Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Wilkinsons present Uncle Tom's Cabin

from The Clipper, a New York City newspaper, on 21 April 1877 (Vol. 25, P. 30)

"THE WILKINSON COMBINATION is reported as doing finely in New England with "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and Miss Lillie Wilkinson as Topsy. The play reaches its one hundredth consecutive performance this season by this company at Nashua, N. H., APril 14. The veteran Charley Wilkinson is the manager."

Charles DeWitt Clinton Wilkinson began his theatrical career as a comedian, with his first appearance in Worcester, Massachusetts on 10 December 1850. There is a complete biography of his life at FindAGrave even though there is no grave indentified in this sketch. The biography was taken from Memoirs of the Wilkinson Family in America, by Reverend Israel Wilkinson, 1869, Biography No. XXIV, on  page 268. This book is available fully transcribed at  and also at

The Worcester Music Hall took over the Worcester Fruit Preserving Company building in 1868, and became known as the Worcester Theater. In 1883 Charles DeWitt Clinton Wilkinson took out a six year’s lease on the building for $3,750 yearly rent, which sounds like it must have been a lot of money in those days! His widow, Leila (Layton) Wilkinson, retained the rental until the building was destroyed by a fire in 1889.

The “Lillie” in the poster is actually Leila, who was born in England, and was a renowned actress in her own right. A collection of broadside posters and playbills for "Wilkinson's Dramatic Company" can be seen at the Antiquarian Society in Worcester, at North Carolina State University library and also at the Boston Public Library. Charles DeWitt Clinton Wilkinson participated in the presentation of the play "Uncle Tom's Cabin" more than six hundred times!


Generation 1: Lawrence Wilkinson, born about 1620 in Durham, England, died 9 August 1692 in Providence, Rhode Island; married to Susanna Smith, daughter of Christopher Smith and Alice Unknown.

Generation 2: Samuel Wilkinson, born about 1650 in Durham, England, died 27 August 1727 in Rhode Island; married on 18 September 1674 in Providence, Rhode Island to Plain Wickenden, daughter of William Wickenden, born about 1650 in Newport, Rhode Island, died about 1695.

Generation 3: Joseph Wilkinson, born 22 January 1683 in Smithfield, Rhode Island, died 24 April 1740 in Scituate, Rhode Island; married Martha Pray, daughter of John Pray and Sarah Brown, born 1689 in Providence Rhode Island, died 22 May 1784.

Generation 4: Joseph Wilkinson, born 1721, died 20 September 1755 in Scituate, Rhode Island; married on 6 December 1741 to Alice Jenckes, born 1724, died 1790, daughter of Obadiah Jenks and Alice Eddy.

Generation 5: Joseph Wilkinson, born 11 March 1751 in Scituate, Rhode Island, died about 1814; married on 25 October 1797 in Scituate to Elizabeth Brownell, born 13 October 1749 in Little Compton, Rhode Island, died 30 October 1841, daughter of Thomas Brownell and Hannah Potter.

Generation 6: Brownell Wilkinson, born 20 May 1785 in Scituate, Rhode Island, died 15 February 1861 in Worcester, married first to Tabitha Thomas about 1803, and had six children. He married second to Maria Spalding about 1814, no children. He married third to Sally Ann Phillips, daughter of Simon Phillips and Sarah Bailey, born 25 October 1810 in Worcester, died 25 May 1879. Five children, including Charles D. C. Wilkinson below.

Generation 7: Charles DeWitt Clinton Wilkinson, born 21 April 1830 in Plainfield, Connecticut, died on 2 March 1888 in Worcester, Massachusetts; married first to Sarah E. Fogal (age 15!) in July 1853 at Bridgeport, Connecticut; married second to Leila Lawton on 22 October 1866 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, daughter of Sidney Lawton and Rachel Carter of England.

One child, by wife Sarah Fogal, a son Frank Marshall Wilkinson, born 22 January 1858 in Worcester, died 20 February 1892 in Worcester.


For more information:

Memoirs of the Wilkinson Family in America, by Reverend Israel Wilkinson, 1869, Biography No. XXIV, page 268.

Records of the Bailey Family, compiled by “a descendant”, Providence, RI, 1895, see pages 106 and 107.

History of the American Stage: Containing Biographical Sketches of nearly every member of the Profession that has appeared on the American Stage from 1733 to 1870, by Thomas Alston Brown, 1870.

Dictionary of Worcester and its Vicinity, Second Issue, by Franklin Pierce Rice, Worcester: Blanchard & Co, Publishers, 1893, pages 71 and 119.

Copyright 2011, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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