29 June 2011

The Beringers and the Posts

Many moons ago I wrote about the Beringers and the Posts. When Adam and John Valentine Beringer came out to Australia it was noted in their immigration records that they had an uncle in Uralla. They were also sponsored to come out by Philip Post, and I assumed that Philip was a cousin and his father George was the Uncle. However I had not found any definite link between the Beringers and the Posts.

I was close. The Philip Post I was thinking of was a relative, but not the right one. I assumed George Post was the uncle in Uralla, however he had a brother named Philip and it turns out that he was the uncle.

Philip Post (born Eltville, Hessen-Nassau, Germany in 1830, died Uralla, NSW on 16 Jul 1904) was married to Charlotte Louisa Bredel (born Georgenborn, Hessen, Germany 1828, died Uralla, NSW 1910). As I had previously worked out, Adam and John Valentine's mother Elizabeth's maiden name was Bredel. For Adam and John Valentine to have an uncle in Uralla it would fit that their mother Elizabeth was the sister of Charlotte, who was married to Philip Post, who would therefore be their uncle.

27 June 2011

Jean Gaspard Weiss

Jean Gaspard Weiss was Charles Nicholas Weiss' father. I have found references to him being known as Carl, Karl, Karl Gaspard, Gaspard, Gaspar and Jean Gaspard. Goodness knows why he couldn't just choose one name and stick with it! I'm using the name Jean Gaspard because this seems to be what he was known as in France, where he came from.

Jean Gaspard Weiss was born in Mulhouse, France on 15 March 1739 to Hans Jacob and Martha (nee Schlumberger) Weiss.

Like his son Charles, Jean Gaspard was a distinguished flautist and made a living from this talent. His father Hans Jacob was a shoemaker, so although he may have been an amateur musician (pure speculation!), Jean Gaspard was apparently the first in the family to play music professionally. He privately tutored the English earl Lord Abingdon, an amateur flautist, and in the early stages of his career travelled with him. It is unknown how or where they met. In 1760 he and Lord Abingdon travelled to Rome. Lord Abingdon introduced Jean Gaspard to the artist Angelica Kauffmann, to whom he became engaged for a period.

By 1766 Jean Gaspard and Lord Abingdon were in Geneva. Lord Abingdon had returned to England by 1767, and it is possible that Jean Gaspard travelled there with him.

On 5 November 1768 Jean Gaspard appeared in a concert at the Assembly Rooms, Princess St, Bristol. On 7 May 1773 he held a benefit concert at Hickford's Room, under the direction of Messrs Bach and Abel (Johann Christian Bach and Carl Friedrich Abel). Tickets were 10s 6d each. From 1773-1778 he held a number of benefit concerts in London, often in conjunction with Antonin Kammell, and appeared in other concerts, often with Bach and Abel. Jean Gaspard was appointed as Principal Flautist to the band of King George III, possibly during this time.

During this period Jean Gaspard apparently travelled back to France and married Marie Baumgarten in Mulhouse on 20 September 1775. Almost exactly 9 months later their first child, a daughter named Charlotte Mary was born (30 June 1776). Charlotte was baptised at St Marylebone, Westminster. In around 1777 a portrait of Jean Gaspard, his wife and his daughter Charlotte was completed in Britain by an unknown artist. Further children were born and baptised in St Marylebone - Gaspar (born 12 September 1777), Mary Ann (born 6 September 1778), Sarah Elizabeth (born 19 May 1780) and Willoughby Gaspard (born 12 May 1782).

In 1784 Jean Gaspard travelled to Paris and made something of a name for himself there. He does not appear in any more concert advertising in London and it is possible he did not return to England. At some stage, having made a considerable fortune (presumably from his concerts - certainly the will of Antonin Kammell showed that he had made a reasonable amount of money from his concerts) he was lured home to Mulhouse to invest his money. However his investments went badly and he lost his fortune. He then began a fabric printing factory which was only moderately successful - a news item in World and Fashionable Advertiser on 16 October 1787 stated that "Weiss – The flute performer, who has to boast himself the master of such a scholar as Lord Abingdon – has retired from the art as a Professor – and is now more profitably occupied in the manufacture of linens in Switzerland."

During his further time in Mulhouse Jean Gaspard was active in the local intellectual and political life. He and Marie also had more children - Jean Georges (born 12 June 1785), Charles Nicholas (born 20 June 1789) and Rosine Angelique (born 12 April 1798). His wife Marie died four days after the birth of Rosine. There is every chance that there were more children in the Weiss family than this, especially considering the large gap in years between Charles and Rosine.

It would appear that Jean Gaspard may have remained in Mulhouse until his death, aged 76, on 26 May 1815, although the location of his death is unclear. No death or burial record has turned up for him in England, and there is no evidence that he returned to England. He did publish music in England in (at least) 1790 and 1801 but he surely could have done that from France. He published a relatively small number of works overall, most of which have now been lost. Later this year (17/09/2011 to 14/11/2011) the Musée Historique in Mulhouse will be holding a biographical exhibition on Jean Gaspard Weiss. I wish I could go!

P.S. If you are the person from Mulhouse who has also been researching the Weiss family, please say hello! (Post-scriptum Si vous êtes la personne de Mulhouse qui a également fait des recherches sur la famille Weiss, s'il vous plaît nous dire bonjour!/P.S. Wenn Sie die Person aus Mulhouse, der auch seit der Erforschung der Familie Weiss, bitte sagen hallo!)

23 June 2011

Willoughby Gaspard Weiss

There is a book in the National Library of Australia with a ridiculously long title: A new methodical instruction book, for the flute [microform] : containing in two distinct parts, a comprehensive elementary exposition, elucidated by proper examples, with a finishing section, in which are displayed, all the beauties of which this instrument is capable. It is written with great perspicuity, that it may be intelligible to the meanest capacity & will lead the pupil through a progressive & pleasing course of instruction, to the highest pitch of excellence, in a very short time. The whole composed in an original style, & dedicated to Mr. Willoughby G. Weiss by his brother, Chas. N. Weiss

So, Charles Nicholas Weiss had a brother called Willoughby. A Google search of "Willoughby Weiss" comes up with Willoughby Hunter Weiss, an English opera singer. However, his father was Willoughby Gaspard Weiss, a professor of flute and a music publisher. I'd say this was Charles' brother.

The Morning Chronicle of 30 March 1853 has the following death notice: "On the 25th instant, at the residence of his son-in-law, E. Edwards, surgeon, Crew, of bronchitis, aged 70, Willoughby Gaspard Weiss, Esq., of St. Clement’s-terrace, Liverpool." This would have made his year of birth 1783. This fits with the vague idea of when Charles' date of birth was.

So, Charles had a brother called Willoughby Gaspard Weiss. Gaspard seems to have been a family name in my branch of the Weiss family, but Willoughby is an unusually British sounding name for someone presumably born (like his brother Charles) in Mulhouse, France/Germany. I was quite bewildered by his name until this afternoon, when I put two and two together: Charles and Willoughby's father Carl was known to have taught the amateur flautist Lord Abingdon. This was the 4th Earl of Abingdon, whose name was Willoughby Bertie (1740-1799) - and I think this solves the mystery of Charles' brother's very British-sounding name.

14 June 2011

Caroline Hughes probate and will

Caroline Judith Hughes, who I believe was Caroline Weiss, died on May 6 1905. I sent away to the UK in May for her will and probate. It arrived the other day.

I must admit that I was hoping that it might shed light on whether she was in fact Caroline Weiss, by perhaps leaving something in her will to one or some of her siblings as well as her children. Unfortunately it mentioned nothing of her siblings. Probate was granted to her daughter Marion Constance Hughes, and she also bequeathed all her "real and personal estate" to her said daughter. The Probate states that Marion was a spinster. The gross value of the estate was £267-8-4 (no leasehold) and the net value of her personal estate was £37-8-4.

It does suggest to me that unless she was for some reason estranged from her other children, they must have all died young, for Marion is the only child she provided for. Considering I haven't found any trace of the other children apart from at a young age I think we can assume that they did die young and Marion was her only surviving child.

That Marion was a spinster, aged 34, at the time of her mother's death, makes it somewhat likely that she never married, nor had any children of her own. And so there the line died out. One of the reasons why Caroline Weiss has remained hidden for so long.

11 June 2011

Professors of Music

I sent an email to the Royal Academy of Music the other week, asking about the title of Professor of Music. I received a very helpful reply yesterday advising me that in those days "Professor of Music" was a common term used interchangeably with "Teacher". There was no qualification needed to advertise in this way. So I needn't think my relatives were trying to give themselves a more glorified title. : )

The helpful librarian who wrote back to me then added some extra information unbidden: "[Gustav] Holst’s grandfather [Gustavus Valentin Johann Von Holst, Matthias and Katharina Von Holst's firstborn son] would have been too old to have studied at the Academy: in its early days, it taught only children aged approximately 12-16 years. I checked our records, however, and did find Mathias Von Holst, aged 14, who entered the Academy on the 9th October 1848 and left on the 16th June 1849. He studied piano with Mr Cipriani Potter."

This was Gustavus' first child, also named Gustavus, who was known as Matthias. I found a newspaper article (The Times, 22 Dec 1847) which said a candidate with the name of Von Holst distinguished himself in the examination for two King's Scholarships at the Royal Academy of Music, which became vacant every Christmas. It would appear that he didn't win a scholarship but he went anyway, the following year. Matthias was both a pianist and a harpist.

02 June 2011

Charles N Weiss - renowned flutist and composer and my great great great grandfather?

I've been working on Charles Nicholas Weiss over the past few days. Since I found him living in Manchester it's whetted my appetite for more. I've been trawling through historical newspapers and it's been an absolute goldmine of information. I think I've found a whole lot more about him, but my head is still spinning, trying to take it all in. Forgive me, but this post is very long (it takes a bit of effort to prove your great great great grandfather was a little bit famous).

The first piece of information is from The Manchester Guardian, 5 Nov 1831, where Mr. Charles N. Weiss, of London, is noted as the Principal Flute for a performance of Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) at the Theatre Royal, Manchester. Perhaps he is already living in Manchester at this time, but he seems to have earned his "fame" in London at this stage.

The second piece of information is from The Manchester Guardian, 17 May 1834:

MR. CHARLES N. WEISS, of the London Concerts, respectfully informs the Nobility and Gentry, and his former pupils, that he has arrived in this town to fulfil engagements as Principal Flute at the Gentlemen's concerts, and at the Italian operas; and that he intends devoting some of his time to TEACHING the FLUTE and to accompany ladies with the piano-forte. -Applications to be made at Mr. Beale's music warehouse, St Ann's Square; at Mr. Pickering's Ditto; and at the Royal Theatre Italian Opera.- N.B. Mr. Weiss also gives lessons in private, and in schools, in the Italian and German languages.

From this we learn that he has returned to Manchester as he has former pupils there. It also shows that he knows Italian - perhaps this is related to his performances in the Italian operas, though presumably he does not sing, but instead plays the flute. He also knows German, but considering he is believed to have been born in Prussia this is hardly surprising.

There are other articles in The Manchester Guardian alluding to his performances in concerts, and then we come to the announcement of "Mr. Weiss' Farewell Concert" in The Manchester Guardian of 20 Nov 1839. A write-up of the concert on 27 Nov 1839 notes:

"It is already generally known, that the numerous friends of Mr. C. N. Weiss, principal flutist at the Concert Hall, determined, prior to his departure for India (where he has an appointment as band-master), to give him a concert. ... Amongst the foremost we may state that all the instrumentalists of the "Gentlemen's Concerts" contributed their valuable services, almost all the principal vocal talent of the town was also given; and the musical force consisted of 61 instrumentalists, 7 principal vocalists, 36 chorus; total number of performers, 104. ... Mr. Weiss, on making his bow, in front of the stage, was greeted with loud plaudits from all parts of the theatre. His flute fantasia (of his own composition) was a performance full of talent; and if a fine tone, great facility, rapid fingering, and considerable command over the instrument in all its difficulties and tongueing, &c. bespeak the master of his instrument, Mr. Weiss is certainly entitled to take a high rank in his profession."

If anything made me completely sure that this refers to my great great grandfather, I know that he went to India with the army and was the band-master in his army regiment. I even found this little article from during his time in India, in The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce (11 Aug 1841):

Mr. C. N. Weiss has it in contemplation to establish in Bombay a series of six Concerts by subscription, and under the highest patronage. It will probably be in conjunction with the Band of His Excellency the Governor, so that the effect of having the two best Bands in India to harmonize together, will be very forcible. The Concerts will altogether be on a grand scale, as Mr. W. contemplates to give a selection of Handel's Messiah, and also six operatic pieces performed by vocal and instrumental performers, engaged expressly for the occasion, on liberal terms. As this is undertaken on Mr. W's own risk, we hope he will have success.

We believe that the projector of these concerts has already obtained a high reputation at home for his musical performances.

I'd always wondered what it was that made Charles suddenly consumed with civic duty to a country that he wasn't even born in. If it was a job (as band master) that he was appointed to then that makes a whole lot more sense. A little different from my original assumption that he joined the army and then joined the band because he was a reasonable musician.

After the reference to "London Concerts" I decided to dig a little further, as he seemed to have a bit of a musical reputation elsewhere. Little by little I uncovered bits of information, such as advertisements for new compositions by Charles N. Weiss, for concerts, even books that he had written. Then I came across a book called My complete story of the flute: the instrument, the performer, the music by Leonardo De Lorenzo, which contains a number of paragraphs on Charles N. Weiss, "a well-known flute-player and composer" and son of Carl Weiss, a German who was appointed as principal flutist to King George III's private band. It gives many details of Charles N. Weiss, including suggesting he was born in London (I believe this is wrong), but that he spent time in Italy before settling in London and becoming prosperous and popular. It skirted around the issue of the end of his career, alluding to events which suggest it was ended prematurely.

I was left wondering - could this refer to my great great great grandfather?

The arguments for:

  • We know he knew Italian and German because he gave lessons in both languages
  • He was apparently a talented flutist and did compose works for the flute
  • It gives us a reason for his wife Benigna (who undoubtedly would have had some musical talent) taking a back seat to her husband's musical ability
  • The mysterious end to his career would certainly fit with an early death in India whilst serving in the army
  • Plus I am unable to find any more advertisements for new compositions or concerts after the time of Charles' posting to India

The arguments against:

  • The year of birth (1777) given for Charles N. Weiss, the renowned composer and flutist, in De Lorenzo's book is vastly different to the date calculated from my great great great grandfather's burial record (1795). I have found another reference on the internet to 1789 being his year of birth. It is possible that Charles Weiss might have fudged his birthdate to be allowed into the army, should they have had an upper age limit for enlisting. Unless an actual birth record is uncovered there will always be speculation on this.
  • De Lorenzo says he was born in London. Family information has always suggested he was born in Prussia. I have actually found a letter to the editor that Charles N. Weiss wrote stating "If this letter is not written in the English language, you must ascribe it to my being a native of Germany" (The Morning Chronicle, 27 Jan 1824). I'm pretty sure this means he was born in Germany, whether Prussia or not!
  • No one in my family knows about it. I asked my grandma - "Oh, he was definitely a talented musician", but she had no knowledge of him being a renowned composer, nor which instrument he had played. Why not? Charles' son Frederick, from whom I am descended, was only 3 years old when his father went to India. Even though we know Charles did organise concerts in India, why would a three year old know how famous his father was in England, especially if his father died whilst he was still a child, before he was old enough to be impressed by such information?

So, is the following advertisement from The Morning Post, 13 Feb 1821, the smoking gun?

CHORAL FUND, instituted for the relief of Decayed members, their Widows and Orphans. Patrons: His Most Gracious Majesty, His Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence, His Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex, His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge. At the New Royal Theatre, English Opera House, Strand, on Friday 16, 1821, will be performed a grand miscellaneous concert of vocal and instrumental music, for the benefit of this charity. ..... [list of all the performers and items etc including] A Concerto on the Harp, Mr. Holst,- A Concerto on the Flute, Mr. Weiss.

Although it is debatable whether this refers to Charles or his father Carl, one of them played in a concert with Matthias Holst, the father of Benigna, whom Charles ultimately married. That seems to be a good enough link as any to me.

How can I be sure that Charles N. Weiss, renowned flutist and composer is my great great great grandfather? The only way we could know for sure would be to compare the signature of my great great great grandfather on the marriage register with one known to be of the renowned flutist and composer. If anyone happens to have a copy of his signature lying around please let me know!

01 June 2011

The von Holst sisters

I haven't enough concrete information to say what order the three von Holst sisters were born in so I shall refer to them in alphabetical order: Benigna Catharina, Carolina Helena Maria and Constantia Eleonora von Holst. I actually wasn't aware of Carolina until very recently, when I just happened upon information on her. I had read that there were five children in the family but until then she had eluded me.

Benigna was my great great great grandmother and was married to Charles Nicholas Weiss. Her sister Carolina was married to a Dane/German named Joachim Heinrich Christian Friederichs. Joachim was a widower when he married Carolina and his profession was "Gentleman". Constantia married a Frenchman named Jean Furcy Tourrier - he was an artist and a French teacher.

Trawling through historical newspapers the other day I came across advertisements that they had placed in The Times.

MADAME TOURRIER (Nee von Holst) Professor of the Pianoforte and Singing, respectfully announces that her ACADEMY for SINGING, in the Italian, German and English languages, will OPEN at her residence, 158, New Bond Street, on Thursday, the 25th instant, and that the instruction will be continued every Monday and Thursday, from 1 to 3. Monsieur Tourrier's Academy for Drawing is on Wednesday and Saturday, from 3 to 5. The Times, 23 Feb 1836.
MONSIEUR TOURRIER, Professor of French and Drawing, author of "The Model-Book, or the 77 French Lessons", will recommence his EVENING FRENCH CLASSES, in the city, on Monday next, at Mr Trail's office 18 Cornhill. He also, for the accommodation of gentlemen residing at the west end, will open a class at his residence 158 New Bond Street. Madame Tourrier nee von Holst, professor of the pianoforte and singing, will recommence her singing academy on the 24th instant. Apply by letter, post paid, at 158 New Bond Street. The Times, 6 Oct 1836.
HARP and PIANO - Mrs. FRIEDERICHS, late Miss von Holst, daughter of the celebrated GERMAN composer and pupil of Bochsa, informs the nobility and her former pupils, that she has lately returned from Germany, where she has given concerts with great success and intends to resume her former profession in giving LESSONS on the above instruments. Her method is so easy that pupils will be able to become proficient in a very short time. Her terms are moderate. The lessons can be given in the German language if required. Also, Mr Friederichs, her husband, a native of Germany, who is sufficiently acquainted with the English language, is desirous to give lessons in the German language and literature, and read with advanced pupils the works of Schiller and Goethe, and other famous poets. His terms are reasonable. Address 46 Upper Charlotte St, Fitzroy Square. The Times, 9 Jan 1847.

Clearly they had some talent in the area of music! Both the von Holst brothers seemed to have been talented in some way as well - Gustavus as a musician (piano and harp) and Theodor was a well-known artist. Which leaves Benigna. Try as I might, I have not been able to find any advertisements offering her services in lessons for music, art and/or languages. I have wondered about this - I can't imagine that the talent gene would have completely skipped over her. Perhaps she was just content to raise her children. I shall probably never know. I have not been able to uncover any children for the Friederichs but I do know that Constantia already had one child of her seven at the time the advertisement for her Academy for Singing was placed. We can only assume the Tourriers were wealthy enough to employ someone to look after the baby whilst she taught.