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See Astley, Philip

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Astley, Philip (1742–1814), equestrian performer and circus proprietor, was born on 8 January 1742 at Newcastle under Lyme, one of three children of Edward Astley (fl. 1725–1772), cabinet-maker and veneer cutter. Apprenticed to the family trade at nine, the forthright Astley had a traumatic relationship with his father and when he was seventeen left to join the ...

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Philip Astley (1742–1814) by unknown engraver © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Davidson, Harold Francis (1875–1937), Church of England clergyman and circus performer, was born on 14 July 1875 at Sholing House in the suburbs of Southampton, the son of the Revd Francis Davidson and his wife, Alice Selina Augusta Hodgkin. From the age of six he attended ...

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Fanque, Pablo [real name William Darby] (1796–1871), equestrian performer and circus proprietor, was born in Norwich on 28 February 1796, the third son of John Darby, a butler of African descent, and his wife, Mary, née Stamps. He was baptized on the same day because he was not expected to live. Orphaned at an early age, he was apprenticed to ...

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Pablo Fanque (1796–1871) by unknown photographer, c. 1860 V&A Images, The Victoria and Albert Museum

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Hengler, John Michael (1831–1919), tightrope walker and circus manager, was born on 10 July 1831 at Lambeth, London, the fourth son of Henry Michael Hengler (1784–1861) and his wife, Jane, née Pilsworth (c.1790–1869), of Dublin. (Frederick) Charles Hengler was his brother. The son of a famous circus rope-dancer, ...

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Sandow, Eugen (1867–1925), strongman and physical culturist, was born Friedrich Wilhelm Müller in Königsberg, East Prussia, on 2 April 1867. According to conflicting sources he had an older brother or half-brother, and his father was either a prosperous jewel dealer or a greengrocer. His mother was Russian, or of Russian descent, and her maiden name, ...

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Eugen Sandow (1867–1925) by Henry van der Weyde, 1889 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Worsley, Thomas (1711–1778), architect and equestrian, was born, probably in London, on 15 July 1711, the eldest of nine children of Thomas Worsley (1686–1751) of Hovingham, Yorkshire, landowner and MP, and his first wife, Mary (d. 1728), daughter of Sir Thomas Frankland...