Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bancroft, John (d.1696)

BANCROFT, JOHN (d. 1696), dramatist, was by profession a surgeon. He is said to have had a good practice among the 'young wits and frequenters of the theatres,' and to have been thus led to write for the stage. One tragedy, the materials for which are drawn from Plutarch, is unquestionedly his. This is 'Sertorius,' a dull and ignorant work, which was licensed for performance 10 March 1678-79, and was printed in 4to in 1679. It was played in the same year at the Theatre Royal, subsequently known as Drury Lane. 'Henry the Second, King of England, with the Death of Rosamond,' produced in 1692 at the Theatre Royal, is also assigned to Bancroft, though the dedication is signed 'Will. Mountfort, 1693,' a date subsequent to Mountfort's murder. 'Henry the Second,' a decidedly superior production to the previous, was printed in 1693. It is included in 'Six Plays written by Mr. Mountfort in two volumes,' London, 1720. Coxeter, by whom the materials were collected for the compilation known as 'Cibber's Lives of the Poets,' attributes to Bancroft 'King Edward the Third with the Fall of Mortimer, Earl of March,' published in 4to 1691, and also included in the collection of Mountfort. He states that Bancroft made a present to Mountfort, both of the reputation and profits of the piece. In the bookseller's preface to Mountfort's collected works it is said of these two dramas that 'tho' not wholly composed by him, it is presum'd he had, at least, a share in fitting them for the stage.' Bancroft was buried in St. Paul's Church, Covent Garden.

[Biographica Dramatica; Genest's Account of the English Stage; Giles Jacob's Poetical Register; Langbaine's Account of the English Dramatic Poets.]

J. K.