Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Baddeley, Robert

BADDELEY , ROBERT (1733–1794), comedian, is said to have been born in 1733, When first heard of he is cook in the establishment of Foote, where he is supposed to have contracted a taste for the stage. Subsequently, as valet to a gentleman whose name has not been preserved, he travelled for three years on what was then called 'the grand tour,' acquiring in so doing a smattering of foreign languages which stood him subsequently in good stead. In 1761 he appeared at the Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin, the first part he played being Gomez, a not unimportant role 'created' by Nokes in Dryden's 'Spanish Friar.' He must have acted previously, as he was announced as of Drury Lane theatre. Two years later he was an established member of Drury Lane company, playing low comedy parts, and winning some reputation as an exponent of foreign footmen. His chief claim to distinction consists in having been the original Moses in the 'School for Scandal.' While dressing for this character on 19 Nov. 1794 he fell back ill. The next day he expired. His life with Mrs. Baddeley was unhappy [see Baddeley, Sophia, 1745-1786], her loose conduct involving him in many difficulties, among which must be counted a bloodless duel with George Garrick, a brother of David. Baddeley is best remembered by his will, in which he left the reversion of his house at Moulsey, in Surrey, to found an asylum for decayed actors, adding a provision that when the value of the property reached 350l. per annum, pensions were to be granted to the inmates. He also bequeathed the interest of 100l. to provide the actors at Drury Lane Theatre with wine and cake in the green room on Twelfth Night. This custom is still observed. Baddeley was the subject, during his life, of many gross charges. Michael Kelly speaks of him as a worthy man, and in Jews and Frenchmen a very good actor. Baddeley is buried in St. Paul's Church, Covent Garden.

[Genest's Account of the English Stage; Reminiscences of Michael Kelly; Hitchcock's Historical View of the Irish Stage; Theatrical Biography, 1772; Gilliland's Dramatic Mirror; Thespian Dictionary.]

J. K.