Primary Documents: Blackface Performance General News Items

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The following bibliographic sources were used in JUBA's research. Specific bibliographic sources are also linked from individual person, event, venue and troupe pages.

The Bibliography contains all sources used to compile the Early Blackface Minstrelsy in Britain Database. At this stage of our data entry, most documentation you will find here will be from nineteenth century daily and weekly British journals, searched by our Research Participants; all such entries are linked to one or more of the database entries: Event, Individual, Troupe, Venue, Documentation.

Bell's Life in London February 2, 1851: 4:2.
Info in Record: Piece entitled “Horses in Training: At Epsom”. Mentions a horse called “Old Dan Tucker”.
Bell's Life in London February 2, 1851: 5:1.
Info in Record: Piece about the Amicable (Epsom) Meeting, which notes that, in 1846, a horse called Empress won the Amicable Cup (coursing). Empress was sired by a horse named “Sambo”.
Bell's Life in London February 9, 1851: 1:3.
Info in Record: Piece about a Stallion named Iago who is available to “serve mares”.
Bell's Life in London February 9, 1851: 1:5.
Info in Record: An advertisement for the Metropolitan Racing Information Office, which notes that subscribers had recently received a tip about a (winning) horse named “Lucy Neal”.
Bell's Life in London February 9, 1851: 1:5.
Info in Record: Another betting tip ad, which notes that Van Tromp previously recommended a horse called “Lucy Neale” for the Lincoln Steeple Chase. Lucy Neal ended up winning the race.
Bell's Life in London February 9, 1851: 1:5.
Info in Record: An ad for Hotspur and Osborne’s, which notes that they too had recommended “Lucy Neale” for the Lincoln Steeple Chase.
Bell's Life in London July 26, 1846: 2:2.
Info in Record: Reply to “Philo-Nigger” in the “To Correspondents” section. Notes that the Ethiopian Serenaders at the St. James’s Theatre are not the same as the Ethiopian Harmonists currently performing in Gravesend.
Bell's Life in London February 9, 1851: 4:3.
Info in Record: Listing of horses taking part in the upcoming Epsom Spring Handicap. Includes a horse called “Old Dan Tucker” and one called “Dromedary”, whose mother was named “Mulatto out of Lunacy”.
Bell's Life in London January 12, 1851: 7:2.
Info in Record: Notice of an upcoming boxing match between “Nigger Watson” and “E. Roberts” (location not transcribed).
Bell's Life in London February 9, 1851: 4:3.
Info in Record: A piece headed “nominations for the City and Suburban Handicap”. Listed horses include “The Moor, 6 yrs” and “Mark Tapley, 4 yrs”.
Bell's Life in London February 9, 1851: 4:4.
Info in Record: Listing of the “Spring Handicap Acceptances”. Includes “Black Doctor” and “Old Dan Tucker”.
Bell's Life in London February 9, 1851: 5:3.
Info in Record: Piece about an upcoming horse race (location not transcribed), involving horses called “Dandy Jem” and “Black Doctor”
Bell's Life in London February 16, 1851: 1:3.
Info in Record: Brief description of a Stallion called “Othello”.
Bell's Life in London February 16, 1851: 1:3.
Info in Record: Brief description of a Stallion called “Red Deer”, which notes that one of his ancestors was “Tippitywitchet”.
Bell's Life in London February 16, 1851: 1:4.
Info in Record: An ad for Hotspur and Osborne’s, which again mentions that they had recommended “Lucy Neal” for the Lincoln Steeple Chase.
Bell's Life in London February 16, 1851: 1:5.
Info in Record: A piece which mentions that Mr. W.H. Williamson had also recommended “Lucy Neal” for the Lincoln Steeple Chase.
Bell's Life in London February 16, 1851: 1:5.
Info in Record: An advertisement for the Metropolitan Racing Information Office. Notes that the offices has received tips for Liverpool and Doncasters meets from the same source that recommended “Lucy Neal”.
Bell's Life in London January 19, 1851: 1:3.
Info in Record: Brief piece about a Stallion called “The Knight Templar”. Notes that one of his ancestors was the mare Tippitywitchet”.
Bell's Life in London January 19, 1851: 5:2.
Info in Record: Piece about a recent dog race (“The Border Union Meeting”) in which a dog named “Dan Tucker” was defeated by a dog called “Red Robin” (location not transcribed).
Bell's Life in London January 19, 1851: 5:3.
Info in Record: Piece about a recent dog race (“The Hewell Meeting”) in which a dog named “Black Bess” was defeated by a dog called “Councillor” (location not transcribed).
Bell's Life in London January 26, 1851: 3:2.
Info in Record: Piece about sport hunting in Albania, which includes the following comment: "Albanian thorns are like fish-hooks, and as piercing as Sambo's solitary ogle."
Bell's Life in London January 26, 1851: 5:2.
Info in Record: Brief piece about dog racing, which notes that the Dam of Mr. Barnett's coursing dog "Be-true" was "Black Bess”, while the Sire of Mr. Perry's "Fly" was "Othello".
Bell's Life in London February 2, 1851: 4:1.
Info in Record: A piece called ‘The Turf: Latest State of the Odds’, which mentions a horse called “The Black Doctor”.
Bell’s Life in London July 4, 1847: 1:5.
Info in Record: Ad for printed music, Comic and rich funny songs incl. Mary Blane, Lucy Neal and Old Joe. Ad repeated (in this paper) on July 18, p1.
Bell’s Life in London August 1, 1847: 2:5.
Info in Record: Ad for NEW MUSIC in print, including “The Buffalo Hunter” by the Female American Serenaders
Bell’s Life in London November 7, 1847: 8:5.
Info in Record: Ad for new music in print (Caldwell’s Music Journal); Notes that “Le Neggromannia” is worth the money charged for the whole number.”
Bell’s Life in London December 26, 1847: 1:5.
Info in Record: Ad for new music in print in “The Pianista for December, No. 87”, including “Mary Blane and ten other of the Ethiopian Songs.”
Bell’s Life in London July 18, 1847: 1:5.
Info in Record: Ad for printed music, Comic and rich funny songs incl. Mary Blane, Lucy Neal and Old Joe.
Bell’s Life in London February 21, 1847: 8:5.
Info in Record: Ad for NEW SONGS: “Mary Blane, Lucy Neale, Lucy Long, Old Dan Tucker, Dandy Jim, Boatman Dance, and five other favourite Negro songs […] in THE PIANISTA for February (second edition) […] with the Ethiopean and Mary Blane Quadrilles” . Price and address info.
Bell’s Life in London January 10, 1847: 1:1.
Info in Record: Ad about the publishing of “all the popular Negro Melodies as sung by the Ethiopians”. Lists them and gives the price.
Bell’s Life in London March 7, 1847: 8:5.
Info in Record: Ad about the printing of Henry Russell’s songs “for the family pianoforte”.
Bell’s Life in London March 21, 1847: 3:1.
Info in Record: News story about the death of an American-born actor, Hervey Leach, famous “for his clever personifications of the habits and eccentricities of the monkey race, under the assumed name of Signor Hervio Nano”
Bell’s Life in London March 21, 1847: 3:2.
Info in Record: Ad for new music print collection, including Buffalo Gals, Old Joe, Lucy Long, De Coloured Ball Fancy, etc.
Bell’s Life in London March 28, 1847: 8:5.
Info in Record: Ad for new music print “Mary Blane and Quadrilles,” including “Lucy Long, Lucy Neal, Buffalo Gals, and seven other Negro Songs as sung by the Serenaders”
Bristol Mirror February 12, 1848: Referenced in University of Bristol, Barker Collection.
Bristol Mirror May 10, 1851: Referenced in University of Bristol, Barker Collection.
Info in Record: Article on “The Night Side of Bristol.” Part 3 includes a (typically racist) description of an encounter (in a coffee-house) between the author and “four or five negroes, very decently dressed, sitting polishing and repairing the musical instruments used by them at the fairs, cheap-concert-rooms, &c.” Mentions that the musicians intended to give concerts at the coffee house in the future.
Daily Advertiser (London) May 26, 1847
Info in Record: Piece noting the publication of the “nineteenth thousand of the celebrated and justly popular ballad, ‘Mary Blane’” as well as “the first and second act of ‘Mary Blane Quadrilles’”
Daily Advertiser (London) May 26, 1847
Info in Record: Piece noting the publication of fifty-two “Ethiopian Melodies,” including “Mary Blane, “Coloured Fancy Ball,” and “Who’s dat Knocking at de Door?” Music arranged by Robert Pelham.
Daily Advertiser (London) May 26, 1847
Info in Record: Ad aimed toward “Flute and Violin Players” noting the publication of fifty popular Negro Melodies” by Wellington Guernsey.
Era (London) June 15, 1851: 14:2-3.
Info in Record: Article detailing the trial of “An African, whose name […] appeared to be Ruyder.” This man, who had been arrested for drunkenness and assault, worked as part of Gordon Cumming’s African exhibition, explaining the various objects in the collection to visitors. Author provides a racist and exoticized description of the prisoner, as well as some indication of his working conditions, See attached document scan for further particulars.
Era (London) June 22, 1851: 10:1.
Info in Record: Review of performances by an amateur company associated with “The Guild of Literature and Art”. The author makes a joke about amateurs’ tendency to misrepresent characters by suggesting that, amongst other things, such companies might present viewers with “an Ethiopian Romeo”.
Era (London) August 24, 1851: 10:4.
Info in Record: Joke (written in minstrel dialect) about “a negro [who] was brought up before the Mayor of Philadelphia […] for stealing chickens.”
Era (London) August 31, 1851: 5:4.
Info in Record: Piece about an upcoming boxing match in Birmingham, which mentions a venue (likely a tavern) called “the Jim Crow, Hill-street”.
Era (London) October 5, 1851: 7:4.
Info in Record: Racist Joke entitled “Sambo” in the “Our Carpet Bag” section. Reads as follows: “Sambo, where did the Mexicans suffer the most? – ‘Why, in de feet’ (defeat)”.
Era (London) October 26, 1851: 1:2.
Info in Record: Call for “Ethiopian Singers” (along with other kinds of performers) to perform at the Hibernian Saloon, Belfast.
Era (London) November 23, 1851: 6:4.
Info in Record: A piece entitled “A Buffalo Girl”, which is a pun on the song.
Era (London) October 22, 1848: 10:4.
Info in Record: “A Negro Naturalist.” Negro "joke" in dialect.
Era (London) May 28, 1843: 6:3.
Info in Record: Two brief examples of supposed “negro dialogue”, written in the “slave dialect” common to blackface minstrel performances.
Era (London) October 29, 1848: 10:4.
Info in Record: “Negro Comfort.” A ‘Sambo Negro’ joke in dialect.
Era (London) January 4, 1846: 1:1.
Info in Record: Advertisement for the January number “Bentley’s Miscellany” including under “Outpourings” by D. Canter “The Unwashed Othello”
Era (London) September 3, 1843: 3:4.
Info in Record: A piece entitled “A Colored Soger” in the ‘Our Carpet Bag’ section. Purports to describe the reaction of “a sentinel belonging to Queen Victoria’s black regiment, stationed at Niagara” to someone appearing “at the lines late at night”. Uses “slave dialect”.
Era (London) February 22, 1846: 5:4.
Info in Record: a joke, “The Jilted Lover”, in minstrel dialect
Era (London) September 24, 1843: 3:4.
Info in Record: A piece attacking Catholic prohibitions, which describes a particular Bishop’s actions in blackface minstrelsy-related terms (“the Bishop jumped Jim Crow to perfection”).
Era (London) April 20, 1845: 6:2.
Info in Record: Review of Mdlle. Gizelle Adami’s Cachucha at the Park Theatre: “At the rising of the curtain she struck an attitude in strong imitation of Jim Crow, at the back, then danced a game of ‘hop-Scotch,’ in the front, and finally edged off at the one wing…”
Era (London) October 8, 1843: 2:2-3.
Info in Record: Description (from the Memoirs of Robert William Elliston) of an accident which took place during a performance of ‘The Castle Spectre’ in Buxton. On this occasion, an actor playing a “black slave” role became trapped in and inadvertently pulled down the scenery.
Era (London) June 8, 1845: 3:1.
Info in Record: poem in which “Robert Rose, the Bard of Color” depicts “the phases of the Fancy Ball as they presented themselves to the ‘Man of Color.’”
Era (London) October 15, 1843: 3:3.
Info in Record: A condensed synopsis of ‘Othello’, offered in response to a new Statute enabling “any place licensed for theatrical performances” to produce Shakespeare. The author suggests (in a rather disparaging tone) that “the minor managers” should append this breakdown to the list of dramatis personae when producing the play.
Era (London) August 2, 1846: 13:1.
Info in Record: Report on Jim Crow’s health: “the celebrated ‘Jim Crow,’ has been deprived of speech and the use of his limbs by a stroke of paralysis.”
Era (London) December 3, 1843: 6:1.
Info in Record: An excerpt from the New York Spirit of the Times, which asserts that “Jim Crow Rice is just now ‘the big dog of the tan-yard’ and through the week has ‘done most of the barking’” at The Chatham Theatre (New York).
Era (London) September 20, 1846: 14:3.
Info in Record: Report of “a man of colour, [Charles Pelli] who obtains a livelihood by singing ‘nigger’ songs in the streets” being charged for drunkenly assaulting a police officer. Transcripts from his arrest read as follows: “Prisoner: It is owing to de Leger, good massa magistrate, dat me get drunk. Magistrate: The Leger? What have you to do with that? Prisoner: Me tell you, massa; two pot boys won 15s, on de Sir Tatton Syke, and dey stood some gin, because ob dere good luck; me took too much, and got berry bad headache now; me sorry for it.” The man was charged five shillings)
Era (London) October 24, 1847: 10:3.
Info in Record: A brief example of supposed “negro dialogue”, written in the “slave dialect” common to blackface minstrel performances. The same excerpt was also printed in The Era on May 28, 1843 (6:3).
Era (London) January 7, 1849: 8:2.
Info in Record: Response to a reader question, which indicates that ‘Othello’ was produced at Covent Garden in 1826-7, with Edmund Kean in the title role.
Era (London) February 11, 1849: 11:4.
Info in Record: Brief discussion of a performance of ‘Cato’, which took place at Leicester House on January 4, 1749. The then Prince George III enacted the part of Portius, while Prince Edward played the Numidian Prince Juba.
Era (London) April 28, 1844: 6:3.
div class="noteheading">Info in Record: An article about E.R. Harper establishing a theatre company in Wexford.
Era (London) April 4, 1847: 8:1.
Info in Record: Notice that Signor Lanza’s has planned a series of 12 Easter concerts in various parts of London and its vicinity. The New Orleans Ethiopian Serenaders are amongst the acts booked to appear at these concerts.
Era (London) July 21, 1844: 3:1.
Info in Record: Marriage advice for girls which seems to allude to “Lucy Long” (warns them not to ‘take their time’ as the song suggests, but rather to “get married as soon as possible”.
Era (London) May 30, 1847: 8:3.
Info in Record: Ad for an “American Drawing Room” at the Garrick’s Head, London. Promises “fair attendants – not ‘Buffalo Gals,’ but young ladies – attentive, polite and noiseless.”
Era (London) January 29, 1843: 5:4.
Era (London) January 26, 1851: 2:3.
Info in Record: Reference (in restaurant review praising the Three Tuns Tavern) to Othello: “he has composed a liquid so seductive and so benignly generous withal—unless extremely abused—that, as Othello said, in his admiration of an affection for Desdemona ‘the senses ache’ over it.”
Era (London) December 14, 1851: 12: 2.
Info in Record: Notice that a troupe referred to as “The Niggers” have “departed for Dublin”
Era (London) March 19, 1843: 7:4.
Info in Record: " African Notes for General Circulation (From the New York Spirit of the Times), full lyrics for a song for Charles Dickens "FROM DE DRIBER OF STAGE NO. 1", Tune - Dennis Belgrudery "
Era (London) September 15, 1844 : 5:2.
Info in Record: Other Program Item Info: History of Rossini’s Othello, now being performed at the Academie Royale de Musique in a new French translation.
Era (London) July 1, 1849: 8:1.
Info in Record: Note in the “Answers to Our Correspondents” section, which details a performance of ‘Othello’ (featuring Edmund and Charles Kean) at Covent Garden in 1833.
Era (London) July 29, 1849: 11:1.
Info in Record: Review of recent entertainments at the St. James’s Theatre, which begins by listing some of the successful performances at the venue in previous years. Amongst this list of past successes are the “amusing negro-mantic performances of the Ethiopian Serenaders”.
Era (London) August 5, 1849: 5:3.
Info in Record: A piece in the “Our Carpet Bag” section entitled “Patrick and Sambo”. It reads as follows: “An Irishman and a negro were fighting a few days ago in Paramatta, and while grappling with each other, the Irishman exclaimed, ‘You black vagabond, hallo, enough! I’ll fight till I die!’ ‘So will I,’ sung out the negro, ‘I always does’”.
Era (London) August 12, 1849: 8:1-2.
Info in Record: Response to a correspondent, which claims that “nobody upon the British stage can play Othello so well as Mr. G.V. Brooke played it at the Olympic”.
Era (London) July 9, 1848: 15:1.
Info in Record: “Our Carpet Bag”: Joke about a Jew in context of Shakespeare’s Othello and money.
Era (London) March 26, 1848: 12:3.
Era (London) December 9, 1849: 11:3.
Info in Record: Description/review of Parts 120, 121, and 122 of “The Musical Treasury”. Parts 120 & 121 include compositions by Henry Russell, while Parts 121 & 122 contain “Ethiopian Melodies”, some of which (those in Part 122) are “sung by the Ethiopian Serenaders”.
Era (London) December 23, 1849: 10:2.
Info in Record: Brief piece – entitled “How to Make an Ethiopian” - which seems to mock minstrelsy and some of its traditions.
Era (London) December 30, 1849: 10:3.
Info in Record: Item in the “Events in Review” section which notes that “Hill, the Yankee delineator, died at Saratoga Springs from cholera” on September 30.
Era (London) February 9, 1851: 12:4.
Info in Record: Other: other (Excerpt from The Christian Times decrying “The Low Theatres of London”; one theatre’s audience consisted of “a much larger number of young girls and sailors, with a few persons of colour, amounting altogether to about four hundred.”)
Era (London) February 23, 1851: 14:2.
Info in Record: News story about “John Wood”, a man accused of running a penny theatre on “Upper Lisson-street, Lisson-grove”, Middlesex. “Mr. O’Brien [for the defendant] said this was a prosecution by the parochial authorities of S. Mary-le-bone against the defendant, for keeping an unlicensed house for music and dancing, though the only music ever heard there was that of the ‘banjo,’ with its usual accompaniment, ‘the bones.’ (A laugh.)”)
Era (London) August 31, 1851: 11:2.
Info in Record: Piece discussing the dramatic entertainments on offer at Banbury, which notes that Othello is one of the stock pieces of the current season (specific performance dates not provided).
Era (London) April 27, 1851: 12:4.
Info in Record: Article stating that Banvard’s Panorama of the Mississippi is currently being exhibited in Lincolnshire. Notes that mention of a false copy of the panorama was displayed the previous autumn in the county by “a man who formerly headed a band of Negro singers”)
Newcastle Chronicle December 17, 1847: Referenced in University of Bristol, Barker Collection.
Info in Record: Discussion of the increasingly common phenomenon of imposter “minstrel”, “troubadour” and “serenader” troupes.
Newcastle Journal November 23, 1844: Referenced in University of Bristol, Barker Collection.
Info in Record: An advertisement for Singing, violin and guitar lessons from Herr Peter M. Bull, cousin of Ole Bull.
Theatrical Journal (London) October 16, 1847: 336:2.
Info in Record: Description of music’s journey from the Caribbean to American Minstrel song.
Theatrical Journal (London) July 26, 1845: 236:1.
Info in Record: Mention of T.D. Rice’s performances in Baltimore, and note that “he is expected to visit England in the fall”
Theatrical Journal (London) December 4, 1847: 394:2.
Document Note: Reprinted (with slight variations) in this paper on December 11, 1847. Info in Record: Advertisement for Sheet Music: “The Nigger’s History of the World,” written by Mr. R.W. Pelham.
Theatrical Journal (London) July 26, 1845: 236:1.
Info in Record: Brief mention of performances by Ole Bull under the “American Theatricals” heading. Seems to suggest he was recently in London.
Theatrical Journal (London) March 13, 1847: 85:1.
Info in Record: "An anecdote about Mossop, the doctor, making a very long pause in “The Revenge.””.
Theatrical Journal (London) July 26, 1845: 236:2.
Info in Record: Brief mention of performances by Mr. Booth in Richmond (under the “American Theatricals” heading.)
Theatrical Journal (London) April 24, 1847: 135:1.
Info in Record: Brief note: “We have been requested to contradict the following statements:…That the Female Ethiopians have just arrived from America; and it is also untrue that they were seen purchasing a bottle of Everett’s Premier in the Waterloo Road.”
Theatrical Journal (London) July 26, 1845: 236:2.
Info in Record: Brief mention of performances by Russell in St. Louis (under the “American Theatricals” heading.)
Theatrical Journal (London) April 24, 1847: 135:1.
Info in Record: Brief note under “Theatricals and Music in America”: “Christy’s Minstrels are at present in this city [Boston]. They have become great favourites in their line.”
Theatrical Journal (London) December 27, 1845: 412:1.
Info in Record: Description/review of the Christmas Pantomime at the Victoria Theatre, which is entitled Tippitywitchet; or, Harlequin Tim Bobbin and the Witches of Lancashire” (perhaps in reference to the minstrel song?)
Theatrical Journal (London) January 21, 1843: 23:2.
Info in Record: In the Chit Chat column under the title “Advice Gratis,” there is this note: “We advise Mr. Rice, of Jim Crow notoriety, to keep his Yankee Notes in his pocket, they not being fit for English circulation.”
Theatrical Journal (London) February 25, 1843: 64:1.
Info in Record: In the Chit Chat column under “Good Farming:” “Sambo, is your master a good farmer?” O, yes, massa, fuss rate farmer – he make two crops in one year.” “How is that Sambo?” “Why, he sell all his hay in de fall, and make money once; den in de spring he sell de hides of cattle dat die for the want of de hay, and make money twice.”
Theatrical Journal (London) November 18, 1843: 368:1.
Info in Record: Note about Jim Crow Rice in the “Chit Chat” column: “It is possible that Jim Crow Rice would consent to play Drury Lane for ten pounds a night, but it is not probable that Mr. Bunn will engage him for even ten pence.”