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Posts Tagged ‘David Garrick’

Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency (I include those who were born before 1811 and who died after 1795), today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Catherine “Kitty” Clive
5 November 1711 – 6 December 1785

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Catherine “Kitty” Clive

Catherine “Kitty” Clive was most likely born in London, but her father, William Raftor, was an Irishman and a former officer in the French army under Louis XIV. According to her biographers, Clive worked as a servant in the homes of wealthy London families while young. At the age of 17, she was discovered by the theatre community when she was overheard singing while cleaning the front steps of a home near a tavern that actors and playwrights regularly patronized. She was recommended to Colley Cibber, manager of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, who hired her.

Clive’s first role at Drury Lane was as the pageboy Immenea in Nathaniel Lee’s tragedy Mithridates, King of Pontus. Throughout the 1730s she went on to play many more roles with much success, becoming Drury Lane’s leading comedic actress. In 1747 she became one of the founding members of David Garrick’s acting company. A soprano, Clive would also occasionally sing on the stage, notably portraying Emma and Venus in the world première of Thomas Arne’s masque Alfred in 1740. She also created the role of Dalila in Handel’s 1743 oratorio Samson.

Around 1732, Clive married George Clive, a barrister brother of Baron Clive. The marriage was not a success and the two separated, though never officially divorced, and Kitty Clive remained economically independent. Because she never openly took on lovers, Clive was able to keep her marriage vows and preserve her public reputation. Her good standing in the public’s eye helped strengthen the reputations of actresses in general, who were often looked down upon as being morally lax.

Clive rose in fame to become of the highest paid actresses of her time and may have even earned more than many of the male performers who were traditionally paid higher wages than their female cast-mates. Her career onstage spanned over forty years, and according to K. A. Crouch, “[h]er pay places her among the very best actresses of her generation.” Kitty Clive became a household name along with other theater greats of the time such as Lavinia Fenton and Susannah Cibber. Perhaps because of her earning power and her fame, Clive became an open supporter of actors’ rights. In particular, she published a pamphlet entitled The Case of Mrs. Clive in 1744 where she publicly shamed managers Christopher Rich and Charles Fleetwood for conspiring to pay actors less than their due. She also challenged the public’s habit of associating actors with beggars and prostitutes.

Clive tried her hand at writing farces, with some success. She wrote several satirical sketches with feminist undertones including The Rehearsal, or Boys in Petticoats (1750); Every Woman in her Humour (1760); and Sketches of a Fine Lady’s Return from a Rout (1763). In these pieces she used humor to criticize the challenges female performers and playwrights faced.

Kitty Clive retired in 1769 to a villa in Twickenham, which had been a gift from her friend Horace Walpole, and died there in 1785. She was buried at St Mary’s, Twickenham, where there is a memorial to her in the north-east corner of the church, on which a poem praises her generosity.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Society of Dilettanti
Since 1732 –

Society of Dilettanti is believed to have been established as a London dining club in 1732 by a group of people who had been on the Grand Tour. Records of the earliest meeting of the Society were written somewhat informally on loose pieces of paper. The first entry in the first minute book of the Society is dated April 5, 1736.

In 1743 Horace Walpole condemned its affectations and described it as such; “…a club, for which the nominal qualification is having been in Italy, and the real one, being drunk: the two chiefs are Lord Middlesex and Sir Francis Dashwood, who were seldom sober the whole time they were in Italy”

The group, initially led by Francis Dashwood, contained several dukes and was later joined by Joshua Reynolds, David Garrick, Uvedale Price and Richard Payne Knight, among others. It was closely associated with Brooks’s, one of London’s most exclusive gentlemen’s clubs. The society quickly became wealthy, through a system in which members made contributions to various funds to support building schemes and archaeological expeditions.

The first artist associated with the group was George Knapton.

The Society of Dilettanti aimed to correct and purify the public taste of the country; from the 1740s, it began to support Italian opera. A few years before Sir Joshua Reynolds became a member, the group worked towards the objective of forming a public academy, and from the 1750s, it was the prime mover in establishing the Royal Academy. In 1775 the club had accumulated enough money towards a scholarship fund for the purpose of supporting a student’s travel to Rome and Greece, or for archaeological expeditions such as that of Richard Chandler, William Pars and Nicholas Revett, the results of which they published in Ionian Antiquities, a major influence on neo-Classicism in Britain. One notable member was Sir William Hamilton, the British Ambassador to the Kingdom of Naples.

The Society has 60 members, elected by secret ballot. An induction ceremony is held at a London club. It makes annual donations to the British Schools in Rome and Athens.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland 1st Baronet
8 May 1735 – 15 October 1811

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Nathaniel Dance-Holland

Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland 1st Baronet was a notable English portrait painter and later a politician.

The third son of architect George Dance the Elder, Dance (he added the ‘Holland’ suffix later in life) studied art under Francis Hayman, and like many contemporaries also studied in Italy. There he met Angelica Kauffman, and painted several historic and classical paintings.

On his return to England, he became a successful portrait painter. With Hayman and his architect brother George Dance the Younger, he was one of the founder members of the Royal Academy in 1768.

He was commissioned to paint King George III and his queen, plus Captain James Cook and actor David Garrick. His group portrait The Pybus Family (1769) is in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.

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The Pybus Family (1769)

In 1790, he gave up his artistic career and became Member of Parliament for East Grinstead in Sussex. He served this seat until 1802 when he moved to Great Bedwyn, serving until 1806. In 1807 he returned to East Grinstead, serving until his death in 1811. He was made a baronet in 1800, which became extinct upon his death.

He was married to Harriet, the daughter of Sir Cecil Bishopp, 6th Baronet and the widow of Thomas Dummer (died 1781), for whom his brother had designed the house at Cranbury Park, near Winchester. They lived at Little Wittenham Manor in Berkshire (now Oxfordshire). His wife survived him until 1825.

His nephew, Sir Nathaniel Dance (1748–1827), was a well-known commander of British East India Company ships.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

George Dance the Younger
1 May 1769 – 14 September 1852

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George Dance

George Dance the Younger was the son of the architect George Dance the elder married Elizabeth Gould in 1719. Their fifth son, George, was born 1 April 1741 at the family home in Chiswell Street, London and was educated at St Paul’s School.

Dance spent the six years between 1759 and 1765 studying architecture and draughtsmanship in Rome. Aged 17, he set off on his Grand Tour, sailing from Gravesend, Kent in December 1758. After a short stay in Florence, where he was joined by his brother Nathaniel, who was already studying painting in Italy, he and his brother set off for Rome, arriving in early May 1759. By the early 1760s the brothers were living at 77 Strada Felice. At Rome, Dance was acquainted with the architect, James Adam, who was staying nearby at the Casa Guarini, Robert Mylne (they remained lifelong friends), Abbot Peter Grant and Giovanni Battista Piranesi.

As a student of the Accademia di San Luca, Dance measured and drew several buildings in Rome, including the three remaining columns of the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the Arch of Constantine and the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, showing much promise as a draughtsman. Much of his later work was inspired by Piranesi. In late 1759 Dance received his first commission – to design two chimneypieces for Sir Robert Mainwaring. In early 1762 Dance was measuring and drawing the Temple of Vesta, Tivoli and later that year he entered a competition organised by the Accademia di Parma to design A Public Gallery for Statues, Pictures & c.. His drawings were dispatched to Parma in April 1763, and a few weeks later it was announced that he had won the Gold Medal, and his designs were exhibited at the Ducal Palace. The projected building was in the latest style of neoclassical architecture.

During June 1764 the Dance brothers were in Naples, but later that year they were back in Rome, entertaining the actor David Garrick and his wife. On the 21 December 1764 George Dance and his brother were elected to the Accademia di S. Luca, where he was described as Giorgo Danze, architetto Inglese. On the 16 February 1765 Dance dined with the painter Angelica Kauffman and James Boswell who was visiting Rome. A few weeks later the brothers left Rome to return to London.

On his return from the Grand Tour, George (the younger) joined his father’s office. His earliest London project was the rebuilding of All Hallows-on-the-Wall Church. He was one of five architects asked to submit designs, and his design was chosen on 8 May 1765. Work on the building starting in June 1765, at a cost of £2,941, and the building was consecrated on the 8 September 1767.

In 1768, when he was only 27, George succeeded as Architect and Surveyor to the Corporation of London on his father’s death. His first major public works were the rebuilding of Newgate Prison in 1770 and building the front of the Guildhall, London. Other London works of his include the rebuilding of the Church of St Bartholomew the Less (1793), a former chapel within the precincts of Barts Hospital.

At Bath, Somerset he largely designed the Theatre Royal, built by John Palmer in 1804-5.
Coleorton Hall was one of his few buildings in the Gothic style.

Many of Dance’s buildings have been demolished, including the Royal College of Surgeons, Newgate Prison, St Luke’s Hospital for Lunatics, the Shakespeare Gallery in Pall Mall, the library at Lansdowne House, the Common Council Chamber and Chamberlain’s Court at the Guildhall, Ashburnham Place, and Stratton Park (demolished save for its Tuscan portico). Dance retired from practice in 1815.

With his brother Nathaniel, George Dance was a founder member of the Royal Academy, founded on 10 December 1768. In 1795, with William Tyler, Dance was appointed to examine the accounts of the Royal Academy following the resignation of Sir William Chambers, and in 1796 they became the Academy’s first auditors, helping put the institution on a sounder financial footing.

In 1798 Dance succeeded Thomas Sandby as professor of architecture at the Royal Academy, but as he failed to deliver a single lecture he was dismissed in 1805 and replaced by his former pupil, Sir John Soane. For a number of years he was the last survivor of the 40 original Royal Academicians.

Dance’s years after 1798 were devoted to art rather than architecture. His Academy contributions consisted of highly finished pencil profile portraits of his friends in Regency London’s artistic establishment. 72 etchings were engraved after them by William Daniell and A Collection of Portraits were published over ten years from 1804. Many are now held by the National Portrait Gallery.

Dance married Mary Gurnell on the 24 March 1772 at St. George’s, Bloomsbury. Their first child, Thomas, was born in Autumn 1773. Two more sons followed: George and Charles Webb. Mary Dance died at the age of 38.

Dance suffered from ill health for the last three or four years of his life. He died on 14 January 1825, at No. 91 Gower Street. He was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

John Home
13 September 1722 – 4 September 1808

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John Home

John Home was born either at Ancrum in Roxburghshire, or at Leith, near Edinburgh, where his father, Alexander Home, a distant relation of the earls of Home, was town clerk. He was born on 13 September and christened on 22nd September 1722. John was educated at the Leith Grammar School, and at the University of Edinburgh, where he graduated MA, in 1742. Though interested in being a soldier, he studied divinity, and was licensed by the presbytery of Edinburgh in 1745. In the same year he joined as a volunteer against Bonnie Prince Charlie, and was taken prisoner at the Battle of Falkirk. With many others he was carried to Doune castle in Perthshire, but soon escaped.

In July 1746, Home was presented to the parish of Athelstaneford, East Lothian, left vacant by the death of Robert Blair. He had leisure to visit his friends and became especially intimate with David Hume who belonged to the same family as himself. His first play, Agis: a tragedy, founded on Plutarch’s narrative, was finished in 1747. He took it to London, England, and submitted it to David Garrick for representation at Drury Lane, but it was rejected as unsuitable for the stage. The tragedy of Douglas was suggested to him by hearing a lady sing the ballad of Gil Morrice or Child Maurice. The ballad supplied him with the outline of a simple and striking plot.

After five years, he completed his play and took it to London for Garrick’s opinion. It was rejected, but on his return to Edinburgh his friends resolved that it should be produced there. It was performed on 14 December 1756 with overwhelming success, in spite of the opposition of the presbytery, who summoned Alexander Carlyle to answer for having attended its representation. Home wisely resigned his charge in 1757, after a visit to London, where Douglas was brought out at Covent Garden on 14 March. Peg Woffington played Lady Randolph, a part which found a later exponent in Sarah Siddons. David Hume summed up his admiration for Douglas by saying that his friend possessed “the true theatric genius of Shakespeare and Otway, refined from the unhappy barbarism of the one and licentiousness of the other.” Gray, writing to Horace Walpole (August 1757), said that the author “seemed to have retrieved the true language of the stage, which has been lost for these hundred years,” but Samuel Johnson held aloof from the general enthusiasm, and averred that there were not ten good lines in the whole play (Boswell, Life, ed. Croker, 1348, p. 300).

In 1758, Home became private secretary to Lord Bute, then secretary of state, and was appointed tutor to the prince of Wales; and in 1760 his patron’s influence procured him a pension of £300 per annum and in 1763 a sinecure worth another £500. Garrick produced Agis at Drury Lane on 21 February 1758. By dint of good acting and powerful support, according to Genest, the play lasted for eleven days, but it was lamentably inferior to Douglas. In 1760 his tragedy, The Siege of Aquileia, was put on the stage, Garrick taking the part of Aemilius. In 1769 another tragedy, The Fatal Discovery ran for nine nights; Alonzo also (1773) had fair success; but his last tragedy, Alfred (1778), was so coolly received that he gave up writing for the stage.

In 1778, he joined a regiment formed by the Duke of Buccleuch. He sustained severe injuries in a fall from horseback which permanently affected his brain, and was persuaded by his friends to retire. From 1767, he resided either at Edinburgh or at a villa which he built at Kilduff near his former parish. It was at this time that he wrote his History of the Rebellion of 1745, which appeared in 1802. Home died at Merchiston Bank, near Edinburgh, in his eighty-sixth year. He is buried in South Leith Parish Church. He died on 4 September and was buried on the 5th.

The Works of John Home were collected and published by Henry Mackenzie in 1822 with “An Account of the Life and Writings of Mr John House,” which also appeared separately in the same year, but several of his smaller poems seem to have escaped the editor’s observation. These are–“The Fate of Caesar,” “Verses upon Inveraray,” “Epistle to the Earl of Eglintoun,” “Prologue on the Birthday of the Prince of Wales, 1759” and several “Epigrams,” which are printed in vol. ii. of Original Poems by Scottish Gentlemen (1762). See also Sir W Scott, “The Life and Works of John Home” in the Quarterly Review (June 1827). Douglas is included in numerous collections of British drama. Voltaire published his Le Gaffe, ou l’Ecossaise (1760), Londres (really Geneva), as a translation from the work of Hume, described as pasteur de l’église d’Edimbourg, but Home seems to have taken no notice of the mystification.

Home was also an active participant in the social life of Edinburgh, and joined the Poker Club in 1762.

Home is amongst the sixteen writers and poets depicted on the lower capital heads of the Scott Monument on Princes Street in Edinburgh. He appears at the far right side on the east face.

A small bronze plaque stands near the site of his home on Maritime Street in Leith. His house was demolished in the 1950s and now holds a modern housing development (Bell’s Court).

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

George Frederick Cooke
17 April 1756 – 26 September 1812

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George Frederick Cooke

George Frederick Cooke claimed to have been born in Westminster, it seems likely that he was the illegitimate child of a British soldier in Dublin. He was raised in Berwick-upon-Tweed, where in 1764 he was apprenticed to a printer. However, early exposure to strolling players made an impact. By the end of the decade he had gotten himself released from his apprenticeship and become an expert.

He made his first appearance on the stage in Brentford at the age of twenty as Dumont in Nicholas Rowe’s Jane Shore. His first London appearance was at the Haymarket Theatre in 1778; he played in benefit performances of Thomas Otway’s The Orphan, Charles Johnson’s The Country Lasses, and David Garrick and George Colman’s The Clandestine Marriage. Almost immediately, however, he returned to the country, and he spent the next decade and more touring, from Hull to Liverpool. He first performed with Sarah Siddons in York in 1786; by that time he had earned a substantial provincial reputation. In 1794 in Dublin, as Othello, he first attained high rank in a national capital; by 1800, London critics had dubbed him the Dublin Roscius. His unusually long provincial apprenticeship in many ways served him well. After an initial concentration on romantic leads, particularly in comedy, he gradually found his metier playing rakes and villains. As a regional star, he performed with Siddons, Dorothy Jordan and other London celebrities; he had over 300 roles in his repertoire.

At the same time, he developed a drinking problem, and a reputation for unreliability inevitably followed. A binge drinker, Cooke would abandon his duties for weeks at a time, often spending whatever money he had in the process. Shortly after his first triumph in Dublin, he disappeared from the stage for over a year. At some point in 1795, he had enlisted in the British Army, in a regiment due for deployment to the Caribbean. He was extricated from the military by the efforts of theatre owners in Manchester and Portsmouth, and he returned to Dublin in 1796.

In 1801, he appeared at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden as Richard III; this role would become his most famous. That year he also played Shylock (The Merchant of Venice), Iago (Othello), Macbeth, Kitely (Ben Jonson’s Every Man in His Humour), and Giles Overreach, and became the rival of Kemble, with whom, however, and with Mrs. Siddons, he acted from 1803. In 1802 he added roles in Edward Moore’s The Gamester and Charles Macklin’s Man of the World.

After Kemble and Siddons came to Covent Garden in 1803, the rivalry between the two actors unfolded on one stage instead of two. Fittingly, they debuted in Richard III, though Kemble played the title role and Cooke Richmond. Shortly later they acted in John Home’s Douglas: Cooke played Glenalvon to Kemble’s Old Norval, and Siddons was Lady Randolph. Washington Irving records seeing the group in Othello (Cooke was Iago, and Charles Kemble was Cassio); he called the performance delightful.

For the next decade, Cooke was an erratic star in London. Already a confirmed alcoholic when he arrived, he grew steadily less reliable as his career progressed. Already in 1801, he was unable to perform because he was drunk; such failures became more frequent in later years. In 1807, after failing to appear for his summer season in Manchester, he was jailed in Westmorland for several months. In the last years of the decade, he managed to curb his excesses to some extent; he was, for instance, frequently on stage during the Old Price riots.

However, he was unhappy with his treatment by the London press, and he was easily persuaded to travel to the United States in 1810. American audiences received him enthusiastically. He premiered as Richard III in New York on 11 November. Escorted by William Dunlap, he remained sober and performed in Boston, where he played opposite English tragedienne Mary Ann Duff, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Providence. Thomas Sully painted him as Richard; the result is generally considered Sully’s best painting of a human figure. He earned 20,000 dollars for his efforts, but the windfall reaped by the theater-owners (more than $250,000) left him feeling bitter and exploited. By 1812, he had accepted an invitation to return to Covent Garden. The outbreak of the War of 1812 stranded him in New York. He died of cirrhosis at the Mechanics’ Hall in Manhattan on 26 September.

A monument to his memory was erected in St. Paul’s chapel (on Fulton Street) by Edmund Kean during his first American tour in 1821. Barry Cornwall claimed that Kean brought Cooke’s big toe back to England, where his disgusted wife subsequently threw it away. Other biographers claim Kean stole a finger rather than a toe, and a relatively unreliable American writer claims that after Cooke’s skull was used as the skull of Yorick in a performance of Hamlet, members of a private New York club (including Daniel Webster and Henry Wheaton) subjected the skull to phrenological examination.
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Cooke’s personal life was, unsurprisingly, markedly chaotic. Even apart from his binges, he was profligate and generous with his money, so that he rarely enjoyed a prolonged period of security. He married late. In September 1808 in Edinburgh he married Sarah Lamb. She accompanied him to London for the 1808 season, but in February 1809 Sarah returned to her family in Newark-on-Trent and was not associated with the actor thereafter. In New York, he married Violet Mary Behn, the daughter of a coffee-house owner. He left at his death $2000, all that remained of a lifetime as a famous actor.

Cooke may be called the first fully romantic actor in England. He drew on the style of Garrick and Macklin, both of whom he saw in his youth; he expanded on their naturalness and informality of style. That Kean idolized him is perhaps sufficient to suggest his style; there are also the contrasts that period critics saw between his style and that of the refined, dignified Kemble.

Cooke was about 5’10”, with a commanding stage presence and a long, aquiline nose. His stage presence was generally described as commanding, although many observers noted that his voice tended to become hoarse in the later acts of challenging plays. He was, like Garrick, a restless, physically dynamic performer; critics also noted his skill in using his eyes to convey complex thoughts or emotions, and his ability to project stage-whispers even in a large venue.

Little record of response to his early romantic roles exists; however, his technique in his mature tragic roles is abundantly recorded. He was at his best in roles of suave or energetic villainy or hypocrisy. In comedy, his Macsarcasm (from Macklin’s Love à la Mode) and Shylock were considered unsurpassable. In tragedy, in addition to Richard, he was a notable Iago. Though King Lear was not one of his signature roles, his interpretation of Lear’s madness influenced that of Kean and other actors.

Yet his performance in roles that required refinement or restraint was almost universally disparaged—perhaps inevitably, given the looming shadow of Kemble. His Hamlet was a failure. As Macbeth, he was said to manage nothing better than “low cunning.” Henry Crabb Robinson reports that Cooke failed in Kotzebue’s The Stranger; Robinson expressed a common opinion when he concludes that however compelling a presence, Cooke was too coarse for the greatest tragic roles. Leigh Hunt agreed, arguing that Cooke reduced all of his characters to their lowest motives. Of Cooke’s famous style of declamation (like Macklin, he delivered soliloquies as if thinking aloud), Hunt complained that it merely turned Shakespeare’s poetry into indignant prose.

As Richard III, Cooke offered an interpretation that both differed from and excelled Kemble’s rather staid performance. In such melodramatic scenes as the murder of Henry VI, Cooke excelled in conveying Richard’s horrid glee (as, indeed, had Kemble); unlike Kemble, however, Cooke was also able to convey a sense of Richard’s disgust with himself. This aspect of Richard was most notable in his discussion of his hunchback and in his response to Norfolk’s doggerel in 5.2. Where Kemble had simply brushed the bad news aside, Cooke pondered the verse carefully before rejecting it without force. The effect was to deepen Richard’s characterization, providing him with a gradually increasing awareness of his own villainy. Cooke’s Richard was, then, something more than the fairy-tale ogre described by Charles Lamb.

On the whole, though, the limits of Cooke’s talent are indicated by the probably apocryphal story related by Macready and others. Wishing to impress well-born visitors with his mimetic talent, Cooke made a number of faces meant to represent various emotions. One of his looks stumped the visitors. They guessed rage, anger, and revenge before Cooke, exasperated, told them it was meant to be love.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Thomas Linley the Elder
17 January 1733 – 19 November 1795

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Thomas Linley

Thomas Linley the Elder was an English tenor and musician active in Bath, Somerset. Born in Badminton, Gloucestershire, Linley began his musical career after he moved to Bath at age 11 and became apprentice to the organist Thomas Chilcot. After his marriage to Mary Johnson in 1752, Linley at first supported his wife and growing family predominantly as a music teacher. As his children grew and he developed their musical talent, he drew an increasing amount of income from their concerts while also managing the assembly rooms in Bath. When the new Bath Assembly Rooms opened in 1771, Linley became musical director and continued to promote his children’s careers. He was eventually able to move to London with the thousands of pounds which he had amassed from their concerts.

Among Linley’s students were his eight children (Elizabeth Ann, Thomas, Mary, Samuel, Maria, Ozias, William, and Jane), as well as tenor Charles Dignum, singer and actress Anna Maria Crouch, and novelist Frances Sheridan. Linley collaborated with his son Thomas in penning the comic opera The Duenna, with libretto by his son-in-law Richard Brinsley Sheridan.

Linley’s parents were William (1704–1792), a carpenter, and Maria (1701–1792). He was the couple’s eldest child and was born on 17 January 1733 in the village of Badminton in Gloucestershire. When Linley was 11 years old, in 1744, the family moved to Bath, Somerset where he served an apprenticeship with Thomas Chilcot, the organist at Bath Abbey. Before becoming Chilcot’s apprentice, Linley had initially assisted by pumping the organ. He may also have received tuition from Domenico Paradisi who was giving harpsichord lessons in London from around 1747. William Boyce also tutored him in London.

He married Mary Johnson (1729–1820) on 11 May 1752 in Batheaston; Johnson was described by Ozias Humphry, who lodged with the couple for two years from 1762 until 1764, as having musical talents almost on a par with her husband. The couple had 12 children over an 18 year period from 1753 until 1771, but only eight lived beyond infancy or childhood. Seven went on to musical or theatrical careers: Elizabeth Ann Linley (1754–1792), his eldest daughter, wife of Richard Brinsley Sheridan; his eldest son Thomas Linley the younger (1756–1778), composer and noted violinist; Mary Linley (1758–87), who gave up her career as a singer after she married playwright Richard Tickell in 1780; Samuel Linley (1760–1778), second son, singer and oboe player; Maria Linley (1763–84), singer; Ozias Thurston Linley (1765–1831), minor canon at Norwich and organist at Dulwich; and William Linley, (1771–1835), composer of glees, songs and writer. Another child, Jane Nash (1768–1806), sang in an amateur capacity until her marriage. Music historian Charles Burney visited when the children were young and listened to them singing and playing instruments; he described the family as “a Nest of Nightingales”.

The family were well established in Bath and Linley worked as a music teacher; when Elizabeth was born in 1754 they were living in a house on Abbey Green. In the mid-1760s they rented a house with eleven rooms on Orchard Street to accommodate the ever increasing number of children. Linley is likely to have received some financial assistance from his father whose business was flourishing but the family still encountered monetary difficulties. Linley’s wife was frugal but “her parsimony grew legendary” when she was employed as a wardrobe mistress at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, after the family fortunes had prospered.

The early years of marriage saw Linley as the sole income producer for the family; some of the older children, particularly Elizabeth and Mary, were sent to stay with relatives, or perhaps boarding school. Linley was a tenor, an organist and harpsichordist but at that time was generating his income mainly by teaching and his tuition skills were increasingly sought out; Frances Sheridan was one of his pupils in 1763, although she became better known as a playwright and novelist. Another of his pupils was Anna Maria Crouch who later stated she was apprehensive of him. Charles Dignum was also trained by Linley.

Pupils were contracted to give a proportion of their earnings back to their tutors. He coached his children, providing their musical education from an early age. The children were put to work at a young age, firstly selling concert tickets then performing; Elizabeth began singing in concerts by the time she was nine-years-old in 1763. Anything earned by the children was commandeered by Linley and the talented youngsters quickly became a major source of his income. Linley took over the management of the musical performances held at the Assembly rooms in Bath in 1766; he had participated as the harpsichordist from 1755 when the performances were managed by Chilcot. The two eldest children, Elizabeth and Thomas, were utilised to sell the tickets for these concerts from 1762.

The new Bath Assembly Rooms opened in 1771 with Linley as Musical Director. Linley’s regular concerts starring his children were performed in front of full houses and his finances began to prosper. The family moved to Royal Crescent, a more fashionable address, raising their social standing. The children started to feature in concerts further afield including oratorios in London; Linley demanded high fees for them and organisers of a charity concert held to raise funds for the Foundling Hospital had to pay £100 for two of his daughters to sing. At the time of Elizabeth’s marriage to Richard Brinsley Sheridan on 13 April 1773 estimates appeared in the Bath Chronicle speculating Linley had earned almost £10,000 from her performances.

An agreement was made with John Christopher Smith and John Stanley for the older children to perform at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, in 1773 that saw takings of over £500 per night for the oratorios performed during the Lenten season. The following year, in 1774, Linley joined Stanley in the management role of directing, writing and organising musical compositions at the theatre. Two years later, in June 1776, a partnership of his son-in-law, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Doctor James Ford who was a court physician and Linley purchased a half share of the theatre for a total of £35,000. Linley re-located his residence to Norfolk Street, London and mortgaged his properties in Bath to raise his £10,000 stake towards the purchase. The trio bought the remaining share after another two years paying David Garrick a similar amount giving them complete ownership. The Royal Society of Musicians elected him as a member in 1780.

According to musicologist, writer and singer, Mollie Sands, Linley was one of the “most famous of English-born [music] teachers”. As a composer, Linley wrote and arranged some songs and ensembles for The Duenna in 1775; written at the request of Sheridan and in collaboration with Linley junior, the opera was an exceptional success, being performed seventy-five times at Drury Lane – Lord Byron endorsed it as “the best opera ever written”. An earlier composition, Thomas Hull’s The Royal Merchant, performed at Covent Garden in 1767, was noted as a failure as well as a success. An unnamed critic wrote in The London Stage that “The music may be good, but the piece is trifling and childish”. In 1786 he collaborated with John Burgoyne on the successful Richard Coeur de lion.

Linley died suddenly on 19 November 1795 at his home, 11 Southampton Street in Westminster. He was survived by his wife but most of his children had predeceased him at a young age, possibly because of carrying a fatal genetic inheritance.

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