Edmund John Vineer, who married my great-great-aunt Elizabeth Robb in 1842, and then (as I believe) committed bigamy by marrying Sarah Eliza Plucknett in 1855, described himself as a teacher or ‘professor’ of music. However, in the process of researching Edmund’s life, I’ve discovered that he also had a flourishing career as a musician in the early Victorian music hall. Edmund Vineer’s involvement with music hall coincided with the early decades of this new type of theatrical entertainment, which combined popular songs and comedy with speciality acts and ‘variety’ performances.
By following newspaper reviews of concerts in which Edmund performed, we can track his movements and also get a clearer sense of his musical career (all newspaper extracts featured in this post were found via the excellent British Newspaper Archive website). For example, as I noted in the previous post, in November 1851 The Era carried a report of a concert at the Surrey Music Hall in Southwark, at which a number of entertainers were accompanied by ‘an efficient band’, which included ‘Mr Vineer (who presides at the Grand Piano)’. The Surrey Music Hall was on Southwark Bridge Road and had originally been a saloon attached to the Grapes public house. It changed its name to the Winchester in 1856. In the previous month the Morning Advertiser carried a report of a concert at the same venue in which Edmund was the pianist in a band led by Mr F E H Zeluti.
From this, we can conclude that Edmund was still living in London, probably with his mother and younger siblings in Rosamons Buildings, Islington, as he had been when the 1851 census was taken.
Edmund Vineer must have moved from London to Portsmouth some time between November 1851 and the following September, when The Era reported on a performance at Rendle’s Concert Hall in Portsea, in which ‘the intrumental part [was] ably presided over by Mr Vineer’. Portsea was, of course, the home of Edmund’s second wife Sarah Eliza Plucknett and her family. Dod Edmund Vineer move to Portsmouth because of an offer of work at Rendle’s, and then meet his second wife once he got there, or was Sarah Eliza the reason for the move, and did the engagement at the local music hall then follow? Alternatively, a more suspicious imagination might wonder if Edmund left London to escape the difficult situation created by his marriage to Elizabeth Robb, and to enable him to start a new life with a new wife, in a town where nobody knew about his past.
Edmund soon became a mainstay of Rendle’s concert hall. In October 1852, The Era noted that the hall was now open every evening, and ‘Mr Vineer’ on pianoforte was among the regular performers. But Edmund was more than simply the resident pianist: he was often cited as the leader of the orchestra. In December 1852 the Portsmouth Times and Naval Gazette reviewed another concert at Rendle’s at which the band was ‘under the able direction of Mr Vineer’. In July 1854 Vineer crossed over to the Isle of Wight to ‘preside at the piano’ at a concert at Ryde Town Hall. By October 1856, the Naval Gazette is describing him as the ‘musical director’ at Rendle’s.
A report in The Hampshire Advertiser in April 1861 provides evidence that the Vineers had moved from Portsmouth to Southampton by this date. The newspaper contains a very full report on a concert at the Southampton Theatre, in which the performers included ‘Miss Anne Adams, a favourite local vocalist’ performing selections from Il Trovatore ‘with great effect’. It goes on: ‘In addition to the ordinary orchestral accompaniment, Mr Vineer accompanied Miss Adams on the pianoforte. Mr Vineer is the instructor of this talented vocalist, and must have paid great attention to her tuition to enable her to render the music with such perfection as was so evident on this occasion.’ So Edmund Vineer was a vocal tutor as well as a teacher of piano.
On moving to Southampton, Edmund Vineer appears to have transferred his allegiance from Rendle’s to Gordon’s Music Hall, also known as Gordon’s New Theatre of Varieties, which had opened in 1859. However, here his status was not quite so elevated: a report in The Era in October 1865 notes that the hall has ‘a capital band, of which Mr Mason is the leader; Mr Vineer, pianist’.
On 5th January 1867 The Hampshire Advertiser reported that on New Year’s Day, music hall proprietor Mr J.W.Gordon, ‘with his usual liberality and kindness’, had taken the whole of his company to the local ‘Poorhouse’ to give the residents ‘an excellent musical treat’. The company included Edmund Vineer on piano.
Royal York Palace of Varieties, Southampton
Edmund Vineer’s daughter Fanny, and on occasion his son Edmund junior, followed him into the music hall. In February 1879, when Fanny was nineteen, The Hampshire Advertiser reported on a concert in Freemantle at which Miss Fanny Vineer took the place of another singer who was indisposed and sang ‘in a most charming manner’. In March 1880 a review in The Era of a concert at the Royal York Palace of Varieties in Southampton stated: ‘Miss Fanny Vineer appears to be a favourite serio-comic and ballad vocalist’. And as mentioned in the previous post, in May of the same year Fanny appeared in a concert alongside her brother ‘Mr Ted Vineer, character entertainer’.
In December 1883, according to The Hampshire Advertiser, Fanny and her father performed in the same benefit concert at the Victoria Skating Rink in Southampton. Edmund was ‘pianist and accompanist’ while Fanny was one of a number of ‘lady vocalists’ whose songs were ‘charmingly rendered, and afforded much pleasure’. Even Edmund’s wife Sarah Eliza gets a mention on this occasion: presumably she is the ‘Mrs Vineer’ upon whom, together with a Miss Beaumont, ‘a greater part of the actual work devolved’. In the same month, Fanny joined the company led by Charles Majilton (a member of the famous theatrical family) for the annual pantomime (this year it was ‘Cinderella’) at the Theatre Royal, Oldham.
Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to discover anything about the later career of Fanny Vineer, or indeed any information about her later life more generally.