In England Jem and Hannah took a modest house in Rolls Road, Camberwell, London. Because of his enforced retirement from pugilism, Jem went back to circus entertainment and sparring exhibitions.
At Raglan Hall, Liverpool
At Alhambra Theatre, London
With John McConnell in Glasgow (he was knocked out by Jem)
With Jem Stewart in Glasgow
While with Ginnett’s Circus Jem had a liaison with Ellen (Nellie) Lee (née Gore). He was 41, she was a 21 year old Liverpool Irish vocalist. She had married Rowland John Lee as a 17 year old in 1869 and had a young son, John George F Lee (born 1870). Rowland referred to himself as a “professor of music” (a music teacher in modern parlance). He worked for Ginnett as a band leader.
Rowland left the circus and Jem moved in with Nellie and her son John in Copperas Hill, Liverpool, leaving his wife Hannah and her children in London.
In Jan 1874 Pooley married Delia Smith in Consett, County Durham. She was a full blooded Gypsy. Her Roma surname was Petulengro. Her father was Ambrose Smith, Roma name Jasper Petulengro, the well known showman and fortune teller. Her mother’s name was Sanspi Herne.
With Jem having effectively retired undefeated Tom Allen claimed the World title in Sept 1873 with a win over Mike McCoole.
In 1874 Jem moved with Nellie back to London where he gave an exhibition bout with Joe Goss.
Jem and Joe Goss decided to try again in America. Jem left the pregnant Nellie in England to join him later after the child was born.
On 15 Apr 1876 Jem and Joe arrived in New York aboard the “City of Chester”.
At 4,566 tons and a Liverpool - New York time of 8 days, this was the biggest and fastest transatlantic liner when she was launched in 1873.
When Jem left New York 4 years earlier he left unpaid bills, one of which was his tailor’s bill. When Jem arrived back in New York, his tailor accosted him, this led to a scuffle and Jem’s arrest. One has to admire the bravery of Mr Underhill, being prepared to face up to a World Champion Prize Fighter in a street scuffle in order to get his bill paid. The tailor, Edward Underhill, subsequently sued for payment and eventually succeeded in getting Jem’s pay from “Howes and Cushing” sequestered. The cutting is from the Brooklyn Eagle. The case was heard at the Marine Court, 32,Chambers Street, New York. A picture of the Court House follows.
On 12 May 1876 for two days Jem and Joe Goss gave sparring exhibitions at “Howes and Cushing” circus at Flatbush Avenue and Fifth, New York.
On 24 July for 6 days Jem gave sparring exhibitions with Steve Taylor at Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
He gave an exhibition with John Scholes in Toronto.
He fought and beat Billy Edwards.
He fought and beat Sam Collyer.
In about July 1876 Nellie gave birth to Ellen Norah Mace. The name is derived from her mother’s name (Ellen) and Pooley’s eldest sister’s name (Leonora). Since she was leaving shortly to go to live in America, Nellie didn’t bother to register the birth.
On 7 Sept Jem seconded Joe Goss in a fight against Tom Allen at Covington, Kentucky. Militia stopped the fight, so the venue was moved to Boone County. Allen was disqualified for hitting Goss when he was down. The militia again intervened. Goss was arrested and imprisoned, the other principals escaped.
On the 18 Sept Nellie and Ellen Norah arrived in New York. They also travelled on the “City of Chester”.
Virginia City, Nevada is perched on the steep side of the Sierra Nevada. It is an area prone to earthquakes and landslides. At this time it was a very important silver mining area. The “Comstock Lode” produced the silver for all the American “Silver Dollars” and provided most of the finance for the Union forces in the civil war. It was a wealthy “frontier town”.
On 15 November Jem is reported to have pawned a $300 diamond ring, given to him by Lord Beresford. Presumably this was to help finance the Nevada trip.
Following are two pictures of Virginia City at about this time.
On 16 Dec 1876 Jem fought Bill Davis at Virginia City in front of a paying crowd estimated at 10,000 people. He and Nellie also provided musical entertainment. In order to circumvent the potential “Prize Fighting” problems the combatants used gloves, fixed length rounds and points scoring. Although amateur boxing was already being organised in this way, this fight marked the beginning of the “Queensberry Rules” era of professional fighting. Jem won on points after 9 rounds. A fixed purse of $5,000 plus a gold belt was provided by John W Mackay, the mine owner, who recouped his money from the gate receipts.
On 26 Jan 1877 Jem and Bill Davis fought a rematch in San Francisco. They acted as their own promoters, and split the gate money (another first). Jem won by a knock-out in the 4th round.
Jem realised that the writing was on the wall for prize fighting in America and sailed from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia with Nellie and Ellen Norah on the “Zealandia”, arriving on 3 Mar 1877. A description of the ship follows.
Following is a picture of Nellie from about this time. She is wearing a very expensive outfit. The style of dress and bustle is 1872 London high fashion.
This picture of Jem was obviously taken at the same time with the same background set.
The rightness of Jem’s decision was demonstrated when, in late 1877, Coburn, Joe Goss, Clerk and Weedon were all jailed for offences concerning prize fighting.