The Hancock family connects with the Mathews family and vise versa with the marriage of Sarah Ann Matthews to Ernest Hancock on 9 September 1853. Sarah was the sister of Catherine Jane Matthews who married Edward Garnet Man.
James Matthews’ ‘Memorandum book’ he comments that he has “lost confidence” in his grandson Ernest La Touche Hancock as a result of his youthful marriage to Charlotte Youlin. Oddly enough, of all the descendants of James Matthews, we probably know more about Ernest the ‘black sheep’ than we do of any of the others of his generation. This is in part because Ernest was a writer of light verse which resulted in him acquiring enough of a reputation to allow us to reconstruct some of the details of his life, at least his professional one.
ERNEST LA TOUCHE HANCOCK (7 October 1857 – 1926)
Ernest had three sons and a daughter namely: Herbert Ernest (b. 1879); Olive (b. 1881); Linley (b. 1882); Donovan (b. 1888) and Marie (b. 1892). Olive married Llewellyn D. Jordan (an accountant) and was living in the 1930’s as Mrs. Olive Jordan of Morristown, New York. They had one son Lawrence D. Jordan. A note against Linley indicates that in 1903 he is living at 488 St. Nicholas Avenue, New York.
Ernest La Touche Hancock (b. Shanghai, 1857 — d. NYC 1926). Hancock was an accomplished and long-standing commercial light comic versifier, at a time when one could actually make a living in that manner through syndication in newspapers. He once even managed to land a comic poem in the Hog Fancier’s Gazette. He was also sometimes a humorous lyric writer for musical theatre, and an occasional light music critic. Some of his verses appeared in various popular magazines such as Judge’s Library: a monthly magazine of fun, Harper’s, Lippincott’s, and Puck, etc. Hancock had also published in Munsey magazines such as The Cavalier, and Argosy All-Story Weekly. Hancock was uncompromisingly British and Imperialist. He was a member of the St. George Society around 1921.
Hancock was born in Shanghai (some sources say Hong Kong), the son of Herbert Hancock and Sarah Matthews. His father was an attache to the British Embassy there. Hancock won a scholarship to Wellington College, an English public school. In 1877 he married an American lady, a well known Jersey City socialite’s daughter, Charlotte Youlin, which was done much against his family’s wishes. Perhaps as a result of his family’s approbation, Ernest and Charlotte left England for British India where Ernest was the editor of The Rangoon Times 1879-c.1880. They then traveled extensively in Egypt, perhaps shortly after leaving The Rangoon Times.
Ernest and Charlotte returned to England and lived in Marylebone, central London. In 1882 he is listed as a Member of the London Stock Exchange. He was also an editor of The Windsor Gazette 1882—?. In 1883 he wrote a book under the name E.L.H. titled ‘Mesmeric Ordeal, &c., &c. Stories for boys’ which was published by T.V. Wood of London. Not to be out done Charlotte published a children’s book called ‘Go-to-bed-stories’ in 1886 and an article called ‘Baby’s School’ in Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly for September of that year and which can be read HERE. In December 1890 he received brief recognition for an operetta he wrote and that was produced at Kilburn Town Hall. A short review appeared in as Dramatic notes : a year-book of the stage: December 1879.
In 1891 Ernest is listed as residing at Chapter Road, Willesden Green, London NW. However soon thereafter they left England and settled in New York City, where Hancock took up his pen as a journalist and newspaper editor. In 1889 he and his family were living at 26 West 132nd Street and in 1892 at 20 East 115th Street.
The Harrisburg Telegraph of Pennsylvania had this announcement to make on 29 November 1890:
Mr. Ernest Latouche Hancock, of London, England, and formerly a member of Stock Exchange, is sojourning with his brother – in – law, Mr. A. J. Youlin, for a few days with his family prior to his departure San Diego, Cal. Mr. Hancock is also quite a literary man, being the author of several light operas, one of which is to be brought out in London next month.
In 1902 Hancock being also something of an early historian of the comic arts around that time, published a multi-part history “American Caricature and Comic Art”. In 1903 he was divorced by Charlotte as reported by the newspapers:
The Evening World 24 January 1903, Page 3.
WANTED RHYME FOR DIVORCE: OTHER SHE NOT NAMED
Poet Ernest La Touche Hancock Finds His Flights of Fancy Curbed
by His Wife’s Prosaic Suit for Separation.
Ernest La Touche Hancock who has been given some attention by the magazines and newspapers as a writer of verse has been made the defendant in a prosaic suit for divorce and will on next Wednesday, if he decides to fight the action, appear in court and listen to cold legal terms instead of chanting poetry.
It is perhaps the fact that Mr. Hancock will let the proceedings go along uncontested for he has not put in an answer to an allegation of being unfaithful made by his wife Charlotte Hancock who seeks to sever the marital tie through her attorney In Nassau street. The defendant was born In Hong Kong China and received his early inspiration for rhythmic flights in the celestial land of his nativity where his father was an attache of the British Embassy. Coming early to this country la Touche began grinding out verse by the yard and finally landed some of it in a magazine with his name signed to it.
Then he went to England where he met the young and beautiful daughter of a well known Jersey City family and fell in love with her. They were wedded abroad and not long afterward came to New York where they have lived most of their lives since. Hancock continued his poetic career and succeeded on several occasions in getting his verse into print but there was a brief gestation in his productions after he got religion at a meeting of the Salvation Army one night. He gave up imagery for a while for prayer and took to exhorting. He also joined Dr Van de Waters church In Harlem and contributed to a church paper there. There is no co-respondent named in the complaint the specification being a certain unknown woman. The Hancocks have four children. She has lived apart from the defendant for sometime.
After his divorce from Charlotte Ernest married Emily Sweeney (1863-1923).
In the 1909 Who’s Who in New York Hancock was recorded at 134 West 37th Street in Manhattan and by 1910 he had moved to the Bronx Assembly District 34.
He appears to have known Brooklyn well, where he was a key member from the early years of the twentieth century of the Brooklyn Press Club. He was also a member of the Manhattan based Blue Pencil Club of New York which was a sumptuously equipped private gentleman’s club. His catch phrase at the Blue Pencil Club was a roaring call to the Club’s head assistant, George: “More typewriter paper, George!”
By 1916 he was recorded at 170 Nassau St, NYC, a half-mile NW of the Brooklyn Bridge — although that was also the address of New York Sun, so it was probably simply a convenient mailing address. At around this time his two sons were in the silent movie newsreel business in New York City, being key founders of Fox News (1919–1930) (see below).
Hancock was certainly living in the Kings/Flatbush section of Brooklyn c.1925-6. At that time he was in his 60s, and was probably semi-retired. But the exact address still remains unknown. Back in the spring of 1911 he had been made the Editor of the new society weekly The Sandpiper, which covered the summer season on “the Rockaway peninsula” (Rockaway in Queens was a ten mile strip of resort coast more popularly known as The Rockaways). The Sandpiper was published from there at Arverne. One might suspect that he was chosen as Editor because that was where he chose to holiday in the summer. One of his poems runs… ‘You will find that it will pay To invest down Arverne way’. A Brooklyn almanac of 1912 confirms an Arverne address for Hancock, though it does not specify the street and number.
His light verses were collected in one volume and published in 1912 under the title ‘Desultory Verse’ which can be read here in PDF. Some of Ernest’s publications that appeared in various newspapers can be read here:
- Some light verses by La Touche Hancock
- Poets of Printing House Square
- Some Humour of Homourists
- American Caricature and Comic Art
- On Jokes in the Editor
- The Budding Bard
Herbert Ernest Hancock followed in his father’s footsteps for a short way and published light verse such as this in the Evening Telegram July 15, 1906:
He also wrote for the Hearst Magazine (July 1914) . The following appeared in the Altoona Tribune on 26 August 1906:
Mr. Herbert Ernest Hancock and Miss Helen Margaret Miller were married on Saturday, February 17, 1906. Considerable surprise was manifested by the many friends of Miss Miller in this city yesterday, when it was learned for the first time that she had become a bride six months ago. The wedding was kept a secret, but the happy couple are in the city at the present time spending their honeymoon. Miss Miller is the talented daughter of Dr. and Mrs. W. B. Miller of 1122 Twelfth avenue, is one of the city’s most popular young ladies, and at the present time is fulfilling a two years’ engagement as a dramatic reader and impersonater, under the management of the Star Lyceum Bureau. Mr. Hancock is a young man, and is prominently identified in the newspaper work in New York city, being connected with the evening edition of the New York Herald (The Evening Telegram.) The ceremony took place on the same day as that of Alice Roosevelt and was performed by the Rev. G. C. Houghton, rector In the parish at the church of the Transfiguration, (better known as the little church round the corner).
The following biographical entry for Ernest’s wife has been located in ‘Blair County’s First Hundred Years, 1846-1946’ by the Blair County Historical Society, Altoona, PA, The Mirror Press, 1945:
Helen Miller Hancock: Daughter of the late Dr. and Mrs. William B. Miller of 1112 Twelfth Avenue, Altoona. Mrs. Hancock left Altoona in September, 1905, under contract to the Star Lyceum Bureau of New York City as a reader and entertainer. Was probably the first Altoona girl to leave home to “go on the stage.” Mrs. Hancock was a leading concert reader with the Empire State Quartet, the Criterion Male Quartet, and the Metropolitan Trio, her own company. She appeared on the stage under the direction of Harrison Gray Fiske, Augustus Thomas, the Shuberts and Charles Dillingham; was with the Ben Greet Players in the Redpath Chautauqua; acted as publicity director for Edward Everett Horton’s Vine Street Theatre in Hollywood and for Mr. Horton personally, Lois Wilson, Joseph Schildkraut and others. Miss Hancock was daytime program director for WOR in New York City from 1930-1936. Has written, directed and broadcast many radio programs in Philadelphia, Bridgeport, Connecticut and Miami, Florida.
Ernest has been found on the 1920 census married to an Edna T. Hancock and living at Elmshurst, Queens, New York. There are no children listed. He and Edna have also been found on the 1930 census still in Queens. Ernest lists himself as an editor. Like his father. Ernest published articles although he was not nearly as prolific.
The following from the 1929 American Motion Picture Almanac:
HANCOCK, DON: real name: Donovan Hancock; b. London England. October 21. 1888. Son of the late La Touche Hancock, well known poet and newspaper writer and author of the book, “Desultory Verse :” educated in public schools of New York; married Katherine Irvin of St. Paul, Minn., in 1913. Held several unimportant positions with various commercial firms and in 1908 went on the stage and spent nine years in the calling : in musical comedies he has appeared with Elsie Janis in “The Fair Co-Ed :” with Eva Tanguay in the “Follies of 1909” and followed Harry Pilcer in the light comedy part of Mort Singer’s “Heartbreaks.” Then followed several years of stock company experience, appearing with the Albee stock company at Providence, R. I., and with stock companies in Salem, Mass.. Portland. Ore., Fitchburg. Mass.. Boston. Mass.. and Long Beach, L. I. : then followed a trip to Australia as light comedian with an American musical comedy company and upon his return entered vaudeville. jilaying in several sketches as light comedian, tl^e most jn’ominent being with Frank Sheridan in “Derelict” and with Joseph Jefferson in “Poor Old Jim.” Late in 1916 he left the stage and took a position on the editorial staff of the “Los Angeles Examiner” where he later became day city editor. His newspaper work was broken into by his enlistment in the Canadian army filth engineers) and upon his return to Los Angeles he became special correspondent for the “Los Angeles Examiner” at San Pedro. Cal. In 1918 he went to New York and joined his brother, Herbert Ernest Hancock, in the H. & H. Productions (motion pictures) as business manager. After producing three pictures they signed with Fox Film Corporation to organize their news reel “Fox News.” in 1919. Spent four years with this corporation as news feature director, news editor and later director in chief of “Fox News.”
Leaving Fox he went with Macfadden Publications as director of illustrations in their magazines. with them one year : then struck out as an independent and made a score of illustrated sontrs in motion pictures for prominent musical publishers. On September 14. 1925 he entered his present work which comprises several duties. He directs and writes publicity for “Topics of the Day.” “Aesop’s Fables.” “Sportlight.” and “Curiceities.” Also reads for and edits “Topics of the Day.” and does considerable title writing for “Curiosities” and some for the “Smitty Comedies.” and is film editor for all of the products. Is a member of the Associated Motion Picture Advertisers and was chairman of the A. M. P. A. Hollywood Masque Ball which took place March 2. 1929 at the Hotel Astor. Lives at 43-49 Lowery street, Long Island City. N. Y.