William Macready the Elder

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William Macready the Elder (1755–1829) was an Irish actor-manager.

:William Macready, 1794 engraving

Early life[edit]

The son of a Dublin upholsterer, Macready started his career playing in Irish country towns.[1] He joined the Capel Street Theatre in Dublin in 1782, and the Crow Street Theatre later during the 1782–3 season.[2] The next season, he was brought to the Mill Gate Theatre, by Michael Atkins.[3] He was in 1785 a member of the company at Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin.[1]

On the introduction of Charles Macklin, Macready went to Liverpool, and to Manchester under George Mattocks at the beginning of 1786.[2]

The London stage[edit]

Macready appeared at Covent Garden Theatre, 18 September 1786, as Flutter in the Belle's Stratagem, and remained there ten years, playing parts such as Gratiano, Paris, Young Marlow, Figaro, Fag, and Tattle in Love for Love, and producing two plays by himself.[1] He returned to Dublin to take summer parts, to the early 1790s.[4][5]

At Covent Garden Macready took only supporting roles, to 1797: he was one of the proverbial "second-rate walking gentlemen".[6] Then he sought to become an actor-manager outside London, with mixed success.[7] He began in management at Birmingham, around 1795–6; in 1796 George Davies Harley was denying a rift there with Macready.[8]

Provincial actor-manager[edit]

Macready managed a variety season in 1797, unsuccessfully, the Royalty Theatre, Wellclose Square, then east of London; his company was drawn from other theatres.[9] The programme was directed towards burlettas and pantomimes.[10]

Macready is best known as manager of the theatres at Birmingham, Sheffield, and other provincial towns and cities; but his ambitions were not fulfilled.[1] In 1806 he took over at Newcastle from Stephen George Kemble, holding the lease to 1818.[11][12] Macready also attempted but failed in management in Manchester.[1] He was jailed for debt in Lancaster Castle in 1809.[6] At that time he owed money on the Newcastle lease, and was trying to manage a group of theatres in locations also including Birmingham, Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.[13]

In 1813 Macready built the first theatre in Carlisle in Blackfriars Street.[14] At the time of his second marriage, in 1821, he was described as manager of a theatre in Whitehaven.[15]

Last years at Bristol[edit]

Macready took on the lease of the Theatre Royal, Bristol in 1819, from John Boles Watson II, son of John Boles Watson who had built up a southern and Welsh circuit of 40 provincial theatres. He initially brought in Daniel Terry and Elizabeth Yates to launch the new management, with the help of his son.[16][17]

Macready died 11 April 1829, aged 74.[1] He left interests in the Theatre Royal, Bristol, and theatres in Cardiff and Swansea.[18]

Works[edit]

John Henry Johnstone as Murdock Delany in The Irishman in London, 1797 engraving

Macready was responsible for two adapted dramas. The Irishman in London; or, the Happy African, 1793 and 1799, performed 21 April 1792, was an adaptation of a farce called The Intriguing Footman, attributed to James Whiteley, manager at Nottingham.[1][19] This work became popular on both sides of the Atlantic, being performed at the John Street Theatre in New York on 5 June 1793.[20][21] Its use of blackface acting is considered an influence into the 19th century;[22] it featured a contrast of the stage Irish and African servant.[23] The censor John Larpent applied the blue pencil to some of the language of the play directed at a black female character, Cubba.[24]

The Bank-note, or a Lesson for Ladies, 1795, performed 1 May 1795, was an adaptation of William Taverner's Artful Husband.[1]

The Village Lawyer, a farce, 1795, Haymarket, 28 August 1787, is ascribed to Macready, but probably in error, in a pirated edition.[1] It is an adaptation of L'Avocat Pathelin by David-Augustin de Brueys; there is reason to believe that George Colman the Elder translated it.[25] It has also been attributed to Charles Lyons, an Irish schoolmaster.[26]

Family[edit]

Macready married, 18 June 1786 in Manchester, Christina Ann Birch, an actress, the daughter of a surgeon in Lincolnshire. Mrs. Macready, who played secondary parts, died in Birmingham 31 December 1803, aged 38. William Macready was their son.[1] He was the fifth of eight children of the marriage.[6] Another of Macready's sons, Major Edward Nevil Macready, commanded the Light Company of the 30th Regiment of Foot in the closing stages of the Battle of Waterloo.[27]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1893). "Macready, William Charles". Dictionary of National Biography. 35. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  2. ^ a b Philip H. Highfill; Kalman A. Burnim; Edward A. Langhans (1984). Biographical Dictionary of Actors: Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers and Other Stage Personnel in London, 1660–1800. SIU Press. p. 39. ISBN 9780809311309. 
  3. ^ Philip H. Highfill, Jr.; Kalman A. Burnim; Edward A. Langhans (December 1973). Abaco to Belfille. SIU Press. p. 165. ISBN 978-0-8093-0517-9. 
  4. ^ John C. Greene (16 November 2011). Theatre in Dublin, 1745–1820: A Calendar of Performances. Lehigh University Press. p. 2618. ISBN 978-1-61146-115-2. 
  5. ^ John C. Greene (16 November 2011). Theatre in Dublin, 1745–1820: A Calendar of Performances. Lehigh University Press. p. 2671. ISBN 978-1-61146-115-2. 
  6. ^ a b c J. C. Trewin (30 June 2009). The Journal of William Charles Macready, 1832–1851. SIU Press. p. xxvii. ISBN 978-0-8093-8668-0. 
  7. ^ Gail Marshall (16 February 2012). Shakespeare in the Nineteenth Century. Cambridge University Press. p. 172. ISBN 978-0-521-51824-6. 
  8. ^ Philip H. Highfill; Kalman A. Burnim; Edward A. Langhans (1982). Habgood to Houbert. SIU Press. pp. 107–8. ISBN 978-0-8093-0918-4. 
  9. ^ Philip H. Highfill; Kalman A. Burnim; Edward A. Langhans (1984). Biographical Dictionary of Actors: Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers and Other Stage Personnel in London, 1660–1800. SIU Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-8093-1130-9. 
  10. ^ Darryll Grantley (10 October 2013). Historical Dictionary of British Theatre: Early Period. Scarecrow Press. p. 377. ISBN 978-0-8108-8028-3. 
  11. ^ Milling, J. "Kemble, Stephen George". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/15326.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  12. ^ Eneas Mackenzie (1827). A Descriptive and Historical Account of the Town & County of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Including the Borough of Gateshead. p. 594. 
  13. ^ Tracy C. Davis (21 June 2007). The Economics of the British Stage 1800–1914. Cambridge University Press. p. 208. ISBN 978-0-521-03685-6. 
  14. ^ Sydney Towill (1991). A History of Carlisle. Phillimore. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-85033-742-6. 
  15. ^ Monthly Magazine, Or, British Register. R. Phillips. 1821. pp. 569–. 
  16. ^ Ranger, Paul. "Watson, John Boles". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/39646.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  17. ^ G. Rennie Powell, The Bristol Stage: its story (1919), pp. 34–6; archive.org.
  18. ^ Philip H. Highfill; Kalman A. Burnim; Edward A. Langhans (1984). Biographical Dictionary of Actors: Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers and Other Stage Personnel in London, 1660–1800. SIU Press. p. 44. ISBN 978-0-8093-1130-9. 
  19. ^ David Erskine Baker; Isaac Reed; Stephen Jones (1812). Names of dramas: A-L. Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown. p. 329. 
  20. ^ Bernth Lindfors; Geoffrey V. Davis (26 November 2013). African Literatures and Beyond: A Florilegium. Rodopi. p. 199. ISBN 978-94-012-0989-2. 
  21. ^ Charles Durang (1 September 2007). The Theatrical Rambles of Mr. and Mrs. John Greene. Wildside Press LLC. p. 175 note 3. ISBN 978-0-8095-1306-2. 
  22. ^ David W. Blight; Brooks D. Simpson (January 1997). Union & Emancipation: Essays on Politics and Race in the Civil War Era. Kent State University Press. pp. 83–4. ISBN 978-0-87338-565-7. 
  23. ^ Michael Ragussis (22 May 2012). Theatrical Nation: Jews and Other Outlandish Englishmen in Georgian Britain. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 57. ISBN 0-8122-0793-9. 
  24. ^ Ellen Malenas Ledoux (27 June 2013). Social Reform in Gothic Writing: Fantastic Forms of Change, 1764–1834. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 165. ISBN 978-1-137-30268-7. 
  25. ^ William van Lennep; Emmett L. Avery; Charles Beecher Hogan; Arthur H. Scouten; George Winchester Stone (1 June 1968). The London Stage, 1660–1800 Part 5, 1776–1800: A Calendar of Plays, Entertainment & Afterpieces Together with Casts, Box-Receipts and Contemporary Comment. SIU Press. pp. 994–5. ISBN 978-0-8093-0437-0. 
  26. ^ University Magazine: A Literary and Philosophic Review. Curry. 1855. p. 144. 
  27. ^ "W. C. Macready and Cheltenham: Unveiling of memorial tablet". Gloucester Citizen. 16 March 1927. Retrieved 26 October 2015 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 

External links[edit]

Attribution

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainLee, Sidney, ed. (1893). "Macready, William Charles". Dictionary of National Biography. 35. London: Smith, Elder & Co.