W. T. Hemsley (1880-83, 1884-85)

[Born Deptford, Kent c.1854]

W. T. Hemsley was born William Thomas Withy. He spent several years with various D'Oyly Carte touring companies between October 1880 and July 1885, appearing in small (and occasionally larger) baritone roles. Hemsley got his start as Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance and Joseph in In the Sulks with Mr. D'Oyly Carte's newly formed "B"(later "C") Company in October 1880. At some point between March and October 1881 he switched parts in the companion piece, taking over as Mr. Liverby, and filled in for a time in August 1881 as Major General Stanley in Pirates.

From January to March 1882 he toured with another D'Oyly Carte company as Sir Whiffle Waffle in Stephens & Solomon's Claude Duval, then in April 1882 began eight months with Mr. D'Oyly Carte's No. 1 "Pirates" Company. Again he was Samuel, and again he appeared in the shorter curtain raisers:as Mr. Wranglebury in Mock Turtles, as Mr. Owen Jones in a "musical eccentricity" called My Luck, and as Arthur Melton in another non-musical piece, A Silent Woman. From December 1882 to July 1883 he was Diedrick Knickerbocker in a D'Oyly Carte tour of Planquette's Rip Van Winkle.

Hemsley's next engagement with D'Oyly Carte began in March 1884 as the Earl of Mountararat with Carte's No. 1 "Iolanthe" Company. The Company disbanded in December 1884, but by April 1885 he was touring again with Mr. D'Oyly Carte's "C" (Repertory) Company as Bill Bobstay in H.M.S. Pinafore, Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance, and Mr. Square in the Desprez & Solomon vaudeville Round and Square. In May the Company added Iolanthe to the repertoire, with Hemsley as Strephon. When the tour ended in July 1885 Hemsley left the D'Oyly Carte for good.

Although he appeared in the original London production of Cellier's Doris (Lyric, April-November 1889) and a touring production of Cellier's Dorothy in 1889, Hemsley's appearances on stage thereafter were infrequent.

Hemsley married D'Oyly Carte mezzo-soprano Haidee Crofton in 1885. He is not to be confused with the better-known scenic artist of the same name.

Page modified September 26, 2012 © 2001-12 David Stone