Gardner, Mrs. (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 20
Gardner, Mrs.

by John Joseph Knight
Sarah Gardner in the ODNB.

GARDNER, Mrs. (fl. 1763–1782), dramatist and actress, appeared at Drury Lane-Theatre as Miss Cheney 1 Oct. 1763, playing Miss Prue in Congreve's 'Love for Love.' On 13 Jan. 1764 she was Rose in the 'Recruiting Officer.' She played Miss Prue once more 20 Oct. 1764, and in June 1765 was the original Mrs. Mechlin in Foote's comedy of the 'Commissary,' with which the Haymarket reopened. On 19 Nov. 1765, at Covent Garden, as Mrs. Gardner, late Miss Cheney, she acted her favourite character of Miss Prue; 15 March 1766, at the same house, she was Belinda in the 'Man of the Mode,' and on 26 April was the original Fanny in 'All in the Right,' an unprinted farce from Destouches, attributed to Hull. When Foote [q. v.], after his recovery from his accident, reopened the Haymarket, Mrs. Gardner appeared there in many of the pieces. She was the original Margaret in the 'Devil upon Two Sticks,' 1768; Mrs. Circuit in the 'Lame Lover,' 1770; Mrs. Matchem in the 'Nabob,' 29 June 1772; and Mrs. Simony in the 'Cozeners,' 1774. At the Haymarket, under Foote, her reputation was made. She played, however, at the other houses characters chiefly belonging to broad comedy. In 1777, the year of Foote's death, she went to Jamaica. Returning thence she appeared in Dublin at the Capel Street Theatre, but quarrelled with the managers about a piece of hers which, in violation of their promise, they failed to bring out. On 13 Aug. 1782 she reappeared at the Haymarket, as Mrs. Cadwallader in the 'Author.' After this her name is not found in the bills. The 'Biographia Dramatica' says she played occasionally, and attempted (sola) an entertainment of her own composition.

Mrs. Gardner wrote 'Advertisement, or a Bold Stroke for a Husband,' a comedy acted at the Haymarket once, 9 Aug. 1777, for her benefit. Egerton (Theatrical Remembrancer) ascribes to her the 'Female Dramatist,' a musical farce acted at the Haymarket 16 Aug. 1782, the authorship of which has also been imputed to the younger Colman. Neither piece has been printed. She had an agreeable face and figure, and would have made a high reputation had she not fallen under the influence and copied the manner of Foote. She was the best actress in his company. Her husband, an insignificant member of the Covent Garden company, by whom she had a family, neglected her, and was treated by her with exemplary patience and constancy. He appears to have survived her.

[Genest's Account of the English Stage; Biographia Dramatica; Theatrical Biography, 1772.]

J. K.