His obituary describes him as being “formerly proprietor of the African Opera Company, and many years associated with the Moore and Burgess Minstrels, well known in dramatic and musical circles”
Harry’s father was a Waterman. Then later a Porter and steward of the Turnway Society, (the Temple Watermen’s society.) His final occupation was as a messenger.
Harry was baptised at St. Dunstan in the West, Stepney on 12 Oct 1828 and was brought up in London living at both Fetter Lane, Holborn, and 8 Pearl Crescent, St Pancras, Marylebone.
However it is clear that Henry was only 24 when he formed the “African Opera Troupe” (ref: Harry Reynold’s “Minstrel Memories” – Harry Templeton’s Original African Opera Troupe was organised 1852). The troupe would have performed Minstrel Shows that were popular at the time.
The first performance of the troupe was probably on Monday 30th August 1852 at The Strand Theatre. It seems they had a long run at this theatre. By 1858, Harry Templeton was described as “an old favourite” and directed Major Dumbleton’s American Troupe at the Easter Fetes at Crystal Palace.
List of performances
(Click image to enlarge)
The African Opera Troupe, sometimes referred to as Harry Templeton’s African Minstrels and Ethiopian Burlesque Opera Troupe, was on tour around Britain for approximately the next 6 years. Reviews were usually but not always good and on the 1st of April 1861 at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, Henry was served with an injunction to prevent a performance of a burlesque opera, entitled “Lucy did-lam-him-more”. In the same year “The Original African Opera Troupe” did a charity concert at the Tyne Concert Hall, Nelson Street, Newcastle, singing extracts from Italian operas, to raise funds for Newcastle Infirmary. They returned the following year.
The troupe also performed for Queen Victoria and on June 1st 1860 performed in front of Prince Albert, when he laid the Foundation Stone of the Royal Dramatic College, a home for retired actors in Woking.
In 1867 Henry, now aged 39, did a winter season with Christy’s Minstrels at St James’s Hall in Piccadilly and continued with them to about 1871. He then continued at the same venue with Moore and Burgess Minstrels at least until 1876.
He again formed his own troupe, who in February 1877, commenced a short season at Park Theatre, Camden. This was reported in the theatrical paper “The Era”.. “Mr Harry Templeton so long associated with the Moore & Burgess minstrels, having organised a minstrel troupe of his own….commenced a short season….”Harry Templeton, the pioneer of Ethiopian minstrelsy in Great Britain….”
He did a tour of seaside towns with the Poor Player Company in 1884 and portrayed Frank Grey in the drama “Secrets of the Police” in Sunderland in 1887. He then toured throughout Britain in “Hans the Boatman” for the first half of 1888 and these appear to be his last performances.
On the 16th of August 1859 Harry married Annie West (also from London) at the Register Office in Hull, where he (maybe they) was on tour at the time.
It seems this may not have been his first marriage as an Eliza Anne Pullum nee Gough died aged 30 from Diarrhoea terminating phthisis pulmonalis (T.B) on the 8th of October 1858 in Glasgow, Scotland. Her husband was Henry Pullum, professor of music. I have not found their marriage at present but it would seem likely that this Henry is the same one.
Their first child was born on 25th January 1861 in St Martin in the Fields, London, whilst still on tour and was baptised as Horatio James Templeton Pullum on 7th April at St John in Manchester, although the family’s residence was given as Pall Mall, London. However on the census in June that year, when Horatio was 2 months old, they were living at 40 Lower Byrom, Manchester and they are all recorded as having the surname Templeton. Harry’s is described as a professor of music and Annie as a vocalist. There are other entertainers in the household too.
They had 5 more children:
– Edgar Stanley Templeton Pullum born in The Strand, London in 1863
– Percy Digby Templeton Pullum born in Plymouth, Devon in 1864
– Alice Annie Templeton Pullum born in Pancras, London in 1866
– Edith Elizabeth Templeton Pullum born in Marylebone, London in 1868
– Ebenezer Harry Templeton Pullum born in Chelsea, London in 1869
In 1870 three of these children died:
First was Edith, aged 2 buried in Brompton Cemetery in London on 9th September. Then Alice aged 4 was buried there on September 17th and finally 7 year old Edgar was buried on 20th of September.
On the census the following year, Harry and Annie are with their 3 remaining children at 229 Hampstead Road, Marylebone, London and are recorded with the surname Pullum. Harry is a comedian and his wife Annie is still a vocalist.
Ten years later, in 1881, Harry & Annie have Percy and Ebenezer living with them, at 23 Melton Street, St Pancras, London. Harry, Annie and 16 year old Percy are all vocalists.
Eldest son Horatio had become a solicitor’s clerk (later a solicitors managing clerk) and was using the name Horatio James Templeton. He married 3 years later as Horace James Templeton and kept this as his name until his death aged 65. (see below)
On 23rd September, son Percy, was charged with burglary at Marylebone Crown Court. On 31st October 1881 he was sentenced to 18months imprisonment at The Old Bailey, Central Criminal Court.
Within 9 months of coming out of prison, after a brief career as a baker, Percy joined The Royal Fusiliers (in Dec 1883), using the name Digby Templeton. (see below)
Son Ebenezer Harry got married on July the 3rd 1889 to Mary Harrison Carr at St Peter’s Church in Fulham. He was married using the name Henry Pullum Templeton and his father is recorded as being Henry Pullum Templeton (the Pullum being inserted later), but he signed as Henry Templeton Pullum when he witnessed the marriage.
Harry snr’s occupation is Comedian and his son is an actor and visualist.
Eldest son Horatio became a solicitors managing clerk, using the name Horatio James Templeton until his death. He lived in briefly in Ilford before returning to Lambeth. He had had 2 children with his wife Phoebe nee Hawes, both had the surname Templeton (Dorothy and Stanley James). It appears he did well as from 1901 he had a domestic servant and in 1911 was living in a house with 9 rooms. He was in Brighton when he died aged 65.
(Son Stanley James became Lieutenant Colonel S. J. Templeton M.B.E, P.A.S.I, R.E).
Percy Digby Templeton Pullum, after his brush with the law at while a teenager, continued in the army (still using the name Digby Templeton), travelling to Gibraltar, Egypt, East Indies, Karachi, and Bombay. Despite malaria, gonorrhoea, scarlet fever, a few other diseases and a hand wound, he did well, being promoted to Lance Corporal then Corporal.
He was married in Cardiff on 1st September 1896, to Mary Jane Abraham. in this record he is Percy Digby P Templeton.
They had a daughter the following year named Olive Daisy Hilda Templeton.
His wife lived at various addresses while he was in the army, although the family are together in the Barracks at Dover in 1901. He left the army sometime in the next 10 years as by 1911, the family are living at 2 Glengall Terrace, Old Kent Road, Camberwell, in a 3 room tenement and he is an army pensioner and Servery Superintendent at Eustace Miles restaurant. He is again using the name Digby Templeton.
When war breaks out in 1914, he is living in Luton. He re-joins the army and is promoted to Sergeant and is employed for some time in catering in the officers’ mess. He and his family return to Camberwell, London during WWI, remaining there for the duration of the war.
After the war, his daughter marries in June 1919 (he is recorded as Percy Digby Templeton, clerk) and in November the same year, he and wife Mary leave for Melbourne. They live in Beeac, Corangmite, Victoria (he now calling himself Percy Digby Pullum Templeton) until 1922. When they return to England, he and Mary live in Peckham Rye until his death in 1929. His name on the death index is recorded as Percy D Pullum-Templeton.
End of the Pullum Line
It is clear that although all of Henry Ebenezer Pullum’s children’s births were registered with the surname Pullum, they all had his stage name before the Pullum.
All the surviving children changed their names to Templeton or Pullum Templeton and any children they had did not have Pullum included in their names.
Thank you to Jean Thomas for her help with information on Harry Templeton’s part in the Christy Minstrels and Moore & Burgess Minstrels.
Last updated: 22.12.16