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 my circus conection

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roykneath



Posts : 1
Join date : 2011-08-26
Age : 67
Location : swansea

PostSubject: my circus conection   Fri Dec 02, 2011 7:07 am

MY CIRCUS CONNECTIONS



In May 2007, whilst at the funeral of my father-in-law.s sister, Mary Laurette Drewson, family
members were reminiscing when a casual mention was made of the fact that Mary.s
grandmother had married into the circus. This was the start of a bug that has taken me into
researching my family history,

So my search was on to find the circus connection, starting with my father-in-law, Charles
Drewson now in his 90th year. He told us how his grandmother Mary Ann Powell born c1858
in Merthyr Tydfil, had as a young girl worked with her sister in a tobacconist shop. Here she
met Frederick Frank Taylor, who would always come in to buy tobacco and snuff when the
circus was in town. Their relationship grew and on the 28th December 1881 at the age of 23,
Mary married Frank at Cardiff Register Office; both fathers were recorded as deceased.
Frank.s occupation was a violin and euphonium player in the circus band.

It was Frank.s brother Joseph and his father-in-law who owned the circus and insisted that
as a wife of a circus man, Mary, who was looked on as a Josser (someone not born in the
circus), would have to contribute a skill. She joined the circus as a cashier, selling tickets in
the pay box and also sewing sequins on the costumes. Later she was to become a bare
back rider; her favourite pony was Black Bess. Other stories tell of her being dressed as
Britannia for the parades, riding high on a wagon accompanied by a lion and a sheep. Her
only fear was of thunder storms, terrified that the lightning would be attracted to the metal
parts of her costume.

Through research we have discovered the family connection with the circus began when
Joseph, one of twelve children, left his Suffolk home during 1851 to go „tenting. with W.H.
Stevenson, who had been a bandmaster with the volunteer corps. By 1856 Joseph had met
and married Harriet Hutchinson, an equestrian performer of just sixteen years of age.
Harriet.s father, David Hutchinson, was a circus agent. When Joseph.s father died he
returned to Suffolk with his bride for a period. Their only son, David was born in 1867 in
Bristol.

David Hutchinson and Joseph Taylor later appear to have formed a business partnership,
„Hutchinson and Tayleure Circus'- going on the road in March 1886. At the end of what
appears to be a successful season that had started in Lincoln and ended in Worcester, early
in September, Hutchinson and Tayleure applied for a license to site a circus in Swansea for
the winter. The Swansea based newspaper, The Cambrian dated 6th November 1868
reported; “Hutchinson and Tayleure are duly licensed by the magistrate for an equestrian
establishment in our town, for a winter season at Wind Street.”

The circus opened on Monday 9th November in a large specially erected building, “tastefully
decorated, well lighted and well warmed, with every accommodation”. The main entrance
was situated in Wind Street, with an entrance to the gallery and other areas in York St. The
performance began at 7.30 p.m. The admission price was two shillings for a chair in one of
the boxes and one shilling for the pit or to promenade the lounge. Half -price was charged
for children and after 9 p.m. The gallery seats were sixpence. Season tickets were also
available.


The manager of the circus was T. Fillis, formerly of Quaglieni's Italian Circus. The acts billed
on that first night included riders, vaulters, acrobats and gymnasts. They were reported to be
unequalled in the province, whilst the well known reputation of the proprietors was said to be
a sufficient guarantee that the whole arrangement was to be constructed with the greatest
order and decorum.

The Cambrian advertised that Hutchinson and Tayleure were on Friday 13th November to
present their,

“First Grand Fashionable Night”

A Recherché programme of elegant and refined scenes of equestrian

and gymnastic exploits.

The following night, Saturday 14th November was, “The Peoples Night” and on November
20th there was -

“A Second Grand Fashionable Night

For the benefit of the Swansea Infirmary

On which occasion the Circus will be honoured with the

Presence of Several County Families of distinction.”

The benefit for the New General Hospital was a success with a donation of £20 being made
to Mr J, W, Morris, the secretary of the infirmary. The Cambrian again reported;

“The boxes were crowded with some of the principal families of the town and
neighbourhood. The daring exploits of the various riders, the stunts of the acrobats and
gymnasts and the jests and puns of the clowns were much admired, and received with
rounds of applause and laughter.”

A new performer was advertised on Monday 14th December. Niblo (Thomas Clark) will
commence a run of 12 performances, to run every night at eight prompt. Niblo was billed as
“the greatest gymnastic artist the world has ever witnessed.”, and “Messer’s Hutchinson and
Tayleure beg to state that they have succeeded in doing so at an enormous expense of
£100.”

Niblo proved so popular that his run was extended for 3 extra nights with an additional
performance on 1st January 1869 with the proceeds benefitting the Deaf and Dumb Institute.
Over a hundred years later members of our family still use the word “Niblo” in conversation.
“Like Niblo” or “ Niblo over there”. Is this just coincidence?

On February 19th another special performance was given by the circus this time to aid the
National Lifeboat Institution. A few weeks later a report appeared in The Cambrian stating
that, “Hutchinson and Tayleure have had a lifeboat specially built by Mr. William Brown for
the express purpose of taking it with them, in their peregrinations through the Kingdom, that
landsmen may have the opportunity of seeing the sort of craft, manned with a fully equipped
crew, that steering out of every British port, dares to meet the how long tempest and buffet
the ruffian”.


During that four month stay in Swansea, The Cambrian made other glowing reports on the
Circus, including one from the Head Constable Mr Allison who was reported to have said
there had been a decrease in drunkenness in the town due to the circus presence!

Great tableaux were performed, e.g. St George and the Dragon in which “the dragon did
wonderful executions with his tail and breathing flames from his nostrils attacked the gallant
knight with terrible fury. The brute however was forced to succumb to the desperate energy
of St George’s blows.”

So after a successful season, the circus closed on Saturday 30th March and went on tour
throughout South Wales and on to some of the principal cities and towns of the United
Kingdom.

The Circus made further visits to Swansea on a regular basis, returning in 1871 (&1888)
amalgamated with Howe & Cushing.s great American Circus, performing in Walters Rd.
They were sited again in Wind St in 1872 and at Walters Rd in 1873. Further visits took
place in 1876 and 1877.

David Hutchinson died 21st April 1890. His funeral took place at St Mary the Virgin, Cardiff
and he is buried in Cathays Cemetery. His will raised questions on the validity of his
marriage to Elizabeth but that is another story!

Taylor.s American Circus toured the country until the early years of 1890. The last
appearance in Swansea was in March 1892. Joseph Taylor died on 28th November 1894 at
St Helens Rd. Swansea. The funeral also took place at St Mary the Virgin in Cardiff and his
burial at Cathays Cemetery.
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