Chippendale, William Henry (DNB01)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement
Chippendale, William Henry

by John Joseph Knight
Contains subarticle on Mrs. Mary Jane Chippendale.

CHIPPENDALE, WILLIAM HENRY (1801–1888), actor, the son of an actor at the Haymarket and elsewhere, was born in Somers Town, London, on 14 Aug. 1801, and received some education at the high school, Edinburgh, in which city his father made his first appearance on 25 July 1814 as Polonius. Chippendale was placed with James Ballantyne to learn printing, and asserted, in error or oblivion, that he 'read' some of the Waverley manuscripts. He was subsequently apprenticed to John Ballantyne the auctioneer. He claimed to have played the Page to Stephen Kemble's Falstaff, and taken other boyish parts. In 1819 he made at Montrose,as David in the 'Rivals' his first professional appearance, and then became a strolling player. On 11 Jan. 1823, as Chippendale from Carlisle, he was at the Caledonian theatre, Edinburgh, playing Johnny Howie in 'Gilderoy.' Glasgow,Carlisle, the Lincoln, York, and Worcester circuits, and Manchester, Birmingham, Bath,and Bristol saw him in leading business in comedy. In Manchester he first enacted Sir Peter Teazle. In 1836 he went to America, where he remained at the Park theatre, New York, for seventeen years. His début in Lond was nominally made at the Haymarket on 28 March 1853 as Sir Anthony Absolute. He had, however, some twenty years earlier played at the Victoria the Lord Mayor in 'Richard III' as a substitute for his father. At the Haymarket he took the lead in courtly comedy. He was on 27 April 1853 the first Lord Betterton in R. Sullivan's 'Elopement in High Life.' Many new parts in pieces now consigned to oblivion followed. On 23 Feb. 1860 he was first Colepepper in the 'Overland Route.' As Abel Murcott in 'Our American Cousin' he made a great hit. He was on 14 Jan. 1869 the first Dorrison in Robertson's 'Home,' and on 25 Oct. the first Marmaduke Vavasour in Tom Taylor's 'New Men and Old Acres.' His chief service to the Haymarket was rendered in so-called classical comedy, in which he to some extent replaced Farren. His parts in this included, in addition to those named—Sir Francis Gripe in the 'Busybody,' Sullen in the 'Beaux' Stratagem,' Malvolio, Adam, Sir Harcourt Courtly, Hardcastle, Old Mirabel in the 'Inconstant,' Lord Duberly in the 'Heir at Law,' Lord Priory in 'Wives as they were and Maids as they are,' Old Dornton in 'Road to Ruin,' and Sir Walter Fondlove in the 'Love Chase.' His original parts comprised also Ingot in 'David Garrick,' Dr. Vivian in 'A Lesson for Life,' and Gervais Dumont in 'A Hero of Romance.' In September 1874 he supported (Sir) Henry Irving at the Lyceum as Polonius. In this character he took a farewell benefit at the same house on 24 Feb. 1879. He subsequently acted in the country until his intellect began to fail. He died on 3 Jan. 1888, and was buried at Highgate cemetery. He ripened into an excellent actor, principally in old men, and was a mainstay of the Haymarket. He married thrice, and had twenty-three children, most of whom predeceased him.

Mrs. Mary Jane Chippendale (1837?–1888), his third wife, whose maiden name was Seaman, was born in Salisbury, played in the country, and made, at the Theatre Royal, Manchester, her first recognised appearance, playing Mrs. Wellington de Boots in 'Everybody's Friend.' As Miss Snowdon in 1863 she made at the Haymarket, as Mrs. Malaprop, her first appearance in London, and three years afterwards married William Henry Chippendale. She was at the Court Theatre in 1875, and at the Lyceum in 1878; took a company to Australia; on her return succeeded at the Lyceum Mrs. Stirling as Martha in 'Faust,' and accompanied Irvingto America. She died on 26 May 1888 at Peckham Road, Camberwell, and was buried in Finchley cemetery. A pretty, buxom actress, she won acceptance as Dowager Lady Duberly in 'Heir at Law,' Widow Green, Emilia, Mrs. Hardcastle, and so forth.

[Personal knowledge; Biograph, i. 139-45; Pascoe's Dramatic List; Scott and Howard's Blanchard; Dibdin's Edinburgh Stage; Era, 7 Jan. and 2 June 1888; Era Almanack; Sunday Times, various years.]

J. K.