Note: Horatio says in his Autobiography that 'this article was grossly inacurate-and, in some parts indeed, laughably false- from beginning to end.' But it is still interesting and in parts does agree with Horatio's autobiography and other details on this site.
"PARSONS was born a comic actor; the tones of his voice and the muscles of his face proclaim it; his humour is genuine and pleasant; nobody can forbear laughing either with him or at him, whenever he opens his mouth."
This description of the original Sir Fretful Plagiary might stand for that of the "Man you Know" for the present week. FREDERICK HORATIUS LLOYD is a comedian to his finger tips. Other men are actors on occasion. They can by turns be Anthony or Macbeth, Toby Belch or Toby Lumpkin, but LLOYD is always LLOYD. No exertion is needed on his part to make us laugh, either with or at him. For over a generation he has only had to show his face on the stage in order to set the house into fits. Mr LLOYD is the son of a hatter, who migrated in the first years of the century from Beverley, in Yorkshire, to the great metropolis, where our hero was born in the year 1805 (see note bottom of page.) Tradition avers that he came into the world while the bells of St. Paul's were tolling for the obsequies of the hero of Trafalgar; hence his handsome and historical name of HORATIUS. He was bred in boyhood to the paternal trade, but he had aspirations to cock a beaver rather than to dress one, and the fact that his father's shop was next door to the Pavilion Theatre in Whitechapel soon turned these aspirations towards the stage. As usual, some time was spent in amateur work; but he gradually gravitated towards the regular stage, and in 1829 we find him a member of Mr Nicholson's company at the Newcastle Theatre Royal. He only remained here, however, for one season. His next engagement was in our own city. In November, 1830, Mr F. H. LLOYD accepted the onerous post of second low comedian under Mr J. H. Alexander at the Theatre Royal, Dunlop Street.
Alec, as every old playgoer knows, always kept the fat for himself; but LLOYD was still young at the profession, and he could endure being sat upon. During his stay at Dunlop Street on this occasion, which lasted over a couple of seasons, he was greatly noted for his trim, dapper appearance, His daily lounge, after rehearsal, was in front of the Buck's Head or Black Bull, where, he used to be pointed out to the passengers by the numerous stage coaches which started from one or other of these famous hostelries.
Right - Horatio Lloyd image from 'The Bailie' No.177 Glasgow, Wednesday March 8th 1876, - Courtesy James Francis.
From Glasgow LLOYD found his way to Edinburgh, where he joined the Theatre Royal (that academy for actors) under W. H. Murray. His style, however, did not hit the Modern Athenians very hard. One of the critics remarked that he was " Mr LLOYD from London," and pointed out to him that the cheapest way of returning to the metropolis was by the Leith smack, which went twice a week - weather permitting! The hint was not taken; but perhaps it did the young actor no harm, since the quality of his acting gradually improved, and his stay in Edinburgh lasted from twelve to fourteen years.
During this period he renewed his acquaintance with Glasgow every now and then by appearing for a night or two as a star. On one occasion he assumed the role of management for a dozen nights, having hired the theatre from Mr Alexander; but a hitch of some kind or other took place between landlord and tenant, which resulted in LLOYD laying his story before the public in the form of a pamphlet. Alexander quickly followed suit, and with such vigour as to knock LLOYD fairly out of time, and cause him to retire from the field with something of the air of a well licked puppy. This, as may be easily understood, concluded his conection with Alec. Not long afterwards, however, Prince Miller erected the Adelphi at the foot of the Saltmarket, and the "Man you know" made his bow on several occasions to Mr Miller's friends as the eminent comedian from Edinburgh.'
In 1849 Mr Edmund Glover opened the Prince's Theatre, West Nile Street, with an excellent company, the first low comedian of which was the " Man you Know." Two years afterwards - in 1851 - W. H. Murray retired from the management of the Edinburgh Theatre, and LLOYD, ever ambitious, leapt into the breach. A few months, however, sufficed to show that a man may be a clever actor, and yet a very indifferent manager. Some general knocking about followed this contretemps and in 1854 we find him back in Glasgow with Mr Edmund Glower, who was lessee and manager of the Theatre Royal, Dunlop Street. Twelve months afterwards he joined " little Cockerel " as co-lessee of a bandbox of a place at the head of Dunlop Street. This concern, however, did not last, and "Frederick Horatius" once more found a haven in the "Royal."
In 1858 Mr LLOYD took his "farewell of the stage as an actor," on account, as he stated, of his being unable to make a living by his profession. Together with his son Arthur, the champion comique, he started a species of "drawing-room entertainment," but this did not flourish. While on the boards he used to complain that he could never invite a friend to dinner; now he sometimes discovered that he could not even invite his own self to supper.
Yet another time, accordingly, he had to turn his face towards Mr Glover, and yet another time a place was made for him in the Royal company in Dunlop Street. At Mr Glover's too early death he remained with his trustees, and afterwards with Mr William Glover and Mr Francis when these gentlemen assumed the reins of management.
In 1869 the new Theatre Royal in Cowcaddens was opened, but Mr LLOYD did not appear often on its stage, and since his connection with the Royal has been severed he does not seem to have had any very permanent theatrical connection. Now he was beard of at a Music Hall, now at a county gathering, now as an entertainer at a soiree, and not long ago he was even heard of at a Tea Garden, where his dinner formed a part of his remuneration. Fortunately he has for some time held a position in Mr Bernard's Gaiety Company, and it is to he hoped that this post will long be open to him.
In certain characters Mr LLOYD has not only no superior but he is even without any equal. Most of his inspiration, however, is drawn from older men. His Tony Lumpkin, and Bob Acres, and Major Galbraith, and Mock Duke recal W. H. Murray, while his Touchstone and Verges suggest the Touchstone and Verges of old Mackay. To certain of his readers the BAILIE'S sketch of this "evergreen'' (See Right) may appear somewhat overdrawn; he may seem to have "something extenuated," but this, he submits, is a pardonable offence. Mr LLOYD has given pleasure to a couple of generations of men, he is continuing to give pleasure, and then, as the old saw says, " It's best aye to joke at leisure; Ye kenna wha may jibe at yoursel'."
Article and image from 'The Bailie' No.177 Glasgow, Wednesday March 8th 1876, - Courtesy James Francis.
(Note that in several articles on this site Horatio's birth is stated variously as 1805, 1808, 1809 and 1815. The correct date is the 9th of November 1807. I have details of his Christening at St. Sepulchre, Newgate, London on the 25th December 1807 with his brother George Thomas Lloyd which states his date of birth as 1807.)
You may find the following pages from this site of interest: