Aickin, Francis (DNB00)

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AICKIN, or AIKIN, FRANCIS (d. 1805), actor, was born in Dublin and brought up to the trade of his father, a weaver in that city; but, following the example of his younger brother, James [q. v.], he became a strolling player. Having appeared as George Barnwell and sustained other characters in various country towns, he joined the manager of the Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin. He made his first appearance at Drury Lane as Dick in the ‘Confederacy’ on 17 May, 1765. He continued a member of the Drury Lane company until the close of the season of 1773–4. In the following year he carried his services to Covent Garden, and appeared there every year until the close of the season of 1791–2. He had commenced business as a hosier in York Street, Covent Garden, and obtained the patronage of certain members of the Royal family. He closed his shop in 1787 on the death of his first wife, an Irish lady of family and some fortune, and entered upon the management of the Liverpool Theatre. His success was not great, but he prospered by a second marriage with a widow dowered with 800l. a year. He was, afterwards, with Mr. John Jackson concerned in the management of the Edinburgh Theatre. He was of pleasing person, good judgment, his voice was sonorous and distinct, and from his success in the impassioned declamatory parts of tragedy he obtained the nickname of ‘Tyrant Aickin’—‘a character in private life no man was more the reverse of, either in temper or the duties of friendship.’ Nor did all his merit lie in tragedy; in the serious parts of comedy, such as Sir John Flowerdale in the ‘School for Fathers,’ the pleasing harmony of his tones, and his precision of expression were of great service to the performance. Genest gives a list of upwards of eighty characters which Francis Aickin was accustomed to assume. Francis Aickin and his brother were members of the ‘School of Garrick,’ a club composed of actors who were contemporaries of Garrick.

[Secret History of the Green Rooms, 1790; Thespian Dictionary, 1805; Genest's History of the Stage, 1832; Hitchcock's History of the Irish Stage, 1794.]

D. C.