Pelham, Richard W.(--)

Biographical Overview

Birth Date: exactly (February 13, 1815)
Death Date: exactly (October 8, 1856. Liverpool, England. Sometimes listed as October, 1876.)

Notes

Troupe(s): Virginia Minstrels, Ethiopian Delineators, Pelham’s Serenaders, Ethiopian Serenaders, various duos/trios, soloist.



Role: tambourine player, dancer, composer, bones player, troupe director



Info:Richard Ward Pelham, also known as Dick Pelham, began his stage career in 1835 at the Bowery Theatre in New York performing in Oh! Hush! With T.D. Rice. After travelling as a singer and dancer with Turner’s Circus, Pelham toured with his younger brother Gilbert. The two began known for their “Negro Peculiarities, Dances, and Extravaganzies”.



In the early 1840’s, Pelham often performed in New York in either solo or small group acts of two or three. In winter 1842-1843, though, Pelham, along with Dan Emmett, Billy Whitlock, and Frank Brower, created the Virginia Minstrels. Pelham’s role in the troupe was to play the tambourine and dance. The Virginia Minstrels performed together in New York City at the Bowery Circus and the Chatham Theatre, being the first troupe of their kind in the area. They then left for England in 1843 and arrived in Liverpool on May 21, 1843. They made their English debut on June 19, 1843. Less than a month later, on July 14, 1843, they performed their last engagement together. While other members returned to America, Pelham married an actress and remained in Britain. In November, 1843, Pelham performed for two months at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London as the “Genuine Yankee Nigger of the U.S.”. Pelham also performed with the Ethiopian Serenaders III, touring England in 1848-1849. In addition, he managed Pell’s Serenaders, with whom Juba found success in 1849 when they performed together at the Surrey Theatre. Pelham wrote many minstrel songs and a column in a monthly publication run by Mr. Hague.
Peculiarities, Dances, and Extravaganzies”.



Pelham’s last engagement was in Birmingham on August 19, 1856. He developed cancer of the stomach, died in England, and was buried in Anfield Cemetery. Throughout his career, Pelham was known for his excellent dancing, with even Juba imitating it.



Please see the 'Bibliographic Sources' link at right for a complete listing of materials (both primary and secondary) from which the above information was compiled.


Danielle Szlawieniec-Haw, Carolyn Farrell, and Keren Zaiontz

Edited by Alexis Butler

Troupe Affiliation

Events Naming Person

Event Date Location Troupe
Minstrel Show 1846-1846 Theatre Royal, Brighton, Brighton Sussex Ethiopian Delineators (Pelham's, 1846)
Minstrel Show 1846-1846 Theatre Royal, Brighton, Brighton Sussex Ethiopian Delineators (Pelham's, 1846)
Minstrel Show 1846-1846 Concert Hall, Liverpool Lancashire Ethiopian Delineators (Pelham's, 1846)
Minstrel Show 1846-1846 Concert Hall, Liverpool Lancashire Ethiopian Delineators (Pelham's, 1846)
Dramatic 1847-1847 Theatre Royal, Brighton, Brighton Sussex Ethiopian Delineators (Pelham's, 1847)
Dramatic 1847-1847 Theatre Royal, Brighton, Brighton Sussex Ethiopian Delineators (Pelham's, 1847)
Dramatic 1847-1847 Lyceum Theatre, London London (city-county) Ethiopian Delineators (Pelham's, 1847)
Minstrel Show 1847-1847 Princess' Concert Room, London London (city-county) Ethiopian Delineators (Pelham's, 1847)
Minstrel Show 1847-1847 Princess' Concert Room, London London (city-county) Ethiopian Delineators (Pelham's, 1847)
Minstrel Show 1847-1847 Princess' Concert Room, London London (city-county) Ethiopian Delineators (Pelham's, 1847)
Minstrel Show 1847-1847 Crosby Hall, London London (city-county) Ethiopian Delineators (Pelham's, 1847)
Minstrel Show 1847-1847 Princess' Concert Room, London London (city-county) Ethiopian Delineators (Pelham's, 1847)
Minstrel Show 1847-1847 Town Hall, Brighton, Brighton Sussex Ethiopian Delineators (Pelham's, 1847)
Minstrel Show 1847-1848 Royal Albert Rooms, Bristol Bristol (city-county) in Gloucestershire Ethiopian Delineators (Pelham's, 1847)
Minstrel Show 1848-1848 Royal Albert Rooms, Bristol Bristol (city-county) in Gloucestershire Ethiopian Delineators (Pelham's, 1847)
Minstrel Show 1844-1844 Music Hall, Newcastle upon Tyne Newcastle upon Tyne (city-county) in Northumberland Ethiopian Serenaders (1844)
Minstrel Show 1844-1844 Music Hall, Newcastle upon Tyne Newcastle upon Tyne (city-county) in Northumberland Ethiopian Serenaders (1844)
Minstrel Show 1850-1850 Concert Hall, Liverpool Lancashire Pelham's Serenaders
Minstrel Show 1850-1850 Concert Hall, Liverpool Lancashire Pelham's Serenaders
Dramatic 1843-1843 Sadler's Wells, London London (city-county) Pelham, Richard
Minstrel Show 1844-1844 Birmingham Warwickshire Pelham, Richard
Minstrel Show 1845-1845 Pavilion Theatre, London London (city-county) Pelham, Richard
Variety 1851-1851 Victoria/Royal Adelphi Theatre, Liverpool Lancashire Pelham, Richard
Dramatic 1851-1851 Victoria/Royal Adelphi Theatre, Liverpool Lancashire Pelham, Richard
Variety 1851-1851 Queen's Theatre, Manchester Lancashire Pelham, Richard
Dramatic 1851-1851 Victoria/Royal Adelphi Theatre, Liverpool Lancashire Pelham, Richard
Dramatic 1852-1852 Adelphi Theatre, London London (city-county) Pelham, Richard
Minstrel Show 1843-1843 St. George's Assembly Rooms, Liverpool Lancashire Virginia Minstrels, The (1843)
Magic Show 1843-1843 Adelphi Theatre, London London (city-county) Virginia Minstrels, The (1843)
Variety 1843-1843 Adelphi Theatre, London London (city-county) Virginia Minstrels, The (1843)
Magic Show 1843-1843 Adelphi Theatre, London London (city-county) Virginia Minstrels, The (1843)
Magic Show 1843-1843 Adelphi Theatre, London London (city-county) Virginia Minstrels, The (1843)
Minstrel Show 1843-1843 Ludlow Shropshire Virginia Minstrels, The (1843)

Songs & Acts

Number of songs and acts found: 3
Title Type Number of Events Found
1 Sambo Hit em Hard Song 1 event(s)
2 Lecture on the Locomotive Monologue 1 event(s)
3 Bal Masque, The Play 1 event(s)

Bibliographic Sources

  • Authentic History
  • Bell’s Life in London November 7, 1847: 2:1 .
  • T. Allston Brown’s Burnt Cork Biography Online. 09/04/2008 (http://www.circushistory.org/Cork/BurntCork4.htm)
  • Daily Advertiser (London) May 26, 1847
  • Dumont, Frank. "The Younger Generation in Minstrelsy and Reminiscences of the Past”. New York Clipper March 27, 1915
  • Dumont, Frank. "The Golden Days of Minstrelsy.". New York Clipper December 19, 1914
  • Era (London) November 7, 1847: 1:2.
  • Era (London) November 21, 1847: 11:3.
  • Era (London) November 28, 1847: 8:1.
  • Lhamon, Jr., W.T. Raising Cain: Blackface Performance from Jim Crow to Hip Hop. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1998.
  • Lott, Eric. Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class. New York: Oxford UP, 1993.
  • Mahar, William J. Behind the Burnt Cork Mask: Early Blackface Minstrelsy and Antebellum American Popular Culture. Chicago: Illinois UP, 1999.
  • Nathan, Hans. Dan Emmett and the Rise of Early Negro Minstrelsy. Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1962.
  • "Minstrels of the Past".. New York Clipper
  • New York Clipper no year, col 5
  • Theatrical Journal (London) November 13, 1847: 368:2-369:1.
  • Theatrical Journal (London) November 13, 1847: 368:2-369:1.
  • Theatrical Journal (London) November 20, 1847: 378:1.
  • Theatrical Journal (London) December 4, 1847: 394:2.
  • Theatrical Journal (London) March 16, 1844: 87:1.
  • Theatrical Journal (London) November 18, 1843: 364:2, 365:1.