Nelly Bromley

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Nelly (sometimes Nellie) Bromley (1850 - 27 October 1939) was an English actor and singer who performed in operettas and musical burlesques. She is best remembered today for having created the role of the Plaintiff in Gilbert & Sullivan's first success, Trial by Jury.

Life and career[edit]

Nelly Bromley

Bromley began her career in London around 1867, performing in musical burlesques at the Royalty Theatre (including W. S. Gilbert's Highly Improbable),[1] attracting a fair amount of notice. There she appeared as Dolly Mayflower in Black-eyed Susan and as Nimble Ned in Claude Du Val, both by F. C. Burnand.[2] She soon appeared at other theaters throughout London, including the Royal Court Theatre in 1871 and the Gaiety Theatre from 1873. At the Gaiety, she performed as Praline de Patoche in Nemesis (1873) and in Eldorado (1874), both by H. B. Farnie.[2]

She then returned to the Royalty (under the management of Richard D'Oyly Carte acting for Madame Selina Dolaro) to create the role of the Plaintiff on 25 March 1875, in Gilbert and Sullivan's Trial by Jury. Although Bromley was a critical success in the part, in July she was replaced as Plaintiff by Linda Verner, a friend of Dolaro's. Dolaro was director of the company, and some felt that she made the switch because of a rivalry with the pretty Bromley. In any event, "Trial by Jury Lancers," Charles d'Albert's dance arrangement of numbers from the piece, was dedicated to Bromley.

Later in 1875 Bromley played the Princess of Granada in H. S. Leigh's translation of Jacques Offenbach's Les brigands, presented at the Globe Theatre with the title Falsacappa.[3] Bromley appeared as Rebecca in the original cast of Pink Dominos at the Criterion Theatre in 1877. She returned to the Royalty in 1880, appearing in Venus, an extravaganza by Edward Rose and Augustus Harris.[2] In 1883, she appeared in Freedom at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, earning a good review in The Theatre.[4] She continued to appear at venues throughout London until her retirement from the stage in 1889.

In later life, Bromley chose to go by her married name, Mrs. Archibald Stuart Wortley. Her daughter was the actress and singer, Lilian Eldée (c. 1870–1904).[2]

Bromley died in Beaulieu, Hampshire in 1939 at the age of 89.


  1. ^ Stedman, Jane W. (1996). W. S. Gilbert, A Classic Victorian & His Theatre. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-816174-3. , p. 53.
  2. ^ a b c d Pascoe, Charles E. (ed.) The Dramatic List (1880), David Bogue, London, pp. 60–61
  3. ^ Adams, William Davenport. A Dictionary of the Drama, Chatto & Windus (1904)
  4. ^ Review of Freedom in The Theatre


  • Ayre, Leslie (1972). The Gilbert & Sullivan Companion. London: W.H. Allen & Co Ltd.  Introduction by Martyn Green.
  • Allen, Reginald (1975). The First Night Gilbert and Sullivan. London: Chappell & Co. Ltd. 

External links[edit]