Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 23.djvu/411

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Gwyn
Gwyn
403

said Ellen Gwyn stood outlawed' (Secret Service Expenses of Charles II and James II, Camden Soc. p. 109). Other large sums were paid her, and Bestwood Park, Nottingham, was settled on her, and after her death on the Duke of St. Albans. Her will, dated 1687, is printed in Cunningham's 'Story of Nell Gwyn,' and in other works, and a codicil expressing her wishes with regard to her funeral was added 18 Oct. 1687. She died on 13 Nov. 1687 of an apoplexy. Among other requests to her son, many of them charitable and accepted by him, was one 'that he would lay out twenty pounds yearly for the releasing of poor debtors out of prison.' Other sums, said to have been left to bellringers, &c., are of questionable authority. Wigmore writes to Sir George Etherege, then envoy at Katisbon, that she 'died piously and penitently.' She was buried 17 Nov. 1687 in the church of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields. Dr. Tenison, at her request, preached a funeral sermon in which he said 'much to her praise.' Nell Gwyn was illiterate. Her letters are written by other hands, and signed 'E. G.' by her. Four of these are in the Evidence Chamber, Ormonde Castle. Kilkenny. A letter to Laurence Hyde, second son of the Earl of Clarendon, was sold in the Singer Collection, 3 Aug. 1858, for 13l. 5s., and came into the collection of Sir William Tite. Its orthography is marvellous even for that age. Two letters attributed to her, purchased in 1856, are in Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 21483, ff. 27, 28. She had a sister Rose, who married Captain Cassells, and after his death in 1675 remarried a man called Forster.

Many houses are associated with her name. That in Drury Lane has been photographed by the society for preserving relics of old London. She lodged at the Cock and Pie in Drury Lane, lived at Epsom with Lord Dorset, and; had a house at Chelsea called Sandford House. A house in Bagnigge Wells, traditionally associated with her, had in 1789 a bust, said to be designed by Sir Peter Lely in alto relievo, let into a circular cavity in a wall. One of the houses which she occupied in Pall Mall has been constantly and erroneously said to have been the scene of her death in 1691. A deed of covenant in which she is one of the parties is preserved concerning a house in Princes Street, Leicester Square (see Notes and Queries, 4th ser. iii. 479). The warrant of Charles II, assigning to her Burford House at Windsor, now the site of the Queen's Mews, is in existence. An account of the decorations is in 'Annals of Windsor,' by Tighe and Davis, 1858, ii. 327, 441. Portraits of Nell Gwyn abound. One, presumably a copy, assigned to Sir Peter Lely, is in the Garrick Club; a second is in the Lely room at Hampton Court; and a third, by Lely, is in the National Portrait Gallery. Others, by different hands, are at Goodwood, Elvaston, Althorp, Welbeck, Sudbury, &c. A full-length portrait which has been engraved realised at the Stow sale 100l. No. 306 of King James's pictures was 'Madam Gwyn's picture naked, with a Cupid,' by Lely, and concealed by a sliding panel. The supposition that she induced Charles to found Chelsea Hospital had something to do with the favour always extended to her life. In her character, however, she was frank, unsentimental, and English. As an actress she was best in comedy, in which she was gay, saucy, and sprightly. She protested once or twice in epilogues against being called upon to play in tragedy, but many of her original parts are tragic. She appears to have been low in stature and plump, and to have had hair of reddish brown. Her foot was diminutive, and her eyes when she laughed became all but invisible. In dedications to her of books and plays, especially by Mrs. Behn, she is spoken of with extravagant eulogy.

[Works cited; Memoirs of the Life of Eleanor Gwinn, London, 1752, 8vo; Notes and Queries, all series, passim; Cunningham's Story of Nell Gwyn; Genest's Account of the Stage; Hamilton's Memoirs of Grammont, English translations; Downes's Roscius Anglicanus, ed. Walron; Cunningham's Handbook to London; State Poems, 4 vols.; Betterton's History of the Stage, &c. Coarse epigrams upon her are to be found in the State Poems, and in much Restoration literature. Cunningham's book is not always trustworthy, and portions of the curious information to be drawn from Notes and Queries are contradictory. See also a Memorial of Nell Gwynn the actress and Thomas Otway the dramatist, by William Henry Hart, F.S.A., 1868, 4to, pp. 3.]

J. K.

GWYN, FRANCIS (1648?–1734), politician, son and heir of Edward Gwyn of Llansannor, Glamorganshire, who married Eleanor, youngest daughter of Sir Francis Popham of Littlecott, Wiltshire, was born at Combe Florey in Somersetshire about 1648. He was trained for the profession of the law, but being possessed of ample means soon showed a preference for politics. On a by-election in February 1673 he was returned for Chippenham. After the dissolution in January 1679 he remained outside the house discharging his official duties, but in 1685 was elected for Cardiff. In the Convention parliament of 1689-90 and in its successor from 1690 to 1695 he sat for Christchurch in Hampshire, and on the latter, if not on the first occasion, he was recommended by Henry,

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