The Douglas family of the Standard Theatre

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The National Standard Theatre was built on the site of the Royal Standard Public House and Pleasure Gardens, and first opened in 1837, it was situated opposite the Eastern Railway Station.

The Theatre was rebuilt in 1844 by Messrs Johnson and Nelson Lee, who was the former manager of the Pavilion Theatre, Whitechapel. They demolished the old Standard Theatre and rebuilt it on a much larger scale.

The new Standard Theatre opened in January 1845 and a few months later the Illustrated London News reported on the Theatre in their 17th of May 1845 edition saying:- 'The East-enders have now their Amphitheatre, or Cirque Olympique, for equestrian performances, which the proprietors of the New Standard Theatre have just provided for, in a novel and ingenious manner.

Johnson and Nelson Lee relinquished control of the Standard Theatre in May 1848 at the end of the season. The new lessee and eventual owner was Mr John Douglas, previously of the Marylebone Theatre, who remodeled and redecorated the Standard Theatre during the recess from May to September, and reopened it on September the 30th 1848. Johnson and Lee Nelson later took over the lease of the City of London Theatre in Bishopsgate.

The Standard Theatre was destroyed by fire a few decades later, on October the 28th 1866, but was then rebuilt by John Douglas the following year and it reopened in December 1867 with a seating capacity of 3,000. The Building News and Engineering Journal reported on the soon to be erected Theatre in their 5th of July 1867 edition saying:- 'The foundation stone of a new theatre upon the site of the Standard Theatre, burnt on October 28, 1866, took place yesterday afternoon.

Mr. John Douglass later purchased the freeholds of some adjoining property, and thus obtains room enough to build a theatre larger than any one in London, excepting Her Majesty's.

• John T. Douglass (sic), manager of the Standard Theatre, wrote 'Joan Eyre or Poor Relations in 1879, under the pseudonym 'James Williing' (See below) Born December 1842. John Thomas Douglas was killed in a German air raid on 13th January 1917.  His father, born 1814, had 21 siblings, including Thomas and George.

•  Mrs. John Douglas was born in 1850 in England as Amy Steinberg. She was an actress, known for In Another Girl's Shoes (1917). She was married to John Douglass (playwright, producer). She died in November 1920 in London, England. Died: November, 1920 in London, England, UK Birth Name: Amy Steinberg

•  John Douglass (playwright, producer) (? - 13 June(1) 1917) (his death) (Amy's husband)

•  The Portman Theatre, which was in 1842 run by John Douglass, was said to be able to hold around 2,500 people and prices for the opening week were Boxes, 2s; Pit 1s; and Gallery, 6d.

•  John Douglass, one time of the little Tothill Fields Theatre and afterwards of the Standard, Shoreditch

•  The Theatre Royal, Marylebone, under John Douglas was quite a success, he put on melodrama and pantomime there for 5 years until he retired in 1847.

•  The Second Marylebone Theatre had as lessee and manager, Mr John Douglass c1842

•  In December 1878, the family became the owners of Park Theatre, in Camden Town.

•  Among popular plays produced was A passage in the Life of Grace Darling

•  John Thomas's son, (Samuel) Richard, moved his scenery painting business in Islington when the Douglas family sold up in December 1888.

•  Stella Brereton was the wife of Richard Douglass. She was a regular performer at The Park, Standard and Surrey Theatres.

•  Mrs. John Douglas was born on April 19, 1852 in Westminster, London, England as Rachel Alice Koning. She was an actress, known for In Another Girl's Shoes (1917). She was married to John Douglass (playwright, producer). She died on November 5, 1920 in Hammersmith, London.  (Note possible conflct with suggestion John was married to Amy Syeinberg)

•  There was an actual James Willing, known as James Willing Junior, who was probably married to Isabella Douglass. He was son of James Willing, founder of an advertising agency, who lived til nearly 90.  However, there is a death notice for Mary Ann Powe, wife of  James Willing Junior of Rock Hall, Teddington, London, who died 9th March 1909.

•  Rev Henry Charles Douglass, who died 13 Aug 1916, was father of 3 daughters who performed in The Standard Theatre, London, and of Dorothea (2), the tennis champion. He was the first Vicar of St Matthew’s Church, Ealing Common, from 1884 -1916, formerly curate there. He was educated at Corpus Christi, Cambridge.

1.  Or January 1917?
2.  Dorothea, known as  Lambert Chambers, was the 7-times Wimbledon champion. She was a grand-daughter of John and Amy.
3.  Samuel Douglass, born 1783, may be a progenitor of this London theatrical line of the Douglass family, He may or may not be connected with:
4.  James Douglas,  "possibly the son of David Douglas, one of the early managers of the Drama in America", who was active, c1810, as a leader of a troupe of actors in the frontier theatre in Canada (and America?) that came directly from the British provincial theatres of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as indeed did many of the actors themselves, in what is known today as the 'stock system'.
5. The above may be:
1765 David Douglass arrives in Charleston with his theatrical company.
1766 David Douglass opens the new Southwark Theater in Philadelphia.
1767 David Douglass produces The Prince of Parthia in Philadelphia, the first American drama to be professionally produced on the American stage.




Sources for this article include:

•  Jane Eyre on Stage, 1848–1898: An Illustrated Edition of Eight Plays
•  The Standard Theatre of Victorian England, By Allan Stuart Jackson
•  Arthur Lloyd

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