Ann Brunton Merry

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Ann Brunton Merry

Ann Brunton Merry (b. Bristol, England, 30 May 1769; d. Alexandria, Virginia, 28 June 1808) was an actress. She was the daughter of John Brunton, an actor and manager of the Theatre Royal, Norwich. In February 1785, Miss Brunton first appeared at the theatre in Bath as Euphrasia in The Grecian Daughter, which was followed by other leading parts, and on 17 October of the same year she made her debut at Covent Garden theatre in London as Horatio in The Roman Father. Here she attained great distinction, and by many was rated second only to Sarah Siddons.

In 1792 Miss Brunton married Robert Merry, a poet and playwright known by his pen-name "Della Crusca". He had run through his patrimony, but at that time still figured in fashionable circles. She at once retired from the theatre, and went with her husband to Paris, but when their means were entirely exhausted she wished to return to her former occupation. Family considerations on the part of Mr. Merry prevented her return to the London stage, but an offer that was made through Thomas Wignell, of the New Theatre, Philadelphia, was readily accepted.

The couple arrived in New York City, 19 October 1796. Mrs. Merry renewed her career at the playhouse in Philadelphia on 5 December of the same year as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. From 1797 until 1808 she performed with undiminished success in the large cities of the United States. Mr. Merry died in 1798, and in 1803 his widow married Thomas Wignell, who died soon afterward. In 1806 she became the wife of William Warren. Among her important roles were Calista in The Fair Penitent, Alica in Jane Shore, Isabella in The Fatal Dowry, and Monominia in The Orphan. She was the first actress of eminence that crossed the Atlantic, and easily held her own against all rivalry. His sister, Louisa Brunton, with whom she is sometimes confused, was a distinguished performer on the London stage in later years, and became Countess of Craven.

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