Stanfield, James Field (DNB00)

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STANFIELD, JAMES FIELD (d. 1824), actor and author, was an Irishman who was educated in France for the Roman catholic priesthood. He did not take orders, but went to sea in a vessel engaged in the slave trade. After a terrible experience of the traffic at sea and for a short time on shore in Africa, he returned to England, one out of three survivors of the voyage. He renounced the sea and joined a theatrical company, appearing in 1786 at York, where he also tried his hand at writing a comic opera. His experience drove him into the ranks of the abolitionists, where he found many friends, including Thomas Clarkson [q. v.] In 1788 he published a vivid picture of his experience of the slave trade in a work called ‘Observations on a Guinea Voyage in a series of letters addressed to the Rev. Thomas Clarkson,’ and in the following year a vigorous poem called ‘The Guinea Voyage’ (London, 4to). In 1807 both works were published at Edinburgh in one volume. For several years he held a principal situation in the Scarborough Theatre, and he afterwards had the direction of a small company whose circuit (about 1812) was in the north of Yorkshire and some of the adjoining counties. In 1813 he published an ‘Essay on the Study and Composition of Biography’ (Sunderland, 8vo), a judicious performance, showing some erudition, but insisting overmuch upon the need of ‘moral illustration.’ He was twice married, and was father by his first wife, Mary Hoad (d. 1801) of Cheltenham, of Clarkson Stanfield [q. v.] He died in London on 10 May 1824.

[Baker's Biographia Dramatica; Monthly Review, vols. lxxix. and lxxxi.; Notes and Queries, 8th ser. xi. 301–2; Hampstead Record, 27 Dec. 1890; information from Mr. Field Stanfield.]

C. M.