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LynWeirParticipant21 Apr 2021 at 3:14 amPost count: 3
Thank you. That’s terrific.
I am waiting on your books to arrive which I have reserved from my local library, should be great reading!
I have gathered some of the information you have added here which has confirmed what I have gathered. Great to have a bit of the wire walking/tight rope history as well.
I am in the process of ordering all the information I have gathered and then I will write up the full story of James Perkins, Sarah Bishop, Catherine Byrne Rendalls and their families. I can let you know when it is all done.
Thank you for the offer of help with any additional queries.
Lyn WeirLynWeirParticipant19 Apr 2021 at 2:48 pmPost count: 3
James Perkins – Wire Walker/Performer – known as Arthur Elton & Mons Daziane
I have been researching my family history which includes a wire walker, performer, actor, photographer and agent/manager ‘James Perkins’ also known as ‘Mons Daziane’ ‘Daziane’ and ‘Arthur Elton’ and later ‘Arthur Elton’ or ‘Arthur Elton James Perkins’. His story is quite complicated and difficult to condense easily his personal life intercepts with his public/performance life so I will outline a little of both.
I note that in your list of Routes it include an entry for ‘James Perkins – 16 Nov 1878 – Bathurst – Perkins, James, Tightwire Artist, at School of Arts’.
I have corrected numerous newspaper articles in Trove from 1877 to 1921 when he died. His performances as a wire walker seemed to be reported on regularly, especially 1877-1881. Henri L’Estrange was said to have viewed one of his performances and was ‘demonstrative in his applause’ in June 1877 at Clontarf. There was a wire walk challenge between him & Carl Grand in 1878 which is widely reported and it was 1879 when he seemed wot work in circuses.
I have seen little mention of James Perkins in any circus or performing news but he appears to have been a very talented wire walker. There is one reference in Aus Stage of ‘Mons Daziane’ performing with the Hayes and Benhamo’s English Circus in Jul-Oct 1879 – https://www.ausstage.edu.au/pages/event/86337 There are 3 advertisements for Daziane performing with the English Circus in October 1879 near the end of their season for the International Exhibition.
What I do know is that at the end of 1878 and early 1879 when his wife Sarah stated that he was travelling in Victoria performing, he was working with St Leon’s Circus. An advertisement on 25 December, 1878 in the Wagga Wagga Advertiser lists ‘JAMES PERKINS, Agent’ this role continued into the end of March 1879 on advertisements for St Leon’s. In Sept 1879 he was performing as a wire walker with Ashton’s Circus.
The period 1877 – 1882 James was performing widely across mainly NSW as a wire walker. He had been a builder who found he had exceptional balance then trained himself as a wire walker. This is outlined in a newspaper report: Goulburn Herald 18 July 1877 ‘Combination of Talent’. The walk across Mossman’s bay in a challenge with Carl Grand was reported with much fanfare in newspapers in NSW, VIC, QLD & SA as were other of the events he held around the state crossing rivers in places like Inverell. In 1880 he was performing at ‘Attwater’s Theatre Royal’ in Grafton where his mother was living and many of his family, again it was another challenge this time between him as a ‘funambulist’ wire walker and another ‘pedestrian’ walker.
I have been trying to track if anyone has any more information on James, I have pretty much tracked a lot of his life/work through Trove newspapers etc.
James Perkins performed with his sister Emily Clara Perkins and Frederick Hobbs (stage name ‘Lloyd’) as ‘Elton-Lloyd’. Fred Hobbs and Emily Perkins married in 1892. They formed the Lloyds circus and later the Lloyd Sisters Circus. Their daughter Alma Hobbs married Vincent Ashton in 1931.
It appears James was also was a manager for the Payne Family Singers as ‘A J Perkins, Manager’ (Arthur James) in 1888.
PERSONAL LIFE – complicated!
In 1902 my great grandmother married Walter Arthur Perkins, he recorded his parents as James Perkins (Professional Actor) and Sarah Ann Bishop. They had one child before Walter Arthur deserted my grandmother by the end of 1903. Walter Arthur went on it seems to have another relationship and 2 more children and when this broke down, he then married a second time having another 4 children. There appears to be no divorce record so far but my great grandmother did file a missing persons report and many years later remarried. I am still researching this part of the story. I do know that in Court records in 1906 Sommerville Matthias Perkins brother to James and Emily Clara Perkins, stated Walter Arthur Perkins was his nephew which ties him back to the family. He also spent time with James Perkins brothers/family after he left my grandmother and was living near Grafton before he married where many of James family were living.
James Perkins and Sarah Bishop had married at Patrick’s Plains on 24 April 1872 and had 3 children registered, Walter Arthur was apparently the fourth chid but there is no birth record I have yet been able to find. The reason for this may be linked to what happened with their previous 3 children. In 1879 James was in Victoria with St Leon’s and according to Sarah sent no money to her. She was living in Sydney, behind in her rent and unable to work with 3 children so she placed the children into care at the Benevolent Society, they were moved to Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children and were eventually ‘Boarded Out’. The Superintendent stated that given the mother never visited nor contributed any money towards their care, and the father had according to Sarah left them, that it was a case of ‘deliberate desertion by both the mother and the father’. It is difficult to know the full circumstances with just snippets of information. In her later Divorce records Sarah states she did regularly visit the children but that is not reflected in the Asylum records.
In 1881 there is a newspaper reference to a performance in Clarence Town of ‘Mr and Mrs Perkins (nee Bishop)’ indicating it was Sarah Bishop performing with her husband James Perkins. There are are references to other women’s names singing or performing with James including ‘Clara Bishop’ performing with him in Crookwell in 1882, and the ‘Mr Perkins Happy Family’ troupe performing in Stroud/Tumbarumba in 1884. A Mr and Mrs Perkins were living in Crookwell in 1883 performing at local concerts with singing and comedy routines very similar to later performances that James did. It seems likely after the 1881 account that it was Sarah performing with him with other stage names. As he got older James did less rope walking and more comedy singing and drama performances often enlisting locals to perform alongside his troupes.
Meanwhile the marriage had broken down between James and Sarah some time before 1890 and they had split up. He married Catherine Byrne Rendalls in 1890. At this stage James Perkins had adopted a stage name and added to his birth name, becoming ‘Arthur Elton James Perkins’.
Sarah Perkins nee Bishop finally filed for divorce (with James in absentia presumed dead) in 1896-1898.
James and Catherine and sometimes her sisters, and later their son (born in 1891), performed with them under a variety of Troupe names – ‘Elton Stray Leaves Company’ ‘Arthur Elton Company’ but James became ‘Arthur Elton’ in much of the advertisements and newspaper reports after the second marriage. In the early 1900’s he was touring with a Biograph and Vitascope also listing his occupation as a photographer. He died in Dalby Qld in 1921 with his death certificate stating he was ‘Arthur Elton James Perkins’, his mother as ‘Jane Pinteaux’ (which is correct but different spelling) and father ‘Perkins Elton’ – his father was Samuel Perkins. His sister Emily Clara (father Samuel Perkins) contributed to his headstone so we know it is our James Perkins.
I have documents from the NSW archives about his children and the Randwick Asylum where they were sent and of his divorce from Sarah 1896-1898 so have been piecing it all together. I have still at this point not been able to track a birth record for Walter Arthur Perkins but given they had 3 children placed into care it makes sense they did not officially record Walter Arthur’s birth.
I wondered if you had any records or information about ‘James Perkins’, ‘Arthur Elton’ or ‘Mons Daziane’ as he was also known? I live in hope of finding a photograph.
Given he did work with St Leon’s circus and you have written about the circus in Australia extensively and along with the routes note re James Perkins, I thought you may have some leads.