Kyrle Bellew

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Kyrle Bellew
Harvard Theatre Collection - Kyrle Bellew TCS 1.2239 - crop.jpg
Harold Kyrle Money Bellew

28 March 1850
Died2 November 1911 (aged 61)
Resting placeSaint Raymond's Cemetery, The Bronx, New York, U.S.
Other namesHarold Dominick
Harold Higgin
Harold Kyrle
Years active1871–1911
Eugenie Le Grand
(m. 1873; div. 1888)
Kyrle Bellew signature.png

Harold Kyrle Money Bellew[1] (28 March 1850 – 2 November 1911), better known as Kyrle Bellew, was an English stage and silent film actor. He notably toured with Cora Brown-Potter in the 1880s and 1890s, and was cast as the leading man in many stage productions alongside her. He was also a signwriter, gold prospector and rancher mainly in Australia.[2]

Early life[edit]

Bellew was born in Prescot, Lancashire, the son of the reverend John Chippendall Montesquieu Bellew. He was the second son and third-born of the four Bellew children. He had an older brother, Evelyn Montesquieu Gambier (born 25 October 1847)[3] and an older sister, Eva Sibyl Bellew (born October 1848 in Worcester).[4] His younger sister, Ida Percy Clare, was born 17 June 1852 in Calcutta, India. Evelyn Bellew emigrated to the United States in the late 1860s, married Anita Killen and died childless on 1 December 1900.[5] Sibyl Bellew married civil engineer John Hooper Wait in March 1873[6] and lived in Bhownuggur, India until her husband's suicide on 27 June 1876. At the time of the 1891 Census, she was living as a nun in the Poor Clares convent on Cornwall St. in Kensington, and she died childless in 1927.[7] Clare Bellew married Joseph Boulderson, of the 68th Regiment, in 1874[8] and had two children, Ida Sybil Mary and Shadwell Joseph Boulderson, before dying at age 49 in the first quarter of 1902.[9]

His mother, Eva Maria Money (born 12 June 1824) was the youngest daughter of Vice-Admiral Rowland Money, C.B., R.N., and Mary Ann Tombs.[10] She married her first husband Henry Edmund Michell Palmer, a soldier in the Indian Army, on 8 February 1843.[11] However, Palmer died of "hill fever" in Madras, India on 9 November 1846.[12] The young widow then married John Chippendale Montesquieu Bellew on 27 March 1847.[13][14] John Bellew was born John Chippendale Higgin in Lancashire on 3 August 1823[15] to Robert and Anne Maria (née Bellew) Higgin. Bellew was an acquaintance of Eva's brother-in-law, the Reverend Samuel Gambier, who believed him to be a natural-son of his friend and actor, William Macready, whom Bellew did resemble[16] and correspond with regularly until 1850. Bellew changed his name to his mother's maiden name in 1844 while still a student at St Mary Hall, and he was ordained an Anglican priest in 1848. Bellew was first appointed curate of St Andrew's in Worcester in 1848, and was transferred to Prescot, Lancashire, in 1850, where Kyrle Bellew was born.[15]

Young portrait of Bellew by Ernest Ferdinand Ritz, before 1890[dubious ]

In late 1851, the Reverend Mr Bellew was appointed as an assistant chaplain to St John's Cathedral in Calcutta, India.[15] The Bellews arrived in India on 17 November 1851 aboard the passenger ship Hotspur[17] and moved into a large house on Harrington Street in Calcutta. However the Bellews did not have a happy marital life in India, the two separating in November 1853 after John Bellew discovered licentious correspondence between Eva and 23-year-old Ashley Eden, a civil servant with the East India Company.[18] John Bellew sued for divorce from Eva on 6 March 1855 on grounds of adultery. Eva counter-sued, claiming ill-treatment. John Bellew named Eden as his wife's lover and was granted a divorce on unequivocal grounds.[19] Ashley Eden married Eva Bellew on 13 August 1861,[20] and she lived in India until her death on 10 January 1877.[10] John Bellew received custody of the children and left India in 1855. Kyrle Bellew described this tumultuous time in his life in his posthumous work Short Stories.

While erroneously stating that the Bellew family left India during the 1857 Indian Mutiny, he relates that the return voyage to England solidified what would become a lifelong love of the sea for Bellew.[21] On their return to England, the family first settled in St Johns Wood where the Rev. Mr Bellew was assistant priest at St Philip's on Regent St. The family moved to Hamilton Terrace, Marylebone in 1857 after John Bellew was placed in charge of St Mark's.[15] John Bellew married Emily Louisa Wilkinson (née East) in Dublin, Ireland on 23 September 1861 and the Bellews resided at Bedford Chapel in Bloomsbury from 1862 to 1868.[15] Kyrle Bellew was educated at the Lancaster Royal Grammar School and received lessons from private tutors, notably learning Latin along with Leslie Ward. However his home life was not happy because Kyrle Bellew did not get along with his new stepmother or stepsister, Maud Wilkinson.

In the early 1860s he attempted to run away from home to the East India docks to start a life at sea, but he was ultimately returned home to his worried father. While John Bellew thought he should enter the ministry, the elder Bellew agreed to allow Kyrle Bellew to have a naval career. In 1866, Bellew was sent to train on HMS Conway, a famous training ship.[22] Conway was one of four training ships moored on the Mersey River that taught young boys how to be adept sailors, and it was specifically catered to developing officers for the Merchant Marines. Bellew spent two years on board Conway.


Bellew, circa 1894

With romantic profile and blond looks, Bellew was well suited for romances and melodramatic adventure stories of the day. In the 1880s and 90s he toured the world with a famous leading lady Mrs. Brown-Potter who was also known as Cora Brown Potter. They took Shakespearean and other classic plays from the United States to Australia. In Australia Bellew prior to being an actor was a reader, goldminer, and apparently bought a large amount of property.[23]

In 1888 Bellew began giving acting lessons to Mrs. Leslie Carter, a married socialite. In 1889 Bellew was named as a co-respondent in the highly publicised divorce case of Mrs. Carter. By the mid-1880s he was an actor of note and was considered a proper tutor for Caroline Dudley, Mrs. Carter's birth name. His preparing of Dudley for the stage required ample amounts of time with her and away from her husband. Eventually Mr. Carter became jealous and suspicious of the attention his wife was receiving, leading him to name Bellew and other men as his wife's lovers.[24]

In the last decade of his life Bellew tended to his mining property in Australia, requiring making the long journeys back and forth to the United States. Finally at the turn of the century and in the US for good, he continued his popularity on Broadway premiering such plays as Raffles the Amateur Cracksman to US audiences. He found time to venture into primitive motion pictures, which at the time were considered well beneath an actor of his stature. He died of pneumonia on 2 November 1911, in Salt Lake City, where he had been appearing in a play called The Mollusc.[25][26]

Personal life[edit]

Le Grande in the 1880s

Eugénie Marie Seraphié Le Grande[1][Note 1] was a French stage actress who was born and educated in Paris. She first appeared in the French vaudeville productions, Les Faux Bonshommes and Un Menage en Ville, and then moved on to Shakespearean theatre at Sadler's Wells Theatre in London before relocating to Australia.[22][27] Le Grande travelled to Melbourne via the passenger ship Lincolnshire from London on 4 December 1872 in the company of noted tragic actor Boothroyd Fairclough. She gave birth during the voyage on 15 January 1873 and arrived in Hobson's Bay on 20 February with an infant.[28]

Bellew married Le Grande on 27 October 1873 at St Patrick's Cathedral[1] under the name Harold Dominick Bellew. Bellew and Le Grande separated within a few weeks of marriage and did not live together again. One account of the brief marriage holds that Le Grande was previously the mistress of Boothroyd Fairclough. She secretly wed Bellew but returned to Fairclough when he discovered them on their honeymoon.[29] In Bellew's posthumous book, Short Stories, he relates a tale, attributed to a friend named Jack, that details the specifics of a sham marriage to a French actress. Several of the details in the story parallel known facts about Bellew and Le Grande, such as their marriage date[30] and the presence of an illegitimate child.[31] Bellew formally divorced Le Grande on 16 May 1888.[32] Le Grande reportedly bore Bellew a son,[1] Cosmo Kyrle Bellew, whose birth date is often cited as 1885.[33] However, Cosmo Bellew's World War I draft registration card lists a birth date of 23 November 1874, with his nearest relative listed as Marjorie Bellew.[34] There is no mention of a son in any of Kyrle Bellew's obituaries,[26] Bellew was estranged from Le Grande following their wedding[32] and the fate of Le Grande's previous child remains unknown. After divorcing Bellew, Le Grande married Hector Alexander Wilson and continued to tour with acting companies in the United States, Britain and Canada. Hector Wilson died in January 1893 and left an estate in Australia valued at £ 27,000 to Eugénie.


  1. ^ Her last name has also been spelled Legrand and Le Grand.


  1. ^ a b c d Mills, Julie. "Bellew, Harold Kyrle Money (1850–1911)". Australian Dictionary of Biography Online. Retrieved 8 June 2011.
  2. ^ Kyrle Bellew - North American Theatre Online
  3. ^ Robinson, Rev. Charles John (1883). A register of the scholars admitted into Merchant Taylor's School, from A.D. 1562 to 1874, Volume II. Lewes: Farncombe and Co. p. 336.
  4. ^ "England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837–1915; 1848;Q4-Oct–Nov–Dec; B;117". Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  5. ^ "New York City Deaths, 1892-1902; 21835". Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  6. ^ "FreeBMD. England & Wales, FreeBMD Marriage Index: 1837-1915 [database on-line]; 1873 > Q1-Jan-Feb-Mar > B > 8". Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  7. ^ "England & Wales, Death Index: 1916-2005; 1927 > Q1-Jan-Feb-Mar > W > 3". Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  8. ^ "FreeBMD. England & Wales, FreeBMD Marriage Index: 1837-1915 [database on-line]; 1874 > Q3-Jul-Aug-Sep > B > 10". Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  9. ^ "FreeBMD. England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index: 1837-1915 [database on-line], 2006; 1902 > Q1-Jan-Feb-Mar > B > 26". Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  10. ^ a b Marquis of Ruvigny & Raineval (1994). Plantagenet Roll of the Blood Royal: The Isabel of Essex Volume, Containing the Descendants of Isabel (Plantagenet), Countess of Essex. Genealogical Publishing Company. pp. 256–257.
  11. ^ Le Follet: court magazine and museum. 1 June 1843. p. 69.
  12. ^ "Madras: miscellaneous". Allen's Indian Mail. 68: 10. 5 January 1847. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  13. ^ Bengal (India). Supreme Court of Judicature (1856). Proceedings before the judges of the Supreme court of judicature at Calcutta, on Bellew's divorce (India) Bill: ordered to be printed 13th March 1856. p. 40.
  14. ^ "London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754–1921; Southwark; Southwark St Saviour; 1847; 10". Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  15. ^ a b c d e "Bellew, John Chippendall Montesquieu" . Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. pp. 192–193.
  16. ^ Gambier, James William (1906). Links in my life on land and sea. New York: E.P. Dutton and Company. pp. 16–17.
  17. ^ Staff. "Passengers arrived." Allen's Indian Mail. 3 January 1851: 10(188); pg. 10
  18. ^ Alexander, Alexander V. (16 January 1861). "Court For Divorce And Matrimonial Causes, Jan. 15". The Times. Retrieved 4 July 2011.
  19. ^ "Bengal". Allen's Indian Mail. 13: 194. January – December 1855. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  20. ^ Lodge, Edmund, Anne Innes, Eliza Innes and Maria Innes (1869). The peerage and baronetage of the British empire as at present existing. Hurst and Blackett. p. 34.
  21. ^ Bellew. (1912) Short Stories. pg. 11
  22. ^ a b "The Theatre". May 1883: 312.
  23. ^ Bellew. (1912) Short Stories. pg. 5
  24. ^ Clinton, Craig (2006). Mrs. Leslie Carter: a biography of the early twentieth century American stage star. North Carolina: McFarland and Company, Publishers. pp. 24–26. ISBN 978-0-7864-2747-5.
  25. ^ Staff (2 November 1911). "KYRLE BELLEW IS CRITICALLY ILL;Actor Stricken with Pneumonia and Physicians Fear He Will Not Recover". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
  26. ^ a b Staff (3 November 1911). "KYRLE BELLEW IS DEAD.;Actor Expires of Pneumonia in Salt Lake City—Funeral to be Held Here". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
  27. ^ "The following theatrical gossip appears in the Melbourne Age". Empire. 23 December 1872. Retrieved 10 June 2011.
  28. ^ "Shipping intelligence". The Argus. 21 February 1873. Retrieved 8 June 2011.
  29. ^ "Topics of the day". Star. 15 January 1886. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  30. ^ Bellew (1912) Short Stories pg. 30
  31. ^ Bellew (1912). "pg. 32". Short Stories.
  32. ^ a b "May 26" (PDF). The New York Clipper. 26 May 1888. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
  33. ^ "John Gilbert in a new role not wholly romantic" (PDF). Dansville Breeze. 16 January 1928. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
  34. ^ "National Archives and Records Administration World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918; Registration Location: New York County, New York; Roll: 1765975; Draft Board: 115". Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)


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