'Lord' George Sanger



  • (1827 - 1911) British circus proprietor, who originatedthe three-ring circus. He adopted his unofficial title afterthe US showman Buffalo Bill had been referred to as 'theHonourable' William Cody during a lawsuit. "If Cody is an Honourable,"Sanger remarked, "then I am a Lord!" Queen Victoria madea point of using the title on greeting Sanger.

    Sanger launched his first circus at Charter Fair in KingsLynn, Norfolk. In 1860, at Plymouth Hoe, he created the first three-ringcircus, but expenses later forced him to reduce this to one largering. He also popularized the circus street parade, which passed throughthe town to the tent; on one occasion he joined his ornate circuswagons to a procession escorting Queen Victoria through London.

    In 1871 Sanger and his brother John bought Astley's Amphitheatre,enlarged it, and returned it to its former use as a circus under thetitle of Sanger's Grand National Amphitheatre. He staged extravagantspectaculars at the venue until 1893, when the amphitheatre had tobe closed as unsafe; it was subsequently demolished.

    Sanger, who was married to the lion-tamer Ella Chapman, continuedwith his famous show until 1905. Six years later he was axed to deathby an insane farmhand. Sanger's variety Circus continued to performfor another half century; after World War II it provided the scenefor the debut of a young comedy duo, Morecambe and Wise.