Coffey, Charles (DNB00)
|←Coetlogon, Charles Edward de||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 11
COFFEY, CHARLES (d. 1745), dramatist, a 'native of Ireland,' is first heard of in Dublin. Being deformed in person he acted Æsop at the theatre, Dublin (presumably Smock Alley). In Dublin he produced : 1. 'The Beggar's Wedding,' a ballad opera in three acts, London, 1729, 8vo. This piece was afterwards given at the Haymarket 1729, compressed into one act and rechristened (2) 'Phosbe, or the Beggar's Wedding ; ' it was played at Drury Lane 4 July 1729, Justice Quorum being assigned to an actor named Fielding, who has more than once been confounded with the novelist, and Phoebe to Miss Raftor (afterwards Kitty Clive [q. v.]). The same year (3) ' Southwark Fair, or the Sheepshearing,' an opera in three scenes, said to have been acted by Mr. Reynolds's company from the Haymarket (probably at a booth, since no record of performance survives), was printed in 8vo. 4. ' The Female Parson, or the Beau in the Suds,' 8vo, 1730, was played the same year at the Haymarket and amned. 5. 'The Devil to Pay, or the Wives Metamorphosed,' opera, three acts, 8vo, 1731. This, the most successful piece with which Coffey had any connection, was acted at Drury Lane 6 Aug. 1731, and has been frequently revived. Genest records a performance at Covent Garden so late as 9 May 1828. This piece was written by Cofiey and John Mottley, each being said to have contributed half. It was altered by Theophilus Gibber, who introduced into it songs by his father and by Rochester. The basis of the plot is said to be found in Sidney's 'Arcadia,' whence it was drawn by Thomas Jevon, the actor, who, not without suspicion of assistance from his brother-in-law, Shadwell, wrote 'The Devil of a Wife, or a Comical Transformation,' 4to, 1686, from which ' The Devil to Pay ' is taken. 6. 'A Wife and no Wife,' a farce, 8vo, 1732, was never acted. 7. 'The Boarding School, or the Sham Captain,' a ballad farce in two acts, 8vo, 1733, called in Genest 'Boarding School Romps,' was played at Drury Lane 29 Jan. 1733. It is taken from D'Urfey's ' Love for Money, or the Boarding School.' 8. 'The Merry Cobbler, or the Second Part of The Devil to Pay,' a one-act farcical opera, was played unsuccessfully at Drury Lane 6 May 1735. 9. 'The Devil upon Two Sticks, or the Country Beau,' a ballad farce, 8vo, 1745. The ' Biographia Dramatica' says it was acted without success at Drury Lane in 1729. Of the performance no record survives. Whincop says it is an alteration much for the worse of a comedy called 'The Country Squire,' by Sir John Vanbrugh and others. The 'Biographia Dramatica,' following Whincop, represents it as an adaptation of 'The Country Squire.' No piece of that name from which it could be taken is, however, known. ' The Devil upon Two Sticks' was acted one night at Shepheard's Wells in Mayfair, 1744. Coffey's pieces are principally, if not exclusively, adaptations of previous works, and have no literary merit. Coffey appears to have been treated with some consideration by managers, and frequently had a benefit. He died 13 May 1745, and is buried in the parish of St. Clement Danes. He prepared the materials for an edition of Drayton, and obtained a large subscription for it. It was published after his death by Dodsley, Jolliffe, and Reeve, London, folio, 1748, but not for the benefit of Coffey's widow, as Whincop, writing in 1747, said would be the case.
[The British Theatre, 1750, by W. K. Chetwood ; List of Dramatic Authors appended to Scanderbeg ; Genest's Account of the English Stage ; works mentioned.]