Wednesday, July 13, 2011

When did George Griffith return to Melbourne?


I have been hunting for definite evidence of George Griffith's return to Melbourne after his appearance in Hokitika in the 1867 West Coast Times.  The Sands & McDougall Directory lists George in 1869.  Generally directories are about a year behind what they are reporting by the time they are printed, so we can probably take that to mean that he was back in town by 1868.   

The only other thing I can locate in this general period is the appearance of 'Geo Griffiths' in a program for the 'London Music Hall' in Bourke Street.   It is not certainly my ancestor, but while there are quite a few other George Griffiths' around, I haven't come upon another musician of that name. Of course, this could be the exception that proves the rule, but on balance, I think this is likely to be my ancestor.

LONDON MUSIC
HALL.
IMMENSE SUCCESS SINCE RE-OPENING.
CROWDED HOUSES.
GRAND ENTERTAINMENT. SINGING and DANCING.

The following artists are already engaged :
Johnny Cowan,
Mr. J. J. Daniels,
John Black,
Mr. Lelifield,
Mr. Lloyd,
Mr. Leotard,
Harry Santley,
Mr. J. Munyard, Mr. Cullimore,
Mr. Geo Griffiths,
Mr. Fritz,
And
Miss Milly Parker.
Commence every evening at 8 o'clock sharp.
I. COLEMAN, Proprietor.

LONDON MUSIC-HALL.-Come and see Mr. J. J.
DANIELS, great descriptive singer.

LONDON MUSIC HALL, Bourke-street East.
Come and see Mr. J. J. DANIELS, great descriptive singer.

The Argus 25 April 1871

Isaac Coleman, the proprietor of the London Music Hall, can best be described as a 'colourful character' - his name was frequently mentioned in The Argus at the time, and also in many courtrooms.  After a string of advertisements like the above in April 1871 mentioning George Griffiths (sic), it wasn't long before Coleman was back in court facing a hearing on his licence.  In June 1871 he forfeited his licence, and by February 1872 he was undergoing bankruptcy proceedings.    Thus was George prevented from becoming a sensation in the Melbourne music hall scene.  It was quite some years before his name reappeared in The Argus.

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