Mr W. C. Wainwright

Mr. W.C. Wainwright is another magician who, on just a few occasions, popped his head up into the light of day, and just as promptly vanished without trace. His main claim to fame seems to be a short season of performances in conjunction with Powell Courtier in 1849.

In the Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser, Saturday June 20, 1846, is found an advertisement announcing a single performance of “new and unrivalled feats of LEGERDEMAIN  and other Performances of a similar character” at the Northumberland Hotel, West Maitland. The unsubstantiated claim is made that Wainwright is “late of the Theatre Royal, Liverpool”. There is no followup commentary from the newspaper to confirm that a performance took place.

However, two years later, in July and August 1848, he advertised performances at the Checquers Inn and the Caledonian Hotel, Goulburn NSW,  the performance of July 1 being his ‘farewell benefit’. The Goulburn Herald reported that Wainwright acquitted himself to the satisfaction of his audience.

 “Bell’s Life in Sydney” of January 13, 1849 advertised a lecture on Legerdemain by Professor Wainwright, at Mr. Gray’s Light-house Hotel on Sussex Street. This attracted a ‘numerous and select assemblage, who rapturously applauded the magic feats of “The Wizard of the South” [yet another geographical wizard!]

On January 16, 1849, the Argus (Melbourne, Victoria) mentions that Messrs. Wainwright and Courtier, “both of whom are well known to the Colonial public as celebrated necromancers” would perform for nine nights at the Mechanics’ Hall.  Mr Wainwright  is stated to have lately arrived from Sydney.
Certainly, on January 17, Wainwright and Courtier started their season in Melbourne, and Wainwright’s repertoire included passing small items ‘through the skin’, assorted feats with Guns, Pistols etc, and what appears to be mostly smaller items with Needles, cards and dice. He also provided comic songs in what the press called a ‘splendid voice’, amongst other complimentary remarks. Courtier’s magic was of his usual “Fire King” routines. Further performances were made on January 22 and 30.

According to the Port Phillip Gazette and Settler’s Journal, February 5, 1859, “the feats performed by Messrs. Powell Courtier and Wainwright … have been the subject of much commendation. On that occasion a numerous party assembled, and all were highly gratified with the evening’s entertainment. Tomorrow evening a series of entertainments will be given in the same place, when the feats are expected to be of the most recherche character. Messrs. Courtier and Wainwright beat the ‘Devil and Dr. Faustus’ hollow.”  Despite which Mr. Wainwright and his magic are heard from no more in the press, and it is only hoped that some diligent researcher might discover some more details on this transient magician.


wainwright 1 Jan15 1849 Port Phillip Gazette
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wainwright 2

Advertisement from Port Phillip Gazette and Settler’s Journal (Victoria), January 15, 1849