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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 BRA/378
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1784 Sep 16
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 0.01 linear metres.
Name of creator(s): Sheridan | Richard Brinsley | 1751-1816 | playwright and politician


Administrative/Biographical history:

Richard Brinsley Sheridan was born in 1751 in Dublin, his father an actor and his mother a playwright and novelist. He went to live in England with his family in 1759. In 1773 he married Elizabeth Linley, a famous singer, daughter of musician Thomas Linley who had worked with Sheridan's father on some productions. Sheridan was studying law at Middle Temple but gave this up soon after his marriage. His play The Rivals was premiered in 1775. In 1776 Sheridan, Thomas Linley and man-midwife Dr James Ford raised 55,000 to buy David Garrick's controlling share in the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Sheridan's play The School for Scandal premiered in 1777.

Sheridan's success as a playwright and his wife's private concerts had allowed him to make friends with various nobility and influential people. In 1780, aided by his new friends, Sheridan began a political career, being elected Member of Parliament for Stafford. He left the management of the theatre largely to his wife and father-in-law. Elizabeth died in 1792, although Sheridan later remarried.

Between 1791 and 1794 the Theatre Royal was rebuilt. Sheridan was not good at managing his finances and was forced to sell 3000 renters shares in the Theatre in order to buy himself and his new wife a home. The Theatre was more successful when actor-manager John Philip Kemble and actress Sarah Siddons were the stars, but after they left in 1802 the Theatre's hey-day was over, culminating in a fire which destroyed the building in 1807. Sheridan sold his share in the Theatre to brewer Samuel Whitbread who took over the rebuilding of the theatre. Despite receiving some money from Whitbread Sheridan was arrested for debt in 1813 and 1815, and was forced to sell many of his possessions. He died in 1816 and was buried in Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey.


Scope and content/abstract:

Assignment of a rent of two shillings each night of performance at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and free privilege for 21 years, between Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Thomas Linley and James Ford; and Anna Maria Ford.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

One document.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to this collection rests with the City of London.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

BRA/378 was deposited by the British Records Association in 1942.

Allied Materials

Related material:

See ACC/0720 for another document relating to the Theatre Royal held at LMA. Further records of the Theatre Royal, including papers relating to Sheridan's time as manager, can be found in various repositories including the British Library, William Salt Library, V&A Department of Theatre and Performance and the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Records prepared May to September 2011.

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