Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pinkethman, William

1168496Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 45 — Pinkethman, William1896John Joseph Knight

PINKETHMAN, WILLIAM (fl. 1692–1724), actor, held originally a low rank in the theatre. A tendency to overact and to introduce vulgar and impertinent business established him in the favour of the ‘groundlings,’ and he rose in time to be a trusted, and in some senses a competent, performer. He is first heard of at the Theatre Royal, subsequently Drury Lane, in 1692, in Shadwell's ‘Volunteers, or the Stock-jobbers,’ in which he played Taylor, an original part of six lines. In the same or the following year he was the original Porter in Southerne's ‘Maid's Last Prayer,’ and in 1694, in Ravenscroft's ‘Canterbury Guests, or a Bargain Broken,’ he played Second Innkeeper and Jack Sawce. On the secession, in 1695, of Betterton and his associates, Pinkethman was promoted to a better line of parts. In 1696, accordingly, he played Jaques in the ‘Third Part of Don Quixote,’ by D'Urfey; Dr. Pulse in Mrs. Manley's ‘Lost Lover;’ Palæmon in ‘Pausanias,’ by Norton or Southerne; Sir Merlin Marteen in Mrs. Behn's ‘Younger Brother, or the Amorous Jill;’ Nic Froth, an innkeeper, in ‘The Cornish Comedy;’ and Castillio, jun., in ‘Neglected Virtue, or the Unhappy Conqueror.’ Among his original parts, in 1697, were Tom Dawkins in Settle's ‘Man in the Moon,’ Amorous in ‘Female Wits’ (in which also he appeared in his own character), Gusman in ‘Triumphs of Virtue,’ Major Rakish in Cibber's ‘Woman's Wit,’ Baldernoe in Dennis's ‘Plot and No Plot,’ First Tradesman, Quaint, and Sir Polidorus Hogstye in Vanbrugh's ‘Æsop,’ and Famine in Drake's ‘Sham Lawyer.’ He also played the Lieutenant in the ‘Humourous Lieutenant’ of Beaumont and Fletcher. Min Heer (sic) Tomas, a fat burgomaster, in D'Urfey's ‘Campaigners, or Pleasant Adventures at Brussels,’ Snatchpenny in Lacy's ‘Sauny the Scot, or the Taming of the Shrew,’ and Pedro in Powell's ‘Imposture Defeated,’ belong to 1698; and Club in Farquhar's ‘Love and a Bottle,’ Jonathan in ‘Love without Interest,’ Beau Clincher in Farquhar's ‘Constant Couple, or a Trip to the Jubilee,’ to 1699, in which year he recited the prologue to the first part of D'Urfey's ‘Rise and Fall of Massaniello,’ and probably played in both parts of the play. He was in 1700 the Mad Taylor in a revival of the ‘Pilgrim,’ and played the first Dick Addle in ‘Courtship à la Mode,’ a play written by Crawford, and given, as were other comedies, to Pinkethman. Don Lewis in ‘Love makes a Man, or the Fop's Fortune’ (Cibber's adaptation from Beaumont and Fletcher), Pun in Baker's ‘Humours of the Age,’ Clincher, the Jubilee Beau turned into a politician, in ‘Sir Harry Wildair’ (Farquhar's sequel to the ‘Constant Couple’), Charles Codshead in D'Urfey's ‘Bath,’ belong to 1701. In 1702 he was the original Old Mirabel in Farquhar's ‘Inconstant,’ Will Fanlove in Burnaby's ‘Modish Husband,’ Lopez in Vanbrugh's ‘False Friend,’ Trim in Steele's ‘Funeral,’ Trappanti in Cibber's ‘She would and she would not,’ and Subtleman in Farquhar's ‘Twin Rivals.’ He also recited what was known as ‘Pinkethman's Epilogue.’ It was at this time, when playing many characters of high importance, that Gildon, in his ‘Comparison between Two Stages,’ spoke of him as ‘the flower of Bartholomew Fair and the idol of the rabble; a fellow that overdoes everything, and spoils many a part with his own stuff.’ In 1703 he created Squib in Baker's ‘Tunbridge Walks,’ Maggothead (mayor of Coventry) in D'Urfey's ‘Old Mode and the New,’ and Whimsey in Estcourt's ‘Fair Example.’ At the booth in Bartholomew Fair, which he held with Bullock and Simpson, he played on 24 Aug. 1703 Toby in ‘Jephtha's Rash Vow.’ In this year also the company was at Bath. Storm in the ‘Lying Lover’ followed at Drury Lane on 2 Dec. 1703, and Festolin in ‘Love the Leveller’ on 26 Jan. 1704. He also appeared in Young Harfort in the ‘Lancashire Witches,’ giving his epilogue on an ass. Humphry Gubbin in Steele's ‘Tender Husband’ was first seen on 23 April 1705; and Chum, a poor scholar, in Baker's ‘Hampstead Heath’ on 30 Oct. 1705.

After the union of the Haymarket and Drury Lane companies in 1708, fewer original characters came to Pinkethman, who, however, was assigned important parts in standard plays. He was, on 14 Dec. 1708, the First Knapsack in Baker's ‘Fine Lady's Airs,’ and on 11 Jan. 1709 Sir Oliver Outwit in ‘Rival Fools,’ an alteration of ‘Wit at several Weapons,’ by Beaumont and Fletcher. On 4 April 1707, for his benefit, he spoke with Jubilee Dicky [see NORRIS, HENRY] a new epilogue. The two actors represented the figures of Somebody and Nobody. At the Haymarket he created, on 12 Dec. 1709, Clinch in Mrs. Centlivre's ‘Man's Bewitched,’ and on 1 May 1710 Faschinetti in C. Johnson's ‘Love in a Chest.’ On 15 June he opened a theatre in Greenwich, where he played comedy and tragedy, appearing as First Witch in ‘Macbeth.’ On 7 April 1711 he was, at Drury Lane, the original Tipple in ‘Injured Love;’ on 7 Nov. 1712 the first Sir Gaudy Tulip, an old beau, in the ‘Successful Pyrate;’ on 29 Jan. 1713 Bisket in Charles Shadwell's ‘Humours of the Army;’ and, 12 May, Franklyn in Gay's ‘Wife of Bath.’ On 23 Feb. 1715 he was the first Jonas Dock in Gay's ‘What d'ye call it?’ In Addison's ‘Drummer, or the Haunted House,’ he was, on 10 May 1716, the first Butler, and on 16 Jan. 1717 Underplot in the ill-starred ‘Three Hours after Marriage.’ On 9 Sept. 1717 he acted Old Merriman in a droll called ‘Twice Married and a Maid still,’ given at Pinkethman and Pack's booth, Southwark Fair. On 19 Feb. 1718 he was, at Drury Lane, the first Ringwood in Breval's ‘The Play is the Plot.’ On 14 Feb. 1721 he was the original Sir Gilbert Wrangle in Cibber's ‘Refusal.’ This appears to have been practically his last original part. On 9 Jan. 1723 he was Pyramus in the burlesque scene from ‘Midsummer Night's Dream’ fitted into ‘Love in a Forest,’ an alteration of ‘As you like it.’ On 23 May 1724 he appeared in ‘Epsom Wells,’ for his benefit. At an uncertain date he played Judge Tutchin in Lodowick Barry's ‘Ram Alley, or Merry Tricks.’ From this period he disappeared from stage records, and died somewhere before 1727, leaving a considerable estate.

Among characters, not original, which were assigned him in the latter half of his career were Dr. Caius, Sir William Belfond in Shadwell's ‘Squire of Alsatia,’ Day in the ‘Committee,’ Nonsense in Brome's ‘Northern Lass,’ Hearty in Brome's ‘Jovial Crew,’ Crack in ‘Sir Courtly Nice,’ Antonio in the ‘Chances,’ Daniel in ‘Oroonoko,’ Old Brag in ‘Love for Money,’ Antonio in ‘Venice Preserved,’ Gentleman Usher in ‘Lear,’ Abel Drugger, Costar Pearmain, Snap in ‘Love's Last Shift,’ Scrub, Old Bellair in ‘Man of the Mode,’ Calianax in the ‘Maid's Tragedy,’ Ruffian and Apothecary in ‘Caius Marius,’ Thomas Appletree in the ‘Recruiting Officer,’ and Jerry Blackacre in the ‘Plain Dealer.’

Pinkethman, also known as Penkethman, Pinkeman, occasionally even Pinkerman, &c., and, by a familiar abridgment, Pinkey, was a droll rather than a comedian, and an imitator of Anthony Leigh [q. v.], of whom, according to Colley Cibber, he came far short. In the prologue to the ‘Conscious Lovers’ it is said—

Some fix all wit and humour in grimace,
And make a livelihood of Pinkey's face.

As Lacy in the ‘Relapse’ he succeeded Doggett, and, though much inferior, eclipsed him in the part. He made a success as Geta in the ‘Prophetess,’ and Crack in ‘Sir Courtly Nice,’ parts which lent themselves to one who always ‘delighted more in the whimsical than the natural.’ Cibber, who calls him ‘honest Pinkey,’ and owns to an attachment to him, denies him judgment. The matter he inserted in the characters assigned him was not always palatable even to his patrons in the gallery. When he encountered what Cibber called a disgracia, he was in the habit of saying ‘Odso! I believe I am a little wrong here,’ a confession which once turned the reproof of the audience into applause. Playing Harlequin in Mrs. Behn's ‘Emperor of the Moon,’ he was induced by his admirers to doff his mask. The result was disaster, his humour was disconcerted, and his performance failed to please. The nature of his gags may be judged from the following story. Playing Thomas Appletree, a recruit, in the ‘Recruiting Officer,’ he was asked his name by Wilks, as Captain Plume; he replied, ‘Why, don't you know my name, Bob? I thought every fool had known that.’ ‘Thomas Appletree,’ whispered Wilks, in a rage. ‘Thomas Appletree! Thomas Devil!’ said he; ‘my name is Will Pinkethman,’ and, addressing the gallery, asked if that were not the case. The mob at first enjoyed Wilks's discomfiture, but ultimately showed by hisses their disapproval of the ‘clown.’ Pinkethman is praised in the ‘Tatler’ and the ‘Spectator.’ Steele, in answer to an imaginary challenge from Bullock and Pinkethman to establish a parallel between them such as he had instituted between Wilks and Cibber, said: ‘They both distinguish themselves in a very particular manner under the discipline of the crabtree, with the only difference that Mr. Bullock has the more agreeable squall, and Mr. Pinkethman the more graceful shrug; Pinkethman devours a cold chick with great applause, Bullock's talent lies chiefly in sparrow grass; Pinkethman is very dexterous at conveying himself under a table, Bullock is no less active at jumping over a stick; Mr. Pinkethman has a great deal of money, but Mr. Bullock is the taller man’ (Tatler, vol. iv. No. 188; cf. vol. i. No. 4).

A portrait of Pinkethman, engraved by R. B. Parkes, from a painting by Schmutz, an imitator of Sir Godfrey Kneller, is in Mr. Lowe's edition of Cibber's ‘Apology.’ It shows him with a long and rather handsome face and full periwig.

Pinkethman, described as a bachelor of St. Paul's, Covent Garden, married, on 22 Nov. 1714, at Bow Church, Middlesex, Elizabeth Hill, maiden, of St. Paul's, Shadwell (Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. vi. 40). Pinkethman's booth descended to his son, who, at the opening of Covent Garden Theatre, 7 Dec. 1732, played Waitwell in the ‘Way of the World,’ was Antonio in ‘Chances’ at Drury Lane, 23 Nov. 1739, and died 15 May 1740 (Gent. Mag. 1740, p. 262).

[Books cited; Genest's English Stage; Downes's Roscius Anglicanus; Colley Cibber's Apology, ed. Lowe; Morley's Bartholomew Fair; Gildon's Comparison between Two Stages; Davies's Dramatic Miscellanies.]

J. K.