Tag Archives: Leach Glover

Scotch Dances on the London Stage, 1660-1760

In 1725-1726, the London theatre season for which I am looking at dance in detail, there were more than a dozen billings for a solo Scottish Dance by Mrs Bullock at the Lincoln’s Inn Fields Theatre, as well as a handful of performances of a Scottish duet by Newhouse and Mrs Ogden. By the mid-1720s, Scotch (or Scots, or Scottish) Dances were a regular feature in the entr’actes at London’s theatres.

The very first edition of Playford’s collection of country dances, The English Dancing-Master of 1651, includes a tune with the title ‘Scotch Cap or Edinburgh Castle’, while the third edition of 1657 added the ‘Highlander’s March’. These highlight a much longer history of Scotch dances than the one I will explore here.

Theatre in London had come back to life shortly after the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, although records of performances over the next forty years are very incomplete. It is particularly difficult to trace the history of dancing in the playhouses over this period. One of the earliest Restoration plays to feature a Scots character was John Lacy’s Shakespeare adaptation The Taming of the Shrew; or, Sauny the Scot. Lacy took the role of Sauny, Petruchio’s Scots servant. Samuel Pepys was not impressed when he saw the comedy at the Bridges Street Theatre on 9 April 1667, calling it ‘but a mean play: and the best part, “Sawny”, done by Lacy, hath not half its life’. John Lacy was one of the greatest comic actors of the time, and a favourite with Pepys, but he played Sauny with a Scots dialect that the diarist could hardly understand. He also played on English ideas of the Scots as poverty-stricken, dirty and with repulsive habits, to the delight of audiences. As well as being an actor, Lacy danced (he had been trained by the dancing master John Ogilby) and Sauny the Scot ends with a dance, although we do not know whether Lacy used a Scots tune. Lacy was depicted in three of his comic roles by John Michael Wright in the late 1660s or early 1670s. There is ongoing debate about which roles are shown, but the one on the left could perhaps be Sauny.

The 1686 seventh edition of Playford’s The Dancing Master had a number of pages added at the end in 1687. These have among them ‘The Scotch-man’s Dance, in The Northern Lass’. Richard Brome’s play The Northern Lass, given in 1629, was revived soon after the Restoration and quickly found a place in the repertory. There are two dances in the 1663 edition of the play, one by ‘Masquers’ in act 2 and the other a ‘Round’ in act 3. Perhaps the ‘Scotchman’ was one of the masquers? Here is the music.

Most historical country dance enthusiasts will know the ‘Scotch Measure’ included in Thomas Bray’s 1699 collection Country Dances.

Bray was apparently a dancer and dancing master with the United Company during the 1690s, so this particular Scotch Dance could possibly have been performed on the London stage.

From the 1670s to the early 1700s, 25 musical suites for plays given in London’s theatres include ‘Scotch’ tunes, showing their popularity over this period. Information about these can be found in Music in the Restoration Theatre by Curtis Price (the full reference is given at the end of this post). I confess that I have not looked at the play texts to see if they mention ‘Scotch’ dances, but Price tells us that the ‘Scotts’ tune’ or ‘Scotch Measure’ was very popular in the 1690s.

This brings us to the 18th century. I compiled a list of the various Scotch Dances given in London’s theatres between 1700 and 1760 a while ago and it provides some interesting statistics. The earliest advertisement transcribed in The London Stage after 1700 is for a solo Scotch Dance performed by Margaret Bicknell at Drury Lane on 20 August 1702. She was actually from Edinburgh and this was probably not the first time she had danced this particular solo. Between 1701-1702 and 1705-1706 there were a handful of Scotch Dances given. This is unlikely to represent their true popularity for, like the Restoration period, performances during the first few years of the 18th century are far from fully recorded. No Scotch Dances were advertised in the entr’actes from 1706-1707 to 1715-1716 (a period during which newspaper advertisements first provide extensive performance details). I cannot explain this gap, although disruptions in London’s theatres during the first decade of the 18th century, the Hanoverian accession in 1714 and then the Jacobite rebellion in 1715 must all have something to do with their absence.

There were relatively few Scotch Dances each season from 1716-1717 to 1723-1724, then in 1724-1725 there were 20 performances with Scotch Dances. With a few exceptions, 16-18 Scotch Dances were given performances each season until 1731-1732 when there were 25. Then, in 1732-1733, there were 96 billings for entr’acte Scotch Dances! This total was not exceeded during the period I am exploring, although the figures did not drop away immediately – there were more than 70 performances of Scotch Dances in 1733-1734 and more than 60 in 1734-1735. The numbers decline to around 20 each season, more or less and with wide variations from season to season, by the late 1740s. It will come as no surprise to learn that no Scotch Dances were given in 1745-1746 and few or none over the following two seasons. Scotch Dances then recovered to around 20 each season until the early 1750s, but from 1753-1754 to 1759-1760 they all but disappeared from the entr’acte repertoire.

I am not going to try to look at all these ups and downs in detail, but I was curious to know what was going on in 1732-1733 to cause such a boom in Scotch Dances. In fact, there were five different Scotch Dances performed in the entr’actes at Drury Lane, Lincoln’s Inn Fields and the Goodman’s Fields Theatre that season. The first was the solo Scotch Dance given by Mrs Bullock at Goodman’s Fields on 7 October 1732. She had been advertised in a solo Scotch Dance since 1719-1720, which had been popular for much of the 1720s. In 1732-1733, she danced it more than 30 times – contributing significantly to the total of Scotch Dances that season. The second dance was the ‘new Scot’s Dance’, a duet performed by Haughton and Mrs Walter at Drury Lane on 14 October 1732 which may have been a revival of the duet given at this theatre in August 1732 by Holt and Mrs Walter. This Scotch Dance was performed seven times in 1732-1733 and then disappeared from the bills. The ‘New Scotch Dance’ given by Glover, Mrs Laguerre, Dupré, Mrs Pelling, Delagarde Jr and Mrs Ogden at Covent Garden on 16 January 1733 was the first group Scotch Dance to be performed in the entr’actes for nearly thirty years, but it proved so popular that there would be more such choreographies in future seasons. Advertisements in 1733-1734 identify Glover as the choreographer and it would remain in repertoire until 1740-1741. Glover’s Scotch Dance was performed 46 times in 1732-1733. So, Mrs Bullock’s long established solo and Glover’s new group dance were the choreographies that made 1732-1733 the season of Scotch Dances.

There were three more Scotch Dances in 1732-1733. The Scottish Dance performed by Young Weeks ‘Scholar to Dupre’ was given three times, at Covent Garden on 30 April 1733 (a benefit for Dupré and Miss La Tour) and then again at Goodman’s Fields on 11 and 14 May. Miss Wherrit performed her ‘new’ solo Scotch Dance once, at Goodman’s Fields on 10 May 1733 (a benefit for herself and two others). Finally, there was another Scotch Dance duet, by Davenport and Miss Baston at Covent Garden on 9 August 1733 – they gave this six times during the theatre’s summer season.

So far as I can tell, there were no particular social or political reasons for the emphasis on Scotch Dances during 1732-1733. There were, though, several possible reasons relating to events affecting London’s theatre world. The first (and possibly the most significant one) was the opening of the first Covent Garden Theatre on 7 December 1732. John Rich had long been a rival to Drury Lane from his theatre in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, but the opening of a brand-new theatre on their doorstep took competition to new heights. At the same time, the Drury Lane company was beginning a particularly troubled period in its history. It had been run very successfully for around twenty years by a triumvirate of actor-managers – Barton Booth, Colley Cibber and Robert Wilks. Booth had been in ill-health for some time and in the summer of 1732 had sold out to the wealthy gentleman amateur John Highmore. Then, Wilks died in September 1732 and his management responsibilities passed to the painter John Ellys, also a theatrical amateur. Finally, in November 1732, Colley Cibber passed his management role to his son Theophilus – the only member of the new triumvirate with any knowledge and experience of the theatre. Tensions between the new managers soon mounted and the season ended in chaos with a rebellion by many of the actors, who the patentees locked out of the theatre on 26 May 1733. As if that was not enough, theatre rivalries had also been intensified by a third (unlicensed) playhouse – Goodman’s Fields had been offering performances in the Whitechapel area of London since 1729, but a new theatre opened there on 2 October 1732 under management determined to make the venture a success. Goodman’s Fields immediately began to emulate Covent Garden by including much entr’acte dancing in its bills. These events go some way towards explaining the large number of billings this season for Scotch Dances, which were obviously exploited for their popularity by both Covent Garden and Goodman’s Fields.

While Mrs Bullock’s solo may have drawn on ‘Scotch’ music familiar from earlier periods, there are few clues to the music that Glover used. My guess is that the success of his Scotch Dance had much to do with its music. There were certainly at least two collections of ‘Scots’ tunes published around this time, which suggest the popularity of ‘Scottish’ music in the early 1730s. One of them was William Thomson’s Orpheus Caledonius, first published in the mid-1720s and then given a second two-volume enlarged edition in 1733.

The dancers of these choreographies may well have worn a form of ‘Scotch’ dress. There are a couple of clues in a 1744 inventory of Covent Garden properties, where reference is made to ‘6 Scotch jacketts and caps 2 stuff plaid sashes and 6 bonnets to do. [ditto]’. ‘Stuff’ is a woollen, usually worsted, cloth. There is also reference to a ‘Highlander’s jacket’.  There is no certainty that these references are to dancers’ costumes (Macbeth was given every season at Covent Garden) but other information makes it likely. References for the inventory are at the end of this post. There are many 18th-century portraits showing various versions of ‘Scotch’ dress, although I have found it difficult to discover anything from the early 1700s. These two images are actually of a Highland Gentleman and Lady, ascribed to 1745 and printed in A Collection of the Dresses of Different Nations: Antient and Modern published in two volumes over the period 1757-1772. They may, perhaps, provide clues to the costuming of Scotch Dances in London’s theatres before the Jacobite rebellion.

Apart from the mid-1740s, Scotch Dances were frequently billed in the entr’actes into the late 1750s and some new titles were introduced from the late 1740s. Among these were the Scotch Measure danced with a Highland Reel by Froment and Mlle de la Cointrie within a ‘New Scotch Dance’ given alongside The Beggar’s Opera at Covent Garden on 24 April 1749. Froment had first been billed in a solo Scotch Dance in London in 1742-1743, with no mention of these other dances. In the ensuing years he had spent time in Edinburgh where he may have extended his knowledge of Scottish dancing (my thanks to Alena Shmakova, who is researching dancing in Edinburgh and brought this to my attention). Froment apparently continued his London career until the late 1770s, although he seems not to have been billed in further Scotch Dances. There was also a Grand Scottish Ballet, first performed by Cooke and Miss Hillyard at Covent Garden on 31 January 1750. They were presumably accompanied by a group of supporting dancers, as indicated by advertisements in later seasons. This choreography continued in repertoire until 1752-1753, when it was given at least 24 performances, after which it disappeared from the bills.

I will look at Highland Dances in a separate post as, for the earlier period at least, they seem to be different to Scotch Dances.

During the final decades of the 18th century, ideas about Scotland and the Scots changed markedly and Scotch Dances on the London stage underwent a transformation. I hope to write a post about these at a later date.

References

Much of the data in this post has been gathered from:

The London Stage, 1660-1800. 5 volumes (Carbondale, Ill., 1960-1968)

A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers & Other Stage Personnel, 1660-1800. 16 vols (Carbondale, Ill., 1973-1993)

For country dance tunes in the editions of Playford, I turned to:

The Complete Country Dance Tunes from Playford’s Dancing Master (1651-ca.1728), edited by Jeremy Barlow (London, 1985)

For musical suites associated with plays during the late 17th century, see:

Curtis Price, Music in the Restoration Theatre ([Ann Arbor, Mich.], 1979)

For the 1744 Covent Garden Inventory, see:

Philip H. Highfill Jr, ‘Rich’s 1744 Inventory of Covent Garden Properties’, Restoration and Eighteenth Century Theatre Research, 5.1 (1966)

This provides a complete transcript of the inventory.

Ana Martinez, ‘Scenographies behind the Scenes: Mapping, Classifying, and Interpreting John Rich’s 1744 Inventory of Covent Garden’, in “The Stage’s Glory” John Rich, 1692-1761, edited by Berta Joncus and Jeremy Barlow (Newark, NJ, 2011)

The original inventory is held in the British Library as Additional MS 12201.

England’s Royal Dancing Masters, 1714-1788

On 1 August 1714, Queen Anne died and the Elector of Hanover became King George I. He arrived in England with his son, George Prince of Wales, in September. The following month Caroline Princess of Wales arrived with her three daughters, Anne the Princess Royal, Princess Amelia and Princess Caroline. The couple’s son, Prince Frederick, remained in Hanover as the representative of the electoral family. For the first time since the turn of the century, the royal family included children who would need the tuition of a dancing master.

There seem to have been at least two contenders for the role. John Essex made a pitch for the post with a new edition of his translation of Feuillet’s 1706 collection of contredanses, For the Further Improvement of Dancing (first published in 1710). This seems to have appeared in 1715 and is known from a copy now in the British Library in London. Essex reprinted the treatise in a much larger folio format, adding five new country dances and a ballroom duet the Princess’s Passpied. On the title page he pointed out that he taught ‘all the Ball Dances of the English and French Court’. More tellingly, he dedicated the new edition to Caroline, Princess of Wales, with particular reference to her ‘Patronage and Encouragement’ of the art of dancing. The single surviving copy may once have belonged to Caroline herself.

The other contender, who would become royal dancing master, was Anthony L’Abbé. His ballroom duet, The Princess Royale ‘a new dance for his Majesty’s birth day 1715’ must have been published in the Spring of 1715 (George I’s birthday was on 28 May). L’Abbé included a dedication to the five-year-old princess, revealing that he had already been appointed as her dancing master.

‘Madam, I should not think I entirely deserved the Honour of Instructing Your Royal Highness in the Art of Dancing, did I only confine myself in teaching You what has been published by other Masters.’

He went on to offer her his new dance, the first in a series that he (like Mr Isaac before him) would create for royal birthday celebrations.

Anthony L’Abbé had begun his career at the Paris Opéra in 1688 and came to London in 1698 at the invitation of the actor-manager Thomas Betterton. That year, L’Abbé danced before William III at Kensington Palace and in 1699 he and the visiting French star Claude Ballon performed a duet before the King, later published in notation. L’Abbé danced and choreographed in London’s theatres for several years. Like Isaac, he seems initially to have had no official appointment as royal dancing master. By 1720, though, he was receiving an annual salary to teach the three princesses. It is worth noting that L’Abbé was Mr Isaac’s brother-in-law, suggesting an element of family interest (if not inheritance) in the post. His tenure lasted until 1737, just a few years after his eldest pupil Anne the Princess Royal married Prince William of Orange and left England. He may also have taught the younger children of the Prince and Princess of Wales, Prince William, Princess Mary and Princess Louisa.

L’Abbé was succeeded by Leach Glover who, according to Read’s Weekly Journal or British Gazetteer 7 January 1738, ‘was appointed Dancing Master to the Royal Family’ at the beginning of that year. Like L’Abbé, Glover danced for many years on the London stage before retiring as a performer in 1741. The reason behind the choice of him to teach the younger children of George II and Queen Caroline remains obscure – he does not seem to have moved in court circles or to have been related to L’Abbé in any way. Glover apparently taught Prince William and the princesses Amelia, Caroline, Mary and Louisa. Princess Mary married Frederick, Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel in 1740, for which Glover created his only known ballroom duet The Princess of Hesse, published in notation that year. He continued to be listed in The Court and City Register as royal dancing master until at least 1759, by which time his only pupil was Princess Amelia (Princess Caroline had died in 1757 and Princess Louisa had married Prince Frederick of Norway in 1743). Leach Glover died in 1762.

Prince Frederick had his own dancing master in Hanover. George Desnoyer was first advertised on the London stage at Drury Lane on 11 January 1721, dancing there for the rest of the season and returning in 1721-1722. Three dances created for him by Anthony L’Abbé and published in notation around that time show him to have been a virtuosic dancer. He may have been born in Hanover, where his father (who had danced at the Paris Opéra) was dancing master to the Elector. In 1722, Desnoyer was appointed in succession to his father, who had died the previous year. The Weekly Journal or Saturday’s Post 15 September 1722 reported:

‘One Mr. De Noye, a Dancing Master, is gone over to teach Prince Frederick, for which we hear his Majesty allows him a Sallary of Five Hundred Pounds per Annum.’

If the reporter had not highly inflated the amount, it must have reflected Desnoyer’s appointment as court dancing master and not simply as personal tutor to the prince.

In 1729, Prince Frederick came to London at the command of his father, now King George II. Desnoyer was dismissed from his post in Hanover the following year. He later followed his pupil to England, making his first appearance in nearly ten years at Drury Lane on 20 December 1731. He would enjoy a renewed and very successful career on the London stage until 1742. There is much evidence to suggest that Desnoyer was close to Prince Frederick, so it is not surprising that when the Prince married Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha in 1736 Desnoyer quickly became her dancing master. He subsequently began to teach the couple’s children. The General Advertiser 1 August 1748, reporting on the celebrations for the birthday of their eldest daughter, described Desnoyer as ‘Dancing Master to the Prince of Wales’s children’. By then, there were five – Princess Augusta, Prince George (later King George III), Prince Edward, Prince William and Prince Henry. George Desnoyer continued to receive a salary as dancing master to Princess Augusta’s children until 1764 (Prince Frederick died in 1751). He may have died not long after.

The last of the royal dancing masters with whom I am concerned provides further evidence of a hereditary strand to the appointment. Philip Denoyer (his preferred spelling) is listed as dancing master in the household of the Princess Dowager of Wales by the Royal Kalendar in 1767, having taken up the post the previous year. Over the following years, he appears as dancing master to the children of King George III and Queen Charlotte. He taught George Prince of Wales (later Prince Regent and King George IV), Prince Frederick, Prince William, Prince Edward, Prince Ernest and Prince Adolphus. He continued as dancing master to the younger princes until 1788, the year he died. There is no evidence to suggest that Philip Denoyer ever appeared on the stage, marking a break in tradition. Such dance training as he received must surely have been from his father, and may well have been limited to ballroom and country dances. He brings to an end the service by the Desnoyer family to the Hanoverian royal family that had lasted for nearly 100 years, from the first employment of his grandfather by the Elector of Hanover in 1694.

There are, so far as I know (and I would be happy to be proved wrong), no surviving portraits of Anthony L’Abbé, Leach Glover, George Desnoyer or his son Philip. There is only Hogarth’s caricature of George Desnoyer, used in his painting ‘Taste in High Life’ as well as the print ‘The Charmers of the Age’ and within plate 1 to The Analysis of Beauty. Hogarth’s cruel depiction probably belongs to the final years of Desnoyer’s career in the early 1740s. Here he is with his last dancing partner La Barberina in ‘The Charmers of the Age’.

Charmers of the Age BM