Egerton, Sarah (DNB00)

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EGERTON, SARAH (1782–1847), actress, was the daughter of the Rev. Peter Fisher, rector of Little Torrington, Devonshire. After the death (1803) of her father she took to the stage, appearing at the Bath theatre on 3 Dec. 1803 as Emma in 'The Marriage Promise' of John Till Allingham. Here she remained for six or seven years, playing as a rule secondary characters. Her last benefit at Bath took place on 21 March 1809, when she played Gunilda in Dimond's 'Hero of the North' and Emmeline in Hawkesworth's 'Edgar and Emmeline.' She probably married Daniel Egerton [q. v.] soon afterwards. He was playing leading business in Bath. Her first recorded appearance as Mrs. Egerton was at Birmingham in 1810. On 25 Feb. 1811, as Mrs. Egerton from Birmingham, she played Juliet at Covent Garden with no very conspicuous success. Marcia in 'Cato,' Luciana in 'Comedy of Errors,' Emilia in 'Othello' followed during the same season. She could not struggle against the formidable opposition of Mrs. Siddons and subsequently of Miss O'Neill, and it was not until she took to melodrama that her position was assured. In the 'Miller and his Men' by Pocock she was (21 Oct. 1813) the original Ravina. Again she relapsed into obscurity, from which, in adaptations from the 'Waverley Novels,' she permanently issued. 'Guy Mannering, or the Gipsy's Prophecy,' by Daniel Terry, was produced at Covent Garden on 12 March 1816. John Emery [q. v.]]] was originally cast for Meg Merrilies, but refused positively to take the part. Under these circumstances the management turned almost in despair to Mrs. Egerton, whose success proved to be conspicuous. Helen Macgregor in Pocock's 'Rob Roy Macgregor, or Auld Lang Syne,' 12 March 1818, followed. Her services having been dispensed with at Covent Garden, she played (13 Jan. 1819), at the Surrey, Madge wildfire in Thomas Dibdin's 'The Heart of Midlothian, or the Lily of St. Leonard's,' and subsequently Young Norval in Home's 'Douglas,' played as a melodrama. In 1819-1820 she appeared at Drury Lane, then under Elliston's management, as Meg Merrilies, playing during this and the following seasons in tragedy and melodrama and even in comedy. She was the Queen to Kean's Hamlet, and appeared as Clementina Allspice in 'The Way to get Married,' Volumnia in 'Coriolanus,' Jane de Montfort in the alteration of Joanna Baillie's DeMontfort,' brought forward for Kean 27 Nov. 1821, Alicia in 'Jane Shore,' and many other characters. When, in 1821, her husband took Sadler's Wells, she appeared with conspicuous success as Joan of Arc in Fitzball's drama of that name. Subsequently she played in melodrama at the Olympic, also under her husband's management. Soon after Egerton's death in 1835 she retired from the stage, accepting a pension from the Covent Garden Fund. She died at Chelsea on 3 Aug. 1847, and was buried on 7 Aug. in Chelsea churchyard. A third-rate actress in tragedy, she approached the first rank in melodrama. Macready (Reminiscences, i. 125) says 'her merits were confined to melodrama.'

[Books cited; Genest's Account of the Stage; Mrs. Baron Wilson's Our Actresses; New Monthly Mag.; Theatrical Biog. 1824; Thomas Dibdin's Reminiscences; Era Almanack, 1871, 1873; Era newspaper, 15 Aug. 1847; Theatrical Inquisitor, various years.]

J. K.