Ann Catley

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Ann Catley
Ann Catley as Euphrosyne in Milton's 'Comus' 1777.jpg
as Euphrosyne in Milton's 'Comus' published in 1777
Background information
Tower Hill
Died(1789-10-14)October 14, 1789

Ann Catley (1745–1789), also known as Ann Lascelles, was an English singer and actress.


Catley was born near Tower Hill, London, who first made money singing in pubs and to the garrison of the Tower of London. She was apprenticed aged fifteen to William Bates, a composer and singing teacher. A scandal emerged when Bates sold Ann's apprenticeship to her admirer Sir Francis Blake Delaval of Seaton Delaval Hall for £200. Bates was given money by Delaval in addition to make up for any financial loss to him. Catley's father, Robert Catley, could see that Ann had been sold. Aided by his employer, her father sued the rake Delaval and Bates.[1][2] Lord Chief Justice Mansfield's judgement extended British law as he ruled that Delaval had offended society and the King's Bench could take action against Delaval on society's behalf. He was heavily fined.Catley's relationship with Delaval ended, Delaval found future relationships difficult[2] and Catley continued her career.[1]

In 1768 she met Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Lascelles (1744–1799) and they became a couple. She took the name Lascelles but they never married. In her will she left her property to their eight surviving children.[1]

She performed many roles on the London and Dublin stage, until 1782. Her pupil Margaret Martyr's style is said to have come from Catley. Thomas Bellamy wrote of Martyr in 1795 "Catley's pupil - Catley's boast, Sportive, playful, arch and free, Lovely MARTYR, hail to thee!"[3][1]

Catley spent her last years living at Little Ealing and died on 14 October 1789.[1]

John O'Keeffe wrote of her: "she was one of the most beautiful women I ever saw: the expression of her eyes, and the smiles and dimples that played round her lips and cheeks, enchanting".[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Baldwin, Olive; Thelma Wilson (2004). "Catley, Ann (1745–1789)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 23 June 2018. Available in print, and online for subscribers
  2. ^ a b "Delaval, Sir Francis Blake (1727–1771), rake | Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-92759.
  3. ^ Philip H. Highfill; Kalman A. Burnim; Edward A. Langhans (1984). A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers, and Other Stage Personnel in London, 1660-1800: M'Intosh to Nash. SIU Press. pp. 118–121. ISBN 978-0-8093-1130-9.