Edwin, John (1768-1805) (DNB00)

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EDWIN, JOHN, the younger (1768–1805), actor, son of John Edwin [q. v.] is first heard of in 1777, when his father, applying to George Colman for an advance of salary, offers to throw in Mrs. Edwin and Jack. The following year, 30 July 1778, young Edwin appeared at the Haymarket as Hengo in a revival of 'Bonduca' by Beaumont and Fletcher. From this period, at the Haymarket or at Bath, he frequently played with his father, his first recorded appearance in a manly part being at Covent Garden, 20 March 1788, as Dick in 'The Apprentice' of Murphy for his father's benefit. Taken up by Lord Barrymore, who made an inseparable companion of him, he directed during some years the amateur theatricals at Wargrave, Berkshire, the seat of that nobleman. After his marriage to Miss Richards in 1791 he took Mrs. Edwin [q. v.] to Wargrave, where she overstayed the limits allowed her by her manager, Tate Wilkinson, of the York circuit, with whom in consequence she quarrelled. With his wife Edwin went to the Haymarket, appearing 20 June 1792 in 'The Virgin Unmasked,' previously known as 'An Old Man taught Wisdom,' a ballad farce of Fielding, in which he played Blister to the Lucy of Mrs. Edwin. He accompanied his wife to Dublin and to Doncaster in 1794, and on most of her country tours, and died in Dublin, 22 Feb. 1805, a victim to degrading dissipation. Edwin was best known at Bath, where he was held in some parts equal or superior to his father. He was an excellent country actor, and would probably, but for his irregular life, have made a high reputation. Tate Wilkinson praises his Lenitive in 'The Prize' and his Nipperkin in 'The Sprigs of Laurel,' and says that as Mr. Tag in 'The Spoiled Child' he is better than any comedian he (Wilkinson) has hitherto seen. He adds that 'Mr. Edwin dresses his characters better and more characteristic than any comic actor I recollect on the York stage' (Wandering Patentee, iv. 204). A tombstone to his memory, erected by his wife in St. Werburgh's churchyard, Dublin, attributes his death to the acuteness of his sensibility. In a satirical poem, attributed to John Wilson Croker [q. v.], had appeared some stinging lines upon Edwin, the 'lubbard spouse' of Mrs. Edwin, and the degenerate son of a man 'high on the rolls of comic fame.' Upon reading these Edwin, it is said, wrote to a friend: 'Come and help me to destroy myself with some of the most splendid cogniac [sic] that I have ever exported to cheer a breaking heart.' From the debauch then begun Edwin did not recover, and he died uttering fearful imprecations upon his then unknown satirist.

[Genest's Account of the English Stage; Monthly Mirror, February and March 1810; Mrs. C. Baron Wilson's Our Actresses, 1844; Tate Wilkinson's Wandering Patentee; Thespian Dict. 1805.]

J. K.