Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Titheradge, George Sutton (1848–1916)

by Martha Rutledge

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

George Sutton Titheradge (1848-1916), by unknown engraver

George Sutton Titheradge (1848-1916), by unknown engraver

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, IAN02/01/93/20

George Sutton Titheradge (1848-1916), actor, was born on 9 December 1848 at Portsea Island near Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, son of George Robert Titheradge, accountant, and his wife Sarah, née Emblin. He made his first appearance on the stage of the Theatre Royal, Portsmouth, in December 1865. After provincial work he toured Britain and by about 1873 was leading man at the Bristol Theatre. On 27 February 1871 at Hendon, County Durham, he married Isabella Maria Murdoch, an actress. In 1876 he joined the Chippendale Classical Comedy Company and late that year he played Hamlet at the Corinthian Theatre, Calcutta. He was the herald at Lord Lytton's durbar in Delhi and on 1 January 1877 announced Queen Victoria as 'Empress of India'. After playing in Edinburgh, on 6 October he made his first London appearance as Sir Francis Marsden in The House of Darnley at the Royal Court Theatre.

Late in 1878 Titheradge revisited India with Miss Alma Santon, an actress, and on 23 April next year he arrived in Melbourne in the Siam accompanied by 'Mrs. Titheradge and infant'. He opened on 27 May as Lord Arthur Chiltern in False Shame at the Academy of Music and on 14 June appeared at the Theatre Royal, Sydney, as Lord Clancarty in Clancarty, or Wedded and Wooed. In November he returned to Melbourne for a season at The People's Theatre after supporting Miss Dargon in Tennyson's Queen Mary. The Australasian critic found him 'so intelligent, so refined, and so generally mentally cultured, that no matter what kind of a part he plays, he plays it well'. His acting was noted for its naturalness and lack of affectation. In December in Adelaide he joined Alfred Garner's London Comedy Company which in March 1880 began a long season at the Theatre Royal, Sydney.

At the end of November 1882 Titheradge left Sydney to tour the United States of America. Next year he went briefly to England where in June he was divorced for adultery and desertion; his wife was given custody of their three children. On 4 March 1884 at the Fitzroy Registry Office, Melbourne, he married Alma Maria Johanna (Santon), daughter of William Saegert, picture dealer. He had been engaged by Garner to return to Australia and on 27 October 1883 he scored a triumph as Wilfred Denver in The Silver King. He remained under the management of Williamson, Garner and Musgrove for four years and in 1885 supported Dion Boucicault senior in his Irish plays. Unwilling to become an actor-manager, in November 1887 he joined the Brough and Boucicault Comedy Company, 'the finest comedy organisation seen in Australia'; Titheradge became 'their chief ornament in a succession of 140 parts extending over ten years'. He created the role of Aubrey Tanqueray in A. W. Pinero's The Second Mrs. Tanqueray for Australian audiences: other successes in contemporary comedies included Colonel Lukyn in The Magistrate, Abbé Dubois in A Village Priest, Lord Illingworth in Oscar Wilde's A Woman of No Importance, Partridge in Sophia and Charles Surface in The School for Scandal. His only Shakespearean role was Benedick in a lavish production of Much Ado About Nothing in December 1892.

Titheradge returned to the London stage on 7 February 1899 and until 1907 had successful runs, interspersed with American tours, supporting Mrs Patrick Campbell, Marie Tempest and Margaret Anglin, among others. In May 1908 he returned to Australia to act with Margaret Anglin and settled with his family in Sydney in 1910. Their repertoire included The Thief and Twelfth Night in which he played Malvolio; his son Dion was in the company. His occasional appearances after 1910 included a season of revivals with Florence Brough in 1912 and as George II in A Fair Highwayman in 1913 with his daughter Madge in the name role. His last appearance on the stage was as Shylock to the aged Ellen Terry's Portia at her benefit in July 1914. On 30 November 1911 and 10 December 1915 J. C. Williamson Ltd tendered matinees to him as a public tribute.

'A gentleman on and off the stage', Titheradge had great charm and was a lover of shooting, fishing and playing cricket in his youth. Later 'Tith' became an enthusiastic gardener and a recognized authority on daffodils, acting as a judge at daffodil shows in England and Australia. In his last years he lived at Oak Cottage, Vaucluse, Sydney, and was president of the Actors' Association of Australasia. He died of cancer in a private hospital at Darlinghurst on 22 January 1916 and was buried in the Anglican section of South Head cemetery. He was survived by his second wife and by their son and six daughters, to whom he left his estate valued for probate at £1623.

Select Bibliography

  • Times (London), 12 Oct 1877, p 8, 18 June 1883, p 6, 8 Feb 1899, p 11
  • Argus (Melbourne), 23 Apr 1879, 20 Oct 1888
  • Australasian, 31 May, 8 Nov, 6 Dec 1879, 8 Apr, 4 Nov 1882, 3 Nov 1883, 18 July 1885, 19 Nov 1887, 4 Dec 1915, 29 Jan 1916
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 16, 17 June 1879, 27 Nov 1892, 29 Nov 1911, 18 July 1914, 10 Dec 1915, 24 Jan 1916
  • Bulletin, 25 Nov 1882, 13 Apr, 12 Dec 1889, 2 July 1908, 18 Jan, 8 Feb, 4 July 1912, 22 May, 4 Sept 1913
  • Red Funnel, 1 Sept 1908
  • manuscript and printed catalogues (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

Martha Rutledge, 'Titheradge, George Sutton (1848–1916)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/titheradge-george-sutton-4726/text7841, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 22 December 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2014