[Ralfe's Nav. Biogr. iii. 372; Marshall's Roy. Nav. Biogr. ii. (vol. i. pt. ii.) 640; Gent. Mag. 1834, i. 655; United Service Journal, 1834, pt. i. p. 516, pt. ii. p. 386; Passing Certificate and Service-book in the Public Record Office.]
PLANCHÉ, JAMES ROBINSON (1796–1880), Somerset herald and dramatist, born in Old Burlington Street, Piccadilly, London, on 27 Feb. 1796, was son of Jacques Planché (1734–1816), a watchmaker, who was descended from a Huguenot refugee. Planché's mother (his father's cousin) was Catherine Emily (d. 1804), only child of Antoine Planché. From the age of eight James was educated by the Rev. Mr. Farrer in Lawrence Street, Chelsea; later on he studied geometry and perspective under Monsieur de Court, and in 1810 was articled to a bookseller. At an early age he developed a taste for the stage, and as an amateur acted at the Berwick Street, Pancras Street, Catherine Street, and Wilton Street private theatres. When twenty-two he wrote a burlesque ‘Amoroso, King of Little Britain,’ which was produced with success at Drury Lane on 21 April 1818. His second piece was a speaking harlequinade, ‘Rodolph the Wolf, or Columbine Red Riding Hood,’ acted at the Olympic Pavilion on 21 Dec. 1818. Having adapted from a French melodrama, ‘Le Vampire,’ a play called ‘The Vampire, or the Bride of the Isles,’ he produced it at the English opera-house on 9 Aug. 1820, when the Vampire trap in the flooring of the stage, then first invented, proved a great attraction. During 1820–1 he wrote ten pieces for the Adelphi Theatre, including a very successful drama, ‘Kenilworth Castle, or the Days of Queen Bess,’ which was produced on 8 Feb. 1821. His first opera, ‘Maid Marian,’ taken from Thomas Love Peacock's tale of that name, with music by Bishop, was seen at Covent Garden on 3 Dec. 1822.
In 1823 on the revival of ‘King John’ at Drury Lane by Charles Kemble, Planché, after making historical researches, designed the dresses and superintended the production of the drama gratuitously. This was the first occasion of an historical drama being brought out with dresses of the period of its action. On 29 May 1825 he was present in Paris at the coronation of Charles X with the object of making drawings of dresses and decorations for a spectacle at Covent Garden which was produced there on 10 July. On 12 April 1826 he furnished the libretto to the opera of ‘Oberon, or the Elf King's Oath,’ specially written for Covent Garden Theatre by Carl von Weber; it was Weber's last composition.
During 1826–7 Planché was the manager of the musical arrangements at Vauxhall Gardens, and wrote the songs for the vaudeville ‘Pay to my Order,’ 9 July 1827. In 1828 he commenced to write regularly for Covent Garden, and on 11 Nov. brought out ‘Charles XIIth, or the Siege of Stralsund,’ a drama. An unauthorised production of this piece by William Henry Murray at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, led to the appointment of a select parliamentary committee on dramatic literature (before which Planché gave evidence on 10 July 1832), and to the passing, on 10 June 1833, of the Act 3 William IV, c. 15, giving protection to dramatic authors.
During the season of 1830, for his friend Samuel James Arnold, he undertook the active management of the Adelphi Theatre. His version of Scribe and Auber's opera ‘Gustave Trois, or the Masked Ball,’ in which he vindicated the character of Madame Ankarström, who was still living, was produced with much success at Covent Garden on 13 Nov. 1833. In 1838 he undertook the libretto for an opera by Mendelssohn on the siege of Calais by Edward III. A long correspondence ensued with the composer (Planché, Recollections, i. 279–316), but ultimately the work was abandoned.
When Madame Vestris took the Olympic Theatre in 1831, Planché entered into professional relations with her, which lasted, with some intermissions, until she retired from theatrical management. He, in conjunction with Charles Dance [q. v.], wrote for her opening night, at the Olympic, 3 Jan. 1831, the burlesque ‘Olympic Revels, or Prometheus and Pandora.’ The performers were dressed in correct classical costume, and with the popular lessee in the chief rôle the piece was a great success. It was the first of a series of a similar plays by Planché which occupied him at intervals for the next thirty years. At Christmas 1836, again in conjunction with Dance, he wrote for the Olympic Theatre, ‘Riquet with the Tuft,’ taken from the French féerie folie ‘Riquet à la Houppe,’ with Charles Mathews as Riquet and Madame Vestris as the Princess Esmeralda. On the marriage of Charles Mathews to Madame Vestris [see Mathews, Lucia Elizabeth], on 18 July 1838, and their visit to America, Planché was in charge of the Olympic Theatre until their return in December. When Madame Vestris removed to Covent Garden in 1839, Planché was appointed director of costume, reader of the plays sent in for approval, and superintendent of the painting-room. After various other engagements, Planché began writing