William John Ashcroft (William John Ashcroft)

William John Ashcroft

Actor, singer, and comedian. Born in Rhode Island to parents who had emigrated there from Belfast, he achieved fame on the American stage, then married an English actress named Kitty Brooke (it is not clear whether Laura Brooke, who is buried with him, was a relative) and moved to England, where he became even more successful, often playing a character known as Muldoon, to the extent that he is mentioned in the following passage on page 94 of “Finnegans Wake” by James Joyce: “A slickstick picnic made in Moate by Muldoons. The solid man saved by his sillied woman.” In 1879, on a visit to Belfast, he purchased the Alhambra Theatre of Varieties in Lower North Street, which was the first music hall in that city. The song “McNamara’s Band”, later recorded by Bing Crosby, was written especially for Ashcroft by John Stamford, the stage manager of the Alhambra. In 1900, Ashcroft was forced to sell the theatre, as he was separated from his wife and was suffering from poor mental health, although he continued to perform for several years after that. Regrettably, the Alhambra had to be demolished in 1959, after a fire broke out there. (bio by: Iain MacFarlaine) ┬áInscription:In loving memory of LauraWilliam John Ashcroft”The Solid Man”Proprietor of Belfast’s Alhambra Theatre1879-1900.Died 2nd. January 1918, aged 73 years.One of nature’s gentlemen. Also interred hereLaura Jane Brookedied 6th. December 1887, aged 24 years.Erected by W.J. Ashcroft.


  • January, 01, 1970
  • USA


  • January, 01, 1918


  • Belfast City Cemetery

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