Thomas McCollum

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Thomas McCollum (1828 - 1872) was a much admired American two horse rider and circus owner.

Also referred to in various times and contexts as McCollum's Great American Circus, M'Collum's Great American Circus, McCollum's Mammoth Great Western Circus, or simply M'Collum's Circus


Born Thomas McCollum in Rochester, New York, United States on 1828. Thomas McCollum married Susan and had 3 children. He passed away on March 22 1872 in Lambeth, Surrey, England.

Origins and history

Founded by Thomas McCollum (1828-1872)[], who was a much admired American two horse rider, first mentioned in American circus bills in 1837. When he was 18 he began his own company called Stone and McCollum’s Great Western Circus, which existed between 1846 and 1850. Early in 1851 he went to England with Rufus Welch, Richard Risley (1814-74) and Eaton Stone, to perform at the Drury Lane Theatre with the American and French Equestrian Company, which included members of the famous French Loisset family, from Cirque Olympique in Paris. The troupe having gone to Ireland at the end of 1851, they then parted company and McCollum went on to perform as a freelancer for a number of companies.

McCollum then left England for the continent until 1855, seemingly based in England between 1857 and 1860, before he left England with a company and his friends Hiram Franklin, George Buckley and Louis Soullier (1813-88) for South Africa with a circus billed as M'Collum's Great American Circus. In May 1861 in was in Mauritius when during a cyclone his circus tent was destroyed. He went from there into Asia, India in particular, remained touring a company throughout until

In 1865 he returned to England to go into partnership with William Charmen, taking out a fifty five year lease on the Holborn Royal Amphitheatre.

Thomas McCollum died in 1872 of small pox and was buried in Lambeth.



The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS), 2018. "Risley & McCollum's Hippodrome Token" in The E-Sylum (Vol 21, 2018)[1]

Ludwig Wilhelm Berthold Binge. 1969. Ontwikkeling van die Afrikaanse toneel (1832-1950). Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.

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, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [2]: pp.

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

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