Orger, Mary Ann (DNB00)

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ORGER, MARY ANN (1788–1849), actress, born in London on 25 Feb. 1788, was daughter of William Ivers, a musician in a country company. Her mother was occasionally seen on the stage. While an infant she was taken on the stage as the child in ‘King Henry VIII.’ In 1793, at Newbury, she was the girl in the ‘Children of the Wood.’ During some years she remained with Henry Thornton, manager of a company playing in Croydon, Reading, Windsor, Gosport, Newbury, and Chelmsford. The only part associated during this period with her name is Miss Blandford in ‘Speed the Plough.’ In July 1804, upon marrying George Orger, a quaker, of High Wycombe, she retired from her profession, which soon afterwards, with her husband's consent, she resumed. In the autumn of 1805 she played, in Glasgow, Amelia Wildenhaim in ‘Lovers' Vows’ to the Frederick of Master Betty. Some favour was shown her in Edinburgh, where her benefit, in the ‘Heir at Law,’ brought her 78l. For the benefit of Mrs. Rosoman Mountain [q. v.] she played, in what city is not mentioned, Caroline Sedley in Kenney's ‘False Alarm.’ In Aberdeen and elsewhere she met John Bannister [q. v.], playing Nell to his Jobson in ‘The Devil to Pay,’ Ann Lovely to his Colonel Feignwell in ‘A Bold Stroke for a Wife,’ and supporting him in other parts. His recommendation proved effectual, and on 4 Oct. 1808, as ‘Mrs. Orger from Edinburgh,’ she made at Drury Lane, as Lydia Languish in the ‘Rivals,’ her first appearance in London. Her reception was favourable, but not enthusiastic; and, as the company was full, few opportunities were afforded her. On the destruction by fire of the theatre, 24 Feb. 1809, she went with the company to the Lyceum, where she played an original part in ‘Temper, or the Domestic Tyrant,’ an alleged alteration of Sedley's ‘Grumbler.’ On 20 Nov. 1809 she was the original Mrs. Lovell in ‘Not at Home,’ by R. C. Dallas; on 12 Jan. 1810 played Flippanta in the ‘Confederacy;’ and on the 23rd Lady Lambert in the ‘Hypocrite.’ As Madge, an original part, in Arnold's opera ‘Up all Night, or the Smuggler's Cave,’ she rose in public estimation. Eliza in ‘Riches, or the Wife and Brother,’ adapted by Sir James Bland Burgess from Massinger's ‘City Madam;’ Amaranta in the ‘Kiss,’ altered from Fletcher's ‘Spanish Curate;’ and Tittilinda in ‘Quadrupeds, or the Manager's Last Kick,’ followed. When the new Drury Lane theatre was opened, she played, on 18 Feb. 1813, Mrs. Lovemore in the ‘Way to keep him.’ A long list of secondary parts—Susan in the ‘School for Authors,’ Bell in ‘The Deuce is in him,’ Jane in ‘Wild Oats,’ &c.—followed, and she played many original secondary parts in forgotten works of Thomas Dibdin, Poole, Arnold, and Henry Siddons. A prohibition against playing at the Lyceum led her in 1816 into a published correspondence with Arnold and Douglas Kinnaird, M.P. This is dated from Charles Street, Cavendish Square. She played thenceforward regularly at Drury Lane. She appeared on 18 June 1823 at the Haymarket as the original Mrs. Sophia Smith in ‘Mrs. Smith, or the Wife and the Widow.’ This is not noticed as a first appearance at that house, though no earlier has been traced. She played here some unimportant parts, including Miss Carolina Wilhelmina Amelia Skeggs in an adaptation by T. Dibdin of the ‘Vicar of Wakefield.’ She played with Madame Vestris [see Mathews, Lucia Elizabetta] at the Olympic and Covent Garden. In 1845 she is mentioned in the ‘Sunday Times’ as having retired. She died on 1 Oct. 1849.

During her last years she had a pension of 120l. annually from the Drury Lane theatrical fund. Her efforts were generally restricted to second-rate characters, but in those she excelled. William Henry Oxberry [q. v.] boasts that she was too useful to be prized at her full worth, and Macready praises her obliging disposition. She was above middle height, with hazel eyes, light brown hair, an exquisitely fair complexion, and ‘a voluptuous beauty in her general appearance’ (Oxberry). A portrait of her by Clint, in the Garrick Club, as Fanny in ‘Lock and Key,’ shows a bright and attractive face. It is one of Clint's best works, associating her with Munden as Old Brummagem, Edward Knight as Ralph, and Miss Cubitt as Laura. A portrait of her as Audrey accompanies her life in Oxberry's ‘Dramatic Chronology.’ Her best parts were in burlesque—Molledusta in ‘Amoroso, King of Little Britain;’ the servant in ‘High Notions, or a Trip to Exmouth;’ Dorothea in the ‘Tailors,’ &c. In this line she is credited with having created a school of acting alike original and excellent. In broad farce she was not less good. In low comedy she was inferior to Miss Kelly, Mrs. Davison, and Mrs. Gibbs. Her singing chambermaids were unexceptionable. She was author of a piece, ‘Change Partners,’ which was produced at Drury Lane on 10 March 1825 (Gent. Mag. 1849, ii. 546; Genest, ix. 292). She had three sisters on the stage—one, who married Hughes of Drury Lane, and died young; a Mrs. Fawcett, a performer in the country; and a Mrs. Lazenby, who appeared at the Olympic. Her daughter, who married one Reinagle, was known as a pianiste.

[Genest's Account of the English Stage; Dibdin's Edinburgh Stage; Oxberry's Dramatic Chronology, vol. ii.; Dramatic and Musical Review, various years; Pollock's Macready; Biography of the British Stage, 1824; Georgian Era; Era, 21 Oct. 1849; Gent. Mag. 1849, ii. 545–6.]

J. K.