Hengler, Frederick Charles (DNB00)

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HENGLER, FREDERICK CHARLES (1820–1887), circus proprietor, was born at Cambridge in 1820. His father, Henry Hengler, was a well-known tight-rope dancer at Vauxhall Gardens. In 1807 he was at the Olympic Theatre, and afterwards had an engagement with Ducrow, in whose service he remained for several years, during which period he taught the circus business to his three sons, Edward Henry, John Milton, and Frederick Charles. After leaving Ducrow, he joined Price and Powell's circus. In 1841 Frederick Charles was a violin and trumpet player in Mrs. James Wild's theatre at Bradford. He afterwards attended to the business department of Price and Powell's travelling circus; but when they became embarrassed they sold their circus to him and his brother Edward, who for some years carried on the business with varied success. About 1856 Edward retired, and with his brother John kept a riding school at Liverpool, where he died on 8 Jan. 1865, aged 45. Frederick Charles, now sole proprietor, on 15 March 1857 established a circus in Liverpool, and erected buildings at Glasgow and Dublin in 1863, at Hull in 1866, at Bristol in 1867, and at Birmingham in 1868. During the summer of 1865 he gave a series of performances at the Stereorama in Cremorne Gardens, Chelsea. In 1871 he purchased the Palais Royal, Argyll Street, Regent Street, London, and converted it into a circus. Here, in addition to the usual equestrian scenes of the ring, he introduced spectacular pieces played by children. ‘Cinderella,’ brought out at Christmas 1871, was very popular. In 1884 Hengler rebuilt his London circus, and reopened it on 14 Jan. 1885. He himself never attempted any character parts, but was a great horse-tamer, and frequently exhibited his trained animals. He died suddenly at his residence, Cambridge House, 27 Fitzjohn's Avenue, Hampstead, Middlesex, on 28 Sept. 1887, and was buried at West Hampstead cemetery. By his wife, Mary Ann Frances Hengler, he left three sons and six daughters. His personalty was sworn to be 59,665l. 2s. 5d. The management of the circuses was left to his two younger sons. A daughter, Jenny Louise, obtained a wide reputation as an accomplished equestrienne.

[Frost's Circus Life, 1876, pp. 48, 110, 123, 125, 160, 187–8, 192–213; Authentic Story of Old Wild's, 1888, p. 56; Era, 15 Jan. 1865 p. 14, 1 Oct. 1887 p. 13; Judy, 13 Dec. 1882 p. 280, with portrait.]

G. C. B.