Bro William Talliott was born in Lambeth, London in 1836.
When William joined the Lodge, he described his occupation as “Gymnastic Artist”.
Along with his Brother James , they were known as “The Brothers Talliott”. They performed various gymnastic and trapeze acts and often were the headline act, regularly appearing in front of packed houses of up to 5000 people
One of the earliest written reports of the brothers’ act comes from the Brechin Advertiser in August 1857:
“The Talliott Brothers were particular favourites, and their astonishing muscular powers drew forth loud and repeated applause”
They toured the UK with various performing troupes. But in May 1862 they made their debut on Glasgow Green as part of “Hengler’s Grand Cirque Variete”
The Circus spent 3 months on Glasgow Green before moving on to Greenock, opening there on the 16th August.
William joined our Lodge on the 9th August, completing his 3 degrees on the same evening.
(the night before, on the 8th, James King, Circus Riding Master, also went through his 3 degrees. James King and William Talliott shared the same address in Lambeth, London)
As well as touring with Charles Hengler, the brothers went on to join various other companies travelling up and down the country and abroad.
An advert for Pinder’s Circus from around 1863
In 1865, William was in Copenhagen touring with Charles Hengler’s Circus, when he fell while performing and dislocated his neck. On his return to England, he moved to Brighton for rehabilitation. The fall obviously led to complications and serious issues with his mental well-being.
On Friday the 8th June he appeared before the Brighton Borough Magistrates Court.
The Brighton Gazette describes the circumstances.
“William Talliott, 28, and George Johnson, 17, were placed in the dock on a charge of stealing two gold rings, the property of Mr. George Smith, jeweler, West Street. The prosecutor stated that the prisoners came into his shop on Thursday afternoon, and desired to look at some rings. He showed them a dozen and a half, and at last Johnson chose one, the price of which was 12 shillings, but prosecutor agreed to take 11 shillings for it. Johnson stated that he had but 8 shillings in change, and asked prosecutor if he would change a note, which he declined to do. Prisoners then left the shop, Johnson saying he would fetch the three shillings. Shortly after they were gone prosecutor had his suspicions that something was wrong, and upon his counting the rings, two of them were missing. Prosecutor gave information to the police, and the prisoners were apprehended.
The Chief-Officer said from what he knew of Talliott, he was suffering from disease of the brain, and was not answerable for his actions, and that he knew nothing of the robbery.
The Magistrates discharged Talliott but committed the other prisoner to trial.”
Sadly, further tragedy struck Brother William in 1866. The following article from The Era (a theatrical newspaper) dramatically describes the circumstances..
“The World is truly said to contain many murderers whose crimes remain for years unpunished. Retribution follows, sometimes slowly and surely, and sometimes with a sudden swoop, all those incarnations of malice and treachery who stop short of actual blood shedding, but attack a man in the most miserable and cowardly manner through those bound to him by the strongest domestic ties. We briefly lay before our readers the circumstances of a fiendish piece of cruelty we trust for the credit of common humanity, without parallel. William Talliott, gymnast and acrobat (one of the well-known Talliott Brothers), dislocated his neck while fulfilling an engagement at Copenhagen last year. The brain has since become gradually affected and while fulfilling an engagement with Mr. C Hengler at Birmingham, poor Talliott’s malady increased. Mrs. Talliott being engaged in Mr. John Henderson’s troupe at Brighton, sent for her husband, and consulted several medical men as to the prospect of his recovery. She was told his case was hopeless, and this fact would have secured to her the pity of all but brutes in whom the ordinary feelings of humanity have no place. Mrs Talliott accompanied Mr Henderson’s Circus to Stratford where she worked hard to gain a subsistence for herself, and to keep her husband at Brighton for the benefit of sea air. This separation seems to have given some fiend in human shape an idea which the vilest at Portland or Toulon would shrink from carrying into affect. William Talliott received a Post-Office Order in his wife’s name, and also a letter stating that her legs were broken through her horse having falling on upon her. The husband came immediately to Stratford and finding his wife safe, took his farewell of her in this world, for the excitement and shock to his feelings drove him mad. He is now in a Lunatic Asylum, and he or she who the chief cause of this awful affliction is unfortunately at large. The circumstances are too solemn and too serious for the whole affair to bear the usual ‘practical joking’ interpretation. As showing the lengths to which deliberate, remorseless, and pitiless malice will go, this incident is almost incredible. If a man, the author of this misery may well be called a ‘kindless villain’. That any woman could have so belied her name and disgraced her sex surpasses belief. Having stated the facts to our Professional readers we make no appeal for material assistance on behalf of poor William Talliott. We can anticipate the sentiments of horror and indignation which will be felt upon the perusal of this mournful story, and we beg merely to make one suggestion to every follower of Talliott’s craft. It is that they should use their utmost endeavors to discover and impeach the individual who has committed this foul outrage. Let the man or woman on whose soul lies this shameful crime be hunted down, and their names execrated by the entire Profession, for some justice should be done to William Talliott, who now suffers from the heartlessness of some wretch ‘whom it were charity to call a coward’
On this date, Saturday August 9th 1862 Bridgeton and Glasgow Shamrock & Thistle Lodge, Mr. William Talliot was Entered, Passed and Raised.
Initiated – 9th August 1862
Passed– 9th August 1862
Raised – 9th August 1862
Article written by Past Master Alan Frame Lodge 275