Yates, Richard (1706?-1796) (DNB00)

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YATES, RICHARD (1706?–1796), comedian, born about 1706, is first traced at the Haymarket, where, as a member of what Fielding called ‘the great Mogul's company of comedians,’ he was in that author's ‘Pasquin’ the original Lord Place in the rehearsal of the comedy, and Law in that of the tragedy. In 1737–9, at Covent Garden, he was seen as Wart in the ‘Second Part of King Henry IV,’ Mad Welshman in the ‘Pilgrim,’ Sir Joseph Wittol in the ‘Old Bachelor,’ and the page in ‘Don Quixote.’ On 4 Sept. 1739 he appeared at Drury Lane as Jeremy in ‘Love for Love,’ and played Pantaloon in ‘Harlequin Shipwrecked,’ Whisper in ‘Busy Body,’ Quaint in ‘Æsop,’ fourth citizen in ‘Julius Cæsar,’ Squire Freehold in ‘Robin Goodfellow,’ Finder in ‘Double Gallant,’ Pistol in ‘Merry Wives of Windsor’ and ‘Second Part of Henry IV,’ Dapper in ‘Alchemist,’ Sly in ‘Love's Last Shift,’ Rasor in ‘Provoked Wife,’ Gripus in ‘Amphitryon,’ Stuttering Servant in ‘Pilgrim,’ Hellebore in ‘Mock Doctor,’ and other comic parts. At Goodman's Fields he appeared on 18 Oct. 1740 as Antonio in ‘Venice Preserved,’ playing during the season Daniel in ‘Oroonoko,’ Brazen in ‘Recruiting Officer,’ Roderigo, Coupee in ‘Virgin Unmasked,’ Sir Philip Modelove in ‘Bold Stroke for a Wife,’ Ben in ‘Love for Love,’ Truman in ‘George Barnwell,’ Squire Richard in ‘Constant Couple,’ Sir Hugh Evans, Teague in ‘Committee,’ Lory in ‘Relapse,’ Hecate, Autolycus, Scrub in the ‘Beaux' Stratagem,’ Filch in ‘Beggars' Opera’ (in which he danced a hornpipe), Gregory in ‘Mock Doctor,’ Poe in ‘Timon of Athens,’ Clown in ‘All's well that ends well,’ and many other parts. For his benefit and that of Mrs. Yates, his first wife—concerning whom nothing is known except that she had money when he married her, played at this time small parts such as Emilia in the ‘Winter's Tale,’ and was the Duchess of York on Garrick's first appearance on the stage—he ‘attempted’ Lovegold in the ‘Miser,’ ‘after the manner of the late Mr. Griffin.’ In the advertisement he apologises for not waiting on ladies and gentlemen, ‘as he is not acquainted with that part of the town.’

Richard Yates is believed to have been the first Autolycus and Clown in ‘All's well that ends well’ since the Restoration. He was on 9 Nov. 1741 the original Mrs. Jewkes in Dance's adaptation, ‘Pamela,’ and on 30 Nov. the original Dick in Garrick's ‘Lying Valet,’ subsequently taking Sharp in the same piece. Among other parts taken in this second season at Goodman's Fields were Don Lewis in ‘Love makes a Man,’ Old Mirabel in ‘Inconstant,’ Petulant in ‘Way of the World,’ and Major Rakish in the ‘Schoolboy.’ On 18 Sept. 1742 he reappeared at Drury Lane, where he remained until 1767. A list of the comic characters he played during this time would fill columns. The most noteworthy include Kastril in the ‘Alchemist,’ in which he was unequalled; Setter in ‘Old Bachelor,’ Old Woman in ‘Rule a Wife and have a Wife,’ Marplot, Schoolboy, Numps in ‘Tender Husband,’ Foigard in ‘Beaux' Stratagem,’ Sir Polydorus Hogstye in ‘Æsop,’ Soto in Fletcher's ‘Woman Pleased,’ Peachum, Sir Francis Wronghead, Sir Paul Plyant, Gomez, Sparkish in ‘Country Wife,’ Grizzle in ‘Tom Thumb,’ Old Laroon in ‘Debauchees,’ Vellum, Tattle, Sir Toby Tickle in ‘She Gallant,’ Savil in ‘Scornful Lady,’ Clown in ‘Twelfth Night’ and ‘Measure for Measure,’ Crack in ‘Sir Courtly Nice,’ Pinac in ‘Wild Goose Chase,’ Shylock, Puff and Fribble in ‘Miss in her Teens,’ Pistol, Don Manuel, Fluellen, Sir Jasper Fidget in ‘Country Wife,’ Scaramouch in ‘Emperor of the Moon,’ Sir William Belfond in ‘Squire of Alsatia,’ Sir Francis Gripe, Trinculo, Sir Wilful Witwoud, Alphonso in ‘Pilgrim,’ Malvolio, Touchstone in ‘Eastward Ho’ and in ‘As you like it,’ Brainworm in ‘Every Man in his Humour,’ Morose in ‘Silent Woman,’ Scapin, Cadwallader, Shallow, Dogberry, Bobadil, Justice Greedy, Falstaff, Launce, Bottom, and Lord Chalkstone. He was the original Motley in the ‘Astrologer’ on 3 April 1744; Sir Robert Belmont in Moore's ‘Foundling,’ 13 Feb. 1748; Melchior in Moore's ‘Gil Blas,’ 2 Feb. 1751; Puff in Foote's ‘Taste,’ 11 Jan. 1752.

In 1753–4 Mrs. Graham, subsequently Mrs. Mary Ann Yates [q. v.], joined the company, and Yates was thenceforward closely associated with her. They seem to have been married in the autumn of 1756. In his later years he is said to have been eclipsed by her and engaged chiefly on her account. He was, however, always worth his salary, and his position in comedy was never questioned. He was, 30 April 1754, the original Grumbler, altered from Sedley, who himself translated ‘Le Grondeur’ of Brueys. Yates had previously, 18 March, been the first Grumio in Garrick's ‘Catharine and Petruchio.’ He was the first Wingate in Murphy's ‘Apprentice,’ 2 Jan. 1756; O'Clabber in Smollett's ‘Reprisal,’ 22 Jan. 1757; Vamp in Foote's ‘Author,’ 5 Feb.; Dizzy in Garrick's ‘Modern Fine Gentleman,’ afterwards called ‘Male Coquette,’ 24 March; Barnacle in Garrick's ‘Gamesters,’ 22 Dec.; Quidnunc in Murphy's ‘Upholsterer,’ 30 March 1758; Feeble in Hill's ‘Rout,’ 20 Dec.; Sir Charles Clackit in the ‘Guardian,’ 3 Feb. 1759; Captain Hardy in Mozeen's ‘Heiress,’ 21 May; Philip in ‘High Life below Stairs,’ 31 Oct.; Snip in Garrick's ‘Harlequin's Invasion,’ 31 Dec.; played a part in Mrs. Clive's ‘Every Woman in her Humour;’ was, 20 March 1760, the first Honeycombe in Colman's ‘Polly-Honeycombe,’ 5 Dec.; Sir Bashful Constant in Murphy's ‘Way to keep him,’ enlarged to five acts on 10 Jan. 1761; Major Oakly in Colman's ‘Jealous Wife,’ 12 Feb.; Sir John Restless in Murphy's ‘All in the Wrong,’ 15 June; Old Philpot in Murphy's ‘Citizen,’ 2 July; Old Mask in Colman's ‘Musical Lady,’ 6 March 1762; Sir John Woodall in Mrs. Sheridan's ‘Dupe,’ 10 Dec. 1763; Hobbinol in Lloyd's ‘Capricious Lovers,’ 28 Nov. 1764; Sir William Loveworth in Murphy's ‘Choice,’ 23 March 1765; Sterling in Garrick and Colman's ‘Clandestine Marriage,’ 20 Feb. 1766; Slip in ‘Neck or Nothing,’ attributed to Garrick, 18 Nov.; and Freeport (the merchant) in Colman's ‘English Merchant,’ 21 Feb. 1767. He had at some date not fixed, but probably near 1760, set up with Shuter and others a booth at Bartholomew Fair, playing Pantaloon to Shuter's Harlequin. Yates was an admirable pantomimist, and was frequently seen as harlequin.

Under the management of Harris, Rutherford, Colman, and Powell, he made his first appearance at Covent Garden on 31 Oct. 1767 as Major Oakly, and was the original Prig and Frightened Boor in ‘Royal Merchant,’ an opera founded by Hull on the ‘Beggar's Bush’ on 14 Dec. At this house he played Cloten, Floirmond in ‘Edgar and Emmeline,’ Sir Gilbert Wrangle in the ‘Refusal,’ Brass, and Lucio. He was the original Sir Benjamin Dove in Cumberland's ‘Brothers,’ 2 Dec. 1769; and Stanley in ‘An Hour before Marriage,’ 25 Jan. 1772. On 11 Jan. 1773 he appeared at Edinburgh in ‘Othello,’ and played also Captain Brazen, Touchstone, and Shylock. On 5 May 1775 he reappeared at Drury Lane as Scrub, but does not seem to have acted again that season. Next season he played for the first time Captain Otter in ‘Epicœne,’ and was the first Hargrave in Mrs. Cowley's ‘Runaway,’ 15 Feb. 1776. He was subsequently Fondlewife in ‘Old Bachelor,’ and Clown in the ‘Winter's Tale,’ and was on 8 May 1777 the original Sir Oliver Surface in the ‘School for Scandal.’ No further character in which he had not been seen was assigned him at Drury Lane. From 1780 to 1782 he was not engaged. On 6 Dec. 1782 he made, as Sir Wilful Witwoud in the ‘Way of the World,’ his ‘first appearance at Covent Garden these ten years,’ and was on 28 Jan. 1783 the first Sir Edmund Travers in Cumberland's ‘Mysterious Husband.’ He was then no more engaged in London. Yates was engaged with his wife in Edinburgh 1784–5, and probably acted with her in York during her return journey on 21 April 1785. He offered for Mrs. Clarke's benefit to play Scrub in place of her husband on 6 May 1786, but had a violent attack of the gout. On 21 April 1796, at his house, Stafford Row, Pimlico, he died, it is said, in a fit of rage at being unable to obtain eels for dinner, and was buried at his own request by his second wife in the chancel of Richmond church.

Yates was held unequalled in Shakespearean clowns. Wilks says in 1759: ‘If humour, propriety, and a close adherence to nature render a man valuable in the theatrical world … there is not a more useful nor a more pleasing performer now in Drury Lane.’ The ‘Dramatic Censor’ calls him ‘a very just comedian who is seldom beholden to trick for applause.’ Davies coupled him with Benjamin Johnson [q. v.] as a Heemskirk or Teniers of the stage. The author of the ‘Theatrical Biography,’ 1772, commends his propriety in dressing his parts, and says that the stage has no better actor in low humour. Dibdin likens him to Underhill, and awards him the preference over all French actors of his day. Churchill concedes grudgingly his merits, but chides him for forgetting his words, and holds him unable to play a gentleman. His Sharp, Kastril, Brainworm, Autolycus, Scrub, Don Manuel, Antonio in ‘Chances,’ Miser, Fondlewife, and Sir Oliver Surface were unsurpassed; and his first Gravedigger, Peachum, Cloten, Sir Roger Belmont, and Jerry Blackacre excellent. In characters such as Sir Francis Wronghead and Don Lewis he was good, but deficient in force. Yates retired with a handsome competence (cf. Boaden, Life of J. P. Kemble, i. 124). His portrait as Launce was painted by Bonnor, and engraved by Roberts (Bromley, p. 416).

A Mrs. Yates from Dublin appeared at Drury Lane on 22 Feb. 1800 as Angela in the ‘Castle Spectre.’ She is said to have been the widow of a brother of Richard Yates, a lieutenant in the army shot in a duel three months after Yates's death, in a dispute relative to Yates's house in Pimlico. Whatever truth there may be in this startling assertion, Mrs. Yates acted in Dublin, Sheffield, and elsewhere, and, having married again, played as Mrs. Ansell late Mrs. Yates, on 4 June 1802 at Drury Lane, the Queen in ‘Hamlet,’ and during the season was seen in some other parts.

[Genest's Account of the English Stage; Dibdin's Edinburgh Stage; Davies's Life of Garrick; Dramatic Miscellanies; Thespian Dict.; Gilliland's Dramatic Mirror; Dibdin's Hist. of the Stage; Monthly Mirror, vol. i.; Forster's Goldsmith; Clark Russell's Representative Actors; Theatrical Biogr. 1772; Doran's Annals of the Stage, ed. Lowe; Gent. Mag. April 1796; Dramatic Censor; Wilks's (Derrick) View of the Stage; Theatrical Review, 1758.]

J. K.