Wigan, Horace (DNB00)

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WIGAN, HORACE (1818?–1885), actor and adapter of plays, born about 1818, younger brother of Alfred Sydney Wigan [q. v.], acted in Ireland, and was first seen in Dublin on 1 Aug. 1853 as Billy Lackaday in ‘Sweethearts and Wives.’ He subsequently replaced Webb as King Bruin in the ‘Good Woman in the Wood.’ Quitting Dublin, he made, under the name of Danvers, his first appearance in London on 1 May 1854, at the Olympic, as Paddy Murphy in Lever's extravaganza ‘The Happy Man.’ He was the original O'Rafferty in Taylor's ‘Blighted Being,’ 17 Oct., but failed to win acceptance as a representative of Irishmen, and made no mark for four years. On 5 June 1858 he was, as Horace Wigan, the first Smythers, a hairdresser, in Taylor's ‘Going to the Bad,’ to the Peter Potts of Robson, and on 2 Dec. the first Smoothly Smirk to Robson's Aaron Burr in Oxenford's ‘Porter's Knot.’ After playing Abder Khan in H. J. Byron's burlesque of ‘Mazeppa,’ Horatio Cocles Bric-à-brac in Taylor's ‘Payable on Demand,’ Mr. Cunningham in Taylor's ‘Nine Points of the Law,’ the Baron de Beaupré in Maddison Morton's ‘Husband to Order’ on 23 April 1860, and William Hogarth in Taylor's ‘Christmas Dinner,’ he produced at the Strand an adaptation from the French, entitled ‘Observation and Flirtation,’ on 26 Sept. 1860. In H. T. Craven's ‘Chimney Corner’ he was, 21 Feb. 1861, the original Solomon Probity, and during a temporary illness of Robson played Peter Probity. His ‘Change for a Sovereign’ was produced at the Strand on 14 March. On 30 June he was the first Symptom, an imaginary invalid, in his own ‘Charming Woman’ (‘À trente ans’), and subsequently acted in ‘Jack of all Trades,’ an adaptation of ‘Le Ramoneur’ by H. Neville and Florence Haydon. His ‘Friends or Foes,’ an adaptation of M. Sardou's ‘Nos Intimes,’ was given at the St. James's on 8 March 1862, and was the best of his adaptations. Still at the Olympic, he was, 14 Nov., the first Fusell in Watts Phillips's ‘Camilla's Husband,’ and on 19 March the first Blush in ‘Taming a Truant,’ his own adaptation of M. Sardou's ‘Papillone.’ In Taylor's ‘Ticket-of-Leave Man’ he was the original Hawkshaw, a detective, on 27 June 1863, his first distinct acting success. On 1 Nov. 1864 he undertook the management of the Olympic, at which house alone he had been seen in London, producing on the opening night Taylor's ‘Hidden Hand,’ and two farces, Oxenford's ‘Girl I left behind me’ and Maddison Morton's ‘My Wife's Bonnet,’ all of them adaptations. In Taylor's ‘Settling Day,’ 4 March 1865, he was the first Meiklam, and in his own ‘Always Intended,’ 3 April, the first Project. In a revival of ‘Twelfth Night’ he was Sir Andrew Aguecheek. On 30 June in Taylor's ‘Serf, or Love levels all,’ he was Khor, an old serf; Carnaby Fix in Oxenford's ‘Cleft Stick’ (‘Le Supplice d'un Homme’) followed on 8 Nov. In ‘Love's Martyrdom,’ by Leicester Buckingham, 26 April 1866, he was Trevelyan. In a revival of ‘Money’ he played Graves, in a second of ‘Frozen Deep’ Lieutenant Crayford, and in a third of ‘London Assurance’ Sir Harcourt Courtly. He had now resigned the Olympic to Benjamin Nottingham Webster [q. v.], whose acting manager he remained. He was, 21 Oct. 1867, the first Percy Chaffington in Maddison Morton's ‘If I had a Thousand a Year,’ and on 2 Dec. in ‘From Grave to Gay,’ by Ben Webster the younger, Cornelius Tattenham. In Coyne's ‘Woman of the World’ (‘Les Coulisses de la Vie’) he was on 18 Feb. 1868 the first Golden Bird. Inspector Javert in the ‘Yellow Passport’ (7 Nov.) an adaptation of ‘Les Misérables,’ was another success, 7 Nov. ‘The Life Chase,’ an adaptation of ‘Le Drame de la Rue de la Paix,’ by Wigan and Oxenford, was produced at the Gaiety on 11 Oct. 1869. A melodrama by Wigan, entitled ‘Rag Fair,’ in which he played a cheapjack called Brightside, was given at the Victoria on 20 May 1872. At the Gaiety he was, on 14 Dec., the Doctor in ‘Awaking,’ Campbell Clarke's version of ‘Marcel.’ At the revival at the Vaudeville of the ‘Road to Ruin,’ Wigan was Sulky, 1 Nov. 1873. In a performance at Drury Lane, for Webster's benefit, of the ‘School for Scandal’ he was Rowley. On 24 April 1875 he opened, as manager, the Holborn Theatre, renamed the Mirror, with a revival of the ‘Hidden Hand,’ Maltby's ‘Make Yourself at Home,’ and Kenney's ‘Maids of Honour.’ He was, 29 May, the first Inspector Walker in the ‘Detective’ (‘Le Parricide’), adapted by Clement Scott and E. Manuel. His speculation was not too successful, and the theatre passed into other hands, to be, after frequent changes of name, demolished. A complimentary benefit on his retirement from management was given him at Drury Lane. Wigan also acted at the Strand. He died, on 7 Aug. 1885, at Sidcup, Kent, at the house of his son-in-law, and at the reputed age of 67.

Wigan was a quiet, stolid, undemonstrative actor, whose chief success was obtained in detective parts which called for no display of emotion. Rowley in the ‘School for Scandal’ suited him exactly, and showed the measure of his intelligence. He was a fair linguist and translated many pieces. The following appear in Lacy's acting edition: ‘Always Intended,’ a comedy in one act; ‘The Best Way,’ a comedy in one act; ‘The Charming Woman,’ a comedy in three acts; ‘The Hidden Hand,’ a drama in four acts, adapted from ‘L'Aïeule;’ ‘Friends or Foes,’ a comedy in four acts, from M. Sardou; ‘The Life Chase,’ a drama in five acts, by Oxenford and H. Wigan; ‘Observation and Flirtation,’ a comedy in one act; ‘The Real and the Ideal,’ a comedy in one act; ‘A Southerner just arrived,’ a farce in one act; ‘Taming the Truant,’ a comedy in three acts.

[Personal knowledge; History of Theatre Royal, Dublin, 1876; Scott and Howard's Blanchard; Pascoe's Dramatic List; Era, 8 Aug. 1885; Sunday Times, various years; Era Almanack, 1886; Morley's Journal of a London Playgoer.]

J. K.