Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Aston, Anthony

ASTON, ANTHONY (fl. 1712–1731), dramatist and actor, was the son of a gentleman who had been master of the Plea Office in the King's Bench, and was educated as an attorney. He is said to have played in all the London theatres, but never continued long in any. In a pamphlet of 24 pages, entitled ‘A brief Supplement to Colley Cibber, Esquire, his Lives of the Famous Actors and Actresses,’ and written apparently about 1747, Aston states that he came on the stage at the latter end of the reign of William III. With his wife and son he travelled through England, and at the chief towns presented a medley entertainment of humorous scenes from various plays, with songs and dialogue of his own composition ‘to fill up the chinks of the slender meal.’ The ‘Spectator’ for 1 Jan. 1712 contained the advertisement of the popular comedian, Richard Estcourt, that he was about to open the Bumper Tavern in James Street, Covent Garden, and that his wines would be sold with the utmost fidelity by his old servant, Trusty Antony—it has been presumed that Aston was referred to—‘who had so often adorned both the theatres in England and Ireland.’ In 1717 he is said to have performed three times a week at the Globe and Marlborough Taverns in Fleet Street. In 1735 he petitioned the House of Commons to be heard against the Bill introduced by Sir John Barnard for restraining the number of theatres, and for the better regulating of common players of interludes, when he was permitted to deliver a ludicrous speech upon the subject, which was afterwards published in folio. Chetwood, whose history was published in 1749, believed that Aston was then living and ‘travelling still, and as well known as the post-horse that carries the mail.’ Aston's ‘Brief Supplement’ contains interesting mentions of Betterton, Mrs. Bracegirdle, and others. He was the author of ‘Love in a Hurry,’ a comedy performed without success at the Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin, about 1709; and of ‘Pastora, or the Coy Shepherdess,’ an opera performed by the Duke of Richmond's servants at Tunbridge Wells in 1712. The ‘Fool's Opera, or the Taste of the Age,’ printed in 1731, ‘written by Matthew Medley and performed by his company in Oxford,’ has also been attributed to Aston.

[Chetwood's History of the Stage, 1749.]

D. C.