Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Webb, Mrs.

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

WEBB, Mrs. (d. 1793), actress, whose maiden name was Child, was born in Norwich. She became an actress and a singer in the Norwich company, and married first a Mr. Day, and afterwards a Mr. Webb. She appears to have made her first appearance in Edinburgh on 21 Nov. 1772 at the Theatre Royal in Shakespeare Square as Charlotte Rusport in the ‘West Indian,’ springing at once into favour. She—if the Mrs. Day were she—also played Queen Catherine in ‘Henry VIII.’ Webb was about this time a member of the company, acting the King in ‘Hamlet,’ Kent in ‘Lear,’ and similar parts. On 29 Nov. 1773 Portia in the ‘Merchant of Venice’ was played by Mrs. Webb, from which time Mrs. Day disappears. In the ‘Edinburgh Rosciad,’ 1775, Mrs. Webb is described as ‘very useful,’ and it is said of her that she ‘sings very sweet.’ On 1 June 1778, as Mrs. Webb from Edinburgh, she appeared at the Haymarket, playing Mrs. Cross in Colman's ‘Man and Wife.’ During her first season she acted Lady Sycamore in the ‘Maid of the Mill,’ and Lady Wronghead in the ‘Provoked Husband.’ On 1 July 1779 she was the first Lady Juniper in ‘Summer Amusement, or an Adventure at Margate,’ by Andrews and Miles. She played Mrs. Sneak in Foote's ‘Mayor of Garratt,’ Mrs. Margaret Maxwell in the ‘Devil on Two Sticks,’ and had an original part on 31 Aug. in Colman's unprinted ‘Separate Maintenance.’ As the original Dame Hearty in Goodenough's ‘William and Nanny’ she made on 12 Nov. her first appearance at Covent Garden, where she played Mrs. Peachum in the ‘Beggar's Opera,’ Statira in ‘Rival Queens; or the Life and Death of Alexander the Little.’ She was at the Haymarket on 30 May 1780 the Lady in the Balcony at the first production of Colman's ‘Manager in Distress,’ was Mrs. Honeycombe in ‘Polly Honeycombe,’ and the first Commode in Andrews's ‘Fire and Water’ on 8 July. At Covent Garden she was on 3 Oct. Glumdalca in an alteration of Fielding's ‘Tom Thumb,’ the first Mrs. Highflight in Pilon's ‘Humours of an Election’ on 19 Oct., the Duenna, Mother-in-law in the ‘Chances,’ Queen in ‘Hamlet,’ Emilia in ‘Othello,’ Elvira (an original part) in Dibdin's ‘Islander,’ 25 Nov., Lady Rusport in ‘West Indian,’ and Mrs. Hardcastle. Her principal original characters at this house, which she never quitted, were Lady Tacit in O'Keeffe's ‘Positive Man,’ 16 March 1782; Lady Dangle in Cumberland's ‘Walloons,’ 20 April; Abigail in Cumberland's ‘Capricious Lady,’ 17 Jan. 1783; Widow Grampus in Pilon's ‘Aerostation,’ 29 Oct. 1784; Lady Bull in O'Keeffe's ‘Fontainebleau,’ 16 Nov.; Marcellina in ‘Follies of a Day’ (‘Le Mariage de Figaro’), 14 Dec.; Honour in Macnally's ‘Fashionable Levities,’ 2 April 1785; Lady Mary Magpie in Mrs. Inchbald's ‘Appearance is against Them,’ 22 Oct.; Mabel Flourish in O'Keeffe's ‘Love in a Camp,’ 17 Feb. 1786; Lady Oldstock in Pilon's ‘He would be a Soldier,’ 18 Nov.; Lady Dolphin in O'Keeffe's ‘Man Milliner,’ 27 Jan. 1787; Cecily in Mrs. Inchbald's ‘Midnight Hour,’ 22 May; Katty Kavanagh in O'Keeffe's ‘Toy,’ 3 Feb. 1789; Lady Waitfor't in Reynolds's ‘Dramatist,’ 15 May; Miss Di Clackit in Bate Dudley's ‘Woodman,’ 26 Feb. 1791; Lady Acid in Reynolds's ‘Notoriety,’ 5 Nov.; and Miss Spinster in Mrs. Inchbald's ‘Every One has his Fault,’ 29 Jan. 1793.

To this list may be added the following parts played during the summer seasons at the Haymarket: Hebe Wintertop in O'Keeffe's ‘Dead Alive,’ 16 June 1781; Mefrow Van Boterham in Andrews's ‘Baron Kinkvervankotsdorsprakingatchdern,’ 9 July; Mrs. Cheshire in O'Keeffe's ‘Agreeable Surprise,’ 3 Sept.; Lady Rounceval in O'Keeffe's ‘Young Quaker,’ 26 July 1783; Lady Pedigree in Stuart's ‘Gretna Green,’ 28 Aug.; Mayoress in O'Keeffe's ‘Peeping Tom,’ 6 Sept. 1784; Mrs. Mummery in O'Keeffe's ‘Beggar on Horseback,’ 16 June 1785; Lady Simple in the younger Colman's ‘Turk and no Turk,’ 9 July; Mrs. Scout in the ‘Village Lawyer,’ 28 Aug. 1787; Lady Dunder in Colman's ‘Ways and Means,’ 10 July 1788; Mrs. Malmsey in ‘Family Party,’ 11 July 1789; and Mrs. Maggs in O'Keeffe's ‘London Hermit.’ Other characters assigned her at one or other house were Lady Mary Oldboy in ‘Lionel and Clarissa,’ Lockit in the ‘Beggar's Opera’ (with the male characters played by women and vice versa), Mrs. Amlet in the ‘Confederacy,’ Mrs. Otter in the ‘Silent Woman,’ Mrs. Heidelberg in the ‘Clandestine Marriage,’ Old Lady Lambert in the ‘Hypocrite,’ Lady Wishfort in the ‘Way of the World,’ Dorcas in the ‘Mock Doctor,’ Widow Lackit in ‘Oroonoko,’ Tag in ‘Miss in her Teens,’ Mrs. Dangle in the ‘Critic,’ Widow Blackacre in the ‘Plain Dealer,’ Falstaff (a strange experiment for her benefit), Ursula in the ‘Padlock,’ Mrs. Fardingale in the ‘Funeral,’ Lady Dove in Cumberland's ‘Brothers,’ Mrs. Sealand in ‘Conscious Lovers,’ Mrs. Malaprop, Mrs. Grub in ‘Cross Purposes,’ Mother-in-law in the ‘Chances,’ and Mrs. Mechlin in the ‘Commissary.’ On 5 Nov. 1793 at Covent Garden she played the Duenna, and on the 7th Miss Spinster in ‘Every One has his Fault.’ On the 24th she died.

Mrs. Webb was a good actress with much humour, her best parts being Mrs. Cheshire and Mabel Flourish. She was corpulent in her late years, and was seen to advantage in grotesque characters. Her Lockit did much to recommend the strange experiment of Colman of which it was a feature. A portrait by Dewilde as Lady Dove in the ‘Brothers’ is in the Mathews collection in the Garrick Club, in the catalogue of which she is erroneously said to have appeared in London as Miss Cross.

[Genest's Account of the English Stage; Gilliland's Dramatic Mirror; Thespian Dictionary; Gent. Mag. 1793, ii. 1061, 1147.]

J. K.