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Created: November 1999 Updated: 18 April 2007

January 2004. (See February 2007 below) I have just found out that my family, on my father's side, originated in the United States and my great grandfather was an American sailor who jumped ship in Liverpool, settled and married. I did know an ancestor was a Keystone Cop, George Bleasdale. He was brother to Amy Burgess. So it is with great interest that I shall now try and pursue some line of research on the other side of the "pond". Just think, Fanny Kemble could be an ancestor of mine!! I have just been sent a book on her for my birthday (2004).

March 2005. Even more info is forthcoming. His name was Daniel Kemble. Born 1877, who had 5 children from his marriage to Annie Fagan on 6 June 1899 in Birkenhead. He died, aged 58 (estimated) in 1935 and Annie died on 2 May 1958. One of their children was my Grandad Harold Kemble, born 21 Nov 1901 who married Phyllis Syndrey Burgess on 14 Feb 1925 who died Nov 1955. Grandad died in Feb 1981. His son Brian died in 2001 in Aberconwy, Wales and my father, Phillip, died 8 Sep 1995, my daughter Lorna's 15th birthday. Harold's daughter Valerie still lives in Wallasey who I have recently got back in contact with (Nov 2006). My mother was Phillip's second wife!! Which I did not know, his first, Veronica Augustiatis, was in 1946, divorced.

February 2007: More news, but confusing. I found an entry on a Merseyside site which shows a wedding in 1889 of Mary Ann, dau of Daniel Kemble, of Birkenhead, late of America! Also, after a visit to a long lost cousin, Roger Burgess, who has a family tree showing that Phyllis Burgess (b. 1907 in Liverpool) was daughter (along with Doris) of the marriage of Amy Florence Bleasdale and Thomas Allen Martin Burgess and that Harold Kemble married Phyllis ; but no path backwards from Harold nor his birthdate. The alleged date of birth of Daniel does not tie up with his "daughters" marriage! He would have been only 12! Roger also confirmed the Bleasdale Connection. I wonder if well known Liverpool playwright, Alan Bleasdale, is related? - Daniel Kemble & Ann Fagan

April 2007: Went to Rake Lane cemetery, with sister Jacqui, and found Daniel and Anne's grave. Also found grave of Harold and Phyllis Kemble, my grandparents. Sadly Daniel's grave stone had been vandalised and was "recovering" following a good repair job, presumably by Wallasey Council. Thank you to whoever is concerned for this repair. Also found out that, marked on the stone, is that Daniel was accidently killed in October 1935 whilst on board the MV Cheshire, of Bibby Line.

Daniel Kemble - now has his own page


I first got interested in wondering who and where my ancestors came from when my sister Jan, who was with the Royal Air Force in Hereford, England, told the family about a grave in a village churchyard.  This was in the village of Welsh Newton, situated on the Hereford - Monmouth road.  It is a grave to Saint John Kemble, who was martyred in Hereford Castle. I wondered then, in the 1970s, if  he would have been an "ancestor" of mine or just a coincidence.  Since then I had done very little except to visit the area with my wife.  We discovered in a quiet lane, north of the village, a very small castle - this is known as Pembridge Castle and once belonged to the Kemble Family.  It is no longer in the family but it intrigued me. The grave of St John is pictured below in the churchyard in Welsh Newton.

St John's grave in Welsh Newton


Courtyard Corner

Was the home of Richard Kemble, brother to St John Kemble

I looked into the Encyclopaedia Britannica, a massive literary work, and discovered references to some people that I already knew about, but knew relatively little.  A travelling band of actors and actresses of the Kemble Family - in their time, very famous.  Their birth places echo the Welsh border connections of the previous paragraph.  Here is some information regarding these "stars" of their day.

Roger Kemble. Born March 1st 1721 in Hereford. Died December 6th 1802.  English Actor and theatre manager and founder of the famous Kemble family.  Roger Kemble's fancy was taken by a theatrical company that he encountered in Canterbury in 1752.  He was able to join it but not at first a successful actor.  Later he turned up at Birmingham where he managed to be taken on by John Ward, a theatre manager, and he improved his acting ability at least modestly.  Roger married Ward's daughter Sarah, to the distress of her father, who did not want his child to marry an actor but consoled himself with the thought that Roger was no actor.  He did succeed as a Theatre Manager.  The marriage was fruitful, of his and Sarah's 12 children, 8 lived to adulthood and 5 of those went into the theatre.  The children often played in productions of a traveling company Roger established and managed.

Sarah Siddons (nee Kemble).  Born July 5th 1755 in Brecon, Brecknockshire, Wales. Died in London June 8th 1831.  One of the greatest of English tragic actresses.

She was the eldest of 12 children of Roger and Sarah Kemble, who led a troupe of traveling actors (and were progenitors of a noted family of actors to a third generation, including a famous granddaughter, Fanny Kemble.  Through the special care of her mother in sending her to the schools in the towns where the company played, Sarah received a remarkably good education, even though she was accustomed to making appearances on stage whilst still a child.  While still in her teens she became infatuated with William Siddons, a handsome but somewhat insipid actor in her father's company.  Such an attachment had the disapproval of her parents, who wished her to accept the offer of a squire.  William Siddons was dismissed from the company.  She was sent to undertake a situation as Lady's Maid at Guy's Cliff in Warwickshire.  Here she recited Shakespeare, John Milton and Nicholas Rowe in the servant's hall and occasionally before aristocratic company, here she also began to develop a talent for sculpture (which was subsequently developed, especially between 1789 and 1790, and of which she later provided samples of busts of herself).  The necessary consent to her marriage to William Siddons was at last obtained, and the marriage took place in Trinity Church, Coventry, in November 1773.

The new Mrs Siddons, aged 18, now joined a new acting company.  It was whilst playing at Cheltenham in 1774 that she met with the earliest decided recognition of her powers as an actress, when her portrayal of Belvidera in Thomas Otway's "Venice Preserved" she won the appreciation of a party of "people of quality", who had come to scoff.  When the theatre producer, David Garrick, told of her acting prowess, sent a representative to see her, she was playing Rosalinda in As You Like It in a barn in Worcestershire and was also pregnant.  Garrick nevertheless offered her an engagement, but she could not accept until after the child was born.  When she appeared with Garrick at Drury Lane London in 1775, she was a failure.  She then went back on tour in the country, where she earned great favour, becoming the tragedy queen of the English stage.

In 1782, at the request of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, who had succeeded Garrick, she consented reluctantly to appear again at Drury Lane as Isabella in Thomas Southerne's Fatal Marriage.  Her success was phenomenal.  From then on she reigned as Queen at Drury Lane until, in 1803, she and her brother John Philip Kemble went to Covent garden.  In 1783 she was appointed to teach the Royal Children elocution.  She retired from the regular stage on June 29th 1812, with a farewell performance of Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, in which the audience would not allow the play to proceed beyond the sleepwalking scene, in which she gave an exhibition of perfection.

She played many of the great roles of tragedy, eschewing comedy.  Lady Macbeth, Isabella Belvidera in Venice Preserved, Jane Shore, Katherine in Henry VIII, Constance in King John, Zara in The Mourning Bride and Volumnia in Coriolanus were her greatest parts. But it was as Lady Macbeth she excelled.  Her success was due to her complete concentration upon the character whom she played, she identified herself with a role and seemed possessed by it, oblivious all else around her.  Portraits of her were painted by Thomas Gainsborough, Sir Thomas Lawrence and Sir Joshua Reynolds.  Reynold's entitled his painting "Mrs Siddons as the Tragic Muse".  William Hazlitt wrote of her that "passion emanated from her breast as from a shrine, she was tragedy personified".

John Philip Kemble. born 1st Feb 1757, Prescott Lancashire. Died Lausanne, Switzerland 26th Feb 1823.

As Hamlet

Popular English actor and manager of the Drury Lane Theatre and Covent Garden Theatre in London, where his reforms improved the status of the theatre profession. He played heavy dramatic roles in the artificial and statuesque style then in vogue.  His most famous roles were Brutus in Julius Caesar and the title roles in Hamlet and, above all, Coriolanus.  He excelled in declamation but could not express strong or subtle emotions.  Eldest son in an acting family, he spent his childhood on stage.  Later he trained for the priesthood in France, where he acquired a certain severity and asceticism that influenced his acting style.  Finding that he had no vocation for the priesthood, he returned to England and the theatre, making his first adult appearance on the stage in 1776.  After several years in the provinces, he played Hamlet in Dublin on Nov 2nd 1781and made his London debut in the same role in Drury Lane on Sept 30th 1783 with mixed results. It was, however, his performance in Macbeth on March 31st 1785, opposite his sister, Sarah, that established him as a popular favourite.

Appointed manager of Drury Lane Theatre in 1788, Kemble made important reforms in costumes, scenery and management, introducing live animals and aquatic effects to the stage for the first time.  As an actor, Kemble's tall and imposing figure, impressive countenance and grave and solemn demeanour made him uniquely suited for the Roman characters in Shakespeare's plays.  Because of conflicts with Richard Brinsley Sheridan, a dramatist and proprietor of Drury Lane, Kemble resigned his position, and, although he resumed his duties temporarily at the beginning of the 1800 - 1801 season, the connection between the two was permanently severed at the end of 1802.  In 1803 he became manager of Covent Garden Theatre, in which he acquired a sixth share.  When the playhouse burned down on Sept 20th 1808, he suffered financially.  The increase in prices after the opening of the new theatre in 1809 led to riots that practically suspended performances for three months.  Kemble was saved from ruin by a large loan, afterwards converted to a gift, from the Duke of Northumberland and by the sale of his fine library.  Troubled by gout and by the rising popularity of the great romantic actor, Edmund Kean, he retired to the continent after his last performance as Coriolanus on June 23rd 1817.

Pricilla Kemble. (nee Hopkins). Born London 1756 - died Leamington, Warwickshire. May 1845.  Noted English actress and wife of the actor and theatrical manager John Philip Kemble.  Born into a theatrical family, Pricilla Hopkins made her debut in 1772 with David Garrick's company at the Drury Lane. After a few years, Pricilla married another of Garrick's actors, William Brereton. He died in 1787 and later that year she married John Philip Kemble shortly before he became manager of Drury Lane.  Pricilla continued acting, mainly in supporting roles, until she retired from the stage in 1796.

Maria Theresa Kemble. Also called Marie Therese Kemble. (nee De Camp). Born Jan 17th 1774 Vienna, Austria, Died Sept 3rd 1838 Chertsey, Surrey.  English singer, dancer and actress who married the actor-theatrical manager Charles Kemble.  The daughter of a French family of musicians, Maria Theresa was taken to England as a small child. In 1786 she found an acting part at the Drury Lane.  She continued to play a wide variety of minor parts, some of them singing.  In 1806 she married Charles and appeared with him for years in supporting parts at Covent Garden.  Their two daughters also won fame, they were the author and actress Fanny Kemble and the opera and concert singer Adelaide Kemble. (Incidently, Marie Therese Kemble was also my mother's name).

George Stephen Kemble. Original name Stephen Kemble. Born April 28th 1758 in Kingston, Herefordshire. Died June 5th 1822 Durham.  English actor and theatrical manager.  George's mother, Sarah, acted the role of the (pregnant) Anne Boleyn in King Henry VIII on the night of his birth, then was rushed off to deliver him. His parents hoped he would become a chemist, but young Kemble resigned his apprenticeship and joined a travelling company of actors.  The fame of his great sister, Sarah Siddons aided him in finding engagements. In 1783 George married Elizabeth Satchell, an actress who clearly outshone him.  They played together, she billed as Mrs Elizabeth Kemble.  For a time he virtually abandoned acting in favour of theatre management.  He was stage manager at Drury Lane when his son Henry Stephen Kemble made his debut as Romeo.  A daughter (of Henry?) was a successful actress until she left the stage for marriage.

Elizabeth Kemble. (nee Satchell) Born 1763? London. Died Jan 20th 1841 Durham. English Actress of great ability whose career was subordinated to that of her husband, George Stephen Kemble.  Elizabeth was a talented performer when she married George in 1783.  For several years they acted together, with critics constantly noting her superiority.  When engagements took her husband out of town she accompanied him to the detriment of her own career.  She outlived him by 19 years.

Charles Kemble. Born 25th Nov 1775 Brecknock, Brecknockshire, Wales. Died Nov 12th 1854 London.  Theatrical manager, the first to use detailed historical sets and costumes on the English stage. An actor noted for his supporting roles in several Shakespeare plays, but at his best in comedy. Charles, the youngest member of the theatrical family, made his first recorded appearance in 1792 or 1793 in Sheffield as Orlando in Shakespeare's AS You Like It.  His London debut took place on April 21st 1794 in Shakespeare's Macbeth.  He acted Malcolm to his brother John Philip's Macbeth. In comedy he was frequently supported by his wife Maria Theresa.  He became manager of Covent Garden but nearly went bankrupt until his daughter, Fanny Kemble, made her debut there in 1829 and became a success.  Visits to the United States with his daughter in 1832 and 1834 also brought acclaim. Due to increasing deafness, he retired from the stage in December 1836 but gave readings of Shakespeare until 1840. After his retirement he was given the post of Examiner of Plays, a Government position he resigned in 1840 to his son John Mitchell, a distinguished philologist.  Jane Williamson's Charles Kemble - Man of the Theatre was published in 1970.

Henry Stephen Kemble.  Born Sept 15th 1789 in London. Died June 22nd 1836.  English actor of popularity but modest attainments.  The only child of George and Elizabeth, Henry was born after his mother completed a stage performance of Queen Margaret, a circumstance similar to that of his father's birth. His parents hoped he would not pursue a theatrical career, but he abandoned Cambridge after 2 years to try his wings in his father's acting company in Whitehaven.  Henry's talent was meagre, although he joined a touring company to develop it.  Whilst his father was stage manager at Drury Lane he gave Henry parts that were beyond his ability.  He became something of a whipping boy for ctitics, although he enjoyed personal popularity.  He enjoyed modest success as a comedy character actor.

Francis Anne Kemble, also known as Fanny Kemble.  Born Nov 27th 1809 London. Died Jan 15th 1893 London.

English author of plays, poems and reminiscences. The latter containing much information about the stage and social history of the 19th century; she was also a popular actress of both comedy and tragedy.  She disliked both acting and the theatrical profession, taking to the stage only when she needed money.  The eldest daughter of Charles and Maria Theresa Kemble, Fanny began acting to help her father, who was facing bankruptcy as manager of Covent Garden Theatre in London.  She made her debut there on Oct 25th 1829, as Juliet.  An immediate popular success, she brought prosperity to the theatre for the next three years, notably as Lady Teazle in The School for Scandal, Portia in The Merchant of Venice and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing.  She also created the role of Julia in the Hunchback, which James Sheridan Knowles wrote especially for her.  In 1832 and 1834 she successfully toured the USA with her father, on her second trip she married a Southern planter, retiring from the stage until a year before her divorce in 1848, when she successfully returned to the English stage.  She subsequently made a series of successful readings of Shakespeare in England and the USA, her last appearance being in New York City in October 1868.  Her valuable journal appeared in 1835 followed by a second in 1863.  She also wrote autobiographical works; Record of a Girlhood (1878), Records of  Later Life (1882) and Further Records 1848 - 1883 (1890).

Adelaide Kemble. Born London 1814?. Died Aug 4th 1879, Warash House, Hampshire.  Celebrated Singer . Born to Charles and Maria Theresa Kemble, Adelaide turned her interests to music instead of acting and sang professionally from 1835 to 1842.  She studied in Italy and was a brilliant success in her operatic debut as Norma in Venice.  She toured the continent and appeared in England in concert and opera to consistently great acclaim.  She withdrew from the stage with a brief speech after a concert in 1842, married John Sartoris, and never again appeared in public.  Her fame lingered, reinforced by private performances she gave from time to time for friends.

I am indebted to Fred Kemble who used to live in Caldicot, Wales, for the following information regarding St John Kemble, mentioned on my first family page with the images of Penbridge Castle, Welsh Newton, his home. It is a story from the YOU magazine, September 1995.  The YOU magazine is part of the Daily Mail Newspaper here in the UK. Fred sent me loads of information on the Kemble and derivatives of the name.

The Headline read "Dying Priest awakes from coma after rare ceremony". The article continued:

A priest quietly entered the room where Father Christopher Jenkins lay comatose and near death after a massive stroke. Last Rites had already been performed because his chances of recovery were slim.  Father Anthony Tumelty moved closer to his colleague and laid a hand on him in a secret healing ritual.  Father Jenkins opened his eyes. His heart rate was good and he began to speak.  Had a miracle occurred?

Father Tumelty thinks its possible. "No one expected him to live", he says, "It was a remarkable recovery that had the doctors scratching their heads. After his stroke members of the Parish prayed for a miracle - and it looks as if their prayers had been answered".  The hand Father Tumelty laid on Father Jenkins was not his own - it was the embalmed hand of Catholic martyr John Kemble, who was hanged in 1697 because of his religious beliefs.

The shrivelled, brown coloured hand usually kept in a coffin in Hereford, England, made headlines five years ago (1990) after it had apparently been used to revive an Irish priest who'd been close to death.  Canon William O'Connor had been dying of leukaemia.  But he recovered almost miraculously and was strong enough to undertake another pilgrimage to Lourdes before he eventually died a year later.  Despite its alleged miracle-working power, the hand could not save itself from an attack by worms shortly after the healing of Canon O'Connor.  Scientists were called in and freeze-dried it to prevent further decay.  Priests often take the hand with them when visiting critically ill parishioners, and every year many priests visit John Kemble's grave at Welsh Newton in Southern Herefordshire, England. Kemble was proclaimed a Saint in 1970.

 Commenting on Father Jenkin's recovery, a hospital spokesman said "He's making good progress. I have my own ideas about what happened but the main thing is that he's recovering". Father Tumelty says no one expected things to turn out as they did. "I don't know how, but it looks as if the hand worked," he says. "I placed it on Father Jenkin's head. That's all I can say; its a rather private matter".

Note: Fred Kemble, used to live in Caldicot, Wales, please contact me with your new address. Mike Feb 2002.

The following was kindly sent to me by Joanna Blatchley


The ancient mysteries, sacred plays, pageants and Hock Tide festivals, were widely attended and had Royalty among the audiences. The Grey Friars and after the Dissolution, the trading companies, were mainly responsible for the productions. Accounts - “to 4 angels 1s4d, to 3 patriarchs 1s3d, to 3 white soules 1s6d, to 3 black soules 2s to 2 demons 3s and payd for kepyng of fire at hell mouthe 4d.”

In the eighteenth century and the first part of the nineteenth and probably before, St Mary’s Hall was used as a theatre, both for the enactment of religious and secular works, aswell as for concerts, entertainments, dances and other social relaxations. Celebrated men and women have trod an improvised stage there. Early nineteenth century the hall was described as The Theatre. it is impossible to say when and where the first local theatre was erected, but one was in existence, and probably others, before that which goes farthest back in recorded history - in the Burges. In the eighteenth century room was often found at the inns for travelling troupes from which to make their appeal to lovers of the drama and at different times many in Coventry presumably served this purpose. Such a theatre might have been the following, an announcement in the Coventry Mercury of June 22nd 1752 - ‘this day will be performed, for the benefit of Mr Miller, at the Theatre the back of the Half Moon, a celebrated tragedy called Cato, wrote by Mr Addison, Secretary of State to Queen Anne, to which will be added a farce called Miss in Her Teens. Tickets may be had  at the King’s Head, the Black Bull, Smith’s Coffee House and Mr Quelch’s lodging next door to the Cross Keys’. The Half Moon used to be in the Half Moon Yard, which occupied the site of St Mary’s Street. In the next issue fo the same journal, appeared the following:

‘Mr Ward begs leave to acquaint his friends that he is erecting a theatre in the late Riding School in the city of Coventry, which will be fitted up in a neat and commodious manner for the reception of those gentlemen, ladies and others who are pleased to honour him with their company, which will; be opened this day month with an entire new set of scenes painted by the celebrated Devoto, the habits, Roman, Persian, Turkish and Modern, lately purchased in London. The Company will continue during their stay in town to perform Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. the curtain to be drawn up and play begin positively at seven o’clock’.

The late Riding School was down the open yard adjoining St John’s Bridge, Burges, which is perhaps better known as the Lancastrian Yard. there is apparently very much of a theatrical importance in this enterprise, for in the first printed cast at the new building was a Mr Kemble and a Miss Ward, presumably the daughter of the proprietor. In the following year, at Cirencester, Mr Roger Kemble married Miss Ward and they were the parents of the lady who became Mrs Siddons, and her no less famous brother, Philip Kemble.

The next week in the Coventry Mercury - ‘By the Warwick Company of Comedians - at the New Theatre in the late Riding School, this evening being the 3rd of this instant, will be presented a celebrated comedy called The Provok’d Husband or A Journey to London. The part of Lord Townley by Mr Ward, manly by mr Jenkins, Sir Francis Wronghead by Mr Clarke, Count Baffet by Mr Shepherd, Squire Richard by Mr Turner, John Moody by Mr Redmond, Servant by Mr Kemble, Lady Grace by Mrs Butcher, Lady Wronghead by Mrs Jenkins, Miss Jenny by Miss Ward and the part of Lady Townley by Mrs Ward, to which will be added Lethe or Aesop in the Shades. the cloaths and scenes entirely new. Pit 2s, First Gallery 1s, Upper Gallery 6d. Tickets to be had of Mr Barkers, dyer in Dyer’s Court.’

The Company remained in Coventry for some months, for on September 17 it was given out that they would positively remain no longer than 8 weeks - ‘And as the kind applause of our audiences is an instance of their willingness to encourage a moral theatrical performance, when conducted with decency and order, both which being in our power, our spectators may depend upon our guides and that we shall omit neither expense or industry (as far as in us lies) to make the evenings entertainment rational and agreeable and worthy the attention of a thinking audience. our plays will be collected from the best authors, as Shakespeare, Dryden, Otway, Rowe, Lee, Congreve, Steele, Vanburgh etc., which will be performed every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, beginning punctually at 7 o’clock’.

On August 10, the programme at the theatre was Othello - Othello - Mr Ward; Iago - Mr Jenkins; Brabantio - Mr Kemble; Cassio - Mr Clarke; Roderigo - Mr Turner; Gratiano - Mr Redmond; Lodovico - Mrs Butcher; Desdemona - Miss Ward; Emilia - Mrs Ward.  The principal characters were to be entirely new dressed, to which will be added a ballad called The Virgin Unmasked or An Old Man Taught Wisdom. The part of the Virgin - Miss Ward; Quaver - Mr jenkins; Coupee - Mr Shepard. At the end of the advertisement, the puzzling phrase - “The Drum will not beat at night”.  At a subsequent performance, August 31, at the theatre, £30 was raised for the benefit of a distressed widow and her family, and for the week commencing September 18 “the tragic history of Romeo and Juliet” was acted. Juliet - Miss Ward Romeo - Mr Jenkins; Benvolio - Mr Kemble.

1773, Miss Sarah Kemble, daughter of Roger Kemble, married Mr William Siddons, a member of her father’s company, at St Michael. Warwick or Warwickshire Company of Comedians made a stay in the City of about 4 months, in which they performed 3 nights weekly. We have nothing to assist us in constructing the appearance of the theatre, except the advertisements which show that there was a pit, gallery and upper gallery. the stage was apparently not roomy as the manager apologises for not permitting people to go behind it as it is impossible. Oil and candle supplied the illumination. Mr Kemble was in small parts at first but latterly he impersonated Horatio in Hamlet. Mr Ward, the manager, and Mr Jenkins appear to have been the principal actors and Miss Ward was usually entrusted with the most important female parts. On October 30, Mr and Mrs Ward had a benefit, the play being King Lear. It was stated that the piece had not been acted in Coventry for 6 years. This suggests another theatre in Coventry as that in which this company were performing was recently built. The postscript to the advertisement reads “The theatre will be made warm”.

William Siddons, who married Sarah Kemble, was a member of Sarah’s father’s company and his rival in her affections was a squire. He was dismissed from the company and sarah was sent as a Lady’s Maid into the service of Mrs Greathead of Guy’s Cliff. Siddons was a persistent  wooer and in the end had his own way. Mr Kemble must have been well known locally for when he was here at the time of Sarah’s marriage, he had the use of the Draper’s Hall and his stay lasted from August 1773 - January 1774.

Shortly before this, a Mr Carleton brought his company to the Half Moon Theatre, which was in use in 1752 and probably before then, is sometimes described as the Concert Room, evidently being used for all kinds of social enjoyment. Mr Carleton produced plays and provided music and in an early intimation to the public, he stated - “the ladies and gentlemen of Coventry and its environs are requested to observe that the room is fitted up at a very considerable expense,in the most commodious manner possible and as no pains or cost will be spared to give universal satisfaction, the proprietor humbly presumes to address the public on this occasion, and to entreat for their countenance and patronage”.

There was soon evidence of rivalry between the companies. Some of the pieces given at both theatres were the same. Mr Kemble had the patronage of Lady Craven, and Mr Carleton of Lord and Lady Craven. While at the Half Moon Theatre, She Stoops to Conquer was given by the desire of Captain Lyon and the rest of the officers of the Marquis of Lothian’s Regiment of Dragoons, then apparently quartered in the City. Mr Carleton found the competition rather keen, and in September his company was dissolved. After this, Kemble had Coventry to himself. It was a very small city in 1773-4, the population not being more than 15,000.


Information Received

Received am email from Dave Sakmyster of New York State on 7 April 2003:
Anything here you may be able to help him on?

I came across your site while doing some personal geneological research.  I am stumped at the moment tracking back a rather interesting story concerning an ancestor that is related in a way to the Covent Garden Theater during the time of the Kembles, and I wonder if you might have some information that might help clear up the gaps. The story I've put together, from old newspaper articles in Geneva, New York in 1921, relates that in 1830 a man named William Henry Bucke (who used the allias of William Henry Hall), emigrated to Geneva from London, where he had been the treasurer of the Covent Garden Theater, and had embezzled quite a sum of money and then ran off with a woman who was either a) the wife of the owner, or b) an actress at the theater.  Her name was Jane Isabella Letitia Sophia Robinson.  She was born in 1801 and died in Geneva, NY in 1846.  It is this woman I am trying to track down, as she remarried another man here after Wm Henry died in 1834. In doing this research I determined that Charles Kemble was the owner of the Theatre at the time, but according to your data, he was married to Maria Theresa de Camp.  So, I think that rules out possibility 'A' (that Isabella Robinson was the wife of the owner) - unless either Charles remarried sometime in the late 1820's, or unless Charles was only a co-owner, and it was another owner that may have been married to Isabella. So, I just hoped maybe you might have some additional information to clear up for certain that it's not Charles I should be looking at.  Also, do you have any ideas on where else I could research to find out this information?  My inquiries to the Covent Garden Historical Office have come up empty (they apparently do not have good records of the early 1800's).  I would like to confirm the treasurer at the time, and to see if there are any 'Robinson' actresses during that time (I wonder too, if she is a relative of Anastasia Robinson, who performed there in the early 1700's, and secretly married Lord Peterborough.)
Coincidently - my mothers name also

Kemble, thou cur'st my unbelief
For Moses and his rod;
At Yarico's sweet nor of grief
The rock with tears had flow'd

Robbie Burns

Covent Garden