Sunday, November 19, 2017

William O'Neill (1841-1868)

(Courtesy of Eril Wangarek)

In the early days of Melbourne, with its large Irish population, and often with a generation among them that were illiterate, there was a deep need (as with the English and Scots portion of our population) for those things that soften the grief of immigration. Indeed, my own great great grandfather's family held a wake when he emigrated to Australia, as they knew they would never see him again, and would probably never hear from him unless he paid a letter-writer (many time, a Priest, if willing) to send word home, which in turn, would have to put into the hands of the village letter-reader, for a fee.

The need in Melbourne therefore, for Irish songs and performances, with medicinal sentimentality accompanied by all the Hibernian ephemera and 'craic' was vital to the relationship of audience to performer. This phenomenon is nothing new, of course, but it was ritually observed here in Melbourne by people such a William O'Neill, a native New South Welshman (so history recalls). I will leave some of his details courtesy of 'Autolycus' of 1905:

“A correspondent desires information concerning William O’Neil, one of the notable Irish comedians of the ‘sixties.’ His first performance in Melbourne was at the Haymarket theatre on February 13, 1865, when he played Barney in the comic drama ‘Barney the Baron’, and ‘Paddy Murphy’ in the farce of ‘The Happy Man.’ Hoskins was then the lessee and manager of the Haymarket.  Barry Sullivan, being advised of O’Neill's coming to the rival house, had enagaged Shiel Barry for the Royal, so that for a time Hibernian plays filled the nightly bill at both houses.

Barry was a native of New South Wales. His experience was limited to Australia. He was youthful, and there was a strong flavour of that amateur crudity in his work. O’Neill, as an Irish low comedian was a very clever and entertaining actor. Excepting his predecessor John Drew, he was probably the best type ever seen in Australia. His brogue was smooth, mellow, and genuine. His face – lit up with bright, genial eyes – was radiantly humorous  He sang Irish songs, comic and sentimental, with great art and much expression. He danced the Irish jig with wondrous grace and agility. It was impossible to be dull when O’Neill sang the patter song ‘Paddy's Wedding’ an excruciatingly droll story, told with infinite humour. His rendering of ‘When Johnny Comes Marching Home,’ with his own drum compliment, was a brilliant effort, and the 'Birth of Saint Patrick' invariably drew many encores. Equally successful work ‘I Was Born a Janius,’ ‘Finnegans Wake,’ and the always welcome “Cruiskeen Lawn.”

O’Neill was not merely a comic vovalist. He sang ‘Will Thou be my Bride, Kathleen?’ (in ‘Rory O’More’) with much sweetness and tenderness. As Miles-na-Coppaleen, in ‘The Colleen Bawn,’ he made the ballad ‘Eily Dear’ a delightfully melodious item. His comic songs ended, or were blended with step dancing, and this feature in the performance was very popular. O’Neill’s Irish jig was a work of art, in grace and rythym of movement. It was one of those intoxicating thins that put an audience in a frenzy of delight. Hundreds of feet kept eager time to the lively music, and, when the dance ended, hundreds of excited spectators stood up and wildly clamoured for more. The jig was often repeated, for it was only when O’Neill was visibily exhausted that his admirers were satisfied.

In dramatic work he equally good, his enactment of a drunken scene was realistically natural as to be almost an examle of genius. During his first engagement, which terminated on March 23, O’Neill appeared in a variety of parts. Besides those already indicated, he played Tim More, in ‘The Irish Lion,’ ‘Handy Andy, paddy Miles in ‘The Limerick Boy.’ O’Bryan in ‘The Irish Emigrant,’ and Barney O’Toole in ‘The Peep o’ Day.’ A notable event of the O’Neill season was the final farewell benefit of that illustrious actor, Joseph Jefferson, on the 17th March, 1865. Jefferson appeared as the immortal ‘Rip Van Winkle’ and as Tobias Shortcut in that amazingly ludicrous farce, ‘The Spitfire.’ Between the piece O’Neill gave ‘Paddy’s Wedding’ and the irresistable jig performance. When the curtain dropped, Australians had seen their last of one who, in his own line, was the greatest actor of the century, and great was their loss in his departure.” [THE ARGUS, SAT 11 FEB 1905]

NEIL.-On the 24th ult, at No. 2 Farie-street, Fitzroy, Mr. William O'Neill, Irish comedian, aged thirty-one years. Requiescat in pace. 3 oct 1868. We have to record tho death of Mr William O'Neil, the Irish comedian, once well known on the Melbourne stage Mr O Neil had for some eighteen months been in a very low state of health, and had not for the last twelve month been able to follow his profession His last appearance on the stage was in New Zealand, whence he returned to Melbourne about nine months ago. Since that he has been gradually failing in health, and died at an early hour this morning, at his residence in Farie Street, Fitzroy His age was about thirty one ears - Argus, September 24 1868.

“The troubles which had befalled Mrs. O’Neill [Ann Maria Quinn who had just had  a protracted and farcical court case in which she was charged with theft] followed her husband, in a measure. In February, 1868, Mr. William O’Neill, in very poor health, appeared before the Fitzroy Police Court, in the custody of Detective Blair, on a charge of deserting his child. More surprise could not have been expressed if good Queen Bess, the Virgin Queen, centuries in her grave, had been so charged, and most surprised of all was poor Billy O’Neill. 

The ruse stood thus — a woman named Sarah Prentice had brought to her, some five months before, a child to be wet-nursed, on a payment of so much per month. A month’s pay was duly handed over, and Mrs. Prentice was given to understand that the child was the offspring of Mr and Mrs. William O’Neill now in question. Time passed, as it always did, and always will; no more money was forthcoming, and at last, acting on what she thought good information, Mrs. Prentice laid an information and obtained Mr. O’Neill’s arrest. An ‘eclaircissement’ followed, and at last it became plain that Mrs. Prentice had been the victim of false representation—that the child was not Mr. O’Neill’s, and that he knew nothing about it. Of course, then everybody was desirous of bringing the matter to an end. Mr. O’Neill would be put to no further inconvenience. Consequently he was brought — somewhat informally—before the Fitzroy Bench. The case was not even gone into but at once dismissed. Mr. John Edwards—‘Jack’ Edward of the Old Theatrical days—who appeared for Mrs. Prentice, making Mr. O’Neill an ample apology. In the private room of Snadden’s Buck’s Head, opposite the court house, the apology took a liquid form, and Billy O’Neill’s quick restoration to health duly restored.

The toasting of his health, however, did not improve it. On September 24 1868, he died at his lodgings at 2 Farie Street, a little street off Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, aged 31 years. He had been unable to follow his profession for twelve months before, his last appearance being, I belive, at Hokitika (NZ). He lived within two doors of the writer, yet, so modest was the man that none knew, excepting his landlady (Mrs. Quinn, his mother in law), who the sick man was. Mrs. O’Neill, being away on a professional trip. The funeral would have delighted the heart of a funeral reformer—a plain coffin, plain herse, and a cab! It was proposed soon after to raise a memorial over his grave, but I am afraid nothing was done.

O’Neill us said to have foight in the American Civil War, and to have been present at the Battle of the Bull Run. When asked wether he was one of those who ran on that occassion, Billy answered. ‘Be gob, those that didn’t run are there yet.’ After O’Neill’s death Mrs. Anna Maria Quinn O’Neill disappeared from public — at least I have no recollections of having seen notices of her playing anywhere.” [Sydney Sportsman, 31 May 1905]

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Tommy Peel (1841-1868) Jig Dancer

(Frank Converse and Tommy Peel, standing)

Tommy Peel died young, and, upon a lesser rung of the theatrical ladder—minstrelsy. I give space here, as I have a soft spot for those souls, who having developed, by discipline-to-craft and arduous years of performance, still found the energy to have adventures, only to die in some part of the world whose soil was not their own.

I have merged two articles, one from New Zealand’s “West Coast Times” (reprinted from Bell’s in Melbourne) and the New York Clipper, and the following affectionate obituary will suffice:—

“The late Thomas Peel: The Champion Jig Dancer of America.  Thomas Jefferson O’Reilly [elsewhere named as Riley] or (as he was better known) ‘Tommy Peel’ was born in Albany, New York in September of 1841. At a very early age he had a local reputation as a jig dancer, and while he was engaged at Rose’s Ten Pin Saloon, in Washington street, Albany, near Congress Hall, he was often sought by the getters-up of impromptu negro minstrel companies, and to dance at various benefits. Master Tommy made his debut with the Sable Brothers in September of 1850 in his native town, the company having halted there to give two or three performances and it was at this time that he first had the pleasure of appearing in public in proper uniform; viz. pink shirt, blue velvet breeches and brace-heeled shoes. The applause he received was tremendous, and Tommy's appearance added largely to the receipts of that company. The success, no doubt, determined him to pay more attention to heel-and-toeology, and he made every effort to add to his repertoire of steps. Even at this age, what he knew of jig dancing, was pronounced by his immediate friends as truly wonderful, and what he did not know they thought was not worth knowing. 

In 1851 he joined a troupe called Schook's Minstrels, and travelled through America, with indifferent success, until 1852, when he joined the Campbell’s Minstrels and was taken in charge by Matt Peel, a noted Ethiopian comedian, from whom he took the name of Peel. Mr. Peel took him in foster care, and Tommy Riley was soon well known to the minstrel profession and the public as Master Tommy Peel with the company being renamed ‘Murphy, West, and Peel's Campbell Minstrels’. He could hardly have commenced his career under more favorable circumstances, for Matt, doted on his adopted boy, we are told, and did his best to educate him for his chosen profession. Being a modest youth and an apt student  he made rapid strides in his knowledge of jig, break-down and fancy dancing, as well as in his ability to execute. He remained with Matt Peel except at short intervals, we believe, until the latter s death in Buffalo, N.Y., 1859. 

He then joined the Bryants, Broadway, New York; left the Bryants, and joined a company known as Anderson's Minstrels in Boston, in the spring of 1860; joined Hooley and Campbell's Minstrels, travelled through the western country, and then rejoined Bryant’s Minstrels, and there remained until 1862, when he made an engagement with Maguire of San Francisco, where he opened, on October 6, at Maguire's Opera House. 

About this time considerable discussion was indulged in, in regard to who was the best dancer in the United States, and several put in their names forward as the great 'I AM.' A large quantity of chin music [talk] resulted in a match being made between the subject of our sketch and R.M. Caroll ( then at the Canterbury, N.Y., but then with the famous Morris Brothers of Boston), for $250 a side and the Championship. The trial took place at Wallack’s Old Theatre, now Broadway Amphitheatre, in the presence of a house full, on April 16th 1862, at about 4 PM. Tommy drew as first to perform with Frank Converse furnishing the music on his old Cremona. Carroll followed with Ross as his ‘musicianner.’ Both men danced well, but the result was a triumph for Peel.  After this, sundry challenges and counter challenges were issued , but no more matches were made, and Tommy was fully recognised as the Champion Jig Dancer of America. 

He remained with Bryants for one year, then went to Virginia City, Nevada. Returning to California, he played a short engagement, then started with a company for the New Boise Silver Mines. He returned to San Francisco after an unsuccessful trip of six months, and then joined Frank Hussey's Minstrels at the Academy of Music, remaining until October of 1865, when he, in company with Frank Weston and J. H. Taylor, &c, sailed with Wilson's World Circus for Australia, playing, en route, at the Sandwich Islands, Society Islands, and New Zealand.

He then sailed for Sydney, where he opened with the Christy Ministrels, at the School of Arts, September, 1866; came overland to Melbourne, and opened with Nish's Christy Minstrels. He sailed again for New Zealand in January, 1867, where he remained till March, 1869, when Weston sent for him to come to Melbourne. He joined Weston, Kelly, Holly, and Hussey, and strolled through the upper country; opened with Weston and Hussey’s Minstrels, but owing to his health falling, he performed only nine nights, after which he continued to fail until his death, which occurred on Saturday, July 31, 1869, beloved by all that knew him. 

He was buried on Monday, August 2, and laid by the side of the Irish comedian, William O'Neil, which was his request in life, if he should die in this country. The funeral was in the American manner, the mourning coaches being empty, and the mourners on foot. The pall bearers were Frank Hussey, Frank Weston, Frank Drew, John Washington Smith, Harry Kelly, Charles Woodruff, Thomas Rainford and Henry Peachman. Weston and Hussey's brass brand, assisted by other brother professionals, played the Dead March from ‘Saul.’ He was buried under the Roman Catholic faith with Father Barry reading the services. The professional brethren of the deceased singing the ‘Dying Christian’ over his grave.”

According to a Clipper letter he'd was aware of his coming demise at the hand of tuberculosis very early on, and was resigned to it. We have one image of him from Monarchs of Minstrelsy (above) and one from the State Library of Victoria in which he looks exhausted and not well. It is sad to say that no anecdotes, or quips have come to light regarding Tommy, orphaned early, cared for luckily, respected widely, esteemed highly, and who died long before any just or fair hour.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Clarance Holt (1826 - 1903) "That Weird Creature"

(State Library of Victoria)

Clarence Holt was an tragedian, born Joseph Frederick Holt in London, the son of a Military tailor of some stability of wealth. Making his debut in 1842, he became a seasoned professional, used to all kinds of audiences, every kind of play, and, as was required of the period through which he lived, was impassioned in his performance, a quality for which all lesser defects of person were overlooked: Victorian audiences abhorred the declamation of a dead fish.

My interest in him starts when he arrives in Australia in September of 1854, having been prompted by George Coppin, and no doubt delighted with the notion that the gold-rush was still flooding the colony with ready money to be soaked up on tours where gold was plentiful but entertainment — upon which to spend it — was not. He was a pioneer actor (in the sense that he was one of many who brought it to the colonies; not as a breaker of new dramatic ground), and is remembered as such, but in many later recollections, committed to print in nostalgic columns of national newspaper and magazines, the strange character of the man — not without amusement—comes to light.

Here are some favourites:—

On audience restlessness:— “Any sign of inattention while he was reciting irritated him exceedingly, and while he was appearing as the Danish Prince the sight of a couple of pittites engaged in an animated conversation caused him to stop and glare at them in a vengeful manner.” 

Of personal additions to Shakespeare:— “One of Clarence's peculiarities was the giving of selections composed of one line of Shakespeare's and one of his own alternately, something after this fashion:

’Ah, the world's a stage
That saying has held good in every age
And all the men and women merely players
Perchance as kings or queens, anon as maids or mayors

and so on right through the piece. The effect of this hotch-potch was rather curious, but it won applause from the groundlings."

Of breaking character:— “One evening while playing Cardinal Richelieu, he espied a man in the gallery smoking a pipe; he immediately drew himself up to his full height and, pointing at the man, exclaimed, ‘Put out the pipe, Sir; I don't allow smoking in my theatre!’ then he resumed the bent form and voice of the old Frenchman.”

On the colour of language:— “Holt was the foulest-mouthed man, and in his first production, Black Eyed Susan, would exhort, the Susan in his arms to more pathos, in sotto voce oaths and horrible epithets…”

On assisting child actors:— “He once undertook to appeal to the imagination of a child actress who did not pick up her words. Kneeling beside here, he gave her the sentences with proper emphasis, alternating with mumbled obscenities and blasphemy. The child’s memory was quickened by terror— and what she said on the stage that night shall not be set down, even with discreets stars.” [nb. stars=*****]

On what history may bequeath: “That wierd creature, Clarence Holt” (H.G.Hibbert)

And while I do not wish to belittle his great contribution to the theatrical needs of the day, I do wish it had been recorded, he sounds like a riot.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Mozart Lives Here

One of favourite stories about Robert Sparrow Smythe occured in 1878 and centers around a young musical prodigy named Ernest Hutcheson. This child was only seven years old and yet could sing, play the piano, violin and organ; compose his own music, and could play — according to his father, eight hundred compositions (one has to wonder where such an immense library of sheet music that could function as an engine for such a repertoire was housed). It was quite a boast. 

Young Ernest’s father was a blacksmith by trade, but also taught his child not only rudiments of music but the methods of two instruments, and instructed him in reading music and also, schooled him hin musical theory. It seemed mad, but the child could do all these things and the father was a Scot, whose own father was still in 1878 a leading Bandsman in Scotland who had taught all his children musicianship (“In my youth I was apprenticed as a blacksmith and fitter, but now I am a musician and pianoforte tuner; I teach piano-playing”).  The child’s mother was named Rosina in the press but was plain Rose Ann Brown, who had —as newpaper report later attested — never married the father, David Hutcheson, although Mr. Hutcheson had bought her a suitable ring and lived with her as if she were a married woman. It turned out that Hutcheson had a wife back in Scotland from whom was not divorced.

A dispute over the golden child arose, centered around the best way to make money from him. Hutcheson the father wanted to take him to America and put him under the business ‘acumen’ of P.T.Barnum, a scheme to which the mother was not partial. Discinclined to be left in Melbourne, separated from her child, and no doubt to be eventually, and conveniently forgotten, or included in any renumeration, she sought help.

James Smith, the local, and celebrated music critic was entranced with the talent of the child who had performed publicly, and had made a success of it. When it came time to consider the child’s future musical fate, Rosina Brown (aka. “Mrs Hutcheson”) made appeals to James Smith, no doubt airing her conern about her child being fobbed off to a “Yankee Speculator” as the next novelty. Smith, devoted to music as an artistic calling, sent for R.S.Smythe whose had heard the American “Bind Tom” and many others, and who was also greatly impressed at the great gift that the child possessed, and Smythe in turn brought along Mary Ellen Christian, a local contralto known to all, and of such sweet disposition that she might take in the child and mother under her care (which was, by proxy, Smythe’s care, as Miss Christian was his mistress). 

When Miss Christian relayed to Smythe that Rosina, in confidence, told her that Rosina wasn’t actually married to Hutcheson, Smythe suggested Rosina apply for a habeas corpus, resulting in the appearance of the boy before a Judge. Smythe had earlier “strongly, advised that he should be kept from performing in public for at least twelve months” in order to vouchsafe his development and to propely educate him, not just in music, but performance: two different skills. The parents had momentarily agreed before Mr. Hutcheson decided that taking him to America was a more prosperous idea. 

Once before the Judge, Mr. Hutcheson’s argument that the time, effort and financial care put into the boy was not enough to guarantee his blacksmith’s regency. Before the Judge, other details came out, such as when Rosina went to fetch the child from Mr. Godrey’s house (Mr. Hutcheson’s brother-in-law) Mr. Hutcheson said, “Rather than you shall have them, I'll put a knife through you!” He denied such threats of course, so one cannot tell if he was truly a greedy father or just hapless on how best to advance the coming career of the clever young child. Of certainty, is that touting him as a novelty was not going to give him a proper musical education that his talent required, nor protect him in his formative years — and his family was essentially destitute.

Sir William Stawell granted custody to Rosina Brown, as the child was illegitimate, and under the law she was automatically guardian unless her character had been of wicked, which it was not. Furthermore, Miss Christian, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, London, undertook to use her contacts to gain him access to the right people, if not outright entry. So the child was handed over to Robert Sparrow Smythe and his wife Amelia Bailey when they arrievd in a carriage at Mr. Godfrey’s (what an odd arrangement), in addition to his siblings, and there I lose track of the family as a whole, except for Mr. Hutcheson, who, twenty years later was declaring bankruptcy in South Melbourne, as he had in 1878 (it turns out he was banking on the money that would come from his son’s American concerts).

Miss Christian, and the Smythes kept their promise; although they could not personally attend to the care, they saw to it that some good people were engaged, and that several fund raising concerts were held to help the famil and evenutaully to send young Ernest to the Leipzig Conservatory, where history records that he entered aged fourteen, studying under Carl Reinecke, Bernhard Stavenhagen, and Bruno Zwintscher. His career centered around London and Berlin until the shadows of World War One cast its panic over Europe and he emigrated, ironically, to America where he ended up at Julliard in the faculty, and as Dean in 1926. I couldn’t find his father’s death in Melbourne and I hope they reconciled; the newpaper article from 1878 noted that the boy was devoted to his father and much broken up, and seemed not to be so attached to the mother.

But my favourite party of this story was a consquence of James’s Smith belief in spiritualism, and his entrenched conviction that Ernest Hutcheson was the reincarnation of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. When the boy went to live with the Smythe family at “Highgate” — their house and land in Deepdene —some local ruffians painted on Smythe’s large brick wall:—


A fitting end to a crazy little drama.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Henry Dolan Wilton (1843-1872)

Henry Dolan Wilton is even less known than his 'Uncle" J.Hall Wilton had had made him his legally heir a year before the old warhorse died, and they had been travelling together for six years. He was a theatrical manager of sorts, who learned what he had from Wilton, though he did not have Wilton's 'smarts.'

"Poor Henry Dolan Wilton has at last paid the debt of nature. He died in his 29th year, at Church Street, South Shore, Blackpool, Lancashire. Since his return from Australia as agent with Lady Don, his health has gradually succumbed, and young and volatile as he always was, he did not take that care of himself which a man of mature years would have done. It is to his credit that he stood by Lady Don in all her troubles incidental on the management of the Newcastle Theatre, and his death is most acutely felt, not only by her Ladyship, and by a large circle of friends." — The Australasian, Sat 20 Jan 1872 

I wish I had more to say on him, and indeed upon his uncle, both of whom seemed to have left little trace of their early lives, though we do know Dolan was the young mans last name and that he testified at the inquest that he was not a real nephew but had been made 'heir in law.'

Lady Don seems to have been very fond of him, for which I shall ever hold her in high esteem.

John Hall Wilton, Manager (1820—1862)

Mr. J.Hall Wilton was a mysterious figure, little known but regularly mentioned, here and there. He was an adventurous spirit and his 'nephew' —well, who wasn't his nephew, was something else entirely, but that is another story, but here is a reminiscence from "Hayseed" of 1909 about the long since passed Mr. Hall:—
"Apropos Mr. G. V. Brooke and Mr. Barry Sullivan, the agent for the former, Mr. J. Hall Wilton, was also agent for the latter. I believe it was was under Mr. Wilton's auspices - that Mr. Barry Sullivan came to us. Mr. Wilton had been a soldier, and had seen service in India. He was not a ‘'carpet warrior," nor one that had "never sent a squadron in the field." 
He was a participator in most of the disastrous events occured in Scinde, Baloochistan, and Afghanistan during 1838-1839 and 1840—1843 and during the whole of that time he kept a daily journal, which detailed many thrilling circumstances, considered, perhaps, by many as too trivial for the public mind, but being connected wiih the murders, assassinations, treacheries, etc., of individuals whose near; and dear friends, no doubt, are to this day unacquainted with the particulars of them, and as there may be many thousands of such friends, they will, perhaps, prove doubly interesting to them, as also to the reader generally; and if the brief and simple statements of these facts:—
"…from personal observation, will thus tend to aid the same, and at the same time give any satisfaction to my friends, I am willing to do my utmost trusting never to be considered unworthy of their kindness. 
I shall in a few chapters arrange so as to give a plain, narrative of tbs principal and most interesting events, and give in them some incidents that will, no doubt, induce the memory to reflect on their miseries and results—not forgetting the murder of Captain Hand, the burning to death of three British officers, description of the Indus, Dadur, Hydrebad. Sukher, the much talked-of passes, the Bolun, Gundavie, Mysore. Kojuk, Tezeen, Jugdulluk. Gundamuck, Jellalabad, Khiva, Rohawa, the Punjab; also the battles at Dadur, Kunda, Candahar, Baba Walla, Killa Seuk, I Cilzie, Gownie, Ghurze, Mindan, Cabool, Istaliff, Jellalabad, Aii Mesjid, Meeanee and Hyderabad; the principal operations of Generals Brookes, Keane, Wiltshire, Sale, Nott, Pollock,McCaskill, England and Charles Napier: the army under Lord Ellensborough; the massacre of the Cabool army, Sir W. Macnaughton, Sir A. Burns; the prisoners under Shoomsood Dien Khan, and his cousin Akhbar Khan. Lady Sale and Lady McNaughton; the Bing of Cabool and the Amire of Scinde.” as detailed in his introductory chapter in his book “Scenes in a Soldier's Life, being a connected narrative of the principal military events in Scinde, Ballochistan, and Afghanistan during the years 1839, 1840 1841,11842. 1843, and 1843. under Generals Lord Keane, Brooks. Sir Robert Sale, Wiltshire, Pollock, Nott. England. McGaskill and Sir Ciiarles Napier!" Mr. Wilton was also the author of many other works “Ethaldi”— “The Ouesii” — “The Deserters”— “The First Cause” —The First Crime” —“True Friendship,”— “The Darling Wife” etc. To this gentleman we are indebted for the introduction of Sir William and Lady Don, Sir. Barry Sullivan,  and other notable personages  
He died wider melancholy circumstances at Tattersalls Hotel, Pitt-Street, Sydney. December 18, 1862, but is kept in kindly memory by those who had the pleasure of his acquaintance  A nephew, in no way a reflex of the uncle was agent for Lady Don on her second visit to Australia, and he was agent, if I mistake not, for G. V. Brooke, just prior to his leaving England in the ili-fated London. 
Weybert Reeve, in his little hook, “From Life'' (1831), gives an insight into the nephew's style. In a reference to G. V. Brooke, Mr. Reeve says:—'Years then passed over: he had been to Australia, and had made a name there, and at one time, as he told me, had a great deal of money, £50,000, and lost it in the Theatre Royal, Melbourne, and Cremorne Gardens. He came hack to England, and we met in the same theatre again, the Royal at Sheffield, of which I was then manager for Mr. Charles Pitt. He brought with him Miss Avonia Jones and Mr. Richard Younge, but he was far from being the Brooke of the. Olympic, and the engagement was not a Successful one. We decided, however, to play him at the Theatre, Newcastle-on-Tyne two or three months later on. I took the company over. Miss Jones was there, when to my horror I received a telegram on the morning he was to have appeared, from his agent, Mr. Wilton, 'Brooke arrested: send money to release him, or cannot play.' I sent the money, but he did not arrive until Wednesday. It was then too late; the engagement was ruined, and a considerable loss was the result. His share for the nine nights was nothing like enough to pay his expenses, and I had to provide the deficiency. Generous to a fault, others reaped whatever harvest his engagements, produced." Miss Jones and Mr. Younge had left for Manchester; he had to pay the hotel bill, and whilst asking me to let him have the money to do so, I could not help noticing his agent’s wife, sitting an the room elegantly dressed, with diamond rings on her lingers, nursing a pet Italian greyhound. There would be his journey to Manchester. I would gladly have paid this, too, but I would not pay for his hangers-on, so I arranged with the stationmaster that they should go through on the security of their luggage. Miss Jones to release it on their arrival' I am under the impression that the nephew died in indigence, or under peculiar circumstances."

Brooke versus Keene

"While in Australia Mr. G. V. Brooke added to his long list of impersonations two of importance—Louis XI, and Sir Bernard Harleigh in J. Palgrave Simpson's one-act drama "Dreams of Delusion," a piece adapted from the French drama, "Eile Est Folle.” 
The piece was originally produced by amateurs at Thurloe Place, West Brampton, in 1853, Palgrave Simpson sustaining the leading part—a mad baronet. Later on it was played at Laura Keene's Theatre, New York (1856) when Laura played the leading female part —Lady Viola Harleigh. The play was again produced at the Howard Atheneum in 1858. 
Brooke produced it in 1860 or 1861 at the Theatre Royal, Melbourne, and made a huge success of the character—one it may be said, entirely new to him, it being that of a man who is under the delusion that he has murdered a friend. In Louis XL the study was also original (1853). He produced it while Charles Kean was running the play at the Princess, London. I saw Charles Kean in it on the occasion of his appearance at the Haymarket Theatre, Melbourne — in 1863. 
Nothing could be more distinct than the two impersonations. 
Charles was active, cunning, alert in everything;  Brooke made the monarch old, decrepit, superstitious, at times in terror. In the scene with Nemours, when they are alone, Brooke grovelled, Kean trembled. Each might have been on the stage at the end at the same and the spectator would not have known that each was playing Louis XI. 
Charles Dillon, on April 6, 1863, made his first appearance in Sydney as Louis XI., its first performance in the city; but I was not there to see. We will talk about Charles Dillon later on. I saw him In my native Dublin. as a boy, and have pleasing memories of him as an actor." — by "Hayseed" Nov 1909.