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wes williams

McCann, Macann, or Maccann?

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Probably a few quid to the sports writer for a phony obit, and then off to the antipodes with yet another "wife."

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Having discussed this with a professional geneaologist in the family, she made the point that the matter of date of birth in some public records is never a reliable one, particularly when looking at the matter of reporting and registering a death.The information recorded in the registers relies very much on the accuracy of knowledge of the individual who actually does the registering. Incorrectly recorded dates of birth are apparently quite common.

 

All very true, though usually only by a year or two - whilst giving the age of a 55-year old man as 69 would seem rather excessive and particularly ill-informed... :blink: (Though I don't rule it out - I do consider it unlikely.)

 

 

As to the matter of the national Birth and Death Index reporting that there is no death certificate, she pointed out that again, the best means of checking it out is to check with the local rather than national office, as any discrepancies are more likely to be solved at a local level.

 

Though the indexes are usually pretty good about recording vagaries that might exist, such as over the names Hill and Hilham at William's marriage.

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I wonder whether he might have returned to his home town of Plymouth to die (or to be interred), where his brother apparently still resided.

 

I must admit I do like Mike's suggestion though; not an unknown occurence.... However, I doubt that he could have forsaken the concertina in any "new life", and he would surely have come to the attention of the press before long. Can't find any trace of him on Trove after his earlier antipodean tour though.

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'Probably a few quid to the sports writer for a phony obit, and then off to the antipodes with yet another "wife." '

 

As I searched through the ninth roll of microfiched burial records the same thought was forming in terms of the obit, particularly given its most flattering terms for someone who would otherwise have been somewhat on the margins.

 

If JHM did skip the country then he managed to avoid being recorded in the passenger lists for the period - where I had previously sought him for this period (before we had found an indication of his passing). I understand that inward and outward bound travellers were coming under increasing scrutiny in this period as the wartime government clamped down on 'aliens'. The local papers for October 1915 are full of apparently innocent Belgians, Spanish etc being locked up under suspicion. The city had seen riots earlier in the year following the sinking of the Lusitinia with anything and everything remotely German being attacked across the City and this paranoia seems to have persisted. I think this would have made it rather more challenging to slip away under an assumed identity.

 

As a footnote to his obituary I would note that the journalist is being very specific in citing 'Liverpool football crowds'. As many Cnetters will know, Liverpool has two football teams, both top flight teams in the early 1900s and today. There is a strong and largely friendly local rivalry. You are either a 'red' (Liverpool FC) or a 'blue' (Everton FC), hybrids extraordinarily rare! Reading back through the Echo sports reports of 1915 this was very clearly the case then, so I think the writer of the obituary was being specific that it was Liverpool [FC] crowds. The Liverpool FC ground, Anfield, is the closer of the two to JHM's known addresses.

Edited by Myrtle's cook

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Just a thought...

If some one from Liverpool needed to do a runner for whatever reason, the obvious destination might be.... Ireland.

The name(s) is (are) not an uncommon name there, and although I don't recall any evidence that he had connections with that counrty, it is not inconceivable that he had relatives living there. (Doesn't every one?)

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Probably a few quid to the sports writer for a phony obit, and then off to the antipodes with yet another "wife."

 

Or maybe the Mormon side of the family (I'm not making them up!) spirited him away to Salt Lake City, and he spent his final years accompanying the Tabernacle Choir... :rolleyes:

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Just a thought...

If some one from Liverpool needed to do a runner for whatever reason, the obvious destination might be.... Ireland.

 

Or (even closer) the Isle of Man, a self-governing British Crown dependency with a ferry from Liverpool...

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The [non] burial of JHM:

 

Following on from Andrew [Crane Driver’s] discovery of an obituary for JHM I have now searched through all the burial and cremation registers for Liverpool’s cemeteries and through the parish records for those churches where burials took place (all seem to be extant for the period). I have also been through the coroner’s records for the period. I have used search parameters of 1 October – 30 November 1915 in case either the obituarist was a little slow off the mark with his piece or there was some delay in burial. In addition I have also searched through the Liverpool Courier (which is not yet scanned onto the National Newspaper Archive) for the period October 10-19th. I have been unable to find any reference to JHM’s burial (or death). There are also no suitable unnamed male corpses found in alley ways or fished from the docks or the river Mersey for the period that could be JHM. The possibility remains that he did indeed die in October 1915 but was buried elsewhere.

 

I feel I owe Andrew an apology – my intention was to provide a little supporting information for his discovery and a full stop to the story in the form of a grave and possibly a headstone. Instead this seems to have achieved the opposite. It feels as if that old goat MacCann has slipped through our fingers again!

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Hmmm - yes. All of which raises the question of how the sports reporter knew, within the week, of the Prof's death, if it wasn't reported anywhere. The 'obit' doesn't suggest the writer was personally acquainted with Maccann, just that he was a known 'character' who turned up and played his concertina at Liverpool Football matches.

 

I suppose, assuming the 'obit' is genuine, that the Prof may have died elsewhere, perhaps on a holiday to the Isle of Man or Ireland, but most of the newspapers from there are available on line and I can't find him there either. But for the sports reporter to have known he was dead, within the week, he can't just have been an unidentified corpse washed up somewhere.

 

The only person at this stage known to have been close to the professor was his wife Sarah (Kennerley) - but why would she inform a sports journalist, rather than a music reporter? Or perhaps she told everyone and only the sports writer bothered to print the story?

 

Or perhaps it really WAS aliens?

 

Andrew

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Well, it looks like this is it. A report in the Liverpool Echo of Thursday 14 October 1915, a column entitled ‘Bee’s Sports Notes’:

 

‘Local Personality Passes Hence’

 

“At football grounds we have personalities. There’s the concertina expert and the purveyor of gingerbread from a tray . . . Today I take leave to announce that the city life and football grounds are the poorer by reason of the absence of Professor M’Cann, who died this week. A clever player, technically excellent, and a man with odd notions about “trimming” pieces he played. Professor M’Cann was known all over the city for his gentlemanliness and his expert music.

 

The professor in his time headed the music hall bills, so I am informed, but of late years his abilities were confined to entertaining publicans’ customers and Liverpool football crowds. Without his melody, whilst awaiting the appearance of the teams, or during the interval, a football crowd will feel something lacking.”

 

Typical that his obituary should appear in a column of sports news. And typical that they got his name wrong even at the end.

 

Andrew

 

It's hard to imagine that some one so apparently famous, as the writer suggests, passed away with such little public notice. I have highlighted a number of references in the "obit" piece that indicate JHM was widely known at venues other than football grounds (note plural).

 

I've been thinking about this, and wonder could it be that the piece was written more than slightly tongue in cheek?

 

Rather than a popular figure, had JHM become an object of ridicule? A "has been", burned out old musician that no one really had time for? Or a serial pest, a latter day Peter Hore perhaps? Even the phrase "...his gentlemanliness and his expert music" could have carried more than a hint of sarcasm. Is the overall tone one of "good riddance" rather than praise for a life well lived?

 

It would be interesting to know whether "purveyor of gingerbread" might have had a special, local meaning too. A derogetory term perhaps? And why "trimming" in inverted commas? Does that have some sort of local meaning?

 

While this idea does nothing to solve the problem of lack of official records, it may be an insight as to why his passing was not considered due much comment in the local press.

 

I hope I'm wrong! But just slightly more likely that an alien abduction....

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(unintended triple post, twice deleted)

Edited by blue eyed sailor

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(unintended triple post, twice deleted)

Edited by blue eyed sailor

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I hope I'm wrong! But just slightly more likely that an alien abduction....

Your suggestion is "sounding" quite realistic given the nature of people and society now and likely back then too, I'm afraid...

 

(this thread is making for a fascinating lecture from week to week, thanks to all providing information and effort!)

 

Best wishes - Wolf

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If he was capable of bestowing upon himself the title ' professor ' he was quite possibly equally capable of bestowing upon himself an assumed name or names. Long live eccentricity !

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... of late years his abilities were confined to entertaining publicans’ customers and Liverpool football crowds.

 

Rather than a popular figure, had JHM become an object of ridicule? A "has been", burned out old musician that no one really had time for? Or a serial pest, a latter day Peter Hore perhaps? Even the phrase "...his gentlemanliness and his expert music" could have carried more than a hint of sarcasm. Is the overall tone one of "good riddance" rather than praise for a life well lived?

 

You've hit on what's bothering me about that "obituary" Malcolm, and especially about him entertaining publicans’ customers - since I've known numerous musicians over the years who did that and (if they didn't have one already) developed an alcohol problem, especially when it used to be normal for pub customers to show their appreciation for the entertainment by buying the musician(s) a drink - we used to leave a table groaning with the weight of undrunk free pints behind us, after playing sessions of music in North London Irish pubs... :unsure:

 

In fact I've been wondering if his decline and relatively early death (at 55) might be linked to something of the sort, like (the concertina maker) Jabez Austin's, but hesitated to mention it.

 

 

It would be interesting to know whether "purveyor of gingerbread" might have had a special, local meaning too. A derogetory term perhaps?

 

The street selling of gingerbread "nuts" used to be a common activity: http://www.theoldfoodie.com/2013/12/of-street-sellers-of-gingerbread-nuts.html

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Minor segue, but I finally produced a Wikipedia article about this fellow.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Hill_Maccann

 

I'd appreciate any help fleshing it out, but note any info added must be clearly cited to a published source, so we can't add things based on our guesswork/analysis of personal knowledge. Also if we have an image of him that is explicitly out of copyright I can add that, or can add one copyright photo of him under Fair Use.

 

If we have inarguable evidence of his birth/death dates, that'd also be awesome. Additionally, if anyone has good evidence of recordings definitely by him, we can add them to the Discography section.

 

Bit by bit I've been adding bios of some of the main figures involved in evolving the concertina, so step-by-step.

Edited by MatthewVanitas

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If he was capable of bestowing upon himself the title ' professor ' he was quite possibly equally capable of bestowing upon himself an assumed name or names. Long live eccentricity !

 

Though in the 19th century, as I've mentioned, "professor" was a term commonly used to describe teachers of music, and a title not uncommonly claimed by music hall artists, and even the odd blues piano player...

 

Indeed, it seems we now know of at least two more "Professor Maccann/McCanns"! :rolleyes:

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I think I'd better quote the obituary in full - I was concentrating on the bit about the prof's death, hoping to narrow down the work for those searching for death or burial notices. You'll also spot another reason for editing the full text - terms that were acceptable in 1915 are not so 100 years later.

 

LOCAL PERSONALITY PASSES HENCE

 

Liverpool abounds with personalities. Most of them are clever men; some are public performers. Who has not seen the two niggers in their song and piccolo act? Who has missed the various violinists who make music o’nights? The match-sellers, the collar-stud merchant, the raucous-voiced vendors who are always to be found at the same spot – they are all well-known folk. At football grounds we have personalities. There’s the concertina expert and the purveyor of gingerbread from a tray that is tasteful and tricky in that its light gets the eye of everyone – the greatest gift in advertising. To-day I take leave to announce that the city life and football grounds are the poorer by reason of the absence of Professor M’Cann, who died this week. A clever player, technically excellent, and a man with odd notions about “trimming” pieces he played. Professor M’Cann was known all over the city for his gentlemanliness and his expert music.

The professor in his time headed the music hall bills, so I am informed, but of late years his abilities were confined to entertaining publicans’ customers and Liverpool football crowds. Without his melody, whilst awaiting the appearance of the teams, or during the interval, a football crowd will feel something lacking.

 

This seems quite clearly to put the prof in the context where he was seen as belonging - amongst the match-sellers and buskers. It does not specifically say that the dead professor played concertina, though that is implied. I too wondered about the "trimming" - it sounds like he was in the habit of never actually finishing a piece, which might tie in with deteriorating mental health or alcoholism. It still doesn't answer the question -how did the writer know of his death, if it wasn't reported anywhere else?

 

Does the Liverpool Echo still have records of who wrote "Bee's Sports Notes" back in 1915? It would be wonderful if an archive of his notes survived, but I'm not holding my breath. A job for Myrtle's Cook, perhaps?

 

As far as the title 'Professor' is concerned, today it's seen as an academic rank from the world of university (different in the UK and USA, as so many things are), but it was often used more widely to signify a teacher or one who simply 'professed' to have a certain skill. It was not uncommon in the Music Hall. Today, operators of Punch & Judy shows are still referred to as Professors - see the Punch & Judy College of Professors website.

 

The never-ending story?

 

Andrew

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