Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 23.djvu/409

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Gwyn
Gwyn
401

Gwinnet returned to London to press his suit, but the wedding was again deferred owing to the illness of the lady's mother. Early in the following spring Gwinnet suffered a relapse, and died on 16 April 1717.

He was the author of a play entitled 'The Country Squire, or a Christmas Gambol,' first published in the second volume of 'Pylades and Corinna,' the collected correspondence of Gwinnet and Elizabeth Thomas, London, 1732. Another edition of the play appeared in 1734. Portraits of Gwinnet were engraved by Van der Gucht and G. King for the 'Pylades and Corinna' volumes.

[Biog. Brit.; Baker's Biog. Dramatica.]

W. F. W. S.

GWYN, DAVID (fl. 1588), poet, suffered a long and cruel imprisonment in Spain (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1581-90, p. 220). Upon regaining his liberty, he published a poetical narrative of his sufferings, entitled 'Certaine English Verses penned by David Gwyn, who for the space of elueven Yeares and ten Moneths was in most grieuous Servitude in the Gallies, vnder the King of Spaine,' 16mo, London, 1588. In this tract, consisting of eleven pages, are three poems presented by the author to Queen Elizabeth in St. James's Park on Sunday, 18 Aug. 1588 (Arber, Stationers' Registers, ii. 232). Only one copy is at present known; it fetched 20l. 15s. at the sale of Thomas Jolley's library in 1843-4.

[Lowndes's Bibl. Manual (Bohn), ii. 962.]

G. G.

GWYN, ELEANOR (1650–1687), actress, and mistress to Charles II, was born, according to a horoscope preserved among the Ashmole papers in the museum at Oxford, and reproduced in Cunningham's 'Story of Nell Gwyn,' on 2 Feb. 1650. Historians of Hereford accept the tradition that she was born in a house in Pipe Well Lane, Hereford, since called Gwyn Street. This account is said to be confirmed by a slab in the cathedral, of which James Beauclerk, her descendant, was bishop from 1746 to 1787. A second account, resting principally on the not very trustworthy information supplied by Oldys in Betterton's 'History of the Stage' (Curll, 1741) and in manuscript notes still existing, assigns her birth to Coal Yard, Drury Lane. In the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth series of 'Notes and Queries' will be found full discussions of the question whether her father, who is said to have been called James, was a dilapidated soldier or a fruiterer in Drury Lane, and of other points. Her mother Helena (? Eleanor), according to the 'Domestic Intelligencer' of 5 Aug. 1679 and the 'English Intelligencer' of 2 Aug. 1679, 'sitting near the waterside at her house by the Neat Houses at Chelsea (Millbank), fell into the water accidentally and was drowned.' Report naturally ascribed the calamity to drunkenness. Mrs. Gwyn was buried in the church of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, in a tomb subsequently shared by her daughter. Nell's first public occupation was that of a vendor in the Theatre Royal of oranges, or, according to a satire of Rochester, of herrings. She was then, it is said, with the infamous Mother Ross. Charles Hart and John Lacy the players and a certain Robert Duncan, Dungan, or Dongan, have been reckoned among her lovers. To Hart she owed her theatrical training; Dungan is said to have promoted her from the place in the pit assigned during the Restoration to the orange-women to the stage of the Theatre Royal. Her first recorded performance there took place in 1665 as Cydaria in the 'Indian Emperor' of Dryden. She is believed to have played at the same house the following parts among others: in 1666 Lady Wealthy in the 'English Mounsieur' of James Howard [q. v.]; in 1667 Florimel in Dryden's 'Secret Love,' Flora in 'Flora's Vagaries' by Richard Rhodes, Alizia in the 'Black Prince' of the Earl of Orrery, Mirida in 'All Mistaken' by James Howard; in 1668 Bellario in 'Philaster' by Beaumont and Fletcher,' and Jacinta in Dryden's 'Mock Astrologer;' in 1669 Valeria in Dryden's 'Tyrannick Love;' in 1670 Almahide in Dryden's 'Conquest of Granada.' After an apparent absence from the stage of six to seven years she played at Dorset Garden in 1677 Angelica Bianca in Mrs. Behn's 'Rover,' Astrea in the 'Constant Nymph' (an anonymous pastoral), and Thalestris in the 'Siege of Babylon' of Samuel Pordage. In 1678 she appeared as Lady Squeamish in Otway's 'Friendship in Fashion,' and Lady Knowell in Mrs. Behn's 'Sir Patient Fancy.' In 1682 she returned to the Theatre Royal, and was Sunamire in the 'Loyal Brother' of Southern, and Queen Elizabeth in Banks's 'Unhappy Favourite, or the Earl of Essex.' These characters, with one or two exceptions, were original 'creations.' Upon the junction of the two companies in 1682 she appears to have definitely quitted the stage.

The chief authorities for these performances are Downes's 'Roscius Anglicanus' and Pepys's 'Diary.' Pepys constantly expresses his admiration. He calls her 'pretty witty Nell' (3 April 1665). Of the 'English Mounsieur' he says: 'The women do very well, but. above all little Nelly.' After seeing her in Celia, which she did pretty well, he kissed

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