Langford, Abraham (DNB00)

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LANGFORD, ABRAHAM (1711–1774), auctioneer and playwright, was born in the parish of St. Paul's, Covent Garden, in 1711. When quite a young man he began to write for the stage, and was responsible, according to the 'Biographia Dramatica,' for an 'entertainment' called 'The Judgement of Paris,' which was produced in 1730. In 1736 appeared a ballad-opera by him entitled 'The Lover his own Rival, as performed at the New Theatre at Goodman's Fields.' Though it was received indifferently, it was reprinted at London in 1753, and at Dublin in 1769. In 1748 Langford succeeded 'the great Mr. Cock,' i.e. Christopher or 'Auctioneer' Cock (d. 1748; see 'Gentleman's Magazine,' s.a., p, 572), at the auction-rooms in the north-eastern corner of the Piazza, Covent Garden. These rooms formed part of the house where Sir Dudley North died in 1691, and are now occupied by the Tavistock Hotel. Before his death Langford seems to have occupied the foremost place among the auctioneers of the period. He died on 17 Sept. 1774, and was buried in St. Pancras churchyard, where a long and grandiloquent epitaph is inscribed on both sides of his tomb (Lysons, iii. 357).

A mezzotint portrait of the auctioneer, without painters or engraver's name, is noticed in Bromley's 'Engraved Portraits' (p. 407). He left a numerous family, one of whom, Abraham Langford, was a governor of Highgate Chapel and school in 1811 (Lysons, Suppl. p. 200). Langford's successor at the Covent Garden auction-rooms was another well-known auctioneer, George Robins.

[Biographia Dramatica, 1812, vol. i. pt. ii. p. 444; Nichols's Lit. Anecdotes, passim; Daily Advertiser, 19 Sept. 1774; Wheatley and Cunningham's London, iii. 84.]

T. S.