Operatic Singer & Actress
At the age of 17, Maria Gomersal, the daughter of a musician, was recorded in the census as an actress, and boarding with a family in Wrexham. Two years later she married William Gomersal, lessee of Theatre Royal from 1869 to 1872. In the 1871 census she is described as an operatic singer and actress, and Maria had already toured in the United States with great success. She died at the tragically young age of 26, leaving a 6 year old daughter. She is buried alone in V1 157 (Anglican). The stone has been removed but the inscription reads:
In affectionate remembrance of Maria Gomersall, wife of William Gomersall, lessee of the Theatre Royal, Sheffield. She departed this life on the 9th day of June 1871 aged 26.
Sheffield Independent 27 December 1869. Extract from review of a pantomime at Theatre Royal:
Mrs Gomersal, who represents the hero of the pantomime, is an actress in whose hands the character receives full justice. Possessed of a charming voice, which she knows how to use to the best advantage, she sings the songs allotted to her in a manner which must have surprised those who had not previously heard her, and she plays in such an easy, graceful way that no wonder the hunchback becomes the ardent lover he does………….no audience would tire of hearing songs sung as she sings them.
Sheffield Daily Telegraph 13th June 1871. Death of Mrs Gomersal
We regret we have recently to record the death of Mrs Gomersal, wife of Mr Gomersal, lessee of our Theatre Royal. Mrs Gomersal was born in Bradford, August 30th, 1844, and died at the residence of her husband, Honnesfield road, on the 9th inst., after a long and painful illness extending over two years, during which time she had all the aid that medical skill could devise, and during the last six weeks the careful watching of a fond mother, who left undone nothing that thoughtful solicitude could suggest to lighten her sufferings. The unceasing efforts of human skill and affection proved, however, unable to arrest the hand of death. Mrs Gomersal was the only daughter of the late Wm. Ribbon, musical composer. She was the first lady who played ‘The Grand Duchess’ in its English form, translated by her husband, and which was first produced in America at Mr Edwin Booth’s Theatre, Philadelphia. As a lyric actress Mrs Gomersal had attained one of the most prominent positions in the United States. Her first appearance in opera was at the Boston Theatre, when she played Arline in ‘The Bohemian Girl’. So great was her popularity and the desire to witness her debut, that the house was overcrowded in all parts, the receipts amounting to over sixteen hundred dollars. After visiting New York, she travelled with her husband through all the principal cities, and in August 1868, she returned to this country merely on a visit, but was never able to return, in consequence of a sudden illness produced from bathing at Margate, where, by inadvertently entering the water while in a state of perspiration, she laid the foundation of all her sufferings. The first attack from which she suffered was congestion of the lungs and bronchitis, from which, however, she rallied. During her sojourn in Sheffield she had been attended by Dr Frank Smith and William Favell. Mrs Gomersal was interred yesterday at the Sheffield General Cemetery.