Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Buckingham, Leicester Silk

BUCKINGHAM, LEICESTER SILK (1825–1867), dramatic author, the youngest son of James Silk Buckingham, the oriental traveller [q. v.], and Elizabeth Jennings, was born at 11 Cornwall Terrace, Regent's Park, London, 29 June 1825. In his early life he was the companion of his father in visits made to America, France, and the East, and the experience thus acquired rendered his services valuable as a lecturer on several occasions. When the Panopticon (afterwards the Alhambra in Leicester Square) was originated in 1854 as a scientific institution, Buckingham was selected to write and deliver the explanatory description of the views of various countries, and more recently at the Egyptian Hall he was the lecturer engaged to illustrate Hamilton's ‘Tour of Europe.’ Connecting himself in early life with the stage he produced several light pieces at the Strand Theatre when that establishment was under Mr. J. Payne's direction in 1856–7, and for a short time undertook the responsibilities of management. Among the most successful comedies he afterwards wrote may be mentioned ‘The Merry Widow,’ 1863; ‘Silken Fetters,’ 1863; ‘The Silver Lining,’ 1864; and ‘Faces in the Fire,’ 1865. As a dramatist he was confessedly under large obligations to the French stage, and the majority of his pieces were founded on the works of Parisian writers. There can, however, be no question that his talents were equal to much more than the work of a skilful adapter. He was from 1857 to 1867 dramatic and musical critic of the ‘Morning Star.’ A singularly fluent and graceful writer he was even more remarkable as a speaker, and few have excelled him in rhetorical power. Buckingham commenced writing at the early age of nineteen, when he compiled for R. Bentley ‘Memoir of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland,’ 1844. This was followed by ‘Life and Times of Louis Philippe, by the Rev. G. N. Wright. Continued to the Revolution of 1848 by L. F. A. Buckingham,’ 1850. ‘Belgium, the Rhine, Italy, Greece, and the Mediterranean, by the Rev. G. N. Wright and L. F. A. Buckingham,’ appeared in 1851, and in 1853 he published ‘The Bible in the Middle Age, with Remarks on the Libraries, Schools, and Religious Aspects of Mediæval Europe.’ He was also the author of upwards of thirty-five burlesques, comedies, and farces, of which those already mentioned are the best, and are still occasionally produced on the stage. On 5 April 1844 he married at Gretna Green, under the name of L. S. F. Y. Buckingham, Caroline Sarah, fourth daughter of Captain Frederic White, of H.M.'s packet service Weymouth. This lady was afterwards a well-known and much respected actress, under the name of Mrs. Buckingham White. Few persons can have been known under a greater variety of christian names than Buckingham was during his comparatively short life, the following being the names used by him on various occasions: Leicester, Leicester Ambrose, Leicester Silk, Leicester Forbes Ambrose, Leicester Stanhope, Leicester Stanhope Forbes, Leicester Stanhope Forbes Young, and Leicester Stanhope Forbes Young Ambrose. He also made use of the pseudonym Matthews & Co. when producing his first drama, called ‘Aggravating Sam,’ in 1854. He died at Margate 15 July 1867, a convert to the Roman catholic faith. His copyrights passed to Thomas Hailes Lacy, theatrical publisher, who in September 1873 bequeathed them to the Royal General Theatrical Fund.

[The Era, 21 July 1867, p. 10; Notes and Queries, 5th ser. xi. 244, 295 (1879); Boase and Courtney's Bibliotheca Cornubiensis, i. 48–9; iii. 1099.]

G. C. B.