LAST MODIFIED Tuesday 18 June 2019 8:42

Maria Taylor, vocalist and actor

Dr GRAEME SKINNER (University of Sydney)


To cite this:

Graeme Skinner (University of Sydney), "Maria Taylor, vocalist and actor", Australharmony (an online resource toward the history of music and musicians in colonial and early Federation Australia):; accessed 3 April 2020

TAYLOR, Maria Madeline

(Maria Maudelina HILL; Miss HILL; Mrs. John TAYLOR; Mrs. TAYLOR; Maria TAYLOR; Madame Maria DHERMAINVILLE)

Soprano vocalist, actor ("daughter of the late Mr. Hill, of Covent Garden")

Born ? c.1814 (daughter of James HILL and Eliza ATKINS)
Married John TAYLOR, St. Mary, Newington, Southwark, England, 7 February 1831
Arrived Hobart Town, VDL (TAS), 23 October 1833 (free per Lonach, from London, 19 June)
Arrived Sydney, NSW, March 1834
Departed Sydney, NSW, 25 December 1839 (per Prince George, for Calcutta)
Died Calcutta, India, 13 May 1841, aged 27 years (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)


Actor, vocalist, clown

Active Hobart Town and Sydney, 1833-38 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)

Hill family

HILL, James (died Jamaica, June 1817)


HILL, Charles John (born London, 1 February 1803; baptised St. Paul, Covent Garden, 5 January 1804; died New Jersey, 23 September 1874)

HILL, John B.

HILL, Maria Maudalina

James Hill and Eliza Atkins seem likely to have met, if not earlier, then at Bath, where James certainly was working at the Theatre Royal by 1796. They both later claimed to have been pupils of the singer Venanzio Rauzzini (1746-1810), and Eliza also of Rauzzini's pupil, the pianist Jane Guest (Mrs. Abraham Miles) (c.1762-1846), while Hill was also a pupil of David Richards, leader of the band (and brother-in-law of the singer John Braham).

James Hill's brief but successful London career as a tenor vocalist and actor ran from 1798 to 1806. According to his obituary, he died in Jamaica in June 1817, having apparently separated from his common-law wife, and former co-performer, Eliza (born WARRELL), who continued to be known on stage by her former name, Mrs. Atkins.

Maria was presumably her daughter.

Eliza was first referred to as "Mrs. Hill, formerly Mrs. Atkins" in 1807, after she and James had left the Covent Garden theatre.

From as early as 1817 until at least 1821 (and possibly until as late as the early 1830s), a "Mrs. MELVILLE, late Mrs. Hill, of the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden" advertised as a teacher of singing, herself as a pupil of Venanzio Rauzzini and Mrs. Miles (Jane Guest) of Bath, and in due course also her daughters, the Misses Hill, as co-performers in concerts.

In 1829-30, there were also advertisements for "Mrs. EDWARDS, late Mrs. Hill, of the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden". It is not yet clear whether either, both, or neither, of these was Maria's mother.

In April 1837, Maria had reportedly received letters from her brother, Mr. C. Hill (of Covent Garden and Surry Theatres), stating that he, Mrs. C. Hill, and their daughter Miss Rosalia Hill, and also their brother, Mr. John B. Hill, and Mrs. J. B. Hill of the Exeter Theatre, intended leaving for Australia. But instead, Charles Hill (d.1874), his wife Ann (Fairbrother), and their daughter Rosalie, emigrated to Nortn America, first to New York in 1840, before settling in Montreal in 1843.

Family documentation and references:

"THEATRICALS", Caledonian Mercury (4 August 1806), 3

On Saturday Bickerflaff's admirable opera of LOVE IN A VILLAGE was performed in a stile of superior excellence. A Mr. HILL, who, we understand, was a pupil of Rauzzini's, was a great favourite at Bath, (where he made his debut) and who, for near ten years, has supported a first line of musical business in Covent Garden, played Young Meadows, with univerial approbation - he is a good manly figure, with an agreeable countenance, and (which is not always the case with the musical tribe) he is a good speaker; his voice is both melodious and comprehensive; his graces are not crowded, but judicious; and his cadences are the effect of the most exquisite taste. Mrs. ATKINS, also from Covent Garden, appeared as Rosetta. - We recollet this Lady in our Theatre about seven or eight years ago, when she was a great favourite - she shuld therefore now be doubly so, because she was then a mere girl, and, comparatively a novice in the science of music - Since that period she has had much experience; and, "upon her mended judgment" now lays claim to our highest encomiums. - She is a beautiful women; has a charming voice, with most captivating tones, a delicate taste, and happy execution.

"MR. JAMES HILL", The New Monthly Magazine 8 (1 October 1817), 262

MR. JAMES HILL. Died in June last, at Morant's Bay, Jamaica, Mr. James Hill, vocal performer. He was a native of Kidderminster, in Worcestershire. Having lost his father at the age of 4 years, he was educated by an uncle, and apprenticed at the age of 10 to a painter. On the expiration of his indentures he visited London, where he remained about a fortnight, and then went to Bristol. There he was introduced to the manager of both that and the Bath theatre, to whom he communicated his wish to attempt the stage, but was informed that the company was already filled, and that there was no prospect of a speedy vacancy. He then requested permission to perform one night, to gratify his inclination, with which the manager complied, and he appeared in June 1796 as Belville, in Rosina, when he experienced such a flattering reception, that full as his company was, the manager contrived to make room for him; he was, accordingly, engaged for five seasons, during which time he became acquainted with Signora Storace, who recommended him to Rauzzini, by whose advice Mr. Hill placed himself under the tuition of Mr. Richards, the leader of the band at the Bath theatre, and having received a few lessons from Ximenes and others, finished his instructions with Rauzzini. He performed a variety of vocal characters here the two first seasons with increased approbation; and Mr. Harris, wishing to engage him for Covent-Garden, applied to Mr. Diamond to release him from his articles, with which that manager obligingly complied. His first appearance in London was in 1798, as Edwin in Robin Hood, in which he met with the approbation of the public. He continued at Covent Garden till the end of the season 1804-6, when he left the theatre for some fancied injury, and performed in the country. He visited Norwich and other places, became a complete humourist, was we believe at one time manager of a strolling company, and, after an absence of some years, appeared at the Regency theatre. It is presumed that he was not above the age of 40 at the time of his death. His private character would not have added to the respectability of the theatrical profession; and his conduct, in leaving Mrs. Atkins and his family, although it was no more than the lady had a right to expect, is deserving of that animadversion which he met with, when his performance was not allowed to proceed at the minor theatre just mentioned.

[Advertisement], The Northampton Mercury (24 March 1821), 3

MRS. MELVILLE (late Mrs. Hill, of the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden), RESPECTFULLY announces to the Ladies and Gentleman of NORTHAMPTON and its VICINITY, that she Purposes giving Instructions in SINGING to those who may please to Favour her with their Commands. Mrs. M. having been a pupil of the Celebrated Rauzzini, and likewise of Mrs. Miles, of Bath (who has been so eminently Distinguished for her musical Talents, and who had the Honour of instructing her late Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte of Wales and Saxe Cobourg), flatters herself that her Method of Teaching will be found to answer the most sanguine Expectations of her Pupils. Schools and private Families attended in Town and Country. The Quarter will commence MONDAY the 26th of March instant. Mrs. M. and her daughters, the Miss Hill's, will give A CONCERT, at WELLINGSBOROUGH, on MONDAY next. Particulars, respecting Terms, &c known by applying to Mrs. MELVILLE, at Mrs. HILLYARD's, College Street, Northampton.

[Advertisement], The Sheffield Independent (23 May 1829), 2

CONCERT. MRS. EDWARDS, late Mrs. HILL, from the Theatre-Royal, Covent-Garden, and Miss HILL, beg leave inform the Inhabitants of this Town and its Vicinity, that they intend giving CONCERT MONDAY next, MAY 25, 1829, in the MUSIC-HALL, Sheffield, and not in the Assembly-Rooms, as announced in the Bills. The Songs, &c., will be accompanied the Piano-Forte, by Mrs. Edwards. Doors to be opened Seven o'Clock, and the Performance to commence at Half-past. ADMISSION, 3s. Tickets to had at the INDEPENDENT Office, and of Mrs. EDWARDS, at No. 10. Cheney-row.

Mary Jane Warner, "FAIRBROTHER, Anne (1804-1896)", Dictionary of Canadian Biography 12 (1891-1900), 305-306 

. . . actress, dancer, and dance teacher; b. in London and baptized 15 July 1804, one of six children of Robert Fairbrother, dancer and acrobat, and Mary Bailey; m. c. 1826 Charles John Hill, and they had two sons and one daughter; d. 1896 in Montreal . . .

Philip H. Highfill et al., A biographical dictionary of actors, actresses, musicians, dancers, managers & other stage personnel in London, 1660-1800 . . .

. . . volume 1, Abeco to Belfille (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1973), 168-69;view=1up;seq=192 (DIGITISED)

Eliza Atkins

. . . volume 7, Habgood to Houbert (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1982), 308-10;view=1up;seq=320 (DIGITISED)

James Hill

Mary Jane Warner, "Anne Fairbrother Hill: a chaste and elegant dancer", Theatre Research in Canada 12/2 (Fall 1991) 

Paul F. Rice, Venanzio Rauzzini in Britain: castrato, composer, and cultural leader (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2015), 192, 376 note 65 (PREVIEW)

. . . The Caledonian Mercury reported on August 4, 1806, that "A Mr. HILL, who, we understand, was a pupil of Rauzzini's, was a great favourite at Bath, (where he made his debut) and who, for near ten years, has suppoted a first line of musical business in Covent Garden . . . with universal approbation" . . .

[376, note 65] If Mr. Hill has been Rauzzini's pupils, he does not appear to have been amongst his best students, since his name does not appear in any of the concert advertisements for Rauzzini's concerts.

See also many references to Jane Guest/Jane Miles

England (to 1833)

7 February 1831, marriage of Maria Maudelina Hill and John Taylor

Marriage register, St. Mary, Newington, Southwark, 7 February 1831

John Taylor, Bachelor, of this Parish and Maria Maudelina Hill, Spinster a Minor, of this Parish were married in this Chruch by Banns with the Consent of Her Mother / Father deceased / this Seventh Day of February [1831] ...

Hobart Town, VDL (23 October 1833 to 27 February 1834)

To call up all the TROVE newspaper items tagged Maria Taylor for 1833: 

23 October 1833, the Taylors arrived in Hobart Town

"TRADE AND SHIPPING", The Hobart Town Courier (25 October 1833), 3

On the 23d inst. the ship Lonach, 400 tons, Capt. W. R. Driscoll, from London, 19th June, with a general cargo. - Passengers - Messrs. P. Smith, A. Smith, L. Smith, J. C. Walker, and 23 others, besides 48 for Sydney.

"Domestic Intelligence", The Tasmanian (25 October 1833), 6 

A new vocalist, Mrs. Taylor, has just arrived from London by the Lonach. Report speaks highly of her, and we anticipate its fulfilment on Wednesday evening next, when she appears for the first time in this Colony, at Mr. Peck's concert, inserted in another column - the bill of fare to which, promises excellent entertainment.

[News], The Hobart Town Courier (25 October 1833), 2

[Advertisement], The Hobart Town Courier (25 October 1833), 3

[News], Colonial Times (29 October 1833), 2

We have been agreeably surprised with the enchanting voice of a professional lady singer, who has lately arrived among us. We abstain from commenting too much on the abilities of Mrs. Taylor - wishing the public first to have an opportunity of deciding for themselves, as to that lady's abilities. Mrs. Taylor will sing two songs at Mr. Peck's Concert, tomorrow evening - "Come where the Aspens quiver" and "O merry row the bonnie Bark." The Concert is certain to be well attended. We believe His Excellency intends to be present.

"The Concert", The Colonist and Van Diemen's Land Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (5 November 1833), 3 

The public expectation, which was so much excited on the occasion of Mr. Peck's first Concert, has not been disappointed; and, we may safely say, that the entertainments of Wednesday evening were superior to any which have preceded them in Hobart Town ... This splendid Concerto [played by Rosalie Deane] was succeeded by the "great lion" of the evening - the new Vocalist's (Mrs. Taylor's) debut. On ascending the Orchestre, she was received with the most gratifying testimonials of public approbation; and no sooner did the piano-forte commence the symphony of Lee's "Come, where the Aspen's quiver," than the most breathless stillness prevailed. The peculiar difficulties of this simple song are not generally known, but those who do know them, will form a good idea of Mrs. Taylor's execution and flexibility of voice, when they learn, that she sung every note of it unassisted by the Orchestre. It was unanimously encored. Mrs. Taylor is a pleasing lively little brunette, with a sparkling, and expressive black eye, not particularly prelty, and still far from plain. Her voice is powerful, and of great compass - has been evidently well trained, and possesses considerable sweetness. ln singing the song the first time through, she was rather above the piano-forte, but the second time she was in perfect tune. This lady certainly exceeded our expectations, and there is no doubt of her being a great favorite with the Public ... Mrs. Taylor's second song, "Oh! merry row the bonnie bark" by Parry, confirmed the Public opinion in favor of that Lady's talents. She is really a fine and an exquisite singer. The, song was enthusiastically encored, which it richly deserved ...

"Domestic Intelligence", The Hobart Town Magazine 2/9 (November 1833), 163

Mrs. Taylor appeared, for the first time, before a Van Diemen's Land public. She sang two songs - Lee's "Come where the Aspens quiver," and "O merry row the bonnie bark." The former, a very difficult performance - the latter, somewhat more of a ballad. With respect to this lady's singing, it will, of course, be expected that we should offer a few remarks. Mrs. Taylor, if we mistake not, is the daughter of Mr. Hill, who some twenty-five years or more since, was the only rival dreaded by the English Apollo - as he has been termed by some of the admirers - Braham, and, as might naturally be expected, a daughter of such a musician Mrs. Taylor is perfect in all the mysteries of harmonic science. Her voice, however, is much more adapted for the showy difficult performances, than it is for plaintive melody - Rossini should be her favorite composer. Jackson, Arne, nay Bishop, and such like gentry are not worthy of her consideration: her tonation is distinct, and in the rapid movements of a cadenza, every note strikes on the ear as distinctly as though it had been produced by a keyed instrument: she has great range, and her upper notes partake not of that shrill harshness, which is so common with most female vocalists. We have not heard Mrs. Taylor in a private room, but judging from her performance on Wednesday, we should consider her voice much more adapted for a concert than for amateur singing - but we may be judging wrongly. She was, of course, encored in both songs; but the first was much more adapted to her voice, than was "O merry row."

[Advertisement], Colonial Times (19 November 1833), 1

Concert. MRS. TAYLOR most respectfully informs the Inhabitants of Hobart Town and its vicinity, that she intends giving a Concert of vocal and instrumental music, on Monday Evening, Dec. 2nd, 1833, assisted by Mr. J. P. DEANE and Family, Mr. Peck, and the professional Talent of Hobart Town, together with the splendid Band of the 63rd Regt. ; further particulars of which will be announced in a future advertisement. Nov. 19, 1833. Notice. MRS. TAYLOR, having received a thorough musical education, will be most happy to give lessons in Music and Singing. For cards of address, apply at this Office. Nov. 19, 1833. 

2 December 1833, Maria Taylor's concert

[Advertisement], The Colonist and Van Diemen's Land Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (19 November 1833), 1 

MRS. Taylor most respectfully informs the Inhabitants of Hobart Town and its Vicinity, that she intends giving a Concert of Vocal and Instrumental Music, on Monday Evening, December 2d, 1833, assisted by Mr. J. P. Deane and Family, Mr. Peck, Mr. Riechenberg, Mr. Russell, and all the professional Talent of Hobart Town, together with the splendid Band of the 63d Regiment. - Further Particulars of which will be announced in a future Advertisement.

[News], Colonial Times (3 December 1833), 3 

Mrs. Taylor's Concert took place yesterday evening, and went off remarkably well ; the instrumental pieces were, in particular, well performed, and the vocal parts sustained in a highly creditable manner. Mrs. Taylor's songs were rapturously applauded, as were, also, Mrs. Henderson's. The duet, sung by the two lady singers, was excellent, and well merited the applause it commanded. We are sorry to add, that the Court-house was not so well attended as usual, and that it is feared that Mrs. Taylor will not benefit by her benefit. One of the principal reasons given as to why the Concert was not so well attended as is usual, is, that an Aristocratical Concert took place the same evening, by which means, very many persons were prevented from patronizing Mrs. Taylor. We have a better opinion of Mrs. Pedder, than for one moment to believe that she purposely fixed on the same evening for her private Concert, as that chosen by Mrs. Taylor for her benefit; but, although Mrs. Pedder, we conceive, did so inadvertently, we believe there are of the Aristocracy those who would have done so intentionnally. We trust, however, that whenever a public Concert again takes place, that private individuals will, if they choose not to support, at all events not oppose.

[News], The Hobart Town Courier (6 December 1833), 3 

At Mrs. Taylor's concert, in the Court house, on Monday, though both the vocal and instrumental music were of the highest description, we regret to say, that owing to the circumstance of several of the usual patrons of this exquisite art being elsewhere engaged, the company, was not so numerous as would otherwise have been the case, and instead of a profit to the projecter, a considerable loss was experienced. We trust the friends, of good taste and of the innocent enjoyments of life will not through any, we may say culpable supineness, permit the delightful science of music to retrograde amongst us. For unless those who make it a profession are fairly supported and encouraged to improve and please the public, we must as a natural consequence expect that this link between us and the habits of the mother country will relax and snap asunder.

[News], The Colonist and Van Diemen's Land Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (10 December 1833), 2 

It was our intention to have described at considerable length the high treat afforded to musical folks at Mrs. TAYLOR's Concert, but our ardour is damped by learning, that so far from that accomplished vocalist having derived any advantage from her "benefit," a serious actual loss has resulted. This is really discreditable to the taste of the Hobart Town folks. To allow a Concert of the first order, and for a Lady's benefit to entail a loss. Oh! fie! Oh! fie! It is said, that the failure may be attributed mainly to a private Concert being given the same evening by Mrs. Pedder. It is a pity that Lady had hot fixed some prior or subsequent evening for her party; and when she hears of Mrs. Taylor's failure, we are certain she will herself regret the oversight.

ASSOCIATIONS: Maria Pedder (d. 1855)

[Advertisement], Colonial Times (17 December 1833), 1

[News], The Hobart Town Courier (27 December 1833), 2

[News], Colonial Times (31 December 1833), 3

Next to Mrs. Cameron, comes our old friend, Mrs. Taylor, who made her first appearance, on any boards, on Tuesday last. She performed the part of Charlotte [in The Stranger], and, although that part does not allow the opportunity of shewing any great degree of talent, Mrs. Taylor performed so exceedingly correct, and so naturally, the character cast for her, that we have no doubt she will be able to perform anything that may hereafter be required. She looked remarkably pleasing; but we have seen Mrs. Taylor before, and the public, as well as ourselves, term her an old friend (if calling a young lady an old friend is not misapplying the word old), we need say no more. Her plaintive song, "I have a silent sorrow here", was particularly pathetic, and caused universal approbation.


To call up all the TROVE newspaper items tagged Maria Taylor for 1834: 

27 February 1834, the Taylors sailed for Sydney

"TRADE AND SHIPPING", The Hobart Town Courier (28 February 1834), 3 

On the 27th, the schooner Currency Lass, J. Briggs, master, for Sydney

[News], The Colonist and Van Diemen's Land Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (4 March 1834), 2 

Notwithstanding the very favourable reception which Mr. and Mrs. Taylor experienced, not only at the Theatre, but at Mr. Deane's Rooms, they took their passage, last week in the Currency Lass, for Sydney, having been previously engaged by Mr. Levey, of the Sydney Theatre. We understand that they will shortly return.

Sydney (4 March 1834 to 25 December 1839)

4 March 1834, the Taylors arrived in Sydney

"SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE. ARRIVALS", The Sydney Herald (6 March 1834), 2 

Same day [4 March], from Hobart Town, whence she sailed on the 27th ultimo, the schooner Currency Lass, 90 tons, Briggs, master; lading tea, &c. Passengers, Mr. Daniel Eagan, Mr. John Taylor, merchant, Mr. R. Soal, merchant, and Patrick Casey, groom.

"THE THEATRE", The Sydney Gazette (11 March 1834), 2

The theatrical public may congratulate themselves on the arrival of Mrs. Taylor, who has afforded sufficient to convince that she will prove an acquisition of no mean worth to the Sydney boards. She made her debut thereon last Saturday evening, when she sang "Bid me discourse" and "Kate Carney." The house was a full one, probably from the intimation which had been pretty general, that Mrs. T. would exhibit her vocal talents, although not announced in the bills of the day. Her figure is good, and her person altogether pleasing in point of stage attraction, and when Mr. Levey introduced her between the first and second acts of Luke the Labourer, she was received with universal acclamation; which, although flattering of course to the susceptibility of the fair stranger, had the effect of rendering her somewhat hurried in the first song. Her voice however, displayed both compass and sweetness, and is altogether far superior to any that has yet gratified the ears of a Sydney audience. Mrs. Taylor had fully regained her self-possession. when she appeared between the pieces to sing Kate Carney, in which she was eminently successful, and encored. Mrs. Taylor possesses the important advantage of a Drury Lane education, being the daughter of Mr. Hill, the celebrated vocalist of that establishment; and it is by no means prophetical to augur that her "fair fame" will suffer no detraction in the exertions of his daughter among the votaries of song in Australia.


To call up all the TROVE newspaper items tagged Maria Taylor for 1835: 

24 March 1835, Maria Taylor's concert

[Advertisement], The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (24 March 1835), 1 

RESPECTFULLY announces to her Friends and the. Public generally, that her
CONCERT will take place at the PULTENEY HOTEL, on
TUESDAY next, the 24th Instant, assisted (with Permission of Colonel Despard) by the
Band of the 17th Regiment.
1 Overture- Gustavus - Auber
2. Glee, three voices, Ye Shepherds - Mazzinghi
3. Song, Mrs. Child, Wilt thou say Farewell - Stevenson
4. Duet - When a Little Farm we Keep, by Mrs. Taylor and Mr. Knowles - Mazzinghi
5. Song, Mrs Taylor, Lulled by thy Siren Voice - Smith
6 Solo, Clarionet, Mr. Lewis - Gambarra
7. Song, Mr. Gordonovitch - Ger. Bravura
8. Song, Mr. Simmons, Mountain Maid - Sinclair
9. Song, Mr. Bonnar, The Boutie Rows, accompanied on the Guitar by himself - Scotch
10. Song, Mrs. Boatright, The Rover's Bride - Lee
11. Song, Mrs. Taylor, Isle of Beauty, accompanied on the Metalaphone - Rawlinson
12. Overture, Zauberflote - Mozart
1. Overture. The Battle of Waterloo -
8. Glee, Three Voices.
3. Song, Mrs. Boatright, Muffled Drum - Lee
4. Matrimonial Duet, Mr. Simmons and Mrs. Taylor - French Air
5. Sonp, Mrs. Child, Farewell to Love - Mrs. Child
6. Solo, Flute, Mr. Stubbs - Nicholson
7. Song, Mrs. Taylor, Young Coquette - Lee
8. Song, Mr. Gordonovitch, Maid of Judah - Sloman
9. Glee, The Sea Sprites - Godbe
10. Song, Mr. Bonnar, The Guitar of Spain, accompanied on the Guitar by himself - M. S.
11. Song, Mr. Simmons, The Misletoe Bough -
12. Song, Mrs. Taylor, Minstrel Boy, with Band accompaniments - Stevenson
13. Sinfonia - Mozart
Mr. Cavendish will preside at the Piano-forte. * Tickets 7s 6d. each; to be had at Mr. Ellard's Hunter-street, and at the Pulteney Hotel.

"CONCERT", The Sydney Herald (26 March 1835), 3 

Mrs. Taylor gave her Concert on Tuesday evening last, at the Saloon of the Pulteney Hotel, to rather a thin house, scarcely sufficient we should think to cover the expenses. The performers were Mesdames Taylor, Boatwright, and Child, and Messrs. Simmons, Ellis, Gordonovitch, and Bonner; Mr. Cavendish presiding alternately at the Seraphine and Pinoforte [sic]. Mr. Thomas Stubbs assisted on the flute, and the Band of the 17th Regiment with their scientific leader Mr. Lewis, performed several celebrated Marches in their best style, and were loudly applauded throughout the evening. The finest piece of music next to the military performances, was a beautiful selection of airs with variations, by Mr. Stubbs, on the flute, and which for sweetness and expression we never heard equalled at any previous Concert. Mrs. Taylor sang, with her usual confidence, a number of pretty songs, amongst which was the sweet and plaintive air of Rawlinson's "Isle of Beauly," accompanied by Mr. Cavendish on the seraphine, and also assisted in the duetts and glees. We never heard Mr. Simmons to more advantage than in the interesting ballad of the "Misletoe Bough;" his comic duetts with Mrs. Taylor, although out of character in a concert-room, did much to enliven the spirits of the audience in all of which he was encored. The difficult song of the "Muffled Drum" was performed very creditably by Mrs. Boatwright, who seemed to be labouring under indisposition. Mr.Gordonovitch sang a number of songs, but we would advise that gentleman to confine himself to his own native airs, his style and pronunciation not being consonant with English ballad singing. The performances terminated at about half-past eleven o'clock.

"THE CONCERT", The Australian (27 March 1835), 2 

. . . Mrs. Taylor sung the "Minstrel Boy," accompanied by the metalaphone, an instrument which much resembles the sustenuto, attached to Motte's piano fortes. Mr. Cavendish evidently was out of his elements; he can't play it . . .

"CONCERT", The Sydney Monitor (28 March 1835), 3 

. . . Mr. Cavendish presided at the piano and metalaphone, with his usual taste . . .

[Advertisement], The Sydney Herald (6 April 1835), 3 

TO THE PUBLIC. MR. LEVEY feels it an imperative duty to inform the Public, that at the solictation of Mrs. Taylor, through the medium of Messrs. Sippe and Stubbs for an engagement at his Theatre, and he, Mr. Levey, thinking that the addition of Mrs. T. to his dramatic corps might have met the wishes of his Friends and the Public generally, he engaged her on her own terms, viz., one pound per night, in the presence of the above-named gentlemen; and further gave her choice of characters to appear in, when she selected the part of Mrs. Haller, in the play of the Stranger for Monday next. Judge then the surprise and astonishment with which a note was received by Mr. Levey, saying she could not engage. This after an engagement made at her own request and before two respectable gentlemen, only three days prior to her promised appearance as specified in the bills and advertisements, certainly discreditable, to say nothing of dishonourable, obliges Mr. Levey to publish this plain and honest statement to the Public at large, in order to prevent the possibility of any sinister tongue making false statements. The gentlemen referred to attach their certificate, as to the veracity of the foregoing. We, the under signed, hereby certify that the facts contained in the above are wholly true. [signed] GEORGE SIPPE. April 3, 1835.

(Copy of Mr. Stubbs' Note to Mr. Levy.) Rose Cottage, Druitt street, Saturday. Sir. - In reply to your's of this morning, I beg leave to say, that Mrs. Taylor particularly solicited my interference with you in her behalf, to re-engage her services at your Theatre, and I can bear testimony to the handsome manner with which you met her proposals, and the readiness that lady accepted the engagement of One Pound per night, and her promise to appear on Monday. I am Sir, Your very humble servant, THOMAS STUBBS. To Mr. B Levy, Theatre Sydney.

[Advertisement], The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (7 April 1835), 3 

To the Editor of the Sydney Gazette.
SIR, IT has never been my wish to enter into a newspaper controversy; but finding myself attacked in a most ungentlemanly manner by Mr. Levey, in the Gazette of this day, I feel compelled to refute the slander he has circulated respecting me. In order to vindicate myself, and for the satisfaction of my friends I shall make a concise statement of the facts, so far as they concern myself with the abovenamed GENTLEMAN.

On Thursday morning last Mr. Stubbs called on me on the part of Mr. Levey, whose wish it was that I should return to the Theatre (and not at my solicitation, as stated by him) and appointed a meeting at the house of Mr. Sippe, as Mr. Levey objected to call upon me. It is true the terms offered me were as stated by Mr Levey, in his polite and gentlemanly notice, posted all over the town One Pound per night, with no definite engagement ! and to play when it suited the convenience of the Patriarch of the Drama in New South Wales.

At the same time I mentioned my inability to play the character of Mrs. Hatter, on Monday evening, owing to the precarious state of my health, and requested that my name should not appear in any bills until this day, by which time I could give a decisive answer. On my return home I mentioned to some friends my having partially engaged at the Theatre who strongly recommended me to retract, as the present internal arrangement was very "peculiar." I was inclined to do this the more, as Mr. Levey had, with the most unblushing assurance, asserted that the reason of my not being engaged at the commencement of the present season, was in consequence of objections raised by Mr. Simmons, then in partnership with him, as to the expediency of dispensing with my services - I, on account of my long illness, being unable to undertake so much as I had the previous season, thereby effecting a saving to the treasury, every week, of £3 - my salary at that time. This was afterwards proved to be incorrect, as, when confronted with Mr. S. in the presence of a third party, he (Mr. L.) told quite a different story, and the truth was proved to be the reverse of what Mr. L. had stated.

From the tenor of Mr. Levey's conduct to me of late, as also that of another party, whose name I shall not at present mention, I trust my friends will coincide in thinking me fully justified in the steps I have taken. My wish has always been to please my patrons, the Public; and if general approbation is any criterion, I flatter myself my wish has been obtained.

I remain, Sir, your obedient Servant,
Pitt-Street, 4th April, 1835.

"THE THEATRE", The Tasmanian (8 May 1835), 7 

... We have mentioned already, that Mr. Cameron had written to Sydney, offering very liberal terms to several of the performers there, particularly to Mr. and Mrs. Taylor - the former as stage manager, and the latter in that line, her eminence in which obtained her so much of the public favor last year. Mr. Taylor has arrived, and Mrs. Taylor will follow him as soon as her re-engagement for five nights, under the new management of the Sydney theatre, is completed ...

[Advertisement], Colonial Times (12 May 1835), 2 

For the Benefit of MR. SPENCER. ON WEDNESDAY EVENING will be presented SHAKSPEARE'S Tragedy of KING RICHARD III. Gloster. MR. SPENCER. Richmond. MR. TAYLOR. Lady Anne. MRS. CAMERON. SONGS: "To win the Love of Thee," Mrs. Clarke. "The Horn of Chase," Mr. Jacobs. "Why did I Love," Mrs. Henson. After which, MR. TAYLOR will give some imitations of "Mr. Gordonovitch" ...

16 and 17 November 1835, entertainment, Maria Taylor (benefit), Theatre Royal

"DOMESTIC INTELLIGENCE", The Sydney Herald (5 November 1835), 2 

An entertainment of a novel description is advertised by Mrs. Taylor, the actress, to be given on the 16th instant, at the Royal Hotel, on which occasion Messrs. Cavendish, Sippe, Stubbs, Clark, and Wilson, have volunteered their musical services. Particulars of the entertainment are to appear in a future Herald.

"NOVELTY IN AUSTRALIA", The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (10 November 1835), 2 

[Advertisement], The Sydney Herald (16 November 1835), 1 

Theatre Royal, Sydney.
By permission of His Excellency the GOVERNOR
RESPECTFULLY informs her friends and the public in general, that her Entertainment, announced to take place in the Saloon of the Royal Hotel, will now be performed in the Theatre, which she has engaged from Mr. Simmons, he having become the Sole Lessee, and on which occasion he has offered his valuable services gratuitously.
will he performed an entire new descriptive Entertainment, with Songs, in two parts, with new Scenery, Dresses, and Decorations, got up expressly for the occasion by Mrs. Taylor, called
Theatrical Reminiscences.
For the programme, see bills of the day.
Song - The Romalka, (Moore's Melodies) accompanied by herself on the Piano-forte, and Mr. Stubbs on the Flute.
Scotch Air - "Within a mile o' Edinbro' town."
French Air - "Dunois the brave."
German Air--" Lieber Augustein."
Fashionable Air.
Moorish Air.
The following characters will be sustained by Mrs. Taylor, and in which she will sing the following songs.
Jeanny Dean, Madame Meannette, Mrs. Haller, Louisa Lovetrick, Marguerite, Becky Butterfly, Agnes, Ernestine,and Don Giovanni.
A New Medley Song - Buckstone.
"I have a silent sorrow here" - Sheridan.
"Dashing White Sergeant" - Whittaker.
"My heart's true blue" - A. Lee.
"When the hollow drums" - Colman.
Between the first and second parts
Mr. Simmons, on this occasion, will give a new Entertainment called
In which he will sing
"Morning at Bow-street," and "London at Six o' Clock in the Morning."
The Musical Department, under the direction of
Messrs. Stubbs, Clarke, Cavendish, Wilson, and Sippe, who have kindly offered their services gratuitously.
The performance will commence at Seven o'Clock, and terminate at Eleven.
Tickets and Boxes to be had at the Theatre.
Prices to all parts of the house as usual.

[News], The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (19 November 1835), 2 

Notwithstanding the unfavorable state of the weather, a tolerably numerous au- dience assembled at the theatre on Monday evening last, to witness Mrs. Taylor's novel entertainment, after the manner of Miss Kelly, at the London Theatres. Mrs. Taylor gave extracts from several of the leading characters she has sustained during the late season, with her usual superior ability; and she sang several songs, with her accustomed success. "I have a silent sorrow here," we particularly noticed for it's simplicity of style, and chasteness of execution. Some of the appeals to the public on the faults of managers, orchestra, &c. were by no means contemptible specimens of wit, and they kept the audience in continued good-humour. Mr. Simmons also introduced his "early recollections" with a happy effect, and his songs of "Mornings at Bow Street," and "London at six in the morning," were most humorously given. In the second part, Mrs. Taylor appeared in the character of Don Giovanni, in which, she did every thing to please her auditors, and was as usual, successful in her endeavours. A similar entertainment, with some slight variation in the minor details is to be repeated this evening; and we invite all those who delight in witnessing novel amusements, to profit by the present opportunity.


To call up all the TROVE newspaper items tagged Maria Taylor for 1836: 

[Advertisement], The Sydney Gazette (29 March 1836), 3

"Original Poetry", The Colonist (31 March 1836), 7 

John Thomas was a Shropshire man

John Thomas was a Shropshire man

To be Sung at the next Concert,
TUNE. - We'll run the risk for a' that.

JOHN THOMAS was a Shropshire man,
And eke a worthy nailer;
He had a stout-built portly frame,
And his flame she was a Taylor;
Who, though she tried to fasten John
In Hymen's pleasant noose,
Found to her cost; alas! that he
Was not a Taylor's goose.

She bound him with a silken cord,
And then a cord of cotton;
But silk and cotton; flax and tow,
Snapp'd as if each were rotten!
She took to pouting then and vow'd
She'd sooner die of hunger,
Than e'er be bound with bullock chains,
Or wed an Ironmonger!

"What is't you say? said he, as she
Stood bolt upon the boards;
You're tenfold happier than if kept
By half a dozen lords.
There's not a show-room in the place
Can be compar'd with mine;
There's not a woman on the town
Has such a lot as thine.

"Why, there's the Sydney Theatre,
Its owners wish to let it;
'Twould be the noblest spec of all,
If we could only get it.
We'd take it either by the week,
Or by the month or year;
And there's my good friend B ... n,
Will back us out, my dear."

Said Parson H--- one day, as they
Were riding in their carriage,
"Why, you'll disgrace us all, friend John
If you don't make this a marriage.
The thing has got about the town
In fearful notoriety;
And, mind, we'll turn you out of each
Religious Society."

John Thomas blush'd and said " 'twas strange
How idle people CAVILL,
But he would tell him all the truth
And the whole case unravel.
He would have married long ago;
(He's of the marrying kidney:)
But when one has a wife at home,
He can't have one in Sydney."

"THE COLONIST", The Sydney Monitor (6 April 1836), 2

"THE THEATRE", The Colonist (4 August 1836), 6

We had occasion lately to allude to an outrage perpetrated on the Sydney Stage by that brazen-faced strumpet Mrs. Taylor, unparalleled we believe in the annals of theatrical entertainments, whether we consider it in reference to the prostitution of the purposes of which, theatricals are designed, or as an evidence of her utter callousness of  feeling to every sense of shame ... having reference to the conduct of this very female with her paramour, the notorious John Thomas Wilson, we designated the playgoers of Sydney, generally, as a set of "wretched creatures in the shape of ladies and gentlemen who frequent that sink of iniquity the Sydney Theatre."


To call up all the TROVE newspaper items tagged Maria Taylor for 1837: 

John Dunmore Lang, An historical and statistical account of New South Wales, volume 1 (London: A. J. Valpy, 1837), 434-447

[News], The True Colonist Van Diemen's Land Political Despatch (7 April 1837), 524 

Mrs. Taylor has received letters from her brother, Mr. C. Hill (of Covent Garden and Surry Theatres), stating that he, Mrs. C. Hill, and their daughter, Miss Rosalia Hill, and also their brother, Mr. John B. Hill, and Mrs. J. B. Hill of the Exeter Theatre, intended leaving for here, and are now daily expected. From a "file of bills" that we have had a sight of, that talented family have been playing very prominent characters in the wide range of the drama at home, and, we have no hesitation in saying, they will be a great acquisition. We have every reason to hope, that with such an addition of talent, the gagging system will be entirely abolished.


To call up all the TROVE newspaper items tagged Maria Taylor for 1838: 

[Advertisement], The Australian (3 April 1838), 1


To call up all the TROVE newspaper items tagged Maria Taylor for 1839: 

"THE VICTORIA THEATRE", The Sydney Gazette (19 October 1839), 2

[Advertisement], The Australian (21 November 1839), 3

25 December 1839, Taylor departed for Calcutta

"DEPARTURES", Australasian Chronicle (27 December 1839), 4

25. - The Prince George, Captain Chillcott, for Calcutta. Passengers - Mr. Wilson and Mrs. Taylor, (late of the Theatre.)

India (1841 and after)

To call up all the TROVE Australian newspaper items tagged Maria Taylor for 1841: 

"BARRATRY", The Sydney Herald (14 June 1841), 2

BARRATRY. - Our readers will remember that about two years since a splendid French ship, called the Ville de Bordeaux, of 800 tons burthen, put into Sydney to repair, having been ashore at New Zealand. After some time she was sold by auction in Sydney, and not having a British register, and there being doubts as to the captain's authority, sold for the small sum of £ 3000. (She is the vessel that has recently been seized by the Customs at South Australia.) The captain, after remaining in the colony for some months, went to Calcutta in the ship Charles Jones, taking with him an actress, named Taylor, with whom he had been living for some time. This affair has caused some excitement in France . . .

"EAST INDIA", The Sydney Monitor (23 August 1841), 2

(from Indian papers): It will be seen by the advertisements that Mrs. Dhermainville (Taylor), who made her appearance lately at the Town Hall, is to present herself to the Sans Souci audience this evening for the first time. The character which Mrs. D. has selected is one which she performed with distinguished success at Sydney, and as she will be well supported by Mrs. Leach and Mrs. Bartolo in the next principal characters, there can, we should think, be little doubt of her making a favorable impression here. [Agricultural South Report].

ASSOCIATIONS: On Esther Leach, see Hemendra Nath Das Gupta, The Indian stage (Calcutta: Metropolitan Printing & Publishing House, 1934), especially 252-54: 

"DEATHS", The Sydney Herald (27 September 1841), 3

"Calcutta", Asiatic Journal (September 1841), 8

Mrs. Dhermainville, it appears, had been upon the stage at Sydney, and eloped from her husband (a person named Taylor) with the master of a ship, who robbed his owner, and appeared at Calcutta as "Count Dhermainville."

"DEATH OF MRS. TAYLOR", The Sydney Gazette (28 September 1841), 2

It is our melancholy duty to record the death of Mrs. Maria Taylor, formerly of the Sydney Theatre, which took place at Calcutta on the 13 th May last. As an actress this lady was more successful than any other that ever trod the Sydney boards. The versatility of her talents and the elasticity of her spirits knew no bounds. In private life, whatever indiscretions she might have been guilty of, were rather the result of a volatile and giddy disposition, inseparable from her professional pursuits, than of a bad heart-on the contrary, we have known acts of private charity and benevolence done by this unfortunate lady, which, in our opinion would out-weigh a thousand faults. But enough, the last sad scene in her drama of life is closed, and let us not draw up the curtain upon her frailties or her faults. Requiescat pace!

"THICKENING OF THE 'VILLE DE BORDEAUX' PLOT", Southern Australian (14 December 1841), 3

WE have been kindly favored with a copy of the "FRIEND OF INDIA" of the 20th of May last, from which we make the following extract: Mrs. Dhermainville has just died of cholera. The grave has closed on her transgressions, and it may be called uncharitable to unveil them. But her course as described in the Englishman may well serve as a warning to others. She went out to Sydney with her husband, one Taylor, a dissipated creature, who never obtained or deserved employment. She went on the stage for her bread, acted three times a week, took strong stimulants, and injured her voice. She then ran off with a man of the name of Largetot, who, in true Botany Bay fashion, ran away with his owner's vessel. The guilty pair came to Calcutta, and passed themselves off as Dhermainvilles, he taking the addition of Count. He died of cholera soon after his landing. She appeared on the stage immediately after. Then came the connection with Capt. Cox, who recently shot himself; then deep dissipation and lastly, the cholera. The extent to which the name of Largeteau has figured in connexion with the recent Ville de Bourdeaax transactions is still fresh in the recollection of our readers, and we should hardly have felt it necessary to have [??] on it again, but for the fearful appropriateness of much of the above to the cloud which has gathered round the parties connected with this vessel since her arrival in this port. At the time the inquest was sitting in Adelaide upon the unfortunate Campbell, whose suicide was attributed to the conduct of the parties connected with this vessel, it was little thought that Largeteau, the original plunderer of the Ville de Bourdeaux, had then fallen a victim to cholera in India, that the paramour of Largeteau's mistress had indicted a letter to the jury preparatory to the commission of suicide, or that Largeteau's mistress herself had sunk beneath the accumulation of evils which had gathered around her and her ill-fated paramours. Our views of Divine Providence are in no degree tinged with the superstitious, but we cannot overlook such plain indications as the above, nor can we close our eyes to much that has passed around us in connexion with this vessel since her seizure by the Collector of Customs in February last. By a good deal of manouvreing and hard swearing, the declaration of the forfeiture of this vessel was delayed, but that event has now taken place, and the ostensible master of her has been cast into prison for debt. What may be the next chapter in this melancholy history, we must leave time to disclose. For the present, we have but little time or space to comment on the remarks put forward on this subject on Saturday last. The lachrymose strain in which those remarks are penned, and the reluctant admission which is now tardily made of the utter hopelessness of all further efforts to ward off the deserved condemnation of the vessel, are only to be equalled by the savageness of the attack renewed on the Advocate General. In the latter of these points, as in many other cases we could easily point out, the gratitude of this writer is in an inverse ratio to the depth of his obligations. If any reliance is to be placed upon public report, the date of this writer's first attack upon the Advocate General is to be traced to a transaction as honorable to the latter as it was discreditable to the former. Of this, however, more anon.


[1797] A true and perfect Scehdule of all Estates, the Administration of which had been committed to the Registar of this Court . . . since the last Report on the 1st day of March 1842 . . .

[1806] . . . [INTERSTATE'S NAME] Taylor, Madeline Maria, otherwise Madame Dhermainville / [Amount of each Estate in Cash] 335 6 2 / [To whom paid over, and remitted] Paid in dividends amonst the creditors of the deceased

"NEW BURIAL GROUND, CIRCULAR ROAD", The Bengal Obituary: Or, a Record to Perpetuate the Memory of Departed Worth (Calcutta: J. Thomas, 1851), 280

Sacred to the Memory of Maria Madeline Taylor, who died 13th May 1841, aged 27 years.

Australia (after 1841)

N. N., "THE LATE MR. JOSEPH WYATT", Empire (25 July 1860), 5 

. . . The company with which he opened this establishment [Royal Victoria theatre] embraced several names which will long be remembered by our play-going community. Who that has ever seen can ever forget Simmons, true to nature in every character he assumed, every inch and actor; Meredith, who had Shakspere at his fingers ends, and Knowles who was both a scholar, and a gentleman? Added to these were Cameron, Mackay, Lazar, Simes, Fenton, Grove, Falchon, the charming Mrs. Taylor, Mrs. Bushell, the sweetest of soprano singers; Mr. Bushell, the celebrated buffo; Mrs. Chester, Mrs. O'Flaherty, Mrs. Thomson and her daughter, now Mrs. Young (at present performing with great success in London), and Mrs. Ximenes . . .

"Sketches from Real Life By OLD BOOMERANG. BOLTERS IN BYGONE DAYS", The Sydney Mail (12 November 1870), 11

On John Thomas Wilson

L. S., "STAGE REMINISCENCES. To the Editor", Evening News (19 November 1892), 7 

. . . Maria Taylor, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Hill of the Drury-lane Theatre, sister to Charles Hill of the Surrey Theatre, London, and John Hill, manager of the Brighton, Theatre, was, with out exception, the most versatile actress that has ever trod the boards of a colonial theatre - a second Madam Vestris and Mrs. W. West combined. She left the colony under engagement for the Calcutta Theatre, and died three days after her arrival in that city . . . It is a remarkable fact that of 42 persons comprising the company of the Theatre Royal, which was the first theatre erected in Sydney, and occupied the site of the present Royal Hotel, in George-street, not one is now alive, except their manager. - Yours, &c., L.S.

The manager, Simmons, would die the following year, 1893

Bibliography and resources

Brewer 1892

Francis Campbell Brewer, The drama and music in New South Wales (Sydney: Charles Potter, govt. printer, 1892), 7, 8, 15, 55 (DIGITISED)

Sixty years ago 1897

"Sydney Sixty Years Ago", Australian Town and Country Journal (19 June 1897), 24-27 

. . . Among the noted who graced the stage [Theatre Royal] were Messrs. Cavendish, Grove, Dyball, Buckingham, Mackay, Hill, Meredith, Mesdames Meredith, Larra, Dawes, and Jones (who became Mrs. Knowles). There were infant prodigies too Master Stephen and Miss Tilly Jones, who in the thirties were great favorites. Miss Lazar, afterwards Mrs. Moore, was also a success. Mr. J. Simmons, a typical stage sailor; Lazar, Cameron and his wife, and Mrs. Taylor were all well known, at this period, the latter being considered a versatile and valuable acquisition. Miss Douglas and Miss Winstanley were also rising actresses, Miss Winstanley (becoming Mrs. O'Flaherty), well known on the provincial boards in England. Miss Douglas died suddenly, in the midst of a most promising career. In 1836 quite a sensation was made by the announcement that "Mrs. Chester, of Drury Lane, London," would make her first appearance, and the greatest excitement existed on the first night, which cooled to a pleasant satisfaction, and Mrs. Chester continued "to draw." Music in the early days of Australia was not a strong point. Although several ladies had given musical entertainments, it was not until the end of the thirties that any notable musicians were heard. Governor Bourke's daughter, afterwards Mrs. Deas-Thompson, encouraged everyone she came in contact with, and about this time some excellent concerts were given. Mrs. Prout, Mrs. Taylor, Wallace (Vincent's brother), Stubbs, Leggatt, Simmons, and Stephen Marah were all well known, and drew crowded houses . . .

Annals 1904


. . . There were several concert rooms in Sydney, but no regularly licensed theatre except the Royal. A notable event in music about this time was a concert given at the Pulteney Hotel concert room by Mrs. Taylor, "after her recovery from a serious illness." She was assisted by Messrs. Knowles, Simmons, Gordonovitch (a Polish refugee), Tom Stubbs, and Bonnar (who played the guitar), and Mr. Cavendish, a noted pianist, who had a some what mysterious history, and who lost his life by drowning in Sydney Harbor. Of him, more hereafter. The tickets for the concert were 7s 6d, and the chronicler says that the attendance was not by any means as numerous as was an ticipated.

Mr. Simmons, before seceding from the Royal, took a monster farewell benefit and was a veritable Pooh Bah on the occasion. He appeared as Leporello in the operatic burlesque of Don Giovanni, Mrs. Taylor playing the Spanish roue. Mr. Simmons "doubled" as Jerry and the Doctor, and afterwards as Anthony in the "Rival Valets," with Mrs. Taylor as Susan Fielding. Between the pieces there was an Indian dance. When Mr. Simmons left Mr. Levey he was followed by Messrs. Knowles and Buckingham and Mrs. Jones, they having also a disagreement with the management. The manager, however, had some pluck and bore up under his trials. He produced a burlesque on "Don Giovanni,", named "Giovanni in London," with Miss Douglas as the Young Scamp, introducing into the part no less than forty-one songs.

A little controversy subsequently arose in connection with the "star," Mrs. Taylor. The lady had been announced to appear at the theatre, but had declined on the ground that she was not under engagement. Mr. Levey then published a note subscribed to by Messrs. Sippe and Stubbs to the effect that he had engaged Mrs. Taylor in the presence of these gentlemen, at £1 per night! To this Mrs. Taylor replied that she had not definitely accepted the terms, but had agreed to give an answer in a day or two, and that Mr. Levey had announced her without waiting for her reply. The "Gazette" considered Mr. Levey's conduct in announcing the lady as "highly reprehensible."

Six gentlemen formed a syndicate or commonwealth to direct the theatre for a fortnight. Most of the old corps dramatique joined the new management, "The Strangers" being the first piece produced. "Jane Shore" was another production. Some new performers were obtained and, as an improvement, it was announced that in future "No bonnets would be allowed in the dress circle." The cart-wheel hat was on unknown quantity then. The new company consisted of Simmons as stage manager, Knowles, Mackay (described as a steady actor for lead or second parts), Buckingham, Peat, Dyball, Winters and Master Jones, Mesdames Taylor, Jones, Mackay and Larra, with the Misses Winstanley and Douglass. Mr. Cavendish was the musical director. The "Commonwealth" adhered to the four nights a week. "The Pilot," "She Stoops to Conquer," and others of a similar character were produced. Governor Bourke gave a "bespeak" when the "Mountaineers" was produced, with a variety of other entertainments.

In September, Simmons took a benefit, the advertisement for which occupied two columns of the "Gazette." About this time there arrived from Drury Lane Mrs. Chester, who made her first appearanca in October, 1835, as Clari in "The Maid of Milan." I have before me a playbill of the farewell benefit and last appearance on the stage of this lady. It was at the Theatre Royal, Melbourne, in 1862. The initial piece was "The Lady of Lyons," the Claude Melnotte being Mr. John Hayward, an old actor who had retired from the stage and taken to civic life. He, in time, returned to the stage as Mr. Deorwyn, and brought with him his two daughters, now Mrs. Richard Stewart, jun., and Mrs. Charles Holloway. The Colonel Dumas was Mr. H. R. Harwood, and Samuel Hawker Banks was the Caspar. Mrs.Chester was the Widow Melnotte, Mrs. Alfred Phillips (an actress and an authoress of no mean repute) being Madame Deschapelles. A petite concert followed, in which Octavia Hamilton (Mrs. Moon) and Mrs. Frederick Younge (a daughter of Haydyn Corri) appeared. The farce was "Teddy the Tiler," Mrs. Chester playing Lady Dunderford, and Mr. J. Simmons Teddy the Tiler. Thus, after a lapse of nearly 30 years, these two ancient players came together again.

Towards the end of the year 1835, Mr. Simmons announced that he had leased the theatre and intended to introduce some London novelties. One of these was a new system for box visitors; anyone engaging would receive a key admitting him at pleasure. Season tickets were issued as £5. The front of the house was placed under the direction of Mr. William Knight. On off-nights Mrs. Taylor gave entertainments similar to those subsequently given by Mr. and Mrs. George Case, and Mr. Simmons followed suit with entertainments after the manner of the elder Mathews . . .

Madge 1908

Elliot Walter Madge, "A forgotten Calcutta actress: Madame Maria Dhermainville", Bengal past and present 2/2 (1908), 497 


" - Heedless where thou'rt straying, sad and pale,
Like grief-struck maiden who has heard revealed
To all the world that which she wished concealed,
Her trusting love's - and hapless frailty's - tale."
- DEROZIO. Sonnet to the Moon.

MADAME Dhermainville (or Mrs. Maria Madeline Taylor to call her by her real name) was a lady who caused no little stir in her own brief day, but who for many a long day since has been utterly forgotten. Her life-story would form a tear-stained volume; but although a child of misfortune she was one of Beauty’s daughters; and, coming as she did from a theatrical family, was by face, figure, stature, and voice well fitted for the profession she adopted. Although not educated up to the height of lofty tragedy, Maria Taylor became the leading actress at Sydney and the idol of Australian playgoers when she was barely twenty, and continued to be so for six years in the 'thirties of the last century. Taylor, her husband, was described as a worthless fellow who never worked and indeed did little else than induce his young wife to take to stimulants, the constant use of which began to affect her voice. Before long the couple parted and she threw in her lot with a Captain Pierre Largetot (or Largeleau). He commanded a whaler which without the knowledge of her owners he sold, using the proceeds to defray the fare of himself and the lady to Calcutta. Having assumed the name and style of "Baron" Henri Dhermainville he engaged a house (or flat) in Park Street. Just about this time the Sans Souci Theatre [footnote] had been opened (8th March 1841), and here Madame Dhermainville, relying on her Australasian celebrity, hoped to secure a permanent engagement. She was, however, unsuccessful, owing it was said, by her friends, to professional jealousy on the part of Mrs. Esther Leach, and, by her enemies, to her having appeared at a rehearsal not quite sober. She next announced a performance of "The Taming of the Shrew," with herself as Katherine, to take place at the Town Hall on 25th March 1841. This had, however, to be postponed owing to Dhermainville's death from cholera the night previous. In advertising the . . .

[Endnote] For an account of this old theatre in Park Street, the reader is referred to the article entitled "The Sans Souci and its Star" which appeared in Bengal: Past and Present of July 1907.


[498] . . . performance for the 15th April instead, she pleaded that in appearing so soon after her affliction she had been compelled to sacrifice private feelings to the stern necessity of maintaining herself by her profession.

The following well-written and touching address, spoken by Madame Dhermainvilie, was said to have been composed by Mr. G. Nash, one of the amateur performers who supported her on this occasion: -


"Friends, - for so must I welcome you and claim
The deeds that justify the sacred name -
Behold a stranger, and recall the time
When each one felt so in this distant clime,
And every heart will justify my plea,
A voice in every bosom plead for me!
Ye, who have known but fortune's tenderness,
Should feel for those who suffer ne'ertheless,
And one Adversity has stricken low
Is she, who humbly pleadeth to you now.
Oh! had I power to utter all I feel,
Then should ye know the force of this appeal,
And own, as sympathy relaxed each brow,
'The WOMAN, not the actress, speaketh now.'
Alas! too soon must I resume the mask -
Necessity commands me to the task -
And bid my features mimic feelings show,
Whilst dark and heavy lies my heart below:
Pause to remember this, ere ye upbraid,
And let my faults, to-night, be lightly weighed.

Lords of the mind, whose sceptre is the Pen,
To you I turn, and trembling meet your ken -
Forbearance, critics! 'tis more great to aid
Exertions weak as mine, than to upbraid;
And grant the little band, whom kindness drew
To back my efforts, your protection too.
But wherefore fear I? - I no more will plead -
Sustained by your forbearance I succeed;
Yes, the conviction springs, like lightning, through
My quickened heart, and I can smile anew!
Oh! could you know the change now passing here!
The Seraph, Hope, o'ercomes the Demon, Fear [499]
The pulse of Gladness beats for Sorrow's throe,
And Joy regains the throne usurped by Woe;
And I can smile; my heart rejoicing bounds,
Escapes its fetters, and forgets its wounds!
Yes, gratitude shall make my weakness might,
And wake each nerve to energy to-night."

Madame Dhermainville made her next appearance in a musical farce called "Mischief-Making" which was performed at the Sans Souci on 29th April. On that very night occurred a tragedy which greatly shocked Calcutta residents. Captain George Hamilton Cox of the East India Company's Invalid Establishment and Actuary of the Calcutta Fire Insurance Company, on returning from the Theatre to his rooms in the Bengal Club (then in Tank Square, E.), committed suicide by blowing his brains out with a revolver. He was very popular both at Calcutta and Simla (where he was one of the early European settlers), and the circumstances of the case were particularly distressing. He had unfortunately become over-friendly out here with Madame Dhermainville and on receiving a letter by mail intimating that his wife and children were on their way out from home, he committed the rash act. The poor man left behind him several letters. One was addressed to the Coroner and Jurors at the inquest to be held on his body, desiring, by rehearsing the circumstances of his death, to spare them unnecessary trouble in collecting evidence. In this he solicited "the cheapest and meanest funeral - no pucka grave, parson's fees, etc." Another letter was addressed to his medical attendant, Dr. Goodeve, enclosing his fee and imploring him to defend the writer's memory from a verdict of "temporary insanity" which he feared might act as a slur upon his children. A third note was for Mr. Westerman of his office, assuring him that the books and cash were all quite correct. A fourth Whs directed to his friend, Mr. J. H. Stocqueler, editor of the Englishman who had that very evening met him at the Theatre, apparently in the best of spirits: but neither its contents nor those of another which had been written to his actress-friend, were made public at the inquest. Captain Cox's bearer deposed that a couple of minutes before the report of firearms, he had heard his master singing and beating time in his room as he used habitually to do. The Jury returned the brief verdict - felo de se. Captain Cox, according to the Bengal Hurkaru, also left behind him a long rambling Essay on Suicide which he desired might be printed (though not "published") for his son.

A fortnight later and Madame Dhermainville also had left the stage of life! At first it was supposed she had died under suspicious circumstances, but Dr. Duncan Stewart, the Presidency Surgeon, who sat up with her [500] professionally through the night, certified the cause of death to have been cholera. She passed away at No. 97, Taltolla, where she had removed, and her funeral service was conducted by the Rev. R. B. Boswell, Chaplain of old St. James's. One of the newspapers, a morning or two after, referred to her as "the wretched Mrs. Dhermainville," while another, in rehearsing the principal events of her life, declared that her career might well serve as a warning to others. But after all these years one need no further seek to draw her frailties from their dread abode. In the old portion of Circular Road Cemetery the soi-disant Baron and the Captain of Invalids sleep in nameless graves, and hard by rises a modest headstone bearing the following simple inscription:-

"Sacred to the Memory
who died 13th May, 1841,
aged 27 years."

In conclusion, it may be added that the facts recorded above have been amplified from an anecdotal article, entitled "The Pathos of Destiny" (by the present writer), which appeared not long ago in the Englishman.


Osric 1911 (ed. 1996)

The romance of the Sydney stage, by Alfred J. Crips and Humphrey Hall, MS, National Library of Australia 

Published as: The romance of the Sydney stage by "Osric" (Sydney: Currency Press, 1996), 30, 37, 38, 43, 44, 49, 51 

As reported in the 1996 edition, page xi, extant letters dated November 1911 (to Cripps from Harold Wright, Mitchell Librarian) and November 1913 refer to the manuscript

Maxwell 1940

C. Bede Maxwell, Wooden hookers: epics of the sea history of Australia (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1940), 51, 122, 123

Hall 1951 (also reprinted as Hall 1991)

Irvin 1971

Eric Irvin, Theatre comes to Australia (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1971), 145-233 passim 

Beedell 1992

Ann V. Beedell, The decline of the English musician(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), 257, 260, 262, 265, 266-67

Gyger 1999

Alison Gyger, Civilising the colonies (Sydney: Pellinor, 1999), 13-32 passim, 247

Fotheringham 2006

Richard Fotheringham, Australian plays for the colonial stage: 1834-1899 (St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2006), 145-233 passim (PREVIEW)

Dutt and Munsi 2010

Bishnupriya Dutt and Urmimala Sarkar Munsi, Engendering performance: Indian women performers in search of an identity (New Delhi: SAGE, 2010), 28-33 (PREVIEW)

Skinner 2011

Skinner 2011, First national music, passim (DIGITISED)

Woolard 2017

Jane Woollard, "'The elasticity of her spirits': actresses and resilience on the 19th century colonial stage", unpublished paper (DIGITISED)

Jane Woollard, "'The elasticity of her spirits': actresses and resilience on the Nineteenth-century colonial stage", Australasian Drama Studies 70 (April 2017), 7-34;dn=907610473746857;res=IELHSS (PAYWALL)

"Maria Madeline Taylor", Wikipedia 

Based largely on Wollard above

© Graeme Skinner 2014 - 2020