Seymour, Mrs. (DNB00)

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SEYMOUR, Mrs. (fl. 1717–1723), actress, is first heard of on 22 Aug. 1717, when, with the summer company at Drury Lane, she played Eugenia in Shadwell's ‘Scowrers.’ On 17 June 1718, still with the summer company, she was the original Leonora in Savage's ‘Love in a Veil.’ On 11 July she was Mirtilla in ‘Love for Money,’ and on 15 Aug. Christiana in ‘Love in a Wood.’ On 16 Oct. she made, as Lucia in ‘Cato,’ her first recorded appearance at Lincoln's Inn Fields, Decius being played by Bohemia, better known as Boheme, an actor originally from Southwark Fair, whom subsequently she married. She was also Cynthia in the ‘Double Dealer,’ Rutland in the ‘Unhappy Favourite,’ Lady Brute in the ‘Provoked Wife,’ had a part in ‘Platonick Love, or the Innocent Mistress,’ by Mrs. Pix, and was on 16 Jan. 1719 the original Lady Raleigh in Sewell's ‘Sir Walter Raleigh,’ and on 7 Feb. Violetta in the ‘Younger Brother, or the Sham Marquis.’ On 29 Feb. 1720 she was the first Eudosia in ‘Imperial Captives,’ an adaptation by Mottley apparently of the ‘Genséric, Roi des Vandales,’ of Madame Deshoulières. She was also seen as Desdemona to Quin's Othello, and Marcella in ‘Don Quixote.’ In 1720–1 she was Queen in Dryden's ‘Spanish Friar,’ Cordelia, Mrs. Page, Lady Touchwood in the ‘Double Dealer,’ Cressida, Lady Macduff, Elvira in ‘Love makes a Man,’ Isabella in ‘Measure for Measure,’ Queen in ‘Richard II,’ Hero (presumably) in ‘Much Ado about Nothing,’ Quisara in the ‘Island Princess,’ Queen in ‘Richard III,’ Abra-mulé, Arpasia in ‘Tamerlane,’ Mrs. Winwife in the ‘Artful Husband,’ Portia in ‘Julius Cæsar,’ Lady Outside in ‘Woman's a Riddle,’ and Annabella in the ‘Quaker's Wedding.’ Her original parts during this season were a character, presumably Mariana, in ‘No Fools like Wits’ (the ‘Female Virtues’ with a new title), 10 Jan. 1721; Lady Meanwell in Odell's ‘Chimera,’ 19 Jan.; Isabella in the ‘Fair Captive,’ altered by Mrs. Haywood from Captain Hurst, 4 March; Stratonice in Mottley's ‘Antiochus,’ 13 April; and Louisa in ‘Fatal Extravagance,’ by Mitchell or Aaron Hill, 21 April. In 1721–2 she was Amanda in ‘Love's Last Shift,’ Louisa in ‘Love makes a Man,’ Monimia in the ‘Orphan,’ Sylvia in the ‘Recruiting Officer,’ Almeyda in ‘Don Sebastian,’ Charlot Welldon in ‘Oroonoko,’ Mrs. Sullen in the ‘Beaux' Stratagem,’ Belvidera in ‘Venice Preserved,’ Portia in the ‘Jew of Venice,’ Widow Richlove in ‘Injured Love,’ Lady Dunce in the ‘Soldier's Fortune,’ Lætitia in the ‘Old Bachelor,’ Arbella in the ‘Committee,’ Augusta in the ‘History and Fall of Domitian’—a version of the ‘Roman Actor’ of Massinger—and Tamora in ‘Titus Andronicus;’ and was the first Hypermnestra in Sturmy's ‘Love and Duty’ on 22 Jan. 1722, in which character she spoke an indecent epilogue; and Sabrina in ‘Hibernia Freed,’ by William Philips, on 13 Feb. In her last season, 1722–3, she was Corinna in Woman's Revenge,’ Queen in ‘Hamlet,’ Calphurnia in ‘Julius Cæsar,’ Jocasta in ‘Œdipus,’ Amaranta in the ‘Spanish Curate,’ Roxana in the ‘Rival Queens,’ Teresia in the ‘Squire of Alsatia,’ and Phædra in ‘Phædra and Hippolitus.’ On 15 Dec. she was the original Isabella in Sturmy's ‘Compromise,’ and on 22 Feb. 1723 the original Mariamne in Fenton's play so named.

For her benefit she played, on 2 April 1723, some character, probably Mrs. Brittle, in the ‘Amorous Wife.’ Shortly afterwards, Genest thinks in Passion week, she married Anthony Boheme. Boheme, who had been a sailor, was, in spite of his straddling gait, reputed a good actor in the second rank. He was highly esteemed in Lear, and played parts so widely different as Mahomet, Julius Cæsar, Shylock, Œdipus, Alexander, Wolsey, Cato, Shallow, Don Quixote, Voltore in ‘Volpone,’ and Mopus in the ‘Cheats.’ He appears to have been cut off by a fever about 1730.

Mrs. Boheme's name appears—probably in mistake—as Mrs. Seymour to Mariamne on 15 April. On the 16th, as Mrs. Boheme, late Mrs. Seymour, she played Arbella in the ‘Committee.’ Under her new name she was, on 23 April, the original Jocasta in the ‘Fatal Legacy,’ adapted from Racine by a young lady. On 7 June 1723, as Mariamne, was made what is said to have been her last appearance on the stage, from which at the close of the season she retired. Her further career is not to be traced.

Mrs. Seymour was tall and well made, with a pleasing and flexible voice, and an expressive face, which she charged with much passion. Davies says that in a revival of ‘Don Carlos’ at Lincoln's Inn Fields, ‘Boheme's action in Philip (Betterton's part), and Mrs. Seymour by her excellence in the Queen, rendered their names celebrated, and contributed to establish a company struggling with difficulties’ (Dramatic Miscellanies, iii. 179–80). Her reputation was also established as Belvidera. Ryan, says Davies, ‘was so strongly prejudiced in the opinion of Mrs. Seymour's merit, that … he assured me he thought her superior to all the actresses he had ever seen’ (ib. iii. 247–8). Davies judges ‘too partial’ the superiority awarded her over Mrs. Oldfield and Mrs. Porter, but holds that she must have had a large amount of merit to engage so strongly Ryan's judgment. Short as was her career, it was fully occupied, proving that she must have had great variety and range. In her later years she grew bulky in person. Her portrait as Mariamne, by Vertue, with Boheme as Herod, accompanies the second edition of Fenton's tragedy.

[Genest's Account of the English Stage; Davies's Dramatic Miscellanies; Victor's Hist. of the Theatres of London and Dublin; Doran's Annals of the Stage, ed Lowe.]

J. K.