St. Clair Bayfield

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St. Clair Bayfield
St. Clair Bayfield 1875-1967.jpg
John St. Clair Roberts

August 2, 1875
DiedMay 19, 1967(1967-05-19) (aged 91)
OccupationStage actor
Kathleen Weatherley
(m. 1945; d. 1967)
Partner(s)Florence Foster Jenkins (1909–1944; her death)
Parent(s)George Bayfield Roberts
Ida Roberts

St. Clair Bayfield (August 2, 1875 – May 19, 1967) was an English stage actor,[1] best known as the long-term companion and manager of amateur operatic soprano Florence Foster Jenkins.

Life and career[edit]

Bayfield was born in Cheltenham, England, the son of George Bayfield Roberts, an Oxford-educated country parson, and his wife Ida, the eldest of three illegitimate daughters of Edward Law, 1st Earl of Ellenborough, a prominent politician and Governor-General of India in the years preceding the Indian Mutiny. St. Clair's maternal great-grandfather was Lord Chief Justice of England.[2] Little is known of Bayfield's early life in England, but as a young man he sailed to New Zealand, where he served as a sailor and soldier. (Many years later, at his 90th birthday party, he sang some of the sea shanties from that period of his life.)[citation needed] While there, he tried farming.

With a fine voice and physical presence, he became involved in amateur theatricals, leading eventually to his joining a professional company touring to Australia. (His diary of time spent in the city of Melbourne is included in the "Bayfield Archive" preserved at Lincoln Center, New York.) He next found himself acting with a company headed by the impresario William Ben Greet, who abandoned his cast to penury in a remote corner of the United States. That led to the establishment of Actor's Equity, of which Bayfield was a founding member.[3] His subsequent stage career involved regular appearances on Broadway for several decades, usually in works by British playwrights. In 1909 he began a vague "common law" relationship with amateur operatic soprano Florence Foster Jenkins, seven years his senior, that lasted the remainder of her life. The couple lived for many years in an apartment on 37th Street in Manhattan, New York.[4] Bayfield joined the Ben Greet Players in a revival of Twelfth Night that took the troupe to 56 Pennsylvania towns in 65 days during the summer of 1914. Also in the group was Sydney Greenstreet.[5]

Bayfield lived with Jenkins and managed her career for 36 years.[4][6] After Jenkins' death in 1944, he married a piano teacher, Kathleen Weatherley, in 1945. They lived in Larchmont, New York, where he died in 1967. He did not have children. His relationship with Jenkins was the basis for the biographical drama Florence Foster Jenkins, with Hugh Grant portraying Bayfield and Meryl Streep portraying Jenkins. The film, directed by Stephen Frears, premiered in London on April 12, 2016.


The Actors' Equity Association bestows the annual St. Clair Bayfield Award to an actor or actress in a non-featured role in a Shakespearean production.[7]

Theatre credits[edit]

Bayfield's credits in Broadway theatre include:[8]

Production Role Dates of Production
For Heaven's Sake, Mother! (Original, Play, Comedy) Henry Wheeler November 16–20, 1948
Hand in Glove (Original, Play, Thriller) Mr Forsythe December 4, 1944 – January 6, 1945
The Night Before Christmas (Original, Play) Endicott April 10–27, 1941
The Old Foolishness (Original, Play) The Canon December 20–21, 1940
Day in the Sun (Original, Play, Comedy) Judge Livingstone May 16– May 1939
Jeremiah (Original, Play) Nahum February 3 – March 1939
Glorious Morning (Original, Play, Drama) Rutzstein November 26 – December 1938
Father Malachy's Miracle (Original, Play, Comedy) Robert Gillespie, Bishop of Milothian November 17, 1937 – March 1938
Field of Ermine (Original, Play) The Duke of Santa Olalla February 8 – February 1935
Judgment Day (Original, Play, Drama) Count Leonid Slatarski September 12 – December 1934
They Shall Not Die (Original, Play, Drama) Att'y General Cheney February 21 – April 1934
Criminal at Large (Original, Play, Mystery) Rawbane October 10, 1932 – February 1933
Wild Waves (Original, Play, Comedy) Whelpley February 19 – March 1932
The Lady with a Lamp (Original, Play, Drama) Dr. Sutherland November 19 – November 1931
Old Man Murphy (Revival, Play, Comedy) Hopkins September 14 – October 1931
London Calling (Original, Play, Comedy) Staight October 18 – October 1930
Lady Dedlock (Original, Play, Romance, Melodrama) Sir Leicester Dedlock December 31, 1928 – February 1929
Escape (Original, Play) The Captain; The Laborer October 26, 1927 – March 1928
The Beaten Track (Original, Play) Dafydd Evans Y Beddau February 8 – February 1926
A Bit of Love (Original, Play, Drama) Trustaford May 12 – May 1925
Two By Two (Original, Play, Comedy) E. Lorrilard Price February 23 – March 1925
Lass O'Laughter (Original, Play, Comedy) Davie Nicholson January 8 – February 1925
We Moderns (Original, Play, Comedy) Sir William Wimple March 11 – March 1924
The Lady Cristilinda (Original, Play, Comedy) Father Reaney December 25, 1922 – January 1923
Bulldog Drummond (Original, Play, Melodrama) Jas. Handley December 26, 1921 – May 1922
Deburau (Original, Play, Comedy, Tragedy) A Journalist December 23, 1920 – June 1921
By Pigeon Post (Original, Play) Blondel November 25 – December 1918
The Wild Duck (Original, Play, Drama) March 11 – April 1918
As You Like It (Revival, Play, Comedy) February 8–9, 1918
The Merchant of Venice (Revival, Play, Comedy) January 25–26, 1918
Colonel Newcome (Original, Play) April 10 – May 1917
Hamlet (Revival, Play, Tragedy) Polonius April 23, 1912
Hans, the Flute Player (Original, Musical, Opera) September 20 – November 26, 1910
The King of Cadonia (Original, Musical, Comedy) Laborde January 10–22, 1910
The Debtors (Original, Play) October 12 – October 1909
The Prima Donna (Original, Musical, Comedy, Opera) Colonel Dutois November 30, 1908 – January 30, 1909
The Merchant of Venice (Revival, Play, Comedy) March 4, 1907 – (unknown)
The Two Mr. Wetherbys (Original, Play, Comedy) August 23 – September 1906
Twelfth Night (Revival, Play, Comedy) February 22 – March 1904
Everyman (Original, Play) October 12, 1902 – May 1903


  1. ^ St. Clair Bayfield papers accessed 5/28/2015
  2. ^ Florence Foster Jenkins, Nicholas Martin & Jasper Rees, Pan, 2016, p. 73
  3. ^ "Caroline McWilliams wins Bayfield Award". Equity News. February 1977. p. 84. ...St. Clair Bayfield, who died in 1967 at nearly 92 years of age, was a charter member of Equity, having joined in 1913.
  4. ^ a b Peters, Brooks, "Florence, The Nightingale?", 15 June 2006 (also appeared, but in slightly different format, in Opera News magazine)
  5. ^ Sperdakos, Paula, "Dora Mavor Moore: Before the New Play Society," Theatre Research in Canada, Vol 10, No 1, Spring 1989
  6. ^ Coronet, Dec. 1957
  7. ^ award information accessed 5/28/2015
  8. ^ IBDB

External links[edit]