Can you help solve a mystery?
George Lloyd Society, in collaboration with Emma Hamilton Society, have launched a media campaign calling for relevant information about Emma and her servants in order to ascertain whether a violin discovered in the George Lloyd Music Library (in Kendal, Cumbria) did, as its provenance claims, once belong to Emma, Lady Hamilton.
Did Emma Hamilton play the violin?
Did she have a butler and maid called Mr & Mrs Jefferies, who came from Brighton?
Did the Jefferies have a grandson called John Tanner?
Who is Black Auntie?
Was the violin made by John Betts?
The violin in question belonged to the English composer George Lloyd (1913 – 1998). The fine instrument is believed to be made by John Betts in about 1800 and was purchased for George Lloyd at the age of 16, when he was taken on as a pupil by England’s leading violinist, Albert Sammons, (famous for the first recording of the Elgar violin concerto.)
With the Betts violin came a letter, written by someone calling herself ‘Black Auntie’ and the letter sets out the path by which the violin came into her hands. The letter states that it was given to her father by one John Tanner, who was grandson of Lady Emma Hamilton’s butler, a Mr John Jefferies, who had married Lady Hamilton’s maid, and ‘between them they were given a good many things.’
The letter of course proves nothing, and The George Lloyd Society is now appealing for information about Mr Jefferies the butler and Mrs Jefferies the lady’s maid, to try to verify the story. The letter states that the Jefferies came from Brighton or Hove, where they had a ‘house agency’ and newsagent shop, called Jefferies and North, and where Mrs Jefferies had a hat shop.
The violin itself has been appraised by various experts and dealers since it was given to George Lloyd in 1929 and although not signed, the attribution to John Betts has been confirmed. Any information which sheds light on this mystery will be much appreciated:
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