Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Horton, Christiana

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HORTON, CHRISTIANA (1696?–1756?), actress, belonged to a Wiltshire family; married when very young a musician, who ill-treated her; joined while still in her youth a company of strolling players under a manager called Booker; and in the summer of 1713 at Windsor played Marcia in ‘Cato’ with a wretched company. Barton Booth [q. v.] saw her in 1714 play in Southwark fair the part of Cupid in a droll called ‘Cupid and Psyche,’ and took her to Drury Lane, where she appeared during the season of 1714–15 as Melinda in the ‘Recruiting Officer.’ She remained at Drury Lane until the season of 1734–5, when she went to Covent Garden. She practically quitted the stage in 1750, retiring on a small pension, but reappeared at Drury Lane 20 April 1752 at a performance partly for her benefit given by Garrick and Lacy, and played Queen Elizabeth in the ‘Unhappy Favourite’ of Banks. Her thanks to her friends were published in an advertisement. She died about 1756. Of cold temperament, of good character, and of admirable beauty, Mrs. Horton played at one or other house the leading parts in tragedy and comedy. She was the original Mariana in the ‘Miser’ of Fielding, Drury Lane, 17 Feb. 1733. Her characters included Lady Lurewell, Mrs. Sullen, Marcia in ‘Cato,’ Olivia in the ‘Plain Dealer,’ Belinda in the ‘Old Bachelor,’ Queen Katherine, Lady Macbeth, Belvidera, Cleopatra, Hermione, Cordelia, Jane Shore, Lady Betty Modish, Mrs. Ford, Angelica in ‘Love for Love,’ and innumerable others. Barton Booth and Wilks declared her the best successor to Mrs. Oldfield. Steele complimented her highly on her performance of Lady Brumpton in the ‘Funeral;’ Victor specially praises her Millamant in ‘The Way of the World,’ and Davies, who says that in this part she was held to have eclipsed Mrs. Oldfield, commends her Belinda. The author of ‘Betterton's History of the Stage’ says in 1741 that in comedy she is without a rival, asserts that in the meridian of life she retained her beauty and some of her bloom, and ‘is by far the best figure on either stage’ (p. 165). Late in life she grew stout. Refusing angrily a reduced salary of four pounds a week offered her in good nature by Rich, she was unable to obtain a further engagement. On one occasion, by a display of spirit, she won to approval a refractory audience. She was extremely vain, and on the verge of sixty dressed like a young girl, laced herself until her figure was distorted, and simpered and ogled to the last. Davies says she refused honourably brilliant offers of ‘protection,’ that of all women he ever saw she had ‘the greatest pretence to (justification for) vanity,’ and that her sole passion was to be admired.

[Genest's Account of the Stage; Davies's Dramatic Miscellanies; Victor's Letters; Betterton's History of the Stage.]

J. K.