Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Allingham, John Till

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ALLINGHAM, JOHN TILL (fl. 1799–1810), dramatist, was the son of a wine merchant in the city of London (Biographia Dramatica, 1812). He was brought up to the profession of the law, but is chiefly known as a successful and prolific dramatist. His afterpiece, ‘Fortune's Frolic,’ first produced at Covent Garden in 1799, long enjoyed great popularity, the leading character, Robin Roughhead, having been represented by very many admired comedians. His second play, ‘'Tis all a Farce,’ was produced at the Haymarket in 1800. Others of his works are the ‘Marriage Promise,’ a comedy with music by Michael Kelly, produced at Drury Lane 1803; ‘Mrs. Wiggins,’ a farce in two acts, produced at the Haymarket in 1803; ‘Hearts of Oak,’ a comedy, produced at Drury Lane in 1803; the ‘Weathercock,’ a farce, produced at Drury Lane in 1805; the ‘Romantic Lover,’ a comedy, produced at Covent Garden in 1806, and ‘damned,’ writes Genest. The following plays have also been attributed to Allingham: ‘Who wins? or the Widow's Choice,’ a musical farce, produced at Covent Garden in 1808; ‘Independence, or the Trustee,’ produced at Covent Garden in 1809; ‘Transformation, or Love and Law,’ a musical farce, produced by the Drury Lane company at the Lyceum Theatre in 1810. Much of the success obtained by Allingham's plays was due to the ability and popularity of Charles Mathews. Harlow painted a portrait of the actor as Mr. Wiggins in the farce of ‘Mrs. Wiggins.’ In his ‘Life of John Kemble’ (1825), Boaden writes of Allingham that ‘with an agreeable person and a jovial temper, he became dreadfully embarrassed in his circumstances and died yet young, the victim of disease brought on by intemperance.’ He is said to have devoted his leisure to the study of mechanics, and to have invented a flying machine, by means of which he succeeded in ‘fluttering about his rooms like a dabchick.’ He sought to rise in the air with the help of balloons filled with steam, but his experiments proved abortive. He further distinguished himself by fighting a duel in a turnip field with one of his critics.

[Genest's History of the Stage, 1832.]

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