Elizabeth Whitlock

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Elizabeth Whitlock, circa 1792

Elizabeth Whitlock born Elizabeth Kemble (2 April 1761, Warrington, Lancashire – 27 February 1836, Addlestone) was an English actress, a member of the Kemble family of actors. She made her first appearance on the stage in 1783. In 1785 she married Charles E. Whitlock, went with him to America, and played with much success there. She seems to have retired about 1807.[1] Her sister was actress Sarah Siddons.


The fifth child of Roger Kemble,[2] she was apprenticed to a mantua maker, however, she acquired some theatrical experience in the provinces, and appeared at Drury Lane on 22 February 1783 as Portia in The Merchant of Venice. She subsequently played at York, where Tate Wilkinson, in The Wandering Patentee, described her as ‘possessed of marks of merit, but wild as a colt untamed’. Elizabeth Kemble later returned to Drury Lane for two seasons, playing Margaret in Philip Massinger's A New Way to Pay Old Debts, Leonora in Edward Young's The Revenge, and Elvira in Love Makes a Man.

She returned to York, and on 21 June 1785 married Charles Edward Whitlock (died 1822). He was manager of the Newcastle, Sunderland, Lancaster, and Chester theatres, and from 1785 to 1791 she was one of the chief actresses of his circuit. The couple had three sons, the eldest of whom, Henry Edward Whitlock (1787–1806), later appeared with them in America.

Elizabeth Whitlock by (attributed to) John Downman

After performing in Edinburgh in 1793, the Whitlocks were engaged in the United States, where they spent the following fourteen years, playing in Annapolis, Philadelphia, Charleston, Boston, and New York, and gaining a solid reputation. She performed before President George Washington. Her roles were primarily in tragedy: Belvidera in Venice Preserv'd, Imogen in Cymbeline, Lady Macbeth, and Lady Randolph in John Home's Douglas.

On 6 October 1807 Elizabeth Whitlock reappeared at Drury Lane, acting the part of Elwina in Hannah More's Percy, which may have been her last performance. She and her husband returned to America for the years 1812–14, before settling at Addlestone, Surrey. He died on 3 March 1822, and she some years later, at Addlestone, on 27 February 1836.


  1. ^ Chisholm 1911.
  2. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Whitlock, Elizabeth Kemble" . Encyclopedia Americana.