Wilson, Mrs. (DNB00)

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WILSON, Mrs. (d. 1786), actress, whose maiden name was Adcock, was presumably a milliner in the Haymarket [see Weston, Thomas, 1737–1776]. She is first heard of in York, where, as Mrs. Weston, in the summer of 1773 she played Lucy Lockit in the ‘Beggar's Opera,’ Miss Notable in the ‘Lady's Last Stake,’ and other comic parts. After appearing in Leeds, where she became a favourite, and in Glasgow in 1774, she came to London. There she came to know Richard Wilson (see below), and as Mrs. Wilson she played at the Haymarket on 19 May 1775, Betsy Blossom in the ‘Cozeners,’ and Lucy in the ‘Virgin Unmasked.’ The name of Wilson she henceforward retained, but is once and again heard of as Mrs. Weston. Weston and Wilson were in the same company with her. Weston died in 1776, but it is known that he quarrelled with and forsook his wife no long time after marriage. Under one name or other she was seen in her first Haymarket season as Lucy in the ‘Mirror,’ Nell in the ‘Devil to Pay,’ Lydia in the ‘Bankrupt,’ Sophy in the ‘Dutchman,’ and Juletta (an original part) in ‘Metamorphoses’ (26 Aug. 1775).

On 30 April 1776 she was at Covent Garden, for Wilson's benefit, Hoyden in the ‘Man of Quality.’ In the summer of 1776 and that of 1777 she was in Liverpool, where, among many other parts, she enacted Miss Hardcastle in ‘She stoops to conquer,’ Lady Racket in ‘Three Weeks after Marriage,’ Mariana in the ‘Miser,’ Charlotte Rusport in the ‘West Indian,’ Jenny in the ‘Provoked Husband,’ Mrs. Sullen in the ‘Beaux' Stratagem,’ Estifania in ‘Rule a Wife and have a Wife,’ Phædra in ‘Amphitryon,’ Ophelia, Maria in the ‘Twelfth Night,’ Lady Harriet in the ‘Funeral,’ Garnet in the Good-natured Man,’ and Mrs. Sneak in the ‘Mayor of Garratt.’ At Covent Garden she had played meanwhile Polly Honeycombe in Colman's piece so named, Mrs. Pinchwife in the ‘Country Wife,’ and Kitty in ‘High Life below Stairs.’ On 2 Feb. 1780 she was the first Betsy Blossom in Pilon's ‘Deaf Lover,’ and on 5 Aug. at the Haymarket the first Bridget in Miss Lee's ‘Chapter of Accidents.’ She was also seen at the Haymarket as Nerissa and Miss Prue in ‘Love for Love;’ and at Covent Garden as Jacintha in the ‘Mistake,’ Mrs. Page in the ‘Merry Wives of Windsor,’ Margery in ‘Love in a Village,’ Edging in the ‘Careless Husband,’ Damaris in ‘Barnaby Brittle’ on 18 April 1781, and on 10 May Betty Hint in the ‘Man of the World,’ the last two original parts.

At the Haymarket she was on 16 June 1781 the original Comfit in O'Keeffe's ‘Dead Alive,’ and played Filch in the ‘Beggar's Opera,’ with the male parts played by women and vice versa; she played also Nysa in ‘Midas’ (15 Aug.), and Flippanta in the ‘Confederacy.’ Miss Turnbull, an original part in Holcroft's ‘Duplicity,’ was seen at Covent Garden, 13 Oct.; Kitty in Mrs. Cowley's ‘Which is the Man,’ 9 Feb. 1782; Nancy in O'Keeffe's ‘Positive Man,’ 16 March; and Kitty Carrington in Cumberland's ‘Walloons,’ 20 April. She was also Miss Leeson in the ‘School for Wives,’ and Jenny in the ‘Provoked Husband.’ Her original parts in the next season (at Covent Garden) included Catalina in O'Keeffe's ‘Castle of Andalusia’ on 2 Nov., and Minette in Mrs. Cowley's ‘Bold Stroke for a Husband’ on 25 Feb. 1783. She also appeared as Mrs. Cadwallader in the ‘Author,’ Floretta in the ‘Quaker,’ and Foible in the ‘Way of the World.’ Viletta in ‘She would and she would not,’ Fatima in ‘Cymon,’ Lucetta in ‘Two Gentleman of Verona,’ and Mrs. Haughty in ‘Epicœne,’ were given during the next season, in which she was on 8 Nov. the first Corisca in the ‘Magic Picture,’ altered from Massinger; Miss Juvenile in Mrs. Cowley's ‘More Ways than One’ (6 Dec.); and 17 April 1784, Annette in ‘Robin Hood.’ In 1784–5 she is credited with Tilburina in the ‘Critic,’ Muslin in the ‘Way to keep him,’ Parly in the ‘Constant Couple,’ Nell in the ‘Devil to Pay,’ and Fine Lady in ‘Lethe.’ She was on 29 March 1785 the original Mary the Buxom in Pilon's ‘Barataria,’ on 2 April Grace in Macnally's ‘Fashionable Levities,’ and on 22 Oct. Fish in Mrs. Inchbald's ‘Appearance is against them.’ She also played Lucetta in the ‘Suspicious Husband,’ Susan in ‘Follies of a Day,’ and Margery in ‘Love in a Village.’

She did not act after this season, and died in Edinburgh in 1786. A Mrs. Wilson, according to Genest, ‘carefully to be distinguished from her namesake at Covent Garden,’ played at Drury Lane the same class of parts from 1783 to 1790. Mrs. Wilson or Weston was a good actress, but ‘died a martyr to her own folly,’ says Tate Wilkinson, who adds that she was ‘past reclaiming.’ Mary Julia Young, in the ‘Memoirs of Mrs. Crouch,’ says of her Filch: ‘Though a very pretty little woman, [she] appeared to be in reality as complete a young pickpocket as could be found among the boys who lurk about the doors of a theatre, and sang her songs as if she had always frequented such society. Gay himself could never have wished for a better Filch’ (i. 115).

Her husband, Richard Wilson (fl. 1774–1792), born in Durham, played during many years comic characters at Covent Garden and the Haymarket. He was a good actor in comedy, taking parts such as Hardcastle, Justice Woodcock, Sir Anthony Absolute, Tony Lumpkin, Malvolio, Touchstone, Falstaff, Ben in ‘Love for Love,’ Scapin, Shylock, Fluellen, Polonius, Sir Pertinax Macsycophant, and Sir Hugh Evans. His original parts included Don Jerome in the ‘Duenna,’ Lord Lumbercourt in the ‘Man of the World,’ Father Luke in the ‘Poor Soldier,’ Mayor in ‘Peeping Tom,’ John Dory in ‘Wild Oats,’ and Sulky in the ‘Road to Ruin.’ According to a rather extravagant and scarcely credible account of Lee Lewes, he married in the country, as a seventh husband, a Mrs. Grace, who is said to have been the original Jenny in the ‘Provoked Husband.’ She was, in fact, Myrtilla, Mrs. Cibber playing Jenny. She must have been fifty years of age, and Wilson little over twenty. Wilson then married, it is said, a daughter of Charles Lee Lewes [q. v.], and afterwards, it is to be presumed, Mrs. Weston. Richard Wilson was a good actor. O'Keeffe (Recollections, ii. 309) says he succeeded Shuter at Covent Garden, that ‘his manner was broad, full, and powerful,’ and that he was ‘ever true in loyalty to his poet, his manager, and his audience.’

[Genest's Account of the English Stage, vols. v. and vi. passim; Young's Memoirs of Mrs. Crouch; Tate Wilkinson's Wandering Patentee; Oulton's History of the London Theatres; Lee Lewes's Memoirs; O'Keeffe's Recollections; Doran's Stage Annals, ed. Lowe; Notes and Queries, 9th ser. ii. 349.]

J. K.