The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Lennox Grey

Lennox Grey

Born Louisa Caulfield in London in 1845, she was the daughter of John Caulfield, a music teacher, and his wife Louisa, a vocalist. In 1862, when she was seventeen years old, she married Lieutenant Francis Lennox George Grey (born 1839) of the 96th Regiment of Foot at St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden. The couple had two sons: Francis Claude, born at Poona in India in 1866, and Louis George, born the following year, also at Poona. Lieutenant Grey was later appointed Regimental Stipendiary Magistrate on the island of Saint Lucia in the West Indies, but drowned there on 27 December 1870. Their elder son, Francis Claude Grey, later became a major in the army and was still living in 1926. Louis George Grey entered the Church and later became vicar of Christ Church at Folkestone in Kent, where he died on 29 December 1945.

The following is a report from the ‘Theatrical News and Gossip’ section of an American newspaper [The Washington Post, 31 March 1907] which appeared under the heading ‘Actress in Workhouse’:

‘Just as a benefit is being arranged for Emily Soldene another old time burlesque actress and a member of the famous Soldene company of other days has been found in poverty in an English workhouse [the Strand Workhouse at Edmonton in North London]. These two women are said to be the only survivors of the company which originally sang Genevieve de Brabant, which was a New York sensation of the early ’70s.

‘Miss Lennox Grey was the stage name of the old woman who has been taken out of a London workhouse, an anonymous donor having provided a weekly stipend sufficient to support her for the rest of her days. She did not take part in the original production of Offenbach’s operetta in London [at the Philharmonic Theatre in Islington on 11 November 1871], but succeeded Selina Dolaro, who was compelled to retire from the cast after a few performances.

‘Miss Lennox Grey was at that time the wife of an officer in the English army. She had married him after a short stage experience and went to India to live. He deserted her and she returned to the stage in England.

‘She was for years one of the most popular burlesque artists in England and came to this country with the Soldene companies, appearing in Little Faust, Chilperic, and other works of this company’s decollete repertoire. Emily Soldene, who is now a very old woman, came to this country for the last time about twenty years ago and sang in the Bowery variety theatres in New York.

‘Miss Lennox Grey married for her second husband a classical scholar of high attainments, which did not, however, avail to prevent him from going to the poorhouse along with her. When the actress began to lose her youth there was no longer engagements for her, and she finally disappeared so completely that she was commonly supposed to be dead.

‘Yet less than forty years ago she was the most admired woman on the London stage.’

Emile Soldene remembered the marriages of her former associated a little differently. A journalist writing for the Auckland Star in 1906 (24 November 1906) quoted her as saying: 'She had offers of marriage by the score before she was seventeen, and at that early age married Captain Lennox Grey, with whom she went to Indian. He died, and later she became the wife of a doctor, who deserted her. Then she married Mr Gibson, a journalist once well-known in Fleet Street, but their life has been a hard one, and off and on for the past ten years Edmonton workhouse has been her home.'

Photographed by the Southwell Brothers of London.

Code: 123714
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© Paul Frecker 2019