George Grant

George Grant

6, Crown Street, Manchester, Lancashire


Relation to Head of Family

Condition as to Marriage

Age last birthday

Rank, profession or occupation

Where born

Joseph Hough




Marine Pensioner

Chester, Cheshire

Ellenor Hough





Lancashire, St. Ellens

Jane Aubery




No occupation

Lancs, Sankey

Hal Aubery




Duettist, vocalist

Hants, Winchester

Nelly Aubery







William Grant




Duettist & Vocalist


Louisa Grant

Wife of Boarder



Duettist & Vocalist


George Grant




Duettist & Vocalist, Dancer



There's a hullabaloo in the hall; the stench of anticipation; a rough racket of applause. On to the splintered stage, as fast as you like, come the wooden shoes, ready with the side-step, the double shuffle, a roll of triplets which would tax the most talented drummer. Their rhythms alternate, play conversations with the floor, tread on their own echoes with precision, kick the audience into shivers, knock a series of rapid smithereens into the audience's confounded and roaring ears. The dancer, mute, is an imp with animated eyes. He looks about twelve years old, but he has already trounced the local lads, heeling and toeing his way to The Clog-Dancing Championship Of The World. Ladies and Gentlemen! George Grant!

George Grant? George Grant isn't a name which causes the light of delight to go on in anyone's head. Yet here we have someone who was one of the most famous names of the nineteenth century, which he only just outlived, marooned for a moment behind a name which appeared neither on his birth certificate nor his gravestone. He was born George Wild Galvin; but he became famous as Dan Leno. And as a matter of fact, it was his stepfather William Grant, a hard-drinking music-hall turn, who had first styled himself "Dan Leno"; young George was the one who made the name famous.

George had been born on December 20th, 1860, the son of John Galvin and Louisa Dutton, both stage performers - he was a comedian; she was a vocalist. He was born in St. Pancras - in later life, he enjoyed explaining to people that he had been born under Platform One of St. Pancras' Station - since the tiny tenement, No. 6 Eve Place, he said, was demolished to make way for the terminus not long after the Galvin family moved on. (In fact, Eve Place was not demolished, but remained, next to the old St. Pancras church for many years.)* His parents appeared onstage under the name of Mr. and Mrs. Johnny Wild - sometimes spelled 'Wilde' - and with them they took George and his elder brother Henry - and not the eldest, Jack (John)*, as biographies suggest. George's tiny size allowed his parents to bed him down in a chest of drawers. However, both his biographers seem to have missed the fact that he was actually the youngest of 'six' children* - he had another brother, Henry, and a sister, Frances, as well as two siblings, Maurice and Louisa, who died aged 4 and 1, not long after George was conceived. John Galvin senior died in 1864 at the age of thirty-seven - a death in which drink was said to have played a part; Lousia remarried to William Grant about eighteenth months later. Grant's base was in London, but Louisa had strong connections to Salford, where two of her children were born; they took only Henry and George with them. Frances seems to have been left behind with Galvin cousins in London, while Jack worked as a labourer.

George had been earning his living from the age of four, appearing solo as "Little George, the Infant Wonder, Contortionist and Posturer", about the time of his father's death. He went on the road at six with his Henry, his mother and his stepfather. The boys were "the little Lenos". Later George became "The Great Little Leno, the Quintessence of Irish Comedians". He perfected a cod-Irish patter, which he often dropped into in later life (his paternal grandfather had been Irish; this was its probable origin). The Leno act had some success in Ireland, too. During an Irish tour, in 1869, the younger Dan had been patted on the head in Belfast by Charles Dickens, who predicted great things for the boy. ("Good, little man: you'll make headway!") It was his brother Henry who first taught him to dance; but Henry himself grew tired of the troupe, and returned to London, where he worked as a labourer, before opening a school of dancing. In 1881, Henry and Jack were both living in the same street - Little George Street - as each other. Frances had married a Belgian pastry-cook, Jean Risch. (In later life, Leno seems to have led his friends to believe that he was one of only two children, and that his brother had died young. In fact, Jack - ten years older than George - died at the same age as his brother, and Henry outlived him. Leno quietly fed some of his money to his siblings, without fully acknowledging them). Jack was replaced by Johnny Danvers, when the Grant family shifted to Sheffield. Johnny (born John Danvers Harrold - possibly 'Harold') was the same age as George - and also his 'uncle', most probably his grandfather's sister's son. Johnny, who had been working in the steel industry, later carved out a name for himself as a minstrel and pantomime star, and remained a life-long friend of Leno's.

Leno, a diminutive 5 feet 3 inches, was to become the most popular entertainer in Great Britain, which he only left once - in 1897 - for a reasonably successful month on Broadway. What Dan Leno had above all else was extraordinary physical energy. In his later career, whether as a solo artist or a pantomime star, he was known to step backwards six feet in the middle of a song, and his arms and legs were in perpetual motion. By the end of the century, he had perfected an entrance which George Robey tried to copy, and for which Robey was quickly admonished. He always ran to the front of the stage, drummed his feet fast, threw up one leg for a long moment, and then cracked it down on the boards. As with all parts of his performances, this riveted his audiences.

At the time of the 1881 census, however, his feet were starting to make his fortune for a different reason: hence the description "dancer" in his entry. It had started with an accident whilst attempting an acrobatic stunt. He changed his act, successfully teaching himself the art of clog-dancing. In 1880, in Wakefield, he had won his first competition (prizes - a purse of silver and a leg of mutton). And now came the stroke of luck which enabled him to make the most of his talent. He was encouraged by another comic singer, called Frank Belton, to enter a clog-dancing competition in Leeds. The prize was a gold and silver belt weighing 44? ounces, and worth a staggering ?50. The winner would be able to call himself the "Champion Clog-Dancer Of The World".

The entrepreneur, the owner of the Princess's Music Hall, had not reckoned on a wild card like Dan Leno junior. The whole competition was set-up for a set-to between two noted local dancers, rivals called Tom Ward and Tom Robson. Dan, an inventive improviser of steps and rhythms, began to crack his way through the heats, attracting as much attention as the two men slated as star attractions. What Dan described as "the rolling, the kicking, the taps, the twizzles and the shuffles" took him through to the final round, which he won. His friend and first biographer, J. 'Hickory' Wood (John J. Wood, 1859-1925), describes seeing him in the early 1880s:

He danced on the stage; he danced on a pedestal; he danced on a slab of slate; he was encored over and over again; but throughout his performance, he never uttered a word.

It's an irony that one of the music-hall's greatest exponent of patter was originally obliged by the conventions of clog-dancing to keep his trap utterly shut.

The young George Grant-Galvin-Leno had also fallen in love in the previous ten months. Appearing in Sunderland, he'd met the young Sarah Lydia Reynolds, a Birmingham-born girl who was a "comedy vocalist" on the circuit, and whose family had moved to Wearside in the early 1880s (her father was a stage carpenter). They married in late 1884 - a year later than Hickory Wood was led to believe. The discreet, retrospective change of date was because Lydia and George had just, at the time they married, had the first of their six children, Georgina. This probably accounts for the absence from the ceremony - in St. George's Church, Hulme, in Manchester - of both William and Louisa Grant. The excuse usually given for his mother's failure to attend was that she was "preparing the wedding breakfast" of cold meat and potatoes, with a wedding cake made of bread pudding.

It was when Dan and Johnny moved to London that they got their breaks. In Dan's case, he appeared at three music-halls in one night - the Middlesex in Drury Lane, the Forester's in Mile End, and Gatti's-in-the-Road. The act, which had already proved a big provincial hit, included patter, dancing, and a song (now lost) called 'Milk For The Twins'. It was October 1885. Word spread fast. The impressario George Conquest booked him - together with Lydia and Johnny, although Dan himself was always a solo act - for 'Jack and the Beamstalk' in 1886. From here, Dan rapidly progressed to Drury Lane, where Augustus Harris, the major promoter in London, booked him for the 1888 pantomime season.

From this time in his life, Leno never looked back. Both his wife, mother and step-father effectively retired from the stage, the step-father, when not indulging in a heavy drinking session, gradually acting less as young Dan's agent, and more as a genially agreeable braggart. William Grant took a red-faced pride in his discovery, with whom he remained on good terms - indeed, Dan junior created a massive, painted panorama of the world which he intended as a gift for his stepfather, who died before it was completed.

Dan Leno as a young man


Dan Leno's face was also his fortune. Pinched, worn, impish, with twinkling eyes, it brought out feelings of affection and respect in the audiences he worked so well. London loved him (although not his clogs). As a pantomime dame, he dominated the Drury Lane stage in the last decade of the nineteenth century, most famously as Mother Goose, and especially opposite the wide, portly and beaming Herbert Campbell. But, whether in panto or not, it was his skill as a madcap comedian which kept him in work in London from 1885 until his death. It increased his income from ?5 a week to something more like ?230 a week - a colossal sum for the time. Perhaps the best example of his brilliant nonsense was a routine called "McGregor's Gathering", in which the chorus of his opening song repeatedly broke down:

There were McGregor's men,
And McPherson's men,
And McTulloch's men,
And Mc -

He stopped. He was stuck. He tried again, repeatedly, his face scrunched up in frustration. Eventually he turned to the conductor and advised "Never mind! Go on with the dance!" and began a crazy, hyped-up Highland fling. Suddenly, his face lit up, and he cut the orchestra dead by clapping his hands. He marched forward victoriously, and spoke to the conductor. "McFarlane's men!" he announced, and marched straight off.

In pantomime in the 1890s


Dan Leno's end, when it came, was as distressing as it was early. His doctors believed it to have been brought about by syphilis, from which he might have been suffering for many years (the description "General Paralysis Of The Insane" was the common medical euphemism for the disease, and duly appears on his death certificate). However, it is worth noting that this diagnosis of a taboo disease is thought to be unsafe in a number of late Victorian cases: and Dan, already suffering increasingly from deafness, certainly had a brain tumour. This tumour caused his behaviour to become more and more erratic. He began to insist he was descended from a Scots marquis. One night, the Shakespearean actress Constance Collier came home to find Dan waiting for her at one in the morning. He had been waiting for over two hours. He wanted to play Shakespeare, to be Hamlet. Collier was herself a Leno fan, but she could tell he was desperately unwell. She fended him off with a promise to talk to Herbert Tree; the next day, he arrived at Collier's rehearsals for a play. Tree's appearance seemed to have saved the day, but that evening, Dan Leno was back at Collier's home, with a present of jewels, and a repeated request to play opposite her. Eventually, she had to refuse. He left, weeping; he gave a barmaid the jewels on his way home.

In 1903, he was sent for a while for treatment in a nursing home in Camberwell. He hadn't lost his cheek entirely. On the second day, he told one of his carers that the hall-clock was wrong, according to his watch. "No, sir," answered the man, "the clock is quite right". "I tell you it's wrong!" "No, sir, it's quite right." Dan pounced: "Then, if it's quite right,'what's it doing here' ?"

By this time, "the funniest man on Earth" had entertained Queen Victoria, both in person, and in a special "electrophone" broadcast on 24 May 1899 as part of her eightieth birthday celebrations (although she didn't actually listen to his part in the proceedings*). He had also given a private performance for Edward VII, at the end of which he was presented with a tie-pin which he particularly cherished. He may not have appealed to Bernard Shaw, who was not untypically dismissive of his humour; but Max Beerbohm regarded the performances of Dan Leno and his contemporaries as quintessentially English, and overseas visitors were taken by Beerbohm to watch Dan Leno's pantomime appearances. It was seen as an essential part of their introduction to local culture.

He died at the age of 43, on October 31st, 1904, and his funeral was attended by thousands. The Daily Mirror's front page contained no other news. There are few recordings of his life - only a few, awkward sound recordings, and one tiny clip of film of Sarah and Dan rehearsing a little act in their garden for some guests, and opening a bottle of champagne. He left no memoir - the best-selling book,'Dan Leno: Hys Booke', was ghosted by T.C. Elder (see below). One of his sons, Sidney Galvin, later toured as Dan Leno junior, the third Leno in line. Lydia later married Charles Best, or, as he was better known, Serini The Contortionist; she died in 1935, in Brighton.

Revised in July 2008


Leno's ghost-written, cod autobiography ('His Lyfe') gives his birthplace as 4 Eve Place; both his biographers follow suit. However, his birth certificate and the 1861 census tell a different story. His full name is written on his birth certificate as "George Wild Galvin". At first, it seems clear that "Wild" is a mis-hearing of Wilde, his parents' stage-name, but more recent research suggests that "Wilde" is the wrong spelling. His brother Henry used the name 'H.Wild' when advertising his dance teaching.*

The census - which gets young George's age wrong by a year - is also in error about the birthplace of George's mother, who was from Worthing, in Sussex. It was George's grandfather, Maurice Galvin, who had been Irish; and George's brother Jack was born in Ireland. However, it would have been Mr. Hough who filled in the schedule, and he presumably guessed at the Irish connection, which suggests perhaps that the Grants dropped into Irish accents, as George was to do for the rest of his life.


Dan Leno, by J. Hickory Wood, Methuen, 1905

The Funniest Man On Earth, by Gyles Brandreth, Hamilton, 1977

Dan Leno: Hys Life, by Dan Leno, Greening & Co, 1899 (actually written by Thomas Coates Elder) I am indebted to Elder's daughter, Diana Coates, for the interesting information that not only did Leno and Elder - who died in 1974 at the age of 104 - never meet, but that Leno was not pleased with Hys Life - until he saw the sales, after which he took to it!

Northern Music Hall, by G.J. Mellor, Graham, 1970

Harlequinade, by Constance Collier, John Lane, 1929

Fairs, Circuses and Music Halls, by M. Willson Disher, Collins, 1942

British Music Hall, by Ramond Mander and Joe Mitchenson, Studio Vista, 1965

The Melodies Linger On, by W. Macqueen Pope, Allen, 1950

Folksong and Music Hall, by Edward Lee, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982

Bransby Williams, by Bransby Williams, Hutchinson, 1954

private correspondence with Tony Galvin and Peter McNulty

private correspondence with Barry Anthony, who has corrected many of the confusions. Revisions in this text which are based on his research are marked with an asterisk.

Dan Leno's surviving grand-daughters

the archive collection of J.F. Callaghan


It is clear that Leno's father, John Galvin was one of a number of siblings, and that his father was a Maurice (or Morris) Galvin. What follows is some brief research, mainly into the family of one of Galvin's brothers, Michael - from whose house Leno's sister Frances was married, and who is the most probable candidate for the person who assumed responsibility for Frances when she and Jack were left behind in London.


George Wild Galvin was born on 20 December 1860 at 6 Eve Place (not 3 or 4 Eve Place, as sometimes stated), the son of Louisa Galvin nee Dutton and John Galvin. His parents' stage-names at the time were Mr and Mrs Johnny Wild (sic), and hence his middle name. Both his biographies refer to him as one of two children, with an elder brother Jack, with whom he was performing by the age of four, in the year (1864) in which his father died. However, John and Louisa had four children in 1860, not two, and had just lost two others. Louisa and John had married on January 2nd 1850, at which point they were living in Ann Street, near Waterloo. Their marriage certificate tells us that their fathers were respectively Maurice Galvin, a bricklayer, and Richard Dutton, a painter. Neither is easy to trace, although there may well be records which would make it clearer whether they were alive in 1850.

We know that their approximate dates of birth of John snr and Louisa were 1828 and 1834 respectively. Louisa says on her marriage certificate that she is a minor, so it seems probable that she was still 17 at the time. It seems possible that Louisa was already carrying their first child, John (Jack), whose birth took place in 1850. At this time, John snr.'s given occupation was "labourer"; he gives his place of birth as Middlesex on the 1850 marriage certificate. In the 1861 census, he gives his occupation as "comedian"; Louisa's is given as "vocalist", and her birthplace Worthing in Sussex. Since their first child John was born in Ireland, in Dublin, it seems probable that one of the grandparents - most probably Maurice Galvin - was Irish. Galvin is an Irish name, and a high number of London Galvins in the late nineteenth-century census have Irish names and origins.

The six children were, in order, John, Frances E(liza?) G(?), Henry Michael, Maurice Danvers, Louisa Mary, and George Wild. Frances was born in Liverpool in about 1851; Henry was born in Salford in about 1854. Because of the death of his two nearest siblings six months before he was born, George was therefore the youngest by six years. The places of birth suggest an itinerant lifestyle, and that the family was performing "on the road". The death of John snr in 1864, and Louisa's subsequent marriage to William "Dan Leno" Grant in early 1866 in Liverpool, meant a further period on the road, and a return to the North-West. By this time, John would have been over 16, Frances would have been 14 or so, and Henry about 11. John and Frances were not part of the act. It seems logical to assume that they stayed behind in London, and most probably, at least in the case of Frances, with relatives. This is confirmed to some extent by Frances's marriage in October 1871, at the age of 20. She is married from 4 Munster Street, St. Pancras, which was the home of Michael and Eliza Galvin; they are also the witnesses to the marriage. It seems likely that Michael is her uncle, and a brother of John Galvin. Her marriage is to Jean (John) Risch, a 22-year-old pastry cook, whose father (deceased) was a Chretien Risch. His address is given as 26 Munster Street. Risch was Belgian by birth. In the 1881 census, they are living at 32 Charlotte Street with three children, John, Ada and Florence.

Henry Galvin is to be found in the 1881 census at 4 Little George Street with his wife Jane (nee Sarah Jane Stevens), and five children: Eliza Sarah A(?), Henry, John, Sarah Jane and Minnie Louisa [some of these names are derived from later censuses or from birth registrations). In the same census, and in the same street, at no. 25, we find John Galvin, who had married Eliza Ealey, and had two children, Charlotte and James. (Little George Street runs down next to the Houses of Parliament). Both John and Henry give their profession as labourers. What is interesting here is that Wood and, following Wood, Brandreth, suggests that John (Jack), whom both falsely assume to have been part of the double-act with George, gave it up "to be apprenticed to a trade" and "died young". In fact, John was to die in 1893, at the age of 43 - the same age as George himself, when he died in 1904. Henry openly advertised himself as Leno's brother. When George returned to London, and became successful, he had at the outset three living siblings in London, and it seems improbable that Louisa Grant (formerly Galvin, formerly Dutton) would not have met them again, or indeed maintained an interest in them.

Incidentally, the 1881 census finds George under the name "George Grant" in Manchester, boarding at 6 Crown Street. It may have been the man in whose house they boarded who gave the details, which are interestingly right in one respect, and wrong in another. George (i.e Dan Leno, aged 20, although it says 19) is listed as William Grant's stepson. However all three Grants are said to have been born in Ireland - certainly untrue of Louisa and George jr. The previous census (1871) finds them boarding at 3 Plant's Court, Preston. Once again, George is shown as George Grant, and once again, his age is given as 9, when it should be 10. William is shown as a professional singer. Louisa and George are only credited with being performers in the 1881 census. All three here give their place of birth as "Middlesex". In the 1891 census, William Grant styles himself "William Leno", and his wife appears as "Louisa Leno"; they are at 65 Howard Street, Salford. This time William claims to have been born in "London St. James" and that Louisa was born in "London, City". George, now "Daniel Leno", and married, correctly gives his place of birth as St. Pancras, and his age as 30. He is at 27 Cavendish Road, Clapham.

We don't therefore know where William Grant or Louisa Dutton were born, but a balance of probabilities suggests that he was from London, and that she was from Worthing (it seems too fanciful to have made that up in 1861 - my guess is that her mother was from Sussex, and that she was born there at her maternal grandparents' home). My impression is that Louisa died in Salford in late 1891, and that William died in the mid-1890s.

George Galvin (Dan Leno) married Sarah Reynolds (her full name was Sarah Lydia Reynolds, and she was known as Lydia, but she is given as Sarah on all official documents, except the 1901 census, when she is simply Mrs. Lens (sic)) on December 15 th 1884 in Hulme, Manchester, at which point they were living at 31 or 37 Egerton Street. The biographies place their marriage in 1883, and make a comment that neither William nor Louisa went to the wedding (the story is that Louisa was busy making a cake). Their two witnesses, Frances and Albert Hickman (both mystery figures who don't appear in any other lists), were said to be the only ones there. George gives his father's occupation as salesman, but then changes his mind, and the registrar alters the entry to "Vocalist". The reason that the date of the marriage was changed in later years is straightforward, and tells us something about nineteenth-century anxiety about status. Just ten weeks before the marriage, Lydia's first child, Georgina Galvin, had been born (October 2, 1884). It is probable that the Galvins stuck to the original white lie, and that Georgina never knew. The most likely reason for Louisa's absence is not the cake, but that she was looking after Georgina. Georgina, incidentally, was born in Sheffield, and here there is a small mystery yet to be resolved.

Lydia was one of two children of Sarah and John Reynolds, a carpenter, later more specifically a stage-carpenter. He and Sarah (and Lydia) were born in Birmingham. In 1881, they are in Wolverhampton, but they must have moved to Sunderland shortly after that. There is plainly a North-East connection, since Lydia's younger brother William was born in Jarrow in the 1870s. They must also have moved in 1881-1883, since Dan Leno is said to have met Lydia, a singer, while on tour in Sunderland, which suggests that the Reynolds family have already re-located to Meaburn St. in Sunderland. Tantalisingly, this street (which still exists) is right behind where the Victoria Hall theatre stood, where John Reynolds may have worked - and which was the scene of a catastrophe in 1883, when 185 children were crushed to death in a stampede caused by a promise of prizes, inadequate supervision, and a wedged door. There are references in some memoirs to Leno "staying with his in-laws" in Sunderland. They are still there in 1901, and Lydia's brother has graduated from being a clerk to being a cigar-merchant's assistant in West Hartlepool between 1891 and 1901.

By the time of George's marriage, the "troupe" led by his step-father included a replacement for Henry Galvin, in the shape of "Johnny Danvers". Johnny Danvers was to enjoy his own success in London; but in 1881, he was still John Danvers Har[r]old, from Sheffield, a silver plater. Several accounts of Leno's life refer to the curiosity that, although born within six weeks of each other, and related, they were not cousins but uncle (Johnny) and nephew (George). This is of course perfectly possible; the mystery is precisely how they were related - certainly through a Galvin, since one of George's siblings who died in infancy had 'Danvers' as a middle name. The earliest online census reference to him is unfortunately 1881, by which time his mother Elizabeth had been widowed. She had a younger son, born in Rotherham, called Albert H Harold, born in 1862, and a file-cutter (Elizabeth is still living with him in 1891, with his wife Annie and five year-old daughter Clara K Harold. In 1901, Clara is staying with her uncle and his wife Emily at 12 Corsica Street, Islington. He describes himself as John D. Harold, comedian). Until Elizabeth Harold's original name is tracked down, this will remain a minor mystery. The birth of Georgina in 1884 may well have been at the Harolds' house at 38 Allen St, Sheffield. (All Leno's other five children were born in London.)

John Galvin jnr, the eldest brother of Dan Leno, had three children by his marriage to Eliza Ealey, before his untimely death in 1893 - Charlotte, James and Eliza. In 1891, the family is at 61 Euston Street, where John is described as an engineer's porter. Eliza isn't there, although there is no suggestion that John has been widowed. I can't find her or James in 1901; she may have re-married. In 1901, Charlotte and Eliza are in service as maids, but living together at 33 Abercorn Place. Charlotte is probably the Charlotte Galvin who married Ralph Bourne in 1903 (in which case, she might be a second wife, in that the only obvious Ralph Bourne in 1901 is married, and a woman of his wife's name dies later in that year. If that's the case, he is a wine merchant in Balls Pond Road).

Frances and Jean Risch had, I think, eight children in all (1) John Christian Risch, who followed his father into the pastry cook profession, and married Grace Emerson in the late 1890s. They are shown with one son, John, b. 1899, in the 1901 census, (2) Ada Risch, who worked as a shirtmaker until her marriage in 1902 (I am not sure yet which of the two names in the registry is right, (3) Florrie Risch, a collar machinist in 1901, (4) Celestin Risch (son), alive in 1891, but whom I suspect died young, (5) Walter Risch, who is working in a skin stores in 1901, (6) Leon Risch, who is an errand-boy in 1901, (7) Emmie Risch, and (8) probably Miriam Risch, who died as an infant. They seem to have moved from St. Pancras to Bermondsey in the 1890s. In 1891 they are at 116 Drummond Street, St. Pancras. In 1901 they are at 294 Rotherhithe New Road, Bermondsey (except John, who has married, and is at 9 Westville Road, Hammersmith).

Henry Michael Galvin, the second son of John and Louisa, seems to me to have had ten children with his wife Sarah Jane Stevens (known as 'Jane', and sometimes shown as Steven , not Stevens): (1) Eliza Sarah A, (2) Henry Michael (3) Sarah Jane, (4) John, (5) Minnie Louisa, (6) Emily, (7) George, (8) Frederick, (9) (Al) Bert and (10) William. As noted above, he is shown as a labourer in 1881, with the first five children. In 1891, however, he has moved from Little George Street, and is a teacher of dancing at 31 Berwick Street. However, there is a curious problem with this latter entry, to which the fourth child, John, is at present about the only solution. In the 1881 census, Henry is shown with the first five children. In the 1891 census (in which his wife is unhelpfully referred to only as 'Mrs. H.'), he is shown with child no. 4 (John), and children nos. 6 - 8. In the 1901 census, he is shown as the caretaker at Filmer House, 1 Filmer Rd, Fulham; his wife is named as Jane (as in 1881); and he has children nos. 7-10 with him (George, the eldest of the four, is working for a wine-merchant). His birthplace (Salford) and age are consistent. It would look as if Eliza, Sarah Jane and Minnie Louisa have died young. Henry Michael jr. cannot be easily located in the 1891 census, when he would have been 15, - but he is there in the 1901 census. At first sight, it looks as if we are dealing with two Henry Galvins; but the consistent factor is the year of birth and place of birth (Salford), and the link of the child John Galvin from 1881 to 1891. And since Sarah Jane Stevens and Henry Michael Galvin married in 1872, it seems reasonable to assume that they might have had children in 1874, 1876, 1878, 1879, 1880, 1884, 1886, 1890, 1893 and 1895. It is indeed possible that some of other infant Galvin deaths in the 1880s are further children.

Henry Michael Galvin jr is at 141 Arlington Rd, St. Pancras in 1901, with a wife Elizabeth (nee Pike), and a son called. Henry Michael Galvin (b.1900). He is a tailor. His brother John is at 144 Great Portland Street, and is a legging-maker. He too has married (Marcia Griffiths), and also has a son born 1900, called John.

It is interesting how often the name Eliza crops up, leading one to suspect that Maurice Galvin's wife just might have been called Eliza. It is also interesting to notice the other Galvins in the Pancras area. My instinct is that there is at least one other brother to Dan Leno's father, in addition to Michael. This would probably be easy to prove through marriage certificates, and the names of witnesses.

The known - perhaps I should say presumed, since he could be a cousin - brother of Dan Leno's father was Michael, born in 1836. I can't find the details of his marriage online, so I don't know his wife Eliza's original name. He was a gasfitter. In 1871, he is living in Munster Street and they have five children: John, Robert (Robert Frederick), Frances Anne, Eliza (Eliza Mary A)?and Sally, born approx. 1860, 1861, 1864, 1869, and 1871, all of them in St. Pancras. Sally has just been born, and is plainly the pet-name for Winifred Matilda Galvin.

In 1881, Michael Galvin's death was registered (first quarter - he could have died in late 1880). His wife Eliza is listed as a widow at 57 Palmerston Road, Islington. Only four children are listed: John (now also a gas-fitter), Robert (now a greengrocer), "Matilda" (this must be Sally), and yet another child, Charles Henry aged 3, ergo born about 1878. Eliza has died in 1872, aged 3. I also think Eliza may also have lost other children in the interim (there are some infant Galvin deaths in Pancras). Frances is working as a servant to a rich family called Buckler at Gloucester House, Gloucester Road, Kingston. The recurrence of the names Frances and John is interesting.

In the 1891 census, Robert, still a greengrocer and unmarried, is lodging at 15 Grosvenor Terrace. John, a gasfitter like his father, is at 21 Plover Street, Hackney, with his wife Annie, and a daughter called Alice, apparently born 1890. Eliza herself is still alive at 20 ?Spey St, Bromley, with her daughter "Winifred", a tie-maker, this Winifred appearing to be the Matilda/Sally of before, and Charles, these two now respectively 20 and "10". Frances appears to be living as the wife of a rather older man, Walter Robert Fuller, a brickmaker, with a daughter (also called Frances, aged 2) at 204 Moselle Avenue, Tottenham. They didn't marry until 1893. In 1901, they appear at 6 May Terrace, Wood Green. Walter is now described as a "brushmaker". It is possible that one of the entries is wrong. They have four children: Frances Madge D Fuller (1889), Rosa Charlotte D Fuller (1893), Dorothy Janet E. Fuller (1898) and Walter Michael J. Fuller (1899). (The "D" is probably an "A").

In 1901, Eliza is listed as living in 6, Kingsley Road, Walthamstow, aged 61. With her is Charles, a comb and brush finisher, and Winifred, still a tie-maker. She also has John's daughter Alice staying with her. Robert, now a fruiterer and greengrocer, is to be found at still in Kensington, where he is a visitor at the house where his wife Alice Mary Anne (nee Borrett) is a servant in the household of Cecilia Boothby at 105, Philbeach Gardens, Kensington. They have a son, Frederick W Galvin, aged 9. There is another child, called Winifred Matilda E Galvin, who is visiting a family called Clarke in Brantham, Suffolk. It is possible that this is another child of John's, rather than Robert's (in either case, she is named for the aunt).

John Galvin, Robert's brother, is a hot-water fitter, and is at 52 Fairlight Road, Walthamstow in 1901, with his wife, and their three other children John, Charles and Lily (1895,1898, 1900). (Alice is at her grandmother's).


I am sure there will be some errors here, but I have tried to minimise them. What of course I only know in pieces and parts is what happened after 1901. I know that Dan's daughter Georgina married twice, and that she had children by her second marriage, that Lydia remarried to Charles Best in 1907, and I know some other details about Albert Galvin's descendants (Henry's son). I would be interested to try to complete this. It does seem clear that, far from being part of a small family, Dan Leno was part of a very large one, which over the second half of the nineteenth century, remained steadfastly in the centre of London.


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