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Harry Powell Lloyd - Arthur Lloyd's Grandson


The following article was written by Arthur Lloyd's Grandson Harry Powell Lloyd in 1979. The Article was later transcribed by his nephew Norman King Lloyd in 1998 and put on his own website about the Lloyd / King family, sadly this is no longer online although parts of it are available in archive form here.

Harry was born in London in 1900 and followed the family tradition to become an actor himself. He performed in many productions around the country over the years and was lucky enough to have even met Arthur Lloyd shortly before he died and remarks on this in the article along with a brief history of Arthur's career. Harry also goes into some detail on Arthur's father in Law, the famous tragedian, T. C. King. Harry Powell Lloyd died on the 26th of August 1987.

When my cousin, Norman King Lloyd, transcribed Harry's article onto the web in 1998 there were parts missing or unreadable, and some obvious errors in the text, but these are marked as such, some with annotations. Not wanting this article to disappear completely I have now added it to this site and made some annotations of my own. I have not changed the text of the article but have added some images to illustrate the words. M. L. 2012.

Reminiscences of The Lloyd / King Theatre Families By Harry Powell Lloyd, 12th of December 1979

Transcribed and Edited by Norman King Lloyd in 1998, updated by Matthew Lloyd in 2012

There are not so many claimants to membership of theatrical families in Britain and it occurred to me that this has something to do with the one-time unpopularity of what has only last hundred years or a little longer perhaps, become known as ‘The Theatrical Profession’.

Before Irving was knighted in 1895, the stage was only just beginning to be accepted as equally professional with, ‘The Army, The Navy, The Church ....’ and even the Legal Profession had not been that highly regarded. How often one reads of ‘Pettifogging lawyers’ and ‘Old Mr Six and Eight-Pence’, that being the standard fee for consulting a solicitor. In spite of actors such as Garrick, Kemble, Mrs Siddons, and Edmund Kean, who really did begin as a vagabond if not a rogue, and his Eton educated son Charles, the Terry family and others, there was still a feeling that the stage was not a fit calling for ladies and gentlemen. Insecurity may have been a factor in this assessment because it was so easy for a celebrated artist to have a bad patch and to plunge from the heights of affluence to the depths of poverty and to be owing money all over the place. The ‘Profession’ was regarded as being ‘not too careful over its morals’ and actors would live in style when in funds, largely to keep up a show, and putting little aside for that ‘bad patch’.

It had taken several hundred years for the ‘profession’ to struggle out of the ‘rogue and vagabond’ class in which they had been placed by the law and the church. Many a strolling player had finished up his attempt to bring a little entertainment into a town or hamlet, with a spell in the pillory, or a night in the stocks or worse. It may be that this bad name, which for so long attached to our calling, made people wary of admitting to theatrical connections. Nevertheless, having spent the better part of my life scratching a living in the theatre, I am proud of my profession and of my theatrical forebears: Two of them were quite distinguished in their own time in the last century, though they are now not much remembered.

A Carte de Visite depicting T. C. King - Kindly donated by Jennie BissetMy [1] Great-grandfather, T C King, (Thomas Chiswell King) had a quite comprehensive entry in the dictionary of ‘National Biography’ and my grandfather and his son-in-law, Arthur Lloyd, had an entry in the first ‘Oxford Companion to the Theatre, 1951’. I was sorry to see that poor old Tom King had not made this work of reference and when a new edition of the work came out in 1967, Lloyd had the distinction of having been removed.

This monumental and indispensable book, has since its first appearance often been criticised for the omission of names of artists who have given invaluable service to the British Theatre. It is, after all, a national record of our theatre and I have been astonished when needing some detail of the work of a particular player... for instance, Ion Swinley or Hay Petrie, two great Shakespeareans… to find no entry for them.

These two players, and others, helped to make theatre history at the ‘Vic’ in late ‘twenties’ and ‘thirties’. I venture to think that Hay Petrie will go down in history with the other great clowns such as Kempe and Liston in spite of the fact that you will not find him in the ‘Oxford’. To be left out of the ‘Oxford’ is no disgrace but to be at first put in and then removed, as Lloyd was, is rather unkind.

Right - A Carte de Visite depicting T. C. King - Kindly donated by Jennie Bisset.

Lloyd is always remembered by writers on the history of the Music-hall and is often referred to as the last of the ‘Lions Comiques’. (Missing Line!) [2]…the banks of the river Severn in the England of King William lV could have been so bitten by the theatre bug as to want to go on the stage and to know how he went about it. He could have seen strolling players in Tewkesbury or even as far away as Gloucester or Worcester. Be that as it may, by the time he was 22 and in 1840, it is recorded that he joined the Company of Alexander Lee, the Ballad composer to support Mrs Harriet Waylett in one act drama’s and operetta’s in Cheltenham, Worcester, Warwick and Leamington.” It was in this same year 1840, that he married and added her name to his own... Thomas Chiswell King. He had previously been Thomas Charles and I cannot think why he needed to change the Charles into Chiswell because he never used it and was always billed as T. C. King. He was, as previously mentioned, popularly and affectionately known as Tom King though he should not be confused with another Tom King who had been Sheridan’s stage manager at Drury Lane some half-century earlier. His gravestone in the churchyard of the village of Claines near Worcester bears the name of Thomas Charles King. King was “physically well-equipped, having a tall shapely figure, with dark expressive features and well-set eyes; his rich bass voice was flexible and resonant”. Before he was thirty he was playing what was called in the Victorian theatre: “leading business’’. That is to say he was a leading man on the circuits which preceded the touring Companies of the later years of’ the century. The circuit was based on a large town, from which smaller towns in the area were visited.

By August 1847 King was playing leading roles on the York Circuit which was one of the three or four leading principle circuits in the country and a much sought after engagement as it was considered a stepping stone to the London ‘boards’.

The exterior of the Princess's Theatre, Oxford Street - From a print dated 1851 - From 'London's lost theatres of the 19th century' by Errol Sherson.The next year, 1848, he moved to Gourlay’s, Victoria Theatre in Edinburgh where he supported Charles Kean, the already mentioned old Etonian son of the great Edmund Kean. This led to his London début for he joined Kean’s Company as ‘second tragic lead’ and made his first appearance as Basannio in ‘The Merchant of Venice’. [20].

Left - The exterior of the Princess's Theatre, Oxford Street - From a print dated 1851 - From 'London's lost theatres of the 19th century' by Errol Sherson.

Kean’s management of the Princess’s theatre in or off Oxford Street was a memorable one, especially for his production of Shakespeare and incidentally for the first use of limelight. This enabled Kean to stage some thrilling spectacles such as the burning of the palace of Sardanapolous in the play of that name. Queen Victoria was a visitor to Kean’s productions at the Princess’s and the Company were invited to Windsor to perform [3]‘As You Like It’.

The Original 1821 Theatre Royal in Hawkins Street, DublinIt was late in 1851, when King, engaged for the first time as leading man, made the first of his many appearances in Dublin, under the management of John Harris. This was at the old ‘Theatre Royal’. This was a magnificent porticoed theatre which came to its end as so many other Victorian theatres did, by fire, in 1880.

Right - The Original 1821 Theatre Royal in Hawkins Street, Dublin.

King’s first role in Dublin was Colonel Buckthorne in ‘Love in a Maze’ and he soon became an abiding favourite in the City. In his first five Dublin seasons, he played the lead in fifteen of Shakespeare’s plays as well as in many others. He also played ‘leading support’ to Samuel Phelps, Helen Faucit and Mrs Glyn. In March 1856, he [4] seceded abruptly from the Theatre Royal and on April 14th began a three-weeks engagement at the Queen’s theatre, Dublin, making a great success as Hamlet. In October of that year (1856) he went to Birmingham, where in a varied repertory of plays he had one of his greatest successes as Quasimodo in ‘Esmerelda’. He was also much admired as John Mildmay in ‘Still waters Run Deep’. In July 1857, he was in Manchester in association with Miss Marriott and Robert Roxby. After this he returned to Birmingham to play Hamlet and Mephistopheles in Dion Boucicault’s version of ‘Faust and Marguerite’ which played for 48 nights at a profit of £2,000 (To-day’s money about £120,000). But Dublin seemed to call him more strongly than anywhere else and his… (unreadable)… [17] theatre was under the management of Harry Webb who understood his ‘larrikin’ audience and gorged them with programmes which lasted for hours. King was his leading man and ‘an actor…’ according to Laurence Irving in his biography of his grandfather Sir Henry Irving… ‘ one of the Barry Sullivan school and a great favourite with Dublin audiences.’ The juvenile lead in the Company was a local actor called George Vincent… ‘the darling of the ‘Queen’s’ patrons…’ For some long forgotten act of insubordination Vincent was dismissed by Webb, the Manager. Vincent who had a wife of independent means, did not have to worry about being out of employment and had enough money to spend congenial evenings in the ale houses. He would stand treat all round and he recruited a gang of hooligans who were hired to go up into the ‘Queen’s’ gallery and give his successor a [5] warm reception. Webb had engaged a young and unknown actor from London to take over the juvenile roles and hoped that being a stranger to Dublin, there would be no trouble. [18] The name of the young actor from London was Irving and his first role was Cassio to King’s, Othello. Now Cassio had not been one of Vincent’s parts and at Irving’s first appearance there was no trouble. Irving writing to his friend J L Toole said that he had received great applause. The uproar began when Irving appeared in one of Vincent’s parts and when on March 12th, [18] King was playing Hamlet and Irving was the Laertes, the ‘boys in the gallery’ created havoc every time he came on the stage. Bram Stoker, author of Dracula and later Irving’s manager and biographer, said in his personal reminiscences of Irving… ‘hisses and cat-calls, stamping and thumping of sticks were the universal accompaniment of his speech. Almost to the end of his engagement of several weeks duration, he was not allowed to say one word without interruption.’

Stoker makes it quite clear that these demonstration were not against Irving personally and that anyone who replaced their favourite would have been treated in the same way. He added that… ‘with some shameful remnant of fair play they treated him well the last two night’s of his engagement and cheered him.’

An old Dublin friend of mine Jim Bourke, of the celebrated theatrical family, has called this, ‘Irving’s baptism of fire’ and to quote Bram Stoker again… ‘It was not until after a quarter of a century of unbroken successes that Irving could bear to speak of it. Not even the consciousness of his own innocence in the whole affair could quell the mental disturbance which it caused him whenever it came back to his thoughts.’

Bill for a Benefit for T.C. King, at the National Standard Theatre, Shoreditch. - Click to EnlargeIrving himself gave in an interview in the Strand Magazine over thirty years later a strange and somewhat different account of this unhappy experience… ‘Many years ago I was playing in Dublin and was suddenly called upon to undertake a ‘heavy’ part… the actor who was cast for it having been taken ill. In those days your ‘gallery boy’ was a much greater conversationalist than he is now… I mean, if a couple of gallery friends were separated, they thought nothing of holding a conversation across the House while the play was in progress… “Is that him?…” “Eh?…” shouted one youth to another. “No…” came the reply… “Them is the young man’s clothes, they’ll shove him out later on!”

Left - A Bill for a Benefit for T.C. King, at the National Standard Theatre, Shoreditch - Click to enlarge. The poster is one of a large collection of original Lloyd Posters collected since the mid 1800s by members of the family and found recently after being lost for 50 years. To see all these posters click the Poster Index here.

…(missing text)… Sullivan, the supreme favourite of the Dublin audiences, had played leading roles for years and Irving who was not playing the same parts but was there in support of King who was the star tragedian of the season. This can only be accounted as prejudice on Shaw’s part who was a devoted admirer of Sullivan but was never greatly impressed by Irving. It would be interesting to know what King's reactions were to the whole sorry affair but as far as I know nothing was ever put on record. King must have felt embarrassed to have to play the great tragedy roles, Hamlet, Othello, Lear and Macbeth interspersed with uproar every time Irving came on stage.

After this, King embarked on a period of what has been called ‘splendid strolling’ which lasted for six or seven years; touring in fact. He made occasional visits to Dublin and was at the Theatre Royal in 1867 playing in addition to his Shakespearean roles, Richelieu in Lytton’s play of that name and in ‘The Streets of London’.

A sketch of the original auditorium and stage of the Fourth Theatre Royal Drury Lane as seen from the uppermost box during a performance of 'Little Bo Peep, Little Red Riding Hood, and Hop-O' My Thumb' in 1892. The scene on stage was 'The Grand Hall of a Million Mirrors at the Prince's Palace - From the Graphic, 31st December 1892

Above - A sketch of the original auditorium and stage of the Fourth Theatre Royal Drury Lane as seen from the uppermost box during a performance of 'Little Bo Peep, Little Red Riding Hood, and Hop-O' My Thumb' in 1892. The scene on stage was 'The Grand Hall of a Million Mirrors at the Prince's Palace - From the Graphic, 31st December 1892.

In 1869 he was in London again and at this time at Drury Lane Theatre Royal under the management of F B Chatterton. Here, he played Richelieu again with his daughter Bessie King as his leading lady in the role of Julie de Mortemar - her London début. They were both favourably received and King went on to play Hamlet, William in ‘Black Eyed Susan’, and alternating with Charles Dillon - Othello and Iago. He also created the role of Varney in Andrew Halliday’s, ‘Amy Robsart’. His daughter Bessie played several of the leading roles during the season with considerable success. After two years at Drury Lane, King went to the [6]Adelphi at Easter 1871 to create the role of Quasimodo in Andrew Halliday’s new version of Hugo’s, ‘Notre Dame’, which ran uninterruptedly until November and was then revived at Christmas. King was a well-built man and he had a metal and leather harness made for these performances which checked any possibility of forgetting that he was a squat deformed figure and forgetfully standing up to his full height. It must have been a self-imposed torture to go through a performance of three or four hours wearing this contraption. Matinée days, which in the Victorian theatre could be two or even three times a week, must have been doubly irksome. In the early 1870’s he was for a time at the Old Vic where one of his most successful roles was William, in ‘Black-Eyed Susan’. It has been recorded that in an accident one night with a lighted candle had the misfortune to burn the black bushy eyebrows for which he was celebrated. In between London engagements he took to ‘strolling’ again in the years 1871 - 1873.

His American début was in New York at the Lyceum theatre on 27 October 1873. Among a number of successful roles his Quasimodo was an outstanding success. This was followed by a tour of Canada, though how many towns or centres there were in that country of vast distances and over one-hundred years ago, where a repertory of Shakespeare’s plays would meet with appreciation, is not recorded. He returned to England to his ‘strolling’ and managing in 1878-1880. For a time, he was lessee and Manager of the Worcester theatre which I am sorry to say turned out to be an unprofitable speculation. At over sixty-years of age he was slowing down and his touring gave way to occasional appearances where he was best known. After an engagement at the ‘Queen’s’ in Manchester in 1890, he finally retired after nearly fifty-years of playing, and for most of that time in ‘heavy’ and leading roles and often burdened with management problems. He died on the 28 October 1893 at King’s Heath near Birmingham and was buried at Claines near Worcester. To sum up and mostly in the words of others… ‘King was a temperate and graceful actor who had more individuality and fewer vices of style than most conventional tragedians.’

“All these Hamlets had thunderous voices and perhaps the most thunderous vocally was tragedian T C King, whose Hamlet I often saw and heard (with no uncertain hear) especially at Drury Lane. Tom King, as most of us called him, had indeed a voice like that of an old-fashioned barnstormer of whom the manager complained that he did not draw any money into the theatre because the local public could always hear him for half-a-mile, off.” (Extract from ‘Cues and Curtain Calls’ by Chance Newton).

A photograph of T. C. King - Courtesy Norman King Lloyd.Laurence Irving in his life of his grandfather says that King was an actor of the Barry Sullivan school and quoting from the Athenaeum: ‘…his voice is musical, his pronunciation good and his attitudes well chosen and expressive. These ‘attitudes’ for the benefit of any reader who has not come across the term, were the stock poses of actors of the Victorian and earlier theatres and books were published showing how various emotions should be expressed in stance and gesture. I have one such book published in 1807. ‘Practical Illustrations of Rhetorical Gesture and Action’, adapted to the English drama from a work on the same subject by M Engel, Member of the Royal Academy of Berlin.’ This does not mean however that all tragedians and comedians merely acted by numbers; if they had done so they would have been no better than puppets. Every now and again, spontaneity must have crept in, or the actor might just have well been the ‘Übermarionette’, Gordon Craig so longed to see. Finally, George Bernard Shaw recalling his early theatre going in Dublin, as a youth, has to lug in Barry Sullivan again, when in his ‘Ellen Terry and Bernard Shaw, A Correspondence’… ‘Sullivan was as Hyperion to a satyr compared with [7]King and Coleman’. Coleman was another actor-manager. Shaw certainly had an obsession with Sullivan. But the fashions in acting are constantly changing. In this bicentenary year of the death of David Garrick, I read in my Sunday Telegraph… ‘If we could see Garrick’s farewell Hamlet, would it strike us as grandly tragic or grotesquely comic? Unwillingly, I rather suspect the latter.’ In the early 1870’s, the second and younger daughter of T C King, ‘…Katty King, a tiny damsel and one of the prettiest creatures that ever stepped upon the stage.’ (Chance Newton again). She met and worked with Arthur Lloyd. She was not twenty years old but had already been on the stage for six years. With her brother Harry King she appeared as ‘The Irish Duettists and Dancers’ at the Alhambra and other London halls. [8] They joined Arthur Lloyd’s concert party, Two Hours Genuine Fun in 1870 and after her brother’s untimely death at the age of nineteen in May 1870, Katty King played in burlesque at the Vaudeville. She married Arthur Lloyd on the 31st of July 1871 and for the rest of her short life she appeared with him in vaudeville, concert party and comedy and bore him six children. My Father - Harry, my Uncle Arthur, and my Aunts: Annie, Kate, Lilly and Dulcie.

Arthur Lloyd, in spite of his Welsh sounding name was born in Edinburgh in 1839. His parents were Stock Company actors and this probably accounts for his Scottish birth, as it is believed they came from North Wales. The Stock Companies of actors giving repertoires of… (missing text) …He was earning £6 a week. In a few years this had become £60. A truly remarkable amount in those days.

The original London Pavilion Music Hall in 1880 - Click to enlarge.Arthur Lloyd became a star at the ‘London Pavilion’ and the London Pavilion became a music-hall proper, discarding the ‘refreshment ticket’ and charging for admission largely in consequence of Arthur Lloyd’s success. In 1868, he organised a Grand Comic Entertainment which was presented by Lord Carrington before Edward, Prince of Wales, later King Edward the Seventh at Whitehall Gardens. This was the first occasion on which vaudeville artists had the honour to appear before royalty in England. Arthur Lloyd headed the ‘Bill’ and was assisted by A G Vance (the original Jolly Dog) and John Nash (Jolly John Nash). We are told that a feature of Arthur Lloyd’s style was his mastery of repartée and that it was a special feature of his ‘Act’. This tradition of repartée has been followed through the years and in our own times by such performers as Max Miller, Tommy Trinder and Bruce Forsyth. The Prince of Wales at the 1868Royal Entertainment’ was reported to have been highly amused at the display of humour. Jimmy Glover, ‘Master of the Music at Drury Lane Theatre’ wrote in his 1911 autobiography… ‘Perhaps the most daring efforts of impromptu minstrelsy was when the late Arthur Lloyd sang before the late King (then Prince of Wales) when HRH was in the chair at a smoking concert of the Royal Amateur Orchestral Society…

“I must now award a word of praise, to a guest

Who’s sitting there. I mean that worthy person

Who so ably fills the chair. See how sweetly now

He smiles, as pleasant as can be…”

It’s the sort of smile I read about but seldom see’, added Glover ‘ This sort of versification was once very popular… the singer came on, demanded a word or subject from the audience and immediately improvised a verse.’ In these days of television, when we are constantly shown royalty in all moods, it may seem difficult to realise that until quite recent years very few people were ever close enough to the Royal Family to see them smiling. Before he was thirty Arthur Lloyd was at the top of his profession and in demand not only at the London Pavilion but at all the other famous London halls, the ‘Tivoli’, the ‘Canterbury’ and the ‘Oxford’, and he would, as did so many of the stars of the day, perform at [9]two of the ‘halls’ on the same evening; rushing in their ‘‘growlers’’ from one to the other - the Hackney carriage or taxi of the mid-Victorian age.

Arthur Lloyd's The German Band He wrote most of the songs himself - over two-hundred of them, though he was not quite as Harold Scott wrote in his ‘Early Doors’ ‘the face that launched a thousand song covers but his face was expressive, heavy, yet lit by a smile with a charming dimple in his cheeks. Concannon’s portrait of him singing his German Band song is fully suggestive of the character of the man.’

Left - Arthur Lloyd's The German Band - Click to Enlarge.

Arthur Lloyd's Married to a Mermaid - Click to Enlarge.The colourful, lithographed covers by Concannon and other artists were turned out in their thousands and helped to sell the songs. They are now much sought after by collectors. Most of them show the original singer of the song in character, as for instance the Arthur Lloyd, ‘Married to a Mermaid’ song which shows him dressed as a mid-Victorian ‘Jack Tar’ on the sea bed, talking to a mermaid and observed by goggle-eyed passing fishes!

Right - Arthur Lloyd's Married to a Mermaid - Click to Enlarge.

Aurthur Lloyd's Not For Joe - Click to Enlarge.His most famous hit number ‘Not for Joe’ shows him on the cover as Joseph Baxter, the character whose sentiments he expresses in the verses of the song.

Left - Aurthur Lloyd's Not For Joe - Click to Enlarge.

Many of Arthur Lloyd’s songs were based on observation of characters and everyday things around him. The original Joseph Baxter was the driver of an open-topped, horse drawn omnibus which plied between Brixton, where Lloyd lived and the City of London. Baxter was well-known for his running commentaries on ‘topicality’s’ and outside passengers would try and get a seat near him and up front in the bus so that they could hear what he had to say. The verse of the song told a tale and each chorus came in with a chuckle…

‘Not for Joe, Not for Joe,

If he knows it, not for Joseph,

No, no, no, not for Joe,

Not for Joseph, Oh dear No!’

Between each verse and chorus came a little bit of patter followed by a new tale… a friend had tried to get him off with a widow… ‘only forty-two!’ to which Joe replied:

‘Fancy, forty-two, old enough to be me

Grandmother: And you know a fellow can’t

Marry ’is Grandmother… lots of fun though

And pretty and forty-two!…

No, no, no, not for Joe etc.’

This song which sold over 100,000 copies and ‘Not for Joe’ became a catchword for many years when a light-hearted question could be answered with an equally light-hearted: ‘Not for Joe. Oh dear No!’ It has been sung in recent years and as recently as January 1976 when Roy Hudd sung it to great aplomb in one of his music-hall programmes. The Mermaid song, previously mentioned has been used several times in recent years and the words are by Thackeray. I first heard it on a programme of Joseph Cooper’s called ‘Cavalcade of Song’ and sung by Alfie Bass, it rubbed shoulders with Balfe’s, ‘When other Lips’ and Handel’s, ‘Largo’. I have heard it several times this last year, notably by Ian Wallace in ‘My Music’ and by John Rawnsley, who sung it with a group.

‘Marry-ed, to a Mermy-ed, at the bottom the

Deep blue sea… singing Rule Britannia… etc’.

* I have just heard ‘The King’s Singers’ singing ‘Married to a Mermaid’ on BBC in a close harmony arrangement. …It was Rudyard Kipling who reminded us that… ‘Old music-hall ditty’s supply a gap in the national history and people haven’t yet realised how much they had to do with national life.’

Arthur Lloyd's I Like To Be A Swell - Click to EnlargeOne of the few songs that Arthur Lloyd did not write himself: ‘I Like to be A Swell’ by Gaston Murray had an enormous success and was sung to immense applause. The cover shows Lloyd as a man-about-town with wavy hair, moustachios …? Dundreary, velvet jacket, and white waistcoat, white pantaloons and elegant-sided patent boots. He wears a topper and twirls his cane and sports a gold watch chain as he sings…

‘I like to be a Swell, to walk along Pell-Mell…’

Pell-Mell is of course the affectation pronunciation of Pall-Mall and has the advantage of rhyming with ‘Swell’. This was the forerunner of many ‘Swell’ songs which reached their culmination with ‘Burlington Bertie’.

From the establishment of the regular police force by Sir Robert Peel in 1829, there was a spate of policeman songs which came to head with Gilbert and Sullivan’s, ‘A Policeman’s Lot is Not a Happy One’. and others such as: ‘If You Want to Know the Time Ask a Policeman’ and ‘PC49 Anyone can Have This Little Job of Mine’.

(Next line missing, probably describing Arthur Lloyd’s songs) ‘The Organ Grinder’…‘Immensikov’… ‘The Roman Fall’… ‘I Fancy I Can See Her Now’… ‘The Girl Dressed in Blue’… ‘The Railway Porter’… ‘The Old Woman and her Pig’… ‘Brown the Tragedian’.

These are a few of the titles of his songs, and the last named a send-up of a tragic actor could have been based upon the observation of his father-in-law, T C King, to whose Hamlet he had once played First Gravedigger. I am almost ashamed to say that in place of Shakespeare’s: ‘A pick-axe, and a spade…’ he sung one of his own songs. This must have livened up the Graveyard Scene and I cannot imagine one of our modern Hamlet’s allowing a comedian… Shakespeare calls him a clown… to bring the house down just before his: ‘Alas, poor Yorick’ speech. But according to historians of the Victorian theatre, this kind of thing could happen. This particular performance was a ‘benefit’ for King and no doubt Arthur Lloyd thought it perfectly legitimate to help boost his father-in-law’s treasury. He may have had a ‘Gravedigger Song’ up his sleeve or in the repertory; though I have found no record. In the long catalogue of his songs there are many that might be called: Occupational Ditties.

The cover of ‘The Old Woman and her Pig’ shows Arthur Lloyd skipping along and pulled by a pig which he has on a rope and which is tied to its back leg. He is in ‘drag’, traditional witches outfit, the Welsh type, Cartref hat, a wide-panniered skirt and apron. It amused me that when half-a-century later, I sung The Witch in Humperdinct’s opera Hansel and Gretel, I wore the same kind of outfit myself at the Old Vic and Sadler’s Wells.

In his early middle-age, Arthur Lloyd began to have managerial ambitions and when he was thirty-five in 1874, he became lessee of the Queen’s theatre, Dublin. He kept the lesseeship for nearly [10] two years but he must have been away from Dublin a good deal of the time, in and out of London and singing his songs up and down the Country. He has been credited with having been the inventor of the ‘Concert Party’ and his ‘Road Show’ which he called [11] Mirth and Mimicry was quite a family affair. His wife Katty King was his leading lady and as his family grew older they joined him in the family show, his three daughters and two sons.

Poster for the opening night of Arthur Lloyd's Shakespeare Music Hall - October 1881 - Click to enlarge.In 1881, he extended his managerial activities by acquiring, rebuilding or building up from scratch a theatre in Glasgow. It was called: Arthur Lloyd’s music-hall or ‘The Shakespeare’ and it was in Watson Street, at Gallowgate by the Cross. He opened on 10 October 1881 and a typical program I have for the month or so later shows nine items of vocalists, dancers comedians and others, followed by item number 10 which is a new sketch by Arthur Lloyd called ‘Robinson Crusoe’ in which Grandma Katty played the title role while Lloyd himself played Dame Jane McCrusoe widow of the late Rab McCrusoe. All good clean Scottish fun with a good old English classic. Prices ranged from three-pence to one shilling but were slightly increased on Saturday. I had always understood that Lloyd built the theatre but from recent enquiries that I have made from the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, it seems that there had been a theatre on the sight before. That is why I am not quite sure if he only renovated an already existing building or if he actually rebuilt from the ground up. The previous theatre had been known as ‘The Star Music-Hall’ and it was used in the 1870’s. The late George Mozart, the comedian, begun his theatrical career in the orchestral pit of Lloyd’s theatre, playing the drums, and he wrote in his autobiography ‘Limelight’… ‘Arthur Lloyd, a great comedian of the day, built a music-hall in Glasgow and called it [12]‘The Shakespeare’.… (text missing). Lloyd had to give up in 1882 and his music-hall had again become the ‘Star music-hall’. This was later changed to the ‘New Star’, then ‘The Palace’ and finally ‘The Queen’s Theatre’. It kept this last name until its total destruction by fire in January 1952. It seems that Lloyd was not much good at the business side of show-business and he must have been much better at writing, composing and performing, for he was able by his talents to recoup his losses and rebuild his fortune.

Right - The Poster for the opening night of Arthur Lloyd's Shakespeare Music Hall, Glasgow on Monday October the 10th 1881 - Click to enlarge. The poster is one of a large collection of original Lloyd Posters collected since the mid 1800s by members of the family and found recently after being lost for 50 years. To see all these posters click the Poster Index here.

As with his father-in-law, T C King, it was now a time for Arthur Lloyd of ‘splendid strolling’ from theatre to theatre and from music-hall to music-hall, up and down and from side to side of the British Isles. Whenever he was in London, he would appear as ‘Top of the Bill’ at any of the great London Halls. In the provinces he toured his family show of ‘Mirth and Mimicry’. He wrote plays and sketches and in 1887, one of the plays - ‘Ballyvogan’ was staged at Newcastle with Katty King as Norah O’Sullivan, a part which she played over five-hundred times between 1887 -1890. On March 23, 1891, the Lloyds were playing at the ‘Gaiety theatre, Glasgow’, in one of Lloyd’s sketches: ‘An Awfu’ Laddie!’. Arthur Lloyd played Provost Mackay while Katty King played three parts: Charlie, Jack Watt and Lady Spanker Gay. This must have been one of those protean performances of dazzling quick changes so beloved of the music-hall audiences. The Lloyds had been playing at the celebrated ‘Oxford’ in London in the week before this, and in the week following they were at Moss’s‘Variety Theatre’, Edinburgh.

Katty or Kattie King died at her home in London the 2 May 1891 at the early age of thirty-nine. She had been in the ‘Profession’ for two-thirds of her life and a hard-working life it must have been. In and out of London and touring the length and breadth of the British Isles. In the twenty-years of her married life, she had given Arthur Lloyd six children; four daughters, my aunts: Lily, Anne, Kate and Dulcie and her two sons: Uncle Arthur and my father Harry. A celebrated operetta star of the period, Emily Soldene wrote of her in, ‘Theatrical and Musical Recollections’ as … ‘Pretty, demure, dark-eyed little Katty’.

It must have been a sad loss for Arthur Lloyd, not only of the wife and mother of his children but of his leading lady for twenty-years… actress, singer, dancer and good companion. Between the death of Katty Lloyd and the turn of the century Arthur Lloyd begun to make more of his solo appearances and to take things a little more easily. [13] His six children who had all performed for him at one time or another, were beginning to marry off and go their own way.

Walter Lambert's vast canvas ‘Popularity’ Held at the Museum of London. - Reproduction Courtesy the Museum of London - Photograph kindly processed by Peter Cannon

Above - Walter Lambert's vast canvas ‘Popularity’ Held at the Museum of London. - Reproduction Courtesy the Museum of London - Photograph and Key kindly processed and transcribed by Peter Cannon.

Walter Lambert's vast canvas ‘Popularity’ Held at the Museum of London. - Reproduction Courtesy the Museum of London - Photograph and Key kindly processed and transcribed by Peter Cannon.Early in the 1900’s, Walter Lambert painted a vast canvas which he called ‘Popularity’. Lambert, himself a music-hall artist, had a female impersonation act and called himself for this purpose, Lydia Dreams. This painting, measuring thirteen-feet in length and five-feet, six-inches in height, is of no great value as a work of art, but as a record of the great days of the British Music hall, it has a place in social history. It shows 231 figures, many of them instantly recognisable to any lover of the old ‘halls’; all the figures are named in a numbered key. Arthur Lloyd is seen in the lower left-hand corner of the picture talking to Charlie Coburn (The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo). Arthur Lloyd is being offered a bunch of violets by the artist’s wife who is dressed as a flower-girl while he himself is dressed in morning-coat and wearing a top hat. Most of the other artists in the picture are dressed in their stage costumes and the scene is one of the places known as ‘Poverty Corner’ where the unemployed pro’s met to swap stories and to see their agents, whose offices were in or near the Waterloo Road. There were several other… (unintelligible text) to old Waterloo Bridge… not the present bridge but Rennie’s bridge which was replaced in the 1920’s by the new Waterloo Bridge. The houses also disappeared in the late 1950’s when all the South Bank alterations were made. From where Grandfather Lloyd stands in the picture he could be looking across the road to the opposite corner of the ‘Old Vic’ which still stands there in spite of many narrow escapes of destruction which have included improvement plans, financial stringency’s and Hitler’s bombers. Arthur Lloyd would not have had any reason to think that his grandson would one day be performing on that stage.

As a very small boy, I was taken to see Grandfather Lloyd and I remember a large gentleman in frock-coat playing the bagpipes. This must have been a legacy of his Scottish birth and I was terrified. I could not have been more than three or four years old and it is one of my earliest recollections. He died in 1905 (sorry, but 1904 Ed.) at the early age of sixty-five and in spite of his managerial misadventures left a modest fortune. Divided among his six children, this did not go very far and was certainly of no benefit to his grandchildren.

None of the Lloyd children made much more than a bare living in the theatre and my father less than that at times. He had little or no success on the stage and dabbled in music and art, having studied painting and drawing somewhere or other. My [14] mother, who was an actress and dancer, I could scarcely remember. She died when I was three or four years old and our home broke up. My young sister and I were left to go from aunt to aunt and from pillar to post for the remainder of our miserable childhood. I had no idea what happened to my father after 1912 when he was working at the exhibition at the Earl’s Court or the White City… I am not sure which, called: ‘Shakespeare’s England’. He was working in the replica of an Elizabethan Round ‘O’ Theatre, which had been built to perform Shakespeare’s play in. He called for me one day and took me to the exhibition for the day. I can remember seeing him in Elizabethan costume, so I presume he was playing in the theatre there. The only relic I have of him, I came across years later and by the merest chance as I was browsing through one of those glorious book-cum-junk shops in Cecil Court off Shaftesbury Avenue. Meir or Mayer, I think the name of the shop was, or is, because I think it is still there. There were some water-colour drawings of celebrated Music-hall artists and I bought three for two pounds. I could not afford more at the time, though I have since wished that I had bought them all. The three I have are of George Robey, Dan Leno and Harry Tate; the first two dated 1905 and the last 1906. [15] They are signed Harry King Lloyd, the name he used for his drawings. One of the few recollections I have of my father is seeing him at work on a drawing-board on a table littered with pens, pencils, brushes and colours. There were also cups and saucers, ash-trays, glasses and scraps of scratch meals. It was all very bohemian and my poor father was never able to stick to one thing long enough to make a go of it.

Here we come to the end of the Lloyd - King saga for after nearly two-hundred years, there will be no-one to carry on the family traditions into another century. [16] - Harry Powell Lloyd, 1979.


[1] Surely his Grandfather. Ed.

[2] TC King referred to from hereon

[3] I believe the part to be that of the exiled Duke

[4] It would be interesting to know why!

[5] King himself had to pay for a ‘claque’ on more than one occasion. That is to say, fervent and PAID supporters of the actor

[6] Not the present building. There have been three theatres on this sight, fire having devoured the first two

[7] What a cheek!

[8] She toured with her brother in Dr Corri’s Diorama of Ireland

[9] Sometimes 4! I have a note of: Variety theatre, Holborn at 7.40pm - South London Palace at 9.00pm - Pavilion at 10pm - The Sun, Knightsbridge 10.45pm. (Ed.)

[10] Daughters, Katty and Lillian born there c1874/6

[11] I think by this time he was calling it - ‘Two Hours of Genuine Fun’ (Ed)

[12] No wonder this venture lost money with a name like this! Arthur opened it as ‘The Shakespeare’ on 10 Oct 1881 and closed it on 1 Nov 1884 owing to a false fire alarm which caused panic, resulting in 14 dead. It was finally destroyed by fire on 24 Jan 1952 (Ed)

[13] They did have another child, Emily who died in infancy in the 1870’s (Ed.)

[14] Harry Lloyd’s first wife. Her name was Margaret Leah Lloyd, late Richie formerly Day and she came from Ireland (Ed.)

[15] Where are they now? (Ed.)

The followings Annotations have been added to the text by Matthew Lloyd

[16] Harry was wrong about that for I work in Theatre myself and have done for nearly 40 years, my sister trained as an actress although no longer practices it professionally, and my cousin Norman King Lloyd who originally transcribed this article, has also trodden the boards and written plays himself. And now this website celebrates the family and their history in great and ever growing detail. M.L.

[17] The words missing from this part regarding T. C. King's arrival back in Dublin probably relate to the Queen’s Theatre where he commenced yet another short engagement on 27 July 1857. The ERA, 26 July 1857 carried the following: - 'Dublin. On Monday the celebrated tragedian, Mr T. C. King, and Miss Aitken commence a short engagement, appearing as Hamlet and Ophelia. Harry Webb lessee.'

[18] These events happend between the 5th of March and the 31st of March 1860 although the text appears to imply that it was 1857.

[20] King's first London performance was playing Shylock in 'The Merchant of Venice' at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket on the 22nd of July 1852.

Archive newspaper reports on this page were collated and kindly sent in for inclusion by B.F.

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