Mottley, John (DNB00)
|←Motteux, Peter Anthony||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 39
MOTTLEY, JOHN (1692-1750), dramatist and biographer, was the son of Colonel Thomas Mottley, an adherent of James II in his exile, who entered the service of Louis XIV, and was killed at the battle of Turin in 1706 ; his mother was Dionisia, daughter of John Guise of Ablode Court, Gloucestershire. John was born in London in 1692, was educated at Archbishop Tenison's grammar school in the parish of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, and obtained a clerkship in the excise office in 1708. Owing to an 'unhappy contract 'he was compelled to resign his post in 1720, and thenceforth gained a precarious subsistence by his pen. He made his debut as a dramatic author with a frigid tragedy in the pseudo-classic style, entitled 'The Imperial Captives,' the scene of which is laid at Carthage, in the tune of Genseric, who with the Empress Eudoxia and her daughter plays a principal part. The play was produced at the Theatre Royal, Lincoln's Inn Fields, in February 1719-20. At the same theatre was produced in April 1721 Mottley's only other effort in tragedy, 'Antiochus,' an extremely dull play, founded on the story of the surrender by Seleucus Nicator of his wife Stratonice to his son Antiochus. Both tragedies were printed on their production. In comedy Mottley was more successful. His dramatic opera, 'Penelope,' in which he was assisted by Thomas Cooke (1703-1756) [q. v.], a satire on Pope's ' Odyssey,' and his farce 'The Craftsman, or Weekly Journalist' (both performed at the Haymarket, and printed in 1728 and 1729 respectively), are not without humour. His comedy, 'The Widow Bewitched,' produced at Goodman's Fields Theatre in 1730, and printed, was a successful play.
Mottley was joint author with Charles Coffey [q. v.] of the comic opera, 'The Devil to pay, or the Wives Metamorphosed,' produced at Drury Lane on 6 Aug. 1731, and frequently revived. Under the pseudonym of Eobert Seymour he edited in 1734 (perhaps with the assistance of Thomas Cooke) Stow's 'Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster' (London, 2 vols. fol.) Under the pseudonym of Elijah Jenkins he published in 1739 the classic jest-book, 'Joe Miller's Jests, or the Wit's Vade Mecum' [see Miller, Joseph or Josias].
Mottley is also the author of two historical works: 'The History of the Life of Peter I, Emperor of Eussia,' London, 1739, 2 vols. 8vo, and ' The History of the Life and Reign of the Empress Catharine, containing a short History of the Russian Empire from its first Foundation to the Time of the Death of that Princess,' London, 1744, 2 vols. 8vo. He is the reputed author of the 'Compleat List of all the English Dramatic Poets and of all the Plays ever printed in the English Language to the Present Year 1747,' appended to Whincop's 'Scanderbeg,' in which it is clear from internal evidence that he wrote the article on himself. He died in 1750, having for some years previously been almost bedridden with the gout. A portrait is mentioned by Bromley.
[Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archæological Soc. 1878-9, iii. 73 ; Whincop's Scanderbeg, 1747, p. 264 (with engraved portrait) ; Baker's Biog. Dramat. 1812 ; Genest's Hist, of the Stage, iii. 40, 61, 228, 277; Chamberlayne's Mag. Brit. Not. 1716 p. 514, 1718 p. 70 ; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. xi. 102, 8th ser. iv. 9 ; Upeott's English Topogr. p. 620 ; Gent. Mag. 1820 pt. ii. p. 327, 1821 pt, i. p. 124.]