Thread: Anniversaries
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Old 19-01-21, 11:13
vita vita is offline
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 1,956

On this day in 1806 my 3xg'uncle Thomas Hughes Headland,older brother of my g/g/grandfather Henry William was born. Silversmith, theatrical manager & hotel owner,
Thomas was a man of many parts, not all of them successful. After handing over the
family silversmith business to his nephew Henry William Jun (my g/grandfather)he
became secretary to composer & music educationalist John Pyke Hullah at St. Martins's Hall where Dickens gave his first public readings. When his manager died, Dickens hired
Thomas as manager for the readings tour he was about to undertake. Big mistake - Thomas was a disaster (wrong readings & dates announced; posters lost, & near riots
when audiences realised they would not be able to see their idol) forcing Dickens to
intervene personally to appeal for calm. Thomas was even given his very own Dickensian nickname - 'Blockheadland or 'Block' - & details of his misfortunes appear
frequently in the author's correspondence.He also has the dubious distinction of being
responsibe for Dickens abandoning the lucrative readings for three years, so traumatised was he by the experience.
Thomas eventually moved to Eastbourne where he ran an hotel & became a pillar of the
community who enjoyed dining out on tales of his time with Dickens, probably unaware
that he would go down in posterity as a kind of Victorian Mr. Bean.
He died in 1888 aged eighty one & is buried in Ocklynge Cemetary, Eastbourne. When
funds allow I intend to get him a headstone with a suitable inscription - perhaps
Dickens's description - 'a worthy man with a genius for mistakes.'
Happy Birthday, Thomas - at least you were never boring.
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