Frank Bellew was born in India, possibly to Captain Francis-John and Anne Smoult Temple (Colburn 1374). While growing up, Bellew also lived in France and England before moving to New York City in 1850. Once in New York, he worked as a caricaturist and illustrator for numerous publications including Yankee Notions, The Lantern, the New York Picayune, Nick-Nax, Vanity Fair, Harper's Weekly,Harper's Monthly, and Scribner's Monthly.
James Topham Brady was the son of Irish immigrants who first settled in Newark, NJ and then in New York City. Brady received a privileged education and, in 1831 while still a student, he aided his father, a lawyer, in various trials. Brady gained admittance to the New York bar in 1836. His first case dealt with the controversial topic of slavery, and "though he was unsuccessful his handling of the matter was masterly . . .
Born in Ireland, John Brougham originally pursued a surgical career at the Peter Street Hospital in Dublin. A change in fortune resulted in his decision to move to England and become an actor in 1830. He was associated with London's Tottenham Street Theatre, the Olympic Theatre, and became manager of the London Lyceum in 1840. Brougham produced over 100 works and is remembered for his comedic playwriting and acting.
Son of Benjamin Franklin Butler and Harriet Allen (an alleged descendant of Oliver Cromwell), William Allen Butler was born in Albany, New York, on February 20th, 1825 (“William Allen Butler”). Butler received most of his education in New York City. Practicing law was, it seems, in the Butler bloodline; his obituary claimed that Butler’s “family was one of lawyers” stating that most of his siblings were connected to the profession (“William Allen Butler”).
Born in Southbury, Connecticut, Horace Francis Clark received his education from Williams College. In 1837, after being admitted to the bar, Clark worked as a lawyer in New York City "where he was prominent in financial, political, and railroad circles." In 1856, he ran for a seat in Congress. His bid was a success, as was his reelection campaign ("Clark"). At the end of his political career, Clark returned to the world of law but quickly dismissed it in favor of business opportunities within the growing railroad industry.
Born in 1819 into an old Quaker family near Philadelphia, Thomas Dunn English attended schooling in Philadelphia and New Jersey. He took his degree at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, where he completed a thesis on phrenology and gained his M.D. in 1839. Even as English continued on to a law degree, completed in 1842, he began writing for the Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine and was president of a political club. English would continue this multifaceted career throughout his life.
Born and raised in England, Thomas Butler Gunn first worked as an illustrator for the famous British satirical journal Punch. In 1849, Gunn moved to New York City, where he quickly found work drawing for the city’s comic papers, including the New York Reveille, Nick Nax, the New York Picayune, the Lantern, and Yankee Notions (Faflik xiii, xiv). He also took up writing and editing. In 1857, he published the Physiology of New York Boarding-Houses (New York: Mason Brothers), a humorous description of boarding-house life.
Robert Shelton Mackenzie was born June 22, 1809 in Limerick, Ireland. Mackenzie began his newspaper career editing a county journal in Hanley, Staffordsville, England. After writing for various papers and contributing several biographies to the Georgian Era, Mackenzie was appointed the English correspondent for the New York Evening Star in 1834, possibly making Mackenzie the first European correspondent to any American paper (Baugh).
Thomas Meagher’s association with Pfaff’s is uncertain; a questionable source mentions him in reference to a Bohemian Club which frequented “Pfaaf’s [sic],” but his supposed connection to Pfaff’s is based on little more than circumstantial evidence ("Our New York Letter" 64). Another indication of some sort of connection with Pfaff's comes from Thomas Gunn's diary in which he notes that Meagher denied that he was cousins with well-known Pfaffian Fitz-James O'Brien (Gunn, vol. 10, 139).
In “Our New York Letter,” O’Gorman is mentioned in reference to the Bohemian Club, which may have been a post-Pfaff’s group of journalists, although the article claims that the group has would often meet at “Pfaafs [sic]” (64-65). Thomas Gunn mentions a Lieutenant O'Gorman in several entries of his diaries, but it is unknown if Gunn's O'Gorman and the O'Gorman mentioned in the "Our New York Letter" were the same person (cf. Gunn vol. 21, 168-70, 172-3, 180-2; vol. 22, 23-4, 26-9).
Born in County Cork and raised primarily in Limerick, Ireland, Fitz-James O'Brien moved to New York City in 1852. Descending from an Anglo-Irish landholding family, O'Brien received his inheritance (estimated at £8000) at about the age of 21. Between 1849 and 1851, it is believed that O'Brien edited a failed literary magazine called The Parlour Magazine of the Literature of All Nations and squandered his inheritance (Wolle 21). Leaving England almost penniless, O'Brien immigrated to America and made the U.S.
Actor Edward Askew Sothern, who was known as Douglas Stewart in the early part of his career and possibly went by the initials E.A. Sothern in his later years, moved in theatrical circles like many of the Pfaffians, including playwright John Brougham, actress Adah Menken, and theater critic William Winter. Sothern was part of the troupe that theater historian George Odell describes as Laura Keene’s best company. In addition to working with Keene, he also appeared at Barnum’s and at Wallack’s during the 1854-55 season.
Poet William Ross Wallace was born in Kentucky to a Presbyterian minister of Scotch descent. He may have attended Hanover College in 1833-35 before moving to Bloomington, Indiana (Whicher). Wallace’s first printed poem was “The Battle of Tippecanoe” (1837). He practiced in Lexington before relocating to New York City in 1841, where he remained until his death. Wallace married twice and had three children (two daughters and a son); his marriage to his second wife, Miss Riker, was noted by the New York Post in October 1856.