Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

The Concertina Player of Trafalgar Square

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • The Concertina Player of Trafalgar Square



    Looking for Alice McKenzie’s blind concertina player, I discovered Jacob Oxford. Not blind, but disabled and a mere 3ft 7in in his stockinged feet. He had a pitch outside the National Gallery for 27/28 years (so it was said) and when he died in 1882 he was described as one of the notable characters of the London Streets.

    Oxford had been born in Birmingham but lived most of his life in the West End. However, he died in Lambeth in 1882 - of a surfeit of gin - so he may have crossed paths with Alice in 1881/2. I believe we have her at Southwark police court in 1878 and then in Whitechapel in 1883, which is approximately when she is supposed to have hooked up with McCormack.

    More wishful thinking most likely, but I’ve placed this in the AM section. I’ll post a few bits and bobs about Oxford. I found this painting of him on the Eyre Crowe website.


    'The Concertina Player of Trafalgar Square' by Eyre Crowe A.R.A. (1902). Reproduction from Royal Academy Pictures, 1902, p. 107

    Medium: oil

    Size: 10 x 14 inches

    Exhibited: Royal Academy, 1902

    Crowe worked on this picture periodically from October 1894. It depicts Jacob Oxford, a dwarf who used to squat in Trafalgar Square ‘some years back’.






    Attached Files

  • #2


    From the Bognor Observer etc. 29th November, 1882
    Attached Files

    Comment


    • #3
      From The Morning Post, 11th November, 1882


      DEATH OF A STREET CHARACTER - Yesterday Mr. Langham held an enquiry at the Olive Branch, Waterloo-road, on the body of Jacob Oxford aged 48 years. - Mrs. Susan Styles said she was the occupier of the house, No. 4, Morpeth-place. The deceased had lodged in her house for 12 months, and he gained his livelihood by playing a concertina outside the national gallery, which he had done for the last 27 years. He enjoyed a good health with the exception of occasionally suffering from the effects of drink. Last Tuesday morning he arose about half-past eleven and went out to the Pear Tree Public-house. He returned in ten minutes and went to his room. Nothing more was seen of him until witness went to his room at two o’clock, when he was found asleep, sitting on a chair with a gin bottle half full on the table in front of him. On witness going again at seven o’clock she found him in the same position, and would not arouse him. A doctor was at once sent for. - Mr. E. Hadwin, surgeon, stated that he found the deceased seated in a chair quite dead. A post-mortem examination showed the body was generally deformed, it being only 47in in height. The cause of death was inflammation of the liver and lungs brought on by excessive drinking. - The jury returned a verdict of death by natural causes.



      Comment


      • #4
        Just a reminder that it was said (I’m not sure by whom) that Alice had once been married to a blind man who travelled the country playing the concertina.

        Comment


        • #5
          From the Edinburgh Evening News, 14th November, 1882
          Attached Files

          Comment


          • #6


            Jacob Oxford was born in Birmingham in SepQ 1841. His father, also Jacob, was a rouge maker who had been born in St Martin in the Fields, Westminster (the portico of the church can be seen in the Crowe painting). His mother, Harriet (née Waghorn) had been born in Kennington.

            The couple married at St Martin in the Fields in 1836 and their first child, Frederick, was born in Lambeth in 1838, which suggests Harriet may have had family there. Their next 3 children, Harriet, 1839, Jacob, 1841, and Thomas, 1843, were all born in Birmingham. By 1847 the family had returned to London where a fifth child, George, was born in St Pancras. No sign of a potential regicide named Edward.

            The 1851 census shows Jacob and his father living together in St Pancras. Jacob senior is a widower and there is no sign of the other children. Jacob junior, aged 9, is a scholar. The two can be found living together back in St Martin’s with no other household members in 1861 and 1871. Jacob senior is recorded as a rouge maker on both those censuses, Jacob junior is a ‘musician snd artist’ in 1861 and a ‘musician’ in 1871.

            Jacob senior died in St Pancras in 1872, leaving his son all alone - but only temporarily it would seem. While there’s no suitable Jacob Oxford on the 1881 census there is a James Oxford, a musician aged 39, whose place of birth was Birmingham, living in Bedfordbury, St Martin in the Fields. Living with him is his ‘wife’, Ellen, a needlewoman, aged 51, from Bristol.

            I haven’t yet found a marriage for the two, so it may have been an informal relationship masquerading as a marriage. I wonder what happened to Ellen - who was she?

            Comment


            • #7
              From the English Illustrated Magazine, vol. 5, 1888, by J. Ashby Sterry


              jacobOxford0.jpg
              jacobOxford1.jpg
              jacobOxford2.jpg
              jacobOxford2b.jpg
              jacobOxford3.jpg
              jacobOxford4.jpg



              Comment


              • #8
                That’s excellent, Kattrup - thank you!

                Is a date for the letter provided? I’m not sure when his mother died, but his father’s death was in 1872, so the letter was probably written ca 1880, which would tie in with the 1881 census showing him living in Bedfordbury.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Bedfordbury:
                  Attached Files

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Gary Barnett View Post
                    Just a reminder that it was said (I’m not sure by whom) that Alice had once been married to a blind man who travelled the country playing the concertina.
                    I think it was John McCormack in Illustrated Police News, 27 July 1889.

                    According to Casebook, he stated that he knew AM since about seven years ago, and "Before he became acquainted with her she lived with a blind man who played a concertina in the streets for a living."

                    So timewise this would fit with Jacob Oxford dying 1882 and leaving AM homeless.


                    Edit: I see that Jon Simons in some posts has said AM's concertina player died 1879, so if that's true, it wasn't Oxford. Not sure how he knows, though.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Kattrup View Post

                      I think it was John McCormack in Illustrated Police News, 27 July 1889.

                      According to Casebook, he stated that he knew AM since about seven years ago, and "Before he became acquainted with her she lived with a blind man who played a concertina in the streets for a living."

                      So timewise this would fit with Jacob Oxford dying 1882 and leaving AM homeless.


                      Edit: I see that Jon Simons in some posts has said AM's concertina player died 1879, so if that's true, it wasn't Oxford. Not sure how he knows, though.
                      McCormack didn’t seem to know an awful lot about Alice. Although we should be grateful that he knew her father had been a postman in Peterborough.

                      I think Margaret Franklin also mentioned a blind man in Alice’s past.

                      Perhaps Jon will look in and tells us where he got that date from - it may just have been an estimate based on Alice’s known movements.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Oxfod wasn't blind but on that topic (blind concertina players) I noticed a reference to Blind Jimmy, 1884:
                        blind jimmy.jpg

                        And then there's the adorable Musical Miggs, from an article 1875:

                        musial miggs.jpg
                        musial miggs2.jpg
                        musial miggs3.jpg

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thanks, Kattrup. I’d heard of blind Jimmy, but he seemed a bit too upmarket (and long-lived) for Alice.

                          Oxford, the street musician with a possible connection to Lambeth at the same time as Alice seemed a bit more promising.

                          Musical Miggs is new to me - thanks for that. 👍🏻

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            This is what Jon had to say in his excellent article in Ripp 138

                            “Margaret Franklin claimed that she had known McKenzie about the neighbourhood since 1874, and at one time she used to live with a blind man who played a concertina in the streets for a living until he died in 1878.”

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              And here we have McCormack saying that the blind concertina player had died 11 years previously. Interestingly, he states that he enlisted in the army in Liverpool, which may be the source for another report claiming that Alice’s father was a postman in that city.

                              From The Standard, 19th July, 1889.
                              Attached Files

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X