11th and 12th. The company would then move on to Leominster where Mr. Macready will perform for one night only and Ludlow for two further nights, Friday 14th and Saturday 15th. The regular company will perform Monday and Wednesday with Friday 21st being a farewell benefit for Miss Eliza Crisp. She will play the Widow Cheerly in Andrew Cherry's comedy The Soldier's Daughter for the first time at Ludlow and after the show she will give a farewell address and take her bow for the final time.

The company go missing again in June and July to reappear in August at Hereford for race week. The manager, Mr Charles Crisp, announced the engagement of Mr. Raymond and the extraordinary Monsieur Gouffee - "The Wonder of the Age". Race week commenced on Wednesday 18th August under the patronage of the steward, Mr W.C. Hayton, and the theatre offered Mr Raymond as Henry Montmorency and Miss Cecilia as Miss Arlington in Richard Brinsley Peake's The Hundred Pound Note. Mr. Charles Crisp appeared as Sir David Dunder in the follow-on piece Ways and Means and the evening ended with Monsieur Gouffee starring as the ape in Jocko, the Brazilian Ape. Thursday's offering was Black-Eyed Susan followed by an unnamed melo-drama in which Mr Raymond, Monsieur Gouffee, Charles and Cecilia would all play a part. Friday 20th was the managers benefit night, usually reserved for the last night of the season, but not on this occasion. The opening piece was not published but described as a "fashionable comedy" which would be followed by a Grand Exordium on Free-Masonry, and conclude with Killing no Murder. The heading for this evenings entertainment was entitled Brother Charles Crisp. All was under the patronage of E.T. Foley M.P. for Stoke Edith Park.

The theatre remained open for three more nights with Saturday's offering described as "Tragedy and other Entertainments". Monday 23rd was Monsieur Gouffee's benefit and the entire evening was given over to "Novelty." Perhaps a sign of the times. It maybe the public's taste for Shakespeare, light hearted comedy and melo-drama was fading and "novelty", in various guises, was filling the coffers and paying the bills. John Crisp experienced a similar situation in Sheffield in 1823-4 with the antics of Mr. Usher and his cats filling the house, a quote from a newspaper from the time tells that particular story...

The figures released by the theatre showed clearly he [Mr. Usher] was the theatre's highest earning act, more than doubling the previous periods takings which included Shakespeare's "Coriolanus" and "Venice Preserved" by Thomas Otway.

Tuesday 24thwas the last night at Hereford and Mr. Raymond's benefit. The play was to be a comedy and a variety of other amusements would bring the season to an end. The theatre at Hereford would not re-open until 1831. Wednesday 25th was Leominster's first race day and the theatre opened under the patronage of the steward, Lord Hotham M.P. No details of the the entertainments were printed in the newspaper advertisement apart from the continued engagement of Monsieur Gouffee. The theatre would remain open until Tuesday 31st August (excluding Sunday of course).

1] From the article Transport in Herefordshire before the railways by Miranda Greene (2003) on Herefordshire Council's website, Herefordshire Through Time.
2] Painting by James Pollard, undated. From the Berger Collection: id #29 (Denver, Colorado), Public Domain,
3] See page 240 of the book A general history of Malvern written by John Chambers and published in 1817.
4] Young Roscius the Second was a well used phrase of the period, referring to any new, popular child actor as "Young Roscius the second", and there were many variations on the theme; The African Roscius, the Comic Roscius, the Bath Roscius and even the Female Roscius, a label attached to one of the Miss Quantrills in her younger days. Charles Crisp was one of several child actors to be given this accolade.
5] Oil painting by George Clint (1770-1854) depicting John Liston as Paul Pry, Madame Vestris as Phebe (?), Phyllis Glover as Eliza (?) and Mr. Williams (or William Farren) as Colonel Hardy in 'Paul Pry' by John Poole. Great Britain, ca. 1827. My thanks to the Victoria and Albert Museum for allowing the use of this painting here.
6] The (edited) notice from the July 1st 1911 edition of the Bridgnorth Journal marking the death of Hubert Smith-Stanier.
7] Oxberry's edited comments about the play Spoil'd Child can be read on George Crisp's page here.
8] This note about Mary Ann Horton is reproduced from Charles Edward Horn's page on this website. More about Mary Ann, Priscilla and Sarah can be found there. Links to the page and to two biographies of Mary Ann are from the Horn Family's Homepage here.
9] Whit Monday or Whitmonday, also known as Pentecost Monday, the day after Pentecost, which is also known as Whitsunday or Whit Sunday. A Christian holiday commemorating the Holy Spirit's descent on Jesus Christ's disciples.
10] The Maroons were escaped slaves. They ran away from their Spanish owned plantations when the British took the Caribbean island of Jamaica from Spain in 1655. The word maroon comes from the Spanish word cimarrones, which meant "mountaineers". In 1739, the British and the Maroons made peace, their freedom was recognised and their land was given to them and they were to govern themselves. In return they would support the British government in Jamaica against foreign invasion and would help capture rebel slaves and runaways from the plantations and return them to their owners. From the website PortCities Bristol Examining Bristol's role in the transatlantic slave trade.
11] This note is an edited excerpt of the article on Project Muse, Revising the Colonial Caribbean: "Three-Fingered Jack" and the Jamaican Pantomime.
12] The Morfe Coursing Club was established in 1815, under the patronage of W. Y. Davenport, Esq. It consisted of thirty members, growing to thirty-five by 1820, and the meetings held weekly. The Morfe, formerly a forest, south east of Bridgnorth, was enclosed in 1818. The club give the hares to the farmers on whose land they are found; this practice proved favourable to their preservation.
13] Much can be found about William Henry's time in the USA in Noah Miller Ludlow's book, Dramatic Life as I Found it. Part of the book can be read online here.
14] Photograph from Bridgnorth Through Time by Clive Gwilt.
15] "The Sporting Magazine; or; Monthly Calendar of the Transactions of The Turf and The Chace and every other Diversion Interesting to the Man of Pleasure, Enterprize and Spirit". "Three and Deuce" reviewed on page 320.
16] © Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The copyright of this image belongs to the Victoria and Albert Museum I thank them for allowing me to reproduce it here.
17] The Woodman's Hut opened at Drury Lane 12th April. In the audience was Charles Frederick Horn, Charle Edwards Horn's' father. At the sight of flames on stage the elder Mr. Horn called out " will burn the whole building down." This of course, coming after Drury Lane's recent re-opening after being destroyed by fire in 1809.
18] Mr. and Mrs Barry as Jaffier and Belvidera in Venice Preserved. Engraved by J. Collyer from a drawing by E. Roberts. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
19] Andrew Cherry (1762-1812). An Irish dramatist, songwriter, actor and theatre manager.
20] The description of Monsieur de Tourville is taken from page 110 of the original Memoirs of Charles Mathews, Volume three. Published in 1839. William Crisp may well be William Henry Crisp (1817-1874), son of Charles.
21] See page 402 of the Memoirs of Charles Mathews Volume two. Published 1839. The figures quoted by Mathews would be in GBP (Pounds). Mathews had played at Carmarthen theatre and described it as "...a beautiful theatre and holds thirty pounds", so Worcester's "stock houses are from 21. (£21) to 51. (£51)" which for Worcester would be poor. Mathew's earnings for the week which was written as 87/ is £87. Enormous indeed.
22] Master Burke was the latest child acting sensation performing at the Surrey Theatre. Called the "Irish Roscius" he was born as Joseph Burke in Galway around 1818, the son of a Doctor.
23] A comprehensive review of "The Bottle Imp" was published on page 197 of Oxberry's Theatrical Inquisitor: Or Monthly Mirror of the Drama for 1828.
24] See page 128 of the book "The Theatrical Manager in Britain and America" by Joseph W. Donohue Jr.
25] A short biography of Miss Sarah Booth, page 121 Our Actresses: Or, Glances at Stage Favourites, Past and Present. vol.2. Written by Mrs C. Baron Wilson.
26] From page 230 of the book "Nine Years of an Actor's Life" written by Robert Dyer, published in 1833.
27] Scott Dramatised. A reference book compiled by H. Philip Bolton containing details of performances of Sir Walter Scott's works and the many variations thereof.