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David Trevor - Help

MSB

knowlegable brummie
Fascinating to pick up this thread more than 4 years after its first posting, following an impulsive Google search for 'Professor Trevori'.

David Trevor (b.1828) was my great-great-grandfather, and I have inherited a collection of news cuttings and other ephemera relating particularly to his performing career. He travelled quite widely and performed before the nobility and gentry (or at least their household staff), including at Windsor Castle during Kaiser Wilhelm's state visit, no less. I don't know if he was a well-known perfomer nationally, but we have some fragments of theatre bills and a goodly collection of information about him. However not all of it is organised as I don't yet have time to investigate him systematically. I'm descended from his son Harry, who settled in Ashby-de-la-Zouch.

If he appears in odd places in Census years, it's highly likely he was on the road performing. Also, he married three times, just to confuse things.

Neophyte - if you haven't already contacted me (two people have in the last decade or so) and you're still after additional information about Professor (aka Signor) Trevori, especially if it's genealogical research, please feel to drop me a PM via this forum. Who knows - we might be related.

Thank you to those of you who've added to my knowledge of my ancestor by contributing to this thread.
 
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Susan D

master brummie
Hello MSB,

There was some discussion on this forum a while back as to where David Trevor was buried. Do you have that information?
 

MSB

knowlegable brummie
Hi Susan D,

I'm afraid I have no information about where he was buried as I've not looked into it in detail. I can confirm that he spent part of his life in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, between the early 1870s and at least 1901 (ie Census), before returning to Birmingham in advanced old age, so Ashby might be an option.

David's only son to survive infancy, Harry, was my great-grandfather, who lived in Ashby when he wasn't serving abroad in the Army.

An earlier post in this thread claims Eliza (1861 Census) was his first wife - this isn't so.

His first wife was Jane Holtom, who died in childbirth with their infant son, David. They also had a daughter, Phoebe.
Eliza may have been his second wife but details are very sketchy - all I have so far is the Census entry claiming she was his 'wife' whilst lodging in Wiltshire. No other confirmed records about her have been found - yet.
His next wife was Elizabeth Clear Knight, from whom I'm descended via their surviving son. She probably died in childbirth with their second infant son, Ernest.
He married again, to Mary Jane Lester and she died a year before him. That was his longest marriage, and they had four surviving daughters. Their sons Frederick and Leopold died in infancy and Leopold was buried in Ashby.

If you find anything about Eliza beyond the 1861 Census entry I'd be most interested.
 
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Susan D

master brummie
Thank you for your reply MSB.

The main reason I contacted you is that a couple of years ago I decided to surprise a childhood friend by researching her and her son's family history. She had not requested it. It unexpectedly took a long time but it was the most interesting family I have come across. One of her ancestors (not direct) is your David Trevor. He was certainly a colourful character and a fascinating one and I tried to track his movements throughout his life. I have a view on mystery 'Eliza'. I think he died at 370 Green lane, Small Heath (standing, but not nicely maintained) as his death was registered at Aston 4th quarter 1916. I thought he may have been buried at St Giles churchyard, Sheldon like his sister and her husband who ran the Garrison Tavern in Garrison lane but I haven't found anything on-line and I can't go and look as do not live nearby. Although some aspects of his life are probably of public interest as he was a public figure, as I was researching my friend's family much of it is personal to her therefore I don't feel that it is appropriate for me to put large parts of it on-line. I am happy for you to have my e-mail address and we can do this off-line if you don't mind sharing yours with me and the moderators are happy to facilitate it.

Do you have a photo of David? I would love to see one.
 

mikejee

Super Moderator
Staff member
You can communicate privately using the conversation facility b y clicking on envelope symbol on the top right hand corner of the page
 

MSB

knowlegable brummie
Susan D: Please feel free to contact me using the Conversation facility as outlined by @mikejee in post #25 above. Others have already done this, to mutual benefit.

I have photos of David in later life, and line drawings from earlier promotional material, which can be scanned.

I've been delving into the wider family history in recent months, so I should have some information I can share. David looms large because of all the ephemera that's been passed down through my family.

There is a supposed Peaky Blinders link to the Garrison Tavern. Then again almost everybody in Liverpool is somehow linked to The Beatles, so it might just be Birmingham legend!
 

MWS

master brummie
If you find anything about Eliza beyond the 1861 Census entry I'd be most interested.

Been having a little look for Eliza 'Trevor' and as there doesn't appear to be a marriage for David between the death of his first wife and the 1861 census nor a death for an Eliza between the 1861 census and David's marriage to his second wife it seems as suspected they weren't actually married.

I did find an interesting candidate for Eliza. In 1861 her birth is listed as 1838 Spalding and there doesn't appear to be too many Eliza's born around that time in Spalding and most seem to stay in that area.

There is an Eliza Love though b1836 in Spalding. She is in Spalding with her parents in 1841 & 1851. However she doesn't seem to appear on the 1861 census reappearing again in 1871. By this time she has married a Henry Fisher in 1863 in London and is living in South Marston in Wiltshire.

Completely circumstantial and totally unprovable (unless David miraculously happened to be a witness on her marriage).
 
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MSB

knowlegable brummie
Thank you @MWS. Following any Elizas born in Spalding c.1833 (1861 - 28 = 1833) was on my To Do list, so you may have saved me some time there! Eliza Love marrying (again?) in 1863 and settling in Wiltshire only 12 miles away in South Marston makes her strong candidate for being David's companion in Ramsbury in 1861, but as yet there's no evidence of them being married in the formal sense.

It's possible that David was on tour in 1861, and only lodging temporarily in Wiltshire, whilst his 8 year old daughter Phoebe was left with Aunt and Grandma at 356 Nechells Park Road. Interestingly David has younger brother Joseph (age 20, a Baker) with him, possibly as an assistant. However, David is listed as a 'Boarder' which is crossed out and replaced with 'Head' (of household) so I'm not sure if that implies a more permanent residence. In 1881 he was touring in South Wales and was listed as boarding at an inn in Merthyr Tydfil - he spent a lot of time on the road.

I suppose the simplest explanation for 1861 is David had a short-lived marriage to a lady called Eliza, for which records are elusive. Other options include a transcription or recording error by the enumerator (who has spelt 'Spalding' incorrectly), possibly with Eliza being the wife of Joseph, albeit 7 years his senior, transcribed in the wrong order onto the form. It's also possible that Eliza is the wife of a different resident at the property (Castle Inn, 17, 17a and 17b, The Square, Ramsbury) and she's in the wrong row of the form.

A theory put forward by another family history researcher is that 'Eliza' is actually David's next wife Elizabeth (Clear Knight) who was born in Sussex, and there's been some falsification of the Census return to hide the fact they were living 'in sin', especially as there was an 11 year age difference between them. Personally I will always favour the simplest explanation over the conspiracy theory every time!
 
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Susan D

master brummie
I came to the conclusion in 2017 when I researched this family that David that wife Eliza on the 1861 census was most likely one of two people. I found no marriage despite an extensive search so I think that her being defined as his wife was for respectability. Yes, one possibility was that it was Elizabeth Clear Knight who he later married. The other was that she was David's what I would call 'glamourous assistant', 'Miss Louisa Sinclair' who he mentions working alongside him in 1862. I could not find her in the records - you might - but I think that as it has a nice ring to it that it could have been her stage name and her real name was Eliza Unknown.

You mention a possible connection to the TV series Peaky Blinders in relation to the Garrison Tavern. From discussions on this web site it appears that the pub was the real ones epicentre in the 1920s-30s (although a set on TV). Members of your family ran or worked at the pub and the shop next door from the 1860s - 1900 so right place, wrong time.
 
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MSB

knowlegable brummie
The other was that she was David's what I would call 'glamourous assistant', 'Miss Louisa Sinclair' who he mentions working alongside him in 1862. I could not find her in the records - you might - but I think that as it has a nice ring to it that it could have been her stage name and her real name was Eliza Unknown.

That's an interesting lead. Do you have a specific source for that? I have plenty of newscuttings in an album (and I've not read all of them yet), and there's loads more still to be studied online, but I've not seen her name mentioned before.

In an ideal world I'll create a timeline of his movements around the country based on news cuttings, but that requires far more time than I have available at present. He kept a diary of engagements but I only have two pages left of it.

I found a newspaper story suggesting he ran a 'Music Warehouse' in Union Road, Plymouth in 1853, aged 24, early in his performing career. His initial training was in accordian/concertina making, based on a publicity flyer that was handed down to me.
 

Susan D

master brummie
I did not keep notes of my references as it was just entertainment for my friend rather than a scholarly tome.

I found 931 references to him in on-line newspapers, many of which I read and which informed my research. Hard going I can tell you.

This is what I have on Louisa:

Miss Louisa Sinclair David described as being 'direct from the Polytechnic Institute’ (a description he had also used for himself). I found that this was a real place. It opened in 1838 on Regent street, London and was the UK's first higher education establishment for those too poor or not academic enough to go to university (in 1838 most people I would have thought) or for those wishing higher education to study vocational subjects. It was the UK's first polytechnic and possibly still exists within Westminster University. The courses may have been short in duration. Louisa Sinclair might also have been a stage name for Elizabeth Clear Knight. However, she was around for some years from the late 1850s and also did a ‘clairvoyant’ act during some of David's performances.
 
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MSB

knowlegable brummie
Thank you - I shall follow up Louisa. Here's a scan of an early publicity flyer that I have, printed for a trip to Norwich, that refers to him as being 'late of' the Polytechnic Institution, and claiming that he had learned his trade in Germany as well as in London (a possible industrial placement related to his course?)

Norwich is of course not a million miles from Spalding, birthplace of Eliza, but that might just be coincidence.

He is not yet using the stage name Trevori in this flyer, but by 1853 in Plymouth he was. In the 1851 Census (aged 22) he is lodging with older brother William and sister-in-law Clara at 85 Coleshill Street, Birmingham, and lists his occupation as 'Professor of Music'. I doubt if this is an academic qualification, probably more of a theatrical affectation. He later became a Punchinello, and they by tradition refer to themselves as 'Professor'. He was still performing Punch and Judy shows at an advanced age. This probably explains why the stage name switches from Signor Trevori to Professor Trevori. I think Signor may be the earlier version.

My best guess is that this flyer is from the early 1850s.

In a coincidental echo of my ancestor, I too went to a Polytechnic when I was a grade short of the university place I'd hoped for. :)

Music for the Million 1024.jpg
 
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Susan D

master brummie
Thank you for the advertisement. I think that David was incredibly driven as we have seen that he was determined to become an entertainer at a young age (which was completely unknown in his family tradition) but was also a pragmatist. Like most people in the entertainment industry, unless you become a wealthy and famous star you need other work to fall back on between stage jobs and David had many strings to his bow and he used his real name for them. If you don't mind my saying, some of his more grandiose claims might need to be taken with a pinch of salt though. His other work included the music lessons and instrument repairs above, photography and picture framing etc. He was running a picture framing shop when he died.

My impression is that he didn't wait for work to come his way via an agent or audition but set up his own gigs. He posted endless flyers for his act in newspapers and booked his own venues I suspect. With advertisements, venue hire, travel and props he must have had quite a few expenses. He never seemed to be part of a music hall variety show but was either hired for private performances or performed in local community, assembly or concert halls and county fairs, summer fetes and shows. During the day on tour he would put on his Punch and Judy shows for the children and there probably plugged his evening ventriloquist act nearby.

He was prepared to travel anywhere and great distances for his work. He played extensively around England, some parts of Wales and even Ireland. There must have been few cities, towns or even villages where he did not perform. In terms of scale, one day he was at the village hall in Berkswell, the next he was filling Birmingham Town Hall with his audience. He turns up just about everywhere, from Street in Somerset, Norwich, ‘all the towns in Essex’, Derby, Wolverhampton, Abergavenny, Ashby de la Zouch and so on practically infinitum.

Apart from 'Louisa', he had other sidekicks. In 1857 it was an Alsatian dog called German Picco.

His next sidekick of many years was Toby, ‘The Wondrous Singing Dog’. David put an advert in a newspaper saying that Toby was the best performing dog in the world and he would give a prize of steak, beefsteak and German sausages to any dog that could beat him. It would appear that no dog came forward to claim the prize, thereby proving his point. The high point of Toby’s career was when he performed his singing dog act at a dog show in the Midlands. In the Punch and Judy shows, Toby ‘kills’ Punch’s baby and batters the policeman (puppets).

Later on, on some occasions David performed with an entire pack of dogs. How he got them all on the train with his luggage, instruments, props and conjuring equipment and put them up in a hotel one can only speculate.
 
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Susan D

master brummie
A newspaper search for Miss Louisa Sinclair shows that she was working with David from at least 1859. If she was still part of his act in 1862 that spans the 1861 census. Would she have been likely to have stayed in separate accommodation and travelled separately? I think not, hence her probably being 'wife' Eliza who might be Elizabeth Clear Knight.

David m. the actual Elizabeth Clear Knight in 1863 in Horsham, Sussex. She was born 1840 in Horsham, daughter of George and Elizabeth Knight, and died 1869 in Aston aged 29.
 
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pjmburns

master brummie
It's possible that David was on tour in 1861, and only lodging temporarily in Wiltshire, whilst his 8 year old daughter Phoebe was left with Aunt and Grandma at 356 Nechells Park Road. Interestingly David has younger brother Joseph (age 20, a Baker) with him, possibly as an assistant. However, David is listed as a 'Boarder' which is crossed out and replaced with 'Head' (of household) so I'm not sure if that implies a more permanent residence.
The address on the 1861 census is "the Castle Inn" - I suspect boarder is more correct but perhaps was changed to "head" of the unit listed as 17b on the schedule.
 

Susan D

master brummie
So it looks like it is the one by the post box. Well spotted. It's in the middle of nowhere! I don't know how he got there from Birmingham. How he got around anywhere quite frankly.
 
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