Gibbs, Mrs. (DNB00)

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GIBBS, Mrs. (fl. 1783–1844), actress, born about 1770, was the daughter of Logan, an Irishman, somehow ‘connected with’ some of the country theatres. John Palmer, her godfather, brought her on the stage at the Haymarket, where, 18 June 1783, she made her first appearance as Sally in ‘Man and Wife,’ by George Colman the elder. Next day, Oxberry, in his notice of Mrs. Gibbs, remarks, George Colman, subsequently her ‘chere ami’ (sic), produced his first piece, ‘Two to One.’ But ‘Two to One’ was produced 19 June 1784. After one season at the Haymarket, Miss Logan accompanied Palmer in his unfortunate expedition to the Royalty Theatre in Wellclose Square. At the opening of the house on 20 June 1787, as Mrs. Gibbs, she played Biddy in Garrick's ‘Miss in her Teens.’ Nothing is known of her husband, Gibbs. She played at the Royalty the principal characters in the serious pantomimes, given to evade the privileges of the patent houses. While at this house Mrs. Gibbs came on the stage as the Comic Muse through a trap, and gave an imitation of Delpini. Her support of Palmer offended the managers, by whom she was practically boycotted. On 15 June 1793 she played, at the Haymarket, Bridget in the ‘Chapter of Accidents,’ by Miss Lee. This was announced as her first appearance at the theatre. Oxberry says she had previously played at both Drury Lane and Covent Garden. A close intimacy sprang up between George Colman the younger [q. v.] and Mrs. Gibbs, which ultimately resulted in marriage. For her Colman is said to have written expressly the parts of Cicely in the ‘Heir-at-Law,’ Haymarket, 15 July 1797; Annette in ‘Blue Devils,’ Covent Garden, 24 April 1798; Grace Gaylove in the ‘Review,’ Haymarket, 2 Sept. 1800; and Mary in ‘John Bull,’ Covent Garden, 5 March 1803. In these characters, and in others such as Katherine in ‘Katherine and Petruchio,’ and Miss Hardcastle in ‘She stoops to conquer,’ she obtained reputation as a second Mrs. Jordan. She made occasional appearances at Drury Lane and Covent Garden, but the Haymarket remained her home. Here in late years she played parts such as Mrs. Candour and Miss Sterling (‘Clandestine Marriage’). Oxberry speaks of her as possessing genius, talent, and industry, and adds that her Curiosa in the ‘Cabinet’ is one of the richest specimens of comic acting extant. In such parts as Nell in the ‘Devil to Pay’ she rivalled Mrs. Davison [q. v.] or Fanny Kelly, though surpassing both in vivacity and in the ‘fullness and jollity’ of her voice. She was an admirable laugher, and, though not much of a singer, had a peculiarly pleasing voice. She had a plump figure, a light complexion, and blue eyes, on the beauty of which Gilliland and Oxberry dwell. The ‘Monthly Mirror’ says (August 1800) ‘that after the secession of Mrs. Stephen Kemble she had deservedly occupied all characters of tender simplicity and unaffected elegance.’ She won the high esteem of her contemporaries, and the stories told concerning her are mostly to her credit. She appears to have been generous in disposition, and to have befriended her fellow-actresses. After Colman's death in 1836 she lived in retirement in Brighton, and her death seems to have passed unchronicled. She is included among actresses still living in Mrs. Cornwell Baron Wilson's ‘Our Actresses,’ 1844.

[Genest's Account of the English Stage; Oxberry's Dramatic Biography, vol. iv.; Monthly Mirror, various years; Peake's Memoirs of the Colman Family; Biography of the British Stage, 1824; New Monthly Magazine, various years; The Drama, or Theatrical Pocket Magazine; Gilliland's Dramatic Mirror.]

J. K.