Life and Pontificate of Leo the Tenth - Cecil F. Crofton

Cecil F. Crofton


Cecil F. Crofton (1859-1935)

Cecil F. Crofton was born Frederick William Martin on 10 November 1859 in Birmingham, Warwickshire, England to William, an architect, and Esther Jane Martin. He was the eldest of their three children, followed by a sister, Annie, and a brother, Noel.

Between 1874-1876, Cecil attended The Forest School near Snaresbrook, Northeast London. He showcased many artistic talents, including performing as an opera singer and actor, painting watercolours, writing articles and poetry for the school magazine, and illustrating his theatrical surroundings. Although he worked as an architect, after leaving school, Cecil soon became a full-fledged actor.

Cecil’s heyday was said to be between 1882-1896, which largely included comical theatrical roles. It is unclear when he legally changed his name; although it can be assumed that Cecil was created as a stage name sometime in the 1880's. London’s electoral register from 1890 indicates that he kept Frederick as a middle name.

In 1919, Cecil gifted a small ebony watercolour box to his fellow actor, Miss Genevieve Ward. Miss Ward was an American singer and stage actress who performed numerous times in Britain and the United States. This allowed her to meet several famous people of the era, including Oscar Wilde, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and King Edward VII.

Cecil donated his book collection, mainly 18th century English literature, to the Senate House Library in London in 1932. Three years later, Cecil passed away on 21 November 1935, at the age of 76. He left his estate worth £14,868 to his executors, Ernest Walter Groom and Herbert Thomas Knight; records indicate he was a lifelong bachelor and did not have any heirs.

The UPEI Provenance Collection’s copy of, The Life and Pontificate of Leo the Tenth by William Roscoe has a bookplate which reads, “Dici beatus ante obitum Nemo supremaq; funera debet EX LIBRIS Cecil F. Crofton” and loosely translates to, “We are not happy before death, From books” of Cecil F. Crofton. There is also an illustration on the bookplate of a man reading a book in a room with an ocean view.


Anglican Parish Records. Birmingham, England: Library of Birmingham.

Avery, Simon and Katherine M. Graham. Sex, Time and Place: Queer Histories of London, c.1850 to the Present. London: Bloomsbury, 2016.

1881. Census Returns of England and Wales. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1881.

1911. Census Returns of England and Wales. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA), 1911.

Commissary Clerk of Edinburgh under the Sheriff Courts Act, 1876. Calendar of Confirmations and Inventories.

“Crofton, Cecil Frederick.” Senate House Library Archives, University of London. Accessed August 9, 2017.

“Decriminalisation of homosexuality: History of gay rights in the UK.” BBC Newsround. Accessed August 13, 2017.

Electoral Registers. London, England: London Metropolitan Archives.

General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes. London, England: General Register Office. © Crown copyright. Published by permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Office for National Statistics.

“Lucy Genevieve Teresa Ward.” Biographies of Interesting People: Ancestors, Relatives, Family Friends and Associates of interest to JJ Heath-Caldwell. Accessed August 13, 2017.

Principal Probate Registry. Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England. London, England © Crown copyright.

Photo taken from Google Images.

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