Another of the various items we have acquired through Internet trading sites, is a page from The Sketch. This was an illustrated weekly newspaper, mainly covering the aristocracy and high society. It was published from 1893 until 1959 by the same organisation that produced the Illustrated London News – itself another valuable source of articles for local and family history. It carried regular features on royalty and the aristocracy, theatre, cinema and the arts and was always well illustrated with photographs.
One such article, in the issue dated August 2nd 1893, concerned Miss Lily Linfield, a professional dancer, who was obviously much in favour at the time, being described in the article as “welcomed in the best and brightest of London drawing rooms“.
The article lists a considerable number of dramatic productions in which she had danced, starting at the age of 5. It does not give her age as such, but does describe her as “having crossed the borderland of infancy and womanhood but two years”. Infancy was probably used here in the legal sense, meaning under 21, so she was probably about 23 in 1895, making her birth around 1872. This is where the mystery begins.
I cannot find any trace in the census or the birth registrations, of anyone called Lily, Lillian or anything similar, of any of the variant spellings of the surname. It may be that she had adopted all or part of her name as a stage name, or possibly that she was not born in England or Wales. I would however have expected to find her in the 1891 census, unless she had recently come to London at the time of the article. Of course, if Lily Linfield was entirely a stage name, she would appear in the census under her real name.
If anyone would like to investigate this mystery further, do please get in touch with me.