Morgan Kingston

From Pit Lad to Opera Singer

By Pauline Marples

Alfred (Morgan) Kingston
Photo:From a 1912 Programme of a Concert at Long Eaton,via E Gibby

From a 1912 Programme of a Concert at Long Eaton,via E Gibby

Alfred Webster Kingston was born, 16th March 1875 in Staffordshire, he was the third son of miner, John Kingston and his wife Jane. Before he was six, the family had moved to Hucknall where two more children were born Fred, and Elizabeth. As a young boy Alfred sang in the St John's Parish Church Choir at Hucknall, he and brother William also sang in the Byron Quartet.. On leaving school Alfred, started work in the coal mine at Hucknall. At the age of 20 he was married to Henrietta May Dignum.

Mansfield Colliery

Around 1906 Alfred and his brother William left Hucknall to work at Mansfield (Crown Farm) Colliery. He, his wife, and children lived for many years, on Carter Lane, Mansfield.

Local Events

Though working as a coal miner, Alfred was often in demand at many local functions as a solo singer. These included events connected with St Lawrence's Church, such as the ones below.

1907 Alfred Kingston sang at the Victoria Hall, Mansfield, an event organised by St Peters Church to raise funds for the building of the new St Lawrence's Church.

1908 when the contract for the church was awarded to T. & R. Moore and a fund raising social was held Alfred Kingston sang at the event and he was reported to be in splendid voice, singing 'Nirvana' and 'My Queen'.

Also at Forest Town:

1908 a concert at the Mission Rooms,

1909 the opening of the Drill Hall,

1911 the dedication of St Alban's Church.

Singing Career

Alfred Kingston was encouraged by colleagues at Mansfield Colliery to take up a career in the musical profession. For a number of years, he spent part of the week working on the coal face and the rest studying music and languages in London under Mr Hugo Hind.

His hardwork and the encouragement of friends and colleagues were amply rewarded for in 1909 he made his singing debut at the Queens Hall, London. Albert Davis, William Holland and other friends travelled to London for this great occasion.

This was no doubt the turning point in the life of this colliery worker, for within three years he was singing in America. On September 13th 1913 he made his American debut as Ramades in Aida with the Century Opera Company, New York. Between 1917 and 1924 he sang with the Metropolitan Opera Company New York.

Columbia Records

He had left the coal dust behind and made singing his profession. He became a renowned opera singer, singing with various opera companies including the New York Metropolitan Opera Company. He made records for the Columbia Record Company, which are today, sought after by record collectors.

At an unknown date in Alfred's career, the name 'Morgan' was added to his name and he became better known as Morgan Kingston. Supposedly the name 'Morgan' had a Welsh ring to it, and Welsh miners are noted for their singing.

Photo:Mansfield Concert 1926

Mansfield Concert 1926

Unknown Newspaper

Mansfield Concert

He returned to England around 1924 where he sang in London at the Convent garden opera. His appearance over the next few years included the Stephenson Subscription Concert in Mansfield on 24th February 1926, when he was welcomed by the Mayor (councillor E B Hibbert).

Alfred Morgan Kingston died in 1936 aged 62, he is buried at St Giles Churchyard, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire. His widow and sons still lived in Canada.

Acknowledgement to:

E. Gibby,

M. Newton,

and the late J. Wakefield

This page was added on 11/05/2009.
Comments about this page

I'm the great great grand niece of Alfred (Morgan) Kingston, I visited his grave a few years ago in Stoke Poges & the vicar (at the time) had no idea who was buried in his church yard as Morgan's grave is a modest grave. He was plesantly surprised to discover he had a world famous star in his presence, it's a shame when history gets lost!

By Korina Newstead
On 23/08/2010

My mother's maiden name was Holland and her uncle was the William Holland who was a member of the Byron Quartet with Morgan. William went on to become involved in politics in Mansfield full time but also continued his singing. I would love to find out more about him.

By Margaret McCabe
On 06/08/2011

I am the great grandson of Robert Moore of T and R Moore who built St Lawrence Church in 1908. my grandfather,Herbert Moore and father Robert were very proud of getting the contract for the church.

By Robert Moore
On 27/01/2012

I am a distant relative of Morgan's wife Henrietta Dignum and am fascinated and proud that my ancestors were related to such a talented singer.

By Gemma Blower
On 21/02/2012

I have just discovered through ancestry that I am related to Morgan, which was a real thrill 

By Julian Crosby
On 22/01/2015

This is my husbands great grandfather! When I started to do his ancestry, what a surprise to come across this! Amazing!!! We are thinking of booking a trip to England to visit his grave!

By Lisa Kingston
On 04/06/2015

He's not forgotten in Stoke Poges where he lived before he died in his home called Oaken Holt, Templewood Lane. He was cared for by his companions who had travelled with him most of his singing career: Richard Edward Hatteras and Evelyn Mary Hatteras. Another famous performer in American before WW1 at the time who also retired to the small village of Stoke Poges after WW1 was the famous music hall singer called Vesta Tilley !  I wonder whether Alfred's golden harp, presented to him by President Wilson of USA is somewhere ?

Harvey Whittam (Chairman of The Stoke Poges Society 25/11/2016)

By Harvey Whittam
On 30/11/2016

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