E.C. Yorke

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E.C. Yorke (1843-1878)[1] was was a British politician and courtier, and an amateur performer.

Also referred to as "The Honorouble Mr Yorke" and "The Honorouble Eliot Yorke" on some occasions.


Born Eliot Constantine Yorke, he was the fourth son of Admiral Charles Philip Yorke, 4th Earl of Hardwicke, and the Hon. Susan, daughter of Thomas Liddell, 1st Baron Ravensworth.

He was a Captain in the Cambridgeshire Militia, an Equerry to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh and a Deputy Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire. In 1874 he became one of three representatives for Cambridgeshire in the British Parliament, succeeding his elder brother Lord Royston. He held this seat until his early death four years later.

Married to Annie, daughter of Sir Anthony de Rothschild, on 11 February 1873, and died on 21 December 1878, aged 35.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

An amateur performer named E.C. Yorke is mentioned as a member of the entourage of the Duke of Edinburgh during his second visit to the Cape Colony in 1867, in order to lay the foundation stone for the new docks in Cape Town harbour.

Yorke is described by F.C.L. Bosman (1980, p229, paraphrasing the critic of the Cape Argus of 14 September 1867) as "a practiced and exceptionally competent amateur", and a later critic at the Cape Argus considered him "the best interpreter in the Cape at this time" - that is, after G.V. Brooke).

He is first mentioned as a guest actor on 3 September 1867, when he assisted Mrs Duret in doing scenes from Hamlet (she playing "Gertrude", Yorke appearing as "Hamlet", Thomas Brazier as the "Ghost" and J. Spencer as "Polonius"). He is next named as a member of the cast for a special performance put on in recognition of the Duke's visit by Mrs Duret and her company in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, on 17 September, 1867. On this occasion he seems to have appeared in the performance of The Isle of St Tropez (Williams and Burnand) with two other members of the Duke's companions, i.e. Messrs Charles (Lord Newry) and FitzGeorge.

Yorke once more appears in Cape Town in 1870, when he is again mentioned as a member of the entourage of the Duke of Edinburgh during his third visit to the Colony. On this occasion he appeared in a series of excerpts from Shakespeare in the Royal Lyceum Theatre on 30 June, under the management of Webster. He also participated in a benefit performance for the poor under the patronage of the Duke on 9 July, appearing in Henry VIII (as "Cardinal Wolseley") and the lead in scenes from Hamlet. (The rest of the cast consisted of the locally active professional actors such as Ben Webster, Thomas Brazier, Mr Devere and James Leffler.) On 11 July he participated in a "Literary and Musical Entertainment" with readings from Poe's The Bells and the works of Hood.




The Illustrated Queen Almanac and Lady's Calendar (Published at the Queen Office) Almanacs 1877-1897[2]

D.C. Boonzaier, 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1923. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 227, 229, 252-3, 280, 291, 294

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