One of the things I find remarkable about Catharine is that she was faced with such a modern dilemma.
Thirty years ago, I was faced with the quandary of whether or not to continue to work and carry on with a career I had hardly begun or to stay at home and take care of our children. I chose to continue to work, however this was with all the support and progress in attitudes of late Twentieth Century Britain but Catharine did the same thing in 1823 with no infrastructure to help her. When Francis died in 1851, she is mentioned as being an actress of 'some considerable talent,' and this is borne out by mentions of her in the press of the day.
I'm going to come back to the journey she made all the way to Scotland a little later but firstly, I'm going to focus on her children. From all I've been able to find and this includes BMD records from England and Scotland, the British newspaper archive, Brompton Park Cemetery and innumerable other places where I've found snippets of their lives, I've been able to put together a type of memoir/chronology in the hope that somewhere inside this I'll be able to find their voices which will eventually allow them to tell their own stories in the form of a series of monologues.
The first daughter was Louise Emma Bullen who was born in 1824 in Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire; in keeping with the nomadic lifestyle of her parents, she was christened on 24th March of the same year in Brackley in Northamptonshire. It seems as if a theatrical engagement caused Louise Emma to be born in one county and baptised in another! Evidently born with acting in her blood, this is the first mention I have been able to find of her in the Huntingdon, Bedford and Peterborough Gazette of Saturday 19th December 1829. She was five years old.
'Mr Bullen and family, assisted by some provincial actors, have lately been amusing the public at The Crown Inn, Biggleswade. The performances in general, have been well received but those of little Miss Bullen have been met with the most unequivocal marks of approbation from those who have witnessed them. On Friday the 4th inst, she took the character of Mrs. Davis in The Day After the Wedding, when her matronly appearance and the gravity of her manner contrasted with that of her new mistress (Mrs. Bullen) kept the house in laughter during the whole time she was on the stage. On Monday evening she sung (sic) 'Now isn't it a pity,' and 'Last Night the Dogs Did Bark,' in both of which songs, she was encored by a very numerous and fashionable audience. The same evening, Mrs. Bullen sustained five characters in The Actress of All Work and was loudly cheered by the company at the conclusion of the piece.
Last night the dogs did bark,
I went to the gate to see.
When every lass has got a spark,
Will nobody come for me?
And it's O dear! what will become of me?
O dear! what shall I do?
Nobody coming to marry me?
Nobody coming to woo?
My father's a hedger and ditcher,
My mother does nothing but spin,
And I am a pretty young lassie,
Yet slowly the money comes in.
And it's O dear! etc.
They say that I'm comely and fair,
They say that I'm scornful and proud.
Alas! I must surely despair,
For alack! I am getting quite ou'd.
And it's O dear! etc.
And now I must die an old maid.
O dear! how shocking's the thought.
And alas! all my beauty must fade,
But I'm sure it is none of my fau't.
- Nov. 28, 2013