The Great Blind Bartell, the naval Crimean hero, English vocalist and composer

July 19, 2014

C.H. Bartell (active late 1860s-1898), English blind vocalist and composer, sometimes billed as ‘The Great Blind Bartell’ and the ‘naval Crimean hero, with his flag entertainment’
(carte de visite photo: A.R. MacWilliams, 16 South Hanover Street, Glasgow, circa 1875)
Bartell, whose real name was Charles Henry Huntley, was born in London on 14 July 1835, the son of Henry Huntley, a brewer (later licensed victualler) and his wife, Elizabeth, and baptized at St. Matthew, Bethnal Green on 28 June 1837. He joined the navy at an early age but was blinded in an accident during the Crimean War (1853-1856). Twice married and father to a number of children, he died at home on 7 Sept 1901 at 18 Dudley Road, Sale, Cheshire.

The Middlesex music hall, Edgware Road, London, week beginning Monday, 30 December 1867
‘Mr. Bartell, a blind vocalist, sang several songs, the words of which are written by himself. One of these effusions related to ”What we want to know.” Another, which he called ”The Flags of all Nations,” glances at prominent tropics connected with different European states, and in a third Mr. Bartell recapitulated the achievements of 1867, and concluded by reciting some lines composed by himself, in which he described how he lost his sight when he was present as a sailor at the taking of Sebastopol. He has a powerful voice, and sings very forcibly. The audience heartily cheered him.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 5 January 1868, p. 6d)

Alhambra music hall, Worcester, week beginning Monday, 11 January 1869
‘Mr. C.H. Bartell, the blind descriptive vocalist and author, from the Crystal Palace, London, whose great international song, ”The Flags of All Nations,” has been received with much applause. Mr Bartell is one of the Crimean heroes, and he recites some verses relating to that dreadful contest, in which he gives an account of his life, and touchingly alludes to the loss of his sight.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 17 January 1869, p. 13d)

People’s Concert Hall, Stockport, Cheshire, week beginning Monday, 4 March 1872
‘We have this week to report the great success of the De Castro Troupe (gymnast and acrobats); also Le Petit Tom and Young England in their daring performance on the high trapeze. Mr. C.H. Hartell (blind descriptive vocalist) sings several songs of his own composing in a manner which elicits frequent applause. Mr. H. Beresford (comic), and Miss Bartell (serio-comic and dancer), with Mr and Mrs J. Whittingham (Negroists), complete the company.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 10 March 1872, p. 7b)

‘Charles Huntley Bartell, a Crimean veteran, who lost his sight in action, has died at his home in Sale, Manchester. ”Blind Bartell,” as he was known, gained quite a local reputation as a vocalist and entertainer, and some of his verses so impressed Queen Victoria that she made him a money grant. He was the oldest naval pensioner in Manchester, and possessed medals for Alma, Sebastopol and Inkerman. When Lord Roberts last visited Manchester he responded at the dinner given on behalf of the naval section of the Crimean veterans.’
(The Teedsale Mercury, Barnard Castle, Wednesday, 18 September 1901, p. 6f)


One comment

  1. How can I contact you about how you found all this information. This is my 3 x great grandfather!

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