Oliver's Circus

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Oliver's Circus is the name of a circus active in the Eastern Cape in 1862.

The circus company, under the direction of a Monsieur Oliver, arrived in Port Elizabeth, having come from Calcutta. The Monsieur Oliver mentioned was most probably the performer mentioned by William Dalrymple (2006) as having been attached to the travelling circus company led by a Monsieur Jordain and his wife - active in Mumbai in 1857. Oliver's most spectacular and popular act in India seems to have been balancing himself on a rolling ball and travelling around the circus and up an incline with it.

A proper Circus venue was to be erected for the circus in Port Elizabeth by the proprietor of what is referred to as the "Cape Town Circus", i.e. a Mr Taylor (probably the Mr Taylor (fl. 1860's) who was a member of The Christy Minstrels troupe that also visited Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, as well as various smaller settlements in 1862).

While in Port Elizabeth, the circus worked in association with Sefton Parry for a season of three months, performing in a new theatre constructed for the occasion by Parry, opening on 2 June. The two companies did so well that it was speculated by the press that the circus and Parry must have made more than ₤5000 between them in the period.

After the season closed in Port Elizabeth, the circus apparently moved on to Grahamstown, while Parry went to Natal. After that nothing more is heard of Oliver's Circus in South Africa.


William Dalrymple. 2006. The Last Mughal: The Fall of Delhi, 1857 Bloomsbury Publishers.

F.C.L. Bosman, 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: p.116

William Groom. 1899-1900. Drama in Cape Town. Cape Illustrated Magazine, 10(4): 478-481, 517-520, 547-552, 580-584, 640-643, 670-672, 706-708.

Entry on "Hiram W. Franklin 1825*-1862*", on the website joeboganny.co.uk - A Circus, Music-Hall & Theatre Family Website[1]

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