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Edward Trevanion’s pupils, Tell and Tell, English juvenile gymnasts and trapezists

July 21, 2014

Edward Trevanion’s pupils, Tell and Tell (active 1876-1879), ‘Trevanion’s Wonders,’ briefly known in 1876 as Sillo and Vertie, English juvenile gymnasts and trapezists
(carte de visite photo: T. Pope, 36 New Street, Birmingham, 1876-1879)

Edward Trevanion (a pseudonym) was born in Bolton, Lancashire, about 1846. He is recorded in the 1871 Census as a lodger at The Lord Nelson public house, Smithfield Street, Coventry, with his wife, Cerissa Trevanion (a pseudonym), who was born in Middlesborough, Yorkshire, about 1851. Both were described as gymnasts. Cerissa (or Mdlle. Cerissa as she was known professionally) died in childbirth on 19 June 1871 following an accident at the Alhambra music hall, Nottingham, a few days earlier on 8 June. (The Era, London, Sunday, 3 July 1871, p. 6d) During the next decade Edward Trevanion trained several pairs of young boys as acrobats and trapeze performers, including Tell and Tell. There is reason to believe that Trevanion subsequently changed his professional name to Tom Rezene (not to be confused with Charles F. Rezene, who was born about 1870, of Rezene and Robini, comic acrobats), who was responsible for training and exhibiting Lillo and Zetti, ‘Rezene’s Wonders,’ another pair of boy acrobats.

‘CAMBRIDGE … … . 9.15
‘ROYAL, HOLBORN . . 10.25
‘TELL and TELL.
‘Trevanion’s Wonders.’
‘Innumerable inquiries have been made to ascertain Mr Trevanion’s reasons for changing the celebrated names of his celebrated pupils to the novel and mysterious titles of TELL and TELL.
‘All who are acquainted with Edward Trevanion, his habits, nature, and history, can understand his determination not to be classed with a would-be Comic Song Singer, who has hesitated at nothing to achieve mercenary ends. The most daring and desperate rapacity of the Bashi Bazouks, was preceded by the kidnapping violence of the liquor vault fellow alluded to; he who, as for mercy, implored the aid of the law, that children might be taken from the lawful and loving care of their legal and experienced master, to become his victims – victims of his glaring and deplorable incapacity to ensure their safety. The ignorant abuse of such an unnatural creature will never again be notices.
‘Agent, Charles Roberts.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 27 August 1876, p. 13d)

The Cambridge music hall, London, week beginning Monday, 28 August 1876
‘The flying children Tell and Tell meet with remarkable success. They succeed better without artificial aid then some who attempt flying do with all the resources of science.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 3 September 1876, p. 5a)

The Cambridge music hall, London, week beginning, Monday, 4 September 1876
‘The wonderful juvenile gymnasts Tell and Tell went through their aerial trapeze performance with their accustomed intrepidity and neatness.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 10 September 1876, p. 4d)

J.S. Sweasey’s Benefit, The Royal music hall, London, Wednesday evening, 1 November 1876
‘… the youthful trapeze performers Tell and Tell one of whom was on this occasion presented with a silver medal at the hands of Mr. Sweasey, jun.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 5 November 1876, p. 5a)

‘PRESENTATION. Tell and Tell, the wonderfully clever youthful gymnasts, have been presented by Mr and Mrs Johnson, of the ”Alexandra,” Wigan, with handsome gold rings, set with rubies, in recognition of their ability, and as memorials of their great success at the establishment named.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 18 February 1877, p. 7c)

The Sun music hall, Knightsbridge, London, week beginning Monday, 23 April 1877
‘The daring youths Tell and Tell keep the spectators in a state of breathless excitement by their marvellous flights through space from bar to bar, a huge net precluding all sense of peril.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 29 April 1877, p. 4a)

Royal Alhambra music hall, Barrow-in-Furness, week beginning Monday, 17 July 1877
‘Trevanion’s pupils, Tell and Tell are the principal attractions, and their marvellous performance on the lofty trapeze is both graceful, daring, and clever, bringing down the house with thunders of applause.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 22 July 1877, p. 6a)

The Royal music hall, London, week beginning Monday, 6 January 1879
‘the first name on the list of those who appear on the stage is that of Mr Cavendish, whose buffo songs never fail to find deserved favour. We are sorry to learn that this gentleman has recently suffered to some considerable extent by reason of an accident, in which he was the victim of somebody’s carelessness in connection with a gymnastic entertainment which just now forms one of the main features of the programme. We may as well say at once that it is provided by the marvellously clever and daring children Tell and Tell, who are very properly described as flying trapeze wonders. Their extraordinary feats, performed on the high swinging bar, are positively astounding. They are characterised by an amount of neatness, precision, grace, and rapidity that we have never seen excelled even by gymnasts of more extended experience and of less tender years. The flights through space taken by the more youthful of the pair are watched with breathless interest and excitement, and call forth the most vociferous plaudits, no small share of the honours going, of course, to the plucky youngster, who, hanging head downwards, never fails to catch his flying confrère, who once at least makes his seemingly perilous journey while enveloped in a sack. We say ”seemingly” perilous because in reality danger is precluded by the presence beneath the performers of a huge net, and, indeed, by their own coolness and skill.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 12 January 1879, p. 7c)

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