His life and works
|Clara Maria Lodge|
|Born: 1819 Dublin, Ireland|
|Died: 1908 Melbourne, Australia|
|1. George William Wall Du Val born 1806|
|2. Henry Seekamp 1829-1864|
|Oliver John Du Val 1839-1884|
|Clara Maria Du Val 1849?-1868|
|Francis William Augustus Du Val 1851?-1929|
Clara Maria Lodge was born on 24 May 1819 in Dublin, daughter of John Lodge and his wife.
She was a pupil of the dancing teacher George William Wall Du Val and became his wife. He was born in Dublin on 14 January 1806 (1), the son of Edward Octavius Caesar Wall Du Val and his wife née Sarah Eskildson. Her parents were opposed to the match, so George and Clara eloped. In the summer of 1830 he was running an academy in Douglas, Isle of Man, and at the following Christmas he and his dancing pupils held a Grand Ball, with a band brought over specially from Liverpool.
George Du Val returned to the Isle of Man from his home in Dublin in the summer of 1831 to reopen his school. He inserted an announcement in the local papers that “Mr D. purposes visiting London previous to his return, when he will bring with him all the newest and most fashionable Dances, which he will teach his Pupils with unremitted attention.”
His classes were a great success, and the winter balls became ever grander. But by 1835 trouble was brewing, and he and his wife fled to Liverpool. In November of that year the Manx Sun facetiously announced
“MORE FASHIONABLE DEPARTURES. On Friday last, that most celebrated ‘artiste’ Mons. Du Val, who visited this island in August last for the purpose of ‘instructing children in an accomplishment which combines the improvement of health with recreation’, made ‘Le Grande Gallope’ to Liverpool; at the same time the ‘fair vocaliste from the Theatre Royal, Dublin’, who ‘unites beauty with talent’, Madame Du Val, performed ‘les Mazourkas’ in his company ... --- Du Val has swindled the natives out of considerable sums.” (2)
But the remarkable career of George William Wall Du Val had not ended. The 1841 Census records him as being a police officer in Liverpool, living there in Gill Street with his wife and two-year-old son Oliver John. They were living with other Irish lodgers in the household of Elizabeth Lodge of independent means and born in Ireland, who may have been Clara's mother.
At Liverpool Assizes held on 31 July 1842, a George William Duval was charged with "Conspiring to procure the marriage of a female", but was found not guilty (3).
Two more children were born: Clara Maria (known as Clarissa) born in about 1849, and Francis William Augustus born in about 1851.
In the early 1850s (Clara Du Val went to Australia with her children. Her husband seems not to have accompanied her. There exists a newspaper report naming him as "Claud Du Val", stating that he performed with Clara in Australia. "With Mr. Du Val she took part in theatrical performances in the early days of Ballarat, and often appeared before Melbourne audiences" It also states "Mrs. Seekamp was the widow of Mr. Claud Du Val when she married Mr. Seekamp." (4). However the accuracy of that report is very doubtful. No other evidence that George Du Val was ever in Australia has been found. What really happened to him in later life is unknown.
Clara Du Val met Henry Seekamp 1829-1864, editor of the Ballarat Times at the time of the Eureka Stockade fight (5). They lived together, but whether they actually married is uncertain. The Seekamp surname was adopted by the two younger children, but Oliver Du Val retained his father's name. By 1855 they were living in Ballarat. During that year, in the absence of her husband, she was held at gunpoint in her home by two men who robbed her of a cashbox containing about £100 (6). In 1861 she was awarded £500 "compensation" by the Governor, at the instigation of the Victoria Parliament, but what she was being compensated for is unknown (7).
After Henry Seekamp died, the family fell upon very hard times. Her daughter Clara Maria died aged only eighteen on 26 October 1868 (8). In the following month her elder son Oliver Du Val was convicted of stealing fittings from empty houses and selling them to buy food for the family. He was sentenced to three months' imprisonment (9).
Oliver John Du Val married Marion Mitchell Farquaharson in 1873 in Victoria (10), and died in 1884 at Richmond, Victoria (11).
Clara Seekamp died at Melbourne, Victoria on 22 January 1908 (12) and was buried there in the cemetery where her eldest son Oliver John Du Val had been buried in 1884.
Her younger son Francis William August Seekamp married Jane Benger, daughter of Charles Benger and Euphemia Ferguson. He died at Flemington, Victoria in 1929. They had a daughter Clara Maria Allison Seekamp who died in 1875 (13) and a son Arthur Martin Du Val Seekamp 1885-1955 (14).
(1) The exact date is given by his brother Charles Allen Du Val in his handwriting in a manuscript owned by a descendant.
(2) Vivien Allen Du Val Tonight! The Story of a Showman (1990) page 3.
(3) England and Wales Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 (1842) page 198.
(4) The Argus (Melbourne, Australia) 25 January 1908. The report was repeated in The Advertiser (South Australia) 27 January 1908.
(5) Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume (2005) pages 355 and 356.
(6) The Argus 26 April 1855, relaying a report from the Geelong Advertiser. One thief was sentenced to "twelve years on the roads, the first three in irons", and the other to "ten years, the first two in irons".
(7) The Argus 24 October 1861.
(8) The Argus 28 October 1868.
(9) Sydney Morning Herald 2 November 1868, relaying the story published in the Melbourne Herald.
(10) Registration No. 1065.
(11) Registration No. 2636.
(12) The Advertiser 27 January 1908.
(13) Registration No. 1335.
(14) Information from his direct descendant Lyn Inglish.