(1785 - 1857)
Charles Mackay as Bailie Nicol Jarvie
in Rob Roy
Little is known regarding Mackay's earliest years. Morris gives some information on Mackay's theatrical debut which occurred in or about his 25th year.
Mackay made his debut in Ayr as a comic singer,
about the year 1810. He was a member of the band in the Argyllshire Militia,
then quartered in Ayr Barracks, and his performances on particular occasions
in the officers' mess-room having spread his comic fame, induced him to
announce a concert in the old Assembly Rooms, which unfortunately proved
a failure. Two or three admirers of the talents and modesty exhibited by
Mackay, were induced to make a little collection of money amongst a limited
number of friends, which they handed over, at the conclusion of the entertainment,
to the grateful recipient.
As one of the contributors, I was always afterwards
recognised by Mackay as an old acquaintance. Mackay's comic talent being
duly admired and highly appreciated by our late old townsman, Mr. Robert
Mackay, the latter applied to his friend, Harry Johnston, then manager
of the Queen Street Theatre, Glasgow, to receive Mackay into his company.
Links with Ayrshire:
Mackay was in Ayr as a bandsman with the Argyllshire Militia. Mackay appeared at the opening night of the Theatre Royal in Ayr resulting in the following notice: Mr. Mackay, in the mock Duke, made us laugh exceedingly; but he seems to have a habit of raising then lowering his voice a full octave in the same sentence, which though comical . . .
(1789 - 1829)
Portrait of Daniel Terry (1789 - 1829)
by Henry William Pickersgil
Daniel Terry (1789 - 1829)
Born in Bath and educated first at Bath grammar school and then at a private school at Wingfield, Wiltshire, under Edward Spencer, he originally trained as an architect with Samuel Wyatt.
After five years he left to join a theatre company in Sheffield, under the management of the elder Macready. Towards the close of 1805 he joined Stephen Kemble in the north of England. When Kemble's company broke up in 1806 he went to Liverpool. His success there recommended him to Henry Siddons, who brought him out in Edinburgh (29 November 1809) as Bertrand in William Dimond's The Foundling of the Forest.
At that period Terry's figure is said to have been well formed and graceful, his countenance powerfully expressive, and his voice strong, full, and clear, though not melodious. He is also credited with stage knowledge, energetic and appropriate action, good judgement, and an active mind.
Between 1813 and 1822 Terry appeared frequently at the Haymarket and Covent Garden, and afterwards played a few seasons at Drury Lane. In 1815, he had, by permission of the Covent Garden management, supported Sarah Siddons in Edinburgh, where he played Macbeth, Wolsey, King John, and the Earl of Warwick. He became a close friend of Sir Walter Scott and, in admiration of his hero, he frequently imitated Scott’s voice and handwriting.
Links with Ayrshire:
Although no evidence is available, it is possible that Terry appeared in Ayr with Henry Siddons' company.
Harriet Elizabeth Faucit
Harriet Elizabeth Faucit (1789-1857)
Harriet Faucit (nee Diddear) was married to John Saville Faucit an actor. She was the mother of two daughters, Helena Saville Faucit and Harriet. Many commentators refer to her divorce from her husband; this divorce action was before an ecclesiastic court and the decision was based in a fault in the banns called prior to the marriage. It appears that the husband's details were incorrectly recorded and called.
Harriet Faucit was one of the actors associated with The Norwich Company of Comedians based in Norwich, during the 18th and 19th centuries.
The company was professional, respected and a comfortably-off band with better than average wages and popular headquarters at the White Swan inn. The company was treated with deference in every town it visited. Unusually, a good relationship had matured between the Norwich Theatre manager and the local magistrates, who under normal circumstances had little time for players. At some towns, when the season was drawing to a close, the town clerk would even send a note of congratulation to the troupe; and by 1804, relations had progressed along such a friendly path that Lord Chedworth was recorded as having left legacies of between £13,000 and £14,000 to members of the company. Norwich owed its place among the top five provincial circuits in England to its dramatic tradition.
The Company were careful to perform plays soon after their London première, reinforcing their professionalism by presenting the most recent plays possible. For instance, John Gay's "The Beggar's Opera", new to London in January 1728, was performed to Norwich audiences three months later and taken soon after to Bury St Edmunds, Colchester and Ipswich. The real era of prosperity for this company began in 1758 when local architect Thomas Ivory became proprietor of the circuit. In 1758, Ivory built Norwich its first proper theatre, a miniature Drury Lane Theatre.
Links with Ayrshire:
There is no evidence that Hariett Faucit appeared in Ayrshire. However, Morris, and other sources, show that her daughter Helena Faucit was a regular performer on the stage in Ayr. Althoughit is not confirmed, it is belived that Harriet Faucit played in Glasgow and may have been at Greenock and Dublin.
(1789 – 1833)
Edmund Kean as Hamlet.
Edmund Kean(1789 - 1833) made his first
appearance on the stage, aged four, as Cupid in Jean-Georges Noverre’s
ballet of Cymon.
Born in London, it is believed that his father was Edmund Kean,
an architect’s clerk, and his mother an actress, Anne Carey, daughter
of the 18th century composer and playwright Henry Carey.
As a child he was a universal favourite and some supporters
paid for him to go to school. He did well in school but found
the restraints intolerable. He shipped as a cabin boy at Portsmouth
but found life at sea even more restricting. In Madeira,
he persuaded doctors that he was both deaf and lame, allowing his early
return to England.
On his return to England he sought the protection of his uncle
Moses Kean, who introduced him to the study of Shakespeare.
At the same time the actress Miss Charlotte Tidswell taught him the principles
of acting. On the death of his uncle she took charge of him, and
he began the systematic study of the principal Shakespearean characters.
About this time he picked up
music from Charles Incledon, dancing from D’Egville, and fencing from
Aged fourteen, he was engagement to play leading characters
for twenty nights in York Theatre, appearing as Hamlet, Hastings and
Cato. It would be at this time that he made his debut in Ayr. Shortly
afterwards King George III commanded him to appear at Windsor Castle. In
1807 he played leading parts in Belfast with Sarah Siddons,
who said that he 'played very, very well', but that 'there was too little
of him to make a great actor'. In 1808 he married Mary Chambers while
the couple were playing leading roles in Beverley’s provincial troupe.
His wife bore him two sons.
He died at Richmond, Surrey where he had spent his last years as manager
of the local theatre, and was buried in the Parish Church.
Links with Ayrshire:
It is recorded that Edmund Kean first appeared in Ayr in 1802. At that
time he was with Beaumont's company in the old school room at Mill
Vennel, behind the Wallace Tower. Kean played a variety of roles
at the Theatre Royal after it opened in 1815.
(1790 - 1852)
William Henry Wood Murray as George Heriot
William Henry Wood Murray
William Henry Wood Murray was born at Bath in August 1790, the son of the actor and dramatist Charles Murray, and grandson of the Jacobite Sir John Murray of Broughton. He moved to Edinburgh in 1809 and worked there for over forty years as an actor, manager and dramatist. He managed the Theatre Royal jointly with Henry Siddons (son of Sarah Siddons) until Siddons' death in 1816. Thereafter he shared the management with his sister Mrs. Henry Siddons. Under their direction, the theatre was improved to the point where it was said to compare favourably with any outside London.
Murray was the author of several scottish historical plays including Gilderoy and Crammond Brig.
Murray married Ann Jane Dyke, an actress, in August 1819 at St. George's Chapel in Edinburgh. Ann was born in 1799 and was the daughter of Thomas and Johanna Dyke.
William Henry Wood Murray had a second wife, Ellen Gray. The marriage was contracted in 1830, or possibly a little earlier. Ellen Gray was born about 1804 in Bath.
William Henry Wood Murray died on 5 May 1852 in St. Andrews. He was buried in the Old St. Andrews Cemetery. His second wife, Ellen Gray Murray survived until 18 March 1888 at Birkenhead.
Links with Ayrshire:
There are no recorded links with Ayrshire although the Edinburgh Theatre Royal company, under Mr and Mrs Siddons, were frequently in Ayr. It is probable that Murray would have participated in some of these visits and could have appeared at the Theatre Royal.
William Charles Macready
1793 - 1873
William Charles Macready.
William Charles Macready was an English actor. Like many
of his contemporaries, he appeared in Scotland. Born in
London, and educated at Rugby, it was his intention to go up to
Oxford, but in 1809 his father, the lessee
of several provincial theatres, required him to share the responsibilities
of theatrical management.
On 7 June 1810 he made a successful first
appearance as Romeo at Birmingham. Other Shakespearian parts followed.
Following disputes with his father, Macready moved to
Bath in 1814, remaining for two years, with occasional
professional visits to other provincial towns.
On 16 September
1816, Macready made his first London appearance at Covent Garden as
Orestes in The Distressed Mother, a translation of Racine's Andromaque.
His early roles were in the romantic dramas. In 1818 he gained
success in Isaac Pocock's (1782-1835) adaptation of Rob
The following year he established himself as a tragedian when he played
Richard III at Covent Garden. In
1823 he married Catherine Frances Atkins
(d. 1852). The couple had numerous children but only one son and one
final stage appearance was in Macbeth at Drury Lane on 26 February 1851.
The remainder of his life was spent in happy retirement, and he died
at Cheltenham on 27 April 1873.
In 1860 he married Cecile Louise Frederica Spencer (1827-1908), by whom
he had a son.
Links with Ayrshire:
While Macready was frequently in Scotland, there is no evidence that Macready played in Ayr. However, he did appear at Greenock, Kilmarnock and Dumfries. His memoirs show that he visited Burns' birthplace in Alloway in the autumn of 1850.