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FOOTLIGHT NOTES
no. 583

updated
Saturday, 15 November 2008

FOOTLIGHT NOTES
images of theatre and other popular entertainment
1850s-1920s

Moonshee Shaikii Gheesa
a carte de visite photograph of Moonshee Shaikii Gheesa (1853?-1888),
Indian snake-charmer and conjuror

(photo: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, circa 1879)

Aberdeen
'M'FARLAND'S MUSIC HALL. - This popular place of amusement opens this week with a pretty strong company, the most exceptional feature in which is the performance of a Hindoo snake-charmer, Gheesa. This sort of thing seemed quite new to the audience, and appeared to take very well. The snakes, albeit a little sluggish, were not bad specimens of their race, and their susceptibility to the power of music was watched with a great degree of interest.'
(The Aberdeen Weekly Journal, Aberdeen, Scotland, Tuesday, 31 December 1878, p. 2h)

Aberdeen
'M'FARLAND'S MUSIC HALL. - The main attraction for the New Year holidays is found in the excellent characteristic singing and neat and nimble dancing of Miss Fannie Florence, who fairly took the audience by surprise. She dresses with charming taste. Mounskie Shaikh Gheesa, the snake-charmer and juggler, is a novelty. Mr Will Mitchison is deservedly successful in comic songs and pipe-playing. Miss Blanche Reynolds is an attractive serio-comic; and Mr. Fred D. Harris is a smart and taking character entertainer, but some of his songs might with propriety be toned down, or altogether omitted.'
(The Era, London, Sunday, 5 January 1879, p. 5a)

'WELDONS CIRCUS. WILL SHORTLY CLOSE.
LAST WEEK BUT TWO.
HAMILTONS DELIGHTFUL EXCURSIONS.
The Splendid Authentic and artistic Scenes, Brilliant and Novel Effects, are received at Each Representation with acclamations of Delight and Wonder. Visited by nearly 50,000 persons, including the Elite of the City.
IMPORTANT NOTICE.
Messrs. HAMILTON beg to announce THE REAL and ONLY HINDOO SNAKE-CHARMER in this country. Mr. S. GHEESA, from Lucknow, will appear with his Live Cobra Snakes, and also give his WONDERFUL INDIAN ILLUSIONS in the Grand Kaffinett.
The RUSSIAN SKATERS and Mr. LOUIS LINDSAY will appear at every representation.
CICERONE, with Songs. Mr SERRONI.
Evenings at Eight; Saturday Evenings at half-past Seven.
GRAND ILLUMINATED DAY EXHIBITIONS on
SATURDAYS at Three, equal to the Evening
Representations.
Reserved Seats, 2s.; Second, 1s.; Third, 6d.
Tickets at Woods.'
(The Scotsman, Edinburgh, Saturday, 10 May 1879, p. 1g, advertisement)

'Will Shortly be Disengaged, after Fourteen Months' Engagement with Mr Hamilton.
'MOONSHEE SHAIKII GHEESA, the Only Hindoo conjuror in England, who had the honour of appearing before their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales and a brilliant assemblage of the Nobility at Lord H. Alfred Paget's, 1st of May, 1877; also on a second occasion, by special command of the Empress Eugenie and the late Prince Imperial, with brilliant assemblage of Nobility, at Camden House, Chislehurst, 14th June. Third occasion, 22d July, appearing again before their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales, in presence of every Member of the Crown and the other Royal Family. H.R.H. the Princes of Wales complimented M.S. Gheesa for his extraordinary Illusions. Six Months at the Royal Aquarium, Two Months Crystal Palace as a Hindoo conjuror and Snake Charmer. Address, CONCERT HALL, LORD NELSON-STREET, LIVERPOOL.'
(The Era, London, Sunday, 29 February 1880, p. 17d)

'SATURDAY EVENING CONCERTS. - The delightful scenic entertainments of Mr. Hamilton continue to attract large audiences to the Concert Hall, Lord Nelson-street, nightly. The Turkish and Russian scenes in which the Indian conjuror, Gheesa, displays his wonderful skill as an illusionist, and the Brothers Pelikoff their clever and amusing feats in skating, form in themselves an entertainment of great merit; but the interest attached to the grand scenery of Zululand, and the spirited and graphically depicted battles in which our troops were so lately engaged, render this diorama most attractive to young and old. The entertainment will be presented this evening at the Monday Evening Concerts, and every evening during the week, and also on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. Mr. Hamilton will finally close his dioramic entertainments on the 22nd March.'
(Liverpool Mercury, Liverpool, England, Monday, 8 March 1880, p. 6f)

'OUTRAGE BY AN HINDOO conjuror.
'A HINDOO conjuror, whose name on the calendar was given as Munshee Sheikh Gheesa, thirty-two, and described as of imperfect education, was on Saturday arraigned at the Manchester Assizes, before Mr. Justice Smith, on an indictment of having attempted to kill his wife by cutting her with a razor. The prosecutrix, Alice Ann Gheesa, was married to the prisoner some four years ago, and the parties up to July last lives in London, when with two children, a boy and a girl, they removed to Morecambe, near Lancaster, where the prisoner found employment in his calling of conjuror with Hamilton's diorama. At the termination of the engagement in the early part of July, the prosecutrix suggested that her husband should go to London and leave her behind with her father and mother, respectable people, who resided at the small hamlet of Torreshogie, near Morecambe. This arrangement did not please the prisoner, who on July 12th, after having packed up his things, repaired to his mother-in-law's house and said to his wife, whom he found alone, that now he had a chance and would take it. He then made a furious attack upon the woman with a razor, which he pulled from his breast pocket, inflicting dreadful injuries upon her face, temple, wrists, hands, and shoulders. His mother-in-law returning unexpectedly, he directed his attack upon her and cut her also about the shoulders. His wife took refuge in a green adjoining the house, and letting the mother-in-law go he followed and renewed his attack upon his first victim, only desisting when the woman's cries attracted the attention of a neighbouring blacksmith. The prisoner then coolly washed his hands, and the weapon which he had used, in a tub of water, and said he would give himself up to the police, but he was secured and conveyed to the nearest police-station. For the defence it was urged that the accused had been greatly aggravated by his wife's behaviour, and that some words having passed between them that morning the prisoner had used the razor, with which he had been going to shave himself, in an excess of temper, having no intention of taking his wife's life. The jury brought in a verdict on the minor count of causing grievous bodily harm, and the learned judge sentenced the accused to ten years' penal servitude.'
(The Illustrated Police News, London, Saturday, 8 November 1884, p. 3d)

'An Indian convict name Munshee Sheik Gheesa, aged 35, has committed suicide in Chatham Prison by hanging himself to the bar of a closet window by his braces. He was a native conjuror, and was sentenced to ten years' penal servitude at Manchester Assizes in 1884, for unlawfully wounding.'
(The Birmingham Daily Post, Birmingham, England, Saturday, 14 January 1888, p. 7c)

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