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North East Circus Records with Northumberland Archives.

Northumberland Archives hold several interesting documents with relate to circus which they are sharing on their Facebook page as part of the Circus250 celebrations.  Many of the documents relate to incidents involving circus people in trouble or having drawn legal attention to themselves. 

1988 Leslie OrdPhoto: Acquisition number NRO 3680/185.

“The photograph is from the patient case files of St. George’s Hospital, Morpeth, where Mr. Ord was a patient. His case notes state that he had previously spent four and a half years at the County Asylum at Elgin and Berwick Workhouse, before being transferred in 1890 to St. George’s Hospital. The file stipulates that his condition was said to date from an accident some years previous, whilst following his occupation as a clown. Mr. Ord died in January 1898 aged 51 and is buried in the graveyard at St. Mary’s Church, Morpeth.”

1906 John Davison  – Photo: Acquisition number NC/6/4/127

“John Davison aged 15 of Cowpen Quay, Blyth, taken from the police files. Davison was charged with having stolen a pair of shoes, wig and necklace belonging to Madame La Tosca, who worked for Tudor’s Circus in Blyth. Davison and his accomplice, Easton, aged 10, had slept in the circus overnight on Wednesday 22nd August 1906, and took the items from a dressing room. The necklace was sold to a woman from Cowpen Square for a penny, and they threw away the wig at Ashington. Both were fined 10 shillings.”

1914 James Lane – Photo:  Acquisition number NC/6/4/309

“James Lane, travelling acrobat who was charged and committed for larceny. On the 8th March 1914, Lane was apprehended after stealing an overcoat, handkerchief, 4d in money, a bag of sweets and an orange, which belonged to Jane Ann Reid, charwoman of the Buffalo Theatre, Ashington.

At the court case Mrs Reid said she saw the defendant in the theatre, worse of drink, and ordered him out of the theatre. After finishing her shift she went to the dressing room for her coat and saw it was not there. She went to the police and saw the defendant in a doorway along Station Road, trailing the coat on the ground. Lane was initially sentenced to two months hard labour, but upped to two months in gaol.

After his trial at Morpeth Petty Sessions, Lane was waiting with his police officer at Morpeth train station to be conveyed to Newcastle, when he slipped out of his handcuffs and made a dash for freedom, only to be caught five minutes later under a waggon in the goods station.”

1914 Sperino Ferrarini – Photo: Acquisition number NC/03/27/01/10 

Adding to our information for War Circus project. We see the Register of Aliens act impacting on an Italian circus musician in Preston. 

“In the Northumberland Constabulary files there is a change report for Sperino Ferrarini, musician, who had moved from Morecambe in Lancashire to join Sanger’s Circus in Wallsend in September 1914.” He was born in 1862, had served in the Italian army in 1822-4. He left his wife Caroline and 2 little daughters in Morecombe.  He was a Bandsmaster employed by J.M.Becks ?), Serial number 1068.

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