Person    | Male  Born 18/4/1830  Died 29/4/1904

Robert Edwin Villiers

Categories: Liveries & Guilds, Theatre

Managed the London Pavilion theatre from 1886 to 1890.

Robert Edwin Villiers was born on 18 April 1830 in Clerkenwell, Middlesex (now Greater London)) the son of Issac Villiers (c.1789-1863)) and Mary Collier Villiers née Day (1789-1871). On 4 July 1830 he was baptised at St James's Church, Clerkenwell, where in the baptismal register his family were shown to be living in Amwell Street, Clerkenwell and that his father was a tailor.

In the 1840 he is shown living in Islington Street, Clerkenwell, with his parents and four elder siblings: Rosa Villiers (b. c1821) - a millineress; Ellen Villiers (b. c1822) - a millineress; Henry Villiers (b. c1826) - an apprentice and Frederick Villiers (b. c1828) also an apprentice. His father continued to shown as a tailor.

He was shown as  a merchant's clerk, aged 20 years, in the 1851 census, residing at 20 Goulden Terrace, Islington, with his parents and his sister Elizabeth Villers (b. c1819) - a land owner. His father was described as a retired tailor and his mother was shown as a land owner.

On 31 January 1856 he married Rosa Antoinette Schott (1834-1918) at Warwick Street Chapel, Regent Street, London.

He was listed as Robert Villiers and described as a comedian in the 1861 census living in Bagshot Road, Frimley, Ash, Surrey, with his wife, their three children: Marie Theresé Villiers (b.1857); Laura Frances Villiers (b.1858) and Edwin Adam Villiers (1859-1931), together with four sisters-in-law: Yetta Schott (b. c1840) - a professor of music; Helena Schott (b. c1841) - a professor of music; Angela Schott (b. c1846); Theresa Schott (b. c1850); two visitors and a boarder.

On 28 October 1864 he was initiated as Freemason in the Royal Alfred Lodge No.780 that met at The Star and Garter Hotel, Kew Bridge Road, Brentford, Middlesex (now Greater London). He is shown in the United Grand Lodge of England's registers as being aged 32 years, a comedian, living at 92 London Road, South London, but was excluded from freemasonry in 1868 for non-payment of his annual subscription. 

When the 1871 census was undertaken he was described as a music hall proprietor living at The Canterbury Arms public house, Lower Marsh, Lambeth, London, where he was shown as the 'head' of the family. Also listed at the property were John Bernard Schott (c.1837-1891) who was a publican, Mary Marie Nelson Schott née Packe (1845-1886), Cecil Edwin Schott (b.c1868) and Frederick James Schott (1870-1898), together with two female domestic servants and a barman. 

1880 was a busy year for him in the courts. In The Proceedings of the Old Bailey website he is shown (incorrectly as Robert Edward Villiers) on 12 January 1880 as appearing as a witness in the libel trial of Edward Ledger who was indicted for unlawfully publishing a libel of and concerning Hodson Stanley. In his evidence he stated that 'I have been connected with the theatrical profession for 40 years—I was at the Haymarket seven years performing in tragedy, light comedy, and walking gentleman—Mrs. Villiers and I carry on the entertainments at the Royal Hotel Assembly Rooms, Margate; also dances every evening during the summer season; they are admitted to be most respectable, and have had the criticism of the Times, Daily Telegraph, and Standard—I have opened the Canterbury, and latterly the London Pavilion, and in these different undertakings I have endeavoured to keep the audience respectable—I have known Mr. Hodson Stanley about seven years—he sent me a ticket for this ball and I went to it, to the best of my recollection I arrived there about 11.45, and I think there was about 150 people dancing then; they were dancing most properly' Further in his evidence he stated that 'I remained after the supper, but did not notice anything unusual—I have attended many balls, and I may say that the impression I formed was that it was most orderly and respectable as far as a public ball would go—I did not notice any painted harlots, but I certainly noticed seven or eight or what we politely call the demi-monde, but I see them in all assemblies that I go to; there was nothing in their demeanour or manner that was insulting or offensive—the whole thing was thoroughly well conducted.'

On 9 February 1880 his wife petitioned the High Court of Justice, Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division, for a judicial separation and dissolution of their marriage. She claimed that 'since the month of December 1878 her husband had committed incestuous adultery with Helena Schott otherwise Ernstone, the sister of the petitioner, at 50 Brixton, Road, Surrey,'

In the 1881 census he was shown as the proprietor of the London Music Hall, living at 4 Loudoun Road, Marylebone, London, with Helena Ernstone, together with both a male and a female domestic servant.

On 24 October 1882, giving his address as 4 Loudoun Road, St John's Wood, he was admitted, by redemption, to the Freedom of the Worshipful Company of Wheelwrights, that met at the Coal Exchange, Thames Street, London and on 5 December 1882 he applied to be admitted to the Freedom of the City of London and paid his 5 shillings redemption fee. However, as he did not appear within three months for the ceremony his application was made void.

In the 1901 census he was shown as a music hall proprietor living at 8f, Bickenhall Mansions, Marylebone, with a hospital nurse, a cook and a housemaid.

Probate records confirm that his address had been 8f Bickenhall Mansions, Gloucester Place, Middlesex and that he died, aged 74 years, on 29 April 1904. Probate was granted on 17 May 1904 jointly to his son Edwin Adam Villiers and to a William Foster who was a bank manager. His estate totalled £49,927-17s-5d. His death was registered in the 2nd quarter of 1904 in the Marylebone registration district, London.

At the source, Theatres of influence: the remarkable music halls of Robert Edwin Villiers, Terry Sawyer, this image is captioned: “Robert Edwin Villiers, C.1876 (Canterbury Music Hall publicity pamphlet, courtesy John Earl”.

Credit for this entry to: Andrew Behan.

This section lists the memorials where the subject on this page is commemorated:
Robert Edwin Villiers

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Robert Edwin Villiers

{In the scroll at the top, French for 'My faith in God':} Ma foi en dieu. T...

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