Yates, Elizabeth (DNB00)

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YATES, Mrs. ELIZABETH (1799–1860), actress, born at Norwich on 21 Jan. 1799, came of a theatrical family. Her grandfather, John Brunton, acted at Covent Garden in 1774; her father, also John Brunton, born in 1775, went on the stage in 1795, and, as Brunton jun. from Norwich, appeared at Covent Garden on 22 Sept. 1800 as Frederick in ‘Louisa's Vows,’ and managed at different periods theatres in Brighton, Birmingham, Lynn, and other places. Elizabeth's aunt, Anne Brunton, first appeared as Miss Brunton at Bath on 17 Feb. 1785 in the part of Euphrasia in the ‘Grecian Daughter,’ and by that name or as Mrs. Merry was, at Covent Garden, the original Amanthis in the ‘Child of Nature,’ and played a complete round of parts in comedy and tragedy; while a second aunt was Louisa Brunton (1782–1860), who married on 12 Dec. 1807 William Craven, first earl of Craven [see Craven, Louisa, Countess of].

On 15 March 1815, in her father's theatre at Lynn, Elizabeth Brunton made, as Desdemona to the Othello of Charles Kemble, her first appearance on the stage. Her father thought her talents more suited to comedy than tragedy, and she next played Letitia Hardy in the ‘Belle's Stratagem’ to the Doricourt of Robert William Elliston, who engaged her for his theatre at Birmingham. She played also in Worcester, Shrewsbury, and Leicester. Harris then engaged her for Covent Garden, where on 12 Sept. 1817, as Miss Brunton, she made her ‘first appearance in London’ in the part of Letitia Hardy. She repeated the part on the 15th and 17th, and on the 19th was Rosalind in ‘As you like it.’ The ‘Theatrical Inquisitor’ gave some praise to her Letitia, but pronounced her Rosalind a failure. Violante in the ‘Wonder,’ Miss Hardcastle in ‘She stoops to conquer,’ Beatrice in ‘Much Ado about Nothing,’ Viola in ‘Twelfth Night,’ Imogen, Cora in ‘Pizarro,’ Lady Elizabeth Freelove in the ‘Day after the Wedding,’ and Myrtillo in the ‘Broken Sword’ were acted during her first season, in which she was on 29 Sept. the original Rosalia in Reynolds's ‘Duke of Savoy.’ Her Beatrice was praised. On 22 Aug. 1818, as Letitia Hardy, she appeared at Edinburgh. The season of 1818–19 saw her at Covent Garden as Lady Teazle, Fanny in ‘The Clandestine Marriage,’ Widow Bellmour in ‘The Way to keep him,’ Lydia Languish, Rosara in ‘She would and she would not,’ Miss Tittup in ‘Bon Ton,’ and Miss Wooburn in ‘Every one has his Fault.’ She had an original part in ‘A Word for the Ladies,’ and was the first Jeanie Deans in Terry's adaptation, ‘The Heart of Midlothian,’ 17 April 1819. Next season she took Miss Prue in ‘Love for Love,’ Sophia in the ‘Road to Ruin,’ Dorinda in Dryden's ‘Tempest,’ Elvira in ‘Love makes a Man,’ and was the first Clotilde de Biron in Morton's ‘Henri Quatre’ on 22 April 1820. Engagements at the patent theatres were generally for three years, and after this season Miss Brunton disappeared from Covent Garden.

She visited the country, and when her father took the West London Theatre in Tottenham Street (subsequently the Queen's and the Prince of Wales's) Elizabeth Brunton joined him, opening on 9 Sept. 1822. She played in ‘Rochester,’ ‘Three Weeks after Marriage,’ ‘She stoops to conquer,’ and other pieces. On the failure of the experiment she went once more into the country, where she met and married Frederick Henry Yates [q. v.], with whom she had acted at Drury Lane. Her marriage took place in Bath in November 1823.

On 21 April 1823 she had appeared in Bath as Albina Mandeville in the ‘Will,’ and in this and the season of 1823–4, as Miss Brunton, she was seen as Belinda in ‘All in the Wrong,’ as Actress of All Work, Clarinda in the ‘Suspicious Husband,’ the Peasant Boy, Helen Worrett in ‘Man and Wife,’ Aladdin, Widow Cheerly in the ‘Soldier's Daughter,’ Miss Dorillon in ‘Wives as they were,’ Cynthia in ‘Oberon and Cynthia,’ Lady Racket in ‘Three Weeks after Marriage,’ Biddy Tipkin in the ‘Tender Husband,’ Dolly Bull in ‘Fontainebleau,’ Clara in ‘Matrimony,’ and Olivia in ‘Bold Stroke for a Husband.’ On 26 Nov. 1823, as Miss Brunton, she played Lydia Languish and Actress of All Work; and on 27 Dec., as Mrs. Yates late Miss Brunton, Harriet in ‘Is he jealous?’ She played with her husband at Cheltenham, and on 29 Oct. 1824 made as Violante her first appearance at Drury Lane. She was on 17 Feb. 1825 the first Guido in ‘Massaniello,’ and the first Agnes in Knowles's ‘William Tell’ on 11 May; played Mrs. Frail in ‘Love for Love,’ Clarissa in the ‘Confederacy,’ Aurora in the ‘Panel,’ Isabinda in the ‘Busy Body,’ Constantia (an original part in Lunn's ‘White Lies,’ 2 Dec. 1826), Countess Wintersen in the ‘Stranger,’ and some few other parts. In this engagement her husband did not share. At the house last named she was seen in December 1828 as Orynthe in Fitzball's ‘Earthquake,’ and on 21 Oct. 1830 as Alice in Buckstone's ‘Wreck Ashore.’ In Buckstone's ‘Victorine’ she was Victorine in October 1831. In Buckstone's ‘Henriette the Forsaken’ in November 1832 Henriette, and in his ‘Isabelle’ on 27 Jan. 1834 Isabelle. She was Mona in Charles Mathews's ‘Truth’ on 10 March 1734, Elizabeth Stanton in Fitzball's ‘Tom Cringle’ on 26 May, Valsha in Stirling Coyne's ‘Valsha’ on 30 Oct. 1837, and Grace Darling in Stirling's ‘Grace Darling’ on 3 Dec. 1838. She was Miss Aubrey in Peake's ‘Ten Thousand a Year,’ Margaret Mammon in Reynoldson's ‘Curse of Mammon,’ Surrey, 1 April 1839. After the death of her husband, in June 1842, she essayed a year's management at the Adelphi with Gladstane, but found the task too much for her strength, and she was for one season at the Lyceum, where in 1848–9 she played Tilburina in the ‘Critic’ and other parts. She then withdrew from the stage, and, after a long and painful illness, died on 30 Aug. 1860 at Kentish Town according to her son's book; on 5 Sept., at Brighton, according to the ‘Era’ newspaper and the ‘Era Almanack.’

In her early career Mrs. Yates challenged comparison with other leading actresses. Before she married, she had lost somewhat of her vogue. She sang with taste and feeling, but had little voice. She was better in comedy—her style being very natural and unaffected—than in the emotional parts she was in her late years called upon to play. She was of middle size, with features pleasing rather than beautiful. A miniature by Stump of Cork Street was in the possession of her son. A portrait of her as Eugenia in ‘Sweethearts and Wives’ accompanies a memoir in the ‘Theatrical Times’ (i. 209), 28 Nov. 1846.

[The authorities for the life of Elizabeth Yates are in the main the same as those for Frederick Henry Yates. A short Life appears in the Dramatic and Musical Review, vii. 230, and a longer Life in Mrs. C. Baron Wilson's Our Actresses. Her death is noticed in the Era, 9 Sept. 1860.]

J. K.