Frederic Sullivan (1837–1877)
This architect-turned-actor was the brother of Sir Arthur Sullivan.
Fred’s brother Sir Arthur Sullivan – of theatrical partnership Gilbert & Sullivan fame – is probably the most famous person not to be buried at Brompton!
It was the operatic composer’s dying wish to be laid to rest in the cemetery, beside his older brother Fred and their parents. However, Queen Victoria insisted Arthur be buried in St Paul’s Cathedral.
Fred Sullivan had a notable career of his own, and is best remembered for his comic portrayal of the judge in Trial by Jury, by Gilbert & Sullivan. Fred and Arthur were born in London to Thomas and Mary Clementina ‘Clemmie’ Sullivan. Irish-born Thomas (1805-1866) was a military bandmaster, clarinettist and music teacher, whose musical career clearly inspired his sons, and Clemmie (1811-1882) was part Italian.
Fred trained as an architectural draftsman but soon became interested in the theatre. He began as an amateur, then started appearing on the London stage, often in works by his brother. He set up his own provincial touring company, Sullivan’s Operetta Company, in 1871.
Fred was a popular and sought-after comic actor and singer, but struggled to perform regularly after he caught tuberculosis in 1876. He died the following year, aged just 39. Arthur was at Fred’s bedside as he lay dying, and composed the much-loved song The Lost Chord there, in his memory.
Fred had seven children with his wife Charlotte, who was pregnant with their eighth when he died. Arthur became guardian to the children on his brother’s death, and continued to be involved with and support them for the rest of their lives.