Franklin's International Circus

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Franklin's International Circus (also referred to as Franklin's Circus, Franklin & Co's Circus, Franklin and Co's International Circus, or the Franklin International Circus) was active in Cape Town during the first half of 1862.

The company Franklin & Co's Circus was originally created by the American clown, pad rider, slack-rope artiste and vaulter H.W. Franklin in the 1850s, but disbanded in San Francisco in 1857. It was however, resurrected in Cape Town in 1862 when Franklin, who had come to the cape with M'Collum's Circus, went it alone. The company performed there without break for more than 5 months, becoming a serious rival for the companies of Sefton Parry and Mrs Tellet in terms of popular support.

The Franklin and his circus apparently had a good relationship with Sefton Parry though, the two helping each other with benefit evenings (e.g. those for Mrs Parry on 28 October, 1861; for Sefton Parry on 30 April, 1862; Leon, ), and even - towards the end of the Circus's stay and Parry's 1862 season - joined forces to present a short series of extended programmes, consisting of "Comedy, Ballet, Dancing" (as well as songs and acrobatics) in Cape Town, running from 8-10 and again from 12-14 May, 1862.

Members of the Franklin company included H.W. Franklin himself, Miss Carrie, Mr Ethair, Mrs Ethair, Young Hernandez (an American rider), Jean Johnson, Stevens's Family (i.e. Mr Stevens, Miss M. Stevens, Mrs Stevens, Master Willie) and Jean Johnson. The show also advertised two trick horses (named "Kilgourie" and "Hernandez")

The last appearance of the Circus was on 19 July, 1862, after which the company left the Cape on the 24th July, to sail for Mauritius and ultimately on to Calcutta in India.

According to 1863 a report in the New York Clipper of 8 August, 1863 Hiram Franklin and wife and son were lost at sea, with most of the company, while on their way to Madagascar.


Entry on "Hiram W. Franklin" on James Bohun's website The ("A Circus, Music Hall and Variety Family History Site) at: Acessed on 6 January, 2020 at 06h42.

Facsimile versions of letterpress broadsides for two performances (on 12 and 28 April, 1862), as advertised on the Live Auctioneers website (accessed on 6 January, 2020 at 06h18) [1]

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 1932. (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. 99, 110, 112, 114, 133, 137, 139-140.

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