Richard Tickell

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Richard Tickell (1751–1793) was an English playwright and satirist.


He was the second son of the three sons and two daughters of John Tickell (1729–1782 – a clerk in chancery, and magistrate in Dublin) and his wife Esther Pierson – this made him a grandson of the poet Thomas Tickell.

His father had moved his family to New Windsor, Berkshire, as a result of the disturbances in Dublin, and so Richard is said to have been born at Bath, where he later built Beaulieu House, Newbridge Hill. Richard may have been educated at Harrow School or Winchester College and been an assistant at Eton College, though this is contentious. He definitely entered at the Middle Temple on 8 November 1768, and appointed one of the sixty commissioners of bankruptcy, though he was deprived of this place in 1778 until his acquaintance David Garrick successfully petitioned Lord Chancellor Bathurst.

On 15 October 1778 Richard's musical entertainment "The Camp" was a success at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Three weeks later Tickell declined to write a prologue for Garrick, due to other commitments writing the satirical pamphlet "Anticipation". On 25 July 1780 Tickell married Mary Linley (1758–1787), a singer and sister-in-law to Richard Brinsley Sheridan (Sheridan persuaded Tickell to use his satirical talent in support of Charles James Fox). Tickell is said already to have had a family with a live-in mistress, Miss B. After his marriage he had a grant of rooms in Hampton Court Palace. His opera in three acts, called "The Carnival of Venice", was successfully produced at Drury Lane on 13 December 1781 (with his sister-in-law Elizabeth Linley writing some of the songs, and Mary the music). An adaptation of The Gentle Shepherd of Allan Ramsay, performed on 27 May 1789, was his last theatrical work. Some of his other plays and his pamphlets include:

  • "The Wreath of Fashion" (1778)
  • "The Green Box of Monsieur de Sartine", an adaptation from the French (1779)

Tickell's second wife, whom he married in 1789, was Sarah, a beautiful girl of eighteen, daughter of Captain Ley HEICS of the Berrington[1] East Indiaman. However, financial difficulties in 1793 led him into depression and ultimately suicide on 4 November by jumping from the parapet outside the window of his rooms at Hampton Court (though Sheridan convinced the inquest into returning a verdict of accidental death, and took the children of Tickell's first marriage into his care, obtaining admission into the navy for Richard (1782–1805), and a writership in India for Samuel (1785–1817). R. E. Tickell maintained that the third child of this marriage was a daughter, Elizabeth Anne (1781–1860), who was unmarried when she died at her Bedford Square London home.[citation needed] It is certain, however, that Tickell had another daughter, Zipporah, who later married Ebenezer Roebuck, an employee of the British East India Company, and became the mother of John Arthur Roebuck (1802–1879). Tickell's second wife's behaviour after his death gained her the censure of Tickell's contemporaries, as she was said to have had a small dowry but expensive tastes, keeping a coach and four but not paying off her husband's debts. In 1796 she remarried, to John Cotton Worthington, a major in the Sussex fencible cavalry.


  1. ^ This spelling appears in the source (Dictionary of National Biography, vol. 56, 1898). One East Indiaman was named Admiral Barrington.

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