I did this little story awhile ago and It was instantly brought to mind when I received this similar most interesting story from John Favill our dear friend and member from the U.S.A.
The Little Men
My cousin sent me a copy of a letter found in her father’s papers after he had died. her father Charles was my father’s youngest brother.
The hand written letter was dated September 1857 and sent from Dunfermline in Scotland to my great-grandfather in Monks Coppenhall with the following phrase, “Dr Mark desires me to relate to you that your son is in good health, and quite happy amongst the rest of the little men.”
The son in question was my grandfather William John Favill
So who was Dr Mark? What or who were the Little Men?
Well I knew that my grandfather William John Favill was 8 years of age in 1857 as I had a copy of his birth certificate which told me he had been born in Monks Coppenhall ( Crewe).
His parents were married in Walton-on-the-Hill in Liverpool as I also have a copy of their wedding certificate William John, my grandfather had been born June 12, 1849.
With the letter sent to me by my cousin, came a brochure which describes Dr Mark and his Little Men a being a Complete musical orchestra and goes on to say ,
“ Composed of little English, Irish and Scotch boys, from 5 to 16 years of age to whom he ( Dr Mark) gives general and musical education and provides them with clothes, board and lodgings and traveling expenses, all gratuitously, in order to illustrate what may be achieved with an indiscriminate selection of little boys by a simple plan of training.”
To cut the story short Dr Mark headed an orphanage in Deansgate, Manchester, later called the Royal School Of Music beating for many years the Royal School founded by Sir John Barborolli of the Halle Orchestra fame.
The school/orphanage was for boys who were either orphans of musical parents or poor boys showing musical talent. Dr Mark also offered musical apprenticeships at a “nominal” annual charge.
To raise money for the venture Dr Mark and his Little Men toured the country giving musical concerts to which I found numerous mentions and references, plus advertisements, in various copies of the Era Newspaper of the period.
Then I located in the Shrewsbury Library, evidence of the standard reached by the Little Men. and this is the front page of that program.
By the Command of her Most Gracious Majesty The Queen. Programme of the Grand Concert at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday, February 10, 1858 and in which Dr Mark and his Little Men had the distinguished honor to perform before her.
It goes on to list the Royal Personages present. This was to celebrate the 18th Anniversary of the marriage of the Queen and Prince Albert.
The program shows the list of the music played in two halves and it lists the names of all the performers.
My grandfather’s name is not included. However I have a part of another programme which also lists all the members of the orchestra on that occasion and my grandfather’s name is included and this time together with most of the Command Performance names also. He is listed as playing second violin.
As a matter of interest I also have a list of pupils that gives the town or city from which they came, and three of these listed are shown identified as from Wolverhampton.
They are Masters Sharlock age 9; E. Lambe age 10; J. Ford age 10.
There is a Sharlock listed as a soloist and as member of the orchestra playing the piccolo at the command performance.
This list of pupils well illustrate that boys were recruited from many areas around the UK.
I have in addition a copy of a letter written by Lord Palmerston , the UK Prime Minister 1859 to 1865, stating how much he had enjoyed the concert he had attended given by the Little Men.
Below the old cellar head.