Andrews, Miles Peter (DNB00)


ANDREWS, MILES PETER (d. 1814), dramatist, was the son of a drysalter in Watling Street. After assisting his father in business during the day, he was accustomed ‘to sally forth in the evening with sword and bag to Ranelagh or some other public place,’ giving himself the airs of a man of fashion. Gradually forming higher connections, he engaged in certain very profitable speculations. He became the constant companion of the dissolute Lord Lyttelton, and is responsible for a story of the appearance to him of that nobleman's ghost (see Ward's Illustrations of Human Life, 1837). He was the owner of powder magazines at Dartford, said to be the most extensive in England, and became member of parliament for Bewdley. Occupying a large mansion in the Green Park, formerly tenanted by Lord Grenville, his grand entertainments and gala nights were of great attraction to the fashionable world of London. He affected the society of actors and authors, and was elected a member of the Beefsteak, the Keep-the-Line, and other convivial clubs. He enjoyed a reputation for wit and good humour, for kindliness and hospitality, while his temper was said to be extremely irritable, and he was nervous, credulous, and superstitious. He was the author of the following plays: the ‘Conjuror,’ a farce, produced at Drury Lane in 1774; the ‘Election,’ a musical interlude, produced at the same theatre in the same year; ‘Belphegor, or the Wishes,’ a comic opera, produced at Drury Lane in 1778; ‘Summer Amusement, or an Adventure at Margate,’ written in conjunction with William Augustus Miles, produced at the Haymarket in 1779; ‘Fire and Water,’ a ballad opera, produced at the Haymarket in 1780; ‘Dissipation,’ a comedy, produced at Drury Lane in 1781; the ‘Baron Kinkvervankotsdorssprakengatchdern,’ a musical comedy, founded on a novel by Lady Craven, produced at the Haymarket in 1781; the ‘Best Bidder,’ a farce, produced at the Haymarket in 1782; ‘Reparation,’ a comedy, produced at Drury Lane in 1784; ‘Better Late than Never,’ a comedy, produced at Drury Lane in 1790; the ‘Mysteries of the Castle,’ produced at Covent Garden in 1795. In the two last-named works Andrews was assisted by Frederick Reynolds. Andrews was less successful with his plays than with his prologues and epilogues, which, although tawdry and vulgar enough, laden with slang and with gross caricatures of the foibles of the day, were so skilfully delivered by the popular comedians, Lewis and Mrs. Mattocks, as to command great applause. Sheridan said of Andrews that he only succeeded in the head and tail of a play and always broke down in the body. George Colman the younger describes Andrews as ‘one of the most persevering poetical pests,’ and his plays as ‘like his powder mills, particularly hazardous affairs, and in great danger of going off with a sudden and violent explosion.’ Andrews's ‘doggrel’ and ‘unmeaning ribaldry’ were severely censured by Giffard in his ‘Baviad.’

[Taylor's Records of my Life, 1832; Bernard's Retrospections of the Stage, 1830; Genest's History of the Stage, 1832; Biographia Dramatica, 1812.]

D. C.