Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement/Clayton, John (1843-1888)

CLAYTON, JOHN (1843–1888), actor, whose real name was John Alfred Calthrop, was son of James T. and E. Naylor Calthrop of Deeping, Lincolnshire. He was born at Gosberton, Lincolnshire, on 14 Feb. 1843, and entered Merchant Taylors' School in 1853. He subsequently studied German at Bonn, with a view to the Indian civil service. After some practice as an amateur he joined Miss Herbert's company at the St. James's, appearing on 27 Feb. 1866 as Hastings in 'She Stoops to Conquer.' At the Olympic he played in 'Six Months Ago,' and was Landry Barbeau in 'The Grasshopper' ('La Petite Fadette'). On the opening of the new Queen's theatre, 24 Oct. 1867, he was the first Coluey Hatch in 'He's a Lunatic,' by Felix Dale (Mr. Herman Merivale). He played, at the Queen's, Kidgely in 'Dearer than Life,' Monks in 'Oliver Twist,' Medlicott in 'Time and the Hour,' and Gregory Danville in the ' Lancashire Lass.' At the Gaiety he was, on 27 March 1869, the Earl of Mount Forrestcotirt in Robertson's 'Dreams,' and was also Calthorpe in Mr. Gilbert's 'An Old Score,' Vaubert in the ' Life Chase,' Joe Lennard in' Uncle Dick's Darling,' and Victor Tremaine in 'Awaking.' He was seen at the Vaudeville as Joseph Surface, and Dazzle in 'London Assurance,' and at the Lyceum as Louis XIII in ' Richelieu,' and Juan de Miraflores in Mr. Hamilton Aide's 'Philip.' At the Princess's he played the brothers in the 'Corsican Brothers,' and Nigel in the 'King o' Scots.' At the Court he was Jaggers in 'Great Expectations,' Jormell in Craven's 'Coals of Fire,' and George de Chavannes in 'Lady Flora.' As Hugh Trevor in ' All for her,' produced on 18 Oct. 1875 at the Mirror, formerly the Holborn, he obtained his greatest success in serious parts. Osip in Lord Newry's version of 'Les Danischeffs' (St. James's, 6 Jan. 1877) was also a success, as was his Henry Beauclerc in 'Diplomacy' at the Prince of Wales's, where he also played George d'Alroy in 'Caste' (January 1879). He was Robert Dudley to the Mary Stuart of Madame Modjeska, in an adaptation by Lewis Wingfield from Schiller. On 24 Sept. 1881 he opened, as Raoul de Latour in 'Honour,' the Court theatre, in the management of which he was joined by Arthur Cecil [q. v. Suppl.] Changing his line, he appeared in comic plays by Mr. Pinero and other writers. He was, 15 Feb. 1882, Chiff in the 'Manager' and Bartley Venn in 'My Little Girl,' and was seen subsequently as Charles Tracy in the 'Parvenu,' Sir George Dexter in 'Comrades,' Rev. Humphrey Sharlandin the 'Rector,' Robert Streightley in the 'Millionaire,' Lewis Long in 'Margery's Lovers,' Due de Chevreuse in 'Devotion,' Sir George Carteret in the 'Opal Ring,' Colonel Lukyn in the 'Magistrate,' Admiral Ranking in the 'Schoolmistress,' and the Very Rev. Dean Jedd in 'Dandy Dick.' The piece last named was given on 27 Jan. 1887, and was the last production of the management. While touring with it Clayton died, on 27 Feb. 1888, at Canning Street, Liverpool. His remains were interred in Brompton cemetery. Clayton married a daughter of Dion Boucicault [q. v. Suppl.], who survives him. He was a good actor, both in drama and comedy, with a bluff, effective, breezy, and powerful, sometimes too powerful, style.

[Personal knowledge; Era, 3 March; Scotland Howard's Blanchard; Pascoe's Dramatic List; Robinson's Register of Merchant Taylors' School; Era Almanack, various years; The Theatre, various years; Athenæum, various years.]

J. K.