Bullock, William (1657?-1740?) (DNB00)

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BULLOCK, WILLIAM (1657?–1740?), actor, is said by Macklin to have been 'in his department a true genius of the stage' (Davies, Dramatic Miscellanies, iii. 463). Davies himself speaks of him as 'an actor of great glee and much comic vivacity ... in his person large, with a lively countenance, full of humorous information' (ib.) ; and Gildon declares him 'the best comedian that has trod the stage since Nokes and Lee, and a fellow that has a very humble opinion of himself' (Comparison between Two Stages, p. 199). The references to Bullock by Steele, though friendly, are not without a tinge of satire. In a comparison between Penkethman and Bullock, to which he pretends to have been challenged by these actors, he says, 'Mr. Bullock has the more agreeable squall and Mr. Penkethman the more graceful shrug. Penkethman devours a cold chick with great applause; Bullock's talent lies chiefly in asparagus; Penkethman is very dexterous at conveying himself under a table; Bullock is no less active at jumping over a stick. Mr. Penkethman has a great deal of money; but Mr. Bullock is the taller man' (Tatler, No. 188). Known particulars concerning Bullock's life are few. His name is mentioned in Downes's 'Roscius Anglicanus.' He first appears in the cast of Colley Cibber's 'Love's Last Shift,' produced by the associated companies of Drury Lane and Dorset Garden, 1696. In Cibber's piece he played Sly. He had joined the companies the previous year. Among his original characters were Sir Tunbelly Clumsy in the 'Relapse,' 1697, and Soto in 'She would and she would not,' 1702. He also played with success many parts in the plays of Dryden, Wycherley, Shadwell, &c. Until 1706 he was at Drury Lane. He then went to the Haymarket, returning to Drury Lane in 1708. After another brief migration to the Haymarket, followed by a new return to Drury Lane, he quitted definitely the latter theatre, 1715-16, for Lincoln's Inn Fields, where he remained till 1726. His death is said (Collet Gibber's Apology by Bellchambers) to have taken place on 18 June 1733, a date which has been accepted by most subsequent writers. He had a benefit, however, at Covent Garden on 6 Jan. 1739, described on the bills as 'his first appearance on the stage for six years,' when he played Dominic in Dryden's 'Spanish Fryar.' In his address to the public he pleaded his great age, upwards of threescore and twelve, as a reason for indulgence. He played again on 25 April 1739, for the benefit of Stephen, the Host in the 'Merry Wives of Windsor,' a favourite character. He had, according to Genest, in the summer a booth at Bartholomew Fair, at which he acted. After this no more is heard of him. Bullock had three sons, all actors, Christopher [q. v.], Hildebrand, and William. The last-named was at Goodman's Fields in 1729. A scarce print of Bullock, engraved by Johnson, which belonged to Dr. Burney, and is now in the British Museum, originated the error that he died in 1733.

[Genest's Account of the English Stage; Davies's Dramatic Miscellanies; The Tatler; A Comparison between Two Stages; Downes's Roscius Anglicanus; Cibber's Apology by Bellchambers.]

J. K.