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See Astley, Philip

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Cover Astley, Philip (1742–1814)

Astley, Philip (1742–1814)  

Maker: unknown engraver

In 

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

Article

Astley, Philip (1742–1814), equestrian performer and circus proprietor  

Marius Kwint

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 ...

Article

Bannister, James (1758/9–1836), circus proprietor  

John M. Turner

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 ...

Article

Batty, Thomas (c.1832–1903), animal trainer and circus proprietor  

John M. Turner

Batty, Thomas (c.1832–1903), animal trainer and circus proprietor, was born in the vicinity of Manchester, Lancashire, the son of George Batty, a showman. He was a nephew of William Batty, the lessee of Astley's Amphitheatre, London. Celebrated as a lion tamer, he is also said to have been the first to train an elephant to stand on its head. He had many life-threatening struggles with the lions he ‘tamed’: he had so many scars on one side of his body that, it was said, a half-crown could not be placed between them. He would enter the ring, clad in Lincoln green and long leather boots, with a short whip in his hand. The lions would spring at the bars of their cage with fierce snarls, and he would strike at their paws with his whip, provoking their fury. Someone in the audience would always entreat him not to enter the cage, but he would slip in and have a lively ten minutes or so. He married in the parish church at ...

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Cover Chipperfield, James Seaton Methuen (1912–1990)

Chipperfield, James Seaton Methuen (1912–1990)  

Maker: Peter Dunne

In 

James Seaton Methuen Chipperfield (1912–1990) by Peter Dunne, 1971 © News International Newspapers Ltd

Article

Chipperfield, James Seaton Methuen (1912–1990), circus proprietor and inventor of the safari park  

Duff Hart-Davis

revised

Chipperfield, James Seaton Methuen (1912–1990), circus proprietor and inventor of the safari park, was born on 17 July 1912 in a mahogany wagon on land belonging to Paul, third Baron Methuen, near Corsham, Wiltshire, the second son in the family of three sons and two daughters of ...

Article

Cooke, William (1807/8–1886), circus manager  

Brenda Assael

Cooke, William (1807/8–1886), circus manager, was the second son of Thomas Taplin Cooke (1782–1866) and Mary Ann (née Thorpe). He was twice married. His first wife was Mary Ann Spicer (1808/9–1874); they had five children, the eldest of whom, William Henry (1833/4–1905)...

Article

Croueste [formerly Crowhurst], Edwin (1841–1914), clown and circus proprietor  

John M. Turner

Croueste [formerly Crowhurst], Edwin (1841–1914), clown and circus proprietor, was the son of Alexander Crowhurst, a shoemaker, and his wife, Mary, née Finch, and was born at Bromley, Kent, on 23 May 1841. His first visit to the circus was in 1851, when he saw ...

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Cover Fanque, Pablo (1796–1871)

Fanque, Pablo (1796–1871)  

Maker: unknown photographer

In 

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

Article

Fanque, Pablo [real name William Darby] (1796–1871), equestrian performer and circus proprietor  

John M. Turner

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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Cover Gifford [née Stroud], Eleanor Rose [Nell] (1973–2019)

Gifford [née Stroud], Eleanor Rose [Nell] (1973–2019)  

Maker: unknown

In 

Nell Gifford (1973–2019), by unknown photographer, 2005

Shutterstock

Article

Gifford [née Stroud], Eleanor Rose [Nell] (1973–2019), circus founder and author  

Kate Holmes

Gifford [née Stroud], Eleanor Rose [Nell] (1973–2019), circus founder and author, was born at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, on 24 January 1973, the elder daughter of Richard Peter (Rick) Stroud (b. 1948), television director and producer, and his wife ...

Article

Ginnett, (John) Frederick (1825–1892), equestrian performer and circus proprietor  

John M. Turner

Ginnett, (John) Frederick (1825–1892), equestrian performer and circus proprietor, was born in Lambeth, the eldest son of Jean Pierre Ginnett (d. 1861), the founder of Ginnett's circus, and his wife, Anne, née Partridge (d. 1877). (A John Frederick Jannett was baptized in ...

Article

Henderson, John (1822–1867), circus performer and proprietor  

John M. Turner

Henderson, John (1822–1867), circus performer and proprietor, was born in London, the son of John Henderson, an actor. He was advertised as a rider with Price and Powell's circus at Bristol in 1842. After a spell with Pablo Fanque in Lancashire, he was with ...

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Cover Hengler, (Frederick) Charles (1820–1887)

Hengler, (Frederick) Charles (1820–1887)  

Maker: unknown photographer

In 

(Frederick) Charles Hengler (1820–1887) by unknown photographer, c. 1880 V&A Images, The Victoria and Albert Museum

Article

Hengler, (Frederick) Charles (1820–1887), circus proprietor  

George Speaight

Hengler, (Frederick) Charles (1820–1887), circus proprietor, was the second of the four sons of Henry Michael Hengler (1784–1861), a circus rope-dancer, and his wife, Jane, née Pilsworth (c.1790–1869). He came from an established family of circus performers: his grandfather, (John) Michael Hengler (...

Article

Hengler, John Michael (1831–1919), tightrope walker and circus manager  

John M. Turner

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, ...

Article

Hughes, Charles (1746/7–1797), equestrian and circus proprietor  

John M. Turner

Hughes, Charles (1746/7–1797), equestrian and circus proprietor, about whose early life nothing is known, first came to notice as an accomplished rider performing at Philip Astley's British Riding School, Westminster Bridge Road, London, from June 1771 until 1772. During this time he performed with ...

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Cover Mills, Bertram Wagstaff (1873–1938)

Mills, Bertram Wagstaff (1873–1938)  

Maker: Howard Coster

In 

Bertram Wagstaff Mills (1873–1938) by Howard Coster, 1936 © National Portrait Gallery, London