Knipp, Mrs. (DNB00)

KNIPP or KNEP, Mrs. (fl. 1670), actress, probably made her début on the stage of the Theatre Royal as a member of Killigrew's company, as Epicene in Ben Jonson's ‘Silent Woman’ on 1 June 1664. Pepys made her acquaintance at his friend Mrs. Pierce's on 6 Dec. 1665, and thought her ‘pretty enough, but the most excellent, mad-humoured thing, and sings the noblest that ever I heard in my life.’ Her husband he describes as ‘an ill, melancholy, jealous-looking fellow,’ suspected of ill-treating her. On 2 Jan. 1665–6 he records the ‘perfect pleasure’ it gave him at Brouncker's ‘to hear her sing, and especially her little Scotch song of Barbary Allen.’ They soon became very intimate, corresponding with one another as ‘Dapper Dicky’ and ‘Barbary Allen.’ On 23 Feb. 1665–6 (his birthday) Pepys records that she came to see his wife, and he spent the whole night talking with her and teaching her his song ‘Beauty, retire,’ which she made ‘go most rarely.’ On 6 Aug. 1666 he took her to dine with him at a tavern in Old Fish Street. On 14 Nov. 1666 he visited her at her lodging, which he found ‘very mean.’ He took her husband into the city, left him there, and returned to dine with her tête-à-tête. Next year she chose him for her valentine, upon which he ‘bought 32s. worth of things’ for her. He also made her occasional presents of money. From this time, however, out of regard to his wife, who began to be seriously jealous, Pepys allowed the intimacy to cool. He admired her in the part of the Widow in Beaumont and Fletcher's ‘Scornful Lady’ on 28 Dec. 1666; in the Widow's part in the ‘Custom of the Country,’ 2 Jan. 1666–7; in ‘Mrs. Weaver's great part’ in Dryden's ‘Indian Emperor,’ 15 Jan.; and her singing in the ‘Humorous Lieutenant,’ 23 Jan.; and ‘The Chances,’ a comedy by the Duke of Buckingham, 5 Feb. She also took some part in the revival of Suckling's ‘Goblins’ on 23 Jan.; on 5 Oct. she appeared as Otrante in Rhodes's ‘Flora's Vagaries;’ on 19 Oct. as Savina in Lord Orrery's historical play of the ‘Black Prince;’ and with Nell Gwyn [q. v.] spoke the prologue to Sir R. Howard's ‘Great Favourite, or the Duke of Lerma,’ on 20 Feb. 1667–8, ‘most excellently,’ ‘beyond any creature’ Pepys had ‘ever heard.’ She appeared in Dryden's ‘Mock Astrologer’ and ‘Tyrannick Love’ in 1668 and 1668–9, and in ‘The Heiress,’ 2 Feb. 1668–9, entranced Pepys with her singing and a wink from the stage with which she honoured him. She appeared at Lincoln's Inn Fields, the Theatre Royal having been burned down, in 1671–2, as the nun Hippolita in Dryden's ‘Assignation;’ and in that or the following year as Lady Fidget in Wycherley's ‘Country Wife.’ In 1674 she played Eliza in Wycherley's ‘Plain Dealer,’ and spoke the epilogue to Duffet's ‘Spanish Rogue.’ She took the part of a priestess of Bellona in Lee's ‘Sophonisba, or Hannibal's Overthrow,’ in 1676; and that of a maid in ‘Country Innocence, or the Chambermaid turned Quaker,’ in 1677. Her last recorded appearance was as Mrs. Dorothy in D'Urfey's version of Fletcher's ‘Trick for Trick.’ Her subsequent history is wholly uncertain.

[Downes's Roscius Anglicanus, ed. Knight; Genest's Account of the English Stage, vol. i.; Pepys's Diary.]

J. M. R.