Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Whitlock, Elizabeth

947881Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 61 — Whitlock, Elizabeth1900John Joseph Knight

WHITLOCK, Mrs. ELIZABETH (1761–1836), actress, the third daughter and fifth child of Roger Kemble [q. v.], was born at Warrington on 2 April 1761, and was apprenticed to a mantua-maker. After acquiring some experience in the country she went with her two elder sisters, Sarah (Mrs. Siddons [q. v.]), and Frances (Mrs. Twiss), to Drury Lane, where she made her first appearance on 22 Feb. 1783 as Portia in the ‘Merchant of Venice,’ a part she repeated on 1 March. Here she remained two seasons, playing, through the influence of Mrs. Siddons, Margaret in ‘A New Way to pay Old Debts,’ Imogen, Leonora in ‘Revenge,’ Elvira in ‘Love makes a Man,’ Lucia in ‘Cato,’ Lady Touchwood in ‘Double Dealer,’ and Mrs. Marwood in ‘Way of the World.’ At the end of this period she went to York, and married on 21 June 1785 Charles Edward Whitlock, proprietor or shareholder of the Newcastle, Sunderland, Lancaster, and Chester theatres; him she accompanied to America, where she played principally in Annapolis, Charleston, and Philadelphia (where she played before Washington), with such success as to obtain an independency. On 18 June 1792 she made, as Mrs. Whitlock, her first appearance at the Haymarket, playing the Queen in the ‘Battle of Hexham’ and Julia in ‘Siege of Calais.’ On 30 Aug. 1797 she first appeared at New York, at the Greenwich Street theatre, as Isabella in the ‘Fatal Marriage’ (Brown, American Stage, p. 392). On 6 Oct. 1807 she reappeared at Drury Lane as Elwina in ‘Percy.’ She was announced as having returned from America, and her reappearance caused some sensation; but she does not appear to have been seen more than once, and is no more heard of on the stage. The characters named are all in which she can be traced. She played others, however, a portrait of her, by De Wilde, as Margaret in the ‘Earl of Warwick’ being in the Mathews collection in the Garrick Club. Her husband died subsequently to 1812. She herself died on 27 Feb. 1836. She was a more than respectable actress in tragedy, but the reputation of her sister, Mrs. Siddons, to whom she bore in youth some resemblance, stood in her way. Her voice was the best in the family, but she dropped it towards the close of a sentence. Her action was statuesque as well as powerful, but her bearing lacked spirit.

[Most information supplied concerning Mrs. Whitlock is inaccurate, her husband's death being anticipated by more than twenty years, and her own appearances confused with those of her sister Fanny. The foregoing facts are derived from Genest's Account of the English Stage, Campbell's Life of Siddons, Gent. Mag. (i. 438, 450), Fitzgerald's Lives of the Kembles, Monthly Mirror (1807, new ser. vol. ii.), Thespian Dict., Gilliland's Dramatic Mirror, and Thespian Mag. 1792–3.]

J. K.