Broughs of Northumberland, England
The lineages of the Broughs of Northumberland,
England, extends back to the 1700's. Some of the descendants of the Broughs
of Northumberland were well-known British and Australian actors, comedians,
playwrights, and theatre partners.
Genealogies of the Broughs of Northumberland are listed within the "Genealogies"
section of the BFO website.
Lionel Brough (1836-1909),
"was a British actor, comedian and playwright. After beginning his
career with Lydia Thompson's British Blondes in America, he returned to
Britain and began to act in London. His reputation was strengthened when
he joined the strong company at the new Queen's Theatre, Long Acre in
1867, and he soon became known for his roles in Shakespeare, contemporary
comedies, and classics, especially as Tony Lumpkin in 'She Stoops to Conquer'.
Although untrained musically, he appeared in several operettas in the
1880's. He continued to contribute popular performances into the 20th
Century, and ended his career in comedy roles with Herbert Beerbohm Tree's
company." (Quoted information from Wikipedia)
Lionel Barnabas (Robert) Brough (1855-1906),
was the son of Robert Barnabas Brough (1828-1860)--who was an older brother
to Lionel Brough (1836-1909). Lionel Barnabas (Robert) Brough was a well-known
actor and theatre manager.
"Brough made his début in 1870
and gained his experience as a comedian at the Theatre Royal, Liverpool,
and the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin. He also toured with the D'Oyley-Carte
company for their first provincial presentation of H.M.S. Pinafore, in
which Buttercup was played by Florence Trevelyn Major, whom he married
at Weymouth, Devon, in 1881.
"Brough appeared in musical comedy
at the Opéra Comique, London in 1882, and then for three years
in burlesque at the London Gaiety Theatre. There J. C. Williamson saw
the Broughs, and contracted them to Williamson, Garner & Musgrove
for a year in Australia; Steele Rudd's Magazine later claimed that this
action was the firm's only worthwhile contribution to Australian theatre.
The Broughs' Australian début was at the Theatre Royal, Melbourne,
on 9 May 1885 in Iolanthe. Robert was greeted as one of the most outstanding
performers seen for some time and although his voice was not powerful,
critics said that his clear diction and nasality made him perfect in Gilbert
and Sullivan. Florence was less impressive, particularly with the high
notes in her role as the Fairy Queen, yet she later became the more accomplished
player of the two, and later spoke of her intense dislike of musical comedy.
After six months Williamson formed a comedy company at the Bijou Theatre,
where the Broughs played until their contract expired. This run suggested
to Robert the idea of a permanent comedy company, and he found a partner
in Dion G. Boucicault who arrived with his father in 1885.
"On 9 October 1886 the Brough &
Boucicault Comedy Company opened in Melbourne with the farce Turned Up.
The Broughs had gone to England for competent actors and on their return
in 1887 leased the Bijou Theatre, Melbourne, and the Criterion in Sydney.
The B. & B. ran these two branches concurrently, and for nine years
presented the most polished ensemble performances ever seen in Australia.
The only criticisms of them were raised after a sumptuous Much Ado About
Nothing was put up on Boxing Day 1892, when the Sydney Morning Herald
expressed disappointment at the absence of a proper starring couple. Issue
was taken with Brough's over-humorous treatment of the play which would,
it was thought, have been avoided with more subtle leading actors. Yet,
apart from Florence, the company could boast a well-known English actor,
George S. Titheradge, Brough's mother, calling herself 'Miss Emily Romer',
her daughter by a second marriage, Brenda Gibson, and Florence's sisters
Bessie and Emma.
"When the Bijou burned down on 22 April
1889 the B. & B. had become the standard against which all other Australian
performances were measured. Melbourne football and cricket clubs joined
the actors in raising over £1000 to replace the theatre. Meanwhile
the company struggled on performing in the Hibernian Hall but by June
had to make their headquarters in Sydney. Even when a new theatre was
built, the B. & B. could not repeat their earlier financial successes,
so beginning with Adelaide in 1893 they inaugurated yearly tours. In 1896
Boucicault retired, exhausted, from the partnership.
"Brough managed the company until 1902.
He produced all the new comedies from London, particularly those of A.
W. Pinero and H. A. Jones, sometimes not waiting to see whether they were
successful in England, and thus appeared to the public as the champion
of refined and legitimate drama. This and his courage in presenting An
Ideal Husband at the height of Oscar Wilde's notoriety in 1895 made Brough
the only commercial manager approved by Australian intellectuals, who
saw him as challenging Williamson's threat to intelligent theatre. One
such, Gregan McMahon, who later founded the Melbourne Repertory Company
which produced Australian plays, joined the Broughs in 1900 and later
toured the Orient with them.
"When the Broughs left Australia in
1902 they claimed to have played in over three hundred pieces, and presented
a hundred new plays. They had to retire because of the over-frequent changes
of repertoire expected in Australia and the lack of monetary reward for
modern comedy. They visited India, England and South Africa, and in April
1905 at Perth Brough contracted with Herbert Flemming for a year's comedy
work in Australia and New Zealand. Soon afterwards he collapsed from a
heart ailment, but recovered to fulfill most of his engagements. He died
at Sydney on 20 April 1906. The Brough marriage had been considered sacred
by their public, so Florence lost much prestige when she announced, soon
after Brough died, that she would marry a stage electrician. On 1 August
1924 at a matinée for Maggie Moore in Sydney, 'Mrs Robert Brough'
was vice-president of the organizing committee and director of one of
"During Robert Brough's years in Australia,
the boast that the colonies could show productions 'equal to anything
in London' first showed some justification. This success was partly due
to his selection of broad farces and presentation with the finish of a
classical comedy company, but his care in training even the most insignificant
player must also have been important. Although 'quaint, grim, humourous'
and competent in his roles, he never sought to star, and indeed only played
leading roles after Titheradge left the company. He was extremely quiet,
and his lack of jealousy at Florence's popularity was considered most
admirable. He found little time to make non-professional friends and would
not tolerate Bohemianism in his company. Even his obituary in the Church
Commonwealth supports the claim that he did for Australia what Henry Irving
(1838-1905) had done for England in making the theatre a respectable institution."
(Quoted and edited information from: http://adbonline.anu.edu.au/biogs/A030233b.htm.)