The Popular Playhouse and Authority


From the "North Wales Chronicle" (published Bangor, Wales), Saturday, May 14, 1859


"Augusta LIVERMORE, aged 36, of 56, Ossulston-street, Somers Town, described as of no occupation, was brought up on a warrant, executed by Mr Superintendent LOXTON of the S division, charged, at Clerkenwell, with keeping and using a certain house in Middlesex-street, Somers Town, parish of St Pancras, as an unlicensed theatre, where stage plays were performed, and into which admission was obtained by payment of money; and

Thomas TOMLINSON, 59, of 90, Fetter-lane, Holborn, money-taker;
John WARD, 26, of 6, Little Crescent-street, Euston-square, smith;
Henry COLLINS, 24, of 26, Ossulston-street, Somers Town, photographic artist;
William DALE, 36, of 45, James-street, New-cut, photographic artist;
James BURTON, 33, of 6, Upper Fitzroy-place, Euston-road, vocalist;
Harriet WAITE, of 131, East-street, Kennington-road, vocalist;
Maria BULLEY, 38, of 27, Little George-street, Hampstead, vocalist;
Joseph FORSE, of 23, Middlesex-street, Somers Town, carpenter;
Joseph GIBBONS, 25, of 2, Oxford-row, Agar Town, costermonger;
Benjamin TILBURY, 38, of 22, Middlesex-street, Somers Town, bricklayer;
Daniel GILES, 53, Stone-yard, Agar Town, painter;
Alfred COLE, 17, of 1, Spider's-grove, Hastings-street, errand boy; and
Frederick WILLIS, 28, of 19, Brill-terrace, Somers Town,

were charged with being found in an unlicensed theatre, in Middlesex-street, where stage plays were being performed, and into which admission was gained by money. Mr Superintendent LOXTON, S division, was present to watch the case on behalf of the commissioners of police; Mr LEWIS defended the prisoners.

- For some time past complaints have been made at this court, and to the police of the nuisance arising from large numbers of young girls and boys visiting the above place of amusement, which was well-known as the "Somers Town Penny Gaff." In many cases where boys and girls have been charged at this court with petty thefts they have stated that they have taken the things for the purpose of raising the money to visit it. The parents have complained most bitterly, and in consequence the matter was taken up, and on Monday a warrant having been granted by the commissioners of police, was placed in the hands of Mr Superintendent LOXTON, who, with a body of police, entered the place and apprehended the above parties. The case excited a great deal of interest, and the court and its approaches were crowded to excess.

- Evidence having been given showing that there was a stage, scenery, footlights, &c., Mr LOXTON stated that when he entered he foudn between 300 and 400 young people in the place. There were generally three performances of a night, each performance being visited by about 300 persons of different sexes.

- Police-constable KINDON, 173 S, proved visiting the house, and gave a very graphic description of the performances. Several times the performers spoke, and on many occasions a regular dialogue was carried on. Sometimes the performers explained the piece by dumb show. The piece being performed last evening was Three-Fingered Jack. Mr LEWIS contended that the case must fail, as they were not stage plays that were being performed, and the performers only made use of dumb motions.

- Mr CORRIE said that what the commissioners wanted was a decision as to whether these plays were stage plays or not. Now, he should hold that if there was no dialogue it was still a stage play. There was no definition in the present act of parliament of what a stage play was; but in the 6th and 7th Vict., the word "pantomime" occurred. The amount of the fine he should inflict was not of so much consequence as the putting a stop to those places, and this he was determined to do. If the parties were brought before him again he should send them to the House of Correction. He should order the defendant LIVERMORE, who had acted as the proprietor, to pay a fine of £2, and the others he would discharge with a caution.

- The money was at once paid."

1861 census: 12, Cobden Terrace, Hackney, London, Middlesex
Benjamin TILBURY age 34 b. St Morris Parish Winchester; Head, spouse of Susan; Bricklayer
Susan TILBURY age 30 b. Great Barrington Gloucester; Wife of Benjamin; Laundress

Benjamin TILBURY d. 1Q 1869 age 43 (Pancras 1b/24)

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