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Aguzzi, Elizabeth Clarice [Lizzie] (1856–1938), equestrian performer, was born at 3 Felix Street, Lambeth, London, on 4 February 1856, the daughter of Antoni Aguzzi (1809/10-1880), an equestrian performer, and his wife Helen, née Schmidt (1824-1903). Her circus performances, as a bareback and trick act rider, were first noted in the 1870s. Playbills for her performances at ...

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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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Bannister, James (1758/9–1836), circus proprietor, is of unknown parentage and upbringing. He was one of the earliest circus owners to take his show, Bannister's Equestrian Troupe, on tour. In 1804 they were at Stamford in Lincolnshire for the mid-Lent fair and soon afterwards performed at ...

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See Bannister, James

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See Bannister, James

Article

W. P. Courtney

revised by S. J. Skedd

Berenger, Richard (bap. 1719, d. 1782), courtier and equestrian, was baptized on 17 December 1719 at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster, the eldest of the three sons of Moses Berenger, a wealthy London merchant, and Penelope, youngest daughter of Sir Richard Temple, third baronet (1634–1697)...

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Blight [Bright], Ellen Eliza [Helen] (1833/4–1850), lion tamer, was the daughter of John Blight (or Bright), a bugle player and bandleader with George Wombwell's menagerie, and his wife, Elizabeth, the daughter of Samuel Wombwell and so George Wombwell's sister. As a young child ...

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Boswell [married name Cattle], Nellie [Ellen Clara] (1858/9–1938), equestrian performer, was born in Paris, one of the three daughters of James Clements Boswell (1826–1859), an acrobatic circus clown, and his wife, Rebecca (1814–1898), the daughter of the circus proprietor Thomas Taplin Cooke...

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Chapman [married name Sanger], Ellen (1830/31–1899), lion tamer, was the daughter of Harry Chapman, a peep-show proprietor. As a child she was brought up by the Manders family, at that time associated with George Wombwell's menagerie. She had no formal education: at her marriage, neither she nor her husband could sign their names. She performed at ...

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Ellen Chapman (1830/3131–1899) by George Christopher Horner photograph by courtesy Sotheby's Picture Library, London

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Cinquevalli, Paul (1859–1918), juggler, was born at Lissa, in the Posen district of Prussia, on 30 June 1859. Cinquevalli was his stage name and also the name by which he was known. In his will he gives his name at birth as Emile Otto Paul Braun...

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Clarke, John Smith (1885–1959), politician, lion-tamer, and newspaper editor, was born on 4 February 1885 at 66 Albert Street, Jarrow, co. Durham, the thirteenth child of John Smith Clarke, circus entertainer, and his wife, Sally Ann Chiswell, who came from Gypsy stock. Only seven of the children survived childhood, and poverty stalked the family. ...

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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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Davis, Harold [performing names Harold Alzana, the Great Alzana] (1916–2001), high-wire walker, was born on 19 September 1916 at 10 Burley Street, Maltby, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, one of the four children (two sons and two daughters) of Charles Noah Davis...

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Ducrow, Andrew (1793–1842), equestrian performer, was born at the Nag's Head, 102 High Street, Southwark, Surrey, on 10 October 1793, the eldest of at least six children. His father, Peter Ducrow (c.1765–1815), a native of Bruges in west Flanders, and his mother, ...

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Andrew Ducrow (1793–1842) by William Heath [in the ring at Astley's] V&A Images, The Victoria and Albert Museum

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Elliot, Launceston (1874–1930), weightlifter and strongman, was conceived in Launceston, Tasmania (hence his first name), but born in Bombay, India, on 9 July 1874, the first son of Gilbert Wray Elliot (1833–1910), who was from 1853 to 1877 an official in the Bombay...

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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 ...