Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Fitzwilliam, Edward Francis

FITZWILLIAM, EDWARD FRANCIS (1824–1857), song-writer, born at Deal in Kent on 2 Aug. 1824, was the son of Edward Fitzwilliam, an actor [q. v.], by his wife, Fanny Elizabeth Fitzwilliam, actress [q. v.] He was educated at the Pimlico grammar school, at St. Edmund's College, Old Hall, Hertfordshire, and at the institution of L'Abbé Haffrénique at Boulogne. Sir Henry Bishop was his instructor in an elementary course of harmony, and for a few months he resided with John Barnett at Cheltenham studying instrumentation. When in his twenty-first year he composed a ‘Stabat Mater,’ which was performed at the Hanover Square Rooms on 15 March 1845, with much success. In October 1847 he was appointed by Madame Vestris musical director of the Lyceum Theatre, and remained there for two years. About this time he wrote a cantata entitled ‘O Incomprehensible Creator,’ which was performed at Hullah's concert, 21 May 1851. At Easter 1853 he became musical director of the Haymarket Theatre, and held that position until his death. His principal compositions were ‘The Queen of a Day,’ a comic opera, and ‘A Summer Night's Love,’ an operetta, both produced at the Haymarket. He also wrote the overture, act, and vocal music of the ‘Green Bushes’ for the Adelphi Theatre, the overtures and music of all the Haymarket pantomimes, and of many that were brought out at the Theatre Royal, Liverpool. The music of Perea Nena's Spanish ballets, ‘El Gambusino’ and ‘Los Cautivos,’ were entirely his composition. His works were distinguished by an intelligence which gave promise of great excellence had he lived to fully master the technicalities of his art. After suffering for two years from consumption, he died at 9 Grove Place, Brompton, London, 19 Jan. 1857, aged 33, and was buried (27 Jan.) in Kensal Green cemetery. Fitzwilliam's chief published compositions were: 1. ‘O Incomprehensible Creator,’ a cantata, 1850. 2. A ‘Te Deum’ for solo voices and chorus, 1852. 3. ‘A Set of Songs; the Poetry chiefly Selected,’ 1853. 4. ‘Songs for a Winter's Night; the Poetry chiefly Selected,’ 1855. 5. ‘Seaside Musings; Six Morceaux for the Pianoforte,’ 1855. 6. ‘Four-Part Song for Four Voices,’ 1855. 7. ‘Dramatic Songs for Soprano, Contralto, Tenor, and Bass Voices; Four Books and an Appendix,’ 1856. 8. ‘Three Sacred Songs for a Child,’ 1857. 9. ‘Songs of a Student.’ 10. ‘Miniature Lyrics.’ 11. ‘Christmas Eve, a Lyric Ode.’ His music to J. B. Buckstone's libretto for the opera ‘Love's Alarms’ was very popular, and ten songs from that piece were separately published in 1854. He was also the composer of songs, ballads, romances, cavatinas, serenades, and glees, and of quadrilles, polkas, schottisches, minuets, and marches. Of the music that he wrote for songs probably the best known is that composed for Barham's ‘As I laye a thynkynge,’ and for two songs from the ‘Green Bushes’—‘The Maid with the Milking Pail,’ and ‘The Jug of Punch.’ Some of his compositions appeared in Hullah's ‘Sacred Music for Family Use,’ and in Davison's ‘Musical Bouquet.’

Ellen Fitzwilliam (1822–1880), actress, his wife, whom he married on 31 Dec. 1853, was eldest daughter of Thomas Acton Chaplin (d. November 1859). She made her first appearance in London at the Adelphi Theatre on 7 Oct. 1841, when she played Wilhelm in the aquatic spectacle ‘Die Hexen am Rhein.’ She was for twenty-two years a prominent member of the Haymarket company under the management of J. B. Buckstone. Leaving England for Australia in 1877 she soon became a great favourite in the colonies. After a twelve months' engagement with Mr. Lewis of the Academy of Music, Melbourne, she joined the Lingard company. She was taken ill in Murrundi, New South Wales, but was able to proceed to New Zealand, and acted at Auckland, where she died from acute inflammation, 19 Oct. 1880, aged 58 (Era, 26 Dec. 1880, p. 4; Theatrical Times, 18 Nov. 1848, p. 439, with portrait).

[Era, 25 Jan. 1857, p. 9; Grove's Dictionary of Music (1879), i. 530; Planché's Extravaganzas (1879), iv. 261.]

G. C. B.