Weaste Cemetery

Biographies of people buried between 1880 & 89

William Jee (1844 - 1885)

 William Jee was a Circus Performer in an act with his three brothers called "The Jee Brothers." There were four brothers: Joseph was a bare-back rider (equestrian), James was a vaulter and somersault rider, Henry was a hat spinner and William was a clown. Later their act introduced music and singing and they were called Musical Clowns and described as "Grotesque, Musical Entertainment."

William was born in 1884 in Islington, Middlesex. Not a lot is known about is early life as possibly his family were entertainers, who toured the country and didn't stay long enough to fill in census forms. However, in 1881 (four years before he died), William lived at 92 Kennington Road, Lambeth, Surrey. He was described as aged 31, single and a Professional Musician. He was lodging with his brother Henry (born 1852 in Islington, Middlesex), who was also a Professional Musician. Also in the house was Henry's wife Fannie (born 1852 in Liverpool) who was a Tap Dancer, and their daughter Lily (born 1880 in Liverpool) aged 1. Also in 1881, William's brother Joseph (born 1841 in London) lived at the White Bear Inn, 11 London Road, Tunbridge, Kent. Joseph was described as married and an Equestrian. There was no sign of his wife, but his 14-year-old son Joseph Junior was an Equestrian and 13-year-old daughter Jane A, who was born in Edinburgh, Scotland was also an Equestrian.

In July 1870 the Jee Brothers performed at Howes and Cushing's Circus at Leicester; in April 1872 at Lent's Circus in London; in October 1876 they were described as "Musical Clowns, the greatest novelty in London;" in November 1876 as "the great Musical Clowns" at the Oxford and the Canterbury Palace in London; in November 1876 as "wonderful entertainment" at the Royal Aquarium, London; also in November and December "in their grotesque musical entertainment" at the Royal Aquarium; in February 1877 at the London Pavillion; and in November 1878 they were advertised as Musical Clowns. The Era newspaper of 6th July 1879, said the Jee Brothers headed the list of acts at St James's Hall, London, saying "their musical performances are of the most extraordinary character, when they made their first appearance here on Monday evening, and astonished everyone by their clever entertainment."

In January and June 1880 they starred at the Royal Aquarium, London. The Era newspaper of 6th June 1880 makes reference to "The Jee Brothers (Harry and William) Musical Clowns, have returned from a four year Continental Tour and now appear at The Royal Aquarium! In July 1880, the Jee Brothers (Musical Clowns) appeared at the London Pavillion, Tichborne Street, Piccadilly, London, and in August were back at the Royal Aquarium. In November 1880, they performed at Canterbury Saturnalia and later that month at the Oxford in London. In 1882 they "are very clever in their grotesque musical entertainment" at the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester. The 26th August 1883 edition of The Era says "The Brothers Jee, who have just returned from the Paris Hippodrome are first class musical clowns." In 1884, the Four Jees appeared at the Grand Circus in Peter Street, Manchester.

William Jee died on 18th January 1885 aged 40. He was buried in grave A12/CE/945 at Weaste Cemetery attended by the Jee family and many of his entertainment friends.