Posts Tagged ‘Henry Siddons’

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.

Daniel Terry


Daniel Terry

Daniel Terry was born in Bath about 1780, and was educated at the Bath grammar school and subsequently at a private school at Wingfield (?Winkfield), Wiltshire, under the Rev. Edward Spencer. During five years he was then a pupil of Samuel Wyatt, the architect.

Having first played at Bath Heartwell in the Prize, Terry left Wyatt to join (in 1803 to 1805) the company at Sheffield under the management of William Macready the Elder. His first appearance was as Tressel in Richard III and was followed by other parts, Thomas Cromwell in Henry VIII and Edmund in King Lear. Towards the close of 1805 he joined Stephen Kemble in the north of England.

On the breaking up in 1806 of Kemble’s company, he went to Liverpool and made a success which recommended him to Henry Siddons, who brought him out in Edinburgh, 29 November 1809, as Bertrand in William Dimond’s Foundling of the Forest. On 12 December he was Antigonus in The Winter’s Tale, on 8 January 1810 Prospero, and on the 29th Argyle in Joanna Baillie’s Family Legend. Walter Scott, à propos of this role, wrote: ‘A Mr. Terry, who promises to be a fine performer, went through the part of the old earl with great taste and effect.’ Scott also contributed a prologue which Terry spoke.

He was Lord Ogleby in the Clandestine Marriage, 18 November 1810 in Edinburgh. In this part Terry made his first appearance in London at the Haymarket, 20 May 1812. He created some original characters in lesser plays, including Count Salerno in Eyre’s Look at Home, 15 August 1812, based on John Moore’s Zeluco. He was announced to reopen, 14 November, the Edinburgh theatre as Lord Ogleby, but was ill and did not appear until the 23rd, and on the 24th he played Shylock. He was on 23 December the first Lord Archibald in Caledonia, or the Thistle and the Rose.

On 8 September 1813, as Leon in Rule a Wife and Have a Wife by John Fletcher, Terry made his first appearance at Covent Garden, where, with frequent migrations to Edinburgh and summer seasons at the Haymarket, he remained until 1822. Among the parts he played in his first season were Sir Robert Bramble in the Poor Gentleman, Dornton in the Road to Ruin, Ford, Sir Adam Contest in the Wedding Day, Ventidius in Antony and Cleopatra, Shylock, Churlton, an original part in James Kenney’s Debtor and Creditor, 26 April 1814, and Sir Oliver in ‘School for Scandal.’

On 12 March 1816 Guy Mannering, a musical adaptation by Terry of Scott’s novel, was seen for the first time. This appears to have been the first of Terry’s adaptations from Scott. At the Haymarket he was seen as Periwinkle in A Bold Stroke for a Wife. In 1815, meanwhile, he had, by permission of the Covent Garden management, supported Sarah Siddons in her farewell engagement in Edinburgh, where he played Macbeth, ‘The Stranger’ [sic] in Douglas, Wolsey, King John, and the Earl of Warwick. Back at Covent Garden, he was, 7 October 1816, the original Colonel Rigolio in William Dimond’s Broken Sword, and on 12 November the original Governor of Surinam in Morton’s Slave.

On 2 October 1817 his acting of Frederick William, King of Prussia, in William Abbot’s Youthful Days of Frederick the Great, raised his reputation to the highest point it attained, and on 22 April 1818 he was the first Salerno in Richard Lalor Sheil’s Bellamira.’ In Jameson’s Nine Points of the Law he was at the Haymarket, 17 July, Mr. Precise, and in the ‘Green Man,’ 15 August, exhibited what was called a perfect piece of acting as Mr. Green. At Covent Garden he was, 17 April 1819, the first David Deans in his own adaptation, The Heart of Midlothian; played Sir Sampson Legend in Love for Love, Buckingham in Richard III, Prospero, Sir Amias Paulet in Mary Stuart (adapted from Schiller), 14 December 1819, Lord Glenallan, and afterwards was announced for Jonathan Oldbuck in his own and Isaac Pocock’s adaptation, The Antiquary, 25 January 1820. Illness seems to have prevented his playing Oldbuck, which was assigned to John Liston.

On 17 May he was the first Dentatus in Sheridan Knowles’s Virginius. At the Haymarket during the summer seasons Terry played a great round of comic characters. Among many original parts in pieces by James Kenney, J. Dibdin, and others, Terry was Sir Christopher Cranberry in Exchange no Robbery, by his friend Theodore Hook, 12 August 1820; the Prince in Match Breaking, 20 August 1821; and Shark in Morning, Noon, and Night, 9 September 1822.

Having quarrelled with the management of Covent Garden on a question of terms, Terry made his first appearance at Drury Lane, 16 October 1822, speaking an occasional address by Colman and playing Sir Peter. At the Haymarket, 7 July, he was the first Admiral Franklin in James Kenney’s Sweethearts and Wives, and on 27 September the first Dr. Primrose in a new adaptation by T. Dibdin of the Vicar of Wakefield.

The season 1823–4 at Drury Lane saw him as Bartolo in Fazio, Lord Sands, Menenius in Coriolanus, and as the first Antony Foster in a version of Kenilworth, 5 January 1824, and the following season as Orozembo in Pizarro, Justice Woodcock in Love in a Village, Adam in As you like it, Moustache in Henri Quatre, Hubert in King John, and Rochfort in an alteration of the Fatal Dowry. Among his original rôles were Zamet in Massaniello, 17 February 1825, and Mephistopheles in Dr. Faustus, 16 May.

In 1825, in association with his friend Frederick Henry Yates, he became manager of the Adelphi, opening, 10 October, in a piece called Killigrew. On the 31st was produced Edward Fitzball’s adaptation, The Pilot, in which Terry was the Pilot. He also appeared in other parts. But he shortly left management because of outside troubles.

Scott consulted Terry on literary questions, especially on plays, and seems to have trusted him with the Doom of Devorgoil, with a view to adapting it for the stage. How many of the numerous stage adaptations of Scott that saw the light between the appearance of Waverley and the death of the actor are by Terry cannot be said, many of them being anonymous and unprinted. Terry was almost as well known in Edinburgh as in London, and Scott thought highly of his acting. Terry’s idolatry of Scott led him to imitate both his manner and his calligraphy. He also took off Scott’s speech, so as almost to pass for a Scotsman. Scott lent him money for his theatrical speculations, and gave him advice.

Terry’s architectural knowledge was of use to Scott, who consulted him while building Abbotsford; the introduction to Edward Blore was from him. Terry was responsible also for the British Theatrical Gallery, a collection of whole-length portraits with biographical notes (London, 1825)

Being intimate with the Ballantynes, Scott’s publishers, Terry took a financial stake in their business, and when their business crash came Scott was saddled with his liability (£1,750). Terry’s financial affairs became so involved that he was obliged to retire from management, and he suffered a breakdown.

After leaving the Adelphi he temporarily retired to the continent, and then re-engaged at Drury Lane and played Polonius and Simpson. Finding himself unable to act, and his memory gone, he gave up his engagement.

On 12 June 1829 he was struck with paralysis, and died during the month.

Having first married in Liverpool, Terry took as his second wife Elizabeth Nasmyth, the daughter of Alexander Nasmyth the painter. Mrs. Terry—who, after Terry’s death, married Charles Richardson the lexicographer—had good taste in design, and seems to have taken a share in the decoration of Abbotsford. Terry left by her a son named after Scott (Walter), after whose fortunes Scott promised to look, and a daughter Jane.

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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.

William Henry Murray
1790 to 1852


William Henry Murray

William Henry Murray was born at Bath, he moved to Edinburgh in 1809 and worked there for over forty years as an actor, manager and dramatist. Around that time (1809), he married Anne Dyke, the sister of tragedienne Mary Ann Duff, but she died soon after the marriage.He managed the Theatre Royal by the “North Bridge”, at first jointly with Henry Siddons (son of Sarah Siddons), then after 1816 on his own.

He was the son of the actor and dramatist Charles Murray, and grandson of the Jacobite Sir John Murray of Broughton who, when captured after the Battle of Culloden, saved his life by betraying his fellow Jacobites then lived out his life in Edinburgh as a haunted and hated figure. Walter Scott’s father as a lawyer had professional dealings with the old man, but on one occasion after his wife brought tea, he afterwards threw the cup out the window saying, “Neither lip of me nor of mine comes after Murray of Broughton’s.” This incident may have later contributed to Scott’s antiquarian interest in the family and friendship with William Henry Murray.

When Scott was preparing for the visit of King George IV to Scotland in 1822 he was quick to draw on Murray’s expertise for the management of events. Murray created the settings at various venues, contrived the “revived ancient dresses” and arranged the “traditional” pageants. He was particularly acclaimed for his success in transforming the Assembly Rooms in George Street into a theatrical palace for the Peers’ Grand Ball, an event that was pivotal in making the tartan kilt which had been thought of as the primitive dress of mountain thieves into the national dress of the whole of Scotland. The King’s last and least formal public appearance during the visit to Edinburgh was at a theatre performance of Scott’s Rob Roy adapted and produced by Murray.

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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.

William Oxberry
18 December 1784 – 9 June 1824


William Oxberry

Oxberry was the son of an auctioneer, born on 18 December 1784 in Moorfields, London, opposite Bedlam. After a false start as a pupil of George Stubbs at age 14, he worked in a bookseller’s shop, and in the office in Tottenham Court Road of a printer named Seale, an amateur actor. At a stable near Queen Anne Street, and subsequently at the theatre in Berwick Street, he took on parts including Hassan in Castle Spectre (Monk Lewis) and Rosse in Macbeth.

Oxberry’s indentures were cancelled in 1802, and he appeared under Samuel Jerrold, at the Watford theatre. He joined, as low comedian, Trotter’s company (Worthing, Hythe, and Southend theatres).

In 1807 Henry Siddons recommended Oxberry to the Kemble management at Covent Garden Theatre. He made his first appearance on 7 November 1807 as Robin Roughhead in Fortune’s Frolic, but was not a critical success. At the close of the season he was released from his engagement, and went to Glasgow, where he made a success as Sir David Daw in the Wheel of Fortune. In Aberdeen he was tried as Michael Ducas in Adalgitha: he then played other tragic roles.

After returning to Glasgow, Oxberry accepted from Raymond an engagement in London at the Lyceum Theatre, then known as the English Opera House, and appeared in a piece by Henry Siddons, called ‘The Russian Impostor,’ in which he made a success.

He was then engaged for the Lyceum by Arnold. An engagement at Drury Lane Theatre followed. and he played for the first time with the burnt-out company at the Lyceum, in1809, as the Lay Brother in the ‘Duenna.’ After the opening of the new Drury Lane theatre his name is not mentioned until the end of the season. At Drury Lane he remained until the close of the season of 1819–20. He created many original parts in plays, dramatic or musical, by Arnold, Thomas John Dibdin, James Kenney, George Soane, and others.

Oxberry as a comic actor was not always a distinguished performer. He was compared only to John Emery as Tyke, John Lump, Robin Roughhead; his Slender, Sir David Daw, and Petro were held to have been unsurpassed. When Robert William Elliston reduced the salaries at Drury Lane, he refused the offer, and starred at minor theatres (the Surrey, the East London, and Sadler’s Wells).

Oxberry was for a long time manager of the Olympic, but the experiment collapsed. In December 1821 he took the Craven’s Head chophouse at Drury Lane, a house of literary and theatrical resort. Here he died 9 June 1824. His remains were interred in a vault in St. Clement Danes Church, Strand.

Oxberry was author of:

  • ‘The Theatrical Banquet, or the Actor’s Budget,’ 1809, 2 vols.
  • ‘The Encyclopædia of Anecdote,’ 1812.
  • ‘The History of Pugilism, and Memoirs of Persons who have distinguished themselves in that Science,’ 1814.
  • ‘The Flowers of Literature,’ 2nd edit., London, 1824, 4 vols.
  • ‘Oxberry’s Anecdotes of the Stage,’ London, 1827.

He also edited ‘The New English Drama,’ consisting of 113 plays, with prefatory remarks, in 22 vols. 1818–24; and wrote ‘The Actress of All Work,’ played in Bath on 8 May 1819, in which Elizabeth Rebecca Edwin assumed half a dozen different characters. He converted ‘He would be a Soldier’ of Pilon into ‘The High Road to Success,’ and produced it at the Olympic. He was responsible for an adaptation of Walter Scott’s Marmion, played at an outlying theatre. For a short period he edited the ‘Monthly Mirror,’ to which, and to the ‘Cabinet,’ he contributed fugitive pieces.

A portrait of Oxberry by Dewilde, in the Garrick Club, shows him as Petro in Arnold’s ‘Devil’s Bridge.’ An engraving of him as Leo Luminati in ‘Oh! this Love’ is in the ‘Theatrical Inquisitor’ (vol. i.); and a second, presenting him in private dress, is in Oxberry’s ‘Dramatic Biography,’ a work projected by Oxberry, and edited after his death by his widow; it was published in parts, beginning 1 Jan. 1825. After the completion of the first volume in April 1825 the issue was continued in volumes, and was completed in five vols. in 1826.

In 1806 Oxberry married, at Southend, a young actress playing minor parts in the Trotter company, Catherine Elizabeth Hewitt.

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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.

Henry Siddons
4 October 1774–12 April 1815


Henry Siddons

Born in 1774, he was the eldest child of Sarah Siddons, and was educated at Charterhouse School, being intended by his mother for the church. He, however, joined the Covent Garden Theatre company, and made his first appearance as Herman in a play called Integrity, in 1801.

His future wife, Harriet Murray, the sister of William Murray, played in the same piece. His mother withdrew objections to his becoming an actor, and acted Lady Randolph to his Douglas on in 1802, on the occasion of his benefit. He married a month later, and remained a member of the Covent Garden Theatre until the spring of 1805.

In 1805 Siddons made his first appearance at Drury Lane, playing Prince of Wales to Robert William Elliston’s Hotspur in Henry IV. On 7 October he appeared as Romeo, and on the following evening as Sir G. Touchwood in the Belle’s Stratagem.

During his time at Drury Lane he played a variety of parts, including Banquo, Jaffier, George Barnwell, Douglas (in Percy), Claudio (in Much Ado About Nothing), and Rolla. He ended his connection with the London stage at the close of the season 1808–9.

Largely through Sir Walter Scott’s influence, he then secured the Edinburgh patent, and opened there on 14 November 1809 with the Honey Moon, in which he played the Duke; his wife appeared as Juliana.

On starting his managerial career, Siddons aimed at producing plays with greater efficiency in all directions than before, at the Edinburgh Theatre; he was encouraged and supported by Scott. Siddons had an eye for talent, bringing on Daniel Terry and William Oxberry. Joanna Baillie’s Family Legend was produced by Siddons on 29 January 1810. On 15 January 1811 Siddons produced the Lady of the Lake; an adaptation in which he himself played Fitzjames. But he was fighting an uphill battle, and lost much money.

He adapted a work by Johann Jakob Engel, Ideen zu Einer Mimik from 1785; Engel was then director of the National Theatre in Berlin. It appeared as Illustrations of Gesture and Action (1807). This book was consulted by Charles Darwin during the preparation of his The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, published in 1872.

He also wrote some plays; of one, The Friend of the Family, Scott wrote, “Siddons’s play was truly flat, but not unprofitable”. Other pieces by him were Time’s a Tell-tale, and Tale of Terror, or a Castle without a Spectre (produced at Covent Garden on 12 May 1803).

He died at Edinburgh on 12 April 1815.

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